Previously on Survivor:
Kôah Rong has provided some of the worst conditions ever. Extreme temperatures have led to dehydration and heat exhaustion leaving some to question how much more they can take.
Aubry in confessional: “This heat may be one of the biggest factors in this game.”
Scot and Tai were shown as if they had reached their limit.
At the Beauty tribe, the women found safety in each other…
Anna’s confessional: “The three girls: We’re pretty tight.”
…but Tai found an idol and a friendship with Caleb.
At the Brawn tribe, Alecia stumbled on a clue to the hidden immunity idol…but her luck ran out when Jason got his hand on the idol first.
At the last immunity challenge, Brawn finally won.
Back at camp, Peter and Liz were certain they had control of the Brain tribe but Debbie was tired of taking orders and spearheaded a revolt against Liz and Peter.
Debbie in confessional: “It’s going to be ugly when we get home, kids!”
At Tribal Council, Debbie’s plan worked, sending Liz home leaving Peter all alone on the bottom.
The first thing to note is that the recap completely ignored the fact that Neal had been Peter and Liz’s target. It also ignored his performance at Tribal Council. It was all about Debbie who is starting to overtake Tai as the season’s biggest character. If her plans continue to work as well as this then maybe she will be able to get the votes despite staying under everyone’s radar. Where does that leave Neal? In great need of a story, I’d say.
Jeff had an interesting way of talking about Gondol’s women’s alliance. Saying they found safety in each other suggests that something unfortunate will happen after the upcoming switch. The use of the conjunction “but” is also interesting because it already puts Tai in opposition to the three women, something we hadn’t seen before but would come back in the plot of this episode.
Aubry’s confessional from episode one was replayed because it would play a big role in this episode. It could also mean that, having learned early about the heat factor, Aubry could have an edge on the competition. How far will it get her?
Not Worth Playing For
Brains Night 8
Debbie’s confessional: “Tonight at Tribal Council, it went down exactly as I expected. I gathered my intelligence, I made observations then made objectives and I knew how to carry them out. I guess you would have to call me the mastermind.” During this confessional we saw Debbie going to Peter who had isolated himself and lay defeated on the beach. Debbie said she didn’t want to vote him out. She continued: “Peter’s position in the tribe has knocked his ego down ten notches. He’s a total narcissist but he knows he’s still on the periphery.”
That is a great example of social game. Debbie still doesn’t like Peter but she knows the game demands some bonding and she offered him more than the other members of the tribe.
Peter’s confessional: “Tribal Council tonight was a complete surprise. I still have knots in my stomach. We’re now the pea brains, not the Brains Tribe. We’re screwed. We don’t have a strong tribe anymore, physically or strategically. You know, I’m dejected but I’m happy I’m still here and once there’s a merger or a swap, I’m going to take them out one by one.”
Interestingly, the cameras showed Debbie, Aubry and Neal all on screen when Peter said they weren’t strong.“The Final Three?”[/caption]
If the rest of the season is to be edited in a way to prove Peter wrong then what better way than to see it end with the three he just called “pea brains” in the Final 3. Still it will be interesting to see who winds up on the same tribe as Peter because we know he intends to screw them. I thought Tocantins was edited to show that Coach was always wrong but that didn’t exactly play out. I’ll wait before definitely saying that Peter will always be wrong.
The scene ended with Peter saying: “I need a beer” and I think we’ll all needed one after watching the dreadful events that were about to follow.
The “Reward” Challenge
The editors had the audacity to start the challenge with a man, apparently Caleb who was the closest to us saying: “This is gonna be fun.”
When Jeff announced that Liz had been voted out, we saw Anna’s shock: “I did not expect that.”
They were playing for a kitchen set and coffee.
Anna happily exclaimed: “Wow! Coffee!”
I bet she regrets that now. Showing Anna’s surprise at the vote and her excitement for a reward for which she wouldn’t even compete did a disservice to her story.
Anna and Julia sat out for the Beauty tribe while Neal sat out for the Brains.
Brawn and Beauty were off to quick starts. Joe was having a hard time getting over the obstacles.
Jeff was amazed at how quickly Cydney made it under the log while he compared Debbie to a turtle. Brawn and Brains were both ahead of the Beauty tribe at that point.
Scot quickly found two bags side by side, leading him to think they were all close to each other.
He was wrong, Sôh Rông.
Tai found one for the Beauty tribe as did Peter for his tribe.
Already, Joe and Debbie were heard saying they were dying.
The sneaky promos made it look like the Brains tribe wouldn’t be able to finish the challenge and it was starting to look that way here but things didn’t work out that way.
Jeff said it was hot for him just watching them.
I kept thinking that was for COFFEE!!! It would have been so much smarter to stop digging. I’m sure the players were digging more to prevent others from calling them quitters than for the actual reward. One person should have stood and said: “Guys, I can continue digging along with you but why don’t we all say: “Screw this. Keep your coffee.” What do you say?”
Of course, Karma, production’s favorite tool, would probably strike that brave person.
After 45 minutes and no bags for anyone, we saw Scot, Jason, Debbie, Joe and Tai’s pain. Debbie finally found a second bag for her tribe and then Aubry grabbed the third. They wound up finishing first in a no contest.
When Caleb and Nick found the two missing bags for Beauty, Alecia started telling her tribe not to give up which got Scot angry and he said: “Keep cheerleading. It’s what you’re best at.”
By that time, Debbie had collapsed and gotten some medical attention.
Now that even coffee was off the table, why did the other two tribes continue this charade? It would get even worse when Caleb started sprinting to retrieve the last ball while the Brawn tribe was making a desperate attempt to take away the salt and pepper shakers. Why show Anna’s frustration whenever the ball didn’t fall in the hole?
It would have been better to tell Nick and Caleb to take it easy and she must regret seeing her frustration now.
Debbie in confessional: “When I got through Ranger training at Hawk Mountain Ranger School we’re taught first aid. Because of my training, I immediately knew I was having a heat stroke. Heat stroke is like being roasted alive. You feel dizzy, exhausted and you feel hot. After the first few seconds of shade and water I immediately felt better. I knew I wasn’t getting pulled from the game.”
I wonder if the intervention to save Debbie hurt Caleb in any way.
The medical staff focused so much on Debbie that they didn’t see Caleb’s distress at first and then it looked like they didn’t have any cold water readily available. It’s interesting that they showed Debbie’s distress at all. They never showed the medical team coming to camp during the first cycle to help Aubry and Jennifer even if those images had been part of the season’s promotion images.
That means producers could have cut the scene with Debbie from the episode or at least part of it. It would have enabled them to show the crew flying to Caleb’s rescue at the very first sign of problems. This tells us Debbie’s importance to the story.
Cydney was the next to go down and she only had Jason helping her for a while. He brought her over to the medical staff.
That’s when Jeff called for everyone to find a way to help.
Producers used Jeff’s call for help as a way to completely destroy Peter’s story by showing us this image:
We saw Jason, Joe, Neal and Nick helping as much as they could but the ER doctor was simply shown turning his back on the situation. I don’t think he would have been allowed to help as a doctor since it could have been interpreted as a conflict of interest if something had gone horribly wrong but we could have at least seen him comforting someone.
The doctor wasn’t even shown using bedside manners. It was never clearer that someone wasn’t going to be Sole Survivor.
For once we saw most of the staff at work. (It must be said that some were still filming the others!) It gave an ER impression to the episode and probably many viewers enjoyed watching it. For me, I couldn’t stop thinking that the reward was meaningless so it didn’t remove the distaste from my mouth. Granted, I am not a fan of the medical drama genre but while I appreciate the survival aspect of the show, I don’t want to see anyone forced out of the game for something production could have avoided. If it had happened for individual immunity then that would be completely different, each individual fighting for their own sake, but here? They were fighting for each other’s respect (and not even getting it in Alecia’s case) and a SALT SHAKER!!!! Jiffy has the gall to say that the challenges are tested by dream teamers but those people have nothing to play for so they never push as hard. The search area should have been much smaller and the bags not buried as deeply. Not only would that have saved everyone, but the challenge would have been much closer.
Cydney was having convulsions while Caleb was not responding and hardly breathing. Nick was helping by keeping Caleb’s legs up in the air.
To Cydney, Jeff said that Jason was taking really good care of her. That’s when the medic told Jeff they needed to call the helicopter for Caleb.
Jeff told Caleb that he had to be taken out by doctor’s orders. We saw Anna, Tai, Michele and Julia in tears.
I hope no one says that Nick didn’t care because he wasn’t shown in that moment, but let’s not forget he was helping Caleb at the time.
Jeff came over to ask the Beauty tribe how they felt. Michele said she was overwhelmed. Tai and Anna couldn’t believe that Caleb was being pulled from the game.
The whole tribe said their goodbyes to Caleb as he was being carried out on a stretcher.
Asked for his reaction, Tai said he was going to miss Caleb a lot.
Jeff asked Jason if he could ever vote Cydney out after this. Jason said that it wasn’t about the mission anymore; it was about the person, your teammate. Alecia was shown when he mentioned that they may not like each other but that they are family. Jason added that he was going to stay with Cydney to the bitter end. That made her smile.
Jeff sent them back to camp saying the game was continuing.
As they left, we heard Tai in confessional: “Without Caleb, it’s very sad. He is going to be in my heart for a long time…Before Caleb was gone: three boys against three girls, but now only Nick and I. Now, the girls have their choice of who to kick out. So, the idol is more important now because, if we go to Tribal, that’s a 50/50 chance I’m going home. I’m not going home with an idol in my pocket.”
Why include this at this time? The Beauty tribe wasn’t about to go to Tribal Council and it would have been more appropriate to show them coping as a group back in camp. Clearly, producers want us to see an opposition between the fan favorite Tai and the “women’s alliance”. It ties in with Jeff’s choice of words during the recap. That doesn’t bode well for the three women of Gondol. Since Julia was on screen when Tai mentioned using the idol, I wonder if she’ll be the victim of that play. Something bad is about to happen to the women’s alliance.
Brains Day 9
Debbie in confessional: “My biggest fear was not only was I going to appear weak to my tribe but that I would appear weak to my daughters back home. I like to think of myself as a role model for my daughters. My daughters often tell me that they are (She needed a moment to continue and the music was very touching) … My daughters often tell me how much they are proud of me and I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff in my life. Crystal always tells me: “You’re the best mom” and Jay says: “You’re wonder woman” and they were really proud of me to come here. I just don’t want to disappoint them.”
Usually a confessional like this signals the start of a “Journey” player’s story but we have been shown Debbie’s strategic skills so she’s already more than a journey player. This confessional reinforces her status in the game. How far will this carry Debbie? I already had a feeling that she would be in the Final 3, but she could do better than that.
To her tribemates, she said they’d be friends for life because they took good care of her.
Brawn Day 9
Alecia confronted Scot about his remark during the challenge. He would not apologize, but he’d try to spin it positively by saying he meant she’s good at cheerleading. She didn’t buy that.
The argument continued in the shelter. Scot found it funny that she was trying to tell an NBA player how to be a better teammate.
Neither Alecia nor Scot looked particularly good in that scene. Scot must have played in games with nothing to gain, either because his team is well out of the playoffs or the other team has an insurmountable lead. He should know that fans appreciate the players that don’t give up and continue to fight. Couldn’t he have given Alecia a small mark of respect? Saying “I’m sorry” would have been so much easier.
Cydney in confessional: “Coming back to camp after my little spell it was I was trying to recoup. That was my main thing but people started hollering… and I’m missing on my recuperation. The Brawn tribe: We do everything intensely and I don’t think that Alecia is aware of pretty much anything and I’m like, girl, listen and pay attention.”
Alecia said a switch could happen tomorrow and she was hoping for one. That made Scot and Jason laugh.
It would have been a brilliant idea, not really to save Alecia but to save this episode.
Jason walked out of the shelter and gave a confessional: “I really don’t think that Alecia gets the big picture of what’s going on around her in this world but I went a little overboard. I get angry. I raised two daughters that are the absolute world to me. I want them to be strong, very educated, independent females that are going to be able to take care of themselves without their dad ever and it upsets me to see a girl like Alecia who you can’t even hold a conversation with. Alecia is so far on the bottom now that we’re just waiting. That Tribal Council is signed, sealed and delivered.”
One should remember that the first thing Jason said was that “Blondie” had to go, so he certainly didn’t give her much of a chance and she did show some strength and independence. However it must be noted that Jason wasn’t the bully in this episode and that Alecia didn’t even vote against him. While Jennifer made us dislike him, the latest events and Scot’s ugliness have redeemed the bounty hunter somewhat. Another interesting point is that two of the three biggest characters of this season have given us closely juxtaposed confessionals where they mention their two kids. Parenthood could certainly create a bond between Jason and Debbie and she’d be impressed by the way he cared for Cydney. This montage could be a hint that they will align before long. Jason may have just reopened that door that leads to winning this game.
We also have to note that we didn’t spend any time in the Beauty tribe even if that was the tribe most affected by the events. We didn’t spend any time in their camp before the first challenge and we wouldn’t go there for the rest of the evening either.
At least they gave them a full day to recover but I still think it would have been a lot more fun to have the swap immediately and spend the remainder of the episode watching them get to know their new tribemates who are also their opponents.
Tai and Joe (?) sat out the challenge.
The first pairs were Peter and Debbie, Julia and Anna along with Alecia and Cydney.
I was surprised to see Debbie participating and even more so to see she was one of the runners. Isn’t she an excellent swimmer and wouldn’t it have been less strenuous to be in the water?
The race was fairly even until the three pairs made their way back. The Brains tribe was missing a rope, forcing Peter to go back and retrieve it. Alecia and Cydney were the first pair back.
I wonder if Debbie left that third piece of rope behind on purpose! Peter thought she was supposed to have two.
With a great swim, Nick and Michele finished the second leg in first. Aubry and Neal were far behind at this point.
Julia and Anna were once more paired doing the puzzle.
That really shows their confidence in doing puzzles but also their bond as a duo, something everyone can see.
Cydney and Alecia attacked the puzzle for the Brawn tribe.
Jason and Scot gave all the rope to Alecia, both literally and figuratively. Once more she showed her limitations in puzzles, but no one came to help.
Neal and Debbie started out on the puzzle for the Brains tribe, but Debbie quickly let Peter take her place. That got the Brains on track and they finished first.
Once more Debbie cheered for the tribe. At least no one is saying that’s all she’s good for.
Jeff said: “Peter came in and it was over.”
That was not exactly an endorsement of Neal’s work on the puzzle!
When we saw that she could do nothing more than look over at the Brains’ puzzle, Nick took over for Anna and did for Beauty what Peter did for Brains, sending the Brawn tribe back to Tribal Council.
Alecia told Jeff that she tried and even that got a comment from Cydney who pointed out that they both tried. Scot told Jeff that Alecia was trying to validate herself.
Jason’s confessional: “Jeff asked Alecia a question and Alecia responded back with her famous words: “I did my best.” It’s all about her, her, her, her.”
Before sending them back to camp, Jeff asked the odds of Alecia surviving the vote. Scot answered by showing a big zero with his fingers.
Jason was even ready to have Tribal Council right away and Scot agreed.
I don’t remember which player it was, maybe Cochran or Stephen, but someone once said that having your torch snuffed by Jeff was a memorable experience even if it meant you were out of the game. Shame on Probst for even suggesting taking that last moment away from Alecia. At least he said she had to agree, but still why even suggest that final humiliation?,
We often talk about the greatest Tribal Councils and for me that will always be episode 11 of Vanuatu, the one that led to Leann’s elimination, but I think this one should be nominated for worst ever.
Alecia agreed with Jeff that she was opinionated but added that Jason and Scot didn’t earn her respect.
Scot said that meant no one could earn her respect, that Alecia simply needed attention.
Jeff said he was rooting for Alecia but knew she was going home.
Alecia said she wanted to stay longer but that she would take what she learned from the experience.
After seeing her torched snuffed, Alecia wished Cydney good luck.
Jeff sent the tribe back to camp after asking: “If there’s been one thing consistent on this tribe, it’s the three of you. Is that bond enough to get the three of you to the end?”
When the heat is the biggest story of the episode you know something is wrong. Imagine the discussions we would be having if Jeff had surprised us all with a switch in lieu of that Immunity Challenge and the meaningless Tribal Council that followed. What would have been better? I really think that seeing the switch immediately and hearing the players’ initial discussions without a Tribal Council would have given us a full week of interesting speculation. The switch at 14 would have been natural, but now we will have uneven tribes. Of course, we can look forward to a surprise at the start of the next episode, but one variable has been removed and we can’t really speculate since we have no idea how the game will reset.
What we do know is that we have the Brains foursome, a threesome of Beauties, another of “Brawnies” and 3 variables, namely Nick, Tai and Peter. How will Jeff arrange his random switchboard? I expect that Jason, Tai and Debbie will be on the same tribe and quickly connect while one member of the Brawn tribe will wind up between two factions of 3 rivals. The trio of To Tang players should make it to the merger to test Jeff’s question.
On a side note, it’s possible that most of the players who gave everything they had for this week’s “reward” will lose the benefit next week by being sent to the camp that doesn’t have the kitchen ware and coffee. Was it worth playing for? A resounding NO! Hopefully, it will be worth watching all the way to the end.
Peter: I think his chances of winning the game are completely gone after this episode. We saw him turning his back when Jeff called for everyone’s help. I think he must have helped in some way or was more incapacitated than we saw. However, the images showed us someone that didn’t appear to care. While the switch could give him a reprieve, I doubt he’ll get to see more than one of his rivals from the “pea brain tribe” leave.
Nick: Even if he helped Caleb, I’m guessing some viewers will have missed it and think he didn’t really care since he wasn’t part of the Gondol group when Jeff told them about the evacuation. While Tai thought it would have been three guys against three girls, I wonder what Nick was thinking at the time. He must have made some attempts to get in an alliance and he must have talked about the game with the women. Will he become an easy target after the swap or will he find his footing? His edit so far doesn’t signal anything too exciting for him.
Tai: He is the interesting variable: He has an idol and he’s very charismatic. It’s weird that the women didn’t reassure him about his position in the tribe. Avoiding Tribal Council means that promises can easily be sold even if they are lies. Anna wanted Nick voted out first so it would have been easy to secure Tai’s loyalty. If the Gondol women’s alliance gets broken up by Tai, it will be through their fault, through their most grievous fault. For a big character, we must admit that Tai doesn’t have long term connections and that his story is mostly tied to his idol and his love of all living beings. That means his biggest impact could come from that idol and it is presently aimed at the women of his own tribe. Will he readjust his aim after the switch? That’s an interesting question.
The Gondol Threesome
Julia: She is the nice one, the one that rushed to Caleb when he needed help and the one that comforted Michele after the challenge, holding a bottle of cold water on her neck. She looks like she would be interesting to follow but she has given us only two confessionals, one of which was rather meaningless. Her lack of connection with the audience tells me she could very well fall victim to the switch and it could be from an idol. The others should know that she is good in puzzles and tight with Anna so it makes her an inviting target.
Michele: She is the easygoing one. That means her rivals probably didn’t notice her and that could make her less threatening. She hasn’t given us much more than Julia, but the guys talked about her in episode one so she has slightly more development than her younger ally so she could outlast her. It must be noted that with two of its three members being seriously underdeveloped, the vaunted women’s alliance looks more like an obstacle than a real force in this game. Since they didn’t even go to Tribal Council, it may have been nothing more than a mirage.
Anna: She is the strategic one. The other tribe saw her teaming up with Julia during the puzzles so she could also be targeted. She was presented as the one in control of the Gondol tribe. If that wasn’t just due to the editing then Nick and Tai could have noticed her actions and could use that to throw her under the bus. While her strong early edit suggested that she could be a contender, I think we must take a step back now and reassess her chances. It wasn’t all too terrible that she was the one heard expressing surprise at Liz’s boot although it could signal that an identical fate awaits the other smart and beautiful woman. It was a bit more concerning to see her applauding for that reward and then show frustration when her tribemates were possibly going to deprive her of it. I’m not sure what to say about showing her looking over at the Brains’ puzzle but I can say that Mike wasn’t shown looking at the other tribe’s puzzle so no one could call him a cheater even if we know he did take a look. The worst, though, was that Gondol was completely ignored during the episode. This was the tribe that was most affected by the injuries but we only heard from Tai and his idol. It tells me that we were only meant to see Gondol when things were all fun and games. Now that it’s gotten serious, we were directed to the other camps.
The Brawn Threesome
Scot: At the beginning of the third episode, Scot said that booting Jennifer was bad for his game but he wouldn’t have known that it was also bad for his edit! Jennifer’s comments made us like the big guy more than his associate. Now, we see that he can be just as much a bully as the bounty hunter and he doesn’t have the personal confessionals to soften his image. A professional should have recognized the value of effort and that was Alecia’s contribution. Instead of saying that he had found two bags, he could have admitted that he was spent and he should have been encouraging Alecia to keep going.
Cydney: With a little imagination, we could see the image of a sand covered Cydney coming back to life after that harrowing experience as the Phoenix rising from the ashes. Now that she has an unbreakable bond with Jason we can consider her chances to make it to the end of the game with more optimism. It would be a great comeback story if she could emerge from that horrible situation and make it to the end. How will this tribe answer Jeff’s question? According to Jason their bond is as strong as the one between soldiers on the battlefield so we have to consider the possibility that they will make it to the end game despite the numbers.
Jason: He is a difficult character to define. I really thought that his game had ended when Jennifer told us she couldn’t stand him anymore but then he practically saves Cydney when the medical staff was overwhelmed. He wasn’t even the biggest bully in Alecia’s mind because she voted against Scot. Can he win this game? I still doubt it but he could be in a position to make his case in front of the jury.
The Brains Foursome
Joe: He was the one that alerted Jeff to Debbie’s crisis and he comforted her but there was nothing else to show for him in this episode.
Aubry: We can finally talk about the press image showing the medical staff coming to Aubry’s help because it definitely looks like it happened in episode 1. Why wasn’t it shown? We saw her moment of weakness from heat exhaustion, but it was presented in such a way that Debbie was the one attending to her and making her feel better, not the medical staff. The editing manipulation made Aubry look a little better than it would if we had seen that medical needed to intervene, but it certainly made us see that Debbie wasn’t just a flake, that she could be a caring, motherly figure in this game. Such manipulation isn’t done for insignificant players. Some will say that I am making too much of it because we didn’t see the doctors attending to Jennifer either, but in her case, we know it’s because it would have been a waste of time. She would be out shortly and the editors had the image of Scot taking the worm out of her ear so why show anything else? Aubry and Debbie should go far together and the edit tells us which one would prevail.
Neal: Besides seeing him holding an umbrella to help Debbie, we had nothing from him in this episode and Jeff didn’t even remind the viewers that he was Peter and Liz’s target when the tribe went to Tribal Council. He could still be in the final three with Debbie and Aubry but, for now, back to the drawing board…
Debbie: …And what we find on that board is Debbie picking up all the credit. My first impression was that Debbie would fly so much under the radar that the others wouldn’t be able to appreciate her game but that doesn’t seem to be the interpretation that the storytellers want us to take from episode 3. It seemed obvious after that episode that Debbie would be in the Final Three and our impressions were reinforced this week. Peter and Liz wanted to take her to the end and we can assume that Joe, Neal, and Aubry would be thrilled to follow her there.
What about the other 8 players? Depending on the switch and who makes the merger, some won’t have a say in the decision but we can assume that they will also want to be there with her either out of necessity or because they see her as someone that would be easily beaten. Jason and Cydney are in definite need of allies and what better connection for Jason than to turn to another parent. Debbie saw Jason as a caring individual who saved Cydney so she may want to align with him. Tai would probably see her as someone who could save him from the three beautiful young women. Those same women could want to get her in their alliance to gain numbers.
Things are looking good for Debbie but she has a nemesis in Peter. She did a great job in this social game by going to him when he was down and out after their Tribal Council, but the audience knows that Peter wants revenge. That places some doubts around Debbie’s chances especially if the two wind up in the same tribe. In a random draw, the odds would be 50/50, but with the way chances play out in Survivor, I’d say it’s more like 75/25! Having a nemesis is actually good for Debbie’s story… if she doesn’t lose control of her game.
Before saying that Debbie will win, let’s wait and see how the swap works out. If that isn’t enough of an unknown, we could be in for a merger the following week. Then it will be time to truly analyze these characters and their stories and come to a decision.