What the hell is 2008 Emmy Award winner Jeff Probst doing on top of a giant mountain? How did these random Doctors, Lawyers, Smash Brothers Champions, and Olympians appear out in the middle of a grassland in the African jungle? Is that Bill Nye the science guy trying to make fire? Welcome to Survivor Gabon: Earth's Last Eden!
This review / random compiling of thoughts may be a little long for some, but don't blame me! The episode was a 2 hour double feature; I have a tough time staying focused on anything for that long myself.
The short review is simply put:
Kota is badass, enough said. Marcus and his "Onion Layers" alliance (two form the inner circle, add on other players as the next layer to the core alliance) is already looking like a winning strategy. Corinne, Jacquie, and Charlie all look like solid players that can hang well into the game despite twists and turns. Aside from strategy I already can't help but love Bob, the physics teacher, and Paloma even though we haven't even seen that much of them. Unless there's an extreme plot / tribal twist ahead (and there always is) this is a group that's going far in the game.
At the other side, holy crap Fang is sending out some seriously negative vibes. Their lack of direction and awkward chemistry between players makes me tense every time they show what's going on around camp. If this tribe continues to flounder we're probably going to be seeing a lot of Fang in the coming episodes, and that is a bit annoying to think about. It's never fun to watch one team get "Pagonged" * every week..
Just because some aspects of Fang are hopelessly terrible doesn't mean there aren't some redeeming ones. Danny looks like a strong player, as does Matty. Randy may piss off some viewers because of his "watch other people crash and burn" attitude, but I can relate to his position especially considered the tribe he's in. Ken is a hilarious character just to watch and I hope he can make it out of his tribe alive and make it to the merge.
I'm not even going to touch that whole "we need a tribe leader" thing. Like Randy I'm staying out of it and it's pretty clear that GC was way too young to be the leader. It was a case of mistaking eagerness as leadership. Leaders notoriously become targets because of the conceived power and influence they hold and oftentimes to be a leader in Survivor is to be marked for execution most of the time (although I thought Tom from Palau should be noted as an exception to this concept).
Michelle (the first boot) initially surprised me. Taken, she had a terrible attitude both in the game and in her post-game interviews, but she could have contributed well to the tribe when it came to the challenges. My guess (seeing as I wasn't there) is that Michelle's negativity combined with being an outcast (being picked last, staying close with Ken, attacking people at Tribal council) outweighed her tribal worth and in that regard I think they made a good decision. Gillian being out second was a pretty standard Survivor early boot ("get the old out first") and didn't really surprise me as much. I'm sure she enjoyed her free vacation in Africa, and at least she got to dig around in elephant dung on national television. She seems like a sweet person from what I saw.
Right away we had an injury that was worthy of the medical team! We're one episode into the season and Randy gashes his friggin' head open while moving around at night. He was ultimately fine (and now has an awesome head-bandage) but leaving the game for something as pointless as an injury is just ridiculous. It's just not worth it to be careless out there. When we were in Micronesia I recall someone asking one of the natives, "Do we need to have our shoes to go hunt crabs?" to which the islander responded, "It's your feet!" When you're in a survival situation you take your own health entirely in your hands. The tiniest injury can cost you the game and plenty of past Survivors know this lesson all too well.
I was initially surprised by how easy things are for this group of castaways. They have a bag of rice, something I would have killed for in Micronesia. As they approached their new tribal camps we got to see that there were huts already made for them and a nice little boat dock. WHAT the hell?
At first I was kinda pissed, but then realized there are two things to take into account with the "luxuries" the Gabon Survivors received. First, there are crazy animals walking around and most likely the huts are there strictly for protection (if you recall in the third season, Survivor: Africa, the tribes had an already constructed thorn wall for protection against wildlife as well). Secondly, seeing as Gabon is an entirely new location for Survivor (unlike many seasons that filmed in repeated geographic regions of Palau, the Pacific Ocean, and Panama) producers may be unsure about how easy it is for castaways to live off the land there. They may have given the tribes a little extra luxury just so nobody dies of starvation, animal attack, or exposure. Better to be safe than sorry.
I'll be back next week to report on episode two, which is at its regularly scheduled time of Thursday at 8pm. The third Reward challenge has been exceptionally brutal in the past couple seasons, and this upcoming episode looks like more of the same. Something about hanging onto a wooden post for as long as you can while others try and pry you loose? I dunno, I saw it on a preview somewhere.
Take it easy guys,
*Note: "Pagonging": voting out the members of the opposing tribe one by one, consecutively, and with no mercy. Term derived from the Pagong tribe of Survivor Borneo, in which the opposing Tagi tribe outnumbered Pagong members and therefore eliminated the smaller tribe easily. Also see "Ulonging".
It is GREAT to have an inside eye on this season's Survivor! Keep it up!