The Recap of Episode 10:
- Mike knew that he was in trouble: “I know that they are coming for my head.” He tried to buy an advantage at the auction, but Dan was the lucky one. We heard Dan saying that he has an extra vote.
- At the Blue Camp, Mike had no intention of going down without a fight. We saw Mike telling everyone that Rodney flipped on the Blue Collars and Rodney telling the “whack job” that he didn’t flip on anyone. We then heard Rodney’s confessional: “What Mike was saying was true, but because of what he done, you just made yourself the next one out.”
- With the Hidden Immunity idol already in his pocket, Mike won individual immunity.
- Facing Tribal Council, Mike tried to warn Dan and Sierra about being on the bottom. We heard Mike talking to Dan: “Those four don’t have your back, Dan. They are using you. You are the only two that I want to go to the Final 3 with.”
- Will made things personal with Shirin. We heard Will’s remark that she has no one at home that misses her.
- At Tribal Council, Shirin opened up about her past: “I don’t have a family because my biological father verbally assaulted me just like you.” We also heard Will say: “I didn’t verbally assault you.”
- Jenn was voted out.
This recap is extremely tilted in Mike’s favor. It completely ignored his faults only focusing on the fact that he was right but that no one is listening. We didn’t hear anything about his dumb move at the auction, the terrible timing of his accusations towards Rodney, or even that it was his distrust that led to the confrontation between Will and Shirin. If the recap was our only evidence, then we’d have to say that the fight came out of the blue. That’s certainly an efficient way of throwing Will under the bus of public opinion, especially considering we heard him denying doing what we had just witnessed. Going back to the main story–we could even say the only story– Mike is alone, abandoned by his previous friends and allies, forced to fight a seemingly hopeless battle only because no one else is aware of what is really happening. That’s a nice underdog story. Oh, and if anyone cares, Jenn was voted out. It certainly sounded as if Jeff didn’t care about that at all.
Stay the Course
In the shelter, Dan asked Sierra if Mike was still planning to turn them. Sierra simply said: “Hard.” Dan’s confessional started here.
We then heard Sierra say: “You almost feel bad for him.”
Dan agreed, adding: “But he just believes it so passionately.”
Tyler, who was half-asleep in the background, commented: “He just freaking flipped.”
Dan’s confessional: “When Mike blew up, he lost everybody’s trust. / He can say that Sierra and I are at the bottom of the barrel, but does it make it true? No. I do not believe that I am at the bottom of my alliance. I know it looks like I’m playing a passive game, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have schemes brewing.”I’m So Boring[/caption]
How ironic to see Dan yawning just at the end of this confessional! The editors were telling us that Dan’s game is so boring that he puts himself to sleep! Through Sierra’s words, this scene encourages the audience to feel bad for Mike and to yell at Dan that, if he believes it so passionately then maybe, just maybe, it’s because he knows it’s true. Dan may be telling us that he has schemes brewing, but the audience will be shown that his schemes are chimeric.
Dan then walked over to Shirin who looked melancholic. She told him that Will verbally assaulted her. She wondered if Will was that dumb or that cruel.
Will was shown sleeping then, the image telling us that his conscience wasn’t bothering him at all. He looked like he didn’t have a care in the world. At least, he’s making it easy for that bus to roll right over him.
Dan told Shirin that he was sorry about what happened during the council.
Shirin asked which part.
Dan answered the one that made her cry.
Shirin’s confessional had been inserted during the previous scene: “I am not one to cry in real life, but I have this Pavlov’s dog reaction to men yelling at me… All this drama makes Will an excellent person to take to the end, and yet, me and Mike are on the bottom.”
Dan’s confessional: “So, at Tribal Council, one of the things that came up was the blowout between Shirin and Will. Apparently, there’s violence in her history. If that’s the case, I feel very bad for her. However, that being said, Shirin is a drama queen, she is a two-faced liar, she looooves to play the victim. For Shirin to say that Will is worse than her, that’s hypocritical. Did he go overboard? From what I heard, yes, he did, but when she is calling him names, when she has no gratitude or appreciation, I call that karma.”
The sound of a drum roll was heard during Dan’s pause after “however, that being said…” The military snare drum led us to the execution of Dan’s character. We even heard Dan telling Shirin once more: “I’m sorry; I really am” after we heard the part where he said Shirin was being hypocritical. That was specifically intended to crystallize the opinion in the viewer’s mind that he is the one being hypocritical. I believe that Dan will learn firsthand all about karma. He outlasted Shirin, something we had previously debated, so now the expectation is that she will have the last word during Final Tribal Council.
We returned from the commercial break to Jeff’s order: “Come on in, guys.”
Indecently, this episode’s structure stripped the story to its bare essentials. We only witnessed the repercussions of the previous TC, the challenges and the discussions that led to the next vote. Do you remember when Survivor used to be about the forest fire getting closer to camp, the hunt for pig, the flood, the famine, the fight against cursed turtles to catch fish, and the race across fields to catch grasshoppers that would serve as bait for those fish? And that was all just a very small part of what happened in just one season. Today? There is no time for any of that. Our scope is practically limited to the scenes that feature Jeff.
The school yard pick was once more ignored. The sad part is that we all knew it would be.
We were told that the Blue team had Mike, Shirin, Sierra and Rodney while the Red one consisted of Tyler, Dan, Carolyn and Will.
They were given four barrels, two planks and a rope.
No one seemed to know what to do with the rope except Shirin who looked like she was going to hang herself!
Jeff had some interesting comments:
- Mike doing a lot of work…A nice save.
- The Red team, led by Carolyn and Tyler, taking a more conservative approach.
- Blue with a lot of momentum right now, working together very well.
- The Red team not panicking at all.
- Mike giving up his entire body for this challenge.
- Mike, in trouble, and he recovers, almost doing the splits.
- Mike with a big push. Blue has extended their lead.
- The Red team has been very careful, taking their time and it has paid off.
- Mike’s got to be exhausted. Something is going to have to change for Blue.
The Blue team suffered a huge setback when Mike let the planks touch the ground.
We then saw the four going with Sierra’s gamble: Racing on the barrels! Sierra told them to start doing something.
The viewers have been telling her that she should start doing something for weeks now!!
Jeff called the barrel rolling an incredible strategy…if it works.
Mike and Shirin didn’t have Sierra’s balance, so the gamble failed.
The Red team won reward.
It would have been so funny to see all four rolling their barrels to the end!
While the team was congratulating each other, we heard Tyler saying: “I can’t believe we won that.”
This challenge symbolized the whole season: Mike tried and fought desperately just like he has played the game since day one while Carolyn and Tyler have played much more conservatively here and in the game. This challenge could be telling us that only Mike, Tyler and Carolyn have a chance to win this game while all the others are just standing there, doing nothing, until Sierra’s takes a huge risk late in the game. Was the challenge also telling us that the conservative approach will win in the end? Will Tyler say: “I can’t believe I won” at the reunion? Even symbols can serve as misdirection.
Dan explained their subdued demeanor by saying they feel bad. “Rodney has been on no rewards. I feel very bad right now.”
Jeff told Dan that he could give his spot to Rodney.
Rodney took him off the hook by saying: “I’ll get mine.”
Dan’s expression showed that his love for cheeseburgers was much bigger than his sadness for Rodney.
Carolyn’s confessional was heard when the Red Team left for reward: “Dan’s got options in this game and he’s a loose cannon. We want him to feel comfortable so that inkling to go back to Mike never crosses his mind and being on a reward with him is a perfect opportunity to get that point across.”
As she said that, we saw Dan, all smiles walking right behind Carolyn, rubbing her shoulders. The image was clear: Dan was with her all the way. Even more than Carolyn could hope for because “Dumbass” would soon be leading the bashing.
A frustrated and hungry tribe walked back in camp which was a bad sign for Jenn’s last chicken.
Mike’s confessional: “The reward challenge started off really, really good. We had a lead but lost it. It was me doing the work while three other people stood around and watched. It ended up being the losing strategy. I just got to take full credit for that. If my tribe mates are mad at me, I mean how much more mad can they be? I’m already their number one public enemy, so I got nothing to lose at this point.”
Rodney in confessional: “I haven’t been able to leave this beach once. I didn’t go on one f*** reward. I’m f*** pissed, I’m miserable, I am not eating enough food, I’m shaking, my beard is itching, I haven’t showered, my nails are nasty. Did I say I’m miserable? Everybody has had a break but I’ve just left with myself 24/7, not being able to burst out and have some fun. I need some Rodney time. For my sanity, I need to get out of here.”
Hey, Rodney! This is your chance of a lifetime! I couldn’t figure out exactly what he said to Sierra in the middle of his confessional, but it sounded like he was hoping for an individual reward so that someone would have definitely taken him since his birthday is coming soon. Poor guy! He only had one steak the other day. If he wants to win, maybe he should try harder. On the other hand, I’d want a break also if I had to be with him 24/7. This confessional reminded me of Jenn’s spiraling arc, so maybe Rodney is going to crash soon. We are at Final 7 and he had talked a lot about that number before, so maybe it’s his turn.
While Mike was busy with the chicken, Sierra got serious and told Rodney: “Tyler is going to win this game. If he keeps winning immunities and gets any further, he’ll win and everyone on that jury now will vote for him. He’ll win. He will win.”
Rodney confidently said: “We’ll get him out.”
Sierra replied: “That makes me nervous that you’re not willing to. It makes me feel like you have something with them.”
Sierra was so close to the truth, but she didn’t follow through on her feeling…
Rodney reassured her: “If you want him out at seven, I’ll get him out at seven. I’m trying to get him out at six though because I don’t trust Shirin.”
Sierra’s thoughts were heard in her interview: “At this point, Tyler not only can win immunities, but he schemes and plans. I’m well aware that Tyler is a threat, so we can use Shirin’s vote to get rid of Tyler before the six because these tough guys that are threats; you have to strike when you get the chance. I can’t say too much because I don’t want to scare them and be another Mike.”
Sierra sees Mike as a guy who cried wolf instead of realizing the real danger.
Sierra reinforced her point to Rodney: “If, for some weird reason, Tyler makes it, we would not win. I am telling you. But if Shirin came with us, we would win. No one would vote for her. It’s not that Tyler is a threat; it’s that they see he is playing a good game, and they are going to give him a million dollars.”
Rodney’s interview: “Tyler: people think he’s a threat, but I am the biggest threat because I am running the show. I got the numbers, I got the relationships, and I got the personalities on my side. I am a little concerned with Sierra. We have to stay cool, calm and collected like I said since day one. My next move is to get Mike and Shirin out of here, get to the “strong six” and then Rodney works his magic.”
Tyler is now presented as someone that played a good game, a schemer, but we really haven’t seen enough to agree with Sierra. If what she says is true then the editors didn’t tell us his story. That would be understandable if it led nowhere, but if it leads him to victory in the end, we should ask to see the other version of this season! Is Tyler making a late surge or is he just another distraction? The funny thing is that those who are pulling for Tyler would be doing so in large part because it would give us a surprise winner, but for him to get there, we would have to follow a very predictable boot order!! As the “expected” winner, Mike would need to follow a very surprising route. So which is it? Will we have an “expected” winner with a surprise boot order or a surprise winner after the expected boot order? It seems like the editors painted themselves in the corner and that neither ending will be satisfying to most viewers! All I can say is that we’ve had very predictable votes up to now and I’m bored. Survivor’s usual formula is to favor the surprise boot order whether it leads to an “expected” winner or not.
We then went out to sea and the people on the catamaran.
Dan was telling the group: “We won this challenge because there is no Mike in team.”
Carolyn gave him a high five.
There may be no Mike in Team, but there are no teams in Sole Survivor!
Dan’s confessional: “I am not going to lie: Winning that reward was awesome!”
Dan told the group that the game was on pause, but Tyler replied: “I will say that if we do want to unpause the game, we are in a good place to unpause it. There’s no Mike, there’s no Shirin, there’s no nonsense.”
He made a circular gesture with his hand, indicating that the four should be together.
Dan’s interview continued: “Now that Mike is on the outs, the fact that I got to go with these three, Carolyn, Tyler and Will, just made it even better because they are my alliance right now. The only reason why Mike is still here is because he’s won immunities. The next immunity he loses: Pfit! Smell you later.”
Dan just told us that he flipped!! Poor Dan! Now he can’t win. (Okay, we were pretty sure even before now but it’s always fun when players eliminate themselves!)
Dan continued to talk about Mike to the group: “Mike has been like Teflon. It doesn’t matter how he screws up, he finds a way to fix it. Mike believes with all his heart that the four of you plotted against him to get him out at nine and Rodney turned.”
Tyler said: “Mike is right about one thing, he is a threat but to say that we were plotting to vote him out three or four votes before we agreed, it would be stupid of us.”
It would be stupid of you to say it but not to do it!
Tyler’s confessional: “Dan doesn’t get it, Mike was correct: Our group was going to target him but my goal is to keep Dan focused on the others, on the evils, on the guys like Mike; the flippers that don’t belong. Dan should be worried because he needs to be thinking further along in the game. All he can see is top six and that is a perfect place for his mind to stop. I love the fact that Dan cannot see beyond top six.”
In the middle of his confessional, Tyler asked the others: “What snapped in Mike Holloway’s brain four days ago that made him want to throw everybody under the bus and team up with Shirin?”
Carolyn answered: “He went psycho crazy.”
When Tyler said that Dan’s mind had stopped, we saw the mail man bursting out laughing.
The scene concluded with Dan saying: “You know something? This boat is fitting: Stay the course.”
Did they really only talk about Mike? Rewards used to be fun times where the players let loose and we got to see some funny moments outside of the game but here it was all reduced to their plan of getting rid of Mike. Like Rodney said, this was an occasion to burst out laughing, but our only laughs came from Dan’s stupidity. He is the one that told Shirin she couldn’t do simple math, but it’s Dan that doesn’t add the numbers correctly.
Day 29 – The Immunity Challenge
We had no follow-up in camp, going straight from the reward to the next challenge. It used to be that we’d hear about the reward and see the winners make fools of themselves by telling the others all about it. Were the winners upset that the last chicken was eaten while they were gone? How should we know? Those scenes used to amuse us, but those funny moments don’t matter anymore, only the game matters.
As for the challenge itself, the producers really wanted to give both Mike and Shirin a chance to stay because they decided we would have two immunities at Final 8. That’s very late in the game, especially considering there were also two immunity idols in play. I’m wondering if they considered the idea of making it a whistling contest. Would that have shown their intention too clearly?!
Mike asked Jeff to bring the necklace back, but Jeff told him he’d have to earn it.
Sierra was the first to get drenched shortly after the 15-minute mark. She was soon followed by Tyler, Will and Dan.
Dan apologized to Rodney just as his bucket tipped over.
We were down to two women and two men: Carolyn, Shirin, Rodney and Mike.
The facial expressions were pretty much telling us the outcome of this challenge: While we saw Shirin and Rodney’s grimaces, Carolyn and Mike looked unperturbed. After cheering for Carolyn, Dan showed his true colors when he openly and abundantly encouraged Rodney in his battle against Mike. He was sounding just as annoying as Jeff! In the end, it didn’t help Rodney. Mike must have felt sick to hear Dan openly cheering for his opposition. Mike showed that a life time of hard work is better than pumping iron in a gym. Interestingly, his win wasn’t accompanied by excessive celebrations like the ones that turned the viewers (and the opponents) against Terry and Troyzan. Mike simply gave a fist pump instead of yelling at the top of his lungs. I wonder if his celebrations were as subdued as we saw or if most of his expressions of joy were hidden.
Jeff congratulated Carolyn and he told Mike that he did in fact earn it. Rodney could only spit in disgust.
Shirin had the “nice game, good effort” confessional: “I held on as long as I could, but it wasn’t enough…It would have been epic…We would have seen the “Axis of Evil” scrambling all day, but it wasn’t meant to be. I have now got to scramble.”
After all the comparisons I made between this season and Guatemala, it was nice to hear Shirin referring to Rodney’s alliance as the “Axis of Evil.”
Camp – Day 29
The scene opened with a spider weaving its web.
I know it was just a spider but it had a face on it!
After congratulating Mama C., Rodney told her he was this close.
To console him, Carolyn said they still had an easy vote.
Carolyn’s confessional: “I wanted that necklace more than anything on this planet, but more importantly, is the fact that Shirin didn’t get the necklace. If Shirin got the necklace, one of my alliance members could be going home tonight. Mike’s winning throws a little bit of a wrench in our plans tonight because we really wanted Mike to go home. The plan for tonight is everyone is voting for Shirin. There is no splitting votes because we’d have to split with one of our own and that just doesn’t make sense.”
Shirin talked to Dan alone in the woods: “I think you’re all incredibly stupid to vote me out. I’m not a threat in challenges, and I’m not a threat to win this game. You know it, and yet you have huge threats out here, namely Tyler…If you had any power in this game, if you were truly strategic, you would figure out a way to not vote me out.”
As if in response to this, we saw Dan spitting out water from his canteen.
Dan’s confessional: “In a dream scenario, of course I’d love to sit next to Shirin in a Final 3. I mean: Who wouldn’t? Nobody likes her.”
You’d still lose, Dan!
Shirin’s confessional: “Dan, because he doesn’t like me, he is going to vote me out instead of voting out the threat. Dan, you are being stupid. You are going to have to make a move. Open your eyes, bro.”
Shirin tried a similar approach with Sierra telling her: “I can’t think of a single good reason for you to vote me out.”
Sierra said her alliance was her reason.
Shirin cut in: “Your alliance, by definition, is not with you to the end because there are six of you. Presumably, you have some internal alliances in there, but I have nothing, so I really am with you to the end.”
Asked who she wanted to eliminate, Shirin told Sierra that Tyler should be the one going. She added that she would go with Sierra and Carolyn all the way to the end.
Sierra’s confessional: “Shirin should be taken to the end because she won’t get votes; she won’t win immunity challenges. I’m not dumb. I’m not blind. Like, I know Tyler’s a threat. If I had two people backing me that were comfortable with it, of course, I would get rid of Tyler tonight.”
Tyler’s confessional: “We know that Dan’s got an advantage in this game; it’s in his bag, so it completely piques my interest, and it plants a seed in my mind. What’s in his bag? I realize: Game on! I got to find a way to get into his bag so I walked up and grabbed the bag and raced off towards tree mail in order to understand what the heck is going on inside his bag…Dan has essentially a vote multiplier. What makes me nervous is the Dan-Sierra combination. If they actually saw how dangerous our four is, they could flip, rejoin with Mike and Shirin and use the advantage to vote me out.”
He informed Carolyn of his find. She agreed that it was a big advantage.
The timing of this sequence is interesting since Dan’s extra vote didn’t come into play. The only reason I can think for showing Tyler’s search now was to paint him as a despicable player. There has been general disapproval whenever someone went through someone else’s belongings. Most viewers feel that personal belongings should be respected.
Mike and Dan took a walk towards the water reservoir.
Dan said: “It would be easy for you guys to whip out an idol, protect both of yourselves, and kill me.”
Mike said that it was a possibility.
Mike’s confessional: “I won! It feels pretty good, feels pretty awesome and today I don’t have to worry about anything because I’m safe, but I’m not guaranteed to win the next immunity. So, I got some work to do in order to get myself further in this game.”
Mike asked Dan: “What if tonight is the last night you can get Tyler and you don’t do it? If you get to the end of the game with Tyler, you lose.”
Mike’s confessional: “There was a time in this game where I would have said: Danno is my strongest ally, but I screwed up and I wish there was a way I could convince him how loyal I truly am to him, but Dan is unwilling to give me a chance. So, now I see what kind of person he truly is, and it’s sad that you put your faith and trust in someone, and they turn out being a lot different than you thought they were. This whole game I’ve been playing ninety to nothing and there is definitely some strategy to be thought of about using the Hidden Immunity Idol tonight for the simple fact that I can get a big threat out of this game. Everyone is going to be voting Shirin. I could literally give the idol to Shirin and shake this game up again. Who knows? Let’s see where the chips fall and maybe those chips will fall in my direction.”
This confessional removes the last irritant in Mike’s edit. Usually, the viewers have favorable opinions of both the Hero and his sidekick (Earl and Yau Man, Tom and Ian, and Kim and Chelsea come to mind) so I felt that Mike’s close association with such an uncouth player as Dan hurt Mike’s overall story, but now he disassociated himself from the misogynist dumbass. It took a lot of time, but like us, Mike finally sees Dan’s true character.
Jeff wanted to revisit last week’s TC.
Maybe his PR guy made him realize what a bad job he did, letting Will off the hook!
Shirin explained why she has problems trusting people.
Dan said he was a lot like Shirin because he was adopted.
Jeff told Dan that there was a very big difference between his situation and Shirin’s.
At least this time he sees that he has to intervene and stop the idiots.
Shirin told Jeff that the others don’t realize that Will was wrong.
Dan said he wasn’t there when it went down, but he told her he was sorry when he heard what happened.
Shirin commented that no one is telling Will he should apologize because he crossed a line.
Jeff finally turned to Will and asked him why he doesn’t apologize.
Will explained that his apology would have to be sincere.
Turning to this Tribal Council, Shirin told Jeff he would see the dumbest thing when they vote her out instead of Tyler. “Everybody knows that I am not a threat, and (pointing to Tyler) we actually have someone who has won an immunity challenge….somebody who will take a million dollars from every other person here except for maybe Mike. They simply want to follow the numbers and not take risks, and for that reason, they will lose a million dollars.”
Jeff told Tyler that she put him on the hot seat with a compliment.
Tyler said: “At the end of the day, my alliance knows that I stand with them, I stand strong with them, and that without them, I’d be right over there.”
Jeff asked Sierra about the timing of eliminating a threat and taking someone that isn’t a threat to the end.
Sierra said she understood, but that she only had one vote.
Shirin interjected: “If you don’t have the power to change a few people’s minds perhaps you’re not in the strong position in your alliance that you thought you were in.”
Carolyn pointed out that they did have a six strong alliance. She added: “Timing and moves in this game are critical but you don’t want to make moves too early in the game because, when you do, you could make the worst decision of your life.”
I’d have pointed out that the same can be said of waiting too long to make a move, but I’m not Jeff.
Jeff asked Mike about the importance of the vote, that without Shirin, he will have to keep winning.
Mike answered that he only had to win the necklace one more time for the alliance to start cannibalizing itself. He added: “I’ve been Blue Strong all the way and I’m asking the Blues, Sierra, Rodney and Dan: Please write a name that starts with a T and you guarantee yourself a spot further in the game.
Tyler cut in: “And they are listening to you because your loyalty has been spot on.”
That made Rodney and others laugh. Since we know that it was Rodney’s loyalty that hasn’t been spot on, then we can say that bullies are always stronger in packs. Or should I say “only stronger”?
Mike wanted to reply, but Tyler interrupted: “Being the smartest player in Survivor history doesn’t mean that you scramble. Sometimes, looking at an alliance and realizing that we got a guarantee to the top six and all we got to do is shut up, put blinders on, tune out the nonsense and just eliminate people. We play ball with people who are smart enough, patient enough, to sit back and wait.
The Jury, representing the audience on this point, didn’t buy Tyler’s pitch. That recipe, which is what Boston Rob served to Ometepe, works for one person, not six.
This time, Jeff didn’t let that pass by without challenging it: “Or, if somebody realizes that they are on the bottom (the camera moved in close to Dan and Sierra) they would make a move because going out at six makes no sense. This game is way too hard.”
Rodney told Jeff that they originally had a strong seven but that Mike flipped and made himself a target.
Dan concurred: “Mike’s action, at that moment, was the start of everything that fell before him, so now Mike is having to answer for the consequences of his actions, and likewise, so is Shirin. They’ll say anything at this point to stay in the game because that is what desperate people do.”
That sounded nauseating to Shirin.
Jeff offered the two “desperate” people a chance to plead their case.
Mike said: “I know Shirin and I are not going home tonight. I’m pulling out this immunity idol, Jeff.” The jury loved that so much that Jenn clapped and Joe gave a fist pump! “We are going to see where this six is divided.” He showed the idol to Shirin and added: “Here’s the plan, Jeff: Shirin is voting for Tyler (who looked to be in pain right then), I’m voting for one of the other four who doesn’t have immunity, and you take your chances. Three people can vote Tyler and guarantee themselves a spot because it’s only going to take four when I play this.”
Jeff called the plan Survivor Russian Roulette: “If you want to make sure there isn’t a bullet in the chamber with your name on it, Mike is saying you better vote Tyler because, otherwise, it could be you.”
Tyler’s eyes were throwing daggers at our host when he sent them to vote.
Shirin was so excited she hopped, skipped and jumped to the voting booth and the jury smiled at her.
Shirin voted against Tyler saying: “Just sit there and look pretty.”
His expression didn’t look pretty to me!
Tyler’s parchment was hidden but we heard him say: “Oh, boy! I hope this works.”
Twice we’ve heard Tyler’s voting confessionals and those were the two times when he didn’t know what was going to happen. It doesn’t make him look too good.
Mike, who had been playing with the idol, stood up when Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play an idol. The camera left him to show the jury’s reaction and that of the other players, but all Mike did was tell Shirin that he loved her and put the idol back in his pocket.
Strangely, we saw no expressions of relief from Rodney’s alliance. Judging by the quick looks left and right by both Will and Rodney, it was as if they didn’t know what happened.
In the end, Shirin and Mike voted for Tyler.
Tyler and Will voted for Dan who looked pained when he saw the second vote against him while Mike and the jury were all smiles.
The other four didn’t buy Mike’s bluff and voted for Shirin who had to get her torch so that it could be snuffed.
Led by Dan, the group applauded the result. Rodney showed his relief, Carolyn her satisfaction but, with a smirk on his face and captions to highlight it, Mike said: “Dan still got two votes.”
Jeff sent them back to camp after saying: “I don’t know if I’ve ever been this confused after a vote.” (Tyler, Sierra, Will and Carolyn were shown enjoying themselves at that point.) Then Jeff added: “Because, for all the talking of a tight six, the votes say otherwise and yet nobody from the six seems to mind.”
Maybe those words should have sobered them up, but Dan was still smiling.
In her final words, Shirin said she didn’t have bad feelings towards Mike. She was even heard saying he would have been dumb to play it for her. She summed up the strategy nicely by saying that they got two people to flinch showing Dan were he stood and that it could be his wake-up call since he doesn’t like getting votes.
We usually have many stories to consider after an episode but this one was strictly about Mike and there really is only one question to answer: Did the editors redeem Shirin in the viewers’ minds? Were the viewers rooting for her to stay or did they want Tyler to survive? The question is rhetorical and I’m not asking for a poll. I’m just using the question as the starting point for my analysis. One thing is certain: A vast majority of the audience would have been rooting for Tyler if this vote happened a few weeks ago, at the time Max was voted out for example. If Tyler had been on Nagarote instead of the professor and the vote had been between those two, Shirin’s exit wouldn’t have upset many viewers. That shows us the big effort that was done for her redemption.
With Tyler’s name surfacing as a likely winner, we have another angle to look at the same question. The show has rarely presented the eventual winner as a desirable elimination possibility, especially since it became story driven. Maybe Shirin wasn’t the fan’s favorite to stay over Tyler as much as I think but everyone will agree that there was a lot of ambiguity. I can only think of two occasions when there was some ambiguity: When James left instead of Todd or when Troyzan was booted instead of Kim. In both cases James and Troyzan were fan favorites. It would have been nearly impossible to tilt the balance completely in the eventual winner’s favor, but it would have been simple to do it this time. They just had to ignore Shirin after Max’s elimination instead of neglecting Tyler for the whole season. Shirin’s redemption story should convince us that Tyler cannot win.
Playing with Blinders
Will: He is so blind that he can’t see that he was wrong to attack Shirin. Jeff’s remark that he could regret not saying “I’m sorry” could be telling us that Will is going to pay for it during Final TC but we never saw him as a finalist so the conclusion of that story should come at the reunion.
Dan: He would have loved to take Shirin to the Final 3 thinking she wouldn’t beat him, but that just shows his complete lack of self-awareness. Every time he said that Mike is wrong, we had someone telling us that Mike is right. Dan is likely to get a lesson in Survivor during the Final TC. One could even say that it will be a lesson in life. I’m betting he won’t be laughing then.
Carolyn: She certainly isn’t as delusional as the previous two, but she knows Tyler a lot better than they do. For instance, she knows that he can keep a secret since her idol hasn’t surfaced. Therefore, she should be wondering if he is keeping secrets from her. The ease with which he lied to Dan during the catamaran ride, the way he convinced him that they were Final 4 should also trouble her. Carolyn was just going to keep Dan happy, but Tyler went much further. Hearing Shirin say that Tyler will take the million away from her should also ring some alarms, but Carolyn is staying on course, even if she is certain to lose against her ally. She threw away a good opportunity simply because she can’t stand Shirin, not even if it meant a million dollars.
Overestimating their Game:
Sierra: Like Dan, Sierra thought Shirin wouldn’t get any votes, but at least Sierra would have made a better impression on the jury if she had flipped the game and kept her. She thinks she is in a solid position with Rodney, but his refusal to boot Tyler should have alerted her. Is Tyler the only member of her alliance that could beat her in the end? Even Rodney could cause her problems because he is much more liked by the other castaways than by the viewers. Dan’s reaction after winning reward showed that Rodney is respected. There are only four votes left before the Final 3 and Sierra needs to eliminate Mike, Tyler, and Rodney to have a chance. That’s a tough program to execute on such a tight schedule.
Rodney: He is also overestimating his game by saying that he will have smooth sailing after Mike’s elimination. He should realize how easy it is to turn the others since he turned them against Mike. What’s to stop them from turning against him? His connections and his personality won’t help him when a million dollars prize is on the line.
The Challenger also known as the flavor of the week!
Tyler: Like I explained at length above, Tyler could come up with the season’s late surge but it would mean a very linear game play. He knows that his best chance is for everyone to play with blinders, and while they have been doing just that up to now, the game has been shaken not stirred. Mike bluffed and Tyler flinched. Will it be enough to destroy his careful, slow game construct? The season’s narrative certainly leads us to believe it will.
The Sole Survivor
Mike: Jeff was wrong about the vote being like Russian roulette. That term should be used only when the players draw rocks. Here, it was much more a game of poker and Mike was bluffing them all. Despite Shirin’s final words, I know many will say that Mike should have given his idol to Shirin. The inclusion of her final words tells us that the editing intent is to make us feel like it was the right thing to do, but was it? Terry came under a lot of criticism for not saving Sally, so Mike will face the same here even if he did more with his idol than the ex-fighter pilot. Giving his idol to Shirin would have left him without recourse at the next TC and the players would have been even angrier with him. This way, their reaction after the vote showed they think they outwitted Mike, so maybe he will frighten them a little less. They have three days to decide who goes first in their six. It could get ugly…I mean uglier.
At the time, Mike couldn’t have known for sure but giving his idol to Shirin wouldn’t have eliminated Tyler. With two votes, Dan, the one he was trying to rally, would have been eliminated on the revote. What he should have known though was that he was giving a free pass to Sierra to vote against Shirin. She could safely vote with her alliance and still hope to see Tyler get the boot. Mike wanted to shake the alliance and his bluff worked perfectly. He knows that the vote is the only thing that reveals the truth, so Dan should be much more inclined to listen. If not, maybe Tyler could rally to Mike’s side. Of all the players, he should be the least threatened by Mike’s challenge skills, so maybe he will side with the player with the other idol. It’s the only way Mike won’t vote against him at the next TC. Suddenly, Mike has options.