Survivor Kaoh Rong

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.”

1 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.

2 Happy for you

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.

We're all Done We’re All Done[/caption]

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.”

Keep on Smilin'

Keep on Smilin’

I have a feeling that many viewers will pounce on Aubry’s remark to say that she is now overconfident and that overconfidence 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 Six 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 Six, 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. 

Going in Opposite Directions

Going in Opposite Directions

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 cheering 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.

Is this our Final 3?

Is This Our Final Three?

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 Three 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 Six.  Just like it did then, I think it gave us a preview of the Final Three 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!

Didn't you hear? Our Asses are on the line.

Didn’t you hear? Our asses are on the line.

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 threatLuckily, 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

Awe!

“Awe!”

Even Mark was in awe of Michele.

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 coattails.  The difference may look small now but it could become huge for the jury.

The group agreed that it should be Julia.

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.

12 Unhappy Camper

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 has 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’s.

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.

13 Question Answer Answer Question

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.

14

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 most 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!

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 Alecia 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 be the last Beauty standing.  It probably also means that she will get some votes at the last Tribal Council 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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