I love having Thursday off. You see in my corner of the world, while it’s Wednesday night in the US, it’s Thursday morning here. So Thursday off means that I get to watch Survivor live. That’s the second time this season. But more important for you, that also means that I get to blog about it during the day and not late at night after a long day of work as I’m almost falling asleep on my keyboard. I don’t know if that will make a better blog post, but at least there should be less typos. But enough about me and let’s jump into the analysis of an episode I was afraid would be boring (hence the two tribals in one episode), but it really was not, we even had a pretty nice blindside (talking about typos, I originally typed “blondside”… interesting…)
Enil Edam Tribe
– Andrea Boehlke voted out: Last week I started my paragraph about Andrea saying “she’s playing hard” and well, as I was expecting that was her downfall. She was too confident about her position in the game (while being paranoid at the same time), and too eager to make a big move. That will be her story this year. She came in regretting not having made a move that would have saved her in her first season, and she was doomed because she played too hard this time. If only she had waited for the final six, I believe that the other members of her alliance would have been on board with voting Brenda off, but wanting to do so before Eddie goes home was bad timing, as he clearly indicated to her alliance that was closer to Eddie than they thought and that she most likely wanted to keep him to the end. That told everyone else (or at least everyone involved in a final three deal with Andrea) that she was playing them. Also, her even bigger mistake was telling Cochran that they should vote Brenda OR Dawn out. Beyond the fact that Cochran is super tight with Dawn and not many people seem to realize it, it told Cochran that Andrea was ready to go after pretty much anybody at this point. Big mistake. Big moves and blindsides need to have perfect timing, and Andrea completely messed hers up.
– Brenda Lowe: Yeah Brenda is back! And I don’t mean just screen time but game play too. Brenda the strategist that I loved in Nicaragua is finally back on Survivor. Why did it take so long? Well, I’m starting to understand Brenda’s strategy now. She started this season knowing pretty much no one (I don’t think she hangs out with the Survivor crowd much in between seasons), she managed to get into an alliance anyway, except that alliance got crushed since day one (Francesca gone, Brandon unstable, Erik wishy washy and not wanting to talk strategy). So she basically was on her own and very likely early boot because of her reputation. And I think that had the favorite lost a few more challenges pre tribal swap, she would have been voted out. Luckily for her, the favorites went on a winning streak which gave her just enough time to insert herself in the alliance formerly known as Stealth ‘R Us. She did so by kissing everyone’s butt I assume, even playing dumb a little maybe, in other words contributing somehow and not appearing as a threat, but a cute cheerleader or something (she has experience in that). She succeeded to the point that she ended higher than Malcolm or Corinne in the pecking order. Many people wondered why Malcolm never tried to have her come with his alliance (I did too), the answer probably was that she was not on the outs anymore and very tight with some members already (Phillip, Dawn and Cochran I assume), and that Malcolm knew it. And so, Brenda advanced, vote after vote, furthering her position in the game, not making any enemies, not appearing as a threat, waiting for her moment to strike. It became clear to me the day that the Three Amigos pulled out the three idols. As most of Stealth ‘R Us started being confused, she instantly whispered “Andrea” to someone (Phillip I believe). That was her trying to strike. It didn’t work out, and luckily for her Phillip was voted out (luckily because this way Phillip couldn’t tell Andrea about that). She stroke again this week. This time with success. When some people know that their head is on the chopping block, they start panicking and lose it, or they start scrambling with our without success, sometimes they’re even a bit too overconfident and do nothing (Brenda in Nicaragua actually), and sometimes they strike back and vote their threat out. This is what Brenda did this week (although it could be argued that it was Cochran’s plan).
Right now, I’d eagerly put Brenda in second place after Cochran to win it all, but there is one major issue though. She was invisible for pretty much 10 episodes, not exactly a winner’s edit. I mean, even if she kept quiet for a long time, there was still enough material for some sort of season long storyline. There is this secret scene confessional on cbs.com where she explains her “keeping to herself because she’s on the outs” strategy early in the season. This could have made the show. And what about her knee injury? It could have been edited in: Brenda is injured, would she be evacuated? Will she be a liability and be voted out? No, she recovers from it, becomes competitive again and makes it to the end and wins it all. Even all the butt kissing she must have done with other players could / should have made it to the show and didn’t.
All those things not making the final cut can only mean one thing: she doesn’t win. 🙁
– Dawn Meehan: Still not much about Dawn today, although she now seems like a sure bet for final five and even possibly final three.
– Eddie Fox: I understand why he’s still in the game. He is a perfect goat at this point. Dude, you’re on the chopping block and you jump off the challenge for some freaking donuts. It makes me mad every time some does that. I’m looking at you Erik Reichenbach, but it doesn’t even for Eddie, the guy simply doesn’t understand anything about Survivor. The perfect example was Malcolm in his exit interviews talking about Eddie couldn’t understand why they would want to vote a cute girl out. There you have it. Some people have criticized Malcolm for having an alliance with Reynold and Eddie, but seriously, it was brilliant. They were not competition for him anymore and had they make it to the final three, Malcolm gets all the votes to win. And I think people are realizing it. Andrea did. I wouldn’t be surprised if Eddie actually made it to the end and got one vote (Reynold’s).
– Erik Reichenbach: I still don’t know what to make of Erik. Does he have any strategy at all, beyond a Sandra-like one? He constantly alternates nonsensical moves with decent ones. This week, first he let Andrea get the hidden immunity idol when he really found it (that’s called a very stupid move in my book) although to his defense, she basically grabbed it from him and had he complained to production about the thing, it would have put a target on his back. Then, I thought he really believed Andrea’s final three promise (whether it was an empty one or not, we’ll never know) but he was smart to not follow through, as he stays in the majority once again; had he sided with Andrea and Eddie, sure Brenda would have gone home, but then the tribe would have been divided three against three. Instead we still have a 5-1 or rather a quite protean tribe where anything could happen. At this point, I think his biggest mistake may have been to win the immunity though, as it will remind everyone that he can win his way to the final three through winning immunity.
– John Cochran: And another perfect week for Cochran, yes he can safely take his shirt off now. He’s still in control of most of what’s going on in the tribe, nobody targets him ever. I’m not even sure his name has been thrown around once. Most people trust him and include him in their plans. When Andrea tells him that she’s ready to vote Dawn or Brenda, and he thinks Andrea should go because of that, he does the best thing possible: tell both women at the same time. This way nobody can be suspicious about him of anything fishy and both Dawn and Brenda will want to target Andrea without even telling them to do so. He was also brilliant at the second tribal. He knew of Andrea’s tendency to paranoia and had he said something strange when Probst asked him about Andrea’s idol, she could have gotten scared and she would have played it. Instead, he was very levelheaded and what he says exactly told Andrea “I don’t care when you play it as I’m on your side and we have a majority, so basically you don’t have to play it now, keep it for later”. I won’t even give him shit for quitting the immunity challenge for hot-dogs He obviously knew he wouldn’t win this challenge, so he still competed and when he knew he was not going to last much longer, he waited for Probst next food offer. Very good move once again. I’m so glad Cochran has become the great Survivor player we’ve (Survivor real fans) hoped he would since we first saw him a couple of years ago.
– Reynold Toepfer voted out: Well, he couldn’t win every single immunity, could he? No. Despite him being a douchebag most of the time, I have to admit that I warmed up to him in recent week, his puppy-like enthusiasm and optimism coupled with the fact that every single one of his plans failed made him the break out comic relief of this season, and I can’t wait to see him play again (because he will).
– Sherri Biethman: Did we see her at all this week? Sorry I didn’t pay attention with all this Brenda, Andrea and Cochran goodness.
Family visit changes the game… Mmm… Is it going to be like last season when Lisa’s brother pretty much engineered Malcolm’s ouster for her?
Next person voted out:
No idea. It should be Eddie, but I believe that it won’t be.
Winner prediction: Cochran is still in the driver’s seat. I’d be tempted to say that Brenda is not far behind but her edit says otherwise.
And now, the usual links to the other analysts I really like (sorry for not posting them last week).
- Rob has a website and a podcast and excellent “staff bloggers” and a great “know-it-alls” show with Stephen Fishbach. Rob Cesternino was “the smartest player to never win the game” (with Fishbach in my opinion), he now has the best website about Survivor.
- Superjude’s blog, always interesting.
- Stephen Fishbach also has a column with People.com.
- Dalton Ross the best recapper out there (you may have noticed that I don’t care much for recaps – honestly I don’t see their point – but Dalton Ross’s are always hilarious and very insightful at the same time).
- Jeff Pitman at True Dork Times is also one of the most hilarious (and smart) Survivor blogger out there.
- Andy Denhart at Reality Blurred always has a great blog.
- more to come…