The Characters and Their Stories is a blog in which Michel Trudeau uses the edit to determine the themes of the season to try to find its long-term players. Each week, he will explores the overt signs as well as the more nuanced nods.
The Characters and Their Stories-Survivor 33: Episode 13
Previously on Survivor
Zeke’s alliance had a numbers advantage over David’s coalition but Will was ready to graduate from high school student to power player…
At Tribal Council, Adam played his idol but his move proved unnecessary when Will flipped to David’s side leaving Jay with the only idol left in the game.
Now this is the kind of recap that editing analysts love. It completely shifted the impression left by the previous episode. Jeff could have said that Adam didn’t want to rely on Will, left nothing to chance, preferred to take things in his own hands, pulling the rug right from under Will’s feet but the credit went fully to Will while Adam’s “big move” was termed unnecessary. Of course, this version reinforces the theme that anyone taking control will be voted out next but it doesn’t totally exonerate Adam.
The Black Plague
Vinaka Night 33
During last week’s episode, three days prior to this one in real time, we saw the moon in its last crescent but now it was already full again! This bodes well for Jay. To make sure we remember that Jay is associated with the moon, he was the first we saw walking in camp.
The castaways congratulated Will on his great play.
Will had the first confessional: “I came into this game a kid and I feel like I’m leaving this Tribal Council the man… Everybody needs me in this game; I believe I can continue flip-flopping enough times to win this game.”
Talking to Sunday, Bret was pointing to the downside of big moves: “Making big moves, is that what everybody is trying? How about getting to the three? Why would you vote Zeke before Dave?”
Bret (solo): “I’m used to Tribal Council not going my way and again it didn’t go my way. Will flipped and voted out Zeke. He said: “You know; I want to make big moves in this game. I want to check it off in my checklist”. This kid wants everyone to think he’s not just a high school kid but he is acting like a high school kid: “Oh! I got to do all I my homework. I have to check off all these boxes.” Give me a break. This is becoming a crazy game and there are a lot of people really playing it. So, there’s got to be a way for me to stay alive in this game.”
This was a clear hint that Bret would survive the evening and it could even have a longer range. Can Bret make it to the F3? It’s certainly a possibility but can he be anything more than a goat? That doesn’t seem very likely. He would have two certain votes though in Chris and Sunday.
The next morning, Bret, Sunday and Adam agreed that Will, Jay and David had to be the next three to go.
Adam’s interview: “Bret and Sunday come up to me this morning and they said Dave, Jay and Will are the three biggest threats in this game. Those three need to be the next to go and it’s music to my ear. If they want to put themselves in a position where they are left with myself, Hannah and Ken; I love that.”
They shook on it, the camera showing clearly Adam shaking Sunday’s hand, something that could come back to haunt him because he’d soon send Sunday to the jury.
Day 34 Immunity Challenge
When Jeff said he had to take the necklace back, Adam said: “I’m not going to give it up”.
Funny but that was practically what he would do in the next Immunity Challenge, giving it to Ken.
Jay won immunity.
Jay’s confessional: “It felt phenomenal to win. I’ve already won two individual immunity challenges but any time Jeff says “Jay wins immunity” I’m like: Damn right I won immunity. Put that thing around my neck and let me go back to camp and I’ll go spear fishing if I want to. I don’t even need to talk to any of these fools. Plus, I still have my immunity idol, and I’m going to hold on to this baby until I really have to use it.”
Jay is being arrogant here but at least we will see that it was only a show of defiance. The cameras could have ignored Jay making us think he had indeed gone fishing, but we will see him actively talking to these fools.
Vinaka Day 34
Ken in interview: “Jay again, three of the last four challenges, he’s won. He got the immunity challenge today and we probably would have targeted Jay tonight had he not won but now, we don’t know what’s going on. That’s how this game is being played right now. You never know from one day to the next so tonight is completely up in the air.”
Ken once more looks completely baffled by the game itself.
Sitting with Will in the ocean, Jay wanted to eliminate Ken because David was dying and couldn’t win a challenge. Will said that David was the bigger threat to win it all in the end, adding that it wouldn’t even be a contest if Ken made it to the end.
I wonder how many players share Will’s low opinion of Ken’s chances. While we didn’t hear many players besides the high school student saying negative things about Ken, he doesn’t seem to be very good at the social aspect of the game either.
Will told us that he had a working relationship with everyone in the game, making him the power player and he tried to get enough votes to eliminate David who would beat everyone in the end. They all agreed. Will felt like he was the one calling the shots.
David’s confessional: “Unfortunately because Jay is now safe tonight at Tribal, there is so much scrambling going around. The most insecure I’ve ever felt is right now. At the last tribal Will voted with us. It was great but the thing is Will is trying to pad his résumé a little bit more. So, if Will is smart, the thing to do is follow up one big move with yet another big move and there’s this perception in the tribe that I’m the biggest threat in the game. So, why wouldn’t you want to get rid of me tonight?”
Why not indeed? Adam had a chance to get rid of the biggest threat but he settled for Will instead.
Adam was told by Will and Jay that everyone was voting against David. Jay added: “Last vote, I didn’t write your name. This vote, I’m working with you.”
Adam’s interview: Will’s preference right off the bat is obviously to vote out David next. Will thinks now he has a degree of power and he is in control. That makes him more dangerous. So, to me, Will is the bigger threat. I do not want to put myself in a position where Will is controlling my fate in this game.”
Adam reached out to Bret saying to vote out Will who would continue to flip back and forth.
Bret in confessional: “I think Adam has been smart about how he is playing this. We have some common goals that we are looking to make. So, me and Sunday agree to go with Adam and vote together.”
Hannah talked to Adam but she pointed out that Will just rescued them from a really bad situation.
Hannah in confessional: “I’m torn up as I always am emotionally because Will saved my butt in the game. So, I do owe Will in a sense, but I also feel I owe David in a sense. I mean, David pulled a rock for me and we have always been allies. So, you end up owing more than one person.”
Adam’s interview: “Right now Hannah and I are in a power position. We can decide who goes home next. It’s a really tough choice. Bret and Sunday are in a weak position and they are going to vote the way that I want them to vote. So, the question is: Blindside Will and take out someone who I do believe is loyal to me at this point or try to blindside Dave and take out potentially the biggest threat in this game. We have a huge decision tonight. This is the moment where I start making the moves that I need to make to win this game.”
Sunday would still be in a weak position on the next vote and she was still voting the way Adam wanted yet he will be going along with Hannah’s misconceived plan.
Will told Jeff that Adam playing his idol caused a lot of stir around camp.
Jay said he was proud of Will as a fan but as a player it sucked.
David had deep concerns it would be him.
Jay said Will went on that side so he should be sticking with them.
Hannah pointed out that everyone worked with people and against the same people.
Adam said he was thinking about who he’d sit next at the end but how he could get there. He added that a lot of jury members made good moves but it contributed to them getting voted out.
David said it was a complicated game and if you don’t make big moves then you are just a goat so it is essential to make big moves even if you are perceived as a threat.
I found it funny that the camera showed Ken when David mentioned the complications of the game. Then we saw Will, Jay and Bret when David talked about the goats.
Jay was wondering who it could be: An easy vote or another big move.
It was time to vote
Jay and Will voted against David
Everyone else voted against Will.
The jury didn’t look thrilled with that so called “big move”.
Jay gave a little nod of recognition to Adam, probably another instance when it looked good for the fan but not so good for the player in Jay.
Jeff said: “With the game being played at this level the natural instinct is to want to hide but in order to win this season, you must be seen.”
Vinaka Night 34
The moon was still full but clouds were moving in, a prelude to a difficult episode for Jay. Is it only temporary?
Jay’s interview: “Dude! anytime that someone tries to make a plan with me, they end up going home. I’m like the black plague right now, you know what I’m saying? I am all alone, I have no alliance but Tribal Council has been a complete chaotic mess every single time so you don’t know what is going to happen. So, it’s time to keep on fighting because I’m not going down without a fight, I still have an immunity idol, and there are still more immunity challenges on the way and I’m not going down. “
The difference between Jay saying he didn’t know what would happen next and Ken earlier is that Jay was immediately seen having a talk with Adam to find out what to do instead of just looking baffled in camp. Also, Jay has the excuse of being outside the main alliance so he isn’t part of most talks. Right then, the clouds were gone and the moon was shown shining brightly again even if we only saw through branches. Jay isn’t out of the woods, but he wasn’t completely lost.
Adam apologized to Jay for lying to him. Jay had a sick relationship because they were always butting heads. Jay wondered if Adam was planning on taking David to the end. Adam said that wasn’t his plan. Jay promised to take Adam to the end.
Jay’s confessional continued: “Me and Adam, we have this is kind of like a yin yang relationship where we love each other but we hate each other and that’s how it’s been.”
Adam gave an interview: “I’m trying to make Jay feel as comfortable as possible with me so I tell Jay that the next move is to get rid of Dave, but to me, Jay has to go home. He has a hidden immunity idol so we have to take every possible opportunity we can to take a stab at the guy. If he doesn’t have immunity, he needs to go home.”
Jay didn’t go home but he did lose his immunity idol so was this good for Adam? The music came to an abrupt end so it could signal that Adam will regret the episode’s outcome. Adam could have taken a stab at Jay instead of going for his idol because the alternative was sending David home. Adam wasn’t threatened by Jay’s idol.
Day 35 Immunity Challenge – Pinball Wizard
When Ken had problems finishing his puzzle, Adam told him he still had time to work on it then twice he warned him when his ball was about to drop. Jay couldn’t believe what Adam was doing. Adam was first to congratulate Ken
With Adam’s help, Ken won immunity.
Ken’s confessional: “Jay is one of the strongest contenders in this game and it’s definitely a struggle to sit there and watch someone who is a younger version of myself doing what I would have been doing 10 years ago so I felt good about wearing the idol around my neck as opposed to Jay.”
Maybe he should have acknowledged the help he received. Maybe the others should have noted that Adam had to go. After being a hypocrite now Ken is envious.
Vinaka Decision Time
Predators were lurking so the turtle had to hide.
Adam’s interview: “My biggest fear going into the challenge was that Jay or David would win immunity. Of course, I would have preferred to win myself but if I couldn’t win, I was glad it was Ken.”
In camp, Jay pointed out that Ken didn’t win, Adam helped him. Adam said he did it so that Dave wouldn’t win. Jay told the group he was voting against David and pleaded for them to keep him longer than those two.
Adam’s confessional continued: “Yeah, I wanted to do everything I could to help Ken because the most important thing about the challenge is that Jay did not win and Dave did not win. My plan tonight is, in the case Jay does play his idol, David would go home.”
Well that plan didn’t work. We saw the little turtle swimming towards the surface to catch its breath. There were no predators in sight. The turtle could be symbolizing David who was about to be saved by Hannah’s intervention.
David’s confessional: “I don’t feel great about the state of my game at all especially since Jay will be afraid that we are throwing votes towards his way and if does have an idol and he does play it, I automatically go home,”
David explained his plan to Hannah who said that they should vote Sunday instead of Bret because she was an enticing goat and Adam could decide to take her to the end instead of one of them.
The camera had a weird angle, showing Hannah in the crook of David’s arm. I’m not sure how to interpret that image. Was it simply a cameraman’s creativity or was there more than one camera on sight and the editors chose that particular angle? If it was a choice then it makes Hannah appear to be in David’s pocket.
Hannah’s interview: “It is important at some point to split up Bret and Sunday. Sunday is extremely dangerous because she sort of made herself into a tempting goat and people (Adam shown) would want to sit next to her. I’m very scared that someone who’s worked less hard will get a spot that I’ve worked really hard for.”
We saw that the turtle had completed its escape.
Adam, Ken and Hannah talked about the vote. Adam said he wanted to vote Jay and that if he plays his idol the other votes should go against Dave.
Ken’s interview: “I definitely want to be walking back here after Tribal Council with David who has been my closest ally and my closest friend but Adam is afraid of David and doesn’t want to play against David.”
Adam’s confessional: “I had a long conversation with Ken and Hannah and throughout the whole conversation, I knew what I wanted to do: We have to put enough votes on Jay that if he doesn’t play his idol, he goes home. And we have to put enough votes on Dave that if he does play his idol, Dave goes home. If we vote for Sunday, it would leave both David and Jay in the game and they are two strong, strategic players so we have to make sure that one of them goes home. There are so many moving parts and the worst thing that we can have is tomorrow morning, Jay is still here with an idol in his pocket.”
Bret told Adam that Jay could easily win every challenge.
Adam had a long talk with Jay that started right after Ken was seen chopping coconuts with the machete. Adam told Jay that he would have to play his idol. Jay asked if he was such a threat to him that he had to be stripped of everything. Adam was laughing when he answered yes because that was the only way he could beat him. Ken was still chopping coconuts. Jay told Adam that he hated him which made Adam laugh again.
Jay’s confessional: “It’s Adam telling me: “I know you have the idol so I’m going to force you to play it.” But Adam always lies to me so in all honesty, my name might not even come up tonight and if I feel like not playing the idol, then I might just do it.”
Jay told Adam that it was both of them until the end. Adam told Jay about his mother’s condition, making Jay pull his buff over his eyes to hide his tears. Jay said he has been scared for his mother’s life for 9 years.
Jay’s interview: “I love my mom just like he does and it’s crazy. My mom’s got brain aneurysms. Me and Adam we are both out here for our families, for our moms. He’s not a weasel in my book anymore; he’s a good freaking dude; he’s a warrior.”
This scene paves the way for a showdown between Jay and Adam during Final Tribal Council…unless Ken cuts it short. If both young men wind up in the Final 3 who would win? Jay’s confessional makes it clear that if he is on the jury then his vote would go to Adam. But what if they both get to present their cases to the jury?
Hannah told Adam that she was thinking of voting for Sunday. That clearly didn’t please her ally because he didn’t want to leave the two huge threats in the game.
Hannah’s interview: “Adam’s reluctance to vote out Sunday is my reluctance too because it leaves a visible threat which is David. The problem is if Jay plays his idol and David goes home, I lose David who I freaking love. So I don’t know the right choice but the kind of person that makes a decision and convinces other people of that decision is the kind of person that wins Survivor.”
That was a nice confessional to deliver right before the audience would see that Hannah was the one that convinced everyone else. She was the only one who had Sunday in mind while everyone else had conflicting plans and goals but, in the end, it was Hannah that rallied the votes. Is she the kind of person who wins Survivor? This episode certainly opened up the possibility.
The image of the full moon and of the bat which are both associated with Jay, were superimposed as the tribe walked into Tribal Council.
David said that friendships and alliances are even more important now than they were at the start.
Jay said you need alliances, but he doesn’t see any of his allies sitting next to him. Jay said a challenge threat with a necklace and who has an alliance is a bigger threat than one without an alliance.
Bret said Jay was saying he wanted the necklace around his neck because he was scared.
David said Jay could also be seen as a free agent.
Jeff pointed out that David was a threat to win the game.
Adam said David has been in the majority every vote and has impressed people with his work around camp and his transformation.
Hannah said everyone has already written their final speech.
Sunday said she was being underestimated because she’d get votes even if the others thought she wouldn’t.
Adam said everyone has been playing their own game.
It was time to vote.
After Jeff tallied the votes, Jay reluctantly played his idol saying it was better to be safe than sorry.
Sunday was the only one to vote against Jay who realized he didn’t have to use his idol.
Jay and Bret voted for David.
Everyone else voted for Sunday.
On the jury we had reactions from Will and Jessica. She had probably been the only one rooting for Sunday’s elimination so that would explain why Will turned to her.
Jeff: “Thirty-five days ago we began this season Millennials versus Gen X so it is only fitting that there are three Millennials and three Gen X as we begin the battle to the finish.
It was very convenient to have two unpopular players getting voted out before the Finale. And while Jeff said it was fitting, I thought it fit a bit too nicely to have a thematic season wind up with equal numbers of each side. It’s really happened too often for it to be only by chance. Going back to Panama we had 1 member from each of the 4 original tribes. Cook Islands had at least one from each of the 4 ethnic groups at start of the final episode. Micronesia had 3 Fans versus 3 Favorites at Final 6. Nicaragua had 3 young ones versus 3 older players at the Final 6. Caramoan had 2 Fans versus 2 Favorites at Final 4. Worlds Apart had one member of each tribe in the Final 3 while Kaôh Rông had two from all three tribes in the Final 6. There have been some exceptions of course but this looks like a good way to keep the ratings up: Most viewers can still relate to one side or the other.
As for the story of the season, we see that the Theme of “Being in Control Puts a Target on Your Back” was really pushed by our host during the recap and during his interventions at the two Tribal Councils. It was a nice way to explain Will’s exit and to protect Adam and it also puts focus on Hannah now that she exercised control of the last vote. Will she have done it just at the right time? Will it end her game? Will it even matter?
Ken: Ken has numerous fans. He has shown some survival skills, something even I could appreciate but only when it is accompanied by a good social game. He’s even won some immunity challenges, something that many consider important but he’s looked envious after his loss. And did he really deserve that last one? While we did hear Jay’s complaint, it was mostly glossed over. In fact, I’m sure Adam’s help won’t even be part of the next recap. I’m not sure if it was to protect Ken’s record or Adam’s reputation.
For a while, the editors were ignoring Ken. Now it seems that the players are ignoring his chances of winning the game. As viewers, we see that the game is being played well over his head and we’ve heard from Will that he can be very unlikable but the editors have protected his image much like they did with Sugar during Gabon. We heard after the game that she was really insufferable and we saw evidence of that during Heroes versus Villains (just ask Colby!) but we certainly were encouraged to like her in that first season. Will Ken make it to the end? With another immunity win, he could end Jay and Adam’s budding friendship as was hinted when he kept chopping coconuts while they were talking. If the legacy advantage does help him win the next Immunity Challenge, I’m not sure Jay can survive. If Jay leaves, that opens the door for David and Ken to simply walk all the way to the end together with their choice of goats.
Bret: While some of his interventions could be seen as hints that he will be in the Final 3, we know that Tribal Councils never go Bret’s way so it would be surprising to see him gather enough votes in the end. However, he would certainly receive votes from Chris, Sunday and possibly even from Zeke. Even Will and Jay could vote for him if he is there with Ken and David or Hannah. I couldn’t say it’s impossible. It would be a lot like last season after all. Bret has received more attention than his game or his personal story deserves and he certainly fits the theme of not being in control which is more than what’s-her-name…
Hannah: Cirie was the first one to use the goat hunting strategy so Hannah’s decision to go after Sunday will be applauded by some but this only served to put her signature on a move regardless of its consequences. There is such a huge difference between Cirie’s situation and Hannah’s that our nerdy castaway should have known better. Cirie was going to beat anyone not named Terry Dietz in that Panamanian Final 6 and since the biggest threat in the game was always immune then goat hunting was clearly the best tactic possible. Hannah, on the other hand, doesn’t beat everyone left in the game. In fact, she will need goats in order to win so she should have made Sunday her best friend ever. Not only that, the three biggest threats to win the game weren’t immune so it was time to go head hunting, not goat hunting. At least, she’d be able to undermine Adam’s attempt to claim the control angle. While she clearly was the person that made that last decision and she convinced others of that decision, is Hannah the kind of person who wins Survivor? Maybe she is or maybe she’ll just play the part of the goat in Sunday’s place.
David: Much like the turtle escaped the lurking predator and swam to safety, David once more dodged a bullet. Why did Hannah save him? It seems that she is lucid enough to know he has to go before Final Tribal Council and there are only 3 days left, so even if she loves him she wouldn’t have had time to miss him. Much like the camera angle suggested, David has Hannah in his side pocket while Ken has been comfortably installed in the back one since the first day. How is anyone going to stop Dave? I’m practically resigned on seeing him win. It would be a lot like Survivor: Philippines or Survivor: Second Chance where everyone saw that Denise and Jeremy were going to win but no one did anything to stop them. Jeff loves big moves but why is it verboden to go after Dave? While only Jessica enjoyed seeing Sunday go, I’m sure the other jury members would have been happy to see David’s torch getting snuffed.
Adam: Adam should have been in an ideal position after this episode. It should have been evident that David had to go. Even if Will wanted to work with Adam for at least one vote, it was still understandable to go after the untrustworthy high school student but going after Sunday was inexcusable, a wasted opportunity. Adam knew that she would vote the way he dictated and Sunday’s vote against Jay proved that. Adam shouldn’t care at all about eliminating goats at this time because he has an excellent case to present to the jury and a very poignant personal story to influence the undecided.
Can Adam recover and win? The recap wasn’t favorable to his case. It would have been so much better for our opinion of Adam if Jeff had given him the credit his move deserved. Blatantly helping someone in an individual game could be seen as bad sportsmanship, even cheating by some so it was good that the story didn’t dwell on it. It now seems that Adam’s best chance is to go with Jay but is it too late? An immunity idol would have been very useful at this time and it seemed that Jay was being honest when he offered to go to the end with Adam.
Jay: Game logic seems to tell us that Jay should be the next to go. Even editing-wise, we heard him say that he needed to hold on to his idol for as long as possible but it has been wasted. Everyone wants him gone and Ken’s legacy advantage could make it extremely difficult to win the next immunity challenge. His touching scene with Adam could point towards the two winding up in the Final Three together but it could also simply have been to indicate how Jay will vote in the end. On the other hand, next week we will have a full moon so maybe that’s what the editors had in mind when they associated him to the night orb.
In a season where gaining control is bad for the players’ health, Jay has never been able to hold power very long. Everyone who’s tried to work with him has quickly been dispatched like he pointed out after Will’s elimination. Yet Jay has kept forging ahead. None of the other five players has traveled a harder road to get from the merger to this point so if he does make it to the end he will deserve much more than a participation trophy.
Another season is quickly coming to an end so I want to take the opportunity to thank Rob for giving me this opportunity and I want to send a special thank you to my favorite editor, Christine, for all her hard work. I also want to thank everyone that read this column and shared their thoughts. I hope you enjoyed it and that you will have fun watching the Finale.
For the complete schedule of Survivor blogs: RHAP Survivor Blog Schedule.