Survivor Philippines Episode 7

Ahhh the merge is here and in one of the most unpredictable episodes in a long time, we saw RC go home after Penner saved himself with a Hidden Immunity Idol.

Just How Good Was this Episode?

Where do we even start? There are so many things that could have happened and so much I am sure that we were not shown as far as deal making goes.

People are saying that this might be the episode in the post-Heroes vs. Villains era of Survivor, but I still believe that one goes to the South Pacific merge episode. In that one, we got so much more resolution than in this one. This episode had so much uncertainty that it’s hard to tell if this decision will even affect anything at the next Tribal Council.

This serves well for the rest of the season, as South Pacific turned terribly boring for the next 4 or 5 episodes post-merge, while I think that this one will remain interesting perhaps for the rest of the season. To put it in movie terms, the payoff wasn’t as high here, because we’re not really sure what the aftermath will be.

What we saw on this week’s episode was something nearly unprecedented in Survivor history in which essentially factions of 3 different tribes combined to target 3 other people. There were 8 people that formed a majority alliance in this episode!

It helps that they were targeting returning players, but still that blows my mind!

Did Jeff Kent Strike Out?

Now would be a good point to discuss this week’s big decision. Jeff Kent was faced with 2 main options of how to vote in this week’s episode. His first option was to join Pete, Abi-Maria, Artis, Lisa, and Malcolm with his group of Denise and Carter in order to split the votes against Penner and RC.

Now at first this seems like an alright choice for him, being a strong male leader who’s alliance is down in the numbers. He gets to join a group that has some serious factions in it. Usually he would be a target in this scenario, but instead he has the possibility of getting rid of someone from the other tribe!

But, I think this ended up being the worse choice for him to make, because on the other end he was offered for his main alliance of him, Carter, Denise, and Penner to be joined by Skupin and RC in order to create a majority alliance of 6. Had he taken this, he would have been  in the majority of a majority alliance!

But, for Jeff Kent there was one problem with this. Yes, this alliance would feature 2 returning players.

Jeff Kent hates returning players.

He is scared to death of them and will do anything, yes even screw up his own game, to not lose to a returning player.

So instead of taking what looks like a pretty for sure thing by bringing in RC and Skupin, he joined Pete to split the votes and unsuccessfully got Penner out.

This leaves us at what should be a really interesting episode.

It would seem like Penner would be an obvious choice for the next boot, but in a season where there is a non-unified 8 person alliance, anything could happen.

What Should Each Player Do Going Forward?

Let’s take a look at what every person’s best move should be going forward, now that we are at the final 10.

Penner: It looks like Penner will be pulling a Troyzan, in which he isolates himself from everyone trying to win out with immunities. Let’s hope this isn’t so, while Troyzan’s choices were extremely dumb, at least he was a challenge threat, and was facing all women and Tarzan who he could legitimately have a chance at winning every immunity. Penner is probably not in the top 5 challenge competitors left. He is way to savvy to give up like this, throwing a large fit to further remove himself from everyone. Penner needs to find a couple of factions (Denise and Malcolm and Lisa perhaps?) to form something with. But I think his best move is to try and throw somebody under the bus and just get to the next week.

Pete: Well he came out on top this week and does seem to have the most people on his side. I think next week he should go after Skupin, then perhaps try to blindside Jeff Kent, in order to get a real grip on the tribe. Eventually he should get it down to him, Artis, Abi, and Lisa, making sure to get Lisa nowhere near the final 3.

Artis: See Pete.

Abi-Maria: See Pete.

Jeff Kent: Tough to say. I think he and Penner are pretty much done, so his best move would be to just get rid of him ASAP. From there, maybe try to get Malcolm and Lisa on his side to swing the numbers his way. Maybe even get Skupin, because really, he has no more experience than them this far into the game, he’s not a threat.

Carter: See Jeff Kent. (Speaking of which, could Carter be the Fabio to like a Jeff Kent’s Marty? Obviously Marty and Fabio weren’t as close, but kind of similar huh?)

Skupin: Lay low. Start building solid relationships with everyone not close with Pete. Eventually he could turn into an important number to flip the game around. If he sees any opportunity for an alliance, he needs to take it.

Malcolm: He is probably in the best spot, well second best anyways. He didn’t get any blood on his hands in this vote (having no relationship with Penner and didn’t really betray RC). He is right in the middle of the alliance being either #4 or 5 in Pete’s alliance and having a connection with Denise that could get him to jump. Not to mention he is probably still in good with Skupin. Malcolm’s decision should be based on which way the cards fall. At some point he will have to make a move, but it cannot be too early or too late or he will be screwed.

Denise: She is in the best position in my opinion (unless Pete can lead some sort of Tandang 5 charge) having allies on every corner, while not being the obvious threat that Malcolm is. At some point, people are going to turn against Malcolm’s likability and athleticism to try to get him out. Denise, while very athletic, will not get this strong push against her (I don’t think). My advice for Malcolm is the same for her. And my advice for both of them is to stick together. They are each other’s best bet in the game.

Lisa: She continues to rise in my mind every week and I don’t think her winning is inconceivable. In fact, I think that she will make the final 3 as Penner not-so-subtly predicted this week. To do this, Lisa must decide who she wants to play like: Lill or Sandra? If she plays like Lill, then she will constantly be convinced by others (Pete is kinda like Fairplay in this scenario) to do what they want. This will cause others to see her as a pushover and not win. Not to mention, Lill, at the last minute, chose to stand up for herself and voted out the person she had the best chance of beating!

On the other hand, Sandra is the type of player who really understands the game, remains in the middle, and jumps wherever she needs to jump. Lisa is also right in the middle and will go wherever the numbers go, but she needs to make clear that others see her as playing intentionally. If they don’t, all the niceness in the world won’t give her that million dollars. I think that Lisa knows the game. She speaks the Survivor language, and I think that that gives her a solid shot at winning this game.

Random Thoughts

Is there going to be a final 2!?!? RC became the first jury member, which would make a final 2 more practical (with 9 jury members). Otherwise, they risk the chance of a tie (with 8 jury members and a final 3). I’m excited at this possibility, because I do think final 2 is better than 3.

We still have 2 Hidden Immunity Idols left and unless Pete and Malcolm decide to team up, we will definitely see them come into play.

Was Penner tipped off to play his idol? What if someone told Penner to play his idol in order to get RC out and next week’s tirade is just an elaborate ruse, in which Penner is actually a part of a majority alliance?! Probably not.

It will be interesting to see what Skupin’s plan is, because he did ditch voting for Pete and instead voted for Penner. Too many possibilities to get into this.

Player of the week: Malcolm. He dealt with Lisa in a great way and this vote establishes him and someone who will be important in the future.

Next week: Who really knows right?

Why the Television Show Survivor is Among the Best Games Ever Created

This is something I wrote for my creative writing class and is for all people, hoping to explain my love for the show Survivor.

CBS’s television show Survivor helped to bring an array of cheesy reality shows onto viewers television sets, much of which people would consider to be the downfall of television as we know it. Shows would be created, where people battled in order to win love from a stranger, or where people competed to win plastic surgery, or to see who could lose the most weight, as well as shows following around faux celebrities, cake shops, and balloon makers. All of which contribute to the mind numbing of American teens and the ever increasing American obesity rate. Survivor however, remains unique and interesting after 11 years and 22 seasons. The reason being that in Survivor, we have one of the most fascinating games ever created. Today, I will give my reasons as to why I believe Survivor to be one of the best games ever created by stating its history, contents, unique attributes, and strategies that have helped players succeed.

The show was first created by British producer Charlie Parsons in 1992 and was first picked up by Swedish television in 1997. After 3 years on the Swedish airwaves, the show was brought to America, with Mark Burnett producing. The show took off due to its intriguing premise, 16 people living on an island with no outside interaction or help, forced to survive both the elements and each other, with a person being voted off every 3 days. This process continues until 1 person remained that person earning the title Sole Survivor and a million dollar prize.

When the game starts the 16-20 individuals are split into two even teams. For the first three weeks or so, the two teams compete in challenges, the winning team gaining “immunity” while the loser is forced to go to “tribal council” and vote off one member. Once there remains 10-12 players, the teams combine into one in what is called the “merge”. From then on, each challenge is an individual one, where players hope to earn “individual immunity”.

During the show’s first season, most castaways (as the competitors are often called) focused on surviving the elements, rather than surviving getting voted off. This meant that you wanted to keep people to were able to get food, build shelter, and worked hard around the camp, while being physically capable of helping your “tribe” win a challenge. At first, players were eliminated for being either weak or annoying. However, at the time of the merge, this all changed. One player, Richard Hatch, decided to come together with 3 other players and vote as a block each time they voted for someone to exit the game, making it more likely that whoever they voted for would be voted out. This would become known as an alliance, and would end up becoming an integral part of the game. This alliance, which featured weak and abrasive former Navy Seal Rudy, voted off tribe leader and hard worker Gretchen, much to the surprise of many. This would set the precedent for the rest of the season (and the show/game as a whole) and Richard’s four would come to be the final four left in the game.

Probably the most important part of the game, is how to win when it gets down to the final 2 players. Rather than having the final 2 compete in some sort of challenge, to decide the winner, the winner is decided by a jury made up of 7 to 9 of the last players to be voted out. The jury asks questions to the 2 or 3 remaining players and judges who they believe to be the winner. This way each player is held accountable for every move they made the entire game. Often times, the best way to get to the end is to deceive and to backstab alliances, but in the end, you must face the very people that you have deceived and backstabbed. Some players, such as Rob Mariano in All-Stars, were not awarded the final prize solely based on the fact that he lied to people so much. Yet, Thailand player Brian Heidik did the exact same thing and still received the title, because his jurors saw him as the best. Others, like Todd Herzog from China and Chris Daugherty from Vanuatu buttered up their jurors, making them feel important and smooth talking their way to victory. It is almost ironic that in a game that nearly requires the making and breaking of friendships, the final decision goes to the people who were screwed over. It would be like deciding the Super Bowl by asking all the other teams in the NFL who was better. In Survivor the losers do get vengeance, and that is something that players must keep in mind while forming their strategies.

Having the jury makes Survivor completely subjective every single season. There is never one way to win, because players must always be adjusting to the people they are around. The game’s tagline is “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” which serves as a guide, but in the end, it really is all up to the jury and whatever qualities they feel like the winner should have. In Australia, Colby Donaldson dominated the challenges, winning nearly every single one, yet lost in the finals, while in Palau, Tom Westman did the same thing and was awarded the title. In Africa, Ethan won for being a nice guy, but in Marquesas Neleh lost for being too nice. In order to win the game, you must adapt to your situation at each moment, because even the game adds new twists every season. While the core stays in tact, twists such as tribal swaps, where the teams are switched up, or the hidden immunity idol, a device that if played correctly makes a player immune from a vote, have forced people to have elastic strategies.

Survivor lasts 39 days. For these 39 days, there are no breaks. It is 24/7. Thus, what become everyday tasks like gathering wood or cooking food, are integral parts of the game. Every action that is made for 39 days, is by default strategic. Every conversation has a potential impact on the game. This often causes real friendships to be formed, despite the fact that there is always a knowledge that you are trying to beat that other person. In Amazon, player Rob Cesternino had a solid alliance with three other players, whom he considered to be his friends. With only 7 players remaining in the game, he basically had a spot in the final 4, if they stuck to voting out the other 3. But, when friend and alliance mate Alex admitted to him that when it came down to the final 4, he would join the other 2 and vote out Rob, Rob rethought his strategy. While Alex thought that since they were friends, it wouldn’t really matter what place they all got, Rob wanted to win it all. That night Rob joined the other 3 not in his alliance and voted out Alex that night, completely blindsiding him. It is the challenge to separate real life from the game that makes it so complicated, yet so interesting.

All kinds of strategies have been employed to get further in the game. What works in one season, may not work in the other. A list of some strategies:

-The physical player: this player is often athletic and hopes to immunity and protect himself from being voted out each week. E. Colby Donaldson Australia, Ozzy Lusth Cook Islands

-The schemer: this player will lie, cheat, and steal to advance himself. He will often tell you one thing while planning to do another. Ex. Rob Cesternino Amazon, Jonny Fairplay Pearl Islands

-The leader: this player gathers a group of people around him/her and sticks with those people while telling them how to vote each week. Ex. Ami Cusack Vanuatu, Lex Van de Berge Africa

-The “anyone but me” strategy: this player is willing to vote for anyone, no matter how close they are to that person just to make it one more week. Ex. Sandra Diaz Twine Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains

-The coattail rider: this player will often stick to a leader and just follow their lead all the way to the end, hoping that jurors will be too angry at the leader to vote for them to win Ex. Natalie Tenerelli Redemption Island, Fabio Birza Nicaragua

-The scapegoat: this player sets themselves apart as “crazy” making themselves a viable option to take to the finals as nobody will want to vote for them to win Ex. Phillip Sheppard Redemption Island

There have been many other strategies that have been put into place, and what makes Survivor so great is that each one can be great or terrible depending on who is there.

The game of Survivor is among the most intense, well thought out games to ever exist and although it hides in the middle of primetime TV on Wednesday nights, it is first and foremost a game, that is well worth the watch.