As for the challenges, I'd say they were slightly above par. They introduced a dance competition that Earl helped win, along with many challenges that were balanced in general. They also reintroduced the "ranking your fellow castaways" that I'm surprised they don't do more often; that challenge is way more drama-inducing than, say, bowling. In general, I found the challenges pretty balanced. There were a few mental challenges, a few endurance ones, a few agility ones, and some standard Survivor ones like gross food or archery.
I really loved the "ranking" challenge and that one should be a staple, it always causes a ton of drama. The dancing one was a nice change too and the one that I found intriguing was the one where they had to pick coordinates that would blow up people's names. It was interesting in the sense that in the earliest rounds, you had no way to know who you were attacking. The memory game was also fun. I liked having some of the more up-in-the-air challenges where absolutely anyone could win and the challenge monsters could be foiled.
This season also introduced the slip-n-slide, where Sylvia spectacularly failed. Lisi fell (during a mental challenge!), and Michelle fell off a platform despite not even being blindfolded. Stacy got whacked by a giant slab of meat, and Boo repeatedly injured himself only for the hammock he was in to later collapse. As far as physical comedy goes, this season was the best.
Lisi taking a dive during the memory challenge was a highlight to me since she was such an irritating dingbat, man
*Could she have overused the word "man" a little bit more???
The way I saw it, Yau-Man happened to win a truck. He also didn't need a truck whatsoever, and knew that "Dreamz" talked about wanting a truck badly. The biggest consequence of the deal was that it made Yau a bigger target at F6 and F5, which he evaded booting by using his HII and then winning Immunity.
If Yau-Man didn't make the deal and kept the truck, he would be just as screwed if he managed to make it to F4 and didn't win Immunity. He made a huge gamble but even the slightest possibility of "Dreamz" keeping his word would have paid off handsomely. He would have made it to F3 against Earl and Cassandra and had a great shot at winning. He reached the point where he had a slim chance of "Dreamz" honoring the deal being better than nothing. He still gave it his all during that final challenge and would have lost anyways, so I thought it was a reasonable long-term gamble that didn't pay off.
I agree. He took a shot and it didn't work, but his revenge is that he made Dreamz look like someone who shouldn't get any votes. From the way Cassandra, Earl and Dreamz had been talking, I never got the impression that Yau-Man figured into their final 3 plans.
Speaking of that, I watched the whole season at once and I may have missed some stuff so I'm curious about when Earl switched from it being him and Yau Man to it being Earl/Cassandra/Dreamz?
I think the Have/HaveNot setup really set the stage for defensiveness and cruelty among the contestants. It seemed a little better after the merge, except for Stacy, who was always nasty if she was in a position of power.
One of the yuckier moments of this season was the french press incident with Dreamz and Stacy/Lisi. They were so snotty and dismissive of Dreamz for not knowing how to operate the french press. I know that Dreamz was a little lippy, but the scene of him sitting there with a cup full of grounds while Stacy and Lisi looked down their noses and snotted out the instructions had a really gross, classist feel to it.
It really likens back to Guatemala when Cindy had to choose between a car for her or a car for Lydia, Rafe, Danni, and Stephannie, and Cindy chose for herself, and Rafe and Steph were like what? Who does that? If she given us the car she would have been safe. And I'm thinking what.ever. If Cindy had given you all the car, and had lost immunity, you would have dumped her out on her zookeeping behind.
Or Micronesia when the group promised Jason immunity if he gave them the pizza reward (where most of them had their fingers crossed behind their backs.) They fully intended to boot his ass if not for the last minute decision to blindside Ozzy, the gift he gave them meant nothing. But in Yau Man's case, I think he was just shooting for the moon, it wasn't going to be the determining factor.
Alex and Lisi were predictably horrible at FTC, while Mookie and Rocky were predictably obnoxious. Edgardo was clearly seething but his question was mercifully brief. Michelle and Yau-Man were predictably nice. Boo surprisingly lashed out at "Dreamz" because of Christian values, since swearing to God was something "Dreamz" did a lot of during the game.
I actuallly thought Rocky was okay in his question, I was expecting more obnoxiousness from him.
Alex (who I'd actually liked in earlier episodes, prior to the Horsemen thing) was such an asshole at FTC. I don't blame Cassandra for not "shutting her mouth" on his demand. I can't stand jurors who think being on the jury means they can literally order people around. I'm sure some of Cassandra and Dreamz's answers cost them but I kind of respect them for standing up for themselves.
Lisi's question to Dreamz was really patronizing and obnoxious. She seems like an idiot and for her to try to call someone else out as stupid was ridiculous.
On the whole, Yau Man made the season for me. He was entertaining, funny and very straightforward and that was refreshing. I liked his attitude and his mature response to Dreamz at the end of the game.
Did this season not do a "fan favorite" vote at the reunion? That's too bad, I bet Yau was a lock.