Survivor: One World; the end is afoot

13 May

OK, so first, in case Greg “Tarzan” “Scaramouche” Smith (or anyone else who values good diction as much as he does) reads this, I’d like to apologize in advance for my potential improper use of the word “afoot”. The temptation to use it was just impossible to resist, especially since this will likely be my last opportunity to do so in a Survivor-related entry since:

– Tarzan has sadly gotten his comeuppance (albeit much later than I would have wagered after poopgate.)

– I bet you a bottle of wine that we’ll never hear the word “afoot” again on Survivor. (Note to those with a lesser command of the English language than Tarzan: “afoot” =/= “a foot”. So if two seasons from now, you hear Brandon Hantz say: “I was sleeping soundly when I was abruptly awoken by a foot in my face; it was my uncle Russell’s”, don’t send me your mailing address with a list of suggested wines with goofy prices such as $750 (I’ve seen it). Nor $75, for that matter. Max. value is $12 (CND) and I don’t ship nada. If you want it that much, come and get it. I’ll make sure to personally deliver it to you in a downtown Montreal public place of my choosing.)

Anyhoo, this 24th season of Survivor will soon be a thing of the past. However, unfortunately not of the glorious past I remember fondly when I reflect on why I love this show so much. To put it simply, One World is no Pearl Islands. And just to give you an idea, although I haven’t re-watched Pearl Islands (season 7) since it originally aired, I still remember it much better than I do some of the more recent seasons, like say, Samoa (season 19).

Which is a shame really, because I really had high expectations for Survivor: One World.

And maybe that’s the problem: I had too high expectations for Survivor: One World.

I can’t even remember the last time I wrote on this blog, but those of you I’ve talked Survivor with, whether on Twitter or an internet forum, know that I harbour an intense hatred for the Redemption Island/duo of returning players twin concepts. And those I haven’t, well, you’ve just learned something about me.

So before this season had even started, I was already in love with it, simply because I knew it was neither gonna be plagued by the terrible Redemption Island twist, nor the equally awful returning players farce.

And not only that, but I absolutely loved (and still do) the idea of the two tribes living together on the same beach for the first part of the game. What I didn’t dig so much though, was to split said tribes by gender. As they say, keep it simple. I think the One World concept could have worked just fine on its own, there was no need for that extra layer of screwed up with the men vs women stuff.

I mean, see how that worked out anyway: we’re essentially watching Survivor: Redemption Island all over, only minus Redemption Island, and with Kim in the role of Boston Rob. As for the bunch of sheep who handed Rob a million bucks two seasons ago, they’ve been replaced by a brand new bunch of sheep who is doing exactly the same thing with Kim.

And this to me, is really frustrating.

You see, the reason why I’m so in love with this show is because I’m so in love with the actual game of Survivor. It’s an exciting, intense, incredibly complex game, and one that I find absolutely fascinating on so many aspects.

But at the same time, it’s also a TV show.

Survivor has proved many times how compelling TV it can make. I could give you examples until the cows come home. Jonny Fairplay and dead grandmother gate. The Penner/Candice mutiny. JT’s love letter to Russell. Randy playing a fake idol. Tyson voting himself out. Erik-the-ice-cream-scooper giving away his immunity idol at final 5. “It’s a fucking stick”. I could go on and on.

Hell, even this season, we’ve had some pretty crazy WTF moments. The only problem is that pretty much the only person we have to thank for them is the self-proclaimed Queen himself, his Majesty Colton Cumbie.

And all thanks to a stupid bacterial infection trying to pass itself for acute appendicitis, we’ve lost who I see as one of the best villains in Survivor’s more recent history.

I don’t want to veer too much off-topic and let this turn into an essay on Survivor villains, but I’d just like to make a quick aside here, if only to explain why one of my favourite Survivor villains happens to be a vile little piece of snooty and possibly racist shit who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and as he grew up, the spoon turned into a silver stick up his ass.

The (totally subjective) way I see it, there are three types of Survivor villains: the ones I love, the ones I love to hate, and the ones I just plain hate. To give you a few examples, Boston Rob, Courtney Yates and Randy Bailey (to name a few) belong in my “Love” category; and that, for a variety of reasons, ranging from showcasing great strategy, to being dominant in challenges, or to simply having a wicked sense of humour.

In my “Hate” category, you will find a couple of people whom I thought were just too vile to want to root for, like Dreamz and Corinne Kaplan, but it’s mostly made of folks who either bore or annoy me, like Coach and Russell, get completely obscene amounts of airtime during the entire season, like Coach and Russell, or both. Like, say, Coach and Russell. Although I’d also throw NaOnka in there too, as I found her more tiresome than entertaining, with her Real Housewives of South Central LA-type antics.

As for my “love to hate” category, Jonny Fairplay had been its undisputed king since 2003, with little to no competition, until a young and ironically bigoted flaming queen from Alabama came along.

Which brings me back to Colton, whom, just like Fairplay, comes across as a pretty despicable human being. Yet, these assholes have an undeniable knack for making excellent television. And another thing they have in common, is that they’re both pretty good players. And yes, you could argue that had Colton not been assaulted by microbes a third of the way into the game, who knows how he would have fared and yadda yadda yadda, but you can’t ignore the fact that the kid had absolute control on his tribe, to the point where he managed to convince them to go to Tribal Council even though they had won immunity!!! I mean, how fucked up is that??!

So yeah, Colton is a complete dick. Who hates Blacks, Asians, dwarves, poor people, stand-up comedians… Have I left anyone out? Probably. But still, and I hate myself for saying this, but I could have used an Outcasts-type twist this season, no matter how terrible that twist was.

Why? Because the second half of One World has been BO. RING. I’ll say it again, it’s Redemption Island all over, only with more boobage. One dominant player who’s doing a great job on all fronts, and, well, nothing else. So maybe bringing back a vengeful Matt Quinlan and a medicated Colton would have injected some life back into that thing, who knows.

Of course, the Survivor gods haven’t been completely merciless towards us this season, as they gave us Kat and Tarzan who provided some quality comic relief, as well as Troyzan, who did give me a bit of hope at the end, when he was trying to stir shit up. Unfortunately, it was too little too late, and there’s only so much you can do to try and drill some logic into a brain that is absolutely unwilling to do any thinking whatsoever.

And this is what is killing me this season, just like it killed me in season 22: how can these people not see the of-so-glaringly obvious mega-huge threat standing right in front of them? And if they do indeed see it, like a couple of them have hinted at, why the fuck don’t they do anything about it? This frustrates me to no end, you guys.

And the worst part of this is, although I’ve spent the past couple of months hoping like hell someone would finally see the light and try to get rid of Kim, at this point, if anyone else but her won, I’d be really mad. Like Marquesas finale mad (God I hated that finale. Man, that was painful.)

Seriously though, and count me in among those who don’t like using the word “deserving” when it comes to Survivor, but can you really think of a satisfying Survivor: One World winner, beside Kim? Of course, it’s not like she had much competition, what with playing against the likes of Christina and Leif and all, but there’s just no denying that Kim has played one hell of a game, one she has absolutely rocked every single aspect of, the physical, the mental, the social, bring it on. So yeah. Kim’s gotta win. She just has to. Simple as that.

It doesn’t mean I’m in love with her though. She was one of my pre-season favourites (along with Bill, haha) and she did come across as very likable in her interviews. And I still find her likable on the show but for some reason, her edit pretty much paints her as some kind of perfect robot who never seems to say or do anything wrong, which is, quite frankly, pretty damn boring. Hell, she doesn’t even bitch about people behind their back! Not only is she a good player, but she’s also nice !

And I’m sorry folks, but nice doesn’t make good TV. Well, rarely. There’s the odd isolated case of a Tom Westman, but overall, the nice folks don’t fare that well on Survivor. And when they do, they either sink back into oblivion the second the season is over (see: Natalie White; Ethan – great guy, but sorry, forgettable Survivor winner), fuck themselves over by doing something dumb (see: JT; ice cream scooper Erik) or they somehow end up getting on the public’s nerves (see: Rupert Boneham).

Oh, and one precision: I do like nice people. I’m one of them myself. But I like them in real life. Not on Survivor. Survivor is cruel, twisted, cut-throat, it’s not a nice game. Which is precisely why I love it. Because like nothing else I’ve ever seen on TV to this day, it pushes people to their very limits. And it’s absolutely fascinating to watch what they’re willing to do (some of them, at least) to stay in the game.

Thus my propensity for shady characters such as Colton. Repulsive as he may have been, he kept things interesting and not only because he was a dick to people both behind they back and to their face, but also, and mostly, because he was playing the damn game, unlike most of the bozos who were cast this season. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Kat and Tarzan, but… You know what I mean. I’m just sick of seeing so many people on Survivor not playing to win. Hell, Tarzan even admitted in his post-boot interviews that it wasn’t his goal!

So yeah. There you have it. Go Kim.

On a final note, I must say I’d like to see both Kim and Colton be brought back in a future All-Stars or Fans vs Faves-type season. Colton, because I feel he still has something to prove. Plus, well, I just loved to hate him. I really did. He got me more fired up in six episodes than Russell did in three seasons.

As for Kim, I’m simply very curious to see how she would fare against people who are actually playing the game. Not that there haven’t been any this season, but those who had potential were early boots, and the others (“the others” being Troyzan, basically) just waited too long to try to stir things up, and when he did, he hit a wall because by then, Kim had successfully brainwashed enough people to get him out of her way.

And another thing is, I genuinely think the One World twist has potential, and I would really like to see it brought back, but solo. No men vs women, young vs old, black vs white or religious vs atheists nonsense. One World by itself. Just dump me two fairly divided tribes on a beach and let them mingle. I’m sure there would be fun to be had. Oh, and to make things even more interesting, here’s another great idea: get a good cast. And if you can’t find one, just bring back the folks from last season, minus Coach and Ozzy. The cast was one of the best things about South Pacific, and I feel it got wasted on a season plagued with two of the shittiest twists in Survivor history. Shame.

So I guess we’re done here. In a few hours, Kim should rightfully get crowned the winner or Survivor: One World, and I really hope she does, even though I’m not exactly excited at the prospect of watching the two hours logical conclusion to a story that has developed in the most predictable fashion over the last two months.

On the other hand, the one thing that could be worse than being bored for two hours tonight, would be to be infuriated for the next ten years, which is exactly what happened when my beloved Kathy got the boot just before making the final 2 back in Marquesas. Because I’m serious, if Kim doesn’t win this, I’ll be mad. So mad that I may actually fly to Samoa and kill that pig myself. You know, the one they pretended to want to pull a Mike Skupin on two episodes ago, then ended up deciding to keep as a pet? Yeah, that pig. Well, if Kim doesn’t win tomorrow night, that motherfucker is GONE.

Unless of course, Mike Skupin beats me to it… (Wink wink)

So there ya go folks, I hope you enjoy the show tonight. And I hope I will too, even though I’m a little sad to see my early season great expectations amounting to little more than a wet fireworks displays.  Tonight’s finale will be at best boring and predictable, or, in the worst case scenario, a complete tragedy.

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