Thoughts on the Episode:
- This was honestly one of my favorite episodes of the series, it had just about everything anyone could love about the show. There are so many people playing the game at a high level, playing to win, and the showdowns the game-play has caused have been just so tense and exciting. Even if you take away the strategy, the challenges, and the crazy tribal councils, there was a lot of great human emotion and powerful stories to really drive the story. We got the heartwarming story of Adam getting a letter from his mom, who was battling cancer, and we also got a great story arc surrounding David’s emergence from his own metaphorical cocoon. The entire 2 hours of this week’s episode was amazing, and really acted as a highlight of every little aspect of why Survivor is a tremendous, brilliant social experiment and television program. This season was already phenomenal, and now I’m convinced it could be one of the best ever.
- The set-up for the first Tribal went back to last week’s episode, and it really set up the long anticipated Gen X civil war that was always going to be brutal. We got scenes of David, Ken, and Jessica plotting against Chris, similar to the scenes we saw last week with Sunday and Bret plotting against Jessica the week before. The plotting and scheming in the lead-up was really, really fun to watch, and the best part of it all was trying to figure out where the Millennials were going to fall in place. My thoughts going into the vote were that Hannah and Adam were close enough with Ken and David to almost ensure that they would sway that way, while Jay and Will were close enough with Bret and Sunday that they would probably always swing that way (which I was slightly wrong about). So, once again, it seemed as if the entire game was about to swing based upon the decisions of kingpin Zeke. David used his relationship with Zeke well, and articulated the threat that Chris would be in the future to Zeke. I think Zeke always knew he would have to turn n Chris eventually, and he used the moment to his advantage to both turn on a huge rival, and make a villain out of someone like Dave. Once the first Tribal came, Chris was a goner, he just didn’t know it until the votes were read. I didn’t think Chris would be out this early going into the episode, but it just goes to show you how much this game ramped up, and how quickly things escalated.
- The whole second half of the episode was a fantastic descent into the true paranoia of the late stages of the game of Survivor. Now that everyone is clearly malnourished, and sick, and tired after a month f the elements, you add in the fact that everyone can see their own path to the end, and people start losing patience. Right after the vote, David and Zeke both immediately started gunning for each other, knowing their swap alliance was ver. While it may have been in both of their best interests to work together for a little while longer, it just couldn’t work out when paranoia set in and took over the game. They both started trying to patch up with Bret and Sunday, and David made the mistake of trusting them with the information of his idol. He clearly should’ve known that after burning them both 3 times that it would’ve been problematic trying to work with them; he was blinded by paranoia and made a very big judgment error. Then after, Jessica, Hannah, and Ken were put in a bad spot, having to turn on Zeke because Zeke, Bret, and Sunday had mobilized against them all. Hannah also made a very big lapse in judgment when she couldn’t boldly lie to Zeke about being with him in the game. It was all just a mess of short-sided mistakes, and they all really solidified the decision for Zeke to take out either David or Hannah, who might as well have been dead to him game-wise. Going into the Tribal Council there was so much confusion, so much tension, and given Jay’s impressive immunity win, there was so much up in the air about who would get voted out. I thought the major drama was all at camp leading up to the vote, but boy was I wrong! What followed the paranoia and confusion at camp was one of the most interesting Tribal Councils in recent memory!
- Smoke and mirrors was the name of the game at Tribal Council, and boy did that game ever work. I’m not sure if we’ll really ever know the intentions of the actions during deliberations, but the result was stinging; a split vote! As tribal started, the whispering started, with Hannah and Adam seemingly trying to create just a little bit of confusion, but it started an avalanche of side conversations and aggressiveness. Bret got very involved, verbally aggressing towards both David and Ken, as Sunday decided to start her own whispering campaign. At one point she can audibly be heard mentioning Ken’s name, in what we can only assume was a grand swing towards misdirecting David’s idol play. I’m not sure if we’ll ever know truly if they had planned to confuse everyone at Tribal Council, but the confusion really paid dividends because Adam convinced David to play his idol. Watching that idol play was a genuine on the edge of my seat moment while viewing, because no one knew what to do with that idol. It turns out Adam is not great at sniffing out a scheme, because he and Hannah fell into the trap and the votes came out 5-5 between Zeke and Hannah, as originally anticipated, and the idol was wasted on Ken, who received 0 votes. With the tie, they were allowed to re-vote, and even though Jessica was being coaxed to flip by Zeke, the votes stayed deadlocked. The final resort was that they had to unanimously come to a decision, which lead to even more bickering and back and forth before it was clear that no one would budge. Since no decision could be made, we got to see a Survivor rarity; a rock draw! There are very few things more messed up in the game of Survivor than the rock draw to decide who goes home, but it’s the fault of everyone in the game for not coming to some better conclusion. They were all given a chance to choose a path forward, but they couldn’t, so they had to break the tie. Jay, Ken, Hannah, and Zeke were all immune from the rock draw because of idols and previous deadlocks, leaving the remaining 6 to draw rocks, with the odd colored rock indicating who would leave the game. When rocks were revealed it was Jessica who heartbreakingly picked the wrong rock, and had to leave the game. I was glad Jeff told her the game has spoken at the end when he snuffed her torch, it was a nice touch because she really didn’t do anything wrong to leave the game. Sure, she could’ve changed her vote, but so could anyone else, and if she flipped on her alliance she had nowhere left to go in the game anyway. I was so sad for Jessica, she was part of the alliance I’m rooting for, and she really deserved to find some redemption in the game, considering how badly things started for her. Luck just wasn’t on her side this time, and Jessica had to go.
Thoughts after the Episode:
- My player of the week honors go to Zeke for this double episode. In all honesty, he gets the honors because his “trust-cluster” came out on the better side f the rock draw, but the guy still took big steps this week to garner control of the game. The vote to get Chris out could not have happened if he did not put his stamp of approval on it, and his ability to understand the expiration dates on his alliances appears to be quite genius thus far. Too often in Survivor people let their allies get the best of them before they even realize there could be an issue, but Zeke is way too keyed in to let any of that happen. Turning on David and Hannah may prove to be a winning maneuver for Zeke…My favorite moment of the episode was probably the confusion around the idol play at the second Tribal Council. There are only a few moments in Survivor history that have gotten me more nervous than to see the whispering and the confusion over whom to play the idol for. I had no idea what was going on, and I don’t think David’s alliance really did either, so when Hannah and Adam started fumbling around when David stood up to play it, I was literally on the edge of my seat. Then the sequence of them messing up the idol play, the tie, the discussions around the tie breaker, and finally the rock draw was all high entertainment and suspense. One of the truly great Tribal Councils we’ve seen in 33 seasons…I’m going to go ahead and call my shot on this prediction, and I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t have to guts to say it 3 weeks ago when I wanted to: I think Jay is going to win the game. I had the same feeling about Michele last season and I proved right, so I’m going with my gut feeling since episode 2. I love Jay’s game, it’s well-rounded, it features great physical, mental, and social strength, and he has seized every opportunity to advance deep in the game by just being a number in multiple votes while the Gen Xers fight their long building civil war. Jay has done exactly what I thought he was capable of doing, blending in and laying low until he can use his idol and physical strength to his advantage when the numbers are lower. If he’s able to get to a final five situation with David, Sunday, Hannah, and Adam he would stand a great chance of rolling over everyone in the final immunity challenges and locking up the win. I hope I’m right on this one, I’d like to see Jay win…I’m happy to see Will might be trying to play an aggressive game next week, from the looks of the preview at least. It would be in Will’s benefit to drop the power players in the game because he’s pretty low in the jury’s favor in my opinion. If Will wants to win this game I think latching on to David’s group might be a good decision, and at the very least it will be make a much more interesting final few episodes than if David, Ken, Hannah, and Adam are just rolled over…I’m extremely interested in seeing how the Legacy Advantage is going to come into pay for Ken moving forward. I hope he’s able to use it on Day 36, but I’m so curious how he’s going to go about utilizing the advantage to his game advantage. Will it become a bargaining chip for him, or will it become a Fishbach situation where he tells people about the advantage and they gun for him thereafter? Also, I hope it’s a real game changing advantage, like an extra vote or immunity at that night’s tribal, I think that will make the advantage particularly excellent!