The last and only time Survivor previously aired a Fans vs. Favorites season it became so clear just how outmatched the tribes were because where the Fans are still littered with fodder, the Favorites were some of the smartest and strongest players to have never won the game. The Favorites were so much better that they actually managed to get a Fan to give up his Immunity Necklace and then promptly voted him out.
So how do you make the second installment of Fans vs. Favorites fairer? Well you bring in some of the most incompetent and least liked Survivors of the past ten seasons. You had crazy people Brandon Hantz (who did not even need to be talked into giving up his Immunity Necklace) and Philip Sheppard, turncoat John Cochran and the emotional wreck he turned on Dawn Meehan, the first ever contestant that was voted out of their first season Francesca Hogi, and they even brought back that moron who gave up that Immunity Necklace in the first Fans vs. Favorites Erik Reichenbach.
Which sounded fair on paper except the very first Reward Challenge the Favorites ended up dominating the physical challenge to the point that even Cochran won his heat. Cochran! After losing the first Immunity Challenge, the Favorites then went on to win ever Immunity and Reward Challenges until they forfeited the final Immunity Challenge before they switched up the tribes when they dumped Brandon in the very first elimination that did not happen at Tribal Council.
The swapped tribes did not favors for the Fans as they were outnumbered on both tribes (and thanks to some sleight of hand by Probst when divvying up the new tribes one tribe was loaded with all the physical specimens left) and lost two more Fans before the merge. Luckily for Sherri and Eddie, Favorite after Favorite started overplaying their hands post merge with Corinne Kaplan, Malcolm Fresberg, and Andrea Broehlke, all went home for trying to turn on their alliance before that got rid of all the Fans while Brenda Lowe made the rookie mistake of stupidly winning the Loved Ones Challenge. Phil also when home prematurely when all three members of the Douchebag Alliance held Immunity and drew the short stick. Some people give Malcolm credit for this move, but I am under the belief if you have two Idols in your pocket and are sent home the very next Tribal, that is a massive failure.
Then the finale hits and boom, Erik is out of the season ten minutes into the episode. In a season of firsts, the latest medical evacuation may have been the most shocking. I cannot even remember anyone ever being removed post-merge off the top of my head. It was disappointed that after his removal they did not go to a final two instead opting to giving the winner of the planned Immunity Challenge a clue to the Final Challenge robbing us of one more glance of Andrea at Tribal Council, who at the previous Tribal wore the greatest F-U dress ever worn by a jury member.
In the end, one of the biggest fans ever to play the game became the second player ever to get a unanimous vote with Cochran joining Earl from Survivor: Fiji. There was still one more first at the Live Reunion show with Brenda being the first player not to show up, but apparently she was too big to go flying (how did someone who did not even show up until the final two episodes almost win Player of the Season?). Another first happened when the non-jury members were resigned to audience and completely ignored by Probst instead giving away their time to Boston Rob (please go away) and Rudy (please come back for another season, even at 85, I bet you could still outlast most twenty-somethings). I wonder if this will happen in future seasons or was just a way to keep Brandon from attacking Philip live on television.
But enough with Caramoan, next season is Blood vs. Water which looks like it will be the much rumored Family Edition with returning players on one tribe and a family member of theirs on another, so Family vs. Favorites would be a more appropriate title (unless it is a tribe entirely made up of family (please God, not the Hantz's) going against a tribe of strangers). If true, this is the worst idea the show ever had, even worse than Redemption Island. It just comes off like a cheap Big Brother stunt and Survivor is usually above silly stunts like this. Instead of bringing back contestant every season (if my hunch is right, that would make it six of the last eight seasons with at least two former players) they need to find casting agents that can actually find actual interesting people instead of the current casting agents who just bring in past contests and fill the rest of the cast with models from the Abercrombie catalogue. With that said, if one of the teams turns out to be Kat from One World and her bulldog cousin, I will be fully on board Blood vs. Water. Actually just thinking of that possibility is making me excited. Excuse me while I go cyber stalk Kat to see if she disappears from the internet for the next thirty-nine days.
Survivor: Caramoan gets a on my Terror Alert Scale. You can stream recent episodes over at CBS.com. You can also download Survivor: Caramoan on iTunes.