Survivor: Caramoan - Reunion
By Ben Willoughby
May 15, 2013
Previously on Survivor, Cochran won. That - and who Boston Rob is - is about all you need to know. You certainly don’t need to know the names of anyone who didn’t make the jury.
Before I get into recapping the reunion, I should assess the season. Obviously this wasn’t a great season of Survivor. Many of the “favorites” were cast because they were bad at Survivor. That should have made things even with the fans, who in the last fans vs. favorites season were just fresh meat.
However, many of the “fans” were cast despite not really knowing that much about the game. I’m not singling out Reynold as being particularly egregious (for once), but in post-game interview he said he was approached in the street and asked if he would like to be on the show. That's not a “fan” who has studied the game. The “favorites” had more authentic fans of the game – like Malcolm and Cochran – than the “fans”.
There’s broad agreement that casting was a problem this season, highlighted by annoying returnees like Brandon and Phillip who wanted to further their careers outside of the show than actually try to win the game. But I’m also persuaded by a theory from Jim, who has also recapped the show for Box Office Prophets and believes that Shamar was the reason the season sucked so heavily.
Imagine if there was no Shamar, and they cast someone useful instead. The “fans” wouldn’t have had this divisive person who made them more miserable and kept them from coming together in challenges. They would have been able to build themselves up as a team and been more competitive against the “favorites”. The “favorites” would have been had to vote out some of their own, and they wouldn’t have dominated at the tribe switch or the merge. It would have made for a much more interesting and more watchable season.
Instead, we had dominant “favorites”, which made this a predictable season. Even without the unwatchable antics, it was certainly the slowest start to a Survivor season ever. Sure Probst said that the Brandon tantrum in Episode 5 was where everything turned around, but Probst lies! It was not until Episode 8 (out of 13) when Corinne was voted off that the game became watchable.
And while those episodes were strong, they were also predictable. Here’s the formula: the underdog alliance would approach who they thought was on the bottom of the majority alliance, the majority alliance held firm and voted out another of the minority. There was never that “anything could happen” Tribal Council craziness with multiple people changing their alliances at each vote. It was more like a poker game where both sides went all in and then revealed their cards.
The finish of the season felt just as predictable. Soon, the only players left were people who had had largely negative edits like Dawn, Eddie and Sherri, people who had no edit like Brenda and Erik, and Cochran on his own talking about strategy and how much he enjoys being on Survivor. Watching the show, it seemed hard to believe anyone but Cochran could win, especially with the momentum he achieved in the final days.