Thursday, March 3, 2016

Survivor Kaoh Rong, Episode 3: Never Underestimate the Cat Lady

Hubris is generally defined as "a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence." In his treatise Rhetoric, Aristotle defined hubris as "doing and saying things that cause shame to the victim…simply for the pleasure of it. Retaliation is not hubris, but revenge.…Young men and the rich are hubristic because they think they are better than other people."  When Muhammad Ali proclaimed he was the greatest, that was not hubris.  It was boasting, sure, but it was not a put down of his opponents, just a clear statement of his own superiority which he was able to back up.  Hubris is not just building yourself up, it involves tearing others down just for the fun of it.  And it involves a complete lack of awareness of your own shortcomings.   We've seen it this season over at the Brawn tribe as Kyle Jason takes verbal swipes at Alecia mostly for his own amusement.  And we see it this episode repeatedly coming from two self-satisfied members of the Brains tribe. 

It is understandable that if you are put on a tribe designated the "Brains" you might get a big head about your mental capabilities.  Even more so when you are, say, an ER doctor or a quantitative strategist who graduated from MIT.  Peter Baggenstos and Elisabeth Markham gave us so many classic hubris-filled quotes this episodes as they smugly surveyed their kingdom and plotted how to dispose of their lowly subjects, you knew that the Survivor gods were going to make them pay. The only question was who was going to be sacrificed to the gods.

Over on the Brawn tribe, excessive thinking was not a problem.  Coming back from tribal, Scot Pollard explained to Alecia Holden that he wrote her name down because he knew she was safe and he wanted to keep his promise to Jenny not to write her name down.  Pretty straight forward.  But according to Alecia, "that was the stupidest thing she ever heard."  She's obviously not been listening to Donald "I have the best words" Trump's campaign speeches.  Try as we all might to knock Kyle for his verbal attacks on "Blondie," the girl does not help herself when she says things that can't help but make her seem demonstrably thick.

At Beauty beach, Tai Trang is getting more than his share of TV time so either the producers think he's this year's Rupert, or he's set for an early exit.  We watch his efforts to get the key to open the lock that will finally give him his long-awaited immunity idol.  About an hour of the 48-minute show seems dedicated to Tai kissing things - clues, keys, idols, trees, rednecks.  If he's not kissing things he's talking at length to the cameraman who is apparently paid by the word.  He is one of the most camera-aware contestants I've seen in a long time and everything that comes out of his mouth seems calculated to create a lovable odd ball fan favorite, but it's not working for me.  With all the coverage of Tai, however, we never see how he manged to hide the idol considering all he was wearing was a skimpy bikini brief.

It's FLOTUS and POTUS  .
Back to the Brains tribe, Peter starts his litany of unfortunate quotes.  Why is there never a camera to record Survivors watching the episode where they repeatedly insert their foot into their flapping mouth?  "Here we are strategically planning how to win this game and we have a guy working on his six pack.  This is the Brains tribe" Pete sneers at Joe's exercise routine.  He and Liz "are managing two separate groups of two."  They are "in control."  Debbie Wanner and Joseph Del Campo "are goats."  Liz chimes in how they are looking for a group they can "shepherd" into the merge.  If you miss what she means, she's saying that they are looking for sheep.  Debbie is the "court jester."  Joe is a "loyal soldier."  Aubry Bracco doesn't want to talk game.  The only person they don't speak of dismissively is Neal Gottlieb (at least until tribal).  He is smart and they worry that he could turn on them post-merge.  So he is their target.  They will tell Debbie and Joe who to vote for.  They have this in the bag.  "We're actually doing this in an analytical sense. ...  We're putting it together and we ]have a good plan," says Pete.  "I think we have our finger on the pulse," says Liz.  "We're acting like bosses right now," says Pete.  You two are so dumb, says Jeremy.

So remember last week when Pete was wondering how many cats Debbie has?  Well, he should have been thinking whether crazy cat lady was really a calculated, savvy player in disguise.  Because Debbie may be nutsy cuckoo on the outside, but inside she is observing and thinking and plotting.  She recognize Pete's arrogance and the tight bond he and Liz have and how their plan is to control the tribe while everyone does their bidding.  And she is having none of that.  She gets Joe on board with her plan to target Liz (not Pete because she thinks he's necessary for challenges) then she goes to Aubry and beautifully plays that moment. She asks a question she knows the answer to - does Aubry like and trust Neal.  Of course she knows the two are close.  But this gives Debbie the chance to say I agree with you and I like him too.  Rather than imposing her will she pretends she's going along with what Aubry wants.  Then she goes to Neal and tells him she wants them to be a solid four, all while Pete thinks she's talking to the clams or dreaming up sweaters to knit for her cats.

Nick Maoirano continues to try to undermine Pete's attempts to be the douchey-ist guy on Kaoh Rong, giving confessionals about how robotic and unemotional he is and yet how great he is at faking it.  The girls on the Beauty tribe are having none of his BS and so they reach out to Caleb to join them in voting out Nick.  If they ever lose, which, of course, will never happen because they have probably the most physically fit player on their mis-labeled tribe. Over at Brawn, there is a mad dash for the hidden immunity idol after Alecia finds the first clue while Cydney was standing nearby.   Alecia, Cydney may have voted for you last tribal, but she's not your friend.  Oh, nevermind, she probably wouldn't understand.  As she said, "it's completely confusing."

Cydney immediately told her allies and the two guys went off to find the idol and there was a ridiculous three minute segment where we had the two huge guys work together, ultimately pushing aside the 90-pound girl to grab the tool to open the box that contained the idol.  I miss the old days when we could talk about finding an idol, if at all, in one sentence.  Soon there'll be a riddle that takes you to a location that has a puzzle that you unscramble to create a map that leads you to a native singing a song that you need to translate to get a clue to a pictogram that you have to decipher to lead to a location where you dig for an immunity idol.

How is this guy not a Brawn?

The immunity challenge is, naturally, a walk in the park for the Beauty tribe and so it comes down to a race between the twice-defeated Brawn tribe and the super confident Brains tribe.  Cydney fails in her first two attempts to get her ball in the hole, but her tribe trusts her to give her the final ball and she edges out Debbie by mere seconds.  And finally Brawn will not have to see Jeff and find another excuse for not voting out Alecia.

Pete is not worried about finally having to go to tribal council.  In fact, he's looking forward to seeing his and Liz's plan put into action.  "Now Liz and I are going down the hit list like a mobster and the first one is Neal.”

Liz is feeling great about going to tribal council because she and Pete have a plan and they're in control.  They will simplify the process for the slower, elderly members of their tribe.  "They don't have to think about anything complicated."  Which is good thinking, since it frees them up to organize a blindside of her.  Now, I know that the producers probably egg people on to give good confessionals, but the glee in Liz's eyes as she denigrates her fellow Brains is unsettling.  "I am so confident that this is going to work out the way we want it to.  I think losing today was a blessing in disguise."  It was, Liz, it was.

"Although Liz and I are good looking people and we have great smiles, we’re actually out for blood.”  You can't make this up.  What question could the producers have asked him to elicit that quote?  And how would they know he'd follow that up with, "everyone else, they're like clay that we mold.  they are indecisive unless given a decision.  They need paternal direction and I"m that paternal person providing them direction."  At that moment, I run to check Pete's bio and heave an audible sigh of relief discovering that in fact he is not anyone's paternal person.

At tribal council, Pete mentions that there are three voting units - not to be confused with voting blocs or voting alliances.  They are Pete and Liz, Debbie and Joe, and Neal and Aubry.  He of course is confident that the two Oldie McOldsters are going to vote in lockstep with him and Liz to target Neal, who they perceive as the only strategic threat in the group.  But the other four do not see things Pete's way.  What is cool is how they don't let on during Jeff's questioning that Liz and Pete are in for a big surprise.  The only possible crack is Neal's comment that each of the "brains" may think they're the smartest person in the game.  Because that comment certainly hits home for Pete who knows that he feels that way and knows it's true.

There is a good discussion of emotional intelligence versus intellectualism and how good people are at reading other people,  Pete tells us that reading people is a great skill of his that he needs to have as an ER doctor.  I'd say the better skill is decisiveness, focus and the ability to process information quickly.  I'm not sure understanding people is a big part of his job.  It was a big part of Joe's job, as both a cop and an FBI agent.  Those skills carried Tony Vlachos to a deviously-earned victory.  But Pete, the great judge of books according to their covers, takes Joe's background as a sign that he is a trustworthy person.   He then decides he can needle Neal a bit on his way out, telling him that the plan going forward is not Neal's plan and calling him a potential snake in ice cream pants.

Before they go to vote, Jeff asks Liz about whether tonight's target sees it coming.  She responds, cluelessly, "I think the person who goes home tonight will not be completely shocked."  And slowly, first in the 2-2-2 vote and then in the 3-0 revote, Liz discovers that she and Pete were not in control and that she was the target all along.  And with that we have this week's example of pride going before a fall and the super-confident, super-cocky duo of Pete and Liz shot down at its first tribal council appearance.

Want more Liz?
Entertainment weekly
RHAP exit interview
Interview with Josh Wigler/Parade
Interview with Reality TV World

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