So I watch Survivor.
I don’t really watch reality TV. I’ve just been watching Survivor from Episode 2 of Season 1. It really rises and dips in quality. Everyone watched the first season. Then everyone stopped watching around season 4 and 5. Then people started watching for a few more seasons after that, then stopped watching again…basically the series has a lot of ups and downs. There were a lot of downs recently. Season 22 (Redemption Island) and 23 (South Pacific) were really predictable and boring, and 24 (One World) wasn’t really all that great.
But now we’re experiencing some more ups. 25 (Philippines) was a great season with a lot of likeable characters and great story arcs, and it ended up having one of the greatest episodes of the entire series. The current season, 26 (Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites) has been kind of hit and miss, but the wheels are starting to roll and I’m really starting to enjoy it. Of course, it’s kind of hard to tell who’s with who, so I’m going to sort of just talk my way through it to figure it out. This post is consequently largely written for my sake.
This is the part where people who aren’t watching the current season, and especially people who don’t watch Survivor in general might want to stop watching because I’m going to be talking about characters and a game you know nothing about. But hey, if you want to hear me ramble and listen to me overthink things, read on.
So we’ve got ten characters left. Yes, characters. They’re real people, but they’re also playing a game and being edited in certain ways. They’re characters. And these characters, along with a brief summary and their general allegiance are:
Sherri – Fan. Led a strong alliance that was completely destroyed at the tribe swap. Joined the Favorites’ “Stealth ‘R’ Us” alliance to keep herself in the game a bit longer.
Phillip – Favorite, Redemption Island. Loony alleged “Former Federal Agent” who set up the Stealth ‘R’ Us alliance and leads it. And older black man who talks big but can’t play big. Idolizes “Boston” Rob Mariano, who he played with last time, and plays by his “BR Rules.”
Andrea – Favorite, Redemption Island. Played with Phillip before, is currently his #2.
Malcolm – Favorite, Philippines. Jumped ship from Stealth ‘R’ Us and started organizing an alliance of strong guys.
Eddie – Fan. Very pretty. Doesn’t appear to have much going on upstairs. Part of Malcolm’s Broliance.
Erik – Favorite, Micronesia (the first Fans vs. Favorite season, in which he was a fan). Very quiet, doesn’t like to talk strategy at all. Malcolm attempted to rope him into the Broliance, but I don’t think he’s voted with them yet.
Reynold – Fan. Has been a victim of a series of unlucky breaks, and has only survived through a series of lucky breaks. Part of Malcolm’s Broliance.
Cochran – Favorite, South Pacific. Nerdy mastermind wannabe. He and Dawn are probably 3rd and 4th in the Stealth ‘R’ Us alliance, and they’re both sort of playing a “behind-the-scenes” game in terms of strategy.
Dawn – Favorite, South Pacific. See above. Dawn tends to be highly emotional. This is probably why people keep trusting her, at which point she tattles on them and gets them voted out. Seriously, rule #1 this season seems to be “don’t tell Dawn the plan.” And yet everyone still does.
Brenda – Favorite, Nicaragua. Um…sorry, who? No, seriously, she’s been invisible practically all season.
There was also Michael, a fan, who got voted off this episode. But we won’t go into him since I’ve already spoiled that he’s gone so he won’t come across as much more than cannon fodder.
So. This episode.
The previous episode, Corinne (a member of Stealth ‘R’ Us who was Malcolm’s closest ally and absolutely loathed Phillip) got voted out. She and Malcolm’s Broliance would have managed to vote out Sherri, but Corinne opened her mouth to Dawn (making her into the target), Sherri knew she was gone unless she joined Stealth ‘R’ Us, and Erik decided that no, he wasn’t part of the Broliance after all.
So at the start of Episode 9, the alliances look something like this.
The Broliance: Malcolm, Eddie, Reynold.
Stealth ‘R’ Us: Phillip, Andrea, Cochran, Dawn, Brenda, Sherri.
Unattatched: Erik (seems to be tagging along with Stealth ‘R’ Us), Michael (seems to be tagging along with the Broliance).
At the reward challenge, all the guys sans Phillip end up winning reward. Malcolm is still under the impression that Erik is supposed to be in the Broliance, and Michael doesn’t really have anyone else he could go to. So those five try to pull in Cochran by saying that the muscle should go to the end since it’s usually women that are able to pull off a win. They make the mistake of saying that to Cochran, a pasty ginger geek (meant affectionately; that’s why we love him) who tends to get physically outperformed by most women. Cochran is not “muscle.” Cochran remains unconvinced.
We also find out that Andrea and Eddie are starting to click. This is good news for Eddie since it means that he’s being shown as more than a box of rocks stored inside the head of a body. Unfortunately, Andrea and Eddie are not on the same alliance. We’ve got a bit of a star-crossed lovers theme going here. I have to admit, I rolled my eyes when it was teased in last week’s previews, but I’m enjoying the concept because it’s something the show’s never really had. Neither alliance is changing because it’s not a good strategic choice, but they’re both trying to keep each other around longer.
Brenda wins immunity. Hooray. Unfortunately, she is not given a confessional at all. The Survivor community is stunned, as normally immunity winners get confessionals and Brenda has gone most episodes without a single one.
So at this point, the plan is for Phillip, Andrea, Dawn, Cochran, Sherri, Brenda, and presumably Malcolm and Erik to split the vote between Reynold and Eddie 4-4. That way, they don’t risk any of their members with the 3 votes coming back at them, and they lose Eddie or Reynold whether one of them plays a hidden immunity idol or not. Andrea is not fond of this because there’s a chance it takes out Eddie, and she confirms that if it’s a tie and no idol is played, they vote out Reynold.
Malcolm knows that his Broliance currently consists of four votes, to the six of Stealth ‘R’ Us (and who knows where Erik falls in this?). The Broliance also has two hidden immunity idols (though Malcolm is the only one who knows about his own), but that involves knowing who’s getting voted for so you know who’s going to play the idol. Malcolm and Reynold both try to rope in Dawn, because people haven’t yet realized that you do not try to flip Dawn, and Reynold shows her that she has an idol. Dawn, true to form, informs her alliance instead of flipping. The target is changed from splitting the votes between Eddie and Reynold to voting for Malcolm (since they now know that they don’t have his vote). Malcolm then decides to target Andrea.
So now the vote is four to Andrea, and presumably seven to Malcolm. Maybe a split between Malcolm and Reynold. I’m not sure; I’d have to rewatch the episode.
However, Eddie gets suspicious that Malcolm may have an idol and tells her this. Wow. Okay, potentially a dumb move strategically, since he’s basically selling his alliance out for her, but if he plans on working with her long-term (a pair can be very powerful in the game) that’s a good move. That, and he’s acting on some very good instincts. So Eddie’s maybe smarter than he seems to be. This episode completely changed my opinion of the guy.
Andrea realizes that if an idol is played, she’s the one going home. So she attempts to change the target to Michael. We don’t see the conclusion of this for a while (but since I’ve spoiled the outcome it’s obvious that that’s what happens)
So now the vote is seven to Michael (or Malcolm?), four to Andrea.
Tribal council happens, and Phillip starts gabbing like Phillip does, taking the Stealth out of Stealth ‘R’ Us, going on about who’s in the alliance, and more specifically, the fact that someone from the alliance is untrustworthy. Something like that, I don’t remember the exact words. The gist of it is that it’s very clearly an allusion to Malcolm.
So they vote. Malcolm votes for Reynold, assuming that Reynold would play his idol and he could keep his deception up for a bit longer. But when the time comes to vote, he second-guesses himself, and makes what would have been an amazing play if it had worked out.
Malcolm realizes that the cat is out of the bag and that Phillip was talking about him. He believes himself to be the target of the vote, and as Reynold stands to play his idol, he outs himself by standing up and and telling Reynold that he’s the target and to give it to him instead.
Now, had Eddie not believed Malcolm might have an idol, the vote would have been for Malcolm. Malcolm’s instincts would have been right, and he would have saved Reynold and himself, as well as convincing everyone that the idols were out of play. He still did that, but unfortunately, the target was Michael, meaning that the Broliance is both out of the closet and down a member.
So now some number crunching:
Erik has stayed with Stealth ‘R’ Us so far, but I still can’t count him one way or another, as even if he was in in the plan, he might have tried staying undercover like Malcolm originally did. But everyone else seems to be pretty solid, and Malcolm’s Broliance has been outed. So the numbers stand as such, in rough order of standing within the alliance.
Broliance: Malcolm, Reynold, and Eddie, plus an immunity idol.
Stealth ‘R’ Us: Phillip, Andrea, Cochran, Dawn, Brenda, Sherri.
And now a few reflections: first, Malcolm has made it clear that he is no longer part of Stealth ‘R’ Us. However, he has also made it clear that he does not have a hidden immunity idol, as he asked Reynold for his. Naturally, he actually does have one, but now it’s a secret and, if he can play it right, a vote in his favor. Malcolm made a very good move that did not turn out as planned. However, it’s a move that he might be able to recover from, since he still has an ace up his sleeve. Also, wonderful trust on Reynold’s part, especially since Malcolm himself voted for him.
Second, Stealth ‘R’ Us made a good move. They flushed an idol without it backfiring by targeting the weakest appendage of the Broliance instead of its head. Phillip in particular made some wonderful misdirection. Perhaps the Stealth ‘R’ Us speech was to make everyone think he was giving too much away, and to try to force an idol from Malcolm if he did have one. If so, it was a very good misdirection, and Phillip is perhaps saner than he appears to be. In fact, at this point, I think he may actually have a shot to win. No one takes him seriously (his antics have even been taken up a notch from his last season), so they’re letting him control the game. They don’t want to vote him out since he’d make such a great goat at the end. However, if he can make it to the final tribal council and make an argument about how, despite the fact that everyone was laughing at him behind his back, he was still in complete control of the game, he might have a shot. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Phillip has a shot at the million.
Finally, Eddie and Andrea will probably be trying to protect each other as long as they can. That may affect their votes.
So, let’s look at votes in the future. The obvious first target for Stealth ‘R’ Us is Malcolm. Malcolm probably knows this and can probably use that to his advantage at the next tribal council. In fact, probably the worst thing that Malcolm could do next week is win immunity. That forces him to reveal his idol to Eddie or Reynold, and he’d have to know which one to use it for. They targeted Andrea this week, so Malcolm will probably target her next week as well. Unless Eddie and Reynold both choose a different target, Eddie can’t save her.
The Broliance and Stealth ‘R’ Us currently sit at three against six, respectively. Erik could fall on either side. He is literally the only player I cannot figure out. The previews teased a Dawn meltdown next week, so it’s possible that she’s going home. So if Dawn quits and Malcolm takes out Andrea, that puts the numbers at 3-4.
Erik could join the three, evening the odds. But he’s still near the bottom of either alliance. Personally, I think that it’d be smarter for him to stick with Stealth ‘R’ Us. The problem with a Broliance that’s openly together and in the minority, however, is that only one person can win individual immunity. Erik is a strong physical competitor. If he joins the Broliance, that puts him up against three other strong competitors in the end, and puts a target on his own back. If he joins Stealth ‘R’ Us, that puts him up against two small, older woman (Dawn and Sherri), a woman with a knee injury (Brenda), an older man who’s more talk than muscle (Phillip), and Cochran (Cochran). Assuming that Malcolm takes someone out with his idol and another member of Stealth ‘R’ Us leaves the game (the schedule implies a double-elimination episode, so someone leaving the game is almost a given), that gives him the numbers to take out his physical competition (if one wins immunity, the other two are still targets) and puts him about 5th in Stealth ‘R’ Us. Assuming the Broliance is targeted first (they’re both an opposing alliance and immunity threats), that at least one member of Stealth ‘R’ Us leaves the game or gets voted out, and that the final tribal council is a final 3, that puts Erik about 5th or 6th, meaning that he only has to win two or three immunities against a group where his only major competitor in strength and speed would be Andrea.
At this point, Malcolm, Reynold, Eddie, and Sherri have no chance at winning. They Broliance is doomed, and Sherri’s nothing more than a pawn with no one who would vote for her. Brenda’s been incredibly invisible, is injured (meaning she’s not much of an immunity threat) and is near the bottom of the Stealth ‘R’ Us alliance, so that’s unlikely as well. Assuming Dawn’s breakdown doesn’t take her out of the game, that leaves Phillip, Andrea, Erik, Cochran, and Dawn in the running. I think that, if the circumstances are right, any one of those five has a shot at winning.
There. Now I know what’s going on. Maybe.