Survivor: Ghost Island has thirteen players left, and I’ve got thirteen bullet points in this blog. There’s really only one way to play this, right?
Time for more fan fiction masquerading as a boot order!
We’ve been told for weeks that Chris and Dom are going to have an alpha battle. It’s been delayed by challenge victories and swaps, but now, with everyone on the same beach, the confrontation is inevitable. Even if holding off would help both of their games, they’re not going to be able to restrain themselves; Chris and Dom are going to force everyone to take sides, and this thing is going to end this week, one way or another.
Speaking of sides, now that the merge is here, who, we have to wonder, is really going to work with whom?
My best guess:
Wendell: Dom’s right hand man
Laurel: We’ve been reminded at least twice in “Previously On” that she’s with WenDom
Donathan: Where Laurel goes, so goes Donathan.
Angela: Been together from the beginning
Sebastian: At the outset of the game, he was with Chris… but that whole conch shell scene suggests that he’s going to side with Wendell (and thus Dom).
Jenna: She’d follow Sebastian’s tongue anywhere. (That sounds a lot more suggestive than I meant it to.)
Kellyn: She was working with Dom at the beginning… but she’s going to be angry about Bradley (although, frankly, all Dom needs to say is that Bradley was gunning for him, and have Chelsea, Libby and Donathan corroborate the cover story). Anyway, Kellyn probably doesn’t want to to make waves this early, so she’ll side with Dom, believing that she can form a majority alliance after some more Malolos are gone.
Michael: Given how long he lasted at Malolo 2.0 and 3.0, despite being an obvious threat, he clearly has some inroads with original Navitis (most notably Kellyn and Des, who have been with him since the first swap). He’s going to stick close to Kellyn, and if she sides with Dom, so will he.
Libby: She’s a free agent, and is probably the most self-interested player left in the game, but after last week’s vote, she’ll probably stick with Dom until a better option presents itself (and Chris isn’t a better option).
Des: She was (loosely?) allied with Chris in the early days of the game (along with Angela, Chelsea, and Sebastian, according to Morgan), but since then, she’s been in lock-step with Kellyn, a connection that will likely continue after the merge.
Chelsea: We’ve seen her working with Kellyn at Malolo 2.0 and Dom at Naviti 3.0… and I can’t recall a single time she’s ever been in a shot with Chris outside of a challenge.
This is looking more and more like a Domenick landslide victory over Chris, especially when you factor in their respective edits and Dom’s Legacy Advantage (which he may play, but I’m beginning to doubt it).
The best case scenario is that Chris and Angela reunite with Sebastian, who pulls in Jenna, and the other four original Malolos decide to join them and form an 8-player alliance with a five-player majority within it. Wouldn’t be a bad plan, really. But the edit says that it isn’t going to happen (or, if it does, the Legacy Advantage ruins their plans).
The most likely outcome, then, is that almost everyone agrees that Chris has to go (to bring calm to the camp), and he gets to tell himself that they took him out because he was such a threat to win because he’s a beast in challenges.
** A quick side note before I move on: This bears repeating, but the group of Dom, Wendell, Laurel, and Donathan is the only alliance identified by the edit (other than the Naviti Five, I suppose, but that was portrayed as an alliance of necessity rather than choice). If we’re given another reminder about this foursome in Previously On this Wednesday, then they’re getting deep into the game, and they’re doing so together.
With the Dom vs. Chris war settled once and for all, the original Navitis will get back to the business of Pagonging. At this point, they’ve got a 7-5 advantage, and they won’t want it to get within one vote, lest a Ghost Island advantage or idol really make a mess of things. The only question is, which original Malolo(s) will they target? Dom and Wendell will protect Laurel and Donathan, and Seabass won’t want to part with Jenna just yet (plus, she isn’t a threat), so that leaves Michael and Libby.
Michael’s the more immediate threat of the two, but we’ll likely see the producers attempt to turn Libby into Parvati (lots of Libby chatting up Wendell, Michael, and Chris before he goes) to establish her as a dangerous player.
The numbers at this point make it easy to split the vote, which will neuter the F***ing Stick Idol. Michael might have some fun making fake versions of the formerly-fake idol, but in the end, it won’t matter; he’ll play the real one, and Libby will go home.
Here’s the thing: I don’t buy this placement for a second.
This is where he SHOULD leave the game. He’s a massive threat. All of them should want him gone.
Everyone but production, that is.
Fuel to this cynical fire: Michael is being edited like someone who makes it to the finale, but falls short of the Final Tribal Council. Sixth place, maybe? The question is, how the hell does he get there?
Idols, that’s how.
He’s already found two right when he needed them. Are you really going to bet against him finding a third? Or a fourth?
Or how about this: He gets his hands on the Kaoh Rong SuperIdol (it’s on the list of relics) and rides it all the way to the endgame.
For the record: I hope I’m wrong. I don’t want to keep wondering and worrying that production interferes. I want to believe that the game is pure.
Also for the record: I don’t think it is.
This will be the calm before the storm, the easy vote before new battle lines are drawn. We see this from time to time, a curious early merge détente, where two internal factions play nice, agree on a boot, and delay the inevitable clash of suballiances. While Sebastian might be a little upset (“I feel like I ate a fistful of those gross Jelly Bellies, the ones with flavors like barf, rotten egg, and dead fish… I’ve been BeanBoozled!”), everyone else would be on board… and, given that it would be hard to build up a believable decoy target, Jenna’s departure here could be part of a double-boot episode.
Given his build, he’s probably going to excel at post-merge challenges… and he’ll become a target because of it. Right now, on the precipice of the merge, some of the power players are probably thinking about taking Seabass to the end with them -- there’s no way he wins at this point, unless he’s sitting with Angela and Chelsea, and even then, there’s no guarantee -- but the potential disruption of a guy who keeps wearing the immunity necklace makes Survivor Seb a variable that needs to be eliminated from the endgame equation.
In the absence of advantages, the most volatile post-merge moments are found at odd-numbered flip zones… add in extra votes and vote stealers, though, and suddenly, places like F8 become fertile terrain for a Probstian Big Move.
At this point in the game, we may well have a 4-4 split:
Team Kellyn: Kellyn, Angela, Des, and Chelsea
Team Dom: Dom, Wendell, Laurel, and Donathan
Assuming that Kellyn still has that extra vote, she could swing the entire game at this point… but, if she thinks she has a 5-3 majority (if, say, Laurel is leading her on, perhaps with talk of an all-female alliance), she might want to hold onto it.
Which would then help explain why there’s an ominous edge to so much of Kellyn’s edit (including multiple hints on Ghost Island that she’s going to make a mistake that screws up her game). What if she stumbles or hesitates right when she could have wrested control of the game from Dom? It might not happen here, precisely—it could take place anywhere from F10 to F6—but the narrative hints heavily at her downfall involving the incorrect use (or non-use) of an advantage, which in turn suggests that it happens in this key stretch where an extra vote could turn the game upside down.
And what does any of that have to do with Angela? Eventually, she’s going to be on the wrong side of the numbers. When that happens, she’ll likely leave as collateral damage to someone else’s mistake.
While the post-merge game won’t have a Bradley/Chris level villain, Kellyn will likely be built up as an antagonist for Dom and his alliance. As the original Navitis take out Malolos, she’ll play the good soldier… but when Dom and Wendell aren’t looking, she’ll assemble her own alliance of Naviti women (all of whom she likely feels she can beat at the end). It’s a solid plan… but, as soon as Kellyn is ready to strike, something is going to mess it up. Might be Dom’s idol... or Wendell’s… or one of the many relics that have not yet made an appearance… but whatever happens, the narrative seems to suggest that Kellyn falls just short of the finale, and that her demise is due to her own tragic mistake.
Over the past week or so, my take on Des—and Chelsea—has taken a turn. For a while there, once their edits were a little less purple, I thought that these two might be able to make some waves after the merge. Now, though, I think we’ve been given small pieces of story simply because they last so long (reaching the family visit and/or the finale), and are instrumental pawns in the games of the power players.
Yes, we’ve seen Des talk strategy… and go through Stephanie’s bag… and survive a Tribal Council after bombing in a challenge… but, if Bradley’s exit interviews are to be believed, Des was following orders the entire time. She’ll get to the endgame because she aligned with the right people (Kellyn, first and foremost). And a player like that isn’t likely to make it to the end or win if she does.
At this point, Chelsea probably thinks Dom and Wendell want to bring her to the end. Why let a Malolo earn a seat at the Final Tribal Council? Why not have a Naviti sitting on all three stumps?
Perhaps it’s because they need a Malolo in the Final 3 to make sure the jury is split 6-4 in Naviti’s favor (assuming the merge boot is the first member of the jury). Perhaps it’s because part of Dom and Wendell’s appeal to the jury is about carrying people to the end with them. Or perhaps it’s just because Dom thinks he can beat everyone.
Whatever the reason, Chelsea’s edit—tearful coffee drinking and the occasional strategic confessional notwithstanding—isn’t that of someone who finds herself making her case to the jury.
So much for my winner pick. :-)
And now, a quick bit of flash fan fiction about the Final 4 immunity challenge:
Wendell has “Malcolm’s Totally Unfair Immunity Challenge Do Over” advantage… and this time, it works. He falters in the challenge (will it be dowels?), but gets to reset, and this time, he wins. And then he shocks everyone by picking Dom to join him at Final Tribal Council (emasculating the alpha in the process). Donathan and Laurel make fire… and Laurel, who has been practicing fire-making for most of the post-merge game because that’s what Bulldogs do, wins.
Donathan is this season’s journey character… and this is where journey characters finish. Tears will be shed. Everyone will be proud of him. And he’ll count the days until he plays again (you just know that production sees him as a young Keith Nale).
Laurel: She’ll have a great argument: I’m a Malolo, and somehow, I found my way to the end. Not sure that will be enough, though, up against Dom and Wendell and a jury full of Navitis.
Dom: His résumé will be filled with the showiest moves… and he’ll be able to take credit for some significant idol and advantage-fueled gameplay... but he’ll have enemies on the jury, maybe a lot of them.
Wendell: He’s the kind of guy that the Naviti on the jury can rally around… all of the negativity of their shared strategy will be heaped on Dom… and Wendell will have some moves of his own (I doubt that Erik’s necklace is the last relic Wendell will find).
In the end, it’s the personal content—the fist-bump with Chris after the swap, the conch shell moment with Sebastian, the singing of Happy Birthday to Wendell’s girlfriend—that fills up a social player’s winner montage.
Wendell’s gonna win this thing.
And a few bonus observations!
** Angela and Des, you had ONE JOB. And yet Michael still found the idol. Sigh. This is what happens when you send a recruit and a floater to do a SuperFan’s job. No way Kellyn lets this happen (how curious, then, that the idol is found when she’s away on Ghost Island).
** What the parchment SHOULD say is, “The thing has the power that production wants it to have.” I mean, in the same episode, the F***ing Stick “matured” into a real idol, but the vote stealer is downgraded to an extra vote? Either things age well like wine and cheese, or they wither and die, like the hopes of the newbies on a returnee season. Pick one and stick with it.
** Was the plan always to unleash two iconic relics in one episode? Curious. The cynic in me says they rushed the F***ing Stick so that Michael would have something he could screw around with (making additional fake stick idols, for example).
** I wonder if Wendell will get creative with Erik’s necklace. How about this: He goes into the merge Tribal wearing it, and says that he can’t be voted for… but that he has to give it to someone else for the next Tribal. And then he gives it to Dom (to “hold for him”—he’s not officially giving it away), who wears it the next time and then passes it to Laurel (or back to Wendell)...
Okay, that’s enough for this week… see you after the merge!
Andy Baker is a long-time, but definitely not long-winded, Survivor blogger.
Follow Andy on twitter: @SurvivorGenius