Nick Tells Liz What Happened On “Survivor: Caramoan”
Another guest post! We are truly blessed. Loyal reader Nick really wanted to tell me about “Survivor,” and I cannot deny anyone the opportunity to tell me about stuff. It is, after all, one of life’s most unique pleasures.
Dear Liz (and I guess Frank, too),
Although some may believe that reality TV is worse than getting an STD or having jury duty, I still feel compelled to write in about the latest season of Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites. Because quite frankly, it was a treat!
If you don’t already know, Survivor is a show where 16-20 Americans are put on an island to compete for a $1 million prize. They participate in rewards challenges, where they get food or luxuries that make their camp life easier — fishing gear, tarps, blankets, etc. Then, there’s an immunity challenge. The winning team is immune for the week and the losers go to Tribal Council where they have to vote off one of their own. Our gracious host, Jeff Probst, then grills them about how much they hate each other. If we’re really lucky that week, there’s tons o’ tears and drama and it’s beyond great. Probst then snuffs the torch of the ousted castaway and speaks clearly and decidedly: “The tribe has spoken.” Whatta guy.
Season 1 aired way back in 2000 when Richard Hatch became the very first winner ever. Over 51 million people watched the finale that year. Ratings like that are simply not heard of in our neo-Internet-Streaming world today, so to say that Survivor staked a little claim in television history is an understatement — especially since it spawned countless other shittier, ridonkulous reality competition shows. Props, Probst.
This season saw the return of Fans vs. Favorites. In these seasons, 10 castaways from former seasons play against 10 newbies and the result is usually a neophyte bloodbath. The last time they did a Fans vs. Favorites season, it became my favorite season, so I was tickled pink when I heard they were reviving it. And that’s coming from a superfan who’s enjoyed every single season of Jeff Probst-y goodness. Bring on the blindsides!
What was so interesting about this season though, Liz, is that they used the word “Favorites” rather loosely. The Favorites tribe was really a bunch of misfits who largely screwed the pooch in their original season. I mean, get a load of these jokers…
Brandon: Last time, the nephew of the notorious Russell Hantz had a complete emotional breakdown, gave away immunity, and was voted out immediately. He couldn’t handle the morality and ethics of the game, and I guess he didn’t pay attention to the immunity part in the rulebook either.
Dawn: In her season, Dawn cried. A lot. She had an alliance with Cochrane, but he flipped and botched their alliance. Bastard! Speaking of…
…That nerdy weakling Cochrane came back, too! Would Dawn trust him the second time around? And would he be just as spineless and pathetic?
Corinne was mostly remembered for making fun of her enemies’ dead dads. No, really. Dude died two months prior and she slammed Sugar for needing therapy. (That was way harsh, Tai!) Corinne is a great villain though: entertaining and evil. It’s a delicious combo.
Erik: This guy was originally a fan and now he’s a favorite! I loved him back then, but at the final five tribal council, some nefarious Medusas convinced him to hand over his immunity and they voted him out! (Again: Rulebook, people!)
Also, Phillip, the delusional “Former Special Agent,” returned. Oh, we’ll get to Phillip.
Seriously, “Fans vs. Fuck-Ups” might’ve been a better name. Or something like that.
When fresh meat plays against returning castaways, that meat’s gettin’ eaten. On the Fans side, two alliances formed. The first were the “cool kids in school.” They were even stupid enough say that on national television. What these idiots failed to realize was that four castaways does not a majority make.
Milf-y Sherri led the rest of the tribe, including Shamar – a former Iraq soldier who pissed and moaned every time he stubbed his toe. He seemed shocked that he was hungry, which makes me wonder if he thought he was signing up for a Food Network show or something. He was a huge whiner until he got MedEvac’d with an eye infection. Too bad, so sad.
The favorites kicked some ass and only had to vote two players off pre-merge. The first was Francesca – who went down as being the only person to ever get voted out first…twice. The second person was Brandon, and let me tell you! Brandon had a psychotic break and dumped out his team’s rice and beans! That was their entire food supply! Brandon’s shenanigans were very unsettling. I was sorry to see the Favorites struggle with such a ticking time-bomb. At the challenge the next day, the Favorites forfeited in order to vote Brandon out on the spot. Liz, there wasn’t even a Tribal Council!
I know. I was just as shocked as you are.
“Favorite” Phillip claimed to be a Former Federal Agent, and he repeated this at least 10 times per episode. One time, producers even had a laugh and listed his occupation as “Former Federal Agent?” because no one knew if he was legit or not. Hell, we still don’t really know this guy’s deal, but we do know that he’s definitely a basketcase.
Phillip walked around camp in junk-hugging pink undies, proclaiming to be the leader of “Stealth R Us,” a super-secret (or the direct opposite of that) alliance of the favorites. He gave each member a codename like “The Negotiator” and “The Conqueror.” Everyone wanted Phillip to think he was a leader so they could keep the Favorites team strong while voting out the rest of the Fans. However, it mostly seemed like they were entertaining an attention-whoring toddler.
Phillip and Corinne’s ongoing drama became a major issue for the Favorites. Here are a few quotes from Corinne about P-Dawg:
“He is out of his mind up there with Mel Gibson.”
“He needs a warm glass of shut the hell up.”
“On a scale of, like, one to ‘on an airplane next to a baby’ annoying, he’s on the airplane next to the baby annoying and the baby has diarrhea.”
Reality gold, that girl.
Corinne was blindsided after telling Dawn about a plan to ditch Phillip. She was seen as a threat to her alliance and ousted. It was quite a shame; I wanted more of Corinne’s vivacious putdowns. She never saw it coming, which made for a great Tribal. The look on her face!
Phillip was blindsided next when fan-fave Malcolm joined the fans and played like 11 immunity necklaces at once. In Season 12, titled Survivor Panama: Exile Island, producers introduced a twist called the Hidden Immunity Idol. These idols are hidden either at a remote location or somewhere around camp. Players can win clues to these idols and if they find them, they can be played at any Tribal Council after the votes are cast, but before they are read. It becomes a bit of a poker game when people know you have one. Will they play it or won’t they? It really adds to the mindfuck.
So Malcolm played two idols at one time to save a buddy and Phillip went back to the Pentagon or the looney bin or wherever fake federal agents run off to after starring in reality shows. This season delivered epic moments like this week after week! (Malcolm eventually bit it, by the way.)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you the Dawn and Brenda story. Dawn lost her fake teeth in the water and totally bugged out, screaming and crying and threatening to leave the game if she couldn’t find them. Brenda got in the water with scuba gear and found them and saved the day. The two bonded on a deep, personal level. Don’t get me wrong — Survivor fans live for killer Tribals, but these tender moments really ground the show and prove that humanity does exist on the island sometimes.
After this happened, Brenda won a huge BBQ meal with family members, but gave it all up so everyone else could enjoy it. It was a really touching moment of selflessness. To thank Brenda for her generosity — THEY KICKED HER ASS OUT OF THE GAME. I hate to get all movie-of-the-week on you, but it was actually pretty gut-wrenching to watch.
The Final Countdown!
So Cochrane, Dawn and Sherri made it to the end! This is the part of the show when the jury gets to ask the finalists questions and then vote for the winner. They’re usually bitter as hell and sucker punch the finalists with cringe-inducing questions. Brenda asked Dawn to take out her teeth and show the world what she really looked like. D-R-A-M-A. Dawn realized there was no way out of it and revealing her bottom row with three missing teeth — her greatest insecurity! It was time to feel bad for Dawn, now. This game was personal!
Dawn and Cochrane slyly hid their all-season alliance and that was impressive. In the final vote, Cochrane swept 8-0-0, winning the money and the title of Sole Survivor! Cochrane was an unlikely winner from the start. He was such a wiener in his first season. He let himself get pushed around, was indecisive and flipped on his alliance. This time, he remained calm, exercised some calculated strategy, and even seemed to learn about himself. Conga rats, Cochrane!
For a show that’s been on for 26 seasons, I’m pretty surprised that Probst and co. can still keep it fresh and interesting. When you put entitled Americans on a beach for 39 days and starve the shit out of them, you can’t predict the things they’ll say and do to win the money. It’s like Lord of the Flies meets VH1’s I Love Money! But in all seriousness, I respect a show like Survivor — I love seeing people pushed to their limits while learning about themselves along the way. Survivor has delivered those moments time and time again.
I hope my recounting of events has done this season justice. Even though The Real World was the grandfather of the reality craze, I believe that Survivor is the Godfather. Maybe I should insert a badass Godfather quote in here, but it’s late and I’ve rambled far too long.
I just really love this show, you guys.
Popcorn and boozey drinks,