Survivor: Philippines

Baker’s Dozen: How Roxy Broke The Survivor Commandments

Andy BakerThe following is a post from Rob Has a Website Contributor, Andy Baker

1) By my count, Roxy broke three Survivor commandments in her execution episode:

Thou shalt work hard around camp

Over the past 24 seasons, the blueprint for avoiding early elimination has been well established: Avoid drama, compete at challenges, and work hard around camp. Castaways don’t have to be incredible in all of these areas, but they can’t be BAD at any of them. Contributing to camp life becomes all the more important when there are only six players per tribe, and becomes utterly crucial when the weather is bad. I imagine that when endless rain is pouring down, every waking thought and deed is spent on shelter, fire, food, and water; if you’re not helping, you’re hurting – and in Survivor, if you’re hurting, you’re leaving.

Thou shalt not beg out of challenges

While it’s uncomfortable to have your tribe say, “Hey, we think you should sit this one out,” being perceived as a challenge liability is FAR better than confirming that perception as reality. If your team asks you to sit out, and they struggle, they’ll wonder how they would have done with you in the mix; if you insist on sitting out (or, in Roxy’s case, doing the bare minimum), they’ll assume that they would have been in even worse shape had they relied on you. We can wonder why Matsing didn’t let Roxy be the caller, given that Denise possesses more overall strength (mental and physical): Did Roxy once again insist that she couldn’t do puzzles?

Whatever the rationale, as soon as Roxy said she couldn’t pull the sled twice because she didn’t drink enough water (on a tribe led by Russell, Mr. Dehydration Evacuation, himself, no less), her days were numbered.

Thou shalt not attempt to save yourself by aligning with someone who, three days before, was on the chopping block

Roxy was wise enough to know, post-immunity challenge, that her position in her tribe was tenuous at best; she was also smart enough to identify an alternative target, Angie, and then to attempt to convince other castaways to eliminate the bigger threat. Where Roxy failed, however, was in identifying who had the power to save her. Her two choices at that point were Russell and Denise; why approach the guy who nearly got voted out at the previous tribal council rather than the woman who is close to Malcolm (and who might feel threatened by his budding romance with Angie)? Would Denise have listened if Roxy had personally made her pitch (rather than counting on Russell to court the vote for her)? Impossible to know for sure, but putting your fate into the hands of someone who needs to secure his own position in the tribe is never wise.

*****

Clever castaways can recover from the breaking of one Survivor commandment, sometimes two. As Jeff Kent can tell you after 17 years in the major leagues, though, it’s three strikes and you’re out (he’s full of baseball wisdom, isn’t he?). I was thrilled that Roxy went down swinging at tribal council, but the truth is, her torch had been snuffed long before Probst starting asking tough questions – and it was nobody’s fault but her own.

2) I’m not sure there was anything that Roxy could have done to alter her fate; given the Matsing social dynamics, Roxy was doomed the moment her tribe lost the challenge. There was NO WAY Denise was going to vote out Angie, for several reasons: first, it could possibly weaken her ties to Malcolm; second, in the short term, Angie is a vote she and Malcolm can control; and third, Malcolm would be a fool not to choose her over Angie, long term, since she’s vastly more shrewd, strategically. The only other possible target was Russell, but there was zero chance Roxy could convince the rest of the tribe that Russell was so big a threat that the pros of eliminating him outweighed the cons of keeping her. If there had been two tribes of nine at the start of the game, Roxy might have lasted a bit longer; in a tribe of six, however, there was no place for Roxy to hide.

3) What a banner day for euphemistic sexual references! Booty blind, booby trap, AND headlights. Hooray! Cookies for everyone!

4) There is a minor Survivor commandment (to violate it is a venial, rather than a mortal, sin) which states, Thou shalt avoid forming an alliance with volatile and paranoid players. This would seem to rule out Abi as someone who could make it deep into the game, but I’m not ready to cut bait on her just yet: she’s too game aware and socially intelligent for that. Yes, confronting RC about a possible sub-alliance with Skupin was unwise, especially after RC had shared her immunity idol clue, but the simple fact that Abi knows enough about the game, and about Survivor players in general, that she would be worried when conversations end when she approaches suggests that she will be able to make moves when she needs to. Abi is also paying attention to overall tribal dynamics; for example, she knows (and articulates) that Lisa is on the outside looking in because Lisa hasn’t made an effort to connect with the other players. So far, Abi’s edit is all over the place – at her core, is she a player who will create crisis via confrontation, or is she someone who is acutely aware of ever-shifting allegiances and will do whatever it takes to make sure she remains in the majority? Hard to tell, but I still think Abi’s going to be at the center of a Tandang power shift: As an Elder Alliance starts to form (I’m not ready to give up on that theory yet), Abi is going to pull away from RC, whom she does not trust, and switch her loyalties over to Skupin, whom she will.

5) Alas, alack, no full intro this week – predictable, but sad. I wonder, will the intro return later in the season, when the producers no longer have three tribes chewing up screen time? One can only hope. If it does come back, I’ll be curious to see if the rooster silhouette shot is still in it…

6) Staggering idiocy is never in short supply on Survivor; this week’s wellspring of ineptitude comes to us courtesy of the Kalabaw tribe. Last we heard, everyone was worried that Penner was looking for an idol, and yet they retreated to a cave and left him alone on the beach? Did any of them truly buy his “I’m going to go for a swim” excuse? Why not take turns “hanging out” with Penner so that he can’t look for the idol? Oh, and when you return to camp and see him rooting around under the shelter, you might want to be at least mildly skeptical of his “I lost a contact” explanation, no? The moment that topped them all, however, had to be Penner running by Dana shouting, “I’m on FIRE!” I laughed out loud at Dana’s blank expression; shouldn’t anyone who sees this immediately assume Penner has found the idol?

7) There’s too much being made of Jeff’s knee for it to not be a factor in his elimination (whenever it finally occurs). In the short term, Jeff fighting through pain and risking a gruesomely traumatic, knee-buckling, multi-ligament injury makes him look heroic and adds some drama to the competitions (“Will his leg snap in half while he pulls the sled?”). Long term, though, I think Jeff’s knee is going to be the reason for his departure: whether it’s a medevac (thematically appropriate, given this season’s returnee rationale) or Penner using the injury – combined with the power of his HII – to rationalize Jeff’s removal, Jeff may have a Survivor experience that mirrors his baseball career: possessing all the skills necessary to succeed, being in a relatively good position to make a run at the title, but, in his only opportunity on the game’s biggest stage, falling short of the promised land.

8) Hey, look, an Artis sighting! While we only saw footage of him hunkering down in the shelter with his tribemates, Artis, without uttering a word, told us a lot: You could tell that he was uncomfortable with how Tandang members were ripping into Lisa. His expression of disapproval was notable in part because Skupin, too, seemed uneasy – and yet Mike was also shown laughing along with some of the harsher comments (playing the social game, methinks). Why does this matter, you ask? Because I still believe that Mike and Lisa are going to team up – and Artis, who is visibly disgusted with the younger members of his tribe, is going to join them.

9) Time for a Survivor SAT question:

Angie Layton has been getting a lot of screen time because:

a) She’s a strategic mastermind

b) She’s a challenge beast

c) Her confessionals are filled with insight

d) Her bikini is filled with silicone

e) Because she’s going to be voted out soon

If you’re curious, I’m going to fill in the “e” bubble on my answer sheet.

10) Boy, do I love me some frisky Probst! He’s got quite the tightrope to walk during tribal council; he can’t be too intrusive (I don’t think he enjoys being accused of overt manipulation), but he needs to stir things up or risk a dramatically useless TC.  Angie has rightfully taken a lot of heat for her “cookies” comment, but I think she was simply attempting to avoid the obvious answer to Probst’s question: “What would make life better back at camp would be… Roxy being gone.” Everyone knew that Roxy was getting voted out – including Roxy herself – so non-committal answers were the name of the game. Probst HATES that, and, if former castaways are to be believed, he refuses to let the losing tribe members off the hook. Yelling at Angie, “Let’s wake up!” was not only entertaining; it also revealed how frustrated Probst was with Malcolm’s refusal to address the Angie issue, and with Angie’s overall lack of situational awareness. I’ll be interested to see what the fallout from this TC will be at the Matsing camp; I’m guessing it will be a wake-up call for Malcolm, which means it is likely a nail in Angie’s coffin. Cuddle while you can, Malcolm, because there are some cold nights ahead.

11) Fortunes falling: Russell. In some ways, Russell had a good episode: he started out by admitting the mistakes he had made during the first three days, and he proved his worth at the immunity challenge, pulling the sled twice (although did you notice that he nearly passed out at the start of the puzzle?). His post-challenge diatribe was a mixed bag, however; the content of his message was all sweetness and light (“They can do this!”), but the tone and delivery left much to be desired. Is there anything more peculiar than antagonistic inspiration? Anyway, now that Roxy is gone, Russell doesn’t have a single ally left in the game; even if he manages to make the merge, he’s unlikely to find another alliance willing to take him in. I’ll stand by my pre-season prediction: of the three returnees, Russell will have the earliest exit.

12) Fortunes rising: This is going to be surprising to some, but I’m going with Malcolm here. Sure, he fell victim to Angie’s booby trap; I don’t think he’s going to stay trapped for long, however. He’s too game savvy to be permanently sidetracked by Angie and her assets; Probst’s outburst at tribal council, coupled with some sex therapy from Denise, will allow Malcolm to refocus on what really matters: getting to the endgame. And you have to admit, Malcolm is getting a GREAT edit: how many times have we seen him intuitively understand what the other Matsing members were thinking, doing, and saying as he watches them from a distance? Whether Malcolm is getting this edit because he goes deep into the game, or he goes deep into the game because he possesses abilities that the editors can’t help but show us, the unavoidable conclusion is that he’s going to be around for a while. Which is completely fine with me. (Go Big Green!)

13) Prediction time: Part of me wants to say that Matsing will continue to struggle and Angie will be going home; indeed, that may be precisely what happens (if Matsing goes to TC, Angie is definitely the target). We’re also being set up for an idol-related power flip in Kalabaw; given how underdeveloped Penner’s tribe is right now, though, I’m guessing that’s not going to happen for another episode or two. That leaves Tandang – and the teaser for next week contained a shot that’s highly suggestive of a Rooster loss. Why would Pete approach Lisa about turning on Mike unless Tandang was headed to tribal council? Why rock the boat if the boat doesn’t need rocking? How’s this for a scenario: Abi, still worried about RC and Mike, uses her feminine wiles to convince Pete that they need to rework their alliance. Her idea: swap Mike out for Lisa. Pete attempts to make the deal, but instead of trusting Prince Charmless, Lisa tells Mike about the offer. And the next thing you know, Mike teams up with Lisa, pulls in Artis, finds a fourth vote (Abi or RC? I say Abi), and suddenly Pete is the one on the chopping block. Not so farfetched, is it? So that’s the call for this week: Pete is going to discover that he, like the hygiene product I’m so fond of comparing him to, is disposable.

That’s it for this edition of The Baker’s Dozen – if you want to keep the conversation going, write a comment below. By the by, if you haven’t read Glenn Holford’s column about Foxy Roxy yet, you’re missing out…

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