It was the best of times, it was the blurrest of times. It's interesting that when people on every tribe start losing their pants and going into the ocean bottomless, all of a sudden production suddenly remembers "Oh yeah, we have swimsuits for everyone! We've been hoarding them to force the contestants to walk around in their underwear. Maybe we should re-think that." True, that re-think was probably only to avoid paying the blur operators overtime. But in this case, the Gaussian-ly camouflaged ends justify the means.
Sidenote: Do we really need so many slang names for men's undergarments? Manties. Dankini/mankini. Banana hammock. Tighty not-so-whities. No wonder everyone wants to take them off. No, wait. "Raw dog" is worse. Sigh.
Reaching an "I'm a fan!" tipping point
Look, we're absolutely overjoyed that this season is loaded with actual Survivor fans, many of whom understand the history of the game and its players better than a significant portion of the viewing audience. We're happily rooting for all of them, just because they're fans. And for the most part, this first batch of "As a Survivor fan, I..." confessionals or in-game "OMG! I'm at Tribal Council! There's Jeff Probst!" moments have been cute, charming, and a welcome departure from the "What's a sub-alliance?" dark ages of San Juan del Sur. But we do hope the editors give the audience credit for remembering who the fans are (mostly Max, Shirin, Dan, Jenn, and to a lesser extent Carolyn, Tyler, Mike, Nina, and yes, even others), and do not feel obliged to preserve and include every instance of every contestant gushing about their Survivor fandom. We're not idiots. We know they're there, and who they are. Don't beat us over the head with it. Unless the goal is to make the audience hate Survivor fans, which we assume was why Colton was cast twice.
Tipping point, Part II: Cap edition
We're not overly fond of Max's "tipping of the cap" to past Survivor greats by re-enacting their signature moments (nor apparently were the editors, who synced up "tip my cap" with Max mooning the camera). This is Survivor, the nationally televised show you profess to love, not karaoke hour down at the local noodle bar. Make your own mark, Max (and any future players considering something similar). The far-more-subtle Jeff Kent nod in Ep.1 was fine. This, however, was a bit much. And for the record, Hatch 2.0 was All-Stars Hatch, who instead of the brilliant performance he gave in Borneo, trotted out a seemingly endless string of grinning, winking, elbow-nudging, "Hey, look at me! I'm being controversial!" moments. If Max keeps up shenanigans that are that self-ostracizing, he'll be due for a bamboozling much sooner than he ought otherwise have been. Although... had his entire tribe stripped down and frolicked in carefree collective clotheslessness, this would have been a brilliant, team-building exercise. So it wasn't necessarily counter-productive, but in the end, numbers matter.
At the risk of piling on Max, we have to note that the editors again set him up as the Oracle of Exactly Opposite, at least with respect to No Collar, letting him say "I don't even think they're doing this [nudity] at the No Collar tribe," right before the scene where the young women of No Collar go skinny dipping. We're still rooting for Max, but we're really starting to worry about his longevity. With his challenge performance this week, Joaquin may have shot past Max in the Masaya org chart.
These people are so dumb!
(Uh. *Cough* Um... if you're going to quote past Survivors, it's best to do it as a subhead in a blog nobody reads, instead of on TV?) After delivering solid performances in the premiere, both Mike and Joe all but fell apart in this episode, making seemingly inane decisions that they're lucky didn't lead to swift exits. Mike, for reasons unclear to anyone, decided that Day 5 was the perfect time to scream at the rest of his Blue Collar tribemates for not working around the clock. Then again, it really is mostly their fault, since they insisted on playing coconut basketball, instead of the world's favorite sport, disc golf. Since when have basketball skills ever been important on Survivor?
Then there was Joe, who this week took a major tumble from Malcolm's heir apparent to the second coming of Silas. While his record last week was not spotless (a black mark being his insistence on building the shelter his way), here he not only blew the challenge, but then proceeded to come up with a seemingly suicidal vote-split strategy that might have gotten him voted out, had Nina not accidentally made Will paranoid. Or even worse, Joe's plan almost got Jenn voted out. She's the only one everyone likes! (That's not true: Jenn got off to a rough start this episode, whereas Will was pretty great throughout.)
(Update: Check Vince's exit interviews, such as the Gordon Holmes one... Joe's vote split plan actually made sense, albeit in the context that his alliance had been duped by Vince. Still not great news for Joe.)
No Collar: Lots of strategy, all of it bad
No Collar was, overall, an overture of overlapping underinformed overplaying. As such, they received the bulk of the airtime this episode, and just about everyone came away the worse for wear. Still, as with the White Collars last week, it was tremendously refreshing to see a tribe in which almost everyone was actively attempting something resembling strategic play, instead of blankly asking to have the tie vote rules explained to them again.
Worlds Apart Episode 2 recaps and commentary
Exit interviews - Vince Sly
Podcasts - Episode 2