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Decoding the Edit: Playing the Game Faster

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Matt had the first confessional.

This column takes a different approach than the typical Survivor column. Michael Trudeau looks at the clues given to us by the Survivor editors each week and tries to decipher where the stories of each character are headed.

The show opened with Jeff’s mention of the stunning paradise and the dangerous wilderness while was saw a tarsier and a crocodile.

We then saw the ten Fans — and Reynold had the first close-up.

However, Matt had the first confessional (none of these confessionals were credited): “It’s a surreal experience that I am here and playing the game.”

When Jeff said they come from different walks of life, we heard Shamar’s confessional, foreshadowing an upcoming rivalry.

Shamar: “I’ve been in over 60 combat missions in Irak so, as far as this game goes, they’re lunch-meat.”

Allie: “I know enough about the game and I know enough about people that I think I will make it to the very end.”

Then Jeff mentioned the role of first impressions and we heard Laura’s confessional: “There is this one guy with glasses (Michael) that looks particularly observant of everybody else. I think he is going to be another strategist besides myself.”

As usual in these juxtaposed confessionals, Michael’s response wasn’t kind: “One of the blondes looks like you could break her in two and she looks like she’s 18 years old. I’m like: What is she doing out here?”

This seems a good place to put our first impressions of the newbies:

Shamar will not lack confidence; in fact, we can already say that arrogance will be a problem for him. 

Unless his words serve to set up an underdog story, we can suppose that Michael will prove to be a better strategist than Laura.

It’s very interesting that Allie had a “stand alone” confessional, one that wasn’t countered by someone else. 

Putting Shamar’s confessional on the back of Matt’s set up this episode’s fight. 

Having Michael and Laura talk about each other sets up a potential suspense for their first Tribal Council, but what was the purpose of Allie’s confessional? It could only tease us about the possibility that she may be there at the end. Of course, it would have been better for her chances if the audience actually knew that those words came from Allie! Still, it’s a more promising start for her than being ignored like the other 5 Fans.  

FavoritesArrive

The Favorites Arrive

Then the Favorites flew overhead and Jeff gave a brief description of each:

  • Malcolm: One of the most popular to play, came within one challenge of winning it all, but he dropped the ball.
  •  Cochran, the Survivor nerd. He betrayed his tribe and paid the ultimate price.
  •  He took Dawn down with him. He told her his plan to flip but she was too loyal to go along.
  • Brenda: She used her looks to her advantage but not everyone was charmed.
  • Erik was a fan on the first Fans versus Favorites and his inexperience showed. (We heard Parvati tagging him as the dumbest Survivor ever.)
  • Erik wasn’t the only one to give up immunity: Brandon was willing to sacrifice everything in order to play the honest game that his uncle never could.
  • Andrea, the hard working farm girl. She flirted her way right out of the game.
  • Corinne: She was good at making friends…but even better at making enemies. (I really enjoyed hearing once again the insult she threw at Sugar!)
  •  Phillip: He was labeled crazy by his tribe mates but he aligned with one of Survivor’s best and made it to the final three.
  • Francesca: Phillip’s old rival.

Right after this, we had Andrea delivering the first theme that we will have to keep in mind: “The theme of the season is people that made big mistakes. This is a chance to correct those mistakes.

Jeff’s descriptions, which were the Favorites’ stories edited to the bones, will be useful in guiding us to see which players don’t make the same mistakes. Immediately, I see it as a bad sign that the scene they chose for Phillip was his racial confrontation with Steve, the most unsavory fight of that season.

I am also interested by Jeff’s take on Andrea. Is it fair to say that she flirted her way out of the game? It was a lot more complicated than that. Reducing her mistake to this sets the bar too low for her. Knowing better, we can add a little and say that Andrea let her emotions get in the way so she needs to play a more clinical game.

As for Erik, it will be hard to correct what we heard once more was the dumbest mistake of all, and it’s interesting that he was connected with Brandon from the start since they would both end up on the wrong side of the numbers in this episode.

Then Jeff gave each tribe their challenge:

  • The Favorites will have to learn to battle together and cope with their egos.
  • The Fans will have to learn the game fast.

The two people shown on screen when Jeff mentioned the million dollar prize were Andrea and Erik.

(It’s often meaningless but I like to keep track of these things just in case.)

Crocodiles were everywhere when the Fans’ boat (The Vincent for future trivia games!) approached shore. Michael was seen losing his balance when he tried to make it to shore. The Fans were accompanied by military music as they made their way towards Jeff.

The Favorites entered to what sounded like a score for a superhero movie.

Cochran was greeted by laughter.

Dawn seemed to be Sherri’s favorite.

Corinne and Andrea drew no comments.

Erik also heard laughter.

Malcolm had nothing except Hope’s appreciative look.

When Brenda entered, the editors wanted us to know that the fans, Julia in particular, found her “So Dangerous!”

Brandon was greeted by an “OMG! That’s Russell’s nephew.”

Francesca was ignored.

Phillip entered the arena with a regal air to Shamar’s complete surprise.

Shamar showed that he wasn’t impressed (we had the same reaction when we first heard about this casting disaster): “This is lunch-meat right here. It’s about to be chow time.”

We kept track of the Fans’ reactions to each Favorite to put them on the back-burner. It will be interesting to see what happens if Sherri and Dawn wind up on the same tribe after a swap. Can Brenda survive a swap if she is considered so dangerous already? Hope certainly seemed interested by Malcolm’s looks, so will that lead to something? Will Phillip be the one to make lunch-meat out of Shamar? We’ll look back at these later on in the season but already we can say that these Fans weren’t as impressed by their “Favorites” as the Micronesian Fans.

Jeff handed them their buffs and they were already going into a challenge. Andrea said: “We need a little fight.”

Reward Challenge:

phillp1stchallenge

“Phillip with a strategy that will be hard to stop.”

1st Round: Erik and Dawn took on Mountain Man Shamar and Julia. Even if Erik was off to a fast start, the Mountain won.

2nd Round: Hope and Eddie faced Brandon and Andrea. Eddie sprinted to the ring and threw it to Hope. Andrea got the fight she wanted and held Hope down. Brandon was the one to win the point by pushing the foursome to the Faves’ pole where Andrea scored.

3rd Round: Sherri and Michael went against Brenda and Phillip. When Brenda and Sherri got tangled up, the music stopped and we heard Shamar telling Sherri to “Break her wrist.” Jeff couldn’t understand so much violence. (I couldn’t understand so much stupidity but it’s an indication that Shamar won’t last that long.)

When Phillip started dragging Michael by the foot, we had a very interesting, potentially foreshadowing, comment by Jeff: “Phillip with a strategy that will be hard to stop.” Phillip did win the point.

The 4th Round saw Matt and Laura matching up against Cochran and Francesca. When Laura asked Cochran if he could handle her, his reply made me chuckle: “You wouldn’t believe what I can handle.” The round came down to Francesca being able to handle Matt, giving the Faves their 4th point.

5th Round: Malcolm and Corinne went up against Reynold and Allie. Reynold outraced Malcolm to the ring but he was overpowered in the wrestling match by a naked Malcolm.

Gota – Day 1

Shamar (solo): “To leave the challenge without being the victor was very disappointing to me. I had so much confidence in my team. It made me realize that I don’t have full control over this game and I have to do my best and inspire my team mates to do a better job next time.”

Julia: “When we saw the flag…we knew it was real. We knew this island was going to be our home for the next 39 days.”

When somebody mentions 39 days (or rather when the editors choose to put the comment on the air), I often think that we just received a clue that the player will be there 39 days later, but, with Julia, I doubt it.

Reynold had the next confessional: “We only had one canister of water and it was pretty much gone so we realized we had to make fire to be able to boil water or we wouldn’t be able to make it two days.”

Matt’s confessional set up Gota’s first confrontation: “To me, shelter is just as important as fire and we have 10 people, so I’m going to do my thing and see how it plays out.”

The tribe started to build that shelter but Mt. Shamar wasn’t impressed: “You guys are putting a lot of energy in something we don’t need right now. We need fire, man!”

Matt’s confessional continued: “I’ve been busting my ass and I haven’t seen you lift a single finger…I had higher expectations from a Marine.”

If Shamar’s arrogance wasn’t enough, being labelled lazy is pretty much a story killer, especially since the camera proved Matt’s words.

Reynold, nicely taking the role of  narrator for his tribe, had an interview about the argument: “Shamar went nuts and I am a little bit worried about how we are going to size up against the other tribe. We have an immunity challenge coming up and we will need to have camaraderie in camp or things are going to get ugly quick.”

The Goata scene ended with a loud “shut up.”

Bikal – Day 1:

Dawn had the scene’s first confessional: “Landing on this beach, it was a little surreal. I had this experience. I was walking on the beach, we were finding our camp but it was definitely different as far as the island. This is dinosaurs or something.

Malcolm: “As the new kid on the block, my role, the first few days, is impression management. Luckily, I managed to win the game point, won us the flint and the beans. I got to make a great first impression on the tribe which is great for my strategic game.”

Phillip (solo): “The first time you come out, you are so unsure, there are so many unknowns…Can I do it? I already know I can do it so this time, when I hit the beach, I was like my father when he went to Iwo Jima during WWII. He was fighting with the Marine corps and they were ready to deal with whatever they had to deal with. It was awesome for me to hit that beach knowing I’m ready baby!”

Brenda joked with Phillip about the shelter, leading to Francesca’s first confessional: “I stand by my initial assessment of him as a crazy person… There’s much bigger threats in the game than me…”

Under a monkey’s watchful eyes, Francesca, Andrea and Dawn set out to look at the big picture. They wound up proposing an alliance of the members of Redemption Island with those of South Pacific. (Note that a baby monkey appeared as soon as they mentioned Cochran’s name!)

Francesca’s confessional continued as she talked about her impossible situation in RI and that she wanted to get to know everyone and play smarter. That led her to Phillip!

Phillip: “I am going to let Francesca be Francesca. The fact of the matter is, I buried the hatchet with her, but when I had a conversation with her, I realized she is stuck in a time warp. She annoys me greatly.”

Francesca: “…If I am voted out first a second time, I will eat this rock.”

How did it taste? I don’t have much to add to this scene as it mostly set up this episode’s boot. I will note however that it showed Dawn and Andrea as real players. That was the long term implication of this scene.

Gota:

Are  Shamar's argumentative ways going to help or hurt him?

Are Shamar’s argumentative ways going to help or hurt him?

Matt was still working on the shelter, Mt. Shamar was still resting, but Reynold and a few others were working on fire.

Shamar had another confessional: “Being voted out is one thing, but I am not going to sit here and be the guy that goes out for dehydration…I looked at people trying to make fire and I saw where they were going wrong so I sat back and said: I need to do this, I need to do that. I am going to be the Marine who comes in at the end and just smashes ‘em.”

Working with Michael and others, Shamar made fire.

(OK, I could make some easy jokes here about seeing Hope hold the wood between her breasts and then everyone seeing “Amber” but let’s keep it analytical.)

Shamar: “I had to make it happen. It was like being in Iraq and having to get home: It had to happen.”

So now Shamar gets even more fleshed out and takes on an almost heroic role. His long term story may be doomed but, at present, he has a story that’s taking off. Should we give Shamar the benefit of the doubt like Matt said? We’ll see.

Bikal:

Phillip: “We have such a good crowd. I look at everybody in there and see that this is going to be a good game. The things I learned from Boston Rob might come into play working with this group. I created something called the “BR Rules.” BR Rule 1 would be: Get in an alliance (Cochran shown). BR Rule 2: Get in an alliance within an alliance (the camera moved to Andrea) BR Rule 3: Get rid of your alliance before it gets rid of you (Erik is now shown). And, by the way, you don’t owe anybody anything — It’s all about Family.”

Phillip recruited his soldiers, starting with Corinne — the “Dominatrix”! He told her that he wanted to add Malcolm and Andrea. Corinne was all in.

While this was shown, Phillip’s confessional continued: “I’m playing a different strategy this time. First of all: Find two people that were very efficient at dominating the tribe, making sure we had the numbers, so I picked Corinne. Corinne is a take charge sort of person. I picked Andrea (The “Eliminator”) because I knew her to be a strategist.”

While Corinne and Andrea recruited Malcolm, Phillip’s confessional continued: “Part of my strategy was to have two people like that, I would be in the background because I am being stealth, the undercover brother for sure. The Specialist — behind the scenes giving directions without being so obvious to everybody except my core alliance.”

Next Phillip approached Cochran and then told us: “I have gone out and recruited 6 people out of the 10 but I am looking at Erik. There is something there that I like.”

Phillip told Erik he had the numbers but wanted him in also.

Erik then had a confessional: “Phil basically said to me: You’re with me or you’re out. It’s not even a choice, which drives me nuts. The fact that he came to me with this fear mentality, with the Boston Rob style, I don’t want to be with him. He’s a combative, idiot loser who makes everybody crazy.”

Erik is continuing to show that he is a dumb player by antagonizing someone who just told him he had the numbers. Jeff’s words during the challenge also apply to the game: Phillip has “… a strategy that will be hard to stop.” Even if Erik didn’t believe that was true, he still should have humored the ex-agent, gone along with his plan. After all, the combative idiot losers are often the best allies to have! Erik should have felt right at home because, in Micronesia, his ally Joel was a combative, idiot loser.

Gota

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“Me and Hope are the two best looking people here “

There, we were greeted by more baby monkeys and joined Eddie and Reynold as they agreed to stick together because they’d have targets on their backs.

Next Reynold went to Allie saying he was happy that they had been paired up in the challenge. Reynold then offered to go all the way to the last two with her.

Reynold then had a confessional that was more about the game than the tribe’s story: “I think it was serendipitous that I got paired up with Allie in the challenge. I knew that the guys would want to pair up with me, I knew that was going to happen naturally and there was no pressure for that. But I needed immediately someone who is not obvious. I think she’s a non-obvious choice. She kinda flies under the radar, she’s not the cutest (Allie must have loved hearing that!) she’s not the anything. She’s just cool and there and likable. Survivor is a game of gut instinct and right now my gut feels good and I think hers does too.”

Eddie and Hope quickly paired up also. They talked about adding Reynold and Allie to their alliance.

Eddie had the confessional: “Me and Hope are the two best looking people here and I am not just saying that, that’s how it is. As soon as we got off the boat we were partners in the challenge and I said I want to work with you and she said I want to work with you. Hope is like a Southern Belle… we are going to have fun”

The fact that the two men had the confessionals tells us they will be more important in this act than their female partners. However, Allie was the one with the early confessional and the only one that didn’t say anything dumb in this scene so maybe she’s the one who flies under the radar. 

Then the night came and Reynold didn’t keep his promise to act cool in camp very long! Did he really think no one would notice him and Allie as they were making out?

While we saw their heavy cuddling, Laura had a confessional to tell us what happened: “The first night, everybody was just looking for body warmth so it was just like we were all piling in but I noticed, because I was sleeping next to Reynold and Allie, that their cuddling was a little bit more…Not a smart move. Romantic alliances do not work on Survivor. You are going to get targeted right away.”

Bikal – Day 3

Cochran had a confessional: “Weather wise, this is not my environment. I was not aware how quickly I can get sunburned…My toes are sunburned.”

Brenda told us about him: “Cochran is like a little tomato right now. He is all bright red all over the place and he is swollen like a little pregnant lady!”

Cochran’s confessional continued: “I am going to make some self-deprecating comments but I feel like crying right now….I am in horrible pain but I am trying to stay strong.  My new persona is strong, a little bit of swagger, a little bit of confidence. I can’t be the same freak I was the last time.

Gota

While Shamar did some stretching alone on the beach (which reminded me of Coach except Coach would have broken something doing that exercise!) the four popular kids were in the ocean enjoying their mutual popularity.

Reynold once more had a confessional: “Allie and I had a cuddle session last night and a lot is communicated through the cuddle.” (not if you wear protection) “Now we kinda have this four with me, Allie, Eddie and Hope, so it all kinda worked out.”

Eddie: “It’s like the cool kid lunch table back in high school…I don’t think anybody else is going to be at our table.”

Even if they are only 4 in a tribe of 10, the editors didn’t make them out to look as dumb as Manono’s alliance of 4 roosters. In fact, their counterparts were the ones that would soon look dumb:

Julia, Laura, Sherri and Micheal were on the beach, observing the cool kids and getting a weird vibe.

Sherri: “There was a lot of snuggling going on last night. It wasn’t just staying warm kind of huddle thing: They were hooking up.”

The four shook hands, agreeing to break up the couples.

Michael“I told the ladies that I was with them: ‘Yeah! I’m with you guys.’ But I am trying to set myself up so that I can be hip to either direction.”

While this was being heard in voice over, we were shown Michael serving food to Reynold and Eddie.  The hint was obvious: When the time comes, Michael will serve the guys’ cause.

His confessional continued: “I want to go where it’s best for me. Matt and I, we both have a great sense of humor. He’s laid back and he works, so we kind of vibe in camp the same way.” Michael told Matt about the women’s deal but that he was totally open to other options.

Matt: “Michael is telling me that there are a couple different alliances possibilities that have come up and that there are pretty strong options and he wants to know where I stand.”

Matt had some wise words for Michael: “Everybody is jumping the gun. If we win immunity and keep winning, we won’t have to make that decision for a while.”

Immunity Challenge

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“Reynold was good at throwing bags into holes.”

As usual, Jeff chose to talk to Cochran, this time about his sunburn.

The Favorites put Cochran and Phillip on the first stage, keeping Brenda, Erik, Brandon and Andrea for the top two levels. It shows what they think about the player’s relative strength.

The Fans had Sherri and Laura on the first stage while Julia, Matt, Eddie and Allie went up high. Shamar must not be fast or he lacks stamina because he simply retrieved the bags that had been thrown.

Malcolm and Reynold had their teams’ trust to throw the bags. Reynold was clearly better, erasing a 3 bag deficit and winning it 6-4.

Bikalamity

Francesca: “There is such a thing as luck. Reynold was good at throwing bags into holes.”

As soon as she sat in the shelter with Cochran, she suggested Phillip. She also mentioned Corinne just before the Gabon cast member came by to give some water to Cochran.

Francesca had a confessional to tell us that Corinne hadn’t talked to her about the game.

Cochran had a confessional: “Sunburn aside, I have a good rapport with everybody on my tribe. It’s very satisfying.”

Brandon and Andrea joined the threesome in the shelter only to hear Francesca’s diktat: “Phillip.”

Andrea: “Francesca, I really like her. She’s funny and I think we have a pretty good bond, but it’s so hard because we talked right away, her, me and Dawn and we were going to figure this out and then it was a long time before I heard anything from her. She has her own agenda, but I think I have more loyal people with Phillip instead of Francesca, so it’s almost better to go that way.”

Andrea told Phillip that  Francesca was gunning for him.

Phillip said he knew that Francesca was always strategizing, that she had to go.

Phillip: “I like the idea of voting Francesca out first again. You need to be like Machiavelli who said: “If you come to me once, I will burn your village, I will kill your aunts, uncle and all your children so that none of your kind will exist again.”

Then we had the image of two little crabs “inviting” each other to come on over! It was actually Brandon and Erik’s time to talk things over.

Brandon said it looked like Phillip would be voted out.

Erik agreed, telling HalfHantz about Phillip’s threat.

Erik (solo): “Phillip approached me on the first day and said: ‘You can be with me and we have the numbers or you can be against me and we have the numbers anyway.’ Maybe Phillip does have the numbers. Maybe Phillip does have enough people that he can control the game. I am not sure what Phillip is up to. He is quiet, he’s just hanging out. He’s not scrambling too much, so I don’t know what’s up his sleeve.”

Brandon told Francesca about Phillip’s numbers and that scared her. She told us in confessional that going out first again would be the worst thing ever.

(not for us!)

That’s when the little tarsier jumped back in front of the camera, demonstrating its skills at killing bugs. The two players that were then shown deciding on the kill were Cochran and Dawn. They asked for each other’s preference and Dawn told Cochran she wanted to play with him.

Cochran (solo): “Coming into this game, I was a little bit skeptical with how Dawn would react to me because I arguably screwed her over last time. I voted her out, so I wasn’t sure if there was going to be any lingering resentment or what was going to be the case.”

We cut away from the confessional to hear Dawn say that Fran was more dangerous in the long run than Phillip.

Cochran’s confessional resumed: “I’m willing to work with (Dawn). She’s honest to a fault unless she’s reinvented herself in the past year and decided to play a much more cut-throat game which, actually, might be. The fact that she is willing to take out Franny whom she’s confessed really liking to work with, indicates this is a new Dawn. A new Dawn!”

With one confessional we see that two players are clearly setting out to correct their earlier mistakes: Cochran will be loyal to Dawn while Dawn will be less loyal to the others. That bodes very well for both.

Dawn: “Cochran and I talked at length about staying together and voting together, so I trust him right now. What I am going to have to do is see what is in the best interest for us as far as where to vote. Wherever Cochran and I lie, we are kind of swing as far as I can tell.”

Then Dawn told Cochran that they could take it all the way to the end.

Showing us this pair and presenting them as a power couple is another great sign for the two ex-Savaii tribe mates.

Soon after, paranoia hit Franny who thought of splitting the votes in case Phillip’s calmness was due to an idol.

TalibHantz had a confessional, focusing his venom on his new Mikayla, Andrea: “I don’t trust Andrea at all. She’ll be talking to one person one second, talking to another person the next. Strategy, strategy, strategy. She’s strategic, dude! She’s aware. I am more intimidated by Andrea than anybody out here.”

Erik and Brandon convinced Fran to switch the votes on Andrea because she was “so freaking smart.”

Cochran had the last confessional of the episode: “In a way, I want to vote out Francesca, but there is this kind of emotional aspect. You can say you want to play the most strategic, cold-blooded game in the world, but emotions do enter into the equation. The fact that I like her doesn’t help, so there’s a part of me that like maybe I shouldn’t vote her out because that would be cruel, but I feel like it’s inhumane. I don’t know. I have morals. I have a sense of shame.”

Tribal Council:

1stTribal

“Somebody is (getting voted off). Tonight!”

Jeff asked Brandon if someone was running the tribe.

Brandon answered that they were all chiefs and that no one was going to get done like they got done the last time.

That gave Probst his first easy comeback: “Somebody is. (laughs) Tonight!”

Jeff then went to Francesca’s rivalry with Phillip.

She said it wasn’t fun.

After showing he could pronounce her name, Phillip said he felt apprehension, that he was concerned about the things that happened. “She was very strategic early on in the game when she didn’t have to be.”

Jeff pointed out that Fran didn’t have that much experience.

She took it to mean she was bad at Survivor, but Jeff replied that he didn’t say that.

(You should, Jeff. You really should!)

Fran talked about the changing plans and the paranoia.

Phillip said paranoia appears when you hear your name being mentioned and that his name was mentioned.

Andrea said the littlest comment can cause someone to freak out.

Asked about her skills, Andrea said she was good in challenges and worked hard.

Dawn frowned at this which I interpreted as meaning it’s better not to show how good you are in challenges.

Jeff asked Cochran about the game being played faster with returning players.

Cochran agreed that things happened quickly and that there were many plans in place because there was no time wasted on wondering about toilet arrangements and opening coconuts. “We are playing the game right off the bat and it’s exciting.”

We saw that there was camaraderie between Malcolm and Cochran at the end of this exchange: Just for laughs, Malcolm put his hand on Cochran’s shoulder, imitating Boston Rob’s famous gesture.

The vote left Brandon, Erik and Brenda out of the loop.

Jeff left them by saying: “There is a group of Fans who know they can beat you and they will be looking to do it again soon.”

The Story

I saw this episode through two main themes: The wall-to-wall strategy discussions, in both camps, told us that, “The Game is being Played Faster.” It wasn’t only the Favorites, because we were told of two opposing factions in Gota.

We were also told by Andrea that this is an opportunity to “Correct Previous Mistakes.” It applies directly to the Favorites, but we can translate it to the Fans by saying they need to avoid making the “classic” mistakes. As suchit was interesting that the two couples’ alliance was in the Fans’ tribe while the 6-3 fracture was in the Favorites’ tribe, a reversal of the previous Fans versus Favorites.

Finally, as something just to keep in mind: While we did see many dangerous creatures, the only one shown making a kill was the “cute” tarsier, the little primate that was shown many times, particularly during Cochran and Dawn’s strategy discussion. For now, I think the tarsier and the other baby monkeys are hints that the “big guys” won’t win this season, that the winner will be someone that won’t look like a threat.

The Characters

The Sprinters – These players raced out of the gate but, as a result, have put a target on their back:

Francesca, the first boot falls in this category because of her constant strategizing. She wasn’t the only guilty one.

Phillip: By taking the lead of his alliance, Phillip proved he had learned something from Boston Rob. It will be interesting, possibly hilarious, to watch him applying the BR rules! Phillip probably doesn’t realize that his plan has a few flaws: He isn’t as charismatic as Rob and even his mentor needed four tries to make it work. By including his references to his father the Marine, and Machiavelli, the editors wanted to remind us that Phillip is still a bit crazy. That’s the mistake that can’t be corrected. So, if Phillip has a strategy that will be tough to stop, it’s more likely to benefit someone that he drags along instead of himself!

Andrea: By being aggressive and going after someone she liked, Andrea has already corrected her original mistake. She isn’t going to be only the nice farm girl who wants to fit in. She needed a little fight and she got it. Unfortunately, she put a target on her back even earlier than last time. Then, she only partly recovered, but this vote gives her a good reprieve. Will she put it to good use? We were reminded a few times that she is smart.

Eddie: He wasn’t only fast at playing the game; he didn’t waste any time getting in a showmance with Hope. Eddie was presented as making a classic mistake: Forming a four person clique in a tribe of ten. They will need to invite someone to their table, but Eddie doesn’t seem to realize this. Fortunately for him, his challenge skills may spare him, but then his girlfriend’s game could end much like it did for Ozzy’s girls in So Pathetic.

Reynold: He was also guilty of making a quick, obvious connection, but I have more confidence in this couple’s durability. In addition to his strategy talk, he also became the tribe’s narrator, so he should make the merge. We have seen changes of narrators before, but it’s rare. The editors like to have one main narrator per tribe. His girlfriend is also more likely to fly under the radar than Hope.

Hope and Allie: Their game also got into gear instantly even if they did most of their work on the backseat. Allie should fare better than the beauty queen because of that opening confessional and a more substantial description. We know she is cool, likable and could fly under the radar. Hope? We only know that she is the prettiest one there (besides Eddie!).

MichaelHe was already looking at different options and has a deal with the women that he is ready to break. Will he heed Matt’s advice about not jumping the gun? Michael seems determined to stir things up, and it was totally unnecessary to show us his confessional about going against the women. Gota didn’t go to Tribal Council, so the editors could have let us wonder how the 4-4 split would get resolved. Instead, not only did we hear Michael questioning his options, we saw him serving Reynold and Eddie while talking about it. I have no doubt that Michael will eventually side with the guys, but he could break up one couple first, increasing his position on the totem pole or rather, opening up a chair at the popular kids’ table!

Shamar: His only sprint was to put a target on his back. Like Reynold said: “Shamar went nuts.” The Fans may realize that they won a challenge without his help, so maybe he could be eliminated early. That would explain why we heard so much so soon about him. Ace in Gabon had that kind of complexity and he didn’t make the merge. The editors could have decided to give this war hero his due but show us at the same time why he wasn’t good at Survivor.

Matt: He should have known better than to take the clear lead in building the shelter. It rarely gets anyone more than grief and it did lead to the first rivalry. He reminded Michael not to jump the gun, but creating conflicts this early is a form of jumping the gun. They have to live with each other for over a month, so they should start by socializing. One of the first scenes in Borneo told us that you shouldn’t jump in immediately with the job at hand. Aren’t they fans???

Going Nowhere Fast – These players already find themselves in trouble.

Julia: Despite her confessional and performance in the challenge, I don’t get the impression that Julia will last long in the game. For one thing, she looked ill, remaining seated during the whole talk with the others and keeping her coat on.

Sherri: I was expecting more from Sherri, especially after seeing her paired up with Michael in the first challenge – I thought they’d form a powerful couple. They did align, but that wasn’t very promising. The only thing we can say about Sherri is that she is aware of the couples’ alliance. That’s not much to go on.

Laura: She had a more prominent role than her two alliance mates, but it was mostly to tell us that she is in danger. Michael said she looked weak and didn’t really belong in the game, so her long term chances don’t look too good. Romantic alliances don’t always work but they do when they have the numbers.

Erik: Not much has changed for Erik since the last time. In fact, things are worse: Bikal is as divided as Airai, but Erik is in Jason’s place right now — the minority alliance. And it was all his doing as he was offered a spot in Phillip’s alliance but he declined the offer. That is the mark of a Dumb Player. Erik can only hope for a tribe swap.

Brandon: His only confessional reminded us of his inability to cope with a smart, beautiful woman. Jeff made him look foolish at Tribal Council which is often an indication that a player won’t last long. We can only wish.

Brenda: We can say for certain that not everyone was charmed by Brenda this time! With everyone knowing that she is dangerous, she has no chance of surviving in a minority. Her only hope is for Brandon to explode and then waiting for Phillip’s alliance to implode. If Phillip learned Rob’s lessons well, then that shouldn’t happen.

Going Along for the Ride – These players had a good start but the story wasn’t about them:

Malcolm: He accomplished what he wanted: He found a way into the main alliance even if he was the new kid on the block. Being arguably the most popular Favorite, his role was strangely quite limited. To keep with the BR Rules, Phillip must see him as his Grant. If that alliance does make it all the way to the end, who would side with Malcolm over Phil? Lisa and Skupin aren’t playing this time, so I don’t see anyone else being that dumb.

Corinne: As we saw during Gabon’s premiere and as Jeff said when he introduced her, Corinne is good at making friends. She was Phillip’s first choice, so she finds herself in a good spot already. Last time, her mistake was making enemies, and we had a glimpse of that when Francesca made her the secondary target. From what Fran said, it’s apparent that Corinne stopped talking to those who weren’t in her alliance, and that is not a smart thing to do.

On Cruise Control – These players had a solid start:

Dawn: Having already flipped on her original alliance, we can say that Dawn corrected her mistake. The New Dawn could very well be on her way to the end and, if she gets there, she will be tough to beat.  With Cochran, she was clearly shown as the deciding factor, so Andrea’s “Thank you guys” once Jeff had read the final vote was directed at this powerful couple.  It should earn them some valuable trust.

Cochran: He also corrected his mistake by getting in the main alliance. He has a good rapport with everyone, which wasn’t the case ion Savaii. It was interesting to see that Cochran was shown twice when Phillip talked about BR Rule 1: Get a Main Alliance. Phillip sees Cochran as the intelligent player, so he should go to Cochran first with his plans. That should allow Cochran to steer the ex-Federal Agent in the desired direction.

Moving on to the next episode, it will be interesting to see if any of the sprinters can overcome their hurdles, if the players going nowhere can find their bearings or if the players on cruise control continue on the right course.


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