Monday, July 14, 2008

Episode 6

Ok, now we're getting somewhere! By far my favorite episode of the year, hands down. Finally a good thinking game, and a game of suspense. One of the problems I've had thus far is there really has been no suspense in any of the games. Tonight that changed! Now, if Jon would only chew someone out a little just for effect! I hope all of you helped spread the word in the "Save the Mole" campaign, because if you did, tonight's episode might have captured some more viewers!

I was not surprised to see Alex go. He played the game straight; I seriously doubt that there was a single player in this year's group that ever suspected that Alex was the Mole. He just did not sabotage. That's fine, but it put him at a disadvantage; while others...Craig, Mark, Clay, and Nicole...all have done a fair amount of sabotage, and therefore have to be factored in when you are taking the quiz, Alex simply did not have to be factored in. Therefore, every week he had at least one more person to consider than most of the others. Eventually...unless he really knew who the Mole was...odds had to catch up with him. They did so.

I think Paul is in the same boat. He is obnoxious, arrogant...and plays the game hard. He has not sabotaged at all, and but for his demeanor, does not act molish in the least. If the other players see it the same way, then they are not considering him as a mole possibility. That means everyone else has one less person to try to ferret (or "mole") out as the dastardly Mole. I would not be surprised to see Paul gone next.

Ah, who does that leave!? Well, I did not especially care for the one hour review of the season...because it just pointed up vividly the constant bickering and dislike between Paul and almost everyone else, and Nicole the same way. If I wanted to see constant fighting and bickering I would watch professional wrestling. So, I really wish the review had toned those disagreeable interplays down and had given us some more fun behind-the-scene stuff. I know there was a lot of good things that went on that would have played well; it would have much more fun to have seen them.

One thing the review did do was point out how much Craig has cost the team, either accidentally or on purpose. He didn't get the bag in the first game, didn't get any clay pigs, lost the money on the luge game, and chose the exemption when he picked impossible clothes and costumes for folks to wear. While he can't be ruled out, I still don't believe he is the Mole. However, it was impossible to miss that he got almost no answers in tonight's game. Again, could have been deliberate. Or not.

Clay has kept a low profile since getting the exemption he did not deserve. He's sinking down in my Mole quest.

Nicole continues to be extremely obvious, but indeed has sabotaged some. She was obvious in the luge game, continues to play mind games with Paul (and everyone else), cooperated with everyone in not wearing the costume selected for her, and in tonight's game was surprisingly dense in coming up with answers to the questions. Admittedly it was all math, and that may be a weak area for her. I sure hope her pharmacist and nurses do her med calculations for her patients! Molish activity in not coming up with any answers? Maybe.

Mark was quite interesting to watch tonight. Man, he was a team player. A great run, and he showed remarkable intelligence, coming up with virtually every answer the "thinkers" were supposed to be coming up with. He reminded me of Dorothy from our season...except that the last time I looked Mark is not Chinese. Could Mark have known the answers in advance? Could this be one of the games the Mole plays his little heart out in to show he is a team player? I think that is a distinct possibility.

Oh, the bungee jump. Any molish activities? None that I saw. When I had the chance to bungee jump in Season 2 I was going for it, no matter what. No sabotage, just always wanted to bungee jump. I suspect the folks tonight felt the same way...though I was a tad concerned for Craig. A trooper!

So, who's the Mole? Not Alex. 1. Mark 2. Clay 3. Nicole 4. Craig

Bill
The Mole II

21 Comments:

At July 15, 2008 at 1:21 PM , Blogger Tommy Occhipinti said...

So here is what I have been wondering. If the mole is either Mark or Clay, how is the other still there? They seem to have a very strong coalition which is mentioned often, and it does not seem you could survive this long if you were in a serious coalition with the mole. Do you think this is just a case of very misleading editing?

Suppose, hypothetically, that Mark was the mole and Clay knew that Mark was the mole, but formed an alliance with him just to stay close to him. Do you think the producers would inform Mark that Clay was picking him on every quiz so he could attempt to shake him off?

One more thing. Do you spend any time looking for clues in the episodes? Or do you try and base your suspicions solely on the players' actions?

 
At July 15, 2008 at 2:48 PM , Blogger Shomakube said...

Definitely my favorite episode of the season as well! The Grapes of Cache game brought back vivid memories of the water-treading game from season 2, though no one blatantly sabotaged it this time ;)

The bungee game was okay, but I liked the season 2 twist better. I'm surprised no one guessed $1 (or whatever the lowest possible amount was), though.

I noticed during the recap episode that Paul and Mark were actively making coalitions with other players, which is something the Mole theoretically isn't allowed to do.

Oh, and Bill, this is totally unrelated to the episode, but I've been wondering for a long time: If you weren't The Mole, would you have worn the baby clothes during the clothesline game?

 
At July 16, 2008 at 12:03 AM , Blogger La Louis Bonita said...

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At July 16, 2008 at 12:07 AM , Blogger La Louis Bonita said...

It's Clay all the way for me. The camera panned past a sign that clearly pointed to Clay's bio. I'm sticking with him 'til the end.

Bill, I love this blog, and I too am glad the season is picking up steam. Keep up the comprehensive work, Mickey D.

 
At July 16, 2008 at 1:00 AM , Blogger Brian Boyko said...

After seeing Friday's episode, I'm pretty sure I'm starting to get the strategies of the game.

Now, I'm under the working assumption that Craig is the mole this year - consider it a guess if you'd like but I think some of the clues that they gave on the show starting from episode one were extremely obvious. (Players, however, do not have the advantage of Wikipedia...)

In the latest episode, it was pretty clear that despite the brain-teasers being excruciatingly simple, ("How many months have 28 days?" Really?) both Craig and Nicole were stalling for time.

So that's where the "random chance" factor comes in. It's really impossible to determine which one is sabotaging the missions, because they both are.

But here's what clicked for me that I wasn't getting before. Instead of working from the viewpoint of positive identification, you can work from the viewpoint of negative elimination - that is, if a player does exceedingly -well- at a challenge, throw them out of consideration.

Using this season as a reference, you can rule out Mark for pretty much doing the entire "Grapes of Cash" single-handed, Alex (had he not been executed) for getting -some- money in the pot in "Swing for Life" when the mole could easily have just dropped the pack. (Alex also did well in the "When Pigs Fly" mission). Mark, Kristin, Paul & Ali had good performances in "Fruit of the Luge." Paul, Alex, Kristin, Ali, and Victoria in "Dress Code."

(It may be confirmation bias, but it struck me as suspicious that in the only game where Craig and Nicole did "well," "Dress Code," they didn't, y'know, go back and give clothes to Clay & Mark when they had them readily available.)

So I can see a strategy of, in the beginning, before the Mole really has a chance to do any damage and people are tested, answering on the quiz in such a way as to make sure each player is named as the mole once (and hoping that someone else went with a particular person and guessed wrong.) As people are eliminated from mole consideration, you start splitting your "quiz votes" fewer and fewer ways.

Which is great, except that it breaks down in two areas:

First, the first couple of eliminations are mostly based on luck (which is why early exemptions are very important.)

Second, there's really no way to deal with a problem like Nicole. That is, Nicole is obviously sabotaging (and sabotaging obviously) the missions to get people to think she's the mole. This is great for her because she can obviously eliminate herself, so while other players are splitting their quiz votes n ways, she's splitting her quiz votes n-1 ways.

But the problem is that the strategy is so effective that there's really no reason to NOT adopt that strategy when playing - if the other players were on the ball, they'd all be pulling "Nicoles." When that happens, once again, the game devolves into random chance.

So, I am beginning to see the strategy involved in the game, it's just that "faking the mole" is a strategy that works so effectively, that there's no reason not to use it - like taking the center square in tic-tac-toe.

I don't think you can get rid of that strategy - it is part of the game and it does keep the game from being "too easy" but I think the penalties and risks for playing that way should be higher. Either there should be some sort of consolation prize for eliminated players based on the size of the pot (so that a "psuedo-mole" knows that they're reducing their own money even if they get eliminated, and must choose to take that risk) or if you brought back the neutralizer as a penalty for poor performance in missions. The real mole has nothing to fear from the neutralizer; a fake mole does.

Can you see where I'm going with this?

 
At July 16, 2008 at 10:42 AM , Blogger Bill said...

OK, to answer a few points. First, there is absolutely nothing that says the mole can't have as many coalitions as they want. I just chose not to; Kathryn before me did have coalitions. And, nope, I don't look for clues other than watching the players. Frankly, in my season the clues were so obvious it ruined the game for lots of folks, and I would prefer just to watch people. The negative side of that strategy is that I really can't every know definitively who the mole is.


If I had not been the mole would I have worn the clothes? If I chose not to it would have been strategy to make folks think I was the MOle. Shoot, surrounded by guys in girdles and bunny suits, a diaper would have been being overdressed!

Absolutely could be Clay...or Nicole, Craig, or Mark. Not Paul!

Brian, you're catching on. However, keep in mind that the Mole will play some games straight, in fact, as hard as he can, just to throw folks off. I put $100,000 in the pot on the last day of competition, expressly to throw people off me as a mole possible. So Mark playing that game as hard as he did does not appear molish...but getting all the answers as quickly as he did actually makes me even more suspicious of him. And don't discount Nicole because she is so obvious; the mole has not done that in past games. I think it would be a good strategy. In fact, Nicole has moved in the #2 position for me. There are a lot of subtle moves possible in this game.

Bill
The Mole II

 
At July 16, 2008 at 12:14 PM , Blogger Wypall12 said...

You are discounting Paul for what reason? You say "He is obnoxious, arrogant...and plays the game hard". Why would that not make him the mole? I only ask because you seem so sure of it. Nicole seems too be just as bad as Paul yet you say she could be the mole.

 
At July 16, 2008 at 2:37 PM , Blogger Wil said...

The predictions on that Price is Right exemption seemed a little telling to me. Granted, the players didn't seem to know how the others had fared on their jumps, but the only player to guess a relatively low number was Mark, head of my suspect list. I was amazed that nobody played it safe and said zero dollars, but... Mark's Dorothy-esque performance in Grapes of Cache when he's usually not the strongest player for money-making was interesting, too. True, Mark is a teacher, but he teaches history, not math. The Mole has to be a hero sometimes, right Bill?

Something else about Mark that I find interesting is that nobody's brought up the fact that the soccer coach was conspicuously absent from the soccer game that took place, doing the bike game instead.

I know you said you don't look for the clues, Bill, but doesn't the long shot of the wine barrel seem a little obvious to anybody? My problem is deciphering the code on the barrel: N20 / HL70

 
At July 16, 2008 at 3:29 PM , Blogger Bill said...

Ah, the only reason I'm discounting Paul is that he has done no sabotage that cost money. I figure that if the Mole does not cost the pot...then what good is he as a Mole? So, I will be very disappointed if Paul is the Mole. Nicole is just as obnoxious as Paul, but has sabotaged...very visibly...several games. That's what a Mole does!

 
At July 16, 2008 at 5:30 PM , Blogger Brian Boyko said...

Wil: I can tell you that the clues have spoiled me - I know what N20/HL70 means - e-mail me at brian.boyko@gmail.com if you're interested. It is kind of a dead giveaway, though.

 
At July 16, 2008 at 6:28 PM , Blogger PSUSyr5 said...

Hey Bill, I noticed that in all the seasons of the US mole, the mole seemed to take the final challenge off and either not try to sabotage (Frederique in Celeb Mole: Hawaii) or actually trying to complete the challenge as well as possible (Kathryn with the hotel rooms game, you with the GPS game and Angie with the pictures game). I finally got around to seeing Yucatan a little while ago. A little ways from now, but maybe the final episode of missions, the one who tries hardest should be the top suspect as the mole?

I sort of compare Paul to a younger Charlie from season 1...so I agree, I don't think Paul is the mole either. I'm going with Nicole, but only because that's who I went with from the start.

Stephen (sre141)

 
At July 16, 2008 at 9:51 PM , Blogger Brian Boyko said...

Truth is, I am kinda curious as to whether there actually was anything in that dossier. Considering all the mindgames that went on so far in that season, it wouldn't surprise me if the dossier simply said: "What? You think I'd leave my dossier lying around? -- The Mole"

 
At July 17, 2008 at 3:11 AM , Blogger maxx said...

Yeh, I'm curious too Bill. Just exactly what sorts of info was in that Dossier you turned down in the GPS game (The " Top Secret Game") at the end of season 2?

 
At July 17, 2008 at 10:36 AM , Blogger Bill said...

The mystery dossier! I never saw the inside of it, but asked the producers later; they said it contained...nothing. I'll take their word for it, inasmuch as that seems to be a perfectly molish thing to be done on a show like this!

Bill
The Mole II

 
At July 17, 2008 at 8:58 PM , Blogger PSUSyr5 said...

Haha, that is fantastic. Now I almost wish Heather or Dorothy would have gotten there first (provided they would have gone for the dossier) and see their reactions when it's blank, or full of useless stuff.

Stephen (sre141)

 
At July 17, 2008 at 9:12 PM , Blogger Brian Boyko said...

I don't think Dorothy or Heather would have gone for the dossier. By that point in the game, you either know who the mole is or you've been executed.

Since both of them had nothing to gain from the dossier, they would obviously want the pot that they had a 50/50 chance at getting to grow.

 
At July 18, 2008 at 6:14 AM , Blogger Wil said...

Brian: Ooh... now I'm not sure I WANT to know! I already have kind of an idea, I think I'll just take noticing the clue at all as a personal win and wait for the reveal to see if I'm right...

 
At July 18, 2008 at 9:08 AM , Blogger Brian Boyko said...

And a side note, I'm going over the online "deleted scene" clips that are on ABC.com.

Why is this stuff not making it in the show!? Especially the guys getting Ice Cream and going to the park in Argentina ("Dammit, now this is going to be on the quiz! Did the Mole play on the swings... or slide down the slide - alright, that's it. Everybody has to do everything!"), or when Clay, Paul, and Alex are sneakily eavesdropping on Mark and Kristin...

All we see on the show is the back-biting and snapping; we don't see the guys getting along outside the missions.

 
At July 18, 2008 at 10:07 AM , Blogger PSUSyr5 said...

See, the reason why I think they might have is that it would suck to go that far...that close to over a half million and not make it. The extra $100,000 doesn't mean anything if you're the runner-up. I'd gladly sacrifice the $100,000 if it means I'd (supposedly) get a leg up on the other person.

I agree with you on the deleted scenes stuff. It would be great to see them getting along. I have a feeling that they wanted to make the show more like season 1 where for the most part, the players really didn't get along and less like season 2 where most of the time the players were friendly with each other. I felt like season 2 was better than season 1, so it's fairly disappointing the editing has gone this way.

 
At July 21, 2008 at 2:02 AM , Blogger Tommy Occhipinti said...

Hey again Bill. Thanks for your reply. When you were the mole, were you told who people were picking on the quizzes? I'd be particularly interested to know if the mole is given inside information to help them know who they have to "impress" and who they can be more blatant with.

 
At July 21, 2008 at 10:37 AM , Blogger Bill said...

Hmm. Nope, the producers did not tell me who people were voting for, just that they were not putting my name down! I might have fanned the flames of suspicion more had I known, however.

Bill
The Mole II

 

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