April 29, 2013
I am not a big TV-watcher, and definitely am not a fan of reality shows. But I am watching Survivor-Caramoan each week for one reason, and one reason only - local boy Erik Reichenbach. We may not all know him personally, but he is "our" guy, and we are all cheering him on.
He's famous here in Pinckney as part of the Reichenbach running family, and for his work in Hell as an artist at Screams. He's famous - or perhaps infamous - on a national scale as the naive youngster who got wickedly outplayed by those evil women on Survivor Micronesia in 2008. They cried and he gave up his immunity idol, and they promptly voted his butt off the island. I think he probably learned a lot about women and crocodile tears that day.
I am watching each episode online, the day after (no commercials!)...and the first few shows were of low interest.
Erik was definitely a background player. But as the season goes on, the brilliance of his strategy is becoming clear. He is playing the role of Mr. Nice Guy to the max. And in the April 24 episode, it became clear that he wasn't going to be Mr. Nice Guy for long.
He hasn't been perceived as a player of special value, nor has he been seen as a threat. No whispered player huddles about how to engineer his exit. Nobody thinks he's an asshole. His name has not been scribbled on parchment for the final vote each evening. He is just quietly doing his thing, wearing his green R4 t-shirt, which he designs every year for the running retreat his family hosts for the Pinckney cross-country team each summer. Erik is not the strongest guy on the show, but he does well in the physical challenges, especially running and swimming - no surprise there for a Pinckney native growing up surrounded by lakes and running trails.
And he's a nice boy. His mom raised him right. The girls think he's sweet. The guys think he's a bro. He worries about the women who are crying all the time. He is quick to give hugs. He can't believe Phillip, covered in mud, jumps into a resort pool without showering. He goes along with the dumb "Stealth R Us" group thing with modest enthusiasm - although you can almost see the "OMG. WTH?" thought-bubble over his head when the group does their daily high-five.
And he looks right at his competitors, bats those pretty blue eyes - and lies. Or tries to. You can tell he doesn't have a lot of practice with this. But - it seems to work well enough with this particular group of stressed-out, hungry players in the final ten days of the show.
"Of course you can trust me!" he says. And everyone seems to believe him. Then the show cuts to his explaining how he is playing both sides, and how he plans to strategize his vote at the last minute during tribal council.
He survives another round, his nice guy rep intact, his name not showing up in the tribal council votes. But one alliance is starting to take a second look at Erik, thinking they should maybe get him on board.
Yeah, maybe. Because I'm thinking pretty soon it's no more Mr. Nice Guy. And I'm looking forward to the next episode of Survivor: Caramoan.
Check out Erik here.