Survivor: Kaoh Rong keeps staying interesting five episodes in, and this latest show featured one of the more fascinating tribe swaps in a few seasons. They went a completely different route with the swap than they have in any recent season, and the results were good and may lead to a fascinating set-up come merge time. Now as for Tribal Council, it was another devastating week for my pre-season favorites as my second winner pick was voted out, leaving me both baffled and excited by my inability to get this season right. I’m so glad it’s not a predictable show though, the last couple of seasons ended with a likely winner and I feel like anyway this season shakes out, it won’t be a likely winner. Here are my thoughts on episode 5:
- The tribe swap came just as the episode teaser had predicted, but it was anything but normal. I was expecting a pretty classic swap, even with the uneven numbers, with the tribes just being split unevenly, but the show decided to do something different. Considering that there were three beaches in use on the island, they decided to split the tribes evenly with 6 members a piece, leaving one unlucky member to stay exiled and out of the game until after the next vote. In retrospect, this seems like a pretty standard swap option, one we’ve seen done in years past, but for some reason I was totally blindsided by the idea. I thought it was an excellent way to throw a little more chaos into the game and keep the dynamics flowing. With no large voting blocs in the game, this swap turned out to be a brand new start for the game in a lot of ways. The new Chanloh tribe featured an even split of pairs between the original two tribes, making for some really interesting strategy options going forward. Cydney and Jason essentially became the swing votes stuck between siding with the Brains pair of Debbie and Neal and the Beauty pair of Michele and Nick. While nothing came to fruition with the decisions having to be made on this tribe, it was fun to see the game break down to pairs like that because it makes decisions that much more critical with so few people involved. The Gondol tribe wasn’t quite as uniform, with 3 Brains making up the nucleus of the roster, with Anna, Tai, and Scot making up the rest of the tribe. While Scot looked vulnerable by himself without any Brawn players on his tribe, the exile and eventual return of Julia to the game added an increased paranoia of the Beauty alliance’s potential to control the game, leaving Anna and Tai as the true vulnerable tribe members. I think it all worked out well for the entertainment side of things, of course it wasn’t particularly fun to see the youngest player in the game Julia have to struggle on her own in exile, but the dynamics of both tribes really shook up the game and added some interesting choices for everyone going forward. It helped some, it hurt others, but it kept things exciting.
- The challenge this week wasn’t as interesting as the ones from the last couple episodes, mostly because it was quick, painless, and didn’t involve any drama (or trauma for that matter). The tribe had to send out a pair to swim and dive for a very heavy bag of puzzle pieces, while another pair was to receive those pieces, hook them on a transport line and get them to the infamous puzzle station. There, two people were set to complete a puzzle, because what would a Kaoh Rong Survivor challenge be without a puzzle, right? Anyways, there wasn’t much to see here, both teams got their pieces, got them ashore, and transported them in solid timing. It was the puzzle portion that proved to be decisive. Somehow, the brains of Debbie and Neal were way more in tune than the other tribe, finishing the puzzle by the time the other tribe had a quarter of it done. They really got on that puzzle quickly; I was kind of shocked watching it go down, but still, good for them and good for Chanloh getting immunity. Gondol was left to watch immunity slip away from them, forcing them to Tribal where they would have to try out their new numbers and vote someone out. I could write a whole thing about the deliberations at camp aftert the challenge, but the whole thing is much simpler to sum up; Anna was toast from the moment the swap happened. She was truly in control of her destiny in the game at the Beauty tribe, but with Julia being the replacement for whoever gets voted out, all of the paranoia in the game shifted to the Beauty alliance. Anna was a strong social player too, but didn’t provide the same way Tai did, and didn’t necessarily make friends the way Tai did (he and Scot developed a great bromance this episode). The most interesting red herring thrown into the show was when Tai shared his idol with Anna and Scot and said he’d play it to save Anna and vote Peter out, but Scot quickly talked Tai out of doing that, insisting he save that for a more crucial point in the game. Anna was an easy target for the vote out, and the poker pro didn’t stand a chance based upon the way the cards were dealt to her, as she got voted out unanimously. Again, another player I picked to win was eliminated from the game, further proving this season to be tremendously random. I don’t have a good read on how things are going, but I’m really enjoying the season because of this. I hate that we won’t get to see Anna’s gorgeous smile on the show again, but I guess the show will just have to carry on.
Episode 5 was really a game changer, and really it was all good things (except anna leaving, seriously still bummed out about that). Usually by this point in any season there’s been some sort of a lull for me, and episode or two that I’ve been indifferent to, but I love how this game has unfolded and I love how the swap mixed things up. It was well executed by the producers, throwing in a random exile and exploiting all the pairs and trios in the game in a way that would make everything up in the air regardless of the way things shake out. This season is great; I love this pre-merge game about as much as I’ve loved any in recent memory. That doesn’t necessarily mean the show will end greatly, I think I can safely say now that Cambodia was a great pre-merge that faded towards the end, but I think this is a wonderful season and I hope for good things to come! Before I finish up, I’ll sign off with my final thoughts:
- My player of the week honors are going to Scot Pollard this week. The guy got isolated on a tribe and managed to do the most of anyone to further his position in the game. Not only did he gain some passive respect from the Brains alliance, enough not to target him, but he developed a crucial relationship with a guy who has the idol, Tai, which gives Scot the possibility of utilizing a super idol. Scot is set up brilliantly right now, and he did all the hard way…My favorite moment of the episode has to be the moment where Scot helped tai up the tree and he climbed around looking for fruit like a kid on a sugar rush. The two of them make for a wonderful strategic pairing, super unexpected, but super awesome…I do think I see how this is all going to go down from here though. I’m definitely going to be wrong, but still this is the way it has to play out from here. The Chanloh tribe will lose immunity and Nick’s going to be voted out because, really, who can trust that guy any way? Then they will merge at 11 with 5 Brains and 3 a piece from Beauty and Brawn. If you do the math there, and you tie in the new Scot/Tai friendship, an original Brawn and Beauty tribe super alliance will have the numbers and will most certainly run train on the Brains. Let’s see how badly this prediction goes down in flames!