Survivor: Worlds Apart

The Battle Is On

Previously on Survivor:

  • After 17 days, Escameca and Nagarote finally merged. Mike’s confessional: “Now it’s one tribe battling it out for a million dollars.”
  • At the first immunity challenge, Joe outlasted all the rest.
  • Facing tribal council, Mike wanted to test Will’s allegiance. Mike’s confessional: “When I see Hali’s name written down tonight, then I will know that I can trust Will.”
  • The real battle for power was Blue Collar who were targeting Jenn versus No Collar who were targeting Kelly with White Collar in the middle deciding who gains control. We saw Carolyn talking to Tyler: “They need our votes” followed by Tyler’s confessional: “Wherever we go will change this game dramatically.”
  • At Tribal Council, Shirin stuck with the No Collars while Carolyn, Tyler and Will sided with the majority but numbers don’t matter when an idol is played at the perfect moment. We see Jenn telling Jeff: “I don’t want to go home.”
  • In the end, Kelly was sent home.

The first thing that stands out in this recap is that it already frames the contest between Mike’s Blues and Joe’s No Collars.  The White Collars decision wasn’t presented as a way for them to take control of the game but deciding who they were going to put in control.  It paints them as the enablers, not as our protagonists.  Reinforcing that view, Jeff didn’t mention Carolyn’s valiant effort at the challenge.  Had Jeff said that it came down to Carolyn and Joe, it would have muddled the message:  This season is going to be all about Joe versus Mike. 

The Battle Is On

The players returned and were all commenting on the game getting real.  Mike said: “Well played, Jenn.”

Rodney’s confessional: “Seeing Kelly go, it broke my heart.  It shouldn’t have been like that.  I’m really mad about that and I kind of put it on Mike.  Mike is the leader and he changed up the vote.  It was supposed to be Hali but at the last second he changed it to Jenn to test Will’s trust.  Mike’s an idiot redneck, straight out.  You got Mama C Carol, Will, me and Tyler.  All of us are on board.  I do love my Blues but we could be witnessing some very interesting stuff when it gets down to seven.”

Once more, Rodney’s confessional is used to let us think that Mike is in danger.  It reminds us of Natalie vow to avenge Jeremy’s elimination last year so some will say that Mike is going to pay for his “mistakes” but Rodney isn’t Natalie!  He is so focused on the events that will occur at Final Seven that it seems like foreshadowing: He could be witnessing the vote of the Final Seven from the Jury box!

Having to explain the vote, Rodney told Will that Mike was running the show.  He added: “We got me, you, Tyler and Mama C but Mike is running the show.  We’re gonna keep on letting him run it.  Once Joe, Hali, Jenn and Shirin are gone, we’re gonna run the ship.” Will was happy to hear that so he walked off.

Will may have walked right off the island because he was practically unseen for the rest of the episode!

Lying on the beach with Jenn, Hali, Joe and Shirin, Mike said: “Great job.  It definitely didn’t go with what I wanted to happen tonight obviously.”

Jenn interjected: “Sorry that I’m still here to disappoint you, Mike, but…pfiiit!”  (Jenn’s confessional started here)

Mike went on: “But I respect that play.  That was sweet.”

Jenn in confessional: “I knew they were going to vote for me so I played my idol.  Then Kelly went home.  Joe, Hali, Shirin and I were so stoked, just stoked while the rest of the tribe was like mouth open, shocked and sad:  Oh! Poor Kelly.  Who gives a (censured).  I thought it was great.  The No Collars are back in town and ready to win.  I love to mess with the other alliance.  I believe there’s still fun to be had and little things to screw up for everyone else. I want to mess with things because it provides me with entertainment.”

Considering the content of this confessional and Jenn’s absence in key moments later on and we can definitely take her out of contention.  Her nice story was ruined by the same lack of compassion we had seen when Nina was voted out and by the fact that she isn’t taking the game seriously.  She enjoyed messing with the other alliance; it entertained her but it didn’t really advance her own position.   

Day 20

The tribe was preparing breakfast: Dan was working on a fish, Jenn was cutting some of the leftover salami while Shirin and Sierra were cooking a pot of rice.

Rodney wanted to know how many scoops of rice were in the pot.  He was told three and that everyone agreed on that.  Rodney wanted them to throw in a little more.  He then put his hands on the salami that Jenn had cut.  That irritated Shirin.

Joe’s expression and the music told us that Rodney was being ridiculous.

Rodney in confessional: “Ever since Joe and his stooges came over here, they run the food; they portion out the food.  But, you know what?  Every time I get mad, I’m just going to walk away, punch a tree or something and walk back in there with a fresh cool, calm and collected mind state.  The way I grew up, respect is not given, it’s earned so, out here, it’s tough for me to be a fugazi. I can’t be fake.  I got to respect you in order to give you respect, and if I don’t respect you, you are going to know it.  Cherie or Shiri, whatever her name is, she’s the most pointless person in this game.  She shouldn’t even be here. Nobody can stand her, but at the end of the day, we are running the game.  We got seven to their four.  The game is pretty much over for them.  We just have to weed out all the garbage.”

 With Shirin being on camera for much of Rodney’s rant, you have to expect that she will outlast him, especially since everything that Rodney said about Shirin could apply to him.  He could have been voted out instead of Lindsey and nobody can stand him.

The Reward Challenge

When they walked in for the challenge, Will and Hali started applauding.

It was probably because they were surprised to see that Jeff bothered to show up this time.

I Got This! I Got This![/caption]

Joe was flying through this challenge, Shirin didn’t quite figure out the proper technique while we heard that “Carolyn fell short.”

Joe, Mike and Hali moved on to the puzzle portion of the challenge.

Twice, Jeff said that Mike was having problems with the puzzles and twice Mike commented.  First, Mike thanked the host and then he told himself to settle down.

After a bit of a hesitation which opened the door for Mike, Joe completed his puzzle and won the reward.

Jeff made the comment that Joe was undefeated in individual challenges and that could be a hint that he is just starting.  While it wasn’t surprising to see Joe win, the players he picked to accompany him were.  Surprising and interesting!

Pick Me!

Pick Me!

Joe picked:  Tyler, Will and Carolyn (because of her performance in the previous IC).  When Jeff said he could add one more, Rodney started pleading, saying that he was starving more than everybody but Joe told him he had been eating more than everybody.  Despite silent pleas from Hali and Jenn, Joe chose Shirin because she was a superfan and it would be an experience of a lifetime.

Rodney continued to complain even after they left.  That caused Jenn to say:  “I (censored) hate you.”

Joe’s picks must have frustrated Jenn so maybe she was transferring some of her anger over to Rodney.  The thing we have to consider is that Jenn wasn’t given a confessional to let us know how she felt.  Was she angry?  Was that anger balanced by knowing he chose players that they needed?  She certainly had something to say but that wasn’t deemed important.

Mike gave us a confessional: “Joe winning this reward was devastating because he’s probably getting a clue to the hidden immunity idol on the reward.  The kid is amazing, man!  I don’t know how I’m going to beat him so this is where the rubber meets the road.”

Even a simple reward is used to build the storyline that Mike is in danger.  The epic battle is underway so we have to hear that Joe is a formidable opponent in some way despite his numerical disadvantage.

The Reward

Joe’s interview was heard while he was flying down the zip-line: “…It felt fantastic floating over the jungle! I’ve never been zip-lining before.”

Joe enumerated his companions but he never told us why he chose them.  The choices were obviously strategic, but the thoughts that led him to that strategy weren’t detailed at all.   It could be telling us that Joe will never get the numbers on his side, that he can only hope to Outplay everyone.

Shirin in confessional: “I just couldn’t believe my luck:  I got to go zip-lining with Carolyn and I’m like: Dang it!  I don’t like her and don’t want her to eat pizza and have a cool adventure.”

The zip –line was another occasion to show that Shirin doesn’t understand technique!  She didn’t even realize that she had to brake.  It also told us that despite a good moment following Max’s elimination, Shirin isn’t very likable herself.  This episode showed that there is a lot of animosity, even hatred, between these players.  It’s starting to give a bad flavor to the season.

Carolyn’s interview: “I was so excited…If you look at it, Joe’s picks are kind of interesting because he picked no Blue Collar because obviously the Blue Collars are out to get him.   I was happy about it:  Smart move!”

She Could Almost Taste It!

She Could Almost Taste It!

Right after saying that, we all saw that there was something inside Carolyn’s soda bottle.

Joe in confessional: “I looked over and thought I saw something in Carolyn’s bottle of soda.”  To the group, he said: “I wish I had more soda.”  Carolyn handed him the bottle that she had just put down.  Joe’s confessional continued: “I grabbed it and as soon as I looked inside, I saw that there was a note in the bottom.  I tried to just chug it and put it in my mouth but I saw Tyler looked over at me.  Tyler saw me, so I’m trying to figure out our plan to read it together, what we are going to do.”

I would have liked to see Carolyn’s reaction at home while watching this, thinking she easily could have had two idols!

Tyler’s confessional: “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Joe almost choked on an immunity idol clue.  I could have outed him right then and there but I sat on it, silent.  I just figured that the clue was something that definitely opens up new options.  If Joe finds the immunity idol then that also opens up new options.”

Once more, this episode will show that Tyler talks a good game but cannot follow through with actions. 

Day 21

The sun wasn’t quite up yet when Joe walked over to where Tyler was resting.  It happened to be right next to Mike.

Joe’s confessional: “It wasn’t even twilight and Tyler was wide awake.  I think he was waiting for me to get up.  I’m going to share the clue to the hidden immunity idol with Tyler and that’s going to make him and I close now and bonded.”

As soon as the two started gesturing, we saw that Mike wasn’t really sleeping.

Mike’s confessional: “I’m sitting in the chair with my eyes halfway open to see what is going on.  I’m acting like I’m sleeping so Joe and Tyler get up, they go around the corner, bring the dishes like they are going down the river.  I knew today was going to be a mad dash because I figured they were getting an immunity idol clue at the reward.  The whole time, I am tracking them down the beach from tree to tree.  I’m like spy versus spy!  I’m jumping in bushes, climbing up this tree, I’m peeking through leaves, you know, trying to stay camouflaged where they can’t see me.”

Right after he said this, we saw Joe, nervously looking around.  Thinking that he wasn’t being observed, he opened up the tiny cylinder and read the clue.

If the similarities between Mike and Tony’s edit weren’t evident to everyone before, I’m sure this gave flashbacks of the “spy shack” to many viewers.  If Mike is going to win this game as the editing suggests, let’s hope that he seals the deal in a more satisfactory way than the cop.

The clue told Joe and Tyler to look around a “tributary” near a “sea of green”.  They’d have to defy gravity and look in a hollow.

Considering that the word “pace” baffled her, Sandy would have had a hard time with this clue even if it wasn’t as difficult as it should be.

Mike’s confessional continued: “Why would Joe be showing Tyler an immunity idol clue unless he is trying to woo him over.”

Mike walked right up to the boys who told him they couldn’t sleep.

Tyler’s interview: “Joe reads the clue and within moments, Mike is upon us.  I don’t know what he saw.  He could have seen me reading the clue with Joe.  I’ve got to be very, very careful about alienating the group that I am in.  So, what do I tell Mike?  I told him about what the clue read.  Thus began a mad dash trying to find where Joe is and Mike was leading the pack of insanity.”

Hum...

Hum…

Tyler didn’t look too brave when he told Mike everything.  The Texan didn’t even have to ask or say anything.  The scene made it abundantly clear that Tyler hates taking risks, always choosing to play it safe.  He won’t be using these new options.

Mike told Rodney and Carolyn about the clue and that Joe was looking for the idol.

Mike’s next interview: “Joe just takes off by himself.  He is out looking for the idol right now while no one else is watching Joe.  I got to find Joe before he finds the idol so that we can send this guy home and it’s not me.  I honestly feel that once Joe is out of the game and I don’t have something in my back pocket then I’m the next one to go home.  So, I’m going to look for Joe.”

Tyler was on screen when Mike mentioned “It’s not me”.  I wonder if that means the idol’s next victim will be Tyler.  It was also funny to note the impatience in Mike’s confessional.  He was telling his interviewer: I’m kind of busy right now.  Can I call you back later?!  As for Mike’s comment about his fate after Joe is gone, it shows that he is aware that there are other dangers.  That should continue to be the theme of his story.

Does the Cameraman also have to hide?

Does the cameraman also have to hide?

It apparently didn’t take Mike long to find Joe who was still looking for the idol.

Mike returned to his interview: “Sure enough, I find Joe and it dawns on me that I want a bigger target on Joe’s back.  I didn’t see him grab an idol; I didn’t see him put an idol in his pocket so I head to the river.” With Joe washing his hair in the river, we saw Mike walking out of the woods and yelling: “Good job, baby brother.”  To the others, he said: “He’s got it.” Joe denied it.  Mike’s confessional continued: “I basically screamed out: Hey man!  Good job on finding the idol.  He tried to play it off and I’m not going to let him play it off.  I’m going to say that I believe that he found it and that I saw him putting it in his pocket.”

Joe’s confessional: “Mike comes over: “You dog! I can’t believe you got it. Blah-blah-blah.” Mike kind of spoiled my plan.”  Joe told Hali that he didn’t have the idol.  He added: “Everyone thinks that I have it which is good.  So, if I just lay back then it’s like I have it.”

Mike Screwed Joe

Mike Screwed Joe

That was a very interesting tactic from Mike and Joe’s confessional gives us the full impact of Mike’s play:  He practically forced Joe to stop looking for the idol and he didn’t have to worry about the others thinking he was going out to look for it himself!  If the mad dash had continued, anyone could have stumbled on that idol, but now Mike had an open field.  

Strangely, the editors gave us an interlude from all this idol considerations to present a discussion between the two superfans.

Dan told Shirin that he was surprised by her lack of game: “You’re like me, a fan.  Why is it that fans can’t do basic math?  You are just one of Joe’s minions. Your game is done.”

Shirin answered: “I think that you just don’t understand my game.”

Dan laughed at that: “You are right. I don’t.”

Dan’s confessional: “Shininny or whatever her name is – I can’t remember her damn name because she annoys me so much – Somebody slap this woman.  For the love of God, just slap her and shut her up already.  Dear God in heaven!  Do us all a favor.  I cannot wait till her torch goes out.”

Shirin’s answer was delivered in confessional: “Dan just tries to rip me apart.  He just flings insult after insult at me.  I actually felt sorry for Dan so I just kind of sat back and thought: What else?”

Dan described two types of people: “Those that don’t do anything and get voted out because of it and people that do too much and annoy everybody and they get voted out.  Case in point:  You did it to yourself.  I’m just trying to be nice; I truly am.”

Why show this scene? Was it simply to create a possible second vote option?  I think there is much more to it than that.  First, I think the editors took a jab at us, presenting the two superfans in an argument like so many have on this and other public boards.  Didn’t they sound like Sucksters arguing about Survivor?!   Of course, there was more to it than that because, like Rodney before, everything that Dan said about Shirin applies to him also.  He is one of those that don’t do anything and he says too much and annoys everybody.  Could Shirin outlast both Rodney AND Dan?  If she does, that practically gives her an ticket to the Final Three.   The scene could have been shown to show why Dan wouldn’t be receiving a vote from the other superfan. 

Finding the Idol

To the sound of very rhythmic music, we followed Mike in his search through the woods: “I’ve been running around trying to find this idol all day…I found a little termite’s nest, trying to get some sustenance in my belly …Still no luck finding the idol for Mike.  This is such a mind beating, exhausting game (Seeing him with tears in his eyes reminded us of Jeff’s words during the last episode:  To win this you must want it more than the others). It’s tough, it’s a tough part of the game but I got to find it. So, I got work to do… Don’t think you’re going to come out here and you’re just going to find an idol because it’s that easy.  You can’t. (We saw him scrapping his hand on a tree trunk.)  You got to keep searching in every nook, every cranny.  People who find idol in this game are the people who work the hardest in this game.” (Well, I’d remind him of Ralph!)

He Wants It.

He Wants It.

 

 

 

 

 

It's Totally On The Ground.

It’s Totally On The Ground.

That’s when he found the idol but it was totally on the ground and it was the Blue Escameca Idol.  That means that there is another idol, Jenn’s replacement idol, hidden up in a tree somewhere.

 

Holding the idols in both hands, Mike started crying.  Then he said: “That’s what we do, baby:  We do the happy dance.  When you are feeling like everything is going against you, you keep digging within yourself when you have nothing left and this right here:  This is what you find… I’m not going to share it because I need that protection for myself.  Right now, I have a chance to get rid of Joe, so if Joe doesn’t win individual immunity, Joe has to go.  That’s just plain and simple.”

I think this scene showed that the Blue Collar ethic was the best way to play Survivor…at least for this season. Working harder than everybody else has to be Mike’s winning storyline.  The only troubling part of his story is the focus on Joe who didn’t leave even if he had to go.

Day 22 – The Immunity Challenge

For some reason, Jeff turned to Shirin after describing the challenge.  Since it was a puzzle, she felt she had a good chance of winning, but since she didn’t, was this only to laugh at her or to set the table for a win by Shirin down the road?

She wanted to bring it, put all her energy into it.  Jeff had fun imitating her gestures.

Joe had the lead throughout the puzzle but Dan caught up on the slide puzzle.  Shirin, who thought she was good at this, was shown looking at the pieces instead of sliding them.  The strange sound effect clearly told us she was stuck.  One player who wasn’t stuck was Dan who was moving his pieces around very quickly.  Jeff said: “You will know when you have it,” but twice Dan thought he had it but was wrong.  Joe didn’t miss his chance.

It was funny that Dan got the “Outplay” portion wrong!

Jeff told everyone: “Joe is undefeated in three consecutive individual challenges.  If you weren’t a threat before, you are definitely a threat now.”

Rodney in confessional: “Joe won.  All he does is win challenges like he’s a protopitypical (sic!) all-American white boy.  Who wouldn’t want him to win Survivor?  So, if it was my decision, Joaquin would have made it and we wouldn’t be dealing with this drama.  We would just be sitting back eating rice and beans.  Right now, we have to run around and hustle because of the decisions that Mike made.”

Back in Camp

Shirin in confessional: “Today, I got handed an immunity challenge on a silver platter…Joe wins everything.  I’d love to win a challenge.  It would be like a life achievement for me, but at this point, everybody thinks that I am so not a threat, I’m so weak in every way, and I hope that buys me a few extra days in this game.  I’m not too concerned.”

Ironically, the group was talking by the water and we heard Carolyn saying: “Shirin, right?”

Mike said he’d go with the group, Tyler pointed out that he didn’t think she had the idol from the White Collar camp.  He added that he saw her scrambling, looking for that idol.

Dan in confessional: “If every camp has an idol, where is White Collars’?  Carolyn and Tyler seem very confident that Shirin does not have the idol probably because she hasn’t said anything about it and I don’t think her game is good enough to keep her mouth shut.  I don’t know: Maybe it is.  Maybe she’s an idiot savant.  I’m leaning more toward the idiot side.”

When Dan mentioned that Carolyn and Tyler were very confident that Shirin didn’t have the idol, I thought he was going to make the connection and say that one of them must have it, but he didn’t say anything about that.  It doesn’t mean he didn’t think it or even says it later in this confessional but the audience still has to believe that no one thinks Carolyn could have an idol.  Didn’t anyone make the connection? 

Mike told everyone that Shirin wasn’t going to win anything. He wanted to target one of the three No Collars because they were so tight.  Carolyn and Mike both said “Hali” at once.

Next, we had Hali, Jenn and Sierra listening to Shirin complaining about Dan.  Hali said that Dan was messed up, that she would trust her kids with Rodney before Dan.

Sierra’s confessional: “Getting rid of Dan would be amazing. He said some very hurtful, unnecessary things for a grown man and I haven’t forgiven him for it.  To hear the other people feeling the same way about Dan makes me feel a lot better because it reiterates to me that I’m not crazy.  We need another vote.  My initial Blue Collar alliance is going to go for a girl but that isn’t what I want to do because I want girls in the end.  I have to decide:  Do I want to go with the girls or do I want to stick with my Blue Collar alliance?”

The subject of a girls’ alliance was brought up by Sierra.

In confessional, Hali said she liked the dynamics of the girls banding together.  She wanted to go after the misogynistic Dan.

Shirin talked to Tyler about eliminating Dan and getting rid of one of Blue Collars’ players.

Tyler in confessional: “Some of these guys in my alliance are big threats.  I want nothing more than to target Mike and Dan.  I’m hoping to strike before Blue Collar knows what hits them.”

Tribal Council

Asked about the tribe’s reaction to the previous Tribal Council, Tyler said that a lot of people were bummed out because Kelly was well liked.  He added that lines are blurred that it’s just a big group of survivors.

Sierra agreed, saying that the line wasn’t completely drawn in the sand at this point. “I can go with whichever alliance I want to.”

That remark worried Mike.

Mike said that he knew 150,000 percent what he was doing tonight but that he was sitting with a bunch of gamers.  He asked: “Are you going to go with someone who gave you pizza or are you going to go with someone that has been providing the whole time for you?”

Dan said you have to expect the bombs to drop and hope it doesn’t drop on you.  He told Jeff his three magic words: “Flippers never win.”

Shirin was quick to point out:  “Jeff, that’s flat wrong.  Flippers do win. Tony flipped a million times and won epically.  It’s like a fear tactic that he is using against his alliance so that nobody will vote against him.”

Asked about Dan’s message, Hali said: “We’re tribe America and if you look at history, what if the colonists never flipped on the greatest Empire in the world?”

Jeff, Jenn and Joe liked that and even Shirin suddenly seemed to like the tribe name.

It was (already) time to vote.

The vote was tight between Dan and Hali but as soon as a fifth vote appeared against the No Collar girl, we knew that no one had flipped. Hali let out a “what the (censored)”.  The first juror was caught completely off guard because she wasn’t even carrying her bag.

Jeff sent them back to camp with the following message: “With ten players left, lines drawn in the sand tonight can be washed away by the tides tomorrow.”

 

The Story

The brevity of the scene that followed the Immunity Challenge, the scrambling scene as I call it, and the very short Tribal Council prove that this is a two-person race.  Last week, Joe and Mike were on camera when Jeff mentioned that it only took two people to have an epic battle and we can see that this battle is on.  The editors spent just enough time on the scramble and we saw just enough of Jeff’s Council to make us think that Dan could be going home but the body of the episode was spent on Joe Outplaying everyone while Mike was Outwitting them.  Who will Outlast?

The story has been reduced to this: Mike has the numbers; Joe has the challenge wins.  Which will prevail?  Mike’s numbers don’t appear to be solid but a lot of that is editing manipulation. Last week, many were quick to say that Mike would pay for testing Will’s trust but the big man voted with the Blue Collars again.  Some players have made impressive immunity runs and Joe seems very capable but no one knows when they will be forced to balance on lily pads!  Wouldn’t we have seen some great foreshadowing if Shirin were to win the challenge that would send Joe to the jury house?

 

The Characters

The Bullies

Rodney:  Everyone hates Rodney, but he is a very dangerous player since he is able to align voters.  It seems unlikely that he will call a truce and change his plan of taking over Mike’s leadership position so it will come to a showdown between the two.  Rodney is so focused on waiting until Final Seven that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike getting rid of him at Final Eight.

Dan:  We saw once more that he can’t control his mouth.  He has said some mean and unnecessary things to Sierra before and now he is insulting Shirin to the point where the women considered voting him out.  We have to realize that this plan was more than just smokescreen from the editors because Hali was so sure it would work that she didn’t bring her bag to TC.  So either Sierra is a good actress, or she truly was going to vote against Dan up to the last moment.   The argument between the two Survivor superfans confirmed that Dan doesn’t understand the social game and didn’t change now that he is talking to potential jurors.  In fact, he could become so insufferable that he could wind up on the jury himself.  He’d become one of those that do nothing but annoy everyone so much that they get voted out, a category that he somehow didn’t mention.

The Goat:

Shirin:  It’s not gracious but she is hanging on!  Her argument with Dan reminded me of the arguments I’ve had on these boards about this game.  “Shininny” said she felt sorry for Dan but her words to Hali, Jenn and Sierra showed that she truly resented him.  The problem with Shirin is that Dan isn’t the only one she hates.  The reward gave her an occasion to patch things up with Carolyn, but she was more interested in bashing her former White Collar ally.  It probably would have been useful to count on Carolyn if the women wanted to band together… Just saying.  When it came time to find the extra vote, Shirin had to go to Tyler instead.   That was never going to work for her.

The Sheep:

Will:  Veni, Vidi, Willy?  He came; he saw; he left.  That was about the extent of Will’s role in this episode.  As soon as the tribe came back to camp, he had a talk with Rodney about being left out of the loop.  Satisfied with the explanation, he walked away and wasn’t heard from again even if he was part of the reward and held an important vote.  This was the episode that finally broke the No Collar group and we didn’t even hear Will’s side.  We can say that he falls in Dan’s first category:  He does nothing and will get voted out because of it.

Sierra:  We see that Sierra could be a player.  Her limited social game reduces her options but she can give interesting confessionals where she explores her different options but it seems that those confessionals air only when it’s time to put danger on Mike’s path.   She chose to stay with her Blue Collar allies when she eliminated Joaquin so she will stay the course.  Voting with the girls would have meant giving the game to Jenn and Hali, if not Joe since they were still very much attached to him.

Tyler:  The scene where we heard him revealing everything to Mike about the idol clue showed that Tyler is playing scared.  He didn’t want to try anything that could alienate his ally so he spilled the beans.  Mike’s tactic of telling everyone that Joe had found an idol was risky when it came to Tyler.  We saw how quickly he sided with Carolyn when she told him that she had an idol so he could have explored his new option with Joe, thinking he’d be aligning with another player that has an idol.   The problem with Tyler thinking that Joe had the idol is that he’d become too powerful.  Joining such a powerful player would be very frightening for Tyler.  The safe plan is to eliminate Joe’s allies until the numbers allow for a split vote to flush the idol.  Tyler chose, once more, the safe road.

The Fading Players

Carolyn:  Sometimes a big participant in the action, Carolyn can also look like just another sheep at times.  The best thing about her story is that the others continually skirt around her big secrets.  First, everyone talked about the dangers of power couples but no one tied Carolyn to Tyler.  Now Dan realized that there had to be an idol in Masaya and that Tyler and Carolyn were very sure that Shirin didn’t have it, but he didn’t make the connection that the best way to be sure someone doesn’t have the idol is by knowing who does.  There could be a very interesting story to build around Carolyn, but it seems that it doesn’t concern the editors very much, so we must conclude that she will continue to ebb and flow.  We heard her say that Joe’s picks were smart but she wasn’t given the airtime to elaborate.  We can assume that she meant Joe realized he needed these people’s votes to advance his own game.  What is smart for Joe isn’t smart for Carolyn so she was thinking of her best interest except we don’t hear her talking about her own game.  Is it because she is simply going along with Rodney’s plan?  If so, then we should have heard her take on Kelly’s elimination and how it affected her game.

Jenn:  This episode meant the end of Jenn’s chances of usurping Mike’s winner’s edit.  She reverted to the inconsiderate person that we had seen when Nina was still in Nagarote.  She may not have cared about Kelly, but it wasn’t necessary to hear her gloating over her demise to the point of saying that it was simply done to amuse her.  It was also very troubling that we didn’t hear her thoughts about missing the reward.  She could have said that Joe was doing his best to gain people to their cause, but she was probably angry at being excluded, perhaps even cursing Joe a little.  The story has changed now that individual challenges are a factor so Joe is now the main obstacle in front of Mike, not Jenn.  He has become the golden boy so there’s no place for Jenn in the main story anymore.  The only thing that remains is her exit story, and hopefully it will be nicer than what the previews suggests.

The Fighters

Joe:  During the pre-merge, Joe was ignored in some key moments, so he doesn’t have a traditional winner’s story.  However, since his road to victory requires an unprecedented steak of immunity wins, he wouldn’t need a traditional story to become an epic winner.  Of course, Joe could also find a way to the end if Rodney votes out Mike but that plan won’t be set in motion as long as Joe is in the game.   If Joe keeps up the bluff that Mike imposed on him, he may miss the idol hidden in a hollow which could be his best chance of success.

Mike:  This episode tied most of the themes that we had seen in the pre-merge.  Mike worked harder, wanted it more than everybody else.  His disheveled look during that memorable confessional showed how demanding the game could be for those who don’t sit around doing nothing.  He is getting his hands dirty and he is aware that he faces dangers once Joe leaves.  Could it lead to an understanding between the two fighters?  I really enjoyed his tactic of telling everyone that Joe had the idol since it practically forced Joe to lay low while getting everyone else to stop the search.  The thing we have to remember is that Mike didn’t need to “defy gravity” to find this idol so there has to be another one somewhere under the jungle’s canopy.   That idol could change the game, but we still have to say that Mike has the story of a Sole Survivor.  

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