SurvivorSurvivor: Cagayan

Individual Games – Self-Awareness 101

There was a lot of talk about self-awareness in this week’s episode of Survivor, and while most of it was directed at Kass, it is a quality that appears to be escaping the whole cast (and much of the jury) as we enter the final few days of the game.

Kass clearly deserved to be called out in this regard…. this is the woman who talked about Trish showing her capacity for hatred right after calling her “a fricking wild skeleton blue-eyed banshee.” (I’ve been waiting for weeks for Kass to return to the supernatural, and she gave us a double-dose this episode both with this and her unicorn impression post-mud-challenge. Not only that, but she threw in an 80’s cartoon reference for good measure—this is precisely why Kass will always have a special place in my heart.)

However, Trish had already indulged in a who-knows-how-long tirade back at camp, pushing Spencer out of the way at one point to keep her focus on Kass, telling the other woman she’s a “vicious, cruel human being.” Meanwhile Kass alternated between politely hearing her out and lying down in the shelter to get some rest because waiting for Trish to finish is an endurance challenge in itself. (The editors totally dropped the ball on footage of the sun and clouds passing across the sky and an ‘elapsed time: ten minutes’ caption.)

Then there’s Tony who spilled everything Woo said to Kass only to be horrified when she spilled everything he said to Woo. I can’t recall now if he’s ever accused Kass of playing emotionally, so I’ll give him a pass for the sequence where he slammed her for not being emotional enough—though he gets bonus points for calling a woman a year his senior ‘young lady’. That’s both delusional and condescending.

Meanwhile, Spencer continues to be perplexed that nobody is taking their golden opportunity to go to the end with him instead of Tony. And Woo… Actually, I have no examples for Woo. I just want to liberate him from this game and put him in a more Kum Ba Yah final four, like Cook Islands… or any previous season.

The Right to Choose

Perhaps it was the desire for a peaceful end to the game that decided Woo at the start of the episode, a hope that with Spencer and especially Kass gone, the original Brawn tribe would be able to have a chilled out final day and a respectful Final Tribal Council. Whatever his motive, he assured Tony that he was back on his side.

Unfortunately for Woo, Tony had reached the conclusion that he was going to need to vote one or both of the original Brawn out, simply because they were so loyal to him that they would vote for him anyway. (This rationale is supported by Trish’s Ponderosa video where she laughed that Tony was a “dirty, rotten bastard” for voting her off, seemingly considering it a huge joke more than anything. Major props to Trish for this attitude.)

Even if Woo had hoped for an all-Brawn final three, he was satisfied by a finals deal with Tony and Kass. So then Tony went to Kass, let her know that Woo had betrayed her, and promised her the final three with him and Trish. In theory, this should have worked out perfectly. She wouldn’t want to ally with the treacherous Woo again, and as she had the assurance of final three—though Tony probably didn’t know it, he was even her first choice of opponent—she had every motivation to stick with the plan.

There was one small problem with that, and that’s the case to present to the jury. Accepting a final three deal is great if you’re satisfied with being the Natalie Tenerelli of the season. However, if you want to actually have an argument for winning then you need to prove that you got yourself there.

Kass had a secret scene this week where she explained how she has played as an individual, that nobody carried her. While I question the advisability of this as a strategy, coat-tailing is an accusation commonly levelled at women in Survivor regardless of whether it’s accurate or not. As we’ve seen, Trish was controlling her own game and frequently Tony’s as well, yet Kass and other players have perceived her as blindly following Tony. Had she made the end, she would never have got credit from the jury. As counter-intuitive as it seems, by getting Tony to publicly negate his promise to her, Kass can now sit next to him at the end and argue that this was her doing not his.

What Kass hasn’t seemed to want for a while is to have Trish next to her in the finals. Perhaps, thanks to the jury’s good relationships with Trish, she’s not confident they will see her as riding coat-tails. Kass’ stated aim this episode was to portray Tony as a bully. If she succeeded, then she would not want popular Trish being the palatable alternative for the vote.

Alternatively, in the event of a final two, Kass shouldn’t want Trish talking Tony into voting Kass off at third. Finally, why should she rely on Tony of all people to keep his word?

Woo is a long shot but still could win the game.

A private conversation.

Interestingly, Kass was not unduly bothered by Woo’s betrayal and had no qualms about immediately bringing him back on side. For all Kass’ reputation of casting herself as the victim, she did not waste time on hurt feelings there. Unlike Tony and Woo, she chose to break her confidence in the middle of camp where Tony could hear what was going on. (Garrett would surely be proud.) We saw the benefits of the tactic on this occasion with Tony’s prompt blow-up, but if this is her standard methodology, I can see why people felt she was too much trouble to keep around.

It almost backfired, for when Spencer won immunity, a still angry Tony decided that it was Kass who needed to go, endgame plans be damned. Kass realized she was in trouble but there wasn’t much she could do directly at that point. Fortunately, not only did Woo come back around to her and Spencer, but Tony calmed down and remembered his original plan. (Did he get tipped off by Woo or Spencer? Or did he just predict that they would be voting Trish off instead of him once he was wearing the idol?)

Bear in mind that Tony originally wanted Woo gone, not Trish. Trish would never have agreed to work with Kass or even Spencer against Tony. There’s merit in keeping Woo, because in theory he stands a better chance of beating Spencer in an immunity challenge than Trish does, but without Trish, Tony doesn’t have control of the next vote. Instead, he’s at the mercy of the other three.

I still can’t decide whether his use of the idol is a good idea or not. So many of us expected him to give one to Trish to keep power of the tribe. Instead, he came up with the scheme of saying his special idol was valid through final four, again making full use of the secrecy surrounding its powers. It’s a great tactic, though one that could possibly be blown if somebody asks for clarification, but most importantly, in view of a potential final two situation, it’s only going to extend his game-life three more days, as opposed to securing his control for the end-game.

On the other hand, ceding power (and thus, a target) is sometimes a good thing, especially if there is little immediate risk in doing so. Trying to control everything usually blows up in a player’s face. Moreover, his reasons for voting Trish and Woo off were valid, so why not take this opportunity to let Trish be taken out by Woo, Kass, and Spencer rather than by him?

On balance, I think it was probably the right move, but by successfully breaking up Tony and Trish, the future can only look brighter for Kass, Spencer, and Woo.

Woo Takes a Journey

In the short term, Woo was the big winner of the episode, since he went from being the target to the swing vote, choosing between two final three deals. It was a rough ride for him though: the episode started out with Spencer taking a leaf out of Kass’ book and publicly discussing what had been said to him in private.

Thanks to the rain, Kass and Woo couldn’t pull Spencer off for a discreet reassurance, and this awkward moment was probably a big factor in Woo’s conversation with Tony the following morning. However, it would also have been a factor in Tony’s subsequent conversation with Kass. Tony has always been about burning people after they have demonstrably betrayed him. This restriction hasn’t always let him make the most ideal move (e.g. blindsiding Jefra instead of Kass at final six,) but it’s a pattern that the other players should have noticed. I don’t know if it was deliberate on Spencer’s part, to get Tony fixated on turning on Woo or Kass, but he’s got all the information he needs to come up with that strategy.

Spencer was at least aware that he needed to come up with new tactics, though it’s still not clear if he understands that he represents a bigger threat to the other players than Tony, though for totally different reasons—not least of which is the fact that he is such a big threat to win immunity.

I should note that I think it’s entirely likely that Spencer will win the remaining immunity challenges. He might get unlucky, come up against his Achilles’ heel—it’s never a strategy that you should rely on if you can help it. Yet it can’t be denied that Spencer has consistently performed well under the challenge pressure, while the other players, even Woo who should be made for Survivor challenges cannot get anywhere near him. Oddly, Spencer’s chess playing experience probably translates better to the challenges than to any other part of the game. Good for him… because honestly, there’s no way on paper he should be doing that well. Mind over matter indeed!

Of course, Spencer isn’t a Fabio or an Ozzy to pin his hopes on winning challenges, so he’s still trying to get something to work, and despite his outburst in the shelter, he isn’t burning his bridges (at least not intentionally) with Kass and Woo. He’s been taking the angle of Trish and Tony being too dangerous a pair and ‘after days of begging’ Woo’s finally ready to listen.

It's immunity or bust for Spencer.

Plan B: Beat them over the head with these sticks.

The problem with Spencer is that ‘days of begging’ seems to be all he can do. He’s got a nice touch with his patter, with dropping in the right line at the opportune moment, but Spencer fully believes that every other player (with the debatable exception of Tony) is an idiot, and that’s frequently clear. There’s a hilarious moment in an episode, where he’s pointing out to Kass that Woo, Trish, and Tony could all be down the beach planning to vote her out, and he starts delivering lines straight out of a medical soap opera: (heavy sigh) “There’s nothing we can do.”

Kass has a confessional this week where she suggests that Spencer isn’t good at reading people. Spencer appeared to disagree with her assessment on Twitter, but we haven’t had much evidence to the contrary. Spencer knows the rudiments of manipulation, but he has been repeatedly incapable of understanding why the move that’s optimum for him might not seem so to a different player.

Kass is probably right that this is a life experience thing (I disagree that it has anything to do with him being male): at twenty-one and still in college, this is likely Spencer’s first time living and working on an equal footing with this age range. While we have had twenty-one year old winners before, there’s a reason that age doesn’t normally dominate the social game. (It can happen: Sophie is the biggest exception to me when it comes to a pre-graduate understanding a wide range of perspectives. Her South Pacific analyses in confessional were fantastic.)

Woo certainly wasn’t ready to listen because Spencer had worn him down. It was Kass’ little gambit that finally got Woo to give up his ideas of loyalty and just play the game for himself. (He even goes so far as to guiltily eat a papaya without telling the tribe.)

So Woo talked it through with Tony, and Tony went into earnest apology mode, giving Woo the same promise he just took back from Kass, now with bonus swearing on his dead father: it would be an all brawn final three. Then Woo talked to Spencer and Kass and agreed a separate final three deal with them. It’s a great development in his game, but he’s still making one rookie error: that of choosing the options presented to him.

I thought that the final three with Spencer had to be a lie on Woo’s part. Surely, once Trish was out of the way, Woo would be going for a final three of himself, Tony, and Kass rather than underdog Spencer. Perhaps this was just a little insurance policy in case Spencer did win the final immunity—as Stephen said on Know-It-Alls, if Spencer is going to win the rest of the immunities, it’s better to lose to him in the finals than to be his replacement boot.

Yet, in his own words, Woo is “happy with what I have with Spencer and Kass.” Perhaps he’s just talking about the upcoming Tribal Council?

Or maybe a final two has entered his thinking. I don’t know if Kass was the first one to mention it, but once it was out at Tribal Council, everybody was going to be thinking about it. Woo can have all the final three deals he likes, but if it’s a final two, that promise is greatly devalued. Trish and Tony might seem inseparable, but it’s well-known Spencer and Kass can’t stand each other.

However Woo was talking in the context of getting himself into top three, so it seems that he’s serious about facing Spencer in the finals. He also talked about becoming the Sole Survivor, so it seems that he thinks he can beat Spencer in the finals. Does Woo not care for Spencer any more than Kass does? (How could we know? The only person he’s managed to say anything negative about was Morgan.) Does he simply think that Spencer’s enforced lack of moves will not stack up well against Woo’s track record of knowing what’s going on in the post-merge game?

Either way, this should be fantastic news for Spencer, but I don’t think he should bank on Kass letting Tony be voted off without a fight—nor even on Woo being prepared to call Tony’s special idol bluff. In other words, Spencer should still be winning immunities if he wants to get to the end.

For that matter, with a final two confirmed, Woo needs to pull out an immunity win or two if he really does want to make his case for the jury. With Kass and Tony hell bent on taking each other to the end, and Spencer on a hot challenge streak, our resident ninja is poised for a fourth place finish.

A Monstrous Regimen

One of the most surprising controversies of the episode for me was Kass flipping Trish the bird during the torch snuffing. Surprising because I could have sworn that that must have happened several times before, though nobody can appear to cite an instance now. However, as Survivor Historian Jay Fischer informed me on the night that he is fascinated to hear my take on it. (Speaking of passive-aggressive bullies, that Jay Fischer, everybody… I watched Amazon for you, Jay. Isn’t that enough? I’ll finish Pearl Islands this summer, I swear. But you can’t make me give up The Amazing Race!)

I admit it. When Kass’ middle finger was blurred out, I laughed. It’s like when Sandra burned Russell’s hat in Heroes vs. Villains and then had a tiara ready and waiting for when she was announced the winner at the reunion. She was a horrible, petty person for doing it, and I was a horrible, petty person for laughing at it, but I laughed nonetheless.

Was it classless and terrible jury management? Hell, yes, but once you call somebody “a fricking wild skeleton blue-eyed banshee” (and a psycho-bitch), the class ship has sailed. The middle finger was tautology at worst. For that matter, let’s not forget Trish was blindsided. She fully believed Kass was going onto the jury, and that fact didn’t deter her from her “vicious, cruel human being,” tirade.

The whole sequence was bizarre, seemed to come out of nowhere (because why on earth would anybody be interested in the developing/deteriorating relationship of two women over forty instead of their respective relationships with Tony and Spencer?), and was for the most part hysterically funny.

However, let’s have a more serious look at why this outburst happened. Trish knew it was her last chance to actually say what she felt to Kass’ face, so she took it. Most likely she wasn’t expecting to get Kass’ vote anyway, so we can hem and haw over how you should never give up on any vote, but harrowing Kass, even if Kass had gone home that night, probably wouldn’t have damaged Trish’s game.

It is reminiscent of her face-off with Lindsey, in that she waited for that one until she knew she had the upper hand and that Lindsey was next on the chopping block. Trish wasn’t nearly so harsh with Lindsey as she was with Kass, but then, she thought she was getting three more days with the woman—besides, Lindsey was firing back at her. As far as we saw, Kass quickly stopped responding, though Trish did her best to provoke her.

Trish can be very restrained when she needs to be in the game, but she’s clearly willing to push the envelope to get some personal satisfaction. I don’t think she had any ulterior motive beyond a need to vent, but Kass, who was well able to take it in silence at camp, made a deliberate decision to get into it at Tribal Council in full view of the jury.

Amusingly, both women were hoping to see the other lose their temper at Tribal Council. Trish declared that she wanted the jury to see Kass’ ‘true colors’, adding that it wouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. For her part, Kass was hoping that Trish would resume the psychotic look she had had earlier.

In that confessional, Kass made it clear that she doubted Woo and Spencer and feared she would be going home that night. (When Jeff read the votes in the episode, Kass couldn’t watch.) It’s likely her jabs at Tribal Council were attempting to provoke Trish, perhaps to remind Woo and Spencer that this woman wasn’t ‘worth’ saving. Trish kept a rein on her temper, although her observation that she hadn’t fought with any of the jury hurt the case she didn’t know she was making.

(If Kass’ insults were provocation, the “F*** yeah!” when the votes were read was pure relief, Spencer-style. The finger? That’s still disgraceful. And still funny.)

Kass is inspiring chaos but isn't ready for the consequences.

What’s not to love about this face?

In Kass’ final secret scene this week, she talks about how she’s played the game independently and her frustration with how it’s being received. She claims that it’s a double standard, and that if she were a man, everybody would consider her a threat to win.

I doubt this is purely a matter of gender. Ponderosa has proven that this is a particularly grumpy cast. (Given the reception most players have had on arrival, it’s not clear what more they could do to show Kass their disgust.) Even so, although we can’t see the full measure of daily interactions, it’s clear Kass has not got the best social game. Take her defensive auto-retort of: “I knew that!” Her public disclosure tactics. That impassive, smiling poker face that prevents anybody from feeling like they’ve made a genuine connection with her…

That said, the sheer amount of hatred she’s received is excessive, if you compare Kass’ crimes of petty malice, questionable moves, and cognitive dissonance to people who have said and done genuinely, intentionally, nasty, bigoted things in game. Her overly-negative reception isn’t just in game either, from the people who had to live with her and be betrayed by her, it’s from the fans watching her game too.

One of the lesser problems that faces any woman (but particularly the less attractive, non-bikini-clad older woman) in Survivor is the lack of screentime in favor of the ‘bigger’ and invariably male characters. Even if a woman wins, she’s unlikely to be the main character of her season. Of the past ten seasons, for nine of them, the chief storyline has been how a man won or lost the game—only One World let its female winner be the protagonist. Whatever casting’s actual intentions are, it certainly seems that they focus more on physical appearance for women and more on personality for men.

I don’t know if Kass has observed this trend, but I’m beginning to think that part of her behavior is a refusal to be portrayed as a supporting character to another player’s story. It’s not a consideration I’d recommend for any player, but my demographic has already had Denise represent us with a deft and dignified victory, for which she was largely ignored by the cameras. (See also Trish and Tasha, who both played a solid, subtle social game, but got more screentime for winning challenges and getting into arguments.)

I gain nothing from Kass winning a million dollars, but I derive a huge amount of satisfaction from seeing a plastic-surgery free, less than fit, mother of a preschooler play Survivor in such an aggressive fashion that the editors have no choice but to feature her—and as she’s genuinely smart and funny in confessional, she deserves every bit of her screentime. It’s still clear the show has absolutely no idea what to do with Kass-the-character and is far more comfortable making this season about Spencer and Tony, but for my money, Kass is the best casting in a long while just because she is so original. (Between her and Tony, Cagayan struck gold.)

Perhaps this is the double standard that Kass is experiencing, that people aren’t used to this kind of character on their screens—certainly not in drab middle-aged woman form. Were she younger, prettier, and/or male, would the audience be more accepting? Or is her entire perspective too alien for a culture where character-diversity is restricted to the younger, prettier, and/or male?

All I know is that I am in a minority that adores Kass and will look forward to her almost inevitable return. She’s not exactly broken through her demographic’s glass ceiling, but she’s certainly put a crack in it.

In Quest of a Satisfying Conclusion

Despite Trish’s accusations, Kass had the most self-aware secret scene of the episode when she noted that if she made it past this Tribal Council, she was probably getting to the end as the goat and that she would have an uphill battle with the jury. (It’s been speculated that Tony’s idols are giving him the courage to make big moves—does the same apply to Kass’ goat status? Both know they probably won’t be voted off no matter what they do.)

In light of this attitude, we can assume that Kass’ performance at the most recent Tribal Council sets the tone for her Final Tribal Council intentions. Once she realized that Trish wasn’t going to take the bait, she focused on giving a calm and factual account of how she had turned Tony and Woo against each other. She explained the background, the intent behind her actions and it should have been a clear presentation.

Yet she was trumped by Tony, who heckled her at every step of the way, gave his own (inaccurate) version of events and ridiculed her. Kass appealed to the jury’s logic, and Tony appealed to their emotions—with the assist of his natural flair for the dramatic. This is Survivor. Emotion is always a stronger weapon than logic. We keep comparing Kass to Sandra, but we should be giving Tony some credit for Sandra tactics too.

This combined with his vote for Trish had the jury convinced that Tony had masterminded the whole thing. Survivor is so much about perception, that the truth doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you can make the jury want to believe.

Tony is running the show but needs more to win the million.

Waiting in the wings.

I’m not handing out an Academy Award, because it’s not exactly acting… Tony genuinely couldn’t believe Kass had actually planned events that way, and perceived his own account as truthful. But for showmanship, he scores full points and that is what makes Kass the ideal opponent for him at the finals, because he can deliver the smackdown the jury wants to see. I fully believe he could also beat Woo or Trish, but I don’t know if he could perform as well against them. For all Tony’s dismissal of their games, he seems to be genuinely fond of his original allies, and I think that would inhibit his theatrics.

Likewise, if Tony’s up against Spencer, his only shot is a strong performance. Finding a way to ridicule Kass would possibly win him some votes that should be slated for Spencer—but at the cost of Kass’ own vote. He can’t get Kass and Sarah, so he would need to pick one of them to pander to and placate Jefra in order to squeak out a win. I’m not confident.

Still, if Spencer’s not in the finals, Tony should have an easy ride. I never thought Tony could win, simply because I’ve never had confidence in him to understand the jury’s point of view, but that’s irrelevant now. Kass has been the focus of the jury’s ire—in part, thanks to Tony’s efforts to keep her there—and so they’ve been more forgiving of Tony’s betrayals. Even if he doesn’t have Kass sitting next to him, they’ve already been distracted from the sting of their backstabs.

I’m still curious to see how well he can handle any really loaded questions, but the real difference between Tony and Kass (or Tony and Russell) is that Tony’s always been willing to submit if it advances his game. For a million dollars, he won’t balk at humility. That’s a rare strength in the social game of his archetype, and I commend him for it.

Spencer, like Tony, will also be getting an easier ride in the jury than he might have expected—in his case, it’s because he hasn’t been included in much of the gameplay. In fact, Spencer’s had virtually no direct impact on the game, because he can’t get out of the minority. That should probably be the basis of his argument… that he came in with his strength being the strategic game, the chess master who could assess players on the board and plan his moves. That strength was taken away from him, and he had to play the areas where he was weaker: the social game, the physical game… and in those he succeeded.

I’ve never written off Spencer’s chances to win, because he’s always been very strong in his Tribal Council performances. He knows the right thing to say. The handicap Spencer has is, again like Tony, an inability to see things from the other players’ perspectives. He knows his game theory, so he knows what normally goes over well with the jury, but I would not expect him to be able to cater to each juror on an individual basis.

So although Spencer has succeeded in the social game, it’s still his weakest point. He’s certainly made the effort—in Trish’s secret scene he’s engaging her in small-talk. But how many people has he made an actual connection with? None of the jurors react to him wearing the immunity necklace and as I’ve said, he considers everybody but Tony an idiot—it’s hard to fake a friendship in Survivor. Probably the best Spencer can hope for is to be viewed as that ‘nice, young lad.’

Handily, this is the ideal situation for a nice, young lad to win. I doubt Spencer has the wherewithal to get himself to the end without winning immunities (I will be very excited if he does), but once he does get there, the jury will be waiting to unload on his opponent. All Spencer should have to do is remain polite.

Still, I hope he doesn’t rest on the laurels of his immunity necklaces. The difference between a Sandra and a Fabio is Tribal Council performance. (Pro tip, Sandra’s was better.) If Spencer’s going to win this season, I want him to give me something worth writing about next week. He’s capable of some good tribal rhetoric, but we’ve seen a lot less of it lately. Hopefully, he’s still ready to pull out all the stops come the end.

Finally there’s Woo, who’s probably the least likely to get to the end at this point (by virtue of being less likely to win challenges than Spencer). Let’s speculate, nonetheless. As with Kass, we may have got an example of Woo’s ultimate tribal performance this episode. He made that great comparison of himself to a foreign exchange student in a mad family (taking the Best Analogy Crown from Morgan as the old dog who you can’t bring yourself to put down), but we also had the moment when he nervously stated it was three Brawns vs the two Brains and then immediately and obviously ducked his head, hiding his face behind that mane of hair.

I have to assume he was saying that to keep up the cover for blindsiding Trish, but hiding his face was a ludicrously obvious tell. Woo is not comfortable saying things that aren’t true. He’s also not comfortable saying bad things about other people, and in this cast, for whom shade-throwing is a sport, that’s been terribly inhibiting.

Last episode, Kass said that Woo never talked much. At Ponderosa this week, Jefra told Trish that Tony had flipped on her because she’d played a social game and Woo hadn’t. In confessionals, Woo is an absolute joy to watch, and there’s plenty to love about his character, but the cast hasn’t seen the Woo we have, and that’s brutally damaging.

It’s not that Woo has no case to argue. He’s almost never taken the initiative, but he’s the only member of the final four who has been in on all the plans and schemes throughout the post-merge game. (The exception being Jefra’s brief flip against Tony that ultimately fell through.) Woo always knows what’s going down at Tribal Council, and most of the time, he’s in a position to argue for or against the plan with the power-players.

But what the jury sees is a guy who never talks and spends most of his time looking uncomfortable with the situation. The fact that the martial-arts/surfing instructor has made so little showing in the immunity challenges will have hurt him too—Woo, not Spencer or Tasha, should have been this season’s challenge beast.

It’s odd, because normally a bitter jury normally favors the happy-go-lucky player over the perceived mastermind. Just as Cagayan’s random series of events have conspired to create a situation that Spencer and Tony can win, it’s managed to come up with a scenario where Woo can’t.

Except, of course, against Kass. The second half of this season has been consistently alternated between the predictable and unpredictable voting outcomes. This episode continued that trend with the unforeseen Trish boot, so we’re due for a suspense-free finale result. I suspect this will take the form of Kass ending up in the final two with her opponent getting an easy win. She should be able to scrape a vote or two… Jefra has less issue with Kass than she does with Tony or even Spencer, and Woo and LJ could potentially reward her gameplay if she’s up against somebody other than Tony. But not even against Woo do I believe Kass can win.

While I expect Kass intends to do that calm presentation of her game, the jury won’t be prepared to listen to it. After this episode, I won’t be at all surprised if Kass’ reaction then goes along the lines of: “Screw it. You can’t stop me getting the hundred thousand or change the fact that I played the game I wanted to play and will probably return before all of you except Tony.” (Probably not in those words… Knowing Kass, there will be more vampires and mermaids involved.) I’d rather hear her logical account, but either way, it’s going to be entertaining.

In order of finish?

In order of finish?

Certainly, if we’re talking about a satisfactory end to the game, our final two has to be Kass and Tony. These are the two who have consistently changed the course of the game throughout the season, who have engaged in a tug of war over chaos, and who have played and been played by the other in turn. Tony will win in a landslide, but he’s not going to be given an easy ride. The jury will hold both of them accountable for their actions and that’s what I want to see.

Woo would be a poor substitute for either. Woo’s only going to come out firing on all cylinders when he talks about how much he loves the game, and I see this jury quickly deflating him. Maybe I’m wrong… we’ve never seen how Woo handles aggression when it’s directed at him.

Spencer in the finals would complete his underdog story, but I’ve never yet been satisfied with a winner that needed to win immunity to get to the end. (Though I would have made an exception for Cirie in Micronesia.) The problem with Spencer as a finalist is that he has nothing to explain, nor does the jury have strong feelings about him. His win will not be representative of his game, but rather of his opponent’s loss.

That said, a Spencer vs Tony final does at least have the merit of suspense. Spencer would probably win, but Tony would have a shot. Still, the only way those two end up at the end together is if Tony wins the final immunity, has a last minute fight with Kass and votes her off before he can regain his temper. Could happen, I’m just not expecting it to.

If Spencer does get to the end without winning the last two challenges, I will, of course, revisit this in my last blog of the season. I fully expect to have to revisit something… this is Cagayan after all. Even in the ‘predictable’ episodes, we expect the unexpected.

If forced to make predictions, I say that Spencer will pull it off. I’m rooting for Kass, obviously—but also for Woo, because who doesn’t want to hear what a million dollar victory “Wooo!” sounds like? But if we’re looking at who ‘deserves’ it? That’s got to be Tony. His social game, with its blend of the humble and the theatrical, has groomed this jury in a way that no other player could. Besides, if Tony wins, I absolutely crush the blogger fantasy league.

Regardless of the outcome, kudos to all the final four and much of the rest of the cast for making this game and season the crazy, back and forth, whiplash experience that it has been. Come Wednesday night next week, you will be much missed.

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