Do You Believe in Magic?

When a show like Survivor brings back returning players and pits them against a group of “newbies,” I almost invariably end up rooting for one of the returning players. It’s one of the reasons why I dislike the Veterans vs. Newbies dynamic: The newbies always appear nondescript in comparison to well established players. And as cool as it is to some of our favorite players back in the game, I don’t think it’s worth dwarfing half of the cast.

But Survivor: Blood vs. Water has found the cure for these woes, and his name is Vytas. Vytas quickly became my favorite contestant after he exploited a gesture of sportsmanship offered by brother, Aras, in the sumo wrestling Immunity Challenge. What, underhanded, you say? Unseemly? Maybe, but it takes a rarefied level of chutzpah to so blatantly disregard competition etiquette. It didn’t matter that he ended up losing the bout anyway. That’s the kind of guy you want competing on your team: the guy who will do whatever it takes to win.

And so of course that means it’s time for a merge, and of course Vytas ends up on an all female tribe. Why do you do this to me, Survivor!? Back on Tadhana, they may have lost nearly every challenge, but at least I could take solace in the fact the Vytas was never going to be low man on the totem pole. Now, as our hero is wont to say, he is at the mercy of these women. The only other member of Tadhana to join him on Galang is Katie, Tina’s daughter, and you can guess where Katie’s loyalties lie.

“No one wants to date someone who doesn’t make The Merge.”—Kat

Did you think Vytas was going to be voted out? Be honest. I did. Yet he somehow infiltrated his way into this gynocracy. In fact, next week, Tina considers setting Vytas up with her daughter. “I would be honored if he took an interest in Katie,” she says. “I’m ready for grandbabies.”

Tyson said that he believes in magic, and after watching Vytas for these past few weeks, I do too.


How Wrong Was I?

Well, I suppose it is time to assess how this season of Survivor has held up to my initial concerns and expectations. So without further ado, let’s get ready to play everyone’s favorite game: How Wrong Was I?


Subject: The value of Colton

Verdict: Catastrophically wrong

When I wrote my introductory piece on Colton titled “You Are What You Is,” I was sincerely looking forward to the drama that Colton would stir up this season. I never thought his style of game-play would afford him much longevity in the game, but I thought he would at least stick around long enough to shake things up.

That did not happen. His impact on this season was infinitesimal. He attempted to sow discord within his tribe, failed, and quit out of frustration.[1]

I thought Colton was a car wreck that leaves a trace of scar tissue on anyone in the vicinity of the crash. But no, that’s not right at all. There is no collateral damage here. He simply drove his car off of a bridge.

So what exactly is Colton after all? In the words of Jeff Probst, “Colton is the guy who never should have gotten off the couch.”



Subject: The presence of family and its deleterious effect on game-play

Verdict: Not very wrong

I originally wrote that the premise of this season was a little too cute for this cold-blooded reality TV show. For example, I bemoaned about the lack of spirited competition between the tribes. I called for “brazen celebration after competitions.” I do think my concern was warranted here, and there were certainly a fair share of cringe worthy family moments.

Fortunately—and, I suppose, predictably—now that six “loved ones” have been eliminated, we don’t have that issue anymore. Actually, tribes are celebrating prematurely now. Last Wednesday, Galang celebrated exultantly only to learn that they had solved their puzzle incorrectly. This happened twice!


Subject: Redemption Island

Verdict: Uh…

OK, fine: I never expressed an opinion on Redemption Island. But I’ve never been receptive to that concept. I think that when someone is eliminated, they should leave the game. They should not have any more influence on the game unless they have a vote in the jury.

On Blood vs. Water, the family dynamic inevitably seeped its way into this process. People are getting voted out because of their loved ones. Brad feared Candice and her connection to John, so he sent John packing; Tadhana thought that they might be able to coax Tyson into taking Rachel’s place on Redemption Island, so they voted out Rachel.

It’s a fascinating development (they have actually inverted the nepotism that is the very basis for this season,) but ultimately not a very good one. Even if we were to set aside all of our preconceived notions about Redemption Island, it still has an anticlimactic stink to it. Like a bad art film, it’s all brain and no heart.

[1] He evidently quit on Survivor: One World also. How someone fakes appendicitis is beyond me, but who am I to question the unassailable word of Jeff Probst?