Friday, March 31, 2006

When Captain America failed

(It occurs to me that, since we all watch TV on our own schedules these days, I should say up-front what shows I'll be talking about so people who are saving that Very Special Episode of "According to Jim" won't have it spoiled for them here. This morning's shows, in order, "Survivor," "Lost" and "Scrubs.")

I've seen some dumb "Survivor" moves in my time, with Lex saving Amber in All-Stars the dumbest by far, but last night featured the dumbest move by a contestant I liked and respected since Colby picked Tina over Keith back in Australia.

Okay, here's Terry, coming into the merge at a 6-4 advantage on paper, but one that could probably be swung to 5-5 thanks to Bruce's unhappiness, and all he has to do is give Bruce an incentive to jump. And what does Terry have hidden in his pack? The Immunity Idol. He knows he's the biggest target on his side, so all he has to do is lose the Immunity Challenge by a hair, draw all the votes from the other side, and then whip out the Idol and send Shane home to his nicotine fix -- at which point Bruce has no reason not to change sides, since he likes Terry a hell of a lot better than anybody from Casaya.

Given the numbers, there is going to be no better time in the game for Terry to use the thing; if he uses it now, it swings the numbers back in his favor, and the combination of a majority alliance and his own challenge bad-ass-ness should send him very far. So what does he do? He refuses to drop from the pole, beats Nick and keeps the damn thing in his pocket so that suddenly his alliance is down 6-3. Now, even if he brings the thing out at the next Tribal Council, all it does is save him for a week and give him no winning strategy other than pulling a Tom Westman-esque streak (and remember, Tom lost two individual immunities and was lucky to not get targeted either time).

Dumb, dumb, dumb -- and that's not even counting his lame-ass sales pitch to Shane and Cirie. To get people to give up a power position, you have to offer them an even better one, and much as I hate Shane, I had to laugh at his incredulity at Terry's "no one has to worry for two whole weeks" line of crap. If that's the best he's got, mentally, he deserves to go home the first time he loses a challenge. And now the previews suggest he's going to offer the Idol in trade? Awful, awful, awful. The only value of letting people know you have the Idol is to scare them into not voting for you as long as they can avoid it; give it up, and I don't care what promise they make to you, you're too big a threat for them to keep you around a second longer than they have to. I guess I'm rooting for Cirie to win now. Go, you leaf-phobic straight-shooter!

Meanwhile, on another miserable island, "Lost" had its first good episode in... how long has it been since the Mr. Eko show? Six months? Ten? Hard to tell. The more shows on network and cable that manage to air all their original episodes in a row, the less patience I have for the traditional rerun-heavy stretches in March and April on the networks, especially on a serialized show like this.

The point is, this was a great improvement over the rest of the Henry Gale arc, because stuff finally happened: Sayid and company found the balloon, we learned definitively that "Henry" was lying, there was some action in the hatch (even if that black-light diagram is just another tease that will get less and less interesting the more we learn about it), and there was a good flashback story. Yes, we already knew that Locke was hungry for his daddy's love above all else, but Terry O'Quinn is still the best actor this show has, and it's good to see him let loose, especially in an arena separate from the monotonous faith vs. science pissing contest he's been having with Jack all year. When I talked at the start of the season about being able to enjoy the show as long as I can divorce myself from any desire to have any major mysteries solved anytime soon, this was the kind of episode I was talking about.

Finally got around to both this week's "Scrubs" and the one from two weeks ago that I missed, thanks to the wonders of iTunes. They're already starting to blend together in my mind the way those back-to-back originals at the start of the season would, but I'm pretty sure the watchie-talkies were from two weeks ago and The Janitor's hurdling career was last night. (Janitor+mustache+'80s athletic gear+cigarettes=genius) Other good stuff from last night: Laverne getting banished to the roof and Keith practicing his winking in the background while Cox told Carla to punish him. Some questions: what the hell accent is Dr. Cox using these days? Because his pronunciation of the word "not" makes him sound like Charles Emerson Winchester by way of Wisconsin. Why was Jordan so giggly and enthusiastic at the party at the end? So not her at all. Can anyone recommend a good brand of pizza rolls? And is it just me, or has Turk become the main character this season?

I'll get to "Chris," "Earl" and "Office" tonight, but may not be able to blog about them until later in the weekend.


Anonymous said...

Best OC of the season (not saying a ton but still...) Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Great observations about Lost. The whole "teasing things that eventually turn out to be nothing or dropped altogether" is the reason I really don't think Lost is that great. It is all flash, no substance. I think The X-Files ruined me forever on shows that tease but don't give any answers and now I am gun shy.

However, I decided last year to just watch the episodes and not care about the mystery, and that has made it much more enjoyable. I still like the cast, and most of the time I like the writing...but it's just not a compelling series, overall. I just can't get excited for things like Sayid's girlfriend being in Locke's flashback anymore, because it honestly doesn't tell you ANYTHING.

Anonymous said...

Re: Survivor, I'm not exactly sure how the immunity idol works, but if Terry would have lost the challenge & then had to use it last nite, wouldn't there just be a revote & they all would have all voted for Nick or Austin and then Terry would be in the same situation next week (5 vs 3) but now he doesn't have the immunity idol? by having the idol, what would make everyone switch their votes to Shane?

Alan Sepinwall said...

As Jeff explained in the premiere, if you get voted out but produce the idol, then the person with the next-highest vote total gets the boot. So if Terry had lost the challenge and been the target, Shane would have gone home.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so this is why you need to hit the gym non-stop for a year, bulk up and get your ass cast on Survivor. I would have never thought about using the Idol this week... in fact, I think most people would figure to save it for when they really need it (i.e., can't win a challenge.) But you're right: He shoulda thrown the challenge and changed the dynamic.

It once again proves that "outwit" is the most important part of Survivor.

LV said...

This is by far the worse season of Survivor to date.

Adam said...

LV, that's still be the season when PornBoy Brian controlled the game against a bunch of slow competitors -- though this one is now in the running.

It's a shame, b/c the last few seasons, esp. the Tom/Ian/Steph one, have been fantastic, as we've discussed on (blatant plug alert) my group blog.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Survivor is never duller than when it's played correctly and/or when there's nobody to root for -- and no one has arguably played the game better while being a bigger dick than Porno Brian. Unless Terry's posession of the Idol shakes up Casaya, we could be in for another textbook Pagonging by a bunch of jerks.

It sure seemed at the start of the season like this was a more interesting cast than in Guatemala, but most of the seemingly colorful people (Shane, Courtney, Bruce, even Terry) have turned out to be just annoying. That leaves Austin and Cirie as the only two vaguely interesting people who are also likable, and that's rough.

Adam said...

Two things could swing this season around:

--Terry announces that he has the Idol, and the Cassaya Six can't figure out how to arrange their votes to avoid eliminating one of their own (Is there a way?), destabilizing things.

--They bring out the "three strikes/chop off your friends/trivia" reward challenge; members of the six get nervous about their place in the pecking order.

LV said...

If Terry shows his idol, all they have to do is gang together and vote for him as a group. Then, when Terry uses the idol to stay in the game, he is from then on vulnerable to being voted out. Unless I'm missing something...

CreepypornBrian did top a weak Survivor season (honestly, I had all but forgotten that season b/c it was so bad!)

Alan Sepinwall said...

The catch is that, in forcing Terry to use the Idol, they'll result in one of their own (most likely Shane) getting the boot. (The only way around it, I think, is if they boot Austin this week, then next week three of them vote for Terry and three for Sally, but I doubt they're smart or organized enough to try this.)

Thailand was an excruciating season, but Brian played the game brilliantly -- better than Hatch, since Hatch had the luxury of playing against sheep who didn't understand how to play the game.

Anonymous said...

From what Probst said, if you have the idol you can give it to someone, right? If that was the case, after they announced Nick being voted out, he could've produced it and given it to Nick. Then Shane, with the next most votes, would've been gone. Sure it would still be 5-4 at the next vote, but at least they'd have a couple more days to work on Bruce or Cirie.

Alan Sepinwall is also right with his theory of being able to kick Shane off if Terry had been the one to be voted out.

With bully Shane gone, Bruce might have come to his senses and switched alliance.

Mac said...

I was saying the same thing (actually shouting it at Terry on the screen) but maybe he has some other idea. Perhaps he thinks that his best chance of actually winning (personally, as opposed to his tribe coming out on top) is to get to the "last member of the minority tribe" spot that two of the last four winners (I think) have held. If that's the case, he only has to win one immunity challenge of two now to get there then hopefully make it in when the majority tribe's inevitable self-destruction comes.