Survivor: Kaoh Rong

Casual Survivor: Shooting an Elephant in the Room

Welcome back to Casual Survivor, the blog in which I write from the point of view of a casual viewer. This week and last, comments were all over the map. I was away last week (Sorry for that. I was able to schedule surgery for after the finale), but my favorite comments on social media consisted of three consecutive threads started by different people who wanted to know why Tai asked Aubry if he should play his idol instead of waiting it out and playing his super-idol. Sigh.

That was the extreme side of the comments I read. Most had mixed reviews of each player still in the game which I found terribly interesting. Luckily for Jason, he left at an opportune time because the wagons started circling in on him with comments accusing him of bruising Alecia. Had he lasted, they might have had him wielding the ax and machete. I have a soft spot in my heart for Jason. His daughter’s autism will be a lifetime struggle with great rewards for him, so I’m happy his child got to see him with elephants and monkeys. Jason has a tough exterior, but he seems mushy inside. The eyes don’t lie and he has friendly eyes.

This week I’ll explore the various opinions surrounding each person left in the game. The rankings will be from the least to most popular. The angry mob is very fickle and these rankings have changed from day to day. Once someone starts the engines of a hate train, many others jump aboard. This season’s frontrunner, Aubry, has reminded me of Orwell’s narrator in  Shooting an Elephant.  Her elephant, and quite frankly, the proverbial elephant in the room, is Joe “How is he still here?” Del Campo, he with the “grandmotherly” eyes who goes on a firewood collecting rampage and frightens the others. Aubry was egged on by Cydney to shoot the elephant, but like the narrator, by doing so, she would only give up her free will in the process. Aubry chose not to shoot Joe and will probably regret it because: A. Cydney will not let her forget it, B. Joe is about to transform into the monkey on her back, C. If the picture is any indication, then the elephant likes Tai, which is trouble for Aubry, or D. All of the above.

Eighteen contestants, thirty-nine days, thousands of pointless, repetitive comments, one chicken, two goats, and a sheep… This is Casual Survivor…


Archetype: Root for the Underdog Unapologetically

Everyone loves a surprise ending and for the little guy to win big. In Survivor, winners like the soft-spoken Bob Crowley, Fabio, Natalie White, and Amber never showed their cards or gloated; some would say they had no cards. Nonetheless, their flashier cohorts took the heat as they waltzed right in to claim the million unscathed. We may end up with such a winner this season.



5. Cydney

“I love her. I hope she has a plan I don’t know about.”

“Anyone except Cydney–she’s snobby.”

“I don’t like her, but I’d be okay with her as a winner.”

“Go, Cydney!”

“Cydney and Aubry are quiet bullies. Cydney will pull a big move.”

Poor Cydney is not getting much credit.  For some reason, viewers are not as happy with her as they are with Aubry. While Aubry is forgiven probably because she cries sometimes, Cydney’s attitude has been called into question. The thought of them being quiet bullies is intriguing, though. Is getting upset at someone who hides the machete bullying? Is stating that you don’t want to vote for someone bullying? Is calling Julia a “traitor ass” bullying? Is being in the dominant alliance now bullying because you won’t work with everyone? I pray these viewers do not win a contest to produce a season or it will be Survivor: Everyone’s a Winner.

I love watching Cydney. Whether she is eating coconut, walking around like she’s working in a rice paddy, or reluctantly gathering firewood for the grouchy old man, Cydney has panache.  I love her even more for getting to use “panache”. Survivor needs to cast more Cydneys simply because while others show signs of frustration, she shows signs of fury—not vindictive, aggressive fury—just plain counteractive fury. Cydney opposes anyone who goes against her and she has proven she can flip the game, yet she isn’t at the moment. She is wearing out her closest ally from within without moving against her. Genius! She is poetry in motion, which is a good thing because her grammar is, at times, atrocious.

Cydney is receiving some love, but it ain’t much. It’s like burr.


4. Aubrey/Audrey/Obri

“Aubry is controlling everything– just like Sash, Lisa, Rodney, Coach, Sugar, and Stephanie did.”

“She’s awful. She should go back to Berkeley and blame men for everything.”

“The guys were right when they thought she’d head an all-girls alliance.”

“Hopefully, we’ll see her blindsided soon.”

Most people love Aubry and what’s not to love? She’s smart, friendly, strategic, and her confessionals are great. That is probably why a small contingency of haters is growing, represented by the comments above. The more a player leads an alliance, the more the general public feels sorry for the other players. It’s not fair if she runs everything.

Isn’t it funny that an alliance that includes Tai and Joe is considered an all-girls alliance? Maybe Michele will make a move before everyone else and pull the “girls” on the outside over.

This is Aubry’s game to lose and by not voting with Tai, she may have sealed her fate. He may turn on her and convince others that she will win. Joe and Aubry are the last Brains standing and I’m not sure Debbie, Scot, Julia, or Jason would vote for Aubry unless Tai and Joe sit next to her.

Aubry has made great moves but she has burned her opponents along the way. At some point, people in and out of the game may get frustrated with her uncertainty. It’s always better to side with someone you are sure of over one you doubt. Many do not trust Tai, Michele, and Cydney because of it, but the case can be made that Aubry has been the most unstable. Joe spoke of her as having neuroses, which can’t be good unless you are Cochran’s Dream Girl in which case it may become a magical quality. All she needs is someone who backstabs and cries to bring to the end. Oh, that would be Aubry. She had better hold onto her teeth. Debbie might pull a Brenda.

Many love her, but the tide is turning quickly.

3. Michele

“Michele acts like she’s a huge player.”

“We don’t know what she’s done because they never put her on camera.”

“Who’s Michele?”

“She’s the killer in a suspense movie.”

“She’s playing great; it’s just that others make moves before she does.”

“Michele was not a good friend to Julia.”

“She’s crying for votes. She doesn’t care about Julia.”

Michele is starting to get some hate. Some viewers cannot grasp that you can love someone and vote them out. I guess they missed the 10,000th time Ciera told us she voted out her mom. I’m assuming Ciera loves her mom because she said that 10,000 times as well. Michele and Julia are one person, so it’s not a big ordeal, but like the Twinnies, it’s hard to separate. I had it wrong two weeks ago; there are two Micheles, the one on the jury and the one in the game. One comment writer told us that Michele should vote for Tai to win.

Still, Michele is loved by some for being pretty and having a flower in her hair. Maybe this week, she’ll make a move before others do. Wait—I thought that was what voting Julia out was. Michele shows her loyalty by voting out her most loyal ally. Hasn’t she ever watched Clueless or any teen movie in which the heroine deserts her friend(s) to get into or stay in the cool clique only to realize that she does not fit into that world? Michele is the Cher Horowitz of Survivor. It may not be too late for her to mend things with Tai (See what I did there?) or help the Haitians of Kaoh Rong.

Michele has a way with words. On the one hand, she talks as if she has made huge moves, but on the other hand, she clearly states at Tribal Council that her strategy is that she wants others to perceive her as loyal. I’m not sure if Nick, Debbie, Scot, and Julia have drunk the Kool-Aid, but she needs to start serving it at Tribal. To paraphrase the words of Jim Rice: Her eyes are mesmerizing, but they’re not hypnotizing. She needs to work on her power of suggestion because she’s been suggesting that she is a blind follower who cries when her friends get taken out.

Despite her flaws, she is liked but not as much as two weeks ago.

2. Tai

“His strategy is to act helpless and turn on people.”

“He climbed a palm tree to get an idol. He is playing a great game.”

“No one will want to take Tai to the end.”

“Everyone is using Tai; he needs to win immunity.”

“Gardeners work hard, so I hope Tai wins. He seems kind.”

Tai’s comments over the past two weeks included an entire post about fun chicken facts. I don’t think Tai will be asked back for another season alone since the chicken is eclipsing him as a character. People will be very disappointed if he appears on a Blood v. Water season with the actual Mark. I can hear the outcries of “Bring back the chicken!”

To think of Tai’s reliance on Scot and Aubry as his strategy is both absurd and genius. If Aubry goes home next, then we can conclude that he placed the target on her back by whispering to her and slowly turned on her as he did to Scot weeks before Scot went home. He targeted Michele which might work out for him in the long-run since Michele may open her eyes and realize that Aubry and Cydney are formidable opponents.

Tai received the kiss of good luck by the elephant in the featured picture. He stands a chance to win but, as with his life, nothing comes easily to him. I still think the clouded sun shown before Tribal Council represents Tai, so his plan did not work, but a new one may be hatching.

He’s still in it and people don’t totally dislike him. In fact, many like him a lot.

1. Joe

“He’s a coattail rider and believes Aubry will take him to the end.”

“Is he still in the game? He never does anything or talks to anyone.”

“He’s 71 and he worked his whole life. I hope he wins.”

“He’s playing a brilliant game.”

“It’s amazing that medics have never been called for him.”

“He’s under the radar because he worked for the FBI.”

At 71, you begin to forget things. Where are the keys? What do you mean my glasses are on my head? And then there is Joe “Get off My Lawn” Del Campo who speaks infrequently but says more with the dirty looks he shoots at people. First, he looked at Liz, then Peter and even Neal. All of them went out. He never got sick from the water, never lacked fire (Neal said he used too much lighter fluid), or left because he was not young enough or pretty enough. Later in the game, Scot, Julia and Jason all received Joe’s “The Man Who Stares at Goats” look. I don’t recall when Nick became afflicted, but he must have been. Only Debbie escaped and Joe was blindsided with her. I’m sure Joe has filed that blindside for a rainy day when he starts playing his game. Beware, Aubry and Cydney!

For a man of few words, when Joe does speak, he sounds annoyed at everyone. Cydney needs to get firewood. Aubry needs to follow directions.  It’s hard to live with the Joes of the world, but they keep things orderly. Michele seems happy to listen to Joe and Joe himself seemed sad that Tai likes the chicken more than him. Expect the unexpected: a Tai, Michele, and Joe triumvirate.

Joe has a growing fanbase out there. His “subtle” game is appreciated, mostly because he was not removed by medics, but also because instead of basking by the pool in a sunny retirement home, Joe has to live on an island with youngsters who don’t listen and lounge around. This is a man who is up at dawn ready to work.

This week, Joe met his nemesis: blocks. The challenge was to spell immunity, I-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y starting with the last letter on the bottom. Joe had it right the first time, but then the blocks turned on him and fell.  That’s when Joe lost his concentration which has nothing to do with age as Probst would have you think: It’s the PTSD brought about from the blocks that fell on him in an earlier challenge– the ones that caused his head to bleed. Remember those–the ones that Peter engineered? So what that Joe started to unscramble immunity and came up with MI Mutiny? The man worked in military intelligence. Give him a break! Maybe he was giving us his strategy in code or flashing back to Peter’s deathtrap.

How cruel are the Survivor producers this season? It is obvious that they do not want Joe to win not only because the challenges are rigged against him, but also because of his lack of confessionals. I for one would love to hear what Joe thinks of Aubry’s meltdowns, Cydney’s “burr” noise, Michele’s oxymoronic statements, Tai’s confusion, Mark’s gameplay, and the state of camplife in general. Joe wants to whip this generation into shape.

“Gather the firewood, stack it right, bounce a quarter off your sheets, and clean the living area!” There’s a new winner in town: He’s outlasted this bunch in years, he’s outwitted people his entire career, and he’s outplaying everyone by acting like a goat. Joe won’t be taken out by medics as many predicted, and if he is, it’s only to make Tai’s idol null and void or to screw up someone’s plans. It’s not a winning strategy, but Joe holds grudges.

Joe is going to wear out Aubry by barking orders at Cydney which may cause Cydney to flip on Aubry. That–or as stated before, he will work with Tai and Michele not because he can defeat them, but because he will become sick of Aubry’s and Cydney’s poor performance around camp.

Joe is the epitome of an underdog. Probst antagonizes him, puzzles hate him, and some call him a coattail rider. For Joe, hanging on to coattails requires too much exertion. He can’t hold on to anything for longer than ten seconds. He’s riding shotgun, ready to grab the wheel.


There you have it—your Top Five, baby! If Joe wins, I’ve predicted it for a few weeks based on whole threads of loving support for him from casuals. Perhaps the edit is strange and Joe is rarely seen because we’ve never had someone this old win and the editors are giving us social commentary on how marginalized seniors are in this dog-eat-dog world, i.e., the Millennials don’t want to take care of the Baby Boomers. Then again, it seems the casuals do not love too many left in the game except Mark the Chicken and we are left with everything up in the air.

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