It’s taken me a few days to reflect on the Survivor: Extinction Island finale and come up with my thoughts. While watching it, I will admit, I did not like the way things ended and was a bit upset on how things played out. From having Chris win while actually getting voted out 3rd and spending 2/3 of his time hanging out with jury (and being able to mend any hard feelings), to having the entire season come down to who can build a fire faster, it just did not seem fair and in the true spirit is Survivor. I know things change and I like the fact they change things up each season to keep the contestants off guard, but there must be better ways then what happened this season (and actually the last few seasons with the final four fire making). Outwit, Outplay, Outlast should no be boiled down to only “Outplay at making Fire and You Win”
I think it was totally unfair to have everybody voted off be part of the jury while still being part of the game. I thought Gavin summed it up the best when he mentioned that both him and Julie had never even met Reem, while she spent 25+ days at Extinction Island with Chris, so who did you think she would vote for? And in this case there was nothing Gavin or Julie could have done to change that. They had no opportunity to interact with Reem and explain or apologize for voting her out, while Chris was able to mend all wounds with the jury so they had already forgiven him for voting them out.
I also, felt it was very unfair to give Chris (Or whoever came back – and we all know it was set up for Joe) any sort of advantage (and especially this late in the game) when they reentered the REAL game. Why not just set things up so past fan favorites all enter the game on Day 35 with an idol and basically hand them the win. This way CBS / Survivor would not not have to keep bringing some players back for a 4th, 5th or 6th time to assure them a win. In the world of sports, they use to have players or teams get free passes to later rounds of the playoffs, but found they it took away a lot of the spirit and competition of the game itself, so changed things to force all teams to compete throughout the playoffs. Also, team don’t get to make the playoffs year after year based on their likability or past history. They need to earn it year after year
I do believe that part of this issue with this season was that the audience never really got a true sense of Extinction Island and how it played out (physically and mentally) for the players. But if this was such a bid part of this season, then why not show more of it so we could get a better feeling of what the voted off players were going through. They didn’t because it just would not of correlated well for TV. If 1/2 of each episode was just watching the players on Extinction Island sitting around, waiting for their return challenge, the TV audience would be probably simply tune out.
Right now, Survivor needs to take an honest look at what works and what doesn’t (for both the contestants and the TV audience) to try and come up with a game that is fair to play, but also fun to watch. Seem that the only thing that the fans seem to remember about the last 4 seasons was the dislike of the Fire Making Final 4 and how the winners were given to many unfair advantages. This will start to become a problem as people will lose interest or not care about the first 2/3 rds of the season, or worse, start to think the game if rigged (which is a really bad thing)
I will continue to watch as I still find the game fascinating on a personal level. I will also continue to apply as a contestant. I think the main reason I want to be on the show now is to able to see the game from the players side of things, and to get a better understanding of contestants actually view the game. I hope that the producers make some tweaks to get things back towards Outwit, Outplay, Outlast and having the winner be somebody that everybody agrees played the best game on all levels for all 39 days and not just made one big move or won one challenge at the end.
PS – Be sure to check out the Ponderosa Videos on CBS.com as well as Jeff Probts and Dalton Ross’s weekly and season recaps on EW.com. Gives you a different but very entertaining perspective on Survivor and the contestants