The recap started with the surprise switch, Jeff saying that the new Gota Tribe had all the muscles while the purple tribe (Phillip shown) didn’t.
But on both tribes, the Favorites outnumbered the Fans 4 to 3.
On Gota, the Fans took turns throwing each other under the bus…
(Reynold and Sherri are shown)
but at Bikal, the Fans were a hot commodity: Phillip wanted to recruit Julia while Corinne wanted Michael.
At the immunity challenge, Bikal fell apart (Julia was shown)
…and at tribal Council, the Fans knew that they were the obvious targets.
In the end, they were right.
This is a nice example of deception in editing. We only saw the puzzle part of the immunity challenge and it was during that part that Bikal was said to fall apart as if their lack of muscles had nothing to do with their loss.
There was also a contradiction about the vote: First the Fans were a hot commodity then they became obvious targets. It seems that the hot commodity was mentioned only in order to hide the fact that they never really had a chance.
What the recap did set up right was the confrontation between Phillip and Corinne. Their conflict wasn’t really based on which Fan they preferred but it reinforced their division. Their rivalry was used to hide the fact that we had one more boring vote to witness before getting to the real game.
As for Bikal, it doesn’t seem to be an important tribe because we only heard of the conflict between Sherri and Reynold. The stories of the Gota Fans are headed for the same cul-de-sac as the Bikal ones while the Gota Favorites were completely forgotten.
Bikal – Night 16
Corinne apologized for voting out Matt.
Phillip said they had to make a choice and decided to keep Michael and Julia.
Michael thanked the Favorites while we heard his confessional.
Michael (solo): “Tribal Council sucked. Matt’s been my boy since day 1 and now I am totally on my own. I’m going to continue to try to build trust with these guys and try to build friendships as well so that they want to work with me at the merge.”
Corinne talked to Michael alone in the shelter and gave us a confessional: “I’m definitely willing to sacrifice one of my own to keep somebody else and I am going to fight tooth and nails not to have it be Michael. I mean that Michael is not going home on my watch. Clearly, I’d like to get rid of Phillip as soon as possible but the problem is that you can’t make moves like that this early. So, I try really hard to be patient and hope that the time will come sometimes soon.”
Observing the conversation in the shelter, it was Phillip’s turn to give a confessional: “Corinne consistently goes and has conversations with people like Michael and then doesn’t disclose to us the nature of the conversations. For me, that’s unacceptable. I want Corinne to be the next person gone. If I can’t get rid of Corinne then her new gay friend as she says, is going home next.”
Phillip and Cochran took a walk along the beach.
Phillip said he wanted Corinne gone.
Wisely, Cochran said: “Not next though.”
Phillip insisted: “I don’t want her going to the merge. I don’t know what she’s told him. I want her gone.”
Cochran explained: “We do this before the merge, we meet up with our old tribe and they will think what the hell just happened. They’re not gonna want to work with us because we already turned on one of our own, one of the core six.”
After their conversation, they walked away from the camera but Cochran clearly looked at “us”, his eyes opening wide to show his amusement.
Bikal – Day 17
It doesn’t seem that it was worth visiting the Gota beach because Dawn delivered tree mail.
Cochran in confessional: “Tree mail said that the strong will carry the weak. We have plenty of that latter category so, if the success of this challenge depends on the existence of weak people, we got it.”
Phillip then boasted that he would win any competition that involved upper body strength.
Corinne’s confessional followed immediately: “Tree mail says we have to be strong for the challenge…so that sucks. Phillip, with his bravado is like: “I got this! I’m the strongest guy out here.” Oh! my God!”
Judging by the face Dawn made when Phillip talked about his muscles, she definitely agreed with Corinne!
Phillip in confessional: “This challenge has nothing to do with strength but, for a lot of them, they are very, very concerned but that isn’t a problem for me. I believe that no one on the other tribe can beat me arm-wrestling. I love to find a sucker with big muscles who looks at me and thinks he can beat me.”
Cochran was the one he found to wrestle! His confessional: “Phillip challenged me to an arm-wrestling match. He was naturally able to beat me quickly. Then, to up the ante and to boost his ego a little bit, Phillip demanded that I put all my weight on his one hand. Ha! Ha! I put considerable weight on his forearm and he managed to keep it off the ground. The smile on Phillip’s face after that, I think that he felt like the old Phillip or the young Phillip.”
A confident Phillip in interview: “In challenges, my asset is my will of a lion and my determination of a gorilla. I may be old but I still have game.”
When Jeff said that Matt had been voted out, we saw a quick reaction by Sherri but nothing significant.
The challenge ended as soon as Jeff explained it! Gota knew that the reward was theirs. Their reactions showed that they were already tasting the goodies while Michael, Julia and Corinne’s reactions were more like “that would have been nice”.
In the strategy talks, Malcolm knew they just had to take their time and would catch up.
Phillip wanted to be in front because he didn’t want to be stuck behind all the slower players in front!!!
Brenda started to dance before the first lap was even completed! She was whooping it up, already placing her order. She started eating her ponytail!
Phillip didn’t want to run.
Surprisingly, Dawn was the first to drop out, giving her bag to Corinne.
As Gota approached, Brenda mimicked a tiger jumping on its prey!
Cochran and Julia opted out, leaving Corinne with 60 pounds.
Phillip fell so Erik tagged him.
Brenda started dancing which seemed to infuriate Corinne.
Dawn could only say that such a rich reward would make them sick.
Dawn gave a confessional: “Phillip’s put himself in this role that he is the leader and he is just extremely…arrogant sounds so mean but that’s what it is. He sees all of his strengths and none of his weaknesses.”
We heard Andrea’s point of view first: “Winning the reward was a great way to bond with the Fans” (We see her hugging Reynold) “They haven’t won a reward yet so it’s nice to see them enjoying a reward with us, bonding with these people and I want to get as close to them as possible (while this is said in voice-over, we see her making a toast with Reynold) before, you know, I vote them out so they remember the good times and still vote for me in the end.”
What appears like a smart, strategic confessional on the surface, worries me about Andrea’s story. At the very beginning of the season Jeff summarized Andrea’s first season by saying she flirted her way out of the game. What we saw here looked a lot like flirting with Reynold: A hug, a toast, sharing laughs…a guy could get the wrong idea and jurors rarely vote for those that bonded with them and then voted them out. What’s good for Andrea’s story is that by showing us this confessional, the editors gave her a hook to the end, a storyline that viewers can see unfolding all the way to the final vote: Will Andrea get the votes she tried to charm out of the Fans or will they feel bitter?
Reynold was also given airtime: “I feel great…Life is meant to indulge in glorious abundance. This reward is right in my sweet spot. Winning a reward like this helps to solidify the bonds between people within a tribe. It’s especially important to get these bonds going with the Favorites.”
High on caffeine, Malcolm delivered his thoughts: “In new Gota, everyone on the surface is just smiling. All we do is win challenges and party. It’s just one big happy family really (Brenda and Sherri shown sharing a cracker as Andrea and Erik observed) but at the same time, there’s a game going on. When it comes down to it, I know I’m going to be in trouble when it’s merge time. No one wants to go to the end with me, not that I blame them but I’m going to have to make my move soon. So, I’m keeping a smile on but at the same time I’m getting my pieces ready to take control of this game.”
Will it matter to Malcolm’s game that one of “his pieces”, Erik was then shown sleeping?! Rather interesting placement for this funny image. Also interesting was seeing Brenda, Sherri and Andrea right when Malcolm talked about a game going on. The choice of images suggests that they could also be planning something that will prevent Malcolm from taking control.
Bikal – Day 17
Phillip stated the obvious: Gota had everything they needed to win that challenge.
Corinne’s confessional was used to deliver production’s point of view: “We lost the challenge and I am going to blame the whole thing on Phillip. Phillip can take the blame for this. You tubby lunchbox! I have yet to see an ab on you…He’s just a mess. If everyone sees his true colors and he loses another challenge for us, maybe we vote him out.”
Corinne talked with Cochran about Phil.
Corinne said she could have taken the whole weights.
Cochran agreed that Phillip was delusional.
Corinne expressed her frustrations.
Cochran’s confessional started here.
We heard Corinne saying he was a joke.
Cochran’s confessional: “Phillip and Corinne hate each other. There are so much fracture and divisions within the Favorites on this tribe that it’s like a death sentence. Something is going to happen at one point or another. I’m going to be pushing that we certainly vote out a fan which is not even a certainty at this point because Michael seems capable of wheelin’ and dealin’. He’s already gotten very, very close with Corinne. Julia, on the other hand, is such a non-entity out here. I’m tempted to say that she is like a vanilla personality but I feel that would be doing a great disservice to the flavor of vanilla…Children clamor to get a vanilla flavored ice cream cone. Nobody’s clamoring for anything Julia flavored except for Phillip. Phillip has grown extremely close to Julia and I’m not exactly sure why.”
Right then Phillip told us why when we heard the mission he had in mind for Julia: Go back to her friends after the merge and learn their secrets. He wanted her to be the best double agent but she’d have to keep it a secret to everyone.
In confessional, Phillip told us he thought he had his double agent. He added: “If she feels in trouble she should let me know and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure she stays in the game.”
Julia (solo): “What’s interesting in Phillip is that I don’t find him to be an intimidating character but when he tells me that I have to do this, I understand that, if I want to stay in the game, that’s what I have to do. There will come a point when he really disrupts the unity of the tribe by driving everyone crazy so why not get rid of him?”
We thought this episode would feature the battle to the death between Corinne and Phillip but we now know that Cochran’s patience prevailed and Julia went home. The conflict is still simmering and it seems to be going squarely against Phillip: Corinne kept Michael and has Cochran’s ear while Phillip was forced, maybe even tricked, into giving up his pet Fan. The story, like any good one, should have a twist so we expect Phillip to somehow get rid of Corinne.
Another interesting thing about the last two scenes is that New Bikal has taken over the Have Not theme. We thought the original Gota had to contain the winner but Gota is now the tribe that has the riches and the parties. The winner should be on New Bikal, the new poor! That theme only truly applies to Michael, the sole player left yet to enjoy a reward but we can’t look at it too strictly: All the new Bikals are Have Nots.
Gota – Day 17
Reynold and Malcolm were talking about the numbers, the upcoming immunity and the merge.
Malcolm’s confessional started here.
The two guys went to the ocean to get away from the shelter.
Immediately, Malcolm said: “We’re going to have to stick together. The four of us, the guys, are going to be first four targets. I’m going to bring it to Erik and you bring it to Eddie.”
Malcolm vouched for Eddie and added: “I am fully on page with that. I’ve been lied to by people on the previous tribe so, at this point, the only person I believe is Eddie and I believe you.”
Malcolm agreed: “We’re in the same boat.”
Reynold’s confessional was inserted here as we heard him asking: “Would they tell you if they were gunning for me.”
Malcolm said they would.
Reynold then asked: “Would you tell me?”
Malcolm said he would.
Reynold then said: “I have the idol.”
That brought a smile to Malcolm’s face and his confessional resumed.
The two guys shook hands.
Malcolm’s confessional: “When people have the same problem, it’s easy to bring them together and the 4 alpha males in this game, being myself, Reynold, Eddie and Erik, are going to have a big problem come merge time. The athletic guys are going to get targeted, they are going to get knocked out of the game. What I need to do is kind of spearhead having these four guys joining forces.”
The second part of Malcolm’s confessional: “If I didn’t completely trust Reynold after selling him on this idea, I trust him now because he’s gone so over the top unnecessarily to prove his loyalty that he told me about his idol. I’ve had an idol since day 4 and I wouldn’t offer that if some stranger came to me. So, with this information, I am the only player in the game who knows where both idols are and I can’t wait to see the look on some people’s faces (Andrea, Brenda and Sherri shown in quick succession exactly then) when I take control of this game. God! I can’t wait.”
Reynold’s confessional: “In a game where you cannot trust anybody, it’s hard to tell. You still have to rely on your instincts and Malcolm strikes me like he is the type of guy that is like me and he sees that I can help him and he can definitely help me. So this one feels right and this one is going to be the nail in the coffin for me if I am wrong.”
A very interesting animal imagery occurred before Malcolm’s strategy discussion with Reynold: An eagle flew overhead and it was observed by our little primate, the tarsier. The original impression we had of the tarsier was that it meant a little person would win this season, not one of the big guys. To see that tarsier observing a great bird of prey just before the big guys agreed to a strategy suggests that Malcolm’s plan will fail.
So, for the subject at hand, it’s nice to hear people telling us their own expiry date. By his own words, Reynold told us what will be his downfall: Somehow, trusting Malcolm will get him voted out. How? Isn’t Malcolm working with him? The problem is that Erik needs to be part of this deal and we never heard Erik’s take on the whole thing. He was sleeping when then others started talking strategy during the reward and he wasn’t seen during the shelter scene. Could Erik sell out his fellow alpha males? We saw Andrea, Brenda and Sherri tied together during the reward and the trio again was shown when Malcolm talked about taking control of the game. I think those three will have a surprise in store for Malcolm, Reynold and the viewers.
As a side note, Malcolm said he found the idol on Day four but the editors showed his discovery during episode 3, placing it on Day 6. Was it a simple mistake by Malcolm or was his discovery delayed for some unknown reason?
Dawn had a talk with Julia, asking her about her thoughts.
Julia spilled Phillip’s whole plan for a new alliance after the merge. She said she felt bullied.
Dawn’s confessional was heard at this point.
Julia asked Dawn why they didn’t overthrow Phil.
Dawn listened but only said that she won’t say anything to anyone.
Dawn: “Julia approached me and just said: “Phillip really wants me to work with him. I’m OK working under him if that keeps me in the game.” Based on the time I have been with Julia, she didn’t seem very aware of the game so it’s helpful to know that she is thinking more than we thought she was.”
Despite her promise, Dawn relayed the conversation to Phillip, leaving out only the part about overthrowing him.
Phillip called Julia an idiot and we heard his confessional.
Dawn told Phillip: “She needs to go.”
Phillip’s confessional: “Julia, originally, I wanted her here but she’s managed to commit several fou-pas (sic!) in terms of survivor play. I gave her a piece of information and I told her not to go to anyone else for validation and, of course, she went to Dawn and Dawn told me that and Julia won’t know until she’s walking down that aisle with her torch out.”
Was it necessary to use this whole scene to explain Julia’s boot? She had been a non-entity so why use the single moment she was seen trying something to turn it against her? Wouldn’t it simply scare any future player of even trying this much? To make sense, we have to assume that this scene wasn’t only shown to explain Julia’s boot: It also showed Phillip being manipulated and Dawn being a snitch. Neither are qualities that the editors would want to show in their winner. There’s one player that probably had a role in this whole scene but wasn’t shown: Cochran. He’s the one that was wondering about the connection between Julia and Phillip so I suspect he talked to Dawn about it, maybe even suggested she go talk to Julia. It would explain Dawn’s use of the pronoun “WE” when she said “she is thinking more than we thought she was.” It could be a figure of speech but I think this was Cochran’s plan and, if it was, the editors were careful to leave him out of it. Unlike Dawn, who will be seen as a snitch now by many viewers, he escaped unscathed.
Gota’s navigational error enabled Bikal with Michael, Corinne and Dawn to reach the dock at the same time as Eddie, Brenda and Erik.
Starting second, Phillip tried to catch up but Reynold was on fire as Jeff said and he won it for Gota.
In the upcoming TC, Jeff will criticize Phil for losing the challenge but it seems a bit unfair.
Cochran had a confessional: “We got back to camp and spirits were understandably a little bit low. We just lost and Phillip was kind of sulking around, hiding out behind everybody and then he quickly and very covertly pulled me aside and whispered very intensely (We see Phillip saying that he has a confession to make) and my mind starts racing instantly: Has he done something around camp? Is he going to betray Corinne tonight? What could it possibly be?”
We accompanied the pair into the woods.
Phillip’s confessional: “I loved what Jeff had in store for us today in the challenge. We were close in the challenge, probably could have won that challenge had I wanted to.”
We heard Phillip saying the same thing to Cochran: “I didn’t want to win that challenge.”
Cochran started laughing: “I knew you were going to say that.”
Phillip explained: “I couldn’t see Julie at the merge.”
The end of Cochran’s confessional was heard here.
Phillip went on to say he pretended to give his best but he wouldn’t have used the same technique if he wanted to win.
The camera showed that Cochran had trouble containing his laughter when Phillip mentioned the male lion killing the cubs of a rival male.
Cochran said: “You were taking out the cubs.”
The two men agreed to split the votes in case Michael had the idol.
Cochran’s confessional: “It all makes sense: We had to throw the challenge in order to get rid of one of these Fans or else we were doomed. It was the only reason why Phillip wasn’t successful in throwing a grappling hook. I mean; it’s complete crap! You can’t make up this level of delusion and that’s what excites me about playing with Phillip. I think that he is convinced at this point that he threw the challenge. He wasn’t throwing the challenge, he was trying his hardest, he was in full spy mode. Can you imagine the speech he would have given back at camp had he successfully thrown a grappling hook, the spy’s basic tool, in a challenge and won the challenge for us? It’s absurd. The numbers on this tribe are 4 Favorites, two Fans. That numbers advantage means that the 4 of us can split the votes across the two remaining Fans, flush out any possible idols and on the re-vote we can get rid of Julia.”
Three Favorites agreed to split the votes but Corinne didn’t want to do it.
Corinne explained that she wanted Michael to work with them after the merge: “I want to do everything in my power so that he feels safe, comfortable and that he trusts us.”
Cochran was on screen when she said that and the alarms that resounded from the orchestra must have also resonated in his head.
Corinne gave us a confessional.
Phillip wouldn’t budge: “I already have the numbers without him. I don’t need him.”
Corinne and Dawn said they might need him.
Phil said he played with Boston Rob and “he would never say he needs him.”
Phil’s confessional was then placed here.
Corinne’s confessional: “I don’t like the idea of splitting votes because I know I want to send Julia home and I know there’s no idol because I have the idol with Malcolm and I don’t want to go into a merge with Michael second guessing what’s going on. That’s just bad business and I don’t know why I can’t convince the rest of the alliance of that.”
Now that’s funny! It means that Corinne heard us saying how much Kota had been dumb to split the votes between Dan and Susie before the merge in Gabon! She learned from her previous mistake but she makes another, bigger one: She let her allies know that she had another alliance.
Phillip’s confessional: “Corinne, who is in love with Michael, seems to have this notion that it needs to be “a show of unity. I don’t want him to think that we are not 100% behind him.” I’m not an idiot: I do see it and I see her putting her selfish interests above the Favorites’. I played with the smartest player that I had the opportunity to play with: Boston Rob. I know exactly what BR would do in this situation. BR would say: OK Corinne, we vote Michael out the game.”
Phillip told Cochran and Dawn that the core alliance was the three of them, not Corinne. He said he was voting against Michael who was smart and doing exactly what he needed to do.
Corinne joined them, asking what was going on.
Phillip cut her off saying she interrupted a conversation he was having with the other two, pushing her away.
Corinne had another confessional: “Phillip is beyond awful. If this was the real world, I would kick his ass but for me it’s a waiting game until I get to hold up my parchment and go: This is what Boston Rob would have done.”
Dawn and Cochran looked really uncomfortable between the two.
Cochran had the last confessional to explain the situation: “Phillip wants to vote off Michael. I don’t know if his plan is set in stone but it obviously has nothing to do with Julia or Michael. It’s masking something that’s about to come to the surface. Tonight’s vote will probably set in motion a series of events that completely bring this Corinne/Phillip feud to the surface and make it clear why they can’t play together.”
Julia and Michael sat in the hot seats.
Michael explained that tension grows when morale his low.
Julia explained that the Favorites’ tension comes from looking down the road, passed this tribal council.
Jeff went straight to Corinne when he fgured out that the tension came from a division between keeping Michael and Julia.
Corinne said they didn’t want to screw something and regret it down the line.
Phillip said they clashed on the process of getting things done.
Dawn told Jeff she felt what it was like to be between Corinne and Phillip, adding: “If we have the same goal in the end, the conflict may be OK.”
Jeff accused Phillip of putting himself in the hero’s role during the challenge and failing.
Phillip said he had prevailed in that role before but he admitted he lost the challenge.
Cochran looked amused by Jeff’s put-down of Phillip, no doubt reflecting most of the viewers’ reaction.
Michael said he had been trying to convince everyone to keep him since he landed on the beach, working hard and showing he can be trusted.
Jeff went back to Corinne’s admission about liking the gay guy. He asked if that could work against him.
Cochran agreed that it could.
Corinne interjected that it was all exaggerated.
Michael was eager to find out how the vote would turn out.
Julia said that she may have gotten too comfortable and that could come back to hurt her.
Jeff sent them to vote and they came back with a 3-3 split.
The revote led to Julia’s unanimous elimination.
Jeff addressed his final words to Michael: “The writing’s on the wall: You’ve got your work cut out for you.”
This episode was mostly about Phillip’s illusion of grandeur which served as masking agent for a very predictable and boring outcome. Since we’ve had 21 episodes now to familiarize ourselves with Phillip’s delusions we may have to look elsewhere to analyze our players, to separate the contenders from the pretenders and see if we are still on the right track with our winner’s story. Having reached the end of Act I, it’s the perfect time to look back at the themes we’ve had up to now and see where they have brought us.
The first episode told us that the returning players make the game play faster. The message behind this was that it wasn’t a good idea to play too hard too fast.
Many of the players that sprinted out of the gate are gone but Phillip, Andrea, Reynold, Eddie and Michael are still here though. It’s interesting that all but Andrea appear to be in danger.
We liked a lot more Dawn and Cochran’s start and those two have remained in excellent position.
The premiere also told us that this season was about correcting mistakes.
According to Jeff, Andrea lost her first game because she flirted and this episode showed her getting close to the Fans and especially Reynold in a way that some could call flirtatious. Her connection to Sherri was more subtle and indicated that these two could work together and foil the plan of the big guys.
Brenda had tried to use her looks but she hadn’t charmed everyone. We still don’t know exactly where she stands in this game but we can say that she hasn’t used her looks. Instead, she has used a waiting game that was nicely defined by Phillip: Serenity.
Erik’s mistake was his inexperience. It’s impossible to judge if he has learned anything because he hasn’t shown anything.
Malcolm simply dropped the ball on the final challenge. Could it be that we see Malcolm going down the same path? Malcolm’s talk with Reynold sounded a lot like his conversation with Tandang’s Pete even if their positions are reversed, Malcolm now holding the majority. As easily as he had done with Pete, Malcolm earned enough trust to learn about Reynold’s idol. Last time, circumstances forced Malcolm to play against Pete and the same could apply today, making Reynold’s prophecy come true. Malcolm is using the same strategy as before, depending on winning immunities and having the strong guys protecting each other. It shouldn’t work any better this time.
Corinne was said to have made many enemies. This time, she has antagonized Phillip which is much worse than having Sugar working against you. She hasn’t learned.
Phillip is still labeled crazy.
Dawn was too loyal to go along with Cochran. Did that really kill her game though? Wasn’t it a bigger mistake to let Cochran flip? She’s still very close to Cochran but that can’t be called a mistake.
Cochran’s mistake was his lack of loyalty. This season, we certainly see that he is totally loyal to his alliance even if he has trouble keeping a straight face around Phil.
The second episode let us in on the power structure of both tribes where Phillip and Sherri acted as leader. Brenda, Erik and Eddie weren’t part of either “corporation” while Reynold wanted to overthrow the one reigning on his beach. We liked much more the roles given to Michael, Cochran and Dawn because they were close enough to be heard but not so close that they didn’t have other options.
The third episode showed us that Survivor was a lot like a Poker game. The two wild cards are now gone so we can see more clearly. We have to say that Reynold showing his cards to Malcolm cannot be good. We also see that Sherri and Phillip have lost a lot of chips and they enter the merge in a weakened position. Michael’s waiting game worked better for him than Matt and Dawn’s still in a good position. Corinne and Malcolm are raising the stakes again, each playing their own game. Can they reconnect? Their new allies didn’t get along very well so how will Corinne’s gay guy work with Malcolm’s alliance of the strong guys? Cochran hasn’t lost his position being the observer that knows the plans of others. It will be interesting to see if he sniffs out the new alliance of the “Bold and Beautiful” and their idols.
Episode 4 showed that we had a new version of Haves versus Have Nots and it’s funny that now all the fans except Michael are part of thenouveaux riches! Since the editors were showing so clearly that the Favorites had an advantage, we figured that the only possible twist to the story would be to see a Fan emerge victorious but now the twist would be to see a new Bikal to contain the winner. That certainly improves Michael’s story because he is the only true Have Not left but that theme applies to all of new Bikal who don’t share in the abundance and the parties.
Watching the segments of episode 5 that didn’t include Brandon, we thought we were witnessing a turning point but maybe we had to look at it the other way and see which player stayed the course even in such a tumultuous episode. Eddie and Cochran were the only two players who went through that episode without a change in their story. Since Eddie’s story has always been in neutral, we can see how episode 5 was pointing us directly to Cochran.
Episode 6 which showed us so many players talking of flipping certainly pointed us to Cochran as the guy that was loyal to his alliance which, once more, showed that he was correcting his earlier mistake. When unity was threatened within his alliance, Cochran acted a lot like Chris with Sarge: “Corinne will have to go but now is not the time.”
The merge leaves us with 4 factions, two of which are in open warfare. How do the characters fit in?
1) Phillip: He could very well be in an alliance of 1. Dawn and Cochran are both keeping a respectful distance even if he considers them in his core 3 while Andrea may be wise to stay away when she learns how things developed in her absence. This episode looked to go Corinne’s way because Michael stayed but Phillip got his split vote and I believe he will prevail against her mostly because Cochran knows he can manipulate the Specialist, to stroke his ego, more easily than the Dominatrix!.
2) Corinne: She tried so hard to keep Michael that he could be her only ally left. Michael has been a very patient player up to now so we can’t tell if he has committed to Corinne. She could find herself in the role of Don Quixote fixating on the windmill that is Phillip. Well, he’s more hot wind than windmill but…
3) Malcolm: He could use Corinne to get precious information about the other tribe but it feels that the danger comes from within his own tribe. He’s counting on Erik but we have never seen the two guys talking strategy. We’ve all heard about alliances revealed don’t succeed but this sounded more like a mistake than a sound strategy. Erik once survived the massacre of strong guys at the merge so he may try to play with the women this time. What cracked me up is that once more we saw the formation of an alliance of 4. Another alliance working hard to form a minority!
4) Andrea: It’s a stretch to call her a leader but she acted in her own self interests at the merge when she decided to get close to the Fans. If she learns about Malcolm’s plan to unite the strong guys, she could be the one taking charge of the alliance that will bring him down. It would be a nice twist to Malcolm’s line about being a good liar. The camera suggested that she could count on Sherri, Brenda and Erik and she has ties to the other tribe to help.
1) Eddie: He seems to be completely irrelevant. The only story line I can see that would give him a nice role down the stretch would be betraying Reynold’s trust. Will Eddie turn on Reynold? It would be fun to watch but I really doubt it will happen. Eddie is the foot soldier that is lost on the battlefield. He may not step immediately on a landmine but he won’t impact the game.
2) Reynold: Once it infiltrates enemy lines, a pawn can become so powerful that it can decide the game but the pawn never wins it for itself: It always brings victory to someone else. Reynold’s move can serve Malcolm’s game more than his own. Malcolm could use Reynold or his idol as a shield or he could play a nice gambit by telling others about Reynold’s idol, sacrificing a pawn to get control of the game.
3) Sherri: This once promising character has faded completely in the back of the theater now that the real players are stepping in. Still, the camera went to her a few times to suggest that she could return to the forefront. The dynamics of the merge will tell us exactly what to expect from this character.
4) Brenda: The camera showed her doing what she does best: Leading the cheer when her team marched to victory. There could be a metaphor there for her outcome in the game: Could Brenda be carried to victory even if she isn’t really playing? She won a nice reward even if she sat out. She could win the big prize by staying out of the drama, by doing exactly what she has up to now. It wouldn’t make for a very interesting story but we have seen variations of it before.
5) Erik: I don’t think we saw Erik sleeping during the reward simply because it was a funny moment. I think it was a clear hint that Erik will not make big moves during this game. It’s possible that he’s learned that big moves only lead to failure. So, the question is how will he react when Malcolm approaches him with the idea of an alpha male alliance? Just the thought of Erik as an alpha male is enough for us to chuckle! Oscar’s puppy dog! Natalie’s gift giver! Cirie’s finger licker! I’d say that Erik is playing only to avoid looking like a fool this time but then I’d have to explain his haircut… That mystery notwithstanding, I think Erik is more a follower than an alpha so he could refuse to go along with Malcolm, preferring to play it safe, going with Andrea instead.
The Power Players:
1) Michael: The waiting game has given Michael a very powerful position. He has an ally on Bikal and one on Gota and he doesn’t have to worry about the vote because the merge does all the work for him. Sure, he could mess everything for himself by making a big move but he becomes a target only if Phillip manages to convince the other two factions that Corinne’s “army of one” is the clear and immediate danger.
2) Dawn: Her decisions have been carefully laid out for us to follow but her role in two evictions hasn’t been exactly flattering. The elimination of Francesca was called vicious and Brandon put most of the blame on her shoulders. She played the role of the snitch in Julia’s elimination, something that many viewers will find distasteful. Still, Dawn’s overall story is very interesting and being on the Have Not tribe gives her an underdog status. What will she decide now that there are bigger fishes to fry than Corinne and Phillip? The character we have been shown will probably once more rely on Cochran for this big decision.
3) Cochran: The one with the true power may have to infiltrate the other tribe to make the best decision. Andrea could serve as his source but is she aware of what’s truly developing? Even without insider information, the friendship between Reynold, Malcolm and Eddie should be obvious especially to someone that was already weary of Malcolm. The advantage that Cochran has is positional: Malcolm has pieces on both tribes but they are not necessarily working together. Malcolm’s pawns, Reynold and Eddie, have been outsiders from the start. Cochran could attack Malcolm’s Queen’s pawn, namely Michael, or go after the Queen herself: Corinne.
Cochran has already shown that he has corrected the mistake that he made the first time. He understands the need for loyalty and he has made his way into the core of the Favorites’ alliance. Andrea and Dawn have had good stories from the beginning while Malcolm is rapidly building a nice one for himself but Cochran has the proper connections to the themes of the season so far. Survivor Caramoan should be the story of Cochran becoming Sole Survivor..