It was a crazy eventful Tribal Council this week on Survivor, with Dan’s advantage and Carolyn’s idol coming into play to produce an interesting blindside. The results of the vote-out were met with a lot of applause from die-hard fans everywhere, who have been bemoaning certain characters all season, but the ripple effects from this vote could be the most fascinating thing to watch for going into next week’s two-hour finale. Who’s going to win this season? I have my theories, and I’ll explain them all below. Here are some of my thoughts on this week’s episode:
- Starting off the episode, we got to see what looked like the climax of Dan’s idiot edit. We got Dan at his hyperbolic best throughout the episode, exclaiming that Mike had to be beat, that he only gets one reprieve, that he’s deceitful, and malignant, etc. etc. Knowing the way Dan and Rodney are being portrayed this season, whatever they say in confessional that makes the show is generally a prognostication of the exact opposite happening. In particular, Dan started to look really crazy this episode and I’m sure you could blame it on the editors and the producers (Dan certainly has in his exit interviews), but the fact stands that Dan’s game unraveled in time, it was his own fault, and we all simply got to see it play out on television (or the internet, depending on your viewing preferences). Luckily Dan still had a solid alliance with him, and an advantage in his pocket, or else I would’ve probably just assumed he was dead in the water from the onset of the episode.
- The reward challenge came around early on in the episode, and once again the discussion was all about yo boy Rodney still being shut out of the rewards. I give Jeff Probst a lot of credit for laying into him about his whining about rewards, asking him if has a sense of entitlement about him, which was something that really was needed to have been said. We’ve seen Probst get testy with groups when he’s dissatisfied with a season, but it wasn’t really anger as much as it was curiosity about what makes Rodney the way he is. I think the reason Jeff likes this cast so much is because it’s boiled down to a group of people whose motives and tendencies he cannot wrap his head around. I’m not a Probst expert or anything, but I think that’s the kind of thing that really excites him. But, anyways, back to the reward challenge…it was another team challenge, almost designed with the intention of excluding Rodney yet again. The two teams had to collect tiles with letters on them to spell out a common Survivor phrase in a puzzle. Collecting the tiles and sorting them was relatively simple for both teams, but when it came to actually figuring out the phrase, both teams drew blanks for the longest time. Over an hour passed and neither team could muster up the brain power to figure things out, prompting Jeff to actually give the teams some hints. It was pretty embarrassing, and what was worse is there was a letter with an apostrophe attached to it, leading Sierra to make an accurate guess that was quickly dismissed by her teammates. After a decent amount of hints from Probst, something finally clicked for Carolyn, who figured out the puzzle, winning reward for Mike, Will, and herself in the process. She agonized for a second about giving up reward to let Rodney have one, leaving room for Jeff to prod about the subject a little. In the end Carolyn kept the reward for herself, and enjoyed a helicopter tour of Nicaragua with some lunch. The rewards this season have been kind of lame so far, in my opinion. After watching some of the old seasons and having this second chance voting stir up old memories, it’s really made me sour on the recent rewards in Survivor. Having visited Nicaragua and Samoa ad nauseum for the last 6 years, there’s just not much they can do in terms of impactful, culture or environment-based rewards that they haven’t already done, and it’s a staple of the game that’s slowly being lost with time. I’m hoping with a new setting next season (rumored to be Cambodia) we will get back to grand rewards again, like they did in the old days of the game.
- For another episode, all eyes were on Mike at the immunity challenge. His one man show is becoming something of epic proportions at this point, but after playing his idol at the last tribal council, he desperately needed immunity just to stay in the game and fracture the group some more. The immunity challenge was another classic, the old table maze where you have to get a ball through a maze you can physically move and tilt while not having it fall through one of the built in holes. The physical stress on the competitors was clear in this challenge, Rodney and Will in particular could do nothing right in terms of getting their bags with a grappling hook in the first part of the challenge, and it ended up being Mike who once again took the lead in the challenge. While he did struggle with the maze, allowing Sierra to get close, Mike pulled off the win, staving off elimination for the third straight vote. At camp, it was clear that the Blue Collar alliance would continue with what happened last week, and get out the final White Collar in Carolyn, while Carolyn was informed it would be Dan. Mike told Dan he could be his kingmaker, which Dan thoroughly dismissed, and that dismissal sort of fueled the fire for him to try to corral Carolyn and Sierra against the guys. The three who voted out Tyler considered voting together again to take out Dan before his advantage could come into play, but Sierra stuck with her alliance going into the vote. At Tribal, just after the votes were cast, Dan decided he was going to finally use his double vote advantage, and cast an additional vote for Carolyn, presumably just in case someone like Sierra or Will flipped and tried to force a split. After Dan pulled out his advantage, he definitely thought he was good, but it appeared as if no one was prepared for Carolyn to pull out her idol and save herself from the vote. It was a double whammy for just about everyone, and the five votes against Carolyn were cancelled out, leaving Dan as the only one with votes. I called it accurately from the beginning of the episode by the way, Dan was going to go home after playing his advantage inaccurately, and his idiot edit was going to be fulfilled. It was predictable, but fun nonetheless. Dan’s legacy is going to be as a villain of this game, as someone with little respect from any viewers and that is sad for him, because it did seem like he was just being himself. Dan played the social game about as bad as anyone ever has, and had zero chance of winning the game because of that. I’m sort of happy he’s gone, because seeing the game he was playing became a bit cringeworthy and distracting, but I also hoped he had done something better in the game, something to improve his position so he could truly go out swinging. I had a feeling it was just being set up for something spectacularly bad, and that’s exactly how Dan’s game ended; shamefully.
So here we go, we have finally reached the finale of World Apart, and it’s all going to come down to whether Mike can win out or not. This has been the Mike show since the merge (even before the merge to an extent) and it’s been amazing to watch him play this underdog game to perfection. With his idol non-play, his jury management, and his impressive immunity record, Mike has set himself up for a great Final Tribal Council, if only he can survive two more challenges. I think I speak for America (and likely ‘Merica too) when I say I’m rooting for him to finish this off. I can’t wait for this finale, it should be tense, but it should be fascinating to watch. Until next week, I’ll leave you guys with some final thoughts on the episode, and I’ll also remind everyone viewing to vote for the Season 31 cast on CBS.com:
- I think Sierra still has a solid shot at winning this season, and I think it would be so fun if she did. It’s clear that Mike and Carolyn are the threats in the game, and the chances of one of them winning two more immunities isn’t statistically safe, so a Will, Rodney, Sierra Final 3 is really possible here. I do think Sierra would have a good argument in the end if that’s how the season boiled down, and I would love to see those three plead their cases to the jury. Imagine how crazy fans would go if, after all of the fanfare Mike’s been given on screen, Rodney or Sierra ended up being the Sole Survivor…I said it last week, and I’ll say it again, Carolyn is going to rue her decision to turn on Tyler. She’s put herself in a bad spot here simply because she was always on the outside of her alliance, and now she’ll be seen as throwing in with Mike, who is persona non grata. If Mike can play things right, he may even be able to convince people that she’s a bigger threat because she’d get more jury votes. Either way, I just don’t want to see Carolyn pulling off the win…Regardless of how petulant he may seem on TV, Rodney does some really epic impressions, and he’s been posting some on Twitter. If you’re interested in a good laugh, and this season isn’t delivering, at least you can check that out…I wonder how badly Will is going to get destroyed by the jury at Final 3. There’s no way he won’t get dragged there by some combination of the other four, but I’m so intrigued by how the jury will deal with him ineptitudes in the game. It could be really brutal, which makes it something oddly worth anticipating!