Thoughts After Episode 7:
- It was merge time this week on Survivor, and I think it created a very fun dynamic for the game, just as I predicted. Above all, there was a lot of fun from the merge feast, which is nice to see coming off a season where the merge was basically like a business trip for the second time players. We saw Scot carry Jason off the boat posing, which was absolutely hilarious, and we got some really great alcohol-induced interactions between Jason and Tai. It was also nice to see people like Aubry and Joe be able to breathe a sigh of relief after digging themselves some deep graves at their swap tribe by messing up the votes. Aubry was clearly freaked out that her non-vote for Julia (the one she crossed out for Peter) but she was met at the merge with reassurance from Debbie. Debbie was very eager to make friends and alliances from the moment they merged, which was both fun and awkward to watch. She had one of the better early interactions of the episode when she pulled Tai aside and told him they were in an alliance. The best part of the scene was watching Tai try to stay patient with a mad woman, not telling her no but not really giving her anything she could really work with. The whole experience of the merge was joyous this episode; it was very much about the cast having a good time and getting to know each other. I think the strategy game this season is pretty subtle, and that’s making for an interesting game going forward after merging.
- All of the sudden I’m becoming kind of a big Nick Maiorano fan. I’m usually pretty settled on who I like and who I don’t early on in any season, but because a lot of my ‘favorites’ got voted out early, I’ve kind of been forced to look around for others. I didn’t get a good read on Nick at the Beauty camp, mostly because the others were more interesting to the story over there, but Nick has really awoken as a player in this game right now, and I love his style. Nick is coming off as cocky, I understand that, and I get that some people may not like it too much, but he really is very perceptive about the game. I think his partnership with Michele is so intriguing because she doesn’t really trust him and he doesn’t necessarily think she gets the game as well as she does, but the two of them need to lean on each other to leverage their own personal power going forward. The forced nature of their pairing added with the power potential they have has turned them both from background players on the show to two of the most interesting people in the game practically overnight. But, anyways, back to Nick…Nick is exactly the kind of guy I want to see on Survivor. He’s very meta in his confessionals (probably because he’s a blogger of the show, another thing I respect about him) and his confidence is very much shrouded by silence and patience. He’s watching and waiting and backing himself into a position where people expect him to be the swing vote. This was clear when Scot told him about Tai’s idol situation, people want to work with him because he’s just being patient and listening to everyone. Nick is playing the kind of game that I want to see rewarded in the end. Do I think he’s gonna win? No, he’s probably gonna get chopped late in the game when he gets it in his head that he’s doing big things, but I’m still going to root for him.
- I don’t know about anyone else, but I love a good balancing challenge. This week, for individual immunity, the castaways had to take part in the old waitress balancing challenge where the contestants would have to hold a ball steady on a small tray. In time a second and third ball would be added to the mix, just to make it a little more difficult. Basically, it was a challenge made for Keith Nale to win, but with no Keith around this season the next best person would have to win it, so obviously it had to be Nick taking home individual immunity! I have to give a special shout out to Julia though, she gets absolutely no air time on this show, but she hung in there really well in this challenge. Props for the 18 year old! At camp, there was going to be a big showdown between the Brawn/beauty faction and the Brains, which was going to hinge on Neal guessing the right person to play the idol on. It was a pretty epic set-up, reminiscent of Worlds Apart where Jenn was able to play an idol and mess up the plans of the predominant alliance in the game. Unfortunately, as we see too often in Survivor, things didn’t turn out quite as Neal had planned.
- It was pretty foreshadowing when Jeff asked everyone how they were feeling at the immunity challenge. Many contestants offered up stories about scabs and infections they’d gotten along the way, and it was really quite nasty. The conditions on this season were quite the perfect storm of calamity, and this week we saw another medical situation come to a head. Before they could go to Tribal Council, Jeff showed up in true grim reaper fashion with his buddy Dr. Rupert, just to do a follow-up on everyone’s injuries. Basically, what we were looking at was a certain version of Survivor Russian Roulette, where one of those unlucky contestants was about to get pulled from the game. Unfortunately, the victim was Neal, who had developed an infection very close to his knee that would require immediate medical attention. It was such a lame way to end a really exciting episode, and it’s especially a bummer to see a guy like Neal, who is very well-equipped for the game of Survivor, to be robbed of his opportunity to see the game through to the end. Now we’ll never know what could’ve come of Neal’s idol and how that could’ve crumbled the Brawn/Beauty stronghold on the game. Oh what could’ve been!
Final Thoughts After the Episode:
- My player of the week honors go to Nick of course. He’s in a wonderful spot in the game with some real trust given to him by the power players behind either alliance (Scot for Brawn and Aubry for Brains). I like how he’s slowly and methodically played himself into that Malcolm/Denise spot where he gets to push the game forward with whoever he thinks he can beat; it’s a good spot to be in…My favorite scene of the week was the moment where Debbie hounded Tai on the beach about an alliance out of the middle of nowhere. The woman is kooky, and the ridiculousness of that whole conversation made for some good laughs…Since its merge time, I think it’s about time for me to do my usual post-merge power rankings. It’s time to see how everyone stacks up, and who really has a good chance at winning this game the way things look right now, and who doesn’t have a prayer.
- Joe Del Campo
- We really haven’t seen much of Joe, and the vibe we’ve gotten from him so far has only been of the stubborn, cantankerous grandpa that no one’s super enthused about working with. I don’t necessarily think he’s the next player out of the game, but I think he stands very little chance of winning the game.
- Julia Sokolowski
- Julia has been very invisible this season, which leads me to believe she’s not going to be victorious in the end. She really has been more of a low-key follower in her alliances than a power player, which is a great strategy for getting deep in the game, but not a great strategy for finishing higher than second.
- Debbie Wanner
- Debbie is playing such a crazy aggressive game, and throw that in on top of her already crazy aggressive personality and I can’t envision her being the most popular person at the Dara tribe. She’ll get voted out in short time I think, people would rather work against her than work with her.
- Scot Pollard
- At the end of the day, the thing with Scot is gonna be whether or not anyone would vote to give him a million dollars. I think Scot is situated well, but towards the end he is going to look like the biggest target (probably because he literally is the biggest). I’ve been impressed with his game so far, so I’d be happy with being wrong about his power ranking.
- Cydney Gillon
- I don’t know what to make of Cydney. She seems to be an afterthought in her alliances, and that just doesn’t bode well for her chances in the game. But, it’s clear that she’s smart and athletic, so it’s very possible that she could take the game by its throat and put herself in a position of power the old fashioned way.
- Aubry Bracco
- I could see it going two ways with Aubry. Either she goes down next as the Brains get decimated, or she finds a smaller alliance that can crack the Brawn/Beauty hegemony and she goes really far. She got a lot of screen time all of the sudden the last couple episodes (just like Nick and Michele) so that may bode well for her.
- Kyle Jason
- Jason is playing a strong game. He’s got the social game down, making alliances and friends with a lot of players in the game, plus he has that winning mentality about him, where you imagine he’d do just about anything to win. Plus he has an immunity idol, which should help him. He could either be like Tony Vlachos and win or he could be like Russell Hantz and lose dramatically, but either way I imagine he’ll have a memorable run when all is said and done.
- Tai Trang
- Who doesn’t love Tai? The guy is just such a ball of positive energy, it’s nice to see him playing such a strong game, and given the alliances he’s made, he stands a good chance of making it deep into the game. I have a feeling that if we see a super idol played its gonna be him playing it, and if that does indeed happen, he’s probably gonna gain a great argument for Final Tribal Council.
- Nick Maiorano
- It may be because I’ve jumped on the Nick bandwagon, but I really see a good path for him to the end. If Brawn and Beauty are to take out the Brains and if Beauty would use their numbers at that point, than we could see all those guys in the final four. In any scenario, I think you have to like Nick’s quiet, reasoned, confident game play. He doesn’t look like a threat, and he’s not pissing anyone off (except maybe Michelle). There are so many paths to the end for Nick, that I have to put him high in the power rankings; he can potentially become a dominant player in this game.
- Michele Fitzgerald
- I keep going back to the scene where Michele, in a confessional, chided Nick for talking down to her when talking strategy. That was such a powerful scene, and I think it truly is the kind of scene that sets up something big down the line. I see Nick and Michele as the Malcolm and Denise of this story, and if that’s true, Michele is going to best Nick in the end because she’ll simply set herself up in such a way where that’s everyone’s best option. Maybe history will repeat itself or maybe it won’t, but either way, I think Michele is a great Survivor player who’s been able to stay low key throughout the whole game. People like her, people want to work with her, and most importantly, she’s given no one any reason to get rid of her. So while the big shots throw their idols around and play the villain cards, Michele is going to watch and bide her time, and I think she’ll be around at the end to make a few decisive moves and position herself strongly. I think the show is casually setting up for her to make a great run at the title.