This week on Survivor we had alliances shifting left and right, bromances popping up out of the woodwork, and a somewhat surprising vote in what appears to be the last tribal council before the merge. It was a really great episode because it established some real uncertainty over the game’s future and the results of the vote may have a rippling effect that could carry on deep in the season and determine who makes it to the end and who gets voted out quick. The Final 12 of Worlds Apart are going to have their hands full with strategy, because there are at least 5 or 6 people who could seriously be considered threats to win the game overall, and with alliances as crossed as they are at this point, it’s still anyone’s game. Here are some of my thoughts on this week’s show:
- I really like the story they told with Shirin this week, and I especially like how it was framed within the underdog story of her tribe. Last week it was noted that the Escameca tribe had a tremendous physical advantage in the game, and it showed when they stomped all over Nagarote to win immunity. However, this week Nagarote was able to work well as a team, even despite Shirin feeling outcast in her tribe, and ended up winning the reward challenge fair and square. There was a nice confessional of Shirin talking about how she felt like she was back at high school being that weird kid desperately trying to fit in with her peers. I really felt for her watching the show, she seems like a nice person and a great fan of the show, so I’m glad that she’s at least become self-aware enough to understand that she needs to improve her social game. While it’s probably going to be an uphill battle for her going forward, it was nice to see that whole underdog team celebrate and cheer their win at reward, and be able to come together to enjoy a feast and randomly watch turtles lay eggs on a beach a night. As a side note, I give Survivor props for incorporating the wildlife into a reward, but they really must’ve had somebody better than that host they found, he just made the whole venture a bit weird for me. But back to the point, really nice to see Shirin possibly coming back from the brink to gain peoples’ trust again, we’ll see next week where she’ll be able to slot in.
- I think if I had to pick a word of the night, it would have to be bromance. I’m not sure if I’d go as far as to say it was love at first sight, but Rodney was pretty eager to get to know Joaquin and work with him when the new tribes emerged. It was all about East Coast pride, partying hard, sleeping around, and being bros with those two, as they quickly developed a bond over their common interests, at the same time developing a interesting side alliance aimed at getting rid of one of the big game threats, Joe, who had been isolated by the luck of the swap. In a role reversal from what we saw at White Collar, it was Tyler taking a backseat to Joaquin’s social game, as Joaquin quickly started spinning Rodney’s new found East Coast Bros. alliance to his advantage to get rid Sierra on board with a new power alliance. The only issue of course was Sierra’s ill feelings toward Rodney, which made her hesitate to commit to Joaquin, even though t sounded like she trusted him more than the others. Rodney came off like a tool this week again, I don’t think that should come as a shock to anyone who has been watching this season, but the bromance did bring some comic relief to the episode, and provided an interesting opportunity for Joaquin and Tyler to break up the Blue Collar tribe, nullifying their numbers advantage, all the while eliminating the third voting bloc’s leader. The only thing they really needed to do was lose the immunity challenge and they would be at Tribal making the necessary moves.
- So Escameca indeed decided to throw the challenge, giving the win to Nagarote, and it was an interesting decision in many ways. For one, there were multiple tribe members interested in throwing the challenge but they had different reasons for it. Rodney was in on the plan to make sure they could take out Joe before he could rejoin his original alliance, which I thought was a really smart approach. Mike, on the other hand, was in on the plot, but decided to separate a new power couple he saw forming with Rodney and Joaquin. Also, the challenge throw was interesting because it was predictably flopped and mishandled, mainly by Mike. The challenge was a memory test, where contestants had to memorize a sequence of items and recreate it. Rodney did a reasonable job of blowing the challenge, while some of the others in his tribe decided to compete instead. With a tied score going into the last pair of contestants, it was fitting to see a matchup of old allies Mike and Kelly. Mike was in a great situation where he could not only throw the challenge to get one of his adversaries out, but he could in the process help his closest ally on the other tribe stay in the game. All that he had to do was mess up his order and it would be done. Unfortunately, Survivor never seems to let things like that happen with any ease. Challenge throws usually get karmically screwed up, and that’s exactly what happened this time. While Mike tried his best to throw the challenge, Kelly could not get any of the orders right herself, forcing them to three different rounds. Eventually mike even vocalized his intention to her, a risk that could have put him in an awkward place with some of his tribe members that didn’t want to throw the challenge. Kelly finally got the order right to seal her team’s victory, but it was painfully awkward to watch. In fairness to her though, she did take a large swinging apparatus to the head just a week earlier, so perhaps she wasn’t at her sharpest in the game. The challenge throw was a good idea for that tribe, but only for the reasons Rodney wanted to do it. Joe is a threat in the game, and the tribe swap afforded the tribe a unique opportunity to weaken the No Collar alliance by getting him out before the merge. Unfortunately, Blue Collar was a bit too wrapped up in their own drama, and wasted a good opportunity thanks to their infighting.
- The vote came down to a showdown between Rodney and Mike, even though Rodney had no idea it was coming to that. Mike clearly was threatened by Rodney, and may have had some lingering problems with the way he’s played the game. He decided to approach Joe and Sierra, the two wild cards in the tribe, to get them to break up Rodney and Joaquin before they could build an alliance. It was up to Sierra after the other six ended up slitting down the middle on who to vote out, and while she still had issues with Dan, I think her disgust for Rodney was probably the deciding factor in how she ended up voting. I’ve said it a few times so far, but I really don’t think this was the best play for these guys at this juncture of the game. I don’t know if Mike has really worked out the post-merge numbers, but disenfranchising Rodney and letting Joe stay around to go back to the three no Collars is going to put him and his alliance in a bad place really quickly, I think. Dan, Rodney, and even Kelly on Nagarote would simply be on the ride with Mike, since I don’t see any of them getting jury votes, but Mike has the capabilities of winning the game, which is why it’s even more puzzling that he let a golden opportunity go to waste. We’ll see how things shake out after they merge, but I think Blue Collar might be the real losers of this vote in the long run.
This was a fun episode tonight, a lot of interesting strategy and given the amount of alliances being formed in the game, this upcoming merge that looks to be coming next episode will be all kinds of unpredictable. I think it’s going to come down to Blue Collar vs. No Collar, with the White Collar three being the swing alliance if they’re willing to stick it out together. I think it’s worth remembering that Carolyn has a hidden immunity idol, and told only Tyler about the idol. I would not be surprised to see those two play a similar role to Jon and Jaclyn from San Juan Del Sur and waver between the alliances long enough to get deep in the game. I’m sad to see Joaquin go though, I thought it would have been great to have the White Collar group go deep in the game intact, but alas it was not meant to be. The real fun begins on next week’s episode, but until then I’ll leave you all with some final thoughts on the show:
- Week by week I’m becoming more convinced that Sierra is going to be a big factor in the game down the stretch. I think she has the right attitude and flexibility to make big moves and potentially even win this season. Watch out for her as a dark horse…The big decision next week will be for Joe, I think if he goes back to No Collar things will be relatively temperate, but if he turns on his old alliance, there might be some hell to pay. Either way, his decisions may animate the show going forward, even if he just gets voted out next week anyway…From the previews, it appears as if Rodney is going to hold a grudge against Mike. I wonder if he’d be able to steal the no Collar alliance from Joe to turn on both Joe and Mike. That may be his best chance going forward in the game, especially if he’s completely uninterested in playing with all the “southerners” and “hicks” he’s been grouped with so far. I’m not much of a Rodney fan, but I’d like to see him flip the script on Mike next week.