Oh man, it’s impossible not to love a good merge episode. We get scrambling, strategy, idiocracy (not the amazing movie), and all kinds of other fun. And it sure looked like that was happening this week on Kaoh Rong.
And then it happened.
All those pus-filled shots of disgustingness led to our second medical evacuation of the season and our first Tribal-less one. I feel bad for Neal, but I feel way worse for us, the fans.
While I have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this season – for some reason, preseason buildup foreshadowed a really bad season – it’s been decidedly only a bit better than mediocre. We haven’t had too many huge surprises or amazing plays. All in all, it’s been a good season that, if it stays like this, will put it somewhere close to the middle of the overall season rankings. But this episode promised so much more. It looked as if the season was taking the leap.
Alas, all that great strategizing with the Beauty tribe in the middle went for naught. And we know how Survivor is: By not going to tribal this week, the whole game can change. Alliances were not cemented and that gives folks more time to assess other options. So while Aubry seemed justifiably upset to not get Neal’s idol, she’s probably a wee bit lucky because she may have been blindsided home this week.
Without a vote off, it’s tough to assess strategy and apply theory. So, I thought, this makes for the perfect time to write a Power Rankings column. Yep, I know it’s a tried and true device that others have definitely employed already this season, but, well, you’re here to read my thoughts, so here they are.
Now, before we get to these rankings, let me explain what I’m basing them on. This is not a predicted boot order, but rather a ranking of how likely I think people can win. For example, Kyle/Jason is going to be low in these rankings, but I think he might last a while. He’s just not winning. I’m basing these not only on all we’ve seen in the episodes, but also the editing of the players and the scenes from next week. Can I say, first, that when doing this exercise, I realized why this season might be better than we thought: It’s really hard to rank these players. I have no idea, really, who’s better than someone else. Folks are relatively even, amazingly. We don’t even have a real goat this season.
With that said, here we go, from worst to first, or least likely to my current winner pick:
- 10. Debbie– When Debbie instigated the dismissal of Liz earlier this season, it sure looked as if she’d be a power player and a potential dominant force this season. But producers are going out of their way – not that they need to – to make her look kooky. And this episode, we saw a lot more about how’s she viewed by other players. She seemingly doesn’t have a solid alliance and people don’t think of her as a good player. She might last a while longer, but she’s not effectively arguing in front of a jury and getting people to vote for her.
- 9. Joe — Maybe I’m picking on Brains here, but Joe is another one I just don’t think stands a chance of winning. But it’s for different reasons. I think if Joe made the end, he’d get a heck of a lot more votes than Debbie. But I don’t think he’s getting there. Joe also doesn’t have strong connections with basically anyone, and, more importantly, he rubs some folks the wrong way. And he also seems decidedly not adaptable, which makes me think he can’t navigate his way to the end. No way.
- 8. Kyle/Jason – I think Kyle/Jason has the game, both physical and strategic, to win a season of Survivor. He’s currently got an idol in his pocket and knows where the other idol is right now. But he just doesn’t have the social game. Basically everyone on the island, besides Scot, doesn’t appear to really like him, they all know he’s a threat, and he’s just not going to garner many votes in the end. Producers wouldn’t have made him look like such a bully if he was going to win, I think.
- 7. Nick – Now Nick took a huge step forward this week. Prior to this episode, we only saw Nick looking incredibly egotistical or, ironically, dumb. He told us over and over how great he is, but producers would immediately juxtapose those comments with other people telling us how transparent he was and how much they don’t trust him. So while I think Nick looked strategically great this episode, I don’t think he’ll be in the game for much longer. He’s a physical threat that folks don’t trust. That’s a not a good combo for the early merge game.
- 6. Aubry – This is where it gets tough. I honestly didn’t know to put in this spot. I don’t think Aubry’s long for this game because she just doesn’t seemingly make many good decisions, she’s indecisive and I think she’ll end up on the wrong side of the numbers after next week. I also think she’s a bit socially awkward and will have a hard time forming the relationships needed to get a strong alliance together, something she hasn’t done all season, really.
- 5. Scot – I think Scot is playing a really good game so far. He’s setting the bar for all the former professional athletes yet to be cast… and you know there are plenty. But with that said, he’s getting cocky, he’s a clear physical target and he’s made a boatload of money in his life. All those things don’t play well at this point of the season. There’s a chance he, or Kyle/Jason, could get dragged to the end as goats in a way, but I don’t see it happening. I think Scot’s torch is snuffed in the next three weeks.
- 4. Tai – Well, we know that everyone in the world, including me, I think, is rooting for Tai, but I have a feeling that’s exactly why he’s not getting to the end. He’s simply too likeable and if Beauty and Brawn come together like I think, he’ll be the first Beauty targeted once Michele and Julia need to boot someone.
- 3. Cydney – So, in all seriousness, this is my final three. I really see us getting down to Beauty and Brawn, then Scot going, then Kyle/Jason, then Nick and we’re left with three women and Tai. I think the women will know they’d all lose to Tai, so he goes bye-bye, leaving us with our first all women final three (I think?). I have a feeling that Cydney won’t have bonded with enough people and won’t have as clear of an argument as the Beauty women who can point toward picking off the other two tribes.
- 2. Michele – I have no idea who to pick from out of Michele and Julia and don’t think either did anything, so far, to look like a winner. But, as of now, Michele seems a lot more forceful and less likely to play nice, which makes me think a bitter jury will vote against her and not necessarily for Julia. That’s all I’ve got.
- 1. Julia – Julia’s clearly really nice and, well, she’s young. She can point to college loans, her night on her own, coming back and surviving the tribe shakeup when she was clearly at a disadvantage. Heck, she can even talk about lying about her age as a clear strategic move. Again, if it plays out like I think, this is the most logical winner, but I have no real reason to believe it and I sure as heck wouldn’t bet on it.
And there it is. Let’s hope we get an actual tribal next week and can get back to analyzing things with theory. I hope you all have a great week and let’s talk in the comments.