Thoughts on the Episode:
- The loved ones visit dominated the story throughout the first half of the episode, and while it provided some excellent stories and some feel good moments, I was slightly underwhelmed by it. I don’t know, maybe I’m too jaded to appreciate the experience that they’re going through, but I’m game-oriented and I really wished that the visit would’ve brought some more drama to the game. I also wish the loved ones would participate in the challenge like olden days, but I do understand why that could be problematic. It was a little bit boring to see all the older people coming out for the visits this time, sibling and friend visits tend to be livelier, but there were some instances where the visits were great. Obviously Adam’s visit was a great personal story for him, and I love that he made the overture to not use his reward steal in that instance. It was a great trust building exercise for him, and it ended up paying off OK in the end, so all’s well that ends well. I thought Jay’s visit from his sister was amazing too, we got to see a much softer, protective side of Jay, and his sister provided some good insight into Jay from that small part of the episode. Jay is a complex guy and we are starting to see those layers in parts and pieces, and the way he won the challenge and ended up picking Adam for the visit shows some of that character. Adam returning the favor by giving Jay the advantage he has was just icing on the cake for that particular story. I do wonder though, maybe giving Jay that advantage steal could come back to haunt Adam and his alliance, especially if Jay is able to steal the legacy advantage (not sure if that’s considered a reward). Now that would be one hell of a shocking twist!
- Jumping to the end, the immunity challenge was a very a quick contest this week. The contestants had to put pressure on a clamp-type apparatus to hold up a metal bar. Once they lost their grip, their bar would fall and they would be out. This was one of those challenges where it seemed good on paper, and probably tested reasonably well, but given the condition of the players on day 33 of the game, it didn’t turn out great. Most of the contestants end up dropping out due t lapses in concentration in just a manner of minutes. It ended up being kind of ridiculous, and Adam ended up topping Jay for the immunity necklace in a less than stellar performance by all. It is pretty glaring how poor the physical performances can get by the end of any season of Survivor, but it just goes to prove, once again, how physically demanding the game always is through 39 days.
- The lead-up to Tribal Council really ended up being the Will Wahl show this week. Will, succumbing to the “Big Moves” era of Survivor strategy, decided he needed to start making a big move this week to build a resume for the end game. He’s a young guy so you can’t really fault him too much for any of this, but he was in a somewhat good spot in the game where he was, so I’m not sure what he was accomplishing by trying to flip his vote at this point in the game. I think the last couple of season have probably changed some of the thinking on strategy though, with players like Tony, Natalie, and Mike making big, spectacular plays to win the game, while players like Kelley and tai have done the same, just less successfully. Will thought that by flipping from alliance to alliance picking off the threats in the game he could garner to respect of the jury, but he had one problem to contend with in implementing the strategy; Ken. Ken is an old school player, possibly the most old school we’ve seen in a while. He cares how much people to contribute to camp, he wants people to want the survival experience and be simpatico with him on a mental level. He pulled aside Will to get a chance to look into his soul, or something like that, and apparently the little chat they had wasn’t terribly convincing. Ken then decided to rat out Will to Jay, in what appeared to be kind of an emotional moment. I don’t think Ken was wrong to follow his gut, and I don’t think it was wrong for him to distrust Will, but he’s just not in sync with the rest of the tribe from a game perspective, and it’s very clear he doesn’t have their respect. He almost blew the game up for himself and the rest of his alliance, in a similar fashion to the way David did the vote prior. Considering that both groups of 4 were aware of Will being the swing vote, and Will’s frustration with Ken essentially flipping on him, Adam decided to ensure his numbers the only way he really knew how to, by playing his idol. It was a wonderful read by Hannah and Adam to understand that the votes going towards Hannah, and even though Will ended up voting with them, Adam ended up making a big, appropriate move by ensuring his chances. Zeke was voted out 5-0 after the votes were nullified for Hannah, sending another big strategic threat to the jury. I’m not really sure losing Zeke is a big hit for the game, even though he was playing phenomenally. I think, if anything, with Zeke gone the game might actually fall even further into chaos, which I would be very excited to see play out. There are 8 people left, and every single one of them is trying to do something to win the game, and I couldn’t even begin to predict how it’s going to play out.
Thoughts after the episode:
- My player of the week honors go to Adam for this episode. More than anything, Adam had a great story arc this episode, and finally came out of the rut he found himself in earlier in the game. The loved ones visit was such a wonderful moment for him, both personally and strategically, and it was just such a good moment for television. Adam’s best move though was probably his maneuvering with the reward steal advantage. His proclamation of not using it, plus his handing it off to Jay was smart, and an underrated play for camaraderie with someone he had been at odds with. Adam had to lay low for a while and et the storms that Taylor created for him pass, but now he seems poised to make a late game push…My favorite moment of the episode was likely that idol pull at the end. I love when I’m shocked by anything that happens, and that was really not something I had on my radar. I never would’ve expected Adam would pull his idol this early, or play it for someone else, but that’s exactly what happened. I thought it was a bold move, and even though it turned out to be a wasted idol because Will voted with them, it still was a big play in front of the jury, and it completely stole Will’s thunder, which was kind of an added bonus…I think it will be interesting to see what happens to Will now. He doesn’t really have the trust of anyone in this game because of his flipping, so I have to imagine he’s not going too far. But, then again, because no one trusts him, are we at the point in the game where he becomes someone to drag further along? This game is getting very complicated toward the end because the number crunching and sub-alliances are dominating play. I can’t tell how this game is shifting, and it’s keeping me very excited to see what’s next…Ken’s old school mentality almost killed his alliance’s chance last vote, but I do get where he was coming from. In Survivor, you have to be able to trust people, and if he didn’t trust Will then what would be the point in believing his word. Going to Jay was a bad move, and probably a bit of an impulse decision, but it’s not the worst move anyone’s ever made. I still think Ken plays a huge role in the end game because of that legacy advantage; it’s probably the one thing I’m most excited about for the last two episodes, just seeing what that mystery advantage is going to be…Checking in once more to say that Jay is really well poised to win this game. He is still very low on the totem pole of people everyone wants out, and if Will is voted out next, he’ll be poised to use his idol to gain the numbers to cruise to the end, perhaps with Bret and Sunday in tow. I think he would win easily in that scenario.