Coming and going... Julia and Peter
In this episode, Julia finally joined a post-swap tribe, just in time for a single vote and then the merge. Woo! Three days! Without the implicit threat of an incoming Beauty, she fared much better than Anna (although, ironically, now next week there will be two incoming Beauties). Meanwhile, Peter completed his pre-jury rounds, and was sent home. Despite the enormous difference in outcomes, amplified by Aubry crossing out Julia's name on her ballot and amending that to "Pete," we don't think Peter played all that poorly, at least relative to Julia.
The difference in performance is largely a matter of timing. Peter probably shouldn't have been explicitly going after Joe and Aubry in this episode, he should have waited until the merge to betray his fellow Brains. He should have kept his mouth shut, and played nice. As Julia did, perfectly. For her part, Julia did very little beyond smiling, greeting her new tribemates, and belatedly assisting Tai in letting Aubry know Peter was gunning for her. Even that very nearly didn't work, but when Aubry changed her mind at the last second, it was just enough.
Peter, meanwhile, was a strong physical player, performing key, victory-sealing tasks for the Brains in all three of their challenge wins, and also coming through for them in their second-place finish. But outside of challenges, his mouth did him in, both in contributing to his and Liz's downfall in the Brains, and at Tribal Council. From his interviews, it sounds like Peter had no real opportunity to work with the ex-Beauties and Brawn of Gondol, perhaps because he had already called Tai out publicly for (alleged) poor sportsmanship earlier in the game. This is pretty much the exact opposite of Julia's mostly quiet, but socially adept performance. Clearly, Peter had a mixed record at best, but even so, he was just a few stacked blocks away from the merge. Then again, as you'll soon see: Maybe Peter's challenge success has doomed the entire Brains tribe post-merge, and he could have the last laugh, after all.
Coming and going... Aubry and Joe
Aubry and Joe were in a fairly unwinnable position here. Ostensibly running the Gondol tribe, they ended the episode more or less at the bottom of it. Their best move, had they known with certainty the merge was coming in the next episode, would have been to spearhead the Boot Peter movement from the beginning. Taking out Peter pre-merge makes perfect sense for the remaining ex-Brains (including Debbie and Neal), because Peter was guaranteed to flip on them post-merge. Worse yet, keeping Peter around would have created a 5-3-3 Brains "majority" on the post-merge tribe, which instantly becomes a minority, since the obvious counter is the formation of a six-person Beauty-Brawn alliance, (over-) powered by Tai and Jason's idols.
So they had to boot Peter here. But only if they were positive the merge was imminent, which they obviously weren't, since they worried numerous times about being outnumbered 3-2 on a post-Peter Gondol tribe. It's odd they were never shown even mentioning a possible merge, but it had to be a part of their calculations. Still, if they were sure they couldn't trust Peter (and they were), they should at least have been trying to build trust with Julia, Tai, and Scot, by actively working with them. Instead, Aubry and Joe seemed to spend a lot of time with just each other, much as Peter and Liz did back at the Brains tribe. Obviously, Aubry did decide to work with the others, but in the most reluctant way possible, whereas Joe hard-headedly refused, completely. Now they're in the weakest position possible - Joe probably doesn't feel he can rely on Aubry any more, and he voted for Julia. For whom Aubry briefly also voted. Sigh.
With the impending merge, the evenly matched Beauties and Brains, at four apiece, may battle for the three Brawns' affections. The lingering bad feelings over this final vote, however, probably won't help the Brains' cause. Unless everyone just decides to boot Nick because he almost beat a former NBA champion at shooting baskets.
Coming and going... Michele and Nick
One highlight of this episode was finally seeing more of Michele and Nick - enough to finally start to get an idea of who Michele really is (beyond a generic Beauty tribe narrator). We were also shown who Nick is, but it turns out he's just the same cocky guy who was manspreading on the boat on Day 1. Oh well. It's hard to imagine Nick lasting much longer in the game, unless he goes on an immunity run (or maaaaybe Debbie could keep him around as eye candy, but that seems unlikely). Michele, on the other hand, seems poised to go deep. With Debbie and Cydney, maybe? That would at least be interesting.
Coming and going... final two? Final three?
With more medevacs looming (there was at least one more, as yet unaired, during the Kaoh Rong preview shown after the Cambodia reunion), there's a possibility we might still see another Final Two in our lifetimes, perhaps even this season. Jeff Probst has asserted in no uncertain terms that there will never again be a planned Final Two, except in an emergency situation. And yet... Michele mentioned the Final Two on air a few episodes ago. And unless CBS is planning to pad out the season with a recap episode, we're on a pace to potentially have that, especially if production decides to go ahead with a vote in the same episode as a medevac again. If a future medical removal takes the place of a vote at Tribal Council, the calendar currently predicts a single-boot finale and a Final Three, probably with an RC to kill time. But if medevacs topple two people in a single episode, production will be forced to either go with a Final Two, or start stretching episodes out to four days (and have a recap).
Land of the takes that are at best lukewarm:
Kaoh Rong Episode 6 recaps and commentary
Exit interviews: Peter Baggenstos
Episode 6 Podcasts