Episode 13: A great win, a great cast, an adequate season
Published: December 21, 2021
Erika's command of the Final Tribal narrative helped her to the million-dollar prize, but it was her calm, progressive, no-fuss path through the game that really won it. It's a style of game the show had best get used to, because it's the optimal antidote to their now-standard orgy of twists.
Episode 12: A season in search of a story
Published: December 14, 2021
With no official theme, Survivor 41's overall "story" will largely be defined by its winner. In looking at what we've been told so far, can we project who that winner will be? Probably not, but let's try anyway, shall we?
Episode 11: More than a game, then less of a game
Published: December 4, 2021
Survivor 41's Jekyll-and-Hyde season continues, producing an episode with both astonishingly heartfelt discussion of the burdens imposed by race in social situations, and an ill-advised twist that ignored everyone's social connections and (thankfully) failed to override the whole "tribe has spoken" deal. Once again: Just let the contestants play.
Published: November 27, 2021
"They scheme without juicers! They scheme without blenders! They scheme without flunjers, capdabblers and smendlers!" This was a rare gem of an episode in modern Survivor, one in which the players did all the work. As they should.
Episode 9: Twists vs. idols vs. advantages
Published: November 20, 2021
Last season, we had winners at war. This season, most of the crossfire is between one production-imposed twist and others. Or just as often, twists and plans the contestants came up with. Feel a big power shift coming? Why risk that failing when we can guarantee it by throwing in a random rock draw instead?
Episode 8: Only YOU can prevent Live Tribals
Published: November 14, 2021
Live Tribals (or allegedly live ones, at least) are Survivor's shiniest new toy, and like every other "feature" the show adds, they're confusing and borderline unwatchable. But they're not going away, not unless players wise up that they're more damaging than useful, at least in a normal season with actual alliances. Will we ever see one of those again?
Episode 7: The illusion of choice
Published: November 7, 2021
Thanks to some highly creative gameplay, the second half of the merge episode delivered as the contestants thwarted an overpowered new advantage, in part through their own work, and in part through conditions the half-tribe immunity set in motion. A mixed bag, unnecessarily so, and one that reveals the season's true villains: the producers.
Episode 6: Mission: Half-accomplished
Published: October 30, 2021
This week, Survivor 41's creative team set a new-era precedent for amazing achievement: They managed to screw up the merge episode, a feat seemingly unthinkable for the prior 40 seasons. Congratulations, gents, job well done. See you next week.
Episode 5: Hidden
mechanisms and unwelcome additions
Published: October 24, 2021
Survivor 41's contestants continued to deliver top-notch drama and gameplay this week. The biggest obstacle to this season's success, however, remains the same: the show's dismissive attitude towards its audience, especially for keeping them informed about how the game actually works (and all the unnecessary advantages, of course).
Published: October 16, 2021
After last week's grim, soulless slog through unnecessary and ultimately pointless manipulations, Survivor 41 somehow rebounded in Episode 4 with a deep dive into characters, gameplay, and all the things that made the show memorable in the first place. (Hint: None are spelled "advantage".) This one was something that's worth playing for.
Episode 3: Trying to find the part that is fun
Published: October 10, 2021
Through three episodes the "danger" and "monster" of Survivor 41 appears to be primarily fear of flubbing a scripted line, or perhaps a brain cramp from trying to figure out which voting-related advantage/penalty takes precedence. If only we had more scenes of people reading things, we could discover the "fun" part.
Published: October 3, 2021
After Episode 2 of Survivor 41, it's clear what the long-rumored "monster" is: a byzantine labyrinth of voting-related rules changes that nobody, from the players to the audience, really understands. To paraphrase Mike White is that 'fun'? Oh well, at least the cast still is.
Episode 1: The new cast rises above a pile of twists
Published: September 28, 2021
Survivor 41's premiere delivered a dynamic group of 18 new contestants, most of whom might have been on the first tribe if the theme had been "Savvy vs. Sweat." They're a fun group, and navigated their way well through the first episode's bevy of new twists. It's a good sign for the season's future, as long as the twists don't ultimately sink it.
Pre-season: Entering the monster
Published: September 21, 2021
The new era is almost upon is, as (US) Survivor 41 begins airing tomorrow. Here's a brief look at the new cast, the big characters, the big players, and an attempt to understand what the heck the "monster" Probst keeps going about is supposed to be.
Jeff Pitman is the founder of the True Dork Times, and probably should find better things to write about than Survivor. So far he hasn't, though. He's also responsible for the Survivometer, calendar, boxscores, and contestant pages, so if you want to complain about those, do so in the comments, or on twitter: @truedorktimes