Victory of the week: we have ourselves an eight-person Jury! Defeat of the week: Cole is still among us…
The 30-Year-Old Virgin
I’m all for you taking command of your body, Jessica, but I don’t need you to keep referencing the fact you've never had sex. It seems… forced. Oh well, guess I don’t have to think about that anymore as you became the next in what I believe to be a long line of Chrissy’s victims. Although the lover archetype typically falls onto more of a follower rather than a leader, Jessica’s inability, or unwillingness, to play the game without her precious Cole is firmly what cost her a shot moving forward and earns her the archetype. She was loyal to a fault, and when Cole and Joe began to feel the heat, what did our matronly queen Chrissy do? She played it smart and went for someone she didn’t think had an idol and someone who wasn’t expecting to see her name written down in the first place—someone very close to Cole. Although Ben and Lauren might have been destined to swing back over to the other Hustling Heroes, the fact they could not work with Cole was, if nothing else, a nail in that alliance’s coffin, so to speak. A smarter play would’ve been to vote out Cole, thereby earning Ben and Lauren’s trust evermore going forward while still maintaining a majority. I s’pose hindsight’s 20-20 though, huh, Jess?
The Queen and the Fool
That Good or that Bad?
Thinking back on Ben and Lauren’s swing roles and what put them in that position, a thought occurred to me: is Chrissy really this excellent at Survivor, or is Cole just that pathetic? Obviously, the answer lies somewhere in that unquantifiable gray area so much of this show relies on, but I have a hard time believing one didn’t have more of an effect than the other. Although I do think Chrissy is the best player out there, I think Ben and Lauren jumped ship a little more because of Cole.
Let me get one thing straight, I don’t think Cole is a bad person by any means. Watching him apologize to Ben, Cole appeared so genuine and so simply shocked that his actions had such a negative effect on those around him. While it was probably nice to see Cole so truly apologetic, I have to believe this moment also sent up some huge warning flags for Ben in the form of: this guy really is so dumb that he doesn’t understand catching a fish solely for himself makes him look selfish. That utter lack of self-awareness is only an asset to an ally in one scenario, that being the FTC. Until then, even if it helps keep eyes off of you for a while (think Rob using Phillip in RI or Phillip’s whole alliance doing the exact same thing in Caramoan or Jeremy using Savage in Cambodia), the possibility that said person implodes or explodes, decimating your game, remains as well (think Abi in Philippines or Na’Onka in Nicaragua). Ben, assessing the other players’ thoughts on Cole matched with his pre-arranged alliance with Chrissy, flipping on the second generation Yawa was the safest move he could make.
Lauren, however, seems more puzzling to me. Did she only flip because of Ben? Honestly, I think so. Ali and Lauren seemed far closer than Ryan and Lauren or Devon and Lauren, and here could have been why ditching Ali/not keeping her in the loop might have been so disastrous a choice for Ryan. If Lauren has the stronger will, she could simply say, “Screw Ryan, I’m not working with him. I’m sticking with Yawa.” In this scenario, we have 6 against 5 with Ben in the middle. Despite how upset Ben appeared at Cole all episode (as opposed to Lauren who seemed to do her best to temper those feelings within her comrade, much to my surprise), you think Ben dislikes Cole enough to go to rocks over it? Doubtful. Again, this is a moot point, by now, as Lauren clearly opted to go with Ben, driven away by Cole’s stupidity more than Chrissy’s temptation (because there’s no way Lauren is sitting in the top five in that alliance currently, I think).
A Purely Survivor Archetype
Reading Ben’s article last week, I really started thinking, how often do we get truly unique players? He mentioned people who want to be the next Hantz or Rupert or Tony or whoever often times become good players, but great? Memorable? Meh. Now, this isn’t a plug that Chrissy is a new type of player. She isn’t. We’ve seen her as far back as T-Bird and as recently as even Sunday—a older, motherly type who gets in strong thanks, at least in part, to her social game. While I’d argue the most successful iteration of this trope is Dawn in Caramoan, Chrissy is putting a new spin on things. No. She isn’t new, but she’s the pinnacle of what this type of player can be. I don’t think she came out here thinking she was going to be the next Dawn, and perhaps that’s what makes her so much more genuine and rootable than someone like Joe who openly declares that he’s (allegedly) strategic. She isn’t new, but that’s not the point. She is what editors tried to give us with all the others. I agree with Ben that people like Hantz, Tony, Cirie, and even the likes of Debbie and Coach are spectacular to watch because of the novelty that is them. Like he mentioned, there just aren’t that many unique people anymore. That being said, I’m getting a similar thrill from watching something perfect goodness into greatness. And ya know what? I think Chrissy might just win this thing. Why? Read below.
A Bit of Foreshadowing?
Ryan’s Prophecy and Numbers to Back It Up
It’s not uncommon for players, around Merge time, to talk about how important the Merge vote is. From my memory and experience, however, most players seem to focus on the Merge being important simply because it’s important. These days, more and more people are saying there’s going to be a line drawn in the sand or concrete or whatever, but then they leave their analogy there. Ryan, this week, said something a little different. He declared the Merge vote to critical because it dictates who holds power the rest of the game. He’s not wrong. In the history of Survivor, 26 of 34 winners voted correctly with the majority on the Merge boot (be it the first Jury member or not). Additionally, JT Thomas, Denise Stapley, Jeremy Collins, and Sarah Lacina, although they did not actually vote for the ousted player, were in on the plan at the Merge, and happened to vote for someone else in order to splits the votes to account for an idol. That means, only Chris, Danni, Bob, and Mike have successfully come back to win after being on the wrong side of the vote at the Merge (and in Mike’s case, he had the numbers, but Jenn idoled out Kelly). Aside from the staggering statistic here, Ryan’s comment made me think one thing: this pattern will not be broken this season. Simply put, I think Mike’s winning chances have decreased after this week while Chrissy’s have shot up. Just some food for thought… as well as a pretty astounding statistic that a little less than 9% of winners were down in numbers—in terms of how the vote went down—at the Merge. Putting in perspective, more winners have had their names written down at the first Merge boot than have comeback from being out of the loop on it (Rich, Amber, Yul, and Adam), and that’s statistically insignificant in all accounts! So… good on ya, Chris, Danni, and Bob. Bravo.
(Doctor) Mike’s Mountain
A Thin Path to a Comeback
Of the Healers, all of whom seem set up for a somewhat boring Pagonging, Mike has the best chance of upsetting the statistic noted above. Desi just won an II, Cole sucks and could win challenges, and most people don’t seem to like Joe. What’s Mike have? A winning personality and now, ostensibly, a secret idol since Jessica is gone. It’ll be a mountainous comeback, assuredly, if Mike can do the seemingly impossible and win, but of the Healers, he’s the only one edited to have a shot, the logic of such put aside. Of course, there was a lot of attention called to Lauren giving Mike her word. Could Lauren flip back to Mike at some point, blindsiding Devon or JP in the process? If so, I still think Mike has a good shot to win, but math doesn’t lie. Good luck, Doc.
A Closing Thought, Dearest Readers
This one will be short, but did anyone else feel the Merge wasn’t planned for another week? Think about it, production had already set up a challenge that wouldn’t be run for another three days at least and the Merge happened on Day 17. That’s early, as far as my memory goes. Why would they do this? Maybe production was worried it would lose some interesting characters when Levu or Soko inevitably went back to Tribal (such as Joe or Ryan)? Maybe they wanted to see if they could protect as many Healers as possible so they could make for some Healers versus everyone dynamics for the season’s narrative (which obviously happened). Regardless, and especially because Jessica ain’t Juror number one, I have to think this was a snap decision, not one that was necessarily planned from the get go. This isn’t, by any means, a criticism of the show or its production, it’s just an observation. But, again, we don’t have to see half the cast on the Jury this season, which is rather refreshing, if you’re asking me.
Prediction time! Desi, Joe, or Cole. Let’s not get too carried away here and go with a big edited character being the first Juror: Joe. I doubt it’ll be a strategically rousing episode, but I suppose that’s what you get when Chrissy is running things as she is.
Dan Otsuki has been watching Survivor religiously since season two, and is a recent graduate of the University of Puget Sound, where he double majored in English and Religious Studies. He's also applied to play on the show every time he's been able to do so.
Follow him on twitter: @DanOtsuki