13. Micronesia: Fans vs. Favo(u)rites (Season 16) Rating: 5.75/10
“Besides our first season, word on the street is that this one is our best.” – Jeff Probst prior to reading the votes.
I was shocked when I first heard this. For me, this was a fairly predictable season. And before you say “yeah right Saunders, no way you can predict Erik giving up immunity!!!!111oneoneone” I have a little story to back that up. I was participating in a GameFAQs fantasy Survivor league where each week we had to predict who would win reward and immunity, who would be sent to Exile, who would have the first confessional, and who would be voted out. Typically I do pretty bad in these fantasy leagues. However, by the time Micronesia concluded, the host accused me publicly on the board that I was in possession of spoilers because of how many points I accumulated throughout the season. Ever since then I have rarely played in fantasy games.
So, anyways, may as well get into it.
Issues I had with this season:
1) The producers had a one night stand with a final three after James is medically evacuated. The game was lined up to be a final three right up through day 31, but then production decided to get a bit too close with it and suddenly their path for over the next eight days had significantly shifted. They were forced to change course and go with a final two for the endgame.
In the other twenty-one seasons of Survivor, whether it is a final two or a final three is known before the game even starts. So why is Fans vs. Favo(u)rites the lone exception? I think it’s because of there being an alliance of five against Erik. If they go with a final three, that means they have to wait until the end of episode 13 for the next Tribal Council, which will be EXTREMELY predictable if anyone other than Erik wins the challenge. Then they’ll head into the finale with an alliance of five who will only have two rounds of backstabbing until the end of the game. Not to mention the idol expires on day 36, so the idol drama is also evaporated if they skip a day 33 TC.
So, the producers decide to throw in a rushed elimination on day 33 and change it to a final two because they wanted to change everything that the Cook Islands endgame failed to do (the Aitu alliance doing very little backstabbing and an idol that never came into play). I hate the producers doing this because it’s a dangerous precedent for how much they can control what to do last-minute, and quite frankly, this is more infuriating than having a final three lined up from start to finish.
2) Quits, unofficial quits, medical evacuations, and unofficial medical evacuations. Considering Fairplay, Penner, Chet, Kathy, and James all fell to one of these categories, it’s tough to feel like a proper game of Survivor has been played when a quarter of the cast is removed one way or another from the game. And when a player like Jason makes it to the merge and doesn’t have a chance to make it to the end, you’re left with very few contenders in the game. The winner may have just won solely based because the people who targeted them were removed from the game, which leads me to….
3) Parvati is the luckiest winner in Survivor history. I thought she played very well in Cook Islands and Heroes vs. Villains. Sorry, had to get that statement out there before all of the Parv fans start yelling at me. It’s tough to credit Parvati with a proper win when she would’ve been gone first round if Fairplay didn’t quit, and Jonathan has said in several interviews that he was targeting her on Airai and claimed to have the numbers to oust her. Parvati claimed she would’ve still been in the game even if Jonathan had a plan to get her out on Airai. Unfortunately, we’ll never know who would have won this showdown, but it’s not satisfying at all when Jonathan and Kathy both had to leave making Parvati’s path much easier to get to the end. Perhaps only Amber can rival the amount of luck that resulted in a victory.
4) Idols are freakin’ easy to find. When production re-hides and idol on day 34, and idols expire on day 36, along with Parvati accidentally finding the last clue for it makes Exile a bit ridiculous post-merge.
5) Finale challenges were underwhelming. The staircase challenge had too much luck involved, and the final immunity should’ve re-used the challenge from Palau considering they were in the exact same location. A missed opportunity.
6) Ozzy’s idol, fake idol, and building up his exit took up too much time in the episodes. A storyline that starts in episode four and gets bashed over our heads for the next six episodes isn’t too much of a pay-off. Sure, it’s entertaining and Jason playing the worst fake idol in Survivor history was hilarious, but then you realize not a whole lot else was going on.
7) An idol being hidden back at camp. All idols except for one are hidden at Exile Islands. Doesn’t hiding an idol back at camp give somebody a huge advantage by simply proving “I don’t have it” when they return from Exile, and everyone can buy it because they assume the rules were supposed to be the idol had to be at Exile. Just a minor detail that has irked me.
8) For how much strategy they showed this season, it ended up being fairly predictable.
9) From episode two it takes until about episode nine for the season to pick up at all.
10) Episode eleven was like an inferior and unfunny version of Roger’s boot episode.
11) Ami’s talk of booting Ozzy pre-merge never amounted to anything.
Not a whole lot else to complain about this season.
Things I enjoyed about this season:
1) Good cast. One of the most over-the-top personalities for a cast on Survivor.
2) Joel and Chet’s relationship was hilarious. One of the best early short-term relationships in Survivor history. Anything like it never existed before and since
3) “It’s just a f***in stick!”
4) Amanda pulling off one of the biggest blindsides ever.
5) From the middle of episode nine until the end of episode ten is one of the best in Survivor history. Challenges, characters, and camp life combine for the climax of the season. The only downside is that the season digresses in quality as we head for the end, but this portion of the game makes up for it.
6) The opening forty-five minutes is one of the best in the series. Several great quotes from Mr. Fairplay, and showing the strange dynamic of the Fans tribe.
7) Tracy giving a lesson on how to rally from a 7-3 deficit on day two.
8) See Chet swim. See Chet pull a George of the Jungle and run into a tree numerous times. See Chet solve a puzzle.
9) Erik the Superfan being a focus throughout the season. People remember his downfall, but forget how much of a freakin’ roller coaster ride he had to get to day 36. For someone with very few elimination votes and being on the outside every couple rounds, he proved the importance of social skills in Survivor. He needs to return to Survivor someday.
10) Cirie showing that you can control the game back-to-back seasons even when people know of your original reputation. She may get rid of your favourite players, but my oh my she knows how to work this game.
11) Ami redeems herself and comes off in a much more positive light this go-around. The power of Survivor editing.
12) Eliza’s eyerolls. I don’t even have to go any further.
13) A bloated cast, yet they avoid doing a ridiculous double TC twist.
14) Having one person from each tribe go to Exile Island is by far the best Exile Island format they’ve ever had. With new alliances and relationships being built for post-merge, and the fact the idol won’t be found right away results in a very refreshing and intriguing gameplay. I wish they would continue this post-merge. And for whatever reason, they eliminated this structure in Gabon. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
When Probst introduces the twist, instead of saying “two people…one idol,” I always expect him to say “two people…one cup” just to see everyone have a WTF? expression on their face. Odd, I know.
15) Joel and Kathy’s exchange about Mary. “It’s Mary…It’s Mary…It’s Mary…It’s Mary…It’s Mary.” So freakin’ funny.