Thursday, February 28, 2013

Survivor Caramoan Episode 3: The No-Talking List

As predicted, there was a major blowup at camp after Allie got voted off during the Fans' first trip to tribal council. I knew that Shamar is going to be more obnoxious than he already is, only this time it's a lot more loud and annoying than usual. Initially, I thought he made good TV but I am now re-considering that statement I made because he gets more obnoxious by the day to a point wherein I wanted to mute my TV because it's painful to listen to. And yet, they decided to keep him and vote off Hope to bring the Cool Kids alliance down to the two - Eddie and Reynold - due to their strong performance at challenges. Let's breakdown what happened in between that point to the first re-vote of this season...

Back at camp, Reynold was pissed about being blindsided at the vote thinking that it was Shamar who will be going home. He blatantly told everybody else that he no longer trusts any of them and that it's game on. This statement apparently ticked off Shamar (as every little thing that Reynold and/or Eddie says or does), so he goes on a yelling match with Reynold saying how the latter was pissed because his plan did not work out. When he's not done yet, he ended up yelling at Matt and Julia, people who voted WITH him! In a perfect world, Shamar leaving is the perfect plan. But since the rest of the tribe were smart enough to break up the tight foursome, they had to live with the idea of keeping Shamar and his loud mouth at camp. 

Sherri, who I thought played smart last week by deciding to recruit Shamar into their alliance of six, quickly pulled him aside to confront him about his behavior. She sort of lectured him about his behavior saying that he needs to keep his mouth shut because both Reynold and Eddie are going to use whatever excuse they can to dump the target on him (as if he hasn't a big enough target already). But since Sherri is keen on keeping Shamar in her back pocket, she came in to pacify the situation before it becomes overblown. This bit right here shows another side to Sherri's game that I applaud - she does a very good job of keeping Shamar in check because even though he plans on using him as a pawn, he has to be on leash too because there is a huge possibility that he would screw up the plan for the rest of them. 

Over at the Favorites camp, Phillip does his usual antics that are a cross between being completely ridiculous to downright delusional. Two seasons in, I am still not entirely sure if he's doing that for airtime or it's just that his mind can get a bit looney. But while Phillip is busy hugging the airtime, Corinne and Malcolm established an unlikely alliance by going off into the forest to hunt for the hidden immunity idol. I am slightly feeling on edge about this duo but if Malcolm can establish loyalty from one other tribe mate, then that would be big especially knowing that they had found the hidden immunity idol. The pinky swore moment was funny, but I still prefer the celebratory handshake with Denise on Survivor: Philippines.  

Andrea is playing a little too aggressive at this point, if I may say. The operative word: TOO AGGRESSIVE. She noticed Malcolm and Corinne's closeness and instantly became suspicious of Corinne. She secretly formed allegiance with Brandon, with the help of Cochran, in order to get enough numbers to topple Corinne. Looks like the Stealth 'R Us alliance are not as formidable as it seems, though. Like Andrea said, she has to be careful doing this to make sure that Corinne does not catch word about being targeted by Andrea or else the tide could be flipped.

The drama continues at the Fans' tribe with Shamar being at the center of the action (again!). Apparently, he's contemplating the idea of quitting and then goes on to share stories about how his time serving in Iraq has changed him. But then the girls talked him out of it, with Sherri pointing out that if he quit and they lose another challenge they would be down two in numbers against the Favorites. He quickly snapped out of it, and as Reynold pointed out, made it sound like a heroic move for him to revoke his decision to quit. Reynold concluded that Shamar is just one factor to his game that he is going to have to deal with. Ugh. Drama!

At this point in the episode, the immunity challenge is on and we see the Favorites tribe cheerily walk up to their mat. This is a very telling scene from last night - the Favorites tribe are feeling confident about the game at this point. They know they can beat the fans and they are feeling good about their tribe. And that can make a huge difference in the team morale. Whereas you get a shot of the fans right before Jeff Probst signaled the start of the challenge wherein Mike was giving everybody else a high five and when it's Shamar's turn to give him a high five in return, Mike got completely ignored. Small details like that can be huge at this stage of the competition wherein it's all about the team. When there is one person who tries to put a wedge into team unity, it does not bode well.

I have to note, though, that this is my favorite challenge so far. The water challenge returns! There was a bit of water element to last week's challenge but this one is hard core - much like the seasons past. And the best part is that everyone had to swim - you're only as strong as your weakest member. The Favorites tribe showed better unity at that challenge as Malcolm and Brandon helped the weaker swimmers get over the cage instead of rushing to the front of the pack. On the flip side, the fans (er, Shamar) always find something to bicker about, which in this case would be the goggles. The challenge was neck-and-neck for the most part, and then we were down to another tossing element at the last part. Seriously? Try to put in some puzzles in there, too. I am tired of all the tossing and brings forth a rather anti-climactic finish to the challenge. Have the producers run out of puzzle ideas? Did they use all of it up on Survivor: Philippines? Nonetheless, the Favorites win reward and immunity and it's another Survivor editing guessing game as to whether or not Shamar will finally get the boot.

After their loss, Shamar blatantly stopped Reynold in his tracks as he attempts to start a conversation with Shamar. Apparently, he has created a "No-Talking" list wherein he simply does not hear a word that Eddie and Reynold says. But his mouth nearly cost him his alliance's trust when he blabbered about the plan of splitting the votes to Hope. There was a slight hope for Eddie, Reynold, and Hope to be able to vote off Shamar as both Laura and Julia contemplated voting with the other alliance. Despite all the animosity directed towards Shamar, the original plan to split the votes between Hope and Eddie succeeded. We were brought to our first re-vote of the season and at that point it became clear that Hope was going home.

Are the Fans doomed? Do you think they can get it together even with Shamar there? Or is Sherri's plan to keep Shamar causing more harm than good? Don't forget to leave your comments below.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Survivor Caramoan Episode 2: "Honey Badger"

If you thought the premiere episode was crazy, wait until you’ve seen what went down the second episode. If you’re reading this, chances are you have seen episode 2 and it was somewhat not what I had expected it to be. But with Allie being the second one to have her torch snuffed in this game, this tells me that the Fans are in it to play!

The episode opens with the Favorites returning to camp after just having voted off Francesca. The lil’ Hantz, Brandon, is furious! A confrontation ensued between Dawn and Brandon because the latter felt played with the way the vote went. Uhm, aren’t you supposed to be a favorite? He went on a soliloquy about how it was unfair to have kicked off Francesca because she is the nicest woman he’d ever met on Survivor. Well, I got news for you Brandon – this is a game! I thought you’ve learned from your last time out on the show! Apparently not.

And if that’s not enough, he went on a rampage declaring how he plans to sabotage the camp! Once again, he brings up Russell into it.. obviously, he can’t play his own game. He can’t say a word without referencing his infamous uncle. But his conversation with Cochran at the beach the following day strikes me most. Cochran’s read on Brandon’s character was spot on – someone who exhibits sudden pits of rage and then the next moment he’s all nice and friendly as he talks about his kids and family. Cochran even went as far as compare him to that of a murderer. Is this a foreshadowing of sort? I hope not, especially with Brandon declaring he can feel his uncle Russell’s blood running through his veins. His inability to control his rage is actually fun to watch. Now I’m making more sense out of the producers’ decision to bring him back – he makes good TV! But still, Brandon is Brandon’s biggest enemy at this point.

Life at the Fans’ camp aren’t all rosy either. Shamar continues to ruffle feathers for no apparent reason. As I’ve pointed out in the premiere episode recap, the fact that he is a Marine makes his actions even more disappointing. You would’ve figured he will be most useful around camp, not to mention he is the biggest guy out there. I’m not even sure if there is strategy behind that at all – it’s just plain idiocy!

But being annoying and obnoxious has its place in the game. Shamar has found himself being recruited by Sherri into their alliance of six. I’d have to say, Sherri has outdone my expectations of her.  She refers to Shamar as her Phillip, which is a move she’d have to give Boston Rob some credit for. It’s smart for Sherri to keep Shamar around because even if he went all the way, no one would respect his game enough to vote for him. But that’s already looking too far ahead… I have a sneaky suspicion that the big, lazy guy will only become more obnoxious.

And speaking of Phillip, he reprised his Stealth R’ Us alliance for this season. He has dubbed them as follows: Andrea the Eliminator, Malcolm the Enforcer, Corinne the Dominatrix, Dawn the True Grit, Cochran the Inteligencia Attache, and of course, he is the self-proclaimed The Specialist. Malcolm had a good laugh about it but played along.Phillip is a nutjob. What else can I say?

This week, we only get one challenge, which is a combined reward and immunity. Personally, I prefer having separate challenges for the reward and immunity. But I guess this is expected with 20 people in the game. At the same time, it makes the challenge even more contested because there is a lot more at stake. As both tribes meet with Jeff, the fans’ reaction after realizing that Francesca was the first vote-off was a combination of shock and astonishment.

As for the challenge itself, I love the first leg because it is a throwback to the same challenge in the China wherein the Zan Hu tribe threw it in order to vote off Aaron following the twist that sent both him and James to the other tribe. Sadly, the second leg was pretty lousy. It seems like the challenge producers have a thing for tossing things into holes or poles lately. A puzzle might’ve been more exciting and… challenging? Nonetheless, the Favorites smoked the fans because the three girls sent to retrieve the rings did not have teamwork and a plan. When I saw that Malcolm was on the last leg again and that he will be head-to-head with Reynold, I felt a knot in my stomach. Malcolm vs Reynold Part III. Thankfully, with the help of Phillip, the Favorites emerged victorious. (And yes, critique me all you want for the bias towards Malcolm. Ha!) The Favorites celebrate their victory as they get the day off from Tribal council while the fans will be down to 9.

The strategy talk at camp was a tale of two alliances on a tug-of-war in the hopes of gaining power within the tribe. Last week, I’ve talked about what a dumb move it was for Reynold, Allie, Eddie, and Hope to alienate the rest of their tribe. As expected, it put a big target on this alliance and the other castaways are contemplating on keeping Shamar to topple this solid foursome. But like Cochran and Dawn were in the middle with last week’s vote at the Favorites’ tribal council, Mike and Matt are contemplating on which side to go with. There are two alliances of four that are counting on their votes to get the majority. Which side will they pick? Even before the tribal council concluded, though, I had a hunch because Allie had an uncharacteristically hefty amount of confessional, most of which she spent talking about Shamar and how he has to go home and it’s “non-negotiable”.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to his tribemates, Reynold’s search for the hidden immunity idol has come into fruition. But blame his pants for it, Laura spotted a bulge in his pocket and outed him at the tribal council. Well, not literally outed him, it was Jeff who did that. Nonetheless, the cat is out of the bag and Reynold pulled a Malcolm. He threatened his tribe mates by using the idol, which he ended up not playing anyway. But little did he know they were not targeting him because they went after his closest ally – Allie. She was sent packing after the Cool Kids alliance were outnumbered with the votes. That’s what happens when you let your guard down on Survivor!

I was sad to see Allie go because she could’ve been a huge threat in this game – physical, social, and strategic. But it is for this same reason why the rest picked her to go first out of the foursome. And for that, I had to give them props because they are playing with numbers in mind. Still, if the fans can't have unity and camarederie internally, they'll eventually see their numbers dwindle. Next week, should be interesting how big of a threat status that not-so-hidden immunity idol puts on Reynold.

Are you happy with who went home?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Survivor Caramoan Episode 1: A Case of Deja Vu

Was it a case of deja vu? If you go back to a few years ago when we first had Fans vs Favorites on Survivor, the Favorites got a little too cocky thinking they had the game all figured out. Then, the first immunity challenge came around and their asses were handed to them. Not to say that the Favorites underestimated the fans this time out, as more of the tension came from within the Favorites tribe, but it was a clear upset. More on that later, though I thought Survivor Philippines premiere was better, it was a great episode overall! Ninety minutes worth of scheming, flirtation, and Phillip in his neon pink undies! 

The dramatic entrance to this season saw the favorites riding a helicopter over the Caramoan Islands while the 10 fans sit on a boat in anticipation of what this adventure has in store for them. As the fans landed into this small and gorgeous islet, they were introduced to their competition one by one. It was interesting how fans reacted to the Favorites as they each walked out of the helicopter. Both Cochran and Dawn were met with a huge round of applause.. then Brenda walked out and Julia was overheard saying, "She's so dangerous... so dangerous". And of course, everyone in the fans tribe went crazy when Phillip was last called out by Jeff. I wonder how big of an impact these impressions are going to make down the road.

I'm still feeling a bit overwhelmed by the premiere of Survivor Caramoan - a packed 1.5 hour of good reality television. Hence, I am breaking down the highlights of the pilot episode below so you can read more about my thoughts on this episode:

1. The reward challenge. I loved it. Loved it! No, not because Malcolm had a bit of an exposure as he battled with Corinne against Reynold and Allie for that winning point, but because it sets the tone for the competitive nature of this game. How much more hardcore can you get than a pure battle of brawn in exchange for flint and 20 pounds of beans? In a game wherein you are left to fend for yourselves, any advantage you can get is going to be huge boost for the team's morale! It ended up being a blowout with the Favorites winning 4 to 1, but the Fans surely did not go down without a fight!

2. Phillip vs Francesca 2.0. The two biggest adversaries from Redemption Island are forced to work together yet again. Having been voted out first during her initial stint on Survivor, Francesca has thankfully learned from her first time out and made modifications as to how she dealt with her tribemates. But Phillip won't hear a word of it. This relationship is one of the funniest we've seen in the show. A clash of personalities or a natural dislike towards each other? Who knows what could be going on in that mind of Phillip - everything that comes out of his mouth just sounds looney and step ahead of his tribe.

3. Shamar vs Matt. Let me just say it once and for all - I love Matt. As much as character makes the show fun, I always appreciate a hard worker. It's something that a lot of the viewers overlook but a good work ethic is something that I respect in a game of Survivor. On the other end of the spectrum, Shamar is the biggest guy on their tribe yet he won't lift a single bamboo or help out in putting together the shelter. It created a tiff between the two right off the bat, which concerned Reynold because of its potential repercussions at the tribe's ability to perform in challenges or even its effect on team morale around camp. They were able to set aside their differences, though, when Shamar finally helped out in making fire. About time you make yourself useful!

4. Cochran's Sun Burn. Poor kid. He looks like he hasn't been exposed to the sun for years! And when he was tossed into this tropical island, his body went nuts. To reiterate Jeff, "that's the worst sun burn I've seen in my entire life."

5. The "Cool Kids" Alliance. The inevitable happens. The younger, good looking bunch of the tribe joins together to form the self-declared Cool Kids alliance. This alliance is made up of two pairings - Hope & Eddie and Allie & Reynold. Cute, right? The only problem is, any pairing will be perceived as a threat in the game of Survivor. Earlier in the episode, Reynold explained that Allie was not an obvious choice as his ally so no one would suspect it. And just as quickly, he canoodled and snuggled with her during the first night and hang out at the ocean with Hope and Eddie the next day. Can't they do the math? This is a 10-person tribe with 4 people openly declaring their allegiance to one another! Way to go with subtlety there, Reynold! This is another alliance that reminds one of the four-person alliance at the original Fans vs Favorites involving Parvati, James, Amanda, and Ozzy.

6. Immunity Challenge. In keeping with the theme Deja Vu, this one was true for Malcolm. On Episode 4 of Survivor Philippines, Malcolm was tasked at handling the swing ball for breaking the rice pots. He helped the Matsing tribe establish an early lead but ended up wasting the opportunity as Jeff Kent caught up to him at the last leg of competition. As he was outdone by Reynold at tossing the sandbags, the Favorites had to make the first trip to tribal council. I had to make a note on how impressive Andrea was at this particular challenge. She and Brandon scaled the fourth level of that vertical structure like mad men. It was really impressive how she kept up, even poor Allie slowed down midway through that climb. That was brutal!

7. Bad at Survivor? This has never happened before. And I should've saw it coming.. the editing has dropped some hints here and there with Francesca's confessional reiterating her fate as being the first vote-off last time. It is, therefore, a case of deja vu for Francesca. She's the first vote off and Phillip being the cause of her demise. But Andrea has to watch her back, too. Everyone perceives her as a threat and she has to downplay that now that she got four votes during the first episode, just narrowly avoiding being voted off.

I feel bad for Francesca to have been given this opportunity to redeem herself after being voted off first. And then to go out first the second time? Dagger in the heart. But Andrea outplayed her this time. Both came out with guns ablazing and it did not quite work out for Francesca. The question now is - will Jeff bug her about that rock thing at the reunion? We'll see... 

Are you excited for the next episode? What did you think of the premiere?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Are You Ready for Survivor Caramoan?

In less than 24 hours, the 26th season of Survivor will be kicking off. The re-do of the Fans vs Favorites format seems like another entertaining concept but will it prove to be all that Probst hyped it to be? More importantly, which castaway will get the distinction of being the first person voted off Survivor Caramoan?

Share in your thoughts at the comments section below. Judging by the poll, most of you think that the fans are going to be the first to visit tribal council. Let's see. For Filipino fans, you can check out JackTV for the coverage of the premiere episode both at 3PM (via satellite) and 9PM for the primetime telecast. Mark your calendars!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Survivor Caramoan: Cast Assessment

The TV Guide Preview is already available for fans to get a more in-depth look at the cast, challenges, and twists that might be in store with the new season of Survivor Caramoan. But the most anticipated preview for every new season would have to be Jeff Probst's Cast Assessment. Fans look forward to how Jeff assesses every contestant because it is often an indicator of how well the contestants would perform in the game. Of course, there is still a debate as to whether or not the cast assessments are filmed before or after filming. If it's the latter, then you might want to pay closer attention to what Jeff says.

For you to see how he thinks of every contestant that is going to be competing this season, here is the full video:

What are your thoughts on Jeff Probst's Cast Assessment this season?

Video Source: CBS YouTube Channel 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Survivor Caramoan TV Guide Preview

It is less than a week until the premiere of the latest season of my favorite show, Survivor. We've already met the fans and favorites cast so it is now the opportunity to get a closer look into each of them, as well as get a glimpse of what the season has in store for us. Earlier, Jeff Probst hyped this season up to be better than Survivor Philippines, which helps to excite me even more because the 25th season is clearly on my top 5 list!

The TV Guide preview just recently aired and it gives fans an extensive look at the challenges, twists, and other things to expect with the second edition of Fans vs Favorites. Check out below for the 3-part series for the Survivor Caramoan TV Guide preview, featuring Lisa Whelchel, a former castaway. 

Survivor Caramoan TV Guide Part 1

Survivor Caramoan TV Guide Part 2

 Survivor Caramoan TV Guide Part 3 

Are you team Fans or team Favorites?

PS: Quick update on the poll I've set up on the blog. According to fans who voted on my website, 33% (which is the highest vote getter) were happy to see Malcolm return. The next most popular favorite is Corinne at 15%, while Brenda, Erik, and Cochran each got 12% of the votes! Both Francesca and Brandon did not receive any votes.