Survivor: Redemption Island

Last season was one of the worst seasons of Survivor ever. It was almost painful to watch. For one thing, playing old vs young was a fairly ridiculous idea and really limited the types of challenges they could use. Not that no older people can compete physically, but as a whole…not so much. They learned their lesson on that one. This season the Survivor team has decided to try to shake things up a bit with two big surprises/changes:

  • The first was redemption island. From now on, when a contestant gets voted out of the show, it does not mean they are gone. Instead, they are sent to an island where they must live alone and compete against another voted out contestant to remain. At some point in the game they will have the opportunity/possibility to reenter the game. To be honest this could work for or against a contestant. On the one hand, it would be impressive that they managed to live so long by themselves and come back (depending how long they are there). On the other, they also missed all the changes in alliance and dynamics and likely won’t have the connections the others have. Plus, the others won’t have ever been voted off, which seems to mean they played better.
  • The other thing about this season is the return of Rob and Russell who are instantly separated. They obviously couldn’t be on the same team because that would be ridiculous, but at the same time, we don’t get to enjoy the rivalry without them interacting (I suppose that will come with the merge, assuming both remain). Being the only returners makes them both powerhouses and targets, both of which are interesting. Rob seems to have a solid hold on his team and basic determines every vote. Russell, meanwhile, is as polarizing as ever. People suspect him more than they want to work with him and this is the first time he’s ever playing with everyone truly knowing how he works.

Despite promises to make immunity idols harder to find, two have been discovered without clues. (One was even discovered by accident!) The shock, however, was the fact that Russell has neither of those idols. Better get looking Russ!

So far this season is miles ahead of last season. It may not be like Heroes vs Villains, but we have already seen one blindside (less surprising for the viewers but certainly surprising for the one voted out) and Russell has already been in an argument or two.

Reviewing a Few Shows

It’s been a while, so I suppose now is the time.

Dexter– at the end of a great season (let me just say that finale was the epitome of a nail biting thriller), I am sorry to see Julia Stiles go and I hope the producers aren’t teasing hen they say the door is still open for her to return. My real wonder is how Lumen feels about herself after everything she has done. Whether or not I believe Deb would have let them go…I’m still not sure. But it certainly didn’t ring as completely false. (If you pay attention, she never actually makes any attempt to identify the vigilantes or even really wonders who they are.) I wonder if Dexter’s acquittal of Quinn has bought him any good will (Quinn has no way of knowing that Dexter definitely changed the results since he couldn’t know for certain that it was Liddy’s blood on his shoe). Why must this show be so short? Bring us the next season already!

The Good Wife– this season has been an interesting one, mostly because you can’t help but wonder about Kalinda’s story that they so teasingly hang in front of us without really revealing much of anything. There was an interesting moment of her in the airport where she got tagged for extra security (I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d show the full body scanners). Also having the son (can’t remember his name) totally into Kalinda was classic. A small detail but this show is all about the small details. People, start watching this show! Saving it from cancellation!

Psych– so we finally have it. Sean and Juliette are dating. At least, that’s what they tell us. Most of the time there’s little indication of this (beyond Juliette making a comment like “I know you, I’m dating you”), only occasionally, when they were first telling Gus, was it actually a part of the story. Personally, I want it to play into things more. It does make Juliette’s loyalty’s conflicted at times. And if she’s around him more, might she ever realize that he’s lying about being psychic? I think that would be a particularly interesting thing to look at.

Nikita– I don’t know how other people feel about this show, but I’m actually really enjoying it. Especially Alex’s side of things since we seem to know enough about her to sympathize with her. We still need more about Nikita (like how she was on death row in the first place). Is it weird to see Ted Moseby’s future daughter act as superspy? The mid-season finale was a particularly interesting test on Alex that really drove home the stakes of what she is doing.

The Challenge– People are really hating on Laurel this season and while I agree that at some points she was pretty mean, I think people are also forgetting about the situation they were in. They were in a competition to make money, so there is no reason she shouldn’t have been trying to get rid of the players who she thought would prevent her from doing so. (Yes, she was out of line talking to Eric, but she did apologize and whether it was genuine or not we can’t really ever know, so it isn’t worth debating.) Her cockiness is pretty fair too, considering how strong a competitor she is (it’s like Evelyn, she is that good but she may not know how to play the social game). Whether or not she was right about Cara Maria in the end is sort of irrelevant. (So is the fact that Cara Maria is the only one who didn’t cry, since she was also the one who was carried, whether she wanted to be or not.) I feel bad for Paula, but she also shouldn’t be so surprised about it either.

Friday Night Lights
– I wasn’t loving the newest cast members and the change of schools (not because of the schools but because of the sudden enormous shift in storylines), but this season has really grown on me. I don’t care for Julie’s storyline, she’s acting like a five year old. I never really cared for her since that’s sort of all she’s ever been. But some of the other stories have picked up. I particularly love seeing Mrs Taylor try to connect to that problem kid who all the teachers hate.

Leverage– the show is pretty much the same as always, but who wasn’t charmed by Parker’s love of Christmas?

Vampire Diaries– anyone else think this season is a vast improvement over last? Not that I didn’t like last season, but ditching the diaries, bringing in Katherine, making Caroline a vampire, adding werewolves and creating a bond between Tyler and Caroline…all those elements made the show so much better. This last episode with Taylor’s transformation was particularly excellent. (And it’s nice to read about how supportive the cast and crew was with it in filming.) I’m not into Bonnie and Jeremy at all, but other people seem into it so to each his own. I am still waiting for the “rules” about the Originals. They can go out in daylight, they aren’t killed via stake through the heart, etc. So what are their limitations?

The Sing-Off– anyone been checking this show out lately? It cracks me up that acapella, which is hugely popular in college, has suddenly made it on tv. It’s sad, but true, that it never quite sounds as good recorded live as it does in person, so when you watch, think about how much better it must really be than what we hear. I don’t particularly care for the Jerry Lawson group, but otherwise, I’m quite impressed with the teams. The Backbeats and On The Rocks are my favorites. They’re still in it, but I haven’t watched episode 4 so we’ll see if they make it to the finale. I would say the judges are decent. Not the best I’ve seen but definitely better than certain others (Randy…)

Survivor– sometimes i think Jeff Probst goes a little too far during tribal council. To push them to the point where he literally may have convinced people to change their alliances (and if they had even the slightest brains they would have). I will say that I am impressed by the number of older players still in the game (half! when does that ever happen?) This is definitely the weakest season that I’ve season in a while, but perhaps it just seems that way after coming off such an excellent Heroes vs Villains season?

Survivor Finale and Reunion

Talk about a nail biter.

First, there is yet again talk of Parvati being the biggest threat and yet again, just when they want to vote her out, she wins immunity. Colby was SO close though! Meaning Colby will be going home without question. He pretends to be ready to go home but attempts one last try by voting out Sandra on the theory that he could eliminate Parvati next round. But better to have Parvati around than Colby, who would be guaranteed the win. (At least the way people are figuring it.) Sure enough, Colby is gone.

Next immunity challenge is so damn close. I thought for sure Jeri was going to win. But Russel manages it just seconds ahead of Parvati and Jeri. Jeri goes back to wanting to get rid of Parvati, despite Parvati being nice to her and giving her an idol that saved her. Russel thinks Parvati either could beat him or has no shot. He thinks Jeri would give him a vote. Parvati thinks Sandra will win and wants to get rid of her.

Parvati sort of makes herself an obvious target by saying she’s made a good a strategic game. Jeff’s questions are a little too far. Jeri’s argument is Parvati will win, Sandra argues she won’t, Parvati argues redemption by remaining loyal just once. Parvati says point blank she’s been protecting Russel as much as he’s protecting her and as much as he doesn’t like that, it might indicate that she wouldn’t vote for him if he votes her off. If I were her, I wouldn’t. Russel’s words clearly indicate that he is voting of Parvati but maybe that’s just some clever editing? No, probably not…Unless they tie it! Wouldn’t that be awesome!?!

I think Parvati is going home, sad as I am to see that. Though two votes Jerri! Russel chooses to get rid of Jerri! I’m surprised. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jerri votes Parvati. She’s said multiple times how solid she thinks Parvati is and how much of a threat she is, and Parvati can easily argue that she protected Jerri.

Tomorrow, which is really in ten minutes, is final tribal. I think it’s funny that Jerri says she’s leaning towards voting for Russel simply because his decisions make sense “except for now.” That’s exactly why he voted you out! (Meaning it made perfect sense.)

Time for everyone to think about their closing statements. Sandra is mostly thinking about her family and goes to bed early. So who is taking care of her kids if she’s on the show and her husband is overseas?

Day 39 and time for the feast. In all truth, I think this is anyone’s game. I think veteran players will be more admiring of Russel’s gameplay. Parvati has played well. Sandra has made no enemies. Parvati has played 114 days! Russel thinks Parvati has a lot of enemies. I’m not as sure about that, certainly not more so than him. Parvati and Sandra laugh about it and Sandra burns his hat, which is so funny because it is such a Russel move. Sandra wants to make sure Russel doesn’t get THE TITLE of SOUL SURVIVOR. Sandra points out the heroes are responsible for their destruction.

The villains burn down their shelter and head out. Time for Final Tribal! Crazy that they can’t even get home and get some sleep before making their final arguments.

I wish I could pause this as I watch so I could go through this in detail…

Opening statements:

Sandra- soul surviving since her alliance was wiped out, tried to get rid of Russel…she stayed in the game all by herself

Russel- not a game of luck, people look at him like he did something wrong by playing hard, apologizes for offending people

Parvati- played with the 20 best players, didn’t realize she was a threat, had to draw a line of defense, kept Russel as her pet, thinks she played the ultimate physical, strategic, and social game. (Good way to piss Russel off, but we’ll see if it insulted the other players–Rupert didn’t seem thrilled to hear her say she kept Rupert as a pet and using the dragon slayer imagery may have upset Coach or he could have related to it more.)

This show has really got my heart pounding. Literally! It’s so strange.

Questions:

Colby first- upset that Russel said there’s no lucky. Delusional! He wants to learn more about Parvati’s strategy. Her response- gave up two idols despite being told she was going to be voted out.

Coach- Russel, you can be a little man, the example should have been only the penitent man shall pass. Sandra is not the strongest, which Coach dislikes. Parvati was dead wrong about her and assumed she’d be a weak player. He respects her strength but the day he trusted her was the day he turned on her. He says he hasn’t chosen who to vote for yet. No questions…

Amanda- Sandra, how your strategy was better than Russel and Parvati? She wishes it was better because she wanted to get Russel out.

Courtney- Congrats Parvati and Sandra. Clearly there for Sandra and she loves her loyalty, which is often overlooked. Wants her to defend that. Sandra says she is loyal to the people she allies with to the end.

JT- Russel, good strategy is getting to the end AND winning. Has he preserved the votes? Russell thinks people will respect his play. And Parvati? She thinks she was a threat throughout while Sandra was a sleeper. No one worried about Sandra but everyone wanted to vote her out. Sandra says the challenges weren’t her thing, but had she known about the idol she would’ve thrown it back. JT isn’t out for vengeance.

Danielle- Well…Russel, it’s clear there’s been a lack of skill in jury management. Would you change anything about your game from what you’ve heard? No, I don’t regret anything. Too bad.

Jerri- Undecided. Russel, why did you vote me out? She hadn’t hurt anyone on the jury and sitting next to him, she’d won. Parvati chimes in that he would get her vote 100%. You know what they say about assuming. Sandra, how can you say you’re so loyal if I got blindsided? No answer allowed.

Candice- You can go too far, even if you need to tell some lies. Parvati, you played the game under Russel’s thumb throughout. She wanted her to get out. So she’s basing her vote on how you treat people. (So Sandra.)

Rupert- Russel, it is hard to be honest in this game is hard. It’s easy to deceive. You took the easy way out. You shouldn’t be proud. Sandra makes him feel worse about his game. He was swayed by Russel. Thank you for trying to help. Parvati, you are very strong. Might have aligned yourself with terrible but you WORKED and fought to be here.

It’s always so annoying how poorly the final arguments are. Every season the people simply fall to articulate properly (which I’m sure has something to do with playing for 39 days.) Parvati can easily argue that she won 3 immunities, made Russel ally so tightly with her that he twice gave her an idol, found an idol and used it in one of the biggest changes in the game. Plus she can say she’s played the longest game of anyone. Russel can argue that despite all the things he did, he was loyal to Parvati, the person he’d first aligned with and it was that original alliance that he upheld. Sandra can say she manipulated Russel into keeping her and Courtney over Coach and by making it to the merge, basically guaranteed herself a spot in the finals, plus she got close to Parvati, which helped her gain more control and she found an idol and kept it secret, guaranteeing her a spot in the final five.

Time to vote…What we see…
Jerri- Parvati
Candice- Sandra (sees her as a true hero)
JT- ?
Danielle- Parvati
Courtney- Sandra
Colby- ?
Coach- Parvati (says she is a warrior)
Rupert- Sandra
Amanda- ?

With three votes unknown, it is a tie between Parvati and Sandra. Ha, imagine a three way tie! I’m not sure who will win it. I think Amanda might vote Parvati for old times’ sake and strategy. Colby and JT I have no idea.

Jeff says the consensus is that this is one of if not the greatest season. I didn’t watch the early seasons bu I’m inclined to agree. (Jeff, RW/RR Challenge: The Island was just like this…)

Votes-
Parvati
Sandra
Parvati
Sandra
Parvati
Sandra
Sandra
Sandra

The winner is…Sandra (first two time winner, does that make her the best player ever?). Russel looks less surprised/pissed this time around. He even gives her a hug. I will say Parvati, once again, read it right. She said Sandra would win but Russel refused to listen. He really should get over his ego.

Someone has given Sandra a tiara which is so funny. Who will get the fan vote? Likely Russel though like I said, Parvati.

Sandra says winning twice makes her the best ever and queen. What does Parvati think? She’s played the most and is a kind of challenge dominater. Russel? Social player…no. She’s lippy. Physical game…maybe the worst ever. (Sandra says that is a strategy.) Strategic…get rid of Russel. Let’s award her for her failures. Russel thinks there’s a flaw in the game if she can win it twice. What needs to happen is…America should have a percentage of the vote. Now THAT would be interesting. Sandra says he wouldn’t have won anyway and he points out he would’ve won last season. Jeff says that isn’t the game.

Sandra’s key move? She uses past seasons to improve in the game.

Tom’s opinion on Sandra never being voted out but she’s never won a single challenge. Even Courtney’s won. 1/3 physical, 1/3 strategic and social, and 1/3 luck. Whoever wins deserved it.

Is Russel surprised that he didn’t get a vote? He’s played once…a long time. He pulls out JT’s note to show he’s good. JT tries to burn it but fails.

We get a few scenes of the roughest challenges and the promise of crowning “the dumbest move ever.”

Sandra’s husband is in the audience now, back for two weeks.

Parvati’s stats:
114 days, 2nd most individual challenge wins with 6 (Colby has 7)

What happened to Russel’s hat? He didn’t know because there was no strategy there. He says, at the end of the day, Parvati should have won.

Jeff wants to know if Russel even thinks about Jury while he plays. Russel doesn’t care about the fact that he ignores the social game.

What if Rob and Russel had teamed up. Rob says Russel plays to get to the end but not to win. That’s where they differ. Not that Rob has won either.

Dumb moves, starting with Tyson. Tyson voted himself out and changed the game. JT is the other one. Jeff saw it as a decent strategic idea but with false fundamentals. JT felt like he was going home otherwise so it was worth a shot. He was hoping to play with all the people who were slowly voted out. The poll online…5 nominees: JT, Tyson, Colby, James, and Erik (with a new mohawk haircut). They made a tiki trophy for the winner…The winner is from this season and it is JT.

Still to come…Fan Favorite vote.

But first, James’s behavior around camp…Lots of surprises and disappointments in the show. What was with his attitude? It seemed like he was having less fun than he was. He’s disappointed in his knee. Amanda tries to defend him. Rupert’s broken toes (it turns out he broke 3 toes.) Good vs evil, the lines are blurred. He likes being called a hero though. Colby embodies the qualities of a hero but this season…physically he knew things were different. He also didn’t seem to be in it. He said he had more fun watching this time. They couldn’t adventure this time around which made it worse. Amanda, second to Parvati in day’s played. Sandra, Parvati, Russel, and Amanda are the only ones who have been to tribal twice. Does Amanda lack the killer instinct? She doesn’t know what that is…she just feels bad. The game is emotional for her. Stephanie was expected to be a great female competitor. She figured she’d go early because she doesn’t hang out with anyone and then dislocated her shoulder. Cirie, what can you do about the target on your back? When people have a perception, it’s hard to break that. Coach’s moment with Tyson when he cried. Has he learned anything about himself and how people perceive him. Coach thinks he’s more humble. First survivor baby of Boston Rob and Amber.

Fan favorite is between Rupert (what!?!?) and Russel. Come on America! Anyone but Rupert. Russel won this again. A part of me wonders is Russel this is proof that he thinks should win.

It came together for Jerri this season. People originally hated her so much they wanted her gone and then they liked her too much to keep her.

Danielle’s breakdown really ruined it for her. She’s not a villain.

Courtney always seem to be having fun. She did this season. Randy meanwhile rarely seemed to enjoy it and he didn’t at all. Sugar went to the end and then was first out. She wasn’t having fun because of the rain and lack of alliance.

Candice postponed her wedding for the show and she’s gotten married.

306 episodes so far. 15 countries. 11 men, 9 women winning. Average age 35. Twice as many winners are single than married. They build a survivor prototype.

They pay tribute to Jenn Lyon a former Survivor contestant who died from cancer.

Preview of next season. Nicaragua. Didn’t show us much of anything but it’s an all new cast, can’t wait for it to start.

Survivor: The Penultimate Episode

Wow. The show just keeps getting better. Just when you’re sure Parvati is going to be voted off (or that the votes will tie at the very least) Parvati wins immunity and completely saves herself. Things could have really changed for Rupert and Colby but Russel chickened out for fear of the girls turning on him, even though he’s already lost their trust. I’m surprised he turned because he didn’t know Sandra had the idol so he still had a good shot of keeping a majority with Rupert and Colby (though it would prob guarantee his loss in the final even more than now). And no, I don’t think Sandra will get in trouble by anyone but Russel for not sharing that she had an idol. Parvati did the same thing and the women still followed her. (It’s not like she used it to betray her alliance.)

I hate when players are cocky. Sandra being all “I wasn’t going to use my idol…” It’s the last week. I don’t care if you are 100% positive you will make it to the final. Play the damn idol because you cannot use it any other time, it has no other value, and you NEVER know.

It’s funny that the woman’s alliance that the Hero’s feared has come to pass but not when they expected and therefore not when it would help them. What do you think Russel will do in his last few days of panic?

Rupert gone. All I can say is…FINALLY. He’s so annoying.

Who will win? Who should win?

Whether or not Parvati makes it to the finale (I wouldn’t be surprised if the women turn on her in the end for fear of losing to her), I think she has played the most solid game of all. She has managed to 1) get Russel to give her 2 immunity idols, 2) play the game longer than any survivor ever, 3) manage to make it to the final five despite people saying from day 1 that she is a huge risk, 4) win immunity more than once, 5) find an immunity idol and give out it (and the one Russel gave her) to save her alliance and change the direction of the game, and 6) convinced Jeri to turn on Russel and Sandra to ally with her despite her earlier dislike. And even with losing Danielle, which was a huge blow, she’s stayed in the game anyway. I think that Parvati could get more votes than people think she could because while people think she’s dangerous, she also hasn’t really betrayed anyone on the jury so they have no reason to personally dislike her. Think about the jury:
1- Coach- the main people he has to be upset at are Jeri for betraying him by changing alliances, Russel for leading the strike against Boston Rob, and Sandra for tricking Russel into voting him off
2- Courtney- she was closet to Sandra and arguably to Parvati, who tried to save her even if she failed (she also voted for Jeri on her way out)
3- JT- Russel betrayed him
4- Amanda- has a history with Parvati and they are probably still friends despite being pitted against each other by the circumstance of starting on separate tribes (she did vote Parvati on her way out, but that was also her entire tribe and I think she is someone who respects the game)
5- Candice- betrayed by Russel
6- Danielle- betrayed by Russel and Jeri, super close with Parvati
7- Rupert- particularly hates Russel
To be clear, there are currently 4 heroes and 3 villains on the jury. There will likely end up being 5 heroes and 4 villains on the final jury (unless only two people make it to final tribal council, which is possible too, in which case that would make it an even five heroes and five villains). I would say that Russel is the least likely to get votes because even the majority of the villains he voted out wouldn’t respect his tactics in the game over the things he did, but I wouldn’t count Parvati out because although she was always considered a threat, she didn’t really cross anyone, she’s super charming, and she can argue that she was both a strategic and physical force in the game.

Russel has played a good strategic game too (and has even performed fairly well in challenges) but he’s just never understood the social aspect of the game. If you betray everyone and those people are NOT the type to reward treachery, you will not win.

Jeri I think is sort of a nobody but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Courtney and/or Coach give her a hard time for jumping ship on their alliance. I think she’s been a mostly unremarkable player (though she did win an immunity challenge and reward challenge) and has most stayed under the radar. I suppose she could win out of the default of having done nothing, but I really think that would be a shame and a part of me feels that the players on the jury at least respect the game more than that.

Sandra is the worst challenge contestant ever. And she’s not the greatest in the social game (something about the way she talks just SOUNDS fishy). But, she has made some brilliant strategic moves to save herself and one thing that could curry favor is the way she manipulated Russel into eliminating Coach (I think the heroes might appreciate that fact) and Rupert and JT may even appreciate her attempt to reveal Russel’s true actions, even if they ignored her. And she and Candice were sort of working together at one point so that may work in her favor.

Colby may be even worse than Sandra this season in challenges and he’s been so uninvested in the game. The only way he will win is if all the heroes on tribal council vote for him simply because he isn’t a villain. While I think Rupert would do that and even Candice might just to get back at the Villains for their last betrayal, I’m not sure that Amanda and JT would. Well, I’ve never seen Amanda on the council so hard to say there, but JT definitely embraced his inner villain this season so I wouldn’t count him as a definite yet. Coach may go for the hero bit though.

Those are my thoughts about the final five. What do you think?

Survivor

Now that it’s mostly Villains leftover, things are getting sort of interesting. I debate Russel’s intelligence in deciding to get rid of Danielle. Is it really a good idea to make an enemy of Parvati (who he clearly still wants to team up with)? The thing is, Jeri is in his new alliance and in theory so are Rupert and Colby. So his only two choices of who to vote off are Sandra and Parvati. Sandra I wouldn’t be surprised about, but her seems so obsessed with Parvati that I’m not sure he could bring himself to vote her off. And there’s no accounting for what Parvati will do. Rupert hated Russel so badly before that he may pretend to team up with Russel only to blindside him with Sandra and Parvati’s help. (The lesser of two evils, right?)

I will say that Danielle dug her own grave. “I’m closer to Parvati then you realize.” Even Parvati realized that was the worst thing she could say. If she had stuck to “I don’t understand why you don’t trust me, I’ve never betrayed you, I’m on your side” odds are Jeri would not have flipped. (PS- Who else wishes that they had blogs written by the survivors themselves? Probst’s blog is great but just imagine what insight we can get from teh ral players!)

Things I didn’t see coming- 1) Candice getting voted out. She would have been as easy to control as Colby, if not easier, since he apparently has a self-righteous streak. 2) Rupert’s fake idol ploy working so well on Russel (and why has no one else tried that before!?!?) 3) Danielle’s ultimate torch snuff, they did a great job on the editing of this episode.

I still don’t like that the survivors know who votes which way. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if they had to guess who had flipped?

I hope Sandra utilizes her idol to finally blindside Russel. Not because I don’t like Russel (I think he’s made this season excellent, even though I found him annoyingly arrogant last season) but because I think it would be hilarious. Imagine, king of idols, self proclaimed best survivor player ever, voted out before the finals. I would also like to point out that though it appears to be 4 vs 2 now, Jeri is a known flipper. In particular, she fears the idol. So, if Sandra reveals that she has the idol to Jeri, odds are Jeri will flip yet again and vote however Sandra wants. So Russel, look out.

Survivor Heroes vs Villains (Yin and Yang)

I think my heart was actually beating faster as I watched this episode. Especially tribal council.

As expected, there was a merge and the villains happily joined the heroes at hero’s camp. Not like they had a good enough shelter to want to stay in their camp. The downside though is that the heroes behave very territorial.

The Heroes still believe that Parvati is in charge and maneuver to get her out, but then, just in case Russel is playing them (thanks to Sandra’s advice) they decide to test him. They tell him to vote Parvati while they vote for someone else on the villains’ tribe. They debate between Jerri and Sandra who they believe are the least likely to receive an idol.

As predicted, Russel gives the idol to Parvati and she finally agrees that she may in fact be the dangerous player everyone else seems to think she is (she does have two immunity idols anymore and the question remains, will she voted out with both of them in her pocket just like James?). A part of me thinks she may be so dangerous because everyone thinks she is. It’s almost like they give her power. But, she does prove herself.

First, Parvati goes to Amanda to see what she can learn. This is what everyone had feared originally, that once a merge happened, people would align with their old friends rather than their current tribe. Of course, that’s not really what’s going on. Amanda plays it that she’s with Parvati ?(torn but secretly with her) but she isn’t fooling Parvati. I think Amanda’s wording was the problem. Parvati asks her if her name is going to be written down and Amanda tells her to use her idol. (Notice the difference there. She does not say they are voting for her, simply recommends she use her model, which is what the Hero alliance wants.) Amanda also tries to convince Parvati that they are targeting Sandra, still misdirecting Parvati. Or so she thinks.

During the immunity challenge, Parvati looks like she can easily win the challenge but she and Danielle have a quick discussion and they agree that Danielle should win. This way, they will both have idols. This also strengthens the Heroes theory that Parvati has an idol and will play it for herself, otherwise why wouldn’t she win?

Tribal council goes and the heroes are convinced they’ve got it. Especially when Parvati pulls out her idol and…gives it to Sandra. No worries, they’ve selected Jerri as their victim. Except that Parvati is equal to that. She wants to “increase their chances” so she pulls out her second, secret immunity idol and gives it to Jerri who is shocked, especially when she realizes she was going to go home.

Russel is part pleased and part worried about the fact that Parvati kept an idol secret from him. (She can probably say something like “I just wanted to surprise you!”) But he does think the villains have it now. He forgets that Sandra was never with them which means it is still technically 5-4. Though Colby could potentially flip too. I doubt it but it is possible since he was on the outs before. (He just doesn’t seem as vengeful as Sandra.)

Parvati may have just earned herself Sandra and Jerri’s loyalty since her move was undiscussed and all her own. Jerri probably. Sandra, probably not. She never liked Parvati much. In a way, they may have done a favor for the Heroes, since JT was the least reliable of them all and probably would have been willing to flip his vote.

I will say that JT was smart enough coming into this season. He realized that everyone would assume that he would play just the way he did before–the sweet honorable kid–so he changed it up and acted more Villain than Hero and caught everyone off-guard. (It’s almost like he came in with a clean slate, like Russel did. To be fair, though no one had seen Russel play before, they were warned that he was one of the most villainous players in the history of the show.)

Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat II

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?