I didn’t think I’d be doing this again. But last night’s episode of Survivor was just so mindblowing that I had to post about Survivor again. I’m not going to recap who the characters are, because I’ve talked about them here already. I’m just going to jump right in.
So the previews last week were misleading: Dawn’s breakdown was something that she managed to recover from fairly quickly in the episode. A good night’s sleep really seemed to help. It really didn’t seem like it had anything to do with anything else, but I’m going to talk about it just because you have to take the edit into consideration. The Survivor editors are very good at weaving a (mostly?) organic game into a narrative with story arcs. Dawn’s been playing a great game, but this might be hinting that she’ll be struggling with trying not to break down in the future. Likewise, the fact that Brenda’s been so invisible the entire season (she had a confessional in the first episode, and then no more until this one) implies that Brenda’s probably not going to be around for too particularly long. There’s no way they would give so little screentime to a winner.
At this point, I’m going to go back to Dawn for a bit: a lot of people really don’t like Dawn (I may have some slight animosity towards her since she potentially ended up replacing fellow South Dakotan Holly Hoffman on the cast). They say that she’s a crybaby and a wuss, but I actually see that as a strength of hers. A lot of people don’t understand just how brutal a game Survivor is. It is full of physical, mental, and emotional stress, and I’m sure that half the contestants break down and cry at some point. So yes, Dawn is emotional, but she’s sticking it out. So I respect her. Cry it out, Dawn. I’ll still stand by you, because you’re playing a great game.
Moving on, though. Most of the episode is a decent episode, but there’s not much to talk about. Malcolm, Reynold, and Eddie are in a minority of 3-7, of course. There’s that. The real meat of this is the final tribal council.
Reynold wins individual immunity. Malcolm has a hidden immunity idol. Malcolm finds a second hidden immunity idol. Everyone goes to tribal council, hands Eddie one of them, and shows everyone else his other one. Malcolm and Eddie, who were previously the targets of a split vote (4-3-3, and even if one of them plays an idol, the other would either get voted out or they’d tie and the other would end up with four extra votes on them in a revote) are now safe—provided they actually play the idols. Malcolm announces that the three of them will be voting for Phillip. Phillip tells everyone to stay the course in hopes that one or both of them are bluffing and will try to hold onto the idols. Four votes Eddie, two votes Malcolm, four votes Phillip (Erik didn’t want to risk anything and didn’t like Phillip anyway). Eddie and Malcolm both play their idols. Phillip goes home.
Survivor fans might not like what I’m about to say, but I was kind of sad to see Phillip go. I honestly believe that Phillip had done everything right this season. He put together his alliance and remained in control of it, he attempted to bring as many people into his alliance as possible (I believe that Francesca was the only person he actually had a chance to make an alliance with that he didn’t attempt to at some point of the game), he ousted people who were disloyal, kept strong ties with people who were loyal, listened to his allies when they offered strategies opposed to his own, played as openly and straightforwardly as possible, and planned to bring Sherri (probably the person the other players liked least) as far as he could as a goat. He was a laughingstock who got on everyone’s nerves, yes, but that could have easily worked to his advantage. If he had made it to the final tribal council, he could have said “you might be laughing at me, and you might think I’ve been irritating, but I’ve controlled this game the entire way, and you’ve all let me control it. You didn’t bring me to the end; you let me bring myself. I’ve been open with all of you, and I think I played a good strategic game.” And you know what? I’d vote for him. I hold by the fact that Phillip did everything right. Even at the end, he told everyone to stay the course and call their bluff, even though he knew that it was his head on the chopping block. He risked his own neck instead of being disloyal to all his allies by throwing one of them under the bus. He called their bluff and he paid for it, but he’d be no better off had he turned on one of his allies.
Also, look at this secret scene where Phillip performs a monologue. Listen to it. I mean, seriously, do it. That is how we always see Phillip speaking. It sounds entirely natural, to the point where it’s hard to tell when exactly he starts it if you’re not listening for it. Phillip is apparently a great actor, and I’m more convinced than ever that he’s just playing a character.
But enough praise for the so oft unpraised. Let’s take a quick look at the Broliance. Reynold has somehow had something finally go his way. The game has been a series of unfortunate events for him, constantly being on the bottom, constantly thinking things can turn around, but watching ally after ally get voted off (the only real exception was when the Fans ousted Laura because they needed the muscle to win challenges, and you could maybe count when Brandon had his breakdown, though that was a lucky break for all the Fans). Last night, he not only had immunity, but his allies came out unscathed and the opposition lost their figurehead.
Eddie is also getting a lucky break, but this time it’s from the editors. I’ve perceived him as being dumb as a box of rocks all season, but between some secret scenes on the website and a better portrayal in the show itself, I’ve got a much higher opinion of him. Sure, he’s no mastermind, and Malcolm’s obviously calling the shots in the Broliance, but he’s not just fanservice for the ladies.
And finally, Malcolm. I don’t think that Malcolm did everything right (he tried convincing people who wouldn’t make moves to make moves), but I think he did the best he could, and the move he made last night was a wonderful one. It was probably ultimately meaningless, as he’s still in a minority alliance that can easily be picked off even if one of them wins immunity. I don’t think Erik is going to flip in the end, since he’s got a better chance of getting to the end with the six remaining members of Stealth ‘R’ Us than the Broliance, especially now that the former’s power structure opens up more. Erik’s 4th place at best in the Broliance.
So here’s my predicted boot order at this point in the game:
The Brolaince is going out first, second, and fourth. I’m taking a guess and saying that one of them wins immunity or finds another hidden immunity idol when they need it. Third out from here is probably going to be Sherri. Nobody really likes her, and while she could be a good goat, I don’t see her working her way into an alliance.
After that, I think that Cochran and Dawn will realize that Andrea’s their biggest competitor for jury votes and convince Brenda and Erik to take her out. It’s at that point that Erik goes on an immunity run and wins his way into the Final Two. Brenda, of course, gets voted out because Cochran and Dawn are a stronger pair and harder to split (plus Brenda’s edit kind of precludes her from getting much further). I may be wrong, but unless there’s a major shakeup, I think Cochran and Dawn are in the best position to go to the end. They were in the middle of the Stealth ‘R’ Us alliance and tried reaching out to the bottom members earlier in the game, but with two defections and Phillip’s ousting, they’re now near the top, are working together as a pair, and have close ties with those beneath them. If they can keep Stealth ‘R’ Us together, I’d say that they’re a shoe-in for the finals.
So my boot order:
Final 3: Erik, Dawn, Cochran
Erik hasn’t really had the chance to upset anyone, but he also hasn’t been playing very strong strategically. His wishy-washiness will leave him in 3rd.
Dawn has been playing a good strategic game, but has played double agent and has gotten close to people before voting her out. She’ll be commended for her strategic game, but her betrayals will cost her some votes.
I’m going to pick Cochran as my winner, just because he’s been playing a strategically strong game, and while he’s not as close to people as Dawn, he’s at least tried to reach out and have some fun with groups that he otherwise wouldn’t fit in with well (see the male bonding of last episode). Any of his betrayals are more likely to be overlooked, and he’ll win in a strange case of his strategy flying under the radar.
So I’m sure that my boot order isn’t right, but I think it’s a good guess. I guess I’ll just have to wait until the next few weeks to see how it turns out.