Survivor 22 – Redemption Island: It don’t take a smart one

Not an amazing unpredictable episode this week, not much seems to have happened, but it’s a very interesting episode as far as laying out the different “units” at play just before the merge.

Redemption Island

Just another day at Redemption Island. Matt won, the loser spilled some beans to the audience and Matt went back to his camp waiting for his next opponent.

– Stephanie Valencia is gone: I almost liked Stephanie towards the end. OK, “like” is a strong word, at least “not hate as much” but I guess this is only because she had nobody to be bitchy about anymore. She still managed to be annoying with her food cravings (Is she pregnant? Who’s the daddy? OMG, there’s only one possible option, and I’d rather not try to think about how Stephanie and Russell’s love child would look). Actually, that scene showed once again that the major advantage Matt has over the other players he has beaten is that his mind is still in the game when the other people had already checked out.
– Matt Elrod lives another day: Now, it seems obvious that Matt will re-enter the game (with one major caveat, see “next week” at the end of the post), and then he will be in a very good position. I don’t think anybody will want to target him right away, and seeing all of these people coming and going to Redemption Island and to Redemption Island Arena he has lots of insight about what’s going on in both tribes, more than anybody else. Whom he decides to ally with when the first post-merge tribal council happens could end up being the final four or five or six.

Ometepe

Nothing has changed since last week in this tribe. The Groupie Alliance is still clueless (and useless except for Grant), Andrea is still maneuvering under the radar but doesn’t have anybody to align with, Phillip is being Phillip and Rob is still playing everybody easily.
– Andrea Boelhke: Now, the question with Andrea is: what will she do when merge comes? Stay with Ometepe? Or make Rob pay for his betrayal early in the game? Will she be back with Matt or won’t she? She will soon be in the position to make a big move. It will be her only chance, will she take it or will she let it go? I have no idea at this point. I wish shes tries, big moves are what make this game so great, but does she have it in her?
– Ashley Underwood: It really annoys me that useless uninteresting people such as Ashley will make it to the jury. It’s because those people get to be in the jury instead of people like Kristina or Francesca that we have lame final tribal councils and sometimes lame winners.
– Grant Mattos: I could like Grant if he was thinking a bit more on his own. I mean, when you see his interviews (most of them on cbs.com we don’t see a lot of them on tv) he has a pretty good understanding of what’s going on around him, except for one thing: his position with Rob. That could play against him in so many ways: Rob backstabbing him, Grant losing some votes at the final tribal council – if he makes that far – because people will see him as Rob’s puppy. However, now that the merge is coming he has something else to worry about. Zapatera didn’t lose the last two challenges because they sucked, they lost because Grant single handedly beat them. In other words: he’d better use Rob as a shield or else he’ll be gone soon (and if Rob gets voted out, Grant’d better win those individual immunities, all of them).
– Natalie Tenerelli: Yawn….
– Former Federal Agent Phillip Sheppard: Crazy or not, Phillip is here to play the game, he’s after Rob, and Rob should be worried (he is). What will Phillip do when merge comes? The obvious choice is to go with Zapatera, but who knows with Phillip… Also, at this point in the game, smart people should start considering sitting next to Phillip at the final tribal council, but is anybody ready to take the many risks that being in a long term alliance Phillip entail?
– Boston Rob Mariano: Some people *cough* Jeff Probst *cough* are considering that Rob is playing a perfect game this season. I have to agree with him to a certain extent, because when it’s your fourth time playing and when you play with those amateurs, you’d better play a perfect game or shame on you. Now, that the merge is here, we’ll see if he still plays a perfect game when votes start coming his way. Sure he has an idol, but blindsides exist, and I could very well see Phillip talk to Zapatera about those clues that Rob hides. If they can add two and two, they should understand who has the idol. Talking about clues and idols, I gotta give it to him that him throwing the unopened clue in the volcano was pure gold. Moreover, this is a reminder of how clueless those girls are. It’s one thing to worship Rob, it’s another one to not look for clues and idols. Have they ever watched the show before?

Zapatera

Zapatera’s problem? They had one goal, getting rid of Russell and his minions, but except for David (and maybe Ralph) they have no other plan. Now, they’re all about the tribe’s unity/strength/cohesiveness (Ralph, it’s about guys working together, Jeff will explain). They seem to be missing the point that, very soon (next week actually), tribes won’t matter anymore, it will be an individual game, and some people (Steve) will have big surprises if they still think in terms of tribes and not individuals.
– David Murphy: He really dodged a bullet this week. I agree with him all the way, but because his tribe is so focused on unity, he shouldn’t have started to play the individual game so early. There was no way he could have saved Stephanie last week, and the fact that he tried so hard unnecessarily put him on the spot as the sixth wheel of his tribe, and he got really lucky that Sarita sucked and that the others actually made a big mistake by getting rid of her instead of him. Why is it a mistake? As I said a few lines earlier, they’re still thinking in terms of team and tribe dynamics (and yes, in this case voting Sarita out was the thing to do) and not in terms of post-merge game. In that case, it was much smarter to vote against David.
And now that David survived that vote, I seriously doubt that he will be targeted again for the next two votes or so, that will give him time to find new allies (Phillip, Andrea and Matt?)
– Julie Wolfe: It’s hard to tell what she thinks, what her plan is or anything else beyond “she’s one of the guys.” She may or may not have a long term plan, and aligning herself with Steve, Mike and Ralph is definitely not a bad idea. She’ll just need to manage making it to the end and not them, that without betraying them so that she gets their votes. It will be hard.
– Mike Chiesl: We haven’t seen much of him either lately. The fact that he was not able to compete against Grant could take some targets off his back as “the strong guy that needs to be voted off” but he’d better start winning some individual immunities, but that would make him a target again. Yet, if the Zapatera Four (I’m not counting David as really part of them right now) make it to the end, he has the better chances to win out of the four I think.
– Ralph Kiser: I’m afraid I gave too much credit to Ralph early in the season. His best choice would be to be in an alliance with David right now, but he doesn’t see that, as he’s now obviously the fourth man in the Zapatera Four. Sure he has a hidden idol, but will he play it the right way at the right time? I have serious doubts about it. However, I still see him navigating through all the betrayals and crumbling alliances to go far. Actually I think that the less secure he’ll feel, the less cocky he’ll get, and the better he will play.
– Sarita White sent to Redemption Island: Other people have said it before me today (Probst and Dalton Ross) but she was a big disappointment. In her pre-game interviews (and I’m sure in real life) she seemed to be if not a great player, at least a great person, the type that can have a great social game and be fun to watch too. It seems that she’s one of those people that don’t really realize what they’re in for, and that are really not cut to spend so long outdoors playing such a brutal game. I’m just surprised -and sad- that she was that one this season and not Stephanie or Natalie as I had originally expected.
– Steve Wright: Do you know what? I think he is the biggest problem in the tribe. He’s the one that seems to be more or less the leader and who always seems the most vocal about tribe’s unity, tribe’s strength and so on. Steve just doesn’t understand something: Survivor is not football. He doesn’t get that it is an individual game too. He’s going to regret it very soon. Sadly, I have the feeling that Zapatera would have done much better if he had been voted out early.
So now we have it. The merged tribe will be: Andrea, Ashley, Natalie, Rob, Phillip, Grant, David, Steve, Mike, Julie, Ralph and finally Matt or Sarita.

I’m kinda worried for Matt as the last duel seems to be the infamous “hold on as long as you can between two planks with just tiny tiny spots for your feet” previously seen in the Tocantins and maybe other seasons (Heroes vs Villains? I can’t remember). Why worried? After all, between him and Sarita, it seems obvious that he will win. Yes, but the preview shows that he hurt his foot just before the challenge. That would be terrible if he lost to Sarita because of that. Or could something crazy happens like Matt loses because of his injured foot but Sarita gives up her spot for him? Would Probst let that happen?

We’ll see.

With the merge, we have a few interesting things and dynamics. Let’s see:

  • The Groupie Alliance: Ashley, Natalie, Grant, all led by Rob.
  • The Zapatera Four: Steve, Ralph, Mike, Julie
  • The Loose Cannons: Andrea (Will she stay loyal to the groupie alliance? I think it’s one of the bigger interrogation right now), David, Phillip and Matt if he comes back. If Sarita does, what will she do? Will she go back to the people that blindsided her? Mmmm….

We could be heading to a few very interesting weeks soon. I think it’s the first time we have a merge of 12 with three groups of four (although, I’m not sure we can call the “loose cannons” a group)

Next person voted out: 
Mmm… I easily see the Zapatera Four with David and Phillip and maybe even Andrea and Matt gunning for Rob. Will he get blindsided? Will he play his idol? Will they split their votes? Will Grant be voted out because Rob played his idol? Seriously, I think the next episode will be totally unpredictable, so I won’t try to predict who goes home next week. Anyone of the remaining 12 could go (OK, I see Julie, Natalie and Andrea being safe, but that’s pretty much it).
What are your thought? Who do you think will go home next?
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Frenchman, addicted to Survivor (yes, there is such a thing) to the point of having a blog dedicated to the show where I like to analyze and speculate about what we see every week.

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