Entertainment, Survivor

Survivor: HHH – Thoughts After Episode 9

I’m enjoying the story of this season of Survivor a lot. There are a lot of unknowns about just how all these players plan to win the game, and the caginess required to play on the fly this close to the end is making things interesting. Even though the votes have all been rather standard thus far, the chess game of positioning to get to the end is very fluid, and it’s building the anticipation greatly. I’m still very impressed with the quality of play this season, as there are multiple people who have good arguments for winning if they play their cards right going forward. I couldn’t even tell you who should be the favorite right now or who’s likely to get voted out next, because the game is changing by the day, and it’s keeping the show entertaining because of the future is unclear.

Who’s Rising:

  • Devon is definitely a player in this game, and he’s playing things very sincerely and honestly so far. Devon has the physical prowess and intelligence to survive in this game, but what seems to be setting him apart and helps him rise to top is his likability. People want to work with Devon, but they don’t assume he’s a schemer because he has such an easy-going personality. He’s been very successful at balancing the game with the relationships he’s building, and you can see he’s getting a lot of attention because of it. The interesting thing to see going forward will be whether or not Devon decides to make a move against Ryan or Ben at some point, and whether or not taking the lead on an ambitious move will out him as a more serious player than his demeanor suggest he is.

Who’s Falling:

  • Ryan’s game started coming apart a bit this episode when he made the choice to confide in the one person in his alliance he had no real bond with. I can understand Ryan’s perspective when he wants to give Ben information to build a bond, but after telling Devon this would be a secret, telling someone on the periphery of your inner circle is not necessarily a great move, even if everything works out. I think Ryan underestimated a few of the bonds he tried making, and with one move he may have lost a handle on the relatively large alliance he’s been trying to architect. If Ryan doesn’t get smart and start sniffing out the seeds of dissent that will be forming immediately now that the Healers have basically been crushed, he could find himself leaving the game with that idol in his pocket.

Who’s Going Nowhere:

  • So at this point I’m just guessing that JP has zero game because the producers have decided he’s not really worth mentioning anymore. With ten people in the game there’s always going to be plenty of footage left on the cutting room floor, but it’s never a good sign to get as little mention as JP has. He has seemed a bit out of his element for a while anyway, so it’s no shock, but still worth mentioning. Ashley also should get a shout out in here since she got the nice mention from Joe in the episode about being a great Survivor goat. I love how meta the game is getting it really suits a Survivor nerd like me, and it’s safe to say that Joe makes a great point with his critiques of Ashley. They wouldn’t include that in the show if it wasn’t foreshadowing something.


  • Player of the Week: Devon
    • He’s talking to everyone and has everyone’s ear, and no one really seems to expect him to be crazy into the game, even though he sure seems to be. He’s successfully put himself into the wing man role for a lot of different players in the game, and because of that he’s got a lot of different options and ways to move forward. Options are good on Survivor, and Devon is in an amazing position simply because of his personality and demeanor.


  • Moment of the Week:
    • My favorite moment of the episode was probably just Joe being Joe going after Ashley and pissing off Chrissy at the shelter. Mike had a killer commentary just before that scene saying that he found Joe strangely amusing, and I can’t help but agree. The guy is such an over the top character, but his presence makes the show far more interesting. I can’t wait to see whether or not they’ll hide another idol for him to find!


  • Fond Farewell:
    • Cole had been drawing dead for many weeks, but it was still kind of sad to see him go. I think he brought a certain sense of innocence to the game, in a strange way, since he was very much just there for survival and to challenge himself, versus being there to win a million dollars. It’s nice to have someone like Cole on Survivor just because players like him balance out the television show a bit and humanize the experience, making it more relatable to the average viewer who doesn’t necessarily study the game intensely.
Entertainment, Survivor

Survivor: HHH – Thoughts After Episode 8

Another wild Tribal Council this week on Survivor, featuring a secret advantage play, a tied vote, and some really cagey discussions about life and the game. I’ve been raving about these players for a few weeks, but they really do deserve some accolades for the way they’ve playing so far. The game is intense, but it’s being planned and strategized well behind the scenes so people don’t really know how things are going to go. When you throw in the advantages and the constant threat of an idol play, this game is really just firing on all cylinders. The new advantage revealed this week, allowing a player to abstain from voting this round secretly was very interesting, and I’m kind of excited to see how people react if they paid close enough attention to the amount of votes read out loud by Jeff. I’m curious to see how Lauren manages to make this extra vote work for her game going forward, since she really did seem to need a little help for her game to turn around. Also, the chase for the immunity idol was wild and insane as well, with Ryan coming out as the bandit while Cole ended up looking like the bad guy yet again. This season has all kinds of big threats and the fun part about the way the show is being edited is that you really don’t know how to emotionally react to most of them because one episode some person looks like a hero but they look like a villain by the next episode. It’s as if the entire cast is both easy to root for or root against, and that makes for a really cool viewing experience!

Who’s a Contender:

  • I still firmly believe Ryan is in it to win it, but I’m becoming slightly concerned for him now. With an idol in his pocket and a lot of smaller, one-on-one alliances, Ryan might potentially get cocky about his place in the game, and if the preview for next week is in any way telling, he may become a victim of his own engineering. I think Ryan is smart enough to play in and out of trouble on Survivor, so I’m still calling him a contender for now, but I hope he keeps his game in the shadows for the considerable future.


  • For a few weeks now, I’ve had two distinct visions of Devon’s future in this game. The first vision I had was that he’d be voted out early on after the merge if the healers managed to get a majority hold on the game. The second vision I had was that Devon would get to the end thanks to his well-rounded Survivor skills and heroic disposition. I think the ship has sailed on the merged tribe getting Devon out, so now I think he’s going to be able to work channels and maintain certain dominance in the game. Devon is clearly likeable, and is likely going to be very good in challenges going forward, so I imagine of anyone in this final 9, he has the best natural ability to control his own fate because he has all the tools of a Survivor winner. If Ryan and Chrissy become exposed as the villains of their alliance, and the threat of Joe lingers a little while longer, Devon will be able to build a winning resume, and I think he may just take this thing in the end.

Who’s a Pretender:

  • I’ve watched this show long enough to know that the intelligent mom-figure never really does well at Final Tribal Council. Because I believe in the numbers, I’m comfortable writing off Chrissy despite her perceived strategic dominance. I do believe her tribe either has or soon will become tired of Chrissy’s strategizing, and even if she makes it to the end, I don’t think someone with her persona will claim the title and the million dollar prize. I believe Chrissy is in this game for the long haul, but I don’t see her game being rewarded.


  • Joe is pretty easy to write off at this point, but I’m really happy he’s still around. The guy is such great entertainment; he truly is just a one-man wrecking crew on this show just lying and exposing at every turn. I can’t come up with any scenario in my head where he ends up with the victory, but I’m glad Joe has been who he is, because he’s one hell of a character!

Who’s a Dark Horse:

  • Sometimes an advantage is all you need to gain a little traction in the game, and I do believe Lauren now has a much more solid footing in the game with a clear advantage over everyone else. Not only does she have an extra vote to utilize that no one really would expect her to have, but she’s been able to solidify her personal alliances with it, with Ben now and possibly with Mike later if she plays things well. I’m still very uncertain about whether or not Lauren has the personality to win people over, but if things go well with this advantage, she may have skin in the game after all.


  • I still truly believe that Mike will have some sort of say in how things go down in the end. I think his entire alliance will go to the jury, which would give him some rooting interest on that side, and Mike will be able to lay low and let the majority alliance crumble to pieces. I think the key for Mike’s game is how he plays into Lauren or maybe even Ben’s game from here on out. If Mike can build an alliance on his own with the likes of Lauren and Cole, I could see him making a successful charge at the very end to win this thing. He should be considered a longshot, but Mike could very well surprise some people going down to the wire.


  • Player of the Week: Ryan
    • This was a tough decision, but Ryan’s ability to grab that idol before the melee and play it off like he didn’t have it was a boss move. He’s very sneaky when it comes to things like that, and so far it’s been paying off nicely. So now Ryan has an idol that only person knows about and a large, strong alliance to play with.
  • Moment of the Week:
    • The best moment of the episode was definitely when Cole made his mad charge to get the idol when Chrissy was trying to cover it up. This physical fight that took place under the flag was sensational and crazy, and the way that Cole came out of it as the bad guy (again) was pretty hilarious. One of the most intense scenes of the season.

Fond Farewell:

  • Desi really impressed me with her words at Tribal Council, and even before I knew what anyone’s fate was, I lamented her fate in the game after hearing how eloquent she was. Obviously Desi was not part of anyone’s’ plans in the game, and didn’t get much focus on air because of that, but she does have a good mind, and clearly could perform excellently in challenges. Really her only problem in the game was that she stayed loyal to the people she was with from the get-go, most notably Joe. I wish Desi had taken a more active role in her own game because I saw glimpses of a really strong player in the moments she got on TV.
Entertainment, Survivor

Survivor: HHH – Thoughts After Episode 7 (with Power Rankings)

We finally hit the Merge in Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, and the payout was very good. I love how the games shaped up ‘til this point as separate and mixed tribes, and the collision of all the previous alliances and individuals into one tribe really worked out well. I think this season is stacked with a lot of players who understand the game and its history, and the result was a very contentious vote that ended up being a masterful chess match of idols, alliances, and a little subterfuge. I’m really excited about how the vote went down because it was really masterfully played by what ended up being the majority alliance, and even had some classic side antics by the Tony Vlachos of this season, Joe Mena! Since it’s the vote after the merge, this is the point in the season I’m bringing back the Power Rankings to try to get my thoughts across on how I think everyone stacks up now that the game is really afoot. I’m really just winging the blog for this season in all honesty, but it’s whatever, I’m just having fun with it!

Power Rankings:

  1. Cole Medders

– Not only has Cole been an underwhelming player so far, but he’s also behind the numbers and has had his name talked about plenty already. I can’t imagine a way forward for Cole, he may survive a few votes, but he has no really good allies left and doesn’t appear to understand the game enough to get back from the position he’s found himself in. Cole is, for lack of a nicer phrase, along for the ride.

  1. Lauren Rimmer

–  Lauren was in an unenviable position this week as one of two people in between two voting blocs of five. It was clear she wanted to work with the Healers, but because Ben already made his mind up to move against Cole for some personal reason, the decision of her vote was basically made for her. She has no strong alliance to fall back on currently, and because of that, I can’t imagine how she’s going to manage to dictate enough game play to deserve consideration for the win if she were to make it that far.

  1. Joe Mena

– Joe is great TV and I’m really enjoying his personality shining through in a crazy way on screen. The problem with that is the fact that he’s painted a gigantic target on his back in the early going of the merged game. I’m not sure how he can manage to survive in this game, considering how well versed his adversaries are in the game strategy. I hope for the sake of entertainment that Joe keeps finding idols and keeps making crazy moves, but there’s no clear way for him to win unless some insane things happen.

  1. Desi Williams

– It seems like Desi’s only real problem in this game has been that she’s been aligned with Joe. Joe’s personality shines through in a negative way, and makes people want to turn on him, but unfortunately that has essentially killed Desi’s momentum. She had a very impressive immunity win this week, which was cool, but also paints an extra target on her back as well. I think Desi would have to completely abandon her alliance, and be the first one to do so, in order to last a lot longer in the game. If she doesn’t work hard, she’ll be a goner very soon.

  1. JP Hilsabeck

– JP is an interesting case on this season. On one hand, he seems to be a bit emotionally detached from the game, letting other people define strategy while focusing on other aspects of the game. Yet, on another hand, JP is playing to his strengths by being a contributor, and has a decent amount of allies in the game to keep him feeling safe. I don’t honestly think there’s a likely scenario where JP wins this game, but I believe he could last ‘til the finale for sure.

  1. Ben Driebergen

– Ben really is a toss-up player for me right now. He could either take the bull by the horns by leading this game strongly going forward, or he could turn into a wishy-washy player who alienates everyone and gets voted out quickly and unanimously. I hope Ben stays strong with his alliances with Chrissy and Ashley/JP because that will allow him to explain this last vote as his decisive moment. I’ll have to watch a little bit longer to see how Ben plays before deciding whether or not he’s a contender.

  1. Devon Pinto

– We saw Devon really maneuvering this episode for the vote, which was pretty cool to see. I like this guy a lot, he plays a very smart, well-rounded game, and it’s helping his cause that he’s laid back and relaxed when he talks to people. I just hope that Devon doesn’t end up taking the bullet for his alliance because he’s so out front with strategy and physicality. I see him falling victim to a Joe or Mike idol play, it’s been my prediction for a few weeks now, and it’s why he’s a little lower on my rankings. I think he’s a contender for the title, but I think he’s getting blindsided when all is said and done.

  1. Chrissy Hofbeck

– Chrissy is a cerebral player, so I do think she has the skills and the alliance to really challenge in this season. The only problem she has is that she didn’t hide her intelligence well enough at the Merge and already has a good number of votes cast against her. It’s not going to be easy

  1. Mike Zaharsky

– I think Mike is clearly the most capable person within the Healers’ alliance to come back after the Jessica vote-out. He has a hidden idol that no one left knows about (I think) and has at least one ally on the other side in Lauren. All Mike has to do is play low and wait for the cracks in the two-team alliance that will inevitably show and he can flip the script in an impressive way. I still have faith in Mike’s intelligence and patience; I think he’s going to be alright if he plays everything right.

  1. Ashley Nolan

– Ashley is a dark horse in this contest for sure. I think her relationships with Devon and JP speak to the trust she’s able to instill in people, and that trait is found in a lot of winners over the years. Not only is Ashley on the right side of the numbers, but she isn’t an immediate threat within her tribe, so I think she’ll be able to outlast some of the others and make inroads with everyone in the process. She has the social skills to win if all of the big character players end up turning on each other and taking each other out (which I think is highly likely).

  1. Ryan Ulrich

– Ryan is still my favorite to win this season. He reminds me a little bit of Todd from Survivor: china in the way he’s able to make waves and still keep people on his side all the while. Ryan has so many people willing to work with him, and the best part about it is those people have already put their heads on the chopping block in a way he hasn’t. If Ryan is able to show that he’s making decisions while other people are able to get the blame, I think he’ll be able to take the victory in the end.

Entertainment, Survivor

Survivor: HHH – Thoughts on Episode 6

I’m getting more excited week by week for Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers and a lot of it comes down to how the game is played. I really just love how things are unfolding and how the players are making both and bad adjustments in certain situations, as it’s making the show exciting and entertaining. In particular, I think the lead-up to the last vote and the inevitable decision of the final vote were really well executed by everyone involved from the Soko tribe, and really has me thinking that one of the contestants on this season may just be one of my new all-time favorites. This really is just a good season to watch so far, and it’s going to get even better now that they’re merging this upcoming episode. The cool thing about when they merge at 12 is the possibility of a tied vote in the process, so we know there’s going to be a crazy amount of scrambling to get numbers lined up for that crucial first vote. Ahhhh, I can’t wait!

Who’s Hot:

  • I’ve been tepid about this when discussing Survivor so far, but I believe Ryan is quickly and certainly becoming one of my favorite players of all-time. I love the way the guy thinks and hustles during the game, and the way he played the vote with Ali was wonderful. It was a tactical blunder to do what he did the last vote by completely turning on his close ally, but I’m glad he’s smart enough to make a clear course correction and make the tough decision to blindside Ali, even after making her feel comfortable. It was sly, it was cunning, it was calculated, but it was also the right play, and it was done with such cool finesse. I’m becoming a Ryan fan as the game progresses because he plays the way I think I would want to play the game, by being calm and smart about every decision and interaction along the way.


  • I haven’t given Ashley a lot of consideration or time in this blog so far, but I do think she’s setting up better by the day as the game unfurls. Her discussion with Desi about voting Joe out showed her resiliency and ability to strategize a little more than we’d seen previously. Plus, the tight bonds she’s managed to build with JP and Devon do speak to her social prowess in the game, and seeing how the Hustlers’ and Heroes’ swap alliances are aligned against the healers right now, Ashley may have more of an upper hand than the TV show has given her credit for (if all plays out the way I think it should at least).

Who’s Not

  • Cole’s fainting spell was an interesting part of the show. In a way, it makes you feel sorry for the guy considering how badly he’s adapted to the environment, but in another it’s also made it crystal clear that he has to be the next one out for his tribe. Cole has just not had a wonderful run on this show, and it does seem like it’s a combination of preparation and adaptation to the environment that’s to blame her. If anything, this is at least another great example of how very real and fluid the game of Survivor is because the environment plays a big part in how people play. The only question left will be how does Cole’s abilities or lack thereof affect his allies’ games going forward?
  • JP did not get voted out this week, but he still took another step back in my eyes. He sort of solidified himself as the physical threat that others will use to win challenges in the Merge game, a position that often doesn’t pay out in the end. He seems to lack a little bit of game awareness in general, and it just doesn’t seem like his role is going to be to influence anyone. He’s a number, not a likely winner, and this episode kind of seals that in my mind.

Who I’m Worried About For The Merge:

  • Lauren seems like she’s going to be at the bottom of either alliance she could turn to, which is not an enviable situation to be in. She could just as easily be turned on to avoid a quicker, larger battle of alliances, kind of like what we saw happen to Hali last season at the Merge. The biggest problem with Lauren is that she never clicked with anybody to any large extent, and that has hindered her ability to climb towards the top of any alliance she’s had a chance to be in. I don’t predict big things for her, I think she’s probably going to be one of the next 3 out.


  • I have a gut feeling that Devon could be a potential blindside coming up soon. I imagine the vote goes 7-5 this week with the Healers at a marked disadvantage, but if Joe manages another successful idol play, I believe Devon may be the person he goes after with the vote. There has to be a reason why we’re not seeing that much of the game from his point of view, and I think it may be because he’s not going to go far enough to warrant a larger edit. Just speculation on my part, but I do love to speculate about what’ll happen next!



  • Player of the Week
    • Ryan gets the nod this week for his play against Ali. Not only did he hold his own really well when they argued after the previous Tribal Council, but he also did a brilliant job appeasing her and making her feel safe while planning to vote her out. It was really fantastic, just textbook material of how to play the game well. Ryan knew Ali needed to go before the jury phase, and he made the tough decision quietly without any collateral damage. Now he gets to operate with a clean sheet, and I hope he can continue playing this well.


  • Moment of the Week
    • This is also Ryan related, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve read this far, and it comes from one of his confessionals. Ryan had what I think might be my favorite quote of the season in regard to potentially working with Ali again; “I don’t know why people want to work with me. I think I’m a freaking weasel.” I love the self-deprecating humor he brings to the table, it’s another one of the many things about his game I really appreciate, and I think this particular quote really sums up the present state of his game well.
Entertainment, Survivor

Survivor: HHH – Thoughts After Episode 5

Survivor kept on rolling this week with another really interesting episode that dug a little deeper into the players’ personalities and game ambitions. We’re getting to the point in the show where we really get to see how the contest affects the contestants and how the contestants affect the contest, and I always love seeing the psychological edges of the show bubble to the surface. Some of the points in the edit, like Ben suffering from PTSD symptoms, Mike and Chrissy both feeling underestimated in the game, or Ryan being physically limited were all a bit more for entertainment and story than about the actual game aspects, but those stories are leading to a bigger picture and I’m starting to get invested in it all at this point. We’re seeing a great mix of good and bad game play, but it’s all at least lining up to make for a good show, one that’s driving its own stories instead of being crafted by production tricks and what not. I’m hoping it keeps moving at this pace, because it’s becoming a very enjoyable season as things have progressed.

  • Who’s Hot
    • Mike is coming on strong in the game, and it’s nice to see because he’s been a likable character since episode 1. I think maybe all Mike needed was for the game to settle down and for people to see his value as a team player and he would end up being a strong player in the game. The bond he was able to form with Jessica, especially after she lost trust in Cole, was crucial in helping him settle in, and he was able to get a hidden immunity idol thanks to Jessica’s encouragement. With an idol in hand, and an alliance he can lean on, I think Mike is set to have a strong underdog run on this season, and I think he’ll surprise people once they merge.
    • Chrissy is playing sensationally with her back against the wall. I really thought she was a dead woman walking after she messed up the challenge royally, but she managed to use her charming smile and calm mannerisms to make the men on her tribe feel safe having her around. She got JP enamored with the idea of getting Roark out with a lie and made herself non-expendable to Ryan with her consistent outreach. The vote between Chrissy and Roark was a great example of how a strong social game can win out against a generic strategic game when the effort and energy is built consistently over time. I loved Chrissy this episode, and she’s really gaining momentum in my eyes as time goes on.
  • Who’s Not
    • Roark obviously falls into this category because she was voted out, but I really feel the need to touch on her game, because I found it to be particularly bad this episode. Roark obviously has a strong personality, and that’s not always a bad thing on Survivor, but when you can’t show any vulnerability in the game, you’re going to have a hard time getting others to trust you 100%. I feel like in comparison to Chrissy, Roark played the game far more robotically, and the way she spoke to people and strategized left a lot to be desired on a personal level, at least as far as I could see on TV. Watching this episode, I kept saying to myself why would anybody trust her going forward when it’s clear when you hear her talk that it’s all just mechanical thinking. I really appreciate that Ryan ultimately had the same thoughts about her in the end, and even though he misplayed the strategy with his alliance-mate Ali, he made the right call going with someone who he could make a better emotional connection with going forward.
    • Thinks aren’t really looking up for Cole right now. It’s starting to become clear that his social game and decision making are not going to keep him afloat all that much further, given the comments we saw from Jessica last week and Lauren this week. Plus, the preview for next week seems to indicate that Cole may have some sort of a medical episode that could jeopardize his participation in the show. I hope he ends up being alright, but it’s starting to feel, in general, like his game is not going in a positive direction.


  • Who I’m feeling unsure about
    • I still believe that Ryan and Ali are prime contenders on this season, but if they cannot get on the same page for early votes like the one they participated in this week, it puts their games in serious doubt. I think as a duo, they are both well protected strategically, but if they’re feuding with each other or at all divided it’s just going to hurt their chances to make numbers come merge time. Ryan needs to communicate with his ally Ali better, that much is clear, and he better hope for the sake of his game that he can patch this up quickly, because the Hustlers do not have solid footing as is.
    • Ben keeps getting a strange, off-topic edit and I just don’t know what it’s all supposed to mean for his game. The whole situation with him and the loud noises was a really fantastic story to tell, even if it was just a short segment, but his whole edit just has me confused. We almost never see him involved in the game or the strategy, and when we do, he’s an ancillary part of the scene. I’m not sure what to expect from him going forward, but at least it’s keeping me interested about his game.


  • Superlatives
    • Player of the Week
      • I have to give the honors to Chrissy this week. She saved herself again, and did so because of her ability to sell herself as trustworthy, loyal player. I love her fighting spirit, and I love the way she was able to sniff out Roark’s disinterests in her in order to paint a target on her. I have to give her the praise this week; she did the most to better her game this episode.


  • Moment of the Week
    • I really enjoyed the whole scene at the well where Mike and Jessica were getting water and how it became clear that Mike went along more to look for an idol than anything else. It was a somewhat comical situation because it looked like Jessica was drinking water and standing around while Mike is digging furiously trying to find something that he isn’t 100% sure is even there. There’s a certain humor to those two becoming strong allies in the game just because there are a lot of striking differences between the two, so I’m glad there was at least a little bit of implied, maybe even unintentional humor in that sequence as he got the idol. Also, I loved his confessional quote after getting the idol when he said “never underestimate Dr. Mike.” That was the quote of the week for me for sure!
Entertainment, Survivor

Survivor: HHH – Thoughts After Episode 4

After a week hiatus, I’m back with the Survivor blog, and it really was a fantastic episode to talk about. We saw a really well designed tribe swap that kicked off the season’s action pretty quickly after a couple of fairly standard votes early on. Seeing three brand new tribes of 5 was fascinating because it gave every single person’s game a little spotlight, and made sure no one could hide in any kind of alliance. I think part of what’s making this season really fun already is the differing skill levels of the players out there, because we can see how some peoples’ games are being affected by others not understanding the nuances of the social strategy of Survivor. It’s really going to be exciting to keep track of some of the wild card players in the game and see whether or not they’ll be able to benefit their alliances or if they’ll just end up tanking them instead. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention how great these shot-clock advantages are playing into the game. I love that the show is forcing peoples’ hands to play these advantages, either for themselves or for someone on another tribe anonymously, because it adds all of this crazy intrigue and story potential both in the moment and also down the line. This is honestly one of the best production decisions I’ve seen in some time, and we’re already seeing how the advantage sharing is plying a huge part in the game early on! I have a lot of faith in this season given what I’ve seen so far, and after this last episode, I’m really excited to see how things are going to play out with these new tribes going forward.


  • Who’s Hot:
    • I’m not sure why I didn’t notice before, but Jessica really is a strong contender this season. She gets a lot of screen time to narrate the story and tell her side of things, which is usually a good sign on Survivor, and besides her edit, she really is just playing a strong game. She’s made a pretty strong alliance with Cole, even though Cole has fantastically betrayed her on a few occasions by playing bad social strategy, and she got a lucky roll of the dice with the tribe swap and the advantage. I’m really excited to see where the Jessica/Cole situation is leading because I have a feeling that something is going to have to give considering how bad Cole is at keeping secrets. That’s really going to be the best sub-plot of the season I think.
    • We are beginning to see the beauty of these advantages paying out with the bond that Chrissy and Ryan have begun to make thanks to the reveal of his advantage share in episode 1. Both of these players already looked like strong, poised players in this game because of their early alliances, but now that these two have a bond, they are even greater contenders than they already were. Their bond reminds me a little bit of the Zeke and David bond from Season 33, and if this game plays out anything similar to that season, it’ll be very fun to watch.


  • Who’s Not:
    • Obviously Cole is a real problem for his alliance thus far, and it’s honestly one of the best stories of the season thus far. The guy is trying to play a very open social game, talking to everyone and sharing his secrets all around camp, but it’s just not a smart thing to do. Cole’s misunderstanding of the game is making for great television, and I have to wonder how long Jessica and Mike are going to be willing to string him along if he is as much of a liability as it seems
    • Joe ended up playing Tribal Council really well, but he did it more by intuition then he did by skill. I can’t imagine that his intuitive streak will win him a million dollars; in the end I think it will lead to his game combusting at some point. I think Joe might’ve had a decent idea to try to pull the votes down on himself at camp, but the way he did it was far too obvious, and he merely won a coin flip situation by playing the idol for himself at Tribal and having the advantage drop out of the heavens to save them. This situation is a great example of how the outcome of a particular situation doesn’t justify the way the situation was played. Joe might’ve won his battle but I don’t think he’s set up well to win the war.


  • Who I’m still on the fence about:
    • The situation for Ben is starting to feel a bit comical in all honesty. He keeps finding himself in less-than-perfect situations despite the fact that he’s a very solid Survivor player. Ben got tribe-swapped into a bad situation, but still managed to make enough headway with Cole to get him to share a few secrets. The guy is fighting with his back against the wall, so I don’t know if he’s someone who can last too much longer in this game, but he also seems like someone who can survive the situation and last for a long time. It could just go either way with him at this point I think.
    • I still don’t really know what kind of player Desi is out there in the game. She seems fairly soft spoken in the game, and is sort of chained to an over-aggressive player with Joe, but she does appear to be cool under pressure and likable. I’d like to see a little more from her in the edit so I can get a better idea of what kind of potential she has.


  • Superlatives:
    • Player of the Week:
      • This is a tough one for this episode because a lot of the good moments were about luck and misfortune, but I’ll give a nod to Ryan this week. Solidifying his bond with Chrissy over that early advantage help was wonderful, and goes to show that his social savvy more than makes up for anything he may lack physically.
    • Favorite Moment:
      • This one’s much easier; it’s the moment where Devon opened up and read what he thought was going to be an advantage and it ended up reading that his vote would be cancelled out. His reaction was priceless, starting the reading with a smirk and ending with a confused daze. He had the line of the episode saying “that’s not an advantage.” No kidding dude, that’s a pretty bad moment for you, but at least he’s going to fight to see another day in the game. Still hilarious though, words don’t do it much justice either.

Survivor: HHH – Thoughts After Episode 2

Survivor: HHH is rolling along strong through 2 episodes, with a very standard, relaxed game progressing. I love having 3 tribes of new players because you get a lot of emphasis on smaller social interactions with players having to know and understand everyone in their tribe to survive the first few days. It’s very easy to hide and be manipulative when there are 10 people around or when you know the game already, but when you have to find a way to survive on the beach with only five other people to rely on, the social dynamics that make the game great are highlighted. I think these tribes are playing interesting, albeit different games so far, and the television show has been great because it feels very genuine. Now I’ll give some of my thoughts on the episode, and who/what’s caught my eye thus far thru 2 episodes:

  • Who’s hot:
    • I wouldn’t say a whole lot changed in my opinions from episode 1 to 2, but some of my opinions were solidified. Ryan and Ali both continue to impress me with their abilities to make allies easily at their respective tribes. It’s great game-play in a season like this with 6 person tribes to just take things easy and be friendly and helpful at first, because the real game won’t start until there are only two tribes. Letting others hurt their chances at first is the way to go, and I think those two in particular are showing us how to play it cool in the early game. I was a bit down on Chrissy and even to an extent Ben last week, but I will say those two appear to be the brains of their tribe, and going forward if they can stay together and use their people skills to outmaneuver people subtly, they make be on the upswing if things progress well.


  • Who’s not:
    • Besides Simone having a generally bad run on Survivor, it doesn’t seem as if Patrick is impressing people too much either. The guy seems to have a lot of energy out there or at least more than his other famished tribemates, but if he wants to last a bit longer he’s going to have to read into the social cues and blend in a little more with the crowd. One would hope that with Simone gone, Ali would sort of pull him aside and get him inline, but even so, if he can’t do it himself then he just isn’t playing right out there. Joe is also solidifying my negative opinion of him when he had to get Cole to help him with the immunity idol search. Joe is far too shady to be trusted and I’m not sure he understands that he comes off a bit sketchy. Sharing this information without having a solid bond on top of the information could back-fire big time, and I’m sort of looking forward to that happening next week.


  • Things I’m interested in going forward:
    • Besides seeing Cole and Roark potentially overturn Joe’s game, there will be a lot of interesting stories to watch if the tribes stay in this alignment for an episode or two longer. I think it will be interesting to see how the older tribe members manage going forward, considering how young this cast seems overall (even the players in their 30’s seem like they’re 20-somethings honestly). Lauren seems to be the one getting the most negative edit of all the players in her tribe, so I’d like to see if she can manage to survive further than Patrick, or if she’ll become the odd one out with the young crowd. I spoke about Chrissy before, and even though she’s doing better, it’s still yet to be seen whether or not she’ll survive a few more votes, and Mike is also someone who it could go either way with at this point. I’m sure the show is seeking a younger audience and is casting more young people these days for the camera, but I do wonder whether or not the skewed age range on this season is going to play into the boot order.

Survivor Superlatives:

  • Player of the Week
    • This one is tough this week, but I may have to go with Cole here. He lucked into some information, and is using it to subtly play sides. He could go with Joe and keep his tribe strong knowing he has the idol, or he could blindside him and make a case as an alliance leader going forward. I think he ended up in the best position at the episodes end, so he gets the honors this episode.


  • Moment of the Week
    • I think my favorite moment was Simone’s experience segment in the beginning of the episode. It was sort of ridiculous to hear her talking about going to the bathroom in the ocean and how she’s not very into the wilderness, especially because she signed up for this, but it was all kind of interesting too. It explained her non-existent edit in the first episode and foreshadowed her exit really well. I like reading the edits of the episode, so I appreciated the heavy foreshadowing and general snark from the producers in showing us why they didn’t show her before and why she won’t be around later anyway.