Two days later, I’m still not sure how you unpack everything that happened in the last episode of Survivor Caramoan, which featured, among other highlights, one of the most impressive Immunity Challenge wins in recent memory, some of the best pre-Tribal scrambling in years, and what easily ranks as one of the all-time greatest post-vote power moves in Tribal Council history. Really, just about everyone played their absolute hardest game of Survivor possible this week. (Just about.) It was an amazing episode to behold, especially considering how down many of us were feeling on this season before last week’s merge, myself included.
So, while I’m in this rare happy mood, I’ll be spending this week’s Wiggle Room shouting out my favorite players of the week. Join me!
If that challenge performance wasn’t enough to get her back in the good graces of the edit, nothing will do the trick. But who cares if Brenda’s camera time is startlingly, depressingly low? (Actually, many of us care, but that’s a subject for another day.) No amount of time on screen can make or break how big a badass Brenda was in this episode. That Immunity Challenge was essentially an island-dwelling James Bond villain’s ideal death-trap, and Brenda owned it, cool as a cucumber all the way through. If you haven’t already, you need to watch her secret scene where she cheerily explains how easily she owned that challenge. She’s a badass, and she’s adorable. If only the editors agreed.
BLINDED BY THE BOEHLKE
First off, it can’t go unsaid how fierce Andrea was during the IC. She was a beast, distantly second to Brenda, but leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else. But Andrea’s real victory came outside of the challenge as she effectively and passionately changed the course of the game by targeting idol-free Michael. Most importantly for Andrea, diverting the vote to Michael kept her out of the crosshairs of the Broliance’s only Hidden Immunity Idol. (There’s only one, right? Surely there isn’t a second Idol on the island somewhere, is there?) Just as importantly for the Stealth R Us alliance, the move kept their numbers strong, while the Broliance lost a bro when they really couldn’t afford to. Andrea also gets to keep young bucks Reynold and Eddie in the game to flirt and work with should the need arise. All in all, after what must have been a deeply anxious afternoon and evening of scrambling and scheming, Andrea lives to fight another day, perhaps stronger than ever — if not for one small problem.
MOVES LIKE MALCOLM
He’s not quite at Obi-Wan levels of Force-mastery yet, but damn if Malcolm isn’t close. No, he didn’t suss out that Michael was the real Stealth R Us target. But he was not wrong to feel that the spirit had moved against him, even if it doesn’t take a mind-reader to figure out what “The Specialist” was driving at in his speech before the vote. Malcolm felt threatened, and so he wanted guaranteed protection, but without compromising his own stealth forcefield. So, with his secret Idol in his pocket, Malcolm votes for Reynold, then convinces Reynold to use his Idol to keep Malcolm in the game. He makes the request loud and proud in front of everyone else on the tribe, his true colors emerging for all of the other players to see. It was a bold power-move that ultimately didn’t result in boosting Malcolm’s chances in the game, but it showed a player made of sterner stuff than the average Survivor, and even many of the super-competent players. Given his current position, I don’t see how Malcolm survives the game without an epic immunity run. But, unless he’s not the player I think he is, Malcolm at least survives one more vote, thanks to the Idol that nobody else knows about — an Idol that could finish the job on Andrea as soon as next week.
DAWN OF THE DEAD
In between the crying and the more crying and the all of the crying, Dawn is playing a brutally cutthroat game of Survivor. By all appearances, she’s the most trustworthy person on the island, evidenced by three weeks in a row of people coming to her with their deepest, darkest secrets. In truth, she’s the least trustworthy person on the island, evidenced by three weeks in a row of Dawn divulging the deepest, darkest secrets of other players to her real alliance. Dawn is proving her value to the Stealth R Us crew, no doubt about it. But she’s also demonstrating her willingness to sell others down the river to get further in the game. It’s a great way to play, one that I would happily reward with my vote for the million. But the present and future jurors who will be burned by Dawn’s loose lips are likely to think otherwise. As great a game as Dawn is playing, I’m losing confidence in her ability to win.
I will miss Michael Snow. He’s smart and savvy and wanted to play Survivor, but few others would play with him. Add him to the casualty list of Fans who had the potential to become legitimately legendary Survivor players, but never stood an honest shot thanks to factors beyond his control — like, I don’t know, the very construction of the season, I guess. But losing Michael isn’t the end of the world. Like Corinne before him, Michael is a character that, I suspect, most of the audience rooted for and enjoyed seeing on a weekly basis. You have to be willing to lose the ones you love in service of a memorable Survivor season, and in that regard, I’m okay with seeing Michael go. On top of that, his exit leaves all of this week’s major players in play, which means, Probst willing, next week will provide us with our third great Caramoan episode in a row. Here’s hoping Survivor can keep the winning streak alive.