Survivor Kaoh Rong

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 allies.

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 Tribal Council, 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.

How well did I do in my Pool? “How Did I Do in My Pool?”[/caption]

At least the cameramen haven’t lost their sense of humor.

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 a 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!

Here comes the Rain

Here Comes the Rain/Good Day, Sunshine

When he 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 Michele 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 halfway.

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.

4

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.”

Taking 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 gametime 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 seemed to be a bad omen for Michele but it could be telling us this whole group is lost in the clouds.

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 Jeff 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 Tribal Council 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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