Wow! After a mere two episodes Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains managed to
have me on the edge of my seat! Immediately after I'd finished typing up
the first post in this blog, I fired up my TiVo and watched episode
two. Much to my surprise, my pick to win it all, Amanda, was nearly sent
packing. As far as my photographic Survivor memory can tell, that's the
earliest that one of my picks has ever found themselves on the chopping
block. Needless to say, if that close call is any indication of what's
in store, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains is going to be one of the best
Boston Rob's close call
There are many reasons why Boston Rob should have no chance to win this
game. Everyone is fully aware of how big a threat he is both physically,
mentally, and socially. However, for some reason people seem to ignore
this fact and let him do his thing. Think about it! He's got just as
dirty a game as Russell, but for whatever reason, when he screws people
over they seem to not hold it against him. If I were playing this game
and had to choose the one person I want to get rid of, I'd strongly
consider making that person Boston Rob. He's the type of player where if
you don't take them out, and take him out early, he's certainly gonna
make you pay for it.
When the previews for episode two showed Boston Rob laid out unconscious
in the jungle, I thought that was it for him. When you consider that
last season, the other Russell looked much more with it after he fainted
and ended up being taken out of the game, I didn't give Rob much of a
chance when they were opening his eyes and shining a flashlight in them,
and he wasn't responding. Surprisingly, Boston Rob was able to
continue, and while his fellow survivors may end up paying the price for
it, overall this season will be much better with him around. I still
can't wait to find out how the power struggle plays out between him and
Russell. There's no way that the two of them can coexist for very long.
They're two strong, very similar personalities with two strong, very
similar games. You just can't have two people playing that type of game
on the same tribe. At this point, I put my money on Boston Rob as he's
clearly the more popular castaway at the moment. However, Survivor isn't
necessarily the type of game where being popular is all it's cracked up
to be. If the Villains are smart, they'll side with the slightly more
predictable, and less likable Russell.
James is on a rampage
Thanks to my Amanda pick this season has left me feeling very
conflicted. I obviously need the Heroes to do well in immunity
challenges to keep her in the game. However, ideologically, I'm all
about the way the Villains play the game. Survivor is a game where you
occasionally need to get your hands dirty. Take the Heroes Colby and
Tom, for example. Both of them had the luxury of playing on the dominant
tribe in their season. They never really had to stab anyone in the back
to get further in the game. People love them for how squeaky clean they
played, but outside of their physical abilities, they never had to
display much of a penchant for the mental side of the game. For goodness
sakes! Colby threw away one million dollars by taking Tina to the final
in Australia. How smart was that? Personally, I have a lot more respect
for the Survivors who managed to weasel their way out of a tough spot
using the powers of persuasion.
Take someone like Russell, for instance. He had to use every trick in
the book to get himself to the final when the numbers after the merge
were stacked highly against him. Likewise, players like Boston Rob and
Parvati also had to think outside the box to achieve success in their
seasons. When I think of impressive Survivor performances, it's not the
physical players who come to mind, but those who truly outwitted their
opponents. That's not to say that the Heroes are mental midgets. Amanda,
JT, and Cirie are some of the best strategists that we've ever seen.
But overall, I think the majority of America is probably siding with the
Heroes, when in reality it's the type of players who were on the
Villains' team that really make this game so intriguing.
The Villains are not only underdogs this season physically, but I think
the stigma that's been laid upon them will make it all the more
difficult for them to succeed in the end. For example, should Boston Rob
and James somehow make it to the final two, I find it hard to believe
that the majority of people wouldn't end up handing James the million.
After all, he is the "hero". However, you have to look no further than
this past immunity challenge to see who the true hero really is. Boston
Rob took charge and willed his team to victory, while James was
practically worthless when it came to the puzzle and started chewing
people out as things went south.
The thing about this game, is that perception may be the most important
key to victory. Last season, Natalie was just as responsible as Russell
for overthrowing their opposition and stabbing Shambo and Jason in the
back. However, because it was Russell who was going crazy finding
idols, working people over, and making a spectacle of himself, he took
all the heat. If anything, Natalie was really the one who toppled
Galu's alliance as she was the one that started the domino effect by
getting Eric voted off. Russell clearly was the best player last
season, but Natalie ultimately won the game of perception, and as a
result, the million dollars as well.
Anyway, the whole point of that rambling analysis (and you wonder why I
don't have time to do this blog?) was to put into context my thoughts
about James' recent mean streak. In his prior two seasons, James was
perceived as the game's biggest threat. Everyone was gunning for him
and scheming ways to slit his throat because nobody wanted to sit next
to him in the end. They knew they couldn't measure up to the
super-strong, nice, funny, poor guy when it came time to face the jury.
Well, this third time around, some things are clear. James can't
control that he's strong. He can't change the fact that he's poor. But
what he can change is the fact that he is nice and funny. Personally, I
think James' post-challenge rampage was just him losing his patience.
However, as spontaneous and unintentional as it may have been, James'
outburst was strategically brilliant. James can afford to be a jerk,
because nobody in their right mind would vote him out pre-merge and hurt
their chances in the challenges, and once the game turns individual,
the fact that he's been treating people like crap actually works to his
advantage. In the past, James was "too good" to keep around, but
"nasty" James is somebody that people may see as beatable. James' only
hope in this game was to shed the perception that he's Superman. Right
now, he's looking like one of the bigger villains in the game.
Steph or Amanda?
I have to admit, I was seriously starting to think Amanda was done
for last episode. On one side, you had the alliance of Amanda, James,
JT, and Rupert. On the other side you had Steph, Tom, and Colby. In
the middle, with the crucial fourth and fifth votes were Cirie and
Candice. Amanda's been known to slit a few throats, James was having a
serious case of roid-rage, JT was looking shadier and shadier by the
minute, and Rupert had a broken toe. From Candice's point of view, I
can't imagine how that was a more appealing crew to align with than the
squeaky clean trio of Tom, Colby, and Steph. Cirie seemed to be riding
the fence and so I assumed that Candice would ultimately swing her and
vote out Amanda. Knowing the little bit that I do about Candice, I have a
very hard time believing she initiated the decision to vote Steph out.
And that, my friends, is why Cirie is a PLAYA!!! Think about it! Let's
say they went with Colby, Tom, and Steph and made it all the way to the
final five. Do you think Tom, Colby, and Steph are breaking up?
Maybe, maaaaaaybe Steph turns heel and goes for the girl-power, but it's
highly doubtful as it would be jury suicide. Bottom line, aligning
with Tom, Colby, and Steph was a guaranteed 4th and 5th place for Cirie
and Candice, at best. Amanda, James, JT, and Rupert on the other hand
are total free-agents. There is not a doubt in my mind that they would
poke each others eyes, pull each other's hair, and punch each other's
crotches for that million dollars. Partnering with that group means
anything can happen. Which brings me to the latest edition to the
Rule #7 - When your back is up against the wall and you have a
decision to make, always choose the option that will cause the most
Nothing kills a well-laid strategy in this game like chaos. Whether is
an unexpected immunity idol, a tribe switch-up, or a raving lunatic
named Dreamz, chaos will turn the game of Survivor on its head. When
you've got the numbers on your side, all you want is for that pecking
order to play out. When you don't have the numbers, the best thing that
you can do is attempt to turn that pecking order into a crazed chicken
coup. Russell caused all kinds of chaos last season and it nearly won
him the game. The season before that, Coach caused all kinds of chaos
within his own tribe and it cost his teammates the game.
And that concludes my lecture on perception and chaos and the roles they
play in the game of Survivor. Don't you feel smarter now?