San Juan del Sur – Episode 1: “Suck it up and survive”
And here we go, another season of Survivor is underway.
I pondered whether I’d blog this season, not that my interest is waning, but my available time for blogging definitely has.
So, let’s try something new this season (for at least a few posts and we’ll how how this works).
Instead of writing a paragraph for each contestant, I’m simply taking notes, and transcribe them (with some editing) here afterwards. It still won’t be a recap, I just don’t see the point of recaps. Side note: Survivor bloggers (not all of you, of course): why doing recaps? I mean, either your readers have seen the show and they don’t need to be told what happened, either they didn’t watch and they’re unlikely reading you at the moment. It’ll still be an analysis with speculations.
I hope it’ll be interesting to read. If you’re a regular reader, please tell me in the comments if you like the change of format or not. If you’re not a regular reader, you can still tell me if you like the format or not of course.
So, San Juan del Sur…
First the location. Nothing against Nicaragua, but seriously, did Survivor needed to return there? Didn’t they learn their lesson for Survivor 21 and 22? What’s the point in being by the water if nobody can really go in the water, whether it be for frolicking, fishing or competing in amazing challenges (water challenges are always better for some reason). Oh well.
Blood Vs Water? Hell yeah, that’s a great format that could work well pretty much every season (no, I’m not saying that it should be brought back every season). The fact that it’s an all new cast makes it both more interesting (as everyone will be playing with the same chances of winning), but at the same time, it makes the format a bit less… I don’t know… It kinda makes it harder to get into the game from the get-go. Not only we have to memorize who the new contestants are (like every other season, that’s not the issue), but also what their relationships are.
However, my “issue” can also come from the fact that for the first time in a very long time, I haven’t watched nor read any of the previews.
I got into that first episode without knowing anything about the contestants (I just knew that there were a douchebag baseball player and some twins from the Amazing Race – note that I don’t care about either – baseball and the Amazing Race – so I have no idea who they are), I hadn’t even seen most of their faces before that first episode started.
Here are my impressions as the episode went on:
– The baseball player, John Rocker, I heard that he was a big xenophobic douchebag. Well, I don’t think I’ll be a big fan. And his girlfriend, Julie McGee, she kinda annoyed me as soon as she opened her mouth during “day zero”.
– The mother and daughter, Missy Payne and Baylor Wilson were amusing for their first night out there. They could fit the spot of the underdogs that go far.
– The two Florida brothers, Alec Christy and Drew Christy, could go either way. They could be the stupid dudes nobody cares for and be out early, or they could prove to be more of a contestant than they look and go far. We’ll see.
– The father and daughter, Dale Wentworth and Kelley Wentworth, could be OK and prove to be a very strong pair. Of course, I realize here that I’m getting first impressions of them as pairs, and they won’t be pairs for the first part of the game, and some if not most of them won’t be playing as pairs at all. But so far, this is all I have to gauge them, so bear with me.
– Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly. This season’s fans of the game apparently. They seem smart, surprisingly outdoorsy (I’m not saying “surprisingly” because they’re gay, but because they’re New Yorkers) and socially skilled. They could be OK, and they’re kinda my favorites at this very moment.
– The Amazing Race twins, Nadiya Anderson and Natalie Anderson seem quite obnoxious at first.
– The Louisiana firefighting dad and son, Keith Nale and Wes Nale seem quite funny and could be well liked, even if they don’t seem like strong competitors.
Exile Island! Yeah, it’s back. I always liked the twist, I’m glad it’s back. I’m also glad to see that the way it works allows for some good strategy and drama. First the whole competing against your love one is a great idea. And I like that they scratched redemption island at the last minute for this, I assume that they understood that very few – if any – people would exchange their spot with their loved ones to redemption (Rupert is probably the only person on earth that’d be willing to play Survivor and do that), and that the likelihood of having two loved ones together there is very slim. On the other hand, with this format, we will likely have loved one competing against each other every week for a while, and what made redemption interesting in the original Blood Vs Water was that it allowed contestants to interact from one team to the other (as “Fuck you Brad Culpepper” can attest). We can (and will) have that too.
Then, I like the whole way it plays out: first competing against your loved one and potentially send them to Exile, and then sending one of your teammate there. The strategy layer of the game suddenly got thicker.
– I like Jeremy Collins. Sure, he kinda made a blunder more or less volunteering for the first challenge. Who did he think he was going to be pitted against if not his wife? But honestly, it’s not a blunder that’s going to play against him in any way, and it even gave him some sympathy points seeing how many people in his tribe wanted to align with him afterwards. I’m still not sure how good of a player he will be, but as a character, he’s quite likable so far.
I’m not too sure about Val Collins on the other hand. She seems a bit cocky, although, she’s obviously a strong woman, and she may have the means to back her cockiness up. We’ll see.
– Once arrived in their respective tribes, Dale seemed instantly on the outs because he’s so much older than everyone else. I always think it’s kinda unfair when tribes aren’t randomly divided and someone ends up so much on the outs just from their demographic appartenance. However, if I’m correct there was supposed to be 20 contestant but a pair had to drop out because of not passing the health check I think. It probably was one or two older people and one of them would have been in the same tribe as Dale. He seems very smart though, and while he’s still on the outs, he has gained himself some time on the island with his ability to make fire. Still, getting more than one vote during the first tribal council is never a good sign. Now, there is a question though. What if the trinket he kept to make a fake idol was actually the real idol? What do you think? In any case, I’m sure this will come into play later. I believe many players make fake idols, but only those who have an impact (and/or get played) make the cut.
– Could there be a firefighters plus one alliance in the making, with Jeremy, Val, Keith and Wes? If the four of them make it to the merge, that definitely seems realistic. This is the season (with Blood Vs Water, plus two people from opposite tribes going to Exile together) for cross-tribal alliances.
Keith could also be a player to watch. He seems like a very smart and observant guy.
I’m not as positive about Wes though. Probably a very likable kid, but very naive and inexperienced. The way he “outed” (not really, but you see what I mean) John was quite a bad move in my opinion. He should have become friends with the guy first, possibly make an alliance, and then tell him he knows who he is. From the get-go, he could simply draw a target on his back, and this is exactly what happened in John’s mind.
– Drew is too arrogant.
– I like what I’m seeing with Josh. He seems to have managed to make himself the go-to-guy in his alliance. He seems to be the most aware about what’s going on so far. Yet, I’m a bit confused about his vote. Either it was a bad move, or a genius one. First I thought it was a throw-away vote, but it doesn’t make much sense at this point. Also, he seems to be the tightest with Baylor, and she’s the only girl who voted against Nadiya, so why vote against her? The thing that makes me think that it could be a very smart move, is that this way Baylor may feel threatened, and it could be a good way for Josh to break the male-female divide that will bring nothing good to the tribe. Not sure, I’m still pondering this one.
– By the end of the episode, Nadiya seemed to have a better social game than I first game her credit for, but it didn’t save her. I think her only mistake – but apparently a big one – was to not downplay her Amazing Race fame. I think that when you’re half-famous like that, the best thing to do is to shut our mouth about it without making it a secret either. Here from what I understand, her reputation from that show wasn’t stellar, and she was speaking about it a little too much. For the first vote, especially when there is no clear target, people will look for any reason to make you a target. She painted on herself a pretty big one.
– Jon Misch, Jaclyn Schultz, sorry, I have nothing for you this week.
Next time on Survivor:
Well, the previous didn’t tell us anything about next week, so I can’t really tell you anything myself.
What did you think of this new format? Should I keep it? Ditch it? Go back to the old format? Find another one? (honestly, I’m not too sure myself, so do not hesitate to give me your opinions on the thing)
Next player voted out:
How could I know?
Unlike most of the other Survivor bloggers, I don’t really make predictions after episode one, but right now, I like Josh, Jeremy and Keith in that order.
Do you want to read more?
- Rob has a website, a podcast and an amazing know-it-alls analysis.
- Jeff Pitman’s True Dork Times is a must read every week.
- Stephen Fishbach’s blog too (with illustrations by Erik Reichenbach)
- Dalton Ross at EW.
- Andy Denhart’s Reality Blurred.
- Super Jude’s blog.
more to come…