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Survivor: South Pacific – Who Will Go (to Redemption Island) in Episode 1?by William Hammon -- 09/14/2011
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It’s that time again, folks. As I emerge from the three-month narcoleptic waking coma that is Big Brother, it’s time for the latest edition of Survivor to get underway. We’ve got 16 new contestants as well as two notable returnees vying for a million dollars while all of us at home watch and dream.
But of course, it’s not enough to just watch the show. People like us, the super fans, have to make it very clear that we’re smarter than the people who actually get a shot at the big time. And part of that narcissistic need is this weekly column, where I dissect the visual evidence we’ve been presented on a week-to-week basis and try to figure out who will see their torch snuffed at Tribal Council before the episode actually airs.
Before we get to the good stuff, however, I have to lay out a few ground rules going forward. First and foremost, this is a SPOILER-FREE column. If you want to ruin the show for yourself by searching for leaks, that’s your prerogative, but I don’t want to hear about it. The point of this column is not to necessarily get it right every week. The point is to analyze the show as it progresses, as well as the preview material CBS gives us each week. If I come to a conclusion that turns out to be completely bogus, that makes it all the more fun. I’m trying to make an educated guess, not tell you how the season turns out before you watch the show.
Secondly, as South Pacific will be the second season to feature Redemption Island, the main focus of this column will be to predict who gets voted out of the tribe and sent there each week, not necessarily to judge who will be eliminated once the duels (or truels and quatruels when we get further along in the season) get underway.
As I learned last season, this can sort of throw a wrench into the prediction process. Every player has a story arc that encompasses their run on the show, even if it’s only for a couple of episodes. In that respect, players who seem to get a lot of face time and attention usually stick around for a while.
The advent of Redemption Island skewed that somewhat, as Matt was voted out second, but went on the sickest run in history to make it all the way to the finale. I saw enough of Matt to know that he’d be around for a while, and therefore had no way of knowing that he’d be physically voted out as early as he was. It’s just another way to make this at-home game more interesting.
Once the duels get going, I’ll at least venture a guess as to who will be eliminated from the game each week. However, that will be little more than an afterthought until we get close to the finale. The main focus each week will always be to determine who will have to drag their torch up to host Jeff Probst and hear the words that no one wants to hear: “The tribe has spoken.”
Third, I have a pretty set routine when it comes to the materials I will use to make my predictions each week. There are three basic areas where I will look for my evidence: the show itself (story arcs, imagery, noteworthy sound bites, etc.), CBS-approved textual previews (CBS’s official press release, TV Guide’s weekly preview), and video previews (Probst’s “Next time on… Survivor” end-of-episode preview and commercial promos). If you are aware of any other bits of preview material that are released by CBS (as in, not an independent review or spoiler) that I don’t use, feel free to let me know, and I may incorporate it into my analysis.
So, with all the fine print out of the way, let’s get to the fun, shall we? This is the first prediction of the season, and it’s also the most difficult, because we have almost nothing to go on. Obviously, there is no show yet, so we have no idea how the story arcs and individual edits will unfold.
However, in a break from previous seasons, we actually have the CBS Press Release as a pre-season resource. I’ll transcribe it for you here each week:
“The castaways have mixed reactions when Coach and Ozzy return for another chance to compete for the title of ‘Sole Survivor.’ The 16 new castaways have mixed reactions to the return of Coach and Ozzy, two of the game’s most memorable players, and an extremely close immunity challenge sparks debate for the losing tribe members in a combative Tribal Council.”
Normally, the first press release of the season reads like the first sentence-plus of what I just posted here. The producers and the network don’t like to give away too much before the season actually starts, so usually the first bit of text we get is just a brief overview of the season’s main twist, this time being the return of Ozzy and Coach. Last season it was the addition of Redemption Island and the return of Boston Rob and Russell. The season before, it was the idea of splitting the tribes by age and the addition of the Medallion of Power (yeah, remember that train wreck?).
Indeed, the TV Guide preview follows those exact lines, merely telling us what we already learned weeks ago when the cast was announced. As such, I will not waste your time by posting it here. This will be a common omission over the course of the season. While TV Guide is a useable source, I will only transcribe their text when they’ve got something to add to the proceedings. This happens about half the time.
In addition to limited text, we also have a truncated supply of video previews. Obviously, since the show hasn’t started yet, we don’t have any end-of-episode previews. As such, we can only rely on commercial promos that have hit the air over the course of the past couple of weeks. Thankfully, we have a litany of material from these videos to compensate.
The basic format of the videos is the same. A narrator pumps up the audience by yelling things like, “The island! The game! The twists!” and then we launch into a hasty montage of what appears to be the first immunity challenge set to the tune of “My Body” by the band Young the Giant (for once a reality show uses good music to advertise) with sound bites from various players peppered into different contexts depending on which version of the promo you’re watching.
Right off the bat, I’m throwing out anything concerning Coach or Ozzy. Even though the press release tells us twice that the tribes will have mixed reactions, that’s to be expected. If there weren’t going to be mixed reactions, there’d be no point to bringing them back. If everyone agreed, positively or negatively, about Coach and Ozzy’s presence in the game, it would completely defeat the purpose. The whole idea of “mixed reactions” is a red herring at best. If either one is targeted in the first episode, I’ll be shocked.1 2 Next-->
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