Friday, May 25, 2018

Survivor: Ghost Island

originally aired February 28, 2018 to May 23, 2018

The order in which players left the game and the impact they left behind:
  • Stephanie Gonzalez (Malolo) This was a season where players tried playing hard right out of the gate.  This is ridiculous strategy. 
  • Jacob (Malolo) If you're going to become obsessive about advantages, you might consider having a solid position without them. 
  • Morgan (Naviti) The early tribe switch-up caused a lot of drama. One of Domenick's early allies.
  • Brendan (Malolo) The victim in the season's first great moment, one of the more dramatic tribal councils in the early part of a season.
  • Stephanie Johnson (Malolo) At this point Malolo had become easy pickings.
  • James (Malolo) After another tribe swap, the surprisingly crucial Angela in the middle part of the season was responsible for his ouster.
  • Bradley (Naviti) One of the stronger strategists in the season, a victim of the multiple tribe swaps, eventually.
  • Chris (Naviti) Immediately made himself Domenick's target by volunteering as leader in the first challenge.  Biggest mistake was refusing to show his vulnerable side to anyone.  Otherwise a strong player.
  • Libby (Malolo) One of several generic young lady, at least from the edit, basically a number.
  • Desiree (Naviti) Decided way too late and too clumsily to try and compete.
  • Jenna (Malolo) Another generic young lady, at least from the edit.
  • Michael (Malolo) Great player, ultimately on the wrong side of the numbers, and the insane Naviti plan to stay strong from the original tribe even though most of them were always going to be cannon fodder.
  • Chelsea (Naviti) Another generic young lady, at least from the edit.
  • Kellyn (Naviti) The season cast two women who were proud of reclaiming their independence through divorce this season; Kellyn was by far the more obnoxious and smug of them.
  • Sebastian (Naviti) Seemingly cast for the Ozzy role, for which he was hugely unqualified.
  • Donathan (Malolo) The dude cast to be both a Deep Accent Person and gay, and clearly not at all prepared to play this game.
  • Angela (Naviti) The other proud divorcee, and ex-military; her edit heavily emphasized this while she was still a threat, but eventually she faded into the background.  But still a notable player in the season.
  • Laurel (Malolo) Part of the strongest finals I can think of, all three of them totally deserving to be there.  Always knew how to keep her position strong in the game.
  • Domenick (Naviti) The would-be alpha male, just this side of another Russell, with an ego raging out of control.  Clearly a very strong player, but took for granted the strong players working around him.  Acknowledged for his season dominance as part of the first-ever tie in final tribal history.
  • Wendell (Naviti) As good as Domenick was, he never seemed to realize or care how crucial his relationship with Wendell really was, or how hard Wendell had to work to keep it from dooming their chances.  Domenick and Wendell dominated the season as few players ever have, and were noticeably cocky about it, thanks to the Naviti pact to stay strong, with them always at the top.  But Wendell was better and totally deserved to win, thanks to that crucial tie-breaking vote from Laurel, who was always Wendell's secret weapon.  Had Domenick actually decided to do the fire challenge with Wendell, it would've been the first time since Tom and Ian in Palau that great competitors and allies had such a dramatic showdown.  That choice at least preserved the strong final three, and led to the best of them winning.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers

originally aired September 27, 2017 to December 20, 2017

The order in which players left the game and the impact they left behind:
  • Katrina (Heroes) The initial chaos of her tribe meant it was either Katrina or Chrissy who would go home first this season.  Honestly, I don't really care what Katrina would've ended up doing, but I really wish it had been Chrissy.
  • Simone (Hustlers) Ouster mostly reflective of the general character, or generally the poor character, and integrity, of this season.
  • Patrick (Hustlers) Probably, he and Simone simply didn't really reflect the intended character of their original tribe.  But this season's depiction of the tribe themes was terrible, and pretty much pointless, the first time Survivor has really dropped the ball in that regard.
  • Alan (Heroes) Honestly, sometimes it really seems black men are cast in this show just to look terrible in this game (Earl being a notable exception).
  • Roark (Healers) First time Chrissy orchestrates the exit of another woman.
  • Ali (Hustlers) Second time Chrissy orchestrates the exit of another woman.
  • Jessica (Healers) A victim of the numbers, and her own stupidity, forming a relationship with Cole and not realizing that at least strategically it's a huge, huge mistake.
  • Desi (Healers) A victim of the numbers.
  • Cole (Healers) Basically a huge idiot, and a major reason the season played out the way it did.
  • JP (Heroes) Seemingly nothing much more than a beefcake meathead.  But an amiable presence in an increasingly chaotic season, which is something of a miracle.
  • Joe (Healers) A true spirit of chaos, but worth rooting for as opposition to an unlikable dominant alliance.  Also probably the best player to watch this season, until the final few episodes.
  • Lauren (Hustlers) One of the members of the majority alliance that was fully convinced they were in charge of the game.  Which of course none of them were.  So they all turned on each other.
  • Ashley (Heroes) One of the actually likable members of the majority alliance.  Mostly because she was one of the expendable members, and she had no clue.  So not such a good player, and a key reason the season turned out the way it did.
  • Mike (Healers) A likable guy until he decided to become an adjunct member of the majority alliance, just to stick around.  So my respect for his gameplay fell drastically.  Betrayed the spirit of what he and Joe had fought for, and in hindsight ruined a terrific tribal council moment.
  • Devon (Hustlers) An amiable cutthroat is still a cutthroat, and he's a key reason the horrible majority alliance happened.  None of the key members could've made it as far as they did on their own.  And none of them won.
  • Ryan (Hustlers) One of them "lifelong fans" who too often turn out to be horrible students of the game, who mostly survive as weasels. 
  • Chrissy (Heroes) A horribly insecure person who has made her life a fiction about how secure she is.  And maybe in the real world, she really is secure, but Survivor is a game that exposes people for what they really are, rather than what they've managed to make of their lives. 
  • Ben (Heroes) Was actually kind of unlikable as long as he was leading the majority alliance, but his true character came through once he was forced out and had to scramble to stay alive in the game.  And that became, thanks to the latest twists in the game, and how it has evolved, one of the most thrilling finishes in Survivor history.  Honestly, it was a much-needed redemptive arc for the season as a whole, which otherwise characterizes the increasingly desperate nature of the game as it tries to justify its continued existence.  The producers seem content with a false image of the competitiveness of players trumping the ability to cast people actually worth watching.  But rats are still rats, and viewers, I think, would much rather watch snakes devour them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Survivor: Game Changers

originally aired March 8, 2017 to May 24, 2017

The order players left the game and the impact they left behind:
  • Ciera (Mana/Blood vs. Water, Cambodia) One of many players to find out she wasn't the mastermind she thought she was this season.
  • Tony (Mana/Cagayan) One of my personal favorite players and winners in Survivor history vastly overplayed his hand this season.
  • Caleb (Mana/Kaoh Rong) He didn't seem as impressive this time, so it kind of casts doubt on how impressive he really was the first time around.
  • Malcolm (Mana/Philippines, Caramoan) The first victim of the somewhat arbitrary screwy twists this season.
  • J.T. (Nuku/Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains) Exposed as really needing a weak season to win in.
  • Sandra (Mana/Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains) No elimination has ever brought me greater satisfaction than seeing a two-time fluke winner finally, finally voted out, which made her cockiness this season even more egregious than Rich Hatch in the original returning players season, All-Stars.
  • Jeff Varner (Mana/The Australian Outback, Cambodia) Here's where things get interesting, and not in a good way.  The circumstances surrounding Jeff's exit nearly made me quit Survivor.  And I'm one of those viewers who've watched from the very beginning, and have kept watching.  Like everyone else I thought I'd seen it all.  Jeff was never a strategic mastermind.  Clearly he thought he'd improved in that regard this season.  Until he made the most epic of Survivor blunders, outing Zeke as transgender at tribal council.  Believe me, I struggled a great deal with this.  I'm glad I wasn't live-blogging this season, because I would've written extensively about this moment, and probably I wouldn't have been able to make the decision to watch the next episode.  Putting aside what Jeff did, the reaction to it was hugely over the top.  I don't think Survivor has the moral high ground.  I just don't.  You can find numerous instances of the show handling similar situations far, far worse, barely acknowledging the magnitude of what happened in the footage it filmed and broadcast, of considerable social significance (off the top of my head: Sue Hawk and Rich Hatch in All-Stars, and the most ironic moment of a season called "One World," which the perpetrator was even given a chance to justify at the reunion, and still botched it horribly).  I get that Survivor is otherwise an excellent platform for exploring these kinds of things, trying to find common ground in a format that so often tears people apart.  This is a show about teachable moments, and it has been from the very beginning.  You can tell how far the culture, and the series, has slid since the first season in how Rudy and Rich were handled versus how Jeff and Zeke were handled.  And to compound all that, Jeff was violently betrayed, too.  Not just by Jeff Probst, who surely has seen it all, but by Survivor in general.  You don't compound one problem by creating another.  Jeff was not an unknown commodity.  I don't really care what his tribemates thought in the moment.  I get that it was tough for Zeke, because in his community this is an incredibly personal matter.  But Jeff Varner did not all of a sudden become a faceless villain.  We know this guy.  We watched him play in the second-ever season of Survivor, one of those players they brought back more than a decade later because they'd never gotten around to it but decided they still wanted to, because they knew fans even from a long distance still had happy memories of him as one of the genuinely nice players in the history of the game.  This is a game that routinely sees players make fools of themselves.  Players betray themselves in ways they never thought possible.  All the time.  Some of them learn from the experience, and some don't.  Jeff knew in an instant that he'd made a horrible mistake.  But everyone in that tribal council knew why he did it, and it wasn't because he was trying to be malicious, but because he was trying to play a game.  Robb strangling Clay will always be a far, far worse moment in this game than what Jeff did.  But they didn't immediately eject Robb.  There are viewers today who have no idea what I just referenced, and that's all you need to know, really.  The producers knew Zeke was transgender.  They knew it was going to come out.  They wanted a big moment, because at this point, and it was clear all season long, they wanted to find new justification for Survivor, prove how relevant it still is, how real it still is, and they got it, and they had no qualms about stabbing Jeff in the back to do it.  Never mind about Zeke, for a moment.  They exposed two people that episode.  They exposed Jeff to something that could have destroyed him.  Because unlike Zeke, there wasn't a community waiting to support him.  CBS made sure that it distanced itself from Jeff.  Thankfully, they backtracked in the live finale, and gave him a chance to do what he'd tried to do from the very beginning, which was apologize and try and salvage whatever peace of mind he might have left...
  • Hali (Mana/Worlds Apart) One of the quintessential "no collars" from her original season thought Jeff got a raw deal, too.  She might not be a significant player this season, but I gained new respect for her in expressing that.
  • Ozzy (Nuku/Cook Islands, Micronesia, South Pacific) Didn't really seem interested in being there.  Lost in the shuffle trying to find a new strategy.  At this point the player with the most days in the game is clearly just a participating fan.
  • Debbie (Nuku/Kaoh Rong) One of the most irritating players ever, doesn't seem to know herself very well, but knows the game a little better. 
  • Zeke (Nuku/Millennials vs. Gen X) Ironically, two seasons running his highlight had nothing to do with his gameplay but representing his community, whether willingly.  He was a better player last time.  Not much of one this time.
  • Sierra (Nuku/Worlds Apart) She was a true force to be reckoned with this season, undone mostly by cockiness (maybe a given in a season where everyone was told they were really good players). 
  • Andrea (Nuku/Redemption Island, Caramoan) Andrea wasn't quite at Sierra's level, but she surely thought she was.
  • Michaela (Manu/Millennials vs. Gen X) If she could figure out how to get out of her own way, she'd be in a much better position.  But she didn't even manage to play better the second time than she did the first.
  • Cirie (Nuku/Panama, Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains) In four seasons this is the first time I actually liked Cirie.  The player Survivor most likes to pat itself on the back about, the one who "got up off the couch," actually showed up to play this season, and her attempts at mentoring Michaela were some of the most mature moments in the history of Survivor.  This was the act of showing the legacy of the game in a good, unforced way (unlike forcing her to complete a challenge for no other reason than to achieve a "moral victory").
  • Aubry (Mana/Kaoh Rong) Wow, so the Aubry who showed so much potential last time never really showed up this time.
  • Tai (Nuku/Kaoh Rong) I can't stand the guy.  His whole vulnerability angle, which is real, is something that allows him to get far in this game, but his neediness and utter cluelessness combine for a player who will only ever cause chaos, who will flip on any "alliance" at his earliest convenience, because other than finding hidden immunity idols I really don't think Tai understands Survivor or what's expected of him.  The producers should really stop enabling him, because it would really help him, and viewers, to see Tai explained for what he is rather than making excuses for him, like Brad's behavior, which believe me you'd feel compelled to express, too, if you were playing with him.
  • Troyzan (Manu/One World) Here's a guy I always thought got a raw deal in his first season, flipped on by someone who decided they didn't need him (and Kim won, so she proved herself right), and now he's gotten a raw deal his second season, too.  The ability to form actual alliances has apparently fallen out of favor in the constant mad scrambling players seem to favor, the "I made this move!" mentality that's so reductive it misses the point of the game.  Troyzan actually found a loyal ally this time.  Two of them!  And made it to the finals.  This is not a guy who merely rides coattails.  He knows how to play.  But I doubt he'd be brought back a third time.  The edit certainly didn't seem to care he existed this season.  That's one of the problems Survivor has had, increasingly.  In its effort to chase the big personalities as they implode, they miss the solid gameplay that goes on around them. 
  • Brad (Nuku/Blood vs, Water) Here's the biggest surprise of the season, and it really seemed like he was being primed to win, with the edit, with that self-congratulating moment where he admits vulnerability and Survivor gets to remind everyone how real it is.  I thought he played the classic Tom game (Palau), and deserved the Tom victory, but if Troyzan had one weakness, it was that he was no Ian.  They really did seem too comfortable as allies.  So the inevitable became...
  • Sarah (Nuku/Cagayan) I have no idea how she does any undercover work.  The worst personality of any winner ever.  Yeah, she hustled in the later stages of the game, but watching all of it from home, I just wanted her voted out because she has such a horrible voice for engaging the viewing audience.  She sounds like a cop.  She holds herself like a cop.  If she picked up anything from Tony, it wasn't the ability to hide.  She won, basically, because everyone else self-detonated.  That was really the story of the season.  But at the same time, I am happy she won, because I liked her in her first season, and wanted to see what she could do with another opportunity.  And she won!  So clearly she made good on it, and rewarded my faith in her.  I just never expected that I would end up hating her along the way.  This was a season that left an overall bad taste in my mouth, so it figures that the winner is hard to swallow, too. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X

originally aired September 21, 2016 to December 14, 2016

The order players left the game and the impact they left behind:
  • Rachel (Takali/Gen X) Apparently hadn't watched thirty-two previous seasons to know bossiness at camp is a game killer.
  • Mari (Vanua/Millennials) A victim of the Triforce's early dominance.
  • Paul (Takali/Gen X) The fatal blow to the patriarchs of Gen X, leading to the eventual downfalls of Chris and Bret, who never again had a secure base.
  • Lucy (Takali/Gen X) Her elimination was David's first big play of the season, using a hidden immunity idol to save Jessica.
  • CeCe (Takali/Gen X) A classic challenge albatross and overall mostly pointless competitor.
  • Figgy (Vanua/Millennials) Her romance with Taylor solidified the Triforce and also guaranteed a big fat target on her back, and she never really figured out how to disentangle herself from either of them.
  • Michaela (Vanua/Millennials) Decided to start playing way too late; her elimination was probably the point the season turned from not really having a direction to becoming one of the all-time greats.  Her second shot in Survivor: Game Changers will determine if Michaela really is better than she first seemed.
  • Michelle (Vanua/Millennials) The "Triforce" consisted of four people, and Michelle was the fourth wheel, and easily one of the worst victims of tribe-swapping in Survivor history.  This girl would've been a force to be reckoned with had the Triforce stayed intact.  She would've outlasted it, as she was really the only member to be able to adapt.  But she was basically forced into a late-game situation early in the game, and that's an impossible riddle for even the best players to solve.
  • Taylor (Vanua/Millennials) His love-hate relationship with Adam propelled Adam to victory, but left himself running in circles.
  • Chris (Takali/Gen X) A far better juror than he was player, adequately making the case for Adam's victory without the need for that slam-dunk emotional appeal. 
  • Jessica (Takali/Gen X) A necessary ally for advancing forward, but also a necessary victim, which makes her elimination by rock all the more ironic.
  • Zeke (Vanua/Millennials) His epic showdown with David painted a hugely false impression of where this season was headed, but it was undeniably a highlight not just of the season but Survivor in general.
  • Will (Vanua/Millennials) Somehow this guy's the youngest player to ever play the game, but that deep voice of his is great camouflage.  His gameplay, however, betrays him.  Like Michaela chose way too late to begin taking the game seriously, and like her was quickly and easily eliminated because of it.
  • Sunday (Takali/Gen X) A classic coattail rider just filling space.
  • Jay (Vanua/Millennials) The Triforce (excluding Michelle) was redeemed by this guy, who learned from Taylor's mistakes and made a game run to the end of the season.  Became very easy to root for.
  • Bret (Takali/Gen X) The last of the patriarchs somewhat ironically turned out to be gay, in a moment made him relevant, because his gameplay otherwise relegated him to the last of the extraneous players in the game.
  • David (Takali/Gen X) One of the most remarkable transformations in Survivor history, a would-be Tai who became a true mastermind and legitimate force, who bested all the obvious threats to his game, until finally everyone left realized he would win if he made it to the finals.  Because he really would have.
  • Ken (Takali/Gen X) One of the best allies anyone could find in this game, whose reliability made David possible, who ultimately did what most players never do, which is turn on that ally at the very last minute.  And they didn't end up hating each other!
  • Hannah (Vanua/Millennials) The David of the Millennials had a nearly comparable experience, except she had to scramble the whole time.  I would've been happy with any of the finalists winning, which happens, basically, never in this game.
  • Adam (Vanua/Millennials) A feel-good winner all-around (and got all the votes, which has happened, what, three other times?), Adam's epic showdown with the Triforce defined the season that wasn't dominated by Zeke and David, and like the best players found and used cleverly all available advantages.  But when everyone found out why he was so driven, his mom's battle with cancer (which she lost an hour after he got home), is the kind of narrative the longevity of Survivor is geared around (they'd applied together to compete on Blood vs. Water, six seasons back).  Some will argue he manipulated jurors with that revelation, but I think it was beyond clear at that point he'd done plenty with his gameplay alone to justify a victory this season. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X 1x13/1x14 "I'm Going for a Million Bucks"/"Reunion" live blogging thoughts

Starts with Jeff hyping the finale from the studio where the live reunion will begin two hours hence...He calls it a great season of gameplay, which is absolutely true (after a slow start).  He talks about hashtags, and no, I will never tweet Survivor, thank you very much.  I just don't see the appeal of trying to express my life in soundbytes (but yes, I have a Twitter account, and yes I tweet on occasion).

Recap of the season.  It's really, really hard for me to root for anyone besides Adam, but other than Bret I really could be happy with anyone still in the game winning.  I would even be rooting for Bret if he hadn't given up except to latch onto voting blocks he never really controlled.  Anyway...

Jay frets about having lost his hidden immunity idol.  "Time to fight to the death, baby."  I've always liked his spunk.  Bret somehow compares eliminating David to bin Laden.  Crazy much?  He thinks Jay or David will win.  He clearly doesn't know that literally everyone but him has a good argument.  If he makes it the finals the jury will love him.  But he won't.  Bitter jurist, party of one!  David makes a fake hidden immunity idol!  Yes!  Wasn't I just talking about that? 

Jay goes looking for another hidden immunity idol.  Ken derails the plan by calling for him.  But then he sees a pink blotch on a coconut.  But it's David's fake idol!  Classic!  But, poor Jay!  It's still weird that hidden immunity idols are still valid this late in the game...

Ken looks at the legacy advantage at last.  It gives him immunity at the next tribal council!  Has anyone ever worn cowboy boots in this game before?  Colby? 

Immunity challenge!  The first place finisher also gets a big fat steak!  Obstacle/puzzle challenge, anyway.  Jay inadvertently allows everyone to cheat off of him...I just realized (this will sound stupid) that there's only one woman (Hannah) left in the game...David wins!  So Jay gets screwed twice over by the neurotic little dude...Jay then uses the stolen reward thingy he got from Adam, but then chooses David, and Adam, to enjoy the steak with him anyway...

David!  Adam!  Agree with Jay to vote Bret!  David at least sees the wisdom in it.  He has been by far the most surprising strategist I've watched in Survivor, in thirty-three seasons...Bret thinks it's Jay going home, of course.  Adam is not as convinced that Bret has to go.  Bret calls everyone else "crazy people."  But it would be crazy to let him reach final three.  He should see that, right?  Jay decides to keep at Adam.  He makes a hard sell.  Adam seems to take it seriously this time.  He wonders if he can beat Jay.  You can beat Jay, Adam.

Tribal council!  The reward eaters talk about a "working lunch."  Bret realizes he's going if Jay isn't going.  Hannah talks about reading the jury.  No, not John Grisham!  Ken's advantage is pretty worthless, all considered.  That kind of sucks.  Jay, don't play it!  He plays it.  It's not real.  Jay's shocked!  Ken uses his advantage anyway.  Actually did get a vote.  But Jay's voted out.  Hannah tries to go for a hug.  Jay wants nothing to do with that.  He calls Jeff "Jeffrey."  Has that ever happened?

Immunity challenge!  David fears he's out next if he doesn't win.  Maneuvering a buoy around obstacles, balancing puzzle pieces over a balance beam, and then a puzzle.  Ken wins!

Adam fixates on the need to eliminate David.  Time will tell if that's a huge mistake for him.  Maybe it's just because I think Bret doesn't at all deserve to have a shot at making the finals, because the edit for him just doesn't justify it and it would suck to have someone who shouldn't be taken seriously to win in a pool of worthy contenders.  But, I'm not playing, only watching.  David, meanwhile, says it has to be Adam.  But, Adam finds a hidden immunity idol!  Bret's told Adam is the target.  Screwed, buddy.  Adam finally becomes a target, and he's home scot free.  But he tells Hannah about it.  What's going to happen???   Swing the vote to Bret, Hannah!

Tribal council!  Hannah brings up hunting for hidden immunity idols.  Jeff asks Adam about it.  Adam admits he was the first one out looking for one.  No one sees how important this is.  David and Bret both think they're the biggest threats to win.  Or go home tonight...Adam talks about what a huge threat David is.  Bret remarks that Adam always cries.  He doesn't know why.  Big secrets this season.  I love that literally no one has talked about Millennials or Gen X.  These are all the players who looked beyond that.  That's how it should be.  Adam uses his hidden immunity idol.  Jay laughs about it!  David and Bret garner votes.  Bret's gone!  He complains about flipping voters.  He declares that David has just won the game. 

They talk about the surprising vote.  Adam and Hannah talk about if it was a mistake to keep David in.  Hannah explains why she voted out Bret, as something she needed to keep Ken's trust.  Bret never understood that you need to have broad alliances.  That's what kept everyone who's still here in the game.  But bitter jurists will be bitter jurists.

Immunity challenge!   A stacking/balance challenge, which is what these final challenges should be.  The wind plays a key role in this one, as Ken and Adam learn, much to their chagrin.  Ends in a tie between Hannah and Ken.  Then becomes a showdown between them.  Ken wins literally with seconds to spare!

Everyone gets nervous.  Hannah talks with Ken.  Ken talks loyalty to David first.  He's basically telling her that she shouldn't count on anything.  She says he isn't a smart player, for his own interests.  Adam talks to David.  He says David needs to go in order for him to win.  This is where Ken and Hannah's game really lies.  And it kind of comes down to Ken.  Everyone's expecting a tie and fire challenge...

Tribal council!  Bret is still bitter toward Hannah.  Her chances of winning probably died voting him out.  Too bad.  Jeff talks about how long it took Hannah to vote the first time.  He insists on continuing his depiction of her journey, interrupting Hannah herself!  Everyone scrambles.  David makes a hard sell for Ken to remain loyal.  I've been rooting for Adam for so long it only now occurs to me that he really might have pulled a Hannah about a million times.  So that basically leaves Ken or David, depending on whether David makes it past this tribal...Wow!  David is voted out!  Will make for some very compelling arguments for sure, and very interesting bitter jury comments... 

Ken complains that Hannah and Adam can't just soak up their cushy spot.  So there's the season's theme coming up again...They're been talking up his daughter a lot, but that's not really much compared to Hannah's journey or Adam's mom.  Hannah thinks she's played the best game, but in terms of dynamic playing, it's hard to argue against Adam, or Ken's assistance to David's journey, as the only one who really had a strong ally all season, out of the finalists. 

Final tribal!

Taylor asks finalists to pitch themselves.  Hannah says she put every member of the jury there.  Ken talks about the human side.  Adam talks about putting himself into the position of not going home.

Sunday talks about the theme of the season.  She says she was adaptable/flexible.  Maybe she was?  She asks if they were that.  Ken kind of throws the other two under the bus.  Adam kind of throws the other two under the bus, but mostly Hannah.  So Hannah goes on the defensive.  They're making a mistake tying themselves up with each other.  Leaves Ken wide open to collect votes.

Jessica is shocked about Ken's choices, such as voting out David.  Ken gets emotional.

Will talks about respecting Ken for voting out David.  He talks about being confused about Adam's game.  Adam again pits himself against Hannah.  Hannah responds. 

Zeke gives "hardiest congratulations."  He says evolution is key.  He says Ken did nothing to evolve the game.  He gives the ball to Adam to explain how that goes.  Then throws it to Hannah.  Zeke is reviving their chances, changing the narrative.  Hannah throws Adam under the bus.  Now she's saying "most" of the jury.

Michelle is actually bitter toward Hannah.  She's also bitter toward Adam.  Triforce to the end, alas.  Adam and Hannah quickly lose their momentum. 

Bret asks when they felt they really started playing.  Ken talks Jessica and David.  He asks Adam a more pointed question.  Adam tries to pander to Bret.  Adam doesn't understand the mistake.  Bret doesn't address Hannah. 

Jay wonders why Adam betrayed him.  Adam tries to salvage that.  He declines to talk about what they both know about his mother.  Jay is probably still his brother.

Chris reveals he's a trial lawyer.  He points out Adam's got the strongest case.  Ken tries to dispute the fact.  Tries.

David talks about himself.  Asks them how the experience changed them.  Hannah really is not going to win.  It's a two-horse game.  We know Hannah's argument here.  Ken doesn't really have a story.  Adam talks about his mother, how they originally applied to Blood vs. Water, and the diagnosis.  So now it's all laid out.  You really, really can't top that.  Actually gets comfort from another finalist (Ken). 

Voting is done.  Live portion begins!  Even though we've literally seen Jeff in the studio the whole night they still did the mock transition they've done far too much, when they used to do it so cool in the early seasons! 

Votes: Adam, Adam, Adam, Adam, Adam, Adam.  Winner: Adam!  I totally saw that coming, with or without the hard sell at the very end.  Got every vote!  I think he got the rest of the votes after the hard sell, but he was gonna win anyway, right?

Jeff congratulates Adam.  Adam talks about how huge this is.  Jeff talks about Adam making it onto the season before his mom's diagnosis, and they talk about his decision to play regardless.  They talk about how Adam chose to tell Jay of all people.  Jay explains it hilariously.  Jeff and Adam continue talking about his mom.  She was still alive when he finished playing and got home.  She died an hour after he got home.  He talks about how this seems like a story, but it's his life.  He says it doesn't matter whether or not she knew he won.  He says she knew he did.  Survivor puts together a lung cancer research fund (linked with Stand Up 2 Cancer).  Adam puts up a hundred grand, which will be matched. 

Then David gets to talk.  Then Zeke. 

Bret/Zeke is talked about, the "gay guy" moment. 

Hannah/Kent is brought up, their possible romance.  Ken actually talks about his anxieties, too. 

Michaela speaks.  Honestly had completely forgotten about her.  I don't really know why they chose to speak to her.

Jessica speaks.  Talks about picking rocks.  She admits she would've lost no matter the rock thing.

Will speaks.  Finally has a not-stupid hairdo. 

Sunday speaks.  About being a mom.  Somehow the connection is not made to Adam. 

Taylor and Figgy!  They no longer have a relationship.  Apparently Taylor is a father.

Chris is asked about how twists affect gameplay.  He admits the players who lasted longest were able to adapt best.

Apparently returning players next season!

Season 34 - Survivor: Game Changers.  Michaela (that's why she was talked to) is among the returning players, as are Tony (winner), Sandra (two-time winner, but I doubt very much she can make it three), Ozzie...!  Clearly going for the true players this time, rather than mere fan favorites, so that will be a good way to distinguish this one.

That's all for the season except the summary!

One last segment!  Michelle talks about how this was not a bitter finale.  Jeff says that's the way it should be!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X 1x12 "Slayed the Survivor Dragon" live blogging thoughts

Will basks in the glow of his big move.  Time will tell...Bret is less positive about Will's actions.  He calls Will a high school kid checking off boxes.  Bret talks to Adam and Sunday about David, Jay, and Will as the biggest remaining threats.  Hello!  Adam!  Blindspot, Bret...

Immunity challenge.!  Discs, balance beam, playing shuffle board...Will is terrible at this challenge, does not appreciate Jeff pointing it out...Comes down to Jay, David, and Bret...Jay just kills it, wins immunity.  He's still relatively under the radar, somehow.  Definitely a dark horse contender to win the season.

Ken talks about Jay being a target.  So there's that.  Jay and Will talk the need to eliminate Ken before David.  Or Will wants David gone, because he thinks David is an automatic winner if he reaches the finals.  David talks about scrambling, claims the most insecure he's ever felt is "right now."  Chatter continues to work against him.  But then Adam talks about Will's emerging threat.  Talks to Bret about it, targeting Will.  Bret sees this as a good idea.  Sunday, of course, agrees.  Adam next talks to Hannah, who is more hesitant about it.  "I'm torn up, as I always am, emotionally."  That's Hannah.  She talks about owing "more than one person."  Such as David.  Adam and Hannah are in fact the most dangerous people this season. 

Tribal council!  Jeff talks to Will about his big move.  Will attempts to deflect it by mentioning what Adam did.  David talks about "deep concerns."  Big change for a guy whose every moment was fraught with deep concerns at the start of the season!  Hannah and Adam both talk ambiguously about what's in their best interest moving forward.  Talk has turned against Will rather quickly.  Big moves are dangerous moves.  David talks about how significant they are.  Jay claims everyone there is a player.  Nope.  Not Sunday.  And until last episode, not Will.  Which is what they were all just talking about.  David and Will receive votes.  Will's big move costs him big, and he's voted out.  Waited way, way too long, Will, and tried to go way, way too big. 

Jay compares himself to the Black Plague; anytime someone plots with him they leave the game.  Adam apologies to him for lying about the vote.  Jay talks about their weird relationship.  He asks what Adam's end-game is, and Adam claims he won't go to the end with David.  They talk about Jay's hidden immunity idol.  He may also suggest that Jay will have to go.  Strange, strange relations this season...

Immunity challenge!  Solving a block puzzle, with a time limit via a pinball table...Which basically means not letting a ball drop while solving a puzzle.  It's also worth noting that the two stations cannot be seen at the same time, so you literally have to turn around to keep working at this one...Diabolical!  Ken thinks he's got it but's wrong...Adam actually starts helping Ken...Jay is not happy about that...Ken wins!  "That was fun but that was crazy."  Bret.  It's weird, but Ken is starting to look like Terry Deitz. 

Adam explains that he just didn't want David or Jay to win.  David explains how Hannah, Ken, and Adam are his key allies.  Hannah targets Sunday, who is valuable as a voter who can be convinced to vote.  I realize I just made that sound stupid, but she's absolutely right.  Adam talks to Ken about Jay's future.  He says he needs to vote for Jay tonight.  He suggests that if Jay plays his hidden immunity idol, David could theoretically go home.  Hannah continues to fixate on Sunday, making her the only person other than Sunday's family and acquaintances to do so.  Jay explains that Adam tries to strong-arm him into using his idol.  It's a dangerous game, Adam.  So far it's worked in your favor.  He then tells Jay about his mom's cancer.  Will this strategy work?  That's the ultimate sympathy card.  It seems to work.  They shed tears.  Jay says Adam is no longer a weasel.  Hannah talks about how this vote is crucial.

Tribal council!  Will looks ridiculously young when he comes out with the jury.  Did he look that young at the start of the season?  Jay talks about whether or not he feels vulnerable.  Bret tries to interpret what he said.  David talks about Jay as a free agent.  Jeff asks David as a big threat.  Adam talks about David's journey being jury bait.  Hannah talks about threats to win.  Jeff asks Sunday about her chances.  She thinks she can get votes.  She can't get votes.  Adam talks about the perception of the jury.  Jay uses his hidden immunity idol.  I really, really miss fake hidden immunity idols.  Where's the creativity, people???  ("It's a stick!")  David and Sunday garner votes.  Did Adam trick Jay?  Sunday is voted...out.  She mutters "dang it" on the way out.  Did she really think she had a chance to win?  The edit sure didn't!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X 1x11 "About to Have a Rumble" live blogging thoughts

Hannah is feeling overwhelmed by the tribal council that just happened (for her).  She feels guilty about what happened to Jessica.  David is feeling vulnerable, too, having wasted a hidden immunity idol.  Zeke declares the tribal council "amazing."  He then uses questionable emphasis in syllables.  (Trying desperately to express his glee further.)

Ken receives the legacy advantage bequeathed to him by Jessica.  He considers it a great boost to his game.  I think he, David, or Adam have the best shot at winning this season.

Reward challenge!  Loved Ones Visit!  Sunday says hello to her husband.  Bret says hello to his dad.  Jay says hello to his sister.  Hannah says hello to her mom.  Adam says hello to his brother.  (Quick update on their mom battling cancer: she's "okay.")  He talks about his advantage, saying he won't use it this reward.  David says hello to his dad.  Ken says hello to his brother.  Zeke says hello to his dad.  Will says hello to his mom.  Always interesting to see who comes out for these things.

The challenge itself involves being attached to a rope and having to maneuver around an obstacle.  The reward, besides the loved one, is a barbecue.  Somehow it's more fun when the loved ones are competing...Sunday is probably not going to win.  Behind most of the challenge.  Adam somewhat hilariously gets stuck.  Jay wins!  He picks Will to join him on the reward.  He then picks Sunday to join them.  He surprisingly chooses Adam to round out the collection.  This Triforcer really did let bygones be bygones.  It figures that he's gotten the best edit of them, and has obviously lasted the longest.  He's probably the real wild card this season.

During the barbecue, Adam and his brother discuss their mom's treatments.  My mom had cancer, and passed away after a five-year battle last year.  So this was tough to listen to for me.  I know that they're not really battling for a win but for time.  It sucks.

Then he gives the advantage to Jay. 

Will talks about needing credibility.  Says he's "tired of using people, I want to work with people."  He really has turned his game around.  Says he wants to side with David now.  David thinks this means Zeke can go home soon.

Immunity challenge!  A keeping-a-thing-from-falling challenge, the traditional variation on balance, or should I say concentration, challenge.  David somewhat quickly drops out.  Hannah drops.  Will drops.  Bret drops.  Sunday drops.  Zeke drops.  Ken drops.  Jay drops.  Adam wins!  Darn good episode for him.  Pretty consistent edit for him this season.  I would be very surprised to see him go before the final tribal.

But then he starts getting cocky.  Please don't do that, bro.  So people start talking about what happens next.  David makes a brilliant analogy about Will just getting his drivers license.  Zeke starts getting paranoid.  He figures David is too well protected, so he starts looking for another target.  Ken gets to know Will, wondering if he's really onboard the Get Zeke crew.  Will says working with Ken is excruciating.  Will says Ken is the next target.  Ken talks with Jay trying to confirm.  So this becomes a problem.  Will may have made a huge mistake.  Adam calls what just happened a betrayal.  So now it's turning on Ken.  Hannah calls Zeke a mobster!  Will's youth is finally really showing.  Basically pretty immature...

Tribal council!  David explains that there's a single swing vote (Will).  Will explains that Ken is the problem.  This puts Will in such a terrible situation.  I have no idea how he couldn't figure that out.  I think perception of him is warped by that voice.  He just called himself a serious contender.  He is serious: seriously deluded.  Jay tries to give Will credibility.  But kind of loses some of his in the process.  David makes a case for Will flipping, as originally planned.  The quality of players is such that no one is apparently considering changing targets.  There should always be alternative targets.  Such as, oh, Will.  Who sucks up to Jay.  I could easily see Jay, and Adam, in the finals.  Hannah is convinced she's going home, after votes have been cast.  Adam uses a hidden immunity idol for Hannah.  Big, big twist.  I don't think so many hidden immunity idols have been used, much less for people other than who found them, in the history of this game.  Hannah garners votes, nullified, Zeke goes home as a result!  The witch is dead!  Big, big tribal council!  The game is on!