Saturday, December 16, 2006

Survivor: Here's mud in your hat

A day later than planned, "Survivor" spoilers coming right up...

When Probst spends the bulk of Tribal Council talking about Jonathan's hat, you know it's been a dull episode. The Pagonging of Raro hasn't been nearly as satisfying as I had hoped, both because the Jonathan boot came in the middle and because the Aitu people are too decent to treat the Raros as badly as the Raros treat everybody else.

And a couple of thoughts on Hatgate: 1)Yul went out of his way to return the hat in an anonymous way; it only became sucking-up when Probst himself told Jonathan who did it; and 2)Unlike Jonathan, Yul is definitely intimidated by Probst. Instead of just sticking to his guns and saying that he returned the hat because his friend asked him to, he has to cave and say some strategy was involved when, again, he did it in a way that he assumed would keep his identity secret.

Becky was right, by the way, to at least contemplate dumping Ozzy early. At this point, the million bucks is his to lose. He's so far ahead of everyone else in the challenges that, unless there's one without a single athletic element, he's a lock for the final three. And once there, he's all but a lock to win the vote from a predominantly-Raro jury, because they're petty and stupid and will blame Yul for his role in their ouster (and his friendship with Jonathan), while Ozzy will get credit for being an inoffensive challenge machine. In other seasons, challenge machines have actually gotten demerits for sticking around through athletic ability (see Colby vs. Tina), but these people are generally too stupid and immature to really respect strategy.

What did everybody else think?


Lord Floppington said...

I was amused by the Yul-ites, who, while planning how soon they can stick a knife in Ozzy's back, were somehow perturbed that Ozzy might vote against them. "Ozzy, we expect you to be completely loyal to us right up to the moment we turn on you." Baloney.

I will grant that based on challenges, it looks like Ozzy can pull himself to the final two without too much trouble. I will grant that each person ultimately has to play for himself. Further, every alliance, sooner or later, has to turn on its members; there can be only one, and all that. Becky just seemed a little naive about it all.

And what's her beef about Ozzy winning the mud challenge? Ozzy likes to win, she says, and she says it like it's a bad thing. Is she playing the game hoping she loses? I don't think so. She wants to win too. Maybe it's just jealousy? She acted like Ozzy should lose challenges on purpose, or that it's somehow wrong to do the best that you can.

In the sense that Ozzy puts himself in danger as a target for being too good at the challenges, that's true, but she should be in favor of that since it takes the target off her back.

Dumping Jonathan really soured me on the Yul-ites. They actually seemed surprised that without Jonathan, they could suddenly find themselves in a 3-3 tie if Ozzy jumped ship. I'd give them some credit for holding the alliance together and sending Parvati home, but they made it clear that that only happened because Ozzy won immunity.

As for the jury, yes, they may be stupid and immature, but it sounds like you're saying that if Ozzy wins every challenge and gets himself to the final two, he's still somehow a lesser player than the person who coasted in on his hidden immunity idol. It doesn't just say "Outwit" up there on the title, there's also an "Outplay."

If Ozzy immunizes himself all the way to the final two, he has outplayed the rest. If Yul doesn't have the votes on the jury to beat Ozzy, then we might not be able to say that Ozzy outwitted Yul, but we certainly can't say Yul outwitted Ozzy. And of course, whoever does get the votes outlasts all the others.

I'm sure Alan knows better than I would, but I think most people on the juries vote for someone they like a lot, or that they have sympathy for, first. If your best friend made it to the final two and you're on the jury, no matter how well the other person played, you're going to vote for your best friend. (As for Tina vs. Colby, were they voting on who the better player was, or who they thought needed the money more?)

If you generally have friendly, or at least equal, relationships with both, then game skill comes into play. Then it's easier to be dispassionate and say "Wow, Yul really ran the game with a lot of mastery, and even though he voted me out, I've gotta give him credit."

There's that old line: "Deserve's got nothing to do with it." I don't think we can really say one person or another deserved to be in the final two. The fact that they made it to the final two is the very definition of deserving to be there. To say that Ozzy doesn't deserve it, or that he's not as good a player because he won several challenges just doesn't wash.

Suppose Ozzy never won a single challenge, and at the final three he somehow managed to hang on and win immunity. Then wouldn't all the talk be about what a great player he is and how he managed to come through when the chips are down?

Sure, we can say Yul played a perfect game, and therefore he deserves to win it all, but if he didn't play in such a way as to get the votes of the jury, can we really say he played a perfect game?

The person who gets the votes deserves to win, even if it's only because he managed to get to the final two with someone the jury hates more.

Who knows? Maybe being inoffensive and flying under the radar is the strategy that doesn't get the respect it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Inoffensive and flying under the radar survivors like Becky and Sundra DO NOT deserve to be in this game.

They bore me to tears.

I think Ozzy's well aware that if he loses an immunity challenge at this point, he'd be on the chopping block.

That being said, it's going to be an interesting Sunday night. Though I don't find it at all entertaining that there's going to be three fianlists instead of two.

What about you Alan?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Lord Floppington, Ozzy is totally deserving of the win, if for no other reason than, without him, I seriously doubt Aitu would have dominated all the post-mutiny challenges.

In general, challenge monsters have gotten short shrift from juries, notably Colby. (At least two voters actually gave Tina extra credit for making it to the end without doing well in the challenges.) Tom Westman is one of my favorite winners ever, and his success was almost entirely challenge-based (both pre and post-merge).

But I would say that strategy is just as important as challenge success, if not moreso, and if the jury was less obnoxious(*), a choice between Yul and Ozzy would be much closer, I think.

(*) This bunch has the potential to be the least mature jury since the All-Stars bunch spited Boston Rob for having so thoroughly beaten them on every possible level. The Marquesas bunch was similar, picking the completely pointless Vecepia because they were offended that Neleh chose to play the game instead of rolling over and letting the Rotu 4 glide to victory. I know Survivor's a social game, but there's really no way to protect yourself from a bunch of whiny, jealous babies who will hold your success against you.

As for flying under the radar, I generally hate that strategy for entertainment purposes, since FUTR players rarely make an impression on-camera, and I want the winner to be someone I'm invested in, even if that investment is hate. Sandra from Pearl Islands was an exception, in that she was able to play under the radar while registering as a very colorful character on the TV show.

Anonymous said...

One of the long-standing problems with Survivor as an entertainment show is that FUTR *is* an effective strategy that will always work, if played correctly.

The show needs to figure out some kind of rule-tweaking that would discourage this, or at least make it more likely that the boring backgrounders get sent home ahead of the interesting personalities.


Cinemania said...

Having not read Alan's post or anyone's responses, here's the "worst case scenario" for Sunday. The two female characters realize that their best shot of winning is against Adam (and each other) so they flip sides, vote off Ozzy and finally Yul, then go against the doofus in a final challenge.

Adam beats Becky in the final.

Like I said, worst case scenario. But, how often have the most deserving actually won this thing?

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, Yul has the idol and can't be voted off until the final 3. So, the worst case scenario can't happen. Though anything that involves Adam not getting voted off within the first 30 minutes would be pretty awful.

Cinemania said...

But they can force Yul to play the idol, which will leave him vulnerable. And if Yul uses his vote on Ozzy, out he goes, and my worst case scenario is back in play.

Cinemania said...

If Adam had half a brain, he'd be working over the girls, not Ozzy. They're two votes, and that's all he needs.

Of course, the notion that Adam has half a brain is pretty amusing in and of itself.