Well, in theory... Pat Ferrucci's S33 recaps

Eps.10-11: Jessica's dismissal just part of the agenda


Wow. Just wow. I’m not sure we’ve seen many better Survivor nights than the one we got Thanksgiving eve. No, we didn’t see the best episode ever or anything, but, holy poop, that was two great hours.


Two great episodes. Not one. That’s what makes it an awesome night.


So, yeah, it’s good to be back. Sorry about the lack of a column last week. This semester, for me, seems to feature more work than ever. But you don’t care about that. You want to talk theory. Let’s do that.


I’m going to skip over the Chris elimination and head straight to the Jessica one. To put it briefly, during that first awesome episode, I think David and his alliance made the right move targeting Chris, but Zeke erred. The reason I say that? Chris, fundamentally, acted as Zeke’s meat shield and once Chris got booted, you saw how quickly Zeke became a target for the first time all game.


Zeke and Chris


But the Jessica boot, well, that perfectly illustrates the theory of agenda setting.


Before we get to agenda setting, though, we need to talk about what most bits of history call the magic bullet or hypodermic needle theory.


You see, back in the early days of research into media, people erroneously believed that others wholehearted believed and acted upon what they consumed through media. The most widely used example of “proof” backing up this theory came from Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of War of the Worldsthat people listened to and acted upon. You know the one. That 1938 radio performance of the classic novel that made listeners truly believe aliens invaded earth.


A lot of early media scholars believed this illustrated how folks would just do what media tells them. Even today, we see remnants of the theory when people argue, again totally erroneously, that violence on television makes people more violent. Professors from the venerable Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia set out to prove this theory wrong back in the first half of the 20th century. And they did.  


Later, though, in the late 1960s, Max McCombs and Don Shaw, both then professors at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, developed agenda-setting theory, another update on the magic bullet. The key to this theory is that, unlike the magic bullet hypothesis, it illustrates that media doesn’t tell people how to think, but rather what to think about.


So, for example, if something is always in the media, say Kim Kardashian, the media isn’t telling you how to think about her, but rather just making sure you do think about her.


What does this have to do with Survivor? Well, I would argue that while none of the players this week forced upon others how to think, all the conversations after Chris’ boot forced players into what to think about. Almost immediately after tribal, while both main alliance leaders, Zeke and David, expressed a want to continue working together for at least one or two more votes, they couldn’t.


David vs. Zeke


Once word starting spreading that these two would eventually be gunning for each other, it created a need for everyone to think about that inevitably. Castaways simply couldn’t think about anything else and all conversation seemingly revolved around booting one of those players. And while it might have made a lot of sense for some players to avoid this showdown right then, they just couldn’t.


That led to rocks. And that led to Jessica, unfortunately, getting the boot.


Well, that’s it for theory. Here’s what I’m thinking about each remaining player. I hope you all had a great holiday and we’ll talk again next week.





  • 1. Sunday — I’ve got so little to say about Sunday. Still. Honestly, she seems destined for a spot in the final three at final tribal. And so destined to receive exactly zero votes. That’s the only ending that makes sense for Sunday, right?
  • 2. Will — Somehow, some way, besides his elaborate game of telephone over Jay’s idol, Will continues generating almost zero screen time. That’s easy when there’s, I don’t know, 18 people in the game. But at this point? Even after winning an immunity challenge? So odd. Ronald Reagan would not be proud. I can’t speak for Jesus.


  • 3. Bret — What the hell was with Bret and his blow up at Tribal? While he hasn’t earned much screen time till this week, Bret always seemed like a really likeable dude who would go home around final seven. I still feel like that’s the end result, but, man, why blow up like that?


  • 4. Hannah — Well, Hannah’s actually playing the game. She’s showing some strategic chops and maybe, just maybe, she’ll make her own move one of these episodes. On the other hand, that was the worst acting job I’ve ever seen during her conversation with Zeke. So while the first sentence in this paragraph bodes well for Hannah, the second one probably means she’s not too long for this game. If I had to bet $1 on who goes home next, I probably bet Hannah.


  • 5. Adam — Somehow, in this wackiest of wacky seasons, Adam went from an under-the-radar favorite to a surefire threat and imminent boot to an under-the-radar favorite again. All in like two episodes. Adam’s still got an idol. And while my mind is doing funny things in my post-turkey haze, I don’t think anyone knows about said idol. That’s huge. We’ll see if he can avoid making more strategic blunders and stay under the radar.   


  • 6. Ken — There was a moment in this last episode that seemed subtle, but I really think illustrated how well Ken’s playing. When David starts telling Ken and Jessica about the need to vote off Chris by using Zeke, Ken says something to the effect of, “Have you noticed how often Zeke and Chris take walks with each other?” That moment shows that Ken’s playing the game. He’s a physical and mental threat. We don’t know about his strategic bonafides yet, but we know he plays a stellar social game and he’s now got the Legacy Advantage.


  • 7. Jay — You have to love where Jay’s sitting right now. There are all these threats and civil wars popping up amongst alliances and Jay just continues to be Jay. He’s got people on the jury in Michelle and Taylor who will undoubtedly vote for him, he’s building a résumé with challenge wins and the idol … I mean, you could argue that Jay is sitting perfectly right now. Of course, now watch him get voted out this coming week.


  • 8. David — This latest trip to tribal was surely a setback for David, but I think he’s playing a great game. More importantly, he’s playing a game that can win. People all feel like he’s growing as a person, his machinations are not hidden and he’s really being himself out there. All of those things usually add up to someone who can win over a jury. And, of course, he’s well-spoken and now can even boast winning an individual immunity challenge. David’s a huge threat in this game.  


  • 9. Zeke — We’re not out there on the island, so it’s impossible to really know if it was happening at all, but, to me, it sure looked like Zeke did a good job staying under the radar until the latest vote. And I believe that hurts him. Zeke is the perfect player to pull a Cochran 2.0 by staying in control, but not obvious control. I think it’s hard for Zeke to pull this out now because he’ll be targeted and he’s not likely to win an idol.


Man, this season just keeps getting better and I think it’s set up for a super end game. Here’s hoping it keeps impressing and surprising. Let’s talk next week.  


Pat Ferrucci Survivor 31 recapsPat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.