Survivor San Juan Del Sur Recap
Episode 2

Method to This Madness

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

October 2, 2014

She isn't quite sure about the bandana.

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Previously on Survivor, those vile Anderson twins from The Amazing Race appeared and immediately started using the word “Twinnie.” We cannot be the only people in America who are not supervillains who wanted to throw them in a vat of acid. Alas, the next best thing occurred when one of them, we are vague on which, was voted out of the competition. As soon as the second one is treated similarly and John Rocker is shot out of a cannon, we can begin to take this season of Survivor seriously.

Unfortunately, the season preview indicated that Rocker is going to be around for a while, at least long enough to betray his girlfriend. Yes, this is a second season of blood versus water. And yes, Rocker’s impending betrayal is the most predictable thing on Survivor this season. He has the loyalty of Benedict Arnold but without the kicky American Revolution uniform.

Like the rest of the free world, we don’t like John Rocker. Until he is gone, the entire season of Survivor will be about Rocker, right up until the point during the live finale review where Jeff Probst makes some phantom claim that the former Atlanta Braves closer has redeemed himself in a way that only makes sense to Probst. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the same thing was attempted with Brandon Hantz, Colton the Racist, Tyson the moron and Coach the egomaniacal moron. Survivor casting is killing Survivor.


The good news for CBS is that the ratings do not yet reflect the damaging of the brand this season. There were 9.75 million viewers for the season premiere, which represents a slight uptick from last season’s 9.4 million debut. It is also an improvement from the finale’s 9.58 million, although perhaps we should not read so much into that. Last season, a horrific disaster from a gameplay and personality perspective, represents the first time in the history of Survivor than no single episode garnered at least 10 million viewers. Overall television viewing is in decline, of course, but Survivor’s consistent willingness to cast loathsome people for ratings continues to backfire dramatically. Why they stay the course on this issue is a mystery.

In terms of what we watched in the season premiere, this cast contains the usual group of hardbodies with personal issues, older people with something to prove and manipulators who are sporting permanent wood at the thought of playing Machiavelli on national television. Out of the 17 contestants, the one who seemed to understand game mechanics the most was Josh, who seemed to form alliances with everyone already. They went to him for advice on how to vote, a good sign for his long term candidacy.

Then, Josh did something quite strange by voting for Baylor when everyone else on his tribe chose between Dale and one of the evil twins. We are curious whether there is gameplay involved in that strategy or if he is already holding a grudge against someone. The latter scenario would be disappointing. Survivor players who feud with others rarely do well. Beyond Josh, there were not a lot of standouts thus far, but we did enjoy Wes the firefighter’s spelling attempts.

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