Survivor: It's a Fickle, Fickle Game
May 21, 2015 5:19 PM - Season 30, Episode 13 - Subscribe

The season 30 finale and live reunion show AND the announcement of the 20 viewer-chosen second chance cast members for season 31. Spoilers galore inside.
posted by phunniemee (21 comments total)
The real winner this season: the Survivor story editors.

OH MY GOD, the Rodney loser edit was just perfect. They set that one up for the long game, probably starting around the time of the tribe shuffle and Joaquin's departure. Rodney was the losingest losing loser in the history of Survivor losers. Never won a challenge, never won a reward, constant--constant-- bitching about nobody ever giving him their reward, frequent mockery of Mike telling everyone to go gather firewood all the time...

And at the end, his chance to make it into the final three comes down to a challenge. A challenge where he had to build a fire. A challenge that he failed because he didn't use enough wood in his fire. It's goddamned poetic is what it is.
posted by phunniemee at 5:26 PM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

And Dan. DAN. Dan, you enormous asshole. Jeff totally owned him in the reunion show. I guess Dan has been crying to the press about how his portrayal as a misogynistic bag of dicks has toooootally been taken out of context, and Jeff queued up raw footage showing that no, no it's not. I love it. All while he's wearing a cheesy "Mail Escort" t-shirt and Probst is all "dude" and Dan is all "it's a joke" and Probst is like "dude."
posted by phunniemee at 5:31 PM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

And while I'm here I may as well happy dance that nearly everyone I wanted to see make it onto the second chance season made it onto the second chance season. I would have liked to see T-Bird and Sabrina in instead of Kelly Wentworth (her?) or Abi whatsherface, and I'm tired of Keith's I'm a redneck how do gay people work schtick, but seriously otherwise I'm super excited about next season. The internet is Very Upset that Shane didn't make it on, but I don't remember Shane at all. I remember other people from his season, but not Shane. Not too torn up about it.

I'm hoping that Shirin, Stephen, Tasha, Spencer, and Kass all team up to make a nerdfan superalliance.
posted by phunniemee at 5:38 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I am pretty sad that T-Bird and Max didn't make the cut.
Also, the principal reason I voted as many times as I did was mostly about voting against Abi-Maria, so boo on that as well.
posted by trunk muffins at 7:03 PM on May 21, 2015

It was a fun final episode with Mike winning immunity and the fire challenge. The editors must have been so excited about they way the fire challenge went.
posted by cfoxhi at 8:28 PM on May 21, 2015

Oh man, Rodney was dumb. Like the time his "awesome" plan to get rid of Mike was to pretend like he wanted to get voted off because he was depressed about his birthday, and somehow Mike would let his guard down and not play the Idol. Then Tyler had to politely explain to Rodney why his plan was the dumbest plan imaginable. Also, the cake at the reunion seemed to me like Probst was laughing at Rodney, not with him.

This is the first Survivor I've seen from start to finish since Season 2. I thought the merge into just one tribe happened too soon, which is what allowed the terrible players (Rodney, Dan, Will) to team up and vote out the good ones. Keep two tribes competing against each other in groups for longer, so that the losing tribe at Tribal Council has an incentive to vote out the weak players. Then merge into one tribe when there's like 10 or 8 people left. I really did not like the incentive structure to keep Will around because everyone knew he had zero chance to win if he made final three.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 8:31 PM on May 21, 2015

I really did not like the incentive structure to keep Will around because everyone knew he had zero chance to win if he made final three.

You know, a few weeks ago I was talking about Survivor with some people and brought up the same thing. How they needed to figure something out to shake up the game for future seasons, because lately it's just been a game of let's make sure we take the absolute worst people* to the end.

And then just a couple days later CBS announced that next season was going to be second chancers voted back in by viewers, and there you go. It pretty much ensures that you won't hate the endgame players because no one who got picked for the second chance is someone we hate. (Fuck you very much, Brad Culpepper.)

*This was the point of the game where Mike and Dan were still buddies and Mike had yet to redeem himself by being the one sane person Shirin could hang with, so pretty much everyone was horrible. The last two episodes made up for a lot of crap play previously in the game.
posted by phunniemee at 8:41 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

(Fuck you very much, Brad Culpepper.)

This all over the place.

I liked this season okay. It started pretty good, but the tribe shakeup and merge were timed weird. The last 3 weeks were pretty good though as Mike turned into a challenge hero and the opposing alliance just fell apart.

Honestly, how can you not love watching Rodney have the worst birthday of his life? And how could you not love watching Dan look so angry while on the jury at tribal councils? But I don't particularly want to see either of them return, so it's encouraging to have the public vote back their favorites.

Very curious to see how they split up the tribes for next season. I hope they do it by how long the players lasted (like all the runners-up on one tribe and everyone else on the other, if they have the numbers).
posted by dogwalker at 9:14 PM on May 21, 2015

And how could you not love watching Dan look so angry while on the jury at tribal councils?

posted by trunk muffins at 9:16 PM on May 21, 2015


Oh man oh man the best thing was how Shirin got all excited when Carolyn got her fire going too, and she whispershouted something like "she's got fire, too!" and Dan shushed her, only to immediately follow it up with "GET WOOD! GET WOOD!"
posted by phunniemee at 9:23 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Rodney -- what a piece of work. Early on he was bragging about how strategic a player he was, when there was very little evidence of any thinking at all. We called him "Brofeld" at chez Potsmokinghippieoverlord. The birthday whining was epic.

At the last tribal council, I thought Dan's eyes were going to roll out of his head. He acted like a moody teen.

I thought the current cast got short shrift with the interviews. I really didn't need to hear Dan weasel so much.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:47 PM on May 21, 2015

Apparently, Probst wanted to give Dan and the others an opportunity to take back some of the terrible comments, but when Dan continued to suggest he was made to look bad in editing Jeff decided to bury him. Had he been contrite, they don't play that footage. Dan played the reunion as well as he played the show - completely misreading how he was perceived and what others would be willing to do against him.

All the time on Dan really saved Rodney, though. He still thinks he would have won had he been at the end, and if Jeff had more time it would have been spent dealing with Rodney's multiple delusions.

The handling of the second chance announcements could have been done with a bit more class, however. You don't need to highlight people who weren't going, especially in that faux-dramatic American Idol fashion. I'm surprised Shane didn't make it (Blackberry could have really used the profile boost), and T-bird deserved a spot but Africa isn't a well-remembered season unfortunately.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 2:59 AM on May 22, 2015

I think my tweet re Dan's trip to Ponderosa is some of my finest work.
posted by trunk muffins at 11:23 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I enjoy the show, but man that cast was filled with terrible people. I'm glad it's over and I'm glad Mike won, which is a credit to the editors. Early on I didn't really like Mike, but sticking up for Shirin was a big turning point. She seems like such an annoying person to be around, but Will was such a huge asshole to her. Incredibly personal. That alone is probably what got her into the next season. No one deserves that. Sadly, it probably also got Will into the final three, and tied for second which is just nonsense. Nothing like Survivor for rewarding terrible people for being terrible.

Dan was a pretty solid misogynist from the beginning, I will be happy to never see him again. Jeff didn't care about the misogyny, he cared about the show getting slandered. That's why he went after Dan so hard and allowed Will to get away with his ridiculous non-apology.
posted by graventy at 12:09 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am bummed that T - bird didn't make it, but I am thrilled that Kelly Wiglesworth, Kimmi, and Jeff Varner did. I am curious which guy Mike would have bumped out had he not won.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:59 PM on May 22, 2015

I am curious which guy Mike would have bumped out had he not won.

Yeah, for how much Probst hyped up the fact that SOMEONE MIGHT GET VOTED IN AND THEN NOT MAKE IT WHEN THEY WIN WHAAAT!!!! that seriously did not pay off. Once everyone else was on stage and heading for the bus, they should've revealed who made it now that Mike wasn't eligible.
posted by dogwalker at 7:47 PM on May 22, 2015

Jeff didn't care about the misogyny, he cared about the show getting slandered.

I agree completely. I actually felt like Jeff still doesn't understand what, exactly, it was that made people so angry. The remarks of Dan's he focused on were all about defending the show; they wouldn't even be a in a top ten of the worst shit Dan said on Survivor. And Rodney got off scot-free (mind you, I do agree Dan was a million miles the worst chauvinist; Rodney had a real madonna-whore thing going on, but Dan seems to really hate women. Of course, he does come from an adopted family, and he has no one in his life, except his wife, his adoptive parents, his birth mother, and his friends. But other than that, no one).

I felt it was incredibly gross how Jeff tried to force a fake reconciliation between Will and Shirine, and mad props to her that - with all the pressure - she refused to buckle to it. That also, to me, showed that Jeff is more interested in defending the show and pursuing some kind of happy ending bullshit than actually confronting the results of the misogyny he and the producers decided to showcase. Will, of course, came across like a colossal, horrible, terrible shitbag he was.

When Mike was the only on who stepped up after that initial incident, he went up about 100 places in my estimation. You could see Mamma C and others were quite uncomfortable with what was happening, but were not prepared to put their game on the line. Moral failure of the first order; some things are bigger than the game, even Survivor - and I say this as a huge Survivor fan. Mike mentioned he'd been bullied as kid, and I'm sure his memory of that helped him respond.

It was a season of ups and downs for me. I loved that it was mostly superfans, and they played a pretty good game on the whole. Carolyn didn't get the props she deserved - and I felt like this reflected a bigger problem the producers have, despite consistent feedback from fans and the disasters of Colton (twice!), Brandon Hantz (who honestly, was into mental illness territory I reckon, grossly unethical an unentertaining) : they cannot resist focusing on superficial conflict driven by gigantic assholes - instead of the far more satisfying conflict that's driven by the game, intrapersonal relationships and and personal struggles and battles.

It wasn't just Dan, Will, Rodney and to a lesser degree Tyler. There was also Joaquin, and Dreamcatcher, whatever his name was with the feather in his hair. They still cast assholes and it sucks. They add nothing to the show, really.

I will say that the challenge designs are getting better and better. I love the multi-element challenges and that huge compass was spectacular. I'm excited about Cambodia, gratified that fan reaction against Dan et al was so uniform and so vociferous, and I enjoyed the two votes advantage.
posted by smoke at 1:09 AM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I will say that the challenge designs are getting better and better.

I started rewatching Australia yesterday and it's amazing how different the game is from when it started.

The challenges are more unusual but they're pretty simple. There's more setup (one of them was wild west escape themed, another was about rescuing a fake injured teammate and bringing them to the medical camp) and people were able to prepare for them. One of the things I loved, and that I wish they'd bring back because it's a really interesting thing to do, is that their tree mail says to build something and bring it with them for the challenge. Build a chicken coop. Build a stretcher. The stretcher was actually used in the challenge! Pretty neat. But then the challenges are over immediately because they're all pretty single task.

Probably the weirdest thing though is that everyone is friends.
posted by phunniemee at 6:56 AM on May 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, I don't know that it could possibly have been entirely intentional, but Mike won it when he forced the fire-making. I think Carolyn could have scored a lot more votes and possibly even won had she not taken an hour to make a fire. And he gave her a good hour of practice beforehand! Nothing makes you look less like a winner than taking that long to make fire.

The fact that it gave Rodney another chance to lose was just icing on the cake.
posted by graventy at 6:57 AM on May 23, 2015

Probably the weirdest thing though is that everyone is friends.

I take it you haven't gotten to the Kimmy and Alicia part yet?
posted by The Gooch at 5:33 AM on May 24, 2015

They stuck together, though. There wasn't any "ok I hate this person, what conniving can we do to get them voted out," at least none that we saw.
posted by phunniemee at 6:56 AM on May 24, 2015

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