The show has decided to bring a new Fresh Meat challenge, probably because people are getting sick of the same thing happening each season on the show (specifically, Evan and Kenny controlling and bullying their way to the end). I’m doubtful that their concern was for the mental welfare of the other contestants such as Evelyn, Kelly Anne, and Sarah who were the ones the bullying was mostly taken out on in recent seasons (though they are certainly not the only ones, other names come to mind almost as quickly as I can type). And then there’s how people treated Tonya, who clearly had issues.
On the one hand, I’m glad for new faces. I’m glad that a number of old faces are gone if for no other reason than I want to see how things are different. I want Evelyn to have a chance to get through a season where she can just be tough without being treated like crap, see how Paula behaves now that the guys she always leans on and often though not always gets burned by, and see if Kenny can maintain control even without the other alpha males along (though Sarah intends to ally with him despite the way he treated her last season). And let’s be honest some of the best competitors have come from the last fresh meat (Diem, Evelyn, Evan, Kenny, and Ryan).
On the other hand, part of the fun of the challenges is to see how the challengers we’ve gotten to know have changed or managed to take control where they otherwise couldn’t. For example, the Wes, Johanna, and Kelly Anne triangle or the Diem and Derick relationship or seeing Ruthie go from lush to ninja jedi (as Lori described her after Battle of the Sexes). I also dislike having “veterans” who have never been in a challenge. They’re really newbies with maybe even a disadvantage because where the newbies have at least gotten to know each other (meaning 11 other people) the fake veterans will only really know the one or two others from their show and maybe a couple others if they happened to have met them around.
I dislike the partner format of the show because it is more limiting overall in both the types of challenges they can come up with and in alliances. It would be interesting if they invited a partner swap option mid-show or a few times throughout. Imagine what sort of chaos that might cause! It’s sort of like a tribal merge in Survivor (or better yet, when they mix up the tribes mid-season and all new alliances must be reborn). It also sucks because it guarantees that newbies like Cara Marie go home before we even get to know them.
I also dislike the exile because it’s just less exciting and dramatic than a Ruins or a Gauntlet. There’s something about having the whole team watching…plus the advantage of coming back and knowing what the other teams don’t is gone since everyone has seen the precious season (assuming they were smart enough to do the research or were actually on the show).
Some of the newbies look like a lot of fun. Laurel looks like she may be something of the next Evelyn. It would be cool to see them square off. Crazy that Evelyn is only 22, meaning she could be on these challenges for a very long time to come. I find it funny that Cara Marie and Darrel were the first team eliminated when he’d previously won Fresh Meat and she was first pick. (Personally I would have picked Laurel but it wasn’t up to me… she might turn out to be a good, conceited match for Kenny…)
I didn’t love the first week’s challenge but I’m excited to see what else they come up with. The show tends to have some good ones and even Survivor could take lessons at times. (Though Survivor kicks butt at keeping the tribal atmosphere with everything built from wood and painted and muddy…)
It’s strange that Wes was considered such a big deal. First, it was strange that people were saying that he always runs the show considering that he spent all of last season in the Ruins. Then, it was strange that everyone was just going along with what he said (though to be honest his strategy here was sound for all involved so there was no real reason to oppose–Darrell has won more challenges than any other person in the history of the show, including the last version of Fresh Meat). He’s sort of like Coach on Survivor. He preaches honor and claims he would never act out of revenge but he was clearly taking revenge on Darrel (he said something like “take that!”). And there was last season when he pretended to be trying to make things fair by giving the team an ultimatum before the first challenge. It’s like, you have to give them the chance to act fairly, otherwise you can’t call foul when they treat you like shit later.
Possibly the best moment of the show for me was Evelyn’s entrance for two reasons. The first being that I was bummed to see her not on the show this season so it was a nice surprise and the second being that the way Paula ignored her for as long as possible was hysterical. Paula, you should know how to play the game better than that! Be upset that the strongest female arrived in private, play the social game in public! (Way not to be conspicuous!)
I think Kenny has a very good shot at winning simply because I know that he and his partner are strong but we haven’t seen the others compete enough to compare (let’s be honest that last challenge was not really representative of skill by any means). Besides the challenges are 50% heart and mentality, 25% luck (not having a challenge that centers around something you fear for example), and 25% ability.
What do you think of the competitors? Which team do you think will win?