Long before the Worlds Apart cast was announced, I already had a favorite player: Max Dawson. He made a not-so-subtle tweet indicating he would be on season 30, and the deal was sealed. A Brown-educated, snarky, Survivor-teaching professor with an amazing Twitter account? Who the hell could top that?
Enter Shirin Oskooi. Brown-educated. Survivor obsessive. Beyonce fan. Whiskey drinker. Amazing Twitter account. Possibly created in a lab as part of an experiment to develop my favorite Survivor ever.
There are other players on this season, of course. But if becoming my favorite Survivor player of the season is a trek up Mt. Everest, Max and Shirin are a few hundred yards from the summit and being carried there by a horde of Sherpas. Everyone else is still at the foot of the mountain drinking some fucked up tea Vince made them.
By the end of the season, one of them will likely emerge as my favorite. How will I decide? It’s quite simple, actually. They’re in direct competition with each other, so they will fight for my love and adoration.
But this will be a two-front war; my love is not won merely through performance on Survivor. There were people in Survivor: Tocantins that played better than Tyson, but this does not mean that they were better than Tyson. Much like athletes, Max and Shirin will be able to earn my affection for their actions both on the field (the episodes) and off (Twitter). Without further ado, the Week 1 breakdown:
In this episode:
Welcome to Survivor: Worlds Apart! You’re all going to be divided vaguely by profession, but more importantly by the stereotypical traits Jeff Probst has decided to ascribe to that profession. Shirin, that makes you white collar. How does that make you feel?
Not fully embracing the concept? That’s a point for Shirin. (Side note: Going full Rupert and wholeheartedly embracing the concept to the point of lunacy? That’s negative fifty million points for Dan. Sorry, Dan. I may retroactively kick you out of Hype Squad.)
Shirin also begins hustling for an alliance immediately, using Joaquin and So as easy targets. She turns to Carolyn first, and Carolyn is on board. I take back everything I said about Carolyn in our Worlds Apart cast preview podcast! I was all wrong! Carolyn is the best! All it takes is aligning with Shirin to get me to do a complete 180 on my first impression.
But two people alone does not an alliance make (as So and Joaquin will discover later). They need at least one more person. And they decide on…Max.
We then move on to the challenge, where things are going well for my beloved white collar tribe. They’ve got a decent lead over the blue collar tribe going into the puzzle stage, and they’ve selected what Probst described as the “most straight-forward” puzzle. And who steps up to take on the puzzle? Shirin. I’m already starting to debate which person from blue collar will be going home. Hey Dan, maybe don’t embrace the blue collar thing quite so hard next time, ok?
What’s this? They’re trying to make it look like Shirin is struggling with the puzzle? Well, that’s surely just added in a ridiculous attempt at drama. She’s got this.
*20 seconds later*
Ok, this is slightly terrifying, but I’m sure Shirin has this. Shirin’s tribe? Less sure. The blue collar tribe is now just looking at the already-completed no collar tribe’s puzzle for the answer. The white collar tribe panics. Max taps in.
Alas, it’s too late. The weird segment of Middle America that watches this show to root against the villainous, shot-calling white collar tribe will get their first taste of schadenfreude. Shirin blew the puzzle, and she’s now the easiest target.
Cut back to camp, post-challenge. So is talking to Max, and So isn’t sold on getting rid of Shirin. She thinks maybe Carolyn is a better target. Yes! Get her, So! I’ve changed my mind again. Carolyn is the worst! I knew I liked So!
As long as everyone can be convinced to ditch Carolyn, Shirin is in the clear. But Carolyn has an immunity idol. And Carolyn wants So gone. We’ve got our two targets! And Shirin isn’t one of them! It’s been real, Carolyn or So.
Now that we’ve prevented this contest from being over before it even starts, let’s go back to the scoreboard. Remember, this is all about earning my love. Shirin has earned one point for not embracing the class warfare concept. Max and Shirin earn all the points for aligning. Current standings:
1. Shirin: All the points + 1
2. Max: All the points
At tribal council, Shirin makes a reference to Tarzan from One World.
No, not that one. She says, “The game is afoot.” Score one for Shirin. Max, of course, instantly recognizes the reference and notes that a wise man once said that very same line. Predictably, score one for Max. And score one for Survivor for that amazing bit of fan-service.
This was an amazing week to be a part of Survivor Twitter. A large portion of this season’s cast is on Twitter, and they frequently interact. They’re an entertaining group, and they seem to genuinely like each other. But this is a competition between two specific players, so let’s see how they stacked up against each other.
Max spent time before the premiere by having Vince stay at his house. This led to some fantastic hashtag trolling of Vince, including #gypsythemed, #SustainableCommunities, #PersonalSpiritualOasis, and #circusinfluenced. That picture at the start of the post, with Vince drinking the “tea”? That was from Max. One point to Max for that one.
But Max also drank the tea Vince made, and that somehow led to this happening (quick warning, you’re about to run into some NSFW stuff, so I’ll give you some padding before I unleash it):
If you haven’t turned back by now, I really hope your boss sees this over your shoulder…
Deduct a point from Max, you say? Never. Nudity always earns a point. (More on that next week, apparently.) Ok, Shirin, you’re up. Show me what you’ve got.
Wait, is that Savage?! And how is it possible that he’s still so damned handsome? Do he and Jeff Probst participate in the same black magic rituals together? Regardless, score one to Shirin for the deep pull from one of my favorite seasons.
It’s a tie game now. Shirin has to bring me something strong to take round one.
Shirin is a Game of Thrones fan, too? This just seems unfair. Like that’s not going to appeal to the guy who runs a site that once compared Survivors to Game of Thrones characters (which, by the way, was some of Andy’s finest work)? It’s over! Shirin takes round one.
Current score: Shirin 1, Max 0
Next week: Nudity, nudity, nudity!
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cambodia