Another great episode of Survivor: Kaoh Rong this week, filled with a good mix of character-driven and game-driven material. The thing that’s really working out well on this season is the fact that there are so many intriguing personalities among the cast, and it’s the clash and combination of those personalities that’s making every vote that much more interesting than the average season. The show may not necessarily end with a splash, but it really has started out strong with dramatic tribal councils nearly every week (and this week was no exception). Let’s ump right into it shall we, here are my thoughts on this week’s episode:
- Right off the bat, it was apparent that the maneuvering and game play at Gondol only truly begun when Anna got voted out. She seemingly was the odd man out of the equation there from the get-go, but once she was gone, there were a lot of decisions for many individuals to make. A lot of the spotlight was shined on Peter, who still felt on the outs with his old tribemates Joe and Aubry, and his decision to work with them appeared to be tentative at best. It seemed to be in his best interests not to trust the people who betrayed him before, yet he wavered a lot during his first few days on the merged tribe. It seemed like this episode was really gonna come down to where Peter was going with his vote, as if his decision would be the one to shape the way this game goes. It didn’t really end up going down that way, but I have to say I really started taking a liking to Peter this episode, sure he can be a jerk, but I thought he was undeniably entertaining to watch. The position he found himself in should have been a position of power, and it would have been cool to see him take charge of the game with a little swagger, but, again, that was not how things ended up going. It just goes to show you one thing about Survivor; good characters aren’t always good players.
- Chanloh’s dynamics continued to stay unresolved for another week, and with a merge coming we may never know how things would have truly shaken out if they had to vote someone out. It’s fascinating that the tribe got sorted in such a way that there were three pairs vying for control between each other. This week we saw a lot of Nick and his decision making in terms of who to ally with and how to work through everything. Nick has come off as a bit of a jerk so far, but he seemed like a very perceptive player this week, as he was able to make in-roads with Debbie of the Brains duo, and still maintain good relations with Jason from the Brawn duo. I think he would be in a good position to maneuver his way to the top of his alliance if only he had the full trust and support of his own companion, Michele. Michele looked really strong this episode too, especially when discussing her defiance with Nick, regarding the way he speaks down to her at times. Nick can’t help who he is I guess, but it’s probably going to end up being Michele who gets the best of him in the end because he underestimates her. Still, if those two had the opportunity to work together to advance each others’ interests I think it could be exciting. I always liked the Beauty tribe and I kind of hope that one of those four wins the game.
- We got kind of an interesting challenge this week, and the difference in strategies for it is was kind of a headscratcher. There was an obstacle course for both teams to run before they had to gather up the blocks they’d been moving and stack them up. Stacking twenty blocks looked really difficult and it was surprising to see how the tribes went about trying to make a good stack. The Gondol tribe, on Peter’s request, decided to do standard stack of the ten large blocks and then stack the ten smaller ones on top from the middle. I wouldn’t have expected anyone to try that strategy, I think it was a far better idea to try what Chanloh did and have someone stand on someone’s shoulders, but then again Gondol didn’t have the dynamic duo of Scot and Tai, so I won’t pass any judgment. Gondol lost bad, and were gonna go to Tribal Council. But that was OK because it was going to lead to the point where Peter was gonna get his revenge on his Brains tribe! At least that’s what I thought. In reality, Peter got scared off his game when Joe confronted him about trying to vote him out and came across as wishy-washy to the group of Scot, Julia, and Tai. It became a very tough stalemate to work around, and while the non-Brains threesome tried to push the vote towards Peter, the Brains were about to push it to a tie. It was only at Tribal Council that the decision would be made, when Aubry wrote down Julia’s name, crossed it out and instead cast the decisive vote against Peter. It was really quite a dramatic moment at the vote casting hut, with Aubry taking her time, looking at the parchment, fumbling with the pen, and doing anything she could to buy a few more seconds to think. It made complete sense for her to avoid a tie-breaker, especially considering how little she trusted Peter anyway, but the way she did it was absurd. Once you write a name, you kind of have to go with that, because back-tracking makes you look wishy-washy yourself and now no one can really trust Aubry’s decision making 100%. I think it was a bad look for her, but not the worst look I guess. Plus, she figures to be in a better spot next week when the tribes merge, and she gets back together with Debbie and Neal. It’s sad seeing Peter go though, his cockiness was next level stuff for the show, and I feel like he brought a fair amount of entertaining with his comically bad understanding of the social dynamics. His arrogance was so off base and really very undeserved considering the bad place he was in, but his confessionals were great and he had one of those larger than life alpha male archetypes that the show leans on. Farewell Dr. Obama, you may look like the president, but you weren’t number one on Survivor.
Survivor is heading into a merge next week, and I think it’s all going to be very interesting to watch, given the split dynamics of the game right now. There are 4 original Brains, 4 original Beauty, and 3 original Brawn members, and with those kind of splits the game could really shake out in many different ways, giving the way things will mesh. I have to think the eccentricities of the Brains tribe will lead them to be picked off first, especially given the brawn-Beauty bridge developed between Scot and Tai. But who knows, this season really hasn’t gone as I had imagined most of the time, and I want that to continue. The unpredictable nature of this game is keeping me glued to the screen. Until the next episode, I’ll leave you all with some final thoughts on this last episode:
- My player of the week honors are going to Julia this week. She was the one outs from the tribe swap switch, yet she managed to bounce back fantastically, and made a good ally in Scot during the first few days since joining the tribe. I think it’s commendable to get in the loop when you are exiled from the action for a few days, and the fact that Julia wasn’t immediately voted out is a great testament of her character…My favorite scene of the week had to be the one where Joe yelled at Peter about trying to get him out. For one, it was ridiculous seeing the old guy Joe getting worked up at his ally in such a counterproductive way, and for two, it was comical to watch Peter evade the question so badly when all he had to say was just no. It was a comedy of errors, and it was one of those crystallizing moments for my viewing experience because it was basically when I wrote off both of their chances at winning the game…Jason and Cydney have been rather silent since the swap, and I’m curious as to why. I would’ve definitely thought that they were the most likely winners from the Brawn camp, but now Scot appears to be the one in the greatest place in the game. It’s strange to see how the game flows sometimes; I expect the duo of Jason and Scot to be back strong next week, but what will become of Tai then? Who knows…I’ll put it on record now; Nick is going to be the merge boot of this season. It’s setting up for them to take him out early, and it’ll be Michelle who gives it the green light I bet.