Another good episode this week, I now have a very good feeling about this season, it may just stay good, possibly even great until the end. I know I repeat myself, but casting people who applied and are fans of the show, actually makes a difference, doesn’t it?
We’re now slowly approaching the merge, and those “soon to be a merge” episodes are usually very interesting as they tend to shape the rest of the season. Look what we had for the past three seasons. Episode 6 was about the time when Boston Rob had reached total control of his tribe while Zapatera was starting their self-destruction, in Nicaragua, Sash had reached control of the game, and Chase was on his way to become a good goat to bring to the finals. And in Heroes Vs Villains this was around the time Boston Rob was voted out paving the way for a Russell, Parvati & Sandra dominance.
So what do we have this season?
First we have something that hasn’t happened in a while, and that is too extremely even tribes. I seriously have no idea which one will control the game post-merge if any. In Savaii, we have an Ozzy who’s more isolated than ever and two players that are trying to take control of the tribe: Jim and Keith, but let’s not count Cochran and Dawn out just yet. In Upolu, we have Brandon who’s becoming the perfect goat to bring to the final (although it may be a rough ride to have to deal with his tell-all meltdowns every two tribal councils), Coach more in control than ever, and a (failed at the moment) tentative to seize control by Albert and Sophie. Did I mention the final three among those names? I think so. Do I have any who is it going to be? Not at all.
Oh one word about the challenge. I admit, I rarely care about challenges, I just care about who wins them, but this one was definitely kick ass. A wheelbarrow that turns into a sling shot? Genius! And destroying stuff is so much more intense than a puzzle for the end of said challenges, isn’t it?
Could Elyse‘s eviction have made the tribe more united? It actually looks like it, but I think that everyone seems to be so happy to be together just because they had won the reward, as soon as trouble (i.e. the perspective of tribal council returns) it won’t be as united, believe me.
– Dawn Meehan: Not much about Dawn this week, it seems that right now, she’s in the middle of things. She’s friends with pretty much everybody on her tribe, and it’s very unlikely that she’ll get targeted by anybody soon. If Savaii gets the number at the merge, she could even cruise until the end. However, she’ll need to have a more assertive game if she doesn’t want to be the goat in the final three.
– Jim Rice: Would you agree with me if I say that right now, Jim is in an driver’s seat at Savaii? He played his hand perfectly last week, and right now, this season is his to lose (which I’m afraid he will, I have the feeling that he will get cocky and he will get burned by that). However, right now, I don’t see how he can’t go far. The only way he could get into trouble is if he gets backstabbed by Cochran. Will this happen? I still hope for a Cochran/Sophie alliance before the end. We’ll see.
– John Cochran: I have wanted to like him and root for him since even before the game started (and many of Survivor bloggers out there are rooting for him too, I guess this is the nerd in us that identifies with him), however, I thought he was really disappointing in the beginning of the season, being such a fan and being so unprepared to live outdoors, wearing his insecurities on his sleeve so much that it was getting annoying. Yet, right now, he’s slowly winning me back. He’s starting to assert himself, he’s playing the game, he uttered the sentence of the week (“Ozzy is behaving like a stupid bitch“) and if he makes the merge (it seems that he will) he’s in the best position to go to the end. He’ll just need to make one or two big moves along the way to earn enough respect from the jury to win this game. And now, I kinda hope he does.
– Keith Tollefson: While I’m glad that Keith and Whitney blindsided Ozzy last week, I’m not sure it was the best thing to do for their own game. However this week, they managed to position themselves as the true free agents of the tribe, and they definitely could be the swing votes for the next tribal council, even more so if Jim, Cochran and Dawn try to vote Ozzy out and if he plays the idol. That being said, did you notice how I said “they” instead of “he.” Now that the Ozzy/Elyse couple is no more, they are the couple to break and Jim, Cochran and Dawn better vote either Keith or Whitney out next instead of Ozzy. How will this play out? Not sure. The future of Savaii lies greatly in not having to return to tribal council until the merge and/or making sure the person coming back from redemption island aligns with them.
– Ozzy Lusth: Usually, when a player returns, especially for the third time, he’s got so much better as this game that he becomes a force to reckon with. Not Ozzy. It seems that Ozzy’s game sucks more and more every time he returns. Losing Elyse should have been a wake up call, instead, he did the worst thing he could have done, throw a tantrum and tell everyone that he has the idol. His days are definitely numbered, especially now that he seems to be more and more interested into going to redemption island. And it’s true that it’s almost the perfect place for him, a place where playing Survivor means finding your own food, winning challenges and not having to deal with the social and strategical aspects of the game. And indeed, when he goes there, he could very well be the one to return to the game… only to be voted out right after.
– Whitney Duncan: Finally, we see more of her, but the only thing we learn is that, indeed, she’s hand in hand with Keith and that her strategy is his strategy, which is not all bad, as long as they manage to be on the right side of the divide for every vote.
A split vote at this stage of the game is weird. It definitely means that the alliance is not as united as it seems, or rather, while it is somewhat united, everyone is thinking about their own game first. It can be good on the one hand (it seems that almost everyone is playing the game), but bad too as right now, is definitely not the right time to have tensions in your alliance. The other thing I find surprising is that Brandon doesn’t seem to be on the chopping block at all. I guess Coach, Sophie and Albert (and Rick?) all want him next to them for the final tribal council, as he is this season’s perfect goat.
Also, during this tribal council the issue was whether it was better to have numbers or loyalty when merge comes. First my answer to that is… well, it depends what’s going on with the other tribe. If we have a Timbira or a Galu, I definitely rather have a smaller group of people I can trust. And what if the other tribe is Ometepe? In that case, I’ll pray to win every single immunity until the end, so yeah, in the end I’d rather have loyalty and I would have probably voted against Mikayla too. Albert seemed to have a valid point when he said that Edna could turn on them, being the sixth in the alliance and all, but seriously, I doubt it, I don’t think she’d had the courage to make such a big and dangerous move.
This vote Edna vs Mikayla made be think of another dichotomy that we see more and more on Survivor, and it is that what is good for a player’s game is not always good for our entertainment.
Let me explain: as a fan of strategy, I’d rather have a group of players that are all actually playing the game as hard as they can, and who would be playing it the exact same way even if there were no camera around, so I always want the people in it for their 15 minutes and only that to be voted out first (luckily we got rid of Semhar first and Elyse soon after this season).
However, as a player I understand why you want to keep those around; they’re easier to control and manipulate and you know that they can’t win the game even if they make it to the end. This has been Rob’s strategy last season and it’s a great strategy for yourself, not for the audience.
I thought this vote symbolized (although I doubt the players saw it that way) that a little. Ok, Edna is not really a player, but her vote for Mikayla seemed spot on as of why Mikayla was there.
– Albert Destrade : Strange episode for Albert. It seems that it was the episode where he was taking chances and where he would challenge Coach‘s leadership, but it failed… again… I say “again” because last week, Coach “stole” the idol from him. Funny how Albert seems like a great player to play this game: strong, charismatic and intelligent, but so far he’s failed pretty much any move he tried to make that was not directed by Coach. Is it a lot of bad luck, or is it that Albert is not as good as he seems. Unfortunately, I think it is the latter, why else he failed to convince Rick to vote Edna out? I guess leadership is not his thing… Wait… Isn’t he supposed to be a coach too? Now, the question is will this division in the vote this week put a wedge in the Upolu Alliance? It doesn’t seem so, but it has definitely asserted Coach’s leadership a little more. How will Albert and Sophie react to that. If they’re smart (and they are), they won’t make any wave and follow Coach until he gets targeter by Savaii post merge. Then, they should be smart and try something big that doesn’t involve saving Coach but that does involve saving themselves.
– Benjamin “Coach” Wade : He’s playing the best game he has ever played, but his loyalty to Brandon will bite him in the ass sooner or later. I see what he is doing here, he seems himself more and more as Boston Rob, with Edna in the role of Natalie and Brandon in the role of Phillip. The only difference being that Edna can flip under the right circumstances and more important, Brandon really is a loose cannon who will spill the wrong beans at the worst possible time. Phillip just looked like he could mess everything up, Brandon can and will mess everything up. Coach would play a very good game if he didn’t count so much on Brandon as his goat. The result, I’m afraid, is that Coach will be voted out because of Brandon if the latter stays in the game any longer.
– Brandon Hantz : OK, even if I think that he’s creepy, crazy, mentally unstable, immature and much more, I think he was gold this episode. If only Russell could be absent from one episode, just one. There even was a shot of him this episode. WTF, editors? Just ask Russell to do a sex tape and that he sends it to you guys, but leave us alone with him for at least one season, please. Apart from that, Brandon is still not playing the game, and he’s such a wildcard that he could mess anything up as anytime. I love it as a viewer, as a player, I would want to get rid of him as early as possible. As I previously mentioned, I’m sure Upolu keeps him because every one seems themselves next to him at the final tribal council, but what I see more and more is that the longer they keep him, the lesser the chances that any of them makes it to the end. A few more things about him this week. First the love fest: “I love you Mikayla” Yes! He finally admitted it! And also, the “I love you Coach” that came out of nowhere. Also, did you notice that every time he raises his hand like a little schoolboy at tribal council is when he’s going to have a meltdown, spill the beans and start a small crazy diatribe? Oh and by the way, Brandon, no the world is not black and white, and Survivor even less.
Finally, about the “Lil’ Hantz” tattoo0 During the first episodes, I had the feeling that the tattoo was brand new. But this week, it almost seems like it’s fading… Could it be a fake tattoo just to amp up the Russell connection? That would be even lamer than all the other lame things that Brandon has done this season.
– Edna Ma: Poor little Edna. So cute, so charming, so taken as a target by Sophie and Albert, so useless. Ok, I kinda like Edna, but she doesn’t really have a game right now, and she’s just a number to have Coach’s back (told you he sees her as his Natalie Tenerelli). However, I’m afraid that she’s out soon, Coach won’t be able to protect her for long if Upolu goes back to tribal council (unless Brandon gets even crazier).
– Mikayla Wingle sent to Redemption Island: She was the biggest disappointment so far this season. I liked her personality in the pregame interviews, he thought she would have game and be a memorable player. Wrong! She’s gone, and that’s a good thing. Now I just hope that she won’t send Christine home, that would suck even more.
– Rick Nelson: Oh my God, he spoke! He even ended up being the swing vote. However, does it mean we know more about him, his game, strategy and such? Er… No… I guess he’s tight with Coach, while we thought he was tight with Sophie, but that’s pretty much it.
– Sophie Clarke: Her failed attempt to oust Edna could backfire… or not… She didn’t alienate Coach and this is all that matters at this point. Now she needs to stay under the radar for a while and make that big move that could bring her to the end. Will she? Will she even have the opportunity to do so? Who knows?
– Christine Shields Markoski: She survives again. When we first saw her crying I thought she was done, but she regained her composure quick in what I’d call a “Christine way”, that is flipping the bird at Rick who’s trying to play friend, most likely hoping that she goes back to Upolu if she returns to the game. Yeah, right. I mean, I hope she returns to the game (although next week it will be her hardest duel so far against Mikayla), but there’s no way on earth she’ll align with Upolu. And the reason why I want her to return into the game is not only because I like her personality, it is also because I want to see a returning member aligns with the other tribe, what Matt should have done last season and didn’t because he was too stupid. A Christine, Cochran, Jim and Dawn quatuor could wreck everything until the final four… that is if Christine gets along with them…
Next time on Survivor:
-Who will be sent to Redemption Island?
If Savaii loses, Ozzy is not safe, although if I was Jim and Cochran I would go for Whitney, before her and Keith becomes too dangerous… of course in this case, I can say bye bye to Savaii’s unity when merge comes.
If Upolu loses, I’m afraid that Coach won’t be able to save Edna this time around, unless he sacrifices Brandon.
I guess it’s now time to start thinking about a winner. So, who can it be? Very hard to tell at this point. From Savaii it could be almost anybody but Ozzy, on Upolu it could be almost anybody except for Brandon. So we need to think in terms of “winner edit”, although in recent seasons (minus Redemption Island) there wasn’t a “winner edit” for Fabio until late in the game, none for Sandra (but it was different with all those stars around), not really one for Natalie White, either… Just scenes, here and there… So looking for those scenes right now, the edit seems to be implying that the winner is either Jim (puppet master edit), Cochran (zero to hero edit) or Coach (redemption edit). Mmmm… What do you think?