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'Survivor: Caramoan' Recap: Episode 2

Reid Nakamura |
February 20, 2013 | 11:46 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

 Caramoan" (CBS)
Caramoan" (CBS)

When “Survivor” last used the Fans vs. Favorites format in “Survivor: Micronesia,” it led to one of the best seasons the show has ever had. “Micronesia” had all the elements in place: great characters, fun challenges, and excellent strategy. Ten seasons later, “Survivor” is trying to recreate the magic. Can the ten returning players and ten die-hard fans of the show make this season as compelling as “Micronesia” was? Jeff Probst thinks so, but we’ll have to watch and find out.

Last week Francesca made history, being the only contestant to be voted out first two times. You could call it sad that the woman who came to prove she could last longer than three days was sent home on day three, but you also call it amusing. She has Dawn and Cochran to thank for her new legacy. The two “Survivor: South Pacific” veterans ended up as the swing votes who got to choose between sending home Francesca or Andrea from “Survivor: Redemption Island.” Maybe it was strategically in their best interest. Or maybe they just thought it would be funny. Who can say, really?

In either case, Brandon Hantz was not happy. This week’s episode picked up after the end of last week’s tribal council. Brandon, also of “Survivor: South Pacific,” rages at Dawn because her vote sent home his ally. Not known for his composure, Brandon brings Dawn to tears and continues to rant at anyone who will listen long after she walks away. Intercut with plenty of rat imagery, Brandon proclaims that he is ready to play the game “Russell Hantz-style.” You know, “DIR-TEE.” He goes on to say he can feel Russell’s blood “running through [his] body like a wave.” Their actual blood relation makes this pronouncement no less disturbing. The true highlight of his little moment comes when he gives the producers the title of this episode by comparing himself to a honey badger. And I think we all know what he means by that. Sort of.

By the morning Brandon has calmed down and confesses his maniacal plan to sabotage his entire tribe to Cochran. Remorseful music plays in the background and everything seems resolved. That is, until Phillip comes over and compares his relationship with Brandon to that of a CEO and “mid-management.” In an instant Brandon is fuming again, calling Phillip “the Pink Panther” (Funniest thing he’s ever said. Hands down) and looking to turn the rest of the tribe against him. Careful, Brandon. Unpredictability becomes a liability quickly in “Survivor.”

At the challenge Jeff announces this is a combined reward and immunity challenge. Not only are the survivors playing for immunity from tribal council, but they’re also playing for fishing gear. He then goes in to great detail, listing all of the tools they could win as triumphant music plays in the background. As a viewer who would gain next to nothing from a basket of fishing gear, this moment falls a little flat. Even the survivors look like they’d rather see a basket of cheeseburgers. Fishing gear is useful, just not that exciting.

The challenge is a very solid one, but ultimately not that exciting either. The Bikal tribe of returning players takes an early lead and holds on to it until the end. No amount of editing can overcome the advantage of experience, it just isn’t that close. The Favorites come into the game with knowledge of how to approach a challenge as a team, while the Fans, no matter how many they’ve seen on TV, just can’t pull it together to compete in a systematic, intentional way.

Back at Bikal’s camp everyone is in high spirits because they don’t have to send anyone home. In some good ol’ fashioned “Survivor” comic relief Phillip assigns code names to everyone in his alliance, a revival of “Stealth ‘R Us” from his first season, “Redemption Island.” As a really excellent “Survivor” version of spy music plays in the background, he informs us that he is “The Specialist,” Cochran is “The Intelligence Attaché,” Andrea is “The Eliminator,” Corinne is “The Dominatrix,” and Dawn is “True Grit.” A truly special moment from a truly special man.

At Gota, the Fans are markedly less cheerful. After debating what went wrong in the challenge, they come to the conclusion that no one is willing to listen to one another. While they definitely need a leader, their problem doesn’t seem to be too many chiefs. Gota is a tribe completely lacking any chiefs, none of them are willing to take the responsibility and the risk of being a leader.
When it comes to deciding who to vote for, the self-dubbed “cool kids” foursome of Eddie, Reynold, Allie, and Hope immediately know who they’re sending home. Reynold isn’t happy with Shamar’s attitude and thinks he needs to go. Shamar is lazy and childish and where Reynold comes from, that is NOT acceptable.

However, the rest of the tribe aren’t so eager to please the “cool kids,” or as Laura calls them, “the pretty people.” Sherri, a killer Sandra Bullock look-a-like, thinks that while Shamar may be lazy, he is someone she could easily control. She plans to save Shamar and rallies the rest of the tribe to her cause. The “cool kids” seem to sit confidently as the remaining six players collude to send one of them home. They don’t SEEM to care that six votes is more than four, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume more counting occurred than what we saw.

At the last minute Reynold, the sly fox that he is, decides to go looking for a hidden immunity idol. He immediately finds one, because that’s just how “Survivor” works now, and declares his plan to keep it a secret. Unfortunately for him, he fails and Laura immediately recognizes the bulge it’s creating in his pocket.  Fortunately for him, she inexplicably decides to keep this major development from the rest of her alliance.

That is, until tribal council when she half reveals it and forces Jeff to try and drag it out of her. At this point Reynold decides that maybe the “Oh no, what do I do?!” written across his face may have given him away. He pulls the idol out of his pocket and announces that he plans to play it and “be done with it.” Of course the “I hope they all believe this!” written across his face may have given him away. Reynold isn’t a great liar.

His feint may have worked, but no one was planning on voting for him anyway, so it didn’t really matter. The vote ends up four for Shamar and six for Allie. And in an instant the non-entity is out of the game. Will anyone really miss her? Reynold might, but that’s about it.

What did you think about this week’s episode? Does this season look like it’ll be as great as "Micronesia?" Will you remember Allie’s name tomorrow morning?

Reach Staff Reporter Reid Nakamura here.



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