Friday, September 29, 2006

Survivor: Racial harmony

"Survivor" spoilers just as soon as I gather up the nearby members of my race to form an alliance...

Well, it was nice to see that the racial segregation twist lasted a whole two episodes -- or, if you prefer, one episode longer than last spring's gender/age splits -- but I think if Burnett, Probst, Shelly and company were looking to see whether people would align by ethnicity or what was strategically wise, they messed up by doing things in this order. Players' default loyalties are always to their original tribemates, and what we saw with the new Aitu was the white people and the Asian people sticking together, then teaming up to get rid of the others as needed. That's not anything to do with race; it's that these people knew each other much better than they knew anybody from the black or Latino teams. In this area, I think the show would have been much more interesting if they'd started with integrated tribes, then quickly merged or shuffled to see which was stronger: the bond of the first eight or nine days, or a shared cultural background.

(What was semi-interesting was that Ozzy put together an alliance of people from all four teams, which Jonathan and Yul quickly ripped apart by stealing their respective racial/tribal mates.)

It's annoying that most of the likable people (with the exception of Nate and Cristina) wound up on the losing team, while most of the hateable people (with the exception of Ozzy) wound up on the winning side. I think Jonathan could have chosen a bit more wisely; since he couldn't choose Adam quickly and Brad couldn't choose Yul quickly, he should have grabbed Nate or J.P. for a little more team brawn. As it was, they were badly outmuscled in what was one of my favorite challenges of all time when they did it in Palau. (This was the contest that firmly established the awesomeness of Tom and Ian, and it's pretty much what Stephenie's legend was built on.) Here, it went by very quickly and exactly as you would have expected from looking at the respective line-ups.

With only one challenge, and a brief one at that, plus no need to show Candice looking for an idol that wasn't there, we got more characterization and strategery than usual, which I liked, even when I didn't like the people. Parvati in particular is pathetic; I hate the flirt your way to the top strategy no matter who does it, but a girl as relatively pretty as she is shouldn't look so incredibly desperate when she's hitting on guys the way she was with octopus-catcher Nate.

What did everybody else think?

8 comments:

Alan Sepinwall said...

One thing I neglected to mention, and the reason I'm pulling for Yul to win it all: when it became obvious that the other team was going to catch them in the challenge, he wanted to turn around and fight! I don't think it was a legal strategy -- Probst made it pretty clear that you had to catch the other team from behind and tackle one of their guys -- but it was still cool.

Nilbo said...

I was sad to see Cecilia get blown out - almost as a default expendable woman. And the women from both sides did nothing to impress me in the challenge - as you say, that's where Stephanie came to the fore by gutting up.

Yul seems to be the early leader. I hope he uses the HII better than Tom did ...

Anonymous said...

Awful. By merging the teams this soon, it takes away all the mystery of the concept.

That being said, I think jessica, flicka, whatever shes called, is the single most annoying woman on "Survivor" ever. I hope to God she gets voted off sooner rather than later.

That being said, it's interesting to note that there hasn't been a single Asian or White person voted off yet.

Here's hoping Yul has what it takes to go all the way because that guy is the man, but I think he'll probably suffer the same fate as Colby did once the individual immunity challenges kick in with him getting voted out the first chance people get.

Dark Tyler said...

Alan, on the other hand, the ethnic minorities in our society were also formed before they integrated together. When, for examples, people from Italy immigrated to the U.S. they were keeping close to each other, and then they became part of the society that already existed there.

That's just a talking point, of course, it's not that I really care for Survivor's ratings-- errr, "social" experiment. I don't have any fondness for the show, I only watched it last week for the first time, and bar any spectacular twist down the road, it is nowhere as good as Project Runway. Did i use to be better at earlier seasons?

Also, a question: what happens in case there is a tie at tribal counsil?

Avi Pollock said...

Alan, a really interesting post. I too thought it was a little "much ado about nothing" that they made such a big deal about the race split and mixed it up so early but I have to agree with your idea. It definitely would have been a much better strategy to have done the racial split after the teams would have been formed. Now that would have been a social experiment.
That being said, I am enjoying this season more than the last few largely because of the reduced focus on challenges and a renewed focus on the social dynamics aspect of the game. Go Yul.

Anonymous said...

What happens during a tie. I remember during the first season when it came down to three people and only one had immunity, they left the decision to the one who did. It'll be interesting to see if we do get any ties and what happens. I say we vote BOTH of them out if there's a tie. Less incentive for them to do that again :)

dez said...

They've been using the purple rock of death for ties. Not sure if that has changed.

Also agree with Alan that they should have reversed the order of aligning tribes by ethnicity after the merge, but then again, they probably wouldn't have been able to flog that for ratings sufficiently. Maybe next time. Still, I'm really enjoying this season.

Dark Tyler said...

Ī¤hanks for the info :)