Unfortunately, Australian Survivor has jumped the shark; there are still eleven contestants left in this competition, but nobody worth watching remains. In the last four dismal tribal councils, one good player after another left. (Well, I don’t know if Conner and Kate were good players in the sense that they always played well. But at least I liked them, which is still more than I can say for most of the others.)
I don’t think I’ve seen such a disappointing outcome in any series of Survivor. I mean, it’s rare that my favourite contestant wins – I think it’s only happened once (that was ‘Fabio’ Jud, heheh) but usually there one or two cool people left near the end. Now… hmmm. I would probably go for Sue; I like her take-no-crap style.
I think the way the ‘good guys’ alliance played things was really stupid. For example:
-Kylie, who ought to know better, stuck with the Saanapu tribe that’s never treated her well, and went dobbing to them. Maybe I can suck up to my alliance but still not get rid of Kate! Good strategy! Not! The only pro is that your alliance does trust you more.
-After realising that Nick knew of their plan to vote him out – and really, their blather at tribal could hardly have made him feel safe – they still put all their votes on him rather than going for a girl who couldn’t have used an idol. What they should have done was to make Nick feel unsafe – so he’d play his idol – and then actually voted for someone else. (However, it’s hard when you’ve got a whole alliance full of people who consider themselves too decent to lie and ‘scheme’. This is what happens when you get so-called ‘good guys’ together. They can’t make a proper go of things.)
-Lee and Sam didn’t vote the same way, thus undermining the whole thing anyway.
I thought I’d be really angry to see Kate voted off, but in the end I couldn’t muster the energy. When Conner got voted off, I swore a lot, but by the time Kate came around, there was a sense of fatalism about it all. Kate herself seemed so tired by the whole stupid game that by the time she got voted out, there might have even been a little bit of relief to get away from all those irritating people and the unfairness of it all.
(I mean ‘unfair’ from the point of view of that original ‘Saanapu getting all the powerful players’ twist that had consequences for so long. Not ‘unfair’ because she couldn’t make her plans work; that’s Survivor, sometimes.)
I don’t think, by the way, that the ‘good guys’ alliance is much of an idea – who wants to take good, decent people to the final 3 where they can beat you? – but she definitely had the right idea as to something that would appeal to Sam and Lee. And that was one pro about aiming to get rid of Nick. Because the guys personally dislike him, Kate could persuade them to take him out, even though it would make more sense to keep him and go after, say, Flick. However, if Sam voted for Flick, there would be no way back from that – no way to argue ‘oh, but I just wanted to take this one snake out of the game this one time; that doesn’t mean I’m turning on my alliance’. Taking out Flick would equate to turning on his alliance, no doubt about it. On the other hand, Nick was a target she could get them on board to gun for.
(Incidentally, I don’t think Nick is a bad guy. Doesn’t always know when to stop talking, maybe, and doesn’t do well in the way he presents himself to others, but I must say I agree with most of what he says. He really hasn’t been shown to lie to others. He has made an effort to keep his word and be transparent, but everyone still thinks he’s a weasel. He’s in an unwinnable situation he couldn’t climb back from. I do think he has a good amount of sense when it comes to the game. Most of all, I agree with his comment that all the bleating about integrity etc is pious and unnecessary.)
Basically, we have seen Vavau play Survivor – and all get voted off one after another – except with the twist that (probably) none of them will take home the money at the end. They didn’t even make it to the jury. It’s like watching a series of Survivor where everyone loses!
Now we get to see Saanapu play Survivor. Except that nobody in Saanapu is much fun to watch. ‘Strategy’ isn’t much happening any more. The minority who are controlling the game, are doing quite well with their decision-making, but nobody is succeeding in any upsets.
Possibly the only moment from these episodes I really enjoyed was seeing the Survivor auction. I was delighted to see both Conner and Kate getting the chance to shove some food down!
(After Tuesday’s episode)
Now that all my favourite characters have gone, I actually watched Tuesday’s episode with a much less stressed feeling than I’d had the last couple of weeks. I no longer much cared who got out – one was as good as another – so I didn’t have much invested in it. (I don’t even care if Brooke and Flick get out. At least they are playing intelligently and making good judgment calls. I didn’t like them when they were smug and winning everything, but now that all the people I like are out anyway, I don’t dislike them as much.)
When I was invested, every episode I went in wanting something to not happen – please don’t let Vavau lose again, please don’t let Craig go home, please don’t let Conner get out, etc – and every time without fail, that was the outcome of the episode and it made me frustrated. (It’s alright to be emotionally invested if the people you like get occasional victories.)
It was funny editing, in a way. Getting the audience to really want something and then see it not happen might work a couple of times but after it happens every episode, it gets wearing. Maybe they should have tried to set up Conner and Kate with more of a villainous edit, so we’d be glad to see them picked off. Ha! See what you did to the Aganoans on your tribe? How they could never make much headway with you? Now how do you like it?!! Sucked in!!
Anyway, after a while you forget that these likeable players were once there and you just focus on who is left. At least this episode gave us a respite in that we got the letters. We got a nice moment with Kristie giving up her letter. We got a few moments of Flick showing sympathy or loyalty, thus humanising her a bit. We saw some epic endurance from Brooke and Kylie. (I can’t believe how long that was!! How boring for everyone waiting for that challenge to finish!)
If there was a legitimate reason for those guys to distrust Nick, it was mostly that he talks unguardedly at times, like at his final tribal council where he was talking all about who ranked where. If it was his final tribal, as he suspected, then no harm done, but if he was hoping to stay and continue to be buddies with his alliance, it wasn’t the smartest speech.
Watching ‘Rob has a podcast‘, Rob and Stephen made the point that one reason for the conservative play this season (ie, ‘let’s vote off anyone who shows a sign of having a brain’) is how long it is. With so many contestants and so many tribal councils, everyone is looking for some excuse, however trivial, to vote off someone else. If one person gets a couple of people’s backs up, there’s no great difficulty rounding up others to vote for them. It does result in conservative players, however.
I do wonder, if Brooke and Flick end up in the final 3 with someone else (ie, not El), would they want to take each other to the final 2? Or take someone less popular with them? Under the current system, they are getting rid of anyone who is even a little unpopular, because others can be persuaded to get on board and go after them. If they were smart, they might consider taking Kylie or Kristie (or would have kept a Nick, whom lots of people seem to dislike). Not that Kylie or Kristie are exactly unpopular, but I don’t think the jury would consider their gameplay as strong overall, and they haven’t made quite the social headway that others have.
(Then again, with this mix of people, who are all about ‘trust’ and ‘friendship’, being voted out by Brooke or Flick might be enough to make them vote against them at the end of the game. It will probably be the most likeable and uncontroversial contestant who gets voted for at the final council, even if the other has played a better game. Then again, that has happened plenty of times in the American version as well!)
I don’t get the thinking of everyone who sticks with the majority alliance until the point of no return. Once you get rid of players like Conner and Kate, there might not be enough of you to band together to take out the majority. Is there going to be a final 8 or 9 at the end of the game? No? Then realise that at one point, if you stick with the majority, it WILL be you out! (This is like what happened with Survivor: Redemption Island, where everyone stuck close to Boston Rob, who then got most of them out.)
Then again, you can only work with the people who are there, can’t you? It’s easy to think ‘you should get together a minority group who aren’t the top dogs, and take out some of the girls who are calling the shots’. But if you can’t trust a couple of the people in the minority to stick with you and have some guts in their decision, your options *are* limited…
Anyway, now that I’m over my frustration, I’m still watching the show with interest, if less passion than before!