Category Archives: Survivor

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur: Blood vs. Water 2 – Ep 1 – Perception Means Everything

I know – new season, same late entry. Yada yada yada.

The funniest part about writing the Survivor previews every season is that I almost always turn out to be horribly wrong. That’s the dangers of writing about things based solely on the written word. It is hard to learn about context when you are only reading people’s thoughts. You don’t actually see them interact with other people. You don’t see how they respond to the harsh conditions that is the actual game of Survivor. It is fascinating to watch how people deal with this game.

And that brings me to Rocker.

John Rocker is someone who has a great deal of public perception already. And rightfully so. Back in the late 1990s, he was a very outspoken baseball player on a very good team. He said some outrageous things that offended a lot of people. Ignorant things. And he was unapologetic about them. As a result, he very possibly became the most hated person in sports at the time. Of course, there’s a very long list of people ahead of him these days – Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Donald Sterling, etc. But in his day? Rocker was bad news.

So I expected the same guy. And perhaps he will show up again this season. But not in Episode 1. In fact, the John Rocker we saw was helpful. He showed game. He wasn’t a total jerk. I did notice the show made a point of having him welcome Val back to the tribe. Well played, Show. But seriously, Rocker had a nice first episode and is a giant living among normal sized people on his tribe. Even if they discover who he is, or if he reverts back to his 1999 ways, he may be a very difficult player to vote out pre-merge.

And speaking of knowing who he is – Wes figured it out, albeit rather awkwardly. He did play it well and tapped into Rocker’s ego in the process. But what impressed me more than that was Rocker’s instinct is to vote out Wes as soon as he can. That’s strong game skills there. If his identity is as toxic as it could be, having anyone know whom he is could be the worst-case scenario for him. Voting out Wes may be the right way to go.

And since we are on the topic of vote outs…let’s discuss the vote at the first Tribal Council. Yay!!! I know, the Twinnies have their fans. And they are probably incredibly nice in real life, but boy, were they nails on the chalkboard to me during the Amazing Races they were on. I know that Nadiya didn’t really do much to deserve getting kicked off – but really, how many first boots really deserved it? As Clint Eastwood said in “Unforgiven,” deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it. The reason we got for her elimination was mistrust because of the Amazing Race. Again we have misunderstanding over the ethics of using the U-Turn. Sigh. There’s nothing wrong with it, people. Nothing wrong at all.

But that’s why she’s out. Natalie is likely not going to be very happy about it. And someone, somewhere needs to do a sociology paper on why so many women of color get early boots on Survivor.

I like this new cast – at least so far. My namesake is poised to be a major player in what goes down, based on the opening of the season. He was also part of the latest twist on the Blood vs. Water feature. I was wondering how they would manage to do the reward/Exile/BvW combination. What they did in the first episode – and one wonders how they do it going forward (I suspect random) – was ask for volunteers. Jeremy jumped forward and was chosen. He was going to represent his tribe in the Reward challenge and as a result, his wife was going to face off against him in the duel. No Redemption Island duels or truels this season – we have Family Exile Duels. I like it. Jeremy did not. I need a nickname for him – this name thing is too weird for me.

The other twist is assigning one of your own to join your loved one on Exile. He was wise and sent Keith over there – complementing the man while giving him a handicap in the game. His outdoors skills would help his wife deal with Exile. Even if Keith had just finished telling them all how he and his son lost their flint striker on Day Zero.

Flint striker. Doesn’t that sound like a horrible Jason Statham movie character?

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur: Blood vs. Water 2 – Season 29 Premiere – “Off Their Rockers”

You know what time it is, folks? It’s Survivor Time! Do you want to know what you’re playing for? Survivors ready! The tribe has spoken. Do you want to knock your husband to the ground?

Wait, what was that last one?

That’s right, we are back with more Blood vs. Water (for our new fans – it is a season where family members compete. Will blood be thicker than water? Will people vote out their mothers in the hope of willing a million bucks? What say you, Ciera?) just a mere 12 months since Tyson earned redemption for voting himself out of Heroes vs. Villains. Because when Survivor finds something that works, they do it again and again and again.

Except when for no particular reason they retire a feature that worked well in the past. Or so we thought! Hey, welcome back Exile Island! We had good times in the past. I remember Terry and Yul finding idols that gave them power in those seasons. I remember Janu being sent to the first Exile Island and becoming fierce. I remember Exile Island being used as sweet revenge against Candice for her mutiny. And then, for no apparent reason, Exile was gone. Replaced by its uglier cousin Redemption Island.

Hopefully the Outcast Tribe and the Medallion of Power stay retired.

I say – welcome back to fold, Exile. Let’s see if you stick around this time. The return of Exile brings a new twist on the concept. It is similar to the version used on Micronesia where one person from each tribe heads on over to Exile and has the choice to work together, or separately, to find the idol clues. This time, the idol is going to be back at camp – so they don’t have to worry about searching together. The big twist? It combines the Exile concept with the Blood vs. Water element. Each week, two family members (not sure how they decide which ones) will square off with each other in a duel. The loser goes to Exile and the winner earns a reward. The winner also assigns another person to accompany his or her loved one on Exile – one assumes it is a person not from the loved one’s tribe.

This new version certainly adds some drama to the show and does it in a different way than Redemption Island did in the first Blood vs. Water – the one and only time Redemption has worked really well. I am assuming you cannot send yourself to Exile with your loved one. This is a shame because we could have finally gotten some Survivor: After Hours segments with some alone time for couples on Exile. With cameramen and the home viewers, but still.

The new Blood vs. Water family pairs are all new contestants. No returning members this season. Although there are some stunt casting elements – including a former Amazing Race team and a hate-spewing former baseball player. Let’s meet the new Survivors, shall we?

Survivor Cagayan Finale – If I Had A Million Dollars…

Well, I would not ask Woooooooo! for advice on how to obtain it. Wooooooo!, meet Colby. You two are now forever entwined in Survivor lore when it comes to how to not select an opponent in the Final Two.

Before I get into the finale of one of the best seasons of this show – an incredible feat for a show that has now put on 28 seasons, I need to address something.

I am posting this a week late – sort of a reminder of what all of our Wednesdays are like when the show is running. I can spin it that way, or I can tell the truth. Single parenting, maintaining a house, a social life and a brand new paying job has been kicking my ass. I am lucky to get anything posted. So, for that, I apologize. I will keep trying to continue this hobby – I truly enjoy writing about Survivor and Top Chef – but I cannot guarantee I can do it long term. At least not on time. So, if you all like what I produce, I will keep trying for as long as I can. Just understand that there may be gaps in production.

Anyway, back to the show.

Thank goodness that Woooooo! made this blunder. Because if he didn’t, an excellent season would have ending with a whimper. He seems like a nice enough guy. He was mildly entertaining at times. But no way, no how should Wooooooo! have won this season. Not with the pedal to the metal way so many of the Survivors were playing did his non-play of the game deserve the reward. Heck, I would probably have accepted Kass as the winner more than him because at least she was trying!

Kass made the perfect analogy to him when she was trying to sell him on voting out Pitbull. Woooooo! was essentially Fabio. A nice, easy going dude who managed to hang around for a while as the sharks ate each other. And then managed to beat a couple of guys who angered too many people along the way. Of course, being compared to arguably the worst winner in arguably the worst season is not really all that wonderful – it was at least rather apt.

Woooooo! forgot the first rule of Survivor – something that Pitbull never forgot – which is that the person you are outside of the game needs to be checked at the door. It is all well and good to live your life based on the honorable precepts of martial arts masters – but if so, then don’t go on Survivor. Or at least don’t go on Survivor and expect to win. He will have to come to terms with his decision for the rest of his life – and perhaps he already has. Is his honor on a game show worth $900K? Personally, I am more like Pitbull when asked by Trish if it was worth it to swear on his dead father’s memory. If it was worth it to win a million dollars by telling that little lie. He said it was. As I was watching I was shouting, YES! Ancient superstitions do not affect me. Whatever rules the afterlife, or manages the karmic spirit of what happens to our energy/spirit/soul after we depart this world is NOT, I repeat, is NOT going to be affected by a lie told in a game built upon lies.

If my father was alive, he would tell me if I was going on this show to lie, cheat and steal and say whatever I wanted on his name to get that money. That cash is a nest egg for Pitbull’s little girl. It is totally worth the lie.

I missed the Final Two and the dynamic that goes with it. Woooooo! had a million dollar choice to make. And a more clear cut one than the one Colby made all those seasons ago. With Colby, he knew he could beat Keith, and he thought he could beat Tina. So he tried to walk to the line between his honor and desire to win the game. Woooooo! had to know that he could easily beat Kass, but would lose to Pitbull. Every move Pitbull made, he followed. You can’t beat that. Your hands were dirty on all the backstabs, except you didn’t engineer them. A Final Three doesn’t present this kind of huge decision – it’s an a la carte menu instead of a direct choice. There is drama there – but it is usually so much less. More often than not, we have a choice between two and a third tag-a-long who gets zero votes. I know this Final Two only happened because Lindsay quit, but I really wish they would go back to this plan.

It is also amazing how close the margin of victory and defeat can be on this show. Spencer had a huge puzzle lead and lost it. That could have cost him the million. Kass lost by a second to Woooo! in the final challenge. Could the attorney have managed to convince a jury that hated her to vote for her? They said no at the reunion, but that was without knowing what Kass would have, or could have, said in the moment. We also know that when Survivor goes back to returning players (Rumor has it Seasons 29 and 30 will be all-new players) expect to see a bunch of Cagayan second-timers.

As for the nitty gritty of the episode, to be honest, it was probably the weakest episode of the season. We got a limited family episode for the Final Four – Kass believed her husband’s appearance helped her pull off that amazing come from behind win in the Final Four immunity challenge. She didn’t need the win as there was no way she was going home – but her win meant the end for Spencer. I gave Kass some ribbing this season about how she always seemed to manage to lose the puzzle challenges to Spencer, LJ, Sarah, etc. But this one, she earned. Big time. It looked as if she would never actually get to the puzzle as she teetered on that pole trying to fill that tube with buckets of water. Badly. But, that’s why you never say quit on this show.

Honestly, I think the family episode needs to have more Survivors. Or at least more for them to do. We got to see Pitbull cry because his wife didn’t come. We got to see Kass humanized by showing us someone who loved her. And we got Spencer’s sister showing us that the Bledsoe siblings are equally confident. Other than that, did any viewer get a lot out of the family visit this season?

Despite really messing up his chance at being a millionaire, opening his own studio and proposing to the mysterious Christina Hamilton, Wooooo! did give us one hell of a funny moment as he tried to figure out what happens at the Final Four if there is a tie. It also goes to show that Woooooo! was not a fan of the show in the way Spencer, or many of the others were. I am sure Spencer watched Becky and Sundra fail to make fire. Although Wooooo!’s delivery of “do we fight?” was totally worth it.
I give Spencer mad, mad props for figuring out that Probst’s careful wordplay at the Final Four challenge implied that there would be a Final Two. And he made the one and only play he had, and do so rather effectively. He told Pitbull that if Woooo! or Kass won the Final Three challenge, they would be crazy to take him to the end. He was right. Except Pitbull had an ace in the hole – like he has had all season long – he knew how to play Wooooo! And he did. I was rooting for Spencer – he showed his heart on his sleeve and I relate to that. Even if Probst somehow never saw that.

I also want to address Kass’ comments about how her game would have been more respected if she was a man. Perhaps. There is a kind of double standard when it comes to the wheeling and dealing in Survivor by the women. You get the Black Widow label, or you did it with your looks. There is a point in there. However, I will just say one thing – I would like to believe that I would take Kass’ gender out of the equation when analyzing her ruthlessness and puppet mastery if I thought she was making good moves. Maybe they felt good at the time – but I still believe that as she watched the show back, in a quiet moment, Kass would admit that she did not play a solid strategic game. She tried to. She played an aggressive game. But it was not well-played.

Spencer’s jury speech – one of the ages, by the way – helped offset what was shaping up to be a bitter jury, if not a completely bitter one. To sum up – Sarah and Trish never understood that swearing in Survivor means nothing. Pitbull did to LJ what Todd did to Jean Robert in China to win his vote – stroke the ego. Jeremiah was similar to Sarah and Trish – but in a country, folksy way. Morganna made it about her looks. Of course. Tasha inexplicably voted for Wooooo! and thus took away most of the respect I had for her game. Jefra said she wasn’t bitter, and then proceeded to ask bitter questions. And then Spencer told them to shut the front door and realize that Pitbull just kicked all of their asses and deserved the win. Bravo, Spence. Bravo. I wonder if the Final Four idol use put him over the edge on that opinion.

And in the final moments of the episode – before jury voted – we got the season in a nutshell. Woooooo! clueless eating the Final Two breakfast, while Pitbull still playing the game found the hidden note leading them to the mirror and scale. Well done, Tony. You earned this one.

My updated ranking of best winners – as we one day head to an all-winners season. Someday. My criteria – a combination of strategy, verbal skills, challenge skills, and season-centric domination, and future performances.
1 – Sandra – she won twice
2 – Boston Rob – perfect game
3 – Kim – the other perfect game
4 – Brian – one of the most dominant seasons ever
5 – Tony – It wasn’t pretty at times, but he was masterful
6 – Richard – I move him down in retrospect, he didn’t do a lot. But he invented how to win. He ranks below the dominations and double winner, but ahead of the rest.
7 – Tom – Drops a bit due to HvV
8 – Parvati – She arguably deserved two wins.
9 – Tyson – The whole game was gunning for him and he made it
10 – Yul – Co-dominated his season.
11 – Earl – See Yul
12 – Denise – Amazing comeback
13 – Chris – See Denise
14 – Danni – See Denise and Chris
15 – Jenna – Loses points for almost quitting before winning
16 – Todd – Possibly deserves higher based on the best Final Tribal ever
17 – JT – loses points for HvV as well
18 – Cochran – I may need to watch it again, but it feels as if he used Dawn as a shield and let the crazies take each other out.
19 – Ethan – Lex won that one for him
20 – Amber – Doesn’t get the respect she deserves, but still, shouldn’t get that much
21 – Aras – Great social game. That’s it.
22 – Sophie – One of the better winners from a bitter jury. But still a Bitter Jury Syndrome beneficiary.
23 – Tina – Won because of Colby, gets some extra points for grittiness.
24 – Bob – Possibly the nicest winner
25 – Fabio – See Bob
26 – Natalie – The ultimate Bitter Jury Syndrome winner. At least she played the game a bit.
27 – Vescepia – Anyone remember her?

Treemail Top 10 – Reunion Special
1 – I don’t think the cut-ins worked throughout the episode. I think, if anything, it took you out of the moment of the show.
2 – That group of kids with Probst seemed pointless – but what it did was convince me to allow my soon-to-be 8-year-old to watch Season 29 with me. And I told him before that we could watch older seasons. I told him to pick a number. He picked 14. Fiji. Ugh. I told him to pick another. He took 21. Nicaragua. Gaaaah!
3 – Tony’s wife is pregnant again. He needs to play again now! It worked the first time!
4 – Amazing how Twitter has become a real part of this dynamic now. Tony mentioned hate tweets. Sarah did too.
5 – Speaking of Sarah, very sad to see the two of them are not talking. Guys, it’s a game show. Try for some perspective. Sarah, you are having a child – show the kid how to handle these things.
6 – Tony lost 45 pounds!! Wow
7 – I liked Tony’s explanation about why he voted out Trish. He needed Wooooo! to beat Spencer. Funny – he actually needed Kass to beat him as it turned out!
8 – Tony saved a guy’s life. That’s real life. Not Survivor. Real friggin life.
9 – Cochran’s Charlie Brown reference with Spencer was great. Loved that.
10 – I liked Probst’ apology letter for underestimating Spencer, but hated the rest of the reunion. Let us never talk about Tyler Perry’s involvement again.

Vote #1 – Spencer 3 (Woooo!, Pitbull, Kass), Wooooo! 1 (Spencer)

Vote #2 – Kass 1 (Woooooo!)

Vote To Win – Pitbull 8 (Kass, Spencer, Trish, LJ, Jeremiah, Morganna, Sarah, Jefra), Wooooo! 1 (Tasha)

Next Season – Blood vs. Water 2. Back in Nicaragua. All new players.

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Survivor: Cagayan – Ep 13 – Llama Llama Mad At Mama Kass

Well, that was certainly an interesting episode. Any Survivor episode that includes references to Skeletor, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Pauly Shore, an interesting pitch for a retro 80s teen movie, llama sounds, and, of course, a late season blindside is certainly an episode worth viewing. And I didn’t even mention one of my favorite challenges – the Cake The Survivors Full Of Mud Challenge.

Great episode, Survivor. And it leaves a fascinating Final Four out there. I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I start with Pitbull and his interesting vote. I still think that with a two-hour finale, we are going to have a Final Two. Otherwise, we have a LOT of screen time to account for next week. I still think that, regardless what Probst is saying, only Pitbull or Spencer can win this thing. With one very unlikely exception – if Wooooooo! is against Kass in a Final Two. I think Spencer beats any of the three. I think Pitbull beats Wooooo! or Kass, as the bitter jury holds its nose and votes for the guy that played the hardest despite screwing them over. Wooooo! is a nice guy, but they all have to know that he did very little beyond Globetrotter tricks to win this game.

But that’s how hated I think Kass is right now. She would lose to the dude who made an Encino Man reference and did zero strategizing. She did tons of strategizing – but so much of it was counter productive. Woooooo! may actually sweep the jury against her. Think about it? Who votes for her? Definitely not Sarah, Trish, Tasha, Spencer, Jeremiah, Pitbull. In fact, if it is Kass vs. Pitbull in the Finals, this may in fact be the ugliest jury response to the Final Tribal we have ever seen. Worse than Rat vs. Snake. Worse than Big Tom and Lex with Boston Rob. Worse than the anti-Hantz backlash in Samoa. Worse than the personal attacks thrown at Lill and Twila.

At least that’s my thoughts. Who knows.

The big question that will arise coming out of the aftermath of this episode is the fallout for Pitbull after turning on one of his closest allies. Why did he vote for Trish? What we saw was Kass and Spencer finally convincing Wooooooo! to make a move that would benefit him – even if it really doesn’t help much. As I said, no one should want to sit next to Spencer at the end.

Was Wooooooo!’s move his own, or part of Pitbull’s move, edited for us to believe Woooooo! had switched over? Did Pitbull just go along with the plan when he realized that it was happening so he wouldn’t stand out with his vote? Trish seemed awfully surprised when she learned about his vote at Ponderosa (not sure how, it seemed the others just guessed it from his body language and tone). If Pitbull is really playing this game as hard as we all believe he is, he must be counting votes. He cannot lose Trish’s jury vote if he wants to win.

I just love this season – so many hard core players. I wish every season had so many people who came to play and who came to win. I mean, just look at the jury – so many of them played well enough to win too.

And the season had a player pretending to speak like a llama. And really, how amazing is that? Why Pitbull chose a llama as his animal to use to mock Kass is something I want to know. I also want that to be my new ring tone.

As for Kass, I get that she is working hard and making moves and trying to stir things up, but she seems to have done too much of it. She has gotten to the end, but probably more than anyone else outside of a man named Hantz or a Special Agent named Phillip, she has alienated her jury to the point of no return.

I also just want to again mention that references to the He-Man universe are always welcome on my television screen – so thanks, Kass. And the expansion into new characters – such as the Wild Skeleton Blue Eyed Banchee – is even better. Keep it up.

And someone instantly start work on the movie plot with Pitbull and Kass as Mom and Dad, Spencer as the son, Trish as the aunt and Woooooo! as the goofy foreign exchange student who is given Molly Ringwald’s panties. Please.

Now, as it stands, immunity is going to be important because if we go to a Final Two, both Kass and Pitbull know they need each other. Spencer and Woooooo! will be the F4 vote out, and the F3 vote out unless they win. Anything otherwise would surprise me – and the best part of that…this season has been so surprising so often that you never know.

Treemail Top 10
1 – I really hope all of the editing clues are setting us up for a Pitbull vs. Spencer Final TWO matchup. It would be the best final choice in a long time. I would say the best one since Parvati vs. Amanda in what is arguably the best season of the show post-Hatch.
2 – If Spencer really thinks he was in Misery, he clearly has never given Kathy Bates a sledgehammer. I mercifully will not be linking to THAT scene.
3 – I love, love, love all the variations of the slather yourself in mud challenges this show has had. What surprised me in this one is that Pitbull won it. He has no hair. Usually those that can pile the mud in their hair and head win it. Pitbull actually crushed the others. Didn’t see that coming. I only wish Morganna and Jefra had made it to this point. Amirite guys?
4 – “Anorexia, come on over.” HA! Funniest use of anorexia in reality TV ever.
5 – Woooooo! felt like “Encino Man” after the mud challenge. He actually made a 1992 Pauly Shore movie reference in 2014. I wonder if the endless well of one-liners that came from Pitbull, Spencer, Kass, Trish, etc. made Woooooo! simply get lost in the shuffle. Bud-dy.
6 – I wish I could unsee Pitbull eating generic Survivor pizza. Alas.
7 – What was with all of the teeth cleaning in the scene where Kass and Spencer worked on Woooooo!?
8 – I also noted a really large amount of Final Three references, which makes me really think my intuition on a Final Two is correct.
9 – Immunity challenge – untwist a rope, get a key, build a ladder puzzle and then a stairs puzzle, and then solve a slide puzzle. Love the complicated ones. Pitbull crushed it on the first three stages and then went loopy on the slide. He moved the tiles around randomly for about 10 minutes and let Spencer come in and dust him. Pitbull was so bad at it, it made me wonder if he was throwing it so he could get some cover for a Trish vote out. With no other choices, he HAD to vote out an ally, right?
10 – I think Spencer went to the Bull Durham School for Sports Cliches.
Bonus – Trish said she never had a confrontation with anyone on the show? Has she forgotten about Lindsay already?

Votes – Trish 4 (Kass, Pitbull, Woooooo!, Spencer), Kass 1 (Trish)

Next week – The finale of Season 28

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Survivor: Cagayan – Ep 12 – The Razor Thin Margin Of Error

Sometimes I hate being correct.

Now, one thing to tell you. I had a crazy work week coupled with a trip to New York to spend time with some people very dear to me. Plus a Billy Joel concert. And a Broadway show – who could have predicted that a Bridges of Madison County Musical would be so amazing? So that’s why we have a super late post this week.

Sadly, the part where I am correct and a man with solid predictions is where it concerns Miss Tasha. I think she was a really good player who had her fate decided by the unfortunate choices of others, especially the poor decision several weeks ago by Kass. Tasha played this game hard and well and made the Final Six. She almost, by one digit, scored four consecutive immunity wins. But her screen time was not frequent enough for someone who got to the end. I just knew this week was going to be her end.

Dear Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst – please put this woman on a future season and let’s see how good of a player she really is.

Honestly, this was a really strange episode. There were unexpected and pretty pointless arguments between Kass and Pitbull. There were obviously “Never Gonna Happen” alliances with Wooooooo! and the Brains. And as the whole episode unfolded, the obvious outcome was the eventual outcome. It came down to Spencer going home if he lost immunity, and Tasha in his place if he did. We knew that going in and that’s what we got.

It made no sense for anyone to team up with those two at this stage of the game. Earlier, yes, but not now. The jury is populated with people who would vote for either one of them in, what I assume, will be a Final Two. There is no way any of the others want to be sitting next to those guys in the Finals. No friggin way. And now, the only way this happens is if Spencer does what Tasha was unable to do – win four consecutive immunity challenges.

The first one was a fun one – and shows just how narrow the margin of victory and defeat can be on this show. I have already been on record in saying that I love memory challenges, especially this late in the game. After no food and water for so long…these brains are fried. They ain’t got nothing left. And to make them run and have to count things…simple and brilliant.

And as I mentioned before, it came down to one number. All of the Survivors had trouble remembering everything and were collapsing from the exhaustion and frustration. Finally, Spencer managed to get it done and fell to the ground in one of his patented Spencer displays of emotion. I will definitely miss watching that after this season – it’s like peering inside the mind of a nine-year-old boy. I wonder if he’s thinking of toys, candy and nine-year-old girls. Boy, I hope he is not. I mean, there’s a cop right there!

And speaking of the cop. Sometimes I think Pitbull has just forgotten some of the lies he has told. I still don’t understand what he is playing at with the cop stories. Is he lying, is he not lying? Is he pretending to be a cop or a contractor? Is he going to shift gears and be a pirate next? Or a blacksmith? Or a private eye? Or maybe I was typing this while watching “Once Upon A Time.”

I keep getting distracted – blogging about TV while watching TV. It is interesting. May I add, I really want to see this new Godzilla movie. I am hoping Walter White is in this movie to use some ricin on the big guy.

Anyway, so this episode. Meh. I have nothing really left to say. I liked seeing Wooooooo! showing some personality. He is such a showman, especially with the children. He showed more personality in those five minutes on screen than he has in the entire season. The dude has been sort of a surfer stoner dude all season long – something which worked for Fabio back in the Season Which Must Not Be Named. However, it is almost impossible to play the game with the Fabio Plan. Right now, I can’t see how anyone sees Woooooo! as anything more than Pitbull’s lapdog.

Immunity not withstanding, if the folks on the season are paying attention, then Spencer is next, and then Trish. The other three need each other to win. Boy, can I can really see this season as shaping up to have one heck of a horrible, bitter jury coming up. No question about it.

So next week we cut to four, and I wonder if we see an attempt on Pitbull and the reveal of an idol. I doubt it because, it makes no sense whatsoever. But who knows. I think Pitbull is walking out of this game with two souveniers. I also wonder if we get a reaction from the contestants once they realize it is a Final Two. Or perhaps…some sort of twist this week as we have to have something happen with two eps left. Unless the finale is not the usual format.

Anyway, we will soon find out. I may not have loved this episode – but I am really digging this season.

Survivor: Cagayan – Ep 11 – The Opposite of Bland

That title has a double meaning. And it is sure sign of what you think of my writing – because if you like cheap jokes about contestants’ names…then you probably will track me down and ask me to autograph your laptop. Computer. Not your…oh ok, I’ll stop.

This season is the opposite of bland. It is exciting, spicy, unpredictable and full of insanity. In addition, the show is now the opposite of a show featuring Jefra Bland. It is now Jefra-free. And yes, Jefra’s actual last name is Bland. This is one woman who one day will not be hyphenating her married and maiden last names. I kind of want her to marry someone with a food-based last name so she can be Bland-Coffee, Bland-Burger, Bland-Stroganoff. But I doubt I can arrange that. My good friend Arnold Stroganoff just got engaged.

But yes, this is the week that Jefra’s improbable run to the Final Seven ended. Interestingly, her departure also marked the end of the Beauty tribe – four of which are have been eliminated in succession and sit on the jury. Remember when that tribe was unexpectedly impressive in challenges? And now they are all gone. That could be a very interesting voting bloc on the jury.

Speaking of the jury, with the announcement that the finale will take place on May 21 that means we have two weeks before the finale episode. I haven’t heard if May 14 will have an episode or not, but let’s just assume for a moment that it will feature an ep. There is no holiday to speak of, but I guess it is possible CBS has some sort of special to preempt it. But I haven’t heard of one.

So two episodes before the finale. If the last episode is true to form, we have two eliminations before the Final Tribal. This means, that barring an unexpected two-part episode, or a non-elimination Tribal, we have an elimination on May 7 and May 14, followed by two more on May 21. Doing my math…that gives us a Final Two this season. Very interesting. And it will really mess up some strategies. All of a sudden, Kass is a really good ally to have, as she is the one among the Final Six that I see as not getting any votes in a final vote. Wooooooo! is next, but he’s at least been very social.

Now, based on this week’s episode, I am wondering if we have a majority alliance anymore, or if we have three alliances of two – Pitbull/Woooooo!, Kass/Trish and Spencer/Tasha. Which two will join forces in this next installment? Will the first two pairs reform the majority alliance and take out the former leaders of the Brain-led majority? Will the ladies decide that Pitbull’s moves were too much and flip to ally with the Brains? Will the Brawn Boys take the next step from this week and go forward without their female counterparts? Personally, I think the majority reforms and takes out Tasha this week, with Spencer serving as the swing vote in the Final Five breaking of the majority.

Judging by the editing this season, Pitbull and Spencer will be playing huge roles in the end game. Despite being really good players, Tasha and Trish have not gotten hero, villain or fan fave types of edits. It makes me wonder if they will be the sixth and fifth place finishers as a result. Here is my prediction – Tasha loses immunity this week and gets taken out 4-2. Spencer wins the next immunity and Trish goes 3-2. Spencer wins another immunity and Kass goes 3-1. In the Final Immunity, Spencer makes three in a row and chooses to take Pitbull to the end over Woooooo! And to be honest, I am not sure how that vote goes – but I suspect Spencer would win it.

Now watch he gets voted out this week.

Survivor: Cagayan – Ep 10 – I Gotta Wash Up. I Gotta Wash Up

The hits just keep on coming this season, which I have now officially dubbed the craziest Survivor season of them all. Just think about this – which played out at the Tribal Council. Spencer played his idol as he gambled that the Majority Alliance would target him instead of Jeremiah. I totally get that – it was a 50/50 situation and in that case you protect yourself. He guessed wrong. Nothing he can do about that, he survives for three more days, but he has burned his idol. Normally that would burn you up if you were Spencer – if he guessed the other way, the votes on Jeremiah would not count and their three votes for Woooooooo! would have sent him home.

Meanwhile, Pitbull wasn’t sure who would get the three votes, so he slyly took out his recently found Super Idol – the Terry/Yul Classic Idol can be played after votes are read. Just in case. As the Woooooo! votes popped up, Pitbull knew he wouldn’t need it – he can’t hand it over to anyone – so he casually mentioned that he had a fake idol to throw off the opposition. So, if they all believe him, he can still secretly play the Super Idol without anyone suspecting he has it. I have said it before and will keep saying it – Pitbull is playing a great game. A hard played game. A crazy, great, hard played game. But it is working.

That said – if, well, seriously, when he is asked back, he will be an early boot. There is no way anyone who has watched him play this game will want to keep him around. But for this season – the one that matters – he is positioned extremely well to finish things. And win things. Spencer and Tasha have each played extremely well, and if they manage to salvage their game and get to the end they can win. However, it bodes really poorly for them right now.

So who can beat Pitbull? Can you see Woooooo!, Jefra or Kass earning any jury votes? Wooooo! and Jefra have played a very passive game. No chance. And Spencer, Tasha, Sarah, Morgan and Jeremiah are all no way votes for Kass who betrayed them. That leaves just one person.


And she may actually deserve it the most.

While Pitbull has made big moves – and noisy ones, at that – Trish has made subtle moves, often to clean up the mess after his big moves. In this episode, Jefra was ready to bail on the alliance after the LJ blindside. And to be honest, it would have been a bad move for her since she needed to bring someone with her. Otherwise, she votes with the minority and she forces a 4-4 tie. In that scenario, and assuming the Woooo!/Jeremiah votes remain the targets and Spencer wisely plays his idol, that means the other five have to draw rocks. That includes Jefra. Her flipped vote would have resulted in her having a 20% chance at elimination thanks to random luck. The interesting twist here is that I don’t think Pitbull’s Super Idol could have been used in a rock draw.

Sensing a chance in Jefra after her return from the Reward, Trish got to work. She got Jefra to open up about her feelings about the alliance and LJ. Trish played her perfectly. She reminded her that she and Kass were also surprised – thus placing blame squarely on Pitbull. She then publicly “called out” Pitbull in front of Jefra in an attempt to appease her. I am certain that Trish warned him ahead of time, and Pitbull played along perfectly.

Trish got Kass to flip. She got Lindsay to quit. She kept Jefra in the fold. She is not going to take the heat that Pitbull will get from the jury. She is a very real threat to win – and to some fans will be an Amber/Natalie type of winner. I disagree. I think she is played a very solid game and is not riding coattails. If anything, she is cleaning the coattails as they keep getting dirty.

I mocked Pitbull a little for the Spy Shack in camp. I like the idea, but having it in camp seemed a bit silly and obvious. However, constructing one by the Treemail location was brilliant. That’s where so many strategy sessions have taken place over the years and a perfect location to spy if you are able to. I wonder about the logistics of having the camera guy around there as well. It seems as if hiding would be difficult with the camera as a potential giveaway. That said, the concept was outstanding. And I expect others will try and replicate it in the future.

Survivor: Cagayan – Ep 9 – What The Heck Is Going On?

Wait…what just happened?

I have to say, this season has claimed the title of Craziest Survivor Season Ever. And really, it’s not even all that close. Some past seasons have been a bit wacky – borderline crazy. Cook Islands, Amazon, Heroes vs. Villains, etc. They have all had strange things going on, odd decisions, and huge power shifts. This season has it all and then some. One thing it has that other seasons lack…giant moves that make no sense to the viewer.

First Kass blew up her majority alliance, even though she was in the majority of the majority. And now, Pitbull has done the same thing. And I have no idea what the majority of the Final 9 is at this point. They might as well just randomly vote from now on – or break out the Season 1 Sean Alphabet system.

I will admit though…it’s been fun to watch.

Pitbull was front and center this week and he is acting like a man who hasn’t slept much or eaten much in three weeks. Paranoia is starting to get to the man. I am really unsure how to properly describe what went down because it really made no sense. If I followed correctly, Pitbull’s team was up 6-3 in numbers after taking down Morganna at Tribal. He seemed afraid of the fact that the minority alliance voted for him, despite the fact that he had six votes to drown that out. He went from this into a new plan to take down LJ.

I don’t get it. I mean, I understand wanting to eliminate a threat. Pitbull HAD to get LJ at some point soon. But was it wise to do it now? He had other threats to worry about first – Spencer, Tasha and Jeremiah. The path ahead for him was clear – Pagong the three of them. Then take your strong trio (Trish, Wooooooo!) and rope in Kass. Boom – take out LJ and Jefra (Kass too if there is immunity madness), and run to the finish with Trish and Wooooooo! And a strong likelihood of a win.

Instead, he has damage control to take care of, as Trish, Kass and Jefra were clearly not in the loop with this move. Pitbull is walking a very dangerous line at this stage of the game – can you envision those three ladies teaming up, and linking up with Jeremiah and The Brains, to take out Pitbull and Wooooooo!, two very serious physical threats? I sure can. And in fact, if they don’t, then shame on them.

Pitbull is on a Hantzian path right now – a rather charismatic scorched earth ride through a season of Survivor. To his credit, he is much less evil than Russell, but he is a whole lot more erratic. The amazing thing is that everything he has been doing has worked! I mean, the plan to take out LJ is to suggest a WooVote because he may have an idol. Have LJ agree with him, really in a humoring sort of way. Then tell Wooooooo! that LJ is after him. And then take join the two with the bottom three and oust your ally. How did that work?

Kass and Pitbull have forgotten about these names – Natalie, Amber, Fabio, Sandra. While all played well, all of them won their seasons because they played it nice alongside other players who played it hard and hurt feelings. It is an art to play this hard and win. Often times, the person playing that hard and moving the pieces on the chess board without remembering that this is not chess, or Monopoly, or any other game. This is Survivor. With real tired and hungry humans with real feelings to hurt. And those people will decide to either give you the money, or to the person sitting next to you who didn’t piss them off.

The funny thing for Pitbull….he can still win this whole thing. If he mends things with his now 5-3 majority, he can run to the end with Woooooo! and Jefra and very likely take every jury vote. That can easily happen.

Survivor: Cagayan – Ep 8 – The BrotherWoo Of The Traveling Pants

Just as I suspected, the Pagonging has begun. Let’s hope it stops before it gets boring.

The aftermath of Kass’ terrible, horrible move last week unfolded with little to no strategizing throughout the episode. Not once did I suspect that Kass was flipping back, even when they began to allude to Spencer trying to pull a Yul move on her on the beach. Remember when Yul got Jonathan to flip? He came to him at the merge and showed him the idol. Spencer said something like that but then never showed it to Kass.

Now, it becomes a bit more difficult for Kass to flip back unless someone flips with her. With a 6-3 total, the three needs to become a five. And I have the best scenario for that to happen – and it doesn’t involve Kass. However, it does involve some maneuvering by Jeremiah and Jefra…so…big grain of salt. Maybe LJ can make this happen.

If LJ/Jefra link up and make a secret Final 3 deal with Jeremiah, they can team with Spencer/Tasha and flip the game. The two beauties need to look ahead and realize that once they slice it down to five – assuming Kass gets the usual turncoat quick exit once the numbers are safe – that they are down 3-2 to the former Brawns. The former Brainiacs don’t need to know about the pact, they’ll just take the lifeline and worry about the Final Five when they get there. The five vote for Kass – and boom – power shift again.

The preview implies that Pitbull is going to turn on Wooooooo!, but we all know how reliable the previews are each week. And in fact, I expect the Pagonging to continue with a target squarely on Jeremiah’s back next week. But, as we all know, Survivor can surprise you.

This season has proven the constant truth about Survivor – and most reality shows as a whole. The season is only as good as the casting, and in the luck when it comes to eliminations. How good would Survivor: Nicaragua have been if all the early exists weren’t interesting people? What about Amazing Race: All-Stars 1 if Romber didn’t mess up in Argentina? And so on.

This season is jam packed full of interesting personalities – and people who have come to play, and play hard. Even if their decision-making has been rather erratic. Pitbull is throwing anything and everything out there and hoping it sticks. Spencer can make a brilliant move – like taking over the reshuffled tribe, and then a bad move, by lashing out at Kass. I would be excited to see a redux of Cagayan – same cast – but with a season of experience under their belts and see what happens.

Now, let’s talk about the hidden idol. I am not a big fan of the luck of the draw clue on rewards. Spencer just got lucky to sit by the napkin with the clue. There should be some sort of earn to it. Not sloppy steak sauce. I get that Spencer had to try and sneak off to find it – and good for Wooooooo! to notice – but, man, he mangled that, didn’t he?

I think Wooooooo! guessed right and good for him. And his ninja stealth mode was pretty funny, leading to a fairly awkward moment with Spencer. Umm….what you doing? Nothing. And then a cartoonish sprint. Love it.

Spencer…why oh why did you leave the note outside your pants? If I know my Survivor rules, things cannot be taken from you if they are in your clothes/bag. They can be seen, but not taken. Since it was outside his pants – free game. Bad unforced error there. Although I loved Jefra’s “well, go get it” moment to Wooooo! and crew. I loved how she wasn’t getting up to help, but those other idiots needed to.

And then he made up for it with one of the best “cool as a cucumber” moments as he stood near Kass chit chatting as he stood next to the hidden idol. Great scene. Now, he read the note with the idol and said it was just the same old regular idol, but I recall Probst saying before the season began that this idol would have the same power as the ones once owned by Terry and Yul. That you could play them AFTER the votes were read. That’s huge. Either Spencer didn’t get that – or Probst hasn’t revealed it. I couldn’t understand it from the quick note reading.

Anyway, Morganna goes and really, was she really still there? While I’ll miss, gulp, what she brought to the show, she really made no impact whatsoever. She had some nice quotes about being the prettiest one there, but yeah, nothing really important. She was an easy vote and good strategizing by Pitbull and his team. He gave Kass the same power with the vote that Spencer/Tasha were giving Sarah last week, the same power that pissed off Kass in the first place. Oh sweet irony.

As for the immunity challenge – you know how much I love endurance challenges. Just don’t over do it with them – because then they’ll lose their special nature. I still say the endurance challenge should be the first merge challenge, and the final challenge to make the end. Maybe one in the team competition stage.

But, great, another winning episode. Perhaps Survivor will finally win an Emmy this year…or even get nominated.

Treemail Top 10
1 – I like Spencer, but he needs to lay off making estrogen jokes. As a man, and one older than you are Spence, trust me on this one.
2 – If Kass thinks she had a triple win from that tribal – she’s nuts. The funny thing is, she did get triple reward – her choice for vote out, and two idols getting played. But she had nothing to do with the idols – that was just Pitbull’s gamble, and LJ’s baffling strategy. Her vote had nothing to do with either – unless she talked them into it, which we didn’t see.
3 – Between Kass comparing Morganna to a pissing dog, and Pitbull making piss jokes…we are way over our piss reference quota.
4 – Piss Reference Quota is my new retro metal band, by the way.
5 – At least you can say that Morganna knows she is saying obnoxious things as she says them. Sometimes that’s the best thing you can say about someone – she is self-aware in her over inflated sense of self.
6 – Reward Challenge – Nice obstacles, chest drag (not Morganna), and puzzle combo. Random draw for teams put Spencer/Jefra/Morganna/LJ/Jeremiah vs. Woooooo!/Pitbull/Trish/Tasha/Kass. It was fairly close throughout but LJ/Spencer smoked Woooooo!/Kass on the puzzle. That’s another big puzzle performance from Pretty Boy LJ. Just saying.
7 – I will not continue the product placement madness. But man, do I want a Bloomin’ Onion now.
8 – I would like to see a blog post about Spencer’s theory of “normal food stomach” vs. “dessert stomach.” And a Top Chef challenge to be designed around it.
9 – As for the Immunity Challenge – mad props to Spencer and Tasha for going about 90 minutes on their toes. Heck, even Probst was impressed. If you have calves, this challenge is for you. You could tell that Spencer was super excited to win this challenge. He is a true fan.
10 – Best part of the TC – Morganna’s line about if people got to choose between being ugly and cute, they would always choose cute. And she’s right. But that’s not really Sophie’s Choice there, is it? It’s a bad question in Would You Rather too.

Votes – Morganna 6 (LJ, Kass, Pitbull, Woooooo!, Trish, Jefra), Pitbull 4 (SPencer, Tasha, Morganna, Jeremiah)

Next week – Paranoia will destroy ya.

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Survivor: Cagayan: Ep 7 – A Series Of Unfortunate Strategic Moves

Somewhere the best Survivor players in the first 27 seasons of the game were collectively cringing as this season’s pivotal merge Tribal Council unfolded. Surely they were entertained, but boy, they were probably thinking that if only they got to return this season to join this cast, they’d have an easy run to the end. Imagine some of the better strategist who never won – Rob C, Stephen, and many others – taking on this lot.

Oh, and I know, I’m late, I’m sorry, I have good reasons, yada yada, I’m doing the best I can.

Forget most everything that led up to the Tribal. We had a fun endurance challenge, the feast, and the news that a new special idol has been hidden in the merge camp. That’s all well and good. But this episode was all about the Tribal and the madness that ensued.

To refresh your memory, after last week’s quit from Lindsay and ouster of Alexis, we have the Brains/Beauty/Sarah tribe at 6, and the Brawn/Beauty/Pitbull tribe at 5. If everything holds, we have a clear winner at Tribal. However, Sarah has become the wild card swing vote. And she managed to mangle that status. On Survivor, if you are the swing vote, you need to manage it carefully. If you mess it up, you’re doomed. The best thing to do is to pick a side and try and weasel your way into a solid sub-alliance. Make your requests for staying on that side – and then just go along with things.

If you push too hard, you’ll be the bottom of the alliance and get voted out a la Cochran in South Pacific as soon as there is numbers breathing room. If you waver too much, you’ll risk the alliance finding another number, and you’ll risk invoking the ire of the other side and become their target. You also risk blowing any chance you have at jury votes if you screw folks over, and do it in grand fashion.

Which brings us to this Tribal. And the way Sarah went from potentially being in a great spot to being the first jury member. And how incredibly lucky the Pitbull team is that Trish is out there paying attention.

Sarah’s mistake – She wavered too much. Way too much. She needed to tell Pitbull right away that she was not going to flip. This would have given them time to find another target – perhaps Jeremiah. Also, she pushed too hard. Surely, she could give her alliance a suggested target – but if they were not in agreement, just ease back on the throttle. Remember Sandra’s plan – anyone but you. What does it matter if the vote goes to Pitbull, LJ or Jefra? It’s not you, and it gives your team a 6-4 lead in the individual game. Her insistence on voting for Pitbull was one of the ways she got under Kass’ skin.

And if you are clashing with someone on your team – and it was clear she was – tone it down. Give a fake apology and be nice to that person. Or else, you get what happened.

Trish noticed the two women fighting. Kass didn’t like getting bossed around – and there was some deeply rooted resentment to authority in there, so it seemed. So she was pushing back hard – and as we saw early in the season, Kass has not mastered the art of shutting the hell up. She reveals too much about her strategy and her thoughts – which is great in some aspects in life, but it is horrible on Survivor.

With this fracture in place, Trish took the initiative to court Kass. And it surprisingly took very little to get it done. We didn’t even see Kass offered anything. And just like that, power has shifted.

Let’s look at what Kass managed to do – she was potentially in a strong FInal Four position. All the Brains needed was one of the other three to slot into an end game alliance – Sarah, Jeremiah and Morganna. Kass just had to endure a personality clash with Sarah to get to the end – and then vote her out at the end. Three weeks to have a shot at million dollars. That’s it.

ANd what does she get for giving up that position? Nothing. She’s sixth in a six-person group. She’ll be voted out in two weeks at this rate. Boom. That’s it. It is possible that she flips back this week and makes it a Purple Rock 5-5 tie situation, but even that is crazy in its own right. EIther way, she can’t win this season. No one is going to vote for her – she may get to the end for this reason, but she’s done. And she could have won in the finals against Spencer or Tasha – but that’s it. Just because she couldn’t either keep her mouth shut, or see the forest for the trees.

And I am not letting Pitbull and LJ off the hook for their stupidity. Both men had idols – and both burned them for no reason. Pitbull announced that he had one at Tribal when he believed, rightfully so, that he was the target. That should have been enough to scare off votes – but Spencer wanted to see it. Nice move. And Pitbull obliged. Not a great move, but fine, nothing horrible. THe vote is verbally moved to the “other one” and so Pitbull is likely very safe. Meanwhile, another plan could have been to shut up and play the idol. All six votes on him fail. But that didn’t happen.

So what to do? Keep it or give it away. He gives it to LJ who he believes is the other one – something way too obvious. At this point you are just guessing, but I’d never have guessed LJ. I knew it was going to Jefra just because I’ve watched this show before. But whatever, he did that and now LJ is safe.

But then LJ, knowing he’s safe, goes and gives his idol to Pitbull…who we know is safe because the vote was going to the “other one!” Did he think the other one was code for let’s trick LJ into giving up his idol, even though we think he doesn’t have one because Sarah is the worst at noticing things? Either way, now both idols are played – given by one person to the other, which is bizarre – and neither were needed.

And this team is now in power.

While this was fun to watch the madness take place, it really just pissed me off to see bad game play rewarded. I’ve been liking this season so far, but I will admit I am not looking forward to the next four weeks of seeing Spencer, Tasha, Morganna and Jeremiah picked off if we go that way. And I can’t see anyone on the dominant tribe who is really deserving of the prize right now. I like Pitbull and LJ. Trish is playing well. Wooooooo! and Jefra are just kind of there. Kass doesn’t deserve it now. Who to root for?

Meh – I’m all for a good crazy Tribal, but I also want it shake out in such a way that makes the end episodes exciting and fun. I am currently a bit skeptical we will get that.

Treemail Top 10
1 – Boy, you think the editors were loving Sarah’s ample quotes to set up her downfall? “As long as nobody flips”
2 – Kass – The best laid plans are often found laid out on the murder scene floor. Yep, except you are the killer, not the cop in this scenario.
3 – Kass wanted Sarah to have “blood on her hands” from her former tribe before she trusted her. Meanwhile, Sarah through Pitbull out as a vote target. This was all personality conflict – which is a terrible way to play Survivor.
4 – I love how Spencer proved his fandom by not assuming the merge – he remembers Thailand and the fake merge.
5 – Spencer also gave the editing some fodder with his “I’m in the driver’s seat” line.
6 – The 13-year-old in my head is dying to make jokes about the “Sarah Sandwich.”
7 – I got so mad when Kass wondered who made Sarah queen. The 6-5 merge did. And her reign didn’t have to last more than this vote if you could just see it. Ugh.
8 – Tasha tried to peacemake – she even truthfully said that this vote decides fate. It did – it immediately sealed Sarah’s fate, and it will seal Kass’ too.
9 – Challenge – the balance endurance challenge. Triangles floating on the water, with footholds. The last one is to stand on top and essentially surf to the win. Thankfully there are no surfers on this season, which would make it too easy to predict who will…what’s that? There is a surfer. Oh. So. Clearly that’s that. They all essentially fall off the surfboard instantly, with Woooooooo! outlasting them all for the win.
10 – There are bats on that island! All will be forgiven if Kass captures some bats and we get to watch them eat bat.

Votes – Sarah 6 (Pitbull, Woooooo!, Trish, Jefra, LJ, Kass), Jefra 5 (Spencer, Tasha, Jeremiah, Morganna, Sarah)

Next week – Fallout. And a mad treasure hunt for the magic idol.

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