Saying goodbye to Shirin

Shirin, survivor player voted out.

Shirin, second tribe member voted out of Second Chance. Image credit CBS.

Let me just put it out there, I am a fan of Shirin. I know, I know, there was the time she got super excited about monkeys having sex, and maybe you’re wondering if I’ve forgotten about her nude afternoons with Max (I have not, the lady likes to jam out with her clam out). I also cannot deny that she wouldn’t be on my ultimate dinner party list. But by the end of Worlds Apart I had carved out a wee corner in my heart for nutty, chatty Shirin. So, now, far too early in my opinion, let me justify why.

A little digression first regarding her exit from Second Chance. I know Jeff (and his team) are always keen to tease out the narratives for the season and for each cast member and they usually do a great job but to compare Abi’s experience to the disgusting behaviour that Shirin was subjected to last season was pretty off base as far as I can see. Shirin was personally targeted by a number of cast mates for the kind of verbal abuse that we fortunately don’t often see on survivor. Watching last week’s episode I really felt for Abi, I believe that she was genuinely hurt and felt victimised, and yeah it would have shown real character for Shirin (or one of her other alliance members, somehow Spencer and Kelly weren’t called out for that) to go and comfort her. However, Shirin was not the person who had a fight with Abi – that was PG – and nor was she the only person to have a mean giggle at Abi’s reaction, there were five or more people in that conversation. And Abi has been known to dish out some backstabbing and insults herself. I love watching Abi, I’m thinking of quitting my job to write a thesis on the impact of players like her in the game (or maybe just a blog post), but I think that to compare her ‘story’ to the bullying and brutal words that Shirin suffered, is silly. You can do better producers.

Back to Shirin, our latest victim of the torch snuffing. Here are the reasons I think she’s a great player to watch:

  1. Absolute top reason. She LOVES this game. Loves it. We’ve seen a few players like this, Cochran was one, Spencer is another, and I get so much joy out of watching them play. She even got a thrill from having Jeff snuff her torch the first time around. All the cast members, except maybe Keith, like Survivor, and many of them get the game but there’s a whole other level for the fanboys and fangirls who study the game, who obsess over it and who just cannot wait to be there and put their science into action. They’re not always good at it, but they enjoy every single moment. Shirin is on that level and we were just seeing her hit her stride.
  2. Tenacity. This woman holds on til that flame is out. Sure the attempt to woo Woo (couldn’t help it) was doomed to fail but I give her credit for fighting from the bottom.
  3. Smarts. I was really digging seeing Spencer and Shirin put their heads together and figure out all the connections each player had to each other. And last season Shirin pulled a few smart strings in amongst the craziness. She’s got brains. She made a mistake trying to tame the Brazilian Dragon but I doubt she’ll be the first person to fall into that one.
  4. Bravery. I couldn’t ever play Survivor, I wouldn’t last an hour, so all the cast members get cred from me on that. But to play through the season that Shirin did and not quit? And then to play AGAIN? Woman has guts.

So there you go, my tribute to a player who I think, in the right mix of people, could really go much further and be much stronger than we’ve seen from her so far.

Are you wondering why I haven’t posted a similar ode to Vytas? No, I didn’t think you were.

Episode 11: Tribal Council (chaos Kass part 2)

It was really a tough one to decide which of these faces best represented my feelings about this trouble council, so I’m going with all three:

morganpissed jefraunimpressed jeffwhat


The comrades roll in, apparently accompanied by Tony’s bag of tricks, which surely has an agent and several parody twitter accounts by now. The jury also files in, and can we please take a moment to appreciate that this jury is now 80% beautiful (no offense Sarah, I think you’re cute as a button)?

So no one told you life was gonna be this way Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's D.O.A. It's like you're always stuck in second gear When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but...

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but…

Tash talks about having a target on her back, Tony says she wasn’t scrambling so he’s suspicious (hence the Bag o Tricks®). Since I’m in a mood to compliment Tony, I will say that he seems to be a better liar than anyone else playing this season. Tash makes the completely sensible point that Tony is a huge threat. HUGE. But he plays his magic pipes, whispers the secret words about loyalty and trust, and I guess they believe him? Or do they? I don’t even know anymore. He talks about his idol and how he is keeping out of the hands of the (dwindling) enemy. Trish makes her only contribution to the tribal council (and maybe to the episode) by saying that Tony would use the idol for one of them if they need it.


Oh Pa, he swears he’ll marry me when the time is right. Swears it!

I genuinely have no idea whether Trish actually buys Tony’s bizarre post-blindside reassurances, or whether this is part of her bigger plan to turn on him later. Someone please tell me!

When Jeff asks if everyone believes that Tony has two idols, he can hardly contain his glee.

Oh stop. Shucks.

Oh stop. Shucks.

So Kass’ turn to tell everyone there’s going to be a blindside and that Tony’s loyalty is disingenuous. I suppose we were supposed to go into this council session believing that Kass might actually flip along with Woo – both flushing the idol and getting rid of Tony’s right-hand gal and winner-contender Trish. This would be an actual sensible move, and great gameplay. Which is why I’m sure we all went in with no faith whatsoever that it would happen.

Fellow viewers, please somebody tell me, is anyone else sharing in this delusion that Kass has that the fate of the game depends on her? Also, while you’re in explaining mode, why does she tell everyone in this council session that there is going to be a blindside? What possible benefit does her bluffing that she’s turned on the group have for her?

Kass’ idea that she could EVER beat Tony, who combines the magic of being a great player (if everyone who falls for his nonsense is to be believed), an incredibly lucky player, and someone who is so nutso and entertaining, the producers must daily line up to kiss his feet, is LUDICROUS.

Anyway. Kass and Woo both chicken out and Tash goes home. I genuinely liked her and I thought she played well. Almost everyone left on screen kind of rubs me the wrong way, except maybe Woo but I can’t imagine what he could do between now and the finale to actually be a potential winner. I guess I’m rooting for Tony, or maybe it would be more entertaining to see Trish rise up and turn on him.

The only sensible comment in this session comes from Spencer, who asks how long this trust and support for Tony is going to last.

Excellent question. Til next time.

Episode 10 – Tribal Council

After the sun sets, the tribe members wade into tribal council.  

We get to see the Jury shuffle in shortly after the tribe arrives.  Jeremiah is the newest member of the Jury, and he’s had his beard all trimmed up and cleaned.  Let’s see a wink.


That’s nearly a blink, Jeremiah. Close enough..

Jeff gets into it and prods Spencer, asking him if he feels in danger.  He admits that indeed he’s empty handed, and that he feels threatened tonight.

Next, we hear from Tony.  He finds an opportunity to talk about Jefra and how Spencer told him that she wanted to blindside him.  I feel that he wants to talk about this early in the meeting, to set up his reasoning to the group for his decision  for tonight’s vote.  Tony also uses the opportunity to bring out 1 of his immunity idol, an opportunity to flare out his chest and ward off any votes.


Jefra’s “Strongly disagree” face.

Jefra feels the heat rising and admits that yes, she was upset about the LJ blindside.  She’s not going to say otherwise.  Her teammates back her up, but play up the fact that she’s over it.  It’s as Kass is saying “There’s no need to be upset with Jefra, Tony.  Let’s get past this.”  

Jeff points out that there seems to be an extreme level of dissension within the alliance.  Tony basically states that for his team mates, his alliance and their faith in it, is all that they have left.


Sarah’s eyes nearly rolling out of her head.

Jeff says that this alliance is in a state of chaos.  In truth, it’s more of an organized chaos that Tony has orchestrated.  How he’s been able to stay on top as leader of this tribe is impressive.

Jeff goes back to Spencer, having him look at the possibility that his game could end tonight.  Spencer talks about how he feels that he has played the game hard, and that he has tried hard to capitalise on opportunities, while other players have not.   He reiterates the popular lament that many survivor players share, about not making the moves that were briefly available and getting too comfortable in their position in the tribe..  

The votes and tallied and the next survivor to be voted out is… 



Woo and Tasha are not asked a question at Tribal Council, or at least they never made the edit.  Their votes were equally important in this blindside.  It would have been interesting to hear about their opinions on the matter.


The tribe grimaces. Spencer just grins.

“…This is an individual game…” Jeff repeats.  Time to smarten up Dumb dumbs.

Episode 9 – Tribal Council

After Jefra’s blatant honesty we head into tribal with two options:

1) Spencer plays his idol on himself and a NuSolana member goes home, likely Woo or

2) Spencer plays his idol on Jeremiah and Spencer goes home.

This is game changer territory!

Group therapy

Group therapy

Spencer kicks off by stating he, Tasha and Jeremiah are on the outside, another insightful ‘Brain’ comment.

Jefra tells Jeff that she has gone back to original alliance. Smart move for now and it may even gain her ‘truth’ points with the jury.

Everyone is a threat apparently, Spencer says he will vote for Tony if on jury, Tasha and Jeremiah echo the same sentiment. The problem with thesis they don’t do it with any class, it was threatening, brash and reactionary. (Cast your minds back to Blood vs Water, Hayden calmly caused Sienna to flip because he came across as sincere. Take another trip back to Phillipines; Penner politely and succinctly told Skupin and Lisa they would lose to Malcolm or Denise at FTC (shock horror he was right), they didn’t listen as they are two of the worst Survivors in history, however the approach was perfect) Kudos to Tony who looks noticeably upset over being thrown under the ‘best player’ bus yet he doesn’t snap and keeps his cool.

Spencer keeps throwing grenades at Jefra saying he doesn’t understand how she can’t see that she is last on the totem pole that is NuSolana. Surprisingly he didn’t bring up the numbers game… She could be 4 with them, or 5 with her current alliance. Perhaps she thinks Kass is 5?

Tony defends himself by saying he never broke any promises? Ummmm… Surely he must have to Trish, Kass & Jefra last tribal? Maybe he is getting a bit too technical.

Trish loyally sticks up for him and says he promised to end the crap. Funny how being disloyal one week has earned Tony extra loyalty points this week.

Woo makes an interesting statement that if Tony is to get there he will need their help. This could be an important comment come seasons end.

Can I just say that Spencer is finally showing his true colours… he is a jerk. Can’t recall a bigger whinging player in recent years. No social game whatsoever.

Before the votes are cast it looks like it is boiling down to Woo or Jeremiah? Just depends on where Spencer’s idol falls.

Spencer is a jerk to Woo in his confessional. By impersonating a stoned surfer. Shut up Spencer you tool! Just because you left the clue in your pants stupidly doesn’t excuse your jerkiness.

After the votes are cast Spencer steps up to play his idol… He remarks to Woo “you can steal all the clues you want but I’ve got the real thing”. In a true Cop stand-off T Bone pulls his out to call his bluff (this guy never stops thinking, he is always a step ahead) Spencer says its fake and then plays the idol on himself. You wouldn’t expect anything less of the sook, then again in fairness, you wouldn’t expect anything else of someone in the minority.

Jeff - Where's the napkin?

Jeff – Where’s the napkin?

Before Jeff opens the vote box Tony tells Jeff how amateur Spencer was by thinking his idol was real (it is!) causing him not to play it on Jeremy… Funnily this name error is more entertaining than anything Jeremiah has done, come to think of it this new Jeremy dude sounds like a barrel of fun compared to Jeremiah. Tony caps off his Oscar performance by referring to his idol as a fake. Brilliant Tony. Brilliant. Next tribal there will be doubt as to whether Tony has one or whether it is fake.

Tony admires his new 'Butterfly' super idol! "You will be called... Wing face"

Tony admires his new ‘Butterfly’ super idol! “You will be called… Wing face”

The votes come out. Woo, Woo, Woooooooo……. Jeremiah! hahhahahaha suck it Spencer! You guessed wrong. Outplayed again! Ironically Spencer said in a earlier confessional that Tony was predictable, yet NuSolana predicted that Spencer had an idol and would play it on himself.

So long Wet Mop

So long Wet Mop

The wet mop is booted. And Tasha and Spencer are now firmly entrenched at the bottom.

Tasha - "Why is he still on the island?" Spencer - "I'm not sure" Jeremiah - "You MA MA MA MAKE ME HAPPY!"

Tasha – “Why is he still on the island?” Spencer – “I’m not sure” Jeremiah – “You MA MA MA MAKE ME HAPPY!”

Things will no doubt change next week.


He's got the whole game, in his hands...

He’s got the whole game, in his hands…

Tony starts working his magic this episode from the moment the opening credits roll. His big move this time? Setting , cute but innocent, LJ up to be in the line of tribal fire. And who can blame him? After last week’s close call Tony has got to be feeling nervous.

The coloured block memory game sees Tasha wearing the immunity necklace plus Spencer still has his hidden idol so that really only leaves Jeremiah or Jefra open to be voted out. Tony keeps spinning his LJ wants Woo out story so that while the rest of his alliance is planning to split the vote between Spencer and Jeremiah, it looks like Tony and Woo will vote with the pawns, Spencer, Jeremiah and Tasha, to get rid of LJ. Whose pieces will fall into place though?

As the contestants file into tribal I am, once again, left wondering just how long can Tony keep pulling all of the strings? WHen will they realise he needs to be voted out? Not yet, I hope!

Morgan is looking FINE over on the jury bench, and I think Sarah still smarts a little from her surprise dumping.

Play it cool, guys!

Play it cool, guys!

Tasha, LJ and Kass all play their Q&A round with Jeff with a calm, straight face, but Tony’s admission of bringing his ‘bag of tricks’ clearly has a few players squirming on their benches.

As the contestants go ahead and vote, the big question in my mind is, will Spencer pay his idol? Followed by, did Tony flip?

As Jeff collects the votes we all wait through his pregnant pause in anticipation but chess-master  Spencer keeps his cool and his idol stays safely tucked away. A pretty gutsy, but clever move, I think.

Jeremiah: There are hot guys and cute guys and I never trust hot guys.

Jeremiah: There are hot guys and cute guys and I never trust hot guys.

The first three votes go to LJ, who doesn’t seem overly fazed and  looks pretty confident and comfortable. The next vote goes to Spencer and we all assume he’ll also receive the last 2, but lo and behold, LJ receives his 4th and 5th vote, removing him from the game.  Trish and Jefra are shocked and I think this move will really stir up the hornet’s nest for Tony. It was a bold move by him (and less so by Woo) but unnecessarily early, I think, as his whole alliance were happy to sit tight and ride out the rest of the votes as a solid group.

See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya...

See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya…

Ultimately, I think, this move has damaged Tony’s game and his likelihood to receive votes should he make it to the finale. He rocked the boat when everyone else was happy to play nice and follow his every direction. So what’s my prediction for next week?

– addled by hunger and sleep deprivation, Tony converts the Spy Shack into the Love Shack  and attempts to woo Jefra

– Woo tries to placate everyone and ease tension by doing cartoon character impressions around the campfire at night, instead he accidentally falls into the fire and burns all of his hair off.

– Jeremiah discovers the ‘special power’ idol and finally plays a significant role in the game.

Episode 7: Tribal Council Breakdown

I feel that Katie, Ev, and I were all robbed. How could any tribal council live up to last week’s extravaganza? Shaun found the golden ticket on that one.

This week? Same ‘ol, same ‘ol. A pretty standard council session that could come from any season of the past few years.

In my seasons-long tradition, I decide I like a player just in time for their possible downfall. You can use this tendency to help you predict the winner through a process of elimination.

Anyhow, things don’t look great for her heading into trouble. Tony’s Heroes obviously have the numbers after last week’s hurricane of a trouble council. They consider Tash or Morgan, with Tash being the much more obvious threat – my vote were I in the beach huddle – or Morgan who metaphorically pees on the shelter carpet and pisses everybody off. Idol paranoia leaves the fingers pointed at Kass, a mistake to my mind but what do I know.

Don’t worry though, Spencer isn’t taking this lying down.


He’s strategising HARD. Morgan wants to vote for Kasstastrophe, because don’t we all, but Spencer wisely points out that she’s still the only one who would possibly flip. Instead our leader Tony is the target. This all has the air of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic but their logic is sound and what else can they do? Spencer snuggles up to Kass and whispers some sweet chess master wisdom in her ear, making the case that this way she can save some of the jury votes she burned last week. Leaving out of course that she would be pissing off her new alliance instead. This stage of the game where players start to be concerned about jury votes is really interesting to me. How do you stab people in the back while still being likeable and respectable? Former winner Yul was the best player I’ve seen in handling this, with Denise a close second, neither had to face a truly scorned jury. Maybe LJ could manage it this season. Or Tony if he can keep a lid on the crazy.

The producers do a great job of taking us into this council believing there is a genuine chance that Kass could flip (#chaoskass2.0) even though most us must have a shred of faith at least that she can’t be THAT crazy.

First jury member Sarah comes in looking showered and well-fed. Sidenote, I get a real kick out of seeing the eliminated players looking shiny, clean shaven, and comfortable. I think it must really rub salt in the wounds for their starving, stinky comrades still in the game. I’d wear so much perfume if I was on the jury, and I’d try to sneak in food. But I digress. Tasha does a little courting votes of her own when Sarah comes in.


Hey BFF, don't you remember how close we were? We had those three conversations. I served you rice once - don't you remember that? We spooned during a rain storm too.

Hey BFF, don’t you remember how close we were? We had those three conversations. I served you rice once – don’t you remember that? We spooned during a rain storm too.

Kass is quick to jump in and remind everybody of her big move last week. Which causes Sarah to do her best Morgan impression. That’s the other thing I love about jury time, the reactions!


Hey Sarah, remember how you bought it when Tony swore on his badge? Yeah, maybe keep the eye-rolling to a minimum with that in mind.

Hey Sarah, remember how you bought it when Tony swore on his badge? Yeah, maybe keep the eye-rolling to a minimum with that in mind.

Spencer does his best mature guy impression, apologising for giving Kass a hard time. Spencer, buddy, she deserved it. There’s no sorry in Survivor (#nosorryinsurvivor).

Tony and his group claim they’re looking at strategic and physical threats but Morgan doesn’t buy it, obviously feeling the need to plead her case. When she says that people don’t seem to like her, I fall head over heels. I like that despite all her laziness, when it comes to challenges she gives it her all. She has been one of the last people standing in a few now. Of the younger women playing, now just Jefra and Morgan really, she is the much more memorable of the two. I don’t know, it’s something about the venal, lazy, bratty girl mixed with enough self-awareness and sanity that is fun to watch. She’s not like Abby of a few seasons ago who was easily as lazy and silly but whose inability to show any empathy made her irredeemable.

Trish sees Morgan’s plea to keep her around as a chance to put the boot in and complain about Morgan’s laziness. Morgan reacts in the best way possible, with a classic Morgan face.

How can you not like watching this face?

How can you not like watching this face?

With prompting from Jeff, Morgan talks up her looks A LOT. I don’t think her using this as an excuse wins her any fans amongst the other players, but it’s fun to watch their reactions. Sarah is also LOVING this. Morgan promises to work harder in camp, evening stopping herself when she lets the word ‘try’ slip out of her mouth. No one is really buying it.

Extra bonus points to whichever editor put in the *bling* sound affect on Morgan's 'don't vote me out' face.

Extra bonus points to whichever editor put in the *bling* sound affect on Morgan’s ‘don’t vote me out’ face.

Jefra then tries to convince Jeff (and probably Kass) that the majority six is one big happy family, they’re all links on a chain, blah blah blah. She does not have the self-confidence to sell this speech and Jeff doesn’t even pretend to buy it. Nor does Kass. Who, oddly, denies being part of their alliance at all. Instead making some gambling analogy that is only a slight improvement over her murder scene floor analogy.

With that it’s time to vote and my buddy Morgan is out. This wasn’t the worst vote Tony, Trish and their back-up singers could have made, but it wasn’t the smartest either. I hope to see LJ step up soon, I think he has the potential to dethrone Tony.

Farewell Morgan, I can’t wait to see your eye-rolling continue on the jury bench.

Til next week!




Episode 6 – Tribal Council

I suspect that Evan must be pleased.  This week’s tribal council was bat shit, insane, banana-crazy.

As the players enter tribal, the outcome appears to be ambiguous.  The tribe has merged into a single tribe, but there is no unity to be found here.  There are clearly 2 halves of the tribe that have aligned to take the other out.   With a total of 11 players and votes, there will be a crucial vote that will break the tie.  It appears that the deciding swing vote will belong to Sarah, but does it?  With emotions running wild, it appears that Kass may steal the role and flip on her tribe mates.  I think at this point that Kass is mostly blowing off steam.  Surely she’s not serious about this talk about “Chaos Kass”.

The group of 5 (the minority alliance) appear to be a vote short.  However, 2 of these members (LJ and Tony) have hidden immunity idols.

Kass appears to stll be on board with her original tribe when she answers Jeff’s question and confirms that indeed “Strong male doing well in challenges on the minority group” should be worried about being voted off tonight.

When Jeff steers the question towards talk of immunity idols, LJ says that he hasn’t found one, but Tony says that he has.  Spencer asks Tony to prove this by showing it, and after some discussion, he agrees to reveal his idol.


“Say hello to my little friend.”

Now the game is on.  Tony relishes at the fact that the others are scrambling to change their vote.  Clearly they had planned on voting him out.


Spencer – “Wait, who’s on first?”
Tasha – “Exactly!”

The apparent minority tribe agree to go ahead and vote as planned.  Jeff suggests that no more time should be wasted, and that the vote should begin.

Before the votes are read, Jeff asks if anybody would like to play their immunity idol (ahem, Tony?).  Tony asks to have his idol “authenticated” and then he chooses to play the idol… on LJ!  Of course he did, because he’s a damn clever sly fox!


You’ve just been T-boned.

In a second surprise, LJ decides to also play his hidden immunity idol, on Tony.  It seems unlikely that the majority tribe has thought far enough ahead to play the ol’ double bluff, but the consideration isn’t lost on Tony.

After the ritual of putting ink to paper, the first vote is drawn:


These are not the votes you are looking for.

Clearly the minority team’s plan did not work.  The Majority’s “second one” was Jefra.  While the minority team looks devastated, the majority team is overjoyed.  The votes add up to 5 votes for Jefra and 5 votes for Sarah.  Jefra is sad, but appears to be resigned to that the fact that she will be sent packing.

The final vote is drawn and it reads…. Sarah.


Wait, wait, what?

Kass has flipped and stabs her brainy friends in the back, all because of what appears to be hurt feelings.  Chaos Kass is a real thing.  It even has a hash tag.



“Say my name…”

I can’t help but wonder if all of this would have ended up differently if Woo didn’t win the immunity challenge.  Regardless, Sarah is snuffed.



Sarah leaves the game with plenty of class and dignity.  Spencer however can’t help himself but to give the back of Kass’s head some head-cocking sass.  She replies “There is a lot of game left to play” or something left to that affect.  I can’t be bothered looking.  I’m too exhausted from excitement after that emotional roller coaster.