Survivor: Worlds Apart

Survivor: A Walk in the Park

Previously on Survivor :

  • After a surprise switch, Kelly was the only Blue Collar member on an undermanned Nagarote tribe.
  • Kelly’s confessional: “I am definitely scared to death.”
  • The rest of the Blue Collar tribe enjoyed a 4 to 3 advantage but not all of them were happy

Sierra’s confessional: “I feel like my old tribe are crappy people.  I have three new people, so it’s a whole different ballgame.”

  • Back in camp, Joaquin and Rodney grew close while Sierra tried to distance herself from her former tribe.
  • Sierra: “I want to go where I am wanted and I don’t think it’s with the Blue Collars.”
  • At the last immunity challenge, Nagarote just couldn’t keep up.
  • Facing Tribal Council, allies Max and Shirin were battling each other for the title of most annoying tribe mate.
  • Jenn’s confessional: “Who is most annoying? It’s exactly like a horse race. Is it Shirin? No, here comes Max with his foot wart.”
  • At Tribal Council, Max won… leaving Shirin all alone.

I cannot remember one of Jeff’s recaps making me smile more than this one.  If it isn’t the best ever, it can’t be far!  Not only did we hear Jenn’s funny confessional but the fact that Jeff said: “Max won” was absolutely perfect.  It tells us that production enjoyed Jenn’s confessional so much that they adopted her horse race narrative.

That being said, we still have to analyze what the recap tells us: First, it must be noted that only Rodney and Dan were shown when Sierra said that her old tribe had crappy people.  The camera didn’t show Mike so whether or not Sierra meant to include him, the editors didn’t. 

Keep Your Distance Keep Your Distance[/caption]

Also, I found it interesting to see Rodney and Mike coming back from the water reservoir and getting closer and closer to Sierra when Jeff was saying that she was trying to distance herself from them.  It made me think that Sierra is stuck with them, maybe all the way to the end.

It also seemed that the only important player in Nagarote was Kelly.  Nothing was said about Carolyn’s big move or Will’s precarious position.  Jenn is certainly presented as a character but they didn’t include her role either in Max’s “victory”.  Besides Shirin and Max being annoying, it seems we only had to remember that Kelly was scared about her position.  Her position in Nagarote would play a role in this episode.

A Walk in the Park

Nagarote Day 15

If we go by the absence of a night scene then we can assume that Shirin didn’t make a fuss when they returned.  That was the best thing she could do.

The episode started when Shirin woke up to give us an interview: “Tribal Council was shocking for me.  Max was a friend of mine and my closest ally in this game.  I was totally blindsided and it’s a little bit of a heartbreaker.  Is anybody left in this game willing to play with me?  I don’t think so and that’s a sad realization because is that something about me and my personality?  I mean, what do I have to change?  It’s really hard for me because I constantly find myself in this game in a position that is analogous to where I grew up.  I grew up in a rich Orange County suburb where the majority of my classmates were beautiful and skinny and I stood out for not being any of those things and I was constantly fighting for people to like me, and I was fighting for people to see the good qualities in me and I think there’s probably a lot of this scenario tapping into that.  I’m trying to do now what I was incapable of doing back then which is: Deal with it. Adapt. Fix it.”

During the voice-over portions of this confessional, we first saw Shirin coming over to Carolyn, asking her if she was ever going to work with her again.  Carolyn said that she didn’t know if she could trust Shirin because she had only been talking to Max, adding that she was his little puppet and they treated her like nothing.

Later we saw Shirin and Hali at the water reservoir.  Shirin said she thought it was going to be Will but Hali explained that Max did annoying things. She added: “If you want me to be straight, they’re saying you did some annoying things too.”

Time for Revenge

Time for Revenge

The scene with Hali and Shirin was preceded by the image of a bird eating a red-legged crab.  A close-up of the beautiful Hali was also shown and the music was very melancholic when Shirin mentioned her beautiful and skinny classmates, suggesting Hali is a lot like Shirin’s tormentors.  Hali had been the one telling Nina that she needed to adapt if she wanted to stay in the game and now Shirin was heard using those exact words in a very personal moment.  That forces us to reassess Shirin’s character:  From this moment on, Shirin isn’t the “Dumb Player” anymore; she is the person fighting for people to see the good qualities in her.  There is a redemption arc in this journey-type edit and it should lead Shirin far into the game.  Maybe the woman who can whistle like a bird will be the one eating the red-legged crab, meaning she could help vanquish the Red Tribe.

Escameca – Day 15

Dan was talking about the time when a wave took away his underwear.

Rodney in confessional: “I’ve been on this beach with the same people telling the same goddamn garbage over and over and over again.  It’s making me miserable.  I was hoping for the switch up so I could get some new energy, maybe get matched up with some people that are like me.  I was so happy that Joaq was one of those faces because let’s face it: Nobody is connecting with the East Coast kid.  You got one guy who is a Bible lover from Texas, a hick from Maine (last I checked, Maine was on the East Coast!), you got another who is from Utah.  I feel like I have been waiting for some kind of connection in this game.  I was looking for a bromance, maybe a homie to chill with.  Joaquin…he’s a potential dude I could work with.  We’re both about girls, we’re both about having fun, partying, not settling down.  I’m going to be Batman; he could be Robin.  I’m going to screw people over eventually but, in the meantime, ain’t nobody know what I’m doing.  So all the fools out there who think I’m dumb, that I’m the dude who talks like an idiot, wait until you see what I got planned for this game.”

Rodney told Joaquin that he didn’t trust Mike because he goes to church every Sunday and has been celibate for 8 years. He asked: “What in common do we have? You don’t drink; you don’t party.”  Rodney then told Joaquin: “We’re developing a relationship, brother; we’re like apples and oranges.”  The two dudes agreed that the money would be staying on the East Coast.

I guess Mike holds himself to a higher standard than you, Rod!  Also, I don’t think Rodney fully grasps what it means when people say it’s like apples and oranges! On another note, if the money is staying on the East Coast, that could mean that Dan is our winner!

The Reward Challenge

Once more, Nagarote was walking only 10 feet or so behind Escameca when they entered the challenge arena and we are supposed to believe that not a single one of them peeked to see who had been voted out!

When Jeff said that Max had been voted out, Joaquin had a great reaction.  He said “Yes!” approving the decision and letting everyone know that he wasn’t with the Survivor Scholar.

The camera showed Jenn who loves animals when Jeff explained the excursion to the “turtle sanctuary”.

It was nice that she won that reward.

Dan sat out for Escameca, the tribe that looked like the clear favorite to win this challenge.

At first, Nagarote was only trying to keep up because Escameca was “burning through this” while Will was bringing up the rear for his tribe.

Rodney was the first launcher but he was “just short” so Jenn put her tribe in the lead when she hit on what looked like her first attempt.  Kelly kept her tribe in the lead, but Hali had problems, opening the door for Sierra who quickly gave the lead back to Escameca.  Hali gave way to Carolyn.  Joe just missed so Shirin tied the score again.  With Joe and Will making their shots, the challenge was tied with only one target left.  It was between Tyler and Jenn.  Jenn made the shot, earning the reward for her tribe.

Once more, it looked like Jenn hit the target on her first shot but a careful look at the images showed that she missed at least twice.  We saw her loading the catapult and, while we never saw a ball miss, we did see the elastic swinging back a couple of times.  The editing made her look unbeatable.  The tribe’s joy was fun to watch.  It reminded me of the little Mara’amu when they finally won an immunity challenge.

The tribe rejoiced and chanted: “I believe that we can win” while Will showed he still had some moves!

Shirin had a confessional: “Winning the reward was huge for me because that gives me the chance to bond with these people better.  At this point I kind of have to, because my butt is on the line.”

I Believe that We Can Win

I Believe that We Can Win

I really enjoyed that little dance and maybe we should believe that one of them can win!

The Picnic

Hali had the first confessional: “Winning the reward was beautiful.  It was like David and Goliath:  All you needed was to put a slingshot in our hand and we took down that giant.  And then, if that weren’t enough:  Eggs, macaroni and cheese, tons of beef stew.  It felt like my first child was born, like that’s how excited I was about this reward.”

Hali is quite liberal with the use of the pronoun “we” because she was the only one that didn’t hit a target.

Carolyn also had a confessional: “Being the underdogs that we are, we were down and out and then we picked ourselves up and we won.  The team is definitely gelling, even Shirin.  We’re tolerating her at this point.”

Shirin imitated Rodney’s voice, imagining what he would have said about the food.  That led to a comment by Jenn: “What a tool.”

Poor Rodney: He can’t win with anyone!

Shirin in interview: “The reward was certainly very good for me.  I was super excited to bond over a meal, maybe all get sick together which didn’t happen.  It gave me a chance to bond with them on a human level.  That’s like my best shot of staying in the game right now… I think we all had a magical time together.”

By nightfall, a guide brought them to the turtle sanctuary.  The turtle expert told them that it lays about 120 eggs, but that only one will survive.

Jenn had a confessional: “The turtle guy told us how the sea turtle haul their giant selves up this beach, dig a hole, lay a hundred and some odd eggs and then only one of those eggs, maybe, will make it to the ocean.  It was really awesome.  I was fascinated and it made me realize that the turtle’s chances in life are way worse odds than me winning Survivor.  I have a one in fourteen chance at the million dollars as opposed to a one in a hundred chance at living so that’s cool.”

Sole Survivor

Sole Survivor

This is a marvelous winning quote!  By my count, her chances were one in thirteen at that point and they would soon go to one in twelve.  The sea turtle is seen during the Intro so maybe we should consider this as a big clue to Jenn’s victory… or it could all be great misdirection.   

Escameca – Day 16

Rodney, Dan and Mike went to get water while Joe went fishing.  That gave Joaquin a chance to talk with Sierra.  He thought her issue was with Dan, but she corrected him saying she had issues with all of them.

Joaquin in confessional: “I’m so excited.  I walked in here and the Blue Collars, you know, they were in shambles and Sierra was the odd woman out which is perfect.  It’s basically like:  Here you go, Joaquin, you have all the ammunition.  It was like an easy lay-up for me.”

How about that?!  The episode’s title quote was said about Sierra.  We certainly considered this possibility, but Shirin looked a lot more like “The Odd Woman Out.”  Too bad Joaquin missed the easy lay-up!

To Sierra, Joaquin said that he was close with Tyler who was the most trustworthy and genuine person in this camp.  He added that Joe was too strong, that they couldn’t bring him too far.  He figured that she and Rodney were tight.  When she said no, Joaquin expressed his surprise.  She told him that Rodney was like a loose cannon.  Joaquin pointed out that they needed four so she asked: “So, I gotta suck up to Rodney?”  He told her he’d take care of Rodney.

Right then Sierra’s comments about Rodney should have sounded all sorts of alarms in Joaquin’s head.  He should have realized that his plan to get Joe out first had to be scuttled.  His best chance would have been to temporarily distance himself from Rodney, give in to Sierra for one round by proposing to vote against Dan and then he would have had all the ammo he needed to go after Joe.  It’s incredible that so many players still don’t realize that the best way to get someone to flip is to vote the way THEY want instead of imposing your plan.  Once the game has flipped in your favor, then you can do it your way.  Sierra told Joaquin that it would be hard for her to suck up to Rodney, so why did he force him on her? 

Sierra in confessional: “I feel like the people in my old tribe suck.  I don’t trust them so my biggest connection at this point is with Joaquin.  He makes me feel comfortable.  He looks at me straight in the eyes.  He’s like one of my bros from home.  He’s also tight with Tyler and those two seem to be the most trustworthy people I have met to date.  However, Joaquin is tight with Rodney who is just awful and I just don’t know if I can play this game with him.”

Soon, Rodney walked back into camp and saw the two talking.  He asked if Sierra was still mad at him.

Rodney’s confessional: “Sierra is mad at me because I said some bad things about her, but guess what?  This is a game and the tables turn and time heals all.  In order to win this game, I got to put myself in the best position and look at the numbers.  If it’s me, Sierra, Joaquin and Tyler all on the same page and when the time comes, I can flip and take over this entire game.  At this point, I’m in a great position.  I got so many numbers; it’s not even funny.  I feel so confident that I can see my hand being raised like Rocky Balboa winning this damn thing at the end.”

While this also could pass as a winning quote, it’s easy to realize the irony that it contains.  Rodney is always wrong so how can this be any different?  We even saw that Sierra didn’t say one word that could be interpreted as meaning she was on board.  Rodney saw what Rodney wanted to see. 

On a different storyline, Mike was shown entering camp when Rodney talked about taking over the entire game.  That is a way of putting doubt in Mike’s chances.

We were back in Escameca after the break.

Rodney was walking on the beach with Mike, telling him that he had gotten very close with Joaquin.  He had him on a string “like a yo-yo.”  Rodney added: “We got to make certain the challenge gets thrown so Joe’s going first.”

Rodney’s confessional: “This was my idea and I presented it to Mike:  If we throw the next immunity and we get Joe out of this game before we go to the merge,  who do we got to deal with?”

Mike gave us his thoughts:  “It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if we lost. Rodney’s great, vast plan of: “I’m such an amazing strategist and I’m so good at this game”, he thinks we should throw a challenge so that we could get rid of Joe.  Very rarely in the game of Survivor does it work out in your favor to throw a challenge, but in this particular instance, I think we have a very special situation.  My real alliance is with Kelly who, the poor girl, is on the other side all by herself, but I think Kelly is a fighter enough to find a way to make it to the merge, especially if we can throw a couple of challenges and keep her safe.”

The Immunity Challenge

I don’t think production showed us everything that went down on the island:  The memory game was a 3 out of 5 contest even if Nagarote had 6 members.  Jeff asked Escameca to name one person to sit out, but if the game could go at most for 5 rounds, he should have asked for two players to sit on Escameca and one in Nagarote.  I’m pretty sure the challenge had more than 5 rounds.

Joaquin sat on the bench.

Carolyn (where did she get those glasses?) faced off against Rodney and she easily won.

Did anyone have the feeling that Rodney couldn’t win even if he had been trying?  Maybe the idea of throwing a challenge came after reading tree mail, when he realized he’d look like a fool in a mental contest!

Hali won a second point for Nagarote, edging out Sierra.

Joe beat Will, keeping his tribe in it.

The 4th matchup was Shirin taking on Dan.  The big guy didn’t get the memo about throwing the challenge because he beat Shirin who once more is performing below par in mental challenges.  Not only was she slower than Dan, but she had the wrong order.

The “final” match-up had Mike going against Kelly (meaning Jenn and Tyler didn’t participate according to what we were shown).  Right away, the subtitles told us that Mike was encouraging Kelly. We read: “Come on, Kel.”  After Kelly pulled the curtain, Mike stayed behind, still staring at the curtain. That surprised Jeff.  Both Kelly and Mike were wrong.

When they returned for their second shot, we heard Mike saying:  “Listen to me. I’m giving it to you.”  We heard him naming the items for her.  Joe was getting impatient, gesturing that Mike should be pulling the curtain down.  Finally they raced back but both were wrong again.

In a rare show of mercy, Jeff made it easier by removing an item.  Mike made it even easier for Kelly, telling her she could copy his display but switch the two bottles.  It certainly looked like Tyler realized what Mike was doing.

I Smell a Rat

I Smell a Rat

Maybe Tyler knew already though. Rodney probably told Joaquin who would have told Tyler.  It was weird that the editors prolonged the last round when it was obvious that Nagarote was going to win.  Kelly looked bad, being unable to remember the items.  Could her head injury be causing some problems?  Showing that she needed three rounds is a big indication that she will not win.

Kelly in confessional:  “When I knew Mike was throwing the challenge and helping me out, that was the first time in my life I think that I totally trusted somebody, wholeheartedly like they got my back.  I can’t wait to get back with my Blue Collar tribe where I belong.”

Escameca – Day 16

We heard Mike telling his tribe that he choked and was sorry.  Joaquin said that he could have done the same so that Mike shouldn’t feel bad.

Mike in confessional: “By throwing the challenge today, a little something inside of me died in this game. I’m not going to lie to you.  But here’s the deal: I am starting to not trust Rodney.  Joaquin is just grabbing Rodney in, every second, more and more.  In this game, when you start showing that you are too close to anybody, you become a power couple and the power couple have to be split up before they can start making power moves.”

Talking to Mike, Rodney said that everybody was on board with booting Joe.  The two guys shook hands.

Rodney in confessional: “Today in the challenge, we came to do one thing and one thing only and that was to blow it and mission accomplished.  Mike looked like an absolute idiot which was hilarious but it worked out perfectly and we are going to get Joe out of here.  He’s a threat, so he’s going home now.”

After talking to Rodney, Joaquin had a confessional telling us that he was very excited because it should be a walk in the park from now on.

Meanwhile, Mike and Dan were having a talk with Joe, asking him about his thoughts.  Joe said he was willing to do anything and everything.  He also said that he tried to talk to Joaquin but he couldn’t because he was always with Rodney, his puppy dog.  Mike said: “I think those two White Collar boys are playing us for a fiddle.  They reeled Rodney right in and I’m afraid that they are going to be reeling Sierra in and us three are going to be on the outs.  Rodney came to me and said: We got to get Joe out first.”

Joe in confessional: “I was hoping to reach out to Tyler and Joaquin, but they don’t talk to me at all.  I thought the three of us could work together, but it seems like they are gunning for me so I’m kind of screwed.  At this point, my options are limited so you have to make the best of the worst scenario and hope it works out.”

Mike told Dan and Joe that they could send Joaquin home if they had Sierra.

Dan in confessional: “At this time, Joe is with us. Unfortunately, Sierra and I have definitely hit a rough patch.  I blew it, hands down, no excuses, no getting around it.  I screwed up and now we need to bring her back into the fold.”

Dan and Mike talked to Sierra, saying they had to separate Rodney and Joaquin.

Sierra in confessional: “At this point, I have two separate alliances saying: Come with us, we will take care of you.  It’s nice; it’s refreshing to have people want me.  However, to have my old tribe hurt me so bad and now say they need me, it makes me sick to my stomach.   I hate Dan, and at this point, I am just very angry.  The Blue Collars, they don’t care about me; they are not going to keep me around.  They are just using me for the moment.”  After seeing her on the beach with Joe, Sierra gave us another confessional: “At this point, I am playing both sides.  I don’t know not only who to trust but who is going to be better in the long run.  I may choose one path and it might take me to the final three; you never know. I still, at this point, do not know which route I am going to take, but either way, it could change the whole game.”

Sierra certainly did change the whole game, so maybe she is on the way to the final three.  It looks like, much like Natalie in Redemption Island, she will have to spend 39 days with someone she hates.

Tribal Council

Asked about the Blue Collars after the swap, Joe said that they looked like a big happy family, but he, Tyler, and Joaquin tried to find cracks.

Mike shook his head in disagreement when Joe said the Blue Collars were one happy family.

Dan agreed that there had been some opportunities to exploit because there was dysfunction in their tribe.  Dan said he was concerned.

Asked what he had to do, Tyler said he didn’t have to do anything because he found that there was bad blood and animosity revolving around Sierra.

Sierra told Jeff that she felt mistreated after the last council. She said that they picked on her for being bad in challenges and not helping around camp.

Mike interrupted, saying that it wasn’t everyone that picked on her.

Sierra agreed, saying that Mike told the other guys to stop but that she still felt more appreciated by the newcomers.

Mike made Tyler laugh when he said that it didn’t feel like they were a foursome of “impenetrableness”.  Mike said he was afraid.

Rodney said that he had been looking for the best opportunity for himself ever since they threw their old buffs to the ground.

Joaquin said it couldn’t have been easier for him since people were quick to tell him their reasons to hate each other.

Joe admitted that the four Blue Collars could be lying but he was more concerned about being on the bottom, having no one with him.

Sierra told Jeff that she couldn’t trust people who attacked her personally.

Jeff tried to convince her that they had four right there so they could stick together for a few more votes even if she didn’t like them.

Sierra said that she wasn’t stupid and was looking at the whole picture.

Jeff told Mike that it was like dating when someone does something bad and you have to woo her back even if some other guy was trying to woo her.

That tied in nicely with the words exchanged between Sierra and Mike by the fire in the previous episode when she said she thought they had something.

Mike and Sierra were smiling when he hugged her.  Mike said he hoped he could believe in the trusts that were made early on and the trusts that were made with new friends.

The camera indicated that Mike was pointing at Joe when he mentioned “new friends.”

Jeff sent them to vote and the cameraman looked over Sierra’s shoulder when she wrote: JO

I really enjoyed that little tease.

In the end, Joaquin was sent packing in a 4-3 vote.  Joe showed his relief while Rodney looked around, as if trying to find the intruders who had come in to vote.  Tyler looked resigned while Mike and Sierra were smiling.

While it looked like the vote was still not registering in Rodney’s head, Jeff said:  “Tonight’s conversation centered around cracks.  Your success in this game depends on your ability to repair or exploit those cracks day by day.”

The Story

With a reference to David and Goliath and a chant of “I believe we can win”, we have a fun underdog story developing for the members of the new Nagarote tribe.  That tribe has some very likable players but it feels more like they are being used to distract us from the real story that is happening in Escameca.  Like Casaya, their dysfunction hasn’t prevented them from reaching the merge with more members than the opposing tribes.  Of course, with three tribes, that doesn’t give them an absolute majority.

There are many variables in this merge and it should make for very fluid game play.  By saving Joe, Mike may have built the foundation for a Blue-Red coalition that would regroup the season’s positive characters and they wouldn’t even need Rodney.  On the other hand, there was already a Red-White Coalition in Nagarote that could use Joe and Sierra or Tyler to have the majority.

The Characters

Left Hanging High and Dry – They thought they had it made:

Rodney:  He was sure that we would come to see him as a smart player, but he proved that we were right in seeing him as an idiot.  Rarely has a player in such a powerful position fallen so quickly.  Players have often thought they were in a powerful position but they were simply unaware of the schemes surrounding them.  Rodger in the Amazon was a great example of that type of hubris.  Rodney is different:  He really was in a great position, having aligned himself with the Blue Collars and the White Collars in his tribe.  It was his impatience that killed him.  He was tired of hearing the same stories over and over again so he wanted to get creative.  He thought that Joe would be too dangerous after the merger so Rodney had to act immediately.  He came up with the “brilliant” idea of throwing a challenge.  His confessional absolved Mike of any wrong-doings even for those viewers who are very strict in their definition of fair play.  Rodney wanted to throw the challenge, not Mike who simply saw an opportunity.   Jenn is right about Rodney: “What a tool”.

Tyler :  His whole story was summed up in his answer to Jeff during Tribal Council: He didn’t do anything to save himself, thinking he had it made because there was animosity in the Blue Collar group.  It was funny that he could let his game rest on Joaquin’s plan.  If there was animosity inside the Blue camp why did he think it was a good idea to use two of them against someone that wasn’t in that group?   He should have used Sierra to vote against Dan or tried to get Rodney to vote against Sierra when they realized she hated him.  Joe was ready for anything and everything, but Tyler didn’t even talk to him.  We expected such a terrible mistake from Joaquin but figured Tyler would be smart enough to right the ship.  Instead, he let it slam into the reef.  The merger will give him a chance to save himself, but he’ll probably miss the opportunity again.

Coming in from the Cold – They thought they had lost it:

Shirin:  This was a huge turnaround episode for Shirin.  It marked the end of her “Dumb Player” role and it gave her a substantial personal development, one that may encourage many viewers (and some tribemates) to say that she isn’t so bad after all.   She has embarked on a journey to prove that she can deal with it, adapt and show her good qualities.  That kind of redemption arc should carry her far into the game.  It was especially interesting to hear that confessional in voice-over while she was talking to Hali, one member of Nagarote who tried to get Nina to adapt.  Nina couldn’t, but we’ve seen that Shirin is trying.  This doesn’t mean that Shirin is a contender for Sole Survivor because there was a lot of damage done to her character and I don’t think we would have heard the “I grew up in a rich Orange County suburb” part of her confessional if the intent was to truly endear her to us.  However, we shouldn’t be surprised if Shirin finds a way to get the “beautiful and skinny” Hali out of the game.  A little bird told me that she could do just that!  (No, I’m not talking about inside info, just referring to the bird that was feasting on the red crab).

Sierra:  Even if she never fell as low as the professional whistler, Sierra made a strong comeback in this episode.  After being attacked by everyone, she turned into the popular girl, the one that everybody wanted.  From a game perspective, we can ask if she made the right choice.  After all, she was the one that said she trusted Joaquin and Tyler the most.  She even knew that the Blue Collars were only using her.  We saw that she talked with Joe on the beach, but we didn’t hear what they had to say.  It’s possible that Joaquin and Rodney lost Sierra’s vote when they asked her to vote against Joe but it looked like it was the conversation with Mike and Dan that helped her decide.  She may think that she has no future with the Blue Collars but her last confessional made me think that she will make it to the end with Mike and Dan.  She will have to suffer their presence in order to make it there.  She will get her prime time story like Rodney promised!  She just doesn’t have to share it with him.

Joe:  The swap episode’s storyline didn’t put Joe in any danger.  In fact, it seemed that he had it made in a new alliance with Joaquin, Tyler and Sierra but that never materialize.  Like Joe said, Joaquin and Tyler never really talked to him, but we only heard that in this episode.  In the swap episode, all the dangers were placed on the shoulders of the Blue Collar men, a storyline that would not have been shown if Joe was our winner.  The events and the confessionals would have been presented in a way to make us think he could be going soon.  Then, in this episode, Joe would have been shown acting proactively to save himself instead of relying on the roll of the dice.  “You have to make the best of the worst scenario and hope it works out” isn’t exactly a winning strategy.  If we had heard just a bit of his talk with Sierra on the beach, it would have been enough to suggest that he gained her trust and made her turn the tables on Joaquin.   Despite the importance of the moment, it seemed as if they were only relaxing on the beach.

Cogs in Cogs – They Fit in Someone Else’s Story

Will:  It was fun to see Will’s dance after the challenge win, but we heard once more that he was dragging his tribe down.  There has been very little of substance to Will’s story since his big move in the second episode, so he can’t be considered as a possible winner.  He could still go far because he won’t be an immediate threat, but at some point, the others will realize that no one hates Will.  That’s when he will be taken out.

Dan: Once more, Dan seemed to put his foot in his mouth when he was talking to Sierra.  At one point he said something like: “Close your mouth, open your ears and see what happens”.  I thought that would anger Sierra and push her away, but it didn’t.     Dan is lucky that things worked out for him because his social game is still atrocious.  On the other hand, it’s quite good for the third place check.  That way, some of the money will stay on the East Coast!

Carolyn:  Carolyn didn’t get the memo that Shirin doesn’t stink anymore!  Her negativity looked like a bad sign for her future.  No one else complained about Shirin in this episode and we even heard that she was trying to fit in, but Carolyn was still pushing her away saying she couldn’t work with her anymore and was barely tolerating her.  Since Carolyn is also in the red tribe, the animal imagery could apply to her.  Shirin could get her revenge and catch Carolyn unaware of the danger.

Hali:  Seeing Hali taking time to befriend Shirin has both positive and negative potential for her game.  On the one hand, that scene could be telling us that Hali will be receiving Shirin’s vote in the end because she was the only one sympathizing with her.  On the other, it could have been telling us that Hali is too naïve: she doesn’t realize that Shirin could flip the game on her.  She told it straight to Shirin and that could be an indication that there isn’t enough deceit in Hali. The girl could be too nice for this evil game.

Kelly:  We keep hearing glowing reviews from Mike about his girl Kelly, but we don’t see much from her to back it up.  I think it’s presented that way mostly to show that Mike is trustworthy even if he doesn’t hesitate to blindside his allies.  Will Kelly regret putting so much trust in someone?  It was strange to hear that she trusts him more than anyone else in her life.  She shouldn’t trust anyone in this game, and it makes me wonder if Mike will betray her down the line.  He could come to realize that she is much too well-liked to take to the end when he could take Sierra instead.   This episode showed that Kelly isn’t our winner.  The immunity challenge really made her look dumb when Mike had to tell her the correct order.  We probably wouldn’t have seen her failing twice before finally getting it right if she was our winner.

The Contenders:

Jenn:  Now that her chances of winning Survivor are up to one in twelve and that she compared herself to the sea turtle that is part of the show’s introduction, can we say that Jenn will be our Sole Survivor?  The editors love her confessionals so much that they used her narrative about the horse race to say that Max “won” his way out of the game.   Like Mike in the first challenge and Sierra in the second, Jenn got the benefit of editing cuts to look good in the reward challenge.  However, there is still a lack of strategy discussions coming from Jenn to consider her the winner.  Even if she is using the laid back attitude about the game that has been typical of her tribe, she must have looked at her options when she talked about her chances of winning.  It didn’t really matter in this episode since they weren’t going to Tribal Council but she could have said something about the approaching merge.  With her alliance of three facing three solo players in Nagarote, which one did she think would give her the best options?  Was she worried about Joe being all alone on the other side? There are so many moving pieces in this game that it’s reasonable to expect to hear the Sole Survivor talking about options and that hasn’t been Jenn’s role up to now.  She is a strong contender but she needs a very strong merge episode to overtake the player that has been looking at these options lately.

Mike:  Losing a challenge intentionally has usually been presented as terrible strategy.   The Zhan Hu women were immediately ridiculed when they threw a challenge to get rid of Aaron.  Zapatera was hit by bad karma after choosing to end Hantz’s game.  While there is no question that throwing a challenge can be great strategy after a swap, it’s understandable that production wouldn’t want everyone to use that idea.  You can’t run a game when everyone is throwing it!  With that in mind, it’s important to note that we clearly heard the idea was Rodney’s and Rodney’s alone.  The scene could have simply shown Mike and Rodney walking on the beach, saying they had to throw a challenge and then the camera could have cut to Mike saying he was doing it to save Kelly.  That would have led many viewers to criticise his lack of fair play.  Instead we heard that it killed him a little to resort to Rodney’s tactic but that he saw a redeeming side to it.

Mike is adapting his game week to week, repairing some cracks, exploiting some others day to day. That is the key to success according to Jeff.  While we still have to look carefully at the upcoming merge episode, Mike looks like he is edited as this season’s Sole Survivor.

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