At this point, four episodes in, I find myself merely hate-watching this season of a show I've been loyally following since it came out 44 seasons ago:
Episode 3 last week was a bit of a bounce back for the show. After ridding themselves of a castaway so pathetic he into a physical competition based largely on navigating obstacle courses despite the fact he can't climb ladders:
… they managed to scheme and plot enough to vote out Saiyah, one of the cleverest and most resourceful players in the game. But who gambled that she wouldn't need to play the idol she had to reveal to everyone, and that was her fatal mistake.
But last night Survivor 45 reverted back to form. After mixing up the tribes in an attempt to inject a little life into the show, we got more of the same:
- Jake, the archetype of the Masshole who laughs his ass off at his own jokes that no one else gets
- Bruce, the older guy who thinks he's a father figure to everyone
- Katurah, who has expressed no thought of any kind, except for how many ways and to what extent she hates Bruce
- Sifu, a solid threat in the game who seems like a good guy except for when he's referring to himself as Sifu. Which is always.
- Sean, who operates in three modes: Crying, telling people he's known for 24 hours they're "family," and crying while telling people he's known for 24 hours they're "family."
That would be this guy:
So last night, for the fourth time in four weeks, Sean found himself at Tribal Council. Despite the fact he was with an entirely new "family" he was professing his love to. And this group came in with a well thought-out, carefully crafted plan to blindside the very talented, likeable, and therefore dangerous Sifu. It would've weakened the tribe going forward, but they agreed the time to get such a serious threat out of the game was right then and there.
It was a bold strategy. A gamble that could pay off or result in that tribe's own demise as they'd keep losing challenges without Sifu. So the drama and tension were high as they started talking at Tribal. Until it wasn't. Until Sean just up and quit. And took all the air out of the room.
If you're keeping score at home, that means four people have left the game, and two of them - so 50% - have left of their own accord. After beating out by some estimates I've read 40,000 other Americans who applied and would presumably have put in some effort to win a million bucks, these quitters decided they'd had enough and dipped on the show. In Week 1, it was Hannah, who missed her coffee, her couch and her cat:
This week, Sean said he missed his husband and just wanted to be home with him. A touching and romantic notion to be sure, were it not for a couple of things. First, any spouse would gladly spend a few weeks apart if it meant you come home with a million bucks. Second, when these people leave Tribal Council in failure, they don't hop the next flight back to the States. They stay in Fiji for the duration. Sean and his significant other were no geographically closer after he begged to have his torch snuffed than they were if he'd stayed in the game and kept fighting for the money. The money that would help his actual, literal family.
And now is seems like Probst has had it with this collection of losers and quitters as much as his audience has. He said as much on his On Fire podcast:
Source - "Just for some clarity, as much as you know anything going into Tribal, Sifu was going home," Probst told his cohosts. "That's what all of our interviews said." But Probst points out that Sean did not know that for sure, and a question from the host may have led Sean to think otherwise.
"I think Sean thought… that he might be in trouble, and he started to question if he was the vote," Probst said on the podcast. … "And so he starts talking about these powerful lessons that come with failure. And that's when I knew, 'Oh, he's quitting.'"
But the host thinks the reason for the quit may not quite match what was said by the player. "Sean had been playing a very clever game," Probst said. "He's a very clever guy. I'm going to be super clear: This was another engineered quit. And I ought to be honest, I think Sean tried to craft a narrative that worked for him because… Sean wasn't exhausted. He wasn't worried about food or bad sleeping. This was a sudden discovery, as in that exact moment at Tribal he realized, 'Whoa, hang on. I think I got what I needed. I'm good, thanks so much.' I realize — no disrespect to him — I realize he's missing his family, but it's not like you're out there for another six months. It's barely two more weeks. …
"[T]he reason Sean frustrated me is that I don't think he owned it. Hannah, equally frustrating, but she owned it. She said, 'Look, I hate everything about Survivor.' Sean romanticized it. And I am happy that Sean's in love. Everybody knows I love love. I think it's awesome… I'm just saying that romanticizing it felt to me like maybe a way to soften the idea of being voted out fourth in a game you imagined winning."
Imagine you're in Probst's shoes on this. He's the Executive Producer. This has been his job for 25 years or so. In that time he's seen people who would suffer hardships, starve nearly to death, lie, cheat, steal, betray, make up fake sob stories about loved ones dying, all to win the prize. Now finds himself sitting on top of a franchise where two of his competitors are tapping out after a week and a half in paradise. I has to be an affront to everything he stands for.
But at the same time, when you're the head of the organization, that's on you. If an NFL team has guys quitting on it, that's not on the players. That's a reflection of everyone in charge. From the personnel department who scouted those guys to the management that chose them over the thousands out there who have no quit in them.
Do better, Probst. Stop casting these pampered little squishes and bring us more motivated, ruthless, diabolical, merciless competitors.
There are more Parvati Shallows out there. Find them: