Thursday, May 01, 2008

Survivor: Can you dig it?

Spoilers for tonight's "Survivor" coming up just as soon as I loan my wife a shirt...

Am I right that this is the first time the hidden idol has been successfully played since Hogeboom? I didn't watch China but know James failed to play two different idols, and from what little I remember of Fiji, Earl's group tricked the wrong guy in the other alliance into playing it while they voted someone else out. Terry didn't need to play his (and was too stupid to figure out a way to use his strategically), Yul didn't need to play his (but was smart enough to swing the votes his way), and Ozzy and Jason obviously both choked. You get the feeling the "Survivor" producers were starting to get frustrated that their brilliant new twist to the game never got used correctly?

I'm glad, by the way, that they thought to bury it at camp this time, which helped defuse the distasteful business of people searching the bags of whomever returns from Exile Island. And while Amanda has been sleepwalking through the game until now, allowing Ozzy and then Parvati and (of all people) Natalie do the thinking for her, she played the whole thing brilliantly, pouting and whining and completely lulling everybody into thinking she was powerless and would be an easy boot. The only thing that would have made her maneuver better was if she had stuck to her guns and insisted that she and Parvati vote out Natalie. Alexis is no threat in challenges with that leg wound -- and could have wound up getting med-evac'ed in another day or two, the way this season is going -- plus it would have knocked the gross Natalie out of the game.

(I'm not sure I've ever seen a contestant go from invisible to hateful as quickly as Natalie did last week. Parvati's kind of an awful human being too, and the events tonight benefited her, but at least she's been a presence this season, and has played well. I'd rather have to see her go to the end than Natalie.)

What a weird season. Two med-evacs (and Penner's completely changed the game, where James was basically finished unless he want on an immunity run), a third contestant who might as well have been med-evac'ed (Chet), a quit, blindsides left and right and now a contestant in the final five who can barely walk. (NOTE: Whoops. I was thinking of Alexis, who obviously went home tonight. The rest still stands.) Since James gets to be on the jury, I'm assuming there's no change in whether there's a final two or final three, but I hope the entire "Survivor" production team takes a long look at this season and tries to figure out why so many people wound up getting hurt. Penner and Chet both got injured in challenges (Jonathan during the idiotic stick-and-mud race, Chet in the capture the flag thing in the water), Alexis just fell down and I'm not clear how James hurt his finger, but it's frustrating to see the game be changed so much by things that have nothing to do with Outwit/Outlast/Outplay.

Still, much better than last week. Amanda's smirk at the end (pictured above) made the episode worth it all by itself.

What did everybody else think?

21 comments:

Mac said...

I like Amanda; you didn't watch last season, but she really got shafted in the end when everybody blamed her for anything bad that happened. I do agree that I wish Alexis had gone instead; I can only guess that they decided she was so hateful that she couldn't beat them.

I think James said that he hurt his finger on a clam -- either opening it with a knife, or on the edge of the shell, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Who's the person left amongst Amanda, Parvati, Cirie, Nathalie and Erik who can't walk?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Who's the person left amongst Amanda, Parvati, Cirie, Nathalie and Erik who can't walk?

Whoops. I was thinking of Alexis. This is what happens when I'm in a rush to post so I can get to watching the rest of my Thursday shows.

lungfish said...

Agreed. Well played by Amanda. She even laid some groundwork for next time out by getting Cerie to sort of reaffirm an alliance with her and Parvati and laying a huge guilt trip on Eric.
Ousting Natalie would've really topped it off, and I'm wondering if that might be a mistake that comes back to bite her. She may have put the target on herself if the others saw how the jury was clearly pulling for her (plus her explaining away her white lie to cement her good standing). Someone saavy like Cerie or Natalie could point this out to try and start a coup.

Nicole said...

Amanda played the HII well, but she kept Parvati in the loop and has enough people on the jury that like her that she will win this if she makes it to final two. She finally has done something worthy of a winner.

I recall when China came out that there were spoilers that said Amanda was the winner, I almost wonder if they didn't mean it for this time. Amanda just needs to not implode when the jury questions her.

I think Cirie will orchestrate something, but she hasn't been that good with challenges, so it may not be enough.

Joe Reid said...

I don't know -- I don't see Amanda as having played a strong game at all, up to and including this week. The lion's share of her performance this week consisted of weakly begging Erik to vote with her this week out of...guilt? Kindness? The disingenuousness of her pitch to Erik ("I kept you over Ami!") was some major bullshit (she kept Erik over Ami because Ozzy said so), and she did a whole lot of genuine pouting before the fakey-fake stuff at TC.

My feeling is she got sent to Exile Island at the right time and that's all. And I really liked the game she played in China, too.

Anonymous said...

The idol was played correctly pre-Amanda and post-Hogeboom: in Fiji, Yau-Man played the idol so that he and Earl could boot Stacy.

Alan Sepinwall said...

in Fiji, Yau-Man played the idol so that he and Earl could boot Stacy.

Okay, good. Nice to know it hasn't gone totally to waste over the years -- especially since the Hogeboom version of the idol was so underpowered that all it bought our friend the landscaper was an extra three days in the game.

Johanna said...

You said everything I was thinking, Alan.

A side note -- does anyone else think Natalie looks exactly like The Grinch?

andythesaint said...

Add Ami to the list of injured this season. She tore her MCL in the same challenge that sliced open Jonathan. She had surgery on it after being eliminated. Luckily it wasn't enough to take her out, but yet another example of what a wonky season this has been and what a terrible challenge design that one was.

DolphinFan said...

My theory at the end is that Cirie either knew that Amanda had the HII or suspected that she did, and Amanda's comment about Cirie voting along with her and Parvati reflected that Amanda suspected Cirie might have suspected what she suspected (did that make ANY sense?). However, the Purple Rock of Death seems to have passed into the history books; in recent years, ties (Ian-Jenn in Palau, Danielle-Cirie in Exile Island, Becky-Sundra in the Cook Islands) have been broken in fire-making contests. In an odd way though, Cirie voting against Amanda made her position better for F5. She should turn on Parvati and Amanda and join forces with Erik and Nathalie for F3, because she'd win. But after this episode, as much of a Cirie fan as I still am, I will be absolutely OK if Amanda wins it.
Won't be OK with a Parvati win, though, which is what could happen to. A Parvati-Amanda-Cirie F3 would be the most interesting one in the four editions that have had it, because they've all played the game AND been good social players.
The fact that some of the challenges seemed designed to maim the contestants aside, this is turning out to be a good season.

Alan Sepinwall said...

However, the Purple Rock of Death seems to have passed into the history books; in recent years, ties (Ian-Jenn in Palau, Danielle-Cirie in Exile Island, Becky-Sundra in the Cook Islands) have been broken in fire-making contests.

Cirie referenced that in her talk with Amanda. The Purple Rock is supposed to be played for every tie except a 2-2 situation -- ironically, that's the only time it was ever used (in Marquesas), because the producers hadn't done the math properly -- and the only unbroken ties we've seen in recent years have been at final four, which is when we get the fire-making challenge.

People at TWoP claim that, in Cirie's vote-casting speech, she says the vote means nothing, and that she's "still part of the plan," so she very well may have known about the idol.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The lion's share of her performance this week consisted of weakly begging Erik to vote with her this week out of...guilt? Kindness? The disingenuousness of her pitch to Erik ("I kept you over Ami!") was some major bullshit (she kept Erik over Ami because Ozzy said so), and she did a whole lot of genuine pouting before the fakey-fake stuff at TC.

See, I think what she was doing was making as many people as possible go on the record about her being voted off so she knew for sure she had to play the idol. And the genius of it is that, even if Erik and Natalie both wind up on the jury as the result of what happened in this episode, they can't hold it against Amanda (or shouldn't, anyway; who the hell knows with Survivor jurors?) because she didn't screw anybody over; she went to the nuclear option after everybody else made it clear it was the only option she had left.

Again, I think she's been sleep-walking up until now, and I have no history with her from China, but I thought Amanda did this all splendidly, starting with being the only one smart enough to volunteer for Exile Island duty.

Anonymous said...

Alan, Amanda played a fine game in China. The problem was that at the final tribal council she sat back passively and let Todd take credit for being in control of the game. From what we'd seen during the season, it appeared she came up with as much planning and strategy as he did (though in her nice Amanda way) but he took credit for it and won. She even finished 3rd in the final vote. That's why, as much as I want her to win, I don't think she's really as big a threat as the other players are saying. She's likeable, but is she in control? I can easily see another final episode where Parvati or even Natalie takes credit for manipulating the game and however nice Amanda is, it doesn't get her any votes. The thing is, Parvati might have a legitimate case there, which is going to make it doubly tough for someone passive like Amanda to garner votes. That's why she has to turn on Parvati and vote her out, but I doubt she will.

Joe said...

I liked the editing to show Erik outside of the girls club when Amanda returned from EI. With all the bikini bottoms and jumping and Amanda digging covered in sand, it was beginning to look like an episode of "MILF Island: The Early Years."

The smart play would have been Natalie, Alexis was done. Then all the 3 women need to worry about is Erik going on an immunity run.

Looking forward to the final weeks.

Alex said...

The thing with Natalie is, she can't beat ANYONE in the finals. Why would you get rid of her? There's no one I'd rather face the jury next to than Natalie.

Cirie is in an awfully good position here, because Amanda might be able to beat her; that means Cirie won't be a target as long as Amanda's still around. If this ends up being Cirie, Natalie and [Parvati or Eric], Cirie will probably win.

Man, she has played incredibly well.

Amanda's played well too, but she's going to have to win an awful lot of immunity from now on, which will be pretty tough with Eric around.

dez said...

Erik's man-crush on Probst totally cracked me up. And wow, is Natalie ever hateful. I do wish they had booted her before Alexis since Alexis was obviously almost done, but I can understand keeping Natalie because of the hatefulness factor. It doesn't make for a pleasant viewing experience for me, though :-)

Amanda's move was so awesome, I almost high-fived my cats ^..^ That move alone saved the end of the season for me since I was mostly rooting for James and was super-bummed that he had to leave for medical reasons. I will definitely miss his funny remarks for the last few eps.

Speaking of which: Is the finale going to be on Mother's Day?

Brett said...

That was a great episode.. I couldn't agree more on Natalie. I can't wait for her to get thrown under the bus. What a hateful person. And Parvati has quickly lost her charms. Looks like Amanda is in the driver's seat.

Andrew Dignan said...

in Fiji, Yau-Man played the idol so that he and Earl could boot Stacy.

I had completely forgotten about this but I now remember that was one of the greatest Survivor moments in recent memory, if only because a) Stacy was so loathsome b) Yau Man had not only given up his truck to Dre but also sent himself to Exile Island and these people were still plotting against him and c) the show was edited in such a way that Yau Man seemed to have no clue how much trouble he was in so when he actually pulled out the idol it seemed like all the more a sick read on his part.

renton said...

The reaction to the blindside by the four jury members makes me think Amanda would get all of their votes if she made it to the final.

Matthew L said...

Eric is quickly becoming my favourite Survivor ever. This week, he had his excited "It's Jeff Probst! Over there!" moment, which was hilarious. I love the idea that, even after 30 days, he's still in awe just of the fact that he's playing Survivor, and that after going "Jeff Probst!" in his mind every time he sees Probst, he finally has someone to actually share that with. I know there were questions about whether some of the fans really were fans, but I don't think there is any doubt about Erik.

I thought Amanda played an almost perfect game this week. Volunteering to go to Exile Island (an obvious move this late in the game, since the idol at this point would really be helpful, but no-one else seemed to want to do it), then actually proving to everyone that she doesn't have the idol by dumping all her gear out of the bag, thus ensuring no-one would think to check her bag later once she actually found the idol. That way, no-one even considered that the idol could be in play before she pulled it out.

But the problem was, having played so well, she completely messed up the strategy by voting out Alexis. Yes, Alexis might get more votes, but she's injured which means (1) she's not likely to win any physical immunity challenges, and (2) the way this season is going, she may be forced to leave by the medics, leaving the other alliance two down soon.

The frustrating thing was that Amanda had the right strategy, she was wanting to vote Natalie, and she flipped because of Parvati. Don't listen to Parvati!