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Best Survivor Season Ever?

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Amanda Kimmel Survivor PictureWhile some people have railed on the early days of this season of Survivor as being uninteresting, Fans vs. Favorites is turning out to be one of the most amazing seasons of the show… ever. I’ve enjoyed it from day one, but I’m not as picky as some people, at least not in regards to this show. I’ve liked Survivor ever since I started watching it in Season Two, and while some seasons are better than others, it has always been entertaining.

The first two-thirds of Fans vs. Favorites was pretty standard fare. As Jim Van Nest pointed out in his early recaps of the show over at BoxOfficeProphets, it was questionable as to where CBS actually found these fans. Several of them hardly shaped up to be the brilliant Survivor fans we were expecting; several seemed to know as much about mastering the show as they did about building a space shuttle. Again, as Jim pointed out, he, a die-hard fan who knows every facet of the show, would have been a much better choice.

That being said, these last four Survivor episodes leading up to the Season Finale have been insane. Partially out of stupidity, partially out of hubris and fully out of deceptiveness and backstabbing, four contestants have been taken out by complete and utter blindsides.

First, there was Ozzie. Probably the most dominant player to ever play the game, Ozzie found the Hidden Immunity Idol but became cocky about his place in the game. As one of the best players ever, he should have known better than to trust everyone in his alliance. Sure, he didn’t want to play the idol prematurely, but James even hinted to him that he had a bad feeling about that night. That should have been enough, but hubris sunk its teeth in and he fell victim to Parvati of all people.

Then comes next week. Ozzie’s blindside was stunning, but not too surprising. However, Parvati passed the torch to Natalie, who in turn showed her vicious side by manipulating Jason beyond belief. Jason, a physical threat from day one (he had even beat out Ozzie a few times), had never proven to be all that smart, but he convinced the world that he was a gullible idiot when he fell for Natalie’s promises. Like the week before, Jason had his hands on the Hidden Immunity Idol, but, despite the complete and utter blindness that he had just witnessed by what was clearly an all-women alliance, he didn’t play his idol. Two weeks in a row, two contestants with an Immunity Idol went home, stunned and confused. This blindside, however, was completely Jason’s fault.

Last week, stupidity wasn’t a factor. Amanda Kimmel, my favorite since the first episode of Survivor: China (not only is she hot, but she’s also smart and strategic), was sent to Exile Island where she managed to find the Hidden Immunity Idol, which has never played such a large role in any season before, except perhaps when Yau Man got his hands on it. Thankfully for her, she didn’t find the Immunity Idol right away but a clue for where it was buried back at camp. When she returned to her tribe mates, she put her acting skills to work, pouting very convincingly that she wasn’t able to find the Idol (which, technically, wasn’t a lie). She even dumped her bag in front of everyone to prove she hadn’t found it. As such, everyone but Parvati set out to vote Amanda off, as they, understandably, see her as the biggest threat. Unfortunately for them, with a little help from Parvati, Amanda dug up the Idol. Come Tribal Council time, the alliance of Natalie, Alexis, Erik and a reluctant Cirie think they have Amanda in the bag. Then, in one of the most entertaining Survivor moments ever, Amanda raises her hand to inform Jeff that she has the Idol. The rest of the Tribe looks shocked, Parvati starts grinning her sexy smile and the Jury, highlighted by Eliza, crack up, stunned but elated. Alexis, who only moments ago thought she was headed to the Final Five, suddenly finds herself victim to the most satisfying blindside of the season. At least no one can blame Alexis for her going home.

But then this week rolls around. Thursday, May 8, 2008. The day when one Survivor made the biggest, dumbest move in the history of the game. Erik, the young, bushy haired guy who is great in challenges, fairly smart in some ways, likable but utterly naive and gullible to the whims of sexy woman, wins the Immunity Idol. OK, Natalie is going home. But wait! What? No, it couldn’t be. It can’t be possible. The alliance of three – Amanda, Cirie and Parvati – convince Natalie to talk to Erik about asking him to give her the Immunity Idol. Natalie at first thinks it is a ridiculously stupid idea, because it is, but she asks anyway. At first, Erik simply says, “No.” Smart guy, Erik. Then, he starts considering it. Erik, no! You spell your name the same was I do. Don’t do this to other Eriks in the world! But he’s just considering it, right? He wouldn’t actually give up Immunity this close to the end, would he?

Cirie also begins to play the young guy, and it just goes downhill from there. Why would Erik even consider this as an option? The idea, as the women convince him, is that no one likes him on the Jury. Even if he wins the rest of the Immunity Idols and makes it to the Final Three, he still wouldn’t have a shot at winning. However, he could earn kudos for making a good faith gesture and giving the necklace to Natalie. Thankfully, Erik is smart enough to question why he needs to give up his Idol to vote someone else off, but Cirie tricks him into thinking that she needs such a gesture to ensure her that he will vote for a specific person (Amanda, then Parvati).

God. Come Tribal Council, the Jury is stunned – and I mean stunned – to see Erik give up his Immunity Idol. Every member on the Jury knows exactly what is happening, and they start cracking up. Even the women sitting next to him begin to laugh, and the joke is certainly on Erik. And, with that, in what is officially the dumbest Survivor move ever in the history of its 17 seasons, Erik is voted off. Ultimately, Erik was a smart guy who tended to over-think things and feel bad when others were allegedly angry at him; the women used this to their advantage and manipulated him. He’s a young guy with some very sexy women wandering around in bikinis; it’s understandable that he could be tricked a little bit. But even if they all offered to have a wild orgy with me, I still wouldn’t give up my Immunity Idol on a game that relies on backstabbing and betrayal. The women had proven time and time again that they couldn’t be trusted, yet he foolishly trusted them to the last second.

Now, there are four left, and Amanda has a great shot at a million dollars. Natalie isn’t the strongest of challengers, and if she doesn’t win, it’s likely that she will, in reality, go home. Of course, this season – one of the best ever – has been full of surprises and upsets, so it isn’t unreasonable to think that Cirie and Parvati would turn on Amanda – but I’d be surprised if that actually happened. After Amanda’s work involving the Hidden Immunity Idol a week back, which all but won over the Jury, the others are going to be hard pressed to be beat her if she makes it to the Final Three.

This is why I love Survivor.

By Erik Samdahl
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