Episode 2: Is it Throwback Thursday Already?

It was a delightful second episode and I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t mention the series of flashbacks I had while viewing this episode.

Do Pirates Wear Skirts?

We start off with the Blue Collars who are sitting around eating crabs or the like when Dan walks up wearing a shirt in the place of underwear. He explains that in an attempt to relieve himself in the ocean his “manties” were swept out to sea by a wave. Doing his best Rupert-wearing-a-skirt impression Dan comes back to camp with his shirt fashioned as a skirt. Flashback to season 7 in the Pearl Islands when Rupert sheds his thick denim for a skirt made of a part of Krista’s long dress. Despite some ribbing from the other guys Rupert successful wore a skirt for the rest of the game until he was voted out as the second member of the jury. Dan is coming up against similar teasing from the girls of his tribe. In this first episode he came across as overbearing when building the shelter and unable to connect with the younger tribe members. They laughed him off when he yelled and called him harry potter’s grandfather. When he comes back to camp wearing a shirt-skirt the whole tribe can’t believe their eyes and laugh it off but in a confessional Lindsey tells us that she is sick of Dan’s over dramatic ways. If Dan wishes to go deep into the game like Rupert he better decrease the drama and make himself an asset around camp and in challenges or I see him being a target at an upcoming tribal.

The Nude Collars

Over at the White Collar camp the references go all the way back to season one with the legendary Richard Hatch and his infamous nudity. Max, deciding to give a shout out to the original winner decides to strip naked as a node to the early days of the show and additionally in an effort to get some alone time. Even the rest of the tribe calls him Hatch 2.0 as he strips down and makes his way to the ocean for a skinny dip. Shirin relates to Max for being such a super fan seeing the practicality of being naked also drops her pants later in the episode to wash dishes. Although these two superfans seem perfectly comfortable being in the nude the rest of the tribe gets very awkward with the excessive displays of nudity. Although I love the superfan and free spirit attitude that Max and Shirin are displaying I think they need to be cautious. Making other members of the tribe uncomfortable is never a good idea on survivor and while they are enjoying their free time in the nude the other tribe members have a chance to form connections that could lead to their demise. No matter how strong Max and Shirin think their alliance is with Carolyn and Tyler, making yourself an outsider in anyway in this game can lead to unwanted consequences.

No Chocolate and Peanut Butter Necessary

On the No Collar tribe we see some parallels between the three women of the tribe and three famous characters from Survivor 6 the Amazon: Jenna, Heidi and Christy. Nina, like Christy is deaf and is having a hard time fitting in on the tribe. There are a few scenes showing tribe members try to communicate with Nina with mixed results. Jenn and Hali just aren’t connecting with Nina in a similar way that Jenna and Heidi had a hard time connecting with Christy. In a bonus tribute to The Amazon the two “younger, cuter girls” to quote Heidi decide to strip and go for a skinny dip (without the chocolate and peanut butter). The fact that Nina missed out on reinacting a classic scene from Survivor (or the fact that she feels left out) makes Nina snap at the girls accusing the girls of excluding her from everything since the first day. After Nina confronts the girls in front of the entire tribe, a clear riff develops between the younger tribe members (Jenn, Hali and Joe) and tribe older members (Nina, Will and Vince). Now I don’t want to pick sides in this sensitive debate but I will say that neither side played this scenario in their best interest. Jenn and Hali seemed to be putting a decent effort in getting to know and including Nina despite the trouble they were having communicating. Hali in particular appeared to be sympathetic and eager to get to know Nina. The fact that they clicked with each other and not with Nina seems to have more to do with age than with her hear disability. Now I would always advocate for having more allies than less so putting in an even greater effort with Nina would have been ideal even if the plan was to vote her out first. That being said I feel like the friendship between Hali and Jenn would make anyone feel less included so toning this down would have been difficult. As far as the skinny dipping goes the way it appeared was that it was an open invitation and they by no means were excluding Nina from the invitation. From Nina’s perspective I can see having a difficult time fitting in due to being different from the majority of her tribe mates. Whether or not they were being exclusive or simply oblivious to her needs, her feelings are valid. That being said I think her outburst made her seem oversensitive. Making a scene in front of the whole tribe is a terrible move in this game and generally not a good move in life either. Attacking people puts them on the defensive so even if they felt bad about their actions Jenn and Hali felt the need to defend themselves. Moreover a scene like that makes the other tribe members, including your allies, question whether you can keep it together for the rest of the game. If Nina wanted to be “one of the girls” or part of the younger alliance she needed to put in the effort not the other way around. This could have solidified an alliance between them or at minimum garnered some sympathy. Only if they continued to reject her would I consider them the “mean girls” she claimed they were.

Now if I really dig deep I can see a few more call backs in this gem of an episode. Mike does an angry version of Butch from the Amazon as he encourages a doomsday stockpile of wood to be collected at the Blue Collar camp. Mike better watch out. After a stellar positive first episode he better dial down the camp life intensity or he’s going to meet his match with Rodney and the girls rebelling against his tyrannical rule. And finally at the challenge, bless his soul Will, give a quick nod to the one and only Oesten Taylor with his poor performance in the swimming challenge. This leads to the eventual loss of the No Collar tribe.

Who ‘Will’ It Be?

Now considering Will’s poor challenge performance and Nina’s obvious separation from the tribe it seems that the young folks would ban together and choose one of the oldies but goodies to be voted out. Instead the trio of Jenn, Hali and Joe approach Will as a fourth wanting to vote Nina out. Fearing she has an idol they plan to split the votes on Vince and Nina. They hope that Will is on their side despite his strong bond with Nina. Will goes back to Vince and Nina and tells them about the vote split and Vince suggests they vote out Jenn to keep Joe for challenges. The older alliance has the upper hand due to the split vote, however sometime before tribal Nina tells Will that Vince is worries about his health. This shakes Will and he is not torn on which side to align with. If he votes out Jenn he is in an alliance of three, in control of the vote and probably top two in that alliance but his trust in Vince is shaken and the strength of the tribe is in question. If he votes out Nina he is in the bottom of the four person alliance but worries that his challenge abilities may make him a liability. In the end Will chooses option 3 by voting out Vince without either of his alliances knowing. Honestly I think all of his decisions had drawbacks and this puts him in an interesting but not ideal position. The Vince vote allowed him to keep his closest ally Nina and rid himself of the one person who had questioned his health. It puts him at fourth in the alliance but because of Nina’s age and personality she is most likely going home before him if they need to vote again. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly he didn’t vote ‘with’ anyone. Neither Nina nor the trio will be completely satisfied with his vote, so the question in the next episode is will they trust him or will this indecision cost him later.

Why Survivor is Awesome

I get along of slack for still watching, let along loving Survivor. I realize its well pasts its prime and the reality TV Survivor fad has long since past. I’m sure part of my obsession with the show is nostalgic in nature. I’ve been watching since the first season when I was 9 years old and there is a certain joy in seeing something through from infancy through its golden years. I have a few friends who love the show too and have weekly discussions on strategy and characters is great fun. The Wednesday (thenThursday and back to Wednesday) night tradition is hard to shake. Its comfortable, its consistent and its reliable unlike many other things in life. These things are true but the real reason I continue to watch week in week out, season after season is because it truly is a great game and a  great show despite it being written of by our current society as more reality crap.