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Survivor Worlds Apart: Episode 4 and 5 – A Higher Standard


After last night’s double episode had finished airing, I was annoyed. Not just because my favorite Lindsey was voted out. Not because long-time superfan Max was given the boot. Although both of those results were disappointing, you have to expect your favorites to be eliminated at some point; that is part and parcel of the game. No, I was annoyed because of the blatant misogyny coming from the mouths of, well let’s not call them men, the Neanderthals on the Blue Collar tribe. It made me angry that Dan, Mike, and Rodney were calling the shots and that Kelly was happy to support them.

But then I slept. I woke up. I had a coffee. Then I logged on to Reddit (I know, not always the best place to go when you’re annoyed by stupid men’s views on women) and saw a post from a user called Kidnifty about why they love this season. In this post, Kidnifty compared this current cast to professional wrestling characters, particularly the “heels”, which in pro-wrestling lingo means the bad guys. As a huge pro-wrestling fan it suddenly clicked for me, this post was right, the characters on Worlds Apart are so over-the-top and cartoonish that you can’t help but laugh at their idiocy and stupid comments. When I re-watched the episode, this is the mindset I went in with, and it made it a far more enjoyable experience. Now Dan’s and Rodney’s views on women weren’t so much offensive than they were ridiculous and laughable due to how moronic and antiquated they were. They are real heels that are there for us to be annoyed by but also to laugh at, and in the end, the heels always get their comeuppance.

As a huge pro-wrestling fan it suddenly clicked for me, this post was right, the characters on Worlds Apart are so over-the-top and cartoonish that you can’t help but laugh at their idiocy and stupid comments. When I re-watched the episode, this is the mindset I went in with, and it made it a far more enjoyable experience. Now Dan’s and Rodney’s views on women weren’t so much offensive than they were ridiculous and laughable due to how moronic and antiquated they were. They are real heels that are there for us to be annoyed by but also to laugh at, and in the end, the heels always get their comeuppance.

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So if we’re comparing these guys to wrestling characters then the trio of Dan, Mike and Rodney are currently the NWO. But instead of beating up cruiserweights and spray painting their initials on production trucks, this NWO enact their wicked ways through flippant sexist remarks – this isn’t the New World Order, no, this NWO stands for No Women’s Opinions.

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I praised Rodney somewhat last week because his confessionals seemed to suggest at least a basic grasp of how to play this game, but he continues to drift further and further off plan each episode. Despite claiming to live by the 3Cs, “cool, calm and collective,” Rodney is anything but, he’s hot-headed, turbulent and easily agitated. A classic heel move, claim to be something they are so obviously not. He’s a true comic villain who presents himself as a Tom Brady style bad-ass when in actuality he’s a knucklehead with a scarily weird obsession with his mother. Shush. Don’t mention his mother, bro. I doubt that Rodney is someone I would ever associate with in day-to-day life but as a character on Survivor he is great television, and I can’t deny that. I eagerly await his boot episode.

Dan isn’t much better. In fact, Dan is worse, because he’s older and should know better, after all, he’s talked to sooooo many more girls than anyone else. A traditional deluded heel that believes he has the gift of gab and can talk himself out of any situation when all he’s doing is digging himself a bigger hole. His half-arsed sorry to Sierra was quite frankly the most disingenuous apology since Paula Deen. I’m lost with Dan at this point. While he is competent in challenges and is currently in an alliance, his social game is one of the worst I’ve ever seen on Survivor. Would I be shocked if Dan ended up winning this game? As the man likes to say himself – Absolutely!

Then we have Mike, the not-quite-heel of the trio, in comparison to his two side-kicks he comes across as the least offensive. He still says stupid things from time to time, but he also has moments of morality and rational thought where you can see the potential for good in him. In other words, he could have a face-turn – in wrestling a good guy is referred to as a “baby-face” and when a character switches from heel to face or vice-versa it is called a “turn.” As Mike said himself, Survivor is about having the numbers, and I think that is his primary use for Dan and Rodney right now, it is an alliance of convenience rather than mutual respect of opinions. While Dan and Rodney were quite happy to kick dirt on a crying Sierra, Mike showed compassion and should an opportunity for a new alliance with more likable personalities present itself I think Mike could turn.

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But for now the heel trio are in control and with that, they voted off the feisty Lindsey who I’m gutted to say goodbye to because I don’t think we saw even half her potential. We could have had more amazing quotes like “If you was my son I’d break off your jaw and feed it to you for breakfast“ but instead Lindsey takes the walk of shame because she didn’t meet Rodney’s high standards.

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Let’s stick with the wrestling analogy that I know you all love. We have discussed this season’s heels but for every great heel, there needs to be a great babyface to challenge them. So far Worlds Apart has an overabundance of heels and very few babyfaces but out of the ashes of Lindsey’s torch a new hero begins to rise, ladies and gentlemen say hello to the New Hope of Nicaragua – Sierra Thomas. Her best friend was voted out, she is next on the chopping block, her tribemates belittle and insult her, but then light! A glimmer of hope in the form of a tribe swap that placed Sierra as a potential swing vote in her new tribe and now she holds the lives of her betrayers in her hands. Slay Sierra Slay.

We all predicted that a tribe swap was coming, well everyone except for Dan and Rodney who did a great job of shunning Sierra the night before the inevitable swap. I’m happy to see the end of the theme because I’m sick to the back teeth of Probst saying the word “collar” over and over, especially when he was saying “caller” and “collar” in the same sentence! White Collar vs. Blue Collar vs. No Collar (sorry, now I’m doing it!) is no more, now we have two tribes, Escameca and Nagarote, and they are the most unevenly matched tribes I’ve ever seen. Escameca has rodeo queen Sierra, all the big, buff men, and Dan. Nagarote has the White Collar geniuses that couldn’t finish the easy puzzle, the man who claims water is his Kryptonite, and the woman that got her head smashed open by a falling wooden platform – if they were a wrestling faction they’d be The J.O.B Squad.

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You don’t have to be a College Professor to work out who won the next two challenges.

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Hey, remember last week when I said that I thought Shirin was smart and was just using the Playing The Goofball strategy so that people would underestimate how shrewd of a player she is? Or maybe the week before when I said the same thing about Max? In the words of Gob Bluth, I made a huge mistake! Max and Shirin, God, love them, just aren’t cut out to play Survivor; play Mastermind with Survivor as their specialist subject, yes, that they could win, but not Survivor.

Fans of Survivor are always demanding to see superfans on the show rather than recruits; they want to see people like them play the game, people who love and nerd out over the show. But every time a superfan is cast it adds an extra weight of responsibility to their shoulders because we in the fan community hold them to a higher standard (Hi Rodney). Sometimes superfans go out there and excel like Todd Herzog. But for every Todd, there is an Erik Reichenbach, a Sarah Dawson, a John Cochran (circa South Pacific). Max Dawson and Shirin Oskooi are two of the biggest superfans ever to have been cast on Survivor, if not THE biggest. They are beyond superfans; they are fanatics who know every little detail about this show and its history. I consider myself a pretty big Survivor nerd but even I don’t know the bloody star signs of each winner and which sign has won the most!

Max, and to a slightly lesser degree Shirin, came into Worlds Apart with the biggest pre-season hype. With the majority of the cast having been spoiled early, Max and Shirin were already gaining traction within the Survivor community because they were known superfans who posted nod-wink-nudge Survivor references on their social media accounts. They interacted with fans, showed humor and wit, and they wore their love for Survivor proudly. They were supposed to be the great bastions of the Survivor fan community that would bring us pride and respect with their incredible game savvy and brilliant strategies. Unfortunately, they are no Todd Herzog, hell; they aren’t even Sarah Dawson.

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I think the worst thing to happen to Max and Shirin was them being on the same tribe. Having the two Survivor fanatics together was a disaster waiting to happen because their fandom became their defining factor – I imagine they spent a lot of downtime just discussing old seasons and players. They were in the game but still playing it as if they were at home analyzing it on TV; talking about previous moves and situations and players rather than focus on what Survivor is truly about, building relationships and trust with the people around you. Max and Shirin’s geekdom became annoying to their fellow tribemates rather than cute and adorable.

I know that lots of people were rooting for Max and with the amount of hype he had he was inevitably going to disappoint, but even I thought he’d make it further than he did. But for all the Survivor trivia Max knows, he didn’t know how to form legitimate bonds with other people. He irritated them; he segregated himself away from his tribe, he stuck his wart-covered feet in the drinking water. And his biggest blunder of all was that he thought he was in control and safe. Never believe that you’re safe on Survivor. With that everyone on the new Nagarote tribe apart from Shirin voted Max out and an entire fan community hid their faces in embarrassment.


Martin is a 28-year-old writer from Hull, England represented by Berlin Associates. He graduated from the University of Hull in English and Creative Writing. But if you have found yourself on this website you probably know him better as “Redmond” – the Survivor spoiler.