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"Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty - The Characters and their Stories:"
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michel2 1598 desperate attention whore postings
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02-09-16, 00:19 AM (EST)
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"Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty - The Characters and their Stories:"
Another season is quickly approaching so it’s time to look at the new cast and the early story lines that could develop in Cambodia. The opening theme of Kaôh Rông is a repeat of Brawn versus Brains versus Beauty but all the promos focus on the extreme conditions and the need for medical interventions.

I was expecting to hear how the first edition was dominated by the Brawn tribe and how it was time for revenge for the other two tribes but that’s been completely ignored. We have to wonder if all the discussion about the weather isn’t a way to hide a lack of interesting stories.

It would be a shame because I think we have a very interesting cast. Many viewers have fallen in love with returning players but Survivor is always better when played by strangers. It’s a game about trust so it’s much more interesting if the players don’t know who they can trust.

With that said, let’s take a look at our characters:

Beauty - Gondol

Nick Maiorano: It’s a little strange to do a first impression of someone that I consider a friend. I’m really curious to see how Survivor will edit Nick, which aspect of his personality they will stress. I certainly hope we get to see the game from his perspective but we will have to wait and see. As for his presentation video, it was really enjoyable. It was a lot of what I expected and where many see arrogance, I see confidence and, most importantly, an understanding that a game is meant to be played for fun. Nick mentions he doesn’t want to be bored out there but boredom is always present on Survivor even if the editors try their best to hide the fact that there isn’t much to do for most of the day. It won’t be easy to stay active all the time. I like the fact that he mentions listening to others because that in itself is the best weapon when you want to manipulate people. I hope Nick does well and I’m pretty sure he’ll be fun to watch even if he is portrayed as the season’s villain.

Caleb Reynolds: Unfortunately, I watch Big Brother... I’m not sure why but I do. Not every episode and certainly not the live feeds but enough to have some memories of Caleb’s season. So for those that didn’t see him, Caleb should not be targeted for being untrustworthy. The guy was so loyal that he was still thinking of himself as the leader of the “Bomb Squad” even if his “allies” had long abandoned it to form a new alliance that they called the “Detonators”. Caleb was a joke to Derrick, the real player on that season, and he was used to target all the players standing in the way. Caleb won quite a few competitions (4 HoHs) but he has some weaknesses. So, he certainly could be kept as the dumb ally which really is the ideal ally! I seem to remember that he had a problem with being a Have-not for a week though so that could be an indication of problems to come on Survivor where you basically are a have-not for most of the time.

Caleb has some good qualities and his plan to build a shelter for veterans if he wins the money is certainly worth noting. Also, it seems that he has been able to profit from his appearance on Big Brother because he was able to quit the part time jobs he previously had. The main problem is that he sees Survivor as a game played in the jungle when, in reality, it is a game played between people. He probably thinks that all he needs to do is socialize, be friendly to get in the group. He probably still hasn’t realized that his “friends” will be the ones that will blindside him again.

Tai Trang: There’s certainly a lot of love for Tai on the different boards. I think it’s at least partly due to the fact that he inevitably reminds us of Yau Man. People should remember that Yau survived the first few Tribal Councils because Ravu was the Have-Not tribe and therefore they really needed his survival skills. Tai seems like the nice guy who will want everyone to get along. If Gondola turns into a “love” tribe then they will go to their first TC and will all vote against Tai. I don’t think Tai will realize that he needs to subtly create conflicts between other people in order to survive. That’s what worked so well for Scout. In the history of the show, from the very first couple of episodes in Borneo to the demonstration we had with Samboohoo, nothing has divided people more than age. Unless Tai can prove to be as valuable as Yau Man, which I doubt very much, or unless Gondola develops early conflicts, Tai will not last very long.

Michele Fitzgerald: As a super fan of the show, chances are that Michele will be portrayed as a dumb player! This bartender spent most of her introduction video just dancing in the sand. It may work to get good tips but I don’t think it will help her game much. I expect she’ll dance her way to Loser lodge unless she’s useful to someone else’s game. One thing in her favor is that she seems fairly relaxed and easy going. Will that last under the tough conditions? If she can keep on smiling then she could surprise us with a long coat tail ride.

Anna Khait: While she isn’t a model, Anna is a beautiful woman. More importantly she expresses herself very well. I wonder if she is aware of Vanessa’s run in the latest season of Big Brother. If she is, she’ll probably choose to hide her profession. I suspect casting a poker player was Survivor’s reaction to Vanessa’s strategic prowess. Will Anna fit the bill? I hope she does. She describes herself as sociable and mentions that she was a huge fan of the show before getting into poker (http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-players/253333-anna-khait gives statistics for her going back to 2013. Her total winnings aren’t very impressive. They are under $12000 compared to Vanessa’s 3.5 Millions. Even Jean Robert had 2Mill!) Her plan is to get people to like her and hide the fact that she will be playing hard. I like hearing her talk about trusting only a few people and getting people to underestimate her. She’s ready to flirt with anyone so she could be an interesting one to follow. I’d put some money on the poker player’s chances.

Julia Sokolowski: She’s the youngest contestant we’ve had since Natalie Tenerelli and wouldn’t she have been the perfect ally for Boston Rob?! Another super fan of the show, she says she’s been watching since she was five years old (That means she started around the time of Pearl Islands and that makes me feel so very old!) She says her experiences in Tanzania will help her out there in Cambodia but I doubt it very much. It’s funny that when she mentions being underestimated she talks about being ready for all the outdoor experiences. The other players won’t really care about that. It’s her game that needs to be underestimated if she really wants to surprise people. I doubt that she has a game to play.

Brains – Chan Loh

Joe: I don’t see him making the merger because of the tough conditions. Either he won’t be able to cope with the conditions like we saw with Mike Borassi or the tribe will see him as a liability. I also think he will try to be sneaky, sneaky because there was a shot of him during the video where he is hiding behind foliage. This “Tony-wannabee” is simply another castaway that will be outsmarting himself, thinking he’s cleverer than the others. Production always gives a tribe one free vote to give them time to get settled in and Joe fits the bill.

Neale: Neale could be one of the most interesting characters we’ve met in a long time. Anyone that says he’s part do-gooder and part dirty capitalist can have a few surprises in store for us. I also like the way he expresses himself. He seems to have watched enough of the show to know what to expect but isn’t the super fan that will go overboard like Max or Shirin. His introduction videos showed him sitting in a tree so I wonder if his confessionals will be shot the same way. It would be fun because those images made me think of Hatch and Varner. I really like Neale’s chances and I don’t see any reasons to worry about a fracture between himself and his tribe.

Peter: Will the Survivor editors present us with another “dumb doctor”? We’ve had a few that seemed completely out of their element when it came to the strategic aspects of the game. Sean, Marcus and Mick come to mind as examples of what not to do on Survivor. I don’t think Peter will be as bad as those three but there are some warning signs. I don’t see any direct conflicts between him and Neale because neither seems to take things too seriously but Peter’s problems could come later when it’s time to make important decisions. On Survivor, the players have so much down time that Peter will not feel the same need to make quick, life or death decision as he does in the ER. I think that could lead him to take too much time to evaluate the ramifications of each decision, making him appear indecisive. Add his penchant for unpredictability and he becomes the worst type of ally: The smart, likable guy you can’t trust.

Aubry Bracco: Maybe it’s because I’ve seen too many of these types of introduction videos but Aubry didn’t spark my interest. She talks about being nerdy, weird and funny and I should react positively to that but I have the feeling that those are words she’d like to have associated with her personality instead of her real traits. I’d bet that Aubry will not get many confessionals because she’ll be too shy or intimidated by the whole thing. Working on a company’s Facebook page isn’t exactly the ideal job to make real bonds with people and her talk about being a Scorpio with Gemini rising could be a turn off especially in the Brains tribe. I don’t think she’ll be a first boot but I don’t think she’ll make an impact either.

Elisabeth Markham: Once more, I’m a little disappointed with this introduction video. Someone who talks about Game Theory should pique my interest considering that it was a post explaining how Game Theory impacts the game (and the way the editors present it) that really got me involved in the show after being more of a casual viewer during the first 5 seasons. The problem here is that I don’t know if Elisabeth will ever get the chance to apply the theory. She seems much too sure of herself and her abilities. Since those introductions are edited, I’m thinking we heard her bravado because she comes to regret it. If she is given a role in the premiere, if we do see that strategic side of Elisabeth then maybe she has a chance. She certainly seems better equipped to make an impact than the other two women on this tribe.

Debbie Wanner: I’m also a chemist so maybe I should like Debbie. I’m not there yet. I’ll have to see how she’s edited before I can decide. My first impression is that she’ll be boring which means I don’t really care at this point what will happen to her. She could form a partnership with Joe but I don’t think that’s her best move. If those two are seen as a pair they will be booted first and second. A smarter way to go would be to throw Joe under the bus and work on forming a strong trio with whatever pair that connects out there. With tribes of 6 people, a player really only needs two allies if the group agrees on an obvious first boot. Then it’s clear sailing for the trio until the tribe swap. I doubt that Debbie will act quickly enough to get in that alliance.

Brawn – To Tang

Darnell Hamilton: I liked Darnell’s interview a lot. We certainly haven’t had enough players who, like him, have had it tough from the start. Many can’t afford to go on the show while most have too many problems to care about a TV show. The problem with Darnell is that his life story will certainly remind the other players of Dreamz in Fiji. I also liked Dreamz, thought he was a much better player than the editors showed but I fear some members of Toe Tap will not want to run the risk of playing with someone that could turn into the new Dre. If he can somehow get into the majority alliance on his tribe and avoid the pitfalls of the early swap that usually happens in seasons with small tribes, then Darnell could be a fun character to follow. I’ll be looking for a relatively quiet first episode, maybe only one confessional and a few camp scenes, just enough to let us know he’s a player. If he gets an over the top first episode, it would tell us that he’s either an early boot or that he’ll be portrayed as the dumb player that can’t win even if he goes far.

Kyle Jason: I think Kyle will go far in this game. I like his no-nonsense approach and his background should serve him extremely well in this situation. He mentions that he doesn’t make long term plans so maybe he’ll be able to adapt his game to the circumstances. He talks of playing like Hantz but, hopefully, he’ll have the tactical side of the Villain but he won’t forget the social game. Being a blue collar, he could certainly connect well with Darnell and that would make for a fun duo. On the other hand, his military experience and his job in law enforcement could make him distrust someone with street smarts. I think that the dynamics between these two could decide the fortune of this tribe. Will they be toe-tapping their way to the merger or will they be stabbing their toes at every challenge? I’m not ready to say that they will be Matsinged because the first Brawn tribe dominated the game as did the Blue Collars, their closest match. Production will find a way to tailor the challenges to their skills.

Scot Pollard: For once, a former athlete isn’t going to hide his past. We won’t have a Scot Hawkins in Cambodia! In a game where trust is paramount, it isn’t very smart to pretend to be someone else if there is a chance that you will get caught. I don’t follow the NBA so I had to read his bio to know who he was and while he wasn’t a superstar, he played long enough and was on enough different teams that he will likely be recognized. I’d downplay the bank account though. Jealousy can create dissension. I’m not too worried about his old injuries because it could actually help him avoid becoming a target. He’ll do well in strength based challenges and he should be smart enough to leave the races for others. Can he strategize? If he concentrates on the social game, the strategy could take care of itself. Being able to tell stories about the NBA and its players could help him make friends out there. I wonder if he’ll use one of his confessionals to tell kids to do drugs!!!

Cydney Gillon: The first thing I noticed about Cydney was her smile. I think others will notice it too and that could break the ice. I think her biggest luck factor in this game was to be placed on the Brawn tribe. There will be bigger physical threats and she won’t frighten the likes of Scot and Kyle. She talks about having multiple personalities but I’m not too worried about seeing her alter egos, Rebecca and Storm, making a weekly appearance because I think Cydney mentioned them more for fun than anything else. Of course, who knows what will happen under the stress of the game and the conditions. I also liked the fact that she will be going to med school: There is more than just muscle to this brawny girl. I don’t think the Brawn tribe will be the worst out there because, along with the Beauty tribe (and production), they will be motivated to humiliate the Brains tribe once more. What worries me more is her statement that she won’t share the food that she catches. That’s certainly something that could get her voted out. How will she do? I see her making the merger but then leaving somewhere in the middle of the home stretch.

Jennifer Lanzetti: A lot of posters seem to be on team Lanzetti. I don’t share the enthusiasm surrounding her. Yes, she had a pleasant video and she certainly could find a way to adapt her game to any situation but those are only words. The first words I heard her say was that she owns a virtual construction company. A virtual construction company? I guess that means she builds “dream” houses! From there, the next thing I heard was that she hates it when it rains, so I’m thinking she’ll leave on the rescue boat because we know it’ll be pouring out there. I looked at her action shots in the video and she seems overly sure of herself and her strength. This self-proclaimed bad-##### will certainly meet her match on that brawn tribe and I wonder if she’ll be ready for it. I’m not convinced that Jennifer goes far in this game. I need to see more from her before jumping on her bandwagon.

Alecia Holden: I think many people will regret dismissing Alecia too quickly. I wouldn’t put too much in the fact that Alecia doesn’t really fit in the Brawn tribe. The categories rarely work anyway. Remember Heroes versus Villains? I’ll say that casting really liked Alecia and simply had to find a way to get her on the show so they used her tomboy personality and her father’s background to place her on the Brawn tribe. Alecia could certainly find a nice spot in an alliance with the big guys and make her way far in the game. The worry I have is that she says she is very opinionated and confrontational, adding that she doesn’t like bossy people. Well, that might not be the best way to approach the game. Hopefully, she can put a lid on it and leave her anger for her confessionals. Now that would be fun because every tribe, including the Brawn one, needs a Courtney Yates to make us laugh. I’d like to see Alecia make it far in the game even if it is a long shot at this point.


What are your impressions and what will you be looking for in the first episode? Let’s start the discussion.


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  Table of Contents

  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
 RE: Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs.... Flowerpower1 02-15-16 1
   RE: Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs.... michel2 02-15-16 2
       RE: Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs.... Flowerpower1 02-16-16 3
           RE: Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs.... michel2 02-16-16 4
 Episode 1 - Walking the Walk michel2 02-20-16 5
   RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk Flowerpower1 02-22-16 6
       RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk michel2 02-22-16 7
           RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk Flowerpower1 02-23-16 8
               RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk michel2 02-23-16 9
                   Neal on my radar Flowerpower1 02-23-16 10
                       RE: Neal on my radar michel2 02-24-16 11
   RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk PepeLePew13 02-24-16 12
       RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk Flowerpower1 02-24-16 13
       RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk michel2 02-24-16 14
           Hmmmmmm....? Flowerpower1 02-24-16 15
 Episode 2 - Changes michel2 02-27-16 16
   RE: Episode 2 - Changes Jims03 02-28-16 17
       RE: Episode 2 - Changes michel2 02-28-16 18
 Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence: michel2 03-05-16 19
   RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intellige... SquidProQuo 03-05-16 20
       RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intellige... michel2 03-05-16 21
   RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intellige... Flowerpower1 03-05-16 22
       RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intellige... SquidProQuo 03-05-16 23
       RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intellige... michel2 03-06-16 24
           RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intellige... Flowerpower1 03-06-16 25
               RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intellige... michel2 03-06-16 26
                   RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intellige... Flowerpower1 03-06-16 27
                       RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intellige... michel2 03-06-16 28
                           EPJP Flowerpower1 03-08-16 29
                               RE: EPJP michel2 03-08-16 30
 Episode 4 - Not Worth Playing For: michel2 03-12-16 31
   Feedback: michel2 03-15-16 32
 Episode 5 - Making your own Luck michel2 03-19-16 33
   RE: Episode 5 - Making your own Luc... Jims03 03-21-16 34
       RE: Episode 5 - Making your own Luc... michel2 03-22-16 35
   RE: Episode 5 - Making your own Luc... Flowerpower1 03-22-16 36
       RE: Episode 5 - Making your own Luc... michel2 03-23-16 37
 Ep. 6 Editing Comments SquidProQuo 03-26-16 38
   RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments Flowerpower1 03-26-16 39
       RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments SquidProQuo 03-26-16 40
           Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: michel2 03-26-16 41
               RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... Jims03 03-26-16 42
                   RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... michel2 03-26-16 47
               RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... Flowerpower1 03-26-16 43
                   RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... Jims03 03-26-16 44
                       RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... SquidProQuo 03-26-16 45
                           RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... kingfish 03-26-16 46
                               RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... Flowerpower1 03-26-16 49
                                   RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... kingfish 03-26-16 51
                                       RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... SquidProQuo 03-26-16 52
                   RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plat... michel2 03-26-16 48
   RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments michel2 03-26-16 50
       RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments SquidProQuo 03-27-16 53
           RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments michel2 03-27-16 54
               RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments SquidProQuo 03-30-16 55
 Episode 7 - We Need Nick! michel2 04-02-16 56
   RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick! Jims03 04-03-16 57
       RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick! michel2 04-03-16 58
           RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick! Jims03 04-03-16 59
               RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick! michel2 04-04-16 60
           RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick! Sheldor 04-04-16 62
               RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick! SquidProQuo 04-04-16 63
   RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick! Flowerpower1 04-04-16 61
 Episode 8 - There's Still Hope: michel2 04-09-16 64
   RE: Episode 8 - There's Still Hope: Flowerpower1 04-10-16 65
   RE: Episode 8 - There's Still Hope: CTgirl 04-10-16 66
       RE: Episode 8 - There's Still Hope: michel2 04-10-16 67
 Episode 9 - Sabotage: michel2 04-16-16 68
 Episode 10 - Incongruence: michel2 04-23-16 69
   RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence: Jims03 04-23-16 70
       RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence: michel2 04-24-16 71
   RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence: Sheldor 04-24-16 72
       RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence: michel2 04-25-16 73
           RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence: Sheldor 04-25-16 74
               RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence: michel2 04-25-16 75
 Episode 11 - Making A Case michel2 04-30-16 76
 Episode 12 - Fractures: michel2 05-08-16 77
   RE: Episode 12 - Fractures: kingfish 05-10-16 78
       RE: Episode 12 - Fractures: michel2 05-14-16 80
 Episode 13 - Taking Control michel2 05-14-16 79
   RE: Episode 13 - Taking Control Sheldor 05-14-16 81
       RE: Episode 13 - Taking Control michel2 05-14-16 82
   RE: Episode 13 - Taking Control Jims03 05-17-16 83
       RE: Episode 13 - Taking Control michel2 05-18-16 87
   RE: Episode 13 - Taking Control Flowerpower1 05-18-16 84
       RE: Episode 13 - Taking Control kingfish 05-18-16 85
           RE: Episode 13 - Taking Control michel2 05-18-16 86
       RE: Episode 13 - Taking Control michel2 05-18-16 88

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Flowerpower1 1655 desperate attention whore postings
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02-15-16, 09:30 PM (EST)
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1. "RE: Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty - The Characters and their Stories:"
Yay, I hadn't seen this posted yet and as I was writing the SOTS, I was thinking that it hadn't arrived. I became a little worried about you, michel! So HAPPY to see it's up and running! As always I am optimistic and excited about another season of Survivor. I am happy that I read somewhere lately, that Jiffy is happy with it too and wants to do at least 10 more seasons! SO, all my long time BLOWS fellow members, I want to see one of YOU get on this show!!! Wouldn't that be FUN!

I watched all of the pre-season vids in preparation for the SOTS, so I am eager to give my thoughts. I'm also so excited that there seems to be very little info out there on this season! YAY!

I'll follow your lead:

Beauty:

Nick: First impressions were not good ones. I was in the camp that felt he was way too arrogant. He considers himself a faker? I think that could get him in some serious trouble, especially considering he's opposed to many other BIG guys. But, like you, I thought he's an old blogger for RHAP, clearly he's a super fan and has some serious insight into the game. That makes me want to seriously root for him. He had a knee meniscectomy done in August, which is suspect for him to get injured in this season. But, according to CTGirl, our resident knee meniscectomy expert, she thinks it would NOT be medical evacuation worthy. I think he will be a hard worker and I do NOT see him as the first boot as he's so big, and they will value his strength. He could last for the early part of the game. I think he will be targeted due to his size and strength, especially post merge.

Caleb "Beast Mode Cowboy". Well, I love to watch BB with my teenage daughter every summer and we were both BMC fans. He has an innocence or naiveté about him, and he is indeed very trustworthy, to a fault, as you noted. I don't know if that is from his service background where you trust your band of brothers 100%. He's a serious competitor and he's charming. I think the girls will recognize him on the show, and they may all decide that he'd be a GREAT shield. Someone that would be a target ahead of others. I know I would want to keep him around for that reason. Nick will probably recognize him too as a reality tv show expert. I agree that Caleb cannot win, however. But, he could get far, perhaps.

Tai: I think he's so gentle and sweet and I love that he's a gardener. But, is he the one that is different on his tribe? I don't know. He'll be very helpful to the tribe, a hard worker, and he could be good at challenges, he's certainly outdoorsy. But, he's on a tribe with a lot of younger women, a reality star nut that's a life coach, and BMC. Is he the odd one out? I also found him "chatty" and that could be annoying. I am rooting for him though, he could be the parental figure in the tribe as well.

Michele: Attractive, but that dancing on the video....??? Seems to be quite full of herself, yet laid back. RHAP ranked the DAWS, and they noted that all the girls from the beauty tribe were ALL super fans and they were all from the Northeast. They could form a tight bond, and if they do, then it will be the guys that go first on this tribe, I think. I think Michele could get far, due to her laid back nature and her appearance. Bartenders are quite social and exposed to all types. Malcolm was a bartender. I would be surprised if she won, but I do think she could be a contender, perhaps?

Anna. I agree that Anna is the most formidable contestant out of the 3 beauty women. She's smart, a poker player, and she's good with the numbers. She'll flirt with the guys and the girls, if she has to. She's a superfan with 3 other Survivor superfans on her tribe. She's a keeper and someone that I DO think could win this game. And, I do think it's high time a women won. I am seriously rooting for her!

Julia. She's the youngest of the 3 girls in the tribe, but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing for her. She'll be attached to the older girls, and I do think they could all get far in this game. She's traveled and experienced a different culture. She's aware, but she could indeed be underestimated because of her youth. I see her as more calculating than Nat Tenerelli was. I think she will make merge as well, and go farther. She's NOT a threat.

Brains:

Joe: He's the oldest on the tribe which right away could spell trouble for him. He's buff, he's an ex FBI agent/PI. If he gets along socially with the younger tribe mates, and I think he could, than he has a shot. Clearly, he won't be seen as the most threatening. But, as michel notes, can he hack it out there....starvation is not kind to older people.

Neal: Neal was better than I first thought, but he strikes me as very nerdy and cagey. Ice cream entrepreneur....I don't know if he'll be great in challenges, and if he's the weakest male, he could be toast earlier. I see him getting on with some of the girls in the tribe though. I just am not convinced he's a long term player. Seems to want the adventure, thinks he's a super fan....I think he's a pre-merger.

Peter: He's arrogant and somewhat entitled, at least that was my impression. He's the biggest one physically on their tribe, and therefore I do not think he's their first boot. If he tells them he's a doctor, they might like that? I also think he's out to prove something. I think he'll get to merge, but I don't think he'll win this game. He needs to align with bigger threats to have a chance, and in his first tribe, there are not any other bigger threats.

Aubrey: Describes herself as quirky and nerdy but charmingly so? Will make a coconut phone ~ there's only Greg, and there is certainly only one Shane. But, I just don't know what she will bring to the challenges. She could be socially ingratiating. but she could also be the weakest link on her tribe? I have doubts she will make it to merge.

Lis: This girl strikes me a little too big for her britches, and she looks young. She's from NY, but I have to admit she looks good on paper. I think she will make the merge and she could go far.

Debbie: Her favorite player is Coach. And, she thinks she's most like him. She's a little over the top for me, and I don't know if that will be a liability or not. If she acts like Coach out there, she'll be toast, imo. But, she does look buff and she could be a big asset in her tribe for the early part. Nicole Cesternino picks her to win. She seems energetic and vibrant. I bet she can make it a while if she can be a little laid back. She's a mom, and could be the "maternal" one out there? I think she will make it to the merge, but I don't think that she will win.

Brawn

Darnell: Frankly, Darnell didn't impress me at all. I just don't know if he'll be calculating enough for this game. And, he did remind me of the purple pants guy from the first beauty tribe that was a very early boot. He looks like he'll be a hard worker but is he ready for the elements out there? He's the weakest of the men on that tribe, but that could put the target more on their backs, at least when they merge. But, will he survive till then? I think Darnell could be a pre-merger.

Scot: He's the ex-pro basketball player. A GIANT of a man who will come in handy until the merge comes and then he'll be toast. Whatever, he doesn't strike me as very clinical.

Kyle Jason: Now, he's definitely a BIG BOY, and a great story, bounty hunter and PI. I loved him and would love to see him go far. He'll be okay if he keeps the "larger" target, Scot, around. I think he could last to merge, but he'll need some good alliance mates after that.

Cydney: She must be smart as she's premed. She's really buff. She doesn't like other girls unless they are more masculine and buff. She's definitely bonding with the boys, so I don't think she'll be the first boot. She's going to be a force out there, I see her making the merge, but I don't think she'll go much farther. Probably after the buff guys, she'll be next. She doesn't seem to have that social magnetism if she "doesn't like" the girls. She has other personas? Hmmmm? I don't see her at end game or winner.

**I have to add that the really buff guys and girls will probably fade the hardest/fastest. I worry about them in such rough conditions this season...

Jennifer: I was thinking Jennifer could be the first boot with the bug in her ear, but I really have changed my mind after seeing her video. She's older, on an older tribe. She's really buff, she's HAPPY, she has her own construction company, and construction is a great profession and knowledge base to bring to Survivor. She'll be a hard worker. I see her having a social edge to her and I can see her going to post merge. If she gets to post merge, she could go far. She can't hack the WET weather, but I think that it's more hot in their season? I worry about she and Alecia if the Brawns lose, as I see Cydney firmly with the guys on this tribe.

Alecia. Can you say, "Bye Alecia"? I see her as the first boot on this tribe. First of all she's young, 23, in a tribe of older contestants. She calls herself a "mental giant", and that is the title of the episode. She's definitely the weakest physically on this tribe, and Cydney says she only can like more masculine and buff girls....so, she's not got too much going for her on a "brawn" tribe where she has the least amount. She's toast early.

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michel2 1598 desperate attention whore postings
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02-15-16, 11:49 PM (EST)
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2. "RE: Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty - The Characters and their Stories:"
Thank you for posting your thoughts, FP. I see we are mostly viewing these players the same way, our main differences centering around Cydney and Alecia. My thinking is the guys will prefer the less buff Alecia but who knows? I'm also a little higher on Neale but there are some women on this cast that could certainly win.


PS. I wrote this right after seeing Lady Gaga's tribute to David Bowie on the Grammys. I liked it a lot.

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02-16-16, 00:45 AM (EST)
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3. "RE: Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty - The Characters and their Stories:"
Oh Michel, I am still so sad that he's gone. It was a lovely tribute by Gaga! There's certainly a huge void in the music world, even since the start of the year....so many greats! Makes me feel mortal....

Hey, did you see that people.com posted the first 5 minutes of the show? They previewed the entire introduction and it's fun that it's presented like this, because we can all make predictions based solely on the first 5 minutes. I know that I made a few. I posted the transcript with some uploaded parts in the Ep 1 Vidcap thread, but I thought of posting it here. 9 people had confessionals, and 9 didn't. Interesting.


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02-16-16, 01:50 AM (EST)
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4. "RE: Season 32: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty - The Characters and their Stories:"
I'll be looking for that sneak peak. Those choices for the intros are always significant.


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02-20-16, 11:10 AM (EST)
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5. "Episode 1 - Walking the Walk"
LAST EDITED ON 02-20-16 AT 01:16 PM (EST)


The Introduction

These 18 strangers have volunteered to be marooned and left to fend for themselves for the next 39 days. They are cruising through the waters of Kôah Rông in Southeast Asia, a beautiful but formidable part of the world. Scorching temperatures and stifling humidity punish the body
....Dehydration and heat stroke can bring down even the strongest. The smallest cut can lead to a life threatening infection and if they last long enough, merely exerting energy, (we saw Peter, Michele, Neal, then Scot) will become their biggest obstacle. This will be the most grueling 39 days in Survivor history.

They’ve already been divided into 3 tribes based on the qualities that they use the most to depend on in their daily lives:

The Brains Tribe:

Peter’s confessional: “Being an ER doctor, it’s going to be difficult for me to not show how smart I am, to just express humility but I can’t deal with ignorant people ‘cause they think they know what they are talking about.”

Debbie: “This game is largely a brain game, and in these challenges I am going to kick ass because puzzles lay down for me like lovers.”

The Brawn Tribe:

Scot’s interview: “I am a former professional basketball player. I was the guy that did what nobody else wanted to do. I could go knock people on the ground” (we see Nick sitting beside him) “I’d push people out of the way, and I did it better than most guys. People I am going to get along with are guys that are strong and if you show weakness: (we saw Darnell then Alicia) Bye Bye. Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!”

Jason: “My bread and butter has always been bounty hunting. You kick in the door, you raid the house, you snatch up the guy, you hog time him up like a pig, you throw him in the back of the pickup truck, and you take off. I don’t care; I just need to get my pay check. And, you’re my pay check.”

The Beauty Tribe:

Anna’s confessional: “I do try to use my looks to my advantage in poker. If I feel like a male is staring at my boobs then I might push them up a little more.”

Nick’s introduction: “My life has definitely been better because I am better looking than most people. That sounds terrible, it sounds awful, but it’s the truth. My looks will definitely help me. 39 days and a million bucks in my pocket at the end.”
Probst: “You are witnessing 18 Americans begin an adventure that will forever change their lives. They’ve been given 2 minutes to get everything off this boat....there are chickens, there are fruit, there are fish traps, there are pots, but there are not enough to go around...You don’t know anybody’s name, you may not like them...”

(Cydney and Neal were shown right then colliding with each other)

Caleb’s confessional: “People will probably recognize me from Big Brother, but being an outdoorsman, this game is totally for me. I don’t mind getting dirty at all.”

Joe’s interview: “It’s very hectic out here, I’m a retired FBI agent, and of course there have been times in the FBI where you have those cases where everything is going a mile a minute...but this to me is going to be the ultimate challenge, so I am pumped for this, this is a real deal for me.”

Tai’s confessional: “I’m like running around like crazy... I’m protecting the chicken, because I love all living creature.”

Jeff then told everyone to get in the water.
All jumped in but Nick was shown hesitating on the gang plank.
Probst: “It is the ultimate challenge....18 strangers forced to work together. They must learn to adapt or they will be voted out. In the end, only one (Kyle and Scot were shown standing up and paddling their raft), will remain to claim the million... (we saw Neal standing up paddling)...dollar prize (finally we saw Nick, Tai, and Michele standing up paddling).

The players that had confessionals in the intro were Peter, Debbie, Scot, Jason, Anna, Nick, Caleb, Joe and Tai. Therefore Lis, Aubrey, Neal, Darnell, Jennifer, Alecia, Cydney, Julia and Michele were left without early airtime. While it’s something to keep in mind, I don’t think we can put as much weight on this like we do in most seasons because it wouldn’t be long before everyone got some interesting screen time.

The choice of early confessionals seemed more like a way to describe the tribes than to define their characters. These confessionals made me think that the Brains tribe will have divisions as Peter’s words suggest, the Brawn tribe will be very unforgiving, even cutthroat while the Beauty tribe will have fun and won’t have too many worries.

Individually, my first impressions are that there will be conflicts between some players after a tribal swap. Scot will probably try to push Nick out of the game as was suggested by the words we heard from him in voice over while Nick was on our screen. Will Nick be able to resist or will he hesitate again like he did when Jeff ordered them all to jump overboard? On the other hand, the fact that Nick had the first “winning quote” could be a very good sign for him. Cydney and Neal could collide once more if they wind up in the same camp. We have to note that Neal was shown standing alone when Jeff talked about only one remaining to claim the million. Was Jeff giving us a hint?

Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk

Brawn Day 1

The music was tense with heavy percussions, a sign of the tension this tribe will feel during this episode. Will it always be this tense for them? If it is then it will be very difficult for the members of the Brawn tribe.

Cydney’s confessional: “Paddling in and looking at my Brawn tribe, it feels like home. The story of my life is about being strong, whether it’s physically or mentally, it’s about being strong.”

Maybe it was a bad early sign for Cydney to be shown just sitting in the raft while others were pulling it to shore. They were the strong ones, not her. This portrayal wasn’t as bad as “Cleopatra” in Marquesas because no one commented on it but it wasn’t good either. When someone says that the story of their life is about being strong, you’d like to see her cutting down trees or lifting a heavy rock. The actions should match the words.

Jason’s interview: “In the Brawn tribe there’s a lot of people that think they’re the greatest. I did six years in the Army; I don’t need to prove to you that I’m a badass. A lot of people find me intimidating. They judge me because of how I look. They don’t realize that I got two daughters and my youngest one has autism. I’ll be the girly girl dad and then I also teach them how to be a badass,”

Partly due to his look, partly by the way he talked, I immediately got a Chris Daugherty vibe from Jason. He is much bigger than Chris but still Jason reminded me of Vanuatu’s winner and the feeling would only grow during the episode. We should also note that he gave us a very nice look into his personality and his family. He may be a badass but we also know that he has a heart.

While the players took turn talking about their jobs, Alecia had a confessional: “People will think Malibu Barbie, she’s not going to be in here long but I’m a lot tougher. I’ve been bungee jumping...shark diving... I’m fearless, I’m daring and I’m opinionated. This is something I know I can do.”

Words, only words but at least it gave Alecia a role.

Scot told them immediately about his NBA career and that got a big laugh. They liked hearing that.

The tribe then set out to build a shelter in the shade.

Scot’s confessional: “I think all of us have a very similar mind set: We are not beautiful, we are not smart but we are strong and I feel lucky right now. I know things change in this game really quickly...but right now, I think we have a great group.”

At this point, of all the Brawn tribe members, only Darnell and Jennifer haven’t given us a confessional. Jennifer will soon have a very nice role so being left out here doesn’t mean much. For Darnell, it is already too late!

Brains Day 1

An eagle soared above the Brains beach while we heard a melody that would make a good score for an adventure movie.

Liz’s confessional: “The Brain tribe is definitely my tribe. That is the attribute that I actually think is valuable because we are able to look for new approaches and slightly different ways of thinking through the problems. (Neal was on our screen at that moment) So we’re off to an immediate advantage.”

Since they would win the first challenge, this confessional will prove to be accurate. Liz played a role in that win so we can say that she is more than talk: She can walk the walk.

That’s when Debbie asked what President Obama (Peter) was doing there.

Peter’s confessional: “Being called Obama is part of my daily life. It’s been like that for seven years. If Debbie is calling me Obama, I guarantee you that everybody else is calling me Obama. If they feel better being crushed by Obama then so be it.”

Debbie started singing her own praises, telling everyone that she was great at making fire and building shelter.

Debbie’s confessional: “I’m a chemist but I’ve been a supervisor, an electronics expert, a caregiver to nuns and, between jobs, I fill in as server at Red Lobster. At 49, I bring a lot of worldly experience with me.”

Debbie then wanted to show a trick to Neal about lighting fire. It didn’t work.

Neal’s confessional: “I have my own ice cream business and people think I’m a dandy in ice cream pants and they don’t know what to make of me. I’m original and eccentric but Debbie has a whole other level of craziness. Supposedly, Debbie has started a fire this way many times. Nobody made any guarantees about their abilities to be the savior of this tribe. If somebody says they are a fire expert and they come on this beach and when it’s really crunch time and they really need to make fire for their tribe but can’t do it? It’s a big concern. Looking back at past seasons, it seems that the really smart folks have some sort of kryptonite so I’m a little concerned about being on the Brain tribe. It could be complete and utter madness.”

From an evolutionary stand point, Peter said that they had to be the first tribe to make fire. Debbie wasn’t giving up but she didn’t make fire.

After their first scene, everyone in the Brains tribe but Aubry has given us a confessional. Like Jennifer, she would have a role that fit perfectly in the theme of the season and she’d overcome her moment of weakness.

The Beauty Tribe

The music was light but quite rhythmic suggesting that things will go well for the yellow tribe. We even saw a colony of ants working together which is a great sign. Another good sign was that the first thing we heard was: “Good job, you guys.”

Nick’s confessional: “Life without a doubt is beautiful. Our tribe is beautiful, we are feeling beautiful, the island is beautiful. We are all excited, we are all happy, we are all smiles and we work well together around camp. Right now, nothing can go wrong.”

While we saw him climbing a tree to get coconuts we heard Tai’s confessional: “Why am I here? Look at me: I’m bald, big ears, skinny little body. I’m thinking when I go home people will ask why they put him on the Beauty tribe... I think my personality will come out. We all have beautiful inside and outside.”

With the guys working on the frame of the shelter, the three women were getting some palm fronds together while talking about the guys. They figured Nick had to be a model, Michele adding that he shaved his arms and legs. That got a laugh.

Michele’s confessional: “Being a bartender is an extremely social job. You learn that personality types want certain things from you. So I was like OK: Who looks like I would get along with them? There’s Tai. He’s always moving. Caleb is super strong and Nick, the tall, dreamy guy of course. I was like: Ha! He’s on my tribe. I get to spend a lot of time with him and he gets to see me disgustingly dirty. Wonderful! Ha! Ha! So, I decided to build the relationship with the girls, you know. The signs were to go with the girls, build the palm fronds, and braid each other’s hair, whatever. The girls had to go with girls, so that alliance felt natural to me.”

Anna wondered if the three guys would align with each other. Julia said that they were too different for that.

Caleb’s confessional: “I’m looking around at my Beauty tribe and I’m sitting here, kind of wondering to myself: why in the world is Tai on this tribe? 50, 60 year old Asian guy who has eye brows 3 inches long, who’s got mister Miyagi glasses. Like I don’t understand, like maybe there’s a lot more than what people really see.”

This confessional proves that Julia was right about the guys not aligning.

Tai’s confessional: “I love all living creatures, especially the plants. I’m a gardener so it hurts me when I see people cutting off branches. It’s like an arm: You cut it off, it cannot grow back the same way. Sometimes I can be very strong about it but this is Survivor: I have to be smart about how I say it.” Tai told the group he was from Viet Nam so that this was like his hood and he knew a lot of stuff. His confessional continued: “I’m from Viet Nam, I lived through the war and I survived. I went into a boat in 1979: 262 people in a 26 meter boat. We were just sitting there like this for 11 days. We had no food, just a little bit of water and we just float, and float and float and we end up in a refugee camp really close to here for a whole year and then we come to America. Through all my life, that’s a lot of things I survived through so I think I have an advantage. Adventure is excitement and I can’t sit still. This is Survivor: It’s once in a lifetime and I’m loving it.”

With Michelle giving us a good comment about the tribe and her game while giving presenting a nice look into her personality, she joins the rank of the people with roles in the premiere. Nick, Caleb and Tai have now given us two confessionals so we have to consider that they will be big characters but it’s too early to say they will have longevity. Some big characters leave early. Julia is the only one that has been ignored up to now in the Beauty tribe. Her role in the challenge will soon fix that.

Brawn Day 1

Our return to the Brawn camp was greeted by music that had even more tension than the first. Everyone was working hard...well, almost everyone.

Jason’s confessional: “It’s a harsh sun. My shoulders are fried, my shins are fried. It hurts a lot but I give it my all, you know. Work physically hard first and start thinking about it as you go along. It’s the type of person I am.” In the middle of Jason’s confessional, Alecia did join them but she didn’t seem to accomplish much. “We need one of the guys to do this” we heard her say. Jason continued: “Blondie...I don’t know her name. I’ll call her Blondie. I have zero faith in this girl. She doesn’t do anything. To me, she’s at the bottom. I have no sympathy for her. I have my own wife and kids to worry about.”

Talking to Scot, Jason made it clear that if worse comes to worse, Julia would go. Scot was on board adding that the plan should include Jenny, Jason and him. The two shook on it.

We went right back to Jason’s confessional: “The truth is that I want as many alliances as possible...” We saw him shaking Cydney’s hand after agreeing on a deal. “In my eyes, these alliances are only meaningful when I need them...” Jason then finalized the three person alliance with Jennifer. “Potentially, they could all be truthful in a way. Every single one of them could be bull. I’ll make that decision when I need to make it.”

Yes, Jason definitely reminds me of Chris and not just because of his features and the dramatic way he talks. He has the same approach to the game, working with everyone but for his own good. It’s also interesting to note that Jason connected with the harsh condition theme by talking about how the heat affected him.

We saw Darnell working with Cydney and we heard him telling us his background story.

Darnell and Cydney made a deal to watch each other’s back. Darnell added that he liked Alecia but that didn’t sit well with Cydney. She wanted to get rid of the two girls first.

Beauty Tribe

This time we had Caribbean music underlining this fun tribe.
The chicken flew the coop but the tribe still had fun chasing them around the trees.

Nick’s confessional: “It wasn’t the best of starts for the Beauty tribe whatsoever. While we were building the shelter, the chickens get out. It was like: This really, right now? We were running around like chicken with our heads cut off and we’re wasting calories but we definitely want those chickens. We got two of them back and 66%, I’ll take it, but it wasn’t the best start.”

It looks like Nick will be the narrator of this group, a group that didn’t look too smart at the moment but one that made the best of the situation. We must note that Tai remained calm and figured a way to keep the chicken under control.

Anna’s confessional: “I love Tai’s approach to life. He takes his time with all of us and when there is something new, he tries to teach all of us and I absolutely love that about him. He taught us how to tie a little rope around the chicken and let them roam around. I love that! He respects all the little creatures that live here.” To contrast Tai’s respect for life, we heard Nick saying: “They are going to be death in a few days.” Anna’s confessional continued: “Tai is definitely someone that I could work with. The three girls, we are pretty tight, but in order to have the numbers and to propel ourselves in the game, we need a guy and Tai is perfect to take along with us. We can use him for sure.”

Julia agreed with Anna about “the Asian guy.”

Julia gave us her first confessional: “There’s a little bit of a connotation with being in a sorority. People underestimate you and they think that’s all you do, that’s how you get by in life by the way you look but I’m really not like that at all. I can pull my own weight and I’ll be able to make connections instantly with these people. I definitely want to stick with Anna and pull in Michelle and I think the three of us could do very well.”

Her quick alliances and her performance during the puzzle showed that Julia can back her words.

Anna gave us another confessional: “Julia came up to me and said: “Listen, Caleb was on Big Brother and I trust her. That actually gives us a lot of information that he was on Big Brother. He had an alliance of nine on Big Brother and he kept it all the way which shows me that he is very loyal. That’s really important for us.”

Caleb was up front with Michelle and Anna about being on Big Brother.

Caleb’s interview: “I’m Beat Mode Cowboy from Big Brother but I am more than that. I want to show everybody what I’m made of. I was in the military right out of high school, I was a prison guard in Baghdad, Iraq. I have been through a lot of things in life that people didn’t have to go through. If I’m going into a competition where I have to stand on my tippy toes for three hours, I will stand on my tippy toes for three hours until the last person gives up. Living my daily life on a farm and being an outdoorsman: This is home to me. I know what it takes to make a fire. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get what I want. I believe I am probably mentally stronger than anyone in this game.”

Caleb proceeded to make fire.

Neal’s earlier comment needs to be remembered here: “If somebody says they are a fire expert and they come on this beach and when it’s really crunch time and they really need to make fire for their tribe but can’t do it? It’s a big concern”. Seeing Caleb seemingly make fire with ease, we have to consider that Caleb doesn’t only talk the talk. He also walks the walk. The Beauty tribe made fire which means, according to Peter, that they are more evolved than the Brains tribe! It’s particularly damning considering that Caleb didn’t exactly have the reputation of being smart.

Brains Day 2

There was again a sense of adventure in the musical theme.

Joe had some interesting words to say to Aubry: “It gets exciting when you get to the end.” He was talking about getting through the bamboo with the saw but it certainly could have a deeper meaning. It could be a clue that Aubrey will feel the excitement of making it to the end of the game. It’s something to keep on the back burner for now.

Joe’s confessional: “I’m 71 years old and I was a hostage negotiator in the FBI. We were on some dangerous assignments at times but I have street sense. I tend to see things before they actually happen kinda. I have this intuitiveness about things. I think I can make it through this gauntlet to be the Sole Survivor.”

Debbie once more showed she was a know-it-all that didn’t really know much when she tried to cut a piece of bamboo with an axe instead of the saw.

The funniest thing was that the editors changed the caption under her name. It didn’t read “chemist” as it first did but “waitress” as if they realized it would be much less dangerous for everyone if she was working in a restaurant instead of a laboratory!

Debbie’s confessional: “Joe and I are work horses. We’ve got the wisdom to know that before we go strategizing about winning the game, we have to stay alive. This is Survivor. You actually have to survive here. So, I’m going to make this camp as comfortable as I can mostly for me and Joe. Because Joe and I plan on sticking around a very long time.”

While Debbie and Joe were working on the shelter, Liz and Neal were working on an alliance. She asked him what he thought of the group. They both agreed that Debbie talked way too much. Neal added that she and Joe, the “geriatric team”, would be too slow. Liz thought Joe was the most likely to be “medevaced”. The two agreed that the four “children” would hold together well. Liz added that she didn’t think any of the four would flip.

That should sound some alarm bells for this tribe. When someone is sure that no one will flip then someone will likely flip (OK, it didn’t happen when Jeremy said they would be stupid to flip but that was an exception!)

Liz’s confessional: “Debbie talks, talks, talks. She talks so highly of herself that I’m starting to think she may annoy everybody to death.”

Neal’s confessional: “When you have six people on a tribe and you know that four of us are going to be quicker both physically and mentally, it makes a lot of sense to try to keep the four younger ones together.”

Peter agreed with Neal that it would be the best plan.

Peter’s confessional: “In our group, we’ve got four young people and two old people. The fact that I say they are old people means that they already stay back. Debbie and Joe are low-hanging fruits so they are going to be eaten first.”

In the old days, a confessional like this meant that Joe and Debbie would probably outlast Peter but nowadays? The editors have lost a lot of their subtlety since Burnett has turned over the direction to Probst.

Beauty Tribe Day 2

In case the viewers had missed the memo that this is the fun tribe, we were greeted by a ukulele strumming a happy tune.

The group was hard at work collecting wood for the shelter but Tai had other ideas.
Tai in an impromptu confessional: “I’m going to look around, try to see if I can find some signs of the idol.”

Tai in a real confessional setting: “This morning, we were walking along the beach and everyone turned around and bring the bamboo back. I have to look for the idol. I have no clue but this is Survivor so there has to be an idol somewhere near here.”

He spotted three dead trees in the middle of the trail so he uprooted them.

(Didn’t he say he loved all living things especially trees?!)

Tai’s actions were quickly noticed by the group. They all realized that he was looking for an idol so they went out to catch him in the act. Michelle and Julia agreed that it painted a target on Tai’s back. We cut to commercial just when Anna spotted him.

When we returned, the music had lost its innocence and we heard the same tension that was heard in the Brawn camp. Nick was with Anna this time when they spotted Tai. It suggests that Tai ran out there alone more than once, pushing his luck a bit too much.

Anna’s confessional: “I was walking along and there’s Tai. As soon as I walk up, he kneels down so that was really weird. I see him padding the floor so, OK, this guy is looking for the idol and I’m just right away: Sketched.” Walking over to Tai, Nick asked him if he had been lucky but they realized he didn’t have a clue. Anna’s confessional continued: “Yesterday, I felt comfortable with him but now I don’t trust you for a freakin’ second.”

Tai made it worse by asking them to give him five more minutes to look for the idol.

Tai’s confessional: “I screwed everything up. It’s not good for me at all. The fact that I went away for half an hour to look for an idol and I got caught.”

Tai had already told them that he’d be looking in the jungle for food so why didn’t build on that? It would have been so easy to go out for a few minutes, look quickly for the idol, bring back some edible roots then go back an hour later, stay a bit longer, bring back some coconuts and then repeat that charade as often as necessary, stretching the outings each time. To lose trust is terrible but maybe Tai can fix it somehow. He does have charisma.

Michelle’s confessional: “I just don’t trust Tai at all. I think that he’s bringing a lot of anxious energy. He made his bed and right now Tai is number one for me.”

The five agreed that they were good, meaning that Tai would be the first to go.

Brains Day 2

A wind instrument was playing a sorrowful melody which ended with a gong. The image we saw of the beach gave the impression of desolation.

Aubry’s confessional: “It’s so hot out here that I don’t think you even realize in the moment how hot it is. You realize it when you start moving slower. It kind of scrambles your brain, it slows you down and you can’t escape it. I think this heat may be one of the biggest factors in this game. I mean; look at me. I went to a prep school and I work in social media so coming from Boston in the middle of winter to being marooned here, it’s like going from black to white. It’s intense. I started feeling a little bit wobbly and discombobulated and your thoughts stop moving in a linear pattern.”

It was interesting to see that out of the five other people on the beach, the two that took care of Aubry were Joe and Debbie. He offered her water and she gave her comfort. Of all the jobs that Debbie listed, it seems that she is best suited to be the mother out there! This makes me realize that Aubry was never heard agreeing to the four person alliance. Hum! Will she be the one to flip to the older group?

Debbie (back to being a chemist) had a confessional: “Aubry comes to me and immediately I knew she was dehydrated, heat exhaustion and anxiety ridden. She was also absolutely overwhelmed by being thrown into a jungle with five strangers.”

After thanking Debbie for her help, Aubry gave us another confessional: “I care about this game, I love it so much that maybe I worked it up too much in my own head. This situation I am in isn’t even about the environment; this is about my own head. I’m a thinker; I get stuck in my own head. I know that I brought this upon myself.”

Liz in confessional: “Aubry wasn’t ill dehydrated; she hadn’t gotten to the point of chapped lips so for her it was more of an anxiety attack. She was just freaking out about freaking out. Whatever impression she is giving up on day two I do think that there’s a significant risk that she cracks again if something doesn’t go well.”

That’s twice that Liz talked about people cracking or needing to be evacuated. Could it mean that she is the one that breaks instead? She seems strong though but who know in a week or so. Some viewers will say that Liz was being insensitive but Aubry herself said that it was mostly in her head.

Neal’s interview: “With Aubry being weird and freaking out, I think there could be a repeat of the first Brains, Beauty and Brawn where Brains was just nuts and got shellacked.”

Brawn Night 2

The soulful wind instruments had moved to this beach. Here, it was Jennifer that was in trouble.

Jennifer’s confessional: “I’m actually worried. I’m not sure but I think I’ve got a bug in my ear and I thought it would be fine: It would crawl out and it isn’t a big deal but, instead of crawling out, it is getting deeper in my ear. I can’t sleep, I can’t get comfortable. It’s just disgusting hearing these little legs crawling around in your head. It’s digging deeper in my ear canal. I don’t know what that does to a person. Emotionally, it does a lot but physically? What kind of damage is it doing? I feel there is blood coming out of my ear...It’s so painful. I prepared for so much out here but I didn’t prepare for some bug to munch me from the inside.”

The morning didn’t bring her immediate relief but it did bring tree mail...

...and I had a pleasant surprise:


Cydney had a hoodie so maybe production finally realized that it wasn’t smart to let them freeze to death during the colder nights.

Jennifer explained in confessional that the critter was digging deeper instead of crawling out. Her tribe mates became worried that she could be pulled from the game.

Alecia in confessional: “It is a concern going into a challenge thinking we could be losing one of our tribe mates because she has a bug in her ear. I think she could be on the chopping block because they want a stronger team so hopefully Jenn is going to be OK for the challenge because I don’t want to go to the challenge with five people.”

Scot’s confessional: “Poor Jenny. She is bleeding and she is in some pain but, selfishly, I’m worried about the challenge today. If we don’t win this, it’s going to hurt all of us. So, quite literally, failure is not an option.”

Since they did fail we have to expect that things won’t go well down the road for this tribe.

Jenn laid down for a while and we saw that a little worm was starting to crawl out but it went back in. Cydney was the first to see it and, finally, Scot was able to grab it and kill it. Jenny recovered almost immediately and she was really pissed off about the incident.

Cydney’s confessional: “I didn’t know how big it was but it turned out to be this big. It’s pretty long for an ear canal so I could see how she was in pain.”

Jenny’s confessional: “I feel amazing. I’m back to where I was before: Ready to take on all these challenges. I got this. Thirty days: No problem.”

Did Jenny just punch her ticket to the finale? It wouldn’t surprise me at all that this confessional was shown to underline just how determined the incident made her and how it will carry her to the end.
The tribe let her have the honor of carrying the tribe flag to the challenge.

It’s usually considered more a chore than an honor but this time it felt different. The tribe usually lines up according to height so seeing Jenny at the end of the procession told us it was deliberate. Either the flag proved too heavy or the producers didn’t like the idea of her bringing up the rear because Scot was later seen carrying the flag to the challenge arena.

The Challenge

Julia was wearing the same knee socks that Sally famously wore. Will she become a favorite like the former Bayoneta tribe member?

It was nice to hear the players choosing their tasks, something that the edit often neglects. Anna and Julia volunteered to do the puzzle for Beauty, Darnell was positive he could dive for the Brawns, Alecia was assigned to the puzzle for Brawn even if she clearly said she wasn’t good at them. Aubry was designated as the primary diver for the Brains.

Aubry’s had an importantly placed confessional: “It hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve been having a bit of a hard time. I could be going home tonight but I’m not going home without giving this one everything I have.”
I noted that Debbie, the self proclaimed excellent swimmer, didn’t volunteer for the job. If we remember her first confessional, she should be doing the puzzle then, right?
When the challenge started, we heard the following comments:
- Darnell, struggling to get in.
- Michelle in the water looking for that first paddle, Aubry in the water. Darnell in the water for Brawn.
- Darnell lost the mask only seconds in the challenge. That was an absolute disaster for the Brawn tribe.
- Jenny jumps in without a mask.
- Beauty has their 4th paddle. Start paddling! Beauty doing a great job and have a nice early lead.
- Aubry with the 4th paddle for the Brain tribe. She did it all herself.
- Beauty is struggling to get the boat into that cradle.
- The Brawn tribe is still in the water.
- We got a challenge with the Brawn tribe making a comeback here.
- It is the Brain tribe now in the lead.
- The Beauty tribe has slipped off the track which makes putting these wheels on tougher. The Beauty is now in dead last.
- It is Liz and Aubry (NOT Debbie) doing the puzzle for the Brain tribe with a big lead right now.
- The Brawn tribe...are now in second place despite taking forever to get their paddles.
- Beauty has blown a big lead but is quickly gaining on Brawn.
- The Brawns are picking the puzzle...Jenny and Alecia have some work to do to catch the Brain tribe. (Jenny had to tell Alecia to get the pieces)
- Liz and Aubry doing a nice job working together. Jenny doing all the work for the Brawn tribe. Alecia’s out, Scot is coming in.
- Brains tribe wins immunity and reward.

When Peter told Aubry: “You are the best” I wondered if that is what this season will show us.

- It’s neck and neck right now. Beauty has it! Beauty wins immunity.
At one point Jason said: “That’s why we’re the Brawn tribe!” I know he meant that they had used their strength to get back in the challenge but, in the end, it underlined the fact that they couldn’t do the puzzle.

Alicia’s confessional: “It is risky at tribal because I am not a puzzle wizard you know but Darnell dropped the glasses and he totally screwed up the challenge. So, the only way for me to stay in this game right now is to try and get them to vote out Darnell.”

Considering the outcome of the vote, it must be noted that this confessional wasn’t given to the player about to be eliminated or the one making the decision, a change from the usual pattern.

The Brawn Tribe Scrambling before TC

Alecia started by apologizing for being unable to do the puzzle. Darnell said it was his fault.
He told us he was surprised to see how murky the sea water was. He realized that the others weren’t talking to him because they were talking about him.
Scot and Jason told him they were voting Blondie.
Scot’s thoughts: “...The two people who are on the chopping block. It’s Darnell and Alecia but really there’s just one in my opinion. Darnell loses the mask. He apologized but he was a dead weight in the challenge. It was just unacceptable.”
Scot told Alecia that Darnell was going home, that she was safe.
Alecia’s confessional: “I don’t think that I can trust Scot but if I can try to be a master manipulator and then vote Darnell; that’s the only option right now.”

She showed that she wasn’t convinced that Scot and Jason were honest with her. She even tried a bluff about having an idol. That angered Scot but he calmly told her that he didn’t like her constant scheming.

Scot’s confessional: “That just blew my mind. I threw her a freaking bone. You are pushing yourself out of this game. We are trying to give her blatant hints to just calm down because the only thing you are doing right now is killing yourself.”
Scot and Jason told Cydney and Jenny that they were voting against Darnell. Cydney told them that Alecia was pissing her off. Asked if she was OK with the plan, Cydney said that it didn’t matter.

Cydney’s confessional: “...I do prefer Alecia to go just based on the simple fact that she doesn’t do anything. I prefer for Darnell to stick around because of our initial alliance. The more numbers I have, the better it is for me. When I get to Tribal, I’m going to make sure people know who needs to go home.”

Tribal Council

Asked about his first impressions of the tribe, Jason said he was satisfied, that they had some people who matched his high expectations.
Jeff noted that he said “some people”, not everybody.
Jason wasn’t afraid to say that Blondie and Darnell were the two that didn’t meet his expectations.
Alecia said it didn’t feel good to hear that. She said she had good intentions and that she didn’t see herself as the weakest one.
Darnell admitted he was the key reason for their loss. He said he tried his best.
Scot said Darnell flat out told them he could dive so he didn’t volunteer even if he has been snorkeling for most of his life.
Alecia told everyone that she was a mental giant and that she wasn’t going to break down.
That comment surprised everyone, especially Cydney.
Cydney felt that what Alecia was saying was just for show.
Alecia countered by saying she was honest and told them she wasn’t going to do the puzzles anymore.
When Alecia said he didn’t fight during the challenge, Darnell countered by saying he rowed and pushed the boat while she did nothing.

Jeff gave Darnell an occasion to present his life story.

Since Jeff knew his rough background, this was obviously an attempt to sway the tribe in Darnell’s favor.

Alecia looked lost for words when Darnell got sympathy from everyone.

It looked like Jeff was going to get his way:

Whispering, Jason asked Jenn if they were doing the right thing. Jennifer answered by saying she didn’t want to vote against Darnell.

Jenny told Jeff that Darnell’s words touched her deeply. She added: “I lost a lot as well and you get tired of losing.”

Jason wondered if they were making the right choice.

Scot said that the players were doing what they had to do at tribal Council.

It was time to vote.

Alecia (who had a dumb blond moment when she tried to write without removing the cap), Scot and Jenny voted against Darnell.
Darnell, Cydney and Jason voted against Alecia.
Jeff left us hanging during a commercial break.

On the revote, we had three votes against Darnell.
Alecia thanked the guys.
Jeff sent them back to camp after giving them flint (I’ve always found that to be a cheap way of getting it) and telling them that there was a theme to this Tribal Council: “If you are going to talk the talk, you better be able to walk the walk.”

The Story

The best thing about the 90 minute premiere with only one challenge is that everyone had a confessional and an opportunity to connect with the audience. Contrary to most seasons, I don’t think I could call anyone a spectator or an extra because they all played a role. We still had some players that were featured more than others; some because of their strategic input, others because of their struggles. Our job will be to see if the same players continue to have the strategic roles and if the players who struggled will be able to rebound while keeping their airtime.

The three tribes had equal numbers of scenes before the challenge but they had fairly different stories as indicated by their musical themes:

In the Beauty Tribe, it was mostly fun and games and everyone got along until Tai’s search for the idol broke the harmony. Still, this tribe looks like it won’t have many visits to Tribal Council. Despite the knuckle cracking in the Brawn tribe and the intelligence of the Brains tribe, the Beauty tribe seems to possess a more even distribution of the skills required for these challenges. Since second place is just as good as first then the Beauty tribe should fare well. They work well together and they were the only ones that had fire on day 1. If a swap happens in the fifth episode as it did in the first version of this format then the six Beauty tribe members could all make it there. The fact that they had 4 of the 9 opening confessionals is certainly a good sign for them.

The Brains tribe had more ups and down and a clearer division along the age groups. We didn’t get a good look at their shelter but it looked like the smallest. Of course, winning a tarp will change all that but one has to wonder if they will keep their momentum. We’ve already heard them talk about being as bad as the first Brains tribe so maybe they will get to visit Jeff soon.

The Brawn tribe dove into a tense atmosphere from the very start. Jason is a schemer and it appears that Alecia is also. Add Cydney who is trying to get the numbers on her side and this tribe seems really divided. However, some of that was due to the edit. With Jason first voting against Alecia, Jenny saying she didn’t want to vote against Darnell while Scot had no problem writing Darnell’s name, it looked like they weren’t on the same page. I believe that was never an issue. I think they entered Tribal Council with a plan to split the votes in case one of the two targets had an idol and then vote against Darnell on the second ballot. For the two guys, it may be better that way because they don’t have to worry about the Cydney-Darnell alliance. For Jenny, it’s great because she still isn’t the weakest of the group, something that could have happened if Alecia had left and Darnell had stepped up nicely in the next challenge. How will the tribe react from this loss when we heard Scot say that failure wasn’t an option? It’s even more troubling when we consider that this challenge was built for Brawn. The key element was pushing the boat/cart up the hill and while they did well there, it wasn’t enough. They have to wish that the other challenges will be equally physical.

Looking at the overall story, I think we will have two main themes. This season it will be all about the “Harsh Conditions” and the “Need to Prove Yourself”. The first was presented in the promos and in Jeff’s introduction while the second is derived from Jeff’s last words at Tribal Council and his comments before the challenge when he said they had to choose the right people for the different tasks. Another way to look at that second theme could be that “Actions Speak Louder than Words”.

As for narrators, I think we are off to a good start. Nick was definitely the narrator for the beauty tribe suggesting he lasts at least until the swap. While Jason talked a lot, it was mostly about his game so Scot turned out to be the reporter for the Brawn tribe and we know he isn’t going anywhere soon. For the Brains tribe, we seem to have two narrators: Liz and Neal often had back-to-back confessionals relating the events of the tribe. Liz was a little more positive while Neal expects disaster. It’ll be amusing to see if these roles are maintained.

The Characters

They were all Talk: These three players haven’t backed their claims

Alecia: It’s not very good when you describe yourself as a “mental giant” and everyone rolls their eyes. To understand Scot’s frustration just before Tribal Council, we have to imagine that the episode didn’t show all of her scheming. She could very well push herself out of the game if this tribe returns to Tribal Council in one of the next 2 episodes. She needs to show that she can be a docile ally, not a scheming one. Maybe TC will have shocked her into it.

Debbie: I found it funny when the editors switched from “Chemist” to “Waitress” as her job description. It wasn’t as hilarious as Phillip’s famous question mark but it seemed to tell us that even the staff didn’t quite know what to make of her. For all her boasts, she didn’t do anything during the challenge and she didn’t get into the tribe’s main alliance.

Cydney: She told us that she would get her tribe to see the light during Tribal Council. She wasn’t able to deliver on that promise and she didn’t do much during the challenge either. With Jason, Scot and Jenny forming the main alliance, Cydney has to worry that Alecia may become the easier one to drag along, especially if they avoid the next Tribal Council or two and Blondie has time to show her loyalty.

The Undetermined: Any of these players could prove themselves in the next episodes but they could also become secondary characters

Joe:
He seems to be there for the adventure, a player on a journey instead of a real contender. His introduction told us that he considered this the ultimate adventure and not much more.

Nick: I really liked his grand entrance, sitting on the prow of the ship as if on top of the world. Unfortunately, that kind of body language doesn’t go unnoticed and Nick seems set up for a confrontation with Scot who mentioned knocking people to the ground right when he was shown sitting next to Nick. It’ll be very interesting to see if those two wind up on the same tribe and which one comes on top. We can’t forget that Nick had the first winning quote and that there weren’t as many of those this time as we had last season. It could be meaningful. Despite the women’s alliance and Tai’s big role, I don’t think the tribe would risk losing one of their strongest members in what looks to be a very physical season.

Peter: Despite an opening confessional, Peter had a very bland episode. For being compared to Obama, he didn’t show any leadership skills and he certainly didn’t act as a unifying character for the tribe. He mostly talked about their division, already splitting this house in two.

Neal: While we have to remember that he was shown on screen alone when Jeff mentioned that only one will remain to claim the million, Neal was a very pessimistic character. He vividly remembers Luzon and expects this new Brains tribe to follow the same path. Will the win change his mood? That will be something to watch in the next episodes. It’s rare that an eventual winner is heard talking negatively about his tribe mates so Neal isn’t off to the best start.

Tai: The charismatic gardener had it made. The three girls had fallen for him and he seemed assured to make it far in the game. Now, we aren’t so sure because he lost their trust with his little escapade in the jungle. Tai is so likable that we have to think no one would be dumb enough to keep him around to the end but that’s what I thought of Jeremy and look what happened there... For now, we have to say that Tai’s actions don’t measure up to his words. Yes, he climbed up a tree to get coconuts but he can’t be called a provider yet. He certainly didn’t bring back food from the jungle. He also failed to find the idol. He’ll need to fix the damage that his search created.

Proving Themselves: Whether by their role in the challenges, their position in their group’s alliance or their survival skills, these players are our front runners, the ones that already fit the themes of the season

Liz: She was definitely not as negative as Neal but, like him, she has doubts about her tribe. Still, she backed her words by helping the tribe win the challenge. She’s in a four person alliance or so it seems. I’m not convinced that all the children will want to see their “parents” leave. Keeping her alliance together could be Liz’s biggest challenge.

Caleb: He had a great episode, making fire and using his strength to push the boat up the hill. Better still, he saw his history in Big Brother turn into a positive for the women. They remembered him as a loyal ally and seemed to have forgotten that he had a creepy crush on one female player, falling in love with her practically overnight. Caleb isn’t a smart strategist but he could go far if his social game holds up. If he gets close to the end, he could become a threat to win the remaining challenges. He seems much more relaxed in the jungle than in the house.

Jennifer: Since the cameras were able to catch the little worm coming out of her ear then the whole scene about her distress was definitely going to air. What I liked was that she was given a confessional afterwards, showing her resolve. Her goal is to make it to the end and she already got over a big hurdle. The viewers will say she did her best in the challenge but didn’t get the right help from her tribe mates. All this connected her to the audience and many will be pulling for her. We will have to see if she carries that momentum in the next episodes or if she disappears behind her tribe’s two big guys.

Aubry: Despite not getting a confessional in the opening, Aubry still gave us a good first impression with the way she plunged into the sea and into the game. Her anxiety attack could be an indication that she won’t be able to cope with the harsh conditions but I saw it the other way around. It wasn’t the conditions that affected her as much as it was her own worries. That victory will do wonders to her morale so I think Aubry will be fine. Peter already told us that she was the best. That could be a hint of what to expect from her down the road. For now, Aubry has to be considered a top contender.

Scot: The mountain man had a terrific first episode. He proved to be likable and a strategist, a much better Survivor than Cliff, Rocker and Culpepper. I’m not convinced that he’ll go as far as Hogeboom though! He may be making a mistake putting so much trust in Jason but right now they need each other. With Darnell’s elimination, these two will certainly remain in control of the tribe. What piqued my interest were his words about knocking people to the ground. How will that apply when he has to deal with members of the opposing tribes? I’m expecting sparks!

Jason: I think he was the big star of the evening and quickly became a top contender. He is a strategist and a very entertaining character in confessional. If I add those traits to a vague resemblance and a red t-shirt then Jason made me think of Chris. Jason’s main problem could come from a collapse of the Brawn tribe because no one would let him skate by if he doesn’t have the numbers. That’s where the comparison to Chris fails. If the swap falls just right, giving him an opening to make new allies, then he could be a force down the road. Like Chris, he certainly knows how to make quick and varied alliances.

Julia: I was very impressed with all three women of the Beauty tribe and it certainly wasn’t only due to their looks. All three understood the social aspect of the game and quickly bonded. That makes them all contenders for the end game. Of course, the real test will come when they are confronted by members of the other tribes. As for Julia in particular, I liked her approach to the game. Despite being the youngest one out there, she understands it. She quickly made a bond with Anna and they aligned with Michelle. They both liked Tai but more importantly, Julia told Anna about Caleb and saw a way that they could use him. The challenge looked lost for the Beauty tribe until Julia and Anna saved them in extremis. Julia didn’t boast about her puzzle skills, she just did it which fits nicely with the theme of “actions speaking louder than words”.

Michelle: Like Julia, she had a quiet episode but it wasn’t without interest. Even if Anna and Julia appeared to be closer, it was Michelle that got credit for forming the women’s alliance by simply being the first to talk about it in confessional. She also gave us a good assessment of her tribe and added a fun comment about being seen by Nick when she is “disgustingly dirty”. It adds a nice layer to her character. She is on the Beauty tribe but she isn’t caught up in her looks. It’ll be important to see if she can play an active game but for now it was enough to see her inside a tight alliance.

Anna: With Aubry, Jennifer and Jason, I think Anna has to be considered a top contender. Most viewers will make a big deal of her introductory confessional, saying that “pushing up her boobs” isn’t a way to play the game, even less of a way to present an eventual winner but I think she showed that she was much more than a beautiful woman. She had an important confessional in each of her tribe’s segment, she formed an alliance with the other two women, forming a close bond to Julia and she is in a good position to choose which way the tribe would vote if they have to go to Tribal Council. Her performance at the end of the challenge connected her to one of the two themes so we just have to see how her story evolves from here.

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6. "RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk"
So happy to read this, Michel! I will comment along with you.

I also felt that the 2 people that were chosen to have confessionals were all because their confessionals were in sync with their tribes. Peter spoke of trying to hide how smart he was, Debbie said that puzzles laid down for her like lovers. Scot noted how he did what nobody else wanted to do in the NBA, he shoved and pushed people to the ground, and he was good at it, while Jason will do whatever he has to do to get that paycheck. Nick was very self aware, saying he's had it easier in life because of his looks, and Anna uses her virtues to help her get what she wants. All excellent reflections of the way they were divided.

For me, I felt that the 3 other characters got confessionals for just that reason, they will be the characters of the season. Caleb, the BB star, cowboy, country boy, Tai, the Vietnamese born gardener and lover of all creatures, and Joe, the 71 year old brawny brain. I think that the majority of them will have an impact on the season, especially after watching the first episode.

Regarding the 3 zoom in shots when Jiffy stated, 39 days, 18 players, 1 left to claim the million dollar prize....we first saw Scot and Jason, then we saw Neal alone, but it was when they said left to claim the million dollar prize~ I had a pause at first, that he could be the winner? But, on retrospect, after seeing the premiere in it's entirety, I did wonder if they showed him then as he's already a millionaire? It crossed my mind. Then we saw the beauty's, Nick, Michele, and Tai.

I will add here that Scot and Jason scare me....so scary, and when I think of all the physical challenges they have, it's frightening. Jason didn't give me Chris vibes, but, now that you mention it, I can see why you say that. Chris was my absolute favorite winner.

As you note, I got that there will be conflicts as well. I got that there will be one between Peter and Debbie, especially how his confessional segued into hers....stupid people, think they know everything, then hers. I also felt that Scot and Nick will go head to head at some point, (run Nick, run!), and clearly, Neal and Cydney. I also noticed that when Tai had his first confessional regarding saving the chickens and lover of all creatures, then we immediately saw Scot grab the loose chicken and it appeared to me as if he wrung it's neck, so contrasting to how Tai treated the chicken...two extremely opposite ways to handle the chicken. Whose approach will outlast this season?

I noted that also regarding Cydney's first confessional, when she wasn't doing any of the work on the raft. I also loved Jason's confessional too and was happy to hear he can be a girly daddy!

Alecia's confessional felt very shallow, all about her adventures, if she did those she can do this...?

While Jenny didn't get a confessional, she was seen as socially organizing the group, I thought. A good screen presence.

So funny when they were going around telling everyone what they did and Alecia said, real estate, condos and apts. I wished they would have shown us the reactions when Jason told them what he did...I have to wonder if he told them he was indeed a bounty hunter?

Cutting to the Brains beach with the melodic music, happy, islands, and the soaring eagle as well, a very good sign for the Brains. I have to wonder if they got the soaring eagle this week because their tribe won the challenge? Is the eagle foreshadowing to the episode challenge winners? Or, is the eagle a good sign for the entire season? We'll have to watch closely to who gets the soaring bird of prey.

Liz comments how she's happy to be on the Brains tribe and they are starting with a definite advantage ~ nice comments on her, michel, walking the walk!

...then Debbie comments on how Peter looks like Obama. Peter rolls with it and has a confessional about it, but he ends it with:
if they feel better being crushed by Obama, then so be it.

Regarding Neal's confessional, he tells us about himself, then Debbie, a whole other level of craziness, and then talks about her talking smack re: fire, but not delivering, then ends the confessional: Looking back at past seasons, it seems that the really smart folks have some sort of kryptonite so I’m a little concerned about being on the Brain tribe. It could be complete and utter madness.. I took this as a down note, and a negative for Neal. At this point I don't know if he's cynical, or a realist? I'm perplexed regarding him...

Debbie does go on and on regarding her many vast jobs and experiences. Boy, I have to say she does remind me of Coach, and she's definitely a character.

Cut to the Beauty tribe: Where we hear lots of happy upbeat, islandy music, and we see bug colony's busy at work, which makes me think they are going to be happy and busy and work well together, and that is just what we found. I was so happy to see that Nick can be amiable and upbeat! I thought his video was pure arrogance and negative. He had the first confessional at Beauty about how wonderful and beautiful everything is and how they are all working so well together...."nothing could go wrong". I knew this meant something, turns out it was the prelude to the escape of the chickens.

Tai questions why he is here and ends it with, I think personalities may come out, we all have beautiful inside and outside. (At least that is how I heard it?) Well, said, Tai.

I found it hilarious when the girls were speculating as to the jobs of the guys and Michele said that Nick was probably definitely a model of some sort, proving that Nick had insight and self awareness with his first confessional about how he has had it easier in life because of his looks. Funny? I take all of this that Michele likes what she sees with Nick....

Michele had the next confessional about being self aware as a bartender and then spoke about all the guys, saying how Nick was the tall, dreamy guy that would see her at her dirtiest. Clearly, Michele likes Nick...

Michele aligns with all the girls, and Julia thinks that the guys won't align all together. Then after we see the girls all talking about the guys, the guys do the very same thing and start talking about all the girls. Comical!

Then Caleb looks at all the beauty's in the tribe and wonders why Tai is on their tribe...but he figures it out...like maybe there is a lot more to him than we really see... *Excellent insight regarding Julia's words that they would not align altogether, Michel. I agree with you!

Then, Tai tells us that he loves all living creatures, especially plants, then goes on to tell us his story. How he fled Viet Nam during the war, and escaped on an over crowded boat with nothing to eat and little to drink for 11 days, and made it somewhere close to Cambodia, and lived there as a refugee for a year, until coming to America. Then he tells us of his love for adventures and how it's a once in a lifetime chance to be there!

It's easy to see the beauty in Tai, he's so charming and gentle! But, I do think he is a little hyper, as some of his tribe mates have noticed. I think Michele commented on it.

Back to the Brawn tribe and I did not even notice if there was music:

We see Darnell trying to make fire with Cydney. Then get a confessional from Jason commenting on the kind of guy he is, do the physical stuff first, he ends it by talking about "Blondie" and how he has no sympathy for her as he has his own wife and kids." He is certainly a "cut to the chase guy". We see him go to Scot and they concur, and he states, you, me, and Jenny. Scot agrees.

Then we see Jason talking to Cydney and sealing the agreement with a shake, and his confessional continues. He speaks of alliances and says he wants as many as possible and that they are only truthful if he needs them to be, they all could be, but, they all could be bull. I will make that decision when I need to.

Then, we see him talking to Jenny and aligning with her as well, and after he shakes her hands, he asks, You don't happen to have any matches, do you? hahaha! I had a chuckle at that, and he is disarming me with that humor of his.

(My favorite part of the episode was when Scot and Jason were talking about how big to build the shelter and Scot said there are only 5 of us, and Jason said, 6. And, Scot commented he was on the Brawn tribe!)

When Darnell and Cydney agreed to watch out for each other, Darnell liked Alecia but she wanted to stick with the guys and get the 2 girls out first....I was happy that this was predictable from her intro video.

Will Cydney be so predictable for the rest of the game?

When Darnell went to use the bathroom right out in front of their beach, I said, uh oh, that could be the reason they get rid of him? Seriously, it would be reason enough for me to get rid of someone! Yuck, at least walk a mile down the beach....please!

Darnell did have a good sense of humor about it though. #reading material

Cut to the happy music Gondol tribe, Beauty's...

We see the chicken's escape and then we get a contrasting confessional from his last one from Nick regarding the escape of the chickens, how they are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, but they got 2 back, 66%, he'll take it.

Tai suggests tying them up by the leg, the girls are happy, they are so much happier, and Nick says to them all, they'll be dead in 2 days! I found that funny...

Anna comments on Tai's nature and she is drawn to him, has 3 girls but needs one more....would like to work with Tai. Then we see Anna talk to Julia about him, and they really bond, and are so excited! I felt this confessional was out of order, and that this probably happened earlier? Regardless Julia tells us how she will be underestimated,
and she predicts the 3 girls could do really well. As you noted earlier, Julia's assessment of the guys not aligning tightly together was underlined by Caleb's confessional, so I have to wonder if her assessment of the "3 of them sticking together" will indeed have them doing really well? I'm optimistic with these three.

Julia then tells Anna that she's 99% sure Caleb was on BB. Anna has a confessional about how that helps her because Caleb had an alliance of 9 and he stayed loyal to that, that's really important to us!

So Anna, has the 3 girls then she comments on wanting to pull Tai in, then Caleb. Will Nick be the first boot from Beauty?

Caleb admits he was on BB to the girls, and he tells them he didn't want it to ruin his game.

Then, we get the Caleb confessional. Caleb is seriously getting a hero edit. The editors are loving him. He was stellar in the intro, I thought. He had his priorities straight with gathering important stuff in the first 2 minutes, the chickens, the huge bunch of bananas, chopped the raft down to gather everything on, then he ended it all with fun and a flip into the water. During this confessional, there is HERO music playing underlining his character.

He's more than the character, Beast Mode Cowboy, from BB, and he wants them to see it...(see him in the palm tree high up chopping palm fronds and Michele comments that he's on the right tribe, he's beautiful up there...)

I was in the military right outta hs, I was a prison guard in Baghdad, Iraq, so I have been through a lot of things that a lot of people have not had to go through, if I am in a competition where I am standing on my tippy toes for 3 hrs then I am going to stand on my tippy toes for 3 hours...until the last person gives up.

Then we see Caleb making fire, and he succeeds! Hear the hero music still playing, and they all cheer and celebrate, happily!

Living my daily life and being from the outdoors this is home to me...
I know what it takes to make a fire, i’ll do whatever I have to do to get to what I want. I believe I am probably mentally stronger than anyone in this game.

Caleb is the dream Jiffy/EPMB contestant. He's got solid values, foundation, he's comical, he's a very hard worker, he's buff and handsome, and he is "Beast Mode" in challenges, or will be. He'll give it his all for the team.

Then we cut to the Brains tribe: We see them working well, and Debbie has a confessional about working hard for her and Joe, we have the wisdom to know that before we go strategizing to win the game we’ve got to stay alive. This is S, you actually have to S here. I think Debbie hits on one of the main theme's of this season, perhaps, that was introduced in the intro, the harsh physical conditions. We hear that she is planning on sticking with Joe for a long time. Possible foreshadowing?

Then, we hear Neal and Liz smack talk her out in the ocean, she's "chatty, chatty, chatty and will not shut up...

Liz in conf. notes that she just might annoy everyone to death...(I feel that Liz is the narrator for Brains, fwiw.) Neal says that they won't flip out over any stupid thing... ~ foreshadowing


Then, we see Neal start talking about the geriatrics, and what do you think of an alliance of 4, the children? Neal has a confessional about how he thinks the 4 young ones will be quicker mentally, as well as physically. When he talks to Peter about his plan, Peter is all over it, Neal shushes him, the doctor, about sound traveling well over water, and then Peter asks who he wants to get out first, and Neal replies that they will see how they do in challenges. (they both did great in the challenge ~ winning).
Peter deferred to Neal's plan, and so did Liz...they were eager to go along with it, thus making Neal their defacto leader....hmmmm?

Then Peter echoes the plan with the low hanging fruit, Debbie and Joe, they will be eaten first.

We see the sun set, and then the happy music, Beauty's...

Then we get Tai telling us he had to go look for the idol. This was so perplexing to me. Clearly, Tai must have felt like the odd one out, and he went to search for the idol. But, we had heard earlier all about how he loved all living creatures, especially the plants, and was concerned about cutting off their limbs, then we see him up root young trees, single-handedly....he threw them back in, but??? He manhandled those living creatures for his own selfish reasons, so I found this perplexing. He is playing hard, and perhaps a little too hard.

They catch him, and it ends with a conf. about he screwed up. They are all on to him. NOT good for Tai. Anna tells us, he's out, and so does Michele. Enemy #1. *great observations with perhaps Tai going out multiple times to look for the idol, michel!

Then, cut to ominous music, woodwinds, and see the glaring sun, see the hot horizon...a nod to the extreme harsh conditions...BRAINS day 2, see them on the beach sweating like crazy, doing palm braiding....dripping sweat.

Aubrey: It’s so hot out here I don’t think you even realize how hot it is in the moment. You realize when you start moving slower, it kind of scrambles your brain, you can’t escape it. I think the heat might be one of the biggest factors in this game.

Aubrey is being perceptive as the intro has told us. But, she's having trouble adapting....as we see...She complained that she didn’t have her faculties with her to even sit still and take care of herself, Debbie was attentive to her....can you guys just like help me? With like fruit and water? Neal: sure, just lay down...debbie: yes, Neal's right, just lay down and relax....Debbie has a confessional about it.

She goes to the others for help, and Debbie is sensitive, and Neal is helpful.

...and Aubrey is grateful to her, and wonders if she brought this on herself?

Liz recaps and is dubious, if she did it now, she'll do it again. Neal has the same sentiments and questions if this will be a repeat of the first brains beauty and brawn where the brains goes nuts and just got shellac’d?

Then, we see the sun go down behind clouds and get more ominous music, and we have the bug incident. Alecia, suggesting it's just water in her ear and Jenny snaps, my ear is bleeding! Alecia is worried it could be her if they lose.... We see it unfold, Scot expresses concern for the challenge, and then it comes out. Cydney, the pre-med student, screams when she sees it, EWWWWWW....let's Scot handle it. Hmmmm? Don't know if medicine will be her forte?

Cydney comments on the bug incident.

Then Jenny has the confessional, come on, bring it, I'm ready, 39 days!

*Regarding Cydney's hoodie, she had it on during the marooning, it was tied around her waist. fyi.

Cut to the challenge...When Jiffy began to speak and he commented: where you will be the first person voted out of this game, that is a distinction that nobody ever wants, see Neal shake his head no, as if he will be the first person voted out of the brains tribe, at least it gave me that impression. I got a lot of Positive vibes from Julia...

As you noticed when the Brawns delegated the puzzle to Alecia and she told them she wasn't good at them, that's certainly a bad sign. Will they continue to make bad choices? (*they are the Brawn tribe

Here is the dialogue from the challenge:

Beauty in the boat first, then aubrey in......darnell loses mask...Jenny jumps in without a mask... Michele has first paddle...Caleb saves it....Brawn having alot of trouble, Jenny has first paddle, paddles get deeper with each one. Aubrey has the third, Jenny has their second, beauty has their second, then Jason dives in...Aubrey with the fourth, did it all herself, beauty tribe is back...working together nicely, takes everybody, brains tribe closer...brain tribe is back...brawn tribe still in the water, has fourth...beauty tribe, that is team work....brawn tribe here, brawn tribe digging, beauty has it, clip in, put on wheels, brains are in, brawn is in...brain tribe now in the lead....Beauty tribe has slid off the track, hard to get going...brawn has 4 wheels, beauty now in dead last...brain tribe untying the puzzle box......taxing challenge for everybody, never give up in this game....Liz and Aubrey doing a big lead, Brawn now in second......beauty has blown a huge lead but quickly gaining on Brawn, puzzle ...Jenny says get the f’g peices to Alecia, who is just standing there...

~keep digging beauty....beauty going with puzzle...Caleb drops the box at the platform....Jenny doing all the work for the brawn tribe, Scot comes in...Anna and Julia trying to figure out the clues to solve it....brains win....hug...

congrats, see Aubrey, then Beauty, nobody going home, see Caleb, Tai catches the flint...see Alecia...see Darnell in the middle of the screen.

Brawn men, said we need to communicate....Jenny crying.

Positive vibes with: Aubrey, Caleb, Julia, Anna, Jenny. Negative vibes: Alicia, Darnell

Alecia has first conf. post challenge. Admits that she's not a "puzzle wizard", and her only chance is to go after Darnell. I think she's weak, she's a talker, she's not mentally strong, but she's a schemer....I think she's the more dangerous of the two.

Darnell has first conf, about growing up in Chicago, he accepts the blame, knows he's in trouble. I didn't feel that Darnell fought hard enough at camp, post challenge, at all. But, then again, maybe we didn't see it...? We did see him trying to bargain with the guys...If you save me, I'll promise loyalty, don't have to worry about the merge....blah, blah...

Regardless, Scot gets the next conf. and says it's between Darnell and Alecia, but from his vantage point, it was all Darnell who was the "dead weight".

Goes to tell Alecia that she'll be safe, but she doesn't trust him. When the guys were talking to her about the idol, she wouldn't tell them that she didn't have it....I think that she's trouble, far more than Darnell, very weak and not mentally sharp for challenges. Clearly, do not understand how she got on the "brawn" tribe.

Cydney has the last confessional, and says that she wants Darnell to stay, and that she'll try to point that out at TC....cut to TC.

Things I noticed: Jason had no trouble calling both Darnell and Alecia out, noting you don't express doubt, if you do, you have lost before you start...

Jenny empathized with Darnell, but it seems they were set in stone, although it was Kyle Jason that questioned it to Jenny. I felt they tied the vote on purpose to flush out an idol if there was one, then when they re-voted, they voted out Darnell.

Thoughts:

Beauty: Happy, hard workers, making the most of what they have, most confessionals in the intro, initial thoughts: All got a good introduction. I think the key player could be Anna. Even though Julia only got one confessional, I feel like she's a solid contender. She's got a strong screen presence as well. But Michele has an affinity for the girls and Nick as well.
While Nick could be the narrator I feel a lot of this tribes vantage point is coming from the girls, and specifically, Anna.

Brawn: Powerful forces in the tribe: Scot and Jason. The real player in the bunch=Jason. Wonder if any of the girls are significant to the season? Nice speculation though on Jenny. I would be so happy if this were the case because I really do like her and she does have a nice screen presence. I am reserved regarding Cydney and Jenny. It appears that Jason likes Jenny the best of the girls. I think the guys may have wanted to get Darnell out because either he didn't "fit", or they wanted to draw Cydney in closer. I feel that Cydney could be their little soldier? Jenny seems the most on the ball, most mature, committed. Would love to see her go far.
Wonderful comments on the brawns, michel.

Brains: This tribe is the most perplexing to me. We hear about the "Children Alliance" vs. the "geriatrics". But, I also get a vibe that someone will flip, (alliances revealed?) and I agree, after this episode it appears it could indeed be Aubry. And, you are right to notice that we never saw Aubry agreeing to the Children's alliance....hmmmm? I have mixed feelings about Liz, Neal ~ negative vibes. I think Peter looks like he's in good stead for the time being. I have to ask, is this tribe going to tolerate a "female Coach"?

I felt that we started out with 2 confessionals from each tribe that epitomized their tribes. We then went to the respective camps with happy music, seeing them all start out with stars in their eyes, eagerly, happy, full of optimism and anticipation, then we return to camps with their first set backs. For the Brawn: setbacks like weak players, bugs in the ears; for the Brains: Aubrey's dehydration, anxiety attack, and Beauty's escape of the chickens.

I think the theme of this season is going to be the horribly harsh conditions, extreme temperatures and humidity and how Survivor is really about Surviving first, as Debbie told us and as Jason told us. Will it truly be more about "outlasting" the elements this season? It definitely will not just be about surviving the challenges, the "others", but also the elements and clearly the elements could be the most formidable of them all.

I will end with noting that this season has a tremendous amount of BIG physical people: Scot, Jason, Cydney, Nick, Caleb, Peter...with all of the big strong physical threats around, there are targets for everyone. It makes me feel that it will be a female that wins this season!

Wonderful first assessments and observations as always, michel. Great thoughts regarding your ones that are proving themselves. And, I also like the theme of "actions speak louder than words". If that was the basis of the winning edit, I would say after this episode that Aubry and Julia have the best chances! I was so happy to see Aubry do so well at the challenge, I'm rooting for her too.

You know there is always so much about the editing, it can be used to lead us or help us find the winner, OR it can be used to MISlead us regarding the winner. Just with the 5 minute intro, when Scot told us he'd get along with the people that were strong, and we saw a shot of Darnell and Jason, which led me to believe, falsely, that Darnell would be safe. But, in retrospect, we can see that the camera really focused on Jason, and Darnell was in the foreground. So, it's very tricky. Last season, the editing supported a Spencer win, I thought, at least until the final episode. So, this season, I am going to really try to be patient with my contenders.

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02-22-16, 11:02 PM (EST)
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7. "RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk"
I always enjoy reading your comments, FP. The following made me laugh out loud: "Cydney, the pre-med student, screams when she sees it, EWWWWWW....let's Scot handle it. Hmmmm? Don't know if medicine will be her forte?"

Like you, I also laughed at the 5 players lapsus from Scot. Basketball is played with 5 so maybe it was understandable. I like how he recovered.

Most people have been very impressed by the women of the Beauty tribe. Michelle intrigues me the most because of her comments about Nick. What happens if Julia and Anna want to save Tai and boot Nick? Will Michelle go along or will she try to save the good looking Nick? Will Nick have it easier on Survivor also?

You could be right about Caleb's "Hero" edit. I didn't notice that he had a musical theme so I'll have to pay attention but just the fact that his caption reads: "Army Veteran" instead of "Former BB Player" is a big indication of what to expect. It makes me think he could be medevaced after collapsing, trying to stay too long on his tippy toes.


Regarding Aubry,over on RHAP I pointed to something I saw on rewatching the challenge: Aubry was just seconds behing Tai when both retrieved the 3rd paddle but then Tai came up with the 4th and the Beauty tribe had time to reach the beach before Aubry came up with that 4th paddle. What caught my eye that time was that she didn't have a mask. I thought she had lost it but someone told me that Neal tweeted that he lost it. So, at one point, Neal took a relay, lost the mask and Aubrey had to go back in for the last paddle. Yet we heard nothing from Jeff about it. Makes me wonder: Was it ignored because Brains won anyway. Was it presented that way to make Aubry look like she didn't even need a relay...or was it to save Neal from being seen doing a "Darnell"?


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02-23-16, 07:37 AM (EST)
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8. "RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk"
LAST EDITED ON 02-23-16 AT 07:41 AM (EST)

Editing = Sneaky, sneaky!

Very, very interesting that you "relay" that info, Michel. They must have done it because of one of four reasons:

1. It didn't matter to the outcome, and Brains won anyway
2. Jeff was too busy in the moment and didn't even catch it
3. They are trying to hide Neal's "Darnell" for some reason
4. They made Aubry look way better, to redeem herself from her anxiety attack? I do recall that Jiffy called Aubry out by saying, Aubry getting all 4 paddles all by herself!


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02-23-16, 08:29 AM (EST)
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9. "RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk"
#3 would mean Neal has to be considered closely. #4 points to Aubry as a big contender. However, there is a #5: If we had seen Neal losing the mask but because Brains still won, how would we have accepted the excuse that Darnell had to go? So maybe they were protecting the Brawns, Scot in particular.

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02-23-16, 09:10 AM (EST)
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10. "Neal on my radar"
LAST EDITED ON 02-23-16 AT 09:13 AM (EST)

Neal, he's really an enigma for me at this point. Shown alone on the raft on the intro, but could be because he's already a millionaire, kind of like Shirin.

Then, when Jiffy said that "you don't want to be the first person voted off your tribe", they zoomed in on Neal shaking his head, no. This really raised a red flag* for me with Neal. I just can't help but think if Aubry were to flip, as we've commented on, and there was a tie, it's possible that Neal could be blindsided.

*red flag: AS seeing Darnell and Jason in the shot when Scot spoke in the intro about people that he would get along with, the strong. Sneaky, sneaky

You know what would be ironic and funny: If Aubry flips and votes Neal with Debbie, Joe. Then, Peter, Liz, and Neal all vote Debbie. Then, Debbie and Neal don't vote, and Joe/Aubry still vote Neal, and Peter/Liz still vote Debbie, then they go to fire challenge, and DEBBIE BEATS NEAL! After all the smack talk in the first episode about Debbie and her fire, that would be just desserts! But, that wouldn't happen, right? They would do rocks before fire challenge, correct?

But, this week, IF, the Brains were to lose, there is no siting of Neal in the promos. In the press images he's seen killing a sting ray for his tribe to eat ~ a very positive. If he were to be booted this week, it would definitely classify as a hidden boot.

But, he's still on my radar.

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02-24-16, 01:04 AM (EST)
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11. "RE: Neal on my radar"
Unfortunately, they would go to rocks when there are 6 people left. This time, none of the four voters would be immune so I don't think they'd risk it. I don't see Neal leaving.

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02-24-16, 03:57 AM (EST)
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12. "RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk"
LAST EDITED ON 02-24-16 AT 04:13 AM (EST)

>Liz: She was definitely not as
>negative as Neal but, like
>him, she has doubts about
>her tribe. Still, she
>backed her words by helping
>the tribe win the challenge.
> She’s in a four
>person alliance or so it
>seems. I’m not convinced
>that all the children will
>want to see their “parents”
>leave. Keeping her alliance
>together could be Liz’s biggest
>challenge.

I'd be watching to see whether her comments about nobody being stupid enough to flip and that Joe was the most likely medievac comes back to haunt her - i.e. Liz falling victim to a flipper or getting evacuated from the game.

Best end-game vibes: Anna, Julia, Jason, Michele and Aubry. I'm sensing a female winner this season. Scot will be the great character that goes out shortly after the merge.

Not feeling it about Jennifer/Scot as potential frontrunners/endgamers the way you are (at least not yet - it's still very early). I agree with the Chris comparison for Jason - if my inclination is right about it being a female-dominated season, then the Chris comparison becomes even more apt considering he was the final male with six females in the final 7 in his season.

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02-24-16, 08:39 AM (EST)
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13. "RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk"
I'd be watching to see whether her comments about nobody being stupid enough to flip and that Joe was the most likely medievac comes back to haunt her - i.e. Liz falling victim to a flipper or getting evacuated from the game.

I agree with the Chris comparison for Jason - if my inclination is right about it being a female-dominated season, then the Chris comparison becomes even more apt considering he was the final male with six females in the final 7 in his season.

Great comment on Liz, Pepe! Excellent points on both the flipping comment and the medi-vac comment! I bet they both could indeed come to fruition!

Chris: Wow! You are money! Chris won in a season of girls vs boys, and he ended up the last man standing with ALOT of girls left ~ Ami, LeAnn, Scout, Eliza, Julie, and Twila were ALL in the game when it came down to just Chris. I, too, get a female winner vibe, but if Jason can pull off what Chris did, he's got my vote! Great contrast!


RIP

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02-24-16, 11:43 AM (EST)
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14. "RE: Episode 1 - Walking the Walk"
LAST EDITED ON 02-24-16 AT 11:45 AM (EST)

Great points, Pepe. In the old days that would be certainly a hint of what would happen to Lis. The problem is that last season Jeremy said the same about the Bayon tribe and look what happened there...

Over at RHAP, a poster named Donald made a nice comment about the first two people shown in close-ups:


Darnell shown as if looking at Neal. We could almost imagine envy in his gaze! Could it be the first player eliminated looking at the last standing? I had to ask if that would also mean that Debbie finishes right behind Neal?


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02-24-16, 02:25 PM (EST)
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15. "Hmmmmmm....?"
Wow, pointing that out makes me think that Neal could be the first person voted out of his tribe, michel.

Couple your observations from above along with the editing from the first challenge, at the start when Jiffy noted, "losing tribe going to TC, and where you DO NOT want to be the FIRST person voted off of your tribe", With that, the camera ZOOMED in on Neal, who was seen shaking his head, "no".

This makes me think that Brains could possibly be the decoy losing tribe, and they win, sending Brawn back to TC, Alecia goes. There has just been no hint of Neal going yet.

This is a crap shoot this week...

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02-27-16, 01:56 PM (EST)
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16. "Episode 2 - Changes"
Jeff’s Recap

18 new castaways were divided into three tribes.
The Brain tribe had a ton of knowledge and no one’s résumé was longer than Debbie’s but it didn’t impress her tribe.
Liz in confessional says that Debbie could annoy everyone to death.
At the Beauty tribe, the women thought they could use Tai but Tai got caught looking for a hidden immunity idol making himself the odd man out.
The Brawn tribe was flexing their muscles out but Alecia couldn’t keep up with the heavy lifting.
Early in the game, the harsh conditions were already taking a toll but Aubry wasn’t the only one losing her mind.
We see Jenny in pain with the bug in her ear.
In the first immunity challenge, Darnell and Alecia were a mess. exposing Brawn’s weakness.
At Tribal Council, Alecia fought to stay in the game and her tribe gave her another chance sending Darnell home.
Jeff was once more heard saying: “If you are going to talk the talk, you better be able to walk the walk.

The biggest manipulation of this recap concerns Alecia’s actions at Tribal Council. This week, Jeff says that she fought to stay in the game but last week we clearly saw that it was Darnell that made the biggest effort to stay. Once I heard this, it seemed obvious that Alecia wasn’t going right away and maybe not anytime soon.

We also saw that Cydney did vote for Darnell so it seemed obvious that this was their plan all along, that the three votes on Alecia had been protection against an idol.

The other players mentioned were Debbie, Tai, Aubry and Jenny so we have to wonder if Jeff is more interested in the odd characters or the players. The women’s alliance in the Beauty tribe was only mentioned in passing as a way to get to Tai’s story and we heard nothing of the young people’s alliance in the Brains tribe. Despite Jenny’s exit, some of those odd characters could have longevity. We’ll just have to figure which.

Changes

Brawn Night 3

Alecia thanked everyone and promised to step up. Jenny said that she was glad that Alecia was still there. Scot asked if she finally trusted them. She said yes and added that they could trust her.

Alecia’s confessional: “I thought they were going to vote me out tonight. Fortunately, Darnell ended up going home. But what threw me off was if you guys want me here why are you talking so much crap to me in tribal? I almost wonder, I could be wrong, but I saw Jenny and Jason whispering a lot during Tribal and there was one point where I thought I heard someone say: I change my mind. So, maybe they were going to vote me out. I’m just really confused at this point.”

The music was playing the familiar kooky theme, underlining Alecia’s confusion.


*Wheels of Confusion

Still, the episode would show that there is a lot more to her.

Jason in confessional: “The truth is Blondie was this close to going home tonight. She should be thanking her lucky stars that she got to spend three more days here or whatever long because I will be honest, she is driving me nuts.”

Jason said: “...or whatever long...” when referring to Alecia’s length of stay in the game. I think she could irritate him for longer than he expects.

Jennifer’s confessional: “To be honest, we started to reconsider our vote. Jason, Scot and I are like: Are we doing the right thing?”

We saw Jason, Alecia and Jenny all trying to make fire with their newly acquired flint but all they got, according to Alecia, was an embryo (sic!). That remark was followed by
Jason’s comment: “She’s so dumb.”

Beauty Day 4

The music was quite relaxing, befitting a tribe that has had very little worries up to now. It makes me wonder if the Beauty beach could have a much better location than the other two. No one in this tribe has talked about how hot it is so maybe their beach is angled favorably for the predominant winds. As FlowerPower showed in the vidcap thread, their camp isn't surrounded by the same dense foliage as the other two so maybe it helps to cool things down to a tolerable level. It could also mean that we are simply meant to see a worry free group so all talks about the conditions are being edited out.

The rhythm of the music changed when the five young players walked to the ocean, leaving Tai alone.

As Tai observed from the shore, Michelle found a big clam.

Tai’s interview: “I have no idea what my standing is with the tribe. So I want desperately to go out and look for idol but I got caught the first day and I don’t want them talking behind my back.” Tai decided to go really fast. “I want to go back to where I was the first time because that’s the most obvious thing.” Tai found red ants first but then he spotted a yellow clue sticking out of a tree. It was telling him to dig at the bottom of the tree and there, he found a box and a clue telling him where the key to open the box would be. “It’s a twist that they’ve given me. I thought it was the idol... but actually, it’s a clue so I thought I don’t have time for anything. I don’t know how much time I spent already. Hopefully they are still at the beach.” Despite his fears, Tai looked around even more until he spotted something tied high up on a palm tree. He attempted to climb it but couldn’t quite reach it.


*A National Acrobat

“The palm tree is like sand paper, sanding both my thighs. My whole chest is burning. The bottom of my foot is bleeding. I cannot get the idol. I have to get back because I’ve been gone too long now. I’ll have to get back another day.”

This was a great effort but Tai came a little short. On one hand, I like the idea of putting it up a tree because it seems the best way to retrieve it would be to work with someone but I don’t like the fact that there’s a big risk of injury. How bad are those cuts? Tai seemed to be bleeding quite a bit so there’s a risk of infection. I also couldn’t help but smile when Tai said he decided to go back to the same area. I made me wonder if the clue was relocated once production realized where he’d be searching.

Brains Day 4

With kerosene, matches and Neal who admitted that he was a bit of a pyromaniac as a kid, it didn’t take long for the brain tribe to make fire. In fact, it caught so quickly that Neal almost burned himself.

Liz in confessional: “It feels so amazing that the Brains tribe won the very first challenge of this game. We’ve been feeling really cohesive and tight and this victory has really solidified us even better.”

Feeling dehydrated, Liz wanted to put another pot of water on the fire.

Some scenes from different part of the day or even from different days must have been spliced together because we had just seen Liz drinking from a big cup while Neal was lighting the fire. She couldn’t be dehydrated just then.

Debbie in confessional: “Elizabeth is a very smart girl. However, the chances of there being organic chemicals here that we have to boil and filter the water are virtually slim to none. It is absolutely in my realm of experience to be able to judge water just by looking at it. I mean keep in mind I have 20 years experience analyzing water! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

If my source of water was being examined by just looking at it, I’d worry! But a few years ago, we had inside information from a staff member saying that the water in the well had always been drinkable so Debbie is right even if she goes against Survivor lore. Remember Bruce’s t-shirt water filtration system and what happened to his system!

Part of Debbie's confessional was heard in voice over while we saw Debbie and Aubry walking together to the water well and commenting jokingly on Liz’s need to boil water.

The scene suggested that Debbie and Aubry get along well enough to talk behind Liz’s back.

Peter said that Debbie and Joe didn’t look sick even if they hadn’t been drinking treated water but Liz wasn’t sure they hadn’t caught any parasites.

Peter’s confessional: “Debbie marches to the beat of her own drum and when I first saw her, my first question was: Does she have 30 cats or 40 cats? The answer is that she probably has 40 cats at her house, right now.”

Peter and Liz started counting Debbie’s jobs.

Liz’s interview: “I think Debbie wants to prove to everybody how strong she is and how competent and capable she is but she doesn’t realize is that all talk, if it’s not backed up by anything isn’t going to get her anywhere.”

Peter gave another confessional: “Debbie is not exhibiting much game play whatsoever so she is the person you want on your team” (Liz was shown at that moment) “That’s exactly what you want is a Brain that has no game. I’m keeping Debbie for as long as I can.”

Seeing Liz, the perfect contrast to Debbie, during Peter’s confessional, made me think that he would not want the Quantitative Strategist on his team because she would have plenty of game. There are some interesting dynamics in this tribe and it will be very interesting to see how things develop once they got to their first Council. I don’t think Debbie will be the one voted out.

Beauty Day 4

Once more, we heard calypso music we paid a visit to the Beauty tribe.

They were enjoying sugar cane for breakfast. One woman commented that Caleb had the appetite of a child. Tai agreed.

Tai had another confessional: “If I want to get the idol, I have a huge amount of work to do but I don’t know how to go about doing it. So, right now, I think I’m going to lay low. I think my charm, my personality will help me connect with people on my tribe.”

Tai told Caleb that he was “cuddlelicious”. That comment made everyone laugh.


The cameran has different taste!

Caleb’s confessional: “Where I’m from, you don’t see Tais. He’s not your average country guy. First night I was here, Tai was: “Hey man! I’m cold. Can I cuddle you to warm up?” Yeah man! You can hold me to warm up. There is no such thing as homophobe in this guy right here. I like hanging out with him because he is one of a kind for sure.”

Survivor is sure bringing out the better side of Caleb. Of course, we don’t have live feeds to show the unedited version.

A bee entered camp. Caleb wanted to kill it but Tai wanted to protect it.

Julia’s confessional: “Caleb and Tai are the most different people I have ever met in my life. Caleb is a country boy, he’s a hunter. Tai is a gardener who is so concerned about animals and the environment.”

Michelle’s opinion: “They’re just two totally different personalities that you wouldn’t think connect and somehow they just get each other. The bromance is real out here. They bicker like a married couple and then they kiss and make up.”

Tai then tried to steal a kiss from Caleb making everyone laugh once more.

Tai’s comment: “I was totally going for the kiss. Just to tease him. I know he can take it. I think he liked it a little bit.”

Is the Beauty tribe having too much fun? I’m worried about their chances down the road. I’m sure someone must have commented about the danger of a pair even if it is as odd as the Caleb-Tai duo. Nick, for one, knows the game so well to figure it could marginalize him and he must have had a confessional during this cycle but we were not meant to hear it. If all is fun and games for this bunch they will not be able to resist to the more focused players from the other tribes.

Brains Day 5

Once more the eagle soared over the Brains’ camp and we saw a colony of ants carrying a lot of provisions. The music was mostly soft chords and sticks, quiet enough to underline the importance of the upcoming scene.

Noticing that everything they had to make fire was damp and that they had lost most of their kerosene, Neal showed his frustration in confessional: “The kerosene is frustrating because we started with this little very valuable jar and Joe put about a third of it on the fire and then let it tip on its side and we lost most of it. What is going to happen if we don’t have our fire is we are going to drink from the well and people could get sick.”

Joe’s confessional: “There’s a lot of practicality in being here and I would say the two most practical people are Debbie and me. I have a lot of survival skills having a military background. The rest, I think, have book knowledge (Peter and Aubry shown on screen) but it’s not the same thing.”
We saw that Joe couldn’t start a fire with the matches.

Talk about survival skills! Joe’s assurances aren’t being confirmed by the cameras.

Liz’s interview: “I was pretty upset about the fire because I was dying for some freshly boiled water and Joe wasted a lot of kerosene and destroyed most of the matches.”

She gave advice about the ember but Joe was quick to interrupt: “I’m taking care of it, Liz.

Joe’s confessional: “Liz is becoming kind of a pain in the butt. She knows everything about everything and it’s like come on already, please.”

When Liz talked about the possible pathogens in the water, Joe replied: “Pathogens my butt.”

Joe’s confessional continued: “As far as I’m concerned, everything Liz knows is book knowledge from stringing together a rod to get coconut to sprinkling ant dust against ant attacks to making a charcoal water filter thing that don’t work. It’s like, you know, I’m in a kindergarten camp and it’s just irritating”


Ingenuity or failures?

Looking at Liz’s filtration system, Neal seemed to agree with Joe!

While Liz’s contraptions looked interesting, we have to say that it would be better if we actually saw that they could deliver results. There haven’t been too many coconuts seen in the Brains camp and her charcoal filters haven’t kept up with her need for water. As for sprinkling dust, I’m not sure of its effectiveness against ants. (It certainly didn’t work with the Man in Black!)

We saw Liz walking out of camp and we joined her at the beach where she gave a confessional: “I’m feeling emotional because I’m physically very weak right now and Joe doesn’t seem to care or appreciate that I need a fire going. I hate being emotional, I hate allowing myself to not do the logical thing at every given point. I know that I am capable of being patient and calm until I can get some water in me so I just need to hide myself for a little bit until the fire is going.”

After Aubry in the first episode it’s now Liz’s turn to have a moment of weakness. It’s interesting in light of what Liz said of Aubry last week. Will Liz be the one to crack? Maybe, but it’s also possible that we are being presented with another young woman who will prove herself to her rival. Compared to Jason, Joe is more curmudgeon than bully but there is a parallel to draw from this situation and the one that Alecia faces in the Brawn tribe.

We followed the eagle to the Brawn Tribe on Day 5

You could see the effects of the heat over the water.


*Hand of Doom


The Brawn tribe was also having problems making fire. Even Scot said that he was spent. “I have no energy because I have no fuel.”

Jennifer in confessional: “Everything is going wrong for the Brawn tribe. We can’t make a fire so we don’t have any fresh water. We can’t cook the chickens so we don’t have anything to eat. We might look brawny but we are weaklings at this point, weaklings.”

Jason was shown on screen when Jennifer said the word weakling.

Scot noticed the severity of Jason’s sunburns.

Jason’s confessional: “My shoulders are fried, my shins are fried, my thighs are fired but I was in Iraq and Afghanistan so I can live with it, I can embrace the suck of this. I’m used to the suck. I just keep chalking it up to another horrible day and move on. I need to stay in the shade.”

While the rest of the brawn tribe went to sleep in the shelter, Alecia decided to try her luck with the fire.

Alecia in confessional: “At this point, I have to feel like I’m at the bottom but I don’t believe in quitting. I don’t believe in giving up so I need to show them why they should keep me in the game and I’m going to keep on trying until I see flames.”

At first, the tribe dismissed her effort as just a way to save face since she knew she was at the bottom. Two hours later and Scot was laughing at their own misery while Alicia was still striking the flint.
She certainly could hear them laughing so it probably reinforced her resolve.

Five hours had elapsed and even the monkeys were yawning! The tribe was fast asleep but Alecia was still at work.

Jason was shown once more when Alecia talked about not giving up. The image made it look like Jason had given up despite his claim of moving on. As for Alecia, I think she was about to change the opinion of many viewers, first by saying she hates quitting and next by making fire after five hours of effort. Showing us just how long she worked on that flint turned her into a very strong person, one that could endure and prevail even when the mountain man Scot had failed.

Alecia in confessional: “I’ve been over there by myself trying to make fire and I look over and the hit man (so Jason did reveal his job) and the NBA player are having nap time and it’s just frustrating.”

Suddenly she announced: “I got fire, I got fire.” Jason rushed over but she added: “It’s going out. We’re losing it”

While Alecia blew on the embers, trying to get the flame to catch, you could judge her effort just by looking at her dirty hands.


*After Forever

The strain on her face when she looked up and asked for baby sticks was another indication of her valiant effort.

Jason took over on the flint and soon there was fire!

I wonder about Jason’s intentions when he stood behind Alecia and said: “Y’all ___ are welcome.” Was he trying to get the group to thank Alecia for saving them or was he trying to get part of the credit himself. For my part, he was like the reliever who takes over for the starting pitcher who had been throwing a gem for 8 and 2/3 innings but is taken out of the game at the last moment. Sure, Jason earned the save but who made all the work.

Jennifer’s confessional: “One thing I love about Alecia is that she is not a quitter. She’s tough and that grew her self-esteem so much, she so badly wanted to contribute in such a huge way and we need people like that. I mean, this fire, it has saved us.”

Scot in confessional: “Now we have fire, water and food and that is huge. We definitely needed that if we want to start winning challenges.”

The scene ended at night after a good chicken dinner with a group hug.

32 season of Survivor and I’d say very few hugs were as well deserved as the one Alecia received...and they were still going to vote her out. Incredible!

The Challenge

When Jeff announced that Darnell had been voted out of the Brain tribe we saw Nick and Anna sharing a smile.

The reward was the ultimate fishing kit and a boat waiting at camp.

Jeff said that they should be able to catch fish and feed themselves with this kit so let’s keep an eye on Beauty’s performance in the next episode.

Debbie and Julia sat out of the challenge.

Once more, Debbie failed to seize the opportunity to back her words with some action. People compared Debbie to Coach but after that cheerleading display I can’t really agree. She’s just loud and irritating. It can be funny for a while but hopefully not for 14 episodes.

Caleb showed that he was the fastest runner, arriving ahead of everyone at the log.

Brawn and Beauty were the first out with their logs.
Brain was falling behind.

Going through the obstacle, it seemed like Neal took leadership of the Brain tribe because he was the one telling them to “heave”.

We heard Jeff say: “Caleb takes a big fall, Tai takes a fall” but despite that “Beauty is first out.”

It is worth noting that, for the second time, Jeff said that Beauty had lost a big lead. Will it happen in the game also?

Caleb, Scot and Peter took the shots for their respective team.
Caleb was the first to hit his targets, offering immunity and reward to the beauty tribe.

Brawn and Brains were tied, one shot short of immunity.

Scot showed that he was one of those players that are better without the ball. Being a career 70% free throw shooter, you’d expect him to have better aim but I guess he didn’t adjust as fast as the others. We have to note that this was another challenge that should have favored the Brawn tribe yet they are 0 for 2.

Jason’s Confessional: “You don’t want to go down as the worst tribe in history and let me tell you our ship is sinking and we’re on our way to that record.”

Brawn’s Scrambling scene

Jennifer tried to revive the fire while Scot and Jason went back to the shelter. Scot admitted his failure: “They connected and we didn’t.”

Scot’s confessional: “We’re going to Tribal Council again. Fortunately, Jason, Cydney, Jenny and myself, we’re strong. We genuinely like each other. I would be shocked if one of us turned. That leaves Alecia.”

Jason’s confessional: “Blondie? She’s a ditz and a half. A ditz! I’m sure she’s got a good heart and good intentions; she’s just dumb. She’s always confused. She’s like an ostrich: She’s a bird but she can’t fly so she’s useless. We got to get rid of her.”

Useless? Who made fire?

Alecia decided to take a walk but they all figured she was going to look for the idol. Jason was convinced she’d never find it.
Out in the jungle, Alecia commented: “It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Alecia’s confessional: “I’m getting a little worried about Tribal tonight because not once did any of them ask me to be in an alliance with them. I guess that is telling me something. There’s still an immunity idol out there but where it is the Lord only knows.”

After hearing Jason say once more that Alecia was dumb. Jennifer had a confessional: “I had an alliance in the beginning but it’s funny what six days out here does to you. You really get to know people for who they are and what they are. To be honest, Jason is starting to ##### me off.” (The hit man let out a loud burp just then, adding to his “charm”.) “I don’t like his attitude. He just sits around talking about Alecia and I’m tired of it.”

To show his bad attitude even more we saw him accidently throwing some of the skin that he had pealed from his shoulder into the pot of water. When Scot made him realize what he had done, Jason simply said: “We’ll feed it to Blondie.”

Jennifer joined Alecia and asked her what the best thing was that she could do in the game. Alecia first said: “Be honest” and then “win challenges”. Both times, Jennifer said no before finally answering: “Getting out the strongest players now while you still can.”

It’s rare that I transcribe the confessionals of the player that is booted because most are pointless. Being a member of the main alliance gave Jennifer a good look inside the Brawn tribe so her confessionals reveal a lot.

Alecia quickly followed up Jennifer's suggestion: “We get rid of one of the big guys. Us girls stay strong then we make the merge. When we make the merge, they go after big guys like them... and we have a better chance of not being picked off.”

If Alecia makes the merge, we’ll have to expect to see her go much farther. She may only need one or two challenge wins to become a late gamer.

The two brought Cyd into the plot.

Alecia in confessional: “It’s funny how quick things change because I thought I was going home and then Jenn’s like: “Let’s do an all-girls alliance.” If this works and Jason goes home tonight instead of me, I will be really excited. I might even do a little happy dance. Like, I’m going to be stoked.”

The two explained their position to Cydney adding that the game was about big moves.

The two guys were convinced that Jennifer and Alecia couldn’t be together. Scot went to talk to Jennifer in order to confirm her position.

Jennifer’s confessional: “I have this thing they call low impulse control. I chase shiny objects or sometimes when I hear ideas I think: Ho! That’s a good idea, let’s do that. But then I realize that blindsiding Jason is also me blindsiding Scot and I actually like Scot and I trust him so I don’t know what to do.”

Jennifer went to Cydney for advice, saying she could go either way right now.

Cydney’s confessional: “Jenny was like: “I got a little ahead of myself, we can do this later and I’m like: What is going on? When did this tide turn? The girl is just all over the place. She got the balls going back and forth like that. Every time I turn around, something is going on but I know it’s really up in the air at this point and that’s a very dangerous way to go to tribal.”

What stood out in this scene was that Cydney got the last confessional before Tribal Council for the second week. It must mean something but maybe not more than a way to confuse the viewers. For one thing, Cydney’s connections have been the most hidden on this tribe. We know that Jason and Scot are extremely close and that Jennifer appeared to be their third but we didn’t know exactly where Cydney fit in that foursome. We only saw a brief moment between her and Jason when they agreed to work together but Cydney had never been shown talking to Scot or even to Jennifer before this last segment. It makes it easy to create suspense when we don’t know where everyone stands.

Tribal Council

Jeff first turned to Alecia, wondering if she was still on the bottom.
Alecia said she had done well and pulled her weight around camp. She added: “Hopefully, it’s not going to be me tonight.”

Jason showed he was not convinced.

Jeff turned to Jennifer saying that things could go in many different directions; that the three women could take over.

And Jeff expects us to believe he doesn’t know exactly what went down in camp!

Jennifer walked right into the trap: “Things are all up in the air.”

That got the attention of Jason, Scot and the guy holding the cymbals. Cydney threw her arms up showing that she couldn’t believe the plan was going to be exposed.

Scot told Jeff that Jennifer’s words made him question things.
Jason agreed that the game can turn on a dime.
Jennifer tried to cover her tracks: “Ideas get thrown around but you guys assume that the plan was changed.”
Scot said that things changed only when Jennifer said things were up in the air.

Despite her effort to throw it all on Alecia, Jennifer never recovered. Strangely, she stood on her stool at one point to plead her case.

Cydney said it was about being in the wrong place at the wrong time and saying the wrong things to the wrong people. “Since there is no place to hide, you have to know who is loyal and who is not.”

Jason had a funny way of putting it: “It’s never happened in this game that someone went to their alliance and said: “Guys, just to let you know, I’m considering a flip. I’ll get back to you depending how things work out. If it doesn’t, we’re still good right?”

It was time to vote.
Jennifer and Scot voted for Alecia,
Alecia, Jason and Cydney voted for Jennifer.
Alecia didn’t quite do a happy dance but she liked that very much.


*Never say Die!

Jennifer’s last words: “See you guys. Hope you win lots more challenges.”
Scot didn’t appreciate that dig.
Jeff’s last words: “Tonight’s Tribal Council is a dramatic example of how quickly the game can change. One wrong word and it goes from good to bad which means it could also go from bad to good.”

The Story

Like many second episodes, this one wasn’t able to build on the momentum of the first. The problem is simple: With the recap, the challenge, the losing team’s scramble and their Tribal Council, there’s barely enough time to spend in the other two camps. 90 minutes gave us that time but not the regular format. After seeing everyone getting confessionals, we now had many players that didn’t give us a confessional. I expect it was only a pause in their stories because they had good premieres.

That being said, it’s still remarkable how the fortunes of some players changed. The Brawn tribe can almost be eliminated from consideration, especially its two big guys. While Jeff said things could go from good to bad or from bad to good, we have to consider another possibility: Things could go from bad to worse.

The Characters

The Bad Tribe – It’s highly doubtful that the winner will come from this tribe.

Jason: Jennifer used the same words to describe the bounty hunter that we saw in comments about him after the premiere. Hearing him talk of his experience in Iraq and Afghanistan gives him some important personal moments but there’s no way to ignore his comments about Alecia. Instead of being perceived as the scheming villain, we were shown a street bully. Personally, I think Hantz was much worse but, to my amazement, the viewers accepted Hantz’s awful treatment of the women of Samoa. I understood that it was largely due to the power of editing. The fact that we were always hearing his thoughts and that no one was playing as hard as he was made him a fan favorite. We don’t follow Jason as closely and we see that he isn’t playing the game a mile a minute so we have enough distance to judge him more objectively. Also, the camera never showed Hantz when someone talked about being miserable or being weak because he was the one working while others huddled in the shelter. Twice the camera showed Jason when Alecia talked about weaklings and quitters. It also helped that Foa Foa was completely blind to Hantz’s dirty tricks so we never heard one of them complaining about him like Jenny did with Jason. All this to say that, after a promising premiere, it looks like Jason won’t make it to the end.

Scot: Hearing Jennifer say that she still liked Scot and didn’t want to blindside him gave the NBA player some needed distance from the tribe’s bully but he was laughing along at Jason’s comment about Alecia. We saw him sleeping while Alecia was hard at work on the fire. That is a big indication that Scot won’t win. Like Alecia said, he will most likely be the first player eliminated after the merge or maybe even a swap.

Cydney: She was expected to be the crazy one on this tribe, the one that would let her multiple personalities take over. Instead, she has become the voice of reason. We saw that she considered making the big move against Jason but quickly realized that Jennifer was too wishy-washy. Part of having a good social game is showing calm resolve in order to reassure your allies and Jennifer certainly fell short in front of Cydney. It’s interesting to note that Cydney got the last confessional before TC once more and that she had one of the last interventions at TC also. Was it simply because she was the biggest variable or is it to portray her as the one making the final decisions? We’ll have to keep our eyes on her.

Alecia: From a certain early boot, I think that Alecia has the edit of the last person standing from her original tribe. There was no need to show that 5 hours had elapsed before she finally got the fire going. The montage could have made it look like it took her 15 or 20 minutes at most but they turned her into quite the valiant player. 5 hours, that's like two marathons and getting close to the time needed for the Iron Man* triathlons. She may be confused but she was smart enough to realize that all she has to do is make it to the merger. Then, it becomes a new game and she won’t be seen as an immediate threat. I don’t think she’ll be able to use her opportunity to the fullest because she still had a terrible presentation in the premiere but she’ll have a chance to rejoice at a few more Tribal Councils.

The Fun Tribe – Things would have to go from “Good to Great” but that rarely happens on Survivor so they probably won’t be ready when things get serious

Nick: He appears to be isolated in this group but we don’t even hear him talking about it. From what is shown, Nick has no alliances and he isn’t even trying to form one. That’s when we realize that we don’t see everyone’s story. Hopefully, it’s because there is plenty of time for his later.

Anna: Like Nick, she was ignored during this episode. Anna had a small presence on camera during the tribal scenes but nothing to compare with her strong premiere. She wanted to use Tai but seeing him getting so close to Caleb had to make her think. We didn’t hear those thoughts but then again things are going well for this tribe so it doesn’t end her story.

Julia: The tribe’s cheerleader gave us a comment about the “Rudy meets Hatch” odd couple of the Gondol tribe but that comment was simply descriptive. It didn’t give us any information on what she thought of the pair from a game perspective. Like Nick, Anna and Michelle, her story was on pause and we will have to see how it picks up before we can say if she is a long term player or not.

Michele: She gave us a little more insight into the tribe’s couple but her comment wasn’t much more informative. Considering that both confessionals were simply about the present situation, it made me think that we should enjoy the funny pair while they last. I doubt that Caleb and Tai will wind up on the same tribe after the swap and then rejoin at the merger. Being picked over Julia for the challenge could be a good point for Michelle but then again it may have come from drawing straws. She wasn’t highlighted in the challenge at all; Jeff only talked about the Beauty tribe as a whole during the race portion of the challenge.

Caleb: Talk about reversal: The guy that desperately wanted a showmance with the beautiful Amber on Big Brother winds up in a bromance with the odd Tai. Caleb’s stay in Big Brother had given him the reputation of being homophobic and we saw him bullying Nicole so it is surprising to see that Survivor is giving him the chance to redeem himself. The thing I took away from his stay on Big Brother was that he had no game and we still have no evidence that he can outwit anyone. Still, he was the challenge’s MVP and we see that he can be friendly so he’s a dangerous player to keep around.

Tai: Like I noted above, I like the fact that there is a challenge associated with getting the idol but I don’t appreciate the danger involved. Cuts easily get infected in those unsanitary conditions and Tai will certainly try once more. I think he should seek help from someone to get up the tree but he is being a little paranoid* about his standing in the tribe so he is unlikely to tell anyone about the idol. When we saw that Tai was on the cast, I was immediately reminded of Yau Man and it’s funny that both their stories center on the idol. Like Yau Man, Tai has connected with a guy on his tribe but Earl was definitely more game savvy than Caleb and the Fiji duo was mostly concerned about making it to the end game, not cuddling to stay warm at night or stealing kisses! Seeing them together was not as funny but it did get one to the million. I doubt we will see the same game from this pair.

The Complex Tribe – Even if they haven’t gone to Tribal Council, we get the sense that some of these players are prepared to play the game

Joe: The tribe’s curmudgeon hasn’t really used his survival skills for the good of the tribe. Instead, he seems to have hurt the tribe by wasting the kerosene and letting the matches get damp. He’s shown as a complainer instead of a worker. He should be looking to be the tribe’s father figure and the way to do that would be by being the provider and the calming presence around camp. The fun grandfather would be a better role for him than the grumpy old man. Rodger Bingham had a better time on Survivor than BB.

Debbie: Even if she didn’t contribute to any of the two tribal immunities, she is the one that is profiting the most from them. Having two more members than To Tang, the Chan Loh tribe has some latitude if they ever go to Tribal Council. In a three tribe format, it isn’t so much a numbers game anymore because no tribe can enter a twelve person merger with the clear advantage. Therefore, keeping a weaker player like Debbie isn’t as detrimental as in a season with only two tribes and no swaps. Before anyone objects that Debbie could be stronger than either Aubry or Liz, I’m only going by what the players around them have said: Peter and Neal both commented that the pair of older players would slow them down and Debbie was the one that sat out at the first opportunity. The Brains without a game could certainly be an asset down the road but is Debbie really without game? Her tight alliance with Joe will certainly encourage her to try something that Peter may not like.

Aubry: Like Nick and Anna, Aubry mostly disappeared from our screen this week after a nice role in the premiere. We did see her walking with Debbie to the well and smiling at Debbie’s comment about Liz. We never heard Aubry’s thoughts on the four person alliance or even if she formally agreed to it so she could have a surprise in store for us. If Peter sees that a Brain with no game can be an asset then maybe someone like Aubry will think that a Brain with game is too dangerous and she will turn on Liz.

Liz: Her moment of weakness could be an indication that Liz is the one that will be pulled from the game instead of Joe and Aubry, the two she mentioned as likely medical evacuation cases. I’m hoping that won’t happen because I want to see Liz, the game theorist, show us her game. I loved seeing her contraptions even if I have no idea if they will bring results or if they will turn out to be the 2016 version of “Superpole 2000”!! Liz shouldn’t have hesitated between dehydration and drinking questionable water. Even if she didn’t hear from a staff member that the well water is always drinkable, she should still want to avoid the immediate effects of dehydration. A day or so of untreated water shouldn’t worry her too much, certainly not to the point of having to step away from the tribe to recover. Will Liz take control of the vote or will she be blindsided? That is the main question in the Chan Loh camp.

Neal: He took over for the tribe while they were carrying Jeff’s big log but he let Peter take the shots at the targets. It seems that the two are working together but only the vote will confirm that. Will the two talk about keeping Debbie or will Peter keep that as his secret plan? Neal could also beat Peter to the punch because he seems more likely to connect with Debbie. The guy that wore a bow tie to the marooning should be more in tune with the tribe’s odd ball than its resident physician. Despite an acceptable showing so far, the only confessional we had from Neal in this episode centered on the tribe’s immediate need, not his game plans.

Peter: It was crunch time: The Brain tribe reached the sling shot in third place and the Brawn tribe had a professional player holding the ball. Peter stepped up and he saved his tribe from a date with Probst. I would have preferred to see the tribes forced to switch shooter after every attempt but Survivor likes to put players in “do or die” situation because it creates Heroes and Goats. Peter was the tribe’s hero so he should have some influence in the next vote. From their interactions, it seems that Peter and Neal get along nicely but I’m not sure if Neal would agree with Peter on the idea of keeping Debbie. I’m thinking Peter would be smart not to mention Debbie and simply steer the voting decision towards Joe instead. Neal would probably agree with that and not even realize that he’d be giving Peter a chance to take over control of the game.

*Can you tell that I went to a Black Sabbath concert this week?!

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02-28-16, 00:17 AM (EST)
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17. "RE: Episode 2 - Changes"
LAST EDITED ON 02-28-16 AT 00:21 AM (EST)

Hey Michel, glad to see you're doing the editing analysis again. Since I am unspoiled again, I can participate a little more this year.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the analysis of the Brawn Tribe. It seems increasingly unlikely that the winner could possibly come out of there. The worst moment of the night for them (from an editing standpoint) was the moment Alecia made fire with the flint. There is no doubt that the scene is meant to portray the entire tribe as lazy... The image of all their shoes hanging over the edge of the shelter while they slept is way too strong and direct.

Jason is obviously the biggest character but he's not painted sympathetically at all. Or even that strategic, really. I admit, I kinda hate Jason and want him off my TV screen, so maybe my bias is coming through. Scot doesn't really have a personal story and every strategic moment is very basic, repeat-the-party-line kind of talk. If Scot is tight with Jennifer, why didn't they highlight that from his POV more? I thought Cydney had a decent chance in Episode 1, but the fact that they completely gloss over her role in the Jennifer boot is really really really bad for her. If she is playing the important swing vote role, more of the entire discussion should be from her POV. All we get is a confessional before Tribal. It's not enough. I can understand situations like Natalie from SJDS getting glossed over when Jeremy goes home, but Cydney was a swing vote.

The only emerging character seems to be Alecia. And while I don't give Survivor enough credit to do a turnaround winner story, she's probably going to be an Eliza-esque scrappy underdog story. I would love it if Alecia did come back and win, but once again... This isn't The Genius. Survivor's editing style is much more brain-dead.

Brains Tribe is a little confusing because almost everyone isn't being portrayed super sympathetically. I think the lynchpin is going to figure out what's going to happen with Liz vs. Debbie/Joe. Liz either has Sophie upside or she is going to be a victim of the old/young split. We are going to find out pretty quickly, I suspect. They're highlighting Liz over Aubry for a reason. I like Liz so far (but I always love smartypants women types on this show) but I can't tell if the general audience is supposed to.

I don't think we're supposed to view Debbie as being particularly credible and they went out of their way to point out Joe's mistakes. On the other hand, they let them have the floor and basically spell out how foolish Liz's inventions and ideas are, even something as basic as wanting to boil water. Since the editors have put in time establishing Debbie and Liz the most, I suspect Joe is going to be the casualty of that showdown and the ladies will battle on into the tribe swap.

Neal and Peter come off as most winner-like thus far on Brains. Neal has given very general observations, while Peter has been more specific regarding his strategy with Debbie. As a winner pick, I like Peter more than Neal at this point.

If I had to wager right now, I would guess the winner is coming out of the Beauty Tribe. They are getting waaaaaay too pristine of an edit for a beauty tribe and it is suspicious.

Caleb and Tai are getting strong, likeable big character edits. I was expecting a more wacky and dopey Caleb edit, so the more carefree and fun edit is a good sign for him. He seems poised for a pretty decent run. Doesn't smell like a winner's edit yet but you never know. I feel similarly about Tai. A little buffooonish strategy-wise, which is a red flag. But he's got a good story and is someone for the audience to get behind.

I don't think Nick has a prayer of winning. His opening confessional was just AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL for him, the way it was phrased, potentially portraying him as arrogant. I definitely get what he is saying there, but it's such a statement that can be taken two ways, that the editors would pick something different if he went on to win. And then he goes invisible in Episode 2. Not good. He's either a Joaquin and is gone early or is a mid-merge Mini Boss.

Anna had a strong Episode 1 but also went invisible this time. There was virtually no strategy talk from Beauty this episode and the story they picked didn't necessarily require Anna, so I'm not going to deduct too many points. Natalie in SJDS didn't always have things to do in non-TC pre-merge episodes. She's someone to monitor.

Julia is a little more consistent than Anna, being a little more present as a narrator in both episodes. I don't feel like there's been a lot of substance to it yet... I don't feel like I really know who Julia is yet. Kinda feels like a minor highlight for an early boot right now, but my mind could change.

This is going to sound weird, but I get this weird feeling that Michele might be the winner. If I recall correctly, of the three Beauty girls in Episode 1, the men (Caleb and Tai?) picked Michele out specifically as someone they could work with. I feel the editors wanted us to notice Michele in particular. She was present for Episode 2's discussion as well. Maybe I'm completely barking up the wrong tree, but something smells funny. Why are we supposed to notice Michele?

Like others, I get the strong impression that a woman wins this season. Not just because of the way Jeff previewed the season, but a lot of the women just have stronger edits than the men. And you guys know how Survivor is.

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02-28-16, 12:32 PM (EST)
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18. "RE: Episode 2 - Changes"
Hi Jims, I'm so glad you can join the fun.
First, I must say that there is nothing wrong with picking Michelle to win. While Anna had a stronger premiere, Michelle has more consistency and more substance than Julia. The problem with all the Beauty tribe members is that they have practically no strategy confessionals. The three women made an alliance and they wanted to use Tai and then got suspicious about him. That's not much but maybe they're waiting for the right time to show us their game skills.

Unfortunately, you could be right about my friend Nick. I can't rule him out yet but it isn't looking promising.

As for the Brains tribe, I'd say Joe isn't exactly portrayed as a likable character and that's why I brought up BB. I'd much rather see him go than Liz but there are signs pointing against her. I like her for the same reasons you stated.

We'll see what happens next


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03-05-16, 01:38 PM (EST)
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19. "Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
LAST EDITED ON 03-05-16 AT 01:53 PM (EST)

Previously on Survivor

At the Brain tribe, Debbie’s odd-ball behavior marked her as an early pawn to use in the game.
Peter in confessional said: “That’s exactly what you want: A Brain that has no game.”

At the Beauty tribe, the women’s alliance was growing stronger...
Michelle’s episode 1 confessional: “The girls’ alliance felt really natural to me.”
...while Tai’s hunt for the idol was growing more desperate.
Tai’s confessional: “I couldn’t get the idol so I will have to get back another day.

At the last immunity challenge, the Brawn tribe lost again.
Facing Tribal Council, Alecia appeared the obvious vote but Jenny was having second thoughts.

At tribal council, Jenny revealed her indecision and it cost her, saving Alecia for the second Tribal Council in a row.

While hearing Jeff say that Alecia was saved for the second time could be taken as a positive, we have to consider two things: Jeff didn’t say that Alecia saved herself and he never mentioned her determined quest for fire. Instead, we heard once more Jason saying that she is useless. That’s not exactly how you build a sympathetic underdog story.

It’s interesting that the women’s alliance was said to be getting stronger. Nothing happened in episode 2 to make us think it grew stronger and the recap had to go to an episode 1 confessional to show us anything about it yet we are supposed to think it gained more power. The exaggeration could be a way to make us see that alliance more as a threat than something to cheer.

As for Debbie, while Peter will regret thinking he could use her because she had no game; let’s not forget that Jeff used another reason to call her a pawn. For him, it wasn’t a lack of game but the odd-ball behavior and that was still in full display. Debbie could still be used as someone pawn in front of the final jury...if she is handled with great care!

Emotional Intelligence

Brawn Night 6

As soon as they arrived in camp, Scot told Alecia that he was the one that voted against her but he knew she was safe. He had promised Jenny that he wouldn’t write her name. He added: “That’s it. No hard feelings.”

I’d say it would be up to her to say that there were no hard feelings! If that was the deal and the tribe had agreed to vote Jenny before TC as we heard, then Scot should have written Cydney or Jason’s name to avoid this sloppy explanation.

Alecia in confessional: “Scot said “I only wrote your name down because I knew Jenny was going home. That’s the stupidest thing I think I’ve ever heard. I mean, if you are going to break my trust once, you’re not going to get it back.”

At the water well, Alecia talked to Cydney about getting rid of the NBA millionaire Scot.

Cydney’s confessional: “Alecia baffles me day in and day out. She thinks we’re aligned and she thinks it’s us against them but she doesn’t really know how close I am to the guys. I just keep going hum, hum; that sounds good, I’m down, whatever you want. I’m down.”

That sneakiness would soon pay off nicely for Cydney...or rather for one of her allies.

In the shelter, Scot said they made a mistake with the vote because they’d never win a challenge with 3 ½ people. Cydney told the two guys that Alecia trusted her and that could be good for all of them.

Scot in confessional: “Things changed a lot tonight at Tribal Council: I’ve lost one of the three in the original alliance that I wanted and now Alecia is very much in power and she could make trouble for me.”

I expect that could very well happen at the upcoming merge. I picture Alecia and Scot will wind up on the same tribe and the Basketball player won’t have the idol to save himself.

The Beauty Tribe Day 7

Even if we didn’t see them going out to catch fish, they seemed to have enough sea food to show that they were able to feed themselves with that fishing kit.

Anna was doing the cooking while Michelle and Julia looked on. They agreed that Tai would eat the rest.

At first I felt that sounded demeaning but Tai did say he loved eating the parts of the fish most people toss out and then Caleb, Tai’s friend, showed that there was nothing wrong with the girls’ comment.

“The dude will eat the fish head, the dude will eat everything” he said.

Putting the lunch break to good use, Tai slipped out of camp with a long stick.
Tai’s confessional: “I’m getting the idol right now. That’s it. One chance; I feel this is my only chance. I think the tribe truly likes me as a person but the idol is the only thing that will make me feel safe in this game. I know exactly where it is. I just have to get the key out. I need to use the stick, attach the tool and poke the tool through the canister and push the key out.”

The problem was that he had misplaced the tool. Instead of giving the impression that he was dumb for misplacing the tool, the scene provided another example of his resourcefulness.

Tai added: “I was so mad at myself. Nothing in my life come easy, including this idol. My whole life is full of challenges: Viet-Nam, refugee camp, coming to America and reinventing myself and this is another big challenge. So, I just make another tool from a stick.”

The music swelled in intensity to underline the importance of the moment.

Soon Tai was able to unlock the idol’s box and we saw that it was half of the Yin Yang symbol. The other half would turn it into a super idol.

Tai’s interview concluded: “I worked so hard for this. Jeff made it so...It’s not easy but I never give up because the idol and I belong together.”

Tai said that the idol twist was fantastic.

Let’s wait and see how it plays out before making any sort of claim about the twist! On a side note, I wonder if the image of Tai running around in his underwear was the deciding factor in finally providing them with their bathing suits. I’ve never understood why they don’t provide them from the start.

Brains Day 7

Peter and Liz were out in the ocean planning their victory and laughing at Joe who was “working on his 6 pack.”

The irony started early, didn’t it? Actually, it started with Peter’s opening confessional about hating ignorant people because they think they know what they are talking about. It turned out Peter was the one that didn’t know what he was talking about.

Peter’s confessional: “I’m part of one core alliance with Liz but we’re managing two separate groups of two: Debbie and Joe, and Aubry and Neal. We’re in control.”

The two agreed that they should keep Joe and Debbie as their goats.

Liz in confessional: “Peter and I have been looking for a tighter group of more loyal players to shepherd into the swap and the merge. Debbie seems like she’s going to be great: Doesn’t seem to have the drive to make a big move in her. She’s like our court jester. Joe seems like he would be a loyal soldier. Aubry doesn’t really want to talk about the game or that kind of thing. Neal, on the other hand is a very smart guy and he’s a huge risk to blindside one of us come a swap or a merge.”

Neal was shown taking a huge clam out of the sea when Liz said this. I think Liz may just have told us that Neal is the one to watch, the truly smart player that will blindside people and maybe even win this whole thing.

Peter told Liz they’d split the votes between Aubry and Neal but wouldn’t tell Debbie and Joe just yet.

How utterly dumb! Like a young child, an alliance has to be constantly reassured. It has to be tended to with as much care as if it was a volatile and explosive solvent. That was day 7 (or so it seemed) so Peter and Liz needed to have that conversation with Debbie BEFORE the first immunity challenge if that’s the way they intended to go. Waiting only gives the other players time to make their own arrangements.

We, the viewers, were in the shelter with Debbie who was looking at the pair from far away.


We could clearly hear Peter saying “We’re playing like bosses right now” and Liz’s amusement at the comment. The montage suggested that, like us, Debbie was listening and hearing them just as clearly.

Verrry interesting...but Stupid!

Well, sound does carry far over water!

Debbie’s confessional: “My position in this tribe is to sit back, observe, shut up and gather intel. Peter really feels superior and Liz is our Prima Dona princess. Their goal is to take the rest of us out while we do the hard work. Right now, Peter is an asset at challenges so the person that needs to go is Liz. I see that clearly.” We heard Debbie telling Joe they needed to pull in Neal and Aubry to blindside Liz. She added: “We have to get to that four before Liz and Peter beat us to it.”

I’d be inclined to say this talk occurred much sooner than day 7 but we clearly saw that Joe’s beard had grown quite a bit. I’d say the earliest time frame for this conversation was day 5. That’s still pretty late to solidify a four person alliance but they still beat Peter and Liz to the punch.

Debbie’s confessional continued: “So, we need to split up Liz and Peter. We need to be subversive. We need to implant counter intelligence. We need to move with a purpose, Joe! And we need to do it now!”

I’m thinking America would have been safer if Debbie had been in the FBI instead of Joe!

Debbie’s next course of action was to recruit Aubry and ask her how she felt about Neal.
Aubry told Debbie that Neal was shooting straight with her. Debbie said she liked him also.
Debbie’s next comments: “When you get into a battle with me, be prepared for me to use better, smarter tactics. The bomb doors are opened! Prepare to fire.”

Right about now, I’m thinking Liz must have fallen out of her chair while watching the episode at home. Peter may have learned what happened in situ but it’s possible that Liz didn’t get to learn what happened during her stay in Loser Lodge. Imagine her surprise when she realized that Debbie had organized the whole “coup d’état”!
It was time to get the last member of the commando on board so Liz joined Neal in the ocean.

Debbie gave us her conclusions about the plan: “You know, the beautiful thing about what I’m doing is that nobody really pays attention to me and that’s precisely what I want to do: Fly under the radar. All the while, I’m sitting back, gathering Intel because that’s how you play this game, baby!”


Right then, we saw Debbie almost going under water and disappearing from our “radar”!


That little montage made me think that Debbie will be very successful in her plan. Probably so successful that she won’t be able to reap the rewards. No one will pay attention to her moves so she will come up a few votes short in the end. And who will be there, above water? Neal of course; he’s the smart guy who is a huge threat and he was shown standing above her.

Beauty Day 7
Instead of flying on the wings of an eagle, we took a stroll with a common snipe over to the next camp

Caleb and Tai were talking about which chicken they should choose next.
Caleb’s confessional: “Killing a chicken is best for our tribe. Right now, we are all hungry but some people are attached to animals. Tai is one of those people. It just shows the sensitive side of Tai and, you know, we just want to make sure we’re here for him because he has a hard time with stuff like that.”

Tai joked with Nick about letting the chicken loose but he said he wouldn’t do it because they’d know he was the guilty one.
Tai’s confessional: “To me, we don’t really need to kill that chicken but the boys need protein to stay strong for the challenges. It is the circle of life: We eat something, they eat something else. It’s the circle of life. As long as we are aware of the whole thing, and no waste.”

Caleb held the machete while Tai helped him by holding the chicken. We watched up to the last second when the camera, just like Julia, looked away. Tai started to cry and so did the musical instruments, it seemed. Nick looked on with a shrug while Michelle looked concerned.

Tai’s thoughts: “Just the sight of life draining out of my hands, I feel like I did wrong. You know it had to be done; it’s still difficult to go through. It’s still a life that we took.”
Julia had a look that echoed those thoughts.

When Tai went to the ocean to wash the chicken, we saw Michelle, Julia, Anna and Nick sitting next to each other. Michelle expressed what the group was thinking: “It’s sad.”
Julia added: “I don’t like it when people cry.”
Nick agreed.

Nick’s confessional: “Tai is too in his own mind where he has these emotions and feelings that he has to get out and that is not the way to play this game. My friends would compare me to a robot or just like cold blooded but you don’t need emotions out here you just seem to look like you have emotions.”

Michelle said that she felt bad so Nick added: “Tai will be alright. Animals eat other animals. They are there to eat.”

Anna’s confessional: “There’s just something about Nick that I don’t trust. He’s so difficult to talk to, he has such a fake smile and he just rubbed me the wrong way. I do trust Caleb, I trust Tai so we have three girls and three guys so we need to pull over one of the guys.”

Anna went to Caleb and told him: “The girls are going to stay together and those girls and I are super loyal. I would never backstab you, ever. Here’s the problem though: I don’t trust Nick.”
That made Caleb smile.

Caleb’s confessional: “I think the girls are a very strong three and Anna throws out a proposal that she wants me to be with the girls and we would get rid of Nick. I don’t see that as a bad thing. If we do lose that means me not going home.”

The scene ended with Anna saying she didn’t want to lose because there would be a lot of drama.

Anna’s approach worked with Caleb but I wouldn’t recommend it. It isn’t really smart to tell someone just how tight you are with two other players and that you want to add him to their numbers. Had she approached me, I would have agreed of course but my confessional would have sounded something like: “I’m glad Anna wants to include me in her alliance but she just told me her loyalty is with the other girls. As soon as I don’t need them, I will break up that trio.” If she had been talking to a smarter player, Anna should have made a much more personal deal, saying she wanted to work with Caleb first, then adding that they could include the other girls.

Brawn Day 7

Scot was looking for the idol: “I’m trying to find this idol because I don’t trust Alecia but there are a lot of places where an immunity idol could hide. If there is a clue out there or an idol, the last person we want to find it of course is Alecia.”
Of course, Alecia found the clue while simply walking around with Cydney.

This one wasn’t even partially hidden in a tree; it was resting on top of a stump wrapped in a bright red cloth! How long before the players are given GPS trackers? Well, maybe that’s what will happen in the Brains tribe since none of them have been “smart” enough to find it on their own.

The two read the clue that told them the idol was buried at the foot of this tree so they started digging.
Alecia’s confessional: “I got a feeling that I’m at the bottom and then I see a clue to the immunity idol. That is power in this game. If you have the idol, you can be at the bottom and you get up and tralalala! You’re at the top!”

Jason walked up behind the pair and he gave us a confessional: “I go for a little walk and sure enough, there’s Alecia and Cydney digging. I instantly know what’s up: They are looking for the idol.”

Alecia and Cydney noticed him so they stopped digging. Alecia said she’d go look for the hoe so Cydney told her to act normal.
Cydney talked quietly to the cameraman: “So, I found the idol. Now, I’m waiting until she’s gone.”
While was saw her digging the box out of the dirt, Cydney gave us a confessional: “I let Alecia walk off because I found this little tool with a clue and so I started digging and I hit something hard. I scrapped my fingers a little bit and it said “Idol” on it but then I tried to open the box and it had a lock. So, how the hell am I going to get it out of the doggone box? The next thing I know, Alecia is coming back so I cover it up.”

Later, back in camp, Alecia went to rinse off her hair. Cydney used the occasion to tell Jason and Scot what they had found.
Cydney’s confessional: “Since Jason saw us, I clearly had to tell them anyway. I wanted to make us all comfortable and make it so they don’t think I’m aligned with her.”

Isn’t she a well trained collaborator? It’s bad enough that she snitched on Alecia; she didn’t have to give up all the information to the guys.

Jason and Scot went off to the tree but Alecia saw them so she followed.
Jason’s confessional: “I’m probably one of the best bounty hunter in Southeast Michigan. (I’m wondering how many bounty hunters there are in Southeast Michigan. Is there such a big need for them?) “If someone gives me a tip in my work, you got seconds, minutes, hours maybe so you move. I try to treat this game like I treat my job. I found it pretty quickly. I found the clue, I found the box, the lock and I found a map. I got to move. ” All four tribe members tried to read the clue to the tree. Jason ran off while Alecia tried to follow. We heard him in voice over: “I took off like a bat out of hell. You’re either going to keep up or you’re going to be left behind.” After Scot joined him, Jason added: “The map was pretty self-explanatory and then it’s just looking and paying attention to details: What’s different? What’s missing? I found the key. The only way to get it out was to push through the little hole at the bottom but the tool is gone. We don’t know where it is. It got flung somewhere; the girls didn’t know what it was. Who knows?”

Alecia asked Cydney if she had told them. Cydney said no, saying it all happened because Jason saw them. She then showed Alecia where the guys were. All four Brawn tribe members were at the foot of the tree.

Jason’s confessional: “Scot and I made a make-shift tool to get the key but, sure enough, Blondie is right there trying to snatch it. I can’t let that happen. It’s on.”

The scene was much like a rebounding situation in Basketball: Scot was under the rim and the key coming out of the canister was a lot like a ball after hitting the rim. The big center couldn’t handle the object himself but he tipped it to the corner of the court where his team mate raced to recover it, pushing the opponent out of the way. In Basketball, I’m pretty sure that Jason would have received a personal foul and that the ball would have been given to Alecia. Jason has had so many personal fouls in this game that Alecia would even have been awarded some free throws but the rules of Survivor are different: The idol goes to the most entertaining character and guys are usually considered more interesting than women. So, Jason and Scot got the idol. You can boo now...

After telling Scot that he had it, Jason went on: “In this game, if you want something, you have to go and get it and it was nice to have an NBA player on my side, especially a center you know. That height paid off.”

Alecia could only watch them opening the coveted box.
Alecia’s confessional: “I was the one that found the clue but unfortunately, Jason has the idol. This whole thing was completely confusing and it all happened so fast. Honestly, at this point, I don’t trust anyone on my tribe. It’s like a roller-coaster: First I’m on the top and now, I think I’m back on the bottom.”

The two guys learned about the super idol.
Scot’s confessional: “Idol time, baby! It’s in the right hands. I’m pretty confident that Jason is going to take care of me. We just wanted to make sure that Alecia doesn’t have it because unless it’s a really easy challenge, I don’t see how we win. Now, she’s outnumbered and she’ll be next.”

I wouldn’t be too sure that Jason would use the idol to save his ally. The idol has turned a few players into Gollum! Despite her setback, this furthers the impression that Alecia will outlast one if not both big guys.

The Challenge

When Jeff said that Jenny had been voted out, Joe said “Wow!” and a woman said she was surprised.

Jenny deserved those reactions.
Liz was the one that handed the immunity back to Jeff making me wonder if the group decided to play a practical joke on her. She may have been thinking she was the tribe’s representative but the four knew she was probably handing her safety net away.

Anna and Michelle sat out for the Beauty tribe, Aubry and Joe did the same for the Brains.
Neal, Caleb and Scot went in the boat for their respective tribes.
Caleb, Neal and Cydney went over the first obstacle to help get the bags through the opening.
With Caleb and Nick working together, the Beauty tribe were once more off to an early lead.
Julia joined Caleb on the other side and Beauty increased their lead. They got the three bags through before Brains managed their second. Once more, Brawn was trailing but they got their bags through before Neal and Peter could finish theirs.
When the Beauty tribe reached the beach, Brawn only had Alecia over the balance beam while no one on the Brains tribe had yet to make it over.
Caleb ripped open the bags of rice

So much waste. Maybe they wouldn’t have had to kill the chickens if those bags had been waiting for them at camp.

Julia made the first attempt for the Beauty tribe and she didn’t seem to have any problems. She lodged her ball before the Brains tribe even found their three balls.
Cydney tried her hand but lost her ball twice before handing off to Jason. That let the Brains tribe crawl back in second place.
Meanwhile Tai had an easy run and Caleb finished it off. For once, the Beauty tribe didn’t lose their lead.
Liz had lodged one ball for the Brains while Jason was still only half way up with the Brawn’s first ball.
Peter kept his tribe’s lead over Scot. Debbie took over and it didn’t go so well.

Sitting on the bench we saw Aubry praying so, unless she’s a good actress, it didn’t look like the Brains tribe were throwing the challenge. Debbie could have decided to do it on her own.

With Jason yelling instructions, Cydney closed the gap and even took over the lead. Both women got their ball over the rim of the hole but they wouldn’t fall in place. Finally, Cydney got it just right and Brawn won immunity.


Hey There!

Jason got a little too carried away with his celebration!

The Beauty tribe chose the comfort items, leaving the luxury items to the Brawn tribe.

Peter’s perfect confessional: “We lost the challenge but I have no problem with that. Now, me and Liz, we are going to go down the hit list like mobsters and the first one is Neal. The game’s the game, money’s money and Survivor is Survivor.”

The Brains Scrambling

Debbie told the tribe they did a spectacular job and they only lost it by three second.

Liz had an amazing a confessional also: “As a long term solution, (I’d say!) losing today was good for me and Peter because we can send Neal home and Neal is going to be the player that causes problems down the road. I think we are going to have to tell Aubry and Neal that Joe is going home tonight but the actual plan is the remaining four will be splitting the vote between Neal and Aubry in case Neal has an immunity idol. The idea is to simplify the process for Joe and Debbie. They just have to write down Neal, they have to remember that it’s Neal we’re going for and they don’t have to think about anything complicated.”

Now, as far as arrogance goes, this was spectacular! That’s twice we heard Liz say that Neal will be a very dangerous player later on. I really believe her!

At the water well, Liz explained the plan to Debbie.
Debbie’s confessional: “So Liz approached me and she wants me and Joe to vote for Neal and follow orders like a good soldier! It’s not happening. When I know someone is snowing me, I can give it back to you in spades. The fact is that she is absolutely oblivious to the reality of what is going on here.”

In the shelter, Debbie offered her Intel to Neal: “They are voting Aubry. They think you have the idol.” Neal had a good laugh.

Neal’s confessional: “I know now that Liz and Peter have been whispering little lies and making it sound like I have an idol and, as a result, they have to be punished.”

Aubry and Neal agreed with Peter that they had to vote against Joe.
Peter’s confessional: “Although Liz and I are good looking people and we have great smiles, we’re actually out for blood. Everyone else, they are like clay that we mold. They are indecisive unless given a decision. They need paternal direction and I’m being that paternal person, providing them direction in the way I want them to vote. It’s a great play.”

Aubry’s confessional: “Peter is very controlling. I just can’t trust someone who is revealing themselves right in front of me every day by opening their mouth. He doesn’t have emotional intelligence and I don’t know if that is someone we can move forward with. Debbie originally decided to target Liz but for me, Peter is the biggest threat. I want to talk to Debbie and figure this out.”

In the shelter, Aubry told Debbie: “My biggest regret in this game would be if we took Peter too far and he screwed us.”

Debbie’s confessional: “We still have a target: Liz. But Peter is playing this game with an over exuberance and he’s narcissistic, egotistical and, in the long haul, a serious trouble for the Brain tribe. Liz and Peter will slit anybody’s throat in this game given a split second so it’s a big decision. But Tribal Council tonight is going to be a total blindside and it’s going to be ugly when we get home kids. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Total blindside.”

Debbie’s expression told us she was looking forward to the ugliness but I have to wonder if they made the right decision. We just heard that Peter would be more dangerous so why keep him? It would be better to eliminate the two outsiders before the swap so why worry about winning the next challenge? Of course, you wouldn’t want to lose the next two immunity challenges but even that could be better than keeping Peter around.

Tribal Council

Asked about early friendships, Peter admitted that he clicked immediately with Liz, Neal and Aubry clicked together but the age difference with Debbie and Joe meant it took a few days before they could all click together.
Jeff asked if that meant that there were three pairs voting.
Peter admitted it meant that there were three voting units.
Debbie said that they were over analytical, adding that emotions were a waste of time and energy.
Neal countered that maybe it was because they each thought they were the smartest person in the game.

That made some laugh but the camera showed Peter agreeing with that, indicating he thought he was the smartest indeed.

Aubry said you could be 100% confident (as the camera showed Peter’s confidence) but you had to listen to the silences as well because those can be very revealing.
Jeff asked Peter what he thought about Aubry’s comment that meant you had to be aware of the subtleties of social interactions.
Peter said that he was a professional at social interactions because he was an ER doctor.

Peter and Neal both reacted to that but we saw Debbie’s amazing reaction first!


A Pro, he said!

Liz said she wouldn’t use the word paranoia but every player should be thinking that there’s a conspiracy out to get them.
Asked about the baseline paranoia, Joe said he’s always suspect.


Neal had the “Phil Keoghan eyebrow” look of doubt

Joe added that crooks often had great smiles, looked good, believable even but they were not.

The cymbals reminded us of Peter’s comment about having a great smile, meaning that Joe was right to add that it could be happening right now!


"I am Not a Crook"

Jeff went right to Peter, saying that Joe meant you couldn’t judge a book by its cover.
Despite that, Peter said he does judge books by their covers. He added: “Joe is a police officer...so whatever he tells me I believe.”
Jeff reminded him of Tony, another police officer who lied every half hour.
That made everyone laugh but it didn’t stop Peter who attributed that to a generational difference. He added that despite the loss, he was confident that the plan was moving forward.
Neal nicely countered by pointing out that there could be other plans.

The sound effects underlined the importance of Neal’s comment.

Smugly, Peter said: “It’s not your plan.”

The rattle snake sound underlined the importance of this showdown.
Jeff liked this confrontation.
Peter said the guy in the ice cream pants could be the snake so they would split the votes between him and Aubry and forge ahead as the Brains.
With Jeff asking her to comment on Peter’s diktat, Debbie simply said: “Good for him for throwing it out there.”
Liz said that the person leaving would not be completely shocked.

That was just perfect!

Neal said that the vote would mean a stronger tribe but that the meaning of stronger would have to be interpreted later.
Peter agreed that self-awareness was key, adding that he liked all of them and respected some of their game play. He concluded: “Liz and I are both smart people and we thought about everything.”

Aubry said it all: "Wow!"

After Peter said he wanted to write some name down, everyone agreed it was time to vote.

When Jeff returned with the urn and asked if anyone wanted to play an idol, Neal made a nice fake.

We first saw the two votes against Aubry.
The first vote against Peter made him lose his smile. The second one brought some disbelief. The next two against Liz were shockers.

The revote sent Liz packing.
Jeff’s final words: “For all the talk tonight about how smart this tribe is, the vote illustrates that Survivor is always about emotional intelligence: Your ability to pick up on social cues. That’s what gets you to the end.”

The Story

We’ve seen episodes where there isn’t much suspense about the person being voted out. Along with the core alliance, the viewers know exactly who is about to be blindsided. The first such episode was Roger’s elimination at the merger episode in the Amazon. Judd in Guatemala also had funny episode dedicated to his epic fall (even if it lacked girls undressing for peanut butter). Those episodes rank amongst the funniest of all. Rarely though we have the joy of seeing two players getting such a memorable comeuppance! Now we can look forward to Peter’s dismay at the start of the next episode. I’m wondering if, besides his obvious challenge strength, part of the reason to keep Peter was to have fun at his expense when the tribe gets back to camp.

Despite the fact that Debbie was the catalyst and Liz the victim, Tribal Council was edited as a showdown between Peter and Neal. It started when Neal said they could all be thinking they are the smartest person present and it continued all the way to Peter’s eagerness to get to the vote. As such, the result of the revote had an anti-climactic feel. I’m sure more viewers would have jumped for joy if Peter’s torch had been snuffed. Now we have to consider Aubry and Debbie’s conversation and wonder if Peter could screw things up for these people. Personally, I think it will turn out to be delayed gratification.

The Characters

Wrong Numbers – These players desperately need a switch to change their numbers

Peter: The episode showed us a very despicable character. It’s funny because we’ve had many fan favorites that claimed to be smarter than everybody else, Mariano and Hantz immediately coming to mind, but I’m sure no one will cry over Peter’s downfall. What are the differences? We never really connected with Peter because he had limited airtime before this week. Then, we were shown that he was completely out of the loop. The viewers are more accepting of the overly confident players when we follow their plan from the onset and we see that they are succeeding. This implies that the end justifies the means and that it’s fun to laugh at losers when we are shown they deserve their fall. Will Peter cause trouble for the rest of the Brains tribe? Debbie said he’d need only a split second to cut someone’s throat and he has now been given three days so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get one Brain tribe member out after a swap but he’ll soon get his torch snuffed.

Alecia: It really would be fun to see Alecia get some revenge on the two big guys for all the abuse she received. With Jason finding the idol, she is in an even more difficult situation but she has one big advantage: She knows he has the idol. That information could be used as leverage with members of other tribes. Will she be smart enough to gain allies or will the others simply decide to split the votes between her and Jason? We should soon find out.

Nick: His confessional about being called a robot and hearing him say that you don’t need emotions out there could have been a reminder of Brian’s “Mr. Freeze” persona. Unfortunately, Nick’s confessional was heard during an episode where we also heard Aubry’s quote and Jeff’s final words about Emotional Intelligence. It was even worse when we heard him say: “...you just seem to look like you have emotions” right before the editors presented Anna’s comment about his “fake smile”. That leads me to say that Nick’s story won’t end in a coronation. I’m sorry, my friend but your edit tells me you will not be the Sole Survivor. At least you’re not Peter!

The Numbers – These players are simply used as numbers

Cydney: What a great ally to have! Last week she snitched on Jennifer, telling the guys about her plan and now we saw her informing Jason and Scot about Alecia’s discovery. Yes, she had to tell Jason something after she realized he saw them but did she have to open up like that? She could have kept some vital information secret, saying that Alecia found a clue to the idol and that she would be searching for it somewhere in the ocean. That would have given Cydney time to get the idol herself. Instead Jason simply had to look at her and she had the resistance of a sponge being squeezed dry.

Scot: Much like his role in Basketball, Scot is there to help the team’s “star”. He thinks Jason will use the idol for him if he needs it but I seriously doubt that the bounty hunter will share his paycheck.

Joe: When Jeff asked Joe a question about paranoia, I was afraid he might act like Keith and give away the plan to Peter and Liz, ruining the blindsiding. At least Joe learned something about secrecy during his years in the FBI. While Debbie didn’t want to be Peter’s foot soldier, she pretty much treated Joe like her own soldier. He followed orders and he will probably continue to do so. He’s been trained that way.

Aubry: Seeing her with leaves on her head made me think that she was taking root on the island. I mean in the sense of being about as active as a plant instead of establishing herself! Her earlier episode of exhaustion seems to have taught her to stay quietly out of the action. Even when Debbie approached her, it was only to learn more about Neal. It was as if Debbie knew that Aubry was in her pocket. Those leaves can serve as camouflage, hiding her game from the eventual voters.
Julia: While she is part of the women’s alliance and performed well in the challenge, she is mostly used for her reactions. We see that she has emotions and that she is in tune with her tribe mates. That is a good thing but we don’t have any indications that she will use those emotions intelligently. Will she prove to be a player when she goes to Tribal Council? Right now, we’d have to say it’s doubtful that she would be shown to do more than follow.

Caleb: He seems to be content to be the women’s alliance muscle. It’s certainly good to know that you’re not the next on the chopping block but joining a solid block of three players doesn’t leave him much room to maneuver. Of course, he could win the final immunity if it ever comes down to that but the trio would have a much easier job of recruiting another woman to get rid of him before Final 4 than he would have to break up the trio. It seems that Caleb’s story is mostly for entertainment value instead of its strategic possibilities.

Michelle? Is she really only a number? For some characters, every now and then, it’s kind of hard to tell but her chances are still alive and well. Like Julia, she showed her emotions during the killing of the chicken but it was her confessional that was used to sell the idea that the women’s alliance had grown stronger. So, more than Julia, Michelle has the potential of being presented as a player whenever she goes to tribal Council. Right now though, she seems to be a number in the women’s alliance.

The Golden Number

Tai: I’d say Tai is about 5’4” which is equivalent to 1.62 meters and that is the golden number rounded off to two decimals!! And what golden number he’s turned out to be for this show. First, I must admit that climbing the tree and risking life and limb was mostly his fault. I blamed production a little too harshly when I said they were risking someone’s game by forcing them to climb that tree. Still, they had to see the possibility so it would have been wiser to bury the key somewhere. Tai has enough emotional intelligence to know that his tribe mates like him but that they wouldn’t simply give him the million so the need to get the idol was real. Will he be able to turn it into a victory? He still doesn’t have a solid alliance and it would be doubtful to see him steering that alliance to his advantage.

Playing those Numbers

Jason: Should he have been disqualified for pushing Alecia into a tree to get the key? Should he have been forced to surrender that key to her? It doesn’t really matter now but it still shows us a street bully ready to do anything to get what he wants. It does fit with his bounty hunter mentality but it won’t fit in this social game. He’s been able to gain Scot and Cydney’s trust which is vital but that was more like a forced move for them. Scot had to bond with the other strong guy if he didn’t want to be everyone else’s personal shield while Cydney faced a “fait accompli”: With Jason, Scot and Jennifer already aligned, she had to join or be faced with a possible early elimination. When Jason goes into a swap or the merger, the other players will have more choices and Alecia could warn them about this villain and his idol. An advantage can quickly turn into a disadvantage in this particular game.

Debbie: The confessional in four tomes that she gave in the first half of the episode was simply marvelous. It revealed her modus operandi, her immediate targets, her resources and finally her long term plan. That should be part of a winner’s edit... but Debbie looks like the kind of player that shines more on screen than on the island. She wants to fly under the radar so much that she won’t be able to sell her case. Peter and Liz were wrong to say that she had no game but Jeff wasn’t proven wrong when he talked about her odd-ball behavior making her a good pawn. Granted, a pawn can be promoted to Queen but that still does not always result in a win. For all her strategic talk, Debbie still said that emotions were a waste of time and energy. Since that implies that Debbie will not connect with the future jurors, I see Debbie winding up in the Final 3 but serving someone else’s long term plan.

Anna: In terms of strategic content, Anna is the leader of the female alliance but her uneven edit means she isn’t my leading contender. The recap could have used her confessional about the women being a tight group but we went back to Michelle’s confessional from episode one instead. Also, it was Michelle that made the comments about Tai’s sadness. While Anna can see through Nick’s fake smile and she can get Caleb on board, we don’t have the sense that she connects on an emotional basis with the others. There’s nothing bad in her story but it’s more about her being a member of the female alliance instead of it being all about Anna’s alliance, her personality and her game play.

Neal: The tribal Council showdown between Neal and Peter was a great moment. It had humor, it revealed the players’ personality and their truths, we had eye rolls and surprising comments and we still had enough strategy to satisfy the “new school” viewers. The guy with the ice cream pants and the bow tie was presented as the smarter player in the room. The images showing him in action, catching a clam for his tribe, while we heard Liz saying that the smart guy could be very dangerous down the road were an eye opener. Then we had this image of Debbie wanting to fly under the radar and practically disappearing under water while Neal stood above her. That little montage seemed very telling to me. Yes, he didn’t get an opening confessional and his story is still very minimal but Neal looks like the real player here.

It’s not a slam dunk yet but I think that Neal will be this season’s sole Survivor.

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SquidProQuo 2475 desperate attention whore postings
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03-05-16, 06:26 PM (EST)
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20. "RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
Agreed that this was a marvelous episode/edit for Neal and Debbie.

While as a viewer I was definitely rooting for Debbie, Neal and Aubrey, from an edit perspective I am doubtful about Debbie's winner prospects because of things like the clownish music, Jeff's words about her in the recap (odd ball, pawn, etc.). She has definitely been underestimated, though, and someone like her going long-term would be fascinating to watch. It's almost like if Phil had truly been brilliant and his whole schtick was a con.

I missed parts of the first couple episodes and need to re-watch, but I felt that the Beauty tribe and especially the girls alliance there had long-term edit potential. The fact that they haven't had to go to tribal may explain why Anna's edit in particular has fallen off, but agree it's uneven.

Loved Jason from the get-go and definitely felt he had long-term vibes and was similar to Chris, as you mentioned, but this last episode turned me off. He seems sexist and I think we were meant to root for, or at least have symphony for, Alecia. So now I'm up in the air on him and agree that suddenly Alecia has more legs.

The Neal ice cream pants line was a classic! I also love Tai and his edit, and your golden number take especially is interesting.

Still a lot of contenders. This next episode will be telling.

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03-05-16, 07:16 PM (EST)
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21. "RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
It's nice to have you on board, Squid.

Anna certainly has potential and she's the favorite for many but I still haven't seen any special care given to her story. It's there but there's no personal content besides her plan to use her boobs to her advantage. Remember what Veruca used to say about "femmes fatales"?

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03-05-16, 07:37 PM (EST)
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22. "RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
LAST EDITED ON 03-05-16 AT 07:44 PM (EST)


Michel: Reading your thoughts post episode is one of the highlights of my week! Seriously, I just love it, so thank you! I don't know if I see eye to eye with you this season, which makes it even more intriguing. I loved all your comments and observations. And, I loved all your video captures that underline events as well. Here are some of my thoughts:

The intro:

At the Brain tribe, Debbie’s odd-ball behavior marked her as an early pawn to use in the game.
Peter in confessional said: “That’s exactly what you want: A Brain that has no game.”

At the Beauty tribe, the women’s alliance was growing stronger...
Michelle’s episode 1 confessional: “The girls’ alliance felt really natural to me.”
...while Tai’s hunt for the idol was growing more desperate.
Tai’s confessional: “I couldn’t get the idol so I will have to get back another day.

At the last immunity challenge, the Brawn tribe lost again.
Facing Tribal Council, Alecia appeared the obvious vote but Jenny was having second thoughts.

At tribal council, Jenny revealed her indecision and it cost her, saving Alecia for the second Tribal Council in a row.

This was a perfect introduction.

Debbie, seen last episode as the oddball, was consistent with her own self perceptions, that she wanted to be non threatening and appear under the radar. Then we saw her use that perception to her advantage and take out the one that dismissed her the most and saw her as the "brain with no game".

We didn't necessarily see this week that the Beauty tribe women were getting stronger and stronger, but we've seen it all along. And, this statement introduced Anna's confessional, they were strong and they needed to pull in one guy. Caleb's confessional confirmed it.

Tai's hunt for the idol was getting more desperate and he needed to go back, and he did just that.

I agree, that the last statement noted that Alecia was saved, not that Alecia saved herself. This episode again would show Alecia UNABLE to save herself, when she really blew it and gave the clue to Cydney, who gave it to the guys.

This introduction layed out the entire episode in a nutshell, I thought. If I had to title this episode, I would call it, Emotions. It certainly was the theme that I picked up on.

Regarding the opening scenes at Brawn camp. I feel that Cydney and Scot are both there to enable Jason. Cydney enabling the guys, but mostly Jason, and Scot enabling Jason. Alecia comments that she is out for Scot. Cydney confirms this to Scot.

At camp Beauty: We had Tai going to find and get the idol. His recovery of it was long and arduous, but as everything in his life, he would never give up and he persevered. He was so grateful, kissing everything! And, he loved the twist! I couldn't help but notice the scars of his efforts down his whole back left leg...ouch!

We then went to Brain beach: We get the gist from both Peter and Liz on their assessments of themselves and the other couples in the game. When one says, "we are in control" and it's early in the game it SHOULD be a huge red flag. *Note to self!

Then we get Debbie's confessional about how clearly she sees them, and they have to get the four of them, before Peter and Liz can get to them. She has a plan, wants to split up Peter and Liz, incorporate counter intelligence and move with a purpose, JOE, and we need to do it now! I love her delivery, btw! First we heard Debbie talk the talk, then we see her walk the walk, and go to work. First she goes and talks to Joe, then Aubry, then Neal. She ends the scene with, You know the beautiful thing that I am doing, nobody really pays attention to me and that is precisely what I want to do. Fly under the radar, all the while I am sitting back gathering intel...because that’s how you play this game, baby!

She's nailed it! Her "odd ball" behavior really set her up nicely so that no one really pays attention to her. Seems to me she is the one that is playing with a purpose! Well done, Debbie!

Then we cut to the Beauty tribe. Over at Beauty, we see that they make the decision to kill the chicken. Caleb is sensitive to the emotions of Tai, as are all the women, yet Nick is not, really. He tells us: Tai is too in his own mind, where he’s got these feelings and emotions that he has to get out and that is not the way to play this game...my friends would compare me to a robot or, yeah, just like cold blooded, but you don’t need emotions out here, you just need to seem like you have emotions. Nick acknowledges that Tai is emotional but he doesn't really relate to it and he comments Animals eat animals. He's not sympathetic.

Then, his confessional is immediately followed by Anna's, noting that she doesn't trust Nick because he's difficult to talk to and he has a fake smile...Nick was shown as the only one not sensitive to Tai's emotions. Which leads Anna to seek out Caleb to sway to come with them. (I totally agree with your assessments on her approach, btw! ) But, it did strike a chord with Caleb. Caleb confirmed their tightness when he acknowledged it in his confessional. Confirmation that he knows that they are tight! And, we have seen them develop their close knit alliance through the first 2 episodes as well.

So Nick, while able to acknowledge emotions seemed to minimize them and is not sensitive to them. He thinks that showing emotion is NOT the way to play this game.

We then go to the Brawn tribe and they have their hunt for the idol. Alecia notes that she needs the idol, it will give her power in the game. Then we have Jason's confessional: I found it pretty quickly, I find the clue, I find the idol box, it’s locked so the little clue has a map, I had to move, I just took off like a bat outta he11, and you are either gonna keep up of get left behind. Then we see Alecia left behind with her hands on her hips...looking confused. Jason talked the talk and walked the walk, shown doing what he needed to do, and winning the idol. In contrast, Alecia found the idol, and she's just left behind, hands on her hips, looking dazed and confused. Clearly, she's going to be left behind, imo.

Then, I loved Jason noting how great it is that he had an NBA Center on his team! Scot has the last confessional about that it's "in the right hands, and I think Jason will take care of me". Yup, I agree, these two could get split and then he'll be standing there with his hands on his hips just like Alecia.

After the challenge, Peter got the confessional setting himself up by telling us that he's happy, they have a hit list and Neal is at the top. Debbie's confessional: So, Liz approached me. She wants Joe and I to vote out Neal. Follow orders like a good soldier. When she said this I had to think of Joe. Not a word from him this episode, he WAS following orders like a good soldier!

Neal once again sounded like Daddy. HIs first reference to family positions was in the first episode when he noted the "children's" alliance vs. the geriatrics. Now, he has a confessional about the children were bad so now they need to be punished. Hmmm? I don't know?

But, then Peter has a confessional about how good looking they are with their smiles, and that they are molding the others like clay, and they need to be told what to do and who to vote for. Clearly demonstrating what Debbie sees, egotistical and narcissistic! Debbie also is maternal, by always referencing the tribe as "kids". It's going to be a blindside so when we get back it's going to be ugly, KIDS!

Interesting family dynamics for sure!

Aubry had a great confessional, imo. Peter is very controlling. I just can’t trust some one that is revealing themselves every day to me, by opening their mouth. He does’t have emotional intelligence and I don’t know if that is someone that I can move forward with. Now Aubry is the astute one, mo. Especially since we've just heard over on the Beauty tribe that it's Nick that is not sensitive to the emotions of Tai, which leads Anna not to trust him. Hmmm?

Then at TC, I think that it's Aubry that brings up the importance of non-verbal communication, or the importance of the silence, what you are not telling me. Debbie had commented, Emotion is just a waste of time and energy. Peter noted, As an ER doctor, social interactions is what I am a professional in. Clearly, Peter's perception of himself is far from what others perceive. This was spelled out to us by the outcome of this TC. And, if he is as smart as he says he is, he better learn quickly that it's his weakness and NOT his strength. Re-assess and CHANGE the plan.

So, we were shown Nick to be less sensitive to emotions and that they are not the way to play this game. Debbie confirmed that she feels the same way, "Emotion is just a waste of time and energy". Peter thought he was a professional at reading social interactions and was clearly shown not to be. Aubry said that Peter didn't have the "emotional intelligence" that he needed.

Jiffy summed up the entire episode with his parting words of advice: Survivor is all about emotional intelligence, your ability to pick up on emotional cues, that is what gets you to the end.

So...Peter, Debbie, Nick = not winning
Anna, Aubry, Caleb, Julia, Michele, Tai = possible contenders?

Regarding the Brawns: I get that Cydney is empowering the guys, especially Jason, and Scot is empowering Jason as well. But, I see Jason as somewhat of a taker, and that seems like Russell. If you take, take, take, people won't vote for you at the end. We'll see...

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03-05-16, 08:51 PM (EST)
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23. "RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
FloPo, I really like the Jiffy quote on EQ that you highlighted. Interesting to see if that's a theme for just this episode and the Brains tribe in particular, of it will carry out through the season.

Definitely agree with you about Jason -- there's a negative undertone to him the last episode or two vs. his great first episode. Could definitely be an end gamer but not feeling great vibes as a winner.

I get strong vibes around the 3 beautify girls and Tai. But I am having a hard time differentiating between the 3 ladies -- need to re-watch, but so far not sure any one of them stands out more edit-wise vs. the others. Not sure if that's a good sign or a bad sign. I know Michel has singled out Anna but I need to re-watch because I thought this last episode was really good for Julie and a prior one for Michele.

I like that there are all newbies and no spoilers! (At least that I'm aware of) Makes it a fun season to look at the editing.

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03-06-16, 03:30 AM (EST)
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24. "RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
Very interesting analysis, FP. The only thing missing is your critique of my interpretation of Neal's story. You seem much more impressed with the Beauty tribe than I am. I think a tribe needs to be battle tested before a swap and things are just too beautiful on the Beauty tribe.


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25. "RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
LAST EDITED ON 03-06-16 AT 08:38 AM (EST)

Well, I am reluctant to do any real critique at this early point. I am on reserve about Neal. As I noted in the intro episode, when they came to their respective mats, and Jiffy noted losers go to TC, and where you DO NOT want to be the first voted out of your tribe, they focused on Neal, as he shook his head in agreement with Jiffy.

I agree the ice cream pants man came out smelling like a rose after TC, and I loved all his looks. He gets dressed up for TC, which reminds me of a former winner, Bob. And, his demeanor or his inner nerd reminds me of another winner, Cochran.

Clearly, he wasn't the first voted out of his tribe. He could be the last Brain standing, or he could be a potential winner? He's keeping a pretty low profile.

I wasn't crazy about his first episode with quickly labeling the geriatrics vs. the children. I will say that he's embracing his inner Richard Hatch with killing the sting ray with a hatchet and then finding a giant clam. (Ok, he's channeling the best of all winners? Can't wait to hear his BR impression, lol! ) Just don't have a feel for him yet...but, I love that you are going out on a limb so early! But, that's what is so fun about editing, you can always change your mind as editing dictates down the road! But, for now, I just don't have a feel for him.

I am aware that the beauty's may be the happy go lucky tribe until it all goes to pot. Build them up, just to watch them fall. Knowing that Caleb has an impending medi-vac now, makes me realize, so that's why he had the hero music, edit, right from the start. He'll be a hero of the season and go out in a blaze of glory, as he succumbs to the test THEY forced on them all.

All the beauty love may be just build up for this next episode? Yes, post episode 4 would be a good time for a mixup....there would be more than just scrambled brains!

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26. "RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
It's good that you keep me grounded on Neal. I've gone overboard on some mirage edits frequently in the past!! But it's all for fun anyway and following the journey of the guy in the ice cream pants should be fun either way.

You wrote: "...Jiffy noted losers go to TC, and where you DO NOT want to be the first voted out of your tribe, they focused on Neal, as he shook his head in agreement with Jiffy."

That would have indeed been great irony if Neal had been the first one voted out of the game or even of his tribe but now that we know that he was the tribe's first target and he survived, that look takes on an another meaning: Jeff's words certainly imply that what you want is to be the last one standing and for that to happen you cannot be the first one out.

Also, the juxtaposition of Darnell and Neal's close ups to start the season takes on more value now that Neal survived his first TC. We also know that Neal connected with Debbie who was seen in the background of his close up. Where Neal's episode 1 alliance with Peter and Liz made it unlikely, the possibility now exists of having both Neal and Debbie in the F3.


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27. "RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
LAST EDITED ON 03-06-16 AT 01:57 PM (EST)

Yes, we all need to keep each other grounded. And, remember it's the goal of editing to be misleading, especially in "who done it's", or to predict winners.

And, I love that you note those editing tips and associations from the first episode. Neal's associations with Darnell, and then with Debbie, and what they could have meant, and what they seem to mean as time passes. It's always good, imo, to go back and see how things were edited at the start, retrospectively!

Like you said, it's all for fun, try to get one up on EPMB!


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28. "RE: Episode 3 - Emotional Intelligence:"
I know EPMB is tradition but I think we should be writing EPJP. In comparison, Burnett's evilness was much more enjoyable than Jiffy's. He's good on air but he's insufferable outside the show.
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29. "EPJP"
EPJP ....YESSSSS! Totally, it's Jiffy!

Hey, one thing I think we should pay attention to as well regarding the editing is what is NOT shown. We've often said that the alliances revealed don't make it to the end. Well, this week, Peter was out to get Neal. What made Peter and Liz target Neal so adamantly?

In episode one, it was Neal that suggested the children alliance, and Peter was happy to go along with it. Then Peter recognized that Debbie was a brain without a game and he wanted to keep her as long as possible. So, why Neal?

It seemed that it was Debbie that was out to get Liz, the prima donna. While Aubry wanted to get out the arrogant Peter. The only thing we saw Neal doing was buying into what Debbie told him, that they were out to get him....of course he'll be on board to vote Peter out, just as Jason was adamant to get Jenny out as soon as he heard he was her target. Oh, he was also killing sting ray with an ax...?


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30. "RE: EPJP"
Well, I think the episode did give us one explanation/excuse: Peter and Liz wanted docile followers but thought that Neal was too smart and dangerous. There could have been more underlying reasons but the editors rarely bother with complications.

As for killing the stingray, I think showing him with the clam was good enough.


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31. "Episode 4 - Not Worth Playing For:"
Previously on Survivor

Kaôh Rông has provided some of the worst conditions ever. Extreme temperatures have led to dehydration and heat exhaustion leaving some to question how much more they can take.
Aubry in confessional: “This heat may be one of the biggest factors in this game.”

Scot and Tai were shown as if they had reached their limit.

At the Beauty tribe, the women found safety in each other...
Anna’s confessional: “The three girls: We’re pretty tight.”
...but Tai found an idol and a friendship with Caleb.

At the Brawn tribe, Alecia stumbled on a clue to the hidden immunity idol...but her luck ran out when Jason got his hand on the idol first.

At the last immunity challenge, Brawn finally won.

Back at camp, Peter and Liz were certain they had control of the Brain tribe but Debbie was tired of taking orders and spearheaded a revolt against Liz and Peter.
Debbie in confessional: “It’s going to be ugly when we get home, kids!”

At Tribal Council, Debbie’s plan worked, sending Liz home leaving Peter all alone on the bottom.

The first thing to note is that the recap completely ignored the fact that Neal had been Peter and Liz’s target. It also ignored his performance at Tribal Council. It was all about Debbie who is starting to overtake Tai as the season’s biggest character. If her plans continue to work as well as this then maybe she will be able to get the votes despite staying under everyone’s radar. Where does that leave Neal? In great need of a story, I’d say.

Jeff had an interesting way of talking about Gondol’s women’s alliance. Saying they found safety in each other suggests that something unfortunate will happen after the upcoming switch. The use of the conjunction “but” is also interesting because it already puts Tai in opposition to the three women, something we hadn’t seen before but would come back in the plot of this episode.

Aubry’s confessional from episode one was replayed because it would play a big role in this episode. It could also mean that, having learned early about the heat factor, Aubry could have an edge on the competition. How far will it get her?

Not Worth Playing For

Brains Night 8

Debbie’s confessional: “Tonight at Tribal Council, it went down exactly as I expected. I gathered my intelligence, I made observations then made objectives and I knew how to carry them out. I guess you would have to call me the mastermind.” During this confessional we saw Debbie going to Peter who had isolated himself and lay defeated on the beach. Debbie said she didn’t want to vote him out. She continued: “Peter’s position in the tribe has knocked his ego down ten notches. He’s a total narcissist but he knows he’s still on the periphery.”

That is a great example of social game. Debbie still doesn’t like Peter but she knows the game demands some bonding and she offered him more than the other members of the tribe.

Peter’s confessional: “Tribal Council tonight was a complete surprise. I still have knots in my stomach. We’re now the pea brains, not the Brains Tribe. We’re screwed. We don’t have a strong tribe anymore, physically or strategically. You know; I’m dejected but I’m happy I’m still here and once there’s a merger or a swap, I’m going to take them out one by one.”

Interestingly, the cameras showed Debbie, Aubry and Neal all on screen when Peter said they weren’t strong.

If the rest of the season is to be edited in a way to prove Peter wrong then what better way than to see it end with the three he just called “pea brains” in the Final 3. Still it will be interesting to see who winds up on the same tribe as Peter because we know he intends to screw them. I thought Tocantins was edited to show that Coach was always wrong but that didn’t exactly play out. I’ll wait before definitely saying that Peter will always be wrong.

The scene ended with Peter saying: “I need a beer” and I think we’ll all needed one after watching the dreadful events that were about to follow.

The “Reward” Challenge

The editors had the audacity to start the challenge with a man, apparently Caleb who was the closest to us, saying: “This is gonna be fun.”

It wasn’t.

When Jeff announced that Liz had been voted out, we saw Anna’s shock: “I did not expect that.”

They were playing for a kitchen set and coffee.
Anna happily exclaimed: “Wow! Coffee!”

I bet she regrets that now. Showing Anna’s surprise at the vote and her excitement for a reward for which she wouldn’t even compete did a disservice to her story.

Anna and Julia sat out for the Beauty tribe while Neal sat out for the Brains.

Brawn and Beauty were off to quick starts. Joe was having a hard time getting over the obstacles.

Jeff was amazed at how quickly Cydney made it under the log while he compared Debbie to a turtle. Brawn and Brains were both ahead of the Beauty tribe at that point.

Scott quickly found two bags side by side, leading him to think they were all close to each other.

He was wrong, Sôh Rông.

Tai found one for the Beauty tribe as did Peter for his tribe.
Already, Joe and Debbie were heard saying they were dying.

The sneaky promos made it look like the Brains tribe wouldn’t be able to finish the challenge and it was starting to look that way here but things didn’t work out that way.

Jeff said it was hot for him just watching them.

I kept thinking that was for COFFEE!!! It would have been so much smarter to stop digging. I’m sure the players were digging more to prevent others from calling them quitters than for the actual reward. One person should have stood and said: “Guys, I can continue digging along with you but why don’t we all say: “Screw this. Keep your coffee.” What do you say?”
Off course, Karma, production’s favorite tool, would probably strike that smart person.

After 45 minutes and no bags for anyone, we saw Scot, Jason, Debbie, Joe and Tai’s pain. Debbie finally found a second bag for her tribe and then Aubry grabbed the third. They wound up finishing first in a no contest.

When Caleb and Nick found the two missing bags for Beauty, Alecia started telling her tribe not to give up which got Scot angry and he said: “Keep cheerleading. It’s what you’re best at.”

By that time, Debbie had collapsed and gotten some medical attention.

Now that even coffee was off the table, why did the other two tribes continue this charade? It would get even worse when Caleb started sprinting to retrieve the last ball while the Brawn tribe was making a desperate attempt to take away the salt and pepper shakers.

Why show Anna’s frustration whenever the ball didn’t fall in the hole? It would have been better to tell Nick and Caleb to take it easy and she must regret seeing her frustration now.

Debbie in confessional: “When I got through Ranger training at Hawk Mountain Ranger School we’re thought first aid. Because of my training, I immediately knew I was having a heat stroke. Heat stroke is like being roasted alive. You feel dizzy, exhausted and you feel hot. After the first few seconds of shade and water I immediately felt better. I knew I wasn’t getting pulled from the game.”

I wonder if the intervention to save Debbie hurt Caleb in any way.

The medical staff focused so much on Debbie that they didn’t see Caleb’s distress at first and then it looked like they didn’t have any cold water readily available. It’s interesting that they showed Debbie’s distress at all. They never showed the medical team coming to camp during the first cycle to help Aubry and Jennifer even if those images had been part of the season’s promotion images. That means producers could have cut the scene with Debbie from the episode or at least some of it. It would have enabled them to show the crew flying to Caleb’s rescue at the very first sign of problems. This tells us Debbie’s importance to the story.

Cydney was the next to go down and she only had Jason helping her for a while. He brought her over to the medical staff.

That’s when Jeff called for everyone to find a way to help.
Producers used Jeff’s call for help as a way to completely destroy Peter’s story by showing us this image:

We saw Jason, Joe, Neal and Nick helping as much as they could but the ER doctor was simply shown turning his back on the situation.

I don’t think he would have been allowed to help as a doctor since it could have been interpreted as a conflict of interest if something had gone horribly wrong but we could have at least seen him comforting someone. The doctor wasn’t even shown using bed side manners. It was never clearer that someone wasn’t going to be Sole Survivor.

For once we saw most of the staff at work. (It must be said that some were still filming the others!) It gave an ER impression to the episode and probably many viewers enjoyed watching it. For me, I couldn’t stop thinking that the reward was meaningless so it didn’t remove the distaste from my mouth. Granted, I am not a fan of the medical drama genre but while I appreciate the survival aspect of the show, I don’t want to see anyone forced out of the game for something production could have avoided. If it had happened for individual immunity then that would be completely different, each individual fighting for their own sake but here? They were fighting for each other’s respect (and not even getting it in Alecia’s case) and a SALT SHAKER!!!! Jiffy has the gall to say that the challenges are tested by dream teamers but those people have nothing to play for so they never push as hard. The search area should have been much smaller and the bags not buried as deeply. Not only would that have saved everyone but the challenge would have been much closer.

Cydney was having convulsions while Caleb was not responding and hardly breathing. Nick was helping by keeping Caleb’s legs up in the air.

To Cydney, Jeff said that Jason was taking really good care of her. That’s when the medic told Jeff they needed to call the helicopter for Caleb.

Jeff told Caleb that he had to be taken out by doctor’s orders. We saw Anna, Tai, Michelle and Julia in tears.

I hope no one says that Nick didn’t care because he wasn’t shown in that moment but let’s not forget he was helping Caleb at the time.

Jeff came over to ask the Beauty tribe how they felt. Michelle said she was overwhelmed. Tai and Anna couldn’t believe that Caleb was being pulled from the game.

The whole tribe said their goodbyes to Caleb as he was being carried out in a stretcher.

Asked for his reaction, Tai said he was going to miss Caleb a lot.

Jeff asked Jason if he could ever vote Cydney out after this. Jason said that it wasn’t about the mission anymore; it was about the person, your team mate. Alecia was shown when he mentioned that they may not like each other but that they are family. Jason added that he was going to stay with Cydney to the bitter end. That made her smile.

Jeff sent them back to camp saying the game was continuing.

As they left, we heard Tai in confessional: “Without Caleb, it’s very sad. He is going to be in my heart for a long time...Before Caleb was gone; three boys against three girls but now only Nick and I. Now, the girls have their choice of who to kick out. So, the idol is more important now because, if we go to Tribal, that’s a 50/50 chance I’m going home. I’m not going home with an idol in my pocket.”

Why include this at this time? The Beauty tribe wasn’t about to go to TC and it would have been more appropriate to show them coping as a group back in camp. Clearly, producers want us to see an opposition between the fan favorite Tai and the “Women’s alliance”. It ties in with Jeff’s choice of words during the recap. That doesn’t bode well for the three women of Gondol. Since Julia was on screen when Tai mentioned using the idol, I wonder if she’ll be the victim of that play. Something bad is about to happen to the women’s alliance.

Brains Day 9

Debbie in confessional: “My biggest fear was not only was I going to appear weak to my tribe but that I would appear weak to my daughters back home. I like to think of myself as a role model for my daughters. My daughters often tell me that they are (she needed a moment to continue and the music was very touching) ... My daughters often tell me how much they are proud of me and I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff in my life. Crystal always tells me: “You’re the best mom” and Jay says: “You’re wonder woman” and they were really proud of me to come here. I just don’t want to disappoint them.”

Usually a confessional like this signals the start of a “Journey” player’s story but we have been shown Debbie’s strategic skills so she’s already more than a journey player. This confessional reinforces her status in the game. How far will this carry Debbie? I already had a feeling that she would be in the Final 3 but she could do better than that.

To her tribe mates, she said they’d be friends for life because they took good care of her.

Brawn Day 9

Alecia confronted Scot about his remark during the challenge.

He would not apologize but he’d try to spin it positively by saying he meant she’s good at cheerleading. She didn’t buy that.

The argument continued in the shelter. Scot found it funny that she was trying to tell an NBA player how to be a better team mate.

Neither Alecia nor Scot looked particularly good in that scene. Scot must have played in games with nothing to gain, either because his team is well out of the playoffs or the other team has an insurmountable lead. He should know that fans appreciate the players that don’t give up and continue to fight. Couldn’t he have given Alecia a small mark of respect? Saying “I’m sorry” would have been so much easier.

Cydney in confessional: “Coming back to camp after my little spell it was I was trying to recoup. That was my main thing but people started hollering... and I’m missing on my recuperation. The Brawn tribe: We do everything intensely and I don’t think that Alecia is aware of pretty much anything and I’m like; girl, listen and pay attention.”

Alecia said a switch could happen tomorrow and she was hoping for one. That made Scot and Jason laugh.

It would have been a brilliant idea, not really to save Alecia but to save this episode.

Jason walked out of the shelter and gave a confessional: “I really don’t think that Alecia gets the big picture of what’s going on around her in this world but I went a little overboard. I get angry. I raised two daughters that are the absolute world to me. I want them to be strong, very educated, independent females that are going to be able to take care of themselves without their dad ever and it upsets me to see a girl like Alecia who you can’t even hold a conversation with. Alecia is so far on the bottom now that we’re just waiting. That Tribal Council is signed, sealed and delivered.”

One should remember that the first thing Jason said was that “Blondie” had to go so he certainly didn’t give her much of a chance and she did show some strength and independence. However it must be noted that Jason wasn’t the bully in this episode and that Alecia didn’t even vote against him. While Jennifer made us dislike him, the latest events and Scot’s ugliness have redeemed the bounty hunter somewhat. Another interesting point is that two of the three biggest characters of this season have given us closely juxtaposed confessionals where they mention their two kids. Parenthood could certainly create a bond between Jason and Debbie and she’d be impressed by the way he cared for Cydney. This montage could be a hint that they will align before long. Jason may have just reopened that door that leads to winning this game.

We also have to note that we didn’t spend any time in the Beauty tribe even if that was the tribe most affected by the events. We didn’t spend any time in their camp before the first challenge and we wouldn’t go there for the rest of the evening either.

Day 11

At least they gave them a full day to recover but I still think it would have been a lot more fun to have the swap immediately and spend the remainder of the episode watching them get to know their new tribe mates who are also their opponents.

Tai and Joe (?) sat out the challenge

The first pairs were Peter and Debbie, Julia and Anna along with Alecia and Cydney.

I was surprised to see Debbie participating and even more so to see she was one of the runners. Isn’t she an excellent swimmer and wouldn’t it have been less strenuous to be in the water?

The race was fairly even until the three pairs made their way back. The Brains tribe was missing a rope, forcing Peter to go back and retrieve it. Alecia and Cydney were the first pair back.

I wonder if Debbie left that third piece of rope behind on purpose! Peter thought she was supposed to have two.

With a great swim, Nick and Michelle finished the second leg in first. Aubry and Neal were far behind at this point.
Julia and Anna were once more paired doing the puzzle.

That really shows their confidence in doing puzzles but also their bond as a duo, something everyone can see.

Cydney and Alecia attacked the puzzle for the Brawn tribe.

Jason and Scot gave all the rope to Alecia, both literally and figuratively. Once more she showed her limitations in puzzles but no one came to help.

Neal and Debbie started out on the puzzle for the Brains tribe but Debbie quickly let Peter take her place. That got the Brains on track and they finished first.

Once more Debbie cheered for the tribe. At least no one is saying that’s all she’s good for.

Jeff said: “Peter came in and it was over.”

That was not exactly an endorsement of Neal’s work on the puzzle!

When we saw that Anna could do nothing more than look over at the Brains' puzzle...

...Nick took over for her and did for Beauty what Peter did for Brains, sending the Brawn tribe back to tribal Council.

Alecia told Jeff that she tried and even that got a comment from Cydney who pointed out that they both tried. Scot told Jeff that Alecia was trying to validate herself.

Jason’s confessional: “Jeff asked Alecia a question and Alecia responded back with her famous words: “I did my best.” It’s all about her, her, her, her.”

Before sending them back to camp, Jeff asked the odds of Alecia surviving the vote. Scot answered by showing a big zero with his fingers.

Jason was even ready to have TC right away and Scot agreed.

I don’t remember which player it was, maybe Cochran or Stephen, but someone once said that having your torch snuffed by Jeff was a memorable experience even if it meant you were out of the game. Shame on Probst for even suggesting taking that last moment away from Alecia. At least he said she had to agree but still why even suggest that final humiliation.

We often talk about the greatest Tribal Councils and for me that will always be episode 11 of Vanuatu, the one that led to Leann’s elimination but I think this one should be nominated for worst ever.

Alecia agreed with Jeff that she was opinionated but added that Jason and Scot didn’t earn her respect.

Scot said that meant no one could earn her respect, that Alecia simply needed attention.

Jeff said he was rooting for Alecia but knew she was going home.

Alecia said she wanted to stay longer but that she would take what she learned from the experience.

After seeing her torched snuffed, Alecia wished Cydney good luck.

Jeff sent the tribe back to camp after asking: “If there’s been one thing consistent on this tribe, it’s the three of you. Is that bond enough to get the three of you to the end?”

The Story

When the heat is the biggest story of the episode you know something is wrong. Imagine the discussions we would be having if Jeff had surprised us all with a switch in lieu of that Immunity Challenge and the meaningless Tribal Council that followed. What would have been better? I really think that seeing the switch immediately and hearing the players’ initial discussions without a Tribal Council would have given us a full week of interesting speculation. The switch at 14 would have been natural but now we will have uneven tribes. Of course, we can look forward to a surprise at the start of the next episode but one variable has been removed and we can’t really speculate since we have no idea how the game will reset.

What we do know is that we have the Brains foursome, a threesome of Beauties, another of “Brawnies” and 3 variables, namely Nick, Tai and Peter. How will Jeff arrange his random switchboard? I expect that Jason, Tai and Debbie will be on the same tribe and quickly connect while one member of the Brawn tribe will wind up between two factions of 3 rivals. The trio of To Tang players should make it to the merger to test Jeff’s question.

On a side note, it’s possible that most of the players who gave everything they had for this week’s “reward” will lose the benefit next week by being sent to the camp that doesn’t have the kitchen ware and coffee. Was it worth playing for? A resounding NO! Hopefully, it will be worth watching all the way to the end.

The Characters

The Variables:

Peter: I think his chances of winning the game are completely gone after this episode. We saw him turning his back when Jeff called for everyone’s help. I think he must have helped in some way or was more incapacitated than we saw. However, the images showed us someone that didn’t appear to care. While the switch could give him a reprieve, I doubt he’ll get to see more than one of his rivals from the “pea brain tribe” leave.

Nick: Even if he helped Caleb, I’m guessing some viewers will have missed it and think he didn’t really care since he wasn’t part of the Gondol group when Jeff told them about the evacuation. While Tai thought it would have been three guys against three girls, I wonder what Nick was thinking at the time. He must have made some attempts to get in an alliance and he must have talked about the game with the women. Will he become an easy target after the swap or will he find his footing? His edit so far doesn’t signal anything too exciting for him.

Tai: He is the interesting variable: He has an idol and he’s very charismatic. It’s weird that the women didn’t reassure him about his position in the tribe. Avoiding Tribal Council means that promises can easily be sold even if they are lies. Anna wanted Nick voted out first so it would have been easy to secure Tai’s loyalty. If the Gondol women’s alliance gets broken up by Tai, it will be through their fault, through their most grievous fault. For a big character, we must admit that Tai doesn’t have long term connections and that his story is mostly tied to his idol and his love of all living beings. That means his biggest impact could come from that idol and it is presently aimed at the women of his own tribe. Will he readjust his aim after the switch? That’s an interesting question.

The Gondol Threesome

Julia: She is the nice one, the one that rushed to Caleb when he needed help and the one that comforted Michelle after the challenge, holding a bottle of cold water on her neck. She looks like she would be interesting to follow but she has given us only two confessionals, one of which was rather meaningless. Her lack of connection with the audience tells me she could very well fall victim to the switch and it could be from an idol. The others should know that she is good in puzzles and tight with Anna so it makes her an inviting target.

Michelle: She is the easygoing one. That means her rivals probably didn’t notice her and that could make her less threatening. She hasn’t given us much more than Julia but the guys talked about her in episode one so she has slightly more development than her younger ally so she could outlast her. It must be noted that with two of its three members being seriously underdeveloped, the vaunted women’s alliance looks more like an obstacle than a real force in this game. Since they didn’t even go to Tribal Council, it may have been nothing more than a mirage.

Anna: She is the strategic one. The other tribe saw her teaming up with Julia during the puzzles so she could also be targeted. She was presented as the one in control of the Gondol tribe. If that wasn’t just due to the editing then Nick and Tai could have noticed her actions and could use that to throw her under the bus. While her strong early edit suggested that she could be a contender, I think we must take a step back now and reassess her chances. It wasn’t all too terrible that she was the one heard expressing surprise at Liz’s boot although it could signal that an identical fate awaits the other smart and beautiful woman. It was a bit more concerning to see her applauding for that reward and then show frustration when her tribe mates were possibly going to deprive her of it. I’m not sure what to say about showing her looking over at the Brains’ puzzle but I can say that Mike wasn’t shown looking at the other tribe’s puzzle so no one could call him a cheater.

The worst though was that Gondol was completely ignored during the episode. This was the tribe that was most affected from the injuries but we only heard from Tai and his idol. It tells me that we were only meant to see Gondol and it's unofficial leader when things were all fun and games. Now that it’s gotten serious, we were directed to the other camps.

The Brawn Threesome

Scot: At the beginning of the third episode, Scot said that booting Jennifer was bad for his game but he wouldn’t have known that it was also bad for his edit! Jennifer’s comments made us like the big guy more than his associate. Now, we see that he can be just as much a bully as the bounty hunter and he doesn’t have the personal confessionals to soften his image. A professional should have recognized the value of effort and that was Alecia’s contribution. Instead of saying that he had found two bags, he could have admitted that he was spent and he should have been encouraging Alecia to keep going.

Cydney: With a little imagination, we could see the image of a sand covered Cydney coming back to life after that harrowing experience as the Phoenix rising from the ashes. Now that she has an unbreakable bond with Jason we can consider her chances to make it to the end of the game with more optimism. It would be a great comeback story if she could emerge from that horrible situation and make it to the end. How will this tribe answer Jeff’s question? According to Jason their bond is as strong as the one between soldiers on the battlefield so we have to consider the possibility that they will make it to the end game despite the numbers.

Jason: He is a difficult character to define. I really thought that his game had ended when Jennifer told us she couldn’t stand him anymore but then he practically saves Cydney when the medical staff was overwhelmed. He wasn’t even the biggest bully in Alecia’s mind because she voted against Scot. Can he win this game? I still doubt it but he could be in a position to make his case in front of the jury.

The Brains Foursome

Joe: He was the one that alerted Jeff to Debbie’s crisis and he comforted her but there was nothing else to show for him in this episode.

Aubry: We can finally talk about the press image showing the medical staff coming to Aubry’s help because it definitely looks like it happened in episode 1. Why wasn’t it shown? We saw her moment of weakness from heat exhaustion but it was presented in such a way that Debbie was the one attending to her and making her feel better, not the medical staff. The editing manipulation made Aubry look a little better than it would if we had seen that medical needed to intervene but it certainly made us see that Debbie wasn’t just a flake, that she could be a caring, motherly figure in this game. Such manipulation isn’t done for insignificant players. Some will say that I am making too much of it because we didn’t see the doctors attending to Jennifer either but in her case we know it’s because it would have been a waste of time. She would be out shortly and the editors had the image of Scot taking the worm out of her ear so why show anything else? Aubry and Debbie should go far together and the edit tells us which one would prevail.

Neal: Besides seeing him holding an umbrella to help Debbie, we had nothing from him in this episode and Jeff didn’t even remind the viewers that he was Peter and Liz’s target when the tribe went to Tribal Council. So, back to the drawing board...

Debbie: ...And what we find is Debbie picking up all the credit. My first impression was that Debbie would fly so much under the radar that the others wouldn’t be able to appreciate her game but that doesn’t seem to be the interpretation that the story tellers want us to take from episode 3. It seemed obvious after that episode that Debbie would be in the Final Three and our impressions were reinforced this week. Peter and Liz wanted to take her to the end and we can assume that Joe, Neal and Aubry would be thrilled to follow her there.

What about the other 8 players? Depending on the switch and who makes the merger, some won’t have a say in the decision but we can assume that they will also want to be there with her either out of necessity or because they see her as someone that would be easily beaten. Jason and Cydney are in definite need of allies and what better connection for Jason than to turn to another parent. Debbie saw Jason as a caring individual who saved Cydney so she may want to align with him. Tai would probably see her as someone that could save him from the three beautiful young women. Those same women could want to get her in their alliance to gain numbers.

Things are looking good for Debbie but she has a nemesis in Peter. She did a great job in this social game by going to him when he was down and out after their Tribal Council but the audience knows that Peter wants revenge. That places some doubts around Debbie’s chances especially if the two wind up in the same tribe. In a random draw, the odds would be 50/50 but with the way chances play out in Survivor, I’d say it’s more like 75/25! Having a nemesis is actually good for Debbie’s story... if she doesn’t lose control of her game.

Before saying that Debbie will win, let’s wait and see how the swap works out. If that isn’t enough of an unknown, we could be in for a merger the following week. Then it will be time to truly analyze these characters and their story and come to a decision.

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03-15-16, 10:39 PM (EST)
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32. "Feedback:"
LAST EDITED ON 03-16-16 AT 09:40 AM (EST)

The harshness of my comments about the events during the latest reward challenge received an interesting feedback. I was told the following:

"The players are lectured by medical to drink more and more water every time they see them. The first question always is: "What color is your urine?" and then they are told to keep drinking or drink more. Caleb and others were drinking straight from the well but it still wasn't enough.

Once Brain got their bags, Jeff gave hints to Beauty and Brawn to find the bags but they couldn't figure it out at first.

After that challenge production told the players that the water would be treated and they could drink straight from the well. It was amazing to see their reaction."

It makes me realize that it's easy to criticize when sitting at home. However, I've always said that challenges should be simpler so, for me, this was getting over the top. Simpler challenges could still be interesting and they would lead to closer results, more time spent observing camp life and they would be less demanding.


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03-19-16, 01:02 PM (EST)
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33. "Episode 5 - Making your own Luck"
Previously on Survivor

Since day one, the game has been a fight...

(Once more, we saw Neal and Cydney clashing during the opening scramble)
...and nothing has come easy.

Idols were found by Tai and Jason.
Alliances were made...
In confessional, Anna told us that the three girls were tight.
... and broken.
Debbie reminded us that the narcissistic Peter was still on the periphery of their group.

But nothing compared to the battle with Mother Nature and Caleb was her first victim.

Tai said in confessional, that he was alone with Nick and that the girls could make their pick.

At the last immunity challenge, the Brawn tribe lost for the third time.

At Tribal Council, Scot, Jason and Cydney didn’t let Alecia escape another vote.

The comment that immediately jumped out at me was “First” victim. Jeff was implying that there will be more to come and Tai was shown immediately after this. He would mention his scrapes again later on so one has to wonder if he’ll be forced out of the game.

While Jeff told us that Brawn lost the challenge, he didn’t mention Peter and Nick’s performance during that IC. Jeff did mention Scot, Jason and Cydney individually so that’s a good omen. He could have simply said: “At TC, Alecia’s luck ran out” or “the tribe didn’t let Alecia escape another vote.” Getting individual recognition is a hint that this trio will play a key role down the line.

Now that Neal and Cydney are in an alliance of sorts, it was fun to see a replay of their collision during the marooning. There had to be many wild scenes during that scramble but that one was chosen by the editing team so it may have significance before the season is over especially since both are now tight with Debbie and there could be place only for one.

As for the unfortunate Anna, it’s never good when a mention of a strong alliance makes it on the recap just before a tribal swap. One could even say that it wasn’t much better to hear about it in previous recaps because that alliance was never a factor. Beauty never went to Tribal Council so the constant mention of that alliance was nothing more than a mirage, a way to raise hopes for their fans, and a way to create fear for Tai’s fans.

Making your own Luck

Brains Day 12

I was expecting to see the camera going to the Brains tribe first. Tribal Council had been so meaningless that there was no reason to go to the Brawn camp while Beauty isn’t the tribe of interest.

With strings that almost sounded like a harp, the music was quite serene.

Joe was tending to the fire, Peter was sleeping and Neal was behind his back, watching him.



Right then, the music started growling and the drums set in. There is a confrontation ahead between these two.

Joe was having problems with a cut on one finger. It was getting swollen. Peter asked him about it so Joe said he had been soaking it in salted water.

Peter in confessional: “Since the last vote, where I feel in this pack is at the bottom. I feel like a neutered dog right now because I have no play.” Neal was heard simulating a call to the ER for Peter who went to look at Joe’s injury. Peter’s confessional continued: “So, it’s strategically crucial that I start pandering to these people. So, I go to doctor mode. Right now, it’s Doctor Peter’s clinic but it’s actually an attempt just to make them feel as if they need me. They see me as someone functional, useful; I’m just going to exploit that and try to get out of this mess I’ve gotten myself in.”

We heard Neal say that it was turning into a trauma center while Debbie said: “Thank God we have you, Peter.” Neal asked for a prognosis and Peter said the patient will live.

There are two ways we can interpret this confessional. Peter could be viewed as the scheming underdog who will find his way back into power for good and not just for this episode.

However, the edit certainly hasn’t fostered any sympathy in the viewers for Peter. Also, synchronising Neal’s call to the ER with Peter’s intentions of pandering to these people, we clearly see that Peter is using his skills as a doctor to fool them. Presented this way, it creates apprehension: Most viewers will hope that Peter doesn’t succeed. So it shouldn’t work out for him. The two scenes could have been separated.

Another angle to consider is Debbie’s remark. Is she being fooled or is she also pandering to Peter’s ego?

Out of all this, I have to admit that the editors did a good sales pitch. At this point, I thought that Peter was going to be the player eliminated. To my great pleasure, this episode would give us many trails to follow. Only one is the right one so can I make the right decision? Fortunately, there is still time to decide.

Neal’s confessional: “We have a tribe of five. We have four people that are aligned and then we have one cancer named Peter.”

I found it troubling that we saw Peter looking at Neal’s hand when then ice cream guy mentioned the word cancer.


Is it cancerous, Doc?"

Was this telling us that Neal’s chances are in Peter’s hands? This is another of the fun hints that were sprinkled all over this episode.

Neal’s confessional went on: “There’s likely an idol out here somewhere and I need to keep it out of Peter’s hands. I’m going to spend as much time as it takes to find the idol.” We followed him on his search. “I’m looking for any tree that might look unique, something that sticks out. All of a sudden I see this tree...” He found the clue and then the box: “...The box has a padlock on it.” The music started sounding adventurous when Neal set out to find the key: “I know I’m going to get it. I’m confident. I’ve gotten here and I know where it is and I’m going to find it but will I get caught in that process? So, I have to move very, very fast. I scamper across the island, looking up at every coconut tree and sure enough, right behind one, is a cylinder with a little hole at the bottom to push that tool through.”

The musicians let hear a Ta-dam-Ta-dam when we saw him opening the box and it sounded joyous when he put the idol around his neck. Despite a rather quiet story, it does seem that the producers want us to like Neal, at least to prefer him over Peter!

Neal then told us about the twist: “The last rule is a twist in the game that, if you happen to have two idols, they can be combined into one super-idol. Now the goal is to find another idol or somebody that has an idol. One of my philosophies in life is that you make your own luck and that’s exactly what I’m doing. If somebody is betting in Vegas, I’m the front runner.”

Since this was the third time we've heard about the twist, should we conclude that it will come into effect? I’m starting to think it will but will Peter be the holder of the super idol? Letting us hear about his philosophy and how it will turn out later for him is a great sign. It’s also quite humorous that Neal was heard talking about betting in Vegas on the night when the poker player was going to be voted out! I’d really like to know if this idol search really happened on day 12 or if Neal had been carrying the idol for a little while. The editors could have decided to delay his story by a few episodes to make his find and confessional appear more important. I tried comparing his beard growth and there couldn’t have been much of a delay though. I’d say that it could have been a few days at most.

Another angle to consider is that, unbeknownst to Neal, someone else would soon find that second person with an idol. Should we conclude that Scot is the betting favorite? Since Jason is the one with the idol and Scot should be telling him about Tai’s secret, maybe the bounty hunter is the real favorite.

The Swap

It had a nice twist but when Jeff said they had planned to swap at 14, I was reminded of my comments from last week. They really made a bad decision when they decided to delay the swap.

No one was surprised to see that Alecia was voted out. We heard Neal say: “Bye, Bye Blondie” and saw that Debbie agreed.

That was not exactly a nice comment considering that “Blondie” was used by Jason and it was very demeaning.

The first commercial came just after Jeff told everyone to drop their buffs.


The fun is Over

For a long time, the first commercial break used to come right after the previously on Survivor segment, then around the time of Cook Islands, we started having the night scene before the first break. Now, we are getting it only after the first surprise of the evening. It’s a fun way to present the show.

When we came back from commercial, we saw Cydney’s shock, Neal’s smile and Tai’s worries.

It was Neal, Julia and Cydney who were shown when Jeff said that there were 6 Blue, 6 yellow and one red. The shock of the three Beauty women was shown when it was revealed that someone would be left alone on Brawn beach.

I wonder what the fans were thinking. Would you have liked to have immunity in exchange of being cut off from everyone for 2 or 3 days? Bruce wasn’t hurt by it but others like Misty and Sylvia were eliminated soon after an early trip to Exile Island. It’s a tough situation and it will be interesting to see if Julia can reintegrate the group. Luckily, she is a nice person and not a major threat so maybe her chances are better than most. I think I would have preferred to stay with one group at the risk of getting voted out.

When it came his turn, Neal asked Jeff for his recommendation. Jeff answered by telling him to follow his gut.

Once more, Neal is shown as the guy making his own luck. That little exchange reminded me of Tyson and the way he asked Jeff to be the last to draw. It served him nicely so maybe this method will serve Neal as well.

The new line ups:

Julia, who said she had a gut feeling, was left alone on To Tang. She looked anxious when everyone started shaking hands.

The Blue tribe, Chan Lo, was composed of two Brains (Neal and Debbie), two Beauty (Michelle and Nick) and two Brawn (Cydney and Jason)
Asked about his tribe, Neal said: “It looks like we’ve got some strength, it looks like we’ve got some smarts and it looks like we have some beauty so I’ll take it. I’m talking about myself mostly!”

The Yellow tribe, Gondol, had three Brains (Aubry, Joe and Peter), two Beauty (Anna and Tai) and one Scot.

When Jeff turned to Julia, was saw Anna looking over at her friend. Julia said she was going to be Ok. She added: “The one down side is not getting to know everyone. I’m going to come in as the odd one out especially if a Beauty gets voted off at this next immunity.”

I would have kept that last part to myself. The others didn’t need a reminder of the dangers of letting old friends reunite. In Pearl Islands, Sean was voted out instead of Fairplay because Drake was worried about a reunion with Burton. Julia and her friends would have been better served if she had used the angle that she needed immunity, pretending that she was as an outsider.

Michelle in confessional: “What the heck! The girls’ alliance got clean divided. To have the people I can trust the most out here go three different ways; it’s crushing.”

Gondol Day 12

After hearing that the Beauty tribe still had one chicken and mangoes, Joe commented that they had done well.

Peter in confessional: “The swap is exactly what I needed because if that didn’t happen, I was dead. My alliance member was voted out before me and I was the next lowest hanging fruit but now it’s in our best interest to go forward together. On this tribe, there’s three Brains, two Beauties, one Brawn. We’re the majority. I’m set up right now to easily make it to the merge without having any concern or even a bead of sweat down my eyebrow.”

Peter hasn’t lost his arrogance. This confessional made it sound like he’d be ripe for a snuffing but it was all misdirection. That’s twice now that Peter was a decoy boot so will he always escape the vote?

Scot’s interview: “I’m the sole Brawn and I’m thinking: Alright, I’m on the bottom of the totem pole. It is a familiar feeling for me: I’ve played for five different teams in the NBA and each time you’re joining a group of people you used to play against and you used to fight against. I can handle it. I just have to figure out if I can trust anybody; who it is and if it’s going to do me any good.”

Finally we heard a player saying what I’ve been saying all along! Ever since Africa, viewers have commented that tribe swaps in Survivor are unfair but I’ve always compared them to trades in sports. Some players can go from a contender to a team that is completely out of the playoffs while others take the opposite road. In Survivor, there are no playoffs so each player has to make their own luck and a good social game is always the key. Scot adopted the perfect attitude: Instead of showing paranoia, he had a calm determination and an open attitude.

In the shelter, Peter was quick to bring up the possibility of losing the next challenge to Aubry. He added that the person eliminated would be replaced by a Beauty so the logical thing was to take out a Beauty.

Aubry’s confessional: “I might have three Brains in numbers but with Peter, that might only be two. I don’t trust Peter as far as I can throw him. Logically in numbers, does it make sense to go with Peter? Yeah it does, especially if there’s the potential a Beauty could come back to this tribe. If Julia comes back from the Brawn tribe, she’s going to be another Beauty and we’re going to lose the numbers. It’s going to be three and three.”

Scot came to join Peter and Aubry in the shelter and he agreed to eliminate a Beauty.

Scot’s confessional: “I’m absolutely alone but the Brain tribe seemingly have already made the decision: Everybody is on board to take out a Beauty. But people say one thing and then they turn around five minutes later and say something else. Who knows? It might switch all over again.”

Chan Lo Day 12

We heard quite a merry tune when Debbie welcomed everyone to their new shelter.

Michelle’s interview: “I don’t think anybody expected a switch today. I was stunned. You know, on the Beauty tribe, the women’s alliance was really, really tight but we’re all divided right now, the three girls. It’s nerve-wracking.”

There’s a nice underdog story starting to take form for Michelle now that she isn’t in power. She is the one giving us her point of view and we heard from her twice now before hearing from any of her allies. She has potential as a long term player. I did find it surprising to hear her say that no one expected a switch. The three tribe format always had a switch around this time.

Debbie told Cydney that they had a pull-up bar and she quickly gave her a demonstration.

Neal made an interesting comment: “They only count if you go down all the way, Debbie.”

The same could be said of Survivor: It only counts if you go all the way and it does seem that Debbie will be going all the way.

Michelle’s confessional resumed: “On my tribe, I find myself with two Beauty, two Brains and two Brawn so there’s a lot to think about and it’s going to be a rough adjustment but, you know, you got to keep your head up and read people until it comes time when I got to make an alliance.”

Debbie’s confessional: “The new Chan Lo tribe is a good tribe. It was a warm welcome to our humble abode but immediately, I’m just looking for an opening because my game play is... I’m on the offense, not the defense. From the get go, I wanted to work with Brawn because the Brawn tribe is definitely the powerhouse.”

The difference between these two juxtaposed confessionals is critical: Michelle will wait until the time comes to make an alliance while Debbie looked for an immediate opening. It almost always pays to move quickly in this game.

Debbie expressed her admiration for Cydney’s fitness.

Cydney’s interview: “We were on a walk looking for coconuts and Debbie... she has a motherly vibe and it definitely could be good for me to have a motherly figure around too so it could be a good duo. I’ve been playing the dumb jock role but I haven’t told anybody that I went to Penn which is like one of the top schools in the nation. That’s not the vibe you get from me like she’s so smart. No, that is just not what I give out but I did go to an Ivy League school. It took a lot to get there, especially growing up in the Atlanta public school system. I was extremely ready for a change.”

Cydney’s admission of going to the Ivy League came right after Debbie said she was smart. As for the change that Cydney mentioned, was she still talking about going from Atlanta to the Ivy League or was she talking about switching from the Brawn tribe to get to play with some members of the Brain tribe? She certainly fit in nicely.

Debbie told Cydney that she was close with Neal even if they didn’t appear to be close but she added that she wanted to see a woman win this. Cydney agreed with Debbie on that one.

Hearing a comment like this really piques my interest. It strongly suggests that either a woman will win or it will be Neal! And, after this, if we do have a woman winner, could it be anyone other than Debbie or Cydney?

Debbie’s confessional: “I spoke to Cydney about my plan of the two Brawn hooking up with the two Brain. Now I need to speak to Jason and make it a foursome.”

The camera quickly took us to hear the talk that Debbie had with Jason. She told him that they wanted to take out a Beauty to let them know what it’s like.

Debbie’s next interview: “I already went to Cydney, I already went to Jason: We have a foursome. Ding! Kaching! We got a Cyanide triple bond carbon=nitrogen. You’re not breaking it between us because, in this game, you have to have flexibility and you have to have strength. Once again, I’m the mastermind behind the scene and they just don’t see me coming.”


Mastermind or low-hanging fruit?

Not only did Debbie give us another example of her abilities in making deals and hanging from a tree but the camera showed us Nick looking down and Michelle turning her back to the action.

Neither Nick nor Michelle would see her coming. That image looks like a definite hint that both Michelle and Nick will be blindsided by Debbie. The image of Debbie hanging from the branch is also a reference to Peter’s low hanging fruit comment. How do we interpret that? Will Debbie be the next to fall? No, I think the images were shown to put salt in Peter’s wound, diabolically reminding him of his arrogant comment in episode one.

Gondol Day 13

Tai’s confessional: “With Caleb gone, I say goodbye to a dear friend but the switch happen and we come together as a new tribe so there’s a lot of opportunities to make new friends.”

Tai was shown working while Anna was just standing there.

Scot’s interview: “Tai is great. You can tell he’s a hard worker. It’s always great to have a guy in your tribe that keeps things jovial and he knows how to do everything. That’s cool! I like people like that.”

Tai asked Scot if he’d give him a boost to pick mangoes.

Tai’s comments: “Scot is gigantic! He’s 6 foot eleven inches. He’s so tall! I think three of me would make one of him and he wears size 18 shoes. That’s amazing.”

Scot: “Tai is light as a feather. I tossed him up a tree and that little dude just ran around that tree picking mangoes like crazy. I got a man crush on Tai right now already. In my opinion, he’s the number one most valuable member of the tribe right now.”

It seems we have a new bromance in the works! If everyone loves Tai when will they decide to vote him out? I wouldn’t wait for the last immunity challenge because with his weight and his resolve, there are many types of challenges that Tai would win. Tai’s story certainly has most of the ingredients needed for a “winner’s edit”, maybe even more than everybody else but it doesn’t make sense from a game perspective. It doesn’t take much to change a “winner’s edit” to a Hero’s story and that’s what I feel will happen with Tai.

Anna was telling Aubry that Tai had constantly been looking for an idol.

In confessional, she told us about her predicament and how Julia’s return made it worse.

Throwing Tai under the bus is the Alexis Maxwell type of game play. It didn’t work for the former Beauty tribe member; it wouldn’t work for this one either.

Chan Lo Day 13

Nick’s confessional: “The tribe swap is a rebirth for me. This mix of Beauty, Brain and Brawn, it kind of makes things more simple since there are two, two and two. It’s going to be the battle of the pairs. I’m with Michelle right now and I’m trying to make some bonds to get two more with us.” At the water well, Nick told Jason that he liked everybody on the tribe. Nick’s confessional went on: “When it comes to being manipulative, I think I’m the most intelligent person out here so, coming into this tribe, I get to start fresh and come up with new lies or new stories and I’m happy about it.”

Jason agreed to Nick’s proposal and then he closed the lid on the water well.

True to form, Nick is setting the stage for a big blindside but it could be his own! It must be said that this exchange puts doubts on Debbie and Neal’s chances. Despite Debbie’s assurances, the foursome isn’t locked in, Jason and Cydney could still be free agents. However, Debbie and Neal have received much more character development so they are more likely long term players compared to Nick and Michelle. When he put the lid back on the well, Jason could have been symbolically putting a lid on Nick’s game.

Jason’s confessional: “Coming to the new Chan Lo tribe, I was put in a good spot. The Beauties are going to stick together, the Brains are going to stick together and they’re both reaching for Cydney and I. Both sides look at us as the tie- breaker so it’s a great spot to be in. Beauty on the right, Brains on the left; who do you side with? We kind of hold all the power so I am feeling really good.”

I have no doubt that Jason taking care of Cydney just before the swap helped him tremendously in gaining trust from everyone. However, right when Jason said he was feeling very good about having all the power, we saw him sitting in camp with smoke from the fire enveloping him.


That symbolizes the “fogs of war” and it tells us that Jason will not know how to use that power properly. The choices he makes will probably benefit someone else’s game more than his own.

While this was going on, we saw that Julia, left all alone in To Tang, was having a hard time. The drums were heavy; they sounded like rumbling thunder in the distance.

Julia’s comments: “I woke up very dehydrated and I felt my body shutting down...There’s no chance of me reconnecting with my entire alliance so it’s going to be hard... People don’t know that I’m actually 18 and I think it’s easier for stronger people, bigger people than me, and people with more life experience than me, to get through this... The longer I’m out here, the more paranoid I’m going to get.”

I don’t know if production was trying to recreate the favorable impression we had of Stephenie when she was a tribe of one but instead we got a replay of many of those visits to Exile Island where someone has nothing to say but has to give an interview anyway.

The Immunity Challenge

Jason had to remind Michelle to step on the Blue mat! Jeff remarked that it was old habits.

Scot and Aubry swam for Gondol while Nick and Jason went out for Chan Lo.

Jeff told us that Scot was doing it all himself.
“Scot has been a workhorse in this challenge” said Jeff.

Neal yelled out to Jason and Nick to get closer to have less resistance.

Neal would not want to see the two guys actually getting closer! I liked the irony of the comment but it didn’t seem like Jason and Nick were ready to get close enough. There was still plenty of resistance between them.

Tai and Joe started untying the fish first but Cydney and Michelle caught up and took the lead. The load proved a little much for Michelle though but the two tribes were still practically tied at the start of the last leg.

Peter and Anna did the puzzle for Gondol while Debbie and Neal worked together for Chan Lo.

Jeff mentioned that Peter and Anna had a lot of success on puzzles but it was Neal and Debbie who were making quick progress. In fact, they finished both layers before Gondol even had one.

Anna told us that her heart sank as soon as they lost the challenge. She thought the vote would be a battle between herself and Tai.

Gondol’s Scramble

Hearing Anna’s comments about Neal and Debbie’s fast work seemed like foreshadowing what will happen in the game. Like Anna and Peter, the others will have their strategy all prepared but they won’t see the Brains pair coming. Debbie’s offensive tactics already put Michelle in trouble and her puzzle skills finally came into evidence, causing Anna’s downfall.

Tai’s confessional: “It will definitely come down to me or Anna tonight. I have an idol. If I play the idol, I know for sure I will last another day but I don’t want to play the idol. If I don’t play it, they may all be voting for me. More than once; many survivor went home with the idol in their pocket.”

Aubry told Peter and Joe that they should vote for Tai. Peter preferred taking out Anna who was more divisive. Joe liked the idea and told Peter they’d let him know.

Peter’s confessional: “I think the argument to take Anna out now is that she is too good of a player. She’s a schemer, she’s intelligent and she’s a very attractive woman. She can win the people over not only with her brain but with her looks.”
Peter should realize that the exact same argument could be said of him so maybe he should have considered aligning with Anna!

If Joe had told me that he’d let me know their decision, I would have taken that as a slap in the face. My thoughts would have been: “You do that Joe but in the meantime, I’ll make other arrangements.”

Joe told Aubry that it would be better to blindside Anna over Tai who was good in camp but he didn’t know if they should protect the Brains. Aubry said that it’s what she wanted.

When Anna asked Peter about the vote, he flat out told her and Tai that “they” wanted to take a Beauty out. That caught Tai’s attention.

Tai’s confessional: “I do not like Peter. There’s something arrogant about Peter. We can take Peter out. We can do it because I have the idol.”

To Anna and Scot, Tai revealed that he had an idol and wanted to see Peter out. After he showed it to them, the three agreed on blindsiding Peter.

Anna gave the perfect “close to the edge” confessional: “I love Survivor, I love blindsides and I love immunity idols especially hidden ones.”

She even gave us a little kiss goodbye!!


Bye Bye Anna!

Scot in confessional: “Aubry came up to me and said “Tai is safe”. So, with Jason, I’ve got two guys that have idols and if you put them together, it becomes super idol. I thought, wow! we could blindside Anna and keep the idol hidden. That would make me the only person in the game of Survivor that knows where two idols are. That puts me in a pretty good spot provided I can get to the merge.”

The appearance of a snake right then was interesting. Was the snake looking to put its teeth in Scot or was it symbolizing Scot himself. Since the snake was also seen greeting the tribe back from the challenge and that Scot, along with Peter, was the big winner of that Tribal Council, I think Scot was the snake and he’ll make a few more victims before the season is over.
Scot told Tai that the vote would be against Anna and that it would be best for him to save the idol.

Tai’s interview: “Scot say that maybe they are not going to vote for me and I can use the idol as a tool but I’m so worried that, if I don’t play the idol, I might go home with the idol in my pocket, in my shoes and that would be a terrible thing. Right now, I have an idol: I can keep it for myself, share it with Anna... I don’t know. I guess I’ll bring my idol tonight and I’m going to see how it plays out. I think a lot of stuff probably come out at Tribal and, from there, I’ll decide whether to play it or not.”

Tribal Council

Aubry immediately told that she was sticking with the people that she knew. “They’re the devils we know but when we go into a tribe swap, you want to stick with the numbers.”

In case we weren’t sure yet, the camera went to Peter to identify Aubrey’s devil.

Jeff turned to Scot who was in an interesting spot. Scot agreed that he was alone on an island but he felt that people had made him part of the group for now.

Anna told Jeff that her heart dropped because she didn’t have the numbers. She felt it would be between Tai or her.
Tai agreed adding: “Obviously, they are going to keep Scot. He’s a massive asset to the team in challenges so it’s going to be one of us.”
Anna tried to sell herself as a valuable competitor.
Tai’s sale pitch was much more convincing: “I have a lot of resources, a lot of skills and I never, ever complain about work.” Even Aubry agreed. Tai then showed Jeff the wound on his leg.

Aubry said she appreciated both Tai and Anna but they would have to make a tough decision.

Joe then told Jeff that he thought there were no idols.

(Like in your good old days, hey Joe!)

Tai played it cool by saying he looked and couldn’t find one.
Scot agreed with Jeff that he had options but it depended on the unity of the Brains tribe.

Peter told Jeff that he didn’t see anyone looking for cracks and that he wasn’t worried because he was in a position of power. “We can do what we want right now.”

Even confronted by Jeff’s reasoning, Peter still said the likelihood of Scot, Anna and Tai taking on the Brain tribe was low, very low.

At least Aubry conceded that some people would go for it.

It was time to vote.

When Jeff asked for an idol, you could read Anna’s surprise when she realized that Tai wasn’t going to play his idol.

In comparison, Scot’s happiness was in evidence.

Everyone voted against Anna who left after wishing them all luck.

Jeff sent them back to camp with these words: “Survivor is a game about decisions. Tonight, you decided to keep Tai over Anna and the question you’re going to be wrestling with until the next immunity challenge: Did we make the right decision.”

The Story

Did Gondol make the right decision? While Jeff said the tribe’s decision was between Anna and Tai, we saw that it really was between Anna and Peter. It depends on the timing of the merger and if they go to Tribal Council again. If they don’t, then Peter may very well find himself in a position of power and that would definitely hurt Aubry and Joe. By having Julia replacing Anna, we could be in for a very boring Tribal Council if Aubry and Joe decide that a repeat is in order. Most shows go into reruns but the promos mention a new episode. The timing would be good for a merger but it seems that will have to wait.

For Anna, it was a convergence of bad luck. First she lost Caleb, then she was separated from her two closest allies, she was put in the minority with one of the most charismatic and hard worker we’ve ever seen on the show, there was the threat of Julia’s return and, if that wasn’t enough, Scot found out he could use Tai’s idol to form a super idol. With that being said, I still think Anna played it horribly. Throwing your former tribe mate under the bus was following Alexis Maxwell’s way of playing the game. Anna should have used Julia’s return as a positive, gone to Aubry and suggested she joins in her female alliance. The women are being decimated right now so Aubry could have been receptive. After two days, Peter’s arrogance was noticed by Tai so surely Anna must have seen it also and she should have guessed that Aubry felt the same way. You make your own luck in this game as Neal said and Anna could also have won the immunity challenge, saving her all this trouble.

Survivor is a game of decisions and luck so which players are making their own luck and coming up with the right decisions? When Debbie told Cydney that she was close to Neal and that she wants a woman to win this season, I felt that we were left with three main contenders: Cydney, Neal and Debbie.

The Characters

Out of Luck

Julia: The mystery buff twist should have been paired with a merger in the following episode. In fact, the mystery buff should have been the merger buff and Julia should have been told to get the shelter ready for the new arrivals in a similar fashion to Tocantins premiere. Forgive me for even suggesting such an abomination but, once there, they could have enticed her with a clue to a new idol! With this set up, she will be walking straight into an ambush and we are heading for a rerun type of episode if Gondol loses again. They could even do like in Soap Operas and have an announcer say: “Now playing the role of Anna Khait is Julia Sokolowski”. Besides the tribe winning immunity, her only chance is that she won’t be perceived as a schemer so maybe Aubry and Joe will side with her and finally rid us of Peter. Gratification has been delayed long enough...

Nick: After being put on hold for 4 episodes, it seems that Nick’s story is starting to unfold. The next preview is mostly devoted to him! His manipulative skills will be on display and that should make for an interesting episode if he gets to pay Jeff a visit at Tribal Council. While they are as loaded as the new Salani, Chan Lo looks like a powerhouse but what if Nick decides to throw the challenge to protect Julia and Tai, thinking he has Jason and Cydney in his pocket? His machinations could earn him a quick exit!

Michelle: Of the three members of the female alliance, Michelle had the nicest edit. It had more substance than Julia’s and, while she didn’t receive as much attention as Anna in the premiere, she didn’t have a bad episode like the poker player had in episode 4. Despite her anxious confessionals, she continued to display an easy-going attitude in camp and that will certainly mean that she is perceived as less threatening than Nick if Chan Lo goes to Tribal Council. In fact, if I am reading the story wrong, if Debbie is indeed the low hanging fruit and she gets voted out before the Beauty, then we’ll have to look at the two confessionals they gave one after the other from the opposite angle. It would mean that the editors were telling us that Michelle’s “defensive” method was the better choice. Another possibility of course is that Debbie recruits her to make sure a woman wins the season. It seems unlikely that it could be Michelle but she can still emerge as our winner if she gets a strong second half. Everyone’s story has flaws right now so why not Michelle?

Dumb Luck: The Survivor gods smiled on these players

Peter: This season’s swap couldn’t have come at a better time and in a better way for Peter. While he should have used the word plurality instead of majority, the numbers meant that the former Brain tribe members needed him to stay in control. No one in the Brain tribe liked Peter, but it must be noted that Aubry and Joe were not as dangerous to him as Debbie and Neal. It can be said that the two new members of Gondol played defensively, protecting their position, rather than offensively by recruiting new alliance members. As such, they opened the door for Peter, giving him a second reprieve. Someone could pay dearly for that mistake. Can Peter carry his villain edit all the way to the end? I don’t think so because there hasn’t been any attempt to show him as a likable underdog. At the very least, the recap would have noted that Peter saved himself during the previous IC by completing the snake puzzle for his tribe.

Scot: His dumb luck could be multiplied by ten if his new man crush is forced to leave the game. Tai wouldn’t leave with the idol in his pocket so what would he do if he’s forced out of the game? Give it to his new best friend of course. Finding himself alone in a tribe of six may seem like bad luck but it’s been shown more than once that it’s a good position. The two opposing factions needed Scot so, by staying calm and open, he had it made. The mountain man is an asset in challenges but that will soon change and he has nowhere to hide. Getting all the way to the end will be hard for Scot unless he’s given an idol or two.

Jason: It’s seems certain that the attention he gave to Cydney when she was in distress contributed to his successful integration into the new Chan Lo but he still received plenty of luck when the Beauty tribe was clean divided and Julia became the designated returning player. Instead of picking new buffs, we could have seen the Brawn tribe getting dissolved into the other two and that could have meant a quick end to Jason’s game. Let’s not forget that production’s last minute decision to change the format meant he could get rid of Alecia before the swap. Either Jason or Scot would not have slept as comfortably if their favorite punching bag had made it to a new tribe.

Now that he has become a vital ally to both sides and that they seem to trust him, how far can Jason go? Like many others, Jason could win this game despite some terrible episodes. We’ve certainly seen some bullying on his part but all of his voting decisions were perfectly explained. From an editing perspective, Darnell, Jennifer and Alecia made mistakes that earned them their ticket to Loser Lodge so we can’t say they were helpless in front of their tormentor. It’s not the same as when Judd turned on Margaret with all his fury. With an idol, new found allies and Scot’s knowledge of Tai’s idol, Jason could soon become the most powerful player in the game. We’d have to say he told us so when he talked about collecting his paycheck.

Cydney: Personal development was the main drawback in Cydney’s story but she took care of that in this episode. She has a wonderful personal story that could earn her a lot of sympathy when she shares it. She made the critical connection with Debbie first so she wasn’t depending on Jason at that point. However, she traded one position of dependency for another when she became Debbie’s follower instead. Hearing her say that having a motherly figure could be good for her is certainly not a sign of independence. A follower can win one of two ways: Getting to the end with a leader that everyone dislikes or overthrowing that leader at the right moment. It seems that only Peter would qualify as the hated leader but Cydney has no connection to him. So it seems that she will have to make a big move and vote either her “savior” or her island “mother” out of the game. It seems unlikely.

Bad Decisions

Joe: His aversion for Peter was evident in his comment about letting him know what he and Aubry decide. He only thought of keeping the numbers but it was time to act but Debbie wasn’t there to get him to move so he missed a good opportunity.

Aubry: Even if we never saw it, Debbie must have talked to Aubry about her desire of seeing a woman win and maybe even about her desire to team up with Cydney at some point. That should have opened two doors for Aubry: She could have teamed up with Anna to form a bigger women’s alliance or she could have gone with Scot to build a second front in the battle against Beauty. With Peter and Anna voting against each other, Aubry and Joe could have eliminated the player of their choosing and easily rallied the others to their cause.

Making their own Luck and Decisions

Tai: Since Anna never gave him the reassurances he needed, it wouldn’t have been wise for Tai to play his idol in her favor. Yes, he would now have the numbers on the new Chan Lo but he would have placed his game in the poker player’s hands. After showing his value around camp and his joyous attitude, Tai isn’t in any danger now that the tribe has another easy prey and Tai can certainly forge his way in the game without any of his former Beauty tribe mates. He has the best documented story and it seems that we know more about him personally than just about any other player in the history of the show including all of its winners. If we want to quibble, we could say that we haven’t heard any long range plan on his part but his idol and his charisma form a good enough game plan. Can he find a way to the end? We’ve seen many players make that mistake before so Tai has a chance. In my opinion though, his story is more likely to be that of the tragic hero where his misfortune will come by accident.

Neal: The previews had shown us a scene where Debbie told Neal that she totally trusted him while he simply answered OK. We didn’t see that talk during the episode. There have been a lot of manipulations around scenes that involve Debbie, Neal and Aubry (the lost mask and the medical intervention in the Brain camp during episode 1 for example) and there must be a reason for that. Hearing Debbie say that she totally trusts Neal could have created a sense of tension between the two when none exists so maybe the editors chose to cut it to avoid confusion.

What we did see was Neal finding an idol and calling himself the front runner for those betting in Vegas but do we take that at face value or not? It must be said that right after he said he’d be looking for the possessor of that second idol, we saw that Scot discovered it first. Debbie told Cydney that she was close to Neal but wanted to see a woman win this season so it could come down to “Debbie’s Choice”. Will she be able to vote out Neal to make sure a woman wins? Maybe not! Neal wasn’t shown making any deals after the swap so many will say it isn’t his game but that would be an oversimplification. Neal was part of the foursome between Brain and Brawn but he was also put in danger when Nick brokered the Brawn-Beauty alliance so there wasn’t a need to include him for now. The episode showed him playing a much more individual game and that could be what gets him to the end.

Debbie: Hearing Debbie talk about playing offense is just another layer added to an already very substantial edit. We’ve definitely followed the game’s strategy from her point of view. Even when she aligned with a big character like Jason, it was her confessional that was used to inform us of the new situation. In comparison, Jason’s confessional only came after making a deal with Nick so we can say he was being used to cast doubt on Debbie’s chances.

The main drawback in Debbie’s story is certainly the craziness we saw in the first two episodes and the negative comments made by Peter, Liz and even Neal but she got to explain that as part of her strategy to fly under the radar. By the merger in Worlds Apart, many viewers were pulling for Shirin and she had shown much more craziness and less game play than Debbie. The chemist / waitress / electronic expert’s crazy scenes cannot be used to eliminate her from winning the game. They are simply question marks but they would also make for a wonderful topic during her victory talk with Jeff at the reunion.

Debbie could still be the low hanging fruit that gets picked off by Peter after the merger if the doctor is allowed to survive another cycle but the image of her hanging from the branch was accompanied with the caption of going all the way so I still think Debbie will be in the Final Three. It should come down to her, Neal while another as of yet unidentified woman will finish third. Aubry, Michelle and Cydney are all candidates for that third place.

Will the Sole Survivor be Debbie or Neal? I can’t make the call just yet.

PS. But it won’t be Anna!


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03-21-16, 10:33 PM (EST)
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34. "RE: Episode 5 - Making your own Luck"
LAST EDITED ON 03-21-16 AT 10:38 PM (EST)

Great analysis as usual, michel.

I agree with your observation about Cydney and her lack of personal development being a problem with her edit. To be honest, these past two episodes have really made me reconsider whether Cydney could actually be a credible winner candidate. I knocked her in the Jennifer boot episode for being so invisible as the swing vote, but now I wonder if the editors are being careful in drawing a line between her and Jason/Scot. Jennifer is a pretty sympathetic character because of the ear issue in Episode 1. Perhaps it's better to just hide Cydney from the blame and put that one at Jason and Alecia's feet? Then, the role Cydney played in Alecia's boot was muted compared to Jason/Scot's, with Alecia wishing Cydney luck as she left.

And now they're going out of their way to let us know Cydney is the Secretly Smart Brawn Player. They didn't need to. The scene was mostly about Debbie building an alliance. They could have cut it right there. The Jason stuff was just an afterthought. Suspicious. They could have easily edited it as Debbie doing a confessional talking about her needing to get Cydney (showing it briefly) and then the make the Jason connection where everything gets confirmed. Put a lot more emphasis on the ladies.

I don't really have an issue with Cydney's mother comment because that is the kind of arc that has the potential to grow. If, down the line, the two look like Missy/Baylor, it's going to be a problem. But it seems okay at this moment. It's something to watch.

Still kinda like Michelle too. I thought she was actually getting the boot edit there for awhile, with how much they kept popping in to talk about her lousy Anna-esque situation she fell in. Another example of the editors inserting Michelle into a story that she doesn't really need to be in.

Kinda cooling on Neal. I feel like the idol discovery wasn't made to be a big enough deal. I don't think we got the kind of gravitas that we'd see with people like Mike or Jeremy finding their idols. Got a decent amount of overly cocky confessionals, and then basically was irrelevant the rest of the episode. There isn't any meat to the Neal story so far. They only show him when he's absolutely crucial to the story (with Peter, the idol) and even then, they don't dwell on it. The Liz boot was more about Peter and Debbie and less about Neal being smart.

Aubry, I wish I could buy into more but her story feels kind of limp and lifeless as well. I still don't really get a good sense of who Aubry is or what kind of player she is. She seems like a competent player but that's it.

Debbie would be an amazing and electric winner but I wonder if she's overexposed. Seems like more of a Character Edit and less of a Winner Edit. But then again, Tony won the game, so who knows at this point? Debbie has gotten enough "smart" confessionals to make her seem credible at strategy, and they certainly showed her being proactive about it. My gut says she doesn't get it done in the end, but I'd love to be wrong.

I feel the same way about Tai but his overly positive edit makes him feel too obvious. I dunno.

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03-22-16, 00:03 AM (EST)
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35. "RE: Episode 5 - Making your own Luck"
LAST EDITED ON 03-22-16 AT 00:06 AM (EST)

I always enjoy your feedback, Jims.

This season is really hard to call. I thought Jason was dead after the second episode but he's recovered very nicely since then. With an isol and Scot potentially acting as liaison between him and Tai, Jason could wind up with the super-idol and become unbeatable. That paycheck comment is hard to dismiss.

I'm not sure I'd say that Neal is only shown when it's crucial and then put Cydney as a front runner, If anything she's the one that has the strict minimum. Take Neal's comments about Peter's ER, asking Jeff to recommend a buff and his comment about liking his new tribe and adding that he is the one that has brawn, beauty and brains were all unnecessary but fun comments. His TC performance was memorable. Cydney went to TC three times and didn't say anything special. I like her chances but as a distant 3rd or 4th contender.

It would be fun to see Michelle emerge from the shadows. She has some presence but her story needs to pick up soon.

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03-22-16, 10:55 AM (EST)
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36. "RE: Episode 5 - Making your own Luck"
This season I have a lot going on so unfortunately I am not able to make a long observation, but I do like to give my 2 cents after reading your very thorough account, michel!

The first part of the intro showed us the altercation between Cydney and Neal, this is very interesting to me, now that they are brought together later on the same tribe. It makes me feel like once again, Cydney will outlast Neal. But, will she? Clearly, it showed us that Cydney has more brawn to get away with that, but in the next altercation will Neal use his brain to outlast Cydney? Clearly, these two may come to conflict soon, will it be in the next episode? I like that you relate both of their positions to Debbie and end game? Perhaps?

Excellent observation of Tai possibly being the next victim. Clearly, his scrapes could very well lead to his demise. Foreshadowing.

I agree, the brains tribe area is the tribe of interest, so could our winner be there?
I do appreciate Debbie's positive comments to each individual, telling Peter, she thanked God for him. She's the master at diplomacy and making others feel better. We have to note that at it's core, it's a social game. But, as to your question, clearly she's far better at pandering than he is...hahha.

Great observation that Neal's confessional about the 4 people aligned and one cancer, and then he uttered the word cancer! Love it! Made me wonder if Neal will be the cancer after all? But, Peter told him, "no"!

When Neal went on the idol hunt and found it, when he placed it around his neck, he called himself the king. To me, Neal seems very condescending to the others and it gives me a bad taste. How he called their alliance the "children's alliance" vs. "the geriatrics", then how when Peter and Liz wanted to boot him, he said, they were bad and needed to be punished. I can't quite connect to his paternal, authoritarian role, perhaps? With him declaring himself King, and then patting himself on the back, making his own luck...just seems arrogant to me as well. His comment at the merge also sounds arrogant...Neal said: “It looks like we’ve got some strength, it looks like we’ve got some smarts and it looks like we have some beauty so I’ll take it. I’m talking about myself mostly!”

Now that we know how the episode ends, does this comment by Julia come to fruition next week? Julia said she was going to be Ok. She added: “The one down side is not getting to know everyone. I’m going to come in as the odd one out especially if a Beauty gets voted off at this next immunity.” Hmmmm?

Peter's confessional was so Peter. He was low hanging fruit, now it's in their best interest to move forward together, so he's ensured of making it to the merge. It was misdirection for this week, but what about next week?

Both Scot and Michele had similar confessionals regarding their new tribes. How they are going to fit in, who to trust to align with. I thought it was a more positive sign for both of them....we see that Scot lands on his feet in the end, so that's encouraging for Michele as well, I would think?

Aubry's confessional after Peter noted how it would make sense to take out a beauty, was there to place doubt, misdirection. We saw later that she would side with Joe on this one for now. Maybe not the next time....? More misdirection?

Nice comparison between Debbie's approach vs. Michele's approach. Then we see them play out.

Excellent observations by Jims. I agree, Cydney's edit is carefully manipulated. She's spared from blame with brawn, and here, she gets a very meaty confessional about how smart she is. She's one to watch. Debbie is disarming somewhat, with all the, "I want a girl to win this season". She's really on the offensive! To her, she's already cemented the alliance of 4 and declares herself the mastermind. Will anyone see her coming?

Interesting though, we then get Jason confessionals, which does cast some room for doubt. 2 brains on the Left, 2 beauty's on the Right....they can go either way. We saw Debbie going to Jason, then later we saw Nick go to him.

Regarding the development of the bromance between Tai and Scot, it was fun to watch. We saw Scot doing what he set out to do, a positive sign for him. I thought Anna was in a horrible position and she made the choice to throw Tai under the bus. It didn't work, but I highly doubt anything else would have either....? I thought she played it hard though!

They made Caleb a hero right from the start, as with the music that accompanied him everywhere. They are doing it with Tai as well, which makes me think he will indeed be the "next" medivac. Build them up to create more drama and hard feelings when they fall? Could Cydney be the third? Having her edit manipulated like it's been to shield her from the dirty work? I dunno?

We then see Nick have his arrogant confessional. When he gave this confessional, there was a picture on screen that had a colony of little tiny ants devouring a much larger dead centipede. This has got to be classic foreshadowing that the little people on his tribe will devour the big guy!


I agree with your assessment, michel, much more character dev't with Debbie/Neal so more likely they will be the longer term players. Nick is ripe for a big fall....he and Peter, imo.

Nice observation of the smoke that shrouded Jason as well.

Julia: Ugh, what will she do when she sees that her alliance mate Anna is voted out....she'll be alone again? She had a case of "cry-baby-itis".

Regarding the post IC drama/scrambling at Gondol:

If Joe had told me that he’d let me know their decision, I would have taken that as a slap in the face. My thoughts would have been: “You do that Joe but in the meantime, I’ll make other arrangements.”

Ditto. They are doing the exact same thing that Peter/Liz did at Brains that got Liz voted out....here is a pic in the next episode that shows them still isolating themselves to discuss what they want to do ASSuming that Peter will go along with whatever they decide....

If Joe interrogates Peter as we see him doing in the promo, then goes openly away with Aubry all the time, guess what? Peter is smart enough to see the writing on the wall.

I took the snake as Scot foiling the plan to play the idol to bounce Peter, therefore blindsiding Anna. I also feel that Tai's mentioning over and over about how he doesn't want to go home with the idol in his pocket is foreshadowing as well, if he is medivac'd. He's worried that he will be voted out with it in his pocket, yet he can be leave the game another way, with it still in his pocket.

With TC, Jeff must be thrilled that Peter is so blatant, and not socially aware of how his own words must sound. Hmmmm?

Jiffy's last comment was thought provoking to me, and almost sounded like, they didn't make the right decision....Tonight, you decided to keep Tai over Anna and the question you’re going to be wrestling with until the next immunity challenge: Did we make the right decision.”

Will Tai flip somehow on the brains, so they regret getting Anna out? Makes me wonder.

I feel that Peter, Nick are the most at risk. Their story is wrapped around arrogance so they are both being set up nicely for a big fall/blindside

I feel that Tai is in deep trouble, getting set up for a possible fall of another kind.

I think that Aubry, Julia, and Joe are at risk as well. Joe and Aubry getting back to Peter with their decision waves a pretty big red flag to someone that knows they are on the bottom. Julia, will she have a game without her buddy? If she finds out that Tai voted Anna out, what will she do? Will Peter use her next week to target Joe/Aubry?

Players gaining momentum: the brains! Scot, Jason, Cydney!

Neal and Debbie are sitting pretty for the time being.

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03-23-16, 10:23 AM (EST)
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37. "RE: Episode 5 - Making your own Luck"
Your currency has so much value that your 2 cents are worth a lot to me, FP.

I see that we view Neal very differently. You see arrogance but I see a quirky sense of humor. I do think that their episode 1 collision is foreshadowing Debbie's choice in the end. But I still don't know if Neal will be able to beat Debbie.

Nice observation about that centipede. I saw it also but "it didn't make the final cut"! I think we all know that my friend Nick can't win with that kind of edit.

It is strange to see Jason and Scot's edit following a roller coaster ride. In episode 1 they looked good, even great as far as Jason was concerned, then they both started to take a nose dive, Jason at first with Jennifer's comments and then Scot when we saw him from Alecia's perspective. Now they both look good again. It makes our job tough but the overall story quite rich. Tribe's SOTS made me think that Jason and Tai could both be medevaced so who would be left with a super-idol then?


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03-26-16, 03:03 AM (EST)
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38. "Ep. 6 Editing Comments"
I've been traveling and just watched this past week's episode late tonight. I see I'm first to the party this week from an editing perspective. Here are a few initial thoughts for Ep. 6:

- Strong episode for Julie and Michelle from an edit perspective. Both were featured in the recap (esp. Julie) and had some very meaty confessionals and insights. I've felt like the Beauty girls had good editing vibes from the very beginning, but their stories were not really differentiated. This week both Julie and Michelle were finally fleshed out nicely and they were both positioned as resilient fighters after Anna's departure.

- I found it very interesting that Debbie's comments about wanting to see a woman win were featured in both the recap and later in the episode itself. I've been wondering why there was a fuss about Jason (and to a lesser extent, Scott) bullying Alecia when there was no apparent payoff after she was voted out. But this week's episode broadened the theme and appeared to show that many of the men are arrogant (like Nick and Peter) and underestimating the women. The he said / she said structure of Debbie/Nick and Michele/Nick was particularly interesting and overall I'm definitely feeling like a woman will indeed win this season. Perhaps an unassuming female will beat out a brash, arrogant male for the win? It's also interesting to note that the male who is presented the most positively and as someone we should be rooting for is Tai, who is humble and exhibits what many might traditionally call female traits.

- As much as I'd love to get on the Debbie bandwagon and find her to be a fascinating character, I feel she's too OTT and back to more of a comic relief character again with the goofy music, etc. vs. a winner edit. And her comment about "just wanting to make the merge" and just wanting to see a woman win leads me to believe that she'll get her wish.

- Neal seems to have fallen off. Will be interesting to see how he shows up in the merge episode next week.

- Peter is gone and it appears Nick can't be too far behind. Will have to check FloPo's confessional count, but it sure seemed like Nick had his spike this past week.

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03-26-16, 09:11 AM (EST)
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39. "RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments"
LAST EDITED ON 03-26-16 AT 09:12 AM (EST)

You sum it all up nicely, Squid. I agree with everything you have pointed out.

Definitely, Debbie shined in the recap, pointing out she wants a girl to win, and going on the offense, then it was about Julia fending for herself, and later about Tai making the decision to play his idol or not. No mention of the work that Scot did to help him manage that idol.

Tai had the first confessional and recognized he first had to work hard, and he needed some luck. The more people that knew he had the idol, the less power it had. Astute.

Then, Peter gave a confessional about abandoning the brain trust which would be at the crux of the entire episode. It seems that there is no place for indecision on Survivor. Then, Peter went to talk to Tai, and before he did, we saw a picture of a scorpion on screen. After the talk Peter continues... I am not going to let them get between me and million dollars, so If I am going to make a move, now’s the time.
Ominous music played throughout this confessional.

Cut to the intro.

Then we have an astute Nick confessional. He notes that he tries to be happy but inside he feels like an athlete ready to start a contest with nervous energy. From here on out he'll bond and make relationships, play or go home. He then starts to talk about how Debbie is easy to read, and that she needs to be heard, so he will listen, and be someone that she admires, Debbie.

Then we get Debbie's perspective on Nick looking like a greek god, chisled features and angular jaw, she knows she was a model for years and years and years. But, her strategy will not be affected by him because she needs to make the merge her number one priority.

Then Nick has another confessional about Debbie having a crush on him. Debbie might have a crush on me, she probably does but maybe she’s buttering me up, maybe she is blowing smoke up my rear end but I doubt it.

Debbie has told us multiple times in previous episodes, she is the mastermind, but they will not see her coming, and clearly Debbie notes despite her actions toward Nick, she will not be swayed from her number one priority, and Nick notes that he has her pegged, and clearly he's underestimating her as Squid notes as well. He is dismissing Debbie, so if she moves, he won't see it coming.

Debbie and Nick follow with one more confessional about the basketball challenge, "we have our own Adonis, Nick", and "I don't have too much pressure on me, but I still want to make a few".

I thought Nick showed his strength at the RC, he's a competitor and he almost took the NBA player down.

Michele got the post RC confessional about how she screwed up but now has to go back to camp and keep fighting, and that is exactly what we saw her doing.

When we went back to Gondol, there was happy music, festivity going on...and, Michele's cohort, Julia gets the first confessional that is very similar to Michele's. She noted that she was so happy she got to return to her home camp as winners of the reward, rather than losers. She notes that since they just got Anna out, she's going to need to start back from scratch.

Peter immediately notes that he's happy with her because she doesn't strike him as someone conniving, and that is someone that he can work with. He tells Julia that Aubrey is the important player to get out, she's the bigger player!

Julia in confessional tells us how Peter latched on immediately and that he wants Aubry out, and she's good with it, she's gotta save herself. (This is still followed by ominous music, however!)

Then, we hear Aubry's perspective, she'd prefer to keep working with the Brains tribe and keep the numbers, go for the easy target, Julia. But, she's suspicious of Peter. She notes he's a little bit rogue right now, and wonders if this is the time to cut him.

Cut to nuChanloh

Nick: Has confessional regarding the loss, he shoulda won, but it was Michele that botched it in the beginning. Not very sympathetic to his original tribe member....not a good sign.

Then Michele has a meaty confessional:
Today is not the best day for my survivor game. A girl who was in my top 2 alliance got voted out. Besides that I just put my head on the chopping block by blowing that challenge and it freakin sucks. Every thing that has built up to this point, it feels like it’s teetering, but I am not one to give up. I might have to start over but so I am just going to try and use my social skills and build myself back up.

As Squid notes, this confessional is very similar to Julia's conviction on the other tribe. Both girls were in a great situation, tragedy befalls them, they get down on the luck, and then they vow to restart, and fight their way back with their social skills. And, Survivor IS a social game at the core! Positive edits for both beauty's, I agree! And, as Squid also noted, we got hit with the "I want a girl to win this season" in the intro again, so we have to consider that Michele and Julia may very well end up as contenders for that sole title!

Michele then comments on Debbie, she likes her, she's a bit quirky, but she could be her best option. When Michele asks Debbie who she would target first if they were to go to TC, Debbie tells her, Jason, because he's lazy, she doesn't care for him that much, he doesn't do much around camp. She would rather have a woman win this, and right now we are outnumbered.

Clearly, Debbie tells Michele what she wants to hear, so I question if she was sincere or not, but clearly, it's the second time we've heard her reiterate that she wants a woman to win. And, I am starting to get those vibes, that a women will indeed win this season! I also want to note this is the second time we have blatantly heard that Jason is not liked. First by Jennifer, but she was no match, with her indecision, for him. We knew that Alecia didn't like him either. Now, Debbie is on board with that. Jason is turning into quite a nice villain.

Then Michele goes to tell Nick what Debbie told her, and Nick flat out dismisses it. Says that you are still the target, she just tried to tell you that so you won't be nervous. Tells her they are not going that way. I agree with Michel, you can see her disdain on her face as he talks.

I loved Michele's confessionals in regard to Nick: The way that Nick speaks to me is not in a way that I would ever tolerate any man speaking to me in my regular life and I just want to say like, BRO, I know, but that’s his ego.

This confessional is very astute, she's got him pegged and apparently she is right on the money. I also love how she doesn't argue with him, she listens. Nick goes on to tell her that he doesn't trust Neal or Debbie. Then he has the confessional: I have to almost coach Michele. She’s young and she doesn’t really know how to manipulate so that’s going to be my job from here on out, making sure she says that right things and she comes across the right way.

Nick tells her they will stick with the brawn until they can get to the other side and Michele has another confessional: Right now what I am going to do is to let Nick just baby me and like make him believe that I need all the help that he can offer, like the innocent little girl, like I’m stupid. But, actually I am a strong independent woman and when it comes time to make a move then I will, I don’t need to be carried, BRO!

I love that she mocks him with the BRO! She's got his number.

Clearly, she is so far above Nick on her social skills and her assessments, and Nick appears condescending and clearly dismissing Michele and her assessments. Underestimating her, JUST as he underestimated and dismissed Debbie earlier. Combine all these confessionals with the visual that we had last week when Nick spoke about how happy he was to be in this new tribe with a 2-2-2 split, of the very large centipede being devoured by the colony of little ants. I am convinced that the little people, specifically Michele and Debbie, will take this big man down. And soon!

Then we return to nuChanloh and Joe has his confessionals about not trusting Peter, but he's trained to deal with these types. Peter has responding confessionals, telling his side, Joe starts accusing me of trying to vote him out, and there is a certain element of truth to that and I’ve been trying as hard as possible to make that happen and unfortunately it just blew up on me.

Joe confessional about how when you corner them they start dancing and that is exactly what Peter did, so if they go to TC, he may have to vote him out. Then we cut to the IC, and it was Peter's strategy to stack the small blocks first then insert the middle blocks, it didn't work, and they lose. Joe gets the post IC confessional: keeping Peter numbers wise would make sense if he was a straight shooter. But you just don’t know what he is gonna do and before you get in to a position, OMG, I’m in trouble, you take the trouble OUT.

Joe makes it crystal clear how he feels about Peter. Aubry, otoh, doesn't like Peter but recognizes it's not the right time, because then Scot, Tai, and Julia would have the power. So she convinces Joe that it's not the right time. Joe then proceeds to eat crow and make amends of a sort, and Peter buys into it, he will vote to take out Julia and not stir up the water.

Then, Scot goes to Peter and asks him who he is voting for, and has a narrational confessional: Peter is voting with the brains so every thing he told me is a lot of bs. He is a snake and I think everybody sees right through his veneer but still they are going to stick together and that doesn’t give the rest of us a lot of options. But, he goes and tells Tai and Julia, and then they go to bat!

Julia first has a confessional about how it is she on the chopping block. Then we see she and Tai go to talk to Aubry, and we saw a snake precede this conversation. We see them make their pitch, always good to point out to the person that the person you want gone, is going after them! Aubry played it cool to them, but then had a confessional about what she is thinking: First she said she wasn't surprised that he had mentioned Joe, but her? She was going with the devil you know mantra but now, Peter is such a wild card, are we really gonna go with someone that is going to blindside you or you blindside him...

Tai and Scot have confessionals that express doubt, that they will most likely do the easiest thing, vote out Julia. Aubry has the last confessional pre TC...I don't know what I am going to do, vote out Peter and lose Joe's trust or not?

To me, there is no place for indecision in Survivor. Or, if you have indecision, do NOT show it. Scot in contrast to Peter, Aubry, and Joe, was decisive at TC, and look what happened. Stick with the original plan. Period. Peter was screwed because he was so indecisive. If you are making a move then make it, don't half a$$ it, cause people see you doing that. Aubry and Joe were also indecisive to me. Joe called Aubry out for it, but Aubry was indecisive too. I don't think it bodes well for either of these characters in this story.

This was a very interesting and meaty episode, I thought. Clearly, there were many players that had a large spike with their confessionals, 5 out of the 11 left! The five included: Nick, Michele, Joe, Aubry, and Julia. But, for me, I wonder if the winner is among them, or is it one of the other 4 that have had consistent comments throughout the entire season? (Tai, Scot, Jason, Debbie). I just don't know.

Getting hit over the head with the "I want a woman to win this season" does give me hope that a woman will indeed win this season, but I love Squid's comment on Tai, in that regard. Clearly, Michele and Julia had the positive edits of the spikers. Nick is being set up for a big fall, most likely at the hands of Debbie and Michele. Aubry and Joe had a down turn to their edits. Joe had not had a confessional in the previous 3 episodes, so I am not encouraged regarding his longevity. They were all indecisive, and Peter was booted for it. Will the others be soon to follow?

Also, I wanted to comment on the others that had no confessionals: Neal, Cydney, and Jason. Jason was talked about in a negative way. He's clearly going to be the villain, imo, this season. We see him making a mean remark in the preview promo about stuffing nerds in lockers. But, I will say that Jason is multi-dimensional, because we cannot forget how he treated Cydney at that horrible challenge.

I am discouraged regarding Neal's chances now. He's now had 2 episodes with no confessionals. He is a strong presence in challenges though. I am worried about Neal as a surprise boot soon, with these episodes with no confessionals. Could he be a medivac?

Cydney is the most encouraging though. She went under the radar but she is a girl, so she could win this if a girl is going to be a winner. She is in good stead with Debbie, and with the Brawns. She will be sitting pretty, she's smart, strong, and she's very socially aware. She really managed the conflict at Brawn camp very well. I am beginning to think that Cydney could be a contender and that there is a lot more to her story left to tell. Food for thought. I also see ALOT of alphas in this season so I have to wonder if a beta will win it as well?


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03-26-16, 01:03 PM (EST)
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40. "RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments"
FloPo, I agree about Cydney and Neal. I like Cydney's long-term chances and she had the early quote about people underestimating her. She seems like the complete package to me -- smart, social, strategic and physical. Neal is getting a very weird edit that's hard to read but I'm worried about him as a medivac too. He looks very sad in that group vidcap when Jeff and the doctor arrive.

Jason seems like a definite end-gamer. There's obviously a lot of care to his edit and his comments about his daughters and, as you mentioned, his devotion to Cydney when she got sick were both positive and balanced out the bullying stuff with Alecia. The fact that he's had a bit of a cool-down vs OTT seems like a good sign, and he'll obviously be picking up again at the merge, based on the promo.

Right now I'm feeling like Julie, Michele, Jason, Cydney, Tai and maybe Debbie (in no particular order) are my top contenders. I'm most iffy on Debbie because I feel like she's OTT and could fizzle out. Her talk about going after Jason could be her downfall.

I like that it's an interesting season from an edit perspective and the medivacs will unfortunately play a big role. Still a lot of game to play and the merge episode this week should be very telling.

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03-26-16, 01:48 PM (EST)
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41. "Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
LAST EDITED ON 03-26-16 AT 01:52 PM (EST)

Hello Squid and FP, it's nice to see you got the party started this week. Here are my thoughts after this episode. I apologize if I repeat anything you already wrote.

Previously on Survivor

After a surprise switch, Survivor Kaôh Rông went from three tribes to two tribes and Julia was forced to go to Brawn beach alone to fend for herself until she could join the tribe that lost immunity.

Over at the new Chan Loh tribe, it was an even split and Debbie didn’t waste any time forming relationships.

Debbie was shown walking in the jungle with Cydney saying “I want to see a woman win this.”

We also heard a repeat of her confessional where she said she was on the offense, not the defense.

At the new Gondol tribe, the switch left the Brains with the numbers and the Beauties with good reason to worry.

At the last immunity challenge, the new Gondol tribe lost.
Back in camp, the fate of the Beauty was left in the Brains’ hands.

Sensing trouble, Tai considered playing his idol.
Scot advised a very worried Tai to keep his idol.

At Tribal Council, Tai kept his idol and the Brains tribe found Anna to be their biggest threat.

As she left, the camera showed Peter and Tai smiling after Anna’s torch was snuffed.

The images we had of Julia in tears at Brawn Beach weren’t very promising. It would have been better to see her attempting to make fire at least. This episode would mark the beginning of her story and she could go far as part of a new women’s alliance now that she made the merger but there’s no attempt to present her as a player.

As for the other players, it’s worth noting that only Debbie was mentioned before Gondol’s scrambling scene. Didn’t someone find an immunity idol in the previous episode? Hearing Debbie expressing her desire to see a woman win for the second time sounds very promising for those women still left in the game. Their numbers are dwindling so we aren’t hearing about that alliance as an immediate threat or even as a sort of scarecrow like it’s often been used in the past. The women’s alliance in the Beauty tribe was a mirage that set up Tai’s story more than anything else. Now that Anna is gone and Tai joined Julia in eliminating Peter, the women are using a much more quiet approach and they are driven by a strategist that has received much more attention from production. It has a much better chance to succeed especially considering that Jeff hasn’t used the words “women alliance” and the unappealing story lines that most men have received.

Stepping up to the Plate

Gondol Night 13

Aubry, Joe and Peter all reassured Tai that they wanted to keep him.

Tai’s confessional: “At tribal, Anna was completely shocked and I couldn’t even look at her. I feel bad but I’m glad that Scot told me: “Don’t play your idol.” I didn’t want to show anybody my idol. The more people know the less power it has... I definitely need some luck.”

Tai’s words contradict what we saw during the recap: Not only did he look at Anna but he was smiling. Of course, that smile was meant to say goodbye and I’m not suggesting that Tai was happy to see Anna go but it reminds us that Tai had a moment of weakness. He could have forced a tie vote and we know that Aubry would not have risked her game by picking rocks to save Peter.

Peter’s confessional: “...Everything is up in the air...In the old Brain tribe I was on the bottom rung....I might actually disband this Brains tribe.”

Peter talked to Tai about being on the bottom of the former Brains tribe because they voted out Liz. He added that he’d like to vote out Joe who wasn’t helping them with anything.

In confessional, Peter said that Aubry and Joe pissed him off because they lied to him. He said that it was time for him to make a move.

Yes, Peter would disband the Brains tribe by making his move all the way to Loser lodge. We would witness quite a fitting end fort such an arrogant player. We would witness all his betrayals so he won’t even be able to say that Aubry made a wrong decision.

Chan Loh Day 14

It's funny but Day 14 started with the image of Nick using a saw to mark the days on a branch. As Sheldor noted in the previews, Nick was marking the 17th day and would be safe for this episode. Luckily, the vote didn’t come down to him or someone else.

Nick’s confessional: “Although I’m happy at camp and smiling, what is going on inside is just thinking; non-stop.”

Just then we had an image of Michele using the coffee grinder, symbolizing that Nick’s thoughts were going around in circles like the instrument’s handle

It’s a nervous energy just like before you’re going to take the field as an athlete. So from here on out, I will be bonding; making relationships. It’s time to play: Play or go home.” We saw him going out on a walk with Debbie who told him she always steps up to the plate. Nick’s confessional resumed: “Debbie is easy to read: She just needs to talk, she needs to be heard, listened to. She wants people to step up to the plate so I just have to remember to be that person for Debbie. Whatever person she admires, which is herself; just be her.”

Debbie, (now described as a former model) gave us a confessional: “I think Nick looks like a Greek God...The angular features of his face make for great photography. I know because I modeled on and off for years and years. I bet anything he gets a real modeling contract. But it’s going to have no effect on my strategy to make it to the merge and that is still my number one priority.”

For some reason, we heard Debbie say she could start a fire with one match.

Nick’s confessional: “Debbie might have a crush on me, she probably does. Maybe she’s buttering me up though. Maybe she’s blowing smoke up my rear end but I doubt it.”

To show that was exactly what was happening, we saw Nick coming back into camp carrying tree mail and passing by the fire which was blowing smoke at him!


Nick thinks he has a read on Debbie but, like others, he seriously underestimated her. She’s still focused on the game and the immediate need to make the merger. We now know she will indeed make it to the merger so maybe that is all she gets but her story is rich enough in personal development and strategic content to make us believe she will go much further than that.


Neal reacted to the mail by saying that Scot would be shooting baskets for the other team.

The RC clearly was designed to help the star basketball player get in the good graces of his team mates right when his strength was becoming a danger. The IC would obviously also favor a tall man but Scot wouldn’t use his height to its full advantage until it was too late. I mean, production isn’t even hiding the fact that they fix the game to favor certain individuals yet some viewers still dismiss any mention of it as conspiracy theories.

Debbie’s confessional: “Sure enough, we have a reward challenge which involves some form of basketball. Our opponents have a professional basketball player but we have our own secret weapon: Adonis, aka Nick.”

Nick’s confessional: “I was a point guard in High School but going up against an NBA player, I’m not expected to win so I’m not feeling too much pressure but if we have a big lead going in, I better sink a couple. I will not go down without a fight.”

Despite looking pretty bad during his practice session, Nick really stepped up to the plate in the challenge.

The Reward Challenge

We saw Michele’s disappointment when Jeff told Chan Loh that Anna had been voted out. When Julia was told she’d be replacing Anna, she hid her emotions behind a nice smile.

While Michele swam faster to the buoys than Aubry, we heard Jeff say that she couldn’t get it done when it came to untying the knots. The former Brains tribe member once more did great under water, releasing the buoys first and giving Gondol a lead they would keep up to the time when Scot took the floor. It took him a long time to get the range and Nick was outshooting him. The High School point guard soon had an 8-6 lead (I use the word soon even if I have no real way of knowing the actual time involved. Looking at the stands where the tribes placed the balls, we saw that there was a discontinuity in the numbers of ball in the racks. In one shot, there were no balls left while, in the next, the top rack was fully stocked) but Scot’s smile when he sank his 7th ball told us he had found that elusive zone.


In the Zone!

From there, maybe it was a question of handling the pressure better, maybe it was a return to form or maybe even simply editing but Nick couldn’t get another one to drop while Scot couldn’t miss.

Michele immediately told her tribe that it was her fault but Nick couldn’t shake it off.

As they left, Scot said: “Way to shoot, Nick. You put the pressure on me.”

That little exchange could lead to friendship after the merge, two competitors showing respect for each other but it could also tell everyone that Nick is extremely dangerous. Let’s not forget that Nick said: Play or go home. He could actually be going home just when he starts playing the game!

Michele’s confessional: “I screwed up the reward challenge. I failed our team and, you know, it’s nerve-wracking for me. I just have to go back to camp, keep fighting and, hopefully, I can turn things around.”

Gondol Day 14

Julia’s confessional: “Walking in to my old camp with a ton of food right after being alone was really kind of awesome and it was a good way to enter the tribe. Entering on good vibes is definitely better than entering losing. I was definitely trying to get a read on this tribe because it was: Crap, I’m next; I’m the next to go there’s no question. They got Anna out and I have to start from scratch.”

Julia wants to hide her age but I wonder if the other players got suspicious when they noticed that alcohol wasn’t part of their bounty.

Peter had a confessional where he told us he was happy that Julia came in for Anna because she wasn’t conniving.

Julia and Peter went for a swim and they talked about the game. Peter told her that Joe was pissing him off lately but that it was more important to get Aubry out because she was a big time player. Julia was down with the idea.

Julia’s confessional: “It’s funny: Peter immediately latched on to me and was like: “Let’s work together and get Aubry out. I was like I’m totally on board with that. It sounds good. As long as it’s not my name, I’ll go with it because I got to save myself.”

The sound effect heard right then was like a warning that Julia wasn’t on the right path.

Joe and Aubry were watching the pair. Joe said that he didn’t understand Peter who was smart but really a dope.

Aubry’s confessional: “The Brains have control of this tribe right now and I prefer that we get out Julia first. That’s the easy vote, the Brains keep the numbers but Peter decides to isolate with her and I’m a little suspicious about that.” To Joe, Aubry said that Julia was miscalculating the status of what’s going on. Aubry’s confessional continued: “Peter is a little desperate right now which makes me feel like I need to seriously consider whether now is the time for Peter to go.”

That told us about Julia’s ability to read the group...and Aubry’s indecision. She would waver between the two options until the very last moment.

Chan Loh Day 14

Debbie told everyone that they made a noble effort and she gave the thumbs up to Nick who still said it was his fault. Debbie interrupted him saying that he held his own and that he was amazing. Neal added that they were behind so that Scot started ahead of him and finished ahead of him.

During that time, the camera was on Michele’s expression of defeat because the implication was clear: It was her fault.

Neal added: “You did great” and Debbie concurred.

Nick’s confessional: “I was angry with myself. I should have won that. Of course everybody goes: “No, No, No, don’t worry about that. You were going against an NBA player” but I should have closed the deal. On the other hand, Michele botched the very beginning. She couldn’t untie the knots.”

To the group, Nick said: “Well, Anna’s gone.”

The smile that accompanied the remark was like sticking a banderilla in Michele’s back.

Michele’s confessional: “Today was not the best day for my Survivor game. A girl who was in my top two alliance got voted out. Besides that, I just put my head on the chopping block by blowing that challenge and it freaking sucks.”

Michele may think this was a bad day for her game but it was actually the best day for Michele’s edit!

Michele went for a walk in the ocean. Debbie, who was sitting in the shallow water, observed Michele going much further out and said: “Don’t beat yourself up.” To the group, Debbie added: “She might go drown herself. You guys better keep an eye on her.”

Debbie smiled at her own remark and Cydney responded with laughter: “Damn, Debbie!”

Michele’s next interview: “Everything that’s been up to this point, it feels like it’s teetering, but I’m not one to give up. It does seem like I have to start over so I’m going to try and use my social skills to build me back up.”

The confessional was accompanied by the slow chime of a single bell, an indication of the gravity of the moment for Michele. We saw her rising from the ocean just as she said she wasn’t one to give up, clearly indicating that she wasn’t going drown in the ocean or the game. The image of the centipede that followed was an indication that her rebuilding process won’t proceed very quickly though.

I wonder if Michele will even go in the right direction because the centipede was going down on the tree trunk!

She talked to Debbie about needing to step up and she admitted she didn’t and that she was bummed about it. Debbie empathized with her.

Michele’s confessional: “I like Debbie a lot. She’s really quirky and I think she’s pretty honest and up front about what she thinks and what she respects so maybe Debbie’s my best option.”

I need to show Michele’s expressions, first when she talked with Debbie and, later, with Nick.


Those facial expressions tell us exactly how she felt about both and are a great indicator of which side Michele will choose.

Michele asked Debbie what she would do if they went to Tribal.
Debbie answered by saying she didn’t care about Jason all that much because he doesn’t do anything around camp. She once more mentioned that she wanted to see a woman win even if they were outnumbered big time now.

The camera showed us Jason at that moment in his most familiar pose: Lying down in the shelter.

That image was simply wonderful and I do believe it was worth a thousand words but I’ll spare you about 800 of them! First, showing us Jason’s laziness once more in a totally unnecessary context is extremely detrimental to his image and his story. I’m not sure it completely rules him out but why include Debbie’s remark when the tribe wasn’t even going to Tribal Council. Secondly, and more importantly, it showed us Debbie’s ability to use honesty to her own advantage and that Michele was wrong about the quirky woman being up front about what she thinks. We know Debbie does want to eliminate Jason because she wants to see a woman win but would she have voted him out right then? Her alliance with Cydney makes that choice quite improbable. Deception takes a lot of skills and Debbie has it in spades. Finally, hearing Debbie mentioning once more that she wants to see a woman win despite their numbers right now makes me wonder if the carnage is over for the women. I think Anna could very well have been the last woman eliminated before Final 5 or so.

Next, Michele told Nick that Debbie wanted them to work together to get Jason out.

Nick immediately interrupted her by saying they were not going that way because Debbie was only buttering her up. He added that Michele was definitely their target. He wanted to stick with Brawn.

Michele’s confessional: “The way that Nick speaks to me is not in a way that I would ever tolerate a man speaking to me in my regular life. I want to be like: Bro, I know. But that’s his ego.”

Nick’s confessional: “I almost have to coach Michele in this game. She’s young and she doesn’t really know how to manipulate so that’s going to be my job from here on out: Making sure Michele is under my wing and making sure she says the right things and comes across the right way.”

Michele had another interview: “Right now, what I am going to do is just let Nick baby me and make him believe that I need all the help that he can offer like an innocent little girl, like I’m stupid but actually, I’m a strong, independent woman and when it comes time to make a move then I will. I don’t need to be carried, bro!”

If it’s his job to make sure Michele follows his lead then I think Nick will be out of a job shortly! Not only did Michele show us that she can be manipulative enough to fool Nick who sees himself as the master manipulator but the editors chose the moment she mentioned being strong to show her carrying a much bigger load of firewood than Nick.


The message was clear: Michele is indeed a strong woman, bro! Looking at the way Michele’s interviews sandwiched Nick’s and contradicted him I do believe that her move will include blindsiding him.

Gondol Day 16

Peter was telling Scot that he wanted Aubry out and that Joe should be next because he is bossy and eats all their food.

Joe’s confessional: “Every time I turn around, there’s Peter walking away with those guys and it makes me nervous because Pete’s been after my butt from the get go. The problem with Peter is; he plays both sides and he’s so transparent, you can see right through him. Fortunately, I’m a retired FBI guy and I’m trained to deal with somebody like that.”

In the middle of that confessional, we heard Joe telling Aubry he would talk to Peter and he’d know if he was lying.

Joe asked Peter directly if he was trying to take him out. Peter tried acting shocked.

He did look like a bad liar even to me!

In confessional, Peter admitted that he was playing hard and that it blew up in his face.

Joe’s confessional: “When you corner somebody like that and they don’t want to tell the truth, they start dancing which is what happened. He’s like a cancer, I don’t know. He’s just not trustworthy so I’m done with him and if we lose the next challenge we got to take him out.”

The Immunity Challenge

This one had two stages where a very tall man could help his team! Seeing Gondol lose that challenge tells us that production help doesn’t always work! Jeff said the challenge would come down to teamwork and the camera immediately turned to Joe and Peter. That was a clear hint as to which team didn’t have good teamwork. However, it really came down to which tribe figured out first that the best tactic was to put their lightest person on the shoulders of their tallest man. It’s weird that Gondol, the tribe with the mountain man, didn’t figure it out immediately.


Did anyone notice where Tai put his hand?!

Despite an early lead, Chan Loh, as expected, had problems pushing their cubes out of the net. It was quite simple: Jason had to jump each time to reach the cubes while Scot didn’t even have to stretch.

Chan Loh won when Debbie got on Nick’s shoulders.

Despite a head wound, Joe gave us another interview: “Keeping Peter, numbers wise would make sense if he was a straight shooter but you just don’t know what he’s going to do. Before you get in a position where, Oh! my God! I’m in trouble: Pop! You take the trouble out.”

What happened to that great plan, Joe? Did medical inject you with something that made you forget about it? Indecisiveness is not good when it comes to Survivor editing. They often use it to depict a poor player even if weighing options isn’t always a bad idea.

Gondol Day 16

Aubry had the first confessional after returning to camp: “Today, Peter had a strategy for how to stack the blocks but that didn’t work out so well and now we got to go to Tribal. Even though I don’t trust him, I feel it’s not the right thing right now to get rid of Peter because if we do that, Tai, Scot and Julia will have the numbers: 3 – 2. That really scares me.”

To Joe, Aubry said it had to be Julia or they’d be the next targets. She told him to talk to Peter and work it out as guys.

Joe’s confessional: “I’m sick of Peter but Aubry does make sense because if we vote him out, we are going to be down one and that’s really dangerous so we might have to keep him short term even though he is a big pain in the butt.”

Joe went to make amends with Peter, saying he wanted to keep the team together.

Peter’s confessional told us he wanted to blindside either Aubry or Joe but he felt that it was better to take out Julia.
The two guys agreed on Julia as their target.

To Scot, Peter said he was scratching his planned mutiny because Joe was on edge so they were voting Julia.

Scot’s confessional: “Peter is voting with the Brains so everything he told me is a lot of BS. He is a snake and I think everybody sees right through his veneer but they are still going to stick together. That doesn’t give the rest of us a lot of options.”

Scot informed Tai and Julia about Peter’s decision. Julia said that Joe and Aubry were stupid to keep Peter around.

Julia’s confessional: “I’m definitely concerned about Tribal tonight. I know I’m on the chopping block, coming in late to the game. So, if we don’t do something, I’m pretty much going home.”

Tai and Julia went to talk to Aubry. Julia told her about Peter’s original plan.

Aubry’s interview: “I wasn’t surprised to hear that Peter was trying to blindside Joe but apparently he also threw me under the bus. I was going by the mantra it’s better to stay with the devil you know but, at this point, Peter is such a wildcard. Are we really going to keep someone who you are afraid is going to blindside you before you blindside them?”

Tai told Aubry they didn’t need Peter so he’d be happy to vote him out. Aubry thanked him for the heads-up.

Tai’s confessional: “Aubry didn’t say much at all so I don’t know what she thinking but they got the numbers so why wouldn’t they do anything else than the most obvious thing which is vote out Julia?”

To Scot, Tai said that Julia had to go because it would be a tie.
Scot’s reaction in confessional: “Our original plan was to convince Aubry to come with us and take out Peter but the reality is we don’t know what she is going to do so we may just have to vote out Julia and live to fight another day.”
Scot told Tai he had no affinity for Julia and he’d go with what Tai decided.

This whole exchange reflected very poorly on Tai and Scot’s tactical skills. Why did they fold under the threat of the tie vote instead of using it to pressure Aubry? If it had been me, I would have started by reassuring Aubry that she wouldn’t be the next to go, that she would be in the top three, ahead of Julia and Joe, if she voted with me. If that didn’t convince her then you pull the threat of the rock because a tie was just as bad for her as it was for them. Also, why didn’t anyone even consider the possibility of a merger coming up? They were going down to 11 players so someone should have realized it was a very strong possibility so it was the perfect time to ditch Peter.

Aubry tried to get Joe to change his vote but Joe was adamant: Aubry had decided to stay with Peter so she couldn’t change at the last minute. He wondered if it was part of her neurosis. Joe wasn’t switching, he was going with the plan. He added: You start doing that last minute and you get yourself caught up. I’m gonna vote Julia.”

Aubry in confessional: “I don’t know what’s going to happen and it puts me in a bad situation. Do I stick with these Brains or do I flip, take out Peter and potentially lose Joe’s trust? I have to make a decision and I feel that no matter what I do it’s going to blow back and bite me in the ass.”

Tribal Council

Julia told Jeff that the tribe was split so that it would be very interesting to see what happens.
Aubry agreed with our host that it gets very complex when you mix tribes and form new relationships.
Scot said the tribe was going through growing pains and that Julia picked up on that.
Peter conceded that he was the one to blame for the challenge loss.
Aubry told Jeff that Peter’s mistake during the challenge was a reason to eliminate him but they also saw other sides of Peter that made people question where he stood.
Julia was happy to hear Peter getting some heat but she told Jeff that Peter was the first to talk about the game with her. Everyone else had something to say so it was hard for her to grasp what was actually happening.
Peter said the tribe was complex and that fissure could show up.

Why didn’t he simply agree with Jeff that they were a tight five? It could have saved him because it was his remark that started the ball rolling.

Scot agreed that it was a juggling act because people make a decision but ten minutes later they go off to talk about it again. He added that it created distrust.
While Aubry was telling Jeff that she was trying to be logical, Tai turned to Scot and whispered: “Peter?” Scot agreed they should go with their original plan.
When Joe told Jeff he didn’t know how the vote would go, we saw Aubry turning to Scot and quietly ask: “Her or Peter?” Scot answered: “Peter”.
Jeff told Peter about all the talking going on but Peter said he couldn’t read lips. He said the council was alive and dynamic making it very scary.
Turning to Julia and speaking so that everyone could hear, Scot said: “Julia: Original plan.”
While Jeff wanted to know what was happening, Joe told Aubry it still should be Julia.
Julia told Jeff they should vote.
Jeff noticed that Joe and Aubry were still talking but he agreed: It was time to vote.

After some hesitation, we saw Aubry writing Julia’s name and putting the pen down but she kept the parchment in her hands and we didn’t see her putting it in the urn.

When Jeff went to tally the vote, Aubry didn’t look particularly sure or even happy about her decision.

The revelation of the final vote showed us that Aubry had crossed out Julia’s name and sealed Peter’s fate.

That was a fun way of presenting Aubry in the voting booth but it became evident she was changing her mind when we were allowed to see her hesitations. I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to cut away from Aubry as soon as she wrote Julia’s name. I know it would have been better if Jeff had turned her parchment first instead of saying “the 6th person voted out”. A well placed silence is much more powerful than useless words...

Jeff’s final words: “There was clearly a lot of uncertainty about tonight’s vote. The only thing that matters to you guys is you survived and will live to see another day in which the uncertainty of this game will most certainly return.”

The Story

While I found the mention of a women’s alliance in the Beauty tribe to be simply a false trail, a mirage to make us fear that Tai could be voted out early, the new version led by Debbie offers much more promise mostly because it isn’t perceived as a women’s alliance yet and that they are not in a majority yet. There was no need to include Debbie’s words at this stage of the game but we’ve heard her saying it three times now. This episode was a constant reminder that the guys are either not aware of what’s going on around them or unable to change the course of events. With the exception of Tai, their portrayal is rather dismal; arrogance and cruelty seemingly their main traits. But they do have all three idols...

The Characters

Nick: Having been relegated to relative anonymity up to now, I think it’s very troubling to see Nick’s story gain this much attention in one episode. Not only did we hear many confessionals from him, they were really setting him up for a big blindside. He said that Debbie was easy to read but I think she read him much more accurately. He also said that he needed to coach Michele but she found someone with a much better game plan. Nick’s downfall can’t be too far and it would be quite ironic to see him leave just when he is starting to play the game. Play or Go Home? No, it would be Play AND Go Home!

Joe: It was strange to see him go from one extreme to the other when it came to eliminating Peter. He first wanted to get rid of the guy that was a pain in the butt then he stood up for him, preventing Aubry from changing their vote. His sudden show of loyalty looked completely misplaced in this game especially since as viewers we knew exactly what Peter wanted to do.

Jason: We know that he must have been happy to see that Scot had survived Gondol’s vote. That must have been quite a relief for the bounty hunter to know that his closest ally wasn’t sent packing. He had also made some nice deals in the previous episode that could have been developed this week. However, nothing seemed to matter to the overall story. Not only was Jason’s point of view completely ignored in this episode but we heard that he still does nothing around camp, spending most of his days in the shelter. Jason’s story depended heavily on his trips to Tribal Council. In those, he was a force that drove the votes. Now that his presence at Tribal Council is assured for as long as he remains in the game, we will likely see him as a danger; someone who could derail someone else’s game. Despite some very interesting personal moments, he typifies the arrogance and cruelty that we’ve seen from the men this season. With that in mind I don’t see Jason as this season’s Sole Survivor.

Scot: In the recap, we only saw Scot’s utilitarian role. Convincing Tai to keep his idol was apparently his only contribution to the story. Nothing was said about his very endearing friendship with Tai and his integration in the tribe. Jeff even ignored him when he said Gondol was dominated by the Brains tribe. He said that the Beauties had reason to worry but what about Scot? It seems his isolation would have been worth mentioning if he was going to outlast everyone. Outside of the challenges, his only presence in the episode came when Gondol had to go to Tribal Council and it was disturbing to see that he was ready to concede victory to the former Brains tribe members even if the score was tied. His words about living to fight another day would have been good if he had been thinking that other day was going to bring the merger but we didn’t hear him saying anything about that.

Neal: While he hasn’t shown arrogance on the same level as Peter and Nick, or cruelty like Jason and Scot, we’ve still heard some demeaning comments from Neal. In fact, he was one of the first to underestimate the women and that has become the main theme of the season. At the time, it could have been a way to present his unusual sense of humor but that would have required a more personal connection with the audience. On the contrary, he hasn’t given us a confessional in two of the last three episodes and his successful search for the idol was completely ignored in the recap. It appears that his camera presence, including his close-up following Darnell’s at the very start of the season were only to highlight the last man standing. The key to those two close-ups could actually have been Debbie’s presence in the background: The first man to go, the last man to go and the woman behind most of the exits. I still see Neal as the only possible contender if a woman doesn’t win but, like Cydney during the scramble aboard the boat, I have to push him out of the way to leave room for the real contenders.

Tai: He is the only man this season who hasn’t received a negative edit. Tai has a personality that would shine in any season but his gentleness really stands out in the middle of so many macho guys. It must also be noted that Tai was the first man to save a woman from the vote this season. Even that was done with gentleness as he only whispered Peter’s name to Scot in the middle of Tribal Council. It was one word that started an avalanche that eventually buried the Doctor. (You could say that Alecia was saved when Darnell was voted out but we heard Darnell was always the target, not Alecia)

Julia: Some will say that Julia’s story is finally taking off now that Anna is gone but I think that would be an erroneous interpretation. Her strong episode was simply due to her position in the game and now that she’s escaped immediate danger, she will probably fade in the background of the women players once more. Even if she smiled her way in the tribe, and most likely in the heart of some viewers, we can’t ignore the fact that we saw and heard that she completely miscalculated the situation in the tribe when she bought Peter’s pitch. We also heard her say: “...if we don’t do something, I’m pretty much going home” and yet we hardly saw her doing anything to save herself. Yes, she told Aubry that Peter was gunning for her but her precarious position demanded much more than that. Aubry needed reassurances herself if she was going to take that leap yet nothing was said to give her even a toehold in a new alliance. Tribal Council seating seemed to tell us that Julia wasn’t important, that Julia was left on the far left in order to put Aubry, Scot and Tai in the center of things so that they could talk.

Cydney: Her story was starting to gain some momentum but it stalled again in this episode. Besides laughing at Debbie’s remark about Michele, we had nothing from Cydney. I’m sure there are plenty of posters that think she could win but to the average viewers she is a nobody.

Aubry: On the plus side, she was called a big time player by Peter but we saw that she was prevaricating on a level never matched in the series history. Joe even told her that she had to stop flip-flopping neurotically. Her approach to the vote will not gain respect from the other players. Everyone will know that Aubry can’t make a decision on her own, at least not a quick and firm one! The image we had of Aubry when she returned from the voting booth told everyone who saw it that Aubry wasn’t sure of herself so how will she be able to sell her game?

Michele: This was a great episode for Michele...but more as a narrator than a key player. She did have a great personal moment when she said: “so I’m going to try and use my social skills to build me back up” but her main role in the episode was to show us the difference between the male approach, as demonstrated by Nick, and Debbie’s. While Nick infantilized Michele, Debbie talked to her as an equal and, more than that, she gave Michele hope. We clearly saw Michele’s different reactions to these approaches. The hope that Michele received from Debbie must now be shared by many viewers because she is certainly an attractive candidate. Production synchronized her rise from the ocean with her words about not giving up and the image of carrying a large pile of firewood with her words of being a strong woman. Those are all good indicators that Michele will outlast most of the players left in the game but she isn’t the player of the season.

Debbie: That title clearly belongs to Debbie. She was the central figure in both of Chan Loh’s segments. We first saw her talking with Nick in what appeared to be a very superficial talk but was actually quite the fencing match. Nick probably thought he was the only one with a foil in hand but we know that Debbie is quite the skilled sabreuse and she successfully danced around him. Nick mentioned that Debbie could be blowing smoke up his ass but he dismissed that idea much too quickly She was also seen supporting him in his preparation to face the NBA champion. Later, Debbie was there during Michele’s crisis.

Some will say that her words about Michele possibly drowning herself were offensive but the editors took care of that when they let us hear that Michele likes Debbie. Nick was right to say that Michele needs help in the game but there is no way she’d feel comfortable under his wing. She is much more likely to decide she wants to fly in Debbie’s formation instead. So, after outflanking Nick by reaching Jason first last week, Debbie stole Nick’s only possible ally in a very subtle way this week. That’s two weeks in a row that we are presented with scenes that suggests she outwitted him. This episode was mostly about stepping up to the plate and while Nick did an admirable job in challenging Scot, we saw that Debbie was the one to step up when it came time to complete the cube structure. She's stepped up in many different ways this season

There is always the danger of the heat and we’ve already seen that Debbie can get in trouble after a strenuous challenge so we have to consider her edit as being designed to salute a valiant soldier. There is also the mention of the merge being her first priority which could be another danger sign. Maybe she does get voted out after reaching that stage but I felt it was a way to show that Debbie had her priorities right. Making the merge has been difficult for many women of her age but that stage usually offers them a respite. Most use that time to simply coast to the end and they wind up in a position with nothing to show to the jury. I don’t think Debbie will fall in that trap. She will probably continue to manipulate everyone behind the scene and emerge as this season’s Sole Survivor.

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03-26-16, 04:59 PM (EST)
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42. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
LAST EDITED ON 03-26-16 AT 05:07 PM (EST)

Good analysis. I like how you broke down the Nick/Michele/Debbie scenario. I also really like how Squid and FP really underlined this constant theme of male arrogance. The Jason call-out was yet another little example they threw in.

Do you guys get the impression that Nick might've been right about Michele being the target? I think he is. But it's also interesting that it wasn't presented that way, which is really noteworthy. It became about Condescending Nick, rather than On the Outs Michele. Seems like that scene and the Debbie one was designed to demonstrate her bridges being built rather than Michele being the outsider. It would've been really easy to confirm that Michele's naivete with a Nick/Jason scene or whatever.

Michele's edit is kinda reminding me of Erinn from Tocantins. Not necessarily the player of the season, but the person who is mishandled by one alliance and becomes important to another. She might be a losing finalist.

Funny that Cydney completely disappears (along with Neal) after their appearances last week. I don't think either one is particularly important this episode but I kinda expected a check-in. With literally nothing going on over there, they can basically pick whatever story they want at that camp. But, like the rest of the season, everything is Debbie-centric. Debbie comforts Aubry, Debbie motivates Joe, Debbie flirts with Nick, Debbie builds alliances with Jason and Cydney, Debbie is Michele's lifeline. Everyone kinda supports Debbie's character development.

The only ones of substance I would argue have substance are Aubry's (does the winner have a rough start and improve?) and Cydney's (is the winner the sneaky smart brawn?). I can't really take points away for Aubry's indecision since there's no other way you can edit it. I kinda like Aubry's appearnace in this episode because of how utterly dominant she is over Joe. It's Aubry who recognizes Joe needs to stop picking fights with Peter. It's Aubry who Julia and Scot try to reason with. Aubry had really been the one driving the Peter characterization as well.

I think Julia was given a little more POV and credit that she might've deserved, so that's worth noticing. I just get the feeling that if Julia becomes one of the youngest winners ever (the youngest?), wouldn't they make a bigger deal about her in the story?

Another appearance of, "A woman should win this game" which feels like Survivor is really whacking us over the head with it. Shades of the Blue Collars in Worlds Apart. Seems almost too obvious what they're doing, but then again, in a male-dominated show like Survivor has been lately (unfortunately), they probably gotta sell girl power to the audience.

I think it's either Debbie, Cydney, or Aubry, at this point.

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03-26-16, 08:48 PM (EST)
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47. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
I'm glad you liked my analysis Jims.

That's an interesting question about Michele. They have to know the merger is coming even if we didn't hear anything about it so I don't think she was the target. I think Debbie was being honest about targeting Jason but her real first target could have been Nick. She couldn't risk telling that to Michele though.

Aubry's had to be shown if only because of the crossed out name but what didn,t have to be heard were Joe's words about her neurosis and that you can't change at the last minute. We didn't have to see all of Aubry's turmoil. Even after Tau and Julia talked to her, her confessional could have been cut to include only something about Julia having to go first. Then he final decision would have looked more like a decisive action after hearing Peter's gaffe.

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03-26-16, 05:19 PM (EST)
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43. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
LAST EDITED ON 03-26-16 AT 05:28 PM (EST)


As for the other players, it’s worth noting that only Debbie was mentioned before Gondol’s scrambling scene. Didn’t someone find an immunity idol in the previous episode? YES, usually there is at least some mention of the person who just found the HII! Good observation.


I wonder if Michele will even go in the right direction because the centipede was going down on the tree trunk!

OMG, michel, you are really so observant with this episode, and the centipede associated with Michele, isn't Michele, it's symbolic of NICK! Last week the little ants, Michele and Debbie, were devouring that huge centipede. That's why the centipede was going down!

Loved you capturing the facial expressions of michele when she spoke with Debbie and later with Nick! LOL! That does say it all!

Clearly, we are on the same page with Michele and Nick. Not only was she carrying more wood, but she was leading as well. Also, look at her face still!

Also, I want to mention that this vidcap is used in this weeks promo as well....note it here.

Here is the vidcap from this weeks promo:

I thought it was almost comical how Peter reacted when Joe asked him the one simple question!

This episode was a constant reminder that the guys are either not aware of what’s going on around them or unable to change the course of events. With the exception of Tai, their portrayal is rather dismal; arrogance and cruelty seemingly their main traits. But they do have all three idols...

And, don't forget lazy!

I loved all of your post episode assessments of the players and your account of the dangers that still lie ahead for Debbie. Well done, Michel! You are still the master at all of this!

If Debbie were to fall to one of the dangers you noted, I would put more stock into Cydney. She's gaining momentum for me...she managed to be unscathed through all of the drama at the brawn camp and then she had the revealing confessional last week about her going to an Ivy league college, she's smarter than she looks, and she's playing a pretty chill game in the game full of alphas! I do think I recall that Denise went under the radar a bit in her season as well.....hmmmm?

Jims: Excellent thoughts and observations as well. Clearly the season is Debbie-centric....could this be another "Tony" type season, except with a female? Or, will Debbie end up being more of a "Coach" season. One winner, one runner up? Nice comments on Aubry as well. I don't think it was that stellar of an episode for her because it shows us that she is the boss of Joe, and she was the more rational thinker, but then it shows her indecisiveness, and even though she made a decision, she's still looked miserable at TC doing it, as Michel noted with that vidcap of her there.

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03-26-16, 05:55 PM (EST)
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44. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
Yeah, I feel you regarding Aubry's indecisiveness... Usually I find it to be a big red flag in an edit. But at the same time, they really presented the strategic ramifications in a fair and balanced way. They went out of their way to highlight the game theory that voting out a Brain could really screw them. But they obviously outlined the counter-argument (especially with Peter's characterization). I think we're supposed to walk away from it feeling like the decision is arguable and a tough call in general.

I've noticed with female winners, the editors like to go out of their way to show the strategy dominance in the alliance. Especially if it's with a man. Aubry/Joe has shades of Natalie/Keith in SJDS. They beat up Albert a lot to show Sophie's dominance over him in South Pacific. Kim Spradlin basically beat up everyone. Denise, I'm having trouble remembering specifics.

I think Aubry's edit is still a little lifeless but the Joe stuff checks off one of the boxes on my potential female winner checklist.

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03-26-16, 06:21 PM (EST)
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45. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
I've liked Aubry since pre-season and like you, keep hoping to see more, but lifeless is a good description. And her faces at TC were something else. To me it wasn't strategy so much as she basically got pushed during TC to avoid a tie and vote Peter, and it will be interesting to see how she positions this to her fellow Brains at the merge. (Also, kudos to Scott again -- I think he handled it well at TC and is showing much more finesse than I would have imagined out of him based on his initial edit.)

It's also interesting how Aubry and Denise are both being shown as the brains of their duos vs. their male counterparts. Can't wait to see how Aubry and Denise and Neal interact when they're finally back together.

Agree with Michael that it's a good thing they're not playing up a women's alliance this season, since that is almost always doomed to fail. We've rarely heard so much about a female winner in the past, though, so I find it very intriguing.


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03-26-16, 07:05 PM (EST)
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46. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
Denise? Guessing you meant Debbie? Unless you're comparing F/M duos in different seasons?
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03-26-16, 08:58 PM (EST)
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49. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
No, I was comparing Cydney to Denise as during Denise's season, she had more than one episode where she had no confessionals. It seems as though they have historically edited female winners a bit differently. FWIW.

Denise, who won Survivor: Philippines

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03-26-16, 09:54 PM (EST)
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51. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
LAST EDITED ON 03-26-16 AT 10:00 PM (EST)

I think Squid confused the two. Otherwise

"It's also interesting how Aubry and Denise are both being shown as the brains of their duos vs. their male counterparts."

doesn't make sense to me.

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03-26-16, 11:38 PM (EST)
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52. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
Yes, I meant Debbie. Thanks Kingfish. Still having trouble keeping all the names straight.

What I meant is that Debbie clearly bosses Joe around and tells him what to do, and Aubry took over that role when the swap happened.

Aubry and Neal felt more like equals originally, but when the swap happened we heard so little from him and Denise appeared to be doing all the brainwork for the Brains on that tribe.

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03-26-16, 08:51 PM (EST)
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48. "RE: Ep. 6 - Stepping Up to the Plate: "
Thank you, FP. I like your comments as well. I'm not sure about Cydney though becauuse there's been very little substance to her overall story so having an invisble episode isn't good at all.

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03-26-16, 09:17 PM (EST)
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50. "RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments"
I appreciate your comments squid.

You are right about Julia and Michele in saying they had strong episodes but it was mostly circumstancial: Julia was the target while Michele was the challenge goat. That made for an easy narrative and Michele airtime mostly served to build up Debbie.

As for the chemist/waitress/electronic expert/former model, I don't mind her portrayal at all. Maybe in the old days they would have tried to hide some of her eccentricities but they know their audience by now and most people who say she is going to fall also say they like her. By the merger, Shirin had become a fan favorite and many wanted to see her win and Shirin was much more out there than Debbie. Heck, even Aruba likes her!! I wonder what we will see in her next chyron!


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03-27-16, 00:54 AM (EST)
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53. "RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments"
Who is Aruba? If s/he likes Debbie, that must be a really big deal. In terms of a winner's edit, likeability and especially comparisons to Shirin don't seem compelling -- but I understand what you're saying that Survivor has evolved to the point where a quirky older female can hopefully win. And I definitely think Debbie will be asked back. (Anna and some of the other women will probably get a second chance too.)

My concerns for Debbie are that despite a very good edit, she is beginning to show warning signs of arrogance. And there are signs of her initial goofiness and lack of self awareness returning (swinging on the tree, funny music, even the in-jokes about her being a model and all her various job titles). Believe me, I hope I'm wrong and I would love nothing more than for her to go all the way and pull out the speech that I had hoped crazy Phil would have had at FTC, laying out her genius stealth plan. But right now I feel nervous for her that she's setting herself up for a fall and is overplaying her hand vs. the more UTR approach she took earlier on.

Re Julie and Michele: Agree it was partly circumstantial, but how many times have we seen others in the same predicament given far less strategic insight. At this point I feel like Aubry, Cydney, Michele, Julie, Tai and to a lesser extent Debbie are showing the emotional intelligence and more subtle vs. arrogant approach that's needed for this season's winner. Neal is still an enigma to me so hard to say. Jason feels like an end-gamer but too arrogant to win.

I like that it's not so obvious this season and there are different evolving takes on the edit. Can't wait for the merge episode.

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03-27-16, 02:37 AM (EST)
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54. "RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments"
I find it very amusing that you don't know Aruba. He has been a very regular poster on RTVW for over ten years but he NEVER ventures into the spoiler thread. He strictly posts in Bashers and Fanatics.

He has been my opponent in numerous discussions mostly because his favorite Survivors of all-time are Tom Westman and Terry Dietz while he sees Sandra and Cirie as some of the worst contestants ever. I really like the guy because he is a true fan of the show but we rarely see eye-to-eye on players.

As for the comparison with Shirin, I used it to illustrate the fact that the editors are slowly learning what viewers like. Jeff thought we'd see Mike as the greatest winner ever so imagine his surprise when a big portion of the internet posters wanted to see Shirin win!


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55. "RE: Ep. 6 Editing Comments"
Thanks. I almost never go in Bashers or Fanatics but will need to check it out. Maybe we can entice Aruba to come over to Spoilers.

P.S. Just noticed this on Steven Fishbach's twitter -- funny how everyone is talking about winner's edit these days.

Stephen Fishbach ‏@stephenfishbach
So do we think with his visibility spike, Nick is the merge boot and Michele gets credit, confirming her #winnersedit?

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56. "Episode 7 - We Need Nick!"
Previously on Survivor

This season has been a test of will.
With perseverance, Neal, Tai and Jason each found an idol but Scot knew about Tai and Jason’s.
Scot: “if you put them together it becomes super-idol.”
At the Chan Loh tribe, Beauty was making allies with Brains...
Michele: “Debbie is my best option.”
...and Brawn.
The camera showed Jason and Nick bonding.
But they were torn on which way to go.
Michele was heard telling Nick they should go with Debbie but Nick didn’t like the idea.
At the last immunity challenge, “Debbie has it. Chan Loh wins!” Gondol lost.
Facing Tribal Council, Tai, Julia and Scot had a plan to get rid of Peter and tried to convince Aubry to go along but Aubry was conflicted.
Aubry said that whatever she did it would come back to bite her.
At Tribal Council, Aubry was still so uncertain about the vote that she changed hers at the last second and now everything is up in the air.

The recap really made it look like Michele and Nick were running the show in Chan Loh and that Tai, Scot and Julia had things much more under control than what was shown from Gondol last week.

It’s interesting to note that the merge didn’t affect Nick and Michele’s position at all. It takes some skills to keep your game plan hidden that long when you’re dancing between two opposing factions. Remember Dolly! Of course it helps that they’ve avoided Tribal Council. Taking the information from this recap and adding it to the end of this episode, we see that Michele is almost as indecisive as Aubry was pre-merge. Debbie was her best option but later she would want to side with Brawn. What will Michele do next week? Will she continue to side with Nick or will she go her own way? And which way would that be?

This week however, it was all about:


We need Nick!

Gondol Night 16

Thunder and lightning greeted the tribe back to camp.

Joe was telling Scot that he was confused about the original plan. Scot said they couldn’t make a decision and stick with it.

Scot in interview: “I am absolutely going to be picking off the Brain tribe now because of that; because of that indecision, because I can’t trust them.”

Aubry told Scot that she didn’t vote for Julia but Scot told her that she did it in a way that doesn’t build trust.

Aubry’s thoughts: “Peter went home which is what I thought was going to happen but I went up there wrote Julia crossed it out and wrote Peter and I ended up putting a target on my back and Joe’s. So, the future of the Brains Tribe? We’re done. I think that’s it and I think it’s every man for himself.”

Scot’s next comments: “If I have to go to another Tribal, I am absolutely going to write down: Aubry; Joe; Aubry; Joe and I’ll just cross them out until I decide which one I want to go first.”

The Oriental chant that we heard fitted well with Brains lament but the thunder and lightning were pictured as if hanging over Scot’s head. The clouds were like a giant mushroom spreading quickly over his location. I think things won’t work out to well for the guy that has that big black cloud over his head. It would be quite ironic to see Scot voted out because of a decision to split the vote between Joe and Aubry, something that could happen if they think Neal gave Aubry his idol.

Gondol Day 17

The storm had passed.

The chicken was unhappy about being on a leash that was preventing him from getting to the food. It jumped twice on Tai’s lap. For a rare occasion, the gardener showed his temper.

Joe’s point of view: “Tai’s relationship with the chicken is a father to a son, I think. He does everything with the damn bird. He probably likes it better than us. After Tribal, Aubry and I, we are on the chopping block and now, Tai and Scot and Julia; they got a threesome and they got two Brains and they’ll go Bye, bye Brains. You know Aubry, she at least changed her vote back to Peter so boom, boom! Joe’s gone because I broke ranks. At this point of the game, the chicken is doing better than me.”

I’m not sure of the intent of this scene. Joe’s words put more doubts on the chances of the Brains tribe but Joe was primarily worried about himself so that confessional doesn’t help Aubry’s story much and since Joe doesn’t really have a story... It showed us that Tai can get irritated at times but what does that accomplish? Maybe it was supposed to be a funny moment because it only seemed to build the chicken’s character!

Chan Loh Day 17

Neal was looking for sea food but he was being observed by Cydney.

Cydney’s observations: “Neal was walking around with a big bulge in his pocket and I was like: hum! I know what an idol looks like. So, when I saw the imprint in Neal’s pocket, I looked at Jason and said we have to flush that idol out.”

Scot’s comments: “Neal has a bulge in his cargo pocket and the reason I think it looks so much like the idol is because I have a matching one. Now, the target is really on him because that makes him a threat to everybody but you know; I got to wait. I got to plant the seeds and wait for the perfect time to let it sprout up. I’m as pleased as punch right now: I got a hold of all the power.”

That’s when Michele spotted a boat coming towards their beach.

Was it a pirate ship? No, simply some local fishermen bringing them news. What if they had been pirates?!

The percussions were announcing a very important moment as the entire group went to greet the sailors.

Scot’s interview: “You know; I was sitting there on Chan Loh beach, feeling pretty good, getting ready to blindside Neal then this boat shows up.”

They realized that they had 5 minutes to pack everything they needed and get on the boat.

Michele’s confessional: “I made the Survivor merge! That’s crazy. It’s like my dream as a kid. Fortunately, I was in a good position at Chan Loh but now everything has shifted. I don’t know what is going on on the other side and that’s a scary thought.”

Right then, Debbie was heard saying: “I got it, I got it! I got it!”

Yes, she was talking about the tarp but what if her words also applied to the game? Once again, Michele and Debbie’s approach to the game was compared in successive interviews.

Debbie’s confessional: “This season has been particularly tough so making the merge is huge but I made it. I never doubted that I would make it however. You know the game has switched up again and it’s really going to be insane out there. I love change; I love mixing it up. I take the offense; pull people in because people want to be pulled in. Everybody is dangling. I’ll pull them in, lock them down.”

Just like last week, we see diametrically opposite views of the game from Michele and Debbie: The bartender is scared about the prospects of change while the chemist/waitress embraces it. In this episode, it will certainly look like Michele’s approach will work better but what about the long run?

Merged Tribe

The fishing boat approached the Gondol coast, creating a lot of excitement for the beachcombers.

Scot’s interview: “I made the merge! I made it to the merge on Survivor! That is awesome. It is such a huge deal and as soon as I saw Jason and Cydney I just thought; man! we’re back together like we’re in the playoffs. It’s time to start over, refocus. Hopefully, my team is strong (right then Jason appeared not so strong) and ready to get a championship.”

Aubry’s comments: “And just like that, Joe and I have been saved. After the last tribal, I felt like total crap so much so that I was telling myself that I’m a free agent. I’m separating from Joe, like that’s it and then to see Neal and Debbie! I was so relieved. It was like being separated from your whacky family and then seeing them again.”

When they got to the feast, one of the first images we had was of Jason speaking with his mouth full and spewing out some crumbs.

Tai’s impressions: “With Brain, Beauty and Brawn all together finally, we’re thinking numbers: Four Beauty, Four Brain and three Brawn. How are we going to line up? In Survivor, I have to trust somebody so Scot is my only ally right now and he’s the most logical because he knows about the idol.”

Debbie confessed something to Nick in front of everyone: She wanted to cuddle with him only once. She was happily married but he was a good looking guy. She even growled! That made Aubry laugh and it seemed to make Nick blush a little bit! Then Jason growled at Tai, threatening to take him away from Scot who told him to back off. Like Nick said: Too much wine!

Nick’s point of view: “During the merge feast, people are getting a little tipsy but I’m just listening left and right, seeing who is getting along, seeing what information is out there and it’s obvious that the Brawn are going to be arrogant like they are in charge and nobody can stop them. The Brains are not going to want to work with that type of person because they’re the exact opposite. They want to be in the shadows. Right now, my true alliance is with Michele. We’re in a great spot within these two tribes but I’ve learned; slow it down, read the people. Let them keep bringing you information and then you just slice them up.”

During Nick’s confessional, the camera showed that his read was accurate: Jason was the loudest and Scot and Cydney were laughing at all his jokes while the Brain tribe members were very quiet, observing and maybe even feeling a bit uncomfortable seeing Brawn’s exuberance and lack of class. Nick’s game plan would soon be rewarded because he would receive a lot if useful information but I don’t think he’ll be able to use it to “slice ‘em up” because, right after he used those words, he was shown trying to cut bamboo with a machete and barely making a dent. Interestingly, Scot was also trying to cut some bamboo with a saw but we didn’t actually see him slicing it up. Will the two guys be able to slice ‘em up? That seems to be the question that the aborted tribal Council left up in the air. Nick and Michele have broken a record by still being tribal Council virgins one cycle after the merger!

After the feast, Aubry told Debbie that Peter went insane. Debbie told her not to worry because she had her back and that she was tighter than ever with Neal. They were like...toilet paper and toilets?!?

Like Aubry, I didn’t know how to react to that weird comment.

Debbie’s interview: “Aubry is a little upset about the way things panned out and feels guilty. She has no need to do that. I know the four Brains; myself, Aubry, Neal and Joe, we’re still strong.”

Even if we saw blue skies, a sound like thunder was heard right after Debbie mentioned Neal’s name, warning us that the Brains won’t be as strong as they appear.

Right after that, the camera showed us a water buffalo. We then followed Nick, Aubry and Neal in the jungle to hear their thoughts. Nick was saying that the Brawn looked super-tight. Neal told them that they will always stick together.

Neal’s comments: “The Brawn are going to be an ongoing physical threat plus they are kind of bullies so it makes sense to go with the Beauty and Brains alliance.”

I noted that the camera didn’t disassociate Cydney from Scot and Jason when Neal talked about the Brawn being kind of bullies. The camera could have shown us only the two guys.
Nick told Neal and Aubry that he was getting the vibe that Tai was super tight with Scot and that Julia was saved by Scot so she’d be loyal to him but he was confident that Michele would stick with him.

So Nick can also give out information. It must be noted that it didn’t take long for him to figure Tai’s loyalties. It’s interesting to note that we didn’t see Michele and Julia talking alone at all during the whole episode.

Nick’s interview: “Neal and Aubry pitched the fact that: “Hey! we just need two more of your Beauty. Nick, can you get in Michele?” Yeah! I can probably get in Michele so they wanted to be the Brains versus the Brawn just like I thought. It makes sense to go with the Brains but if you corner yourself, you put yourself in a position where your back is against the wall; that’s not good Survivor.”

Back in camp, Scot confirmed everything that Nick suspected.

Jason’s thoughts: “It’s merge time and the Brawn, we got to get back on tribe so we were open with Nick because we want him to feel comfortable. Right now, we need him for the numbers and I believe that Neal has an idol so Neal is the main focus.”
Jason told Scot and Nick about his suspicion concerning Neal’s idol and the need to split the votes.

Nick’s reaction in interview: “You got to wonder if Scot and Jason had too much rum at the merge feast. Scot welcomed me right away. Jason says Neal has an idol. Thank you for bringing me in to your alliance. You’re such sweethearts both of you.”

Nick would soon get more information: Scot told the two of them in confidence that Tai had an idol. Nick was surprised to hear that.

Jason’s reaction: “Holy crap! This is unreal: Tai has a hidden immunity idol. This is amazing because when you take two separate idols, mine and his, and you link them together, now we have a super-idol that we can play after the votes have been read which means we are literally unstoppable.”

I wonder about possession of the idol though. The original super-idol had to be in the possession of the player using it before TC. You couldn’t give it to someone else after the votes were read. That isn’t a clause that was transpose to the ordinary idols. It would make this super-idol disproportionately powerful if it can be handed out to someone else after Jeff reads the votes.

Scot told Jason and Nick that he let them know only because they were tight.

Just at that moment, the camera showed Nick stopping to pick up a piece of wood. That action separated them from the two others, suggesting that they weren’t as tight as Scot felt.
Nick confirmed the impression in his next interview: “I don’t like Scot and Jason’s overconfidence. They are like “screw everybody else. This is our game.” But, as much as it annoys me, that is a great thing for me. It really is because they are never going to suspect the blindside on them. They are never going to see it coming.”

Dara Day 18

The merged tribe name used to be important but we’ve sunk to an all-time low: We don’t know who found it, why they chose it and what it means. It’s like those contestants that never get any airtime so it was quite fitting that the merge buff was purple!

Neal showed Aubry the cyst that was on his left knee.
Right then, Debbie sat down next to Tai, said she really liked him and offered him an alliance deal. He said Okay but didn’t look sure about anything.

Debbie, now the civil air patrol captain, gave us her comments: “I seem to be one of the few people here that plays offense. I know I need six to have the numbers over Brawn. It’s a battle for power and I’m playing to win.”

She offered her hand to seal the deal and Tai shook it after some hesitations. He even told her: “It’s coming as such a shock.” With Joe and Aubry listening, he asked Debbie about her strategy. She only told him that they just made an alliance.

Tai’s reaction: “I woke up this morning and I just sit down. Debbie, two seconds behind me, she say: “Hey! I really like you. You are going to be in our alliance. It was pretty impressive. I’m not buying her story. I’m not a fool. I see right through Debbie.”

Right before we heard Tai say that he wasn’t buying Debbie’s story, we saw Debbie looking at him and telling Joe: “He’s in. We got him.”

Debbie certainly misread that situation...for the time being. Before the tribe was scheduled to go to TC, Debbie would be making a play to get Michele on board so it wasn’t as if she was only counting on Tai. Offering Tai a deal is a good way of testing him. We didn’t see Tai talking with Debbie after the IC so if he really didn’t ask about her voting decision then she will know that he lied to her when he shook her hand. It will give her a great reason to eliminate Tai.

With Neal and Aubry listening, we then saw Debbie asking Nick if she could count on him and Michele. Nick never gave her a definite answer.

Neal looked at Aubry asking: “So, Debbie thinks she has Michele?” Both showed that they believed Debbie was wrong. Aubry even added: “She is not being very finesse-y about this whole thing.”

Aubry’s interview: “Deb needs to cool her jets. She is trying too hard. Double and triple teaming people isn’t the way to go when you are trying to get the numbers. You have to show confidence and right now we are showing desperation.”

Jason, Scot and Cydney were triple teaming Julia and Michele, saying that Brawn and Beauty would be one family and figure it out from there.

Jason’s interview: “Beauty always goes with the jock. Always! It’s just the way of the world. The beauties don’t date the brainiacs, they’re at the dance with us and we’re just shoving geeks in lockers right now. Sorry brains. We want to get after Neal but we believe he is holding an idol so we take out someone that they never see coming: Aubry.”

Jason shocked the girls by telling them that Neal had an idol so that they had to target Aubry who wouldn’t see it coming.

Michele’s interview: “I think Jason probably thinks that he’s on top. He’s the one that is constantly going: Hey! this is what is going on, this is what this person said, this is where we’re going. So, it looks like Brawn and Beauty are together but Brawn is way too controlling and I never counted out working with Brains.”

Jason showed his confidence but we have to wonder if his approach is much better than Debbie’s.

Aubry took a walk with Nick.

First, we heard an interview from Aubry to set up their conversation: “I’m on board with the Brains sticking together but someone is going to have to take their head out of their butt and start talking to people like a normal human being. I think it’s pretty obvious that people are irritated by Debbie and if we don’t think the Beauty is on our side, the Brains are screwed.”

Nick told Aubry that Debbie was going off her rocker. Aubry said she wanted to work with him but Nick answered: “But the thing is, Debbie, I’m telling you, Debbie’s awful.”

Nick’s comments: “I’m still open to working with the Brains tribe but Debbie is aggravating me at this point. She almost takes strategy in her own hands for the Brains tribe and I don’t want anybody having more power than I do in this game.”

It must be said that Debbie has be doing something right if Nick felt threatened by her power. It could get her voted out but it can’t be said that her play has gone unnoticed! One of Nick and Debbie will blindside the other and I’ll always put my money on the one that has received the more substantial story.

Taking a walk to the ocean, Aubry told Neal that Debbie’s actions were screwing them, that she was pushing Nick away. She felt that Nick would prefer to fly by the seat of his pants than having to deal with Debbie.

Neal’s thoughts: “We know we have to get two Beauties on board but people are so turned off by Debbie that we’re in a bad situation.”

Neal told Aubry that he had the idol from their first camp and that no one knows about it.

Aubry told him they’d have to learn who was getting the votes.
Aubry’s reaction: “I’m getting a good roller coaster from Survivor man! I was thinking: We’re screwed but now it turns out that Neal has a hidden immunity idol. This is what we needed to start doing things. The game is on! Let’s go!”
Aubry’s ride is far from over and she was about to take another big downhill ride. I think that we will soon see that everything that comes down must go up!

Day 19: The Immunity Challenge

Neal showed Jeff the “volcano” that had popped up on his knee. He added that he felt fine.

Aubry and Tai showed their infections.

Is it worth noting that Scot said he had an infection but that we didn’t get to see it? They didn’t show Joe’s either and we know he had one since before the swap. It can’t be a good sign that Scot was as unimportant as Joe in regards to their medical situation.

Jeff said that it was almost as if the players weren’t worthy if they didn’t have medical issues.

Debbie was heard laughing at that.

Jason told Jeff that they all embraced the suck.

At first, I thought we were being told that Debbie wasn’t worthy but she was the first person that needed medical intervention during that tough challenge. I’d say that qualified her as someone who embraced the “suck”.

Like in every challenge we’ve ever had involving balls, big logs or ropes, Jeff gave us plenty of sexual innuendos. Maybe he should grow up but the audience still laughs.

To keep in the memory banks in case we have other challenges involving balance; Joe, Debbie and Jason didn’t make it to the 2nd round.

At the start of the 2nd round Michele, Neal, Scot, Cydney and Aubry quickly fell out leaving three original Beauty members; Julia, Tai and Nick. They all made it to the 3rd round, earning a round of applause from the peanut gallery.

Jeff gave Scot the excuse of having big feet making it tough to balance on the little perch but Nick, the second biggest guy, beat Tai and Julia, two of the smallest out there.

To my ear, it seemed that the groan was quite amplified when Tai dropped a ball. It was as if the sound editor was telling us that we should be disappointed to see the gardener lose to Nick just like sitcom sound editors tell us when we should laugh with their recorded laughter.

Before leaving the challenge arena, we had an interview with Neal: “Tonight at tribal Council, it will be the four Brains going up against the bullies, against the Brawn. Fortunately, we have the idol and if I feel I need to play it, I’ll play it. I could save myself or pass it on to Aubry. Hopefully, we will take control of this game.”

The Brains were in a bad situation with Neal and his idol in the game so now that both have left, many will think they are screwed but the way this episode was presented leads me to believe they will still find a way to take control of the game.

The Purple Tribe Scrambling

Some might think that this segment isn’t worth reporting since none of it will mean much when we get to the next cycle. However, I think the way the players were portrayed will mean a lot and that those who seemed in control will lose it before the next Tribal Council. In other words: Whatever is shown this week will be make a complete 180⁰ before the next Tribal Council.

Nick’s interview: “Tonight is the first Tribal Council after the merge and pretty much everything is at stake of where the dominos will fall or so I believe. It’s Brawn versus Brains and I’m in the middle along with Beauty for the most part. We’re like the pretty girl at the dance: You’re either going with the Quarterback (Scot pictured) or the Valedictorian (Aubry is shown sitting next to Neal). It’s a fun position to be in; it’s fun being the pretty girl! I’ve never felt like a pretty girl before...It feels great!”

(Funny how the word “like” changes the whole sentence!)

At the well, Jason told Scot and Nick that they were all voting for Aubry.

Scot’s interview: “The Brains are screwed. We are just going to pick them off one by one until they are gone. The best case scenario is Neal plays an idol because he’s paranoid but Aubry goes home anyway. I feel confident in our alliance of Beauty and Brawn right now because everybody seems to feel comfortable going hey! why not? We’ll just take the Brains out and then, once we get to seven, we’ll figure it out even though Jason and I have it already figured out. Ha-ha-ha-ha!”

Maybe it’s his long years of playing basketball where you are taught to envision success but, in a strategic game, it’s very important to consider the worst case scenario, something Scot appears to have neglected.

Nick’s next interview: “Right now, I am leaning towards the Brawn and voting out one of the Brains right away but Scot and Jason are always going to be overconfident and when everybody feels safe is when you do your damage.”

Neal talked with Nick, saying that the three Brawn are going to be physical threats and that they were only using the Beauties’ votes.

Neal’s interview: “Nick, I believe, wants to go with us, now we have to convince Michele to come on board. We need to have six but, in a moment of desperation, all I have to do is reach into the family jewels and grab out the idol.”

Debbie and Aubry were already working on Michele, talking to her in the ocean.

Michele was saying that no one approached her to make a deal so Debbie said that the three of them should make one in order to play this game. She told Michele her target was Jason or Scot.

Aubry’s interview: “To gain power in this game, the Brains need Nick, the Brains need Michele. I want a Brawn gone and we got to start making things happen. If the Brains don’t get Nick and Michele, Neal and I are playing the idol.”

To Michele, Aubry said that Jason and Scot were tight and wanted to run the show while there would be more opportunities for Brains and Beauty to meld since they are not as concrete.
Michele agreed with that.

During that conversation, we had an image of Michele going underwater which looked like a sign that she was escaping from Debbie and Aubry’s grasp...or that she was plunging in with them. Her subsequent comments only added to the uncertainty.

Michele’s comments: “You know, I would love to work with Aubry and Debbie but I’m not sure if, strategically, it’s my best option. So, I think that I have to test the relationship more. I could go whichever way I want right now so it’s all figuring out what is best for me.”

Nick and Michele figured it would be a good time to talk about the future.

Michele reasoned that Jason and Scot would not get votes in the end because one angered too many people while the other has a lot of money already. The two agreed to go with Brawn and eliminate Aubry.

Nick’s thoughts: “It makes sense to go with Brawn right now because I believe I can manipulate them just like that and beat them in puzzles just like that. They’re just idiots. I like Aubry. I would hang out with Aubry more than any other girls here but, unfortunately at Tribal Council tonight, Aubry is going home. I know how big of a decision this is, I think I am making the right decision. I’ll see when the game ends if it is or isn’t.”

The editing has been very consistent in this episode: The merge feast and the talks that immediately followed ignored Joe, Julia and Cydney and, in addition to Tai, those same three players were also ignored in this scrambling segment. I will quote Nick and say that everything is at stake of where the dominos will fall but not only in regards to this cycle but as far as the whole game is concerned. The winner will have been shown taking a role in these two segments. The two that clearly stood out by their rational approach to the situation were Michele and Aubry. All the others were much too confident but they will still play an important part in the game.

That’s when the boat carrying Jeff and the doctor arrived. Scot realized that one of them was in trouble because Jeff doesn’t usually do this.

The doctor examined Tai whose scrapes were healing nicely. Scot’s infections worried the doctor much more so he would keep an eye on them but he let Scot return to the group. Aubry was next and the doctor decided to put her on antibiotics.

Debbie’s interview: “It’s brutal out here. If I lose Aubry to an injury, it changes the whole ball game here.”

The doctor didn’t like the infection that Neal had on his knee at all. They started by pulling him aside and ended up pulling him from the game despite his protests.

Aubry’s interview: “I know it took everything for Neal not to get upset because he wants to play so badly and he told us how lucky we were to be here and he’s right but really? My number one ally...gone. So Neal is going and it’s on the tip of my tongue: What about the idol? I’m just hoping he would give me the idol.”

Nick’s interview: “Aubry was going home and thanks to some lucky medical evacuation, she lives for another day or two.”

Aubry had the last interview of the evening: “I didn’t think I would be crying this much on Survivor but there has been so many ups and down and right when I thought we were going to get some traction under us, my biggest ally is out of the game, I got a nice little bulge on my leg that everyone got to see and I’m thinking, with Neal gone, there is no way the Beauties join the Brains and the idol went home with Neal. That son of a b*tch! Really Neal left me hanging but Survivor is a test. You pave your way by yourself...It’s like going on the Oregon Trail: You have to cross the rivers... climb the hills and sometimes you have dysentery and die. You have to pave your own way.”

The Story

This episode reminded me of the merge episode in San Juan del Sur where Julie’s decision to quit was used to confuse the issue so I took a look back at that episode. Before Jeff told the group that Julie had quit Jeremy and Josh were both trying to get Jon and Jaclyn to vote with their alliance just like Brawn and Beauty competed for Nick and Michele. Josh’s side appeared to have won the battle because Jon said he wanted to go with the couples’ train and Jaclyn agreed. In the end Josh said that Jeremy was on borrowed time. Here, it was Nick who said something similar about Aubry. That episode was like an hour preview for the following week where everything we had seen was used as misdirection for the next vote.

It would follow that this week’s episode was also used to confuse the issue and that the Brains will eventually come out on top. One can also wonder if the obvious comparison made between Michele and Debbie’s style of play will also have a different result. In this episode, Michelle clearly had the better approach but what if Debbie’s offense overtakes Michele’s defense in the long run? No one will ever be able to say that Debbie was indecisive! The final vote will tell us which approach is best. Then again, the jury could reward someone that used the middle approach instead; someone that wasn’t as offensive as Debbie but someone who still reached out to create bonds. That could only be Aubry. This episode had two main themes: First, everyone needed Nick on their side and second, the world was collapsing around Aubry. Once Nick, and by ricochet Michele, choose their side, their story could come to an end but if Aubry survives this big challenge and manages to pave her own way to the end then she will be our winner.

It is quite interesting to note that despite this season’s four consecutive votes against women, they now find themselves in equal numbers with the men. Only two males have been voted out but we have reached the critical portion of the game and, considering that Joe will always vote with Debbie and Aubry, the women have the numbers. Yet, the men appear to be in complete control! Everyone should expect to see their fall soon.

On another train of thoughts, a cynic would certainly realize the great timing of Neal’s medical evacuation. There was the danger that Scot or Jason could get eliminated by an idol bounce if Neal had the audacity to give his idol to Aubry but more importantly a new idol will now have to be put in play on a beach where there are already two. That idol twist required the removal of one player with an idol so the timing of Neal’s evacuation is troubling. I don’t doubt the doctor’s integrity, just that he may have been more cautious than what was normally required. Would anyone want to bet against Tai, Jason or Scot finding that new idol?

The Characters

The Extras

Joe, Julia and Cydney: In itself, it is troubling that three potential allies for Debbie and Aubry are relegated to the back of the stage. It must be noted however that all three have been presented positively. Production has shown us these players in such a way that they wouldn’t upset the audience if they find themselves in the dominating alliance but none are sufficiently connected with the viewers to take away the spotlight from the true stars of the show.

Tai: He didn’t have much of a role to play in this episode but his segment after the merge showed us that Debbie misread his intentions. It’s possible that the scene was only shown to explain why she will turn on him at some point down the road. As for his own game, Tai was always the distraction, the one to amuse the audience, not the player to watch. It will be interesting to see how he plays his idol and what he says about the remaining players. For now, he likes Scot and Jason a lot more than Debbie but can they keep his affection? It would be surprising to see such a gentle man staying close to the two bullies. Something’s got to give.

The Confident Ones:

Jason: He is presented as the bully who wants to shove geeks in lockers, someone who didn’t have any class during the feast and who has it all figured out. Yet, he may soon find himself with a super-idol. Could it be that he plays it to save himself over Scot? After hearing the NBA’s comments about Jason using the idol for him, it would be quite fitting to see Jason save himself but to see Scot’s torch get snuffed as a result. I’m not sure how Jason can get voted out but it will certainly be fun to watch.

Scot: If he doesn’t get bounced by Jason’s idol, he could be in trouble down the road with the medical staff. If his infection gets any worse, the doctor may not have a choice. His interview was shown right before the doctor’s arrival so he could eventually be the one that’s in trouble. Compared to Jason, Scot had a much better episode with interviews placed at all the critical moments. However, we saw that he gave away too much information to Nick so that could be the way a split vote plan is set up to target them both.

Nick: It took a while but we finally see Nick’s story and hear his thoughts on the game. His style does fit better when a vote is pending so Beauty’s success kept him off our screens for the most part but a story would still have been built around him if he was to continue to shine all the way to the end. So much focus is put on his decision that his story could end right after he chooses side. He even said that he wasn’t sure of making the right decision and that we will have to wait until the game ends to see. Like Jon in SJDS, he will probably get blindsided by his new allies.

The Contenders

Michele: Like Nick, she was in high demand in this episode but she didn’t show the same arrogance which means her chances of making it to the end are much better than his. Like Nick, her chances of winning and her story could come to an end when she chooses a side. She probably won’t come to a crashing end like Nick but she could fizzle out like Jaclyn. Her story could certainly merit a victory but her presentation over the course of the season has been seriously lacking. She didn’t get an interview during the season’s opening segment. When we finally heard from her, it was mostly to express her crush on Nick and then we saw her running around like a chicken without a head while chasing those chickens. Over the course of the following episodes, she became a sidekick in the Beauties’ female alliance in which Anna was clearly identified as the driving force.

Michele’s impressive showing in the last two episodes does make her an appealing candidate and her relaxed approach to playing the game is constantly compared to Debbie’s. The reason for that contrast could be to explain why Michele gets the most votes in the end but it seems that she is too indecisive. By staying between two groups for so long, she may create bitterness in the side she abandons. It will be interesting to see if she chooses the same side as Nick or if she rebels against him. The episode before the merge certainly made it look like she’d go against her bro but the two seemed to get along just fine in this one. But since this one was all about misdirection...!

Debbie: What a wonderfully weird episode for the season’s self-proclaimed mastermind. Her offensive game play irritated everyone including two of her closest allies. Even Tai, the guy who loves everything and everyone, didn’t like her approach. If Tai was being used as the audience’s conscience then Debbie cannot win. His subsequent interview revealed an interesting comment however: Tai said that Debbie’s approach was “pretty impressive”. He didn’t believe her but he was still impressed. Even Nick, despite saying she was off her rocker, admitted that Debbie was a threat to his own power in the game. Of the three women contenders, Debbie is the only one with an interview in the season’s opening segment and she has received a very consistent story, being quite visible in each episode. Others will certainly dismiss her but I think she can still turn things around.

Aubry: This episode was really difficult for Aubry. Her roller coaster ride went downhill right at the start when her actions at the previous Tribal Council opened a gigantic hole under her feet. The merge offered her a reprieve and, despite the twists and turns that Debbie imposed to the Brains’ train, Aubry resurfaced and even reached a nice plateau when Nick said he’d like to work with her and that Neal could play his idol to save her. That was only to set the stage for the next big downhill when the doctor removed her sane ally from the game.

It now seems that Aubry cannot possibly make it to the end of the game and that is precisely why she should make it there! So much was made of Aubry being in grave danger that it has to be misdirection. It also has to be noted that we couldn’t really say that Aubry was lucky to win, that she won only because TC was cancelled. That luck factor was certainly outweighed by Neal’s decision to keep his idol.

Can Aubry be our winner? Like Michele, it’s troubling that her pre-merge presentation was indifferent. Like the Beauty, we didn’t hear from her in the opening segment of the season but her premiere was much more solid. We saw her episode of heat exhaustion and we also heard Jeff’s compliments during the first challenge. Let’s not forget that both scenes were manipulated to make Aubry look even better. Let’s remember also that she never committed to Neal and Peter’s youngsters’ alliance and she never said anything against Joe and Debbie during that premiere. In fact she bonded nicely with them during her crisis.

I usually like to pick my candidate for Sole Survivor right after the merger but I cannot decide at this time. We didn’t get a vote after the merger and since the vote is the only truth in the game, these players haven’t told me their truths yet. Next week should help us decipher the season more clearly.

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04-03-16, 01:39 PM (EST)
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57. "RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick!"
LAST EDITED ON 04-03-16 AT 01:43 PM (EST)

This was one of the most ridiculously over-the-top episodes I've seen in awhile for one contestant. Aubry's edit was almost Mike-esque in how over-the-top it was. They're able to present this episode in a way that demonstrates how screwed Aubry is, and yet not place any of the blame at her feet.

In reality, the Brains are losing their numbers and can't get the swing votes. But it's not Aubry's fault! It's Debbie's fault, for being too aggressive and not having a bedside manner! Nick loves Aubry!

In reality, Aubry's game was probably done. But don't worry, because of her close relationship with Neal, he's totally going to play the idol for her!
(They could have really underlined how screwed Aubry was last week by having a Neal confessional saying he's really not sure if he wants to use his idol on her. Instead they kept it completely up in the air, making Aubry look safer than she actually was. For Jeremy in SJDS, they basically stated that he was pretty much done if Julie didn't quit.)

In reality, it's a bummer that Neal got medevac'd. But who cares about Neal, what's really important is how it affects Aubry's game!

It is so funny what a subtle edit she got pre-merge, to suddenly it being the Aubry Show at the merge. And for a kind of character who would be very likely ignored in a lot of circumstances! I mean, don't get me wrong. I like Aubry, she is this nerdy internet guy's kind of player. But she's not usually the type that the show is trying to get the casual viewers behind. It's almost too obvious, how over the top it is. We said the same thing about Mike at the time, however.

Michele is the alternate pick, although I kind of want to dump her because of how tiresome the Edgic Cult of Michele is. While I can see them spin it into a Michele win by visibility and POV alone, I feel like her story is still kind of unsatisfying. I still like her more as a losing finalist than a winner. But if it's not Aubry, it's probably Michele.

Cydney is still my sneaky Natalie Anderson UTR pick. Another little scene showing how clever Cydney is (talking about bulge-y Neal). Not holding my breath, but I could see it happening.

Debbie, meh. The only way she gets away with the playing-too-hard negative connotation is if she's another Tony. It is hard to predict when another super rare Tony comes along.

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04-03-16, 09:32 PM (EST)
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58. "RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick!"
I'm with you on the over-the-top way they used to frame Aubry's story. They even included Nick's poor choice of words regarding a "lucky medical evacuation."

So you're following edgic? I used to post in their thread but I got tired of its tediousness. They pick Michelle? I'm not surprised.


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04-03-16, 11:35 PM (EST)
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59. "RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick!"
LAST EDITED ON 04-03-16 AT 11:46 PM (EST)

I don't go into to the Sucks thread (because they use spoilers and I'm not making that goof up again!) but I hear people commenting about the RHAP podcasts saying that Michele is a semi-popular Edgic pick. I think it was around when Aras was on the podcast a couple weeks ago. Cesternino had been referring to "those Michele people" when people call in to ask about her potential winner's edit.

(I clearly listen to too many podcasts at work.)

After this past episode, I imagine it's currently a battle between Team Aubry and Team Michele at this point.

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04-04-16, 01:42 AM (EST)
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60. "RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick!"
Yes, most comments in response to my blog on RHAP are supporting Michele. She could win but, to me, it seems like a "go with the herd" type of mentality. I think she is doing alright but edit wise? I'd prefer to know more about our eventual winner.

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04-04-16, 05:27 PM (EST)
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62. "RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick!"
Thanks michel! Love your character analysis!

That last confessional by Aubry really stood out!!

What Aubry said was actually slightly different and this was such a significant quote I thought it would be good to have the actual quote...

Aubry had the last interview of the evening: “I didn’t think I would be crying this much on Survivor but there has have been so many ups and down and right when I thought that we were going to get some traction under us, my biggest ally is out of the game, I got a nice little bulge on my leg that everyone got to see and I’m thinking to myself, with Neal gone, there is no way the Beauties join the Brains and the idol went home with Neal. That son of a b*tch! Really Neal left me hanging but Survivor is a test path. You pave your way by yourself...It’s like going on the Oregon Trail: You have to cross the rivers ford every river, you have to caulk every wagon, you have to climb go up the hills and down the hills and sometimes you have get dysentery and die. You have to pave your own way.”

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04-04-16, 10:16 PM (EST)
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63. "RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick!"
Thanks, Sheldor. Agreed, it was a spectacular quote and tied so nicely with all the key themes of the season.

Also, let's not forget that earlier in the season it was Aubry who pointed out the importance of emotional intelligence, another key theme.

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04-04-16, 08:28 AM (EST)
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61. "RE: Episode 7 - We Need Nick!"
All excellent observations and comments, Michel and Jims. I am in total agreement, HELLO Aubry! She could indeed be our winner. And, with her first episode with her dehydration and her stress over the "reality" of it all, wouldn't that be a great come from behind story. Now she's hit rock bottom and has to forge her way and she's determined to do it. Now we will see how she does it! I'm rooting for her!

Michele, clearly she is going to have more of a story than most, but I'm with you, she's not going to win this thing.

I also loved your comparison to the San Juan del Sur when Julie quit and noting all the misdirection that was all spun to shield the events that followed. I agree, 100%. The "confident ones"; Jason, Scot, and Nick are all going down. After all, Aubry just told us how this game was like a roller coaster ride with ups and downs!

I also loved your comment:

I will quote Nick and say that everything is at stake of where the dominos will fall but not only in regards to this cycle but as far as the whole game is concerned. The winner will have been shown taking a role in these two segments. The winner will have been shown taking a role in these two segments. The two that clearly stood out by their rational approach to the situation were Michele and Aubry.

So agree with this! We saw Aubry call out Debbie for being too offensive, and then we saw Neal relaxing with his plan for idol play, but we SAW Aubry take matters into her own hands and really try to "forge" relationships with beauty. Actions speak louder than words. Michele expressed caution and had some very astute comments. The ones that had no part of the scrambling: Joe, Julia, Cydney, and Tai. We did not see these 4 scramble at all. Cydney observed the "idol" in the pocket, Joe observed he was lower down the totem pole than the chicken, Tai commented he didn't buy what Debbie was selling and that he was sticking with Scot, and Julia got nothing. A very bad sign for all of them that they were not actively taking part in the scramble to make the numbers fall their way.

That leaves the very confident ones, Jason, Scot, and Nick.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. The winner will have been shown among those that were working to make the numbers turn out in their favor. Michele told us that the one that was the cockiest, the bossiest, and thought he was in total control was Jason. Jason called himself "unstoppable". I can't wait to see him go down. And, I would love to see him go without playing his idol, then the votes are read and he would look to Tai who would then shake his head, no! Now that would be fun. That might even usurp Leann's blindside, who knows! One can hope!

I have to wonder if votes will be split between Nick and Jason, or Jason and Scot... Any of the confident 3 would potentially blindside "us". Nick's confessional: Nick: I don’ t like Scot’s and Jason’s over confidence, they are just screw everybody else, this is our game but, as much as it annoys me, that’s a great thing for me. It really is because they are never going to expect a blindside on them, they’re never going to see it coming. See a pensive Nick. This is a beautiful confessional that is either foreshadowing "their" blindside, (Jason and Scot's), OR, it could be foreshadowing his own blindside, as Nick is the one saying that he is the master manipulator and we know he has "over-confidence". I also loved that he used the words, "they are never going to see it coming", words that we have heard Debbie utter before in regard to herself, they will never see me coming, because they won't take her seriously.

I really like how you categorize your contenders by contrasting Michele's and Debbie's approach to the game and then Aubry. Kind of like Goldilocks and the three bears, one was too hot, one was too cold, and one was just right!


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04-09-16, 02:53 PM (EST)
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64. "Episode 8 - There's Still Hope:"
Previously on Survivor

After the merge, Brain and Brawn were trying to court Beauty over to their side.

Nick told us it’s nice to have options.

Debbie wasted no time, aggressively trying to secure the numbers...

We saw her offering an alliance to Tai and saying that it was a done deal and we heard her say that she was one of the few people playing on offense.

...but it backfired...

After we heard Debbie making an offer to him, Nick said that Debbie takes strategy in her own hands for the Brains tribe.

...alienating the Brains...

Aubry and Neal are seen alone on the beach and saying that everyone is turned off by Debbie, which meant they were screwed.

...leaving the Beauties with an easy decision...

Nick and Michele agreed to go with Brawn.

...to unite with Brawn.

After doing the math, Jason confidently said that they’d be shoving geeks in lockers.

For the Brains, things went from bad to worse when Neal fell victim to the elements.

Aubry is heard talking about losing her number one ally and that the idol went home with that son of a b*tch.

I hope everyone noticed that Debbie was the only player still in the game that Jeff named in his recap. I’m sure most will fixate on the part where he said her plan backfired but I think we have to consider Jeff’s mindset. He loves aggressive game play and that’s the term he used for Debbie instead of negative terms like recklessly or carelessly. Some would even have used the adverb “idiotically”. We must also note that Nick’s comments were quite positive especially if he has to decide his final vote between different Brains tribe members. We heard him say that he considers Debbie as the Brains’ strategist, a role he tried to adopt with the Beauty tribe.

There’s Still Hope

Unnamed Camp Day 19

The episode started immediately after Neal’s departure with Scot taking over Jeff’s recap duties.

Julia remarked that she would keep her cuts super clean.

Could she be another player pulled from the game?

Looking pensive, Joe shared his thoughts
(Note that he was wearing the blue ribbon from the reward challenge so this interview was filmed on day 20)

Joe: “Today, I don’t feel very powerful at all that we lost Neal. With Neal being gone, it totally screws up our numbers. The Brains tribe is three: Debbie, myself and Aubry. So (?)... it’s in a state of flux right now. I want to see if there are other options; that’s the whole thing now. I’ve got to put my thinking cap on. ”

During Joe’s interview, we heard Scot’s next imitation: Forrest Gump talking about Survivor and a box of chocolate.

After the interview, we heard Debbie quoting Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.”

It’s evident that Joe’s interview wasn’t used to put him in the new starring role as the strategist. It only served to show how bad things were for Debbie and Aubry. Scot was still having fun but this episode’s surprise box would bring him quite a hard candy to swallow. Debbie’s words would resonate throughout the episode.

Jason’s interview: “We are pretty united now, Beauty and Brawn (Cydney was showed on screen right then as a forewarning of events to come.) It’s pretty set in stone that the Brains have got to go. As far as I know, Neal went home with an idol but if he left it in the game somehow (we saw Aubry with Neal’s jacket in her hands) our plan moving forward right now is to split the vote each time, make sure if there is an idol, it’s played but we’re always safe because we are seven to three.”


Julia and Michele certainly noticed Aubry with Neal's jacket

Jason detailed the plan for everyone: “Beauty keeps on voting for Debbie until she’s gone, Brawn will now vote for Aubry. Any objections?”

Aubry was seen coming back to camp, putting an end to the little huddle.

Aubry’s interview: “I can kind of just sense what is going on. This is totally like High School. You look at our camp and it’s divided by (Scot shown) the tough guys and around them are (Michele was first shown biting her nails the camera panned to Julia) the girls who are kind of pretty and get along really well with those people and then the kind of people who are maybe a little shier, (Debbie is shown standing next to Aubry) a little bit nerdy on the outside but the jocks and the pretty people, (Scot looking goofy with his buff on his head, and a smiling Julia were then shown) they are not going to sit pretty forever. They age (Cydney shown) and get over ripe (Jason and his burnt shoulder shown) and then they are done and eventually the misfits get revenge (Debbie shown walking on the beach alone). If I find a crack or start a little bit of trouble, I may be able to find my way in.”


The High School Kids


The Misfit getting Revenge

During Aubrey’s interview, we heard Debbie say: “They are all glad to see him go.”

That trace of heartlessness doesn’t reflect well on the people in the huddle. Anyway, Aubry’s interview really sealed it for me: A member of the Brains tribe will get the final revenge because they will outlast all of the Jocks and the Pretty people. I can imagine a Final 3 scenario where Scot’s words at the beginning of the previous episode come back to take on a new meaning: If it is Debbie, Aubry and Joe at the end then Scot may write Joe and Aubry’s name and cross them out until he decides which of the three gets the million dollars out of Jeff’s “chocolate box”.

“Let’s Not say this Camp’s Name” Day 20

The music was soft, a prelude to a very touching scene.

Jason was telling everyone about his autistic daughter. Everyone was touched, especially Julia.

Jason’s interview: “I came into this game saying I wouldn’t use my daughters to get ahead but if someone asks me about my kids, I just tell the truth because I was naïve to autism until we put the pieces together and my daughter got diagnosed with it.” To the group, he told everyone that every penny he makes goes to her treatments. He continued his interview: “If anything, it makes people aware that there are families out there that have kids with autism and it’s very expensive and it’s way more widely popular than people believe. It was never meant to help me out but I think it made a lot of them realize that I’m not just that devious, dominant muscle but that I’m human too.”

Cydney’s reaction in interview: “Jason chose a nice opportunity to open up about his life. People have definitely seen a more brawny, angrier, just loud type but I’ve seen all aspects up to this point. It was good for people to see it but at the same time, hello, you can see how he is being more of a challenge to beat now towards the end. I mean; I’d give him the money too. At this point, it’s my own game I have to figure it out; who I can trust, who needs to go and who is going to get me further. You have to think about the big picture now: Who will you beat? That’s the question.”

This really shows the evilness of this game. Just when Jason hits the sentimental chords, the ones that kept him on the contenders’ list despite his bullying tactics, we hear that it will be the reason to vote him out. The duality of Jason’s portrayal finally receives its explanation: Production was able to present him as a good father and a caring player because the person that he cared for the most will be the one responsible for his elimination. Cydney will receive the editing blame for backstabbing her closest ally, freeing the path for the eventual winner. If this explanation is correct then obviously the “heartless” Cydney cannot win.

The Reward Challenge

Eliza and James broke this challenge during Micronesia but it seems that the players were instructed that they couldn’t carry the player on the pole...or they simply didn’t see Micronesia!

As captain of the yellow team, Julia chose Scot, Nick, Tai and Debbie while Aubry, the Blues’ captain, chose Jason, Joe, Michelle and Cydney.

Like it happened with James in Micronesia, Scot and Nick’s strength proved to be the deciding factor because they were able to keep their poles steady. Aubry was dunked four times into the water before Michele took over. It didn’t work for her either so Cydney eventually tried her luck. By that time, the yellow team had reached their platform and from there it was an easy win.

Aubry apologized to her team and Jeff said that Julia clearly made the right choices.

What he didn’t say was that she probably won first pick, chose Scot and that was it because she was going to get either Nick or Jason with her second pick. Who was left for Aubry’s second pick?! Since the challenge was such a blow out, I wonder if production could have edited the images to save the winner from being dunked in the water. They didn’t have a choice but to show Aubry falling in once or twice but five times? Michele and Cydney’s plunges in the water could also have been left on the cutting room floor. It’s just a little thing but still a consideration.

Aubry’s interview: “When people say in Survivor that one bad decision has a snow ball effect; damn I’m feeling the avalanche right now. I can’t get my head above water: First Neal is out of the game then I pick the team and apparently it was a big mess up. It sucks! I wanted so much more than this and I’m not giving up but I just feel like I’m making bad decision after bad decision.”

The scene ended with Aubry in tears but at least she was shown with her head still above water.

This type of interview is very polarizing: Some viewers will find a connection with Aubry thus increasing her potential as winner but others will say that a winner shouldn’t cry. She did say that she wasn’t giving up which is a positive but this is a time for making the hard decisions so her comments don’t look very promising.

The Reward

Ice cream was offered right after the ice Cream Guy was taken out of the game. They didn’t have to worry about a critic tasting their ice cream!!

Scot’s interview: “We walk into camp after the reward challenge and the winning group of five got to go to the ice cream parlour. The other five had to go sit in purgatory and listen to us eating ice cream from fifteen, twenty feet away.”

Was it a coincidence that Debbie was shown in front of the group when Scot mentioned “the winning group of five”? Of those, she certainly seems like the only one who will be in the winning group at the end!


Also, an envious looking Michele was shown when the word purgatory was used. Sitting on the jury is Survivor’s version of purgatory.

Debbie’s comments: “The ice cream was an awesome treat. It was fantastic to have a moment of being full, of knowing you are well stocked for tomorrow with glucose. I didn’t feel sorry for the losers one bit.”

Jason yelled over to the winning group that they didn’t have to be so quiet.

Michele’s interview: “I think Jason does think that he is in charge of a lot of things over at this camp and, you know, Jason is just an assertive person. He yells over to them: “Guys! you can be a little more loud about it if you want and, honestly, I really respected the way they handled it.”
The group chatted and when Nick asked about Scot’s family, it was the NBA star’s turn to strike the emotional chords, telling them about his mom’s health issues and his problems growing up after his dad died.

Julia’s interview: “The reward was this random group of people so we couldn’t talk strategy but it was the perfect opportunity to build bonds and I think that Scot and I could definitely work well together. I like having him on my team: he’s awesome.”

Some Beach Day 21
The chicken was still standing tall which seems a good sign for Tai! If they adopt it as a mascot then maybe Tai can surprise us all!


Odd Bird

Another type of bird was stretching out on the beach while Julia, Michele, Cydney and Tai tried to get their boat out into the river.
Julia sais she’d be horrible as part of a rowing team which makes me wonder if a rowing challenge is scheduled anytime soon!

With Joe sleeping in the hammock, the three big guys decided it was a good time to talk strategy. Scot brought up the dangers of an all-girls alliance. They had to get rid of a girl next, either Debbie or Aubry.

Nick’s interview: “Scot and Jason are worried about an all-girls alliance. Me? Not so much. I don’t think it exists but whatever. After the girls get back I just wanted to be updated with Julia, to be on the same page with Julia strategy-wise.”

Cydney noticed the pair walking off together.

The violins’ nervous chords told us that this would be an important moment. It’s ironic that Nick was the least worried about an all-girls alliance but his actions started the ball rolling.

Nick told Julia about Scot and Jason’s fears but Julia put that quickly to rest, saying there wasn’t an all-girls alliance.

Cydney’s observations: “One thing about Nick; he is the most indiscreet person on this island. He literally walked maybe fifteen steps where I could turn and see you talking. How stupid can you be? My face was starting to flinch and I was going: Oh! my goodness! You know, I’m going to snap.” As Nick and Julia walked back into camp, the music’s intensity continued to build. “Nick came back and he looked to the side at Jason and he said: She didn’t say anything and I’m like: Burr!”

Cydney confronted the three big guys about sending Nick to check up on her. The three guys looked uncomfortable so she said they could have simply asked her because she wasn’t plotting against them.

Jason asked Cydney if she would take a walk to the water well.

Jason’s interview: “Scot, myself and Nick brought up the idea of hope they are not in an all-girls alliance. Moments later, Nick put it upon himself to go ask one of the girls but that pissed Cydney off. Paranoia is going to kick in at a certain point with everybody and I think she hit it sooner than we anticipated.”

Jason said that Nick was the one worrying about the girls’ alliance while he and Scot were waiting to check with her. She didn’t quite like his tone. She didn’t blow up, she said, she just asked a question.

Cydney’s interview: “It’s like the boys can talk to whomever but when I want to talk to somebody: Oh! Is there a girls’ alliance? I’m like: No, no, no, no no; you haven’t seen irritated Cydney. Irritated Cydney will blow the whole game up. I’m calling out idols, I don’t give a damn. Our plan is to split the vote between Aubry and Miss Debbie until all the Brains are gone but if the guys have to go, the guys have to go.”

The scene ended with the image of Cydney lurking behind Jason’s back as if waiting for the right moment to stick the knife between his shoulder blades.


The blade would go right there!

For Cydney to get so angry at others checking up on her, I’m guessing some strategic talks happened on that little boat between Cydney, Tai, Michelle and Julia. The four probably used the time to ask if they should go with the three Brains tribe members. It’s also interesting that Cydney said she would blow the whole game up by calling out idols. That may connect to Tai’s disclosure of super-idols at Tribal Council. If she warned the group of Jason’s idol then that may have triggered Tai’s answer to Jeff.

While the outcome of the conversation on the canoe needed to be kept secret to blindside us with the vote, I think it is worth noting that we didn’t even hear a word about strategy from that group. It only looked like an awkward boat ride with Julia having trouble guiding it. So can any of the four be seen as serious contenders? The presentation made it look like a very emotional reaction on Cydney’s part and a very impulsive one by Michele when it was probably a well planned action so it certainly doesn’t help their stock.

The Immunity Challenge

The first person Jeff singled out as struggling was Tai.

Those early signs of pain really underlined the valiant effort he would demonstrate. I would caution though that we have no idea if those “early signs of pain” really happened this early for Tai. We only saw him in close up so we have no way of knowing if there were still 10 people standing at the time or if his trouble happened much later. When Jeff used the word early, he could have been talking about someone else.

Debbie told Jeff this was a little bit worse than what she expected.

We then heard Tai complaining about his back.

Debbie was seen still holding on beside him but no one else was seen at that moment. It even looked like the person on Tai’s right, Julia, may have already gotten off her perch because we didn’t see a human figure in the shadow of that pole.

Of course, Julia would drop out soon after but since it looks like the image was placed out of sequence then it may have occurred right before Debbie dropped out and not in the first five minutes of the challenge.

Michele and a smiling Nick were shown when Jeff brought up the idea of a buffet. Jeff went to serve the buffet to tempt the players off their perch but Julia couldn’t even wait until lunch was served. She was the first out. Jason, Scot, Joe and Michele jumped off to partake in the feast. Just before Jeff closed the window of opportunity, we saw Tai saying that he would be staying.

We heard a loud belch from Jason right at the beginning of the feast. The message was clear: Tai and the others still hanging on were fighters while Jason and the other dinner guests were not. Seeing Michele getting off her perch could indicate that she already knew about the plan to blindside the big guys. It’s easier to have confidence when you know what both sides are thinking.

Tai told Jeff he didn’t consider going down because he wanted to see how far he could push his body and he didn’t want the Brains to win it.

Considering his vote, I think the last part was simply added to give Jason even more confidence. I think Tai was being very devious here.

Nick told Jeff that it was obvious that the Brains were outnumbered and that Joe, Aubry and Debbie were on the chopping block.

Cydney’s frown told a different story.

Debbie stepped down soon after that and, when Aubry followed, Nick simply stepped down.

He was probably thinking: “Mission accomplished” which wouldn’t be the first time someone miscalculated the end of a mission.

Nick told Jeff he thought Cydney had it in the bag so he was mostly concerned about outlasting the Brains. He was excited to go to TC for the first time but hoped it wouldn’t be bittersweet. Scot assured him it wouldn’t be to which Nick smiled and replied: “No, I know.”

At the 30 minute mark, Tai couldn’t believe that Cydney was feeling “just peachy”! Everyone marveled at her posture.
Tai told Jeff that he was like a bamboo while strong people often just break. He started chanting his belief in Buddha. His prayers were answered.

Jeff marveled at the spectacle but we’ve had much longer endurance challenges. I mean, this looked hard but it lasted only 40 minutes.

Tai ran to get the necklace and a hug from Jeff.

Congratulating Tai, Jeff used some words that sounded like foreshadowing: Keep fighting until the vote. At that moment, the camera first showed Aubry and then Debbie, our likely final tribal council combatants.

Tai’s comments: “Tonight, all the Beauty votes for Debbie, all the Brawn votes for Aubry. I’m safe tonight but who knows. I won the individual immunity challenge. I earned that. It was one hell of a challenge.

So it seems that Tai was still going along with Jason and Nick’s plan but that could have been a pointed question. The interviewer probably asked him about the original plan and about his own plan. Producers could then choose to present only the part of the answer that suited the purpose which was to blindside us.

Somewhere in Cambodia Day 22

Everyone congratulated Tai, Debbie even comparing him to some ultra marathoners she’s seen. She also applauded Cydney. She was going to make them dinner.

That’s a nice glimpse of Debbie’s social game. As unimportant as the scene where she talked to Peter after Liz’s elimination but whose intent could be to show that she will get votes in the end.

In interview, Nick repeated the plan to split the votes between Debbie and Aubry. Seeing that Aubry was in a weak position, Nick offered her an olive branch as a way to take advantage of her situation. He told her it would be in her best interest to vote against Debbie.

The camera was being held at Nick’s waist level creating an even bigger impression of his superiority.


Someone in production had put the interviews together and knew what was going on so he placed an order to present Nick’s overconfidence in a very visual manner.

Cydney called Debbie to have a talk before Nick returned to camp.
Cydney’s interview: “At this immunity challenge, Nick’s arrogance is getting the best of him. He is so confident, it’s ridiculous. Nick is getting too big for his britches and he just rubs me the wrong way.”

The three women realized they needed to strike right now to give the women the numbers advantage. Debbie realized that Cydney wanted to take Nick out.

Debbie’s comments: “Lo and behold, Cydney approaches me and Aubry and says let’s take out Nick. I was still kind of hoping that Nick would come around and we could take out Jason or Scot, but Nick, the early bird catches the worm.”

Debbie told Cydney she was all in and asked Aubry what she thought. The deal was sealed.

Cydney’s interview: “My best move going forward is to make sure all the girls stay as close as possible. It makes more sense for me to be in a game with all the women. If it backfires, oh well! I’ll be the first person to make a move in this game.”

Next, Cydney went to talk with Michele and Julia in the ocean. She asked them if they were close to Nick and then if they would vote against him because he was up Jason and Scot’s butt. She told them that she had already told Debbie and Aubry about the plan.

Michele’s interview: “Cydney would like to get Nick out. She thinks he’s a threat and I agree but he’s also in my alliance. I do think that I could work with him a little longer. I don’t know if that really works for me right now. The original plan was with Debbie being out, so there are a lot of choices at this point and it’s trying to figure out what’s right for me and Julia. You definitely feel the electricity in the air before Tribal. There is a power struggle happening right now. It’s really evident in camp. There’s a lot of big ego, a lot of personalities. I want to make a move that does solidify my title as somebody who earned it (Debbie was shown on camera when Michele said she wanted the title of somebody who earned it) and it’s all figuring out timing.”


I don't make this stuff up!

During that interview, we were shown Cydney telling Jason that she was good with the plan while Julia was worried of Jason’s reaction if they wrote Nick’s name but she then said that they’d have to do something at some point to get in power.

Tribal Council

Nick and Michele were instructed to grab their torch and to dip in the fire.

Not going to Tribal Council and Neal’s evacuation did Nick no favors. He would have received some inestimable information if he had entered his first TC with the immunity necklace. If the tribe had voted out Neal or Aubry first, it would have been hard to reverse the momentum but if Jason or Scot had been targeted then, Nick would have had time to scramble or to fight for immunity.

Everyone was happy to see Neal making his entrance.

Jeff asked Michele about her feelings coming to Tribal Council for the first time.

Michele said that it prevented her from showing what type of player she is.

Debbie told Jeff that Brain, Brawn and Beauty have stayed distinct but that Brawn and Beauty have actually merged.
Nick confirmed it to Jeff: The Brains were on the outs and they would split the votes.

Aubry said the seven were tight and she was running around to no effect.

Jeff tried to coerce Julia into making a move.
Julia said there would be time to switch later on.
Jason told Jeff that they would be guaranteed final seven if they stayed strong.
Scot told Jeff that having six days between TC doesn’t help the group’s unity but he still thought their seven was strong.
Jeff asked Tai about idols.
Tai said they didn’t know if there were idols until the merge. He added that they think Neal left the game with one and then he said he heard something about a super-idol.

That caught Jason’s attention!

Tai even explained that combining two idols would turn them into one super-idol that could be used after the vote.

It was Scot’s turn to look uncomfortable.

Jeff told Tai that this was news to Julia. Tai said he thought everybody knew.

That really worried Jason and Scot.

Aubry said that Julia was out of the loop about the idols so that should tell her where she stood in the alliance.
Debbie confirmed it: Somebody was on the bottom and the lack of knowledge about the super-idol should tell you it’s time to make a move.

Tai tried doing some back tracking, saying that he may have been told about a super-idol to make him look suspicious.

Debbie told Jeff that she always has hope. She added: “Often times there are more not revealed here than there is revealed here.”

Aubry said she was expecting to receive votes.
Scot said he was confident the vote would go as predicted.

It was time to vote.

- Jason and Scot voted for Aubry.
- Nick voted for Debbie.
- We had an extremely interesting vote from Tai who wrote Jason’s name.
- Nick’ name was written on all the other ballots.

That result really pleased Neal whose smile was shared by Debbie.
Jeff sent them back to some unnamed camp after saying: “It is one of the hallmarks of this game: As long as you keep fighting anything can happen.”

Debbie was shown as the group stood to head back to camp.

The Story

This vote reminded me of many similar ones in Fiji where we were never told about the true dynamics of the group. That season was presented as if it was Earl and Yau Man against the world but in reality they were part of the Shelter builders’ alliance. The show used the excuse of flirting to explain Liliana’s elimination when it was actually all the shelter builders in Moto uniting to get rid of the Explorers’ leader! While Dumas’ Three Musketeers were really four, Fiji’s Four Horsemen were only three! Here, the group of seven was actually formed by the “little guys” while the three big guys were all alone!

Tai was supposed to vote for Debbie. Last week he told us he didn’t believe her offer of alliance but it seems that he changed his mind since that scene. Despite his confessional after the challenge, I think Tai had abandoned the idea of playing with Jason early on. I think that on the boat, he guided Julia not only with her rowing but also in her strategy. I also think his loose lips comment about the super-idol was totally planned; a way to upset Jason after Tribal Council. His vote against Jason really indicated which way he wanted the vote to go and could be setting the stage for the next one.

Aubry’s confessional before the reward challenge points directly to a Brains tribe member winning. High School is where Jocks and Pretty people thrive but, as Aubry said, this changes when you get on with life. Survivor isn’t for High School kids.

The Characters

The Guys

Jason and Scot: Each received a very touching scene and it isn’t the first time that the show manages to make them look endearing despite their bully tactics. I think this episode gave us an explanation: They could be portrayed positively at times because they will be betrayed by Cydney so the blame doesn’t touch the eventual winner. They both showed their overconfidence during this episode and we heard that it was actually a weakness. Jeff’s words of always fighting made them look bad when they quit the challenge to be first in line at the buffet. The game looked simple because they’d split the votes until all the Brains were gone so I expect we will see a split vote between the two next week. The irony would certainly fit!

Joe: The episode started with Joe saying he’d need to put his thinking cap on but we only saw him wearing his sleeping cap. Scot’s comment about writing his name and Aubry then crossing them out until he comes to a decision makes me think he’d be part of a Final 3 with his two Brains tribe members but the schedule seem to point more to a Final 2 right now (We have 9 players left with 5 episodes to go before the Finale. That means we’d enter the last episode with 4 players)

Tai: The camera showed us that the chicken was still alive and well so maybe Tai still has a chance. The edit is certainly going out of its way to show him as a hero type of character. His vote against Jason is really intriguing because the story didn’t explain it at all. I’m sure it had something to do with the canoe ride that he took with Julia, Michele and Cydney. Either he decided then and there that he’d be voting with them or one of the big guys questioned his loyalty after seeing him talking with the girls. Like Cydney, that could have angered him into making a move. I find it fascinating that last week we heard he didn’t want to be used by Debbie but he didn’t vote against her when he had the chance. While we don’t know for sure if he is in an alliance with the women, we can say that his vote certainly served their cause. Jason and Scot will be fuming when they get back to camp making it easier for everyone to unite against them.

The Allies

Julia: It seems that her closeness to Scot was underlined only to put doubt in the chances of the women’s alliance. Since it looks like the numbers are actually 7 against 2, Julia’s vote wouldn’t matter even in a split vote situation.

Cydney: Despite a magnificent episode from a strategic point of view, this episode put an end to Cydney’s chances of winning the game. Production put her evil confessional immediately after Jason’s touching scene about his autistic daughter and that killed her sympathy capital. Her actions against the group of seven will certainly cause some feelings of ungratefulness from Jason after he pledged to stay with her to the very end. He considered her part of his family so the betrayal will hurt deeply. This was supposed to be her big moment, the first move of the game yet it was as if Jeff didn’t even see her sitting there at Tribal Council.

Michele: As one of the pretty people, in fact the very first one shown, Michele cannot outlast the Brains women...if like me, you consider that Aubry’s comment was a prophecy. The camera also showed that Michele is destined for purgatory which in Survivor is called Ponderosa. Some will say that purgatory is a stepping stone to heaven but one still has to die first. In Survivor, that means Michele will have her torch snuffed and “try again later”! Like she said, TC revealed what type of player she is and by voting out the person that was perceived as her closest ally, she told her new allies that she can’t be trusted. She should be an early target once Scot and Jason are gone but then Tai and Cydney will have become the major challenge threats so she could skate by for a little while longer. The best part of the episode for Michele was that Jeff didn’t harp on her decision to rush for the buffet before closing time but we heard him say numerous times that you should never stop fighting so that still put her decision in a bad light. Anyway, showing her getting dunked in the water during the reward challenge largely compensated. I’m sure some will still have her as their top contender maybe some will even see her as the only viable candidate but I think we would have heard a different story if she was our winner. For one thing, I think the canoe ride was more important than what was shown. The episode’s montage made it look like Michele was very impulsive, voting out someone that could still help her along the way when the move was probably planned much more carefully.

Aubry: She could be our winner. Her interview about the jocks and the pretty people getting outlasted by the nerds was a powerful statement about the outcome of the game but I don’t think she’s our winner because she didn’t get to talk to us about the vote, didn’t get an interview after the one where she talked about making one bad decision after another. This was time for being decisive so it would have been perfect to hear her thoughts. The deciders were Cydney, Michele and Debbie: The emotional one, the impulsive one and...the mastermind, the one who first brought up the idea of a women’s alliance! If my read on the story is accurate then Aubry should accompany Debbie to final TC but, like Nick said, the jury will see that Debbie was the one that took it upon herself to guide the Brains’ strategy. It will be difficult for Aubry to sell her case.

Debbie: Ha! Debbie... Everyone underestimates her, all the analysts said that the last episode killed her chances and even I wavered. This episode brought a new hope and she hasn’t stop fighting. The camera winks often pointed to her when someone talked about getting revenge in the end or being worthy of the title. Jeff’s recaps have followed her story more closely than anyone else’s, we’ve continually seen the game from her perspective and the idea of a women’s alliance originated from her talks with Cydney and Michele about the desire to see a woman win this season.

All this make me think that Debbie will be this season’s Sole Survivor.

Yikes!

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04-10-16, 08:52 AM (EST)
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65. "RE: Episode 8 - There's Still Hope:"
Michel: Your skills of observation are incredible. Well done, not much to add, you covered all the bases. I also think that more went on in the canoe than was shown. Tai, like Debbie, is underestimated. I don't really see Michele as a contender though. She wanted to make a move, and her move was going along with someone elses move? Not too impressive. I loved Cydney's comment, If it doesn't work out, then I will be the first one to make a move. Oh well!

Can't refute your final thoughts either, fwiw.



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04-10-16, 10:36 AM (EST)
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66. "RE: Episode 8 - There's Still Hope:"
Not much to add but I want to thank you Michel, and floPo and the others that contribute for your insights. I love comparing the RTVW editing thoughts to how things are being viewed on RHAP and twitter and to my own thoughts and emotions.

I think the confessional count has confirmed what Michel has deduced regarding Debbie. I wish CBS had given another female finalist an intro confession so we could be unsure for a few more weeks!!

Great work everyone!

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04-10-16, 12:02 PM (EST)
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67. "RE: Episode 8 - There's Still Hope:"
Thank you, FP and CTGirl.

I think it's worth noting that the last three winners who didn't receive an opening confessional were Denise, Kim and Sophie so we can't rule the other women out just because of that. Jiffy's fascination with strong men is reflected in the editing choices.

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04-16-16, 01:58 PM (EST)
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68. "Episode 9 - Sabotage:"
Previously on Survivor

Brawn and Beauty were in the majority alliance and they were targeting the Brains...

Jason: “The Brains all got to go.”

...but Cydney got tired of the men controlling the game...

Cydney: “Don’t check me; you’re not my damn daddy. Irritated Cydney will blow the whole game up.”

...so she rallied the women in order to take out one of the men.

Cydney: “If it backfires, oh well! I’ll be the first person to make a move in this game.”

At Tribal Council...

Tai: “We heard something about a super-idol.”

...Tai made a big mistake but for Cydney, everything fell into place when the women sent Nick to the jury leaving Scot, Jason and Tai wondering what to do on the bottom.

As soon as I noticed the discontinuity in Debbie’s story, I knew she was in trouble. Cydney got all the credit for the move but judging by what happened to Debbie it doesn’t seem to be as good as usual to be singled out by Jeff. Even Cydney appeared ready to see her move backfire. For one thing, she is now the most wanted on the Bounty Hunter’s list. He was ready to trade a super idol to get his way and I don’t expect that he will abandon the chase. Another thing to note is that Jeff didn’t even touch upon Michele’s predicament about losing a possible ally. From this recap, we were told that she just rallied to Cydney’s side.

As for the three wankers on the bottom, they did find a way to stay a while longer. Saboteurs have become fan favorites in the past so we can’t say that showing all their dirty tricks really hurts their edit. However, the two big guys had already showed enough negativity to rule them out. Seeing Tai lose his moral compass was a lot more surprising. It really doesn’t fit with his character but then again even Mark the Chicken has become more aggressive.

Sabotage

Night 22

Scot’s interview: “Well the girls pulled a good one and blindsided us basically. Clearly the status of the Brawn alliance is done. It’s now Jason and I, and Tai.”

Tai’s reaction: “At Tribal Council, I said: “Jeff, there’s a super-idol” and oh no! I opened my mouth again. So, I panicked and then I vote for Jason but I was so fearful how I am going to explain that Jason vote because I can’t lie too well so I say I vote for Debbie. There’s only three of us but we have two idols and put together it could be a super-idol.”

That interview was interrupted to show Jason asking Tai about his vote. He answered Debbie then he confirmed to Jason that he had an idol. Jason then replied: “I have one, you have one. The super-idol is real.”

Tai never gave Scot, Jason and us a good explanation for that vote but the guys seemed happy with his lie so I guess it’s useless to ask for more. Jason would never have given Tai his idol if he knew about this vote so he had to think one of the women threw a vote his way. He should have realized that left him one Debbie vote short.

Scot then asked: “What do you guys think about taking away their food? After they go to bed, the machete and the ax disappear.”

Jason’s comments: “We are going to take the machete and ax and take away their ability to do things just to weaken their soul a little. It’s like psychological warfare. I did it in the military, I do it bounty hunting. We cut off all their ties, mess with their mind, keep them weak, look for the crack, look for the weaknesses, read between the lines and try to strike. I love psychological warfare.”

Tai’s interview: “I know this is a game, I have to play all the strategies but the way Jason and Scot go at things; it’s so extreme. When we talk about taking away all the food, all the stuff from the girls... That make me uncomfortable. It’s not how I approach life. It’s not how I approach problem solving and I’m not part of that but I can’t control what they do.”

The game makes you do weird things as we’ll soon see. I’m sure Tai isn’t a saboteur in his everyday life. It just goes to show that you aren’t always who you are.

Day 23

Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colors from our sight
Red is gray and yellow white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion*

Joe was already making fire when the boys got up.

Scot’s interview: “The main reason for the sabotage is to weaken them because it could cause somebody to crack and I’m hoping it switches things up. So, it’s time to make life as miserable as possible for everybody else.” While Joe wasn’t looking, Scot grabbed the ax and the machete and walked out of camp where his accomplice was waiting. “We took the machete, we took the ax and went into the jungle a little bit and we hid the tools. Certainly, I’m not just going to lay down and say hey! Good game! The only thing we can do right now is fight so we are going to fight and if fighting means making everybody else miserable in the process... that’s what I’m doing.”

The scene ended with a profile view of Scot’s evil grin.

Well a good sport does shake his opponent’s hand and says good game after a loss and simply try to beat them the next time. On the other hand, Scot Pollard was never a role model despite his long stay in the NBA.

When the sun finally returned the colors to our sight, we saw the two saboteurs sitting innocently by the fire.

Debbie asked Jason to help her by holding a bottle into which she would pour some water from the jug. Jason obliged only to take a big swig of the liquid before passing it to his wing man who emptied half of the bottle.

Debbie’s interview: “Tribal Council was an absolutely beautiful thing. The people who thought they were completely in control find out it was all an illusion and now they are pissed off so the feeling is very uncomfortable. It’s a testament to their character is what poor sportsman they actually are. They are not gentlemen.”

That’s when the group realized that the tools were missing.

Joe’s interview: “This morning, I woke up and one of the girls, I think it was Michele, was trying to find the machete or the ax: Gone! They were taken by Brawn. It’s ridiculous. You don’t go back and hide tools essential to the whole tribe.”
Joe thought it was sabotage and Debbie agreed.

Michele’s interview: “The boys think that they can break us down and keep us down by doing these things but we just use our smarts and figure out another way. We don’t need big burly men to do it for us. We can figure it out. Within 20 minutes, we figured out a new method.”

Debbie first roasted the coconut and then Cydney used the saw to open it up.

You could see Scot’s jaw twitching when he realized he hadn’t completely sabotaged camp life. This little scene does fit with a woman winning the season: They truly didn’t need the big guys to survive.

Scot’s comments: “So, I’m listening to all the little: “We got this, we’re good. We’ll just cook the coconuts the old way and we’ll be fine.” I was mad already but that was the tipping point. I was like you’re bragging again and now I’m steaming so I’m going to do something stupid.”

So he decided that subtlety was overrated. He got up and poured the entire canister of water on the fire. Joe said that they showed their true colors.

Michele’s interview: “I just don’t like that kind of behavior. I don’t tolerate it in my regular life and I don’t want to tolerate it here either. So, they can keep the power struggle going on but we are not going to back down. You know, we are always going to find a way.”

She and Joe managed to get a new fire going but Scot said they would simply put it out again and think of other fun stuff to do.

Michele may say she does not tolerate it but she didn’t do anything to stop it. Making do as if nothing happened is actually an example of toleration.

The Reward Challenge

Aubry told Jeff that the last TC put an end to the cold war and now they had missiles going back and forth.
Debbie was even more direct: “It is sabotage back at camp.”
Scot told Jeff that he was sending the message that he was tired of being the provider. That got a reaction from “Irritated Cydney”!

After explaining the challenge, Jeff said they were planning to do a school yard pick but he offered them a chance to choose their own teams.

I wonder if something similar happened in other seasons, Nicaragua for instance when all the guys wound up “randomly” together giving a chance to Marty to form a new alliance.

Jeff first needed someone to sit out. That person would choose a side to encourage and would share the reward if that side won. Joe volunteered.

Not a bad idea since it would give him a chance at the reward and no blame for the loss.

The three guys stood together and asked if a girl wanted to go with them.

It would have been funny to see a girl volunteer only to sabotage the guys’ efforts by simply sitting down and not budging until the women had won!

Without asking what the others thought, Julia volunteered.
Even if it worked out for her, it clearly wasn’t very smart.

Irritated Cydney’s interview: “Julia swoops over there and says she will play with the guys pretty, pretty quickly. I was like: Hold up! what’s really going on?”

Julia’s comments: “I decided to go with the boys because, at this point in the game, I know that pulling in Scot and pulling in Jason can be really super beneficial to me. It’s time for me to start making moves and playing my game.”

Joe decided to pick the girls.

That wasn’t a good bet but still the wise choice. A display of loyalty goes a long way at this point, something that could have cost Julia dearly.

The women were off to a fast start.

Considering the last part of the challenge required a good arm, they really needed to have a lead after the first segment.

Julia and the boys untangled their ropes first. Jason and Scot started throwing sandbags.

At one point, Jeff said: “Aubry is the last woman.”

Cydney was the first to throw for the women but that didn’t go too well so she switched with Debbie.

She was probably part of a baseball team at some point because like Jeff said: “Debbie’s got an arm on her!”

The lead proved to be too much so Julia and the boys won the Chinese take-out dinner.

Aubry’s interview: “Julia and the boys won the reward challenge and as soon as I saw she was going with the boys, I knew she was trying to get a better position for herself. She’s playing both sides but I see right through Julia. I can’t trust her as far as I can throw her.”

Aubry tried to do something about the double dealing Julia but it didn’t work out very well.

Day 23

Jason’s reaction: “In today’s challenge, we won. It changes on the flip of a dime. It’s what makes this game so wonderful! We’re back on the upswing right now. We’re not on the top of the mountain but Julia’s got us trucking. We got a prayer.”
Scot’s interview: “Julia, Tai, myself, Jason and Mark the chicken ate Chinese food and had a couple of beers. Everything was really, really good. The best part about it is getting a chance to talk to Julia and pick her brain.”

They had fortune cookies but they didn’t read any so we didn’t get spoilers from the cookies!!

Julia told Jason that he was still in the picture adding: “Getting rid of you guys would be a dumb move on my part because I would be on the bottom of the Cydney, Joe, Debbie and Aubry chain.”

It’s interesting that she didn’t mention Michele. The implication is that Michele is also at the bottom of that chain.

Julia’s interview: “At this point of the game, you really have to be thinking long term. I definitely have my other alliance that I feel confident in but keeping Scot and Jason to the end, they have betrayed people, they have caused chaos around camp might be a good idea because at this point anyone on the jury would not vote for them.”

Julia promised the guys that she would communicate with them no matter what.

With the foursome returning to camp, we heard Debbie’s interview saying that despite what the others say about Julia playing both sides, she didn’t have one iota of concern about Julia flipping.

Well, Debbie’s emotional intelligence seems to have deserted her!

Debbie told Julia that it would have to be Scot. Cydney was right there listening.

Cydney’s comments: “My BS radar was going like this when Julia was talking to Miss Debbie. You think it’s strategic for you to come from this group over here and come with the first question: What is our strategy for the next Tribal? I don’t trust her. She thinks she’s slick? You can’t slick a slicker in any direction.”

Aubry and Cydney went for a walk to discuss the situation. They agreed they should vote for Julia next.

Aubry’s interview: “Julia isn’t someone who wants to have alliances. She wants to ride the middle to the end. She’s playing both sides but sometimes the guy in the middle of the road gets run over and I hope it’s her.”

Night 23

Tai’s interview: “I woke up in the middle of the night and I said: “You know what? I am committed to the boys. I was upset when Scot put out that big fire but it’s necessary for me to step back from what I’m feeling compassionate. I like them but at this point, if this is war, we are going to make the other side uncomfortable. So, I decided to put out the fire. Right now, it’s them or us. The evil side of me rarely come out but it does.”

By morning, Joe and Aubry could only witness that the fire was dead. Tai mischievously came up to them asking if there were any embers.

It’s true that criminals often return to the scene of their crimes! Our FBI agent is not as clever as Columbo!

Aubry’s comments: “There is a part of the sabotage that is certainly childish but Scot and Jason were being deliberate today. That was to throw us off the scent and to aim votes at them because they probably have idols. My gut tells me with a big blinking sign that Julia has got to go.”

Talking to Aubry, Debbie was still targeting Scot. Aubry reasoned that Scot was smart so that he didn’t do all the sabotage because of his temper. He was trying to shake them up so that they would go after him and Jason. She told Debbie that they could flush all the idols out of the game if they voted for Julia. Debbie wouldn’t hear it. She told Aubry that she wasn’t going to vote for Julia.

Aubry’s next comment: “It’s killing me that Debbie is going with her emotions right now. Scot poured water on that fire because he wanted a reaction and I want to tell Debbie: “You are being emotional but you have to be logical right now. Deb is putting her foot down and I’ve gone with her on a lot of things but I believe firmly that Julia needs to go home.”

We know Scot put out the fire because he was angry but they do have idols. So, even if Aubry is wrong in her estimation of Scot, she is right in her appraisal of the situation. There would be other weird twists in this vote, not the least of which was about to unfold as soon as Julia won immunity.

The Immunity Challenge

Jeff gave us some comments that sounded like foreshadowing:

- “Jason is the first to have a total disaster.
- “Scot loses everything.”
- “Tai loses everything. He’s out now.”
- “Aubry makes a big move and loses everything.”
- “Cydney completely out of it.”
- “Suddenly Scot and Jason are back in this, out of nowhere... Jason, for the win...No! Jason can’t do it.”

He also delivered some teasers regarding our contenders.

- “Scot...is giving Michele a nice opening towards the end.”
- “It is now Michele, Debbie and Aubry very close to the end.”
- “There she goes for the win... she’s good so far...but no! Michele can’t do it.”
- “It’s Debbie’s to win...she can win it with this block...Debbie is going to give it a shot for the win...Here she goes...No! Debbie falls short!” (I’ll say!)
- “Julia for the win...She does it! Julia wins immunity.”

Aubry had a confessional: “The worst possible thing happened: Julia won and my whole plan that I was positive of went out the window. Just out the window. What do I do now?”

Aubry’s decisions have certainly carried a lot of importance this season. She’s appeared indecisive at times but she keeps moving forward. I think we will hear her asking that same questions a few more times.

Day 24 Scrambling

Debbie threw it to her group: Her plan was to split the votes between Tai and Scot because Jason was expecting votes.

Aubry’s reaction: “Oh no! Debbie says this is the plan right in front of Julia and that really scares me. In this scenario, the vote would be three for Scot, three for Tai and three that the boys decided but Julia has been playing double agent pretty well and if one person goes awry the whole things blows up and somebody you didn’t want to go home; totally gone.”

Mark the chicken decided it would be Cydney!

As Aubry predicted, the double agent went to communicate the plan to the boys. Scot relayed Mark’s plan to Julia: “Vote Cydney and that’s the end of it.”

So it seems that Mark the chicken is the Brains of the boys’ operation!

Scot’s interview: “If Julia decides to be our little guardian angel and hopefully she votes Cydney, it will go 4-2-3 and Cydney goes home but if Julia decides to go with the group she’s with we are pulling out all the stops, we are saying we have idols. We are pulling out everything we can think of to make sure we stick around. We don’t have an option.”

Cydney and Aubry talked about their predicament.

Aubry’s comments: “Debbie isn’t listening to any logic. She completely trusts Julia and this far into Survivor I need someone who is logical and I know is not going to change course.” She found that person in Cydney so she told her she was considering cutting Debbie loose. Cydney was not against the idea. They thought they could even rally Joe. Aubry’s interview continued: “This is extremely difficult for me. I don’t want Debbie to go but when people show me who they are, that’s what I am going to go with.”

The difference in treatment between Aubry’s decision to cut her strategic ally and Michele’s last week is quite noticeable. We heard at length Aubry’s reasoning and calculations. We also saw the turmoil the decision caused. It’s far from the impulsive impression that Michele gave us. While Aubry was wrong to think she definitely had Joe for this vote, it’s still pretty obvious that Joe will stick with her afterwards.

Cydney’s interview: “Aubry and I are on the same page in terms of Debbie will take us all down before Jason and Scot will. We can always take them out later.”

Now that will soon become the season’s main question. Can they take them out later?

Cydney brought the idea to Michele who said she didn’t think she’d see the day where they voted against Debbie.

Aubry and Cydney then brought the plan to Joe who wasn’t as receptive. He flatly refused to consider it.

Joe’s interview: “Aubry said: Should we take Debbie out but there is no need for that because we have such a viable force going.”

Cydney told Aubry that they needed to stick with the plan to get Debbie which meant they needed to get Julia to vote with them.
Aubry’s interview: “Right now, we need to talk to Julia and that’s pretty scary because now Julia, the person I wanted out, is the person I need right now.”

It’s pretty ironic when we consider that the plan to get rid of Debbie originated because she trusted Julia too much and now Aubry and Cydney needed to trust Julia in order to get Debbie out! Of course, it was easier to get Julia on board because this vote was going to save Scot. That’s a good example of emotional intelligence. Aubry and Cydney understood Julia’s motivation but will they be able to keep her in line for the next vote?

Cydney, Michele and Julia took a walk to discuss the plan. Cydney exposed it after threatening Julia if she betrayed them. Julia wondered if Aubry was in so Cydney confirmed it. The three shook hands on the deal.

Julia’s interview: “I definitely feel that having my hand in different alliances has given me a lot of power. I have the power right now to send Debbie home and I have the power right now to send Cydney home. Jason, Scot and Tai really want Cydney gone, I consider Cydney as a huge threat because she kind of talks to everyone but Debbie is someone that I want gone eventually so it’s kind of who I choose to vote for.”

Julia should have realized that the source of her sudden power wasn’t her multiple alliances but that necklace. It’s certainly good to have different alliances but only when you keep them secret. At this point, I wouldn’t have left it in Julia’s hands. Having separated her from the guys’ plan, Aubry, Cydney and Michele should have changed their vote. The split plan idea was now useless since the guys felt safe with Julia’s vote so the three women could have voted Scot along with Joe and Debbie creating a 5-3-1 situation.

Tribal Council

Debbie talked about the division in camp and the fact that their lives were on the line since they didn’t have their tools.
Jeff ignored the implied accusation that production was endangering people’s lives by allowing the sabotage.
Aubry agreed with Jeff that the guys were trying to create chaos to open up the game.
Julia said that the alliance that blindsided Nick was OK with her going with the guys.

That’s a poor choice of words. Instead of saying the alliance that blindsided Nick it would have been much simpler to say “my alliance”.

Debbie said she was completely fine with it adding that she was glad Julia had a good meal.
Michele told Jeff that Julia would show where her allegiance lies.

When Jeff went back to Tai about idols, Scot intervened saying they could tell all. Jason liked that idea. So Scot happily said: “Tai’s got an idol so he’s staying here tonight.” Tai then showed his idol. Jason stood up saying: “Wait a minute, wait a minute! That idol’s got a brother!” Jason and Scot shared a high five. Jeff let out his patented Wow!

Joe leaned in towards Debbie asking if they were still voting the same way. Debbie said yes.

Note that for a TC where a lot of whispering was needed, the boys were conveniently placed in the middle, blocking any possible huddles.

Jeff asked Tai if he was going to play his idol. Tai said he would as did Jason who added they would play rock-paper-scissors: “Winner gets to play the idol. The loser is on the block.” He would let fate decide who gets the idol and stays in the game.

Everyone looked confused except Aubry who leaned in and simply said: “Original.”

It's strange that she would use the word original since we never heard an alternative once they settled on Debbie. Could it be that having convinced Julia to vote for Debbie they redid the math and came to the same conclusion I explained above? If so, maybe they should have followed the guys’ advice, leaving it to faith. Voting against Scot would have flushed the super-idol...or would have created a wedge between Jason and Tai if the gardener had decided to sit on the idol, leaving Scot hanging.

Michele said that Tai could give his idol to one of the other two guys so they had to vote wisely.

Each player tried to find an ear that would listen.

Julia told Jeff she loved her necklace.

After “one of the craziest Tribal Councils” according to Jeff, everyone was ready to vote.

When Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play an idol Jason asked for a moment. He and Scot stood up and Scot’s paper covered Jason’s rock. However, Jason didn’t give his idol to Scot; he gave it to Tai who simply sat down.

The much talked about super-idol was ready to be played. The guys had confused the women but they were about to get a surprise themselves.

Jason, Scot and Tai voted for Cidney.
Debbie and Joe voted for Scot.
Aubry, Michele, Julia and Cydney voted for Debbie.

As Nick said, the guys were safe for a while.

Jeff ended the evening after saying: “Rarely is there a theme as strong as this season and it’s very clear: No matter how bad it seems it doesn’t mean you’re out and no matter how safe you feel, it doesn’t mean you are.”

Indirectly, Jeff gave his seal of approval on the sabotage. I wouldn’t have expected anything else even if production gives those tools as necessities. He doesn’t care what happens as long as it’s good TV.

The Story

The super-idol had been explained so many times that it had to become reality before too long. What’s worse is that the rule about the idol’s possession has been dropped. The smile that Scot and Jason shared after handing all the power to Tai told us they knew he could not only play it after the votes were read but that he could hand it back to the one that needed it. Yul and Terry would have been obliged to hand their idol off before TC if they wanted to protect someone else. This level of protection is ridiculous. However, it still would be quite advantageous for Tai to keep the super-idol for himself. It would be extremely selfish and it would anger the two big guys so it would be very amusing to see. You may wonder if he could do that in good conscience. His conscience quickly gave him an excuse to sabotage camp so I think Tai would rationalize it by saying that the guys are despicable. After every bad act it’s our conscience that saves us because it gives us a thousand of good excuses of which we are the only judge. At least this game gives the last word to the jury who will certainly judge those actions from a different perspective. It’s funny that there are still viewers who complain about bitter jurors...

We saw images that Debbie and Aubry received medical attention during this episode but we didn’t see the doctor. It confirms that the source of infection was at the original Brains camp but we don’t know if the situation influenced the vote. If the medic gave indications that he was worried about Debbie’s infection then maybe that played a role in the decision. Like Neal’s infection, her cyst was on a joint so maybe that worried the doctor more than the one on Aubry’s thigh. The women could risk losing one player to the idol but not if another ally was going to be removed soon after.

The Characters

The Saboteurs

Scot: He introduced the plan to make life miserable for everyone in camp and he led the charge. I think that makes him the first “celebrity” to abandon the idea of being a role model in his quest to win this game. The previous “stars” all seemed to favor honesty in order to protect their public image. Hogeboom’s lie certainly doesn’t compare. Then again, Pollard never tried to be a role model for those kids who watch the NBA so why change now?

Jason: Cydney is on top of his most wanted list and nothing but the immunity necklace can protect someone from an idol that can be handed off after the votes are read. Of course that only applies if the three guys are truly sharing the idol. Will Jason regret handing his idol to Tai? The next vote depends on the answer to that question.

Tai: Will he turn into Gollum? Now that everyone knows he has the super-idol, he will become everyone’s best friend so why would he waste it to save allies he wouldn’t need anymore? Like his participation in the camp’s sabotage, Tai could find an excuse to keep the idol in his pocket. This idol is so powerful that someone would have to be willing to fall on his sword like Phillip in order to flush it out of the game. So the idol practically guarantees its possessor safety up to its expiry date.

The Girl in the Middle

Julia: It was nice to see her trying to use deception to advance her game but the guys’ guardian angel was much too obvious to everyone but Debbie. If the women don’t find a way around the super-idol then she’ll be the next to go. If they are able to get rid of the two big guys then Julia will follow them out the door.

The Guy on the Outside

Joe: This episode showed us a hard worker who stayed loyal to Debbie but the women talked to him before Tribal Council about their reason to vote against Debbie so I think he’ll stay loyal to Aubry and the women.

The Contenders

Michele: Her reaction to the sabotage gave her a nice role in this episode but managing the situation with the means available isn’t really telling the guys that she doesn’t tolerate such behavior. Like Scot said: They’ll just put out the fire again and find other fun stuff to do. Michele has always been in the loop but it’s never really her story. She was introduced as a member of the Beauty Tribe’s women alliance but that was Anna’s alliance. The swap put her in the swing vote position but she was overshadowed by Nick during that time and her vote was never needed. Since the merger, we’ve seen her become part of the new women’s alliance but we see that Cydney and Aubry are its driving force. Michele’s thoughts about the game came into focus before Tribal Council when Nick was on the chopping block but the recap ignored her role in that vote. In this episode, Julia became a big problem to the women’s alliance but we didn’t hear Michele’s thoughts on the situation. She was Julia’s closest ally so it isn’t hard to imagine that her input was requested and we did see her joining the discussion but we never heard her comments.

Cydney: For two episodes, Cydney has been at the center of the strategy so she could be gaining the momentum required to emerge as our winner. It certainly helps her role in the story that we were told she was at the top of the guys’ most wanted list. We will have to keep an eye on her but I still feel that “Irritated Cydney’s” role is to blow up the game, not to win it.

Aubry: I was so caught up in Debbie’s story that I didn’t give Aubry enough attention. The Brains tribe was the tribe of interest before the three merged and its two main characters continued to drive the story since then. After being the underdogs, they quickly regained the upper hand only to suffer another reversal of fortune that caused a definitive break between them. While the saboteurs were the main focus, the underlying story of this episode was Debbie’s folly and how Aubry would react to it. “What do I do now” she asked. That question is often heard from the person in the swing vote position and we hear them asking it just as the tribe starts its journey to Tribal Council. But it is also often heard from the eventual winner when they reach a critical point in the game. Aubry has been asking herself that question from the start. When Neal, Peter and Liz wanted to align against the older folks, Aubry didn’t actually join in, staying closer to Debbie and Joe than anyone else on the tribe. When she saw Peter and Liz turning against her and Neal, she joined Debbie’s revolt. After the swap we saw Aubry struggling with the decision to vote against Peter. The merger brought Neal’s evacuation and it was presented as a prelude to Aubry’s elimination leading to more questions from our troubled player. She needed Cydney’s action to turn the game against Nick but that showed her who she could trust and that she had to let go of her former protector, Debbie, who was going to bring them all down. I might be an episode late in seeing it but Kaôh Rông has been Aubry’s story even if it hasn’t always given her center stage. The premiere certainly gave us the hints that she would reach the end but the narrative adopted the same roller coaster ride as its favorite nerd, throwing me off the scent. She’s had so many downs that the season should end with her reaching the pinnacle, the title of Sole Survivor.


*Lyrics taken from the landmark Moody Blues album “Days of Future Passed”.


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04-23-16, 01:57 PM (EST)
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69. "Episode 10 - Incongruence:"
Previously on Survivor

After a blindside, Jason, Scot and Tai were on the bottom and wreaking havoc around camp.

Tai solo: “Jason and Scot are so extreme. The evil side of me rarely come out but it does.”

Julia saw their villainous antics as the perfect opportunity to get further in the game...

Julia: “Getting rid of you guys would be a dumb move on my part.”

...but everyone noticed that Julia was playing both sides.

Joe talking to Debbie, Aubry and Cydney: “I think she’s lost to the dark side.”

Aubry’s thoughts: “Julia wants to ride the middle to the end.”

Facing Tribal Council, Debbie exposed the majority’s plan in front of Julia...

Debbie talking to the women: “We split the vote between Tai and Scot.”

Aubry solo: “Debbie completely trusts Julia. That really scares me.”

...and it put a target on Debbie’s back.

Aubry to Cydney: “Do I have to cut Debbie loose?” In response, Cydney said: “I’m not against it.”

At Tribal Council, Jason, Scot and Tai showed off their idols to illicit fear...

Jason, standing up: “I’m giving my idol to Tai.”

...and were prepared to play the super-idol which gave the majority more reason to vote out one of their own.

Wasn’t this a neat way to tie up everything in favor of Aubry and Cydney’s decision? Jeff didn’t bother mentioning that voting for Scot would have flushed the idol. No, according to our story teller, the two women were given another good reason to eliminate Debbie. With Joe commenting about Julia being lost to the dark side, the recap gave a role to everyone left in the game except Michele. She wasn’t even in the picture when Jeff said that everyone noticed Julia’s tactic. The image shown is Aubry and Cydney fighting against the three guys and they can’t even count on their own allies.

This episode would show that they didn’t need any of them to find a crack in the guys’ alliance:

Incongruence

Night 24

Scot’s post-game interview: “Tribal was exciting! The boys were happy because none of us went home, none of us used their idols so we think Tribal went very well.”

We saw Tai handing back the idol to Jason who gave him a hug to thank him.

Jason’s comments: “Psy-ops! Psychological operations! It worked and all we did was hide a machete and an ax and put a fire out and they couldn’t handle it. We caused chaos; it fractured them and it made them get rid of their own. We may not have gotten the person home that we wanted but all three of us stayed, we got Julia on our side and we still have the super-idol. That’s a win in my book!”

Jason could have been telling us that it will be the only win he’ll get out of Tribal Council. I don’t see another vote going in his favor. Instead of rejoicing, maybe the two big guys should have worried about the women’s ability to organize a vote without revealing their plan. It would have been useful at the next TC!

Day 25

Mark was doing its morning stretch while Tai was trying to get the boys to play nice in camp.

Tai solo: “I would love to bring camp life back together. It’s all about mending relationships again. I think we need to say, you know: “Olive branch is there.” You got to start somewhere.”

Scot came up with the idea to talk to Aubry.

Hearing Scot’s desire to talk to Aubry told me that the former Brains tribe member would be on the chopping block before the end of the evening but I felt confident that I wouldn’t lose another candidate.

Scot’s interview: “I came into this game not wanting to be the Russell Hantz; kicking over the rice and pouring water on the fire like I did. I didn’t want to be that guy but I had to make a point that we were the providers and that they weren’t going to eat and succeed without us. Now we’re being the bigger people; we’re showing our maturity, we’re showing that we can come back in and be like nothing happened. Hopefully Cydney continues to show everybody who she really is which is brooding, petty, small.”

In the middle of his interview, we saw Scot taking a stroll with Aubry telling her they like providing and that their real beef was with Cydney who betrayed them. He added that if Aubry was on board with that, everything would go back to normal. Aubry said OK, adding that it was a lot to take first thing in the morning.

Aubry’s thoughts: “Scot was telling me that camp life will be normal if he gets what he wants. It was kind of a soft controlling move: It was him telling me what he wants and what I will get in return but it was served up with a birthday cake that was very sugary to make it seem a little less domineering. There is not a shot in hell that I am going to work with him but I’m willing to let them think I’ll play along with it and when it comes time to get out Scot, I’m ready to fight but it’s a big, scary move.”

The camera showed us just how domineering Scot could be! He’s not Russell Hantz, he’s Double-Hantz! When Scot said he wasn’t demanding anything from her, Aubry had a cute reaction which matched the words we heard in her interview.

The 3-in-1 Immunity Challenge

What’s up with all the pots during these challenges? Did production know that this episode would air on 4/20; Pot day?! Next time an episode airs on April 20, I suggest they do the same challenges while flying a kite 8 miles high! Cool mon!
I have to admit, offering three separate rewards was a nice idea but there weren’t enough players to split it effectively. I think it would have been better to let them all compete and the last one standing would get the first pick of the three prizes, the runner-up gets second pick and the third place finisher gets the remaining prize.

Julia beat Joe for the letters from home but did she really have to fight for them?

Michele beat Scot and Jason for the giant burger and beer.

Tai beat Cydney and Aubry for the game advantage.

The valuable comments during the challenge came first from Jeff:
- Tai and Cydney looking very good, Aubry wavering again.

And later from Aubry:

- “Jeff, I just want to prove it to myself. This is about proving myself that this is a hard-##### game and I can do it.”
The question becomes: Did she prove it? Her detractors will say that she lost to Tai while the others will say she proved she was a hard-##### player. Even if we heard that it had only been 10 minutes, the first words we heard from the other players were: “Nice job, Aubry”. The players on the bench are often used to voice the viewers’ thoughts. Even more importantly, Jeff called it a big showdown. I think Aubry impressed her fellow competitors so that’s really what matters most.

Scot had another post-game interview (Is this ESPN or SeeBS?): “So Tai wins the advantage. That’s the best thing that could have happened for our little alliance but most importantly, Cydney didn’t win the advantage, Cydney didn’t eat and Cydney goes home.”

If the most important thing was to prevent Cydney from getting the advantage, one has to wonder about Scot and Jason’s decision to go for the food reward. On the other hand, we don’t have to worry about Scot anymore.

Day 25

Michele’s interview: “It felt so good to beat Scot and Jason because I know they wanted that burger more than anything. It’s a little nerve-wracking that Tai won an advantage because everybody knows he has an idol and it’s scary.”

We had just heard Scot say he was perfectly happy with the result of the challenge, contradicting Michele’s comment but that’s a minor detail. It could however have been used to show that Michele’s head wasn’t in the game when she made her choice. Food was more important to her than getting an advantage in a game. Granted, they are often “bad advantages” but the intent is that the players should look for the reward with the most long term benefit as Jeff said and Michele didn’t explain why she didn’t go for it. What we have to see is that this interview narrated the events and had very little importance because the guys didn’t even talk about losing the burger. Michele’s facial expression when she talked about Tai’s idol indicated that she didn’t really know how to get around that idol. She would eventually rely on Julia’s failed plan and wouldn’t even be told that someone was working on another way around it.

Tai’s explanations: “The note say; go to tree mail. My idol right now is kind of out in the open (A lot like that blue chameleon on a brown surface!) it would be nice to have an advantage that would be hidden and no one would know I have it. It’s like everything: The more people know the less power it has...An extra vote? That is a lot of power and I can play it anytime until up to five people left. I found an idol and I have an extra vote and I’m scared of what’s the right thing to do. It’s a rich man’s problem but I have to trust myself otherwise I might go home with both of them in my pocket.”

The advantage was the familiar extra vote, the same advantage that brought Dan down. Tai should realize that it doesn’t matter that the others know the specifics; just knowing he has an advantage reduces its effectiveness. I don’t think Tai is used to rich men’s problems. One thing that surprised me was that we didn’t hear anyone asking Tai about the nature of the advantage. Scot and Jason were certainly in a position to expect an honest answer so I think they must have been told.

Back in the shelter, Julia was enjoying her love letters: “I have gone on a roller coaster throughout this game from figuring out how to get power, to getting power to losing power when I went to Brawn beach. Coming back and having loved ones letters kind of gives you that boost to keep going because that’s who you are playing for... It was a moment for me to step back and realize that I am here to play and the goal is to win and to do that, I got to make good moves.”

I winced when I heard that one of her family members used the word fierce.

Julia then went for a walk with Michele and Aubry. She said the guys made a dumb move in showing their idols.

Julia’s confessional continued: “Tai is definitely a threat at this point so what I want to do is flush out these idols but also stay loyal to my alliance with Jason and Scot.”
Julia’s plan was for the women to vote Tai which would either eliminate him or he’d use his idol and Cydney would go out. Michele was all for it.

Michele’s interview: “The three guys have two idols. That is a huge problem and we got to flush out the idols or we got to get rid of the guys, one or the other.”

Note that this interview was recorded at the same time as the part we heard right after returning to camp from the reward challenge. If her confessional hadn’t been divided into two segments, if this second part had been heard at the same time as the original then Michele would have looked more like a player. It would have given her a bigger role in the story of targeting the guys but placed here AFTER Julia exposed the plan, it merely becomes narration.

Aubry appeared to like the idea but we heard her true feelings: “Julia wants to throw all the votes at Tai at the next Tribal and make sure the idol goes. Julia is duplicitous but at the same time she’s playing a good game. I can respect that but I don’t know that I want her next to me. She’s super-shady and people like Michele don’t see through it. I think Julia is going to wait until the numbers are perfect and she can take out the girls. If I have to turn on her, I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty.”

Well that remark must have stung a few of Michele’s supporters! As we have seen, Julia’s plan is exactly as outlined by Aubry. The teenager wants to go to the end with the two big guys leaving no place for Michele who doesn’t see it and still wants to be close to Julia. From this interview, we can also infer that Aubry doesn’t respect Michele’s game. I suspect her sentiment is shared by the others.

Day 27

While everyone was sleeping, Aubry was at the water well with Tai, talking about the craziness of the game.

Before we get into it, I want to say that I was truly impressed with Aubry’s social game in this segment. After seeing right through Julia, she would hit the perfect pitch with Tai.

Aubry first confessed that she cried at night thinking she wasn’t built for this game. Tai concurred, adding that he thought everyone was playing a better game.

Tai’s interview: “Out here, I really struggle with people taking advantage of other people; all the lying, all the cheating. I keep telling myself it’s a game but it’s really difficult for me to do that.”

Aubry, talking to Tai, said: “It’s the heart and the brain constantly fighting all day long in this game and sometimes it’s hard to know when to trust the brain and when to trust the heart and when to stop thinking.”

Tai’s interview continued: “My heart say I like that girl Aubry a lot. Out here, most people I don’t have much in common with but she has a certain energy that I really like.”

Walking back to camp, Aubry confided this to Tai: “We are going to have to talk at some point because certain girls want to push the vote to try to get idols out. I want to work with you and I want to show you that you can trust me, that I have your back on this.”

Aubry’s comments: “I went out on a limb talking to Tai but I wanted Tai to know that Julia is gunning for him and that I am an alternative to the way Jason and Scot and Julia are playing this game.”

Tai’s conclusion: “I am excited that Aubry is on my side. I think she is a good contribution to the alliance. Together, we can be a great partnership. I think Scot and Jason are going to like it. If that’s the case, everything is beautiful.”

This shows just how far on a limb Aubry had to go because Tai was going to reveal this exchange to the big guys but in order to establish a working alliance, she said all the right things. She didn’t ask anything from Tai, just offered her services and showed that she could be an asset. Their next discussion will be even more productive.

While we heard Tai and Aubry’s discussion in voice over, the camera showed us an interesting image: Julia opening a coconut with the machete. So, either this image was taken before the guys hid the tools and it was shown out of sequence or the guys gave them back as part of their peace offer. If it’s the former then it’s simply sloppy editing but if the machete and ax are back in camp it’s interesting to note that production didn’t show the guys returning them. That would have redeemed them a bit but they weren’t even given that much consideration. I tried to spot the machete and ax in camp with a time reference (in the same shot as Jason wearing the necklace for example) but I didn’t see any clear evidence.

In the shallow waters, Tai told Scot and Jason what Aubry had told him about the plan to flush idols and that she was a free agent willing to join them.

The two guys didn’t react the way Tai expected because Scot’s first words were: “How about this idea: At the next Tribal we take Aubry out.”

Tai’s interview explained his troubles: “It seems like I have no say in our alliance and I’m not part of the discussion. (Right then the camera showed Jason, who was sitting in the middle, turning his back on Tai to talk to Scot, giving us the exact image of what Tai was saying.) I always participate but it seems like they are so forceful. The two boys are running the show and that’s why I feel like an outsider and I don’t know what to do.”

As Tina told us a long time ago, a good way to spot alliances is to observe the seating arrangements. Here, the guys showed Tai that they were closer to each other than they were to him. Either they had to place Tai in the middle or Jason should have talked facing forward in order to show that he was addressing both equally. The game is in all these little details.

After exposing his plan to Jason and Tai, Scot told us how much he loved this new plan. He couldn’t see any reasons for the three guys not to stay truthful with each other so he was sure of making it to the Final three. They just needed to make sure Aubry didn’t win immunity.

The Immunity Challenge - More pots!

Julia gave the necklace back without comments.

Sometimes you can tell by the comments if the player will get the necklace back at some key point. Were Julia’s comments cut out of the episode or did she stay quiet? There’s no way to know but I’d still bet she was a one hit wonder.

Joe was the first to fall out of the challenge again. Scot was the next one out and he was followed by Julia and Tai. The remaining three reached the 45 minute mark. That’s when Cydney lost her pot, leaving Aubry once more to fight it out against Jason this time. We had a funny moment: After seeing Jason spitting, Aubry imitated him, getting a smile from the big guy. Aubry even gave him a small tribute: “This guy’s been through everything so why would he not get through this?” The two hit the 75 minute mark which impressed our host and Aubry seemed to gain Jason’s respect as well. She certainly impressed the peanut gallery because we heard their wows when she made a nice recovery.

The effort that Jason needed to win reflects well on Aubry’s performance. Who is she to fight so valiantly against such a strong guy? It would fit well in a winner’s edit...and in a Hero’s edit if she has to come out of the game for medical reasons.

Jason’s reaction: “Thankfully, we beat Aubry and we won immunity which lets us play our idol as a super-idol. So, Scot, Tai and I, no matter what happens, us three are safe and from here on out, we’re unstoppable.”

Day 27 Scrambling

Amidst all the congratulations, one that stood out was Jason’s: “She was a hell of an opponent.”

Jason’s follow-up comments: “The Immunity challenge went better than I could ever have dreamed. We went there knowing that we couldn’t let Aubry win immunity. Finally Cydney went down and it was between Aubry and I, and I won. That’s huge! I have the immunity necklace and we have two hidden immunity idols which combined become the super-idol and what’s great about the super-idol is that we can play it after the vote is read and no one but the three of us knows that. So Aubry is going home and there’s nothing that she can do.”

While Tai was out looking for sea food, Julia told Jason and Scot that her plan was to get rid of Tai’s idol.

Scot solo: “Julia, our little double agent, is coming over to tell us that the girls are voting for Tai and that’s fine. We’ll just play our super-idol and save him but what they don’t know is that we’re going after Aubry. It’s the best strategic move because she is very smart, she is very savvy plus she’s tough and that’s another reason for her to go because she is such a threat in the challenges.”

What a great tribute from a former professional athlete.
The two guys tried to get Julia off the fence by telling her that they were planning on blindsiding Tai as soon as he doesn’t win immunity thus offering her the third seat at Final Tribal Council.

Julia’s interview: “I am stoked right now! The girls and myself are going to vote for Tai and flush his idol and Scot and Jason aren’t too worried about that because at some point they want Tai gone anyway. They’d rather go to the Final Three with me and that would be awesome because they’ve ruined relationships with almost every single person out here and that’s the kind of person you want to sit with at the end.”

Right then, production took another little stab at Michele by showing her resting her head on Julia’s shoulder just when the college student was telling us she wanted to go with Jason and Scot to the end. That meant sooner or later, Julia would need Michele’s head and the barmaid was offering it to her. Julia’s words even made her smile appear wicked. So fierce some will say, but others are still seeing her as a loser.

Aubry was talking to Cydney, saying that they needed to split Jason and Scot. Cydney was down for it.

It’s interesting that they showed Scot lurking in the jungle right then, seemingly looking in their direction, probably even listening to them because we could hear them talk while the camera was on the former NBA player. It was just a little trick to make us think the girls were going to get caught.

Cydney’s interview: “With all these idols, the guys are just too damn powerful. We have to find a way to get one of them out. I think we should try to blindside Scot just because he’s just so confident, it’s ridiculous. He’s definitely gotten a lot cockier since he found the idol with Jason and I’m like: Simmer down. You would not have that without me so just shut up.”

Aubry said they needed to find a crack, adding that she and Tai were like people on “Missed Connections”. She would talk to Tai.

This was part 2 of our display of social game excellence as demonstrated by Aubry.

Aubry’s interview: “At this point, the guys are in a really strong position but I feel I have some kind of connection with Tai. I think Tai is someone who wants to be true to himself and Tai’s natural state isn’t with Jason and Scot and I think he’s smart enough to know that he can’t be that incongruent at the end of the day.”

The episode’s crucial moment was prefaced by images of Michele strolling on the beach and Julia sun tanning. The implication was clear: This was the time to play the game but the two girls were completely unaware of the importance of the moment.

Aubry, talking to Tai: “They don’t want me to talk to you at all because they want us to vote five at you but I don’t want you to go. I want to get out Scot. I know Cydney would be on board, Joe would be on board and I’m freaking on board like nobody’s business. Cydney thinks they are despicable people.”

Tai’s said: “But Scot and Jason; I’m a little bit afraid of that duo.”

Aubry then asked: “So, who do you want it to be? What’s better for you?”

Tai didn’t know so Aubry added: “I’m relying on you. You’re putting yourself out there so I want you to be comfortable. This is your game, you’re making a big move and I’m telling you that you have three people behind you. I’m positive.”

This is a display of sublime social skills. Aubry told Tai what she wanted but then let him decide what would be good for him. She didn’t impose her views like we’ve so often seen during alliance offers. It’s also quite important to note that Aubry only brought in the strict minimum of allies. She left Michele out of the loop because the Beauty couldn’t be trusted around Julia but also because it was important to give Tai a place in the final four.

In the middle of Aubry’s talk, we heard Tai telling the interviewer how he felt: “I’m very torn about this vote. The big thing is where it’s going to put me at the end. My heart says I’d like to work with Aubry and my instinct is to trust her but my brain is telling me to stay with the boys because they have pissed off a lot of people. If the three of us go to the final three, maybe I have a good chance of beating them.”

It’s interesting to note that Tai adopted Aubry’s words about the game’s paradigm, the duality of heart and brain being in opposition but needing to be reconciled. It shows that she read him perfectly. Tai’s hesitation showed that he didn’t read Jason and Scot’s intention to vote him out as soon as possible.
Aubry’s interview: “This is a huge vote and Tai holds all the keys in this game but I have no idea what he’s gonna do.”

Aubry told Joe that the girls thought it was going to be Tai but that he had to vote for Scot. He agreed.

Scot told Tai that he’d probably get votes but that he could play the super idol. Jason used the opportunity to give Scot his idol.

Tai had the final interview of the evening: “At this point, I truly don’t know which way I am leaning but I’m not here to make good friends, I’m here to win that million dollars. So, I have to figure what’s best for me and I have to commit to it because after that, there is no turning back.”

Tribal Council: A Moment of Pure Pleasure!

Asked about the display of power at the last TC, Michele said the question was to know who would have the idol in their hands.
Scot agreed that what they did was like trash talking and they would do the same this time. They weren’t going anywhere.

Jason was happy to say that their psychological warfare worked because it brought down Debbie and they’d have to lose another one: “Either they decide or we decide.”
Aubry said that dealing with those three was like running into a wall.
Scot told her that they tried to get her in but she never answered back.
Jason added that they should know what was going to happen because they were always clear about their intentions.
Julia said that Jason was the only one safe but that everyone wanted to play.
Cydney told Jeff that she was afraid it could be her because Jason and Scot weren’t happy seeing her move to another ship.
Jeff noticed that Tai was less talkative and the gardener admitted that he was uncomfortable with the boasting but it was war and he was committed to the guys.
Jason agreed that Tai stepped up for their alliance on numerous occasions and Scot agreed.

When Jeff brought up her effort in the challenge, Aubry explained that this was a unique occasion to go up against a NBA player and a kick-##### army veteran. She mentioned Jason staring her down and spitting which made her spit back like a deranged llama. “This is never going to happen again.”
Her remark made everyone laugh.
Aubry added: “We were put in these groups of Brain, Brawn and Beauty but that only scratched the surface of who these people really are.”
Scot said that Aubry has been giving a great effort in every facet of the game. Jason added: “She’s been kicking butt the whole time...There is as much brawn in her as there is in me.”
Turning to Michele, Jeff said that these challenges are often metaphors for the game.
Michele answered by saying the game can change in a moment and that you had to be on the right side when it happens.

Which underlines the problem of being out of the loop right then.

Jason said it was easy to see which side to choose and that they better hop on their train.

It was time to vote.
We saw Julia voting against Tai, Scot voting against Aubry because she was such a great competitor and Aubry praying that her vote against Scot would work.
When Tai walked to cast the deciding vote, we saw that he was Debbie’s favorite.

When Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play an idol, we saw Julia telling Tai to play his idol while Scot told him the opposite. Tai didn’t play it.

Jeff read the votes:
Julia and Michele voted against Tai.
Scot and Jason voted against Aubry.
Aubry, Joe and Cydney voted Scot.
Tai voted... Scot!

Probably not doing the math, Scot turned to Tai, asking him to hand over his idol. Instead, Tai turned to Jason who gestured to get him to give the idol to Scot. The NBA player’s expression showed that he didn’t appreciate being left hanging but, after a moment, Tai ended the suspense: He shook his head no. Scot asked: “You’re not doing it?” Tai simply answered: “No, sorry.”

Forced to get his torch, Scot shook hands with Jason to wish him luck but he didn’t hand back the idol.

It was pretty evident that Scot, having been voted out of the game, wasn’t allowed to hand his idol back to Jason. So it isn’t a stretch to imagine that the same applied to Neal. As soon as the doctor pulled him from the game, he wouldn’t have been allowed to hand his idol to Aubry. Maybe we could also go back to Colton’s evacuation in One World and realize that despite the rules, some scenes are shown simply to create drama and to influence our views of the players. Now Scot and Neal could have a super idol in Ponderosa!

I don’t know if anyone thought Tai would give his idol to Scot but there really was no drama, just a funny moment looking at Scot and Jason’s realization that they just had been stopped. Having voted for Scot, it would not only have been weird to save the big guy but also it would have been suicidal. The only votes that would have counted would have been the 2 against Aubry and the two against him. Who would have gotten voted out on the second ballot?


After these events, Jeff’s final words seemed insignificant: “Well once again, just when you think you’re safe, oups, there goes another blindside.”

The Story

The super idol had totally skewed the story, putting the two villains in power even if they didn’t have the numbers. They had Tai and Julia helping them but from opposing angles but still that didn’t seem to be enough to derail their train. They really looked unstoppable but that didn’t fit with our analysis of the edit. It led to an incongruity that could only be resolved by a big move. That’s a very good example to show that we are right to depend on our analysis instead of game analysis. The game really turned on two small moments: Scot’s reaction to Tai’s suggestion of using Aubry as a free agent and Julia’s desire to flush Tai’s idol. Aubry was the key in both: First, her strong connection to Tai meant that he didn’t want to go along with the idea of voting her out and, secondly, she was the one that warned him first about Julia’s plan. Tai knew she wasn’t lying to him when the two guys told him he’d be getting votes.

In a strange way, the secrecy of the super idol’s power caused its failure. Julia wouldn’t have thought of flushing the idol if she knew how Jason and Scot were planning to use it. Flushing Tai’s idol meant flushing the super idol but she didn’t know that. If Julia doesn’t come up with the plan to flush Tai’s idol, then how can Aubry effectively approach Tai? We can also imagine that Scot and Jason would have told Julia about the plan to eliminate Aubry if she hadn’t shown them she was trying to take charge. That could have led to Aubry’s elimination.

The Characters

Joe: Yes, there is a Joe in Cambodia. He breaks pots faster than anyone else but besides that? Well, his vote counts just as much as everyone else... at least those without an advantage.

Jason: He has been stopped. Not only did he lose his closest ally, he lost his idol and any hope of playing a super idol. His story cannot support the role of underdog so he should get voted out soon.

Michele: It seems that this episode ended Michele’s possible winning edit. Not only was she on the wrong side at the moment when the game changed just like that but we heard that she couldn’t see that Julia was duplicitous. She was shown strolling carefree on the beach when the game was reaching its decisive moment. She is a very beautiful narrator but it seems she would make for a very unsatisfying winner. Of course, she could still impress everyone with a winning streak or with an amazing move but how can she get credit for a move when even
Julia is more active? The way the story is set up, I wonder if we will even see how she reacts at being left out of the loop.

Julia: The traitor-##### comment we heard from Cydney told us that not everyone respects her duplicitous game. She is trying hard to play her game but the resulting effect is that both sides are using her. Jason and Scot used her to get information on the women’s plan while Aubry and Cydney used her to get Tai on their side. We can say that her emergence is too little too late.

Cydney: After taking an active part in the first big vote after the merger, Cydney has taken a back seat, letting Aubry take charge. Her only interview of the episode was to tell us that the boys should shut up and realize that they wouldn’t have their idol without her. We heard that she was brooding and petty so that’s not very promising if she wants to make her case to the jury. We know Debbie would have a different opinion but what did she show Neal and Nick?

Tai: Aubry said it was his move even if she was the one that mapped it out and he told us that he wasn’t there to make good friends but to win the million dollars. Therefore, we have to consider Tai as the possible Sole Survivor because those are important ingredients in any winner’s edit. All along, it seemed that the charismatic gardener was a Player on a Journey but now we hear him talking about his end game. Could it be that the fan favorite wins this time? His main problem is that no one would want to sit with him at the end but he has an idol, an extra vote and a good chance to win challenges so it is possible.

Aubry: She was given quite a panegyric in this episode. In both challenges we heard Jeff and the other players commenting on her strength. Tai told us that she has a certain energy that he really likes. Scot said she was a real threat in challenges and was very savvy about the game. Jason praised her even more by saying she had as much brawn as he does. That certainly paints a great picture for an eventual winner or it makes a fine prelude to what we are certain to hear if she has to be taken out of the game for medical reasons. Did we hear those comments as praise to an eventual winner or as a eulogy for a fallen comrade? While we can’t know for sure, it seems that her roller coaster ride should reach a happy conclusion. She got the medical scare early on, we have heard her constant questioning about the game and she was portrayed as the underdog on a few occasions. Ever since she decided to get rid of her “island mom” she has taken control of the game. Her approach with Tai was a marvelous display of empathy and how to turn it into a successful tactic. She realized that his personality didn’t fit with the bullies so she offered him an alternative. Even if he was joining players that weren’t as easy to beat in the end, she gave him an opening to the Final Four by excluding Michele from the group of voters. It really looks like Aubry is the best player of the season but will she be rewarded? I think so but we will have to wait and see.


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Jims03 177 desperate attention whore postings
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04-23-16, 11:36 PM (EST)
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70. "RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence:"
LAST EDITED ON 04-23-16 AT 11:50 PM (EST)

Good analysis as usual. Took the last couple weeks off because there wasn't really much more to add. The edit seemed to coalesce around what I'd been thinking. Things changed a little this episode.

Here's how I'm handicapping them at the moment.

1. Aubry - At this point, I don't know if the season makes any sense if Aubry doesn't win. Just the "a woman should win" theme, and how obsessively the show has promoted her since the merge. Can you believe that there was a time where we were characterizing her edit as a little "lifeless"?

There is a tiny part of me that wonders if this is just a Kelley Wentworth thing again. But I think about what happened last season with Kelley's underdog role and her impressive idol play, and I don't think they really had a choice to edit the season that way. With Aubry, I can kinda imagine a version of the story where she is a more minor character. She obviously had to be an somewhat important character, given what happened (the vote-cross-out, convincing Tai) but the Neal and Nick boot episodes were really superfluous stuff. Even in this amazing episode for her, we probably don't need Jason and Scot shilling her to the audience. We already kinda know how amazing she is with the Tai stuff.

If Aubry wins, we should probably have a discussion of the evolution of the Female Winner on Survivor. From Natalie White to Sandra #2 to Sophie to Kim to Denise to Natalie Anderson. Try to find the common trends of how they edit their female winners.

2. Tai - I guess I kinda discounted him because of the woman-winning thing and that the big character edits rarely go on to win. With his Star Wars-esque temptation and redemption edit, you gotta at least take him seriously. If Tai did go on to win the game, I think they would over-expose him like he is right now. Him winning would just be a bonus to his edit.

3. Michele - Yeah, I think this episode was really bad for her too. It started out okay when she was talking about the guys and being strong and food and stuff, but she ultimately ended up as the +1 to Julia. And given where Julia is, that's a lousy place to be. Her earlier visibility and her position in the game makes me still give her #3, but really cooling on her from an edit-perspective.

I had talked about her being an Erinn from Tocantins, and I think that's about right. I think she's a losing finalist. I know Erinn didn't get to FTC, but close enough for comparison sake. Michelle has enough visibility to make her FTC inclusion make sense, but not enough substance to be a satisfying winner. I get where the Cult of Michele is coming from and there's a tiny part of me that worries about it. As-is, I just feel like Michele winning would probably be one of the most unsatisfying scenarios, given how blah her gameplay is. Even Cydney, Julia, or Jason would be more interesting wins. So I'm a little spooked about it.

4. Cydney - I liked Cydney as the sleeper pick up through the Nick boot. But the last two episodes were awful for her. You got Scot characterizing her flip as being for "no reason"... Even though they did explain it in the Nick episode. But they've never let Cydney herself explain it again. If Cydney were the winner, they would've driven home how obvious it is the guys were going with Nick and not her. Cydney might also be a losing finalist, the person that the jury yells at or whatever. They've certainly foreshadowed that Jason/Scot are less than pleased with her.

5. Julia - Yeah, if Julia were the winner, they'd make a bigger deal about such a young contestant winning the game. And they wouldn't be portraying her as a traitor-@ss. And Jason probably wouldn't be portrayed as unlikeable. She's at least getting a strategic edit, which is more than they're willing to give a lot of pretty girls on the show. So kudos to her, I suppose. But I think she's gone next.

6. Jason - Nah. All the Alecia stuff was a huge red flag, obviously, and the post-merge wasn't much better. They at least tried to go through the motions of portraying Jason's sabotage as "strategic" and threw a lot of blame on Scot. Him being all complimentary to Aubry also helps him. But still waaaaaay too unlikeable an edit.

7. Joe - Who? His edit is a little Dan Lembo'ish in invisibility, so maybe he gets cut before FTC. Does it makes sense for a finalist to be at the end with such an invisible edit? They didn't let Brett in the finals in Samoa. Maybe he's the one who finishes 4th? Or maybe he's the first boot in the finale? I could see him being a finalist if Michele wins and they need us to care. But Aubry/Joe in the finals doesn't make a ton of sense.

Thinking Aubry/Michele/Cydney are our finalists, with Jason and Julia our next two boots.

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michel2 1598 desperate attention whore postings
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04-24-16, 02:54 PM (EST)
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71. "RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence:"
Nice to see you back, Jims.

We are in agreement on most points. I'd even have Cydney and Julia above Michele at this point if it weren't for all the internet support that she's received. She must make the finale but I still see her losing. At least Julia told us about her end game plan but Michele is just happy coasting along...


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04-24-16, 05:21 PM (EST)
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72. "RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence:"
michel wrote: "It was pretty evident that Scot, having been voted out of the game, wasn’t allowed to hand his idol back to Jason."

Jeff Probst interviews with Dalton Ross addressed these issues:

http://www.ew.com/article/2016/04/21/survivor-kaoh-rong-scot-pollard

On if he would have been allowed to give the idol back to Jason after being eliminated:

(ED NOTE: It is my understanding that Scot was already out of the game once he did not have a super idol and therefore could not give an idol back to Jason, but I have asked host Jeff Probst for confirmation on that.}

(UPDATE with confirmation from Jeff Probst: “Once the votes are read, an idol is dead. The exception this season is if you can find someone to pair their idol with yours then both idols are reactivated to form a super idol and you can use that idol to save yourself. Otherwise, your individual idol is still dead. So once Tai denied Scot his idol, it was over. Scot could not give his idol to Jason.”)

michel wrote: "So it isn’t a stretch to imagine that the same applied to Neal. As soon as the doctor pulled him from the game, he wouldn’t have been allowed to hand his idol to Aubry. Maybe we could also go back to Colton’s evacuation in One World and realize that despite the rules, some scenes are shown simply to create drama and to influence our views of the players. Now Scot and Neal could have a super idol in Ponderosa! "

http://www.ew.com/article/2016/03/31/survivor-jeff-probst-kaoh-rong-medical-evacuation

It appeared as if Neal did NOT give Aubry his hidden immunity idol on the way out of the game, but he would have been permitted to hand that over, correct? Or is he already considered out of the game at that point once the doctor pulls him

That’s a really good question and one that I’m glad you asked. Because we were aware he had an idol and knew he might want to give it to someone, either in public or in private, we discussed this beforehand. Our decision was yes, he would have been allowed to give his idol to someone and here’s why – he didn’t know he was going to be pulled from the game. The decision to pull someone is made by a doctor after examining in private and that’s not anything Neal should be expected to anticipate. So once he was pulled, it seemed fair to let him do or say whatever he wanted on his way out. I actually thought he would do it. I was surprised, but that’s why Survivor continues to be fun – you truly cannot predict what people are going to do.

http://www.ew.com/article/2016/04/21/survivor-jeff-probst-kaoh-rong-super-idol

michel wrote: "...but also it would have been suicidal. The only votes that would have counted would have been the 2 against Aubry and the two against him. Who would have gotten voted out on the second ballot?"

Just so everyone is clear, had the Super Idol been used by Scot, then the next two highest people with votes were Tai and Aubry, with two apiece. So what would have happened next?

Well, first you have to remember that Tai voted for Scot, so he was never going to use the idol to save him. He betrayed him the moment he wrote his name down. So if Tai had used the idol to save Scot after voting for Scot it would rival the worst move in Survivor history! But yes, if he did use the idol, regardless the circumstances, then Scot is safe. Then, everybody except Tai and Aubry would vote again and they could only vote for Tai or Aubry. Tai would have been voted out and would still be in therapy trying to figure out what happened.

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04-25-16, 02:30 AM (EST)
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73. "RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence:"
Thank you Sheldor for bringing this up.

Even if Jiffy confirms two of my three points, you should know that I still don't trust him. Now he says that Neal was authorized to give his idol but it doesn't prove a thing as far as I'm concerned. What really happened on the island is still suspicious because we've never seen an actual rules book.

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04-25-16, 02:32 PM (EST)
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74. "RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence:"
"you should know that I still don't trust him. Now he says that Neal was authorized to give his idol but it doesn't prove a thing as far as I'm concerned."

I believe the only other person Medically Evacuated while holding a Hidden Immunity Idol was Colton in One World. Colton asks Jeff if he can give it to someone, and Jeff tells him that it’s his decision. Colton tells his tribe that he’s going to keep the idol, and thanks Sabrina for the souvenir.

So there is precedent for Neal to be able to pass his idol to someone else before leaving as a Medical Evacuation.

Also in Neal's exit interviews he says he was allowed to pass the idol on. For instance:

Survivor: Neal reveals why he did not give Aubry his idol
http://www.ew.com/article/2016/03/31/survivor-neal-insidetv-podcast-norman-reedus-rachel-bloom

On his decision to not give Aubry the idol:

“That’s a decision that I will probably go back and question for the rest of my life. But in the moment it was the one physical thing from the game that I love very much that I could hold onto. And the night before when I let her know that I had the idol she also made it clear that if she had to, she would have no problems slitting my throat. And in the moment, knowing there was such a good chance that I was going home the next day because of an evacuation, that wasn’t funny to me.

“So it was kind of a combination of factors. I thought on one hand, I gave her life by my life being extinguished in the game and it got her at least three days further. And sometimes the threat of an idol can be as powerful, if not more powerful, than an idol itself. What you didn’t see was me giving her a jacket, and people didn’t know what was in that jacket.”

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04-25-16, 08:45 PM (EST)
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75. "RE: Episode 10 - Incongruence:"
You are right about what we saw in One World but Colton gave a different account: He said he wanted to give his idol to Jay but was refused on account that Jay wasn't on his tribe. So, what came first? If Jeff knew that Colton would only give his idol to Jay he could ask him again if he wanted to give it to anyone and we only saw that second take.

Look, I just brought it up to say we shouldn't believe everything we see. Considering what he said afterwards, I'm practically certain that Scot wanted to give the idol back to Jason but we didn't hear Jeff forbiding it. It shows that anything is possible when the rules aren't displayed.


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04-30-16, 03:28 PM (EST)
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76. "Episode 11 - Making A Case"
Previously on Survivor

Tai, Jason and Scot thought they held all the power…

Jason: “Now we’re unstoppable.”

...they had a mole in Julia...an advantage in the game and two immunity idols that could be combined to form a super idol.

We saw Jason passing his idol to Scot.

But Aubry wanted to flip the game and went behind the backs of Michele and Julia to try to get Tai to turn on Jason and Scot...

Aubry: “Tai holds all the keys in this game.”

...leaving Tai with a big decision.

Tai: “I don’t know what to do.”

At tribal Council, Scot received the majority of the votes and he looked to Tai to get the other half of the super idol but Tai betrayed Scot and Jason, sending Scot to the jury and taking Jason’s idol with him, leaving Michele and Julia out of the loop and Jason all alone.

We saw a smiling Cydney getting up to leave Tribal Council.

This presentation is quite clear: Jeff could have mentioned only Scot and Jason when he talked about the guys holding all the power but his summary included Tai, even put him first. There wasn’t even a hint that Tai was being used by them. When this recap was edited, another important decision was made: They didn’t show the discussion between Aubry and Cydney so all the credit for flipping Tai belongs to Aubry. It must be noted however that Cydney was the one smiling at the very end so it could be telling us that despite Aubry’s great move, Cydney will be the one smiling at the end.

Making a Case

Night 27

Tai’s interview started the evening: “We blindsided Scot. It’s a big move. The littlest guy took out the biggest guy this season.”

We heard Joe say: “That was excellent.”

Even if Tai was also in the picture, Joe was definitely looking at Aubry.

Tai gave Aubry a kiss on the cheeks while saying: “That was good.” Aubry said she was happy for Tai to which Tai replied that he was happy for her.

Tai could very well do the same at the reunion after Jeff finishes reading the votes.

Tai’s interview continued: “Scot and Jason, those two guys talk over me so this is me taking control of my own game. We have power now and I have the most power because I have the idol and an extra vote.”

To Michele and Julia, Jason said: “You’ll never get rid of Tai now.” He then congratulated Cyd on her play. He said the fans will love that move.

Jason’s interview: “Tai turned. I never saw it coming. The one and only thing that could go wrong went wrong. Tai made a play, Scot had my idol and, unfortunately, he got eliminated and once that happens you can’t give it back so it’s gone. I lost my partner and I lost an idol, all in the same moment. Now I’ll have to scramble from here on out.”

After the first episode, I wrote that Jason’s scheming ways and his red shirt reminded me a lot of Chris in Vanuatu and now he’s in the same position; alone against 5 allies. Can he follow Chris’ example and turn the situation around? Let’s not forget that production never tried to paint Chris as a great guy for all the fans to love. Many detested the guy but his comeback story prevailed. His last two opponents were certainly not loved either so his win made for a good ending. However, Chris was definitely funnier than Jason and he was never presented as a bully. I see Jason as the last obstacle to a woman’s win either because he is the last man voted out or because he loses the jury vote.

Jason then told Cydney she could count on him if she wanted to do something nuts. She answered that she’d keep it in mind.

Over by the fire, Joe looked at Julia and said she appeared to be in shock.

She answered that, like Michele, she felt frustrated not to have been part of the plan. She thought that her voting record should have been enough to show she could be trusted.

Julia’s comments: “I was definitely playing both sides but Aubry, Joe, Tai and Cydney formed a little alliance that no one else is aware of and voted out Scot. Now Michele and I have gone down a few notches after tonight’s vote so...”

It’s never good when production uses a player’s own words as contradiction. To the group, Julia pleaded loyalty but right after she told us she was playing both sides. Karma would soon catch up to her.

Tai wanted to explain why he voted for Scot but she told him she didn’t care.

In this game, information is the most valuable commodity so if Tai was willing to offer some, let him do it. Tai is prone to blurting out more than he should so Julia could have used his words against him later.

Back in the shelter, Michele told Julia and Jason that they were at the bottom of the totem pole. Julia agreed, adding that they were all done.

Many said it was a bad sign when Aubry told us the Brains tribe was done so what will they say now that Michele was shown on screen with the caption “we’re all done”? Personally, I didn’t put much weight on Aubry’s despair because her story wasn’t one of keeping hope in spite of everything like Natalie’s in Samoa. Aubry’s story is to survive the ups and downs of the game so we had to see her lows. For Michele, her story is about getting along with others and waiting for the right time to make a decision. So for her, being down at this time is a little more troublesome. However this episode will rehabilitate her and restore her position in the story. She isn’t done but her role is still of supporting actress.

Aubry, Cydney and Tai congratulated each other and Tai assured the girls that Jason didn’t have an idol anymore.

Aubry’s interview: “I can’t stop smiling. We voted out Scot and it feels so good. It just changed the entire dynamic of the game. Right now, we have the numbers and Jason doesn’t have his idol anymore. So, hopefully Jason loses and we can get rid of him and be on our merry way.”

I have a feeling that many viewers will pounce on Aubry’s remark to say that she is now over-confident and that over-confidence has led to all the eliminations this season but it would be a complete misunderstanding of the context. For most of the season, Aubry was a quiet character lost in the shadows cast by Debbie. Many viewers figured that she would be eliminated one week or the other so for her to be seen as a good player she needed to explode on our screens. What better way than to chop the giant at the knees. This was the move of the season and it took all the power away from the bullies so why not show her smiling? The problem with this confessional is that Jason won’t win immunity but he still won’t be voted out so the editing will have to let us hear a good reason from Aubry. In time, she will be given the opportunity to explain the change of plan.

To the two women, Tai said: “From now on will not be a blindside. We know exactly and we don’t switch. We have the numbers.”

The scene ended with an image of Jason brooding in the shelter.

Day 28

It was early in the morning and Tai was giving another interview: “I’m reminding myself all the time that Survivor is a game. I just pulled a big move but this is the first time ever I did this to anybody. It’s a big, big lie, it’s a big betrayal. I want to have a talk with Jason just because he trusted me and I betrayed him. It’s hurtful. I hurt him and I feel really bad.”

Tai sat down next to Jason and said: “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I see your relationship with Scot growing tighter and tighter and that worry me. You might cut me loose...I had to make the first move.”

Jason answered wisely: “In this game, you can do everything right and still lose.”

When Mark the chicken clucked by, Tai said he thought Jason would wring its neck to get back at him. Jason said he was still in an alliance with Mark.

Tai then couldn’t help but laugh a little when he said: “Thank you for listening and thank you for understanding my reason for screwing you guys over. It’s not funny I know but it’s the irony.”

Jason’s reaction: “Tai did apologize to me this morning. It was a half-assed apology but I can’t let them see how much it made me angry. Really, I just want revenge right now. It infuriated me that I’m left without an idol and an ally and Tai’s still got all his stuff. For a guy with a big ole heart, he sure flip-flops a lot. He screws a lot of people over. You screw me over and you’re going to have the same fate because of it and he deserves it.”

Jason certainly sounds reasonable when he isn’t acting like a bully. In fact, I think an unbiased observer would say that Jason looked much better than Tai in this scene. Even if it was due to his timidity, Tai’s words sounded self-serving. He should have been thinking of making Jason feel better but his apology only quieted his conscience.

The Reward Challenge

Seeing that the banners of Brains, Brawn and Beauty were still being used, it made me think that production must be happy to have 2 players from each original tribe still in the game. Would you still be watching if there were 6 Brawns left? Going back to Panama’s Final Four, we’ve seen even distributions at the finish many times. Actually, we could go back to the first All-Stars where the Final 6 included one representative from 6 different seasons. Cook Islands had at least one member of each ethnicity in the F5. Fiji had 2 Haves and 2 Have-Not in its F4. In Micronesia’s final 6, we had 3 Fans, 3 Favorites. I’d say that most times when we start with 3 or more tribes or with a thematic tribal division other than simply based on gender; we reach the end with an even distribution of players. It’s funny that beating the odds so many times doesn’t raise many doubts. Of course, most of those that would raise doubts are simply not watching...

The tandems were:

- Tai and Joe
- Aubry and Julia
- Michele and Cydney

The random draw screwed Jason so where does he direct his anger now? The Survivor gods? Karma? Jiffy? Aren’t those synonyms?

We had a funny moment when Julia and Aubry tried to go around the post on opposite sides, forgetting they were tied together.

It told us those two really can’t work together!

Julia and Michele were off to a quick start. Their lead grew when Joe and Tai got caught on the second post.

Michele tried to retrieve the 3rd ring but she had trouble. Aubry seized the opportunity to give the lead to her team. Tai finished before Michele who had given way to Cydney.

The three tandems were tied when they started to toss the rings but Julia and Aubry couldn’t get one. Joe and Cydney were tied with two but Cydney’s underhand method proved more effective.

The two girls won reward.

Cydney was really happy to have won fried chicken.

I’m sure that would have worried Mark if he had heard. He must be asking why they couldn’t be all like Kimmi. As for Michele, this challenge was symbolic of her game: She was carried to the end by Cydney... but she was carried to victory, so...

Jeff said: “Given that for the last 28 days, there’s been nothing but blindsides, it says that these alliance are ever shifting in this game which should make this next decision very interesting.”

His presentation sounded like the hype he dishes out every week so it really sucked but at least the two girls didn’t slip on that banana peel. They chose Aubry to join them on the helicopter ride because she hadn’t eaten yet. Jeff sounded unhappy to see that it was so easy!

Michele’s interview: “I’m glad that me and Cydney decided on Aubry to go on reward because last night, I was on the outside of the vote so at some point I have to be like: Alright, this is my game. And this is a really good opportunity to make sure that I am in with them and that they trust me and that they want to move forward with me.”

Michele does have some nice confessionals but is it really her game? Once more we will see that she just follows along.

Jason’s interview: “It’s pretty bleak right now. It really is but I’m not giving up yet. I can’t... for my family I can’t. I have to keep trying. I will do my best and try to manipulate these people and find a crack somewhere.”

Jason will get his reprieve and maybe now he’s the one that cannot be removed!

The Reward

While we saw them in flight, Cydney gave us an interview: “The feeling of being up in the air, I was cheesing left and right. It’s an experience you’re never going to get for the rest of your life.”

That’s when Cydney noticed that they were united: Beauty, Brawns and Brains. Aubry thought that was just perfect.

Aubry’s interview: “I’m in this helicopter flying around this beautiful beach and it’s ours to share together. Survivor is a once in a lifetime experience. This is just the right pick-me-up to reset and to refuel for the next eleven days.”

The three women gave us a picture that we could see again on day 39.

Arriving at the picnic, the three started to do a chicken dance.

Mocking Mark isn’t very nice!

Michele’s interview: “I get by in my life on my social skills. I build relationships and that’s what’s gotten me this far in the game. Me and Julia are a tight two and, as much as I trust her and I love working with her, we’re just two people. To get back into the groove, I’m going to have to make them trust me. So I want to make sure that, just because I was out of the vote, it doesn’t mean that I was out of their alliance.”

When Michele said she didn’t want her loyalty questioned even if she was close to Julia, Aubry said that everybody wanted to work with her. The two said they trusted each other.

Aubry’s comments: “Michele has proved herself; she’s voted every time with us except the one where we had to leave her out, so I trust her.”

Michele’s interview: “I do feel reintegrated into the group and that actually says a lot of my ability to keep people’s faith in me just by staying happy, staying humble, staying sane and hopefully my loyalty will make them want to keep me for a little bit longer.”

When Michele walked off, Cydney turned to Aubry, asking for her thoughts. Aubry said they were in a good spot and that Michele was a good option. Cydney agreed. Aubry said they weren’t on the mountain top but they were climbing instead of falling. Cydney warned though: “We can’t go to no Final 3 with no damn Tai.” She added that Joe and Michele were better options.

Uh! Try editing that triple negative! It doesn’t mean that Cydney cannot not win. Lumping Joe with Michele gives us an indication of what Cydney and Aubry think of the Beauty’s chance of winning a jury vote. Of course, they could be misreading their jury as it often happens but there’s really nothing in the story to suggest that Michele is a jury threat. We also noted that the really important talk happened after Michele left. It was almost like once the child is gone to bed the adults can talk.

Aubry said that they could start thinking about it but that they needed Tai to get rid of Jason and Julia.

In interview, Cydney agreed: “Right now, we need to keep our alliance with Tai very, very strong because at the end of the day, he can get us further. The fact that Tai has an immunity idol and an advantage means it would be better to get him out as soon as possible and we can use Michele to do it. That’s what I need to get to the end of the game. When to make this big move? That is the question.”

Aubry said they’d figure it out.

This whole reward scene looked a lot like the one where Kim, Chelsea and Sabrina shared a reward at One World’s Final 6. Just like it did then, I think it gave us a preview of the Final 3 when the same women will share one final feast on their beach.

We then took our own helicopter ride back to camp where Julia and Jason were commiserating.

Jason’s interview: “I’m at the bottom. It sucks. I mean, I’m not going to quit; I’m going to try. There is room. There’s always room; there’s always a way to squeeze in somewhere. It’s; do you find it in time? I can’t believe I’m this close. I got to get a little closer. I just have to figure out how.”

Note that it’s always Jason who talks to us about persevering. While we know why Julia’s thoughts weren’t as important, the fact that the two didn’t get more of an equal treatment suggests that Jason won’t be going out next.

To Julia, he said they could find room if they got rid of Tai because keeping him would be stupid.

They were counting on Michele but they didn’t have a fourth. They agreed it couldn’t be Joe who was waiting on the beach for Aubry just like a puppy awaits its master’s return.

Jason will get a little closer by the end of the episode even if his plan didn’t work. He has been able to squeeze in but what will it get him in the end? As for Joe, even Mark shows more independence!

In interview, Julia explained that Tai was dangerous and would win if he gets to the Final three.

Julia said that their only option was Cydney. Jason agreed.

Jason’s interview: “We have a plan for Tai. I see a clear shot at getting with Julia and Michele but you need four. It only really left Cydney. Cydney likes to blindside; it’s obvious. Maybe she’s looking for another big play. We had a good relationship in the beginning, maybe she’ll flip. I got to sell, sell, sell.”

Jason’s sales pitch was done as soon as Michele and Aubry walked out of camp. He asked Cydney if she wanted to get Tai out. He told her that he, Julia and Michele were voting T-A-I so she could join them and either flush his idol or get him out of the game. Cydney said it made a lot of sense.

Cydney’s comments: “I think I put myself in a great position. I have my options open and at this point in the game, it’s all about what’s best for me. It’s a “Me” game, not a “We” game. If I think staying with my alliance is what’s best for me, that’s what I have to do but if I think that jumping ship to take out Tai will get me further, that’s what I have to do. It’s a win-win for me no matter what.”

Julia told us that the game was vicious and that you weren’t going to win if you are loyal and simply float to the end. She added: “You have to cheat and steal and mess things up and I think this blindside of Tai is definitely going to change the game.”

Michele should have listened to little Julia’s advice! What will the jury think when they hear that Michele had a way to save Julia and get rid of Tai but didn’t even write his name?

To Jason she said that they would eat Mark as soon as Tai was out.

Julia spoke too loudly because Mark heard her and went straight to warn Tai of the impending danger for both their asses!


"Dumbass, didn't you hear? Our asses are on the line.
Don't just sit there!"


The Immunity Challenge

Jason was sorry to give back the necklace but Jeff said he just had to win it again.

Will Jason win another immunity challenge? In a sense, it could be better for him not to win the one next week if he wants to blindside Tai. Tai will feel safer if the target is on Jason but maybe he will be blinded by the fact that Michele voted against him. If Aubry and Cydney can convince him that they are buying his plan to vote out Michele then maybe they can still flush that idol.

When the challenge started, Jason was the first to the platform but Aubry and Michele were close behind. Then they had to memorize numbers and symbols.

I’d love it if only once someone would tell Jeff to shut up so that they could think!

While Jeff complimented Joe for still fighting despite being 71, we saw that when he returned to the beach, the former FBI agent didn’t really try to solve the wheel combination. Jeff asked if he was sitting out. Joe said he was out of gas.

With Jeff first praising him for doing what he was doing at his age and then Joe saying he was out of gas, it sharply brings back into memory Jeff’s words during the season’s opening scene about the severe conditions. Our host said: “If they last long enough, merely exerting energy will become their biggest obstacle.” After the heat and cuts, that was Jeff’s third warning and we see it applying to Joe right now. I’m guessing that Joe is slowly realizing that he cannot win the game so he’s probably set short term goals for himself: Make it to the family visit and help Aubry with his vote as long as possible.

Jason was the first to untie a key but it didn’t open his lock. Julia had the right key but this was Michele’s challenge all the way. She thought of using sand to write the numbers and she got the right key on her first attempt. Despite being a bit behind Julia, she was the first to figure out the word puzzle. Jeff could not believe that Julia and Michele got it right on their first attempts. He was definitely impressed. He asked Michele how many numbers she was able to memorize. She said all of them. Jeff could only say wow while we saw Tai and Aubry shaking their head in disbelief.

Like our host, I have to say that was very impressive. A few more like that and it would be enough to present us with a deserving winner. The problem is that she impressed too much! When Jeff asked how many numbers she memorized, it would have been better to say she had some luck and got those she needed. From someone who could win a challenge, she suddenly became a challenge threat. Luckily, there are two guys who are still bigger threats.

Jason’s interview: “I needed to get that win and I got nothing. I got one swing at the plate so we need to make sure we have Cydney and Michele aboard on this plan to get rid of Tai or I’m screwed.”

Day 29

Even Mark was in awe of Michele


"Awe!"

Aubry’s interview: “Since the reward, it’s four plus Michele. Jason and Julia are on the outs. Jason’s a ticking time bomb so tonight looks like a super easy vote but I’m not sure if that’s the best move right now.”

The group held a meeting by the water well and even if Cydney first pointed the target at Jason, Tai and Aubry quickly pointed out that Julia had done well in many challenges.

Aubry’s interview continued: “Jason is a physical threat but he’s also a very polarizing character. When it comes to the jury, there are going to be people who love him and people who hate him. So, I don’t think he could win at the end of the day. The thing about Julia is that she is not only a well-rounded player when it comes to the physical part of things, Julia doesn’t really have any blood on her hands but she is proving herself to be strategic enough to be able to dodge and maneuver to keep herself in this game.”

The thing about Julia could also be repeated almost word for word about Michele. Like her friend, the bartender doesn’t have blood on her hand and she is a well-rounded player. So the question becomes: Is Aubry blind to the threat posed by Michele? The difference between the two is that Julia has made some tactical moves that clearly indicate she wasn’t riding coat tails. The difference may look small now but it could become huge for the jury.

The group agreed that it should be Julia.


"Eat mor Kow!"

It seemed that no one was watching Michele’s reaction because it would have been easy to see she wasn’t happy with the decision.

Michele’s thoughts: “I was originally on board when we were voting Jason but now they decided they want Julia out, it freaking sucks. In a perfect world, I would love to go further with Julia. I trust her wholeheartedly and she’s proved herself to me over and over again and we’ve been together since day one so I don’t want to have to write down the name of my biggest ally.”

When Michele asked the group what she should tell Julia when she asks about the vote, Cydney said: “If they ask me and you, we are going with the Tai thing.”

Now that got Tai’s attention! What Tai thing he must have wondered. In front of everyone, Cydney should have agreed they were saying it was going to be Jason only to keep the Tai thing between the two of them. It’s all in the details, isn’t it?

Tai’s reaction: “I don’t want to hear my name. It’s never good in Survivor. I don’t trust and I’m still feeling a little bit uncomfortable with Michele and Cydney. This is the survivor game so I have to dot my T’s and cross my I’s or whatever how you say it. So, tonight I am going to bring my idol and my advantage. I am not going to go home with an idol in my pocket.”

How many times as he said that? It sounds more and more like that is just what is going to happen.

Michele’s interview: “You know, earlier, I told everyone that I was going to vote for Julia to keep everyone happy and to lock in that I am with them one hundred percent but if Jason and Julia really do have Cydney than the Tai vote will work out and it would also save Julia. It would be great because it’s been killing me to think that I would have to go against her.”

In Survivor, you have to be with them one million percent...or at least 150 to 200 percent. What’s Michele thinking only giving 100%?!

Michele told Julia she was voting Tai and hoping that Cydney was with them. Right after, we saw Jason working on Cydney. She didn’t look really enthusiastic about it though.

Jason’s interview: “So I’m hoping we’ve got the numbers to get rid of Tai but it doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee. If Tai plays his idol, he stays and one of us goes.”

Cydney’s thoughts on the matter: “Tonight, Michele and I have two options: We can either go with Julia and Jason and blindside Tai or do the original plan of going with our alliance and blindsiding Julia.

While Michele and Cydney were still discussing their options, Julia was jumping with joy at the thought of sending Tai home with an idol in his pocket.

Putting on her necklace, Michele gave the last interview of the evening: “A lot is riding on this Tribal for me. I have a decision to make regarding my position with Julia and my alliance. I don’t want to backstab either side. I’m struggling to decide which action needs to be taken. It can really affect your game mentally and emotionally. All I can do is fight and play my game.”

While this episode was much better for Michele and her game, we saw the sun disappearing behind some black clouds as they walked to Tribal Council. Usually we see the sunset so this looked much more ominous. It signaled an early end to Michele’s chances in the game. Having the security of the necklace should have emboldened her to make a big move but she didn’t. What will she be able to say to the jury?

Tribal Council

Jeff asked Julia about the state of the game.

She just had to look at the seating arrangement to realize that she was on the hot seat with Tai.

Julia told Jeff it was a crucial point of the game and that all their actions would affect their chances. She added that only Michele could feel safe.

Jason said that the jury will remember everything. He added: “Someone in the five is number five.”

Scot’s scowl showed us he was remembering clearly Tai’s actions.

Julia couldn’t be clearer: “I think that, in the alliance of five, Michele and Cydney are on the bottom. I think Aubry is holding Joe’s hand to the final three. I think Tai could win this so that’s something that you want to shake up.”

Nick was in agreement with Joe’s role.

Tai admitted that hearing his name was nerve-wracking.

Throughout the council, Tai looked as if he was having severe stomach cramps.

Aubry also said she was a little bit afraid but she had to rely on her relationships.
Jason replied that he trusted his alliance which didn’t help Scot. He compared Tai to a flapjack.
Tai said that Jason’s bond with Scot was too strong.
Jason couldn’t understand why Tai left an alliance because of a close bond to join another where Aubry and Joe were even closer.

Well, it should be evident that Aubry and Joe aren’t as formidable opponents but no one brought it up.

Michele said she was constantly thinking and looking ahead. She added: “You definitely have to make a move at some point or another in order for your game to be respected.”
Cydney said you want the jury to respect your game.

Nick and Debbie’s reaction to Cydney’s words were quite positive while Neal and Debbie didn’t react to Michele’s earlier comment. The jury would respect Cyd’s game more than Michele.

Jeff tried to throw Jason a lifeline: “You want back in, the five need to make a move to make their case in the end and somewhere in there might be a marriage that one could help the other.”

Jason answered that he couldn’t have said it better. He added that everyone will have to show how they Outplayed, Outwitted and Outlasted everyone else.

In Jason’s place, I would have told Jeff that he couldn’t have given Tai a better argument to play his idol but maybe that’s just me...

Michele told Jeff she was relying on her gut and her intuition.
Cydney said she was prepared to make a big move.

Tai told Jeff he didn’t feel comfortable at all.

It was time to vote.

We saw Aubry write Julia’s name and heard her say: “I’m not crossing it out this time.”

Was that inserted only to close a loophole in Aubry’s story?

When Jeff went to tally the vote, we had a very interesting moment where Tai whispered in Aubry’s ear, asking if he should play his idol.


Aubry answered that she thought he was fine but that it was his gut.

Tai didn’t play his idol.

Julia and Jason voted for Tai but everyone else voted for Julia.

The college student hugged Michele as she went to grab her torch. Michele was in tears when Jeff extinguished her flame.

Jeff sent them back to camp by saying: “Maybe for the first time in this game, nobody came into Tribal Council feeling confident. Fear has entered the game and when fear is in control, anything can happen.”

The Story

It’s not surprising that at this time of the game we hear the players mention the need to impress the jury but rarely has it been driven as often and as hard as in this episode. They are all acutely aware of how their actions are perceived by the jury. In turn, we have to look at the jury’s reactions to see what they think. I know there are jury house videos but I only look at what the cameras show us during Tribal Council. Cydney and Tai get the more positive reactions from everyone but Scot while they seem to realize that Aubry has some control in the game as evidenced when Julia brought up her closeness to Joe. Michele hadn’t impressed them up to now and this council couldn’t have helped her case.

The Characters

Joe: Running out of energy during the challenge looks like a signal that Joe will be the third person removed from this game because it fits with Jeff’s episode one warning. I think Joe must realize that a follower won’t win this game and it’s much too late to change everyone’s perception about being Aubry’s obedient puppy. He must be hoping for the family visit so I don’t think he’d go out during the next cycle but probably the one after that.

Mark: In some ways, Survivor is like Boxing: It’s not easy to outlast your opponents and it’s quite an accomplishment to become champion. So maybe Survivor should have categories like Boxing. If they did then Mark would be the undisputed champion of the featherweight category! He’s become quite the character and his social game has allowed him to last longer than anyone expected. He doesn’t even need to win immunity and he didn’t even look for hidden idols. That’s my kind of Survivor! I have a feeling that if anyone is seen killing Mark that the audience will turn against that person. It will be presented probably even worse than when Steph decided to eat the sacrificial Mayan Chicken.

Tai: It can’t be a good sign that Jason looked more sympathetic in the scene where Tai presented his apology. Jeff’s message about fear entering the game seemed mostly directed at Tai who had been on pins and needles during the whole exercise. If he is letting his fears take control then that leads us to expect he will do something dumb. While the majority of the jury felt sympathy for Tai, he cannot have too many Tribal Councils like this one where he has to ask for last minute advice to Aubry.

Jason: He told Michele and Cydney that they’ll never get rid of Tai now but I think it will be Jason himself who won’t be removed anytime soon. However, his presentation has been significantly worse than Chris who long ago found himself in a similar situation. Jason has a very touching personal story and he’s played a good game. The jury won’t refuse to vote for him because he mistreated Alicia way back in the first week of the season but the editors were telling us that we shouldn’t root for him despite some nice personal touches. Like Aubry said, Jason is a very polarizing figure so he wouldn’t get a majority of votes but he could get the plurality given the right circumstances.

Michele: Her role of supporting actress should lead her to being the last Beauty standing. It probably also means that she will get some votes at the last TC but that she will not receive the title of Sole Survivor. Like Michele, Kim was able to stay happy, stay humble and stay sane. That was a big reason why people felt they could confide in her and trust her. The main difference is that Kim knew how to use the people around her to her own benefit. Michele only uses her social skills to get close to people. They trust her but they are using her. Michele knows how to socialize but she doesn’t use her position very well. To use Cydney’s comment, Michele’s game still sounds like a “we” game. She wanted to keep Julia but didn’t want to go against her alliance. In the end, she decided to do what was best for the group.

Another thing to note is that Jeff didn’t mention Michele’s impressive win during Tribal Council. I’m sure it came up during the hour long discussion they had on the island but since it didn’t enter the edited version it must mean that the jury wasn’t impressed enough.

Cydney: She was part of the discussion that led to the biggest move of the season but she didn’t get any credit from Jeff about it. Worse is the fact that she was named as being in the bottom of the five person alliance so, as far as the jury is concerned, she should have made a move against Tai this week. Will she be able to make her case and prove to them that she was at the core of the decision? Even Julia and Jason must think she got cold feet and voted against Julia because that was what Aubry wanted.

Aubry: For her, this was another terrific episode and it culminated in a great moment when Tai asked her for advice. Many will say that she should have told him to play the idol and that mistake would cost her dearly but I think she played it perfectly. It showed the jury that Tai relied on her judgment and she was right in saying that Tai was safe. If he had wasted his idol he could have been upset with Aubry and he still had that mystery advantage to fear. Now, Aubry knows many important things about Tai: First, he doesn’t have a super idol than can be played after the votes are read because he was truly afraid of that vote. Next, she must think it’s a good bet that he doesn’t even have two ordinary idols or else why keep one if you have a spare. Most importantly, she knows Tai trusts her with his life in the game and that could enable her to learn about the vote advantage if she asks and it could also enable her to blindside him if she wants.

It looks like Aubry’s decision regarding the vote against Tai will be the crux of the next episode. The outcome of it may decide how the jury differentiates between Aubry and Michele. Michele didn’t fare too well at her crossroads so how will Aubry react? Michele’s tears flowed after her decision while we see Aubry will have tears before making it. I think she will be smiling once Jeff reads the vote and not only next week but also at the beginning of the reunion.

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05-08-16, 01:24 PM (EST)
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77. "Episode 12 - Fractures:"
Previously on Survivor

Everything seemed to be going right for Tai…

Tai: “I have power now.”

...he had an idol, an advantage in the game and an alliance of five, but Jason and Julia saw that Tai was the biggest threat in the game...

Julia: “It’s stupid not to get rid of Tai.”

...they tried to convince Cydney and Michele to take Tai out...

Talking to Michele, Julia said: “Getting rid of Tai is crucial.”

...which left Cydney and Michele with a big decision: Take out the biggest threat or vote off one of Michele’s closest ally.

At tribal Council, Jason made his case for voting out Tai but Michele and Cydney stuck with the majority and sent Julia to the jury, leaving Jason alone to fend for himself.

I found that this recap was very bland. It was as if Jeff didn’t want to give credit to anyone. Tai didn’t come out of it looking good because he didn’t seem to realize that all the power could put a target on his back and he didn’t do anything constructive with that power. We were told that Cydney and Michele had a nice opportunity to open up the game in their favor but they simply decided to ignore it. It makes Michele look even worse than Cydney because she voted out her closest ally. Aubry and Joe were nameless faces in the majority who got their way simply because the two women got cold feet, not because of anything good manoeuvring.

With Jason and Julia recognizing Tai as the biggest threat in the game and making a case to vote him out at TC, this recap is basically saying those were the only two good players. Now they are both gone so what do we have left? While I don’t know who is going to win this game, their story would have been better served if Jeff had been more incisive. He could have said something like Cydney refused to give power to Julia and Jason. He could have said that Michele sacrificed one ally to solidify her position in the game. He could have said that Aubry gained Tai’s trust and got rid of a dangerous player. Put all three comments in the recap and the audience sees three good players fighting to win instead of two women with cold feet and a lucky member of the majority.

I’d say this is clear evidence that production has forgotten how to tell a proper story. They really should hire someone who knows how to write.

Fractures

Day 29

Mark was anxiously waiting to see who had been voted out.


I think I'm winning my Pool!

At least the cameramen haven’t lost their sense of humor. Wouldn't that be every Survivor fan's dream to have the bird's eye view!

Tai was commending Jason for his persuasiveness. He said he almost played his idol and asked Aubry for advice.

Jason’s interview: “Tribal Council was pretty heated. People now can see that I can preach...I make mothers rat their sons out...Now is the time to start making changes.”

To Cydney and Michele, Jason said that Tai and Aubry would be hard to beat while he wouldn’t be a bad person to have on their side. He added that it was time to start scheming.

Jason was offering a very appetizing final 3 combination to Cydney and Michele yet they didn’t listen. With Tai putting 2 votes on Michele while Aubry and Joe voted against Jason, three votes on either Tai or Aubry would have worked. They couldn’t know at this time that Tai wasn’t going to vote with Aubry and Joe but they must have had a good idea before entering Jeff’s temple. By the end of the episode, we were going to realize that Tai may not be so hard to beat so what does it say about Jason’s view of Aubry. Is she really hard to beat?

Michele’s reaction: “Jason kind of hit me and Cydney real hard. I do think it would be smart to go to the end with him but I don’t want to put doubt at all in my alliance so that’s why I voted Julia because there is no better way to show my loyalty than to vote out my biggest ally in this game.”

Michele should consult a dictionary for the definition of loyalty! Julia must have been scratching her head when she heard this on TV. It actually does make sense in this evil game but it sure sounds weird!

Talking to Joe and Aubry, Tai said that they had it made if they stuck together. He told them about his extra vote and that he would use it at the next tribal Council.

Aubry’s interview: “All of sudden Tai reveals that he has an advantage which is an extra vote and a hidden immunity idol. It’s a little scary; Tai has so many different levels of control and I got to keep on Tai’s side.”

Tai’s interview: “Right now, my alliance is Aubry and Joe and we are a tight group of three already and Cydney is number four. That leaves Michele and Jason. So, the next vote will be either Jason or... but he may be a lesser threat than Michele. She is a little more rounded player. I have an extra vote for one of them.”

The episode will show us that Tai was completely wrong about his alliance. Did he really think that flipping to a new alliance would put him in the center of it all? Power has gone to his head. It must be noted that Aubry should have talked more to Tai to make sure he wouldn’t come up with that half baked plan. She knew how Cydney reacts to orders so a talk with Tai about the collegial approach would have done wonders.

Day 30

We saw that Mark would excel at the gross food challenge. It had no problem eating a big fat grub that even Tai said he couldn’t eat. I bet Mark would also do well in a game of tag. Mark is another well rounded player!

Jason, in interview said that he gave up hope of eating that chicken long ago because everyone loves that stupid bird. Jason added: “Mark is guaranteed to see day 39 now!”

We saw the same thing in One World with the pig that simply strolled into camp one day. That hog gave us a few funny scenes but it never became a character in the story.

Jason went on telling us he was frustrated because no one was strategizing with him.

Michele, Cydney and Joe were shown in succession when Jason talked about people missing the opportunity to talk with him. It’s as if he was telling us that those were the three that would regret it the most. It’s interesting that at this point the viewers were still being encouraged to see Jason as a good player. His interview made complete sense and was all about changing the game for those that weren’t in the inner circle. It could be telling us that some players missed a good chance. On the other hand, he was probably Jeff’s favorite at this point. That alone could have earned him a better presentation than he deserved.

Jason told Joe that they were wasting the concept of the game because everyone accepted their position.

Joe’s interview: “I don’t think Jason has any respect for much that doesn’t go his way. When it doesn’t go his way, he’s vulgar and he tries to bulldoze you but I think people see through that.”

Jason said he had stopped contributing to camp life and was just eating their food. Because of the nature of the game he realized that could actually keep him around.

The Reward Challenge

I laughed when the players arrived at the challenge because it looked as if it was raining only on Probst!


Rain, Rain, Rain Showers/Good Day Sunshine

When Jeff was on screen, we saw a downpour but when the camera flipped to the players it was sunny for a while! I’m guessing they needed a few takes for that scene.

The Yellow team had Joe, Cydney and Aubry going against the Blue team of Tai, Michele and Jason.

Right off the bat, Jason got a big lead over Joe and his team kept it all the way.

I noted that Jeff gave all the credit for the blue team’s victory to Jason, saying that he had great leadership and was fully in control. Couldn’t he have given some credit to Tai and Michele? Maybe he would have if it mattered. The team of Joe, Aubry and Cydney couldn’t work well together for this challenge so how can they do any better in the game? It seemed to tell us that those three will fracture before the end. It’s also possible that the challenge was telling us Michelle needed to keep working with Jason.

Tai’s confessional: “It’s very exciting to go on that reward and I love animals but I’m just worried. I worry too much that while I’m gone the team will fall apart back at camp.”

The team would fall apart but when he came back!

Camp Day 30

Joe’s confessional: “We lost the challenge...I performed like a 6 month old so I’m embarrassed by it but what are you going to do?”

It seemed like his answer was to act like the camp boss which didn’t please Cydney.

Cydney’s interview: “I’m sitting here trying to get a meal, aka 5 pieces of coconut down my throat and apparently I sat down too long and I had to get up off my butt and get firewood. I was like, no, no, no, no. I don’t care what the problem is or how tired you are; you get it yourself. I don’t do orders well. It’s been proven this entire game. It’s what happened with the Brawn tribe. I don’t think Mr Joe understands you don’t need large flames to keep the fire going. We’re in the middle of the jungle, we don’t need any more heat, baby.”

Taking a walk with Aubry, Cydney said she wasn’t going to take that the whole way.

That’s the first sign that Joe can be on his way out. Maybe Jason voted against Joe because Cydney told him about her frustrations and he thought there was a chance she’d act on it.

We saw that Aubry didn’t like being bossed around either when Joe told her to lift the pot.

Aubry’s comments: “I don’t know what Joe’s problem is. He wants to burn the damn place down, I don’t know. It’s hard too because Cydney isn’t going to be bossed around and told what to do and the last thing I need is Cydney blowing up the game because then we’re screwed.”

Aubry showed she had a nice read of people and a good analysis of the game but she should have pushed her reasoning further. Cydney refused to follow Tai’s order and she insisted on getting her way. Does that mean Cydney and Aubry are screwed?

The Reward

For a wildlife preserve, we only saw one elephant and three monkeys. Where were the other animals?

Michele’s interview: “We went to the wildlife sanctuary and had this wonderful picnic set up. I was in heaven.”

Tai: “We were having a great time and then we saw an elephant walk up...”

Jason had a nice interview about his daughter relating so well with animals.

Tai also had a confessional about Jason’s daughter. He ended it by saying: “I’m definitely warming up to him a lot. Even though Jason is very persuasive at Tribal, Michele didn’t make any enemies with the jury so right now I think Michele should go next.”

Michele’s comments: “I think Jason wants to seem a little bit softer than he is. I want to think he is enjoying the animals and doing it for his kid but when the machete and the ax situation happened, I saw that evil side come out. So if Jason doesn’t win immunity the best case scenario for me would be to get Jason out next.”

We wouldn’t have to wait long to see that Jason wouldn’t win immunity. It’s a little troubling to hear Michele put the target directly on Jason after he had a heart warming confessional about his daughter especially since we heard that Jason was being honest and not trying to use it in the game this time. We also know that he wasn’t directly responsible for the machete and the ax situation. He was only following Scot’s lead.

The Immunity Challenge

When Jeff asked for the necklace, he noted that Michele wasn’t going to help him at all. She countered by saying she met him half-way.

As Jeff noted, Joe, 71, was out to an early lead and he did well for a little while but when his blocks fell over he never recovered. He couldn’t even spell immunity let alone win it!

Cydney, who had been dead last for a long time, was the only one who didn’t drop her blocks and it was the winning strategy.

The challenge did have many lead changes but I’m not sure it was a record. It often happens in these carnival-type games.

Day 32

Tai’s interview: “For tonight’s Tribal, I’ve decided that Michele is a bigger threat than Jason so I will try to explain it to the group to vote for Michele.”

Seeing that Michele was absent, Tai went right to the point: “I think it’s Michele.” That was followed by prolonged silence until Joe said he’d rather go for Jason. Before anyone else could give their opinion, Michele joined them.

It seems that Tai’s idea of an explanation is “I think it’s Michele”. While he is a great character, we can definitely say that Tai is terrible at this game. He is likable but he doesn’t show any social courtesies.

Tai went on: “Unfortunately, Michele joined us four and we hadn’t come to a decision yet but most likely it’s going to be Michele. She thinks Jason is the next to go but I’m going to use my extra vote for Michele. So, maybe we are going to have four or five numbers and we see what happens.”

Michele was heard saying that there was no need to scramble for this vote.

Well, she would have to scramble after all and she did it very well.

Left alone with Aubry, Tai said Michele was the bigger threat. Aubry appeased him by saying she was with him. Tai then went to Jason to tell him he should vote against Michele.

In interview, Jason said he didn’t trust Tai and that he wanted to vote for Joe.

Cydney’s interview: “Jason was supposed to be voted off a long time ago so hopefully I can convince people of why Jason needs to go instead of Michele. Tai is trying to dictate what goes on and I’m like no, you’re trying to intimidate people into going with your decisions. Joe was intimidated so that leaves a little suspicion in my eyes. It’s not sitting too right with me.”

Cydney told Michele that Tai was going for her. Michele wanted to know if Aubry was also but Cydney answered: “Tai is.” She added that she would do her best to get them off her back.

Michele’s interview: “Little did I know that Tai put my head on the chopping block and he’s putting it in their head that he wants me out but I’m kind of on a tight time limit to talk to the people I haven’t talked to so tonight at Tribal, I’m going to do some damage control and hope that Jason can go and I can last another day in this game.”

Talking a walk with Aubry, Cydney said she had an issue with someone dictating what they should do at this point.

Aubry’s interview: “Tai kind of decided that we are getting rid of Michele and I actually agree with that decision. Michele pissed nobody off and everyone gets along with Michele but it wasn’t the most democratic thing I’ve ever seen and Cydney thinks it’s the wrong decision and she is not going to be told what to do. But then Tai is part of my core alliance so it’s a tough spot to be in. I’m in a weird position.” Right then the camera showed us Aubry telling Cydney that she had a different opinion so Cydney asked if she was going to vote with her or with them. Instead of letting us hear her answer to Cydney, we rejoined Aubry for the next part of her confessional which she delivered in tears: “I feel mentally exhausted today. This is a rough one.” To Cydney, we heard her say it was like Sophie’s choice which made Cydney laugh. Aubry concluded: “I have no clue who I’m voting for tonight. It’s going to be a game time decision. I think Tribal is going to be alive and I think I might be someone waking it up.”

Once more, the clouds covered the sun after the tribe headed out to meet Jeff. Last week it looked like it was a bad omen for Michele but maybe we should see it as a sign that these players are lost in the clouds and that they don’t have good visibility.

Tribal Council

Jason agreed with Jeff that the game was a lot like the last challenge where you think you have it but you don’t.

Asked if the necklace gave her a bit more sway in the decision, Cydney pointed out that someone else was trying to dictate the vote.

Michele raised her hand to tell Jeff that Tai was the one giving orders and that he had two immunity idols.

Tai replied that he only said he had an advantage but that he didn’t know if it was an idol. He also said everyone in the alliance had a voice.

That got a reaction from Cydney.

She told Jeff that it seemed it was either Tai’s way or the highway.

Tai said he wanted to have a moment with Cydney alone.

That got a reaction from Aubry.

She told Jeff that she thought Tai had talked with Cydney she was confused why he needed more time.

Michele jumped in saying that as an alliance they had said who it was going to be so it says a lot that he wanted to have private discussions.

The jury liked that comment.

Tai said there was a big group but that there was also a smaller group within it.

That told Michele she was on the bottom of the pecking order.
Aubry, Cydney and Joe shared a look while Michele said she thought the group was on the same page.

When Jeff asked her if she knew where she sat in that group, Michele nicely answered by saying she knew where Tai thought she sat in the group and it would be a shame if the others thought the same way since Tai has turned on every alliance he’s ever had while she’s proven her loyalty time after time.

Debbie and Nick also liked hearing Michele mocking Tai for not flipping on the last vote.

Tai then said he didn’t know how she wound up in the alliance.
That surprised the other members of the alliance.

Michele pointed out that she was part of the alliance first.

For Tai, Michele was an extra person.

Michele called that malarkey.

Aubry pointed out that Cydney and Michele don’t trust Tai and that she can’t control what Tai says. She added that her style of play was different than Tai’s.

Finally, Jeff turned back to Jason whom asked how he was doing.

I think Jason would have liked it even more if Jeff had completely lost sight of him.

He said he liked hearing about all the fractures but that he could still be going home. He added that he knew who was going to be the next to go.

The camera told us he was thinking it would be Michele.

It was time to vote.

When Jeff said he was going to tally the votes, Tai interrupted him and said he wanted to use his advantage. He told the group he’d have a second vote.

We saw that Tai voted twice for Michele

Jason voted for Joe

Michele, Cydney, Aubry and Joe voted against Jason.

Jeff’s final words: “It appears that by voting out Jason, you got rid of the one person still swimming alone which leaves five of you with not enough room in the raft for everybody.”

The Story

We are practically being told that the last five players standing aren’t very good at the game. Joe has all but shut down, Tai has no empathy, Aubry has anxiety attacks that lead to questionable decisions, Cydney cannot take orders but she can’t stop dishing them out while Michele just follows along at the expense of her closest ally. Besides Tai, I doubt that most viewers care about any of these players and even the gardener’s fans must realize that he hasn’t looked too smart during some Tribal Councils. So, in this game of lead changes where you can win simply because everyone else drops out, do we really have a “winner’s edit”? Many argue that it never exists but I always use Chris’ story in Vanuatu and Todd’s in China. Chris was shown as the only player using Game Theory while Todd was presented as the one who could understand the teachings of Sun Tzu and the “Art of War”. However, I’m not sure this time. We’ll see how production gets out of this messy story.

The Characters

Joe: Judging by his inability to spell the word “Immunity” I think he’s shutting down mentally. While Cydney didn’t like his bossiness in camp, I’d say it comes from frustration. It’s hard to accept that age can cripple body and mind but Joe is coming to the realization that he can’t compete with these young people.

Tai: Judging by the jurors’ reactions, I think Tai would have trouble winning a vote. His social game is atrocious and he is unable to present his case to his allies, let alone the jury. He’s now safe for the next Tribal Council because it’s the last chance to play his idol. I doubt he’d be dumb enough to give it away unless he wins immunity. After that however, I don’t think this flipper can win the game.

Cydney: Did she force the alliance to vote against Jason only because she didn’t like being told to vote against Michele? Yes, Jason should have been voted out before this Tribal Council but just last episode she told us that Tai was the bigger threat. This would have been the perfect occasion to get rid of him if she had simply bit her tongue and pretended to go along with everything he said. Jason was offering a glorious road to the Final 3 but she acted like a frustrated child. Even the faces she made during Tribal Council looked childish.

Michele: What I like about Michele is her social game. It wouldn’t have stood out against a great tactical player but we simply don’t have one this season. She finally came out in this episode and her eloquence turned her argument against Tai into a technical knock-out. Her harangue was perfect and it showed the jury that she wouldn’t let Tai walk all over her. That could be the catalysis she needed to start a chain reaction from the members of the jury.

What I don’t like about Michele’s story is that her road was too easy. We were told that the elements would be the determining factor this season yet she has never been shown to suffer from them. Her stay in the Beauty tribe looked more like a vacation than an ordeal. Like Jeff said, it almost meant she wasn’t worthy. The same applies to making moves when even she said the players needed to make a big move to have a case to present to the jury. She’s wasted opportunities in two successive Tribal Councils. The threat of Tai’s idol excuses this vote but what about letting her closest ally go without a fight? She’s proven she’s loyal but she hasn’t proven she can make a move.

Aubry: What I don’t like about Aubry’s story is her constant indecision and the appearance that she keeps making the wrong decision. Wouldn’t it have been better to vote out Tai or even Michele instead of Jason? Tai will feel betrayed and he still has an idol so that puts Aubry in immediate danger.
Keeping the friendly Michele in the game will become a long term problem.

What I liked about her game is that she told us she’d wake up Tribal Council and it was her comment about Tai and Cydney that really started the fireworks. After that, the argument heated up between Tai and Michele over their respective positions in the alliance. Despite Aubry’s tears, she was the voice of reason during the episode, the one that was able to deal with Tai and Cydney. She told us she preferred going with Tai but his lamentable display during TC would have made her look terrible. The jury would have felt that she was intimidated by Tai and voted with him only because she was afraid.

What I like most about Aubry’s story is that she fits nicely in the themes of enduring the elements and of moving forward despite all the ups and down of the game. She was the first to suffer from the heat and she needed treatment for an infection but still kept going. The Brains tribe’s chaos put her in a lot of danger but she’s found a way through. Like Joe told her in episode one: “It gets exciting when you get to the end.” To use Peter’s words also from the premiere, Aubry is the best fit for a winner’s edit.

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05-10-16, 11:06 AM (EST)
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78. "RE: Episode 12 - Fractures:"
LAST EDITED ON 05-10-16 AT 11:06 AM (EST)

Again, I disagree with you that Tai's social game was atrocious. But I see we differ on what a good social game is, so no more need be said.

But you and I analyze Aubry's story and chance of winning equally, I'm proud to say. However - minor point - I see some of her perceived indecisiveness as a positive aspect of her game. It demonstrates a self critical attitude and forced her to be more flexible in her decision making. And I think that in most seasons, that is a crucial requirement for winning.

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05-14-16, 02:47 PM (EST)
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80. "RE: Episode 12 - Fractures:"
I'm sorry that I missed this comment, Kingfish. I think Michele explained why Tai has a bad social game when she said you can't put up walls in this game.

I'm also enjoying Aubry's layers of doubt. It really shows the difficulty of this game but, from an editing point of view, indecision is often a bad sign. At least, she's following the roller coaster theme to the season.


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05-14-16, 12:56 PM (EST)
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79. "Episode 13 - Taking Control"
Previously on Survivor

With the million dollars in sight, everyone wanted control of who would go to the end.

Tai had an idol and an advantage in the game and thought he could control the vote. He wanted to take out Michele who he considered the biggest threat and believed he had the support of his closest ally, Aubry...

Tai, to Aubry: “She is the bigger threat” to which Aubry replies: “Oh! I’m with you.”

...But he pushed too hard and offended Cydney who fought to keep her own ally, Michele.

At Tribal Council, Tai played his advantage to insure he got his way but instead his alliance turned on him, leaving the four strong and Tai unsure of his place in the game.

In this fight for control, Jeff told us that Cydney won this round over Tai who looked completely lost at the end of TC. The gardener would soon tell us who he thinks stripped him of all the power he thought he had.

Taking Control

Night 32

Joe was first to explain the vote to Tai, telling him that the people didn’t want Jason around.

Tai’s interview: “I just come back tonight after Tribal. I’m trying to think what exactly happened. I thought everybody vote for Michele but all four of them vote for Jason. So, my extra vote was just wasted tonight and I was in the dark and that’s the worst thing to do is kept outside the circle.”

Tai said that everyone in an alliance should listen to each other.

Michele countered: “The thing about an alliance is you don’t turn on it and you’ve done it now three times.”

That’s true but Nick and Julia could say she turned on her allies twice...

Tai said everyone had a voice including Joe but then Michele pointed out she didn’t have one. Tai’s answer was to say he didn’t know where Michele fit in the group but Michele said she was in the group before he even joined.

Michele’s reaction: “Tai put both of his votes towards me because obviously he wants to put me on the outs and it’s kind of like a slap in the face. Fortunately, I kind of lucked out that Cydney did protect me but I did get votes against me so I don’t know where I stand and I could get voted out next.”
For someone who didn’t want her bro to carry her, it seems Michele had no problem when her sis did it. I’m not sure if Michele’s supporters enjoyed hearing her admit that she needed luck to be saved but it was an honest appraisal of the situation. Used properly in front of the jury, honesty always earns respect.

Tai then said: “Seriously, there was (sic!) two alliances to me that did not involve you, Michele. I know that sounds hurtful but you understand where...”

Michele said she didn’t understand but that she didn’t need to understand him.

Well, I don’t understand Tai and it does matter to me! What were those two alliances that Tai mentioned? We really only know about the one with Aubry, Cydney and Joe. Was Tai still counting Jason as an ally? He did tell him to vote against Michele so maybe he is that delusional...

Tai in interview: “I’m still really confused. I don’t know exactly what happened. Aubry is the one that told me she felt strongly that Michele should go home so my feelings are hurt especially by Aubry. She is the only one I truly trust and I feel she pulled a fast one on me.”

Sitting alone with Aubry, Tai asked: “Why am I out on a limb when you and I agree that it’s going to be Michele? I am totally fine with picking Jason.”

Aubry answered: “People felt that when it came up in a group that they weren’t allowed to express their opinion.” She then added that she should have told him.

Aubry’s interview: “I left Tai out of the loop on the vote because Tai has had so much control in this game and I needed to reclaim it. But, Tai feels like I betrayed him and that’s very big to Tai when he feels like he’s been hurt and so I’m not sure I can work with Tai.”

If the recap was somewhat thin when it came to giving credit, Tai was much clearer. For him, the move was made by Aubry. Even if it was Cydney’s plan, Aubry pulled the fast one on Tai by shifting the vote and then she told us exactly why she did it. I think it speaks volumes that we heard Aubry say that she reclaimed control right after Jeff’s recap started with the phrase: “With the million dollars in sight, everyone wanted control of who would go to the end”. If this is indeed a quest for control over who goes to the end, Aubry’s reclamation came at an opportune time but Joe’s misfortune will force her to do it all over again. Her roller coaster ride isn’t over yet and we also have to wonder if she will make the right decision in the end.

After telling Aubry that she made him sound unreasonable, Tai had another interview: “I feel completely alone. I don’t know who to trust. I’m most worried about is Aubry and Joe. I put all my eggs in their basket and I don’t know where to move from here.”

Having put all my eggs in Aubry’s basket myself, I know how Tai feels but I find it encouraging to hear him put some doubt on Aubry’s chances just by saying he may go in another direction. Winning Survivor should never look easy despite what we’ve seen for some lately.

The Reward “Challenge”

I found it interesting to hear Jeff first say: “We are down to five” and then see the camera lens move away from Joe and Tai to focus on the three women. It almost implied: “five for now but soon it will be only those three.”

The challenge was supposed to be a race but why even include the run through the jungle if the players had to wait for everyone to toss their bags before they could retrieved the ones that missed the targets? It looked as dumb as those scenes at the end of the Amazing Race where all but one team has checked in and we still see the last pair go through the roadblock or detour even if it means nothing. We just saw the most exciting 2 minutes in sports Saturday in Kentucky while Cambodia showed us the most boring 5:30 minutes!

I guess they wanted to let Joe have his day. Doesn’t that make the rest of the episode look staged? Jeff nicely kept to the script, giving Joe a lot of credit for being... how shall we call it? the slowest??

Joe first picked Aubry to join him at the spa. When asked for a second partner, Joe let Aubry make the decision and she chose Cydney.

In those rewards, it’s always better to be picked than to be the one forced to make the decision so why would Aubry make that decision? We didn’t hear recriminations though so it didn’t hurt her at least as far as the edit showed.

Aubry in interview explained her decision: “I chose Cydney to go on reward because everything is king of up in the air with Tai so that kind of forces me to look at what my other options are to go to the end.”

Michele’s interview: “As I was leaving the reward challenge, all I’m thinking is OK, Cydney, Aubry and Joe; that’s maybe the final three. So I definitely have to take a risk and try to find a way to change the pecking order.”

Once more, luck will work in her favor.

The Reward

Last week, we had first gone back to camp, the images of the reward coming later. The order was reversed this time. Was it because it showed Aubry and Cydney before Michele and Tai both times?

Aubry was the spokesperson: “We land on this gorgeous beach and we scarf and gorge ourselves on all this magnificent food. It was like heaven.”

Joe told us he wasn’t a big steak guy but he sure went for it here.

Considering the difference between 5th and 3rd, that was probably a $25000 steak so I certainly hope it was good.

Cydney’s observations: “Mr Joe is loading up on beef... and I knew from my personal experience that Mr Joe wasn’t going to be in a good place later on.”

Joe then said he’d like all three to stick together to the end. When Cydney agreed, Joe asked if they were going to vote off Tai next. Aubry pointed out that they couldn’t because he had an idol. Cydney and Aubry showed Joe that they would happily get rid of Tai at the one after. That’s when Joe said Tai was Aubry’s only competition. Cydney agreed saying they were just going along for the ride.

Cydney thoughts: “Aubry, Joe and I could potentially be a Final 3 but I’m still trying to downplay myself as much as possible. At this point, I’m nodding, smiling, just going along for the ride and I’ll be happy to win the million dollars when I make it there.”

Joe went on about Aubry being the best even if she thinks she has enemies but she played the game hard and just being social won’t get you anything. He added that he and Cydney were no threats at all. That’s when Aubry said there were other threats out there.

Aubry’s thoughts: “Joe said I am the only threat basically in this game right now and that Cydney was content just being in the final 3 which is such baloney. It made me realize: Oh! my god! Cydney is a threat in this game. She was a key part in some blindsides, she’s won a challenge and to a degree, she is more likable. So maybe I don’t want to go to the Final 3 with Cydney. Tai might be a better option for me.”
The scene concluded with Aubry telling Joe and Cydney that this was what she needed to get her head back on.

The expression we saw on Aubry’s face showed the importance of this realization. It seemed to tell us that she had seen Cydney’s threat just in time. This is also why I prefer Aubry’s story to Michele and Cydney: We see the different layers of the game through her eyes. From Michele, it is mostly a story of getting by another day while Cydney has reacted emotionally in some situations but she mostly wants to downplay her game and just wind up in the finals. Aubry has told us about the obstacles facing her and has shown a good read on her opponents.

Camp

Tai had the first interview to give us a rundown of the situation: “We lose the challenge today so Joe bring Aubry and Cydney. Obviously those are the Final Three they’re thinking about. So, I’m genuinely hurt by Aubry because I don’t know where Aubry’s heart is. As I came into camp I wondered how I was going to spend the next 24 hours with Michele after I just fought with her. The only thing I could do was air it out with her.”

Tai told Michele that he wanted to have an honest talk so they went to sit in the water. Tai told Michele that he is always drawn to certain people and not to others and that he didn’t feel the chemistry with her, adding that he felt uncomfortable next to a beautiful girl.

Michele’s reaction: “Tai says that he bases all his relationships in his life with the chemistry he feels with people. I get that; you have stronger connections with some people than others but when you’re in a game like this you have to play all your avenues. I think what it comes down to is that me and Tai are very different people. We have very different perceptions on this game.”

After telling Tai that her door has always been open for him, she said they should just relax and have their own spa day. Tai offered her a massage. Michele couldn’t wait!

Tai’s interview: “I think Michele and I, we are on the bottom but Michele and I were on the Beauty tribe before we merged. Maybe...she’s genuine. Maybe I missed something but now I have an opportunity to get to know Michele a little bit better.”

Michele was really enjoying Tai's Thai massage.

Michele’s interview: “The top menu of the day was a Thai massage. It’s a Thai massage because it’s a Thai method and Tai is the masseuse. We are kind of having our poor man’s spa while they are having their real men spa. Who would have ever thought that Michele and Tai would have a bonding massage and a dinner date? It’s like, I don’t know. What has this world come to?”
Mark looked jealous of the attention Tai was giving to Michele.
Michele’s next interview: “I’m tentative to say anything or do anything with Tai after what happened last time but me and Tai are seemingly both on the outs. It would be such a great move on our part and completely shocking because no one thinks at this point that me and Tai have the capability to work together.”

Tai told Michele he had an idol and he wanted to target Cydney. Michele thought they could sway Cydney.

Tai’s comments: “The idea of working with Michele just never crossed my mind but I feel completely betrayed by Aubry so I’m open to work with Michele because Aubry will never see that coming.”

The two agreed they had nothing to lose.

This segment showed us that Michele can be charming and she can use her charm to adapt in a difficult situation but I think it mainly served to put doubt in Aubry’s chances.

Day 34

Even for those who hadn’t followed the previews closely, Survivor has become so formulaic that when we didn’t go to the immunity challenge in the first minutes of this segment, we knew something was up. This would be mostly another episode to build confusion, to misdirect our attention away from the eventual winner.

Tai’s interview: “Survivor is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not the physical part; I’ve actually enjoyed all the hardship of daily living. It’s mostly the part about trust and not trusting people. It take a toll on my emotions.”

Michele was shown sleeping in the shelter when Tai mentioned the physical aspect of the game.

The trio soon returned from the reward and Joe had to tell Tai how much he enjoyed it. Aubry immediately went to Tai for a hug.
Aubry’s confessional: “Right after reward when we got back to camp, I know Cydney’s a threat and my ideal Final three is Tai and Joe. But I fear that Tai is so emotionally needy that if he feels he’s been betrayed or slighted, he might just completely go another way. Today, I need to talk to Tai and make things right and at the end of the day, I know that Joe will go with what I go with.”

This shows us the accuracy of Aubry’s read on Tai and we will soon see that her social game is just as good if not better then Michele’s because it wouldn’t take long for Aubry to get back on good terms with Tai. The other interesting comment is Aubry’s ideal Final 3 because now that’s down the drain. It’s a very good way to make us think she can’t succeed.

As she walked to the water well with Tai, we heard more of Aubry’s thoughts: “I want Tai to trust me and to know that the only way to the end is for us to do it together. Because we have five people left, I need to be in a group of three people. If I have Joe and Tai, that’s three against two. That gives me a little bit of hopefully power I need to get to the next vote and I have my fingers crossed right now that Tai is going to the end with me.”

When Aubry said that you have to put a lot behind you in Survivor and just put one foot in front of the other, Tai broke down in tears and the two hugged.

Tai’s thoughts: “Aubry really poured her heart to me and said; you know we need each other. That made me feel so comfortable and I am relieved of this burden that really took a toll on my emotions and I just break down a little bit. So far, I have played the game with my heart so it feels right that Aubry is on my side and I have a tender spot for her from the beginning.”

In this social game, Aubry’s plan was very well executed but it did attract Cydney’s attention.

Cydney’s interview: “I’m aligned with Joe and Aubry pretty tight right now but I see Aubry and Tai come back from the water well and it looked a little suspicious. They were having a conversation but the kind of conversation you have with an ally. Tai was the person I thought we wanted to get out. So, I had to rethink and that didn’t sit too well with me. It seemed very, very suspect.”

It was an identical situation that got Nick voted out so this puts more doubts in Aubry’s chances.

Taking a walk in the jungle, Michele told Cydney they had to be thinking two steps ahead now. Michele added: “If you and me are solid, no matter who wins immunity, we just have to convince the other person to come with us.”

If Michele is thinking two steps ahead then this doesn’t make sense. At F4, they would need to convince the person that won immunity to come with them because the other person would be their only option to kick out. If she was talking about F5 then she should have said that they had to convince one other person to come with them, not the other person.

Cydney’s interview: “Michele’s been pretty much trustworthy this whole time so I’d rather have her around to strategize with but I kind of want to keep it under wraps that I’ve been doing it and hope that I don’t screw myself by trying to better my game at the same time.”

It’s funny that when Michele said “every little thing we do has to be with a purpose” because, at that moment, the two seemed to be aimlessly walking into the jungle, just looking around and not finding what they were looking for. I enjoyed what looked like an inside joke. It certainly wasn’t as funny as Sean and Dirk’s search for tapioca but it made me smile. Luckily, Cydney once more came to Michele’s rescue when she finally found some fruits.

Michele’s comments: “It’s crazy the way things turn here. I mean I thought I was on the outs but me and Cydney have had a great relationship for a really long time and me and Tai have our own plan so now it looks like we can pick and choose who we want out; Joe or Aubry. That would be a crazy twist in this game.”

As they returned to camp, Joe’s problems surfaced. He told the group that he was having bladder problems.

Aubry’s reaction: “I’m worried about Joe. Joe has been a steady force for me. Joe is my second vote, Joe is my confidant, Joe is the anchor to my entire game. I want Joe to be OK. Joe needs to be OK right now. I need Joe to be OK.”

Michele’s interview: “It could be something that could pull him from the game and when you’re this far in, five people, that’s the last thing you want to see happen but at the same time, if Joe goes, it’s beneficial for my game. So, I feel bad but it’s also positive. Weird.”

While Michele’s comment could be called petty I don’t think that’s what really matters here. The troubling part for her story is that she feels positive about her chances. In a misdirection episode, it is much better to appear to be in trouble.

The doctor came to make a first shelter call. The scare was that Joe could have long term kidney problems.

Tai’s interview: “If Joe go home, it would screw up everything we planned for Final Three. I’m very, very nervous.”

At the start of the next segment, we saw that Jo