Thursday, March 24, 2011

Survivor Redemption Island E6: Loyalty or Spunk

"How's that God theory doing?" Carl Wonerfully Hagemann

"Pretty damn good. Thanks for asking, " Me

Just when I thought the god theory was on its last legs it combined forces with the royalty theory and created one giant super edit. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise really. Jesus was (is?) the king of kings, right? So who's the king of kings of Redemption Island? That's Matt, right? Except, he's a worshiper--not a worshiped (yes, I made that a noun)--so maybe the point is to follow and not lead. Now that would be quite a statement about the current state of the game--it's better to be a follower.

But Redemption Island isn't just the challenges, it's the show itself. Each tribe has their own royalty and people are going out of their way to protect those kings and queens, so maybe it's better to be a leader. Then again, those paupers are getting mighty feisty. So which is it, worship or be worship, follow or be followed? That question was exactly the one this episode asked us: what's more important, loyalty or spunk?

The episode began with a huge reminder that the god storyline is still in effect and who one of its major players is--Matt. If you don't think this storyline is serious, consider that for the first time ever we got to see the two RI players bond. Krista received her luxury item--a bible--in RI treemail (which is actually a good way to integrate the luxury items into the show again). She and Matt prayed before the challenge (in which Matt said lord about 42 times). Then they had the closest challenge yet--one which Krista legitimately could have won. She didn't though, and what was most interesting was what happened next.

First, Krista gave Matt her bible. Normally, such an exchange wouldn't mean much story-wise. However, this luxury item contrasted perfectly with the only other one we've been shown--Francesca's journal. Whereas Francesca's was a blank slate that she had to write words in, Krista's already has The Word written in it. This concretizes the importance Krista ascribed to the item. No, not that importance--the importance for the game. Krista declared that it would give Matt the strength to carry on. To carry on, as I already assessed immediately after Matt's boot, back into the game. Whereas Francesca--the first player to reach RI--had to figure it out herself (and failed to), Matt--the second player to reach RI--already has the way described for him. He only has to follow it. Then Krista followed up with the rest of her confessional. The two of them decided before the duel that whatever happened would be god's will. The logical cognate is, of course, that what happens in the overall game is god's will too (right Vecepia?). Which god are we talking about though, "big G" god or "edited-as-one-in-this-season" god? To find the answer, we have to look at our feudal societies.

Zapatera is dealing with the consequences of casting their god out--and he is a vengeful god indeed. With Russell gone, Zapatera has lost two immunity challenges in a row. Worst of all, his two priestesses Krista and Stephanie have warned them of their impending doom. Yet, they still continue down the path. They had a chance to embrace Stephanie this episode, but cast her out like Russell and Krista before her. Zapatera decided to choose loyalty over spunk--and they're definitely being edited as acting in line with that dichotomy.

Pick one word to describe the dominant five Zapatera members. You got it, boring. Now pick one word to describe Stephanie. You got it, passionate. Whether these people actually are boring and Stephanie is that much more passionate than them is a fact none of us can attest to. However, what's important is that they have been shown that way since Russell's exit. Consider who the most vocal and colorful person on Zapatera was before Russell's boot. You got it, Ralph. Who has disappeared in the editing? It's no coincidence, as showing Ralph wouldn't portray the tribe in the light the editors want to. It's why they've shown Steve and Julie so much. They're two levelheaded and mature people. I'm not saying this as a knock against them. In fact, in reality it is a positive. However, in the story, the editors are using them to create a certain image of their tribe. It could even be argued that, as part of the redemption of Survivor, Zapatera is being propped up as a bunch of boring soulless gamebots so that when they fail people won't thin positively of that strategy again.

(Note: Refer back to my episode four column. This shows how much the editors think you are weak to the edit. Zapatera actually is playing a decent game strategically. Voting out Russell was the right move. The merits of keeping Sarita can be debated, but the decision was definitely made to look worse than it was too. Simple logic dictates if there's a 6-3 vote then the three go first--and there was and they did.)

Make no mistake about it either. Zapatera will fall. Why? Because they're too worried about protecting their "princess" Sarita. (Remember, I'm talking about the edit here.) Still think I'm making this royalty thing up? Julie was the one that called Sarita "princess" and then described what made her one. Steve likewise gave Sarita his own royal nickname, "uptown girl." Over the remainder of the episode, the two gladiators decided if they wanted to protect their royal highness or not. It was either that or agree to the assertions of the two paupers, Stephanie and David. This was the story we were told. If you're asking me where Mike was, that's the point. He wasn't part of it. The point of this edit was Zapatera (the gamebots?) choosing loyalty over spunk.

Ometepe, in contrast, are as spunky as they come. There's Rob, the mischief maker who buries clues, creates games, and tells cameramen what to do--all just for shits and giggles. There's Ashley, the beauty queen who flaunts Kevin and taunts Phillip. There's Grant, the super athlete who runs around and snips at Rob's heels like an overly energetic but not-too-smart little dog with his tonguing hanging out and ears flopping all over the place. Then there's Phillip. What can be said about Phillip? If you thought Zapatera paupers Stephanie and David were being uppity and bold, then Ometepe's pauper Phillip must be going (ok, already is) insane. First, he dared to besmirch the queen herself, Ashely--who, like Sarita, is getting the royalty edit as she lays around all day and does nothing. The pair's fight was Funny 115 material without-a-doubt, but what's important to take away is that Phillip was supposed to be the good guy. Second, he dared to include himself in Rob and Grant's HII "hunt" at the reward. After Rob mocked him, Phillip gave us another Funny 115 worthy moment, but the fact remains--he was supposed to be the victim.

Like Julie and Steve on Zapatera, Rob and Grant are the gladiators protecting their queens. When Phillip bitched out Ashley, who stepped in to talk him down? You got it, Rob. Who excused the girls' actions in a confessional? You got it, Rob. Who won the immunity challenge single-handedly, fulfilling the girls' wish for a spa day (that was a nice in-episode foreshadowing edit I hope you caught)? You got it, Grant. These girls are the queens, while Phillip and Andrea are the paupers. Phillip is definitely the Stephanie of his tribe--loud, vocal, and obnoxious. Andrea is the David, except she's being edited differently. Rather than take a stand, she is laying low and letting what may come. (Though non-editing wise I would argue they are both making good strategic moves.)

The most interesting moment of the episode, however, came at the beginning of the reward. As Ometepe sat down to eat, they were shown as if they were sitting under a statue of Jesus--a statue that Rob was being shown asking "Who do you think that is?" As Rob is an Italian from Boston and wears that chain around his neck that I'm pretty sure has religious meaning, I'm pretty confident he's Catholic. Yet, this scene makes it seem like he doesn't have a clue who Jesus is, especially as everyone chimes in with what basically sounds like a "duh." What the inclusion of this scene does is make us consider where Rob fits into this god storyline.

Redemption Island does one thing, it brings a player back to life (in the game). Matt stated he wants to be more like Jesus. Well, he will be as he wins his way back--and when he comes back we'll all be reminded about what Jesus was all about. Jesus wasn't in it to win it. He was in it for the weak. He died to forgive sins. Notice how the Jesus story lines up perfectly with the royalty story. Extra bonus points for noticing how Andrea is one of the paupers. Yes, Matt's return will mean the salvation of the weak--just as Jesus' did.

Where Rob fits in all depends on how you interpret his edit in relation to Matt. At this point, it could go either way. If Rob is meant to be a false god as Russell was, then Matt's return will signal his end. This fits well with interpreting the reward dinner scene to be Rob disrespecting Jesus. Interestingly, Russell declared that he wanted Matt to win, so it could be said editing wise that Russell blessed Matt and will once again have one up on Rob (editing wise)--especially as it could be argued that Rob decided to keep around those who would be loyal to him rather than those who had spunk (Francesqua, Kristina, and Matt).

Hold on a second though. There is another way of interpreting that reward scene. What if Rob wasn't supposed to be disrespecting Jesus, but reminding everyone of him, almost as if to say "don't forget my ace-in-the-hole, Matt will be reborn." This interpretation lines up with a number of things. First, Matt has been shown worshiping Rob throughout the season--from talking about how great Rob is right before being blindsided by him to saying he wanted to rejoin Ometepe when he returned. Consider if he does rejoin his old tribe. Andrea's cause would be greatly aided, and Rob has already been shown considering keeping Phillip around. Yes, the paupers would be aided. Craziest of all (and to be honest I've never been quite clear on this), Jesus isn't god himself, he is the son of god (even though he is often called god--I told you I wasn't clear on this). In this scenario, Matt would be Jesus and Rob would be god--and editing wise it would be said that Rob chose spunk over loyalty, as the major Ometepe storyline to start the season was the decision to keep Phillip (Spunky Brewster) over Kristina (gamebot?).

Rob might actually win this thing, especially considering the last piece of evidence that is really hard for me to explain away--every episode he has been shown saying one small thing about how things are going perfectly for him. This episode, he mentioned how Ashley and Natalie looking bad only makes him look good in the long run. Factor in that he has been shown a lot less since finding the HII (Ometepe's edit has been dominated by Ashley and Phillip), and Rob's storyline grows ever intriguing.

If Rob doesn't win, the only other possible two winners I see are Natalie and Andrea. The editors have done a very careful job of making sure Ashley takes the heat for her and Natalie's laying about and pettiness. It's like they're flipping the Jenna and Heidi edit so Heidi takes the heat and everyone appreciates Jenna's win this time. The editors are also being very measured with Andrea, showing her as being aware, subtle, and patient. There hasn't been a bad thing shown about her. The forced assumption is that a jury would love her. Can anyone win on Zapatera? I don't see it, but David has the best shot, as he has been shown as intelligent, likable, and has the pauper storyline going for him.

1 comment:

George N said...

"There's Ashley, the beauty queen who flaunts Kevin and taunts Phillip." LOLOLOL

Seriously, bud...Great article. I've said it before...your insight widens my appreciation for the game/the show/the players.

The Jesus statue significance gave me chills.