Survivor: Heroes vs Villains – Episode 2

The Heroes turn ugly…

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Blog: Episode 2

2nd Elimination: Stephenie

Wow! After a mere two episodes Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains managed to have me on the edge of my seat! Immediately after I’d finished typing up the first post in this blog, I fired up my TiVo and watched episode two. Much to my surprise, my pick to win it all, Amanda, was nearly sent packing. As far as my photographic Survivor memory can tell, that’s the earliest that one of my picks has ever found themselves on the chopping block. Needless to say, if that close call is any indication of what’s in store, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains is going to be one of the best seasons ever!

Boston Rob’s close call

There are many reasons why Boston Rob should have no chance to win this game. Everyone is fully aware of how big a threat he is both physically, mentally, and socially. However, for some reason people seem to ignore this fact and let him do his thing. Think about it! He’s got just as dirty a game as Russell, but for whatever reason, when he screws people over they seem to not hold it against him. If I were playing this game and had to choose the one person I want to get rid of, I’d strongly consider making that person Boston Rob. He’s the type of player where if you don’t take them out, and take him out early, he’s certainly gonna make you pay for it.

When the previews for episode two showed Boston Rob laid out unconscious in the jungle, I thought that was it for him. When you consider that last season, the other Russell looked much more with it after he fainted and ended up being taken out of the game, I didn’t give Rob much of a chance when they were opening his eyes and shining a flashlight in them, and he wasn’t responding. Surprisingly, Boston Rob was able to continue, and while his fellow survivors may end up paying the price for it, overall this season will be much better with him around. I still can’t wait to find out how the power struggle plays out between him and Russell. There’s no way that the two of them can coexist for very long. They’re two strong, very similar personalities with two strong, very similar games. You just can’t have two people playing that type of game on the same tribe. At this point, I put my money on Boston Rob as he’s clearly the more popular castaway at the moment. However, Survivor isn’t necessarily the type of game where being popular is all it’s cracked up to be. If the Villains are smart, they’ll side with the slightly more predictable, and less likable Russell.

James is on a rampage

Thanks to my Amanda pick this season has left me feeling very conflicted. I obviously need the Heroes to do well in immunity challenges to keep her in the game. However, ideologically, I’m all about the way the Villains play the game. Survivor is a game where you occasionally need to get your hands dirty. Take the Heroes Colby and Tom, for example. Both of them had the luxury of playing on the dominant tribe in their season. They never really had to stab anyone in the back to get further in the game. People love them for how squeaky clean they played, but outside of their physical abilities, they never had to display much of a penchant for the mental side of the game. For goodness sakes! Colby threw away one million dollars by taking Tina to the final in Australia. How smart was that? Personally, I have a lot more respect for the Survivors who managed to weasel their way out of a tough spot using the powers of persuasion.

Take someone like Russell, for instance. He had to use every trick in the book to get himself to the final when the numbers after the merge were stacked highly against him. Likewise, players like Boston Rob and Parvati also had to think outside the box to achieve success in their seasons. When I think of impressive Survivor performances, it’s not the physical players who come to mind, but those who truly outwitted their opponents. That’s not to say that the Heroes are mental midgets. Amanda, JT, and Cirie are some of the best strategists that we’ve ever seen. But overall, I think the majority of America is probably siding with the Heroes, when in reality it’s the type of players who were on the Villains’ team that really make this game so intriguing.

The Villains are not only underdogs this season physically, but I think the stigma that’s been laid upon them will make it all the more difficult for them to succeed in the end. For example, should Boston Rob and James somehow make it to the final two, I find it hard to believe that the majority of people wouldn’t end up handing James the million. After all, he is the “hero”. However, you have to look no further than this past immunity challenge to see who the true hero really is. Boston Rob took charge and willed his team to victory, while James was practically worthless when it came to the puzzle and started chewing people out as things went south.

The thing about this game, is that perception may be the most important key to victory. Last season, Natalie was just as responsible as Russell for overthrowing their opposition and stabbing Shambo and Jason in the  back.  However, because it was Russell who was going crazy finding idols, working people over, and making a spectacle of himself, he took all the heat.  If anything, Natalie was really the one who toppled Galu’s alliance as she was the one that started the domino effect by getting Eric voted off.  Russell clearly was the best player last season, but Natalie ultimately won the game of perception, and as a result, the million dollars as well.

Anyway, the whole point of that rambling analysis (and you wonder why I don’t have time to do this blog?) was to put into context my thoughts about James’ recent mean streak.  In his prior two seasons, James was perceived as the game’s biggest threat.  Everyone was gunning for him and scheming ways to slit his throat because nobody wanted to sit next to him in the end.  They knew they couldn’t measure up to the super-strong, nice, funny, poor guy when it came time to face the jury.  Well, this third time around, some things are clear.  James can’t control that he’s strong.  He can’t change the fact that he’s poor.  But what he can change is the fact that he is nice and funny.  Personally, I think James’ post-challenge rampage was just him losing his patience.  However, as spontaneous and unintentional as it may have been, James’ outburst was strategically brilliant.  James can afford to be a jerk, because nobody in their right mind would vote him out pre-merge and hurt their chances in the challenges, and once the game turns individual, the fact that he’s been treating people like crap actually works to his advantage.  In the past, James was “too good” to keep around, but “nasty” James is somebody that people may see as beatable.  James’ only hope in this game was to shed the perception that he’s Superman.  Right now, he’s looking like one of the bigger villains in the game. 

Steph or Amanda?

I have to admit, I was seriously starting to think Amanda was done for last episode.  On one side, you had the alliance of Amanda, James, JT, and Rupert.  On the other side you had Steph, Tom, and Colby.  In the middle, with the crucial fourth and fifth votes were Cirie and Candice.  Amanda’s been known to slit a few throats, James was having a serious case of roid-rage, JT was looking shadier and shadier by the minute, and Rupert had a broken toe.  From Candice’s point of view, I can’t imagine how that was a more appealing crew to align with than the squeaky clean trio of Tom, Colby, and Steph. Cirie seemed to be riding the fence and so I assumed that Candice would ultimately swing her and vote out Amanda. Knowing the little bit that I do about Candice, I have a very hard time believing she initiated the decision to vote Steph out. 

And that, my friends, is why Cirie is a PLAYA!!!  Think about it!  Let’s say they went with Colby, Tom, and Steph and made it all the way to the final five.  Do you think Tom, Colby, and Steph are breaking up?  Maybe, maaaaaaybe Steph turns heel and goes for the girl-power, but it’s highly doubtful as it would be jury suicide.  Bottom line, aligning with Tom, Colby, and Steph was a guaranteed 4th and 5th place for Cirie and Candice, at best.  Amanda, James, JT, and Rupert on the other hand are total free-agents.  There is not a doubt in my mind that they would poke each others eyes, pull each other’s hair, and punch each other’s crotches for that million dollars.  Partnering with that group means anything can happen.  Which brings me to the latest edition to the Survivor Manifesto…

Rule #7 – When your back is up against the wall and you have a decision to make, always choose the option that will cause the most chaos.

Nothing kills a well-laid strategy in this game like chaos.  Whether is an unexpected immunity idol, a tribe switch-up, or a raving lunatic named Dreamz, chaos will turn the game of Survivor on its head.  When you’ve got the numbers on your side, all you want is for that pecking order to play out.  When you don’t have the numbers, the best thing that you can do is attempt to turn that pecking order into a crazed chicken coup.  Russell caused all kinds of chaos last season and it nearly won him the game.  The season before that, Coach caused all kinds of chaos within his own tribe and it cost his teammates the game. 

And that concludes my lecture on perception and chaos and the roles they play in the game of Survivor.  Don’t you feel smarter now?

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.