Well, in theory... Pat Ferrucci's S34 recaps

Ep.4: Producers innovate, but it's unfortunately disruptive


Well, look at that, Malcolm made it to day 12. For a Pat Ferrucci Winner Pick, that’s pretty damn amazing. Maybe next season my pick will get to day 15. A boy can only dream.


But as we all mourn the loss of a great, entertaining player, let me just say that you should put me in the camp of those who believe this twist was both supremely entertaining and totally crappy.


Let me explain.


First, before we talk theory, this episode stunk because you could overtly see the maneuvers of producers. What do I mean? Well, we’ll talk about the tribal council soon, but even Tai’s idol just felt wrong. Troyzan finds his at a challenge. That makes sense, even though the most vulnerable player in the game found it. But Tai finding one at camp? Did that feel right to anyone? It sure didn’t to me.


I know that a lot of fans and recappers mention conspiracy theories and complain about producers or Probst interfering with the game. I’m not that kind of guy. You’ve never read a column where I did that before. I just felt like this episode was too much. None of it seemed organic. The tribal council was a huge setup that wasn’t fair to the players. And, especially, Tai and that idol felt so planned and unfair.


Tai changes the game around


But we’re here for theory. So let’s do that.


Very seldom is there a theory that fits perfectly with an episode. That sure happened this week. Let’s talk the theory of disruptive innovation.


Developed by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, the theory of disruptive innovation fundamentally describes, according to Christensen, “how technology-induced changes made by innovators can not only significantly affect a market, but so thoroughly disrupt it that its leaders are threatened or, even, toppled.”


We’re not talking about technology here, but changes to the game. And this is why I didn’t particularly care for this episode.


But let me explain the theory first. Let’s think about the journalism industry. The internet would be considered a disruptive innovation.


Prior to the internet, to run a news outlet, you needed to own a printing press (newspaper) or have a television license (broadcast). Both of these cost tons of money and were only available to the richest of rich people. Then then internet comes along and someone can make a Buzzfeed or something like it without owning a printing press or getting a television license.


This changed everything.


All of a sudden, manufacturing and distribution and, in the case of broadcast, incredibly expensive equipment weren’t necessary. So smaller more deft organizations could produce journalism without the ridiculous overhead. That’s an innovation that not affects a market significantly, but topples market leaders who aren’t nimble enough to adapt.


Tribal twist


The tribal council twist wasn’t just like any ol’ normal twist. It was such a big innovation that it didn’t just significantly affect the game, but totally disrupted it. We’ve seen sort of unfair vote offs in the past. But nothing like this. Malcolm played a good game so far. He did not have anything to fear at a normal tribal.


This innovation completely changed the game. It disrupted everything because 33 prior seasons of strategy no longer mattered. This was totally different. In fact, it was, as I mentioned, too disruptive for me.


We love Survivor because the game seems inherently fair. It’s about making sound decisions. Malcolm could have done anything. It wouldn’t have mattered. People playing good games shouldn’t be penalized. That’s what happened here and I didn’t like it.


Anyway, we barely saw anything from Tavua this week, but I’m still going to try to have some thoughts about every remaining player. Here they are:   





  • Hali — I want to believe that Hali was simply playing Nuku at tribal council. I want to believe it so badly. But, honestly, I don’t. I really think Hali would have gone against the rest of Mana if Nuku gave her more direction. It would have been a catastrophically bad decision. And this, my friends, is why I’m not thinking good thoughts about Hali.


  • Brad — Another week, another few great moves from Brad. At this point, it wouldn’t shock me if we end the season saying Brad is the best player ever. Brian, Yul, Parvati, Kim, Sandra, Tony … will we put Brad in that company? Seriously, though, Brad seems to be playing a pretty flawless game so far. I don’t expect it to last, but for a guy who got a lot of crap for coming back and wasn’t chosen for Second Chance, we should all be grateful that he got that second chance.


  • Sierra — Well, she was part of a good, memorable moment this week, but Sierra didn’t really do anything to earn it. Once again, she was a bystander to the action. It sure looks like Sierra might be around for a while, so here’s hoping she starts making some moves.


  • Tai — Tai! Holy poop! I mean, I know Brad commanded Tai to use the idol, but Tai made a good, solid move. That’s two weeks in a row, sort of. Again, it seems like Brad is running Tai, but, even so, Tai’s playing the game well and not constantly shown protecting chickens. For that, we can all rejoice.   


  • Debbie — I don’t really have any thoughts on Debbie pertaining to this episode. But can we talk about the preview for next episode? What sets her off? I’m super excited to find out. I literally can’t wait. Debbie’s always been kooky, but she kept her emotions in check during Kaoh Rong. What gets her going this time?   





  • Aubry — The lack of attention paid to Aubry this season makes me think she’s not long for this game. That’s sad because, like most people, I think Aubry deserved to win Kaoh Rong. It doesn’t seem like anyone will say that about Aubry and this season. Let’s hope she starts becoming more of a focal point soon. I just don’t think it will happen.


  • Michaela — Kudos to Michaela for immediately understanding that J.T. turned on Nuku. It didn’t seem like anyone else caught it right away. I think after the Malcolm vote out, Nuku is pretty much dead in the water. But if there’s anyone on the tribe that could still make a decent move, it’s Michaela. I’m rooting for her.


  • Sandra — I have a bad feeling about Sandra this week. She’s my vote to get the boot, actually. I know it seems like J.T. is done for, but I think Sandra might be so over-the-top confident right now that it’s going to put an even bigger target on her. In two weeks, we might be done with winners. I sure hope not, though.   


  • Jeff — Another week, another episode where Varner goes to tribal and is at no risk of getting the boot. That makes me happy. Here’s hoping Jeff continues getting as many confessionals as possible.   


  • J.T. — If you rewatch Tocantins, I truly believe J.T. has one of the best seasons of all time. He’s an incredible winner. Oh sure, Stephen and, often forgotten Taj, help a lot, but J.T. does everything well. That’s kind of surprising if you’ve seen this season or Heroes v. Villains. I know some will defend him for trying to make Big Moves™, but let’s be honest, big doesn’t always mean smart.





  • Troyzan — We didn’t see much of Tavua this week, but we know Troyzan’s got an idol in his pocket and is definitely sitting pretty next tribal. But we also know he’ll need his idol since it doesn’t seem like he’s made any inroads socially and definitely not in challenges.   


  • Andrea — I think Andrea’s going to be the victim when Troyzan uses the idol. That saddens me since I think Andrea is, once again, a good player this season.  


  • Cirie — In general, there’s really not much to say about this tribe since we barely saw them this week. With Cirie, though, she seems to be in a much better position since the tribe swap. That’s good for her, but it’s also good for us since we need some great players to stick around.  


  • Sarah — Sarah seems, to me, to be getting the first Winner’s Edit™ of the year. We know, now, this is no indication of any success, but I believe this because she’s doing well and getting some confessionals every single episode.  


  • Ozzy — So Tavua received no air time this week. Oh, wait, the tribe did receive some. I mean, we were treated to 1,347th Ozzy fishing montage in Survivor history. I guess we can thank CBS for that. Or not.  


  • Zeke — I didn’t think Zeke had a chance in hell of lasting very long this season. Let me just say I was wrong. I have high hopes for Zeke now. Looking good.  


Here’s hoping the rest of the season combines the excitement of this episode without the, um, intrusions of producers. I know some aren’t thinking much of Game Changers so far, but, to me, it’s been pretty entertaining. It might not last, but let’s hope we talk next week and I’m still optimistic.


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.