For the moment, I’m gonna let the elephant in the room do its thing, and not expand on the events of the last episode, aside from saying I doubt Maryanne or Drea will vote against each other at this next TC. I’m not trying to minimize the significance of last week’s events at all. Its just that this Survivor fan is a strategy nerd, and we’re at what I consider to be the most interesting point in the season since the addition of the final 4 fire challenge. Here’s where I think everyone stands, and what the outlook is for each player.
Drea has several trinkets, and now is the time to use them to earn Jury votes. After nearly being blindsided at the last vote, she has to assume the same assassins are coming for her again. She should use her Knowledge Is Power Advantage and steal Mike’s Idol. Then she has to read the other players correctly. If she knows she’s just scared votes away, she should hold the Idol for the next vote. If she thinks they’ll still vote for her tonight, she should play it. Either way, she should be prepared to use her Extra Vote soon too. Most jurors don’t care that you’ve collected trinkets, they care about how you use them. She could partner up with Maryanne, at least for one vote.
Hai needs to recognize he’s got to do damage control with Mike. If he’s lost Mike’s trust, he needs to make a plan with his Amulet buddies Lindsay and Drea … if they’ll still have him. Hai has been a little arrogant lately, and may think his position is stronger than it is. Maryanne knows she’s on the bottom — both with the 4 Ika/Vati members, and with the other 3 Taku. If she can get past knowing Drea was about to vote for her, she could lock up a new partner to help boot Jonathan, who could be their bonding common enemy.
Mike needs to get over any anger he has with Hai for booting Rocksroy, realizing he’s still got a shot at getting Rocksroy’s vote. But Mike is a sitting duck who’ll plan around the safety of his Idol, only to watch it disappear. He’ll be defenseless at Tribal Council, with no time to make a plan B. He needs to keep his allies, but might let his anger burn a bridge. Romeo needs to recognize his vote is up for grabs. Nobody considers him a threat, but they’ll need his vote. He’s got a chance to leverage his vote for a little influence — like Cirie did with Amanda and Parvati in Micronesia — even if it's short-term leverage.
Jonathan shot off a couple of his toes last week. After enhancing the obvious physical reason to want him gone post-merge, Jonathan started annoying 3 remaining players (Drea, Maryanne, and Lindsay) as well as two jurors with his mouth. He needs to keep Taku united and loyal through at least two votes. He may have already backed himself into a “win Immunity or go home” position.
Who’s left? Oh yeah, the two players in the best positions — Omar and Lindsay. So far, nobody has wanted either of them gone, and they haven’t annoyed anyone. Lindsay hasn’t exposed her strong strategic side yet (but its time to start doing so), and Omar has been leading the voting without appearing to do so. Its time for him to shine too. Everybody feels they’ve got Omar and Lindsay on their side. They both could benefit from the same plan — Keep other players angry at each other long enough to render them powerless around final 5 or 6. Their goal should be to stay close enough to each player to the point where nobody wants to throw them into the fire challenge.
Oh, and by the way, since Idols were introduced in Guatemala (season 11), we’ve seen 45 Idols played (not including this season). Of those 45, 30 returned into circulation. So yeah, it’s a fairly safe bet at least one of the two idols played last week will be back.
One more trivia note. Only a few times has the season’s best challenge athlete faced the best strategist in the finals. 3 out of 4 times, the strategist won the million (Rich over Kelly, Tina over Colby, and Yul over Ozzy). The lone exception was J.T.’s win over Stephen. We could see another matchup like this if Jonathan faces Omar in the finals.
And away we go …
*Mike says “I can’t see at all.” The last time I heard that on Survivor was when Domenick said it during Ghost Island. He said it right before he found an Idol … at night … at ankle height in a bush. Then he said it was too dark to read the note. Then he thanked the Producers for the help (but somehow that didn’t make the final cut).
*Omar takes perfect advantage of Mike’s question. He sees how he can drive a wedge between Mike & Hai. Omar is VERY good at this game. He makes strong adjustments on the fly — both at this moment, and earlier when he got Lydia booted.
*Lindsay instantly fills Omar in on how badly Jonathan screwed up. Lindsay is pretty good at this game too
*Lindsay wants to look for Idols in obvious places? Try Jonathan’s sleeping spot.
*Maryanne finds the Idol Lindsay missed, and vows to keep it quiet. I’ll be shocked if she can do that. This makes 31 out of 46 played Idols that have returned.
*Is this our first entirely new challenge this season? We’ve seen elements of it before, but this combination seems new.
*Jonathan and Lindsay start out neck and neck again
*I think this is a challenge you don’t want to win. The winner will have to tell at least half the tribe they can’t come along.
*Lindsay wins the challenge, and (possibly) loses some good will.
*Picking someone who hasn’t had a Reward is a smart move. Its probably the only reason everyone will believe without getting angry or suspicious. But when she takes Mike who HAS won some food, that could come under scrutiny. Plus, you should never want to be away from the majority. Rewards are great, but its smarter to stay with the 5 at camp, unless you have a 100% trustworthy partner to leave behind — like Kim had with Sabrina in One World. I’m not sure if Lindsay has that person. It doesn’t look like that factored into her decision.
*Look at Lindsay planting the seeds of Jonathan’s removal into Hai’s head. Does Hai know how easily he can be manipulated?
*Hmmm … does this qualify as a Loved Ones visit? I’m not sure, because Lindsay had no idea she was depriving some players from seeing their families. This one feels more like similar wins by Tina (The Australian Outback) and Brian (Thailand), who didn’t have loved ones on site. Or maybe like Gregg in Palau, who didn’t know the loved ones would be surprising them on the Reward.
*Man Omar Is good at this game. Yes, if Hai is becoming disliked, its smart to keep him around.
*I’m not sure if it was a smart idea for Lindsay to tell Omar and Mike about the Amulets. This could easily backfire on her. She has given Omar and Mike time to warn Hai and/or Drea should they see an advantage in doing so.
*We’ve seen this challenge before — in South Pacific, and MvG. It was also part of a 5-part Reward Challenge in Game Changers.
*Lindsay wins Immunity. I guess this is Lindsay’s glory episode. The smart move is to boot Jonathan. The 2nd smartest move is to go after Drea. Who knows if they’ll do that, but if she’s smart, Drea will take Mike’s Idol. So even though Mike wants to go after Hai, I think Jonathan and Mike are in the most trouble.
*Hai thinks HE is manipulating votes towards Jonathan? Wasn’t he there when Lindsay dropped that idea into his head?
*Mike to Jonathan “Hai made me look bad to Rocksroy.” Does Mike realize Rocksroy wasn’t angry at him at all? Is this what Mike is gonna tell the Jury when Hai asks “Why’d you blindside me?” Mike makes emotional voting decisions, and I think that will eventually cost him.
*Hai tells Jonathan he’ll play an Idol for him, which is of course a promise he can’t keep. Doesn’t Hai realize he’d be throwing Jonathan’s Jury vote away if the plan worked? It would like Tai helping blindside Scot in Kaoh Rong, then expecting to get Scot’s Jury vote. A.G.H. — Ain’t Gon’ Happen.
*Hai, if Jonathan can see through your plan, you know it was a lousy lie.
*Wow, Maryanne is exhausting when she gets on a roll with her analogies.
*Where did Drea go? Did she even speak at this Tribal Council?
*I can’t believe Drea didn’t take Mike’s Idol.
*Jonathan’s smile and shoulder tap to Mike tells me he thinks this was Mike’s move. For the moment, that’s very good for Lindsay and Omar.
*But they may have to remove Mike in order to own the move themselves.
Even though earlier this season, I said Omar needed to remove Hai so he could own the Lydia and Rocksroy boots, I’m not sure letting Jonathan hang around was the right move. Hai mistakenly believed he was running the game, and only did well in one Immunity Challenge. He’d be easy to fool later on. On the other hand, Jonathan has finished no lower than 3rd in all 4 Immunity Challenges. Its safe to say he’s gonna be in every challenge, and he can make a fire too. How do you keep this guy out of the finals if he wins his way into the final 4? Were his social mistakes last week bad enough to prevent a win? Half the remaining players didn’t even see his social gaffes. Just the same, I do agree that Lindsay was smart not to go against the obvious wave of support behind blindsiding Hai. But like I said at the top of this column, she needs to start publicly owning her moves, and I think Mike and/Omar could steal her thunder on this one.
I’ll say it again, I can’t believe Drea didn’t use her KIP to take Mike’s Idol. When exactly is she planning on using ANY of her trinkets? She just vowed to play harder, then passed up a perfect opportunity to do exactly that. Like Keith Sweat once sang “Somethin’ just ain’t right.” I’m curious to know what you think about Drea’s game. Also, did Lindsay just leapfrog over a couple of players towards the frontrunner seat? Can anybody outsmart Omar? Is Jonathan’s in the Xander position from Season 41? Is he the physical threat that nobody cares sticks around because nobody takes him seriously enough to fear he could win the million? Do they even care if he wins his way into the finals? I suppose that’s possible because he has established he won’t outtalk anyone for the Jury votes. What do you think?
Damnbueno got his nickname in 8th grade Spanish class when his friend shouted out "You're pretty damn good at Spanish." The teacher insisted he say it in Spanish, so the friend said "Esto es damn bueno en Espanol." The nickname stuck. These days, when he's not forgetting his 8th grade Spanish, Damnbueno is indulging his obsession with all things Survivor. Reach him in the comments section here at True Dork Times.