‘Survivor: Blood vs Water’: Five ways to improve for season 27

SurvivorSo was “Survivor Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites” a great experience? While we’ve still yet to include it in our season rankings (though this and our updated winner rankings will be online by Thursday), we can at least give the show a smile for not completely stinking up the place after a weak start. The pre-merge was predictable and littered with characters more bent on creating a fuss than actually playing the game, but the post-merge game really lightened things up and had a run of several exceptional episodes in a row.

Even if this was the best season of the show ever (which it wasn’t), there is always room for improvement. We know that next season is entitled “Survivor: Blood vs. Water,” and there’s no changing that. Meanwhile, there’s also likely no changing the twist that is probably going to be returning players competing against family members. Like it or not (and luckily, we like it in theory), it’s not going anywhere.

What we have instead now are five suggestions that the show can still change if they want to put the time and effort in. Some are big, some are small, and you’ll probably disagree with some of them. Hey, isn’t that what the comments are for?

1. Story arc concentration – While we were given four episodes of near-constant Shamar and about the same of Brandon Hantz, “Survivor” did not bother to show us the actual injury that caused Erik Reichenbach to start to wither away, and instead almost made it look like he was losing his mind and was ready to go home. Meanwhile, Brenda Lowe was ignored for so long, we thought that she had been replaced by that rock Francesca threatened to eat. We know that there are some characters meant to be larger than others, and we’re not looking for parity. We are at least hoping for justification on alliances, strategies, and if someone does leave due to injury, more insight into what actually happened. “Survivor: Philippines” was fantastic with its balance, but the first part of “Caramoan” was almost insufferable.

2. Rethinking the swap – First of all, we don’t want any swap if this really is a Family vs. Favorites season, since that immediately will shift the balance and make things unfair for people who have their family member still in the game. But even if you do it, the whole drawing eggs and smashing them, which cool visually, is terrible for fairness. Do a schoolyard pick, or have the contestants all rank each other! There’s drama to be had here, especially when the tribes are closer to being fair.

3. The jury should start at the merge – Enough said. We really liked the show when they made this change semi-permanently, and we felt deprived of great entertainment to see Corinne kicked off after the merge, and not being allowed to vote for the winner.

4. Scrap the whole final 4 double-immunity – While it’s possible (see Malcolm) that someone can win an advantage and still lose that last immunity challenge, we still think that having someone with an edge ruins some of the tension that is otherwise there by four competitors entering the last challenge with equal footing. Imagine how different “Survivor: Palau” may have went had Tom entered the challenge with an advantage.

5. Never do a reunion show like Sunday’s ever again – We appreciate that “Survivor” takes risks rather than phoning it in, and we hope they keep thinking outside of the box since it brought us the hidden immunity idol, exile island, and some other interesting twists over the years. But to shaft the pre-jury people from being on stage, whatever the reason for it, felt like a sham and a travesty to these people who traveled out there , got dressed up, and then found out they would get zero camera time. Sure, they are paid to attend, but it’s not what any of them expected. A terrified little girl had more airtime than Matt, Corinne, or Francesca, and they were all interesting players who deserved to be on stage. Even if you don’t have a line, you deserve to sit up there and smile with the rest of the cast. It’s not a reunion if only half of the cast is featured!

Oh, and the fact that Erik didn’t get to update anyone on his health was pretty horrible, as was almost entirely ignoring Sherri despite her finishing third. If we took out the little girl, Boston Rob promoting himself, and Rudy missing the boat about the public perception of the word “queer,” at least a few more people could have gotten a chance to speak.

In case you missed all of our “Survivor Caramoan” finale coverage, including interviews with the finalists and also our own casting dreams for the new season, the link here has all of it for you tied up in a neat little bow.

Photo: CBS

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