Boy, that was an amazing episode of Survivor. It’s in those moments when the show really displays just how good it remains.
Whenever I tell people I’ve been a loyal Survivor fan since the very beginning, since when my friend Ryan Dixon and I faithfully watched episode after episode as Richard Hatch marched toward victory, I sometimes get a blank stare followed by, “That’s still on?” You know, as demographics show, people around my age aren’t watching CBS so the question makes some sense.
On another level, the question makes sense because most reality shows, especially ones on network television, simply don’t last this long. Survivor even came before and outlasted juggernauts such as American Idol.
How does it do that? By not shying away from issues such as the one discussed last week. And that’s pretty amazing when you think about it. I mean, we’re talking about CBS here. The network’s median viewer is over 60 and that number is increasing. It’s the only network still cranking out multi-camera sitcoms depicting traditional patriarchal families. And, of course, lots and lots of crime-of-the-week crap. But Survivor had an openly gay winner all the way back in 2000. And this week the show clearly edited an episode to be incredibly pro-trans, to the point where any other view was explicitly shot down as wrong.
That’s a great show.
But, boy, I’m glad I don’t have to apply any theory to this episode. It would have been super hard since it’s was pretty obvious what was going to happen and why things happened.
Why don’t I have to apply theory? Because it’s merge time!
Every season, at the merge, I do a little Power Rankings. It’s time for a reset. So right here is a list, from least likely to most likely to win. This isn’t a list of how I expect the voting out to go, just how likely I think people are to win. So, for example, whoever I have first on this list could come in second, but I give them no chance to actually win the game. Make sense?
OK, let’s do this:
13. Debbie — I know she’s got an extra vote in her arsenal and I don’t really think Debbie goes home this week, but, plain and simple, Debbie does not possess the self-awareness to win this game. She won’t know when people are targeting her and if she does get dragged to the end, her jury speech will be one of beauty, one that basically tells everyone she played the greatest game ever. It won’t go over well.
12. Michaela — I kind of see Michaela like I see Debbie. I’m not sure she’ll be able to effectively sway a jury in her direction. But, also, Michaela has something else working against her: She’s lost all her allies and we’ve seen that her personality isn’t the most effective for making more. She could be the one out this week. It’s my guess.
11. Sierra — Well, I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: While Sierra is still in this game and holding an advantage, she’s not seen as anyone controlling anything. She’s probably not winning anything.
10. Tai — When you think about it, is anyone in a better position than Tai? At the merge, someone like him can start moving under the radar. And he’s got two idols! Of course, we all know Tai. His words and actions will get him into trouble. Plus, we haven’t seen many worse displays at final tribal council than we did from Tai last time.
9. Aubry — I’m on the fence about Aubry. Before this week, I would have said while Aubry is definitely someone I’m rooting for, she’s not long for this game. I still basically believe that, but her alliance with Brad puts Aubry in a much better position moving forward. Let’s see.
8. Cirie — For such a prominent player in the history of Survivor, for such a great player in the history of Survivor, we really haven’t seen much of Cirie. Besides the whole revisiting history with Ozzy, she’s been relatively invisible. With most of the alpha dudes gone, I expect the tribe to target Cirie soon because of the strategic threat that comes with her reputation.
7. Andrea — I can’t help but feel like maybe Andrea is getting the Michele edit this season. We know Andrea is a good player who’s always thinking strategically. And we know she always does something to mess up her game. But she’s at the merge again and she’s pretty damn good in challenges. I don’t think it will happen, but Andrea is always a threat to win the game, I believe.
6. Hali — What’s Hali doing this far up the list? Well, like Andrea and Cirie and the next person, this is the fuzzy part of the rankings with people who I don’t think will win, but have a better chance than those ranked nine or higher. What do I mean? Well, for example, I know Debbie can’t win this game. But Hali has a decent story about being on the bottom and somehow staying alive. And she’s not going to be hated. So if she gets to the end with the right people, it’s conceivable – not likely – she can win.
5. Ozzy — I’m not sure if there’s any way Ozzy can get to the end, but in my mind, if he does, he should win the game. Easily the biggest non-Sandra threat in this game, Ozzy has done well in every single season he’s been on. And if he’s sitting at final tribal, maybe he receives a lifetime achievement award?
4. Troyzan — I’m not really sure I think Troyzan can win, but he’s got an idol, what seems like a decent alliance brewing and he’s probably going to float under the radar a bit now. I think he’s in a great spot and if he’s sitting at the end with Brad and Sierra, he could win.
3. Brad — Speaking of Brad, I’ve also got mixed feelings. I’ve said it before: I think Brad’s easily playing the best game of anyone out there – so far. And while this is a season of returnees and you hope they’ll vote for the best player, I fear if Brad gets to the end, people won’t vote for him because he’s made a lot of money in his life. And, of course, he’s Brad, so he’s going to have a big target on him throughout the rest of the game. But …
2. Sarah — Did you know she’s playing like a criminal this season? If you hadn’t heard that, I just wanted to remind you. And I’m sticking with the criminal for my Winner’s EditTM thing. Look, I think Sarah is in a great spot. Nobody will be gunning for her and we know she wants to make moves. I think she’ll be good in front of a jury. She can win this.
1. Zeke — This is not just because of last week. As I said before this last episode, Zeke is seemingly in a great position. The question we now have to ponder is did Varner’s outing help or hurt Zeke… in the game. In a season as cutthroat as this, it could have hurt him because these castaways are going to know Zeke has a good story to tell at final. However, he has proven himself a great player. I think he’s in the best spot.
And now let’s hope we’re settled into a hell of an end game for this season. I mean, at least we know there’s like 7,019 idols and 421 advantages still out there. Talk to you next week.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.