Survivor: Worlds Apart

A Lot of People Suck

Previously :

  • Joe, Shirin and Jenn were stuck on the bottom, (Jenn is heard saying: “We’re all f…ed”) against a majority of seven. Next, we had Shirin’s confessional: “The only way I can get to the end is by taking big risks.”
  • Shirin had a plan to shake things up. She warned Mike about a secret alliance within the seven. Shirin: “Carolyn’s got Will in her pocket, Rodney, and Tyler’s with them.” This was followed by Mike’s confessional: “Shirin’s smart enough to realize that there is a group within our group. Well, I see it.”
  • At Tribal Council, it came down to two No Collars; Joe versus Jenn. In the end, they took out Joe, the biggest threat in challenges.

This recap focused the story on Shirin and Mike.  Even Rodney is reduced to a member of the majority, having fallen in Carolyn’s pocket.  We know that Shirin’s opinion is biased against her White Collar rival but presenting it without any counterpoint isn’t a good sign for Rodney.  The recap is setting the stage for Shirin’s big risks paying off and Mike finding a way out of his dangerous position.  The only problem is that this stage has been set for a few episodes now, and since then, nothing has happened.  The liquidation of the No Collar core alliance has increased Rodney’s stranglehold on the game and put both Shirin and Mike in a seemingly untenable position.        

A Lot of People Suck

Day 25

Rodney was talking to his close allies, saying he had a real solid plan: “We get Mike out right now…He’ll never know it.  He’ll be frantic, making moves…”

Behind some bushes, we saw that Mike was listening.

Tyler’s confessional: “We got rid of Joe last night, the biggest threat in the game and right off the bat, Rodney approached me this morning with a new tactic which is: Why don’t we stomp on Mike before he pulls his numbers and his charisma and he jumps on us?  Rodney’s idea could be a really good idea.”

To Rodney, he said: “Good thought, pause it and we’ll come back to revisit it.”

Rodney told them: “You’re looking at the final four.”

By including Tyler’s comment that they should revisit this plan, it tells us that Tyler is still too cautious.  What was there to revisit?  To Rodney, he should have simply said: “Let’s do it”, no matter his own apprehensions.  For Mike’s story, I think it’s important to note that the scene included him from the start.  As viewers, we saw that Mike knows with certitude, so he isn’t simply being paranoid.  It could have been presented differently if they wanted us to think of Mike as a frantic player.  Instead, like Sandra and Tony before him, we saw that Mike was smart enough to spy on his rivals.  His problem will come when he tries to deal with that information.  As for Rodney, we have to say that he was right on the money about Mike making frantic moves, but it was because he knew about it. As for his final four, it would be funny if they all wind up on the jury.  So, the question is:  Was his comment included for its irony or for its accuracy? This episode certainly didn’t alter the course for Rodney’s group.

Mike’s confessional: “I overheard Rodney, Will, Tyler, and Mama C. And there’s definitely been a power shift in this game. Rodney has flipped on the Blue Collars and he is no longer in my alliance. So, I know that they are coming for my head.  That’s why I have to start doing a lot of work, starting today.”

So Mike thinks he hasn’t really started working yet?  Despite his gauche approach, we will see that he has energy in reserve.  Will that be enough to overcome the alliance of four? 

The Survivor Auction

Trader Jeff welcomed the players.  Shirin and Jenn were happy to see the auction.

The bidding started on a covered item.  Will’s $100 bid was too much for Shirin and Jenn.  He received a new twist: An immediate trip back to camp.

Everyone thought he had bought a clue to an immunity idol, but since no one can be sent to Exile Island, production had to think of another way to kick a player out of the bidding.  The cameras caught the desired shocked expressions.

Jenn asked Jeff if anyone else would be kicked out, adding that she would not forgive him.

Seeing fried chicken, Shirin immediately bid $300 and no one challenged her.  Jeff was surprised (as were all the posters who thought Shirin would be the one smart enough to wait for the advantage.)  He said: “It’s the most expensive chicken you ever bought.”

Shirin told Jeff: “I didn’t want to bid for an advantage in this game so, for me, it was just a matter of: Go for it.”

The “sliding trombone” sound effect told us that Shirin’s comment wasn’t very smart.  If this decision costs Shirin a place in the final three then it will prove to be the most expensive chicken she ever bought.

Jeff asked Sierra what she thought about what Shirin had said.  She answered: “A lot of us feel like we are in danger, so I think there are a couple of people who are going to hold out.”

The camera identified those people even before Jeff asked: Dan, who had been nodding his head next to Sierra along with Mike and Carolyn.

When Jeff asked who was holding out, we saw Mike, Dan, Sierra, and Carolyn raise their hands.

Sierra either quickly changed her mind or her hand gesture was simply meant to indicate which players were holding out.  The first impression was that she intended to hold out but couldn’t.

Mike’s confessional started here but continued over the auction of the next 3 items: “I came into this game knowing that whenever it was Survivor Auction time; that I’ll starve today.  That is all there is to it. / 1st break / Some if not all of my alliance have flipped on me. / 2nd break /  No food in this world is worth what an advantage is worth in this game to me.”

During the first break in Mike’s confessional, we saw Jenn leaping at the opportunity to buy a giant cocktail for $100.

(Tip your bartender!)

During the second break, Sierra bid $100 on a plate of meat and then Rodney bought a nice steak.

The editors were in such a hurry to get to the advantage that we didn’t even hear how much Rodney paid for his steak and glass of wine.  That must be a first.   We heard Jeff say: “This is what you bought” so the steak had even been a covered item, so after Will’s misadventure, Rodney had to be somewhat bold and he was rewarded with the best item we saw.  By fast-forwarding through this, we didn’t share in Rodney’s happy moment.  I even noticed that we saw Rodney carrying his tray back to his seat with a big smile when Mike said that food wasn’t worth as much as the advantage.  So, instead of feeling happy for Rodney, the montage’s intent was to show that he was dumb.   There are also two more factors of importance to note:  Carolyn or Dan had to have equivalent confessionals since no one can doubt that they were as determined as Mike to get that advantage.  Why not let us hear their points of view?  The simplest answer is that Mike’s point of view was more important than theirs.  Even more than Dan’s thoughts who actually got the advantage.  The second thing is that we’ve rarely, if ever, heard such a confessional superimposed over a scene that featured Jeff.  Mike’s thoughts preceded the auction and then they overshadowed all the action including the show’s star.  He wasn’t only narrating the events because, while it told us exactly what was going to happen, it was said from a tactical point of view.  We heard that it was Mike’s plan from day one and that he was ready to suffer for this. 

Did someone take Tyler's money? Did someone take Tyler’s money?[/caption]

Since everyone who wanted food had gotten something (Strangely, we saw that Tyler didn’t have a plate on his lap, yet he didn’t bid for the advantage either.) Jeff tempted them with something else: Letters from home.   Immediately, Dan broke down and started crying.  We’d learn that his wedding anniversary had been on day 2.  Shirin knew another loophole: She said that Jeff always let the other players get their letter for the same amount as the winning bid.  Jenn said: “Someone just do 20 bucks.”  Sierra was the first and no one challenged her.  Carolyn turned to Mike and Dan, saying that they should all put $20 so they’d still have the same amount left.  Dan and Mike agreed with everyone else.

Well, Shirin and Jenn broke that for future players.  The rules will have to be changed.

When it was his turn to hand the money to Jeff, Mike let Dan go in front of him saying: “I’m going to go.  Why would I displace trust?”  And then Mike went back to his seat without giving his money.

Everyone, including Jeff, was shocked and we went to commercial break.

What a contemptible move.  The worst is that Mike knew exactly what he was doing but this isn’t a way to outwit the others.  He knew he’d lose trust and trust is the most important thing in this game.  This single action could cost him the game.

Back from break, Carolyn said it was BS, so she wanted to give her letter back.  Dan added: “So much for your trust Mike.”

It was interesting that we didn’t hear if Jeff was going to give her money back or if he was going to say that all sales were final.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he said exactly that, escalating the fight between Mike and the others.  Instead, it simply came down to Mike’s conscience.  Will his change of heart be enough to repair the grave act?

Mike realized he had made a mistake so he paid up and said: “I can’t do it…That wouldn’t go with my conscience.  That goes against who I am as a person.”

Jeff finally brought out the advantage so all three paid $480 for the privilege to draw rocks.

What Crucial Moment??

What Crucial Moment??

Showing once more that Jenn wasn’t taking the game seriously, we saw (and heard) her taking a big sip of her drink which seemed more interesting than watching this crucial moment in the game..

Dan won.

Dan’s confessional: “I told Mike: ‘Go before me.’  He turned around, went back, and it broke my heart, and he might have just lost my trust.”

This tells us the gravity of Mike’s dickhead move.  It put him behind the eight ball, snookered.

Camp – Day 25

Will’s confessional: “I’m so upset…I was devastated.  I’m walking back to camp and, Oh, my God! There’s a clue for me.  Wow!  I just got a map…it has an X and it says “dig”.  They are getting burgers and fries, but maybe I got something better.  It’s shocking how this game can change in your favor just like that.  I thought it was the worst day ever but this could be huge for me…  It’s a big box…You bought yourself a personal stash of rations… Mama says it’s better to give than receive, so I’m going to take this back to the tribe.  Even though these snacks are for me, we’ve all been out here for 25 days.  Everybody is starving, so I’m going to go ahead and share.  Maybe this will give me some brownie points when someone wants to vote me out. I don’t know but I think it’s going to be a nice gesture when they see that there are no hard feelings.”

When the tribe came back, Will showed them the note first and then the snacks.

Before we comment on Will’s gesture, let’s wait for the next change in the game. There are no nice gestures with these people.

This is when Mike decided to tell Sierra that Rodney had flipped and that was why he almost didn’t buy his letter.

Mike in confessional: “I screwed up big time at the auction but I know that there was an alliance formed that was coming for me and I’m not going to just sit there and watch it.  If I don’t out this alliance immediately, Dan, Sierra and myself are going home.”

At least, we are clearly told that Mike knows he screwed up.  Within the story, this is often enough to salvage a dumb move but Mike will soon compound his mistake.

After warning Dan about what he was going to do, Mike confronted everyone, saying they had flipped Rodney.  He pointed to the four that were gunning for him: Tyler, Carolyn, Will and Rodney.  He said he overheard conversations and added: “Flippers never win.  Great game, Rodney…He flipped.”

Rodney exploded:  “You’re still here, so who did I flip on?  You are making yourself an idiot.  We all got our love letters… and you are bringing the moment down because you are going nuts.  You better relax.”

Sierra’s confessional: “When we get back from the reward, Mike is telling me that there are four against me and Dan. Rodney’s flipped on the Blue Collars.  Mike feels the urge to let it all out.  This is a symptom of being exhausted and paranoia, and he had the worst timing ever.  We have letters from our loved ones.  We just want to sit down and read them.”

It’s hard to get someone to trust you if they think you are being paranoid.  Mike will have an uphill battle to fight to regain Sierra’s vote.

She told everyone that she was going to read her letter and Rodney told her to go ahead.

Everyone followed suit and they were all smiling, laughing and crying at the same time.  All except for Mike who stood up and apologized for bringing all that up.

Mike’s confessional: “I just outed the alliance that was trying to get me out today, and now they are all mad at me because I ruined the moment for everybody, but this is a game and I’m here to win.  Hopefully, my strategy works.  It may not but at least it’s out in the open.”

When Mike said he was there to win, we saw Dan putting down his letter, overcome by emotions.  That was telling us that there is more than a game going on.  This whole episode could be telling us why Mike is going to lose. 

Rodney’s confessional: “What Mike was saying was true, but I have to use it to my advantage, so I’m going out to what I need now which is Dan’s vote.  If this wasn’t Survivor, I’d go tip, top, toes with Mike and battle it out with him like real men do in the streets but this is Survivor, and I just got to beat him with my mind.  I got to beat him with my wit and because of what he’s done, he made my job easy.”

Catching Dan at his weakest moment, Rodney hugged him, said he loved him, and talking about Mike, he wondered what was “his problem” adding: “It was so uncalled for.  He almost didn’t let you get this experience.”

Dan said that Mike was going over the deep end.

Being perceived as crazy is another thing that will make it hard for Mike to regain trust.  Rodney’s slimy confessional shows us all the problems that Mike created for himself.  I have to ask though:  Does it make you a “real” man if you fight in the streets like an alley cat?  Rodney’s crudeness may appeal to his boys back home, but it paints him as the antagonist even as the bully despite his good game move.  He can’t be our hero, can he?   

Dan’s confessional: “Mike took a really nice moment and ruined it and that hurt me because Mike is my friend, but he is convinced that Rodney has flipped which now puts Mike, myself, and Sierra on the bottom end of the food chain.  Who’s right?  I don’t know.”  That’s when he read what $480 bought him.  The case held a blank parchment which he could use during Tribal Council, giving him an extra vote.   He explained: “I couldn’t have imagined this in my wildest dreams.  I was expecting an advantage in the next immunity challenge but to get a second vote?  Do you have any idea what this means to me?  (End of democracy, maybe?!) It’s like the Willy Wonka golden ticket!”

Either some of Dan’s words were cut or he was told to mention only an advantage in the next immunity challenge because I can’t believe he would have been so determined to sacrifice food just for an advantage in a challenge.  For three reasons, he had to think it was a clue to an immunity idol, maybe even a super idol.  First, Dan didn’t need immunity.  Also, having food to eat is in itself an advantage for the next challenge.  Then, considering his athletic deficiencies, why would Dan think an advantage would be enough for him to win?  I think production wanted to have many players going for the advantage to show the drama of the stone draw so Jeff must have said that it wasn’t just a little advantage but something really, really big.   The editors aren’t the only ones that manipulate “reality”.

Day 26

Lying close to Jenn, Mike was questioning Will’s nice gesture: “He said he had to dig down, open this box and there was all kind of stuff in it, and he brought it back to camp. Well, where is the box?”

With Shirin joining them, Jenn said that she thought there was more food than Will was saying.

Mike’s confessional: “Supposedly, Will shared all the food with us, these rations that were supposed to last him until the end of the game which is a little suspect to me.”

Back in camp, Jenn wondered aloud about Will’s hidden food.  She said: “Will has a ton more food…He just gave us the (blank) that he doesn’t like.”

Tyler then told Will about Jenn’s suspicion, calling it rumors that were being spread by everybody.  Will asked who and Tyler told him it was Shirin, Jenn and Mike.

Will’s confessional: “I just heard that those three are saying that I am lying, that there is more food and that I’m hiding it which is a crock.  I’m already on nine because I didn’t get a letter from my family but, when I do a generous act and you question that and you question my integrity, oh, it’s on!”

He showed Sierra and Rodney the empty box and then brought it back to camp where only Shirin was present to suffer his wrath.

Shirin’s confessional: “Will came back to camp, freaking out.  Mike was missing, Jenn was missing, and Will just starts tearing into me like a crazy person.”

Rodney joined in, ordering Shirin to keep her mouth shut if she wanted to stay longer.  That’s when Mike walked back in camp and put out his hand to tell Shirin to walk away, telling her: “You’re not gonna sit here and get attacked.”

Will continued to attack Shirin, saying she had no one who liked her back home.

From what we saw, Will acted like a coward only attacking Shirin and not saying a word to Mike.  Even when Mike said to stop the personal attacks, Will said he could say what he wanted and that he wasn’t talking to him.   He did tell Shirin to “Go with your bitch, Mike” but he didn’t repeat that when Mike asked what he had said.  The important point was that the scene made Will look exactly like a male molester, attacking only the weak. 

This is so much fun!

This is so much fun!

By association, Rodney’s words didn’t make him look much better while the others appeared more like interested spectators than innocent bystanders.  Bring on the popcorn?  I think I need disinfectant instead.

Shirin’s confessional continued: “Then he continued digging in with the personal attacks.  Having grown up being torn apart by domestic violence and then verbally assaulted my entire childhood, I get worked up about it. I think the worst part is that, other than Mike, everyone is just sitting there like smiling and being like: “This is fun, isn’t it?  To allow that to happen…it’s disgusting.”

Why didn't they leave?

Why didn’t they leave?

What would be really disgusting is if production forced Shirin and Mike to stay in camp to prolong the fight.  It seemed that both were determined to leave right away, but they stayed.  Why, if not because of some production edict? 

Tyler and Rodney were shown individually when Shirin mentioned those that were having fun with Will’s tirade.  The clear intent is for us to be disgusted by those two also.

Finding Jenn in an alcove by the ocean, Shirin told her what happened.  Jenn couldn’t understand why it was getting so personal.  Mike confirmed that it was brutal and that it wasn’t right.

Jenn’s confessional:  “The last couple of days, I didn’t want to be here but those people suck so bad (Will and Rodney are on camera at this point) I think I will stick around just so I can f… up their game.”

You suck!

You suck!

If this confessional is Jenn’s legacy in the game, then it is very possible that Rodney’s group makes it to the end.  The only way now that she can mess with their game is by voting against them and the only two that weren’t part of this disgusting display were Carolyn and Dan so she’d vote for one of them instead of Will, Rodney, Tyler or even Sierra.  We have to remember that Shirin said Mike and Jenn weren’t present, so it’s possible that Carolyn and Dan were there but that the editors protected them from being seen as letting it happen.

After giving Shirin the hug she wanted, Mike had a confessional: “At this point, me, Shirin and Jenn, we only have each other, but we’re still in this game and I’m going to keep working every angle I can until either something breaks or I go home.”

Well, now that Jenn is out, can the other two last very long?  In the upcoming TC, Mike will be voting against Jenn so maybe that was the angle he found.  It would prove to Dan that he was still with him since Jenn was their target before this week.  For one thing, this confessional was nicely placed right before the immunity challenge that Mike really needed to win. 

The Immunity Challenge

Before the challenge started, Will told Jeff he wasn’t doing well.  He asked if he could sit out the challenge, giving up a chance at immunity so that he could get his letter from home.

Jeff told him that everyone would have to agree to it before he could give him his letter.

Asked for a show of hands, no one objected…except Shirin.  She told Jeff: “That’s the way the game works.”

Looking at Will’s track record and his position in the game, we can say that he wasn’t giving up much for that letter.  He probably wouldn’t have bet that $20 on himself anyway!  On the other hand, Shirin wasted a chance to be generous.  I’d also like to comment on Jeff who probably knew exactly what was going to happen.  He could have helped smooth things over but I bet he relished this open animosity.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he set it up.  At the auction, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that someone offered to pay for Will’s letter and that Jeff refused because of the no sharing of items rule.  Maybe the idea of giving up immunity came right there: Jeff could have told everyone that Will would have his letter if he sat out of the challenge and they agreed to let him have it.  He presented it as being fair and preserving the integrity of the game but it looked more like a way to create drama.

Tyler had the early lead, but Mike was close behind.

Jeff’s comment was interesting: “Dan dropped. He was all the way to the end.”  Dan? Out at final four?

Another: “Mike’s got it figured out now.”

Mike took the lead when Tyler failed on his second trip.  Mike kept his one ball advantage to the end.

When Jeff declared the winner, we saw Rodney’s mouth being blurred to hide the obscenity he let out.  Jenn had the best reaction: “Yeah! Mike! No one else get too excited.”

Mike thanked Jenn and hugged Sierra saying: “I needed it”.

He said the same thing when Jeff handed him the necklace under Rodney’s somber gaze.

Before going back to camp, Will told Jeff: “Bring the popcorn, baby! It’s going to be the best tribal ever.”

Another one who is all hype and nothing to show for it!

I'm a Loser...

I’m a Loser…

Rodney’s confessional: “One of the worst things that could happen is that Mike won immunity.  My game has taken a huge hit.  This camp has turned into a damned circus and, no matter what happens, tribal is not going to go exactly how we wanted it to go.”


Day 27

Mike’s confessional: “When you win immunity, you do the happy dance…It felt amazing and it could not have come at a better time in this game because I was 100 percent on the chopping block tonight.”

Despondently, Will and Rodney talked about the vote.  Will didn’t want to vote out Shirin because he wanted to make her life miserable.  Jenn was the bigger challenge threat, he said.

Will’s confessional: “Tonight is going to be a very important tribal because we need to break up those three.  Personally, I would like to vote out Shirin.  She just has no soul, no worth, no nothing, but Jenn?  She’s good at challenges, so she’s got to go.”

Rodney was shown laughing right then as if he were approving Will’s words that made him sound like he was living in the XVIIth century.

To Sierra and Dan, Rodney and Carolyn explained Survivor 101:  They would split the votes 3-3 between Shirin and Jenn.  Carolyn added: “We got six strong.  They can’t win.”

They Can't Win?

They Can’t Win?

Right then, we had a close-up of Tyler’s dubious expression.  Was it telling us that they could win?!


Mike asked Jenn and Shirin if they wanted to see Tyler or Mama C go.  Jenn said it should be Carolyn because she didn’t like her.  Shirin agreed.

So much for Jenn voting for Carolyn in the end!

Mike was 99% sure that Sierra had turned because she wasn’t even looking at him, but he wasn’t so sure about Dan.  If they had him, they could blindside Mama C.

Jenn’s confessional told us that she thought Dan was as dumb as a box of rocks.  “My entire game,” she said, “is in dumbass’ hands.”

Mike had a talk with Dan: “Brother, man: Those four, you can’t tell me that you don’t see them as tight.”

Dan replied: “I can tell you that I saw us all as tight.  All of us have talked about final 5, 4 and 3.  All of us have.  We are all looking at the end game.  It doesn’t mean they are going to make the move early.”

In camp, Carolyn wondered if they had gotten to Dan.  Rodney was confident: “They don’t got Dan.”

Mike was telling Dan: “I understand that I put you in this position.  I understand that.”

Dan replied: “But you’ve aligned yourself (with Jenn and Shirin)”

Mike: “I had no choice to align myself, but you and Sierra are the only two that I have given my word on I want to go to the final three with and I would still honor that one million percent because we are blue strong.  I’ve been blue, blue, blue since day one.”

Carolyn’s confessional was inserted here: “At this point, I’m like: Is Dan in?  Is Dan out?  Dan has not proven to be that smart in this game, but I do have my idol and if Mike gets to him, I might have to use it.”

Mike asked Dan: “Who do you trust in this game?  Rodney who is all of a sudden everybody’s best friend now? Who, you yourself have said is the most despicable, vulgar, and foul human being that you ever met.  And Will, attacking a 29-year-old woman, coming into camp calling me a bitch.  I have your back; they don’t have your back, Dan.  They are using you.  You and me built this camp that we’re living in with our bare hands.  I’ve sweated and I’ve bled with you in these trenches.  Danno, who do you trust?  Who has developed trust with you?”

We didn’t hear Dan’s answer.

Mike’s confessional: “I gave it my best shot.  I don’t know if he’ll come around to my way of thinking or not.   I would like to think that deep down in his heart of hearts, Dan still wants to work with me.”

Dan’s confessional: “It could be that Mike is right.  The four of them are about to sell us down the river.  Or maybe he’s lost his mind and what upsets me the most is that I am the swing vote tonight which is my worst nightmare.”

With Sierra and Carolyn listening, Tyler told Dan that everyone was questioning him.

Dan told everyone that he had enough playing games: “If I go with them, that’s my choice.  I make my own destiny.  Nobody dictates my future but me.”

Dan’s confessional: “If I go against Mike and I’m wrong, I’ll never forgive myself, but you have to try to put your emotions aside because it’s a game.  Either way, I am about to make a million dollar decision or a million dollar mistake.”

I wonder if Dan really decided.  With this vote against Jenn, he could have been using Mike’s tactic of testing him.  Dan’s main hesitation was caused by Mike’s alignment with Shirin and Jenn so maybe he asked Mike to prove that he was still going with the Blues to the end.  Since it should be even easier for a “strong six” to split the vote against only two opponents, it’s possible that Dan could go back with Mike without using his second vote but that would require getting Sierra back on their side.

Tribal Council

Will explained why he exploded, mocking Mike along the way.

Shirin said he went too far, attacking her personally which Will denied.

Jeff let her explain and Will deny.

Jeff let a whole slew of people watch as if it was entertainment.

Sierra said: “Jeff, we are worlds apart.  You can completely forget how this game started because we are nine individuals who are deprived, starving and want a million dollars.  We are all fighting for ourselves at this point.”

Dan said it would be very tough to vote against a Blue Collar, that it’s impossible to put your emotions aside.

Tyler was troubled by that comment while Rodney dismissed it.

Mike told Jeff that these people see him as a massive threat. He added: “There is a four-core alliance right now:  Rodney, Mama C., Tyler and Will.  Those four will walk to the end of this game.  Sierra, Dan?  You two are going home 5th and 6th.”

Sierra didn’t appear to buy that.

It was Rodney’s turn to explode: “This maniac, at the auction, almost made it so Dan, Tyler and Carolyn couldn’t get their love letter because he took his twenty dollars back.  Then, when we were about to open our letters, this dude comes up and says: ‘You are in an alliance.’…  This dude just went off in a manic state, so that’s why he is on the chopping block, so I don’t care what he has to say no more.  I was going to keep it cool, but I’ll come at you with facts.  Everybody is nodding because they know it’s real.”

Jeff, at first, could only say: “Wow!” Then he turned to Shirin, asking if she expected to get votes.

She explained that the votes would be split between her and Jenn.  She said it wasn’t 6 versus 3 but 4 plus 2 versus 3.

Carolyn’s expression told us she wanted Shirin to shut up.

Carolyn talked about being six strong and that it was a no-brainer to pick out those that weren’t part of the six.

I wonder if she ever talked to Dan and Sierra before they were made part of that “strong six”!

Dan said he was listening and weighing his options because it wasn’t just about getting to the end of the game, but how you get there and who you put over there.

It was time to vote.

No idols were played and Dan didn’t use his extra vote.

In the end, Jenn was voted out 5-3-1 with Mike and Shirin both voting against her while she voted for Carolyn.

After hugging Shirin, Jenn told everyone to play nice.

Colleen tried that 15 years ago and these people are way beyond that.

Jeff sent them back to camp after saying: “The good news is: You made it this far.  The bad news is: You are left with 8 people who want it so badly they will stop at nothing to win.”

The Story

This had to be one of the ugliest episodes ever.  I think I’d put it alongside the All-Stars episode where Sue quit, Ted and Ghandia’s altercation and the Brandon-Philip confrontation.  In fact, it was more what I’d expect if I ever watched Jerry Springer instead of Jeff Probst’s Survivor.  At the reward challenge and at Tribal Council, Jeff acted like those garbage-TV hosts that only care about drama.  He saw Shirin’s injury and he acted just like the others in camp by not putting a stop to it.  Instead he reopened the wound, scratched it hard, and forced us to watch it fester.

Rarely have we seen a group of people that hate each other so much.  Usually, the hatred is directed at one person in particular, but much like Thailand and Guatemala, most of these people hate each other.  Those two seasons had funny characters to offset most of the negativity.  In Guatemala, we even had Rafe who, with Danni’s help, destroyed the “axis of evil” but there is no one like Rafe inside Rodney’s alliance and no one like Danni on the opposite side either.  We hear that these players are game savvy and will do anything to win, but we keep waiting to see something happen.  Instead, we are left with Survivor 101.  Pop, pop, pop: Three No Collars eliminated in quick succession.  We even heard Jenn say that she wanted to screw with their games, and the only way she can do that now is by voting against the people she hates the most.  Is that our program?

The Characters

The “Strong Six”, also known as the Ones that Suck

Will:  Watching this episode, it felt strange that I used to think Will would be voted out because he was too likable.  While he had reasons to be upset that his nice gesture was perceived as an attempt to deceive, he went way overboard in defending his integrity.  The sad fact of this game is that he may have increased his chances of making the end game because he certainly scored some brownie points in the goat department.

Rodney:  While we knew he was a hothead, we had never heard that Dan saw him as the “most despicable, vulgar and foul human being that he ever met.”  Mike had to be quoting Dan verbatim since he was trying to convince him that he couldn’t work with Rodney.  Rodney’s words during the fight between Will and Shirin showed his true colors.  The only thing funny about Rodney is that, after being unable to beat Joe in immunity challenges, he was equally inept against Mike.  Maybe he sees them as threats only because this supposedly strong, proud man is a choker, a loser.

Tyler: While he didn’t say anything, his smiles and his posture during the fight showed that he was one of those that enjoyed the vulgar “entertainment”.  We also saw that he held out at the auction for some reason but his explanation didn’t merit airtime.  Even without this, his cautious game play is highlighted in such a way that he would make a very unsatisfactory winner.  It would have been so easy to remove the “pause it and we’ll revisit it later” to leave us with a more forceful impression.

Sierra:  She blindly followed Rodney because of Mike’s actions.  Contrary to Dan, she didn’t even seem to question the fact that she was being used.  Sitting right next to Shirin, she was in the best position to tell Will to cool it but she was one of those that were shown enjoying the scene.  It’s hard to believe that she would abandon Mike to join people that hardly talked about the game with her.   Suddenly, they just happened to consider her part of the “strong six”.  She should realize it’s too good to be true.

Carolyn: At least she wasn’t shown when Will and Rodney were bashing Shirin but she was still the one that Jenn hated the most.  If the game continues rectilinearly as it has for the last three weeks, then she’s the only one of Rodney’s four that could win.  She certainly looks less slimy to us than any in Rodney’s final four but we can’t say that we have been following her story.  What case would she present to the jury?  They wouldn’t care that she got rid of So and Max and now she is simply following Rodney’s lead and isn’t even liked by the jurors.

Dan:  Maybe he didn’t want to be the swing vote, but it gave him his best episode of the season.  We saw his determination to get the advantage and he had a good moment with the love letters, telling us about his wedding anniversary.  He explained why he had trust issues with Mike, but he wasn’t completely blind to Rodney’s manipulation.   Whether the six stick together or Mike and Shirin find a way to change the game, Dan could wiggle his way to the end.  Like Carolyn, he wasn’t seen taking part in the distasteful scene.  If we had a way of knowing that one of the two was actually present but kept intentionally off-camera, then we could make a good case for them.  The problem is that Dan looked very bad before this week.  We can’t simply erase that.  In one word, Dan is uncouth.  There are no subtleties about Dan’s role in this story:  He is made of one block and will not bow to anyone which makes it impossible for him to play this social game.   Even when Tyler confronted him, when he had probably already decided to eliminate Jenn, he still had to bark, still had to assert his independence.

The Targets – They seem to have everyone against them:

Shirin:  The victim of Will’s bullying, she missed an opportunity to bring some peace to camp when she refused to let Will have his letter.  Her objection was understandable but counter-productive.  It was part of the game she said but showing compassion is also part of the game.  The story has prepared us to see people flipping, told us that these players are individuals that will do anything to get to the end. If all that build-up isn’t simply a smoke screen then Shirin may still make it to the end but will she get enough votes?   To her credit, she already has two, maybe three votes in her purse and Mike could also vote for her, but she is unlikely to make the end game if he winds up on the jury.  Just like we did for Dan, we cannot forget her earlier portrayal.  Shirin was the laughingstock of the whole tribe and the audience, so she would make for a weird winner.

Mike:  When he heard the four conspirators, Mike had better ways to use the knowledge.  He could have simply informed Dan and Sierra about it and told one of them to talk to Rodney about his thoughts on the next vote, hinting that they were entertaining the idea of eliminating Mike.  Rodney needed a fifth vote so he likely would have made the offer that would have proven his disloyalty.  He could also have made it less personal:  Since Rodney only had four voters, he could have gathered Jenn, Shirin, Dan and Sierra and simply voted out one of Rodney’s minions just like he did with Joaquin.  It would have been so easy.

Mike’s accusation against the alliance in front of everyone was asking for trouble.  If that had been his only mistake, he could have recovered but his stupid move at the auction made it much worse.  In public, one has to be honest when it comes to tactics.  If he really wanted the advantage, he should have directly told them that he wasn’t going for the letters.  That would have forced Dan and Carolyn to decide what they wanted to do, but no one would have questioned Mike’s honesty.

So, is Mike finished?  From a game perspective, most will say he doesn’t stand a chance but the story is still being told from his perspective.  Even when he acted like a maniac, we knew why, we heard his reasons, felt his dilemma and even heard his apologies.  The auction’s presentation was done in an unprecedented way to make sure we saw it through Mike’s eyes.  His long talk with Dan was very touching, so it would be surprising for two friends not to get back together.

The vote against Jenn presented a marvelous opportunity for the editors to leave us in suspense but I have a feeling that Mike went along to prove his loyalty to Dan.  Now, Mike has three more days to show Dan and Sierra that they are indeed outside of the core alliance of four.  From our vantage point, Will, Carolyn and Tyler have not talked much about strategy with the other two Blue Collars.  Also, Rodney doesn’t hide how close he is to his true allies, always sitting next to Will and Carolyn.   Even Tyler should be able to see that he is the expendable 4th, but in his case, that’s only one challenge win away from the goal.  It should be easy to show Dan and Sierra that the six are strong only until Mike leaves.  With his additional vote, Dan should do the math and realize that he is much better with Mike, Shirin and Sierra than inside Rodney’s six.

Like Jenn, Mike’s whole game rests in dumbass’ hands.  Unlike Jenn, he also needs Dan to convince Sierra to follow him back to Mike’s side.  Is this still the predictable outcome that some have mentioned?!  I’m guessing some people have jumped off Mike’s bandwagon, but I still see him as the winner.  In reality, I’m not sure there is even a palatable winner at this time and I am fully aware that this season could continue to belong to people that suck, but I still believe in Mike’s hard work.

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