Survivor Kaoh Rong

Episode 3: Emotional Intelligence

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…

Michele’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 oddball behavior and that was still in full display. Debbie could still be used as someone’s 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 Tribal Council 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 seafood to show that they were able to feed themselves with that fishing kit.

Anna was doing the cooking while Michele 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.”

The Big Threat

“The Big Threat”

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.

Let's Not tell Our Allies

“Let’s not tell our Allies that we are aligned with them”

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.

Gathering Intel

“Gathering Intel”

We could clearly hear Peter saying: “We’re playing like bosses right now” and Liz’s amusement at the comment.

Verrry Interesting

“Verrry Interesting…but Stupid!”

The montage suggested that, like us, Debbie was listening and hearing them just as clearly. 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 donna 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 counterintelligence. 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”!

Under the Radar

“Really Going Under the 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 Michele 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 Michele, Julia, Anna and Nick sitting next to each other.

Michele 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.”

Michele said that she felt bad so Nick added: “Tai will be all right. 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.

OK

“OK, I suppose they could have made it easier…”

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 towards the tree but Alecia saw them so she followed.

Jason’s confessional: “I’m probably one of the best bounty hunters 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 voiceover: “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 teammate raced to recover it, pushing the opponent out of the way.

Ref that's a Foul

“Ref, That’s a Foul!”

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 rollercoaster: 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 Michele 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!

“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 is 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 overexuberance 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 overanalytical, 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.

A Pro, he said!

“A Pro,” he said!

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

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.

I have my Eye on You

“I Have my Eye on You”

Neal had the “Phil Keoghan eyebrow” look of suspicion.

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

I am not a Crook

“I am not a Crook”

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!

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 rattlesnake sound underlined the importance of this showdown.

Jeff liked the 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.”

Nothing to Add

Nothing to Add

Aubry said it all.

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.”

How do I get out of this Mess

“What just happened?”

That left Peter scratching his head.

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! We’ve seen some funny moments like when Tai talked about setting the chicken free.

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 tribemates. 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.

Michele? 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, Michele 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 tribemates 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 the 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 oddball 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 Michele’s confessional from episode one instead. Also, it was Michele 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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