If you’re yet to read my analysis of the previous episode, you can do so here.
Seriously?! This is how we are going to move into the top eight? We’re forty odd days into the game, our final nine, and people are still saying “I definitely feel like this person is someone I can work with”!? And again no one looking for a clue at the reward challenge?! This is a very different season of Survivor to the ones I am used to. As a fan, I have found the last two episodes particularly disappointing. If you’ve been reading along at home then you’ll know how much I was looking forward to these last two episodes assuming that we would start seeing some big moves. Instead we saw safe, boring and dare I say stupid gameplay result in the episode ending with a floater left in the bowl that is our top eight.
Yes, I am aware I sound like I’m whingeing. It’s really infuriating to watch Matt and Sam be so oblivious to what is actually going on. In Matt’s defense, he’s sticking to what he believes is a solid alliance. It’s not his fault that we the audience see that he’s not in the alliance, and he’s not in on the trick. That’s what makes it frustrating for us fans. It’s possible that if we didn’t know that his alliance wasn’t strong, it wouldn’t be so frustrating for us. I actually feel sorry for Matt. Perhaps I shouldn’t, he is playing Survivor and I’m not. He may even win for all we know. But surely it can’t be easy for him to watch this now, after believing that Brick are his ‘devils’, now knowing that he’s being played. Anyway, you gotta play the hand you’re dealt, I just didn’t think that this is the way that Matt would play it. He’s not responsible for my expectations. I also have to give credit to Brick here. Given all that’s been said to Matt, they have still managed to convince him that he’s with them. Sam on the other hand has done nothing to endear himself to me, though I’m sure he is a viewer favourite. For me, I want to at least see some strategy and some understanding of how the game works. “Yeah, but…” is how he replied upon hearing Sue and JL tell him that he could only make it so far while he let Brick control the game. What sort of a response is that?! He did at least give us the second funniest moment of the episode, when during tribal he said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “I’m still here because I’m more cleverer than you guys”. The funniest moment of course was when the top seven were having a swim and talking about how Sue was the vote and Matt asks if they need to split the votes, but nobody can respond because Kristie is there with them. Then people start pointing at Kristie behind her back, and Matt points in return, Kristie turns around and Matt has to do something with his hands so he runs his fingers through his hair. That was gold. It’s a sad reflection of the quality of gameplay on show this episode when that humorous moment is what I am spending my time reflecting on. The only gameplay I feel like we saw came from JL, and a little bit from Sue.
She’s Gone, She’s Gone, She’s Gone, She’s Gone…She’s Still Here
At least JL knew that tonight was the night to make a move. In the previous episode we saw her chatting with Matt after Nick had called out that he was oblivious to what was going on and at that point Matt agreed that there was “a lot of truth in that”. So it was not a surprise that she tried to get in his ear again today. Though her claim that she needed to talk to him ‘for his benefit’ was more than a little disingenuous, at least it got them talking. Matt however would not be swayed. We saw JL and Sue try and sway Sam, yeah, but, that didn’t work. She tries a word in Kristie’s ear. Kristie basically just smiled and nodded. JL even tried to get Flick to expose her crack. Not to mention the things that she had to say at tribal after getting her mongrel on to win immunity. As JL was spraying what she was saying I was actually thinking that she needed to go further in calling out the dynamics. She needed to push Brick to have them say exactly what the pecking order was, in much the same way that Kate spelled it out to Sam and Lee. No sooner had I thought that when Sue took my thought and JL’s lead and ran with it, calling out the bonds more explicitly and putting Brick on the back foot (who actually handled it pretty well I think). We also saw Sue come up with the idea to write Kristie’s name down. Even though had it worked it may have only got her through one more vote, I thought this was some nifty parallel thinking. It was unfortunate that it didn’t work for her. While we’re on Sue, I know I said she did some good things tonight, and I said similar things about her last night. Unfortunately tonight she also showed why it was she didn’t make it further in this game. She may not be naive, sweetheart, but she also didn’t play particularly strategically. Last night we saw Flick come to her to try and get her on side, I suggested Sue leverage this last night, but she didn’t listen (why don’t these people read my advice between tribals?! Honestly). So, there’s that, but also tonight we didn’t really see her talking to anyone other than JL. She just lay down and crossed her fingers. There was no attempt at scrambling (admittedly she hadn’t laid any groundwork that she could scramble with but at least try). So, naive she may not be, but her sharpness and observance was not enough to grant her the title of survivor when it has no action behind it. I’m sad to see you go Sue, but it takes more than that (says I, worried that friggin Lee will win).
Methinks the Lady doth not Protest Enough
So what does this actually leave JL with? Well, viewers less well-versed in Survivor might say that JL has completely burned her bridges. If she doesn’t win immunity next episode she will be given her marching orders. I tend to disagree, I don’t think its a foregone conclusion at all. We did see Phoebs coast through a couple of tribals when it looked like all was lost for her, simply because people were scared of bigger threats. And though I do wish JL had called out even more at tribal, what she did say may just be enough to put some fright into people. Sammy we know can be flighty, it’s possible that he has taken some of what was said tonight seriously, and realises that if he allows BrickEl to continue he’s out. El herself may actually feel somewhat insecure that she is tied to what is now clearly a target and choose to distance herself from them and start to play her own game. Lee may think… that would be a good start for him. What Kristie plans to do though is anyone’s guess. You can only float for so long before you need to start making moves to climb out of the bowl or you’re going to be flushed. I’m having a good think about the best move for her and she’s got lots of options. If the status quo remains with the top five staying tight then her only move is to wait for the flush. Given all of the explicit attempts that we’ve seen to break that top five, I’m actually beginning to think it may not be possible to create your own crack. If this is the case the best bet for her, and JL and Matt for that matter, is actually to wait and hope that some of what JL has said has stuck, and that one of those top five feels as though it’s time for them to make a move against their alliance before the move is made against them first. I feel that JL, Matt and Kristie are not going to get anywhere by explicitly pushing a move between now and next tribal. They need to sit back, maybe, ever so subtly drop a few hints about the five needing to turn on each other soon, and then sit back and wait for someone to come to them. In fact I would argue that if you were one of the top five and you did want to make a move, next vote is the time to do it. You’ve got three numbers on the periphery that you could use. Wait any longer and you either won’t have those numbers there, or someone else will strike first.
Devils Between My Toes
I assume that Brooke feels that taking Flick to final two is her best move. I would agree with my assumption of what she feels. I do imagine though that it is possible that she may be having doubts in her alliance given all the shade that has been thrown their way lately. Is it possible that Flick could be hoping to throw Brooke under the balls before she gets to the final two and take Sammy or Lee, or even JL or Kristie with her? If I were Flick I certainly wouldn’t be taking Brooke to the final two with me. There’s no winning against Brooke. Maybe, just maybe JL has a shot of winning against Brooke if she continues to dominate challenges and make some moves on her way there. I can’t see anyone else beating Brooke in the final two. So Flick needs to find a way to remove Brooke from the final two. The bind for her is that the best way for her to get there is for Brooke to take her. It’s a catch 22. Brooke wants Flick in final two with her, Flick doesn’t want Brooke there. If Flick votes Brooke out too early she’ll never make it there. The ideal scenario for Flick is that she and Brooke make it to final three, and Brooke doesn’t win immunity, with the winner voting Brooke out. And I feel like there’s plenty of people that Flick could beat in a final two. The ideal scenario for Brooke is that she and Flick make it to final three and Brooke wins immunity and has her choice of who she takes to the final two with her, likely beating whomever that might be (except maybe JL). Regardless, the best move for Brick is to stay together. As I mentioned above though, El may have other plans.
So does that mean that the best move for El now is to flip on Brick? Yes, I think it is. There are enough people that want Brick smashed, and El seems to have good relationships with Lee and Kristie. So most definitely, now is the time to strike. El has a much better shot of beating Kristie, Sam or Lee in the final two than she does either of Brick. If she doesn’t strike now then she may miss her shot and then have to hope that some immunity wins go her way.
So, there’s potentially some pretty decent gameplay ahead of us. That’s not even mentioning that Lee still has an advantage in the game, that could totally change everything I’ve just suggested to our top eight. Just please please please do what I say Survivors! Until Sunday, I got nothing else for you, head back to camp.
– Russell Feathers