Survivor: Worlds Apart

Hope and Despair

Episode 8 Recap :

  • After the merge, Rodney had control of the majority alliance and had a secret alliance with Will, Tyler and Carolyn. Rodney was heard in confessional: “I’m always riding with numbers…Looking beautiful for Rodney.”
  • For Joe, it was a different story: His No Collars and Shirin were on the bottom (Jenn was heard saying that her group was staying together) …and even though he found a clue to a hidden immunity idol, the majority alliance wouldn’t let him out of their sights. Mike’s confessional: “I got to find Joe before he finds the idol so we can send this guy home.”
  • But it was Mike who beat him to the punch.
  • At Tribal Council, sparks flew between Dan and Shirin. (We saw that it started when Dan said: “Flippers never win.”) But it was Hali who was sent home.

The recap is clear:  Rodney is going to win this game.  He’s leading the majority alliance and even holds the numbers inside that majority so how could he possibly lose?  Well, Shirin gives us the answer:  Someone will have to flip against him.  And who would that be?   The recap doesn’t give the answer to that question, but it does tell us who was one step ahead of the immediate threat. 

Hope and Despair

Night 22

Shirin was still saying that Dan was wrong.  Mike tried to calm things but Dan insisted:  “I don’t know how a fan like you doesn’t know the difference between a flip and a blindside.  Kass flipped.  Sarcastically, Shirin said that he was right.

Actually, Dan has a pointTony made moves against individuals in his alliance but never flipped to another and he was always able to get back in his own alliance.  Maybe it will be this season that will show us that a flipper can win. 

Shirin’s confessional: “I am definitely on the wrong side of the numbers but the hope is that Blue Collars will start fracturing sooner rather than later.  I still think that I can go to the end but the only way I’m going to get to the end is by taking big risks and the big question is:  Are any of them willing to make a move against the others?  If they are, I will benefit from that.  So, all I can do is shake things up.”

To the tribe, she said she’d vote for Mike if he makes it to the end.   Dan said she would definitely be on the jury.  She agreed and said her vote would be for Mike.

Rodney gave us an interview:  “I don’t agree with Dan when he said that flippers don’t win the game.  Flippers win the game at the right time with the proper blindside.  They think I am Blue until I die but I ain’t Blue to nobody.  I got my boys back home; I don’t need no more friends.  What I need is zeros in my bank account.  So, guess what?  Rodney is going to take down the Blues.  Mike, Sierra and Dan, they aren’t going to see it coming. I’m just waiting for my time, waiting for my moment and I’m going to hit them with a Mike Tyson punch.”

Rodney deserves to get zeros in his bank account, but unfortunately, even the first person eliminated gets some money.  If, like I suspect, Mike makes a move against Rodney, it will be the guy that has been the bluest of Blue Collars that first flips on the guy that doesn’t consider himself a Blue Collar.  Wouldn’t that be ironic?  Shirin could be proven right:  If Mike is willing to move against Rodney, she will benefit from that and a flipper will win.

While we saw that a storm was approaching, we heard Jenn say that she was stoked about being voted out.

That led to Shirin’s confessional: “Jenn was really close with Hali and now she doesn’t want to be here.  I don’t harbor any resentment toward Jenn wanting to quit this game because I completely understand why she dislikes these people.  For selfish reasons, I don’t want Jenn to go because I want to stay in this game and I want to go far. Because of the position that I find myself in right now, I need to prove myself to gain a new alliance.”

Lightning Crashes on Joe Lightning Crashes on Joe[/caption]

Right then, we saw Shirin and Joe standing together just as lightning lit the sky and we heard thunder.  A sign of what was to come for Joe because of Shirin’s new alliance.


Day 23

Talking to Mike and Sierra, Shirin said she needed a new option. Mike was willing to entertain the idea of working with her but that he needed to trust her first. His confessional started here and right after we heard him asking Shirin who she would want to eliminate.  Without hesitation, she said Carolyn because she had Will, Rodney and Tyler in her pocket.  Mike said he saw it as well but he said he would give her a name at Tribal and that he’d want her to write that name down.  She said she was in.

Mike’s confessional: “Pulling Shirin in, because no one would think that I would pull her in, is a perfect strategy to get rid of some of these other threats that are in this game.  Shirin’s smart enough to realize that there is a group within our group.  Well, I see it.  You can’t hide: There’s only 10 people here.”

Shirin’s confessional: “The biggest thing right now is to hitch my vote onto somebody else’s game plan and just go along with whatever they say for the next vote.  But, once I’m in and once people trust me, maybe I’m not in the driver seat right away but I’m in the passenger seat, backseat driving.”

Is it our Final 3?

Is it our Final 3?

That scene probably gave us a sneak peek at our Final Three.  With Shirin’s help, Mike and Sierra should wrestle control of the game out of Rodney’s hands.  The irony here is that, as soon as the story shows that Mike may get out of one danger, he may find another.  Shirin may help him out of Rodney’s trap but she would then become his next threat.  One thing players can learn from Mike is that he asked Shirin which player she’d want to see eliminated.  Too often, players try to recruit new allies by imposing their target and that rarely works.  In this episode, it will become clear that Joe has to go, so Shirin will go along but Mike may repay her for that vote by going after Carolyn sooner than we’d expect.

The Reward Challenge

Once more we were not given the opportunity to witness the school yard pick ‘em. It would be much more interesting to see that than most of the stuff we were shown instead.  Instead of simply naming the players, Jeff should identify the captains and the order of the picks so that we can get an idea of what the players think.   

The Red team had:  Joe, Rodney, Will, Jenn and Carolyn.

The Blue team had: Mike, Tyler, Dan, Sierra and Shirin.

Mike and Rodney swam the first leg and both were “giving 100 percent” according to Jeff.  Mike took a nice lead by diving off the platform instead of using it as a slide.

Dan and Will followed.  Dan took a huge fall on the platform (Ouch!) while Will’s slide looked very awkward.  The two made Jeff laugh.  Dan kept Blue’s lead.

Tyler and Carolyn followed.  Tyler was the first to realize that it was better (and probably a lot less painful) to run over the net crawl than to dive on it.  Tyler fell off the balance beam once but Carolyn needed three tries, giving Blue a bigger lead.

Then Sierra went into the water and that lead quickly evaporated, Jenn caught up to her at the balance beam and then overtook her by making it across on her first try.

Dan and Mike’s frustration at Shirin was evident.

With Joe doing the anchor leg, Red finished the race well ahead of the Blue team even if Sierra ran a good leg.  She made it across the course before the red team retrieved their first ring.

While Carolyn took over for Joe, Mike got the first ring.  Sierra, using her rodeo experience, took over for Mike and got the 2nd ring.  From there, Mike took over and gave his team the victory with some nice tosses and with what Jeff described as “an incredible grab” of the last ring.

While the Red team was relishing the idea of eating chocolate, the camera focused on Jenn’s frustration.

Jeff turned to Jenn after Mike had essentially given us a Snickers’ commercial.  She told Jeff that she didn’t necessarily want to be there: “This is nothing that most people want.  Unless you’ve played this game, you have no idea what this feels like.”  Joe shook his head when he heard that:  “This is what we signed up for… I’m still happy to be here” he said.

Joe expressed the thoughts of all viewers.  Very few will have sympathy for Jenn right now.

Day 23 – The Product Placement Segment

Sierra, like many other beautiful castaways before her, gave us the publicity confessional: “We walked up to a chocolate bar… It was amazing.”

Mike also played the spokesperson’s role:  “…it really brought me back to my childhood.  It’s really strange out here when you are so deprived of the little amenities how much a (chocolate) bar truly means to you.”

Sierra told the group that she loved every one of them.

That included Dan!

Shirin’s confessional: “I am the luckiest person out here right now considering where I was coming from at the previous Tribal Council to all of a sudden winning this chocolate paradise reward and having a door open strategically with Mike and Sierra.  It’s literally night and day.  I see the game from a new angle and now I’m charging forward.”

Mike and Sierra were on screen when Shirin said that a door opened for her but there was a clear break in the recording just before “With Mike and Sierra”.  It’s not sure that Shirin was that specific during this confessional, the two names seemingly spliced in, but that’s what was important for us to hear.  This episode will remind many of Natalie’s late game surge last season.  If she manages to break up the Blue tribe, gets rid of her old White Collar tribe mates and makes it to the end with the right combination (Dan and Will maybe?) she would certainly deserve the title.  It wouldn’t work if she is there with Mike and Sierra though.

Camp – Day 23

After agreeing to Joe’s suggestion of fried chicken, Rodney had a confessional: “Not winning again.  The worst thing I can do is to sulk in another loss and to get mad that I didn’t get a reward.  What I need to do is to look at the positive things. We have a chicken here that we are going to eat because my stomach needs to taste something different, other than rice and beans.  Jenn doesn’t like killing the chicken because she doesn’t like eating the meat and I guess she wanted them as her little buddies because she lost her buddy Hali and I guess the chickens are her little friends.”

This is trivial but even here Rodney has it upside down.  Most people don’t eat meat because they don’t like the idea of killing animals, not the other way around as he put it.

Jenn’s interview: “This would suck less if the people sucked less.  No one asked me if we could kill a chicken even if they are pretty much my chickens at this point.  They just grabbed one of my chickens and ran off.  None of this is fun.  I’ve got nothing out here except for despair.”

Nailed It!

Nailed It!

Once they were eating, Rodney started doing a very good impression of Mike at Tribal, repeating his answers to Jeff.  He was so good that everyone, including Jenn laughed when he used a Texan accent to say: “…My name could come up five or six times, Jeff. It could be me going…”  They cracked up even more when he switched to a Maine accent to imitate Dan.  For a moment, Rodney, chuckling so hard, couldn’t continue but then he said: “Jeff, you got to appreciate good people when you come by them.”  Switching back to impersonating Mike, Rodney added: “I agree 110 percent to what Dan said.”  Will corrected him: “One hundred and fifty thousand percent!”

It's a Social Game

It’s a Social Game

Joe’s interview: “I’m here with Rodney and there’s a part of him that doesn’t like Mike.  If I can use that to my advantage, absolutely, I’m going to freaking use it!  Hopefully, I can work a little magic and stay in the game a little longer.”

The things we can learn through humor.  Even if he was mocking him, Rodney gave us a very good indication of Mike’s story:  He is in danger but he should be appreciated because he is “good people”.  Also, when Joe realized there was a crack between Rodney and Mike, he went to Mike for new hope, not Rodney.

Day 24 – Tree Mail

Joe’s confessional: “Going into the immunity challenge, I feel a ton of pressure.  I really have nobody out here but I’m going to give it all I’ve got…”

We saw Joe, Jenn and Shirin doing some stretching exercises.

Well, I’m not sure you can call it an exercise in Shirin’s case.  It looked more like testing her legs to see if they could hold her!

Jenn’s confessional: “Me, Joe and Shirin are all at the bottom.  The more I ask to leave the less likely I am to leave.  So, if they are going to plan on keeping me around, I’m going to give them a reason to kick me out.”

To Joe, she said that he should let her win so that she could give him the necklace at Tribal Council because that would be hilarious.

In confessional Joe told us he had doubled his chances of getting immunity since Jenn was set on leaving.

The Immunity Challenge

When Jeff took the necklace from Joe, we heard Carolyn say: “Take it away.”

I guess she won’t make friends with Joe.  She was the first to drop put so she didn’t do a thing to take immunity away from Joe.  Was it to show that she will be talk but no action?

Jeff really focused on Joe’s problems but he outlasted everyone except Mike, Jenn and Tyler.

The camera showed Rodney when Jeff said “a lot of people would like to see him fail today.”  Joe did fall, ending a battle that was epic only in Jeff’s sales pitch.

In the end, Tyler outlasted every one, beating Jenn and thus ending her shot at giving Joe the necklace.

I was a bit surprised to see Dan’s excitement when Jenn lost the block.  It was as if he knew about her plan to give the necklace to Joe.  Did she advertise it?

Jenn’s confessional: “Is it really sad that I fought so hard in that challenge today so that I could have a ticket out.  Everyone is going to vote for Joe, but I really think that I can do something to protect him and screw up everyone else’s game.”

Camp – Day 24

Joe’s confessional: “I lost so I was rooting for Jenn…’Go on Jenn: keep going,’ I thought…It didn’t work out…I’m living on the edge again…I’m going to fight to the bitter end.”

Now that's Body Surfing

Now that’s Body Surfing

We had a nice visual of a fish in a surfer’s position, swimming high on a cresting wave when Joe said “Go on Jenn:  keep going.”  In one sense, Jenn, who is our surfer here, will still be going since she wasn’t voted out.

Shirin’s confessional: “Nobody knows the game as well as I do and I’m running the numbers constantly.  I figured out this numbers loophole.  Because of the immunity idol and because of the way the numbers shake out, with seven people on the Blue Alliance and three people on the outs, the Blue alliance can and will split their votes, but if Joe votes for Jenn, there’s a four-four tie between Joe and Jenn.  Jenn can’t vote for herself and she’s not going to vote for Joe because she wants to go home.  That leaves me as a swing vote to decide between Joe and Jenn going home.”

Joe told Shirin that he had an idol and was planning on playing it but that didn’t prevent Shirin from saying that she could vote for Jenn to get her out.  Jenn was all excited to hear that Shirin could vote her out.

Jenn’s confessional: “If Shirin and Joe vote for me, everyone gets screwed over because I keep Joe in the game.  It’s sounds pathetic to ask people to vote for you but I don’t care.”

Back in the shelter we heard that the alliance was planning to split the vote.  Mike was heard saying it should be 4-3 Joe over Jenn and he asked Tyler if was in agreement.

Mike’s confessional: “The scary thing about splitting the vote is, literally, one person could make the difference in who you wanted to go home and the goat going home.  So, I want Shirin to vote Joe tonight in order to get Joe out of this game.”

Surfing Fish Beware

Surfing Fish Beware

We then saw pelicans flying over a wave and the sound editor included a very ominous sound effect.  Was that to tell us that surfers aren’t safe?!

Mike told Shirin about the plan to split the votes and that she had to vote against Joe if he was going to trust her.  Before the end of the scene, he would tell her: “The next vote determines if we go to the Final Four or not”

By saying that Joe could vote for Jenn, sending her home, Mike blocked any loophole that Shirin thought she could use.  Even if she says she knows the game better than everyone else, it was Mike that put her in a zugzwang position.  He would later do the same to Joe and his fake idol.  The episode showed us that Mike was the best player out there but that he still has dangers in front of him.  For one, Shirin may not always be as easily manipulated.  Still, it certainly looks like we are headed for an ending that will include Mike, Shirin, Sierra and Dan. Could Jenn still be there to screw that part of the game for Mike?  If so, Mike could see his goat, Dan, going to the jury.

Shirin’s confessional: “The thought of voting between Joe and Jenn:  on the one hand, I never thought I would be in a position to vote an actual friend of mine out of this game, even though she wants it.  I want to respect her wishes and let her leave this game in peace, but the opposite point of view is that Joe is a much bigger threat.  I am being tested and little does everyone know that I could really rock the vote tonight.”

Joe then revealed to the viewers his plan to make a fake idol.  Being a jeweler, he only needed the opportunity and a few items to make a very nice copy.

He found some time alone after going into the jungle to talk with Dan who simply said there was nothing he could do to sway the vote.

Being a jeweler, Joe didn’t find it too difficult to make a presentable fake idol out of the items he has stashed away.

Learning that Dan had let Joe go, Mike went out to look for him saying: “We cannot let him find this idol.”  He ran into him before he could get back to camp.

Didn’t Dan get the message that Joe had to be shadowed at all times?  The scene reminded me of One World when Chelsea let Jay and Mike walk out of camp alone to discuss the vote.  Kim had to save the situation by running after them. In a similar fashion, we saw Mike running after Joe to fix Dan’s mistake.

Joe’s confessional: “The more confusion, the better…If no one has found an actual immunity idol then this is sellable.”

Unfortunately, he was talking to Mike who had a real one as comparison.

Joe tried to make a deal: If they sent Jenn home, he would give his idol to Mike.  Mike was firm: “I’m going to have the idol before Tribal.”

Why would Mike fall for Joe’s offer?  If Joe had a real idol, then he could simply play it for himself.  That would even be better than giving it to Mike because it would probably go back in play and Joe would have a chance to find it again.

Mike’s confessional: “I have the hidden immunity idol to his clue that he got but if he has a different hidden immunity idol, you give it to me tonight, and you know what?  Legitimately, I would switch my vote…maybe!”

Tribal Council

As soon as the tribe took their stumps, we saw Joe leaning over to Mike and say: “Here you go. Good luck, buddy.”

Jeff first addressed Jenn.  He didn’t understand her determination at the immunity challenge because he didn’t know if she was enjoying her time or not.  He asked: “Can you not want to be here and want to be here?”

She answered with a straight face: “Yes, absolutely.”  She pointed out Rodney who she didn’t like but now considers one of the funniest and craziest people she knew.  She said it would have been cool to win the necklace.  She then said she would have given that necklace to Joe just to see the look on everyone else’s face.  “They would all be so pissed.

We saw the look on Mike and Rodney and Dan’s face and none looked pleased even if they were smiling.

Jeff asked why she didn’t just get up and walk off the set.

Jenn said that would be quitting and that she doesn’t quit.

The rattling sound told us that the difference was minor.  Most viewers will still see her as a quitter unless she makes a serious rally.

Joe said he was rooting for her because he wanted to be there: “I waited my whole life to be here.”

2nd chance, here he comes!

Joe added: “Someone may want to sit with her at the end because she didn’t even play the game.”

Shirin said she understood Jenn and that she had been able to strategize with her in a way she hadn’t with Joe.  She added: “It’s to my benefit to have her stay and to have Joe go because she is a better strategic ally to me.  But, the fact that she says she doesn’t want to be here makes her look less threatening, makes them want to keep her over me.”

Maybe Jenn says she wants to go to get away from Shirin!!  If it weren’t for her confessionals, we could say that Jenn was using a smart tactic to stay longer.

Jeff was about to send them to vote, but Mike had a question:  He wanted to know if Jeff could verify that the idol was real.

Jeff said he couldn’t verify that until Mike decided to play it.

Mike said it was the determining factor in someone staying or going home.

Jeff sounded impressed.

We heard Tyler and Rodney’s voting confessionals and they practically said the same thing even if they voted differently!

Tyler voted for Jenn and said: “I have no idea what is going on.”

Rodney voted for Joe: “I have no idea what is going to happen tonight.”

I guess that sums up nicely the two guys’ abilities in this game!

Mike did play Joe’s idol, but he said it was for Will who simply thanked the Texan.

Mike’s smile told us that he expected Jeff to reject the idol ,but I wonder if it crossed his mind to play it for Joe?  It would have been even sweeter, somehow saying “you wanted to buy your life in this game with this, let’s see what it buys.”

In the end, Joe, Carolyn, Tyler and Will voted for Jenn, the Blue Collars and Shirin voted for Joe while Jenn threw her vote away on Dan.

Jenn’s vote proves that she wanted to leave.  The 9th parchment that Jeff revealed was a vote for “Joey Amazing”.  Joe had to know right then that Mike had voted against him so he looked over at him.  Mike’s face said it all: “Got you.”

Joe got up and shook Mike’s hand while Shirin leaned over to Jenn and said: “I still have you.”

Then we heard a loud moan inserted in the melody by the sound editor who was obviously pained to see “Joey Amazing” leave.  Another moan was heard when Joe walked off the set.

Jeff said that the vote illustrated a very basic Survivor strategy: “Take out a threat whenever you can. Which means: If you are perceived as a threat, you better watch out.”

Mike was up close and personal when Jeff said the words “If you are perceived as a threat.”  The implication is clear:  Mike is in danger…but what else is new!

The Story

The episode’s main theme of Hope and Despair was illustrated by the opposite paths that Shirin and Jenn followed.  They had lost a close ally, but where Jenn lost all interest in the game, Shirin looked for a new alliance and she found one.   By putting so much emphasis on Jenn’s despair, the episode showed that few players were in a position to make decisions.  The only recourse Jenn found was to commit Survivor Suicide.  Many players are letting the others make all the decisions for them, so they could all be seen as goats if they make it to the end.  We also saw that Rodney could have played a much better social game if one of his three Cs had stood for “Comical”.  But the main development was in showing that Mike was always one step ahead of everyone. Can he keep that pace all the way to the end?

The Characters

The Goats – They are Letting Others Run the Game

Will:  Early on, Will made one of the biggest moves of the game and it nearly ended his own game.  Since then, he has faded in the background.  He hasn’t created any waves and has been friendly enough that his name didn’t come up.   It should…soon.

Carolyn:  She has received one of the most uneven roles ever: she was the star in a few episodes but was completely neglected in the others.  While her alliance and her idol could put her in a position to make decisive moves down the stretch, it seems that her recent downturn could lead to her exit.  She is Shirin’s first target and since Mike now owes Shirin, Carolyn could pay for being in Rodney’s group.

Jenn:  Her despair came from losing her ally, and with her, any chance of controlling the game.  Her rebellious act may have cost her many fans, but I think she will get redemption.  In this episode where she was treated just like Shawna, some will hope that she turns it around like another of the Amazon’s cute girls, Jenna.  I think she will fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes:  She will play a role in future episodes but won’t win. In fact, the main question could soon center on her:  Where will Jenn go?  Will she side with her new found friend, Rodney, the guy that makes her laugh?  Will she strategize with Shirin against Rodney’s group?  Will she even still be there to help Shirin turn the tables on Mike?  If she had left during this episode, Jenn’s Survivor legacy would have been awful, but she was such a fan favorite before this week that I think they let us see her despair because there will be a renewal.

Tyler:  In this episode, Tyler was part of the team that won reward and he won the immunity challenge, defeating “Joey Amazing” yet he was totally left in the background.  His only brief moment was to let us know that he agreed on the plan to split the votes 4-3 against Joe and Jenn.   His Survivor game is much like his role in the NFL:  Play for field position.  That’s what good punters can do after all.  In a defensive struggle, the good punter can gain yards for his team at each change of possession.  The problem is that Tyler wasn’t a very good punter!  He hasn’t shown much on Survivor either!

Dan:  In the strict sense, Dan is right:  a true flipper has never won but he probably only considers players like Brandon, Neleh, Shii Ann, Frosti, Cochran and Kass who completely abandoned their original tribe and tried their luck with the opponents.  The fact that his opinion is being discussed and opposed by Shirin opens up two possibilities for this season.  First, since Dan has been shown to be obnoxious and condescending, Shirin should show him that she is smarter about this game than he is.  It could also be telling us that this season will be won by a flipper and since only the Blue Collars have remained loyal, the true flipper can only come from that tribe.  So, which one will it be?!

Sierra:   She was the first Blue Collar threat to flip and she could still find an advantage in forming a female alliance but this episode showed that she “loves” her Blue team and that she has attached her wagon to Mike’s locomotive. Showing her listening in silence to the vital discussion between Mike and Shirin and using her as the spokesperson during the reward reveals the extent of her role if she makes it to the Final 3:  She will look good on the set during the Finale.

The Decision Makers

Rodney:  The game should be his since he has the numbers.  He is even starting to show his social game so he could be the flipper who becomes Sole Survivor.  He even told us that he has no attachment to his Blue Collar tribe so flipping the game should be easy.  The problem is that his plan hinges on Final 7 while the game may be turned against him before that.  His core group adds up to 4 votes, and we now have 9 players so that should alert him.  I expect that his group will lose one member this week.

Shirin:  Mike said that no one would expect that he could work with Shirin and the opposite is also true.  By showing hope and making the decision to work with Mike, Shirin has changed her game and the opinion of many viewers.  Her pattern has closely followed Natalie’s last season:  Losing her closest ally gave her a new resolve.  Can she continue in the path that was laid out before?  Natalie’s greatest skill was to wait for the right moment to strike and Shirin expressed the same idea when she talked about doing some backseat driving.  The problem is that Mike has shown much more game knowledge than Jon.  He won’t be as easily manipulated.

Mike: Many said that we had already seen what would eventually cause Mike’s downfall:  Rodney’s confessionals about the stupidity of eliminating Joaquin over Joe meant for many that Mike would pay for it.   People will now say that Mike made a mistake in booting Joe since the jeweler was ready to work with him.  The funniest thing is that it will be the same people!  While he continues to avoid the dangers that are on his path, more are laid in front of him.  Adding Shirin to his alliance could be the key to his victory or it could turn into a poisoned gift.  It’s so much easier to deal with dumb allies than smart ones.  Mike did one thing well when he recruited Shirin and that was asking her for her opinion about the person to eliminate.  He should realize that eliminating Carolyn is like killing two birds with one stone: it will cause Shirin to rejoice and hurt Rodney.   He should find many other targets that will keep Shirin happy and advance his game.    This episode has given us a clear hint that Mike should make the Final Three with Shirin and Sierra, where like Shirin said, he should get the win.


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