'Survivor: Nicaragua' How to Fix the Season
Ben Watson
Ben Watson
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
Normally on Monday's and Tuesday's I post my Power Rankings for the La Flor and Espada tribes. Since not much changed on the Espada end, and only NaOnka really moved up a spot on La Flor (what can I say, she has the idol), it didn't make much sense to rank the tribes this week. However, at the end of last week's painful episode we caught a glimpse of good things to come. It looks like this week's installment, "Turf Wars" promises to switch things up a bit. So instead of doing Power Rankings this week (look for the new and improved rankings next week) I thought I would offer up some ideas on how Survivor can salvage this season.

I've been watching Survivor for the last ten years and like any long-term relationship, things can get stale if not treated properly. Two seasons ago, Samoa injected much needed vitality into the series, and then the whole Heroes vs. Villains season brought the series back to life. Entering into Nicaragua I was as excited for the series as I have ever been, but quickly into the season Nicaragua lost its mojo, and if the show wants to be back on top, they need to make some changes, quickly.

Ditch the Older vs. Younger Gimmick

I'm sure this was a great idea on paper, but in actuality, dividing the tribes by age has turned out to be a major blunder. Not only is the Espada tribe inept in challenges, the two tribes are so severely lopsided and there hasn't really been a challenge with any amount of suspense since week two.

Survivor has done this before, in Fiji they divided the tribes into Haves and the Have-nots; the results were disastrous. The Haves, with their food, shelter and comforts, won just about every challenge leaving the Have-nots to almost wither away completely.

I'm convinced the MOP was introduced to give the older tribe a fighting chance in challenges but so far even with practice, Espada is doomed. If Espada hadn't used the MOP in week two, they'd be 0-4 in challenges for sure.

Jeff Probsts tried to sell this season as a contest between wisdom and vitality. Unfortunately, wisdom isn't winning the challenges for Espada.

More than One Challenge an Episode

I blame the off pacing and slow start to this season on the fact that in four weeks we have only seen one challenge per episode. One of the most exciting aspects of Survivor is the challenges, and this season we are getting screwed. Instead of having a reward challenge and an immunity challenged the show has combined them and the results have been anything but exciting.

I understand that you can't wear out the older tribe too quickly but there has to be a way to have challenges that implore wisdom over strength. Producers should design challenges that fit the strengths of both tribes so that Espada has a glimmer of a chance in this game.

Spend Enough Time with Both Tribes

Another downside to the combo challenges is that we end up spending the last half hour of the episode with the losing tribe. So in four episodes we have spent a considerable amount of time with Espada, leaving La Flor as somewhat of a mystery. 

Becuase we have spent so much time with Espada it's hard to have any real connection to anyone on La Flor. The La Flor tribe has been reduced to a few stereotypes and arc characters but that is about it. All we really know about La Flor is: NaOnka's nuts, Fabio is flighty, Brenda is in charge, Chase is a pushover, Kelly B. has one leg and that is about it.

Survivor: Nicaragua isn't a complete loss but if not treated properly it could turn into as forgettable a season as Thailand. And 21 seasons in, Survivor may not be able to weather that kind of a storm.

I have faith the show will self-correct, but what do you think Survivor fans? Do you think the mix up is what the show needs or is it fine how it is? Sound of below and let me know if you agree of if I'm completely crazy.

(Images courtesy of CBS)