Posts Tagged ‘parvati shallow’

TV on the Radio: The Survivor Finale

As if Tim hasn’t written enough on the subject, today he’s teaming up with John S to break down the finale (and reunion!) of Survivor: Redemption Island. Was this season exciting? Was Rob a villain? Was Philip actually crazy? Who was better looking: Andrea or Ashley? And will Parvati be back next season? Click here and all these questions and more will be discussed and speculated on.

Monday Medley

What we read while Seth Greenberg wondered what he did…

Survivor Survival Guide: Previewing the Finale

I hope you don’t have a problem with me poaching part of this from last season’s “Previewing the Finale” post. My attitude on Survivor finales hasn’t really changed in the last seven months. If you already read that post, just skip down to the first bold headline.

Tonight is the season finale for Survivor: Nicaragua, and even though this has been, by nearly every measure, a disappointing season, I would describe my excitement for this evening’s proceedings as embarrassingly high. Survivor finales have regularly amped me up more than the finales of any other drama. This is for two main reasons. First, they provide closure in a way no other series does, for I think the obvious someone-wins-and-there-ain’t-no-cliffhangers reason. Second, most of the great dramas I have watched recently (The WireThe SopranosDexter, Mad Men, and Lost), I have watched either online or on DVD, meaning I can watch the finale immediately after the penultimate episode. This is one of my least favorite things about watching shows on DVD.

I love the Survivor finale because, no matter how clearcut it seems going in, you can never rely on the fickle psychology of the jury. You can’t predict which players will graciously vote for the person who caused their elimination because he was the best player, which ones will remain loyal to their alliances long after they’ve died, and which ones will hold long-term grudges. These questions are only amplified by the ambiguity of watching a season of Survivor: We the viewers only see so much, and it’s no secret that the editing plays a big role in the portrayal of different characters.

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Survivor Survival Guide: Anything Can Happen

“King Arthur’s journey is officially ended.” –Coach

“The Heroes built it and the Villains burned it.” –Parvati

“This is how I hustle, this is how I make my money: I come out here and play Survivor. That’s what I’m best at.” –Sandra

“If she can win the game twice, there is a flaw in the game.” –Russell

Perhaps it was because it was clear that one of the two people I thought should win was going to win. Perhaps it was because the voting went almost exactly as I expected,* from five down to four down to three down to one. Or perhaps it was because I wrote those 2,000 fawning words about the euphoria of a Survivor season finale.

*Qualification time: I said “almost exactly.” Even though I said Parvati was the favorite, I thought we would get to a Final Three of Russell, Parvati, and Sandra, and that Sandra would win in that scenario (I thought 4-3-2 before the final tribal and 5-3-1 after it, with JT sticking with Russell. He didn’t.).

But I have to admit, there was something a little disappointing about last night’s finale. Let’s review it (you can also skip down to “The Disappointment of It All” if you think you’re above a quasi-analytical recap):

FROM FIVE TO FOUR

It started with highlights from the players’ previous Survivor experiences, and what struck me most was the difference in the reactions of Colby and Russell when they each lost. I had forgotten just how likable Colby was on Australia; I mean, he jumped up and fist-pumped the moment he lost because he was excited for Tina! What a guy! Russell, meanwhile, looked like the sorest loser in Survivor history–a designation he would add to later.

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Survivor Survival Guide: Previewing the Finale

The night the first Survivor finale aired in the summer of 2000 is oddly salient in my memory. My parents were on vacation, so my cousin was staying with us, and I remember having to go with her to drive my brother to a friend’s house quickly before the finale started–except that I was kind of ashamed of falling prey to this reality TV thing, so I never mentioned it, and we had trouble finding the house on a secluded street, and I was panicking in the back seat because I wanted Rudy to win so badly, and we ended up getting home about two minutes after the episode started. Even today, when I pass that secluded street, I think immediately of that night.

Like I said, oddly salient.

Although the Survivor finale that night didn’t give me the result I wanted, it certainly did deliver. It gave us arguably the landmark moment in reality television and a winner who, while unpopular with many, was probably the best the show could have had for its long-term health.*

*The polarity of opinions on Richard Hatch and how he played the game remains an issue 20 seasons into the game. Does controlling the game and risking the alienation of others constitute playing it the best? Or is it better to lay low, ride coattails, and hope your opponent is voted against? It’s a subjective stance, and it’s what makes the finale so interesting time after time.

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Survivor Survival Guide: Loose Lips Sink Ships

“Are you with me or are you against me?”

“I’m against you, Russell.”

–Sandra

“Who invited Boston Rob to the party: Are you with me or are you against me?”

–Parvati

For the second time in this season of Survivor, we were coming off an explosive, landscape-shaking Tribal Council. Just as Russell’s earlier victory over Boston Rob, his decision to ax Danielle last week reshaped the final days of this season. And just like earlier, the episode after the big move couldn’t possibly live up to its predecessor.

Even with reduced expectations, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” was disappointing. You can even make a case it was the worst episode of the season; it was easily the least dramatic since at least the merger. It almost felt like an early-season episode. There was a long “Previously on Survivor” (if a justifiably long one; even I had forgotten there were two Tribals last week), they showed the entire theme song (you know it’s an action-packed episode when they skip the intro song), and they spent a lot of time on mundane camp stuff like treemail (I don’t know if you realized, but it was sponsored by Sprint) and Rupert’s inconsiderate late-night wood-chopping.

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Survivor Survival Guide: The Sinking Ship

“I’m not fully in control of this game right now; me and Parvati are equally in control, and that makes me worried.” –Russell

“He’s getting outplayed by me AND DANIELLE at this point.” –Parvati on Russell

“Russell is insane.” –Danielle

Bravo, Survivor. You gave us an episode that matched this season’s earlier showdown between Boston Rob and Russell at a far more significant and usually predictable part of the season. And somehow, through two more immunity challenges that neither won, through another hunt for a hidden idol that neither found, and through two more tribals, Rupert and Colby are still standing.*

*This is especially astonishing in Colby’s case, considering he wasn’t even a member of the top alliance within the Heroes’ camp. I remember thinking how strange it was he even made it to the merge, and now he’s in the final six!

The episode started with the fallout from Candice’s betrayal of the Heroes in voting out Amanda last week. That left the Heroes down to two remaining members, Rupert and Colby, with the former describing Candice as “weak, pathetic, self-centered, and manipulative” before saying in almost Coach-speak, “Colby and I are on a stranded ship. There are no other heroes.”

Rupert then decided to go off on Russell at breakfast, calling him a “disgusting” human being who cared only for himself. Russell naturally didn’t back down, and the two digressed into a much-beeped argument that didn’t really go anywhere.*

*This episode had about as much cursing as any I can remember in the show’s history.

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Survivor Survival Guide: Jumping Ship

“This is ridiculous! Colby!” –Danielle

“I didn’t even see what happened. I was watching Treasure Island.” –Colby

“Jumping Ship” established its premise early: Led by Rupert, the Heroes would try to sway Sandra to their side; Russell would counter by trying to get Candice to come over to the dark side. The vote would almost solely be determined by their respective yet intertwined decisions. Both seemed receptive to the offers of the one-time opposition. Sandra still wanted Russell gone while Candice appeared persuaded by Russell’s not-quite promise to take her to the top three.

Things got more interesting after the Reward Challenge, which split the nine into three teams of three to play “Survivor Shuffle,” a form of shuffleboard. In relatively unsuspenseful fashion, Colby snuck within Russell’s puck on the game’s final turn to win it for the Blue team, which also included Danielle and Amanda. The prize had to be one of the most incongruous Survivor awards ever: a trip to author Robert Louis Stevenson’s house (now a museum) that would include a tour, a viewing of the theatrical version of Treasure Island, and a night in a bed. Danielle and Amanda instantly began thinking about the possibility of a hidden immunity idol, completely ignoring ALL the fascinating aspects of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, which housed original copies of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped, AND Treasure Island! As someone who has marveled at the L. Ron Hubbard House in DC, I was really put off by their lack of interest.

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Survivor Survival Guide: Going Down in Flames

“He’s a good old country boy.” –JT on Russell

“Giving Russell the idol could blow up in my face. He could never have been in trouble. He could be the leader of the girls. Do I believe it? Not for a second.” –JT

“Do you believe what Sandra told you, or do you believe the obvious truth?” –JT

People are villains for a reason. Don’t trust ‘em.” –JT

My respect for JT was at an all-time high four weeks into this season, when he teamed with Tom and Colby to blindside Cirie and eliminate one of the game’s biggest strategic threats. It seemed as if JT, Tom, and Colby would seize control of the Heroes tribe. One week later, I was bewildered when JT went back on what he did a week earlier and voted off Tom. See, look what I wrote then:

“I’m really perplexed by JT’s decision, mainly because he forfeited so much of his power in moving from the guy who saved one alliance to the guy who almost wrecked the one he’s with now. He just made it a lot harder for himself to win the game.”

Well, that’s got nothing on how JT has managed to screw himself and his tribe these last two weeks. He and the Heroes got played not once, but twice—first by Russell, and later more damningly by Parvati.

JT gave Russell the Heroes’ immunity idol last week so Russell could save himself from the presumed female alliance at the Villains camp, voting Parvati out in the process. Russell, of course, needed no such saving, kept the idol, and voted off Courtney instead. Continue reading

Survivor Survival Guide: “Survivor History”

“He just handed me $1 million. I guess he can afford it.” – Russell

“I cannot believe that kid won.” – Parvati

Don’t do it, JT. Don’t do it!

JT did it.

Continuing to act under the assumption that a strong all-female alliance is running the Villains, JT made his boldest—and dumbest—move yet: He gave away his own hidden immunity idol to Russell, thinking the architect behind the Villains’ actual alliance was on the chopping block. The move could have far-reaching ramifications as the two tribes prepare to merge with five members on each side.

“Survivor History” started with some especially blatant product placement from Outback Steakhouse. The winners of the Reward Challenge—which involved balancing between two walls on increasingly small pegs—would get a feast from Outback. Now, it isn’t new for Survivor to pimp products; I’m just not used to hearing contestants say things like “We just love Outback; we always go to Outback” (Sandra) and “Anything you want it—the Outback way” (Russell). The challenge had a nice strategic twist to it where each tribe had to rank its members from strongest to weakest to determine the matchups, but the Villains won so easily that it didn’t really come into play (Jerri outlasted Colby, Sandra beat Rupert, and Courtney took care of Amanda).*

*Sandra AND Courtney contributing to a challenge victory? Outrageous!

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