Survivor: Micronesia - Fans Vs Favorites
You Guys Are Dumber Than You Look
By Jim Van Nest
February 10, 2008

Hint: this is about to go very badly for Mr. Fairplay.

Hello, good people, and welcome to the first episode of Survivor: Micronesia - Fans vs. Favorites. Considering they put ten huge fans of Survivor in this season, I have to be honest, I'm more than a little surprised to be writing this recap right now. Seems like I should be waiting to see if the jury found me deserving of the million dollars, but I digress.

In an interesting twist, the 16th season of Survivor has picked ten former players and ten big fans of the show to compete as tribes against each other. They call the returning players "Favorites", and I think they use that term loosely. I mean really, was anyone just dying to see Eliza or Parvati again? I'll give you James, Yau Man, Ozzy and Cirie. They were hugely popular in their seasons. In the middle we have Jonathan, Ami and Amanda. I'm excited to see all three of these players because I think they all played a really strong strategic game and Jonathan and Ami come with tons of potential fireworks. With Amanda and James involved, we have the interesting angle of Amanda being the one who dumped James in China, so how well will they get along? Yau Man played the feeble old guy deep into the game and Ozzy relied on dominating challenges. Neither one of these guys is going to surprise ANYone this time around. Will they change up their game a bit or be early boots? There are a ton of interesting scenarios at play this time and I can't wait to see how they play out.

Huh? What? That's only nine favorites? Oh yeah, I totally forgot about the tenth returning player. Filling the role of the quiet reserved under-the-radar player is Pearl Islands Jon Dalton. Y'all may know him by his Reality TV name, Jonny Fairplay. In interviews I've seen with Fairplay and Probst, it has been made pretty clear that he is back for one reason only and that's to stir up trouble. And if everything we're hearing is true, he does not disappoint.

Playing against our returning Survivors are ten people that claim to be huge fans of the show. While I know little about them, what I do know is that we have a couple of guys who want to BE Ozzy. We have a fireman that's every bit as big as James. We have a few hotties, a couple goofballs and a golf course beer lady. Since they are fans, I can't wait to see how long it takes before their adoration of the "favorites" wears off and they start to really not like them.

So far we've been promised some twists, the return of Exile Island (which I hate), a couple show-mances, including one where some crafty camera work was done in order to catch some castaways in an intimate setting, more backstabbing than you can shake a stick at and someone taking away James's title as the person who's made the dumbest move in the history of Survivor.

Hopefully you're ready to go, because a group of Americans are beginning the adventure of a lifetime, being forced to live in tribes, build shelter, find food and get along all while playing a grueling game. You know the drill. 36 days...20 Survivor!

The show begins as most Survivor seasons do. Jeff is in a helicopter flying over the beautiful islands of Micronesia while two groups of Survivors are being brought to a common island. Jeff lets us in on the first twist of the game. The "fans" don't realize that they're playing against ten former Survivors. They think it's a normal season like all the others. That should add a nice element to the game. So, we pick up the actual show as the fans land on the island with Jeff Probst waiting for them.

We hear a few people tell us how big of fans they are. And Jeff then introduces the favorites one by one. As they come out one by one, you can see the fans are just so excited to see these players. Especially Ozzy, who gets the early vote for biggest ovation. Oddly enough, Jonathan gets a big ovation too. James gets a huge round of applause and Joel (the mountain of a firefighter) is very excited to take him on. The biggest ovation of all, though, goes to the little old man, Yau Man. There's a lot of Yau Man love going on out there. Jeff stops for a second to acknowledge that there are ten fans and nine favorites. So he brings out the last member of the favorites tribe with a bit more fanfare. I'm sure you know by now, it's Jonny Fairplay. And right away we have the first two things to make me laugh out loud. First, Fairplay comes out in an almost exact replica of the outfit Probst is wearing. And as he struts toward his tribe, Jeff quips, "Jonny Fairplay, who already looks intoxicated." After a little tit for tat between Jon and Jeff, we get to tribal stuff. Fans will be called Airai and they'll be wearing orange. Favorites will be Malakal and wearing purple. He explains that across the water on the beach are a couple boats. Inside these boats is a map to their camp. Also on that beach are two immunity idols. One for each tribe. The person that finds them keeps them, but they have to use them at their tribe's first tribal council.

So everyone takes off into the water with the lanky Leif Garrett look-alike Erik in the lead. He's one that is really looking forward to taking on Ozzy. Erik actually beat Ozzy and he's feeling pretty stoked about that. However, when they get to the island, they can't find the idol. Of all people, Fairplay is the only one thinking. He determines the idol must be in plain sight and, sure enough, it's right on the front of the boat, so he grabs it. Unfortunately for him, he grabbed the fans' idol, not his own. As Yau Man sees where the idol is, it's a race between the two. They get there at the same time and as they get to the boat, they both fall down and Fairplay's head bounces off the front of the boat and Yau comes away with the idol. Of course, that leads Jon to complain that even he wouldn't tackle someone into the side of the boat. Meanwhile, the fans' idol is just laying on the beach and Yau points it out to Kathy, the golf course beer vendor, and she quickly snatches it up.

With both idols found, the tribes begin their trek to their respective beaches. The first shown to land are the fans. As they introduce each other, we get to hear how excited they all are to be there and how bad they want to kick the favorite's ass. Tracy, our siliconed residential builder is disgusted by Fairplay being there. Chet, the gay pageant contestant trainer, says they have the advantage because they know how the others play. They we're introduced to Mikey B who breaks down his tribe better than I ever could, "It consists of Big Bird (Kathy), the southern princess (Alexis), we got the Incredible Hulk (Joel), we got Jon Bon Jovi in his prime (Jason) and then we got Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (Chet). Man, this is gonna be a crew, let me tell ya. It's on." Okay, I'll make it official right off the bat. I like Mikey B. He damn well better stick around for a while.

As people are still introducing each other, we get an earful of a conversation between Kathy and Chet. She points out the obvious, that Chet is gay. To Chet. She asks him if he prefers homosexual or gay. She actually asks him, "That doesn't mean you want to be a girl?" And I have to hand it to Chet, he takes it quite well. He plays it off like he completely understands and you know that he'd like to reach over and claw her eyes out. She continues to tell us that she could just tell he was gay. And she tells him that she's never had a gay friend before. Everyone in the area wants to crawl in a hole or something through all of this. But, wait. She's not done. There's more. Next we see is Crazy Kathy talking to Tracy and telling her how she's never seen someone with implants up close before. Are you frickin' kidding me? This has the rest of the tribe talking. And it's not good. Jason Bon Jovi tells us the tribe was bummed that Kathy found the idol, because they were all looking at her as the first boot.

Finally, we join the favorites coming to shore on their beach. They go straight to work finding a place for and building a shelter. Fairplay tells us that this time is different for him. Last time he was a single guy where =as this time, he has a seven months pregnant girlfriend at home and he's planning on bringing home some money for her. It takes them about two minutes of preparing materials for their shelter to notice how quickly James busts through the bamboo. Parvati is the first to notice it and Jonathan agrees that it's insane. James is appreciating how everyone is working on the shelter. Everyone is commenting on how much better it is this time that the last times they played. And in no time at all, a shelter is put together and Ozzy is finding food. These folks aren't messing around this time out. We get our first glimpse of Parvati telling us that she doesn't plan to be just a flirt this time around. Which leads us to a sweet segment I'll call, "Parvati is just a flirt." She and James are hanging out and she's making her move. She's decided he's the only guy to flirt with. James tells us that she's one of those sex kitten type girls and he likes her. Oh dear. James, my already own the title of the dumbest move ever in Survivor. Please tell me you're not going to continue your legacy on frickin' day one of Half ASS!!

Night falls at Malakal and we see another budding romance. Amanda and Ozzy are hanging out and she's telling him how he was one of her favorites. Eliza tells us that she already sees the bond between these two and she has also noticed that Parvati can't take her hands or eyes off James. She tells us that these possible show-mances make the four of them very dangerous.

As night falls on Airai, they have a makeshift shelter, but nothing too nice. The following scenes are just the storms rolling in and the tribe trying to stay warm and dry. Kathy tells us she's having a rough time with the weather. She's already in tears, on Night One. This lady is a piece of work. I can't imagine she'll make it through two votes.

We wake up with Malakal and Ozzy and Amanda are doing their cutesy thing. And James and Parvati are doing their cutesy thing. Meanwhile, the brains of this tribe, Jonathan, Yau Man, Ami and Eliza have determined that they need to stick together and while the others are playing the dating game, they have no idea that their fates just got sealed. Eliza tells us that while they have a tight alliance, they're very concerned about the sweetie foursome. As they discuss things, they decide to bring in a fifth. And who else would they want but Jonny Fairplay? While they're discussing this, Ozzy and Parvati have also approached Fairplay and they plan on booting out Eliza. Ozzy's a little worried about it, because Jon has his villain persona to live up to. Next thing we see is Fairplay telling the other crew that the two couples are a locked in alliance. He tells them that the plan is to dump Eliza. They begin to discuss who should go and they narrow it to Ozzy or Parvati.

Jonathan chimes in that Parvati has a way of manipulating people and the game in a way that Ozzy would never do, so she has to go. Jonathan tells us that he loves having Fairplay with him and he'd take him all the way to the end if he could. And in what could be the line of the night, Fairplay tells us, "I think it's insane that there are nine other of your favorite Survivors of all-time and they all believe what I say. Have you not watched this show before?"

Okay, I have to break from the recap for a second to point out that Fairplay is amazing. He's the most notorious player in the history of this game. He's a known liar and villain and he revels in that. Everyone knows they can't trust him. Naturally, he's the first target, right? No. Instead, Jonny Fairplay has the entire tribe (save Cirie) eating out of the palm of his hand. Everyone thinks he's with them and everyone believes he'll help them get the numbers. Are you kidding me? How did the most infamous player ever manage to put himself in the role of puppet master on frickin' Day Two?? How does this happen? Look, I hate Fairplay as much as the next guy, but you have to hand it to him. This early turn of events is nothing short of incredible.

We come back from break and Fairplay suggests that Yau Man should see if he can start a fire with his glasses, so naturally, he gets right to work on it. With a drop of water on a lens to magnify the sun further, he looks to be ready to go. We join the rest of the tribe taking a dip. They get called in real quick, though, to get some wood because Yau Man gets the fire started. With a nice shelter, lots of food and a fire to boil and drink water, everything seems to be rolling the favorites' favor right now. Let's see how things are with the fans.

Tracy and Chet are on their way to check Tree Mail. They're complaining about having nothing so far and they could use something. Tree Mail consists of a puzzle wheel in three pieces. Mikey B just knows that the favorites are not looking at them as competitors. He's fine with that. He likes the underdog role.

Probst sighting!!! As the two tribes come in, Jeff asks them how it's going. Eliza tells him how they've got a great shelter, fire and full bellies and are ready to go. Fairplay chimes in that he thinks he's actually gaining weight out there. Jeff asks Joel if he believes any of that and he quickly answers no, but that it doesn't matter what they're doing, only who wins the challenges.

Let's get to describing this challenge. It's a long one, so bear with me. They'll start by putting together four puzzle wheels. Once assembled, they'll be put on a cart. This cart will be pushed through a series of obstacles until they get to a sandpit. Once at the pit, they'll dig out a stack of planks. These planks will be used to complete a bridge to push the carts over. Once over the bridge, they'll get to the final puzzle, where they'll need to disassemble their wheels and use the pieces to complete a turnstile puzzle. Once completed, they will turn the turnstile to raise up a fire wok to light the top of the platform. First tribe to do that wins immunity and flint for fire. Got all that? Good. Survivors ready?

The tribes take off and the Fans figure out the wheel puzzles in a flash. The Favorites are having a really hard time with it. As Joel takes off pulling the cart, the Favorites are struggling. Joel is a madman, he just destroys the obstacles. He has help, but Joel is just a one man wrecking crew. The favorites finally get their cart together and as James and Jonathan bring them back in it, they completely wipe out over a tree root and Eliza takes a pretty hard shot to her face. Meanwhile, the Fans are digging out the planks. As the favorites get to the sand pit, the Fans begin building their bridge. As the Favorites dig, Erik throws sand in the hole they're digging. (Very nice.) As Eliza checks her eye, the rest of the tribe is catching up on the bridge. The Fans make it to the turnstile first, but the favorites are right behind. Unfortunately for the Favs, it's just too little, too late as the Airai tribe of fans has won the first immunity challenge.

We join a dejected Malakal tribe as they get back to camp. Jonathan tells us that the fans are so excited and enthusiastic and they had more heart out there. The tribe all gets together to discuss how much better they'll be because of this loss. Fairplay tells us that he can go either way right now and totally change up the game. He's not sure what to do. We join Fairplay and Parvati on a walk. He tells her about how much he misses his girlfriend and his little girl. He tells us in a teary confession that he just can't stop thinking about them. He tells Parvati that he's actually thought about asking to go. Parvati suggests that he should just fake like he wants to go, to distract the other alliance. The next thing we see is Fairplay and Ami on the beach. He's telling her that he's just not in the game. She asks him if she can talk him into staying and he tells her no. She then tells us and the rest of her alliance that she's concerned that he's playing them. As they prepare for Tribal Council, Ami is on her guard and fully expects Fairplay to start some trouble.

Jeff starts with Fairplay. He asks him how it went with all of them having experience. Jon answers honestly, "Cake." They have a great shelter, plenty of food. He says their problem was probably overconfidence. He then asks Eliza how reputations are factoring into the game. She says that no matter what people say now, what they've done in the past is well remembered. Probst goes back to Fairplay and asks him about his reputation being the worst of all. Jon says that he thinks everyone was a bit surprised by the real Jonny Fairplay and that he thinks for the most part they all trust him. He then goes on to talk about the baby on the way again and that all he can think about is whether he's being a crappy dad for even being there. Probst points out that he's not a dad yet. He says that's true but he's *this* close to being a dad. He says that what you hear is true, having a child changes you and he had no idea he would start to feel that way when he got here. He's as surprised as anyone. Jeff asks him if he wants to go home or is he just having a bad day. Jon says that he doesn't know, really. Last time he learned how to be an ass, maybe this time he's learning how to be a good dad.

Jeff moves to Yau Man and asks him why he's smiling. Yau says that his first reaction to this is, "What's the scheme?" He asks Ozzy if it's just a case of Fairplay not being able to hack it and it being much tougher than he remembered. Ozzy says definitely not. Jon interrupts telling Jeff he can say whatever he wants, but this isn't an act and that this wasn't supposed to be this hard. Probst moves on to Jonathan and asks him what he thinks. He says that he thinks he's asking the tribe to vote for him. Probst is still not buying it. He says the last time he saw him cry on this show it was about a dead grandma who was at home watching the show. He suggests that this is a quit. Jon quickly denies that it's a quit. He asks Eliza if it's a quit. She says no because she's still not 100% certain he's going home. And with that, it's time to vote.

We see Jonathan's vote for Fairplay because he asked him to. We then see Yau Man's vote for Fairplay offering parental advice. When all is said and done it is 9-1 against Fairplay. It's really kind of weird. I fully expected Fairplay to be the first one out. But no way did I see this coming. I never thought I'd see the entire tribe actually liking/respecting Fairplay and giving him the mercy vote. The last act of Jonny Fairplay on Survivor is to ask Jeff for a hug before he leaves. Jeff obliges and sends them back to camp.

Next time on Survivor: Joel is getting fed up with the work ethic at the fans camp. Crazy Kathy is ready to leave. Exile Island is back, but with a twist. Probst is heard saying two people, one idol. And one Survivor couple gets hot and heavy. And we get a quickie shot and that couple is Ozzy and Amanda. Like Jonathan said, "Go get a hotel room."

Before I sign off, I'd like to offer my condolences to the families of the folks that were shot and killed in Kirkwood, Missouri on Thursday night. I'm sure most of you don't know this, but I live in St. Louis so this was basically in my back yard. There's not a lot to say about a senseless act of violence but to offer sympathies and prayers to the victims and their loved ones at this absolutely horrible time. This is the type of tragedy that when it happens in your neighborhood can rock you to your very core and that's what this did for me. So, if you're the praying type I'd really appreciate it if you could add a couple in there for the victims of this horrible tragedy. Thanks so much. Until next week, take care.