Saturday, September 29, 2007

"I'm voting for Derek Zoolander. Oh I mean Dave.":Survivor: China, the past two episodes

(Sorry about missing last week. The timing of recapping this was a little hectic for me. - J)

Boy has the Survivor franchise lasted a long time. I would never have guessed that this show, despite its massive popularity towards the beginning, would ever have lasted for fifteen cycles. Except that is what what Survivor: China is: the fifteenth season. Over the course of the series the formula has changed very little; different number of contestants, different twists; but the basic premise is the same. It remains interesting to watch still for fifteen million people; so I suppose that speaks something to the success that comes with being first. I'm still one of these people, and it is a guilty pleasure by all means, but something I enjoy watching nonetheless.

The season opened with a surprise; they actually introduced the contestants again! They have not done this for about 10 cycles now, so I am pleased. I think the show has suffered a bit from focusing too much on the challenges, and less on the contestants, locations, and culture. They have a ceremony at a buddhist temple where we get our first two standout characters of the season. One, Courtney, who basically openly mocks the ceremony, and another, Leslie, who doesn't want to participate for religious reasons. I introduce you to my two least favorite types of reality contestants: the self-absorbed bitch and the extremely vocal religious beliiever. I guess we will be hearing snarky comments from Courtney all season long and at some point Leslie will ask God or Jesus to help her do better at challenges.

In any case, after that ceremony the contestants were split into the Fei-Long (red) tribe as well as the Zhan Hu (yellow) tribe. There was a lot of time spent on them adjusting to their camps, which I appreciated, and no reward challenge, which I also appreciated. And after an immunity challenge that involved the contestants carrying a gigantic, long dragon puppet through an obstacle course before solving a puzzle with the sticks that hold it up, Zhan Hu lost and voted out Chiken at tribal council. Yes that's right, his name was Chicken. While he didn't particularly seem like a bad guy, I am glad he was voted out because I seriously could not understand a single word he was saying. Also for the first time in Survivor history, they featured a contestant being sick (Ashley) in the first episode who wasn't voted out. I found it a little funny that a pro wrestler is the one who got sick, but am surprised she wasn't voted out.

In episode two, we begin by visiting both camps. Now, I have this thing where I like to use the first couple episodes to predict the outcome of the game, so I like to pay a lot of attention to what they are showing outside of the challenges in the first couple episodes. Well basically on the Fei-Long side they just show some minor personal squabbles between people, while on Zhan Hu they make a point of making fun of the way they are not getting anything done at camp, having bigger fights, as well as the fact that they have leadership conflicts. Not looking too good for Zhan Hu who is already down one member. What's looking even worse for them is that on Fei-Long they show us an alliance between Todd, Amanda, and Aaron (with a real sub alliance of Todd and Amanda). When one team is being portrayed as hapless while we are being shown the strategy of the other, it isn't too difficult to figure out which side is probably gong to come out ahead at the merge and most likely dominate the end-game.

In any case, after this we are soon on to the reward challenge for fishing gear: a best of three challenge in which the contestants have to push these strange semi-hollowed out ball objects across a muddy field until they get it into their own goal, fighting the wrestling of the opposing tribe as they go. Fei-Long wins easily two to nothing. After the reward challenge we find out that Fei-Long gets to kidnap a member of the opposing tribe until the immunity challenge. Suddenly I realize that there is no exile island this season! I always wondered why the producers would think it is good TV to show a contestant on an island all by themselves. There are still hidden immunity idols though, but it is a little different this year: the kidnapped player from the opposing team gets to choose who gets the clue on the victorious tribe. Jaime, who was kidnapped, smartly gives it to Leslie, who the entire tribe knows has been sick. However Leslie, not so smartly shares her information with Todd from her own tribe in an attempt to gain trust. Todd plans on voting her out anyway so that he is the only one who has the information. I suddenly have a new favorite contestant. Back at Zhan Hu the camp is destroyed (another good omen), and we get more fighting, between Dave and Ashley, which is an easy indicator to who will lose the immunity challenge and who the vote will come down to.

The immunity challenge is actually pretty good, the contestants have to use a battering ram to break through two doors before working their battering ram through a puzzle based on the grooves on its outside. Fei-Long wins and there is a point made to show how bad Dave is for Zhan Hu in the challenge, falling down and basically causing his team to lose. At tribal council, despite the fact that everybody says that Dave is overbearing and unlikable, Ashley is voted out six votes to one.

Now, since the first two episodes are over I think a couple things are clear. Alliances that are revealed this early almost always break up in some way, so it looks like either Aaron or Amanda and Todd aren't making it towards the end. But it also means that one of them probably will. For now I think I am going to go with Amanda and Todd since they might have an inside scoop on the hidden immunity idol. Also it is painfully obvious that both Dave and Leslie are going to be gone pretty soon, since nobody on his tribe likes Dave, while Leslie is sick and Todd wants her out. The two contestants who I am not sure on right now are Peih-Gee from Zhan Hu and Country from Fei-Long. They've gotten enough airtime by now but it could mean that they are staying for awhile or that they are going soon, I am not sure. It looks like there might be a chance for some alliance shifting and backstabbing this season so it may turn out to be enjoyable.


Sarah said...

I loved the Zoolander comment at the tribal council. It was the perfect amount of childishness. I had to agree with her though- he is a tool.

After listening to Chicken for about thirty seconds I started calling him 'Charlie Brown teacher'.

It is hard to believe this the fifteenth season.

Justin said...

Yeah I seriously couldn't understand him!

He was like ten times worse than Big Tom from past seasons.

And yeah, Dave is a tool, I kinda liked Ashley actually. But she is done, too bad!