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10-Year Rewatch:Panama - Exile Island


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#1

DrivingSideways

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Posted Jun 3, 2010 @ 8:52 PM

I hope I'm not jumping the gun on the rewatches! I am a huge Survivor fan but when this season aired in 2006 I had a life for some reason and completely missed it! (Sure glad those days are over) I just watched it over the past week and I'm dying to discuss it if anybody else has any thoughts!

I thought this season had a lot of stars and people that I wanted to know more about before they were let go early, in particular Ruth-Marie, Tina (Charlie's mom) and Bobby seemed cool and didn't make the merge. Shane, Cirie, Sally and Austin were totally loveable as well - even when Shane was a detoxing freak, he is totally endearing to me. I usually don't agree with Miss Alli's opinions on the show, but the forums I've seen here seem to confirm what she thought: that Terry was a huge a-hole.

I have to say, I LOVE Terry. I did wince when he had that unfortunate situation of diminishing Aras' win by claiming that he should have rightfully won if he had understood the rules. But I can't imagine how frustrating the situation was for him, and how time after time, he won immunity and put a fly in the ointment of the Casaya players. He seemed like a good guy to me, a real challenger, and a fox (on a purely superficial layer). Personally, I found Aras to be irritating, smug and condescending, and I would love to know more about where Shane's awesome comments to him at Final Tribal Council came from.

And even after watching the entire season - I do not understand how Danielle is considered a 'villian'. I don't have strong feelings about her either way, but it doesn't make sense. Would they have put Aras on the villians team? Everything Danielle did that was supposedly so 'villianous', he had a hand in. Terry should have voted out Danielle at F4 - then I believe Aras would have won the F3 balancing challenge, and he would have taken Terry to the Final 2, showing his true colors about his 'integrity' to Cirie. However, Cirie probably would have forgiven him. I really love Cirie, but I have to question her tastes for aligning with Aras.
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#2

Hope Estheim

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Posted Jun 3, 2010 @ 10:15 PM

DrivingSideways
I have to say, I LOVE Terry. I did wince when he had that unfortunate situation of diminishing Aras' win by claiming that he should have rightfully won if he had understood the rules. But I can't imagine how frustrating the situation was for him, and how time after time, he won immunity and put a fly in the ointment of the Casaya players. He seemed like a good guy to me, a real challenger, and a fox (on a purely superficial layer). Personally, I found Aras to be irritating, smug and condescending, and I would love to know more about where Shane's awesome comments to him at Final Tribal Council came from.

Everything you said about Aras can actually be ascribed to Terry, actually. I found him even worse than Aras. He started out likable to me, but got horrendously unlikable, arrogant, and even more smug than Aras toward the end. Plus, there was something about letting his entire alliance die out and showing his plain horrid social game that just made me root against him, and I was glad to see him not make it to the end. And I know for certain that a few people in the cast came away not liking him (before Heroes vs. Villains he was either Cirie or Danielle's original choice for past castaway she respected the least, IIRC). And on top of all that, he was just a bore. A big, sad, challenge-dominating bore.

Aras, on the flip side, came off horrible to me in the early weeks, outright telling Cirie and Melinda that one of them was leaving before the second Tribal Council in such an assy way, but the more I saw of him and the other Casayas, the less I disliked him. I still thought he had a bit of condescension to him, but on the whole, I still thought he had a good heart and meant well by some things he said, even if they weren't exactly the right things to do. But I do love him and Cirie both giving Terry verbal smackdowns.

As for Danielle, she was a Villain for not stepping aside and taking Terry to the F2, instead opting to take Aras. . . . Yeah, I don't get it, either.

My favorite thing of this season actually came pre-merge. It was Danielle realizing Bobby couldn't be trusted to stay loyal to the Casayas come the merge (and he did, indeed, confirm that in interviews after the show that he'd planned to flip to the La Minas), getting Cirie and Courtney together, and blindsiding him in that surprising 3-2-1-1 split.

As for the early boots, I don't think Tina was fit to come on this season. She should've held off for a whole year while she grieved for and mourned her son before she accepted an offer to come on the show. I liked Melinda okay, but she was really not gonna last out there. I really wanted to see Misty go farther, as well. She was much more interesting than every alpha-male on her tribe. Ruth-Marie? I don't think she had a chance, either, but Sally did well to save herself over her. And I adored Bobby, but he killed himself with his own horrid social game.

I was overjoyed to see a Casaya win the season, on the whole. I loved every member of their tribe except Shane (including Aras and even kooky Courtney). Conversely, I couldn't stand the La Minas (save for Sally, Dan, and Ruth-Marie).

This was my first full season, and I'm glad I got invested in the show. Sad that it was the last one in which the editing focused on everyone in the cast as much as it could before only focusing on the winner and other endgame castaways in the seasons that followed.
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#3

Mr. 888

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Posted Jun 4, 2010 @ 1:04 AM

On the whole, this cast was not one of my favorites, but they gave everybody a decent amount of screentime. There were only 16 people (a number they didn't have since Pearl Islands) and even the early boots seemed more fleshed out. I had some sense of who Tina, Melinda, Misty, and Ruth Marie were even though they were gone so quickly and had limited impact in the game.

I think Tina's boot was disappointing, and really made me dislike Cirie at the time. Their tribe had booted their strongest, hardest working member over the lady who was scared of leaves, and they suffered no consequences for it as the tribes would reshuffle the next episode. At some point, almost every member of Casaya was a nutjob crazy in some way, and I was shocked how they were continuously able to best La Mina, who were duller but a whole lot nicer. I liked Misty, Ruth Marie, Dan, Sally, Austin, and Nick (everyone on La Mina except Terry, really). Courtney, Aras, Shane, and Bruce were definitely grating at times.
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#4

raceguy120390

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Posted Jun 4, 2010 @ 2:38 AM

I hope I'm not jumping the gun on the rewatches! I am a huge Survivor fan but when this season aired in 2006 I had a life for some reason and completely missed it! (Sure glad those days are over) I just watched it over the past week and I'm dying to discuss it if anybody else has any thoughts!


Only by a few days. We usually start discussing the episodes on a Monday Australian time/Sunday night US time. (Speaking of, don't forget that after this season, we're moving onto Celebrity Survivor to fill in some time until the actual tenth anniversary of the show. Believe me, this season's about to look even better. Come Monday week, we'll be discussing it here. Don't forget, y'all.

Also, Courtney's apartment is not shitty. And WHAMBULANCE!

Motion to rename the thread 10-Year Rewatch: Panama: ZOMBIE! (And People Who Aren't Shane)?
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#5

Daydreamer101

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Posted Jun 4, 2010 @ 4:11 AM

I was overjoyed to see a Casaya win the season, on the whole. I loved every member of their tribe except Shane (including Aras and even kooky Courtney).


I loved Casaya too, even Shane. I found their functional dysfunction very entertaining. Cirie was my favourite this season and she's still one of my favourite survivors ever. I remember being so disappointed when she lost that firebreaker.

Also, Courtney's apartment is not shitty.


LOL, that's one of the reasons Bruce's evacuation is tied with Courtney's boot episode as my favourite episode of this season.

The one thing I don't like about this season is the introduction of that ridiculously powerful HII.
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#6

jkalderash

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Posted Jun 4, 2010 @ 8:08 AM

I think Tina's boot was disappointing, and really made me dislike Cirie at the time. Their tribe had booted their strongest, hardest working member over the lady who was scared of leaves, and they suffered no consequences for it as the tribes would reshuffle the next episode.

Aw, don't blame Cirie. She couldn't just sit back and let herself be voted out first. Besides, Ruth Marie and Melinda had to know the four tribes division would last two rounds, max, so in the worst case they could always boot Cirie next.

I'm rewatching this season and very much enjoying it. Casaya is such a mess! They're all totally insane! I hope Aras has a redemption arc coming up, though, because I'm at the merge and he's been pretty much an asshole all season.

I wish Shane had been on this season instead of you-know-who.
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#7

DrivingSideways

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Posted Jun 4, 2010 @ 10:49 AM

Awww, no Terry love besides me? The only excitement and relief from a Pagonging was Terry... even though his attempts at breaking up Casaya were very hamfisted. In fact, I found Austin, Nick and Terry to be very respectful, stand-up guys, which is probably why they had such crap strategery skillz.

Regardless, I think this was a great season. Luckily, even though I found Aras totally irritating personally, he was amazing eye candy.

Did anybody else assume that a possible discovery of lesbian tendencies led to Sally's divorce and alienation from her conservative parents? Sally is gorgeous and I wish she could have lasted longer.
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#8

FlippinChipmunk

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Posted Jun 5, 2010 @ 1:54 PM

Did anybody else assume that a possible discovery of lesbian tendencies led to Sally's divorce and alienation from her conservative parents? Sally is gorgeous and I wish she could have lasted longer.


I never heard anything about lesbian tendencies in regards to Sally before. But oh my, I love her. She is one of my favorite contestants of all time. She also seemed to have been a good player who just kept getting stuck in crappy situations. I think had she been on better tribes she would have flourished & possibly won.
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#9

Mr. 888

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Posted Jun 6, 2010 @ 9:42 PM

Aw, don't blame Cirie. She couldn't just sit back and let herself be voted out first. Besides, Ruth Marie and Melinda had to know the four tribes division would last two rounds, max, so in the worst case they could always boot Cirie next.

I'm not really blaming Cirie for self-preservation, since that's the point of the game. It was just upsetting to see that the hardest-working, strongest player on their tribe was shamelessly dispatched. And the fact that the four-tribe format only lasted one episode? Weak. If a tribe is so willing to get rid of its strongest members so early, they deserve to be Ulonged (it's almost as bad as the "no throwing challenges" rule).

Oh, I remember one of my favorite snippets from Miss Alli's recaps, when Bruce was medically evacuated for being unable to poop-

Chiclets is unintentionally hilarious when she points out that Bruce's mentality was "Go, go, go, go, go." Oh, irony.


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#10

Polyxena

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Posted Jul 19, 2010 @ 7:42 PM

Casaya is still my all time favourite tribe. What a bunch of dysfunctional crazies - and I loved them! Until Terry's perpetual immunity forced them to vote out one of their own, they stuck together like superglue. Yep, they screeched and raged at each other, but Terry never managed to throw a wrench into that alliance.

Courtney's elimination was just awesome. Orchestrated by Cirie (and Aras and Danielle) if I remember correctly. Shane had it out for Danielle; the rest of the Casayans humoured him. Courtney tried to form a four-person alliance with Danielle, Cirie, and Terry to vote out Aras. But Cirie didn't feel secure in that alliance, so she conspired with Danielle and Aras to get rid of Courtney. Absolutely brilliant to watch.

I don't understand how Danielle got a "villain" label either. Initially, she was pretty low on the Casaya totem pole: Bobby hated her, Shane hated her, and everyone else agreed that Courtney would be easier to beat in the final two. She didn't exactly ride anyone's coattails; in fact, I think she played a good game with a mediocre hand. She convinced the girls to oust Bobby, remained loyal to her tribe when Terry tried to swing her over, and worked her way into an alliance with Cirie and Aras. IMO, she didn't "betray" her tribe (Shane & Courtney) any more than Cirie or Aras did, but ended up shouldering a lot of the blame.

As for Aras and Cirie, I thought their friendship was very sweet. Aras was pretty jerky when he told Melinda and Cirie that they were the next two to be axed, but his relationship with Cirie later in the game seemed genuine. At the final four, when he had to choose between Cirie and Danielle (both he and Terry had immunity), he knew that Cirie was more popular with the jury than Danielle - but he still stuck with Cirie and even coached her on how to make fire.
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#11

Yogurt Baron

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Posted Dec 13, 2011 @ 5:02 PM

I've only watched about two-thirds of the seasons at this point, but Panama is definitely my favourite, and from a pure who-do-you-enjoy-watching standpoint, Aras is my favourite winner ever (though I wouldn't say he's the "best" in terms of gameplay). The Aras-Terry rivalry reminds me of SNL's faux "Unstoppable" trailer, where it's just Denzel and some young guy bickering about how the other is too young/old---"Where did you learn about trains, kid? From Thomas the Tank Engine? / Where did YOU learn about trains, old man? From INVENTING THEM?" They're both unbearably obnoxious at times, especially when fighting with each other, and yet both (IMO) incredibly charismatic.

I was thinking the other day about how the use of F3s vs. F2s affects the game---for example, Cassandra from Fiji got a very UTR edit and is probably one of the most forgotten Survivor finalists ever, but if that season had gone to an F2 and not an F3, I think we'd have seen Earl come in third and Cassandra sweep Dreamz in front of the jury. Similarly, as much as I love Aras, if this season had been an F3, I think Terry would've won, easily. Terry's an interesting case: people underestimate him because a lot of his late-game scrambling was desperate and ineffective, but at least he tried, which is more than you can say for a lot of players. Terry's also got that alpha-male intense-gaze charismatic cult leader thing going that has made Coach and Russell the go-to returning contestants---plus he backs it up with challenge-monsteriness. If he'd gone into the merge with the numbers in his favour, he'd have been able to dominate the endgame as surely as he dominated things at La Mina.

On the other hand, Aras deserves a lot of credit, too. As Polyxena says, most of Casaya was batshit crazy, and Aras managed to keep them together. He's the only winner I can think of other than Hatch who a)., spent much of the game with a target on his back (it feels like all of Casaya's strategizing post-merge involved, okay, we'll get rid of Person X, and THEN Aras definitely has to go), and who b)., managed to emerge as a tribal leader despite indulging himself in a lot of douchey behaviour. The first episode of Borneo, I remember thinking, "Okay, all these guys are working together, and one guy's sitting in a tree - I wonder who'll get voted out!" Similarly, the first episode of Panama, we had everybody on the young male tribe trying to work and Aras trying to lead them in a stupid yoga exercise---he's standing there saying, "Can you feel the energy in your hands yet?", and you can almost feel the other contestants thinking, "Yes. I feel something in my hands---the desire to write your name down tonight!"

From a good-gameplay point of view, it's better to be a Redemption Island-era Boston Rob, or a Heidik, or a Tom Westman, who walks in and runs the show---but from a dramatic TV point of view, there's just something watchable about the kind of guy who walks in with a target on his back, whose personality is such that he does things to make that target bigger, but who's smart enough and capable enough to pull it all off in the end anyway. I love this season, I love Aras, and I love Aras. (That bore saying twice.)
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#12

Bob Sambob

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Posted Dec 13, 2011 @ 5:13 PM

It's amazing to me that in a post about this season -- a season you loved -- the words "Cirie" and "Shane" do not appear even once in your post. Just shows how good a show it is when people see each individual season that much differently.
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#13

Yogurt Baron

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Posted Dec 13, 2011 @ 5:28 PM

I had a whole lengthy paragraph about Cirie, which I took out so as to avoid tl;dr syndrome (not sure I was successful!). I think it's really unfortunate the degree to which they gave her the "older, overweight couch potato who's afraid of leaves learns to survive in the elements" edit and downplayed the "lady is some kind of savant at this game" edit. Cirie's truly amazing---the only person I've ever seen play three times without getting annoyed that they brought this person back again.

I hate Shane---I feel like the editors wanted us to think, "Aww, he just made a death threat! What a character!" If I'd been on that season with him, and he'd threatened to kill me, I'd have demanded a psych medevac (ideally for him) and a restraining order. Were we really supposed to believe that all of that insanity was because he'd just quit smoking? That said, I can't think of when the show's been funnier than, "I'll kill you in your shitty apartment." / "My apartment isn't shitty."

That might be my favourite part about Panama, actually---so many big, entertaining personalities! Even Shane, who creeps me out and who I can't stand, is watchable. They just about all are, on this season. How many seasons have given us a President Beefcake, someone who contributed so much to the Survivor zeitgeist without even making the merge?
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#14

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Posted Dec 13, 2011 @ 11:14 PM

I don't think Aras was ever in any danger at all the entire season. Maybe if Terry would have strategically thrown an Immunity challenge at some point then he might have been able to bounce him but they speculated he had it. At that point, "Plan Voodoo" had not have been concocted but maybe they could have voted around it.

I actually think Aras is one of the weakest winners ever, and not just because he got routinely destroyed by someone twice his age in both physical and mental challenges even when he's clearly in good physical shape himself as well as being allegedly bright. He also benefited greatly from being up in numbers at the merge in an era of the game where Pagonging was still the status quo without midgame tribal swaps. The Cassaya alliance was so against the idea of working with Terry that one after the next, a straggler went with no suspense. I guess it was easy because he and Cirie understood the game but the rest of the people had such fundamental problems that they just annoyed everyone else so much that they wouldn't work together, or that you had people like Shane that are just cruising along thinking that they're going to win the game so obviously they won't do anything strategic to rock the boat.

I agree about the abundance of personalities but it was a terribly boring season in terms of strategy and Aras was really no exception. Building a dominant alliance is nice, but I'm more impressed by winners that will make the dominant alliance and then have to navigate their way through the endgame when it crumbles on account of everyone knowing they've got to start making moves or they're not going to win, such as Tom or Sandra (PI).

Edited by TheShowStopper, Dec 13, 2011 @ 11:16 PM.

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#15

Yogurt Baron

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Posted Dec 13, 2011 @ 11:28 PM

Agreed that, even though it's a great season in terms of watchability and entertaining personalities, it's a pretty boring season in terms of gameplay, what with the more-or-less Pagonging. There are unfortunately few seasons that I've seen so far that are truly outstanding in terms of both gameplay/strategy and being entertaining TV---Cook Islands is probably the best I've seen for combining those two aspects.

It's funny: the Casaya alliance keeps Aras around largely because they think he's the one who can beat Terry (based on nothing in particular except that he's young and fit), but then Danielle ends up beating him in the end. You've got to wonder if people who had their heads more together than Shane and Courtney would've realized that, hey, Aras isn't really giving Terry a run for his money here, and maybe we should get him out while we can.
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#16

Arlo Rowan

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Posted Dec 14, 2011 @ 5:04 PM

Surprised anyone could ever think Terry or Aras were "charismatic." Well . . . Aras had a fair enough social game that I can sort of agree that he was. But Terry had one of the worst ones (at least by that point in time -- don't worry, the later seasons would have people with even worse social games). He had to have people in his alliance make deals for him. (Nick and Austin had to secure Sally staying over Ruth-Marie, he couldn't do jack to keep Dan and work with him to fight harder for one of the two young guys to go instead right before the merge hit.) And by the time he was alone, every single person to whom he made appeals knew exactly what he was doing, some of them even laughing about it in confessionals. Even the short-term alliances he made with Courtney and Danielle at F6 and then just Danielle at F4 were more out of the girls just wanting to change up the game than any appeals he made toward them.

Excellent at challenges, no doubt, but one of the worst social games I've ever seen (again, just by that point -- worse to come later).
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#17

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Posted Dec 14, 2011 @ 5:48 PM

I sort of liked Terry's social game and appreciated it because of the circumstances. It was definitely negative/poor but no one had ever been in that predicament before and no one has been in since. Even when he gave people a great chance to get stronger in the game they just wouldn't listen to him. It had to be extremely frustrating for him and rather than just back down constantly and let Aras' pompous attitude continue he would continuously knock him back down to reality. I think that might have been one of the contributing factors in allowing Terry to continue to win over and over. Cassaya had the numbers advantage but Terry would try his best to show them that they didn't have full control.

It's funny: the Casaya alliance keeps Aras around largely because they think he's the one who can beat Terry (based on nothing in particular except that he's young and fit), but then Danielle ends up beating him in the end. You've got to wonder if people who had their heads more together than Shane and Courtney would've realized that, hey, Aras isn't really giving Terry a run for his money here, and maybe we should get him out while we can.


To this day I think that was the worst F3 challenges in the history of the show because it takes so much of the control from the players having it being on/in water. I really enjoyed the final challenges in Africa, Toncantins, and FvF and thought they were truly the most fair in terms of what they were trying to show.

The FvF F3 Immunity challenge is something I think they should try to replicate each year because that really does come down to endurance and concentration unlike the Panama one that also takes into account the unpredictability of the water and the short timeframe to get off of a platform, get to a smaller platform, and settle.

Edited by TheShowStopper, Dec 14, 2011 @ 5:52 PM.

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#18

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Posted Dec 18, 2011 @ 10:06 AM

I rewatched Exile Island in its entirety over the past few days and I had forgotten just how incredibly bad Danielle was at Tribal Councils answering Jeff's questions. I remembered that she was delusional in HvV but every time she opens her mouth at a TC during Exile Island something ridiculous comes out of her mouth.

I don't think I've ever seen another contestant with the same problem. She is just consistently clueless or delusional, and I think she's actually got impaired comprehension. Unless it's just the editors having fun with it, more often than not her answers have absolutely nothing to do with the question at all.
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#19

Bob Sambob

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Posted Dec 18, 2011 @ 3:15 PM

Yeah, you're not wrong at all. She definitely had inflated self-worth, which led to one of my favorite entries in the Funny 115.
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#20

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Posted Dec 18, 2011 @ 4:34 PM

It's absolutely incredible. Aside from some of the first-boots in the most recent seasons and their way of talking themselves right out of the game, I've never seen a player so completely delusional, or have such poor comprehension and an inability to answer a simple question.

It's bizarre. Every time she opens her mouth she's literally clueless.
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#21

TDI Ashley

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Posted Mar 5, 2012 @ 3:53 AM

Afterglows, from the Samoa Rewatch thread
Cirie and Bruce were truly the only two individuals on their tribe worth spending camera time on. Aras was dull and beyond sanctimonious, Danielle's responses at Tribal Council (and even some of her confessionals) were headscratching and bizarre, Courtney was annoying, and while Shane provided almost constant entertainment he was also obnoxious and losing his mind. I personally don't find entertainment (or amusement from a strategy perspective) in watching an endgame that's full of people that are incessantly fighting or whining about things that simply don't matter. To this day I still have no idea why Danielle was brought back for HvV, she brought nothing to that season and nothing to Panama either. Exile Island remained my least favorite Pagonged-season ever (before South Pacific came along of course). I'm sure some people were amused by the total dysfunction, which I greatly attribute to Courtney's natural personality, Danielle's lack of personality, and Shane's detox, but I didn't care for it.

I admit Shane and Courtney annoyed me, but I didn't just like Casaya more because they were had the more colorful personalities. Their tribe was also where the gameplay was at, even when they didn't go to Tribal Council. The players there actually changed up the game and made things happen instead of sticking to the plans. Aras, Courtney, Danielle, and Shane's alliance of four may have held for the Melinda boot, but when the choice of keeping Bruce or Bobby came up in episode five, Aras thought he had the girls in line to do whatever it was he and Shane wanted. But Danielle and Courtney weren't having any of it because they knew that Bobby would be flipping on them and thus screwing them over (and she was right -- Bobby admitted himself that he was going to do that), and they organized that brilliant move (with Cirie's help) to stop Bobby's flip by voting him out, and in turn, keeping Bruce close to her since she knew he trusted her. Two birds with one stone. (Miss Alli beat up Danielle fairly badly in her recap when it happened, but it really was a good move.)

Their gameplay was lots more interesting compared to La Mina, whose he-man woman haters' club stuck to their obvious, predictable plan and systematically sent Misty and Ruth-Marie packing and would've closed it off with Sally if for not her going to Exile Island.

Afterglows, from the Exile Island Rewatch thread
I found Sally, Austin, Nick, and Dan MUCH more interesting and FAR less annoying when they were onscreen, and the same can really be said for Terry when he was not having to constantly take on an entire tribe by himself, and have to deal with the disappointment of living with people that were slowly and surely pissing their own game away just out of a refusal to work with him when the time was right for each of them.

Firstly, I only really found Sally and Dan interesting. Austin and Nick were interchangeable alpha-males for me.

Secondly, that was partly Terry's own fault. His approaches and overtures were laughably transparent to the point where everyone else practically laughed at said approaches and overtures in their confessionals. (They didn't actually do that, but they might as well have since it was just that awful of an effort.) Partly the others' fault, too, of course, but he was to blame for it, as well. The only time he ever finally got one right, Cirie (with an assist from Aras) pissed all over it by getting Danielle back on their side and the awesome 3-2-1 split vote occurring.

Edited by TDI Ashley, Mar 5, 2012 @ 3:56 AM.

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#22

Yogurt Baron

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Posted Mar 5, 2012 @ 5:26 AM

With the exception of Aras, I love the Casayas as characters, not as players, so I can't make an argument on that; if things like Bruce having a "go, go, go" personality and Courtney's apartment not being shitty don't amuse you as much as they amuse me, well, you can't sell anybody that kind of thing.

But it's interesting that Afterglows, on the other thread, brought up South Pacific. They're similar, in that they involve a strong leader uniting an absolutely batshit crazy tribe, but they differ in two very important regards:

1. Aras was able to take on that role on his first try at the game, playing against peers, without the show casting him and a bunch of idiots who'd be starstruck by his Survivor expertise.

2. The Casaya people were crazy, but they were self-interested. Shane was detoxing and insane and he'll kill you in your shitty apartment, but he was trying to win the game. The Casayans weren't great players, as a whole, but they were players.

And, hey, I haven't started a big ruckus by trying to slay a Survivor sacred cow in a couple of months, so here's one. Panama, final four. Aras, Cirie, Danielle, Terry. Terry has immunity. Terry needs to go on an immunity run to win at F2, but he probably beats anybody at F2. So, who represents the biggest threat to Terry at this point, in terms of possibly beating him for immunity, based on past challenge performance? Danielle, followed by Aras. If Cirie were, in fact, the Jedi-mind-trick genius that she gets credit for being, would she not have been able to flip Terry to vote out Danielle? Survivor geniuses manage to manipulate players into doing what's in the genius's best interests; Cirie couldn't even manipulate Terry into doing what was in Terry's best interests.

I think Cirie's a great character and an okay player. But it will never not boggle my mind that so many people think she's better than Aras, when, from where I'm sitting, she was the Ian to Aras's Tom, the Stephen to Aras's J.T. Certainly, her strategic sense helped him win...and then when it was time to get rid of her, he was able to do it without even voting for her. That's a Jedi mind trick.
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#23

Afterglows

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Posted Mar 8, 2012 @ 12:12 AM

I didn't just like Casaya more because they were had the more colorful personalities. Their tribe was also where the gameplay was at, even when they didn't go to Tribal Council.


I don't think that's true at all. There was absolutely no gameplay there for the first 4 episodes. Shane literally walked on the beach and said "okay you, you, you, and me are an alliance and we're going to the final four, done deal" and the other three people recounted that. After that happened we were treated to three consecutive episodes of watching them struggle with infighting, all while Cirie ridicules them for being so stupid to set up an alliance in the manner that they did, while also narrating how she was going to work her way into it.

They didn't have a single strategical discussion until the dilemma came up whether to booth Bruce or Bobby. Up until then it was just gaffe after gaffe. First it's Shane wanting to quit and being talked down from a ledge, then it's Aras laughable telling Melinda and Cirie to their faces that he's voting for either one of them and can't decide, and then it's Shane following up by guaranteeing them that they're going 1-2, no matter the order.

La Mina was the tribe where there was alliance talk that was actually happening. You had Terry and Dan trying to set up the four-guy alliance, while Austin and Nick were deliberating bouncing back and forth between Terry/Dan and Misty/Sally. You had Dan promising Ruth Marie that she's their fifth, and then the other guys trying to find a way to back out of that deal to put together a stronger alliance.


I don't necessarily fault the original Cassaya alliance for not being a strong alliance (because let's face it, all four of them showed great signs of total incompetence), I think that Production made a bad move in merging the 4 tribes into 2 after only one person was booted. I know they probably rationalized that as a good storyline to put a guy on Exile Island for 3 days to drive that storyline and kick the idol storyline off, but I always find it annoying when a tribe is not actually rewarded for winning an immunity challenge, which is what happened to La Mina when they won the first immunity challenge against Cassaya. Cassaya was actually able to "trade up" in exchanging Melinda for Bruce, and I think it would have been more fair in that respect to have held the tribe merging until at least two people had been removed from the game.

The players there actually changed up the game and made things happen instead of sticking to the plans.


You're right about that, but as far as I'm concerned it's not entertaining (and obviously not interesting) watching people bicker about inconsequential nonsense, and have that be their basis for who they think is loyal and who they think they can trust. Cassaya obviously is capable of making something happen every episode because the level of dysfunction and the apparent lack of sound gameplay made for a constant sense of unpredictability.

Austin and Nick were interchangeable alpha-males for me.


I don't really see how one could make that distinction. Not only were both of them very witty and had ample time in both confessionals and reel footage to lay on soundbites, both of them demonstrated an understanding of strategy (and coincidentally it was FAR earlier than Aras began to do so). I think that's really a byproduct of the editing of two people that go out 7th and 8th as opposed to the person that wins. We all got to know how different Aras was from the traditional mold of "young guy that's in good shape" but both of them were as well.

One of my main reasons for liking La Mina so much more is that nearly every favorite from the original four tribes ended up on La Mina. My two favorites from the older guys tribe ended up there, my two favorites from the younger guys, as well as younger girls. Cirie and Bruce are the only two people that I cared for through 2 or 3 episodes, and the remaining episodes really did absolutely nothing to make me rethink my opinion on anyone.

His approaches and overtures were laughably transparent to the point where everyone else practically laughed at said approaches and overtures in their confessionals.


Well, they laughed their way right to the jury because they were far too stupid to work with him when it was best for each of them at the time. Everyone knew that Bruce had so much to gain by flipping right at the merge, even his own tribe recognized it would be in his best interest to do so. Shane was given ample examples of where he stood in the power alliance in Cassaya but because he was so hellbent on making an alliance and sticking to it he never gave the idea any true thought to flip out of it so that he could go farther. They all just waited far too long to actually address the issue that they were not going to get anywhere near the Final 2, and Terry (and to some extent the others from La Mina) had been telling them that for weeks.
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#24

Yogurt Baron

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Posted Mar 8, 2012 @ 1:11 AM

Aras laughable telling Melinda and Cirie to their faces that he's voting for either one of them and can't decide


This was kind of weird and douchey on a personal level, but I think it was very good gameplay, in its way. He didn't say he couldn't decide. He laid it out for them that the alliance was going to take one of them out, and asked them to decide.

Reasons it was a great move:

1. In a game that's all about lying, people appreciate that kind of honesty, even when it seems counterintuitive. It pissed me off in Amazon when Rob Cesternino spent the whole time lying to Matt, only to have to sit him down and say, "Okay, I've been lying to you the whole time, but here's what's really going on!" ...but that worked on Matt. And Aras's move worked on Cirie. After Aras's "laughable" treatment of Cirie, she hated him so much that she made a sincere final-two deal with him that she didn't renege on even though it cost her the game*, even after it was clear that he didn't intend to keep her to the end. Remember his Freudian slip, I think it was on a reward challenge, when he toasted to the two of them being in the final three? And Cirie said, "You mean final two!" And Aras said, "...oh, right." If Erik Reichenbach had made that kind of slip-up, Cirie would've figured out that he had no loyalty to her and she'd have taken him out. But Aras snowed Cirie - not just any player, Cirie - into being more loyal to him than he was to her. And the "you guys decide amongst yourselves" moment was absolutely critical in building that I-will-level-with-you, I-am-your-guy vibe.

2. That moment, when Aras made that offer, speaking for the alliance, was a focal point in establishing Aras as the alpha of the group. A lot of people have won Survivor just on these kinds of group dynamics: even when it makes sense to vote out the alpha, they don't, because, well, he's the alpha.

Aras is a yoga instructor. He weighs about eighty pounds. He was never terribly competitive in challenges. But how many times did we hear, "We need Aras to beat Terry for immunity?" Aras's chances at beating Terry at any challenge that wasn't "we'll all put our hands together, and whoever 'feels something' first wins" were pathetic. But he convinced Casaya that he - not college athlete Danielle - was the one who could do that. He convinced them that "social alpha" meant "physical alpha". And how did he become the social alpha? By setting a tribe dynamic in which his yoga-boy-touchy-feely-bullshit was the calm and comforting, safe alternative to everybody bickering with everybody all the time. And if anyone's ever done anything that epitomized yoga-boy-touchy-feely-bullshit better than, "Guys, we can't pick who to vote out! Please decide amongst yourselves!", I don't know what it was.

*I made a case before that Cirie should have flipped Terry to vote for Danielle...but actually, flipping Terry to vote Aras would've probably worked better. Aras votes Danielle, Danielle votes Cirie, Terry and Cirie vote Aras, Aras goes home. F3 immunity, Danielle wins, is certain to lose to whomever she takes, probably takes Cirie. Honestly, do you imagine getting Terry to vote for Aras would've been that difficult? I get the feeling the two of them might not have gotten along.

One of the best things about Survivor is how different viewers look at different players and see different things. I look at Sophie Clarke, I see a lump. Meanwhile, other people argue quite persuasively for her genius. I think "lump" is a kind word for what many think of Aras, but the more times I watch Panama, the more of a superstar I think Aras is.
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#25

Afterglows

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Posted Mar 9, 2012 @ 2:15 AM

It's funny because I think he's one of the worst male winners ever. And I don't think he was anywhere near as bad off physically as you described. I think Aras was capable of winning several of the immunity challenges this season had Terry not been there. Aras is good, but Terry is just on a whole other level of ability.

I think Aras is very fortunate to have won this season. He does not possess the ability to win a season being down in numbers at the merge, and was very lucky that Cassaya had a numbers advantage and that there were other people in his tribe that were more aggressively-responsible for keeping them tight. Again, I think it all stems back to the fact that they lost an immunity challenge and BENEFITED just because of a poor production choice. La Mina showed themselves to be much, much better in challenges throughout the time they competed against one another despite posting a losing record. So many of Cassaya victories coming down to "one fish hitting the basket first" or "Melinda not reaching her mat 3 seconds earlier" or "Austin not pouring his water the fastest" etc. Cassaya was very fortunate to be up 2 members at the merge.

Aras didn't really start playing the game competently until he and Cirie started getting close with him. He didn't even orchestrate the Courtney boot, she did. In fact the only time that Aras ever really appeared to be on the right side of logic came when he would argue with Courtney, an imbecile throughout the entire season, about what the boot order should be and why.

I think Cirie's likability was one of the reason that she was able to work all the way from the outside of the alliance into the center of it, but it was also because she flat out knew how to play the game better than all the rest of them, probably combined. Aras relied on her in the above situation and others, and Danielle relied on her multiple times to keep everything rolling the way they wanted to. She was really the one that managed Shane to perfection, not Aras, and Shane even went to the jury being more upset with Aras than Cirie. It's really a shame that neither she or Terry were sitting in the finals because while there were flaws in both of their games (Cirie in challenges, Terry never having numbers) they played far better than either Danielle or Aras as far as I'm concerned.

It's true people often prefer to be told when they're going but that's a very dumb move when the game is still in the pre-jury phase when the booted people have no opinion or control over the outcome of the game. More often than not, that blunder ends up resulting in a different boot as a result of people scrambling around because they know they need to scramble. The only reason that didn't happen this time is because Melinda and Cirie were in such a firm minority and would have needed to flip 3 people to stay alive. In a way it was a safe time to make that blunder for Aras because he never ended up paying for it, but it was still very dumb.

I think Aras' win is the closest 5-2 victory in the history of the show. Danielle could have easily swayed Austin's vote if she didn't have such a headscratching FTC speech, and Aras had as many sure votes as he did sure-against votes. It's also saying something that he would have gotten slaughtered by both Cirie and even Terry at the FTC, and he wasn't even the one that was responsible for keeping Danielle around to end up producing the F2 that we got, that again was Cirie's doing on multiple counts.

Edited by Afterglows, Mar 9, 2012 @ 4:33 AM.

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#26

Yogurt Baron

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Posted Dec 25, 2012 @ 12:24 AM

Yogurt Baron's unpopular opinion of the day: I never really understood The Legend Of Cirie, the player. Top-five character. Entertaining as hell. The "older-by-Survivor-standards woman who is afraid of leaves but somehow survives leaves" is a hell of an arc. And she has an entertaining approach to the game - strategically under-the-radar, socially lovable, like Sandra's non-evil twin. But she got her ass handed to her in Panama by a guy no one, no one, thinks is any better than a bottom-teens winner. (I'm not talking in the technical "he came in first and she came in fourth" sense---I'm saying he outplayed the hell out of her.)

Cirie's second banana was whoever she needed it to be that particular day.


Panama, Episode 14, "Call the Whambulence!" Aras wins reward. He has to pick who to take with him. He picks Cirie. He apologizes to Danielle for picking Cirie. Then he apologizes to Terry, his archnemesis. This is gameplay. This is jury management.

Aras gives a confessional about how great he is for winning. Cirie gives a confessional about how she's afraid of leaves and this is her first time doing anything in her life. Cut to them on a yacht:

Aras: "Cirie, cheers! Final four! Hopefully both of us making final three!" His biggest mistake ever, and the main reason I don't respect his game as much as I love him. Similar to Penner turning down the Lisa-Skupin offer this year, it was the clearest imaginable telegraph of his intentions. He literally may as well have said the words, "Terry out at 4, and then you out at 3, and then I can beat Danielle at F2!"

Cirie's response? "Final two, why you jokin'?" Or: "Hey, I'm going to disregard his declaration, which he may as well have painted on the side of the yacht, that I'm out at 3!"

Aras confessional: yoga-speak about needing to "practice love and compassion with Terry" going forward. If you're being generous - and I am - he's, again, talking about the game, talking about jury management.

Back to the two of them on the yacht. Cirie: "This game is terrible." Aras: "It is! You gotta take people out!" *boyish smile coupled with slightly drunken shifty-eyed glance as he considers what is to be done circa F3* Cirie: *giggle, nod, failure to recognize that she is one of the people to be taken out*

Later, a Cirie confessional: "Right now, I'm closer to Aras than anyone out here. I have been for 34 days now. We're just taking it all in and thinking how nice it would be if the two of us made it to the final two." To Aras: "To the final four. Hopefully the final two."

Great players, once they're at F5, are not thinking "us". They're thinking "me". Name a great player - a good player - whose consideration of who to sit with at FTC has anything to do with who you're close to. At best, if good players are thinking "us", they're thinking "me and my goat who I can beat", not "me and my friend who is so dreamy." Obviously there was nothing Cirie could have done at this point---she'd go home the next night on a fire-making challenge, and whether she looked at Aras like her buddy or like her competition didn't affect the game, but it speaks to her as a player. In that moment, she was not one.

Later, Terry (in a very mature fashion, for once) pulls Aras aside and demands an apology. He gets one. So, Panama Final Four Banana Count: Aras first banana, Danielle second banana, Terry the banana who's still worth buttering up for a jury vote, Cirie the plantain over in the corner who can be so taken for granted that you can tell her you'll take her out and she won't even mind.
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#27

enlightenedbum

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Posted Dec 25, 2012 @ 1:59 AM

Cirie was too damn likeable to let anywhere near FTC. So was the obvious boot at 4. Cirie and Yau are the same person. Her only prayer was to get some idiot to drag her with him to F2 where she would absolutely annihilate him. Aras was that idiot. If she wins that fire making competition, she probably wins a million dollars. The Aras/Terry feud was such I think either one of them votes out the other and doesn't think of Cirie as a threat because they're both pretty much sexist idiots.

Remember that Cirie had previously gone about actively removing goats so that she was the closest thing to a goat (read: a woman) for those two blowhards. The obvious play was to take Courtney to F2, but Cirie said screw that and removed her. In one of the smartest and best executed plays in the show's history.
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#28

KimberStormer

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Posted Dec 25, 2012 @ 1:27 PM

So why did Aras vote for Danielle at 4 and force the tiebreaker then, Yogurt Baron? Wasn't it because he was trying to take Cirie to the end too? I don't remember. Only a complete moron would think that, out of Danielle, Cirie, and Terry, the one to vote out is Danielle. Aras tried to vote out the only person he could possibly beat.

Name a great player - a good player - whose consideration of who to sit with at FTC has anything to do with who you're close to.


JT. Better yet, Kim Spradlin.

Edited by KimberStormer, Dec 25, 2012 @ 1:31 PM.

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#29

Pin

Pin

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Posted Dec 25, 2012 @ 3:40 PM

So why did Aras vote for Danielle at 4 and force the tiebreaker then, Yogurt Baron? Wasn't it because he was trying to take Cirie to the end too? I don't remember. Only a complete moron would think that, out of Danielle, Cirie, and Terry, the one to vote out is Danielle. Aras tried to vote out the only person he could possibly beat.

Yeah, I'm shocked that Aras gets such praise, too, especially when he even said in interviews that he wanted Cirie to go to the F2 with him, not Danielle.
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#30

KimberStormer

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Posted Dec 27, 2012 @ 1:54 AM

I should let YB respond, because I honestly don't remember the circumstances very well; but I really can't see Aras's vote for Danielle as anything but evidence that Cirie had outplayed him, and not the other way around. There's just no gameplay reason for him not to vote with Danielle and Terry there. If this conversation on the yacht was really important at all, it sounds to me like it was Cirie convincing Aras to vote against his interests with her Cirie charm. "Final two, why you jokin'?" = "Wouldn't it feel horrible to vote me out? Don't even think about it!" In other words the exact opposite of how a Russell might have approached the exact same problem, and apparently a much better solution.

If I defend Cirie out of proportion it's because she's kind of like the reason I watch Survivor, personified. She didn't really get the mastermind edit she deserved in Panama, partly because her "personal journey" to "get off the couch" was TV gold, but also because of a failure of imagination, on the part of the producers, leading them to fail to see what was right in front of them. Because there's no way a character like Cirie would ever be written in fiction, at least not on national TV: a fat, black, adorable mother, who is also an unbelievable Survivor genius. Those things just don't go together in the mainstream fictional imagination. Fat moms might be wise, but they're not brilliant or devious. Watching Cirie do her thing in Panama and Micronesia was like a constant reminder of my own unconscious prejudices. Why was she surprising and delightful? Could I have invented Cirie? She's the reality, laying bare all the lies we're enveloped in every day.

I came to Survivor late. I had been a watcher, when it comes to reality TV, only of Project Runway and Top Chef and that kind of judged reality competition. There was never anything more frustrating than seeing the contestants, who are after all real, complete human beings, crash up against the invisible walls of the judges prejudices. Every time Tom Colicchio declares that a female contestant got "flustered", or Nina Garcia looks with narrowed eyes at a contestant whose personal style she finds déclassé, I want to shoot the TV. Imagine if Jeff Probst was the one who decided who stayed and who went home, what a homogenous bunch of boring white he-men we'd be left with. So to come to Survivor, where the fate of each player is more or less in her own hands, was an amazing breath of fresh air. On Survivor Cirie and Yau-Man are not just comic relief; on Survivor people like Denise, or Chris, or Sophie, or Richard Hatch for that matter, can win.

Of course the editors, the casting people, and Jeff Probst all try to squeeze everyone into these ridiculous little boxes. Amanda the virgin, Parvati the whore! Ozzy the hero, Cao Boi the kook! But when Cirie came back even they couldn't help but feature shots of her looking watchfully around camp, weighing her options, and confessionals where she says you can't always beat 'em with muscles, but you can always beat 'em with brains. Because she made miracles happen; because she's that fucking good.
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