If you need to feed your inner fat kid and feast on the analysis of the previous episode, do so here
Another huge flip in a season full of them so far. The man behind it all was Jay, exposing himself as a power player in this game. Both tribals he has been to he has been the one to manipulate the vote. Sending an apoplectic Michaela home. Was this a wise move though?
From the viewer’s perspective, this was a disappointing end to the episode. Michaela was arguably the most entertaining player this season. She seemed to have strong opinion about everything and was never afraid to share it. And damn girl was funny. Tonight she also showed she was strategic, and it looks like this may have been her downfall. Jay realised that not only was she a strong challenge competitor but she was also smart. That’s a double threat, but not a triple. What she didn’t have going for her, in my opinion, was influence. Strategy can’t help you without influence, and in that sense, she really wasn’t a threat. What then could she have done to prevent this? The only thing I keep coming back to is back in episode two where Figgy’s name was being thrown out there and Jay scrambled to save her. Michaela took Jay’s world that Mari was going to vote Michaela out next without doing any fact checking whatsoever. Evidence that Michaela was just way too trusting of Jay. Perhaps this is a credit to Jay’s social skills that Michaela felt comfortable with his word. At least after seeing how manipulative he was at tribal that night she maybe should have reassessed Jay’s trustworthiness or lack thereof. She didn’t, and now shes gone because of it. I guess the other thing that Jay was threatened by was the fact that she knew he had an idol. We didn’t see her attempt to work with Jay to use that idol, perhaps giving Jay the impression that she was going to do with that information what she told us the viewers she would and keep it in her back pocket to use should she feel the need. Given this and her apparent emotional volatility, I can see why Jay might consider it a risk to keep her in the game. So where does this move actually leave Jay and the millennials going in to the merge?
Watching the Bonfires Burn
Though it is arguable that Michaela wasn’t really in a formal alliance with Jay, I get the feeling she would have continued to vote with him and the millennials for a few more votes to come. It now seems Jay only has Will, Michelle and Taylor in his Tri-Force. So a voting block of four heading into a merged tribe of thirteen. Seven millennials to Six Gen-Xers. Those seven millenials are far from a cohesive unit though. We don’t know how Hannah is going to react to being blindsided like this, (incidentally credit to Jay and Will for recognising that telling Hannah about this blindside would jeopardize its execution) but I don’t think it’s outside the realms of capability for Jay to smooth this move over with her. I also don’t feel that Will is necessarily that loyal to Jay, we just haven’t seen enough of him for me to be sure about that. It looks like Zeke and Adam could side with Ken, Jess, and David. And given that the two of them are probably feeling like they are on the bottom of the millenials, I’d imagine that they would be looking to break up the Tri-Force before they get too strong. I’d also like to think Hannah might be willing to work with them to do this. Surely Hannah realises that she is not that tight with the cool-kids. And I really can’t see the Tri-Force getting any Gen-Xers on their side (maybe David, he’s so erratic you just don’t know what he’s going to do from one episode to the next). Had they kept Michaela around then the Tri-Force + Michaela + Hannah almost would have the numbers to pick off just about whoever they liked. Michaela would be easy enough to dispatch with later once the Gen-X threats were neutralized. There’s just so many moving parts in this post-merge tribe that the possibilities are almost too numerous to list.
This Guys a Narc
What about Chris, Bret and Sunday though? Surely Bret and Sunday aren’t going to stick with Jay and Will. That had to be a one tribal deal right? Bretstopher is agile enough and has fingers in enough pies for them to float to wherever suits them best. If they keep Sunday with them then they are an attractive voting block for others to try and pick up. I can actually see them as a trio flipping back and forth between the Millenials and the other Gen-Xers, systematically dismantling those blocks and consequently strengthening their position. That’s probably the best move for them as a group. Sunday doesn’t seem to have many other options, though we don’t know what Sunday’s relationship with David is like and how Jess feels about Sunday given she tried to vote Jess off.
All Tied Up in a Legacy Knot
I’d like to think Ken is going to stick with Jess given he is the only one that knows about the legacy advantage, but does that legacy advantage actually make it attractive for Ken to vote her out soon without her knowing that Ken was in on that vote? We’ve never seen the legacy advantage before, we just have no idea how it will affect gameplay. Although Jess is a tight number for Ken and David, we assume Bretstopher is still anti-Jess. So if Ken and David want that advantage to come their way then maybe now is the time to strike to ensure that Jess blames people other than Ken and David. As far as how Jess might be able to use the legacy advantage to keep her in the game, I just don’t know. Is it actually wise (or even allowable) to give it to someone else, could this build trust? We think Ken is the only person who knows that she has it, and she has promised it to him. I feel like that promise really needed to come with a caveat that she at least make it to a certain point. What about telling two people that you have it, say Jay and Chris as they seem to be influential in their own little voting blocks. She could tell Jay that he will get it if she is voted out at final 6 and tell Chris that he will get it if she is voted out at final seven? This makes them both want to keep her around at least until then, giving her time to vote them out. This is doing my head in. The legacy advantage doesn’t give you any power to get to the point where the advantage can be used if nobody’s knows about it, but by telling people about it you potentially put a target on your back. It would be easier to handle maybe if it was known just what the advantage was, then you could tell people that you will give them or share the advantage with them when you receive it at final five (?). I suppose you can do this not knowing what the advantage is, it would just make it a more attractive proposition if it was known. The more I think about it the more this legacy advantage throws even more unknowns into the mix. I can’t wait to see how things shake out once the merge happens, hopefully we’ll have a better idea who’s who in the zoo.
Speaking of Jess, I found it interesting that she was assessing who between Adam and Taylor might actually be more reliable for her game and her alliance. Though I personally cringed at the thought that she might choose Taylor over Adam, it certainly is promising that she is thinking this way, enough to have a conversation with Taylor that might make him think that he is in with them and vice versa, it was some clever thinking, I like that she is keeping her options open. As is Adam. It was great to see him early in the episode take the time to talk to Taylor and apologise, not for the move itself, but for how the move had left Taylor. It may not have made them best friends, but it may have softened the blow a little and helped Adam get a jury vote from Taylor if it came down to it.
I couldn’t end this post without mentioning that we saw some political discussion this episode, however brief. As far as I’m aware this is the first time we have seen such discussion broadcast on Survivor, and I imagine this is reflective of both the theme of the season, but more interestingly, of the political climate the USA currently finds itself in. To my knowledge (as an Australian) there has never been a more contentious US presidential race. I liked that they chose to show it, I’d like to see more of this in the future. Anyway, I’ll leave you with that tidbit, we’ve really been all over the place in this post, the smorgasbord has made me gassy. I got nothing else for you, head back to camp.