There is something in the face that a contestant does The mole when they are about to annoy their fellow players.
There is usually something mischievous and defiant in their eyes. Sometimes (but certainly not always) your lips may twitch slightly in embarrassment. However, given the nature of the game, it is always impossible to say how real these appearances are. It is Does that player regret sacrificing tens of thousands of dollars from the pool’s shared prize pool to secure exemption from elimination? Or are they, and everyone around them, just bluffing?
The mole first debuted in 2001, when reality television as we know it now still felt new. There was Survivor, but not The Bachelor. the amazing race it would not be released until later that year. Our original host? Famous, a very “Y2K” Anderson Cooper, complete with black leather jacket and tiny black sunglasses. (Later presenters included sportscaster Ahmad Rashad and journalist Jon Kelley.) Now, Netflix has brought the series back for a 10-episode sixth season that lives up to the calculated chaos of the original.
The first five episodes of the new Mole will debut on Netflix on Friday, with the remaining five releasing in batches over the next two weeks. As always, the objective of the game is simple: players must work together to add money to a shared prize while each individually tries to determine which one of them is the Mole, a production plant whose only goal is to sabotage their efforts. Figuring out that last part is much easier said than done.
Each week, players must complete challenges that test their wits, stamina, and problem-solving skills before taking a quiz on Mole’s identity. How many languages does the Topo speak? How long is your hair? Do you have siblings? The key to surviving The mole it is not only to correctly guess the person’s identity, but to collect as much information about him as possible. Pick the wrong person, and you might get the lowest score and be sent straight home.
Everyone has an idea of who they think the Topo is, and everyone has a different strategy to throw off their fellow competitors. Some people’s game plans are calculated; some are intuitive; and some are absurd enough to make you think they might be the Topo.
What tends to vary the most between players, though, is how far each of them will go in the name of public villainy to secure their own results. Throughout the game, producers hang “Exemption” cards that will protect players from elimination, but they always come at a high price.
In a moment of choice, one player begs another not to screw the group for a moment. second time taking other exemption. “You already had one,” he says, eyes wide with stress, as if one wrong syllable could set off a bomb. It is at times like this, dear reader, that I was reminded of how reality television can make a person feel alive again.
As our newest host, MSNBC’s Alex Wagner often becomes a charming fly on the wall, especially during more humorous challenges, such as one based on competitors’ ability to hide the fact that they’re eating extremely spicy food and nauseating. (Think: wasabi balls like peas, or a nice pint of apple cider vinegar masquerading as beer.) A skillful presenter with quiet charisma, Wagner knows when to show humor and when to be sincere but efficient. (Not all aspiring reality TV hosts know how to load a visibly distraught gamer into a van with such grace!)
Meanwhile, this season’s players are a well-defined combination of obvious influencers and fascinating on-screen characters. Sadly, the days of the “everyday people” competitors of the early years are over. Just like the faces that appear on other Netflix reality shows like The circle, most of the contestants here are young and conventionally attractive. (As in, one guy is literally nicknamed “Thor”).
Standouts include Joi Schweitzer, a 40-year-old commercial airline pilot with suspiciously poor navigational skills; Greg Shapiro, a canny 32-year-old marketing consultant; Dom Gabriel, a heavy machine operator who goes by the name “Dom Cruise”, and 26-year-old professional gambler Avori Henderson. “Thor,” by the way, would be 29-year-old lifestyle brand manager William Richardson.
There is no rest for the Mole (or those who hunt them) and eight episodes, I’m pretty sure I guessed that every player was the Mole on at least one occasion. The only drawback of the game comes not from its secrecy but from its impatience. The game is exceptionally fast-paced, and while that helps preserve Mole’s secrets, it also removes some of the unstructured, idle time that can make reality programming so much fun to watch.
Some of the most interesting moments of reality occur during conversations that players use to kill time and in a strategy-based social game like The mole, many fascinating conversations will likely make it to the cutting room floor. On the other hand, maybe talking too much would kill the mystery.