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Survivor: Philippines - Preview Part I

Meet the Castaways

By Ben Willoughby

September 11, 2012

A bunch of people we will despise three months from now.

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This season, Survivor moves from a location we have seen four times already to a place they haven’t been to before – Caramoan, in the Phillipines. And they will be mixing things up even more, with three tribes, which hasn’t been tried since the first All-Stars season, and wasn’t exactly riveting at the time. There are also returning castaways, which has been done many times, but never with players that were medically evacuated. If Survivor really wanted to mix things up, they should bring back some female players, which only ever gets done in seasons where nine or more players return.

I'm also mixing things up is this column, as this is my first time writing about Survivor. I’ve been watching the show since Season 1, though I have missed an occasional season and I would never want to compete on the show because I know I would be horrible. To give you an idea of my personal prejudices about Survivor and the types of players I like and dislike, here are some of my opinions on key aspects of the game:

  • Winning individual immunity is the most over-rated part of Survivor. Winning immunity is not a strategy. It is a back-up plan for when things go pear-shaped. The best Survivor players never have to win an immunity challenge, because they are already protected through their social game.

  • My favourite part of each season is the inevitable collapse of the alliance of pretty and entitled young people who aren’t good at simple math. “What do you mean their five votes beats our four? Those guys are wimps!”




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  • At least once a season, Probst informs Tribal Council that “Survivor is about big moves”. Survivor is really about making the right moves. That can involve big moves that make you look like a mastermind, but it mostly comes from a lot of little moves, like making the right alliances and convincing people to go against their interests. Probst is goading the more gullible castaways into making a big move, because it makes good television. So please continue with your incorrect statements, Probst!

  • Lying and breaking promises is a part of the game. Even if you “swear on your children's lives” or “give your word as a Christian man," there are always fingers crossed, because it’s Survivor. If someone says to you “Will you swear to me on your mother’s grave?”, the only acceptable response is to say immediately “I swear on my mother’s grave,” because if you hesitate that person will vote you out. One corollary to this is that castaways should not take it personally when people lie to them or break their promises. It is acceptable to get them back at them for lying by, say, telling the other castaways that person is a liar, or voting for the other guy at the Final Tribal Council. But whining to the camera or in your Final Tribal Council speech that the person is a liar and a cheat and has no morals makes you a whiner.

  • “Flying under the radar” and “riding coat-tails” are valid strategies to win. If you can put up with over-bearing chucklenuts for 39 days, have the patience to let them think they are playing you and leave the jury with no option but to vote for you, you deserve that million dollars. It doesn’t make riveting television, but it’s part of Survivor.



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