SurvivorSurvivor Caramoan

DECODING THE EDIT: Why Sherri is One to Watch

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In his recap, Jeff told us the Favorites wanted to show the Fans who was boss.

While the favorites felt right at home…

<Phillip: “This is going to be a good game.”>

…the fans struggled to adapt.

They had no fire, couldn’t co-exist and alliances began to pull them apart.

<After Reynold enumerated the members of his alliance, we heard Michael say to Matt: “You and I will decide which way we want to go.”>

Things turned around for the fans: They got fire and they won the first immunity challenge.

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The fans struggled to adapt

With the Favorites facing Tribal Council, Phillip and Francesca reignited their age-old feud.

Phillip reinstated the “Stealth-R-Us” alliance, targeting Francesca while Francesca put together an anti-Phillip coalition, leaving Cochran and Dawn stuck in the middle.

<Dawn: “Wherever Cochran and I lie, we are kind of swing.”>

At Tribal Council, history was made when Francesca became the first Survivor to be voted out first twice.

Very interesting recap: It told us that the Faves failed in showing who was boss.

It wasn’t very good for Phillip, ignoring his BR rules.

It wasn’t any better for Andrea, ignoring the fact that she was the actual secondary target.

It gave a lot of importance to Michael and Matt. These two could decide the fate of the Fans.

Between Dawn and Cochran, it was Dawn who got the credit for making the decision simply by being the one shown telling us they were the swing. The upcoming episode would make us ask however if it was really credit or blame.  Considering what we will hear about the decision to boot Fran, the “nicest person,” I’d say it was better not to stand out like Dawn.

They Came To Play

Bikal – Night 3

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Dawn wanted to explain her position to Brandon.

Dawn wanted to explain her position to Brandon.

He told her that it was the harshest thing he had seen in his life.

The scene cut to a confessional by Brandon: “Tribal Council sucked. Francesca, one of the nicest people I ever met, twice, first person to go home.”

We went back to the fight and Brandon delivered what could be a death blow, editing-wise, to Dawn: “I feel sorry for you, ‘cause you’re still gonna lose. You both will still lose off of that stupid move.”

Dawn’s confessional was then inserted: “Brandon is really awful to me. It became…too personal for me. I had to walk away. I’m trying to get a grip on my emotions I don’t want to be around everyone, crying.” The camera shows us that Dawn was indeed crying while her confessional continued: “I try so hard not to disrespect people. I think I get really let down because I would never do that to someone so, to have someone do it to me; my brain can’t process it. I’m like: Oh, you’re mean. But it’s about me and what I stand for so it doesn’t really matter what Brandon thinks of me. It just doesn’t but that’s really disappointing because, if he treats other people like that, it’s just pollution.”

Dawn’s whole story hinges on how we interpret this scene. Does Brandon’s opinion matter? If it does then she cannot win. If it is pollution then she still has a chance. For now, I listened to Dawn’s words and they were all about self-pity. Not once did she talk about poor Francesca, someone who, we have to agree with Brandon, was very nice. Add the Fans’ reaction when they learn the Favorites’ decision and I think Dawn’s fans have a lot to worry about. What better way to tell the fans at home how they should feel than by showing them the reactions of live Fans? Michael’s words could represent the viewers’ conscience: It was a vicious decision and it fell squarely on Dawn’s shoulders.

What about Cochran? His chances also took a hit but not as directly as Dawn. Yes, Brandon said they’d both lose, but the camera never focused on Cochran. 

Another thing to consider in this introductory scene is that we heard nothing from or about Andrea. She escaped a close vote, so, if she was an important player down the road, you’d expect at least a line or two. It’s not fatal but it’s something to keep in mind.

Talking to Erik, Brandon said that he was fed up: “I’m thinking of going Russell Hantz style on these ___ right now, man!”

Talking to the camera, Brandon then said: “I feel like my uncle’s blood is running through my body…I don’t want to go out blindsided. This is a game and I am playing it D-I-R-T-Y to the core! I want to go out with a bang.”

Gota – Day 4

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Some of the fans were working.

Reynold, Michael, Allie and Laura were seen working while Shamar was enjoying the shelter…the shelter he had spent half the previous episode saying they didn’t need.

Shamar: “I’ve been sitting in the shade, conserving my energy. I haven’t been trying to do too much, you know: Keep low because I can’t keep getting into these little scuffles…I’ve just been relaxing. I’ve been to Iraq twice so I know what to do with the time. I can sit in the shade for the next 40 days. Once they see that I don’t really care about the game then I am not really a threat.”

This is an even worse strategy than Jean Robert’s who, I thought, had the dumbest one ever: Start by doing nothing then whatever you do later on is seen as an improvement. Shamar isn’t even considering how he will be perceived in the future. Outlasting never meant spending 40 days in the shade!

Laura talked to Allie about Shamar’s laziness.

It led to Allie who had the traditional “I’m-the-one-voted-out-tonight” confessional: “It’s like a group joke: Where is Shamar? Twenty bucks says he’s napping. Shamar’s definitely got to go. If we go to Tribal Council, it’s not negotiable.”

However, someone was ready to negotiate (note that a little tarsier was again seen catching an insect before this conspiracy scene was presented).

Who was it that said Sherri looked like Sandra Bullock? Well, this scene presented Sherri doing her best “Sandra Bullock talking to Michael Oher” imitation. If it wasn’t for the ocean, then the scene is very reminiscent of the one where Bullock rushed onto the football field in her high heels to tell Oher that he needed to block as if he was protecting his family.

Sherri: “We have Michael, Laura, Julia and…Matt. I can tell you now: They want you with us.”

Shamar was happy to join the team.

<Sherri had a confessional inserted here>

Sherri told him to continue to do what he does and he’d be fine

She added an important warning: “Don’t get paranoid if I am not standing besides you or hanging with you. I am telling you that we need you, that we want you on our side.”

Shamar was so happy that he gave her a hug.

Sherri’s confessional inserted in the middle of this: “I feel good about the 6: Laura, Julia, Shamar, Mike and Matt. We are solid. That’s my gang and it’s us six against the foursome, the couples, the lovers, the whatever you want to call them. I am not letting go of my boy Shamar. He needs to be right here in my back pocket. I want Shamar to keep annoying people because Shamar is my Phillip. I want to keep my Phil around and I get along with my Phil. I can stroke him, I can put him back in place.”

With  this scene, Sherri takes on the role of a key player this season. Just by letting us hear that Shamar was her Phillip, her story takes an option to the Finale. Phillip was Rob’s ticket to the end so we have to consider that Sherri might imitate him. One thing’s for certain, he will protect her from a blindside because anyone going after Sherri will vote out Oher…I mean Shamar, first.

Bikal – Day 4

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Brandon is no quitter.

Brandon was sitting with Cochran telling him he had been planning on sabotage but that he changed his mind upon waking: “I would be known as a quitter.”

Cochran then had a confessional: “One of the most frightening things about Brandon’s personality is that he has these moments of extreme rage and they are almost immediately followed by unbelievable pleasantness. The sort of behavior befitting a murderer who is sort of sociopathic. What I can predict about Brandon is that he is going to be unpredictable and that gives me very little solace in this game where predictability really is everything.”

They called Phillip over and Brandon asked if he could be trusted.

Phillip honestly, stupidly, said he had to pause before answering that.

Phillip’s confessional was shown: “Brandon is narcissistic. That is the word I would use for him. When you deal with a narcissistic person, they don’t have the empathy for others. At the end of the day, there is something I find very disturbing about him. To me, that is…I think someone used to word for me last year: Crazy.”

Note that we saw Brandon get up and leave during the voice-over portion of this confessional. By then, Cochran had already left while Malcolm was sitting in on the conversation. How long did it last? What else was said?  What we can say of this chopped up scene is that it looked bad for both Brandon and Phillip, but it showed that Cochran was above it all, remaining objective and analytical even in the middle of these two.

After Phillip’s confessional, we joined Brandon as he arrived back in camp, telling Corinne and Erik that Phillip was the biggest bully he had met in his life.

Brandon then gave us his thoughts: “You don’t want to fight with me. Special agent Pink Panther, inspector Gadget, thought he could pull his special agent tricks but that is going to be his downfall in this game. When it comes down to it, I have to give it everything that I have these next couple of days. If I don’t, I am gone.”

Dawn intervened to tell him that there was still time for everybody to work together but the camera showed us Brandon behind a cloud of smoke, indicating that he won’t see his way clear to work with others.

The cloud of smoke looked like an indication that it’s already too late for Brandon but the scene included someone else that could use the time to work with the others. Erik isn’t lost in a cloud of smoke, he is using Brandon as a shield to get off the radar.

The Challenge:

The Fans couldn’t believe that Francesca had been voted out while Phillip couldn’t plant the flag properly.

Jeff turned to Michael who had the biggest reaction when he saw that Fran wasn’t there.

Michael told Jeff: “They came to play, they are vicious people. She was the first person voted out in her previous season and they voted her out first: No mercy.”

With fishing gear as reward, we knew Bikal would win because Malcolm was shown wearing the mask in the opening credits!

Laura was sent to warm the bench, telling us which player the Fans think is the weakest. That was the only good decision they made. The Favorites won mostly because they put Erik in the water portion. With Brenda and Andrea also going under water, the Faves were able to rotate their players nicely. Their early lead carried them to victory.

Sherri was the one that went underwater the most for the Fans, “trying to do it herself” were Jeff’s words. She could have been blamed a lot more for this loss. Instead, it was edited as a team loss. That bodes well for SherriOn the other hand, Jeff congratulated the Favorites as a whole when he could have credited either Erik, Brenda or Andrea individually.  None deserved to get our attention.

As he left the challenge area, Reynold was heard in confessional: “I was thinking less about the loss than about Shamar having to go. He is a cancer. Everyone thinks that he is disrespectful, he is lazy. He doesn’t contribute and he ruffles feathers for no reason. Tonight’s vote is an obvious vote for Shamar.”

Showing this paints Reynold as someone who isn’t aware of what is really going on.

Bikal – Day 5

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“The Enforcer”

Dawn sat down for a confessional: “The Favorites won their first immunity and the reward was the fishing gear…It’s pretty exciting.”

Using the excuse of needing firewood, Phillip went for a walk in the woods with Malcolm where he told him about the nicknames.

Malcolm was all smiles.

Phillip then delivered a confessional: “In season 22, Redemption Island, I had an operation called Stealth-R-Us. Now, for unseen reasons, we have expanded our operation here in the Philippines. Therefore, I have given each a name.”

Malcolm, the “Enforcer”, then told us what he thought of the “organization”: “I don’t know what’s going through Phillip’s head. He thinks he’s running some sort of corporation, a spy corporation and he is just really getting ridiculous.” It may be ridiculous but we saw that the members of the “corporation” were enjoying their roles. The end of Malcolm’s confessional explained their feelings: “But, if it’s Stealth-R-Us for a couple of days and it makes people happy; why not? If it’s Stealth-R-Us for the entire game, I am going to hang myself. Phillip Sheppard’s an insane person.”

Still the scene ended with someone saying: “I like it. That was cool.”

The episode showed us that Phillip’s grip on the tribe and on his mind are both slipping but we have no reason to think he will leave soon. People are humoring him and it serves their purpose so why not carry on?

Gota:

Eddie was the first to point to the reason of the Favorites’ success: They spread out their strengths.

Michael agreed, saying no one was ready to take charge.

Shamar said “it is what it is.”

In front of everyone, Reynold called out Shamar, calling his behavior childish.

<Allie’s confessional was inserted here>

Shamar asked Reynold what he would do about it.

Reynold said he would vote against him.

That didn’t bother Shamar in the least.

Allie’s confessional: “It stinks that we are going to Tribal Council but I can’t stand Shamar so…I never understood why people would throw a challenge until I lived with him for 5 days. It never crossed my mind until I met him. I pray he goes home tonight.”

This scene and the upcoming vote offer a very interesting study in editing. I would venture to say that many in the audience would have liked to see Shamar leave but were ready to agree with the decision to boot Allie instead. She wasn’t edited as a Victim but as a Dumb Player. One that thought she knew the game and had what it took to live out there for 39 days but made the classic mistake of pairing up in an obvious fashion with a strong guy. Reynold himself isn’t shown to be that smart. Yes, he won a challenge for the Fans, yes he will soon find an idol, but he was much too close to Allie and he was dumb enough with his idol that everyone found out about it.

The cuddling scene could have been cut out because it wasn’t the reason why Allie was voted out. According to Laura (who pointed the gun at her), she had to go because she was the smartest one of the couples. The cuddling scene was only shown to make Reynold and Allie look dumb (and it may have been fabricated! The real couple, we will soon hear, is Eddie and Hope!) This kind of manipulation is what I look for to unearth the winner and I’d say that the winner is probably in this alliance. Certainly not Shamar because he is another type of Dumb Player but Sherri, Laura, Matt and Michael all benefited: They didn’t eliminate a Victim so they won’t get blamed. They are seen as determined people who came to play, just like the Favorites.

Shamar: “Reynold made a dramatic scene. It came out of nowhere and he did it in front of everybody. I just felt like he knows him and the three other people in his alliance are in a short situation so he tried to make a scene to make me look bad so that people would want to vote for me and keep his alliance in the game for one more challenge.”

Shamar then went on the offensive, yelling at Reynold: “Do you think I didn’t know? You mean you weren’t going to vote for me before today? As if today was like: Now we are going to vote for Shamar. I look like Booboo the fool to you? We’ll see what happens tonight.”

This tells us that Shamar was quite confident about the vote’s outcome. All the last minute hesitations we were about to see probably happened at an earlier time because Shamar had to rely on more than Sherri’s word to be so sure of himself. These scenes and Matt’s confessional may have happened before Reynold’s fight with Shamar.

The suspense-building scenes started with Reynold, Eddie and Matt talking about Shamar. Matt was confirming that he was with them, that he had enough with Shamar: “I can’t wait to write his name down. I’m with you guys obviously, with Hope and Allie.”

Matt’s confessional wasn’t as definite: “It’s time for our first Tribal Council and I have two choices right now. Michael and I have a really strong bond and if I told Michael right now that I think it’s better to go with Hope, Allie, Eddie and Reynold, that he would follow suit. My other option is to go with Sherri, Julia, Shamar and Laura. I just need to make a decision and it’s not going to be an easy one.”

We then had Michael asking Sherri if it was going to be Shamar or one of them.

Sherri was adamant that it had to be one of them.

Matt wasn’t as decisive: “Even if we vote Shamar out, we still have a 5-4 advantage. If we vote out Shamar, everyone will be happy and the four of them will think that I am still with them.”

Sherri said Shamar was pissed off because his name was on the block adding: “Once he realizes he’s not going home, he’ll chill out.”

<Sherri’s confessional was heard here>

Laura joined them. They asked her for her opinion on the vote. She said they should eliminate Allie.

Michael said he was totally cool with that.

Laura then gave us a confessional

Sherri’s confessional: “Matt said he was kind of on the fence about voting out Shamar, it got me worried because I want to make sure that, when I go to sleep tonight, that Shamar is safe, laying next to me.”

Laura’s confessional: “Personally, I think Allie is a strategic threat. I think she is the only one out of the four pretty people that’s really thinking.”

Reynold’s Quest:

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“The Quest”

It started with a confessional: “Being a fan of the game, I know that Hidden Immunity Idols are part of the game. I assume that there is probably one out here and I definitely want it.”

Without much dramatic build-up, he found it in a tree: “This is too freaking crazy…I am going to tuck this thing away, make sure that nobody knows that I have it…I am really excited right now so I am trying to check myself, be smart about it, not walk back to camp with some giant, stupid grin on my face and a huge bulge in my pocket.”

This quest was a lot less dramatic than most of the previous ones. I’m inclined to think that Reynold’s idol will not play a huge role this season; it could even go to waste. The last part of the confessional was meant to tell us that Reynold should be viewed as a Dumb Player: He wants to keep it secret, even says he had to avoid showing the bulge that would soon tell Laura all she needed to know.

The tribe was in the shelter, wondering what to do before leaving for TC when Laura looked over at Reynold who was getting ready for the trip.

Laura’s confessional: “Just before we are about to leave for Tribal Council, I see a bulge in Reynold’s pocket and it seemed like there was definitely something in it. We all know that the only thing you would put in your pocket before TC is the Hidden Immunity Idol. So, I’m like: What’s going on here? Is this going to mess up our plan to get Allie off tonight because we all know that Allie and Reynold are really close and there is definitely a possibility that he could pass it to her and save her butt and we are trying to get her off. If he passes that idol to Allie, it will be Shamar going home and not Allie and that would screw us over. I’m pretty sure that I am the only one that knows but, at this point, there’s really not enough time to talk to the rest of our alliance so I am freaking out a little bit.”

There would have been time to talk to the others if the producers hadn’t pulled her into this late confessional. Production must have been happy with the way things were going, with Shamar staying to create more drama, so they whisked her away from Sherri, Matt and Michael in case she messed it up. Once production is happy with the way the vote is shaping up, they don’t let anyone talk anymore. Off to TC they go.

Tribal Council

Asked about playing with people that have little in common, Mike pointed out that Matt and Sherri both have families while the foursome found other common interests.

Allie said they were all in the same age group.

Shamar said that Eddie and Hope were a couple while Reynold and Allie were more part of a foursome.

Matt said he wasn’t concerned about the foursome.

Shamar told Jeff that two scoops of rice isn’t enough for him. He added that he made two tours in Iraq and that he is used to the desert but he is also used to having leaders in the Marines while here it was more about individuals, that there wasn’t a team effort all the time.

Mike agreed that they were in trouble during the challenge because they didn’t position their players properly and no one made the decisions.

Reynold said that they had to be “one cohesive unit to win the challenges but that people were frustrated with Shamar’s critiques and Shamar sits in the shelter all day…that’s where the frustration comes.”

Jeff turned to Shamar, surprised that he was smiling at that.

Eddie intervened to say that Shamar spent 19 hours in the shelter in one day.

Shamar admitted that it was true, adding that he was outcast from day one because he is big and loud.

Laura told everyone that she saw something go down; a bulge from one pocket. She wouldn’t say who at first but Jeff said she was looking directly at Reynold.

Reynold took the idol out of his pocket which stunned Michael, Hope, Allie and Jeff. Sherri simply laughed because he had just sealed the deal.

Reynold said he was playing to beat the Favorites but he’d have to play the idol.

Jeff said that was great news for Shamar since it blew up in Reynold’s face.

Shamar was happy because the 4 had tried to vilify him.

Sherri said she was blown away but was still voting the way she had said she was voting…maybe.

Reynold didn’t play the idol.

With the vote split 6-4, Jeff sent the fans packing with these words: “In order to win this game, you have to get to the end. In order to get to the end, you have to beat the Favorites. In order to beat the favorites, you got to get it together.

The Story

Jeff told the Fans that they needed to get it together to beat the Faves, but the story told us that both tribes are really messed up. They have conflicts both outside and inside their main alliance. Practically everyone came to play, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see new alliances forming. It could be one of those new alliances that will carry the players to the end.

The Favorites have a leader who isn’t respected and they say there is still time for everyone to work together, so we could see Stealth-R-Us collapsing — but it does serve its purpose, and it brings a smile to its members. Some players inside the alliance have been ignored just like Purple Kelly and Benry in LaFlor’s alliance. That isn’t a good sign for the alliance as a whole, but it doesn’t mean that all its members are condemned.

In the Fans’ tribe, we find, in the same alliance, the four people who had contrasting confessionals in the opening. In previous seasons where people knew their tribes, the editors always set up conflicts, not alliances. In Tocantins, we heard first from Erinn and Tyson, then Sierra and Coach, and these 4 butted heads all the way to the end.

Here, we can expect a showdown between Sherri and Matt. He made it clear that he is playing both sides so that makes him both dangerous and expendable. Reynold, Eddie and Hope have more reason to be angry at Matt than at Sherri and Laura, the ones who went after Allie. The obvious way to bring the tribe together is to get rid of Shamar, but Sherri could try to keep her “left tackle” in the line-up by getting Reynold to boot Matt. How will that play out? Would that bring Michael and Matt to work with Reynold?

What’s interesting is that both tribes are mirror images of each other. We don’t have contrasting tribes like the fractured Samburu versus the united Boran or the regimented LaMina going against the Crazy Casayas. It’s more like Timbira versus Malakal: Two tribes that could do so much infighting that they open the door to their rivals. How does that work if both are letting the other win?! Losers take all?

The Characters

The Unemployed:  These players aren’t part of the “corporations” and have slipped into virtual anonymity.

Brenda: This cheerleader will need more than a little dance to get inside the alliance. We still haven’t gotten inside her head and heard her thoughts on the game, so she could easily be booted soon.

Hope: We have heard even less from this beauty queen. She will either be used as a vote to get rid of Shamar or she will be the corporation’s next target.

Erik: He is in a similar position to Brenda but we have heard what he thinks of Phillip and we have seen him with Brandon which tells us that he will be shielded from a boot by the nephew’s explosions. If Erik hangs around long enough, the corporation could turn back to him to replace the unruly “Enforcer.”

Eddie: Like Erik, we have heard from this player even if he finds himself outside the main alliance. He could use Reynold as a shield long enough to find a way inside the alliance or another, more profitable, organization.

The Rival Leaders: These two would like to arrange a hostile takeover, but do they have the backing?

Brandon: As Cochran said, Hantz’s bipolarity is much too unpredictable to follow his business plan or use him as part of a sound strategy. He said it himself: He should be the next to go unless he does something big to prove his value in challenges.

Reynold: Much like Shamar in the first episode, there is a contradiction in Reynold’s edit that makes it hard to determine his longevity. He was the tribe’s narrator and he showed some skills at this game, winning a challenge and finding an idol, but we also see that he is unaware of what is really going on. We heard him say that everyone was eliminating Shamar but Shamar knew that Reynold was acting out of desperation. If Reynold was desperate, if he knew that it was 6 against his 4, then the editors went out of their way to portray him as being clueless — and that is even worse than actually being clueless.

The Employees:  They follow along to varying degrees of satisfaction:

Julia and Corinne: There isn’t much to say about the two Brunettes. It’s especially troubling for Corinne who does give great confessionals and must have had something interesting to say about being called a “Dominatrix” on National TV.  I’d guess that she is enjoying it and that she likes the “corporation.” Hearing that would make us like her and the alliance maybe more than we should, so it goes unmentioned, unimportant.  There is always one forgotten character who turns out to be a long-term player, but they rarely have an impact in the game. Unless we hear more from these two soon, then we can dismiss their chances.

Shamar: He was ecstatic to get inside Sherri’s line-up and probably even more when all she asked of him was to continue rubbing everyone the wrong way. Can Shamar last as long as Phillip did in RI? I really doubt it because Phillip was actually a big worker in RI. He tended fire and collected wood while Natalie and Ashley were the ones (shown as) doing nothing.  Todd had an alliance with Jean Robert that was cut short out of necessity, so I expect that Sherri will do the same: Sacrifice her big guy for something better.

Malcolm: The Tribe’s Enforcer is much less docile than Grant in the original Stealth-R-Us alliance. He can endure Phillip for a few more days, but I don’t think he will have much allies to pull a coup d’état. Erik is waiting for a job, so Phillip may turn to him yet again in search of a new challenge champion.

The VPs: They have the ideas, but for how long will their voices be heard?

Laura: Twice now, we have seen that Laura is the observant one instead of Michael: She told us about the couples’ alliance and she spotted Reynold’s idol. In contrast, we saw Michael’s stunned reaction when Reynold showed his idol. Can this little strategist surprise us and outlast Michael? I’m certainly thinking it will happen that way. Her main problem is that she is perceived as the weakest one, so she can’t afford a losing streak.

Andrea: I put her here only because of her strong opening episode but, in this episode, she only had her challenge performance to justify any cheers by her fans. Was her good premiere due only to the votes she received at the end? It’s possible, but Andrea is still in a very nice position. Brandon, Erik and Brenda all knew that she had played both sides, but she received no blame for eliminating Fran. Usually, no news isn’t good news in editing, but maybe this is an exception.

The Shareholders: They have their money invested in the Corporations — but will they keep it there?

Dawn: Did she lose the game by eliminating Francesca? Strangely, it sounded like something the editors wanted to throw in there to say that Production hadn’t made a mistake in casting Fran: They simply didn’t expect this vicious move. But, for Dawn, I feel the damage is done. She was the one whom the recap blamed for siding against Fran and she was only heard crying at her own situation instead of showing sympathy to her victim. We heard her say: “I would never do that to someone,” but what she did to Fran was worse than what Brandon said to her.

Cochran: Not only does he have a good rapport with everyone in the alliance, but we see that he gets along with Brandon, that he even knows how to handle him. We can seriously ask ourselves if he is doomed by Brandon’s words but, for now, he still holds a good hand.

Michael: Despite showing some awareness after the challenge and during Tribal Council, I didn’t really like Michael’s portrayal in this episode. If we go back to Matt’s confessional, we have a sense that Matt is the brains in this pair. After all, Matt made sense at the end of the last episode, saying they didn’t need to scramble just yet,  If Matt can actually tell Michael what to do then that isn’t a very good sign for someone that was presented as a strategist. Michael was also presented as someone who is observant yet the camera made a point of showing his stunned reaction at the sight of the idol. We are subtly being told that Michael isn’t that smart.

Matt: His role grew a lot in this episode yet he was seen as being very hesitant. It was even more damaging that he told Sherri he was close enough to the couples that he could fool them into thiking he was with them.  He will never be comfortable in an alliance with Shamar, so there will have to be a confrontation between him and Sherri soon.  I’d be inclined to think that Sherri, the more determined player of the two, will eventually come out on top. She may have to sacrifice Shamar to gain more power, but I feel she will handle Matt as easily as Shamar.

The CEOs: The Bosses are making risky decisions:

Phillip: We see that the crazy Phillip isn’t far from the surface. He is still in a good position, but he is so polarizing that he should soon see his backers putting their money in a new corporation. With no mention in the recap of his BR rules and showing him having a direct conflict with Brandon in this episode, we can say that the Pink Panther won’t keep his alliance together to the end.

Sherri: She is the boss of Gota’s corporation and the editors manipulated the story to make us accept her role in eliminating Allie in order to save Shamar. Most viewers will agree that she came to play and did it smartly instead of thinking that she bullied her way to the top. That means we are encouraged to cheer for her instead of wanting her demise. Not everyone will react this way of course, but editing is mostly concerned about justifying the actions of the winner and no one can say she made a bad move despite what Jeff said at the end of TC. It’s also interesting to see that Sherri was spared the blame of causing Gota’s loss in the challenge. As noted above, that bodes well for her.

Can she make it to the end with Shamar in her back pocket? Just by game analysis, we can say that it would be very hard to do, but Shamar can serve her purpose also by being sacrificed. Her story depends much more on how she handles Matt or, more accurately, how she is portrayed while dealing with Matt.  If, again, we are encouraged to cheer for her as she gets rid of an opponent, then we’d have our top contender

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