Survivor Autopsy #8: Nickfear

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The last thing Nick Maiorano sees before he falls asleep at night.

So where were we? Oh yeah, Nick’s an absolute fake who has no skill or relevance and probably couldn’t last past a first Tribal Council. Good thing there wasn’t, like, some weird episode that tricked everyone into thinking Nick is the best strategist ever. Right?

Man, oh, man.

The journey of Nick Maiorano on the show, well, honestly is relatively underwhelming even if his downfall was fun (and a relief, because Nick legitimately might not have given a good confessional in his life, unless transparent fake douchiness is your thing, which I’ve come to find is many people’s thing. To me, he’s trying to be somewhere between Brian Heidik and Garrett Adelstein which is like making a Broccoli McFlurry, or splitting an atom. Naturally, he fails, and becomes basically a nothing character.

Why should I be invested in who he is if he’s clearly making it up as he goes? Sure, I’d imagine some parts were very real. He mansplains as naturally as the redditors who adore him, and he does for some weird reason think he’s actually beautiful, but most of it is exaggerated attempts at being #shocking and #controversial and #villainswinthisgame. I’ve met ORGers who have more skill at being controversial than Nick has. He’s lamesauce milquetoast diet villain and I’m happy he’s gone from my TV so I can watch real assholes like Scot and Kyle get real downfalls that they really deserve.

And yet.

Sometime last week the continuing goldfish memory of the edit and a large chunk of the fanbase took another turn for the w-t-f as Nick was built up to be a complete mastermind rather than the absolute social bumblefuck that he was for six straight episodes. It was weird. One, because the person Nick Maiorano tries to be is still an absolutely abysmal narrator, and two because on the surface it looked like an absolute reversal from them drilling into our heads that they regretted casting him and he was to accomplish nothing of worth.

It was drilled so forcefully that while some could sense the rug about to be pulled from underneath them, many bought Nick Maiorano as the next big strategist. It’s not a new sensation- in many modern seasons you get the birth of a strategist out of unlikely people just before or around early merge, and then they light a fire for a little bit before abruptly disappearing. Reed, Ciera 2.0, and Shirin are three dramatic instances of this, and Nick in many ways continues the psyche-out trend, though more blatant than seen before.

Ultimately, however, the producers get to laugh at the looks on our faces as business continues as usual, with Nick douching up the place and Michelle finally getting to put him in his place, bro. Yet, unlike many downfalls, Nick’s was relatively blatant, but also not made the centerpiece of the episode. Many times, with people like Nick who are made to be editing jokes, when they implode the whole world stops and we get an hour of absolute skull-crushing humiliation. Clearly, Nick wasn’t even entertaining enough to sustain a whole downfall episode, but having watched a full episode of Nick Maiorano I am actually quite happy for that. This gives us plenty of room for a cavalcade of great character moments, exciting strategic developments, and a shot of adrenaline to the momentum of the season that had Nick as part of it, but clearly not the focus.

At the end, though, the season’s three biggest douches find themselves at the ass end of a brutal blindside at the hands of former allies and those they clearly underestimated, unsurprisingly 83% of those responsible being women. So, how does this bode as a strategic decision, and how does this bode as a downfall? Well, that’s what we’re here for.

The Autopsy

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Seen above: Nick Maiorano being mounted by Donkey Kong.

By all means Nick Maiorano should have ended this season as relevant as he started. Despite his tragic uptick of confessionals that gave him 21 or so in the last three weeks, ultimately all he accomplished was helping Jason and Scot drive the women over to Chan Loh. His first Tribal Council was his last, much like RC, only this time he was voted out with an actual majority 6-2-1-1. He spent most of the season so transparent and fake that no one trusted him, entered episode 6 with one ally who didn’t like how condescending he was and another potentially ally he absolutely brushed off to bro down with Kyle instead.

Then Episode 7 hit, and the flash and pizzazz was almost blinding. Still, it’s hard to see what actually changed. Nick continued to bro down with Kyle, and added Scot to the mix. The other two got drunk enough to spill every secret possible while Nick just nodded and gave boring gamebot confessionals. The setup was there to join the men of To Tang while Cydney wasn’t allowed to join their trio, and then he gave orders to Michele who still wasn’t down with Nickmania.

Mt. St. Neal did their work for them and they restarted from step one. Do they continue to hammer against the women  on Chan Loh, or do things change? Nick decides, okay, we’re staying the course. However, staying the course is far trickier than it stands. I get the sense that Nick thought a cornered mouse never fights, but obviously history begs to differ.

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While Nick stayed the course, he decided he was going to make sure everyone else did exactly what he wanted. While it was fully okay in his eyes for him to run off with Scot and Kyle several times a round and discuss strategy, the second the girls and Tai went on a canoe alone, they were going to make sure no women got any ideas of straying from them. This level of arrogant control and double standards was noted far better by Cydney than by me, and she promptly called them out on it only to, again, be condescended to like she was a crazy person.

The ill will continued to build up as Nick made it abundantly clear that he was itching to send a Chan Loh woman home at the next challenge, and at Tribal Council (making it very clear he had in 22 days never Tribal Counciled before). Behind his back, people were also playing the game, and Cydney recognized that Nick had taken her spot as the Brawn’s #3. For the sake of an ounce of prevention, she decided to switch things onto Nick. While Julia had hesitation about going against her ally in Scot, Michele showed herself to be far less hesitant, taking the advantage of removing the man who thought he had her on a leash from the game. It was, needless to say, quite amusing.

So that’s why Nick went home. Already absolute shite at getting people who aren’t proven douchebags to like him, he was also absolute shite at keeping an alliance from crumbling with his hypocrisy, his cockiness, and his controlling nature. All of these were evident traits from the beginning, so it’s surprising to me that not only were people surprised that he went home, but angry that he was voted out at all. I just don’t see the potential, and I don’t see why people have been apologists for him on many corners of the internet. I mean, SurvivorSucks, the most flagrant haven for female contestants and against cocky male overlords, had this guy the third highest rated contestant come merge. I don’t get what gives. I don’t get how Nick, possibly the worst attempt at being a big downfall figure, is the one getting all the defense and admiration that Max Dawson could only dream of.

Hell, I don’t see why you’d think Nick would want you to do that. Maybe he’s backpedaling now, but his whole schtick was trying to be the asshole who made you upset. If you’re defending his character, not only are you exposing an embarrassing amount of things that you’re willing to tolerate from a Nick (though certainly not an Alecia), you’re also missing the intent of Nick. He’s a wannabe Fairplay who ended up being a poor, poor man’s Corinne.

Pity the Living

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Debbie- Surprisingly, one of the least featured women this episode, though after last week that might be for the best game-wise. I am glad that after Nick stood her up more times than LJ did Tasha that she got the last laugh. It’s hilarious to hear Debbie chastising anyone for being overconfident, though, even if it is Nick.

Joe- It’s weird that he’s our “purple” character this season because he’s a unique contestant, gives great soundbytes, and makes some cool moments happen. Still, him being the least visible also points to how great editing has been this season. I also recommend listening to The Tribe’s podcast for this episode, because they managed to make Joe one of my favorites through sheer power of wit alone.

Aubry- I felt for her after she blew the challenge, just the absolute downpour of shit that’s falling on her head, and I’m sad to see the hatedom already developing for her.

Julia- I still like her but it is increasingly for little given reason.

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And Tai continues to be wonderful. I don’t care if he did blurt out the super idol like a complete buffoon and then hilariously tried to cover it up. Screw it, that just makes him more wonderful to me. I love when self-stylized strategists have to work around people screwing up moreso than people who think just like them. And him at the challenge, that’s legitimately one of my five favorite moments of recent Survivor. There’s something old school about it, how much Tai was being Tai all over it and how he had legitimate competition in Cydney. I’m so glad he won. There’s something about Tai that really does invoke the fan favorites of old, like Rupert and Kathy and (yes) Yau-Man, who just are their best selves and defy the odds to bring a whole new level of heart and passion to the game.

Michele- Yeah yeah she’s winning whatever, as long as she just makes more good shit happen and more bad characters leave my TV I’m down for whatever.

Scot- I am starting to come around on Scot. Not on a personal level- I can’t say I was fooled enough by his sudden positive edit to consider him “not actually a douche” like the Tai stuff did for many people. However, here’s where I’m coming around on Scot. He’s a villain, that’s absolutely clear, but unlike many villains of late who are portrayed like incompetent evil buffoons, Scot is shown to have skill, charisma, and influence as well as being unlikable and douchy. In an era where so many villains are Jack Spicer, it’s nice to get a Chase Young in there as well.

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The second that Cydney pointed out, acted upon, and bettered her position based off of the hypocrisy of the fear of women’s alliances, I had a new member of my absolute favorites for this season. She rocked it, and she got things done expertly. Not only that, but I really love that Storm, her foreshadowed confrontational boo-checker side, was still entirely rational and really well spoken. Cydney is entirely in the right for me and I love what she does, and I love how karma came back to the men after they ditched a loyal Day One ally for the new hot guy.

Kyle- So if the NToS is any indication he’s finally pulling a Russell and stealing supplies and starving his castmates. Nice of him to live up to the standards of his hero after he saw at least ten people nearly fucking die out there. Still not a scumbag, guys?

My First Final Thoughts

Nick sucks and I’m done expending thoughts on him for today. Bye.

-Cameron

 

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