Purple Rock Podcast’s Survivor Gabon Watch-Along: Episodes 1-3

It’s time for Survivor Watch-Along, in which we watch a previous season of the show and invite you all to watch along with us. As promised on the podcast, we’re starting with Survivor: Gabon.

For this Watch-Along, the three of us that haven’t seen Gabon– John, Mark, and Matt- will be watching the season and discussing three episodes here each week. Advance warning: Even though we haven’t seen the season yet, we are aware who wins and we may accidentally spoil that at some point (and commenters may as well). With that out of the way, join us on our descent into Survivor madness.

Survivor Gabon cast
Nothing can possibly go wrong!

Matt:  Ok I just want to start in completely uncoordinated fashion by noting that in episode one Corinne is basically Neal-esque.

Mark:  Corinne was barely a factor considering how “iconic” she’s become since then. Curious to see how she breaks out.

Matt:  And when she did talk it was someone who thinks they are more interesting than they are.

Andy:  You just defined Corinne.

Matt:  Stay out of here Andy! We talking Gabon!

Andy  left #gabon

Mark:  That whole intro sequence was weird. You have a lot of random animal shots, a spastic hippo (metaphor for the season), and then a low-key intro where no one seems particularly jazzed to be there.

But the great Randy Bailey is a wedding videographer who hates happiness? Sign me up!

Matt:  Oh Mark, you don’t hate happiness you are just incapable of finding it.

Mark:  Low blow!

But as much as we love pick-em’s for challenges, that was an odd way to start the season. “You don’t know these boring people, but watch how bad they are at choices”.

Matt:  God they are so bad

John:  Let’s talk about that opening tribe selection, because in theory it’s a great way to start a season. It worked for Palau, and it worked after the first vote in Panama.

Matt:  The Panama selection is one of the greatest moments of comedy in Survivor history. This is just sad

John:  Panama’s selection process is funnier the second time you watch the season, because you realize all the mistakes they’re making in selecting each other.

Matt:  Exactly. And yet that is the tribe that can’t lose. Anyway, I think this one self-destructs because they have the oldest people picking the tribe.

John:  This one is weird because it’s not a requirement that you have to pick a man or a woman based on the round, seemingly. It’s just free-form.

Matt:  Right

John:  I think the first two picks (made by the olds) are actually pretty defensible. Because Crystal Cox is the most jacked preschool teacher I’ve ever seen.

Matt:  Did she win a gold medal? I think she won a gold medal. She may have mentioned it a few times.

John:  Indeed. Also mentioned? How terrible the selection process was. I think it was Charlie that said, “Are these people idiots? How are they selecting their team?”

Matt:  This was multiple people’s assessment.

John:  But generally, you’d want to find someone with strength, someone who looks dexterous, and someone who looks smart. That should cover your bases for early challenges.

Matt:  Right.

Gabon- Initial Fang tribe
That’s the first thing that’s ever gone wrong!

John:  So Fang (red tribe) picks Crystal first. She certainly looks strong. Then Crystal picks Susie because…she’s a mom?

Matt:  Yea that is the pick that was the worst. She is totally redundant with Gillian.

John:  Just gonna throw this theory out there: Susie would have been available in later rounds.

Matt:  Pretty sure she is the last pick with Gillian gone. But Crystal only gets this pick, and she wanted her.

John:  To be fair, Ace also decided that he was an idiot and picked Sugar.

Mark:  I really don’t get how Michelle was the last pick.

John:  Mark, none of the picks make sense.

Matt:  Yeah especially because she is HOT

Mark:  Calm down, tiger.

John:  Meh-chelle. A Survivor tradition that began in Gabon, apparently!


Matt:  I imagine that Michelle was giving off that don’t give a fuck vibe early and often. Like she obviously hated everyone there.

Mark:  Wouldn’t you after being picked last?

Matt:  Yes! Hence my attraction. She is the person I identified with most.

Mark:  And here I thought that was because she ate a grub.

John:  This actually leads into something I wanted to discuss: Survivor involves so much luck, even down to what tribe you end up on, or even what season.

Mark:  Very true. Wasn’t Max an alternate for Caramoan or something?

John:  Yes. So imagine you’re finally cast for Survivor, and you end up on a tribe with Gillian, Randy, Kenny, D-bag Matty, and G.C. Who are you forming an alliance with?

Matt:  Yea that tribe is terrible and you don’t even mention robot lawyer the idiot.

John:  Exactly. Even the lawyer on this tribe sucks. Matt would go talk to him and be like, “Nah. Pass.”

Matt:  Randy is by far the most competent person on that tribe.

Mark:  Which says something.

John:  I was actually going to say that Randy would be the first one I approached. Because somehow he seems the least objectionable.

Matt:  At least he makes his contempt open and obvious

Mark:  I mean you have Randy, nebbish Kenny, bland persons 1,2,3, a guy who can’t lead, and Gillian, who is a cross between Debbie Wanner and Jane Goodall.

John:  Let’s talk about that first “win the supplies” challenge. Crystal lost a fucking running competition! The lone skill involved was running! No puzzles, no digging, no knots. Just running.

Don’t you think they set up that exact type of challenge so that Crystal could outrun everyone else and have them all think “Damn, she’s fast!”

Matt:  Yea and she got smoked. It was pretty funny honestly.

Mark:  Yeah that was just sad. And it’s a bit of a tangent, but it sets up what has so far been a very green and brown season. There is just not a lot of iconic landscaping. Even camp fishing is like, a swamp.

John:  Yeah, I think the appeal of the scenery is going to be more about the animals.

Mark:  I’d chalk it up to being landlocked, but even Africa and Tocantins were more appealing.

John:  So in the challenge, I get maybe wanting to hang back and not expose yourself as some prime athlete or something, but Crystal couldn’t get up a hill!

And she blamed it on her running shoes being heavy. I ran for a very long time. Even New Balance, the lead weights of running shoes, are not that heavy. She has quads like tree trunks! Sorry, I can’t avoid commentary on running.

Gabon- first challenge Crystal GC running
It’s gotta be the shoes.

Mark:  That’s your thing! Just like my visuals tangents. And there’s a big difference between holding back and needing to be pulled up by old people.

John:  Yes! She needed help from others! That’s not holding back, that’s just being weak.

So GC and Marcus get there first and get the idols. In this situation, are you racing to get the idol first?

Mark:  60 seconds more and Michelle would have been safe. So maybe. But I get the impression, at least from editing, that people weren’t pushing for it so much as the athletic types made it up first naturally. This wasn’t a Cambodia bag of rice push.

John:  Generally, I don’t know that I’d want to put a target on my back right away. But in this case, since everyone will know who has the idols on both tribes, I don’t think it’s a huge risk to grab it. It might help you form an early alliance. The biggest benefit might just be keeping it away from others.

Mark:  Wasn’t it just for that first TC though?

Matt:  I think you push a little for it but yea I think it’s just that first TC. So someone like Michelle who was chosen last has to push, but I’m not sure the rest do.

John:  So because they suck at challenges- and really, who could’ve seen that coming?- the Fang tribe ends up at the first two tribal councils and we get a lot of them on screen. Do you have any favorites in this tribe yet?

Mark:  Randy and Kenny.

Matt:  I like Kenny because i too am nerdy and a video-gamer. But he is clearly on the outs

Randy as mentioned is probably competent and at least his contempt is open and obvious so I’m ok with him

Mark:  But are there really alliances yet? Both votes have been 8-1.

John:  That’s not how numbers work, Mark.

Mark:  Well, 8-1 and 7-1. You know what I mean!

John:  Also, it was 7-2 and 7-1. Kenny voted with Michelle because Kenny has never kissed a girl.

Mark:  Clearly this season is very memorable.

Matt:  To be fair to Kenny… she is hot.

John:  Her?

Mark:  Hey these days, all you need is a dynamic duo to succeed.

John:  Well here’s the thing about that duo: They aren’t dynamic. At all.

Matt:  Truth

Mark:  It was an interesting first vote though. What’s better? Being too negative or too positive?

And I maintain keeping Michelle might have won them the second challenge.

Matt:  Gillian was a huge dead weight and the challenges were pretty physical

Mark:  So by the end, they repented for the original sin of keeping Gillian.

Matt:  i don’t think it was Gillian’s positivity that got her voted her out, it was her complete failure at challenges.

Mark:  No, but her positivity saved her on Day 3.

Gabon- Michelle voted out
Not pictured: positivity.

John:  I have to believe they got rid of Michelle because she was annoying them.

Matt:  Yeah Michelle I think was making it well known how much she didn’t care for anyone.

Mark:  Fang is just a mess. Leader, no leader, paint, fire, failure.

John:  I’m glad Mark brought up the leader thing, because Probst mentioned it at both tribal councils. Is that just because this season is old enough that they still pretended to care about who was the “leader” of a tribe?

Matt:  I think so?  But also remember this is right before Samoa where they forced them to pick a leader, so that was something that they not only pretended to care about but made the tribes care about.

John:  It’s that weird holdover from the days when the show pretended to care about survival and building communities and whatnot.

Mark:  And yet their camp had pre-built huts.

Matt:  Yeah well there are fucking elephants near them.

John:  Are elephants afraid of huts?

Matt:  Yes. mice and huts. I am a lawyer, I have to know this stuff.

John:  That does sound like something a law-talking guy would know.

So Kenny and Randy are our two “favorites” at this point?

Matt:  Unfortunately…

Mark:  Few memorable people.

John:  Right. This is slim pickings. What about the other tribe? Any standouts there?

Mark:  Charlie. Paloma was hot and then she opened her mouth…

John:  So sexist. You want your women to shut up and look pretty?

Matt:  I think that tribe has interesting people, even if I don’t like them all.

Mark:  There’s too many generic bros and blondes on that tribe.

Matt:  One thing about Bob, every shot opens with him. He is always the first person you see.

John:  That’s what’s known as the winner’s edit, Matt. Just look for him to blandly regurgitate producers’ statements back to them later.

Why Michele? If you're reading this, you probably know why.
What’s his stance on being carried, bro?

Matt:  Anyway, I think Ace is an entertaining blowhard.

Mark:  Oh yeah, Ace. He could be promising. Several interesting accents this season.

John:  Ace feels like the arrogant idiot being set up for a fall later.

Matt:  Oh I don’t like him but I find his self-absorption entertaining.

Marcus is a generic leading man, but I kinda like him despite that.

John:  I like Marcus. My wife really likes Marcus.

Mark:  I don’t even know which one that is.

Matt:  Speaking of which, Charlie is so thirsty for Marcus

Gabon- Marcus and Charlie
So. Thirsty.

Mark:  OH, that’s Marcus. Ok. Still don’t get it but I get it.

Matt:  I think I liked Marcus by how he played that off, like ok I like the dude, but I am not gay, but if this makes him like me more sure I’ll entertain it.

John:  I loved how Charlie was like, “I feel like we have this amazing connection.” It’s basically how every teenage boy tries to get into a girl’s (or, in this case, a boy’s) pants.

Matt:  Exactly. I swear Charlie thinks he can turn Marcus.

John:  And Marcus was right to be totally fine with it, because Charlie is going to be a loyal vote with him. Just like Kenny was thirsting for Michelle and happily voted with her.

Matt:  Right, Marcus is playing this right.

John:  Which leads to my next point: Marcus is doomed, right?

Matt:  Oh most definitely. Either merge or victim of a bad swap would be my guess.

Mark:  Yeah, no way he makes it far.

John:  Ok, so going into episode 2 we’re all aboard the Randy train, then?

Gabon- Randy

Matt:  Weirdly, yes.

John:  But in the caboose, probably. Trying not to let other people see us.

Matt:  Hiding behind the drink cart.

John:  Episode 2 is entitled “She obviously is post-op!”, and yet we (or at least I) never heard that quote on the actual show. Anyone want to venture a guess who said it?

Emma:  Corrine

Mark:  I missed it too. Guessing Corri—ugh.

Matt:  Dammit Emma!

Emma:  It’s not on the show

John:  If only someone had mentioned that, EMMA!

Matt:  Yeah no crap. Now the harder question is who did she say it about… (ok that isn’t harder at all).

John:  So yeah, unanimous choice: Corrine said it.

So are we going to have consensus on who Corrine said it about?

Matt:  Crystal. Explaining why they lost the challenge.

Mark:  Sugar when choosing Exile?

John:  Nah. I’m with Matt. Gotta be Crystal, and for the exact reason Matt mentioned. Because Crystal beasted that reward challenge.

Matt:  Well it didn’t involve running, so she was golden.

Mark:  The only thing she’s beasted in 12 days.

John:  She somehow can’t run up a hill, but she will drag a bitch.

Gabon- Crystal and Randy win the dragging challenge
Pictured: Crystal’s singular talent.

John:  Well, apparently she and her tribemates have also been beasting on rice, because Randy very calmly presents the idea that maybe they should consider rationing. And the basic response is “Fuck you, Food Hitler! Don’t tell me what to do!”

Matt:  Again Randy (Randy!) is the reasonable person on that tribe. This is surprising me. But that tribe is a disaster.

Mark:  Or was.

Matt:  Right because of the swap.

John:  Yeah, are we going to move out of the caboose of the Randy train? Are we ready to publicly embrace him yet?

Mark:  For now, yes. Also Sugar. Because she is craftier than she looks.

Matt:  Randy’s severe dislike for his tribe mirrors my own so sure I’ll embrace him. But ugh, Sugar

Mark:  I can see how they were both the returnees.

Matt:  I’ll fight you on that.

John:  Well let’s talk Sugar, because she got her first trip to Exile “Island”.

Gabon- Sugar at exile Sugar shack
It’s actually a peninsula!

Matt:  Sugar seems like someone who plays to the camera only she seems this way when she isn’t playing to the camera.

Mark:  I think that she’s getting a bit of a Tai edit. Emotional, adept at finding idols, and underestimated.

We have to give her credit, though. This was back in the day when finding idols took work.

Matt:  And when she is playing to the camera in confessionals she is fine and likable, but in her every interaction with people she is putting on such a persona that I just fucking hate.

Yeah I’ll give her credit for finding that idol.

John:  I get the impression that Sugar is someone I wouldn’t enjoy spending time with. Which, let’s be clear, makes her fit in perfectly with a lot of others in this cast.

Matt:  I liked her on Exile Island a lot more than any other portion of this show.

Mark:  Oh I’m not saying she’s by new BFF. But she’s played the idol pretty well.

John:  Right, let’s give her full credit for the idol find, because Dan the Dim Lawyer was there first, and he didn’t even manage to find the first clue!

Matt:  Yeah well lawyers are idiots. Trust me I know.

John:  So Sugar plows through all the clues, then comes back to camp with her idol.

Gabon- Sugar hunting for the idol
This is what a crater looks like, Dim Lawyer Dan.

Matt:  She did play off the idol well, like obviously I didn’t find it, what did you expect?

John:  And Fang suddenly becomes competent in the next challenge as well. They even beat the physics teacher on a fairly simple math challenge.

Matt:  I loved that one team put up a physics teacher for a math puzzle and the other team put up the Asian guy.

Mark:  Because Kenny is awesome.

Matt:  So stereotypical.

Mark:  It’s not like he was Yul! Dude is a scrawny gamer.

Matt:  If I know anything from my friends who are physics PhD’s, it is that physics people don’t know math either.

John:  That’s why we have computers.

(Well, they.)

(I mean, we all do. But they need them for the math, is my joke.)

Matt:  You don’t have a computer John? Explain your joke more!

John:  Well, you see, the name Tai is a homonym. It sounds exactly like Thai! So…

Kaoh Rong- Tai Thai massage
Oh, I get it now!

Anyway, Fang wins immunity for the first time, and we get a relatively uneventful vote: Bye, Paloma. Anyone care to deliver the Paloma eulogy? Because I’ve got nothing.

Mark:  RIP both attractive women this season. Shame her scheming didn’t convince more than one of the Blonde People, because Ace seems like a liability down the line.

Matt:  I do like that people are just kinda done with Ace as a person, because wow that guy seems irritating. You know what I said about Sugar putting on a persona? Ace does that times a million

Mark:  No wonder they’re allies.

John:  Ace might actually be worse than Sugar. Ace takes Nick’s fake douchebag routine to its illogical extremes.

Matt:  Affected. That is the perfect word to describe Ace

John:  Ok, let’s talk episode 3.

Matt:  Another pick-em!  And man this one isn’t so hot either.

John:  Instead of a reward challenge, they bring out ridiculous pedestals and have the tribes rank everyone in the tribe in accordance with their importance to the tribe.

Matt:  I loved how uncomfortable Marcus was to be ranked #1

Gabon- Kota on pedestals at swap
Maybe he was just afraid of heights?

John:  And I like that it’s just a vague “importance to the tribe” ranking. Like the MVP trophy, where “valuable” gets debated. But Marcus and Matty end up as the most important from their respective tribes.

Mark:  Actually that whole pick em set up the vote at the end.

Matt:  So Kelly was on the bottom because she was the obvious outsider.

John:  And maybe also because she sucks?

Matt:  And then she goes to a new tribe and is again the outsider.

John:  Well, one thing happened there that’s actually interesting: Ace was stupid enough to say “No, don’t pick Kelly.” So Kenny was smart enough (although it took him a minute) to realize that meant he should definitely pick Kelly.

Matt:  Yeah I think Kenny played that pick em well for maintaining his voting edge, but his alliance still has GC in it. And good lord GC.

John:  Well GC and Sugar were the last available choices.

Matt:  Even before the swap Kenny was allied with GC!

John:  And Kelly, knowing that Sugar was aligned with Ace, took GC.

Matt:  I do love that even this early people knew not to pick GC.

John:  This was one of those cases where you just have to choose the least-terrible option.

Matt:  And yet I don’t think the other tribe has anyone terrible

John:  Yeah, the Kota tribe turned out pretty well again.

Matt:  And the people in the big old Kota alliance basically stuck together.

They lost Jacky.



John:  Let’s not get too hung up on the spelling. It won’t matter for long.

Matt:  Because she gone!

Gabon- Jacquie voted out
Goodbye, Jacquie. You were the Kelly that didn’t suck quite as badly.

John:  Yeah, Fang predictably loses the next immunity challenge, but does it because Randy is a goal-scoring machine at the challenge. And sure, it’s because he was cherry-picking for easy goals and because Fang is impossibly incompetent. But it happened!

Mark:  More points for Randy as MVP.

Matt:  I love watching Kenny and Crystal fail to move at all They just had the worst possible idea of how to steer those things. And the funny thing was that the other side was showing them how to do it!

Marcus was kneeling and rowing, and they were trying to stand and do it.

Gabon- raft immunity challenge
What’s it called when you keep trying the same thing and expecting a different result?

John:  If it ain’t operated by joysticks, Kenny can’t handle it.

Mark:  And you all thought I was bad.

Matt:  Also should we talk about how thirsty Kenny is?

John:  Kenny hasn’t kissed a girl, Matt. If one talks to him, he’s on board. She has three arms? Kenny can overlook that.

Mark:  Three arms is perfect for that loving embrace.

John:  She’s got a few priors for attempted murder? Kenny’s still down.

Matt:  How many times did he mention that Kelly was hot?

Kelly Czarnecki
What, is she funny or something?

John:  Do you think Kenny’s heart broke when Kelly called him out at tribal council for being terrible at the challenge? Kelly, by the way, was trying to ingratiate herself with Kenny’s alliance. So really an A+ move by her.

Mark:  I think he lost an extra life.

Matt:  So do you guys think the swap was the show basically saying “woah these tribes are uneven, lets swap?”.

John:  I actually don’t think that was it. I do think they wanted to try a swap that allowed them one tiny bit of information about the other tribe pre-swap.

Mark:  I think the show was as bored as we were. But it’s not like they helped themselves with the swap.

Matt:  It is kinda interesting how much they could suss out about the other tribe. I feel both sides had a good handle on where things stood generally

John:  They certainly didn’t do as poorly this time as they did the first time. Maybe with practice they get better at this stuff.

John:  So despite Kelly’s amazing diplomacy, Jacquie gets voted out, 5-2. Thus making it four straight women voted out to start the season.

Matt:  I think Jacquie made a certain amount of sense, but really the problems in that tribe lie in the alliance that is in control.

Matt:  GC and Kenny are not good at challenges, and Crystal has a niche and it isn’t running.

Gabon- GC Kenny Crystal
They were Luzon before Luzon.

Mark:  Or rowing.

Matt:  Ok so through three episodes who is standing out to us?

Mark:  Randy, Kenny, Ace (poorly). Sugar! And Crystal maybe?

John:  For standouts, I’d say Randy and Marcus.

Matt:  I’m with you John, I like Marcus. He is a clear alpha, but he almost seems embarrassed about it. It is a little endearing. Randy, despite being a giant curmudgeon, is seeing stuff with clear eyes thus far.

John:  I’m not as sold on Kenny as you guys are. I’m not a huge fan of Crystal, but she’s been a bit entertaining so far.

Matt:  I like Kenny but not as much as Mark

Mark:  John is a bro.

Matt:  I like Crystal for entertainment, but I think she is pretty damn bad at this game.

Mark:  Oh, no one here is a good player. They’re just entertaining.

Matt:  Bob faded into the background.

John:  Ok, so after three episodes it seems like we’re all still on the Randy bandwagon, right?

Matt:  Yeah I am just gonna say it: in this cast Randy is by far the best personality. I don’t think the show has had someone with his unrelenting cynicism before.

Mark:  Agreed on Randy. And Kenny just because of nerd solidarity.

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John is the co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast. He can get loud too, what the fuck!

Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cambodia
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277 thoughts on “Purple Rock Podcast’s Survivor Gabon Watch-Along: Episodes 1-3

      1. I looked it up and it seems like they were just getting a little too close for comfort out on the island. They fired him and he went into the jungle for two days until he wanted alcohol. They are now married.

          1. Our staff chats have taught us all that you have to immediately pounce on a joke before someone else gets there.

      1. Grant Mattos had the best one ever, but I just went to check it and it looks like someone edited it. It used to have a lengthy discussion of how well-liked Grant was on Survivor, and how he definitely would have won.

        It also had insanely specific details about Grant’s relationship with Boston Rob that could not possibly have been written by anyone else, along the lines of “Boston Rob called Grant and left a voicemail, but Grant had moved on with his life and no longer sought Boston Rob’s apology.”

        1. I saw that version because I wanted to know how long Grant was in the NFL for, and it’s amazing. Sad to hear it’s gone.

  1. “Matt: So do you guys think the swap was the show basically saying “woah these tribes are uneven, lets swap?”.”

    1000% yes. Not so much that they had a swap, but the way they did it. Basically, they sucked so badly in picking their own tribe that the producers tried to spell it out for them who should be the more valuable picks. And they screwed that up too.

    Stay tuned.

    1. I don’t know that they really screwed it up when picking for the swap. Yes, they definitely ended up with another 90% useless Fang tribe, but everyone picked more or less the ‘right’ choice based on the information they were given. Matty picked Ace who was second highest ranked; Ace picks Crystal (based solely on looks she’s the strongest woman out there); Crystal picks Jacqui (who was ranked as the highest woman on Kota); Jacqui picks Kenny (the highest ranked of those remaining); Kenny picks Kelly (Bob would have been a better pick, but in terms of strategy Kelly is a clever pick here); and finally Kelly doesn’t get a choice and has to pick GC. They all made smart(ish) choices but it still resulted in a crappy tribe.

      1. That’s what I meant when I say that at least they got better at it the second time; they still ended up with a loser tribe, but their picks were mostly justifiable- and Kenny picking Kelly was (hopefully) more about giving him a chance to have numbers within his tribe.

      2. I think you are giving Kenny too much credit there, don’t think hr picked Kelly because of strategic reasons.

    2. But after losing the first 3 challenges, Fang came back and won both challenges in the episode just before the swap. So it wasn’t a Palau-type situation where one tribe was winning all the challenges. And even in Palau, Stephenie’s tribe won some of the reward challenges.

      There was only a one-person difference between the tribes, it’s not like one tribe had a runaway lead over the other and the other tribe could not win any challenges.

  2. Apologies for the massive length of this one (Phrasing!), but we were covering three episodes that were essentially four thanks to the 2-hour premiere. And we also had to get initial impressions out of the way. Future weeks should be much more manageable.

    1. This was great. The length is fine. Although when I started there were 3 comments and by the time I finished, mine makes 30.

  3. This was a lot of fun to read. Definitely looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the rest of the season. I’m not as big a Gabon fan as a lot of other people because I don’t think the cast is spectacular, but I have a soft spot for hilariously bad Survivor gameplay which makes me enjoy some of the people and events of Gabon that you guys don’t like as much. I mean, Lawyer Dan is basically the spiritual successor to Sean Kenniff! How could you not love that? Of course given you guys’ feelings on Nicaragua I imagine this season won’t end up ranking highly for you.

    I am glad though that we can all agree on one thing, which is that Randy is freaking amazing. Hopefully by the time you get to his elimination you’ll share my opinion that he is one of the greatest characters in Survivor history. I can’t think of another character who is so much better than everybody else in their cast, except possibly Dawn in Caramoan.

    1. Just to clarify: I’m going in to this season with an open mind. I know Andy hates this season, but so far I’d say it’s been entertainingly bad. Unlike Nicaragua, this season does at least have a few redeemable characters in the cast.

      And you’re just baiting Emma with that Dawn in Caramoan comment.

      1. I’m going into this season with an open mind as well, and I’m willing to have my mind changed on Gabon. Against all odds I’m looking forward to starting my rewatch. I had Gabon in tier “irredeemable” but enough people like it enough that I’m willing to admit I was wrong (that will take a lot of convincing but it’s possible).

        At worst it will be a fun project to talk about with the Purple Rock folks!

        1. My tastes are generally fairly close to Andy’s (with 2-3 seasons being notable exceptions), so I’m guessing I won’t love this season. But so far it’s been fine, if a bit maddening from the perspective of a fan that enjoys strategy.

          1. Imagine if you watched it as you watch other new seasons–waiting a week for each episode, plotting out each player’s best moves, speculating about the winner, etc. It would drive you insane. This is the season that turned me off Survivor so much I skipped Tocantins.

          2. I completely understand the frustration. And knowing who wins this season, I imagine the frustration only grows. But at this point, it’s still fairly entertaining- even if these people are pretty awful at this game.

          3. This right here is why I don’t put as much stock in my opinion of a season via re-watch as I did the week to week experience of watching it the first time. That’s the intended experience, and seasons that don’t hold up well to that are not good.

      2. That’s pretty much it, really. It’s not *good* Survivor, but it still manages to be entertaining, which makes it better than it really has any right to be.

    2. Thus far I find the season more frustrating than bad. Frustrating in the sense that I see these mistakes and I am just like no, no, don’t do that. And then they do that. But I do not hate what I am seeing.

      1. For me it was frustrating when they would say something that kinda made sense and then their actions would completely contradict what was just said.

        1. I have watched a few more than we talk about (after we talked about them) and at the end of the next batch I will be posting a theory on how the rest of the season will play out. But in a nutshell I think this season has people who are cognizant enough to sense when they are being threatened, but no one who knows how to play from the top. So there is just constant bottom churn of people lashing out because they are in danger and people at the top not knowing how to stay the course.

          1. The most fun part of this is reading your predictions about what’s going to happen.

          2. I will have an in depth one for the entire post-merge at the end of next week. I think it is pretty accurate (but maybe not!)

      2. This is where a lot of my Gabon hate comes from (that and Sugar.)

        Nicaragua has enough people doing something that kind of looks like Survivor that you can piece the story together. Gabon is mostly random things happening for dumb reasons.

    3. If nothing else, this season has been entertaining, with some decent challenges. Randy never left an impression on me in HvV, but here I can definitely see why he got all the hype. Sugar, too. (So far I’m a bigger Sugar fan than the other guys.)

      1. I found the scenes of Sugar at Exile to be my favorites of these three episodes. I find her charming in that environment and loved how much better she was at finding an idol than Dan.

      1. I wouldn’t talk like that if I were you. Your username starts with a “D”.

        1. It doesn’t even matter if I piss him off or kiss his ass, the only way he’ll skip my turn is if I win immunity!

  4. 1. Of course John doesn’t like Kenny, John is too well adjusted.

    2. This season makes you realize why Randy was on HvV and why they should bring him back.

    3. I resent the physics/math joke.

    1. it’s true though. when I ate out with my physics friends, I, the lawyer, was left doing the basic math necessary to split the bill

        1. I picture Matt hanging with his friends being exactly like the apartment on The Big Bang Theory.

          1. Ha, when I got the notification I was going to say that was probably the meanest thing he’s ever said to you, but figured I should check the replies first.

        2. every single one of my close friends in college became a scientist of some sort, the doctor was the least science-y of them.

          1. Ah, right right. What a delightfully pessimistic way to look at the even year thing.

          2. As a Red Sox fan who doesn’t dye his beard I just think that the even year thing is a lucky fluke.

  5. I never seen anyone run from the “leader” label as fast as GC. He looked like he wanted to throw himself in the fire after he was elected.

  6. So I saw this season for the first time a couple months ago. I had wondered why Survivor never does schoolyard tribe picks anymore. I find them to be both interesting television and the best way to swap. I was directed in the comments on this site to check out Gabon for the answer. Well I have my answer. That was the worst I’ve ever seen. Then they gave them a second chance and still fucked up. This performance had to scare off the producers from the concept.

    1. It is also the season that killed Exile Island. But I love schoolyard picks and they need to bring them back, they are great

      1. It’s been long enough to try it again. Perhaps the future all star season would be a good spot. I think they work more often than fail.

        1. I think part of the reason the swap works so well in Micronesia is the favorites have some sense of what they’re doing and for the fans, everyone they’re picking is a known quantity except James. (And the wisdom of picking James is obvious.)

          1. Also, Parvati and Penner were 2 of the people that picked the new tribes in Cook Islands. Add to that the experience that Cirie had with schoolyard picks in Panama and these contestants are fairly familiar with picking tribes.

      2. To be fair the killing of Exile was due to people figuring it out for the most part that if you only send one person you know who will have the idol.

      3. How can this be the season that killed Exile Island when it came back for SJDS? That was clearly an attempt to bring it to the modern age and not at all a last minute decision because Probst finally realized Redemption Island was not great.


        1. To be fair, Probst freely admits that he found out too late that people don’t like Redemption Island and they had to reconfigure SJDS at the last minute.

          1. According to Probst he really didn’t know how unpopular it was until he was having dinner with one of his Hollywood friends pre-SJDS and when he said they were doing redemption island again the guy was like “oh… really?”

            But they had already built all of the duels, so they just reworked them as hero challenges.

          2. It was Mike White! One of my favorite writers and now one of my favorite Survivor advisers.

          3. I thought Redemption Island was canned in S29 because they lost So Kim and her sister due to medical reasons. They didn’t have enough players to occupy RI, so they canned it altogether. I think Probst used the Mike White anecdote to justify it after the fact.

          4. Yeah, this is what I heard. They had originally planned for 20 players but one pair had to back out, and because of the numbers (was it that the # of males and # of males no longer matched) they replaced Redemption Island with Exile Island.

          5. I think that’s possible, but I also think it’s possible that Probst get wrapped up enough in TWO. PEOPLE. GOING. HEAD. TO. HEAD. that he doesn’t realize that it’s not as exciting for people who aren’t seeing it live as it is for him.

      1. Interesting point. I didn’t even think of the long run we had of no swaps. Something that’s pretty much engrained in every season now.

          1. He would have if he got stuck with people who didn’t believe in loyalty and honesty like he did. Caveat=Tocantins had the mutiny option, Samoa had the “spy” twist, and there was the Redemption Island twist on Red.I. and SoPa, so there were chances for the tribes to interact but not a large amount of them at the same time.

          2. Was Coach ever on a tribe that completely believed in loyalty and honesty like he did? Does anybody in the world believe in loyalty and honesty like Coach did? The answer is no, because Coach has a different definition for those words than the rest of us do.

          3. Savage.

            I would totally be okay with Coach coming back as long as he and Savage came back together.

          4. Can you imagine being on a tribe where not one but two of your tribe mates had prior experience in throwing objects and breaking tiles? Plus, I’m pretty sure that Coach waited on me at Red Lobster one time.

            I had the seafood. It tasted like Dragon blood.

          5. I was thinking the same thing – but added Savage and Coach meet Scot and Jason. Although I don’t want to ever see the latter 2 again.

  7. I wanted to mention the drag the person reward challenge. Ace was definitely setting up Paloma to fail. Having her in the challenge and positioned in that spot was 100% bound to fail.

    1. I have to say that I hate this challenge more than any other challenge that they do on Survivor to the point where I almost immediately start having an anxiety attack when I realize what they’re doing. I can’t believe no one has ever been seriously injured (at least to my knowledge) when performing this challenge. It reminds me of being in high school back before many of you were born and having rain days during soccer. Our coach (just a regular, lower case “c” coach, not the one we all love so much) would decide that “today is a good day to play 2-on-2 indoor! JV vs. Varsity!” It doesn’t take long for that field house to heat up in Texas despite the rain, and it didn’t take long for tempers to flare either. Every. Single. Time we did this it ended in some kind of a fight. Every time. And every time our coach was shocked that teen-aged boys were unable to handle their emotions when facing such a situation. It’s all about the escalation. There is only so much you can get physically man-handled before you start man-handling back. I almost want to leave the room but I can’t. When I watched last night I realized that my hands were shaking. I was thinking about when I was sixteen years old and getting repeatedly shoved into a cinder block wall until I snapped and struck a teammate (well technically he was Varsity and I was JV) who was much bigger than I was but I just didn’t care. I always feel like this challenge will end this way. I hate this challenge so much.

      1. Watching China one of my takeaways was that, as much as we joke about the carnival games era, it probably was a good idea, because it’s amazing some of these challenges don’t end in fist fights.

      2. I fucking love this challenge but only because the one in Cook Islands is an epic challenge where everyone is fairly good and incredibly vicious to each other.

        1. I also loved it in Cook Islands but I don’t think it’s been good anytime since. I think it’s a bad challenge that worked really well once.

      3. Wasn’t there a challenge in Samoa that resulted in someone getting ejected? And Thailand had an incredibly ill-conceived challenge that had multiple ejections.

          1. That was also Schmergenbrawl. There’s a reason they ran that challenge twice and never again; it turned out to be uniquely suited for bringing out everyone’s most aggressive tendencies.

            Although, oddly enough, they used a picture of it in that New York Times article on Survivor’s impressive longevity.

          2. The ones that bring out violent-ish tendencies can be ok if the design of the area isn’t also dangerous. Even the Hold the Pole challenge is ok because there aren’t things players can be slammed into and there are rules about choking etc (see the Cook Islands version).
            Problems arise when the areas they are in are badly designed either by being too small or having too many hard objects to damage players Schmergenbrawl is an example of that, if that set up were in water like the floating basket challenge or in a more open area without wooden walls.

        1. Ben Browning got ejected from Schmergenbrawl in Samoa because he kneed someone after Probst had already told him to cut it out. And his response was basically to say that Probst was a pussy, because Ben Browning is the worst.

          People forget that not only was Russell not the most awful person on that season, he wasn’t even in the same ballpark.

          1. Jeff even tells Ben that he is the first person to be ejected, even though Thailand had three or four.

            Also, wasn’t Val ejected from Sumo at Sea but it wasn’t aired?

          2. The technical difference is that the Thailand challenge had specific rules you could be booted for – no unnecessary roughness and no attacking outside the attack zone. There wasn’t anything similar in Samoa, they just realized they had to pull the guy.

        2. Haven’t seen Samoa. I wanna say that there was an early season with a challenge on balance beams… over water… did Rob get ejected or was that another season? Bobby Jon’s first season?

          1. Robb got ejected for breaking the rule that you can’t pick a player up by the neck and throw him off the balance beam. One of my favorite Thailand moments.

          2. “Robb, you didn’t have both feet in the Attack Zone when you … when you grabbed Clay by the throat.”

            One of my favorite Thailand moments and Probst quotes.

          3. You’re referring to Robb (the second B is for Badass, probably) in Thailand. That challenge was over water, and he choked an old ass man out before getting offended at Jeff’s suggestions that he’d broken some kind of rule.

          4. To be fair, he was living under the shadow of the law his own parents broke: Don’t add an unnecessary letter to your child’s name

          5. “We got beat today, dude. But it wasn’t by somebody better than us. We lost by a bunch of rules.”

        3. You’re thinking of the schmergenball challenge (another one they will never ever do on Survivor again). Someone got thrown out for diving at Russell Swan’s knees.

  8. “Sugar seems like someone who plays to the camera only she seems this way when she isn’t playing to the camera.”

    I adore Sugar — which is one of the reasons I actually like this season — but that’s a pretty apt description of her. I wonder how much her career played into that person of needing to seem upbeat even when she very clearly isn’t.

          1. There are times I like her and other times I want her off the screen. Overall I say she’s okay.

          2. Two episodes into Gabon and I’m really surprised how much I like Sugar. Of course, Corinne seems perfectly pleasant so far, too. There’s a lot of season left, is what I’m saying.

          3. I hated her almost immediately, and I think John nailed it. She seems really contrived in a way that grates on me.

          4. Yup. I’m a fan. Others appear to be as well. After all, she did come back as a Hero.

          5. I thought that whole ‘hero’ thing was kind of random, the way Candace was a ‘hero’ and Danielle and Coach were ‘villains’. At least I’ll get to watch her get voted out almost immediately in the HvV re-watch. That was pretty great.

          6. I can actually see Danielle as a villain especially since she took out the two heroes of Panama, Cirie and Terry. Coach and Candace are definitely shrugged shoulders causing.

          7. I always figured the producers got together and decided Coach could never be on the hero tribe because he’d be even more insufferable than Rupert.

          8. Yeah, the 6 obvious choices for the male heroes are Colby, Rupert, Tom Westman, JT, Ozzy and James, and there’s a limit to how many Micronesia returnees you can cast so one of the last two had to go.

          9. Granted, they were supposedly planning on completely reuniting the Widows before the other Heroes pitched a fit.

          10. I’m pretty sure it happened the day before, but I suspect that production saw it coming as an issue long before that. The players already knew who was on what tribe because you could ask people what colors wardrobe was having them wear, and I’m sure they didn’t hesitate to be vocal.

          11. It makes more sense when you realize that ‘villains’ means ‘people who are good at confessionals plus Danielle’ and ‘heroes’ means ‘people who are bad at confessionals plus Cirie.’

          12. Pretty good when they don’t have to compete with Tyson, Russell, Boston Rob, Sandra, Courtney, Coach, Parvati, and Randy.

          13. nah I will take China James over most of those people. China James is A+ plus confessionals

          14. Coach is a sanctimonious ass and the “love to hate” type. Casting him as a villain makes perfect sense.

          15. You’re definitely right about that. I guess I just can’t take him seriously enough to consider him a villain (or a hero). He’s too pathetic for either label.


    Emma and I have selected the follow-up watch-a-long to Gabon: since you’re all enduring what many believe to be one of Survivor’s worst seasons, we’ll re-watch what many believe to be one of Survivor’s best:

    Let’s watch JT, Cirie, and Sandra do their thing for the second time before we watch them do it a third time. Let’s rave about awesomeness. Let’s see Andy react to Boston Rob getting the boot.

    So now you have something to look forward to.

    1. Andy would pick HvV while John picks Gabon. It’s like Boston Rob vs. Courtney Moon all over again.

      1. Actually the Gabon watch was my idea, I have a few holes left and this was one was shared by John so we were like well if we are both gonna watch it might as well do something for the site. Then not wanting to double down on the badness and follow it up with say Nicaragua afterwards, Andy decided to do a good season

          1. Has anyone ever come back from Nicaragua?

            Edit: I mean returning players from the season. I realized that sounded horrible.

          2. Caramoan is the season right before I started watching again. I sometimes get it confused with Cagayan, although I didn’t realize it until just now.

    2. Boy are you gonna feel stupid when all those great Gabon players get knocked out early and there’s no point in watching anymore.

    3. You’re giving me more Coach and more Tyson? And John said I wouldn’t get a prize for winning Champions League!

    4. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!!! Ever since the cast announcement, my goal has been to get my fiancee to watch Heroes v. Villains on the premise that “you won’t understand the new season as well if you don’t.” I have never had success getting her to watch past seasons. I think this might do it.

      1. Guilt her with “these are the people that congratulated us on our engagement on the podcast”, and she’ll have to cave. Also, if it helps, Heroes vs. Villains is the season that got my wife and I back into Survivor. After we watched it we became regular viewers again and plowed through nearly all the seasons we’d missed.

  10. My favorite parts of the first episode: the aforementioned spastic hippo (which I think they show a second time with a flipped image…but I’d like to think it was filmed at a later time with the same hippo, who just LOVES the water that much that he can’t control himself), and Dan getting the clue to the hidden idol, reading that it says something about “across the lake, in a sandy crater” and immediately starts looking *in* the lake for it.

    Excellent write-up, looking forward to how it shapes up from here!

    Also, I’m not sure if you noticed, but Charlie likes Marcus.

    1. Puppy like lawyer Dan failing to even understand the first clue and the subsequent montage is probably the single moment of Survivor i find funniest.

      1. For some strange reason my favorite is the tribal council in Guatemala when Jamie says to Bobby Jon “why are you still talking?” and Bobby Jon says “because I can. And I want to.”

        I sometimes quote this in my day to day life. And I never say where the quote is from because I already get enough crap for loving Survivor I don’t have to. And I don’t want to.

        1. Now I’m envisioning a TV show with both Jamie and Bobby Jon as NYPD:

          Two very similar cops, one very different city! Two partners both trying to make a million in dirty money! Who will persevere in Fort Final Tribal Council: The Bronx!

          Also starring Judd Sergeant as the sergeant.

          1. I’m pretty sure Jamie and Bobby Jon would kill themselves before they moved to New York.

          2. Jamie: Mariano got you this time, Bobby Jon! You’re bleeding out! Tell me, who is the corrupt cop here at Fort Final Tribal Council: The Bronx!
            Bobby Jon: I don’t see why that’s any of your business. Always poking your nose in…
            Jamie: Bobby Jon! You’re dying! Why are you keeping the identity of the crooked cop a secret?
            Bobby Jon: Because I can… *coughs blood* And I… Want… To… *dies*
            Sergeant Judd: Okay, everybody! We lost just Bobby John! And we’re gonna put Mariano in the ground! Everybody understand? Mariano is going in the ground! Not in a tree, not anywhere high up. In the ground! Definitely in the ground!
            Jamie: I’m cool with it.

        2. I do the Ted/Funny115 275 – 430% satisfied quote all the time. Lots of people think it’s funny, but no one’s ever gotten the reference. (I know those aren’t Ted’s actual numbers)

      2. Do the editors give Dan the “derp” music during that part? It’s funny enough to not even need it for emphasis.

  11. One thing that I found going into the series knowing who the winner was is that I had no problem with that person. Very likable, seemingly competent, entertaining… Then the first episode was over and they really don’t show that person anymore. If they had more OWM in her season, I think I would have liked it less; but this season could maybe have used more of its winner in the edit? It makes me wonder if the editing didn’t have a hand in making this a lower-tier season.

    1. The things is that there’s not a lot to show, because he does even less than Michelle. Michelle at least made conscious efforts to stay in the majority, he just seems to keep ending back up in it because people want him there. You can’t have him explain things because he doesn’t know what’s going on, and it doesn’t seem like he said a lot of other stuff that was interesting.

      I honestly think Gabon is a better season if Susie wins. At least she had clear motivations.

      1. Fully agree on Susie. I often (not really often but whenever Gabon is mentioned) wonder what this season looks like editwise if Susie wins. But they all hated her because as we know, a woman of that age isn’t allowed to play well enough to get to the end. If she does then she is an evil hag. I recently realised that Sandra was only 29 when she won Pearl Islands. That is insane to me she was the same age I am now. In my head she is a sort of ageless mum figure.

        1. Sometimes I entertain the idea that I could possibly be on Survivor. Sadly though, I feel like after hearing my tribe mates talk about getting rid of the old guy, it still might take a while to figure out who they were talking about.

          1. I watched Pearl Islands at 18 and at 18 29 year olds who have kids and wear orangey linen trouser suits look really old.

          1. If you look at the Photos of her in pearl islands that she’s younger than you thought bit the outfit is not helpful.

  12. So I was so bored at work and you guys put this up while I’m out taking my mother to her birthday Bonnie Raitt concert (and yes she was fucking amazing) and now it’s past midnight and I’m typing my thoughts about Gabon, not cool guys.
    Anyway thoughts:
    Corinne in a suit with shorts, want to try this in the office this summer.
    You guys keep conveniently forgetting that Crystal Cox probably doesn’t have the ummm, herbal suppliments… she had during the Olympics by this point.
    Dan’s “I want to be the silent leader who doesn’t get the blame” is so good and so dumb. Stupid dumb Labrador Puppy Dan.
    Ace’s accent is totally affected. As you know I am a Londoner, born and raised, and I knew kids who went to International School and were American, none lost their accent much if at all because they are only around other American kids and kids of wealthy Emirati princes or Hong Kong business men who all learn English with American accents.

    1. First: I think it is amazing that you get Bonnie Raitt to perform for your mother’s birthday every year. That must cost a pretty pound. Second: Ace is just one affectation away from being a Bond villain. He may be my favorite so far.

      1. Oh pish off. You knew what I meant! She turned 65 last week and deserved tickets to a nice gig.

        Also no one with a real British accent is called Ace.

        1. Honestly I think it really is amazing that you did that for your mom. She totally deserved to see that concert with you.

          1. Me and my mum are really close and we have very similar taste in music. Bonnie Raitt is one of the tapes we had in the car for long journeys. Last month we saw the Dixie Chicks, I’m 29 and my last 4 gigs have been with my mother.

          2. You really had to slip ‘mum’ in there, because otherwise this would be the least British thing I’ve ever seen.

          3. Are you being serious? Even I know that “Bonnie Raitt” is Cockney slang for Blue Oyster Cult.

          4. We drove through Europe a lot, no where in the UK is more than 10 hours drive from London.

          5. We like country music it’s just the American version of Scottish and Irish folk.

    2. I was waiting for you to chime in to ask you about Gillian’s accent. I didn’t think it was a London accent, and as a wild guess I was thinking maybe West Country. But it turns out she’s from Johannesburg. So close!

      1. She’s South African but changed by living in the US, my mum’s family are South African and there are 32 cousins living across the world, they sound wonky.

    3. I have a coworker who spent some schooling years in London and he doesn’t have an accent which is how I knew that Ace was an affected d-bag

  13. Question: Do you guys already know the awful decision they make with the merge tribe name, or is that going to be a surprise to you?

    1. I am so, so bad at remembering the tribe names… I hope it’s blue tribe?

      1. I didn’t even know the runner up, though I think I picked up on it from comments here. I do know about the one guy getting punked, though.

        1. I am grinning right now just thinking about it. I don’t even know why it’s so funny yet!

    2. Yeah, that name is not one of the best. Just curious, what are your picks for favourite merge tribe names?

        1. Thanks for that. I feel like Koror is a bit of a cheat because I’m with the producers and not calling it a merge. Ulong dissolved and got absorbed into Koror. If Dangrayne (which I actually got just now, I need to see the naming process ’cause I missed it last time) was called Fuckingrayne that would be the greatest tribe name ever. Nothing would even come close. We need more tribes sneaking in swears into their name.
          Where do you place Kaoh Rong’s merge tribe name, Dara?

        2. I went down into the comments to check if I echoed your “fuck you, Gabon,” and I’m really disappointed to see I didn’t. That error has been rectified.

  14. I love that Kelly says she usually gets along with everyone, which probably means her very specific bubble of friends that she hangs out with back home. Paloma also cracks me up in her boot with her confessional about how her strategy is like the animals in that she listens and then “prounces”. She is annoyed that everyone is letting Ace run the show when literally one person likes Ace. These aren’t even the people that come to mind when Gabon is described as a trainwreck! What a mess of a season. Still weirdly watchable though.

    1. It’s funny, out of my group of friends I’m thought of as the toughest one to become friends with but I have a specific skill set when it comes to talking to strangers and finding common ground, obviously that is on the bus or at a bar or standing in a long queue for a toilet. It doesn’t always translate to spending 24 hours with people. Kelly may well have that problem, she could be really good at face value interaction but not deal well on deeper levels.
      In my first political job I spent 12 weeks on location campaigning with 5 other new hires, we had to share rooms, eat every meal together and be apart for no more than an hour or two every day, it was really really hard. In someways it was like Survivor but without the game play, there were 4-5 really big arguments caused by people working 12 hours a day in a physically demanding job (on the door campaigning) who were exhausted and had spent too much time together. To this day 5 of us hate the 6th because she was such a nightmare to live with.

      1. Hmm, you’ve given me a lot to think about with this person I wanted to write off!

        I am weirdly willing to defend pretty much any player from current seasons, but apparently not ones from older seasons. Though I can’t imagine putting up a defense for some of these Gabon players anyway.

        1. I think to some extent we need to remember to only critique them as characters not necessarily as people, at least until they show themselves as people on social media or interviews (Kyle or Russell for example).

  15. Just to nitpick, because that’s what we do, Michelle did get voted out 8-1. Kenny did vote for her, even though he wanted to make out with her. Or more than that…

    I like Marcus and Charlie. They’re very charming together. And Marcus probably played Charlie’s move on him cooler than most would.

    When I first watched the show, I didn’t like Randy. Now re-watching it, Randy has become a bit more endearing. That may be because I am more cynical and misanthropic than I was 8 years ago.

    (Kinda spoilers) The caption said Fang was Luzon before Luzon. Oh man, you have no idea. I would say, though, that Fang is closer to a spiritual successor to Ravu from Fiji. Barely winning any of the challenges for the entire season, no matter who’s on their team. However, Fang did actually win immunity a couple of times, unlike Ravu.

    1. Ravu were fucked over in an obvious and terrible why by the game mechanics of that season. Fang had a shot to repick and still ended up so fucking shitty.

    2. The Luzon before Luzon comment was not just about how inept they are at challenges, but how dysfunctional they are as a group.

      You’re right about Michelle going out 8-1, though. I overestimated Kenny’s devotion. I did not, however, overestimate Charlie’s. And I agree that the Charlie/Marcus dynamic is charming.

    3. I have the same impression of Randy. I remember siding with Sugar against him and Corinne (and did with Sierra against Tyson in Tocantins) just because of the meanness factor but after hearing Randy over the years (ditto for Corinne and Tyson) on podcasts, I’ve mellowed.

      1. I’m sure if I watch Tyson in Tocantins again, I’ll like him more, because I know I did not like him for making fun of Sierra–I should make a note to re-watch Tocantins at some point. When I first saw Tocantins, I thought he was an asshole; a bit funny, but an asshole. In Blood vs Water, I thought he was funny; a bit of an asshole, but funny. My cynical side had kicked in by then.

        1. There’s three things going on in BvW-

          1.) Tyson is clearly trying really hard to control himself because he’s working to keep his alliance together, although when he gets flustered the sarcastic side of him comes out (see, e.g. “Rustle Feathers.”*

          2.) He probably also said some shit in confessionals that production didn’t air. Not everyone is a Tyson fan, and the show had to present its winner in the best light.

          3.) He’s also just grown up a lot since Tocantins. I know he still defends his treatment of Sierra as being about keeping the person on the outs still on the outs, which doesn’t all the way make sense given that he kept it up in one-on-one interactions (even if “I know you’re not the mastermind, I don’t think you’re smart enough” is one of my favorite Tyson burns), but I think he knows now how it looks.

          *Sidebar: It’s indisputably that “I Can Forgive Her But I Don’t Have To Because She Screwed With My Chickens” is the best episode title ever, but is “Rustle Feathers” second?

  16. Have you guys considered that Sugar is actually a great survivor player doing a performance art piece? Because she displays flashes of brilliance, and is the most influential player of the season, yet is unreservedly terrible.

    1. I think the first episode of HvV puts to rest any speculation that this is the case. Sugar is uniquely terrible at integrating into that tribe and has no idea what to do with people who are actually trying to strategize.

      1. HvV is her elaborate dialectic on gender roles in premodern civilization… but probably not.

        1. I think she’s closer to Cambodia Abi – someone who primarily votes emotionally but gets carried along because people can use her emotions to get rid of people they want to. The differences are that 1.) Abi stopped being useful before Sugar so it was easier to clip her, and 2.) We’re talking about the cast of Cambodia vs. Gabon, so kind of a skill gap there.

    2. I had that exact same thought today (right down to the “performance art” formulation) about Elizabeth Holmes.

  17. Honestly, after re-watching Gabon, Puppy Dog Dan just instills feelings of deep sadness for me.

  18. Am I imagining things or is Probst kind of going through the motions so far this season? Or is it just (entirely justified) contempt for Fang? Is this the point where he was angling for his own talk show and whatnot? I haven’t seen Micronesia but I don’t remember him being this disengaged in Tocantins.

    1. I believe in the New York Times article about the show, Probst mentions wanting to quit during (or after) Gabon. So yes, I think this season is breaking him for whatever number of reasons.

  19. Matty sounds just like Dean Winter, from “Oz” and the character Mayhem on those insurance commercials.

  20. Hey, I’m gonna rewatch this season along with you guys. I haven’t seen this since it first aired but I’m sure it’s just awesome!

    Episode #1a:

    Was this the last season where Production let the players pick the tribes? If so this must be a season they mention if anyone ever suggests letting players do this again. Even Jeff can’t mask his bewilderment.

    Bob is the original Survivor MacGyver.

    Michelle doesn’t like talking to people. Good thing you went onto a show where you have to live with strangers.

    Jeff tells Gillian to “Put that back in the freezer.” Burn. A freezer burn, if you will. And I’ll show myself out.

    At tribal, we learn that everyone but Michelle didn’t know that when you’re digging during a challenge you have to be told to keep digging, otherwise you stop and give up. Well, at least no one almost died this time.

    I can’t remember another tribal where the entire tribe breaks into laughter and applause at the end. Yes they got flint, but still. You’re losing, people!

    Episode #1b:

    G.C.’s reign as leader sputters to an end. How did the youngest person on the tribe become leader again?

    Dan shows how smart he is by interpreting the immunity idol clue saying to search in a crater across the lake … by searching in the lake.

    Episode #2:

    Randy is the voice of reason. I’m as shocked as you are.

    I still don’t understand why everyone is upset with Paloma after the reward challenge. They’re not acting like it’s because she’s the weakest tribe member, they’re acting like they’re mad because she gave up in the challenge, which she didn’t do.

    Thank God for Randy and Corrine. They have no problem pointing out in confessionals who the dumb people on their tribes are.

    Episode #3:

    I love when the players have to rank their tribemates, or do the survey about their tribe. There’s always someone for whom it’s a wake-up call that they’re not universally loved.

    Randy is the MVP in the immunity challenge, and also tells his tribe that he hates all of them and they all laugh. Again, Randy is awesome.

    How hard is it to paddle?

  21. I’m late to the party and I’ve actually seen Gabon a couple times before, but I figured I’d join the group rewatch since I just finished my own rewatch of Micronesia, so Gabon is a logical follow up 🙂
    First, I’d like to say that the Spastic Hippo as mascot for Survivor Gabon is absolutely perfect in every way.
    Second, and even less relevant or timely: my appreciation of Micronesia seems to vary wildly from one rewatch to the next. The last time I thought it was negative and mean spirited to the point of being nearly unwatchable toward the end, but this time I actually found myself enjoying it (though I still think that the BWB were unnecessarily cruel at times). Also (can’t remember if I’ve said this before) I love Cirie as a character, but I really think her main strengths lie in being persuasive enough to get people to do exactly what she wants, even though a lot of times the actual moves she’s making probably aren’t the best idea. Then again she made it to the finale 2 out of 3 times so far and had a reasonable shot at winning both times so what do I know? I’m excited to see how she fares next time 🙂

  22. Also a thought actually about Gabon: how amazing would it have been if Fang had voted out GC immediately after Jeff had browbeaten them in to picking him as the leader? Jeff would have been PISSED.

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