This week’s introduction reminded us that Tony not only blindsided LJ, he also blindsided his whole alliance… (We heard a new exchange between Jefra and Tony where she said that Kass, Trish and she felt like they were on the bottom. Tony replied: “You didn’t want to be anybody’s goat so you’re a free goat now.”) … And nobody felt more betrayed than Jefra. (She was almost crying during a confessional in which she said that it was time to maybe (!) start playing her own game.)
After betraying his alliance, Tony needed a back-up plan and he found one in the form of an idol with different powers. (We saw a repeat of his confessional where he talked about everybody’s eyes going “bing”!)
Jefra had a plan of her own: to align with the minority alliance and take out Tony.
Back at camp, Tony attempted to regain the trust of his alliance.
At Tribal Council, (we heard Spencer say once more that Woo stole the clue when he played “the real thing”) Spencer played his idol, Jefra got cold feet and the alliance of five stayed together, leaving Spencer and Tasha on the bottom once again.
Even if we heard Trish ask Tony if they could trust him, Jeff didn’t give her any credit for doing what had to be done in order to keep Jefra on board. The five stayed together due, apparently, to Tony’s promises and Jefra’s cold feet, not anything Trish did.
Listening again to Tony’s comments about everybody’s eyes lighting up reinforces the idea that Probst said something during Tribal Council, asking the player with the most votes if he had an idol to save himself. I think that’s what Tony was talking about, not seeing the idol itself because no one else saw it so no one else’s eyes went bing because of it. It’s the news that an idol could be played after the votes were read that made them go bing.
As a side note, we will be able to point to Jeremiah when we want to define what it is to be an extra. Except for the replay of old footage, Jeff didn’t even mention his name during the recap of his final episode.
Playing Hard but Not Always Well
Solarrion – Night 28
Jefra had the first confessional of the night: “Before Tribal, I thought it was a good idea to switch over and join Jeremiah, Tasha and Spencer because I’ve been wanting to turn on Tony, but I am in this alliance and I’m trying to look at the bigger picture and I felt like it would probably hurt me worse to go against Tasha or Spencer at the end of this game.”
Jefra has given so few confessionals during the season that letting her open the episode was a strong indication that she’d be leaving at the end of the night.
Back in camp, we heard Jefra asking Spencer if that was the riverbank idol. Spencer said it was, adding he found it on the same day that Woo stole the clue. Kass intervened, saying she knew he had it by the way he was acting. She added: “You are usually much meaner to me.”
Kass gave us a confessional: “I had a feeling that Spencer had the idol and like a typical 21 year old male, there was no way he was going to give that thing up. I mean, what is the most selfish beast on the planet? A college-age male.”
Kass would spend most of the episode bashing Spencer which sets up a very uneasy situation if these two remain together all the way to the end. Such vitriol would have tainted Spencer’s image if we hadn’t heard the other women say that Spencer was nice in the same episode. I don’t recall any personal attacks from Spencer against Kass, just comments about her game, so it suggests he doesn’t deserve this treatment.
Woo told Spencer that Kass kind of called it, but Tony intervened to say that they were going to vote for Spencer but that Kass convinced them not to do it. Kass said Spencer was too calm and that she knew him because she had seen him before when he was about to be voted out. Spencer said that he was impressed.
Spencer had a confessional: “I used the idol and I used it wrong so now my idol is gone and my main alliance is gone and Tash and I are an army of two against this Goliath army of five, but the fact is that Tasha and I are still here. Tonight, we lost the battle; we have not lost the war.”
Once more, Spencer is connected to the theme that you should never give up.
The scene ended with Tony rejoicing that their plan worked perfectly.
Tony and Woo arrived with tree mail.
Trish in confessional: “When they came back from tree mail, Woo was like “my back is really bothering me” and I was like “are you OK?” I almost wet my pants when I saw in his back, the wallets of money and I knew it was the auction. I knew I’d get something to eat and that’s all I wanted was something to eat outside of rice.”
The editors had a little fun at Trish’s expense by showing this knowing she would soon bid on a bowl of rice.
Tony also had a confessional: “Historically, in the game of Survivor, every time there’s an auction, there’s always some kind of advantage to a challenge. The second I hear Jeff say advan…(he raised his hand) $500. I want that advantage and I don’t want Spencer or Tash to have it.”
Spencer also had a confessional: “Right now, it’s me or Tasha going home so me and Tasha have to be aggressive in this auction because this is our life right now.”
The juxtaposition of these two confessionals set up the confrontation to win the advantage, but more than that, it suggests that these two are the only players with their heads in the game. Even Tasha was shown jumping up and down at the thought of food.
We saw that Tony knew Jeff’s habits when he correctly guessed that the second item would remain covered. Spencer looked disappointed when Tasha bid $80 in an attempt to get that item.
Trish encouraged Tony to start bidding because he was starving but he declined. Like Spencer, Tony salivated at the sight of the $20 steak sandwich that went to Kass. He gave us a confessional: “My stomach is starting to tie up in knots. I didn’t know if I could hold out on the temptation. I felt shaky, I felt light-headed, but I just had to hold off. I wasn’t walking out of there without an advantage.”
Spencer also had a confessional when Woo got what Jeff described as the biggest bargain ever: “Because there are so few people actually vying for the food, this auction was a buyer’s market. Great deals, all of this food for so little money and I can’t even watch.”
Many posters wrote that we are seeing one of the best seasons ever but this auction really showed why I feel that it’s far from the great ones we used to have. We had fun at Trish’s expense, seeing her get the rice she said she didn’t want, but the only really funny moment came when we had that gay porn parody featuring Woo and Jiffy. The sultry saxophone music suggested that Woo really enjoyed putting that big, tender piece of meat in his mouth.
These players know the game so well that they are all focusing strictly on strategy, making all the rest appear superfluous and therefore boring. Trish got the crappy item but that joke fell flat because, like she said, she still had plenty of money left.
With no one engaging in bidding wars, Jeff cut to the chase and told them about the advantage in the game. When Tony reacted almost as quickly as he had told us he would, Jeff changed the rules, saying everyone could bid the maximum and they would have to draw rocks to win it.
While Tony and Spencer were ready to bid $500 for a shot at the advantage, Tasha declined. Jeff looked disappointed. (Money must be short at CBS if Jeff wanted 3 people to fork out all their cash for 1 item) Forced to draw rocks, Spencer wound up with the wrong one. Tony, who couldn’t even look, won the advantage.
When Jeff closed the auction, the camera turned to Tasha who was left out with nothing. She gave us a confessional: “I was hoping that Jeff would offer one more item and that would be a clue to the hidden immunity idol but, unfortunately, I left with nothing. So, in order for me to stay here, I have to win immunity.”
This confessional softened the hit on Tasha’s image when we heard her say that she wasn’t ready to bid everything in order to draw rocks. Our first impression was that Tasha wasn’t as focused on the game as the two guys but at least we heard her excuse.
Back in camp, Tony commented that his advantage was like a catch-22: He wouldn’t have the same energy level as Woo. Then he turned the blade in the wound by telling Spencer that he was starving and had no advantage. Spencer agreed that he got screwed but added: “We knew what we signed up for.”
Spencer in confessional: “I needed an advantage in the game because, right now, my head is at the top of the list on the chopping block. It was devastating. I draw the rock, I opened my hand, and the rock is white. I just have a white rock. I have a new title: I am the greatest loser at the auction in Survivor history.”
Sorry Spencer but I think Candice still holds that title. Her money was taken away and she was sent to Exile Island with no idols to find during the Cook Islands auction.
Kass had a confessional: “I had no guilt that Tony was the martyr for the team. I think I’ve done enough so I felt glad. Here I am, eating a giant meal and I got to see Spencer have the true dejected look that I have come to know and love and expect from him when he knows he’s on the block.”
Kass thinks she’s done enough? In an episode where her alliance was about to turn on itself, this has to be the worst possible confessional to have make it on air. Tony would soon tell us what he thought of those that let him be the martyr. It’s also Kass’ second confessional where she took a shot at Spencer.
Tony gave us his thoughts: “There are five people in my alliance. All of them were eating. I sacrificed all that food? I am starving. So, I felt kind of disgusted, you know. Why put all that weight on my shoulders?” He had to ask twice for someone to help him with the fire and the water. His confessional continued: “The girls don’t do anything. You guys wanted to eat, not starve? This is what I sacrificed not eating for, right here. So, as my alliance is talking about how good they feel, that they ate this and they ate that, I just told them that I’m gonna be right back. I’m just going for a walk up the beach. I opened up my tube … and lo and behold, it’s not an advantage in the next immunity challenge, it’s a clue to a hidden immunity idol.” We joined him on his search. “As it stands right now, I have a special power idol and now I have the possibility of finding another idol that I could just do whatever I want with it. If I can find it, I don’t have to worry about nothing. Once I have this bad boy, I’m in power.”
While Tony was walking up and down the beach, the women were enjoying the ocean. At least Tasha was making good use of the time. She gave us a confessional: “If the group of five sticks together, the people on the chopping block are Spencer and myself. So, I want Tony to know that there is a possibility that we could form an all-girl alliance and take him out. I want Tony to see me talking to them. Tony is a loose cannon; all you have to do is light a little fire and he basically will spark.”
Tony brought firewood to Spencer who had been tending the fire.
(Tasha’s confessional about lighting a little fire under Tony was placed just before this scene, giving it symbolic value)
Tony commented that the women had been in the water for a long time. He told Spencer that Tasha had her own plan; she was working on the girls. After saying that Tasha was quite a social player, Spencer asked if Tony was worried that the girl alliance could work. Tony said he didn’t think it would so Spencer told him that they weren’t lying when they said Jefra was ready to vote him out. Tony seemed surprised by that.
Spencer explained his tactic to us: “I’m trying to plant seeds that will fester and make this alliance split. It might mean creating some fake paranoia about an all-girls’ alliance even if it’s not happening at all. It’s very powerful in this game right now. If I can make Tony paranoid, that’s gold because Tony is crazy. Tony is willing to play hard but not always well and that is great in this game because, if I can get someone in power to make mistakes and go ballistic then I’m still here and anyone can be going home at that point.”
This confessional is really the whole story of the episode. Nothing else really mattered. Tony is playing hard but not really playing well. Spencer had lost the previous battles but he skated circles around him this time. Will it be enough to win the war? I’ll have more on that later.
Tony (solo): “When Spencer told me that the girls could be in cahoots with each other and that they want to oust the guys, I was thinking that: Hold up. Don’t trust Spencer just yet because he is desperate but you got to look into it. Then I said to myself that it makes so much sense: They are going to say that the guys are threats. Let’s just try to get rid of them one by one and they could do it because right now we have four girls and three guys. All the tell-tale signs are there that they need to blindside me. They won’t want me to go to the end, but I’m not going anywhere. I will take matters in my own hands like I usually do.”
I can just imagine what LJ thought when he heard this sitting at home. Something like: So Tony, why do you think that you are missing a guy in your alliance? We thought that Spencer’s words at the last Tribal Council would turn Tony’s alliance against him but it seemed to have worked much better on Tony himself. He always saw himself as a threat, that’s why he wanted to hide his occupation, but now that Spencer told the others that he is big threat to get votes, he panicked.
Solarrion – Day 30
While Spencer was taking a walk on the beach, the women, still bathing in the ocean, talked about how nice he was. Well, most of the women.
Kass in confessional: “I’m feeling good about our five so I kicked back and relaxed and it’s nice to know we are going to have a non-adversarial day because no matter who wins immunity, we can get rid of Tasha or Spence. I mean, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Sometimes that light is an oncoming train. This confessional’s only purpose was to tell us that Kass, despite her earlier claims, couldn’t read Spence after all. She relaxed while he had already planted the necessary seeds.
Back near the shelter, Tony and Woo noticed that the crab they had caught was dead. That led to another argument between Tony and the girls about the cooking chores. Tony didn’t leave us wondering what he was thinking when he whispered to himself: “Get your ass up here and cook it then.” He told Woo that it was all unreal.
Tony in confessional: “After finding all that out from Spencer, I said to myself: It’s four girls and three guys. They might be up to something. They might want to make a power move. So I said I’m going to get that idol right now. That’s priority number one.” (The big white tree he found looked a lot like last week’s rocket ship tree. How convenient!) It didn’t take him long to find the idol yet we heard him say: “I’ve been looking for this for so long now.” In confessional, he added: “That’s the third idol that I found in this game. Right now, I have two idols in my possession. One special one and one idol I can just play around with. I can use it for me, I can give it to someone to blindside somebody else. I feel like I am on top of the world, on top of this game.” Tony proceeded to show his idol to everyone in his alliance, first to Kass, telling her it wasn’t the special one, but the one that came from the advantage. He went on: “I decided to show my alliance my idol. I showed each individual one and said listen: I have the idol; we are protected. What I really wanted to tell them is that I am protected so don’t even think of voting for me. It’s still four girls and I made a conscious effort to scare them a little bit just in case they are thinking or plotting to vote against me; they know I have an idol.”
Jefra looked dejected when he showed her the idol and said how happy it made him.
The Immunity Challenge
Tony and Woo were the first to get all five bags but Tasha was the first to get all the balls out. Tasha landed her second ball before anyone else even got to the maze. Jeff noted that Tony went crazy and knocked his balls all over the place. Jeff added: “It is subtle, it takes touch, finesse.” Jeff could have added: “Just like the game” but that would have really told us that Tony cannot win.
When Tasha dropped a ball, she opened the door and Woo tied the score with three balls. It looked like it was very close but Tasha won immunity for the third time.
Before we got back to camp, we saw that a shark was on the prowl and that many little fishes were exposed. The imagery was clear: Tony was the shark. The women who had spent all that time in the ocean were his prey. Like the challenge revealed, there are more subtle players than Tony and there are more subtle predators than a shark.
Earlier in the episode we saw such a subtle predator in the form of the sea anemone that had already caught its fish. That cute little fish was poor Jefra…caught in Spencer’s tentacles.
Tasha in confessional: “For the third time in a row, Tasha has immunity.” Her smile was as wide as could be. “To have immunity means everything at this point in the game. Every day, people are reconsidering alliances, breaking alliances (We saw Kass on screen just then) so the plan up to Tribal Council is to continue to talk to the girls…” (She went into action in the shelter, saying that Tony could have promised everyone, including her, a place in his final three) “…and have Tony be suspicious of the girls. If he is freaking out that they will flip, you know that’s…either way, it works for me and possibly for Spencer as well.”
Tasha and Spencer went out to get water so Kass used the time to talk to Woo. He said he wasn’t concerned; that the challenges had just gone Tasha’s way. Trish and Tony joined them and they agreed it had to be Spence.
Tony in confessional: “Tonight, at Tribal Council, if Tasha hadn’t won that necklace, she was going home. So now we have to resort to plan B which is Spencer.” Once more, the women went for a soak in the ocean. Tony went on: “This is the worst case scenario: Tasha is still here. It’s still four girls. With Spencer gone, it’s only two guys. It’s very easy to see that it’s four against two. They could pick us off one by one. So, you know what? I have to turn on one of the females in my alliance and the only one I can turn on is Jefra right now. She was willing to turn on me; she was willing to turn on all of us so it’s once again time to change the game.”
When Tony mentioned that he had to turn on one female, the camera was squarely on Kass and it only went to Jefra when Tony mentioned her by name. The suggestion is that Tony may have aimed at the wrong target, that it would have been better to go for Kass immediately.
Tony surprised Woo with his plan but the martial artist was quick to realize that the girl/guy ratio wasn’t favorable.
Woo had a confessional: “Tony is a brilliant player. You know, nine times out of ten, we are clicking on the same level. We looked at each other and we knew exactly what the game plan was: We can’t get rid of Spencer.”
Tony had more to tell us: “Here’s the problem: I won’t be able to tell Trish or Kass that I am planning that so we obviously are going to need Spencer and Tasha in this.”
Tony went to Spencer with his plan, telling him that Trish and Kass had to remain in the dark so that he would be the one to inform Tasha and get her on board.
Spencer in confessional: “The things I’ve said to Tony have had an effect and this paranoia about an all-girl alliance is perfect.” He told Tony that the key was convincing Tash.” To us, he added: “Tash is my alliance, she’s my friend; I know she is willing to do something that will keep me in the game.”
Spencer told Tasha about the Survivor Miracle part 2 and Tasha agreed to vote against Jefra.
If Tasha doesn’t win this season, the question will be asked: Could she have gone to the women and formed that alliance after all now that she had the information about Tony? Trish is so tight with Tony that you can’t blame Tasha for not risking it. Trish would have just needed to tell Tony that she knew about his plan and that would have burned Spencer and Tasha.
Spencer’s confessional continued: “To feel just about hopeless and then to be given a golden ticket to new life in the game is incredible. Things might be looking up right now but I still don’t trust Tony all that much and, if this plan fails, I am out of the game so this new idol with potentially more powerful powers could really help me out.”
However, Tony noticed that Spencer wasn’t in camp and that made him suspicious. Tony’s confessional gave us a modicum of suspense for the rest of the evening: “He’s actually searching for the idol. That is scary, that is alarming that Spencer would actually be doing that when I was trying to come up with a plan to save him. So, is voting off Jefra a good idea? Is it good for my alliance? Is it good for my game or is it better to get rid of a threat like Spencer? Jefra really is not a threat and Spencer is lethal out here. You see what he’s done. I don’t know what to do at this point. I would say that I am driving myself crazy but I don’t think it’s me driving myself crazy, I think it’s the game that is driving me crazy.”
Just before heading out to Tribal Council, Tony turned to Woo and said: “There’s going to be chaos tonight, my friend.”
With his wink to Tasha, we were told that Jeremiah will also be voting for her if he gets the chance.
Jeff first addressed Spencer about his predicament.
Spencer agreed he was in trouble
Tony told Jeff that the camp was chaotic which surprised Jefra. He surprised her even more when he said that Spencer informed him that his alliance, Jefra in particular, wanted to blindside him.
Tony decided to open his bag of tricks early and he took out his idol.
Jefra said she was upset about LJ but that it was natural.
Kass explained that Jefra had to get over the anger of being left out.
Tony said that you can’t advertise a blindside.
(LJ and Sarah weren’t impressed at all with that explanation).
Jeff asked Tony if he was surprised that his group was sticking together despite its divisions.
Tony said it was the best thing they could do.
Spencer said that chaos was great. Chaos could only help him.
Kass told Jeff that a mistake could be made tonight.
Jefra was nodding in agreement and she said that stirring trouble is what people do when they are on the bottom. (People with game do it, but Jefra? No.)
Jeff turned once more to Spencer and said: “If it is you tonight, no one is going to accuse you of not making big moves.” (Aren’t the editors nice?! Using Jeff’s words to bolster the case for Spencer who may have stirred things a bit but had really done little on his own up to that point)
Spencer told Jeff that he played well and hard and he could go home happy with that. He added: “At the same time, windows of opportunity come up and close in this game and some could be closing right now. If you pick me off and then pick off Tasha, you may get 4th or 5th place, you made a mistake tonight by not making a move. The most common reason people lose this game is not making the move that they should have made when they could have because they got comfortable.” (The camera showed us Kass then, the one that thought she had done enough and was simply relaxing now)
It was time to vote and, when Jeff returned with the urn, Tony kept his ordinary idol.
When Jeff revealed the 3rd vote against Jefra, the camera showed us the change in expression on the faces of Trish, Jefra and Kass. We then saw Tony’s “I ate the canary” expression.
Kass and Trish exchanged looks when Jefra stood to take her torch. Spencer smiled and the jury looked nicely surprised.
Trish looked to be close to tears when Jeff said this proved that it was an in-di-vi-dual game.
After hearing Spencer’s confessional, there’s not much to add about the story at this stage. It’s a mind game between Tony and Spencer and now that “the inexperienced kid” figured out he had to work on Tony instead of against him, he won a key battle.
Like the maze, this game is all about finesse and subtlety. While we’ve seen many snakes and reptiles during the season, we’ve only seen the images of two ocean predators: The shark and the sea anemone. Since the preys spend so much of their time in the water, I think these sea predators are more symbolic than the random reptiles. Tony is the shark, Spencer the sea anemone. While the shark is the most dangerous ocean predator, it has no subtlety, but the sea anemone looks so nice…
Besides the two predators, we only have Tasha still focusing on the game. What can we say about the others?
They Were Imitating Morgan:
Kass: She thought she had done enough but she just had a rude awakening. The problem is that she is now faced with a battle on two fronts and while it looks very probable that she will face the jury, she can only do so by making more enemies. Her continual belly-aching against Spencer tells us that the two could share the final few, uncomfortable days together and that they will attack each other with every answer they give to the jurors. It could get ugly.
Woo: He thinks he is on the same level as Tony nine times out of ten. Maybe he should worry about that 10th time. Woo did fairly well in this episode but he was associated with the players who were so content after their big meal which didn’t make him look so good. What is worse for him is that we continue to hear Spencer’s version about what happened with the idol clue on the river bank. Since we don’t hear Woo’s version, the viewers have to think that he really did steal that clue.
Trish: I expect that this episode showed everyone her limitations in the season’s story. She isn’t winning this season. The good job she had done to realign her group was completely ignored in the recap and in the opening scene. We saw that the joke was on her during the auction and she really dropped the ball when it came to keeping Tony in line. After all his promises, he betrayed her a second time so she would look extremely weak in front of the jury if she forgives him again. What else can she do besides forgiving him though? Moving against Tony now gives the game to either Spencer or Tasha.
Outplaying them All:
Tasha: Her plan to stick with the girls to exacerbate Tony’s paranoia worked perfectly, but the subtle work was accomplished by Spencer. The smiles from the jury tell us that Tasha is a great social player and she is a very smart woman, but her game relies mostly on her challenge skills. What is extraordinary, considering she was on the Brains Tribe, is that most of her wins came from physical challenges rather than mental exercises.
Despite all she has done already, (yes that was a jab at Kass) it still looks like Tasha will need to win some key challenges to make it to the end because no one would risk facing her. Tasha is easily a fan favorite right now despite the fact that she hasn’t been as present on our screens as the other two players. That lack of presence makes sense only if she isn’t our winner. We can’t forget either that Tasha was seen jumping up and down in the anticipation of the food auction and that she was in the shelter resting with the losers.
Tony: The former member of the Brawn tribe was so convinced he needed an advantage in the immunity challenge that he was willing to risk all of his money. That in itself is quite extraordinary. You’d think that such a strong guy wouldn’t worry about beating a skinny kid and a woman but there it is.
Tony is trying to outwit everyone but he should have figured that he didn’t need to win that challenge. No matter what happened, one member of the minority alliance was going to be exposed. He should have also realized that he didn’t need to vote against Spencer to break up the girls’ alliance, he just had to ascertain that Tasha was voting against Jefra.
Like Spencer said, Tony is playing very hard, he has done so from day 1, but not always well. His moves to eliminate Cliff and LJ were executed too early and now his decision to change the game by eliminating Jefra will certainly cause his alliance to crumble. He went into that vote thinking he could go back to Trish and Kass afterwards, but that trick won’t work the second time.
Playing the Game:
Spencer: With the effectives down to three Brawns and three Beauties, we see that the former Luzon members have already gone through one complete tribe. It seems that it’s one down, one more to go. Spencer told us that they would be able to do it right after they eliminated J’Tia, which seems far away now. Does anybody still doubt that we will have 3 members of the Brains tribe at the end? Well, it’s still not a sure thing, but it’s looking very good that we will see Spencer going through them all.
With the help of a precarious position in the game, the editors gave us plenty of doubts regarding Spencer’s chances to make it to the end but all the pieces seem to be falling in place right now. We still have to be open to the other possibilities and Tony doesn’t need to be that smart to make it far with so many idols in his pockets but we have been guided here by the season’s theme and they’ve been telling us that Spencer would be the Sole Survivor for a long time now.