Articles for Survivor Season 19

So, here we go again--another batch of castaways, another isolated corner of the world, and another 39 days of politics, or romance, or both.  Survivor: Samoa, in this case, has 20 of them, split in a couple of tribes, and a lot of big things to work on at the very beginning.The very first decision is, of course, choosing each tribe‘s leaders.  I spotted the first three minutes through the folks at Entertainment Weekly, and it seems these chiefs will represent their respective tribes during crucial moments, at least according to Jeff Probst himself.  And that‘s where first impressions come in--they all have to make that decision quickly.  Read more »
I think you can pretty much tell how I‘ll kick off Survivor: Samoa.  Twenty castaways, thirty-nine days, and a hell lot of politics.  Or sheer evil.  I dunno.Things start the moment they arrive to shore.  The two tribes--Foa Foa in yellow, and Galu in purple--have to choose tribal chiefs based on first impressions.  The yellows give it to Russell, "the better-looking Lennox Lewis", who‘s dead worried about being the first target.  The purples give it to Mick, who seems successful in letting his being a surgeon come across.  Read more »
I‘m crestfallen. Last night on Survivor: Samoa, Marisa Calihanbecame the first person voted out of the Foa Foa tribe. Russelltargeted her because she admitted she was "leery" of him, and as JeffProbst read the votes she reminded me of the horse in The Neverending Storysinking into the Swamp of Sadness. Every time Jeff read a vote forAshley, Marisa seemed relieved to learn the whole thing was a mistake.Then he read a vote for her and her mouth became a child‘s zigzaggingmagic marker line. I wanted to jump off the couch and shout "No! Spareher! Vote me off instead!" Unfortunately I wasn‘t playing.  Read more »
Survivor: Samoa is just an episode old, and already we have someone to watch out for--or, maybe, you could blame it on CBS promoting the hell out of Russell Hantz, better known as "small Russell" on my recaps, better known as "evil incarnate" to everyone else.I mean, who in his right mind would finish off an entire tribe‘s water supply to make them cranky and easier to manipulate?  Read more »
Last night on the premiere of Survivor: Samoa, Marisa Calihan, thecollege student from Cincinnati, Ohio competed with a rare combinationof fiery passion and icy poise. But she made a critical mistake whenshe questioned why her supposed ally, Russell Hantz, was running aroundtalking privately with each member of the tribe.    Read more »
Just one week into Survivor: Samoa, and already we have an villain figure in oil company owner Russell Hantz.  Well, we‘ve had villain figures from week one of most Survivor seasons, but... do I have to go into detail again?  Water, socks, and kicking Marisa off based on what he thought was a threat towards his survival.  ‘Nuff said.The debate is, of course, still going on--for me, what got me against him was the way he manipulated everybody to kick Marisa off--and tonight, expect more fuel for that proverbial bonfire, preferably the sort from Rusty‘s oil rig.  Judging from the sneak peek at the end of last week‘s episode, it seems he‘ll be at it again, eliminating one, after another, after another, and so on, and so on...  Read more »
Last week on Survivor: Samoa, pudgy Russell flexed his muscles, orchestrating Marisa‘s exit from Foa Foa purely on the power of persuasion--or, perhaps, his belief that she‘s threatening him.  This week, it‘s pretty much the same.  Or maybe not.First off, I might as well call this Survivor: Foa Foa, for everything that‘s happening seems to be over there.  I mean, last week and this week?  Well, there‘s Yasmin getting used to living in the outdoors.  But I warned you. Read more »
I think I mentioned it on last night‘s recap: Survivor: Samoa‘s been all about Foa Foa for the past couple of weeks.  In fact, the only Galu castaways that I can think of at the top of my head are Shambo and Russell.  Surely not a good thing, right?Understandably, because Foa Foa is so messed up right now.  Consider Betsy‘s elimination.  It‘s simply because she‘s older than the rest, sure--and older people don‘t usually perform well in challenges.  I mean, just look at Mike, although that went perilously close to a worst-case scenario.  Read more »
Last night on Survivor: Samoa, Mike Borassi, the 62-year-old personalchef from Marina del Ray, California, was evacuated from the game.After trying hard to prove himself in the Schmergenbrawl challenge hecollapsed twice from the exhaustion and dehydration.  Mike hadoriginally been chosen to compete on Survivor: Tocantins but had beenremoved hours before the game for medical reasons. Mike has sincereported that he was fine an hour later, but not until after he hadbeen removed from the game. When I talked with Mike earlier today he told me about his culinarytraining, how his football training prepared him for theSchmergenbrawl, what inspired him to grow a pointy beard, why he reallyvoted off Marisa and whether he would have preferred to compete inTocantins.  Read more »
An exceptional number of online fans are vowing they‘re going to stopwatching this season. Judging from the ratings, maybe some have. Alittle ‘Big Oil‘ king who makes a mockery of Hurricane Katrina? Aviolent, sexist country boy who thinks he‘s an "outlaw"? Fans ofquality television are outraged by this muckraking and they‘re going toturn on The Vampire Diaries instead.Don‘t expect me to join you.  This season is one of the best of alltime. Normally you‘d expect to see a guild of LA bartenders and modelscomplaining about how hard it rained last night. The guys would bescratching their butts and struggling to make a shelter. Somebody wouldsolve a puzzle very slowly and after some blah blah strategy talk acouple of very serious TV game show strategists would vote aforgettable bikini model off the island. Read more »
Betsy Bolan, who struggled with substance abuse before becoming apolice officer at the age of 47, was a very relatable contestant.Though she never seemed to find her strategic footing, she brought anurturing spirit and a well earned wisdom to the show that added warmthto an otherwise gritty cast. But last night Ben accused Betsy of beinga bad cop and blew her away with an imaginary pistol. The others joinedhim in voting her off as a liability even though she never appeared tostruggle in the challenges.When I talked with Betsy earlier today she told me whether her wildyouth impacted her decision to become a police officer, whether she wasespecially disappointed in the women for siding with Ben, howsuccessful Mick and Liz were in hiding their professional success andhow hard she found it to keep her frustrating island experience fromher family.  Read more »
Survivor: Samoa is shaping up to be much about the annoying people and the annoyed people.  And that‘s just one tribe.  Now, anyone‘s got an idea about what will happen on the other side?Now I realize the beauty of having two Russells on the show: the ambiguity it brings.  You see, tonight‘s episode is called "It‘s Called A Russell Seed", and it could mean either the small, bald Russell at Foa Foa, or the dreadlocked, big Russell at Galu.  And things are bound to happen in both tribes, it seems: it‘s just a matter of figuring out what happens to which.  Read more »
Last week on Survivor: Samoa, Russell half-orchestrates Betsy‘s elimination, but it‘s Ben who gets to the hot seat with his attitude.  This week, thankfully, isn‘t really a one-tribe show.  I guess patience really pays--a lesson that both tribes, it seems, are learning, or getting to grips with.Foa Foa is still reeling after Betsy being voted out instead of Ben.  Jaison wants him out, calling him a "mental plague" on the tribe.  Ben, on the other hand, thinks everyone are "pansies", claiming that the tribe can‘t start a fire, much less survive, without him.  And of course, there‘s Russell, claiming he‘s the only one playing the game, but we can toss him aside for now. Read more »
The big story on Survivor: Samoa this week, of course, is Ben finally getting eliminated--and I‘m happy, because it‘d be a shame to see Jaison walk just because he couldn‘t stand him.  But I won‘t be talking about that.  Instead, I‘ll be talking about the tribe that, according to Jeff Probst‘s pretty funny intro montage, is full of "sunshine and rainbows": Galu.The fact that we haven‘t heard much about the purples is down to the fact that everything is going well in that tribe.  It seems like the surprisingly perfect scenario for any Survivor contestant: you get along with your tribemates, you find resources quickly, and you win immunity most of the time that you don‘t have to worry about angling for your continued existence in the game.  Read more »
Afterlasting just three episodes 28 year old Ben Browning, the mixologistoriginally from Kirksville, Missouri, may be the most controversialSurvivor contestant of all time. Or perhaps controversy would haverequired Ben to have a lot of fans defending him. So far I have yet tofind one. Ben became the first contestant ever ejected from achallenge after taking out Russell Swan‘s leg from behind, laterremarking he didn‘t know he was playing by Jeff Probst‘s "sissy rules."The self-proclaimed ‘outlaw‘ used derogatory language towards women onseveral occasions and called Yasmin "ghetto trash" on the verge ofbecoming a prostitute. But remember, he doesn‘t start arguments. Hejust ‘reacts.‘ Whether or not he will be missed, Ben will be remembered.  Read more »
When Jeff Probst read the votes last night I got so worked up shoutingat the TV that my Tivo is recommending I watch episodes of Doctor Phil.In real life the good guys don‘t always win. But when they do - whenthe real bad guys of the world get punched in the face like a kids‘pop-up punching bag - it‘s a beautiful thing. The human drama is back.Survivor is socially relevant again and it has never, ever been moreintense.  At Tribal Council Ben put his Hummer-sized male ego on the line againstJaison‘s deeply held convictions. Ben seems to live every moment of hislife in the present tense, as though there‘s no consequences toanything he says, and anything that happened in the past is completelyirrelevant. Jaison is no quiet bookworm. He‘s courageous enough tostand up for what‘s right. But the man lives totally in his own head.Ben fights like a starving dog. Jaison fights like the love child ofBarack Obama and Mister Spock. It was a contrast in styles betweenBen‘s nostril-flaring fear mongering and Jaison‘s air tight arguments. Read more »
I have this feeling that tonight‘s Survivor: Samoa will be the night when fate gets flipped around.  After three episodes and nine days, Foa Foa is the obvious loser, with four eliminated members and serious infighting--and Galu is the obvious winner, with a lot of luck and a lot of harmony.  Well, almost, if you remember ShamboWell, then.  Remember the promos?  Why is Erik at Galu?  Simple answer, really.  Or more speculation, but it must mean the yellows won a challenge, right?  Read more »
I think there was a collective sigh of relief when Ben was voted off on last week‘s Survivor: Samoa.  That, and the feeling that we‘ve lost perhaps the most annoying person on the island this season--that, or we forgot who Russell is.  He flipped sides too, after all.  Or, we don‘t have an idea as to how the others are.  Can‘t blame them.  All but one of Galu is on a roll.Tribal council (on night 8, oddly) was a very stressful thing for Jaison.  "Coming here is the worst decision I have made in my life," he said, still reeling from whatever Ben did, to the point that he couldn‘t sleep.  Bald Russell, of course, will play it against him.  "What kind of man is that?" he said, before angling to kick him out because, it seems, he‘s not willing to play the game anymore.  Or that‘s how it looks. Read more »
Am I the only one who was a bit alarmed with what Russell said on Survivor: Samoa last night?  No, not the one from Foa Foa.  I was referring to the one from Galu.When they lost the immunity challenge, forcing them to Tribal Council for the first time, there was this tribe-wide discussion about who should be eliminated.  Most were going for Yasmin, thinking she hasn‘t helped much with keeping the tribe‘s wheels rolling, rather choosing to spend her time, in Kelly‘s words, to "act like a princess."  And then there was Russell, steady in his belief that Monica should go, because she didn‘t deliver in the challenge.  Read more »
Somewhere Charlie Brown is snickering. He may have spent decades tryingto kick the football, only to end up on his butt every time, but atleast he didn‘t get clotheslined by a clothesline. That just lookedfunny. One second Erik was running at top speed through the woods. Thenext his feet were lifting off the ground and he seemed to be flying.He probably barely felt the wrenching strangulation of a rope slamminginto his throat before he had crashed to the ground in a pile ofleaves. I‘m sure that hurt, and I hate to be mean. But I hope Erik takes someconsolation in the fact that win or lose he‘ll always have a hilariousYouTube video to show for his momentary pain. I loved it. Read more »
Though many viewers were outraged when Ben belittled Yasmin Giles forher grammar, few would deny that she had a unique perspective. The 33year old former hairstylist from Detroit had a penchant for bringingconversations to a standstill on Survivor: Samoa. Whether shewas teaching her Foa Foa opponents how to strategize, or justifying herdecision not to help out around camp, Yasmin was full of surprises. She brought something valuable to a show often accused of casting ahomogenous pool of contestants. Whether you were charmed or irritatedby her unapologetic directness, you‘re sure to notice her absence when Survivor: Samoa resumes Thursday.  Read more »
It finally happened: Galu shed a member, and suddenly it isn‘t rainbows and sunshine and angels anymore.  Never mind that Foa Foa‘s sort of crumbling apart, too.  But that‘s already a given, right?Survivor: Samoa returns tonight, though, with everybody losing whatever‘s left of their sunshine.  There‘s going to be a terrible downpour on the whole island, and it doesn‘t just drain you, it literally puts a cloud above your head.  Seeing the promos, both Russells have something to worry about.  The Galu one sounds desperate.  The Foa Foa one is similarly desperate, too, now that a new power player steps up, and he‘s worried about his strategy.  Read more »
It was a tumultuous week for Galu last week on Survivor: Samoa, when they found themselves in their first Tribal Council, and Yasmin found herself voted off by everyone but Shambo.  And Erik found himself an immunity idol.  And I haven‘t mentioned the chickens yet.Tribal council wasn‘t a good thing for Shambo, who‘s tired, and has just realized that she‘s the only one on her side.  The rest think Shambo should be tossed, especially Monica, who knows she gave that one single vote.  Bet at this moment she badly wants to be over at Foa Foa, where she has fans.  Well, that‘s how I‘d put it. Read more »
Sure, I understand where Russell (the one from Galu, note) was coming from when he decided to send Shambo back to Foa Foa and, as a consequence, deprive her on well-marinated and hastily-grilled meats.  But I feel bad for her all the same, and not because she badly needs her proteins, or so she claims.Must be because there was a time when I was the one left out of a group.  That sucks, knowing that you can do these things for everyone, but nobody wants you around anyway, because of this and that.  The "90210 clique" has been pretty hard on her, it seems: when she flubs something she‘s at the receiving end of a punishment, but when everybody else does just that, they‘re a little bit nicer. Read more »
I adore Ashley. Over the 19 seasons I have been watching SurvivorI‘m not sure if I have ever seen anyone so excited to compete in thegross food challenge. When Mick read the tree mail Russell Hantz - thebig man who bullies other people around - looked very intimidated. Lizwas whining. Natalie was making monkey faces. But Ashley‘s eyes got aswide as saucers and she started jabbering excitedly. To hear her talkyou would have thought this was the peanut butter and chocolate eatingreward challenge. Despite apparently being a coconutatarian, Ashleymade sure to brag that she‘ll eat anything. Read more »
No one seemed to enjoy being a part of Survivor: Samoa quite as much asAshley Trainer. After 15 days of losing, starvation, torrential rainand Russell Hantz, Jaison has cracked like an egg. But Ashley didn‘tstop grinning the whole time.Unfortunately last night on Survivor: Samoa the elements conspiredagainst the 22 year old recent college graduate from Maple Grove,Minnesota. She gagged up her smoothie, and that‘s nothing compared tohow badly she choked in the immunity challenge. After finding a way outof being voted off twice before, Ashley found herself unable to turnthe tide of tribal opinion while 48 straight hours of rain kept thetribe shelter-bound. Read more »