For those of you who have been reading my blog week-to-week, you’ll know that my initial excitement and positivity for this season has severely waned over the course of the episodes. I’ve made it no secret that the personalities and the nastiness of this season have put me off. Shirin was my last hope, the Survivor superfan that has taken unnecessary shit from a bunch of obnoxious men all season long, her arc was supposed to lead to redemption, she was meant to get her much deserved revenge against those who had wronged her. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and this week Shirin was voted out while the likes of Dan and Will remain in the game sleeping and spitting and being general wastes of space.
I needed a couple of days to process this latest episode. If I wrote my blog immediately following the episode I wouldn’t have been able to keep it unbiased (not that I do that much!). It would have been 500 words of me bashing everyone on the season while defending and praising Shirin to the high heavens. It would have been like a Purple Rock Podcast blog post. But having two days to let it sink in has helped me with the grieving process, that initial anger and confusion has turned into acceptance (bitter, bitter acceptance). While I am still sad that Shirin is no longer on in the game, I can appreciate the move that Mike made at this week’s Tribal Council, and we will break that down in just a moment.
How funny was it when Sierra literally became a barrel racer at the Reward Challenge? It would have been the most epic challenge win in Survivor history if they pulled off that crazy circus act. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. However, at least Sierra has something to show on her season highlight reel now. It’s a little disappointing how Sierra has squandered the potential she showed earlier on this season. After being berated by Dan and Rodney, it looked she was done with the Blue Collars heading into the merge and was ready to start making some serious power moves in the game. Instead, she drifted into the background and took the predictable, safe route. There is nothing wrong with this strategy, I can see Sierra herself is playing well and is actually in a strong position, I’m just speaking as a fan who wants entertainment.
On the topic of those in a strong position, Tyler has played the majority of this game very much in control of his fate. He has been able to find his way into the numbers and form bonds with various personalities. I think Tyler is pretty smart, but there is just something a little off about him. I can’t quite work out what it is. He rarely shows emotion, not even when winning an Immunity Challenge or chowing down on a cheeseburger after 29 days of starvation. In his confessionals, he seems to say the right words, but there is no flair or excitement in his tone. He reminds me of Josh from last season, someone else touted as “the strategist,” but was very monotone and self-serious.
Now let’s deal with the heartbreak. My biggest gripe with this episode is that it teased me. It teased me into thinking that Shirin had a chance to survive. First of all the Immunity Challenge with the reveal that the top man and top woman would both win Individual Immunity, it seemed perfect for Mike and Shirin to both gain safety, forcing the Axis of Evil to cannibalize each other. But only half of that dream became reality. And if it wasn’t bad enough that Shirin lost we also had to hear Dan giving a pep talk to Rodney which sounded like he was operating the world’s creepiest sex hot-line, “Yeah that’s it. Stretch them out. You want me to take off my manties? Mmm yeah.” I reckon Rodney dropped out only so Dan would shut up.
Shirin was voted out but not before Mike made a crazy play that not only showed the cracks within the six-person alliance but could potentially be what shakes up the game as we head into the home stretch. Before the vote, Mike revealed that he had a hidden immunity idol and told his tribe that he planned to use it on Shirin (the second tease). He said that Shirin would be voting for Tyler, and he’d be throwing a vote at one of the other four that didn’t have immunity. The only way to guarantee you don’t go home? Vote for Tyler. It was a ballsy move, and while I initially was annoyed because Mike didn’t play the idol on Shirin and she went home, I can see his justification and why the move was brilliant.
Mike’s move was never about using the idol on Shirin. If it were, he wouldn’t have revealed it before the vote. Shirin understood this and even said in her goodbye message that Mike would have been stupid to use the idol on her. So what was Mike’s ploy here? He wanted to instill fear into the Axis of Evil and force their hand into revealing who was on the bottom. Merely the threat of the idol was enough to cause panic in Tyler, the man who was named over and over as the target, and he and Will ended up voting for Dan.
Even though Shirin went home, the so-called “Strong 6″ have now voted against each other, and that could be enough of a crack for Mike to work his way into a new alliance. Especially since the person voted against (Dan) is a very emotional player. Mike also still has the idol, guaranteeing himself safety for at least one more vote.
Mike remains outnumbered, but I’m sure he will be winning this season, if nothing but for the pre-season hype. None of the others winning would make this “one of the greatest seasons ever.” I don’t even think Mike winning would totally redeem this season, even though I do like Mike and I’m rooting for him to pull off the victory;, but I’m scraping the barrel at this point to pick a favorite. Mike’s systematic slaughter of the Axis of Evil could be fun, but it just won’t be as fun as it would have been if it had been Shirin doing it.
And so we say farewell to Shirin Oskooi, the naked pot-washing, monkey sex watching, balance-beam falling, left hand-raising, Survivor super-badass. No matter your opinions on Shirin, whether you love her or hate her, you have to give her mad respect for the way she handled herself throughout this game. She has taken a constant onslaught of personal attacks and verbal abuse and even though Will’s assaults got to her, her love and enthusiasm for Survivor never diminished. Shirin approached every moment like a true superfan living out their passion, even after getting voted out she laughed at Probst snuffing her torch.
Shirin even improved her game throughout the season, although she never had the numbers to change the course of events. She developed a self-awareness that she lacked in the early portion of the game, proved she was able to adapt, and despite what Dan and the others may have thought, had a great shot at winning a jury vote. Shirin is someone who I believe would flourish in a different season with people who understand the game and who aren’t complete asshats.