Survivor: Worlds Apart

Episode 7 – Power Couples

Previously on Survivor:

  • After a surprise switch, Kelly was the only Blue Collar member on the new Nagarote Tribe. Kelly: “I’m scared to death.”
  • But, in Blue Collar fashion (we hear Mike telling Kelly that he is giving the challenge to her) her old tribe decided to throw the immunity challenge in order to protect one of their own and keep the Blue Collar numbers strong. Kelly: “I trust the Blue Collar tribe… I can’t wait to get away from these people.”
  • With Escameca facing Tribal Council, all eyes were on Joe, the biggest threat in challenges… but the Blue Collars began to notice Rodney and Joaquin’s budding bromance. Mike: “Rodney and Joaquin are a power couple. Power couples have to be split up immediately.”
  • At tribal Council, Rodney was shocked when his new ally was voted out. The camera went from Rodney’s bewilderment, Mike’s satisfaction, Tyler’s reflection to Joe’s calmness.

The recap, like most of the story up to now, is all about the Blue Collars.  Compared to the elaboration of Kelly’s predicament, Joe’s situation is noted without frills.  It is particularly noticeable that the act of throwing the challenge wasn’t presented as a devious scheme or even a game move but like an act of solidarity that is an essential characteristic of Blue Collars.  It is said to be in their fashion to protect one of their own.  That leads us to the interesting question:  Was Jeff implying that it is only a Blue Collar characteristic?  The recap paints a more accurate picture of the decision to throw the challenge:  Rodney and Mike had been the only ones shown talking about the plan to throw the challenge but all the Blue Collars had agreed.

With the results of this episode, we know that the care wasn’t for Kelly’s personal benefit but because she figured prominently in Mike’s bigger story.  Another very interesting aspect of this recap was its focus on the power couples, something that will be a recurring theme in this episode.  Jeff set up this episode with the traditional: “…Who will be going home tonight?”  However, this episode asked the more important question: Mike is about to lose his closest ally so is he doomed? 

Power Couples

Escameca – Night 16

Tyler congratulated the tribe on their “first juicy blindside.”  Joe simply stated: “It’s the game.”

Tyler gave the first confessional: “Tonight, I experienced my first blindside.  Myself, Rodney and Joaquin were completely bamboozled by the other guys.  So, I’m on the bottom.  Despite all the trouble the Blue Collar tribe seems to be having, they sure voted with a lot of symmetry tonight.”

Mike’s interview: “I knew by the look on Rodney’s face that he was pissed.  There had to be some damage control done.  This is the second time that we had to have one of our members on the outs because they were too close to the situation.  Anytime that you blindside somebody, it can cause a big riff in this game, so hopefully, he doesn’t take it too personal.”

At Mike’s suggestion, the two guys took a walk to discuss the situation.  Rodney was upset that they went behind his back.  Mike explained it from their perspective, that they could see Joaquin reeling Rodney in.  Rodney said he was acting in order to find out everything that was going down in the White Collar tribe, that it was a fake alliance to help Blue’s game.  Mike told Rodney he had done such a good acting job that he had them fooled.  Rodney compared himself to DeNiro.

Rodney’s confessional: “I feel like I got played.  I’m really pissed right now.  I just seen Mike emerge as a hardcore leader, saying he’s worried about me.  Bro, don’t worry about what I’m doing, worry about yourself.  You think I was going to get trapped in a bromance?  This game is about numbers; you should know better.  You go behind my back, thinking I don’t know what I’m doing?  Disrespectful.  Now, all of a sudden, I have to be Mike’s bitch until we get to the merge. What else am I going to do now?  People that did me wrong today are going to pay for it in the future.”

Unlike Shirin, Rodney didn’t take the departure of his closest ally lightlyMike had just recovered from Sierra’s threat to abandon the Blue Collars and immediately a new threat is placed on his road to the end.  Rodney clearly identifies him as the leader of the Blue Collar tribe, so Mike’s success is tied to the tribe’s unity, but how can they be united when they have to deal with such a loose cannon?

Nagarote – Day 17:  Tree Mail!

After Carolyn read tree mail, Kelly was the first to say that the message meant it was time to merge.  Will said it was only talking about reward while Hali thought it could go either way.

Was this presented this way because of its symbolism:  Kelly is right, Will is wrong, and Hali is wishy-washy? 

Kelly’s confessional: “If today is the merge: Alleluia!  I will be smiling from ear to ear.”

That’s the type of ironic confessional that the editors love.

Carolyn told Nagarote:  “We pick off Blue one by one.”  Kelly agreed.  Jenn expressed surprise to hear that that Kelly wasn’t tied to them at all, not even Mike.  Kelly said she wasn’t with them, but in confessional, she was quick to set the picture straight: “When I came to this tribe, I had to go deep undercover and make them believe that I am going to be with them, but I am definitely with the Blue Collars all the way to the end.”

The show did very little for Kelly’s reputation as an undercover police officer by reminding us that she had approached the swap like an assignment to infiltrate a crime gang.  She did such a bad job that Jenn saw right through it.   The vote had to be explained, but it could have been presented in another way unless the goal was to show Jenn’s astuteness.   

The Beach

We’ve had some very interesting mergers in the show’s history.  This wasn’t one of them.  Jeff didn’t even bother showing up.

Rodney’s confessional explained: “We were walking into a challenge but there was nothing there.  We see the other tribe… There’s no Jeff…I guess that means we are merged…The first thing I was thinking was strategy…Let me see what I can piece together to put myself ahead in this game.”

How to Blow a Cover How to Blow a Cover[/caption]

It didn’t take long for Kelly to blow her own cover because she immediately went to hug Mike.

The group soon found the food, the note, and the new buffs.  The note told them they’d be going back to the old Escameca camp.

(The one with an idol yet to be found, of course).

Tyler’s interview: “My entire future has changed; I’ve got new found hope that I’m no longer on the bottom of something and that I can go out and test the water with people that I have never met before.  It’s a whole new life and it smells so sweet.”

Dan and Hali gave us the fluff confessionals.  First Dan: “Merge time, baby!  That means food!  We got a crateful of food!”

Then Hali: “I felt like a Greek goddess when all that was laid out. I was like: Give me the grapes: I’m in heaven.”

The question of the last vote soon surfaced with Shirin saying: “Tell us about Joaquin.  I thought Rodney and Joaquin would bond.”

Mike didn’t skate around the issue: “That’s part of the reason for the vote.”

That led to Carolyn’s confessional: “It’s clear that anyone who has a strong bond with one other person is not going to make it.  Tyler and I have been together since day three.  He’s the only one who I told that I have the idol, so I trust him, but we are not going to be a pair that anybody knows about.  You cannot show any strong bonds at all or you’ll be out of here.  Game on, baby.”

3- Keeping SecretsLike we heard Mike saying, the vote reveals everything about alliances, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone after this cycle that Carolyn and Tyler are close.  Still, the editing went to great lengths to show that they were keeping a safe distance between them.  And it wasn’t only the editing that kept them apart:  During the merge feast, we saw that they sat on opposite sides of the blanket while Kelly sat right between Sierra and Rodney.  Also, Rodney didn’t even include Tyler in the group he wanted to form with Carolyn.  So we can say she succeeded so far.  How far can she go with that success?  It could certainly lead her to the victory.

The Merged Tribe

They played the old Fiji trick on the players:  The old camp was gone.  If we look back at Fiji, the losers were given the confessionals that complained about the absence of the luxurious shelter while Earl took it in stride:

As a refresher, this is what Alex was heard saying back then: “Thank God, after 7 days of hell at Ravu, I get to eat rice, potatoes…toothbrush, toothpaste, a shower. I smell like crap… I know. Finally…Finally, things are looking up until… What the hell? This is so messed up! Bastards! We got Nothing…Nothing!”

Cassandra: “I was so elated to be going back to Moto Island. I had been thinking: How am I going to make it on Exile Island? There was going to be the snakes, no bed, no couch. Lord! Please! What are we going to do?”

Compare this to Earl’s confessional and it was easy to see who would be the winner: ““We had…Nothing. I felt OK with that. I kind of laughed; I had a smirk on my face. I’ve already been trained being at the old Ravu for 13 days. Hey! I’m just back home again.”

So, how did our players react?

This is Survivor, not Big Brother

This is Survivor, not Big Brother

Arriving first, Carolyn asked: “Wait… where is everything?”

Sierra exclaimed: “Oh! My Gosh!  What happened?”

Dan had a confessional: “So we merged and we walked in with our hands full of stuff, all the food that we didn’t eat. We walk back into camp and we’re all excited to show what our camp looked like and it’s GONE!”

Joe said they’d have to start from the bottom while Carolyn said it would be a team building exercise.  Joe said he didn’t mind.

Carolyn’s interview: “Are you kidding me?  I mean, this was rough.  It was like Day One all over again and we were like: No.”

After asking the White Collars to line them up, Mike said: “You know me: I’m a worker bee.”

Mike in confessional: “Now, it’s one tribe and we’re left with the responsibility of making a new world for ourselves, one people battling it out for a million dollars.”

If we can rely on the Fiji model, then this segment would eliminate Carolyn, Sierra, and Dan while Mike was given Earl’s role.  Poor Carolyn!  We never considered Sierra and Dan as contenders even if they look to be heading for the final 3, but new hope had been given to Carolyn’s story, but then right after it took a great step forward, she is heard complaining about the harsh conditions.  Shouldn’t you expect that on Survivor?  The complainers are always relegated to the editors’ doghouse.  Despite that, these players were seen doing the work: Mike, Hali, Joe, Rodney, Will… and Carolyn, if you want to count someone that was practically hidden behind Joe. 

Is this how they hide winners now?

Is this how they hide winners now?

It would be funny symbolic trickery:  The winner was hidden behind one of the season’s big character!  I feel like I am the one being wishy-washy on Carolyn, but I’m going with what the editors are showing– one great premiere followed by a series of meaningless episodes and now a surprisingly good merge episode!  

Kelly was then shown gathering wood with Mike, telling us how happy she was to have made the merge.  She added: “Mike and I are like one.  He is like a family member, so Mike and I are definitely the tightest out here.”

Mike in confessional: “Right now, strategy wise, it looks like the five blues are still strong so all we have to do is pull two and we run numbers in this game, but we’ll see how it all plays out because who knows who is really together and who is forming new bonds at this point.”

Jenn was quick to point out to Hali: “I’m more concerned about what’s going to go on now.  We don’t have Kelly.  I saw her talking to the four.”

Hali had also seen it: “I knew she was going to flip in a sec.”

Jenn’s confessional: “I don’t trust Kelly at all.  I haven’t since the beginning.  I knew she would go back to the Blue Collars.  Now, all I have to do is try to grab all the White Collars and take out the Blue Collars because I’d rather play with the White Collars than Blue Collars at this point.”

Jenn agreed with Hali that Shirin was with them.

Next, Joe told Jenn and Hali that he was happy to see them because he thought he was going home.

Joe’s interview: “You know, I dodged a bullet the night before.  The Blue saved me but I was really excited to see all three of my tribe mates because, in my gut, I trust the No Collars.”

Will was shown when Joe mentioned trusting the No Collars.  While it shows that Joe isn’t aware of Will’s plan to defect, the scene featured Jenn’s cleverness once again.  She wasn’t fooled by an experienced undercover agent and she would soon take action to eliminate the threat.  One thing to consider though:  Jenn only saw Kelly as being loyal to the Blue Collars.  From what we were given to hear, she didn’t notice that Mike and Kelly formed a power couple.  I think the distinction is important.

Jenn asked if Rodney was smart.  Joe’s expression gave the answer.

At the same time, however, Rodney was talking to Will.  In confessional and in discussion, Rodney threw out his plan. To Will, he said: “We go me, you, Kelly and Carolyn: That’s four.  I am sticking to this “Blue Collar strong” thing.  So, if I stick to the “Blue Collar strong”, you, me, Kelly and Carolyn sneak in and dissect them three at the end.  So, we go in with seven, we get the numbers then we dissect them out then you, me, Kelly and Carolyn are sitting there then we make the move.”

Rodney then exposed his plan to Carolyn and Kelly.  He told Carolyn: “I loved Joaquin.  That dude was loyal.  If you liked Joaquin, then hey!  You’re looking at his clone from Boston.  It’s a little different.  This isn’t New York, but if we can get over the Yankees-Red Sox hate.  Ha! Ha! Ha!  We got five blue and we got you two.  That’s seven.  Then guess what?  At the end, when they least expect it, me, you, Kelly, Will chop off the blues.”

Here is Rodney’s confessional: “When they voted out Joaquin, I felt extremely disrespected by these Blues.  Now, I am looking at it like this: Let me get some numbers and get out the three who screwed me over in the beginning.  I was the first to get to Will: Come with me, bro. I got your back.  I’m always riding numbers, baby, so I’m going to have four people to ride on against Sierra, Dan, and Mike.  I’m going to slowly chop their heads off, and I’m going to have the numbers.  So, if I can build these bonds, then it’s looking beautiful for Rodney, isn’t it?”

Carolyn also gave an interview after hearing Rodney’s plan: “As soon as we got on the beach, Rodney, he’s like: “Final 4: It’s us.  We’re tight. We are going to go there.  In his plan, he’s got me, Will, Kelly and Rodney: final 4.  The thing is, he’s still a blue and he’s still going to vote with them, but it’s nice to hear that I’m wanted in a final 4.”

Rodney plays Fantasy Survivor.  He makes an alliance much like a player does his fantasy baseball draft: He doesn’t consider their likes and needs, their prior affiliations, or their motivations; he just fits them in his roster and hopes for the best.  We knew this plan wasn’t going to work the minute we didn’t hear Kelly say in confessional, something along the line of: Rodney thinks I’m with him and will help him chop off Mike’s head, but I’m with Mike so Rodney’s head is the one that will get chopped.” It’s funny also how Rodney always starts his enumerations with “me, you, etc…” It sure tells everyone who he thinks has to come first!  Despite all this, Rodney did get Carolyn and Will to vote with the Blue Collars, so we can’t even rely on Rodney always failing!

Tyler and Carolyn had a talk: “You and I are arguably the tightest alliance in this game, but we have to stay apart because that’s exactly why they targeted Joaquin.”  They agreed to work with Rodney and realized that their votes were needed.

Carolyn gave us another interview: “I have the No Collars on my side right now, and Tyler is telling me that we should go with the Blue Collars, so I’m kind of smack in the middle now.  Tyler and I are going to decide which way we want to go, going forward.”

Merged Tribe – Day 18

Dan was having trouble walking on the beach when he came across Jenn.  He told her that he had been stung by a jellyfish.  She told him to put some hot water on it.

Jenn's Already Hurt

Jenn’s Already Hurt

Jenn is limping

Jenn is limping


Interestingly, Jenn was also limping and she had removed the bottom of her bikini and had something tied on her upper thigh, so this scene happened after the immunity challenge where she would get stung by a bee in a very sensitive spot.  Why transpose this scene?  I think the editors decided to create an impression of hectic scrambling after the immunity challenge, something that wouldn’t have worked as well if we knew the challenge actually happened a day before Tribal Council and that the players took time to go alone in the ocean.  The resulting montage gives an even better impression of Jenn’s play:  Despite the little time she had to decipher the craziness, she still was aware that she was the target.    

After telling Shirin he didn’t need her to pee on his ankle, Dan had a confessional: “I was taking a morning dip and I got stung by something.  I wasn’t sure what it was, whether it was stingray or jellyfish.  It felt like I got sliced.  But you know, I am way smarter and way tougher than I look:  I’m not going anywhere.”

That’s when Mike proposed “Merica” as their tribe name.  Some liked the idea.

Mike’s confessional: “Our tribe; “Merica” is fitting because you have the White Collar, the No Collar and obviously the best, the Blue Collars.  We are all part of the melting pot which makes America so great so that’s our tribe name: “Merica!”

Hali gave us her approval in confessional: “I love our tribe name so much because I’m going to be a criminal defense attorney, and as a criminal defense attorney, you are part of the Constitution…the greatest blueprint for government that was ever devised.  I really believe in it; it’s like a religion of America.”

Shirin had a different opinion: “Oh! My goodness.  We have the worst tribe name in Survivor history.  We didn’t go with America; we dropped the “A” and went for “Merica”…like a bunch of rednecks idiots who don’t know what our own country’s name is.  I’m horrified and embarrassed and Mr. Texas himself, Mike, is so proud of this name.  Even Sarah Palin…  All kind of crazy crap comes out of her mouth… I never heard that woman call America, “Merica”.”

While Shirin may be more in tune with the internet fan base, I doubt that the editors’ intent was to have the audience agree with her.  If it was, we wouldn’t have been given Hali’s seal of approval which included an impassioned opinion of the country’s constitution.   It feels more like the scene was telling us that Shirin still doesn’t fit in.  However, Shirin’s mention of the “redneck idiots” is a red flag for those who, like me, think Mike is going to win.   Is that how we are supposed to see the Blue Collars now? 

Next, Mike and Rodney agreed that Joe would be their first target.  “If he doesn’t win immunity, he’s out.”

Mike in confessional: “The game plan, at this point, is to run the game all the way to the end with the Blue Collars.  We got some numbers to knock out Joe, being at the top of that list, but I definitely need Rodney as numbers right now, so I got to do Rodney maintenance.  I’ll go do Rodney Maintenance.”

Rodney’s confessional: “I love Mike to death, but he voted out my boy Joaquin.  If my tribe would have stuck to the script, got rid of Joe, we’d be sitting so pretty right now.  I’m putting my hustle pants right now.  I’m going to let Mike quarterback it, but when the game matters, I’m going to come in full-fledged, Tom Brady in the fourth quarter and make this one epic.  I’m going to cut his head off.”

Once more this could be seen as putting obstacles in Mike’s journey to victory, but if the Blue Collar tribe is turning into “redneck idiots” then it’s possible that Mike is heading for an epic failure.  We just saw that Rodney doesn’t always fail, and Mike’s plan to do some Rodney maintenance didn’t work.

The Immunity Challenge

Dan, Will and Tyler went down early, so Jeff commented that this challenge favored the lighter players over the heavier ones.

That’s when Sierra started losing her grip, so I guess Jeff called her fat!

Sierra, Shirin and Kelly dropped out in quick succession.  Just before the half hour mark, “Hot Rod” asked Mama C how she felt because he had to drop out.  She told him she was doing fine.  Joe seemed to realize that the White Collars were with the Blues.  Mike and “Hot Rod” fell off their poles, leaving Carolyn as the only Collar left against the three No Collars.

That’s when a bee stung Jenn.

The bee must have been carrying a microphone because we heard it buzzing and biting!

Stupid Question, Jeff!

Stupid Question, Jeff!

It led to this funny exchange:

Jeff: “What’s happening, Jenn?”

Jenn: “I got stung by something.  Are you serious?”

Jeff: “Where did it get you?”

Jenn: “Where my hand is, Jeff.”

Everyone laughed.  Well, Jenn laughed and cried. Still, she soldiered on.

When Hali fell off, Joe, Jenn and Carolyn were left to battle it out through a rain storm that suddenly appeared.

Considering that this challenge had been won by Ozzy twice, Tyson, Twila, Danielle and Laura, it wasn’t too surprising to see them at the end although I expected Hali to do a lot better.

Jenn got off the pole just before the hour mark.  In a reversal of situation from the episode one challenge, we heard Rodney hoping for Joe to let go.  In the end, it was too much for the valiant Mama C who dropped out.  Mike and Rodney exchanged disappointed looks.

Jenn had the post-IC confessional: “Joe won immunity.  That is awesome.  The plan that I want to enact today is get the No Collars, get the White Collars, and then take out the actual threats:  The Blue Collars.”

Mike was on camera when she mentioned the actual threatsWe then saw Sierra and Dan, the trio that I feel are going to be the final 3The scene ended with Kelly, the eventual boot.  Was this telling us that Jenn’s plan will come up short?  It could be that she only manages to eliminate Kelly, leaving the other three to make it to the end.

Day 19

While Joe was being congratulated, we heard Carolyn, with a tint of humor, say: “You couldn’t let me win this for my kids, you son of a bitch.”

After telling everyone to go talk, we saw Mike discussing the vote with Dan, putting the target on Jenn and saying they had to appease Rodney.

Mike told Rodney: “We’re telling Will “Hali” but we’re voting “Jenn”.”

Will agreed to Mike’s “plan” of going after Hali, Joe’s right hand woman.

Mike had the first confessional that was spliced up and presented throughout this scene: “Of course, the golden boy, Joe, wins the first immunity so we got to switch up the plan…I’m thinking: Why not switch it to vote off Jenn or Hali then we break up a power couple and the five Blue Collars are still running this game.  Rodney thinks he’s got Will but I don’t trust Will at this point.  We are telling Will to write down Hali’s name and the rest of us write down Jenn.  When I see Hali’s name written down tonight, then I’ll know that I can trust Will.”

While Mike was right not to trust Will, his trickery isn’t foolproof.  Seeing that Will did in fact vote for Hali means that Mike could have trusted Will, not that he can trust him in the future.  The deceit could in fact break that trust but Will is going to have a lot more problems going back to the No Collars this time.

Will’s confessional: “Since Joe won immunity, they are trying to vote off Hali now.  My choices are: Either stay with my tribe, No Collars and try and convince the White Collars to go with us or join Blue Collars.  I mean, that’s a huge risk.  When you are merging with twelve people, it’s hard to know who you can trust so I think the first vote is going to determine who is loyal and who is not.”

Unfortunately for Will, that first vote didn’t show him any loyalty.

We saw Kelly and Carolyn talking about the vote.  They agreed that Jenn and Hali had to be split up.

In confessional, Kelly told us that she bonded quickly with Carolyn after the swap.  She added that Carolyn didn’t like the No Collar tribe.

To Hali and Shirin, Jenn said that she didn’t like the Blue Collars and didn’t trust them.  They agreed that they trusted Kelly the least and that voting her out would cripple the Blue.

Shirin had an interview: “There are five of them and four No Collars with three White Collars as swing votes.  If Blue Collars win the vote tonight, I’m afraid that Blue Collars will have the votes to the end. So right now, I’m swinging No Collar.”

Before Hali could get to him, we heard Tyler telling Mike that it would be hard to trust him.  He wanted to be in the loop or he’d go to people who would put him in the loop.  Mike said he would love to work with him, but Tyler pointed to the obvious.

Tyler’s confessional that is presented below, started here, before his talk with Hali.

We heard Hali saying to Tyler that the No Collars wanted to join with the White Collars and that the vote was going to be Kelly. We then heard her say: “Join with me, Jenn, Shirin…”

Tyler responded: “I’m a swing.  I can’t trust the Blue; they already stabbed me.  I’m in way over my head with those guys, but I don’t know you guys either.”

And people say that today’s players are savvier than the old players!  Tyler’s response to Hali reminded me of Big Tom in the All-Stars’ final 5 when he was so proud of his new found swing position that he openly flaunted it in Boston Rob’s face.

Why didn’t this happen to Tyler as well?    Of course, it’s a little more complicated at 12 than at 5, but the principle is the same:  Get rid of the player sitting on the fence. 

And what should we think of Hali?   Instead of securing Tyler’s vote by making him an offer he couldn’t refuse such as a final 3 deal, she tells him to “talk to other people” leaving him a total free agent.

Tyler in confessional: “I don’t know what I am going to do yet, but I have options and options are always a fantastic thing to have, especially when I thought, just a few days ago, that I was the next guy going home.  The original tribes are definitely sticking together.  It seems to be Blue versus No Collar.  I can go either way.  Either I vote with No Collar and vote out Kelly or go with Blue Collar and target Jenn.  So right now, Carolyn and I are the swing votes.  We have been hiding since day one, wherever we go will change this game dramatically.”

Tyler explained the situation to Carolyn, telling her that the No Collars wanted to go after Kelly and that Shirin was with them.

To Hali, Jenn said that they could be on the bottom, that they could be trying to get them voted out.    She added that it would be important to know which one of them was the target because she had an idol.  That surprised Hali who wanted to know how she got it.  Jenn simply said: “Magic!”

Jenn in confessional: “No one is going to think that I have an idol, so if I get an inkling that things aren’t going to go as we planned on getting out Kelly, I’ll just play my idol.  I’d rather not use my idol when there are still twelve people left in the game.  I’d rather use it when there are five people left in the game but I don’t know how tribal is going to go.  I’m terrified.  No Collar is together 100 percent and we plan on staying that way as far as I know.  Blue Collar?  It seems like they are sticking together too, but I think anything can happen tonight and I have no idea what to do.”

When Jenn was saying she didn’t know how tribal was going to go, we saw Tyler getting a massage from Mike, telling us how it was leaning!  While this episode turned out great for Jenn, I fear that she will regret not having that idol at final 5.  When we hear someone stating a number so clearly, it always makes me wonder if that is where then journey will end.  Will Jenn miss out on final 5 because she was forced to play her idol so soon?  She still has a long way to go before that point.

Tribal Council

In a way to express the uncertainty of the vote, Will said: “Jeff, you may get voted out tonight.  Ain’t nobody safe so I hope you have an idol.”

Kelly told Jeff that they were all nervous, but that it was exciting.

Joe agreed that everyone knew it was a game.  They all had a knife and it was “stab or get stabbed.  Someone’s got to go and don’t take it personal; it’s just a game and that’s what makes it fun.”

Will said that his vote would show that people can count on him.

Jeff asked Mike if the White Collars could be the swing votes.

Mike said it certainly could, that the vote would boil down to the people you could trust, making a decision and living with it.

Tyler said he was approached by many people and was trying to find out where he could fit in.  He added that someone would put an ice pick in the tribe’s back.

Interesting that two of our main themes for the season returned in consecutive quotes.  Mike talks about making a decision. Tyler wants to fit in.

Asked to comment on Tyler’s ice pick comment, Carolyn said that the lines would be drawn tonight.  She said: “Once that line is drawn, it’s hard to go back the other way.”

Will was shown when Carolyn made that comment but like the No Collar “traitor”, Carolyn and Tyler have also shown where they sit.

Shirin told Jeff that she didn’t see herself as a swing vote.

That pleased Jenn.

Jenn said that she was scared, but that they all had an idea of what was going on.  She was hoping that her idea was the one that got the most.

Jeff asked Rodney about the Hidden immunity Idol.

Rodney said he didn’t know if anybody had one, that he was waiting to see what happens.

Jenn said that she didn’t know who is on whose side.

Dan said that pleading wouldn’t help at this point because people knew where they were going to go.  He said that the line would be drawn with a chain saw, not an ice pick.

Satisfied with this graphic description, Jeff sent them to vote.

Not a single vote was revealed before Jeff went to tally them.

He asked if anybody wanted to play an idol and that got Jenn to simply say: “Jeff”.  She held up a finger as she went to her bag.  Walking over to the podium, she said: “I really don’t want to go home tonight.”

I guess Jen didn’t see Rodney’s expression because she thought she had made a mistake when the first vote turned up to be against Hali, but her mood changed quickly when the next 7 went against her.  Shirin started clapping while Hali and Jenn embraced and laughed.  When Kelly was voted out, Joe called Jenn “savage” while Hali said she was a genius.

Will looked lost while Rodney was fuming.

Certainly happy with the result, Jeff commented: “You used the words knife, ice pick and chainsaw to describe the vote.  Based on the reactions, I’d say it was more like a bomb.”

The Story

In an episode where the danger of the power couples was amply discussed, it’s noteworthy that no one mentioned that Kelly and Mike were the power couple in the tribe with the numbers.  Hali and Jenn were mentioned as the power couple in the No Collar tribe, and while a first attempt to split them failed, they should remain on everyone’s radar.  Tyler and Carolyn want to keep their strong connection quiet but can they now that the lines have been drawn?

Like Foa Foa and Aitu before them, the No Collars with Shirin acting as an honorary member, are now the underdogs facing a big disadvantage, big numbers.  We have heard quite a few times that this is a numbers game, but that could be to hide their comeback.  As it has been for most of the season, a lot of the story depends on what Rodney will do.  His impulsiveness can destroy the game for the Blue Collars.  He is certainly as undependable as Shambo was for Galu.   Can Mike do some effective Rodney Maintenance?  He will need to keep him under control if he is to be our winner.  The main thing that plays in his favor is that we keep hearing how dysfunctional the Blue Collars are as a tribe yet they were the only tribe to vote in unison during this episode.  Jeff said that the tribe’s success depended on staying united and they showed that they could do it.  Will that resolve continue now that they lost one of their own?

The Characters

Swinging in the Wind:  Their Decisions Didn’t Get the Expected Results

Will:  He made his choice and his vote let everyone know where he stood, but unfortunately for him, no one trusted him enough to tell him about the real plan.  He won’t be trusted by his former allies and that could cost him dearly if they manage to reverse the votes in the next Tribal Council.  If the Blue Collars implode, Will is going to find himself abandoned by all sides.  His only hope rests in Rodney’s hands and that can’t be a comfortable position.

Tyler:  From what was shown, Tyler gave his vote to the Blue Collars with nothing more in return than a shoulder massage.  Unlike Carolyn, he didn’t get a final 4 deal and he knew that Mike’s desire to work with him was mostly due to circumstances.  His decision put him in the majority, so it will give him time to maneuver… if the majority remains intact.  I wonder if Shirin’s inclusion in the No Collars’ plan had anything to do with Tyler’s decision.

Sailing into the Wind:  They Attacked the Game Forcefully but Suffered a Setback

Rodney:  Frustrated that Mike didn’t give him the chance to get Joe the last time, “Hot Rod” had to cool his heels once more after the Immunity Challenge.  His frustration with Mike is growing everyday so it creates a natural narrative that puts the Texan in danger while hiding the fact that Joe, Jenn and Hali have little chance of making it to the end.  Or do they?  Can Rodney blow up the game for Blue and White?  Coach’s hatred for Brendan and Erinn caused Timbira’s fall while Galu’s division opened the door for Foa Foa so maybe history can repeat itself.  Those previous minorities had an advantage that the No Collars don’t have: Erinn and Shambo liked their new friends a lot more than their original tribe mates and their votes helped greatly.  We heard that Carolyn doesn’t like the No Collars, no one can stand Shirin besides her new friends, and while Joe is liked, he is the main challenge threat that no one wants to keep.  Rodney’s temper will cause his own downfall, but that doesn’t mean that it will give the game to his rivals.

Sierra:  The previous episode had put Sierra in a very tricky position, having to decide which way to go, but we didn’t hear her talking about that decision.  It tells us that, having chosen her course of action, Sierra’s impact on the rest of the game will be minimal.  She had some affinities with the No Collar women and she seemed to get along with Joe but absolutely nothing came of it.  It seems that Sierra is committed to the Blue Collar ship and she will sink or sail with them to the end.

Dan:  We had another indication that Dan won’t be our winner when he complained in confessional about the lost shelter.  While he seems committed to the Blue Collars, Dan’s desire to be memorable could lead him to see if the grass is greener on the No Collar tribe.  His vote would be welcomed by the minority, but I doubt that he will betray Mike because those two have been together in every strategy discussion.

Mike:  Jenn’s “scorpion” idol certainly took a bite out of Mike’s game, but like the scorpion in the first episode, it didn’t kill him.  Should we infer that it will make him stronger?  While others complained about production’s trick with the shelter, Mike was heard saying: “We’re left with the responsibility of making a new world for ourselves.”  He even ended that confessional with a reference to the million dollars so he still has to be considered the top contender.   Rodney identified him as a leader and while that is a dangerous position, Survivor editors like to show the players using Game Theory to their advantage so that’s something that plays in Mike’s favor.  Some red flags were raised when Shirin referred to him as a “redneck idiot” but it’s doubtful that this will be the lasting impression of the tribe that represents Blue Collar America.  Or should I say “Merica”?!  While this episode made it look like Mike was doomed, I still think he will be our winner.

Sailing Close to the Wind: They Took a Risk and it Paid Off.

Shirin:  She made it clear during Tribal Council that she was throwing her lot with the No Collars.  That’s wasn’t surprising since most of us figured she should have been cast with them from the start.  The problem is that she now stands on the wrong side of the division.  Even if Shirin was to make it to the end, who would vote for her?  She’s on a journey to prove that she isn’t as bad as we first thought, but she still barely fits in.

Hali:  Once more, she is taking a back seat to her closest ally, simply agreeing to all of Jenn’s ideas.  She gave us some nice comments about the reward and the tribe name, but that is a very light content in such a vital episode.  She was also ignored during the Tribal Council.  Putting all this together, we can conclude that Hali won’t win even if the No Collars make a comeback.

Joe:   While his win saved him for this week and paved the way to Kelly’s elimination, his strong performance during a very physical challenge is going to keep him on everyone’s radar.  He will need to go on an immunity run or find an idol, but both should lead to the elimination of his partners.

Wind of Change: 

Carolyn:  For someone that had remained in the background for most of the pre-merge, Carolyn certainly took center stage during this vital episode.  She was the first to realize that she had to keep her alliance with Tyler secret and she got a final 4 offer from Rodney.  She was the one that said the line had been drawn so does that mean she is committed to the Blue Collars?   Besides Carolyn’s dislike for the No Collars, there’s also the problem of Shirin and those two don’t seem capable of working together.  Mama C has earned the respect of everyone with that challenge performance.  This episode has put Carolyn in serious contention for the title of Sole Survivor but can she make it to the end with anyone else than Rodney and Will?  I’m not sure anyone else would want to take her to the end, so she will have to make her own way.

Jenn:  For a player that didn’t have much of an impact on the strategy of the game, Jenn certainly changed that with a great showing this week.  She immediately realized that Kelly was lying to them and that she was going to go back to the Blue Tribe.  The editors showed Dan’s injury scene out of sequence to create a greater feeling of frenzy during the post challenge discussions.  The result was that it appeared as if Jenn had less time to realize that her plan to get the White Collars on board wasn’t working even if Shirin had joined them.  She brilliantly played the idol to save herself, hurting her opponents at the same time.  Will it be enough or was this just a one week reprieve?  She has always looked like a strong contender, and from an editing perspective, this episode solidified her story.  The problem is that her game needs a lot of help and there doesn’t seem to be many openings.  Her best hope is that Rodney and Mike were both closer to Kelly than they are to each other, so maybe Kelly played a big role in keeping the tribe united.  Will Kelly’s elimination lead to Blue Collars’ implosion like it did when Erik was voted out in Samoa? The outcome of the season depends on the answer to that question.

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