Scoring notes: Four people sat out the IC (Jamie, Lydia, Rafe, Stephenie). For MPF purposes, sitting out of an individual challenge scores as a zero. So Rafe's MPF drops from 100% (from the Ep6 IC) to 50%. Well done.
Tribal diatribe notes: One of the legitimate criticisms of this season is the lack of strategy. Or more accurately, an unpalatable choice between rigid, tribal-lines strategy and oppressive moralism, instead of fun, fluid, unpredictable gameplay.
In this episode, the only options considered, at least after Bobby Jon cut a deal with Stephenie to at least get him to the jury, were blindly sticking with the (Days 9-18) tribal voting lines, or a morality boot, voting Jamie out simply because he was rude. For his part, even though he actively sabotaged his own social game throughout the episode, Jamie at least had had the sense to recognize that keeping Judd around was smart, because *Judd* annoyed people. But for the rest of the cast, it was "deserving" Brandon vs. mouthy Jamie. ("Deserving" is code for "We're totally voting you out, but we feel obligated to act guilty about it." Side diatribe note: Was Jamie's beef with Bobby Jon mostly about not protecting Brian? Huh? That exchange didn't make any sense.)
This is partly the fault of the cast itself, which, with the exception of Brian, seems to have been selected first for sharing Sue Hawk's visceral indignation that Kelly Wiglesworth would even consider flipping on her alliance in Borneo. (A similarly selected set of people would later scream "You disgust me!" at Cochran in South Pacific.) Even though, again, these alliances only formed within the last week. Remember when Stephenie and Gary were running Yaxhá together? Or when Judd and Brandon tag-teamed to win the muddy Ep.2 IC for Nakúm? Yeah, neither do they, and they refuse to even talk to each other now. Fun!
But part of the blame is also attributable to the harshness of the conditions, conditions that were actively amplified by odd production choices that ratcheted up the suffering. For example, production already knew that Jamie and Cindy were balking at the previous episode's pre-merge tribal mixing. So instead of defusing that hostility with a pleasant, neutral ground reacquaintance -- say a merge picnic on a third beach? -- they send Yaxhá skulking into Nakúm camp in the middle of the night, then they yank away the expected merge feast. Then they further increase the divisiveness and paranoia by replacing the feast with a note describing a hidden idol. So instead of people relaxing and getting to know each other, it's: Everyone for themselves! No socializing, no strategy talk! Go look for the idol! GO! And if that weren't enough, they then offer the merge feast back, but only for people arrogant enough to conclude they're safe, and don't need immunity. It's like production looked at Yaxhá: starving, covered in scabs, eaten alive by mosquitoes, but still willing to push on, and said: "You know what? They look like they still have hope. Let's snuff that."
The result? A retreat to the safety and predictability of assured numbers. It's the opposite of "immunity balls," where people feel free to make more risky moves whilst ensconced in the protective comfort of an idol or the immunity necklace. And that opposite plays out as by-the-numbers Survivor, as was seen here, no matter how desperately the editors tried to convince us otherwise.
- Brandon received 6 votes, from Stephenie, Rafe, Lydia, Cindy, Judd, and Jamie (voted out, 6-4).
- Jamie received 4 votes, from Danni, Gary, Bobby Jon, and Brandon.
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