Saturday, May 7, 2011

Survivor Redemption Island E12: You Gotta Dig (Deep! Deep! Deep!)

"They say some things just don't wash out
But I've been dying to know what getting clean is all about
And now years have gone by
But it's still stuck in my mind" -Some Things Don't Wash Out by You, Me, and Everyone We Know

"I feel like right now I'm playing my best game but even everything that's happened up until right now means nothing unless I can finish it. I need this. It's to make a better life for my wife and my kids. Even though we're at a point now where some people might be taking a break from the game and thinking about home, it just makes me focus. I want to win Survivor. This is something I've been trying to do for ten years now. I'm eight days away, so there's nothing that's going to stop me." -Rob Mariano

Well, at the very least Jeff Probst can't say that nobody listens to him--not that it's possible to ignore him really, with all the hosting, blogging, and tweeting. All these seasons he's been telling players to dig, and dig deep in fact, and finally one listened to him. In fact, this entire season is, in a way, Rob Mariano listening to Jeff Probst and is digging deep. His quote I began with represented several important things, not the least of which was a statement of purpose. Years have gone by, and Survivor is still stuck in his mind. Losing the game has never washed out of him (as we can all see from the arguments), so all he wants to know is what getting clean is all about. It's his entire purpose for being on the show. He's not there for the experience or to make friends. He already did all that in previous season. This time it's nothing less than victory.

The quote is more than Rob expressing his desires though. The editors decided to include it, to make it part of the narrative. They could have gone in any other direction with the family visit. In fact, they did. For most of it, the family visit went the conventional route. Everyone talked about how energizing it was and how it inspired them to go the distance. It was, you know, the typical story we've seen on Survivor many times over. Then, after showing everyone else first, the editors made the clear choice to juxtapose Rob sitting away from the group and commenting on how he was still playing the game. No, Rob wasn't participating in the conventional story because he's no mere Survivor player. He was watching over them because he is Rob-God.

It's no coincidence that moments before Natalie's mother had told her, "I was praying. I said if there was one time you want to look over her, now is the time, cause I need you right now. I think he was looking over you." Yes, she was referring to the literal god, but as we've learned throughout the season, the editors are coyly working in a double entendre about Rob. In this instance it's nearly impossible to deny. Rob is watching over Natalie. He's said as much since the beginning of the season. Heck, he literally said Phillip was under his protection a few episodes ago. That wasn't the only major Rob-God reference this episode either. After forgoing his, Matt's, and Ralph's family visits so Ometepe could have theirs, Mike explained to Matt on Redemption Island, "Well, I asked god to help me win and I think that's what he asked of me." Yes, he's talking about the literal god, but did you notice how that the duel worked out perfectly for Rob? Mike was pretty much the only guy who would have done that. Matt, Ralph, and Steve probably would have visited with their family members. Instead, the best possible outcome for Rob occurred. It's no wonder fans are declaring everyone else on this season stupid and complaining. They're being told a very specific story and conflating it with reality.

The final purpose that quote that I started this column with serves it to paint Rob in the colors of a hero. This isn't a player after money or fame or glory. This is a player who is in it for himself in the proper sense of the word. He wants to win for the love of the game, because he sees it as a value. Why is it a value? For the same reason anything is a value. It is a tool to improve his and his family's life. Ok, so I got a little philosophical right there, but the heroic edit is there. He wants to win for the sake of winning itself and to help his family. Those concretes are in the edits without-a-doubt. Rob got damn near about it emotional at the end of that confessional. Hell, I got damn near emotional about it at the end of the confessional--both times I watched it. And that's where my thoughts on the hinge.

If Rob doesn't win this season, what other ending would be emotionally and narratively satisfying. What I mean is this. I know there's a lot of irrational Rob hate around, but forget that Rob said these things and played this game. If it was just a guy named Joe, wouldn't he be considered a hero. Rather, how could he not be considered a hero? Look at the immunity challenge. We all know they're editing around reality, but did they have to make it so epic? Then did they have to have Rob say this afterwards, "Physically, the challenge, I had to literally give everything I have. Afterwards I thought I was gonna die. But, I figure that I'm seven days away and I'm giving it everything I got." They're embellishing on a whole new level that if Rob did lose, it would undermine Survivor completely. Pushing yourself to the brink of death wouldn't be good enough. Playing a perfect game wouldn't be good enough. These are all comments the editors included, comments they didn't have to include. Even more damning is their treatment of everyone else.

In this episode alone, everyone was made to be a fool. Andrea got perhaps the worst edit. The editors basically knifed her from her "Ometepe!" voting comment last week to her saying she felt completely safe at Tribal Council this week all leading up to her blindside. She looks especially silly when even 19 year old Natalie says this Tribal Council felt different and wasn't fun. Then, to top it all off, they have pre-Tribal Council comments from Natalie ("Plus, her relationship with Matt on Redemption Island is still dangerous") and Grant("Lovers are going to be reunited") that confirm to us that her entire edit for the season was about Matt. That infamous scene where Phillip said if Matt returns the three should align? That demonstrated Phillip's strategizing and how everyone saw Matt and Andrea as a package deal, and she'd never be able to get away from it. At least she wasn't treated as poorly as Phillip's strategy though.

Phillip gave two important diatribes in this episode:
"Early on in the game I made myself the villain so that everyone in my tribe feels like their best chance of winning against anybody is me." (This sentence was spliced together too.) 'It's brilliant strategy, and I need to kind of put a little salt on that wound every now and again to make sure folks don't forget that."
"I think Rob feels very strong that if it's him and I in the final that he can win the million dollars, but I have an oral argument that nobody here on my tribe, including him, has thought of it. And I know exactly what to say to make everybody think twice about voting for him, regardless of everything else I've said. Honestly, I think I can defeat Rob."
You see, all the crazy was an act, and the editors are building him up as the one to beat Rob in the Final 3. The Phillip and Rob showdown has been a story since the first episode. These quotes all but confirm what the story in the final episode will be. Best of all, Phillip actually sounds clear and cognizant in these quotes--and Rob backs him up when he says:

"To be honest with you, I'm having some second thoughts about who to take to the end...Phillip could be playing me. He's pretty good with words. He's a good speaker, so when it comes down to the jury, that could be a problem. Is he that good? I don't know...32 days of hard work could be gone just like that."

Do you mean Rob thinks he could actually lose to Phillip? That couldn't actually happen, could it? Though maybe it could, as Rob dominating from start to finish seems highly unlikely. You see, that's what the editors want us to think. They need to build suspense. But they also edited in two important clues in this episode. At Tribal Council, Probst asked Phillip about not being a threat helping stay around. Phillip replied with his "oral argument" skills, which only caused Probst to mock him: "Phillip, I'm making the argument that the reason to keep you is because you aren't a threat, and you raise your hand and say, 'I'm a huge threat, I just haven't had the right challenge.'"This is basically the same thing as Phillip saying "let your enemy move first" earlier in the season and then unintentionally moving first. It doesn't matter what he says, it matters what he does. And what he does is act crazy. That's why we now what Rob tells his sister is true: "Phillips a nut job. He's a wacko. But he's like the biggest goat. He's pissed everybody here off. If I drag him to the end, he doesn't get any votes." My only wish is that Rob had said "fruit loop" instead of "nut job."

Yes, Phillip is going to make the Final 3, but he's not going to get any votes. Rob has been calling more shots than Babe Ruth this season. It's even likely Natalie becomes Goat #2 by backstabbing Ashley at Rob's behest. In fact, the question we have to ask ourselves is if Rob is literally playing the perfect game. Will he get all of the jury votes?

I'm getting ahead of the story though. Mike is definitely coming back from Redemption Island, as he and Ralph's comments about a Zapatera winning it all of they make the end this week built it up, and Matt is definitely done, as his seeing his brother was made out to be his victory on Redemption Island. I'm sure we'll also see something sweet between him and Andrea next episode too. Game outcomes wise, there are still plenty of hurdles for Rob to jump over and hoops for him to jump through. It's just that, with the way this story has been told, I don't see how if anyone else won, viewers wouldn't feel robbed--and that's with me trying my gosh darn hardest to avoid my bias.

Think about it.


Clayton Spivey said...

Great blog. A lot of what u said is exactly what i said in my blog earlier this week. On the editors building up Phillip to make us think Rob has a challenge and a couple of other things. Of course you said it more eloquently though. lol

Anonymous said...

Hey block boy. Congrats! You made a new enemy!