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"Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "

Posted by Estee on 02-08-07 at 09:53 PM
Warning: Do not open this thread unless you've finished the season. There are ultimately going to be some spoilers here. Oh, you could open it and read everything before starting on the Prologue, but you'd have only yourself to blame. Then again, contestants do tend to wind up blaming everyone but themselves, and that's just one more game trend we see over and over...

Okay, that should clear the front page text exert with room to spare. But if you just completely stumbled in anyway, here's a link to the first part.

http://community.realitytvworld.com/boards/DCForumID4/4179.shtml

See you in thirteen episodes, one recap, and a Reunion.

This thread is for two things. First, if you finish reading that nightmare, go ahead and sign in on the thread, no matter how long it's been since the original so-called airdate. (As the running joke goes, that means all seven eight of you.) In fact, sign in here even if you've posted on an episode thread before this. I want to see who the marathon runners are and I really want a head count. Gee, just how many people did wind up seeing this thing? Probably something less than the total number of all late nights involved in finishing it. Y'know something? Editing svcks. Just ask any contestant, any season, any time. In fact, my editing svcks, because I never found every last typo...

Second: some questions came up during the season which I wasn't able to answer because the season was still going on. As in 'pretty much all of them.' There's a chance more questions will arise. (How can you have a FAQ with eight readers? Eight out of eight qualifies for 'frequent', right? In fact, with that kind of sample size, one person asking a question is a pretty high percentage.) So this is where I get to pull back the curtain a little. Behind The Fanfic or Inside The Writer's Studio, only without the commercials and no one got drunk before coming on the show, at least as far as I know. This means you may want to run now -- but if you have a question about the series, you can ask it here: I can try to answer it now.

So -- bring out your prior queries and post them here if you want to see what the answers are. And that means for S:SI, thank you. I neither know who Doctor McDreamy is nor care. (Active discussion of the Reunion stays on the Reunion thread, but questions about anything (including the Reunion) can go here. Not that I have any moderator powers whatsoever, but let's pretend, okay? Or not. In fact, I have no idea what I just said. Help...) And if no one asks anything, I may just dig some old questions out of the archives and answer them anyway. Yes, I'm a DAW. We're all DAWs. Live with it.

Oh, and remember: you can ask a question, or you can ask several questions, and -- that's probably just about enough out of Jeff...



Finally! I can actually argue back! Do you know what it's like to have to sit back for that many episodes and not be able to discuss a series? It feels like being under contract, that's what it feels like...


Table of contents

Messages in this discussion
"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by ohmyheck on 02-08-07 at 11:02 PM
I read the entire thing, it was great and well worth the wait!
Question: Are you going to do anything involving this Amazing Race season with Alex and Mary-Jane?
Second question: Are you going to show a transcript of Alex and Andi on the Early Show?
Third question: There is no third question. Sorry!

"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Estee on 02-09-07 at 02:49 PM
Okay, time to start tackling these... (I'll get to all of them, but some have longer answers: if I don't post in order, it's because I'm going with the easier ones first.)

Question: Are you going to do anything involving this Amazing Race season with Alex and Mary-Jane?

Oh. Gawd. No. Most of that is because this is where we draw The End to the season and story: this was about Alex's journey, and the Race is the end of that journey -- or at least a major step along the way. Not playing alone, but with a teammate. Not healed, but healing. I think we can leave her in peace for a while. I'd even say she's earned some.

Also -- and these are the major obstacles to any TAR season, at least one done in story style:

A. It would be just about impossible to do in first person. Part of that is the structure of the Race itself: the teams don't see each other for long stretches of time. An insider's view of the Race is long stretches of travel and brief periods of total chaos. Any TAR tale pretty much has to be a third-person series of fast switches: changing perspective in large and small jumps as the story moves between teams. It's possible -- think of any multi-author viewpoint novel -- but it's a headache. And it means juggling a whole lot of stories at once. You don't have one main character: you have twenty-two.

For this season, we always had at least a glimpse for half of whatever was going on: Turare was seen through Alex's eyes, and the DAW Chorus (the house name for the Internet posters -- it stuck) could catch everyone up on Haraiki until the merge hit. First-person Racing with the same style means the Chorus pretty much takes over. Third-person lets you see everything and removes the Chorus if needed -- but oh, are you ever moving around a lot. And you're asking the reader to do the same amount of traveling from team to team. Where are we? Who are these people? What's their position in relation to each other? Help... Easier when the numbers get cut back a little, and you could even focus on just half the teams at the start -- but that either gives away the final group early or cheats the reader on knowing people if they're not.

And that's just a couple of the potential style problems.

TAR might be easiest to tackle in a nearly-pure dialogue/script style like Zoidberg uses. As a more typical design, it's a nightmare waiting to happen.

B. Research, research, research. You need a course, you need travel times between the points, country information, languages, possibly customs problems and local laws, Detours, Roadblocks... ow... The cheap-and-dirty way out is another domestic season, but -- bleah. Six months of study for one season. And eight readers. Possibly nine. Oh, what fun. Yes! Torture me for no apparent reason again!

C. Did I mention the really low readership count?

D. I'm tired right now... I'm really tired...

Some series are easier than others. TAR has a lot of inherent problems, and a lot of those go to the show's structure. If you fix those, it isn't TAR any more.

I'd love to see someone go for a full-scale fictional TAR season. But for me, right now? Pass. Sleepy. Nap now.

Are you going to show a transcript of Alex and Andi on the Early Show?

No. As with the Race, some things may be better left to the imagination. Besides, the whole point of the TES segments may have been to reach the moment where Robin effectively got Julie off the Survivor air, possibly forever... What's the fun of the segment if someone's there who can actually ask decent questions and may have even heard of the show?

One way to do TAR: eleven writers, each of whom takes a team, and then you just pass off between them during each episode. I've seen it done in novels -- but the coordination required is another 'Thank you sir: may I have another?' problem.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Colonel Zoidberg on 02-09-07 at 02:56 PM
>One way to do TAR:
> eleven writers, each of
>whom takes a team, and
>then you just pass off
>between them during each episode.
> I've seen it done
>in novels -- but the
>coordination required is another 'Thank
>you sir: may I
>have another?' problem.

That would mean you and ten others, and maybe a twelfth to piece it all together. That's a difficult problem, certainly, especially with all eleven of us having such different writing styles. That and a single episode would likely turn out longer than both the Society Islands finale and reunion and the Japan finale and reunion put together.

That and it would likely read as an All-Stars of sorts, what with everyone wanting to put in their own characters...yes, I've often wondered how Alex from SI would do against Maria from Japan, but not like this, and it would be tough for me to pick a main character (and if I did pick Maria, needless to say I hope they don't go through Saudi Arabia...)


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Estee on 02-10-07 at 11:01 AM
The times I've seen it done in fiction required a master editor to coordinate everyone and polish the individual styles to the point where the transitions weren't jarring. It's possible -- but it's an effort on a level I don't think anyone wants to go through.

And yes, character control is a huge issue here. Take a typical Race, and eight authors drop out along the way, taking their teams with them. Any volunteers for the greater good of the story? Drawing straws? Pulling cards? Prayer?

Survivor is actually one of the easiest series to use for the base of a story. TAR is like trying to remove your own appendix.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Colonel Zoidberg on 02-13-07 at 12:11 PM
The only way I can picture it is with twelve. You, me, nine other writers, and one person who edits, streamlines, determines where the story goes, and probably decides who stays and who goes. That or the jobs of editing, writing the travel arc, and judging where everyone finishes may have to be split up. It is possible that people will volunteer to have their characters eliminated, meaning that we can tell how far a team goes by how into the story their author is. So if the quality of one character's story goes downhill, it's pretty obvious they're history.

Beyond that, it's just a matter of how well the storyline goes. And, of course, we would have to make a few rules of etiquette about keeping the storyline realistic - if ten people write about their characters acting in a realistic manner and some spoilsport writes, "Joebob and Rayray save the pilot's life in mid-air and fly the plane at 1,000 MPH into Rome and do a perfect 3-point landing! Then Joebob runs down to the Leaning tower of Pisa, tilts it back up, completes the Detour in ten seconds, pays the guy at the Roadblock, goes to the Pit Stop a whole day ahead of everyone else, and the prize is that they each get jet packs to use for the rest of the Race! Plus Rayray got elected POPE!" then the story is ruined because of one doofus, and all our hard work is down the drain.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Estee on 02-13-07 at 12:25 PM
Joebob and Rayray save the pilot's life in mid-air and fly the plane at 1,000 MPH into Rome and do a perfect 3-point landing! Then Joebob runs down to the Leaning tower of Pisa, tilts it back up, completes the Detour in ten seconds, pays the guy at the Roadblock, goes to the Pit Stop a whole day ahead of everyone else, and the prize is that they each get jet packs to use for the rest of the Race! Plus Rayray got elected POPE!

I see you've been to online Add-A-Chapter boards. The spelling was a lot better, but the overall style? Exact match.

Magic jet packs. That can control minds.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Devious Weasel on 12-28-08 at 02:57 AM
One way to do TAR: eleven writers, each of whom takes a team, and then you just pass off between them during each episode. I've seen it done in novels -- but the coordination required is another 'Thank you sir: may I have another?' problem.

You'd almost have to have, for lack of a better term, a show runner. Someone who could lay out the entire thing, start to finish. Then have volunteers to write the individual stories. Once written, funnel these back to the show runner to put together.

You wouldn't need 11 writers - maybe 4-5 tops. After all, you'd be losing teams at a rate of one per episode until the first non-elim.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Colonel Zoidberg on 02-09-07 at 08:05 AM
A lot of my questions were answered by the season...I have a couple of comments and a couple of questions.

First off, the writing was incredible. The last thing I expected was a Hollywood ending, and more justice was served than in the end of Dodgeball. This makes ordinary fan fiction just seem...well, not filling. Reading this story and then reading an ordinary fanfic is like going from filet mignon to a cheeseburger. (Nothing against the mighty cheeseburger...if my story's a cheeseburger, I am pleased, though I greatly enjoyed this series.)

My next question, and this may be too much of an author's secret: What was your inspiration for some of the characters? People like Alex, Connie, Gardener, and even Trina had to come out of somewhere. My characters were designed in a certain mold, but that mold changed completely by the time their story was developed (I never intended for Charlie to be a Superman or Maria to be so flamboyant, but the story just went in that direction) but I can't imagine that a lot of that was going on with this story. It more seemed like the characters were very straightforward and were who they were from start to finish...Desmond was always an @$$hole, Gardener was a snarky old uncle, Gary was always the wide old man (until I re-read his description, I pictured him liek Gary from Guatemala...after that, I pictured Morgan Freeman's character from "Bruce Almighty,") and Connie was always just plain evil, albeit Wile E. Coyote tended to have better luck than she did.

Lastly, I guess I have to ask: Did Alex ever try a Coke?


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Estee on 02-11-07 at 03:08 PM
LAST EDITED ON 02-12-07 AT 10:13 AM (EST)

Okay, the last shall be first: no, she's still caffeine-free, at least through the Reunion.

Characters... yeah, this is way backstage. Let's see... and if this comes across as being convoluted, it's because I'm trying to figure out what my subconscious was up to. If it comes across as deeply boring, I wouldn't be surprised. There's going to be a lot of rambling here, and because it's stream-of-thought, I'll miss some things. (Sorry in advance?) And I'm listing pretty much everyone to give a place for more questions to spring from. Also because if I'm doing so many contestants, I might as well do a half-sensible section for all.

This first part came up in the Bar one night: that to some degree, the cast had to establish at least part of who they were immediately. This goes to the editing of the actual series and the old introductory shots. (The ones we haven't had in how many seasons now?) There had to be a five-second flashpoint that stuck in everyone's memory: this is the planner, the one who isn't quite sure what's going on, the innocent, the schemer, the expert. First impressions had to count. Layers could be revealed as we went deeper into who these people were, but the initial moments we got from them needed to provide some insight.

Given characters (and here comes the really long bit) are not based on any real people, at least not single ones. While still being recognizable individuals, they also take the parts of contestant archetypes: the casting patterns which the series keeps throwing out at us -- as well as occasionally invoking editing styles. They all teach their own lessons in relation to the game. And to a degree, some of them are also meant as partial reflections and opposition aspects of Alex: she spends the entire season in a prolonged battle with herself.

I had to play casting director for the season -- and every part had to have a purpose.

One at a time, tackling everyone to small degrees because this might be the time. (This'll probably just produce more questions, which will get answered as needed):

Michelle Kesel, 22, floral designer, Winnfield, Louisiana. (self-doubt, miscast, mental weakness, misfortune)

'For her brief moment on camera, she's got to be very shaky. She's not sure what she's doing here, and neither is anyone else.'

There's one of Michelle in pretty much every season: the contestant whose first impression is 'How did she get here and what was she thinking when she even tried?' Left to her own devices, without Elmore bouncing her out, she might have gradually evolved into a vaguely-Colleen type: just barely enough of a challenge asset to keep, the exact amount of personality she'd need to fit in, and insufficient strategies to make her own moves. Remember, this is the one Connie wanted to dominate early.

We see so little of Michelle because she's meant to be the first victim of the game: no one's sure why she's here -- and then she's gone. There may have been a subconscious echo in giving Gary's wife the same first name: one immediate victim who never got a visible chance to recover from it, and -- well, that goes back to how Gary met his Michelle.

She represents every player who never really got a chance to introduce themselves. There's been a lot of those, and they don't always go out at the first Council.

Trina Zolna: 32, fortune teller, Manhattan, New York. (magic, mystery, foreshadowing, ultimate grounding in reality)

'The supernatural grounded in solid everyday fact. There's something of the otherworldly in Trina, but even more of the real.'

Trina's pretty much present as a pure story element: to lay out the timeline. The reading was in the season from Day One, and Trina's function was to get it to the screen. But she's also part of the island's mystery, and she's meant to invoke the touch of magic that every season wants to find somewhere -- and which hasn't really come along since the first. (Assuming you believe the old line about those torches. Talk about considering the source...) But she's also a very bottom-line person in her way, dealing with the paranormal as such an everyday part of her life that it becomes almost halfway ordinary to her. Strangeness happens: doesn't it happen to everyone?

There's an element of doubt initially surrounding Trina: how much does anyone trust a fortune teller? That element ultimately extends to the island. Things happen which seem to have some kind of magic behind them, particularly in the way events focus around Alex. In the end, most of it could be coincidence and timing -- or even a momentary hallucination at the final Immunity challenge. And yet, the cards work out...

Trina might be the cumulation of the players who've tried to bring a bit of the mystical into the series. There may be bits of Linda and Peter in her, as well as a touch of Aras -- she recognizes that the supernatural is ultimately based in the real and knows enough to downplay her beliefs around those who don't share them. This also makes her a counterpoint of sorts to Connie, although Phillip and Gary share that role.

Elmore Nolan, 41, computer game designer, Seattle, Washington. (intellect without foresight, physical weakness, lack of focus, incomplete)

'A freefall from arrogant confidence to near ego destruction. Elmore has the game figured out, but not the people in it.'

Elmore's the single-element player: come out with one tactic firmly locked in place, then try to ride it all the way to the end. He's actually a fairly cocky personality, at least in the safety of his own head, mostly because he's used to working with a world which he completely controls. Elmore builds games which he knows inside and out, and he can beat anyone within the confines of that game -- because he created it. Angela calls him out with some accuracy: he builds with pixels, not with people.

He's placed as something of a target: the location in which a few jokes land -- but he's ultimately the victim of his own play. A single-element style, not strong on social skills, and unwilling to see that winning Round One was just that: winning Round One. You can't keep playing the same combo to beat this game, and Elmore wins up defeating himself.

We've seen a lot of Elmore types over the seasons: those who believe they can just outthink the game without considering any other part of it. We've even seen people close to his body type a few times (although he was pretty much the most out-of-shape contestant ever). He may be a warning about the dangers of being inflexible: you have to change your thinking if you want to survive -- or twist enough to get through a sniper crawl.

Frank Neeman, 29, pharmacist, Shamrock, Texas. (humor, risk without forethought, focused knowledge, danger)

'All air and fire: no earth. They burn quickly and brightest before burning out.'

Gardener's actually the one who gets to say it -- but then, Gardener gets to say a lot of things. Frank is every series expert who comes in prepared to use what he knows to dance circles around everyone else. He's Rob C, he's Guatemala's Brian, and he's a lot of other people who never made it to the end either. At least he got something out of his own flirting, even if it was a total fakery on one end.

Frank, through his encounter with Azure, is the first major hint to the dangers of the island (and the game as a whole). He's also a reflection for Alex, one she has to overcome: the idea that laughing leads to pain -- something she gets a very graphic demonstration of in Frank's fall. A sense of humor is a dangerous thing if you let it out in the open. Frank jokes more than anyone -- so Frank goes.

He was always meant to go out in that position: Haraiki and Turare basically trade ousters for the first six episodes, never letting anyone get more than one tribe member ahead. (Haraiki never gets to sit anyone out -- which might have been a weird kind of foreshadowing: someone was going to play all the way through.)

Denadi Raven, 58, health food store owner, Cheyenne, Wyoming. (lack of initiative, quitting, softness, cowardice)

'Denadi might be able to win Big Brother in a walk as a perpetual non-threat who could afford a slow build time: in this game, she's doomed.'

What is Denadi doing here? (I always saw her as someone who just sent in a tape one day for the absolute hell of it -- a medium-devotion viewer who decided the game couldn't be that hard.) We may arguably know the least about her of any Haraiki, given the greater amount of time she had to leave an impression. When the going gets rough, Denadi gets going -- generally in the exact opposite direction. There's a willingness to fight in her, but she has a hard time keeping that desire up for long. Her reflection is Alex's tendency to kick herself into the gutter when something goes very wrong. Alex is capable of recovering from that and looking for the next possibility: Denadi goes quietly in the end.

She arguably got some of the roughest treatment from the DAW chorus, seen and unseen: if there's anything we all hate, it's a contestant who backs out of any part of the game. Yes, you're going to lose, now get in there and lose with dignity! (Or at least with a really embarrassing failure: we could use the laugh.) Note that she has some early respect from her tribe regardless of this -- she has the flag on Day Two, and she really gets voted out as a move to strengthen the tribe for the next challenge. Denadi only offends Connie: there's no political vote here. She's just not strong enough to stay.

Denadi was a moderating voice within Haraiki -- between her and Phillip, some kind of peace could occasionally be resolved in time to get a little sleep. She doesn't enjoy conflict. There's a few of those spread along the path of the seasons: the ones who insist that there has to be a peaceful resolution at the end. This would actually make her a great jury member -- but a lousy contestant. There are times when conflict is necessary. (Just about every story ever written, for starters.)

Desmond Cooper: 55, construction foreman, Podunk, Massachusetts. (obstinate, selfish, inflexible, pattern-locked)

'Things which aren't part of his personal time start at pointless and go down from there. In his way, he's even more locked within himself than Alex, who at least knows that some kind of change has to happen eventually.'

This came out in the Bar one night: Desmond is every 'genius at sunrise, idiot by sunset' edit we've ever seen. (The player list on this one goes on for days.) He knows what he knows, he doesn't really want to know anything else, and he doesn't see what purpose learning could possibly serve. Within his element, he's very strong and focused: as the cast keeps pointing out, it's a great shelter -- and he got it running with a machete, a fire, and mostly-untrained labor. Given the supplies the Fiji cast had to work with, Desmond would have a condo up by Night Two. (It's easy to imagine him throwing his remote at the screen when that image came on.) But leave earth for water, and he drowns.

I always wanted Desmond to be the relative series virgin among a cast of fans and outright experts: having him watch only first and last episodes was one of the jokes that developed late. Hey, he's got the beginning and end covered: the middle should just about take care of itself...

In Alex's family model for the season, he's close to being the grandfather. (Denadi arguably would have taken the grandmother position.) But Frank sums him up: locked in, with no interest in changing because there's no reason for it. What he's done in his life works fine, right? It's gotten him this far along. He's reached this age, so he's doing something right... The reflection here is that unwillingness to alter something about yourself to get through. Alex has found a means of living that works very well for her, one where she never has to confront what she's lost, much less think about how to get any of it back or wonder why it was important in the first place. Desmond goes, the tie is set -- and something has to change.

In the end, I think he's really more embarrassed than angry, looking for any excuse as to why this couldn't be his fault and going as far as he can to find one. I can see him eventually coming into the fold and talking to the others again -- there's a hint of it starting at the party -- but it'll take a while. A long while.

Trooper Reagan, 35, police officer, Mosquero, New Mexico. (steadfast, reliable, insight, caution)

'If the game was really only about survival, he'd be one of the early favorites. And because it isn't, he has to be a midgame victim.'

Trooper follows in the footsteps of a long line of people who were 'too good for the game', whether physically, socially, or anything else: you can trace his roots all the way back to Gretchen. He arguably understands the others in his tribe as well as anyone: his training gives him the means to figure out some of what's happening behind the scenes. He's the first to really realize what might be influencing Alex's behavior, and he's very gentle in how he deals with it: tell Gary and get his promise to keep it quiet, just so he can have someone to work it out with, making sure he's not locked into a snap judgment -- and then a careful, equally gentle approach to Alex, starting to get her trust. Not as an alliance partner, but just as two people coming to know each other. Trooper's caught in a battle between what's good for a person and what's good for the game: a reflection that goes on forever.

For the record: he's horribly conflicted about whether staying in the game is the best or worst thing for Alex's psyche: what keeps him from voting for anyone else at the sixth Council is the near-drowning incident. He's not certain Alex would use the game as an excuse to hurt herself -- but he can't be sure enough of it not happening to change his vote. (Deep down, he is aware that just asking the question aloud has warned the staff of the possibility -- but he never really confronts that on a conscious level.) Ultimately, Trooper goes with what he thinks is the majority because he believes Sequesterville is safer for Alex. He just can't complain about the ultimate results: at least this way, he can keep an eye on her. The visibility of that conflict is what leads Gardener to really suspect him as Alex's third vote.

One of the hidden (or unspoken) scenes of the season had Trooper asking Gary to keep an eye on Alex, just in case anything happened to him.

Most of this is turning to game discussion because there isn't a lot more to Trooper than what came out: he's a decent man in a hard job who's fighting off the insidious effects of that job. (As Angela says, it gets to pretty much all of them after a while.) It was a minor bit of irony to have him go out in Gretchen's exact place...

Angela Mistedge, 28, activist, Richmond, Virginia. (deviousness, arrogance, manipulation, firebrand)

'You can never destroy a system until you have something to put in its place. Angela has her systems ready to go: she just doesn't believe they need anything as formal as testing. She came up with them, didn't she?'

Angela is closer to Connie than she would ever want to believe: two people completely determined to see the world through their own view, enforce that perspective on others, and if everything worked out for her, never is heard a dissenting word. She's the ruthless kind of player: it doesn't matter who you step on or how hard as long as you get to your goal in the end. Her reflection for Alex is that they both have traumas in their past which have sent them down the paths they're on: in Angela's case, she had already set foot on hers, and the riot just ensured she'd never leave it. Unlike Alex, Angela wears her scars openly -- all of them.

She's a strange one as a villain: she wants to believe she has all the answers worked out and that whatever truth she's convinced herself of is the truth. (Again, she and Connie mirror each other here.) Angela has a scheme that can carry her to the end -- but when things don't fit her preconceived notions, it completely takes her out of herself. Connie almost instantly dismisses or uses the new element: Angela just gets to stand there throwing gears for a couple of minutes. Or for several jury sessions. (It's probably worth noting that a tribal switch would have pretty much destroyed her.) She tries so hard to plan for all the possibilities that anything coming outside her conceptions just can't exist -- which turns the end of Council #8 into one of the funniest scenes in the season. (I hope, anyway.)

Angela stands counterpoint to Mary-Jane: they're both beautiful women in their own way, both willing to use their looks to get what they want to some degree -- but M-J is partially playing that card as camouflage and has a line she won't cross. For Angela, the ends always justify the means. If she gets the respect/fear she's been looking for, everything's worth it. The fact that it came with hate arrived as something of a surprise. People didn't really hate Richard, did they? Not like that -- but then, Richard never broke anyone's heart...

Her coming out of the jury seats to blindside Connie was one of the moments when the characters basically grew into their actions: she was ready to be the villain, but she was not ready for Connie's words during the Fallen Comrades walk (which made the show -- go for the irony when it appears.) As she sees Connie, so Connie saw her -- and that was a wake-up call. In a way, that punch was her two-second redemption edit -- or at least the first step on a new journey for her. Who knows? Maybe it'll even stick. But I predict a hard trip and frequent struggles not to backslide.

She has some partial ancestors in prior players -- anyone who ever played their hand too early can probably find a little of themselves in Angela. And as far as jury questions went, she had to make the bitter speech...

Tony Tirello, athlete, 28, Challis, Idaho. (arrested development teenager, naive, competitive, dreamer)

'Might be the classic good-hearted jock. He's on the crude side at times and 'refinement' is something which happens to oil, but there's ultimately nothing really bad about Tony. He just needs a few mental birthdays to go with his physical ones.'

Poor Tony. He was designated as the least intelligent person in the cast from Day One, but that doesn't make him stupid. I see him as having an average IQ or maybe even a little above, but he's one of those people who just never paid attention in school because he was daydreaming about what would happen once he got to the game. (As one member of the Chorus echoes a certain animated series, he has a brain: he just doesn't use it much.) Tony's very much about dreams: making the majors, getting the girl... he believes in the classic storylines the way Alex doesn't: for Tony, the coach is coming to take him to the castle, and all he has to do is wait around long enough... He has a number of spiritual ancestors in prior seasons: in particular, I can see a bit of Robb in him.

He's the butt of a lot of jokes, some of which were never meant to go quite as far as they did: the left/right routine took on a life of its own and went for the full-scale leap to running gag. But his reflection role is as another victim of false love: Tony ultimately winds up as one of the abused. This is a test Alex arguably fails: not making one all-out attempt to let him know what's going on -- but she sees illusion as having its own comforts. She can't believe in those dreams: she doesn't want to take that away from someone else. And if his heart was going to be broken anyway, maybe it would be better if it was later. That's how she thinks. Whether it was the right thing to do -- major debate.

Tony's the kid of the cast, and he's not a bad person. He just has a lot of growing up to do. Having him be from the smaller parts of Idaho and an athlete was a double means of isolating him: he doesn't have a lot of experience with the world at large, starting in a small town and moving into a culture that pretty much exists only as part of itself. You have to get away from where you started if you're ever going to go anywhere: maybe that's part of Tony's lesson. You just can't leave the important parts of yourself behind. He'll always stay something of a dreamer -- he's just more careful now.

I never designated his parent team because I wanted people to have a little flexibility there, seeing him as the struggling player in the minors for their own club. Oddly, to me, he's a Cub.

Phillip Geegaw, 34, farmer, Clay Center, Nebraska. (faith, wisdom, gentle, compassionate,)

'The threat for an America's Tribal Council vote. By the end of the season, could be run as a third party for a local election and win without making a speech -- and that means he can't make Final Two.'

The initial alliance pairing between Phillip and Connie becomes all the weirder when I look at what they really are: Christianity as it arguably should be and Christianity as the fringe elements keep driving it along. Phillip is the kind of man I'd want a religion to produce. He's bright enough to take what makes sense about the philosophy and adapt it into a moral code that works for himself and the world without ever hurting anyone else. Phillip is devoted, a born peacemaker, a strong man who won't use it the wrong way -- one of the thousands of near-saints who go about quiet lives, unnoticed until the entire county spontaneously shows up when he winds up needing help. Phillip's specific sect is never identified just because he should be a paragon for any religion that claims to love peace. He's one of the least complex characters, and it's on purpose. Phillip found his truth long ago: all he wants now are experiences and to make people a little happier along the way. (The thought of him actually getting angry is almost anathema: he could arguably turn most of the cast into a thin red paste with one punch.) He had to be a farmer in the heartland: he's the embodiment of what 'salt of the earth' means. You can see the casting people throwing a party right after his tape finished playing.

Phillip's a stable moral center not just for the tribe, but for the game. And we all know what happens to stable moral centers, don't we? Right. Jury. Phillip and Gary partially overlap a role here: every nice guy who was good enough to make the game and too good to get within a sniff of winning the thing. He's someone you always want in your corner if you're in a tight spot -- note that he's the first person Alex really looks to when she gets the Race invitation, figuring that he balances everything she could bring to a team -- but in game terms, he's dangerous to keep around. He even knows it. Even if his actions don't make sense in a game-context -- Episode #10, anyone? -- he's content with them because it all works out by his own code. He wasn't going to win: seventh is a good place to go out in.

His reflection is for Alex's shattered faith: with all that's happened in her life, she can't see the universe as having a purpose where things can eventually work out for the best. Alex doesn't believe because Alex has sent up a lot of silent pleas over the years, all of which went unanswered: waiting for miracles that never came. He's also one of the father figures in the season, and you could do a lot worse. (Another area where he and Gary parallel somewhat: rearrange the tribes, and you can see Phillip approaching Alex for an alliance -- just with the intent of protecting her.)

A genuinely decent man. Those are getting rarer by the day...

(In the 'I don't know what my subconscious was thinking' department, I picked 'Geegaw' as his last name because it just sounded like the sort of slightly odd, down-home sound that might emerge from the heartland. It also turned out to be an alternate spelling for 'gewgaw', meaning inexpensive jewelry -- and look who wound up making the necklace...)

Mary-Jane Learner, 21, model, Los Angeles, California. (innocence, secrecy, sexuality, emotion)

'The viewers should think they know everything about Mary-Jane inside of five minutes: beautiful, intelligent, some ability to scheme, utterly carefree physically. The viewers should be wrong.'

M-J's worldwise in a lot of ways: you grow up fast in the modeling industry or you don't get the chance to. But she's also something of an innocent: she really hasn't gotten many chances for real relationships. Most of what she knows about are things she can't apply to her own life. She represses a great deal of who she is every day just to get through: one of her reflection aspects for Alex, as well as representing so many of the emotions Alex can't express. She's also casual sexuality, which scares Alex more than the directed kind: that at least has a purpose. Mary-Jane is fully comfortable with her body: she's just a little afraid of revealing the person inside it.

She enters the season fully in the open physically and in hiding mentally, staying with both for a while: flirting with Frank isn't just a strategy move, it's concealment. Mary-Jane came to play, but she also came with her own boundaries, and she never gets close to really crossing them. As AyaK noted, men vs. women was an easy theme for her to fall into, and Angela's offer ultimately felt like a dream. She's no man-hater: she's just more comfortable with women overall. And any chance to bring Alex along a little further...

Mary-Jane feels: it's very much the core of who she is. She is raw emotion at times, whether for herself or for others, and she really does hurt for others: it's why the final Council hits her so hard. (Like Alex, she compartmentalizes somewhat: the closer the Reunion comes, the worse it gets for her.) Ultimately, coming out may be the best thing for her mentally, letting her integrate into a more complete person. She really doesn't have much in the way of spiritual ancestors in previous seasons in that sense: anyone who's ever had to let their essence out in public, perhaps, or all the players who were ultimately terrified of their own potential edit and what might result from it. This was a wrenching journey for her.

She's a platinum blonde in part because the extra hint of white amplifies the unsullied aspect of her character. While she has moments where she can be harsh -- see the initial beach landing for I-don't-put-up-with-this M-J -- she still has something of a child's wonder about things: Phillip giving her the piggyback ride is my classic image for her. In that sense and their mutual pain from failed hopes for romance, she and Tony mirror each other.

Robin Breslin, 27, dancer, Bronx, New York. (directness, desire, ego, determination)

'If you want to know it, she'll tell you. If you don't want to hear it, she's going to tell you anyway. Robin may be the most aware of the camera, but she's also the most aware of the editing: she can never try to be anything other than who she is.'

Robin may have the simplest description in the cast: she's a New Yorker. Everything good about the city and just a few hints of what's bad. She wants what she wants when she wants it, and she'll fight to get it. She's direct, more than a little abrasive, somewhat loud, and you don't ever want to be on her bad side -- but at the same time, she's just a little more gentle than you might suspect, with surprising insights and a lot more compassion that anyone thinks. Even if it comes out in loud ways. I can see her walking up to Audrey during the family Reward tangle after Alex left: "Hi: I'm what your husband's been rejecting lately. If he's turning me down, he's got to still be in love with you." That probably would have gotten the point across...

As the one who would always do and say exactly what she wanted to, Robin has a lot of previous contestants to look back on -- although she got further in the game than most of them. Giving her nothing she wanted throughout and keeping her almost perpetually frustrated was as much a comedy move as anything else: Robin's funniest when she isn't getting her own way or telling someone off about it. She established herself in just about one sentence: there's plenty of good stuff to come and I'm going to enjoy most of it -- then wound up with one bathroom that she eventually had to share, lots of missed opportunities, and fifth place. Although she got away with a lot along the way: she's the only person who has Jeff not go harsh on her for quitting, because she's the one who has an actual reason that goes beyond the game -- and she's also a little hard to argue with when she's right. Or wrong. Plus, it was a lousy challenge design and Jeff knows it.

Her reflective/opposition aspect is as direct as she is: Robin will express whatever anyone else would repress. If she's feeling it, someone's going to know about it eventually. She can't stay quiet forever: five minutes is about the limit. Robin wants people to know it's okay to say things, do things, and want things -- at least, it's certainly okay for her. Anyone want to argue?

She's arguably the one classic DAW in the cast: on the show to see how much fame she can get out of it -- but at the same time, she's very much there to win. As the one with the most recognizable motivations, she was one of the easiest characters to write. But it also means she has to figure out that the world doesn't revolve around her -- and that takes a while. Even so, she'll still claim at least minor satellite status, and she'll work on getting more...

Gary Watson: 49, IRS agent, Washington D.C. (reassurance, steadiness, presence, father figure)

'He's here to help, but he has a tendency to reopen the wound so he can get some proper stitches in. When you're the father, everyone else becomes the child. Gary doesn't look directly across so much as slightly down, and it's going to be a problem.'

The Chorus pins it down before Alex ever says it: Gary is the dad. In this, he has a lot of people to look back on, from Rodger on up. As Phillip is Haraiki's moral center, Gary stands as Turare's (and they mirror each other in their religious views). Even Gardener, who sees him as a total jury threat that he has to get rid of eventually, is willing to confide in him to some degree. Just about everyone confides in Gary: that's what he's there for. This actually gives him a huge edge in the game, as he has a very good picture of what's going on at any given time -- unless someone's deliberately going for an end run around him, as Gardener manages with Mary-Jane's blindside.

He stands more in opposition than reflection: some of the family aspects Alex was denied. Gary does want to be something of a father figure to Alex, starting with the alliance -- but that evolves into wanting to give her someone she can trust. He actually recognizes her not telling him about the idol as a test and stays with her anyway instead of pulling the typical show move of storming out in anger: now that's steadfast. Hopefully it made the moment when he pulled out his jury question and pushed all the more surprising. There was at least one second where it felt like I was on the edge of a reader revolt...

Gary's another one of those people you can't let anywhere near the endgame: if there's someone who's really offended the jury next to him, then he could be far too easy a vote. Even so, there's a bit of an edge to him that doesn't come out too often. Like Trooper, he's in a struggle to deal with a job that can wreck you emotionally the moment you let your guard down. (I think this is part of what draws Connie to him: Gary doesn't have that core darkness inside, but he's been close enough to it that he's picked up a little of the aura.) He genuinely cares about people as people, but he has an authority problem. Namely, as a father and an IRS agent, he is one -- and he can get trapped into thinking his way is the one that needs doing.

My mental image of Gary doesn't quite go along with Morgan Freeman -- he's a little fuller in body and face, for starters -- but I can see Morgan doing some of the voice work for an animated version.

Thomas Gardner: 38, personal trainer, Ann Arbor, Michigan. (strong-willed, internalizes, antagonist, rationality vs. emotion)

'Is one of those people who lives by the idea that if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem -- and is very willing to let you know that he's just identified you as being in the second half of the equation.'

Y'know, the more I think about it, Phillip was the only one who could get away with calling him 'Tom'...

Gardener gives Alex an enemy within her own tribe, one she ultimately has to work with. He and Gary are the ones who catch on to Alex's game potential, with completely different reactions to it: Gary decides to go along for the ride and Gardener realizes that for the sake of his own game, he needs this one out of his tribe soon. Or, for preference, 'now', but no one else will break that promise because what's the harm in letting her ride through one vote? Trina's been weaker in the challenges anyway...

He reflects Alex more closely than either one is willing to admit: two strong-minded, intelligent, stubborn people who have their own ways of testing those around them. (He's also more than a little emotionally damaged himself after the separation: there's a lot of self-blame in him.) Gardener pushes: it's what he does for a living. He wants to find out where you break and then he wants you to lift another ten pounds on top of it. You don't freely get respect from him: you earn it and you'd better be willing to earn it every day, because it can be a short-term commodity.

In his way, he's a tremendous player. He has to overcome people being nervous about his own physical potential (focused, but powerful in select areas -- Trooper and Tony are actually the greater challenge threats) while using the abrasiveness of his personality to make himself not be a jury threat -- and hope the muscle man stereotype leads people to downplay his brains, the same way they dismiss Alex based on her build. He puts all his skills together to play one incredible game -- but misjudges Alex in the end, believing she has to hate Connie so much that the Keith rule is guaranteed to be in effect.

Oops.

Gardener doesn't really have contestants to draw his full archetype from: while others have had aspects of his abilities and personality, the totality is slightly unique. He's the sarcastic, slightly overbearing grumpy leader who can make all of those qualities play into his leadership. If things are going right, then you're never entirely sure where he stands. (There's a little bit of foreshadowing in his saying that no one on Turare would break tribal faith and then being the one who makes it work.) And ultimately, outside the game, he would be right behind you -- but this is the game...

Connie Lastings-Adams, 42, housewife, Westhampton, New York. (formal, superiority complex, mother figure, conniving)

'Her most absolute need is to elevate herself. Connie has to look down on people, must be more special than them in some way. If she's not better than most of those around her, then she loses everything about herself. She has no problem with equals -- but she can't exist without inferiors.'

Connie actually draws a small part of her inspiration from a troll the board once had -- one who didn't like the DAW titles, got highly offended, and invoked her presidential ancestors to scare everyone into capitulating with her desires. Add a strong (and distorted) religious background, and Connie starts to materialize. As implied in #9, Joanna also contributes to her origin: what if you had someone just as fanatical, but willing to take the small things in order to reach the large one?

She and Alex are closer to being mirrors of each other than either one would ever want to think about: they share an anger at the core, dismiss things they don't like by seeing them as stupid, and there's a chance that they both may need someone to hate. (They're also both aware of the power of words and images when used as weapons.) Alex throwing the burning plastic line back at Connie felt like a disturbing moment to me when I wrote it: there are ways in which they're very much alike. But -- Connie believes, Alex thinks. It's actually in their speech patterns now and again. And the instant you move outside Connie's beliefs, you might as well stop existing -- ask Phillip about that one.

Connie is about the power of belief -- not just what you choose to see in others, but what you decide about yourself. Connie believes she's the hero -- ultimately the tragic one, with the hordes of outsiders trying to shatter her life -- and keeps thinking that right up until she starts seeing the reactions to her actions and edit. And even then, it can't possibly be her fault. One would get rid of the other in the end -- and one would break down.

Her role as villain is a strange one. In her own way, she's a victim: Edward found someone who was fairly vulnerable and with the right potential tendencies, then did most of the work. She's also not a total bigot as most people define them: Connie doesn't care about the color of your skin, she wants to know what's in your heart. (As arose in the Bar one night, Connie as an Islamic would be just as radical -- but she'd also be defending any non-natives on the road to Mecca, insisting that background didn't prevent people from finding the Quran's truth.) But she knows what she believes -- knows it beyond any possibility for doubt. Such people are dangerous...

Okay -- before we get to the major one, the rest of the island's cast...

Jeff Probst, 44, reality show host, (originally) Wichita, Kansas. (control, struggle, neutrality, silent empathy)

'Either he's himself or this falls apart. And since it's so hard to know who Jeff really is...'

Jeff was a nightmare.

As the only person anyone knew in the cast, Jeff had to be one very crucial thing: recognizable as Jeff. I already had a Jeff-voice I pull out when using him in episode summaries: tired, sarcastic, seen it all and sick of most of it, demotivated to the point where a contestant's on-screen death might at least get his attention for five minutes. It was obviously not going to work here. There were things Jeff could do when he was off-camera for a few seconds, and bits he might say which we've never heard from him before. I could even have him not say some things: 'the decision is final' is missing from the season with the idol in near-constant play, and he makes fun of his own vote recapping early on. But he still had to be Jeff all the way through.

As I see his progression throughout the series, Jeff starts out as just a little bit bored. It's a different island, it's a new cast, but it's the same old game and he's pretty much convinced of how things are going to play out. Bring them in and let's get it over with. The slowly-increasing strangeness starts to get his attention, as does the growing realization that he's never dealt with a group quite like this before, and it all brings him back to his game -- but at the same time, he has to fight to keep control in a way he hasn't had to since Borneo. He's enthralled by the possibilities of the season, and sees the ratings coming back before anyone else. But it's a hard fight for him to keep things from self-destructing, and there's a couple of times when he's openly struggling to hold everything together.

I tried to give Jeff a partial reversion at the Councils: he listens, he asks leading questions, but he's not exactly pointing at anyone while coming very close to yelling 'Vote that one out, damn it!' He's the host, he's neutral, and he's the ringmaster -- but his role as Player #17 isn't one that lets him get a vote any more. I wish I'd been able to do more with his sense of humor: if you've seen him off the show (as with Celebrity Blackjack), you know he can be very funny when he's away from the beach -- but he was on it this time.

Where Jeff was concerned, #11 was the hardest episode to write. His questioning of Alex after the attack in #8 was a natural extension of his duties. Getting angry at the river, starting to lose a little bit of his own control -- that was the big push. (The rivalry scene with Phil was just going for comedy: after all, we don't know how they feel about each other. It would be kind of interesting if I'd accidentally gotten it right... ) Catching him laughing in #4 was fine: eventually, he was going to get hit by a joke he couldn't resist. But Jeff arguing and starting to realize things were out of his hands... separate issue. It felt like it worked out, but it took a while before I was willing to bring him that far.

Jeff ends the season revitalized and ready to tackle the next few islands -- but I think he knows he may have just seen the peak. Since the second season, it's always about trying to recapture what came before -- and now they have to start again...

(He was always designated as Alex's mystery correspondent. Having him also be the Sucks Riddlemaster was a last-minute addition. It had to be someone on the crew, and the thought of Jeff engaging in a little semi-sadistic amusement with the Internet fans was just too good to resist.)

Azure, age unknown, professional tracker and companion, Yanini, Society Islands (loyalty, mystery, friendship, dependence)

There's a reason pet therapy is out there.

Azure is a partial solution to mysteries that just makes the whole of the puzzle worse. The eyewitness who may know everything crucial to the story and can't tell anyone any of it: her own reflection on Alex. She is the one person Alex can count on throughout the game: someone she can turn to when everyone else leaves her. Her job, besides providing bits of comedy and emotional relief (plus the occasional threat -- look out: she's got a loaded parrot!), is to be there. No matter what happens, Azure will not desert Alex. She also flips one of the subthemes in a minor way: Azure is Alex's first chance at being a parent.

She's not that incredibly talkative for a parrot. Part of that is her strong training: she generally speaks on cue and only rarely because she happens to feel like it. A great deal of her general silence is to give the moments when she does speak greater impact. If Azure is talking, there's generally a reason for it -- even if that reason is just to break Jeff's composure for a few seconds...

Julia: The idea of keeping confessional assignments fairly constant came early and worked with the Survivor Gold concept: let's see what they're really thinking! (Connie got at least one disgust-based switchoff.) The selected unedited confessionals gave the premium subscribers a major window into the game -- depending on which confessionals were selected. Given that Alex tended to keep things quiet and she was going to be a major player in the season, a number of hers made the program. Julia gave her someone to talk to: a constant voice that could get a little more out of Alex than what was seen in central footage. Alex does loosen up a little in confessional. Slightly. Very, very slightly.

Giving her ties to the Race was another early idea. (Yes, it's her braid.) Because she essentially serves as Alex's self-questioning voice, she can ask things that Alex would never be able to ask herself. Most of that leads to evasion and denial, but it shows someone's asking. And from #11 on, she's very much on-camera as much as she is behind it. The conflict with the crew didn't end with Jake: it just changed focus a little. (And it's always present in some small form with Jeff.)

Cameron: Not much to tell here. Someone had to hit Jake. I can kind of imagine him dating Michelle...

Jake: A bomb planted early with hopes it would go off at the right time. Pay no attention to that remark Jeff makes in #8. I said, pay no attention...

Jake is a classic sociopath: it doesn't matter what I do (or don't do) to anyone else, because they're not real in any way... Naturally, nothing is his fault. Other people just get it wrong. All the time. He loves being on the show because it's just so much fun to see how the editing on his camera work can help destroy people. (He'd make a great paparazzi.) Jake had to be handled carefully: he's a threat, but he's not the most competent one on the planet. He may dream big, but the executions are a little on the small side.

Dietrich: I could not remember the name of the Australian-accented doctor.

Okay... time for the long one...

Alex Cole: 23, cartoonist, Haledon, New Jersey. (intelligent, repressed, damaged, bleeding)

'Look for the girl with the broken smile...'

Part of me so long-forgotten
is calling
and this feels like home...

Alex has her roots in anime.

There is a shot in one series I watched some time before beginning the season. It shows a young woman going into battle. She's about to risk her life. There's a good chance she's not coming back. And she might as well not even be there. The hands move, operate the controls. The voice gives the quiet commands necessary to coordinate efforts. The eyes -- watch. And that's all they do. There is no way to tell what she's thinking, if that's even anything at all...

Damaged. Badly. So much so that a fight for her life is just one more thing to do which gets her through the day. It's better than looking back at what brought her to this point.

Not a type we've really seen on a reality show before this.

Alex is ultimately a puzzle box, one that might want to be solved on some deep level, anything to let it all out -- but terrified of having anyone get that close. She has been systemically betrayed by just about everyone who could be a power in her life, far past the point where she's always waiting for something to go wrong. Give no one your full trust, always look for the ulterior motive because it's got to be a setup, try to figure out what others are doing before they do it to you, and whatever happens, don't start feeling. It's not personal, after all. You were just there to be attacked. Happens all the time.

The perfect contestant.

How does this come across on the test results, with Alex able to avoid some of the landmines? Intelligent enough to try and work through the game, there's something of a mystery element about her and that might lure in viewers, she might be able to kick rear in the more intellectual challenges, but there's absolutely no way to tell how she'd react emotionally because she doesn't seem to do much of that. Maybe she'd be an early boot and maybe she'd get through a few episodes -- but if nothing else, you could always try to get some of those all-important swimsuit shots. And the camera really seems to like her...

It's not as if they haven't brought in people who were a little off-center before. That's part of the appeal. There's one in every season. Sometimes there's several. (Shane, Judd, Joanna, Matthew... the names go on for a while.) For the tests the show can give, Alex can give the right answers -- and it's all they need.
----------------------
The advantage in doing a season from first-person is that it gives the reader a real view inside the game, along with someone to root for (or at least follow -- as was noted several times during the season, Alex isn't always the easiest person to connect with). It's the story of a human being, not a DAW. We know what she knows, which leaves a lot of things in the dark. The Chorus can fill in some things -- but not all of it, and she's going to be lost in the fog of war on issues that are perfectly clear to the viewers. If it worked, it wouldn't be 'This is what it's like to watch.' It would turn into 'This is what it's like to be there.'

The downside: unless people were going to stay tuned for the extended view from the jury and any antics that might take place in this version of Loser Lodge, any main character was guaranteed to make Final Four. Third-person has the advantage there: anyone can go at any time. With first-person, the view has to stay centered within the game. In fact, for the real view, the main character would have to reach the Final Two. They could win or lose -- but they'd have to be in it all the way.

So this wasn't about the game destination, it was about the personal journey. Going from a place where nearly everything that should exist about you is gone or damaged (and not even missed any more) to one where you start coming back to yourself. Not healed, but healing. The game changes people: that's what Jeff keeps insisting on. Maybe it was time to have someone who really needed changing, for whom the game was the best and worst thing that could ever happen to her, frequently at the same time.

There are a lot of ways in which Alex is a very dark character. There are elements of human interaction that she has trouble understanding, things she doesn't want to understand. She has a remarkable capacity for convincing herself that something makes sense when it's actually tilted away from whatever's going on: the intelligent can talk themselves into a lot. There is a lot of psychological damage present in her psyche and it generally gets the controlling vote. For someone to get close enough to know and approve of her is her strongest dream: having someone close enough to hurt her is the biggest nightmare. Desire and fear are at constant war within her, and fear has an almost unblemished record. And at her deepest core, she wants a family -- but one where it's a free choice on both sides for taking her in and accepting the offer. Something she can't even admit to herself until the very end.

Cameras are drawn to darkness. Alex's eyes are just a little bit deeper-set than usual because she looks at the world from personal shadows. Maybe they're grey because of the storms inside: one of those things where I have to figure out what my subconscious was up to again. But she always watches, and the camera always watches her. Neither one may ultimately understand everything they're seeing.
-------------------------
Because Alex can see the game for what it is, she's a deadly player -- in limited ways. She can't make the emotional connections necessary for most alliances: either someone approaches her or she works with another out of practicality. Gardener is arguably better at the complete game, but Alex trumps him in focused areas. (As he said, no one else would have made the logical leap of switching off the idol and forced themselves to do it afterwards. As of this writing, no one in the actual game has figured it out.) She gets through the early game on a kept promise, a bit of weirdness (that would have let her stay anyway -- it was the same idol clue for a second tribal loss, no matter when it came), and some quiet deception that works her way in the end. Nearly doomed after the merge, swings things back to the tie, and then gets to sit back and worry, knowing her best hope is to be carried for a while -- but also knowing what that ride is doing to her and around her. Pick strategic points to strike, don't display power unless there's no other choice, never be arrogant, glide for short periods if it's at all possible, and always watch your back: Alex's path through the game, right there. She's not the strongest player the game has ever seen, but that's due to her game's missing aspects. In some ways, her internal havoc helps her: in others, it holds her back. For this version of the game, she was the right person at the right time, and you can only play the one that's in front of you.

Alex isn't always an easy person to root for or like. But if you're curious enough to see where she's going, then the first-person style works -- and maybe the season was a success after all.



Ye gawds, that rambled. Stoopid subconscious...


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Colonel Zoidberg on 02-12-07 at 09:35 AM
That was a lot of insight...so for you, it seems that the characters were who they were and that stayed as it was. Connie didn't become a kinder, gentler person just to get along by going along. Angela didn't decide, "You know what? Tony's a nice guy; I'll go easy on him." Well, until the Reunion, anyway. And Alex didn't lighten up at all. She was always completely dark. I kind of pictured her as the other side of the Joe Dirt coin. She reacts to her bad childhood and poor situation by shunning others and being quiet, to herself, and mistrusting. A phrase such as "Life's a garden. Dig it." would never be uttered by Alex.

I tried to type-cast my characters like that, and I had almost no success. Rachel from my series was actually based on someone I saw on Jerry Springer by that same name; I made her louder and worse. The post-show transformation was an idea I had later. Steve was...I have no idea what his deal was; originally, I had him down as a nice, older brother-type figure who was friends with everyone rather than the divisive, clumsy jerk he ended up being. As for being a self-hating male feminist...well, part of that was playing up that stereotype and part of it was a reaction to what I see with a lot of guys who let women push them around, only taken much farther.

I also noticed this - you seemed to point out the characters' physical appearances. I deliberately avoided that, and I avoided talking about their lifestyles any more than the show dictated. Looking back, my cast could easily be fairly white and nerdy with few token minorities, though it's because some of the characters I didn't get a chance to develop were the token minorities. Catharine was my token black contestant, and it killed me to bump her off when I did. I also wrote in Danny and Loretta as gay characters, but it never came up, and I also never got a chance to write in another storyline in which one of my characters suffered from obsessive-cumpulsive disorder. Just a few things that ended up on the cutting-room floor.

No one seemed to have much of a back story with me; the closest I came was with Becky's background in the WNBA (Becky was my answer to Gary Hogeboom from Guatemala; the difference was that Becky relished in her status as an athlete) and with the merge spat between Charlie and Paula. Charlie and Paula are two characters I would have loved to develop more, and frankly, I could have seen Paula going a lot farther than she actually did (though she's one who, like Gardener, clashed with a lot of people and was close to one other person.) I mentioned the idea of a bunch of people writing individual storylines for a TAR combined story (which I know is impossible unless we recruited like hell from other places) and the characters I thought of were Charlie and Paula. They both went out of the game because of circumstances beyond their control, and both of them would kill for another chance. That All-Stars story I want to write for this summer? You better believe they're in it. There are a million different directions I could take their story arcs - on one hand, they could be another Rob and Lex, where they don't end up speaking to one another. On the other hand, Charlie could drop to one knee at the Reunion and propose to her...though that's already been done.

I also noticed that the loved ones seemed to get a bit of a storyline as well in your story, especially Audrey. Audrey and Edward could have gotten their own Survivor spin-off. For me, the loved ones were just more people who popped in and disappeared, although Maria's girlfriend seemed to have a lot more impact on the story (that was Billy's comeuppance for making Jason lose his concentration after the merge...basically, both Billy's enraging of Jason and Maria and Laura's kiss were unnecessary gestures that were designed to achieve an outcome that was already pretty close to certain. But, in both Billy's and Maria's defense, the actions they took felt really good, and they didn't know they didn't need them.)

I'm a rambler myself. Incidentally, was there any reason you chose to have Gardener use his surname? I guess it might make a little more sense after all these nutballs from Cook Islands and Fiji used a bunch of nicknames, but so far, no one ever made that final push, even if there were duplicate first names.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Estee on 02-13-07 at 10:17 AM
so for you, it seems that the characters were who they were and that stayed as it was. Connie didn't become a kinder, gentler person just to get along by going along. Angela didn't decide, "You know what? Tony's a nice guy; I'll go easy on him."

I had Alex say it: people can become a little less than what they are. The show (oh, great, now I'm doing it -- ever notice how they never really say what they're on while they're on it?) had claimed that it removes the layers of deception and exposes cores. Essences are supposed to come out on the islands. Maybe... but I think change on the personal level is one of the hardest things there is.

And Alex didn't lighten up at all. She was always completely dark.

She actually has a sense of humor, but it's slanted towards shadow. Alex is perfectly capable of recognizing when a situation is funny or absurd: she doesn't just doesn't do much with it.

And no one gets the one about the leprechaun and the penguin.

I tried to type-cast my characters like that, and I had almost no success. Rachel from my series was actually based on someone I saw on Jerry Springer by that same name; I made her louder and worse. The post-show transformation was an idea I had later. Steve was...I have no idea what his deal was; originally, I had him down as a nice, older brother-type figure who was friends with everyone rather than the divisive, clumsy jerk he ended up being. As for being a self-hating male feminist...well, part of that was playing up that stereotype and part of it was a reaction to what I see with a lot of guys who let women push them around, only taken much farther.

We've just got different writing styles. I needed to have a degree of immediate insight in part because only one person could do the looking. Since you worked through dialogue, your characters had to eventually say who they were or have other people give their impressions. (That actually gave you some flexibility, as other people can easily get it wrong.) It's kind of hard to have someone face the camera and say everything interesting about themselves in one confessional cut, so facets could come out at different times.

I also noticed this - you seemed to point out the characters' physical appearances. I deliberately avoided that, and I avoided talking about their lifestyles any more than the show dictated.

On Alex's end, that's because she's a visually-oriented person and is always going to note (if not judge) appearances. For the readership, I just wanted to get a mental image of each contestant going as soon as possible. Nothing excruciatingly detailed, but enough of an outline for everyone to fill in the brushwork. I could ask a hundred artists to draw a given contestant based on the story, and the three who responded would come up with different results -- but they'd have a few elements in common. (One of the reasons I'm considering taking this to Deviant Art: hey, let's see if anyone feels like giving it a try.)

Lifestyles outside the show were important. Everyone brings their life with them, whether they want to or not.

the characters I thought of were Charlie and Paula. They both went out of the game because of circumstances beyond their control, and both of them would kill for another chance. That All-Stars story I want to write for this summer? You better believe they're in it.

I'll alert the local riot squads. This could get really ugly...

Got a setting yet? Please don't say Panama.

Virtually everyone leaves the game due to circumstances beyond their control, but that's usually known as 'other people'. ;)

I also noticed that the loved ones seemed to get a bit of a storyline as well in your story, especially Audrey. Audrey and Edward could have gotten their own Survivor spin-off. For me, the loved ones were just more people who popped in and disappeared, although Maria's girlfriend seemed to have a lot more impact on the story (that was Billy's comeuppance for making Jason lose his concentration after the merge...basically, both Billy's enraging of Jason and Maria and Laura's kiss were unnecessary gestures that were designed to achieve an outcome that was already pretty close to certain. But, in both Billy's and Maria's defense, the actions they took felt really good, and they didn't know they didn't need them.)

It would be beneath Edward's dignity to be a full-time contestant on the show. (At the start, he's somewhat proud of Connie for having made it, but he doesn't really understand the initial decision to apply, much less go. Connie has her own dangerous streak of independence.)

Audrey, though -- ow. Audrey as a contestant would be a terror. She has all of Gardener's mental strength, plus ten percent: note that she's the agressor in that relationship. She matches him in intellect. And because she's physically tiny (while still capable), she could get overlooked through the early stages if she just manages to keep her mouth shut at crucial moments. Dismiss her as a serious threat while she's building alliances behind your back... gah. Audrey might reach mid-jury without anything approachign a real effort.

The other loved ones -- Shari was just a chance to show Gary as actual father instead of island one. David is a running joke about radio hosts (sound vs. look) and also demonstrates M-J's loving aspects. Lisa came along after her sister did: the thought of two extra Robins operating somewhere in the world was just too terrifying to pass up, and it also said something about Robin's need to distinguish herself in the public eye. (It would have also driven the sighting people nuts: suddenly she's here, there, and everywhere...) Andrea would be a fairly nerve-wracking contestant herself, but her brassiness could work against her early.

But, in both Billy's and Maria's defense, the actions they took felt really good, and they didn't know they didn't need them.

That's just too many contestants in the history of the game, right there. I'm just shocked Maria showed up for the Reunion wearing any clothing.

Incidentally, was there any reason you chose to have Gardener use his surname? I guess it might make a little more sense after all these nutballs from Cook Islands and Fiji used a bunch of nicknames, but so far, no one ever made that final push, even if there were duplicate first names.

Implies a barrier to intimacy and a lack of real knowledge about a person. When you get to address someone by their first name, it's offering a measure of equality on both ends: I know you, same the other way, so let's go with the granted ones. When you address someone by their last name, there's a degree of anonymity on their end, as well as a slight aura of superiority. Using the last name here kept a bit of Gardener out of sight early and left it there for a while, as well as saying he might not really consider himself part of a team in the end.

Also, there's just been too many Toms on this show.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Colonel Zoidberg on 02-13-07 at 11:02 AM
She actually has a sense of humor, but it's slanted towards shadow. Alex is perfectly capable of recognizing when a situation is funny or absurd: she doesn't just doesn't do much with it.

I rememer reading that she was able to be funny for her strip...still, you can be funny and dark at the same time...

And no one gets the one about the leprechaun and the penguin.

I don't get it; that's for sure.

For the readership, I just wanted to get a mental image of each contestant going as soon as possible. Nothing excruciatingly detailed, but enough of an outline for everyone to fill in the brushwork.

When I saw what you wrote for physical descriptions, I almost kicked myself for excluding them in mine. I guess I didn't want people to think of my characters as tokens. I wanted Catharine to be the fun-loving schemer who slacked off whenever she got the chance, not the wild-haired token black chick.

It ended up that one person compared my story to an old-fashioned radio play, which is kind of a neat comparison. It also makes me wonder what Charlie would have looked like with a handlebar moustache.

Got a setting yet? Please don't say Panama.

Somewhere in the South pacific, most likely, though I could change that and claim 'production difficulties.' Fiji would have been nice, but it's taken and there was a coup there in December. I suppose I could do Japan again...

Virtually everyone leaves the game due to circumstances beyond their control, but that's usually known as 'other people'. ;)

True. That or 'their own stupidity.'

I'm just shocked Maria showed up for the Reunion wearing any clothing.

Yeah, me too. But it was a live show, and if she took it all off there, CBS would go out of business from all the fines.

And the clip would have 71 million hits on YouTube in the first hour.

Implies a barrier to intimacy and a lack of real knowledge about a person. When you get to address someone by their first name, it's offering a measure of equality on both ends: I know you, same the other way, so let's go with the granted ones. When you address someone by their last name, there's a degree of anonymity on their end, as well as a slight aura of superiority. Using the last name here kept a bit of Gardener out of sight early and left it there for a while, as well as saying he might not really consider himself part of a team in the end.

I never really thought of it that way...but yeah, it kind of makes sense. I guess I pictured him as like someone out of that movie "Mr. Deeds," where Adam Sandler's character used his last name simply out of hatred for his first. And really, it's not as if he was that close to anyone besides Phillip out there. He didn't understand Alex, clashed with Gary, didn't seem to do much with M-J, and didn't have much use for Angela, Tony, or Connie. If he's only close to one person out there, it stands that he distances himself from everyone.

That and, of all times he was called "Tom," it was right as he was about to turn someone into hamburger meat.

Also, there's just been too many Toms on this show.

At least his name wasn't Rob. Hmm, no one from Western PA, and no Robs. Wait a tick, that describes both our casts. And our strongest players were BOTH from Ann Arbor, Michigan (I swear I didn't know Gardener was from Ann Arbor when I picked Charlie's hometown. Though as a resident of Columbus, OH, my fellow Buckeyes should toss eggs at me for making my strongest character hail from that city.)


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Belle Book on 01-20-09 at 08:16 PM
Thanks for all the information you gave us on the characters -- both human and animal alike. Here's my two cents on the characters, with the crew first, then the contestants in order of being voted out (or not getting enough votes to win), then a brief glimpse of a fine feathered friend before getting to our heroine:

Not much to say about Dietrich. He was nice to Alex and he probably went through the motions with Jake. As for Cameron, way to go, guy! Jake deserved to be hit like that! I could imagine him with Robin -- if he was strong enough physically.

Julia was interesting. Some of her comments hit the nail right on the head, like when she told Alex the real reason she got rid of Mary-Jane. And I loved seeing her enter with Phil as Alex's partner!

As far as Jake's concerned, good riddance to bad rubbish. At least he wasn't too bright in executing his plans. I don't know if he lived or died, but part of me doesn't really care.

Jeff -- I liked what you did with him. I think my favorite scene with him was the one with Phil. That was classic comedy! I laughed my head off -- especially when he took his revenge on the poor challenge staff for their part in the joke!

There's not much I can add to your comments on Michelle. Still, I find it interesting that you may have given Gary's wife the same first name if she too was a victim -- of rape, in her case. At least being bounced out of the game is easier to recover from.

I'm a devoted Christian, so I don't think I'll ever go to Trina or any other fortuneteller. But I like Trina. At least she was honest about her skills -- and she wisely downplayed her own beliefs, unlike Connie.

Elmore was certainly a classic comic relief character, especially in that crawl-through! I would've been dying of laughter if I'd been there! If Elmore's the warning about the dangers of being inflexible, he's a reflection on Alex then. At least Alex can be flexible in terms of the game.

I don't see Frank's departure as the result of letting one's sense of humor out in the open. I see his fall as the result of taking risks without thinking. And the particular form of his fall resonated with me -- I saw my brother-in-law nearly die because of physical damage caused by alcoholism! No overdose with my brother-in-law, thank heavens, but it was still bad. I just hope Frank learned his lesson like my sister and brother-in-law did theirs.

I don't have much to add about Denadi. I see her as a nice woman who didn't really realize what she was getting into, and one who's not as strong as Alex. At least she didn't lay down her torch like Osten did.

Desmond reminded me too much of Roger from the Amazon, which is interesting since you mentioned that Roger was an inspiration for Desmond. He's the first victim of what I call the Alex Rule: Underestimate Alex only at your own risk. And he really deserved his fall, since I think he threw the challenge.

If Trooper was single and a Christian, I'd probably date him. He's such a nice guy. He really handled Alex nicely and may have played some role in her healing process. I hope the cop job doesn't totally wear him down.

Angela seems to be the secondary villain in the story. She was wrong to use Tony the way she did. Yeah, Tony was dumb but to play with his heart like that was just cruel. At least Mary-Jane didn't use Frank that cruelly -- and he knew she was playing him but just enjoyed it too much to stop.

I also think Alex probably should've made a more all-out effort to get Tony to see how Angela was using him. Unfortunately, he had so much faith (and was so naive) that I'm not certain a full-out effort would've convinced him.

If Phillip was a real person and single, I'd definitely go out with him in a heartbeat. He's the type of guy any woman should be proud to have as her husband. Too bad he wasn't willing to stick around longer but it worked out according to his own moral code so I'm not going to hold it against him too much.

Mary-Jane's flirtation with Frank reminded me of Parvati's showmances with Nate and James -- in fact, Jeff's comments on James's knowledge of Parvati's intentions reminded me of Frank's knowledge of Mary-Jane's intentions. And Mary-Jane's a little like me in that we both care deeply about people, although I'm straight and I don't cry as easily as she does.

Robin's one of my favorite characters -- I love her directness. And I don't blame her for quitting that Reward Challenge with the chains -- I'd probably have quit myself, although I'm not a dancer and don't have a career-related reason to quit it. I wonder if she told Audrey that Gardner rejected her for Audrey.

Gary was certainly interesting, especially with his question at the end. I see him as the obverse of Mrs. Paglia in a way -- she's good at pretending to be a nice woman when she's really a monster, Gary's good at pretending to be a monster when he's really a nice guy. And I admire his steadfastness -- although it might have hurt him in the end.

I can't blame Gardner for wanting to get rid of Alex after she used the cross -- he recognized she was enough of a threat for his game that he wouldn't want her around long enough for her to hurt his game. Of course, he wound up needing her and she wound up sending him to the jury.

Your comments on Connie reminded me of M. Scott Peck's comments in the book People of the Lie. At one point, he writes about a guy he saw in therapy who was in thrall to his evil wife and then he generalizes about two evil people in couples. He thinks that in couples where there are two evil people, one of them is at least slightly in thrall to the other. If that's the case, then Connie's in thrall to her husband. But she's still evil, even if she's less evil than Edward is.

If Azure provides Alex with her first chance to be a parent, I'd say Alex did a pretty good job. Azure begins her journey in the story as a lonely parrot trying to find someone to imprint on and ends it by helping Alex to begin healing.

And finally Alex. I felt so sorry for her when I learned about her past but I also admire her for surviving terrible abuse in her life. She certainly needed healing and Survivor was the first step on her path to healing. From what I saw in the final sequence, I think she's closer to healing than she was before, and I wish her all the best.

Belle Book


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Belle Book on 03-14-10 at 07:20 PM
LAST EDITED ON 03-14-10 AT 07:23 PM (EST)

You know, you're right in saying that Wile E. Coyote had better luck than Connie did. Of course, giving her such awful luck was poetic justice.



"Check-In "
Posted by AyaK on 02-09-07 at 08:30 AM
Present and accounted for.

Soylent Green: recycling America, one person at a time.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by azkate on 02-09-07 at 09:59 AM
7 of 8 here *I feel so Borg-ish*

Did you have an outline of the series before you started writing?

Did the PTTE and Tarot thread influence the outcome in any way?

Did the characters start to develop thier own style/personality as the Colonel's did?

How many of OT topics, snark and DAW's did you incorporate into the series? And how much fun was it to do that?

Not to be nosy but please tell me you do something with your writing talent IRL?

another tribe work of art



"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Estee on 02-10-07 at 02:57 PM
Answering this one before Zoidberg's, as there one entry here which I won't have to cover that item above.

Did you have an outline of the series before you started writing?

Not a written one. I knew what the major events were for the season and when they would occur. The boot order was set in stone. I even had the last line from the personal Day One on, and it never changed: the final action seen would be Alex having smiled. But I never had a formal construct of any kind saying 'This must happen in between', which allowed some of the smaller scenes to emerge on their own. (Gardener and Alex arguing about football's overtime system was one of the things that spontaneously developed along the way, as were the All-Stars II discussion and Tony coming up with the Cook Island theme.) Because everything wasn't locked in from the start, it gave the cast flexibility in finding their own moments. The Tarot cards were the major stars to steer by and helped keep the season on track: we have to reach this event, so this has to happen first...

Weirdly, the last thing to be set was usually the challenges. Some of them were determined in advance -- the memory game was a set piece, as were the first and last Immunities -- but while I knew who won each and what the Rewards would be, the actual format for most of them came late. I didn't want to hyper-complicate every challenge the way the actual series has been doing them lately: while some of them could be big and bold (as with the ziplines), there was generally a single clear activity and goal. That was, in large part, trying to invoke an early-seasons feel, right back to the first in some places: keep it simple wherever possible. (It may also be notable that even in the tribal challenges, there's a lot of emphasis on individual ability.) And even with making them simpler, they weren't always easy to find. Serious kudos to the real challenge design staff -- it's harder than it looks.

The other typical late element was generally the idol clues. Who would hold each one (and whether it would be found at all) was predetermined, but where they were and what the clue would say came along the way. Only a few were set in advance, including Tree Mail, both of the merge ones, and having the last one be 'Wish'. The others pretty much showed up when they were needed. Generally when I was staring at the screen, wondering where they were.

Did the PTTE and Tarot thread influence the outcome in any way?

No, although I was always curious to see people's guesses. What did have some affect was the commentary made on the episode threads -- the ones where people would make their own DAW Chorus posts, along with similar discussions on the OT update notification thread. Some of it just made me think Yeah, the Chorus would be saying that, followed by having some of them think along the same lines. Fishercat's OT thought about the Final Four having some likenesses to Guatemala's situation was one of the things that made the leap.

Did the characters start to develop thier own style/personality as the Colonel's did?

As I'll eventually get to above, personalities were pretty much set at the beginning, although a few people showed surprising sub-aspects of themselves as they went through. The biggest surprise to me was that Gardener walked off with so many of the best quotes. The 'This is my ass. This is the line. This is my ass on the line' confessional came out of nowhere, as did his follow-up on ''happy to see you' faces' and a few others that he dropped along the way. His entire Season-In-Review rant was pretty much a stream-of-consciousness rampage across the screen.

{Although to me, the funniest line of the season still might be "He had a spare!" Poor Angela.)

How many of OT topics, snark and DAW's did you incorporate into the series? And how much fun was it to do that?

RTVW/OT topics never really made their way into the DAW Chorus. As was noted early, their board is close to ours, but they're not us and their guidelines are somewhat looser -- the dreaded 'shut up' manifested early. One classic site moment was placed into the season, though: {Is she allowed to say WTF?} That was taken directly from an incident Bebo worked out, right down to the response. And at least one reality moment worked itself in after it happened: Boogie Mike's classic expression in B.B.A.Stards just had to be mentioned. (Other series were brought up where it felt like they fit in, as with Randal's edit collapse -- and I had to get a Celebrity Blackjack reference in for Island Boy. Same for the lone Outback Jack moment, but that was for me.}

The DAW Chorus themselves are not based on any existing board members. That was done on purpose: I didn't want there to be any point at which someone would say 'Hey, you were trying to imitate me the whole time!', potentially followed by a whole lot of yelling. There are times when their words seem to ring in concert with things we would say, and there was one {} post in an early episode where I just looked at the thing during editing and said "Okay, that's HistoryDetective talking.": the rhythms that had emerged on that comment really felt like his. But the harried moderators, the fast-talking recaper, and the rest of the group weren't modeled after any of us. Any recognizable voice within the Chorus -- and I think there's a couple of them -- had to stand apart. Still, if you want to hear given board members talking between the {} marks, it's a very easy thing to do...

But in particular, the newbie/fundie Chorister was not based on anyone here. If you want to see echoes of him in a few other people, you can, because there's elements of the Chorus everywhere. (They're DAWs. They spread out easily.) But he's a character in himself, and the Chorus member who goes on his own journey: starting as a furious newbie who registered just to have a place to scream and ending up as a summary writer in waiting who's developing his own brand of snark. There was a moment when I considered having Alex note him in the bleachers -- but for the most part, the Chorus remained anonymous, and it stayed that way through the end.

(Oh, and just for the record: of course Gardener was lurking the whole time. )

Not to be nosy but please tell me you do something with your writing talent IRL?

This project really did horrible things to my project time on Deathly Hallows. Sorry about that.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by vince3 on 02-12-07 at 01:17 AM
Well, you did seem to add a jab at a current event in every episode.....

"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by michel on 02-09-07 at 11:05 AM
You can count me also. It was really enjoyable.



"CHECKING IN"
Posted by jbug on 02-09-07 at 01:18 PM
WONDERFUL!!!!
Stand up and take your bow Estee - or curtsy if you like.
The only problem now is that it's over! Does anyone else feel a sense of loss that the end has come?

Maybe Estte, you'll feel our need and continue with the TAR season.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PLEASE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
beg beg beg beg beg beg beg beg beg beg beg beg beg beg ebg geb geb ebg beg bge ebg gbe ~~~~ you get the hint????


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by VisionQuest on 02-09-07 at 01:36 PM
I absolutely loved the season. I felt more for the Society Island DAWS than any other real life DAWS. I was sad when it ended. I have one question. If a Survivor actually did the cross thing, do you think real life reaction would be as negative as Society Islands life reaction was?

"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Estee on 02-09-07 at 03:07 PM
If a Survivor actually did the cross thing, do you think real life reaction would be as negative as Society Islands life reaction was?

I think you would see some very loud, very strong negative reactions from the named alphabet groups, along with a few others who decided it was a good time to jump in. (Protesting government officials weren't seen, but someone would have made a speech just to promote their own agenda and get in on the publicity.) Most of us are currently living in a country where people are screaming protests against a cancer vaccine because they think keeping women from dying that way is giving them permission to have sex. Using a religious symbol as a tool would get a lot of the same people upset and then bring friends. Never underestimate the power of people with no sense of humor -- or proportion -- or perspective.

Would it be as bad as it was for Alex? No way to tell, and it could be worse in some ways: she was isolated enough that shunning wasn't going to affect her, and she couldn't be laid off from a job for no cause when she was self-employed. But would something happen? I think so. It's basically a flag-burning issue with a religious element added: not with our symbol, you don't!

I think one of the smaller subthemes for the season became how faith is used as a tool (and lens). Phillip and Gary both use it to help build a foundation for their lives. Connie uses it as a weapon. (Remember, she helped unleash those particular hounds, encouraging the protest -- but they would have done it anyway.) And when you look at those protest groups and their tactics, that starts to sound really familiar...

WND would have been all over the premiere. Pat Robertson probably asked to have all the footage struck down... Cue the usual suspects.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by cahaya on 02-09-07 at 01:59 PM
LAST EDITED ON 02-09-07 AT 02:00 PM (EST)

Also present and accounted for!


Wayang Kulit puppet show by Tribe.

Eta: I may post some questions/comments a bit later after skimming through the story and earlier threads once more.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Fishercat on 02-09-07 at 04:34 PM
Present.

You pretty much got all my questions done in the reunion show. I personally like to imagine Connie in a jail for 5-10 with a roomie named Big Sue, so I won't ask about a "where are they now..." type of thing.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Estee on 02-11-07 at 03:18 PM
so I won't ask about a "where are they now..." type of thing.

One nearly got written: it was an idea that hung around for a while, but never fully materialized as part of the Reunion. (It would have appeared between the final view of the cast party and the Chorus getting the last word.) In the end, it felt like it was better to leave it out and let people make up their own endings based on the hints that were dropped.

'Big Sue', huh? Anyone we know? Gee, I guess those visiting hours for Richard got a little out of hand...


"Checking in"
Posted by vince3 on 02-09-07 at 06:09 PM
Yo.

I am waiting to see where exactly Alex was inspired from. Connie is obviously Linda Weaver plus more fanaticism plus that Wile E. Coyote bad luck


BTW, were you the one who did the roaming cluebox for the Be the TAR series? I think someone's trying to take that role....


"Complete Episode List:"
Posted by vince3 on 02-11-07 at 03:54 AM
Prologue

Episode 1: We Just Met...

Episode 2: I Don't Believe in Prophecy...

Episode 3: He Said He Heard Something...

Episode 4: What If He Doesn't Come Back?

Episode 5: Why Are You Carrying A Gun?

Episode 6: I'll Go Pack.

Recap Episode: I'm Not Very Good At 'Hope'.

Episode 7: Let's Just Pretend This Isn't Horribly Awkward

Episode 8: The Following Episode Contains Scenes....

Episode 9: I Thought It Was Always The Candlestick

Episode 10: Someone Always Gets Burned

Episode 11: I Will Never Forgive You

Episode 12: Custody Of A Curse

Episode #13: I Can't Win...

Reunion: Does the Game Ever Really End?


I figured it's far enough down on the thread to put this for those who want to look at all of the episodes.


"Location, location, location."
Posted by Estee on 02-11-07 at 03:43 PM
For the record:

Yanini does not exist. (Turare, Haraiki, and Amanu -- the three islands in the SI cluster that the tribes draw their names from -- do.) The Society Islands became the setting because -- well, honestly? Because of what Alex says in Episode #13: just about every season, Jeff talks about building a new society. It's been one of the show's self-presented arc themes since the first season, and sticking a cast in a place with the word 'society' in the name just seemed like a decent idea at the time. It also gave me a tropical setting, one that the show hadn't been to before even if they'd been extremely nearby, and the chance for the cameras to get those all-important swimsuit shots.

The island is an artificial construct all the way through. The chaos of the plant life was probably meant to invoke a sub-theme of sorts: elements from everywhere forced to co-exist without tearing each other apart -- at least, not just yet... (I'm once again trying to guess what my subconscious was up to here. Wish me luck. But Jeff says as much in Episode #1.) And it also saved me from having to go with the usual tropical plant background and a coconut-heavy diet. Just about any plant from anywhere could appear on the island, which gave me a degree of freedom in mood-setting: Turare's large oaks bracing the shelter and shady leaf canopy stand in contrast to Haraiki's more tropical clearing, lack of support, and exposure to the open sky.

And yes, the black sand vs. the white sand was pretty blatant.
-----------------
The Society Islands cluster is just south of Marquesas and east of the Cook Islands, which would give the show a few seasons in the same general area. Well, at least it's warm...
-----------------
The name for the Cliffs Of Insanity was borrowed from The Princess Bride, with thanks.
-----------------
Haledon is real. It's in northern New Jersey, just above Patterson going up the hill, and on the opposite side from Wayne. The city itself is a little below William Paterson College, which Wayne claims for itself. (The woods around the college are as Alex finds them -- and there's a major cliff in front of the junior/senior dorms. Do not stumble through that parking lot when drunk -- but on an exceptionally clear day, you can see Manhattan.) The economic situation of the area is pretty much as described: you can see the incomes increase block by block as you move deeper into Wayne. And no one walks that hill if they have a car.
-----------------
Alex's apartment building is based on a couple of absolute ratholes I had the mispleasure of encountering when I originally went hunting. ('Don't worry about the dead cockroaches in the bathtub. They're dead, aren't they?') And that's an insult to rats.




"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by xwraith27 on 02-12-07 at 00:15 AM
Also here, but I can't think of any questions other than those you've already answered. Great season, btw!

"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by rasslinmomma on 02-12-07 at 04:37 PM
LAST EDITED ON 02-12-07 AT 04:38 PM (EST)

Thank you for sharing this with us. I'll miss checking daily for SSI updates....it's been my first stop on the computer daily since episode 1.



"Super Mega Bump"
Posted by Jims02 on 04-28-07 at 11:30 PM
LAST EDITED ON 04-28-07 AT 11:31 PM (EST)

I've finished reading the whole thing. I already told Estee via PM, but I figured the least I could do is give the thread a bump. I've got a few comments, as well as a couple questions.

Comments:

1. The Alex-Gardener and Alex-Connie relationships are extremely interesting, mostly because they captivate two types of conflict for Alex while on the show. With Gardener, it was all about the game. Most of the conflict between these two characters are game-related.

-Gardener trying to get rid of her pre-merge
-Alligning post merge
-Instrumental in later boot decisions (boot MaryJane/Gary before Robin, take Connie far)

To win the game, Alex had to beat Gardener at the game.

With Connie, it's completely different. The conflict is obviously based in personality and faith differences. The feud between them is extremely personal and transcends the game. Connie represented all the people that Alex has to overcome in life, while Gardener represented the people in the game.

2. The finale was a test of faith for the reader. I believed, going into it, that there was no way that Connie could possibly win this thing... Or, I hoped. With the way Alex was reasoning, and the way the jury votes were stacking up, it didn't look good.

Despite all those actual facts, there was something inside me that refused to agree with them. It just couldn't finish that way.

3. Even though you gave descriptions, I pictured some of the contestants like former Survivor ones. Not all of them; just a few.

Gary - Earl (Fiji)
Connie - Scout (Vanuatu)
Angela - Ami (Vanuatu)
Robin - Eliza (Vanuatu)
Desmond - Roger (Amazon)
Trina - Janu (Palau)

The eeriest one is the Gary-Earl one, despite you writing this before Fiji started. Every time I thought of Connie, I pictured Scout for some reason, and Ami as Angela.

4. The only minor critique that I offer is that some of the paragraphs were really long, making it difficult to read sometimes. Some of the jury questions, and reunion comments in particular. Other than that, I think the story's absolutely perfect.

Questions:

1. Easy question first. What's the word count on this thing? It's got to be at least novel-sized.

2. Did you have to do much research for this thing? There was a lot of behind-the-scenes kind of stuff, which might've taken some digging to find. If it's even possible. Did you have to make a lot of assumptions about production decisions and whatnot?

3. Did you put some of your own personality in Alex? Your sense of humor seem to be somewhat similar (that's a compliment), and both have a somewhat detached viewpoint of things...

Not that I'm saying I know your personality (I don't), but there's got to be a little Estee in there.

4. If you were re-writing this, would you have changed anything story-wise? Like maybe developing certain characters more, or introducing things at different times?

5. Were you worried about any potential backlash from Christian readers, regarding Connie's characterization? Y'know, that people might think that you were just trying to paint Christians in an evil way? I don't think you did, but you never know how people might react. You included a couple examples of more compassionate Christians (Philip, Gary) in the story, though, so I don't see how that argument would hold weight.

6. Did you intentionally censor the language a little? Did the guidelines here factor into that decision? I noticed there weren't any F-bombs or anything, just a couple of damns and whatnot.

Whew. That was a lot of commenting.

Anyway, I'm going to stress this once again... This story was simply fantastic. You put a lot of effort into it, and it shows. This is better than a lot of published books that I've read. Anyone who's a fan of Survivor should read this thing.

Congratulations, Estee.


"RE: Super Mega Bump"
Posted by Estee on 04-30-07 at 05:12 PM
LAST EDITED ON 04-30-07 AT 06:22 PM (EST)

Eh. I've seen super-mega-bumpier.

With Gardener, it was all about the game. Most of the conflict between these two characters are game-related.

To win the game, Alex had to beat Gardener at the game.

It kind of brings up the question of how they would have dealt with each other if they'd first met outside the show (although it's hard to see those two personalities coming together in a situation where they'd start opening up to each other). Probably with a little less conflict: without the game to fight in, they don't have a base argument to work through. But...

With Connie, it's completely different. The conflict is obviously based in personality and faith differences.

...these two likely would dropped into a feud no matter how they met.

The feud between them is extremely personal and transcends the game. Connie represented all the people that Alex has to overcome in life, while Gardener represented the people in the game.

No argument on Connie and her relationship with Alex, although it's kind of hard to see Gardener as the sum total of the other fourteen. (Mostly because at some point, I'd have to factor in Angela and then we get into matter-antimatter issues. ) Gardener's definitely the largest obstacle within the game itself, though. Intelligence combined with strategic ability and the capacity for long-term planning: insert him into the cast of any season and he stands a good chance of going pretty far in most of the games. (Not Marquesas, though. You have to believe Rob would have panicked again.)

There may be an argument for Gardener as an embodiment of the game itself here, but I'm afraid to make it.

2. The finale was a test of faith for the reader. I believed, going into it, that there was no way that Connie could possibly win this thing... Or, I hoped. With the way Alex was reasoning, and the way the jury votes were stacking up, it didn't look good.

Despite all those actual facts, there was something inside me that refused to agree with them. It just couldn't finish
that way.

Blame the editing. It's a slightly crossed-over advantage for both first-person and the show's ability to select footage: one is showing you what they see, the other what they want you to see. Alex is so firmly convinced of her jury doom that she easily gets it across, and the show is so good at pointing out people's reasons to vote against her as to convice the Chorus all ballots are pretty much settled going in. And then the final Council had to turn everything around... (I did have the vote (total and who cast each) set from Day One, but I had to spend a lot of time setting up the initial reasons and any reversals.)

I was just hoping there was enough doubt in the air that people would believe Connie could win: that the possibility existed as a significant chance, if not the certainty Alex saw it as. I didn't want to move into the Reunion on zero dramatic potential.

3. Even though you gave descriptions, I pictured some of the contestants like former Survivor ones. Not all of them; just a few.

Gary - Earl (Fiji)

Huh. Okay, I can see this one: add a decade-plus to Earl and you're at least getting into the vicinity. Earl's perma-stubble doesn't exactly hurt.

Connie - Scout (Vanuatu)

Maybe for the sheer uselessness factor. And also that they were both capable of being formal and relatively polite-sounding when they needed to be. The physical differences go on for days.

Angela - Ami (Vanuatu)

Well, they're both on the tall side, and they've definitively got an anger and core commitment style in common... Not too much in common physically beyond their heights, though. (I wonder if Angela's angularity is the 'move in straight lines' aspect kicking in again...)

Robin - Eliza (Vanuatu)

Having trouble with this one. It's not just appearance: I can't see Eliza as sharing Robin's deep determination.

Desmond - Roger (Amazon)

Mentally, yes: Roger is just about Desmond's direct ancestor, down to the overall work field and snarl of the lip -- plus they share that distrust of females and the one-episode edit crash landing. It's an easy line to draw: they pretty much share an archetype.

Trina - Janu (Palau)

Trina didn't lose anywhere near that much weight.

The eeriest one is the Gary-Earl one, despite you writing this
before Fiji started.

No argument, although it was also just a little bit eerie to have four Fiji cast members with S:SI first names, plus a 'Cole'.

4. The only minor critique that I offer is that some of the paragraphs were really long, making it difficult to
read sometimes. Some of the jury questions, and reunion comments in particular.

*sigh* No argument again, and totally my bad. Those are the sections where the cast made speeches and went on total stop-only-to-breathe (and-that-briefly) rants, especially Gardener. Because it was all coming out in pretty much one vocal shot, it went down that way into the screen. I could have broken it up into smaller sections: it just seemed to lose some flow and effect at the time. Of course, 'at the time' was generally around two in the morning.

Questions:

1. Easy question first. What's the word count on this thing? It's got to be at least novel-sized.

Well, it's an odd place for the number to be scaring anyone off unless they look at the FAQ first and freak out second... I never counted because I was pretty much afraid to, but then Cahaya went and printed the thing. He had it at around 650,000 words, with a page count (Arial 10-point, double-spaced paragraphs) of 1081.

I was vaguely ill for a week after he told me that.

2. Did you have to do much research for this thing? There was a lot of behind-the-scenes kind of stuff, which might've taken some digging to find. If it's even possible. Did you have to make a lot of assumptions about production decisions and whatnot?

There were a lot of assumptions when it came to show production, hopefully based in logical thought: the show is out there, so it has to run in certain ways. Sadly, I didn't get to see the wonderpost on Mitchell's talk until way too late to work any of it in -- but I still managed to hit some of his points. Not bad for guesswork and deduction.

Research on production was pretty much limited to what's leaked out over the seasons: that retakes are sometimes necessary, the challenges aren't always ready when you show up, tribe movements can't be synchronized ever time, and so on. The luggage inspection felt like something that would have to be done. We knew about sequestering contestants before the show started: I took it a little further by having them never even see each other before launch (or drop). The medical tests were just about mandatory, and we all knew about the background checks. But as AyaK pointed out, the crew didn't carry during Africa: I never found that information and went with what I thought was a good conclusion. Well, at least it let me set up the alternate reality defense if I needed it...

I did have the first-season book to work with, which provided a very little bit of completely unimportant help. Beyond that, most of what wasn't guesswork came from our own archives and Google. With all the leaks regarding the seasons, it's amazing how much the building of the show itself has stayed in the background. Blame the contracts. (And the oft-quoted five million dollars was another guess.) I just hoped it would feel right.

(One of the big bits of production guesswork was on how the show might react to the cross. Guess on the rule, figure out a loophole for it, then go from there and imagine the screams... But for story purposes, they couldn't exactly kick her off on the spot. Confiscating the cross was an option, though.)

3. Did you put some of your own personality in Alex?

I said it before: I can't draw.

4. If you were re-writing this, would you have changed anything story-wise? Like maybe developing certain characters more, or introducing things at different times?

Given that I hate nearly everything I write after I finish writing it -- wait: make that while I'm writing it -- sometimes before...

There are things I considered putting in and never found a place for. One idea that kept coming up was doing an episode summary (or at least an extended exert from one), but it felt like something that just didn't fit. Fun, maybe -- but no natural home for it unless I cross-posted into Bashers and confused everyone. A lot of potential DAW Chorus activities fit into that never-saw department: while not getting a look at the notorious 'loneliness thread' was deliberate, we also didn't see much for some of their activities: nothing like a GUFU thread, not much in the way of preview breakdown, no SOTS. ('Caption This' was not only out of place, but impossible.)

For Alex, showing life on the After front had to be limited to glimpses (with the exception of the Recap), or it would have really stretched out the episodes. I just hope I found a workable balance between the environments.

With the other contestants... It would have been nice to get Denadi some more screen time. Robin doesn't speak a lot in the Reunion: part of that is because Andrea needed her storytime, but Robin should have had a few more lines. (On the other hand, it's just like the first big get-together at the merge: she immediately pulls someone off to the side and starts complaining at them... so at least she's consistent.) I hope the setup for Angela's romantic fakery had the right pacing. And I never did get that 'How can we be sighting Robin in two places at once?' bit going, but things may have worked better that way.

We can leave out the next 900,000+ regrets for lack of space, especially since about 100,000 of them actually center around typos.

5. Were you worried about any potential backlash from Christian readers, regarding Connie's characterization? Y'know, that people might think that you were just trying to paint Christians in an evil way? I don't think you did, but you never know how people might react. You included a couple examples of more compassionate Christians (Philip, Gary) in the story, though, so I don't see how that argument would hold weight.

I thought there might be some negative reactions, and was a little bit surprised when it wound up being so quiet. (Maybe everyone who was offended got shocked into a huffy silence?) Of course, it's a low readership and those who might be angered may have never even found the thing...

Connie was meant to be a 'I'm right, so you're damned' fanatic: those can be found in any religion, and you could easily change her base faith without altering her beliefs: you just need a religion that believes in the soul. The darkest comment may come from one of the Chorus with 'just like everyone else' -- but as someone else (and you) immediately said, Phillip stands counterpoint. I want to think Connie's partially a warning about the us vs. them aspect of religion that a lot of people carry around with them, and you might find a few comments on the Religious Right lurking about her character. (Which actually turns the Gardener/Connie alliance into another counterpoint: classic conservative and radical right.)

Religions are made up of people -- and while any religion will say 'act this way', the people will always find different views on just what that means. (Phillip and Connie are reading the exact same book.) Someone may eventually read this story and choose to be offended: someone else won't be. One of the minor themes for the season may be the power of belief, especially as regards people seeing what they ultimately want to see. Some things echo forever...

6. Did you intentionally censor the language a little? Did the guidelines here factor into that decision? I noticed there weren't any F-bombs or anything, just a couple of damns and whatnot.

You may also spot some strategically-placed moments where birds are taking off, fires are crackling, and Alex is suddenly choosing to notice those things taking place as opposed to what people are actually saying. I deliberately kept the language mostly within board limits because I wanted to tell the story here: going over the lines would have been an open (and earned) invitation to a shutdown. The set line was crossed in small places -- no one calls Connie a be-yotch -- but I kept the Carlin List off the board on purpose. Nudity can be described safely: cursing is harder. (And there are times when the cast is keeping an eye on their own words so they won't be bleeped out.)

Congratulations, Estee.

I wasted more time for less reason than anyone else in the history of the site! Yay, me!

Did any of that make sense? I'm still a little short on sleep.


"RE: Super Mega Bump"
Posted by AyaK on 09-07-07 at 04:09 PM
You know, I just read this last post for the first time ... and I wanted to post even though I've moved the thread now.

The crew dynamics questions are interesting. Of course, we've never had anyone ever again give us an inside discussion of how the show worked like Mitchell's from season 2. Yet most of the details are known, and I thought you did a nice job working them in (with a few errors, but only one of consequence).

Please let me add my congratulations. I look forward to The Mole.


"RE: Survivor: The Society Islands: Postgame FAQ/Reader Check-In "
Posted by Devious Weasel on 12-28-08 at 12:22 PM
Oh, and needless to say, bump and registering my reading.

" Oh, look ... "
Posted by Georjanna on 06-26-12 at 08:06 PM
... a truly fine fiction not by any other name.


Just found. Just finished. Just fascinating.