After transcribing last week’s double boot episode, I moved to part two of my weekly ritual and sifted through the Secret Scenes. There wasn’t anything particularly enlightening – Cassidy confirmed she cast the vote for Ryan that Ryan blamed on Owen, and in another video, Sami got closer to Karla, who talked about the strained relationship with her father. But then I came across the apparent replacement for the Ponderosa videos.
I’m gonna assume the traditional Ponderosa videos – in which we sometimes see players discussing the game and the remaining players – have become as extinct as the Medallion of Power (thanks again, Drea). In their place are videos called “After the snuff.” These are about 2 minutes long and are shot as selfies. There’s not much to them – so far, its been the voted out player taking a brief tour of the accommodations.
But then I made a mistake. I played one video in which the ousted player toured the facility, and stumbled upon Elie and Nneka. Then he moved to the cafeteria where he saw Lindsay, Justine and Geo goofing around inside. Geo even came outside to wave to the camera. The mistake I made was thinking I was watching Ryan’s video (it was a long day, and I was doing more listening than watching), when I was actually watching Dwight’s.
But it brought up an interesting question. What if the pre-jury boots were allowed to interact with the jurors? What if cost-cutting directives and/or Covid protocols have forced a temporary cancellation of the pre-jury vacation? If Dwight were allowed to talk to Jeanine and Ryan, those jurors would know Jesse is holding an Idol. That info would no doubt have a huge effect on how those jurors evaluated Jesse’s game. Jesse’s jury profile would probably improve, wouldn’t it? What if Geo was able to tell Jeanine that Karla blindsided him because she knew about his KIP Advantage? Wouldn’t Jeanine be more impressed with Karla’s game? Wouldn’t Ryan and Jeanine be able to share these revelations with James and other future jurors?
I think I’d like that scenario. It would force future players to put greater emphasis on playing a strong social game from day 1. If you send someone out of the game angry at you, it could cost you a jury vote even if that person went out first overall. It would bring greater importance to the phrase “Anger your jurors at your own peril.”
But enough of “what if?” Normally I hate playing “what if?” Let’s get back to “what is.”
I think this is a make or break week. Whoever ends up in control after this episode will have the best chance of reaching the end, and shockingly, this week could depend on Gabler. Jesse and Cody think they’ve got him locked up. If they’re right, they could control the rest of the game with presumed goat Gabler in tow. But Gabler could just as likely go back to his Baka roots with Sami, who’d want Gabler as a soldier in HIS army, along with Owen, Karla, and maybe even Noelle. Or Karla, who has been playing the best social game, could convince Gabler to lock into a deal with her and Cassidy.
Will the AlliGabler resurface this week and turn the game on its ear? Will he blurt out something that exposes someone’s master plan? Will he even know he’s disrupting things as he’s doing it? Let’s find out.
And away we go…
Sami: “Karla had to be in on it (the James boot).” Karla doesn’t like that the plan was for her to be left out, but she should realize this has actually made her position stronger. Nobody but Owen wants to make a move without Karla’s input.
Jesse knows Karla has an Idol? I guess her plan to use Gabler to set up a smoke screen for her didn’t quite work. Props to Jesse for figuring it out ... and presumably not telling anyone he knows it yet. He can pick the moment he wants to go after Karla.
Jesse: “I have a great relationship with Noelle.” After Jesse blindsided Noelle at the Justine vote, then again at the Dwight vote, this either means Noelle is doing a great job of fooling Jesse, or Jesse’s social game is by far the best this season. He’s managed to keep her trust after betraying her twice.
A new challenge. Nice. I wonder if anyone is gonna fall out of that spinning cage thing?
With so much strategic positioning going on, I think I’d do like Jeremy did in Cambodia. It’ll be smarter to stay in camp with the majority. I wouldn’t want to win this one. But I’d be fine with someone else winning, then taking me with them. It’s always better to be taken along, than to be the one doing the taking. In Cambodia, Stephen won the helicopter Reward and took Jeremy. Jeremy won the million.
Cassidy flew over that net. I guess she wasn’t very dizzy at all. I know the women have been leaving early, but she’s probably the best female challenge competitor this season. I remember how quickly she got through that mud/net thing too. Cassidy is good with nets.
With all the attention going to Noelle as she crosses the beam, whoever wins this would look like a jerk for not taking her along. Naturally that means Noelle’s is gonna win it.
I was joking with that line. I never thought she’d win it. Her decision sucks now. Also, Noelle winning this might make the others think there’s no way they can sit next to her in the finals now.
Noelle: “I gotta go with Sami.” She made that decision too fast. Now everybody knows how close she and Sami are.
Noelle gets to pick 3 people? A 4/4 split takes some of the strategic drama out of this now. She was probably smart to split up the obvious Jesse/Cody duo, but not so smart for leaving Karla and Cassidy together. I wonder who Noelle wants gone?
Of the four people on this Reward trip, we haven’t seen Sami’s background story yet, have we?. Something tells me that’s gonna change tonight.
Sami: “I want Cassidy gone.” Bad move dude. This could easily backfire on him if somebody there wants to keep Cassidy.
Everybody knows Sami is undependable. I guess he hasn’t been playing as well as I thought.
Sure enough, Cassidy knows how important Gabler is now. Props to her for pitching him with Karla there. But his answer – “Let’s see who wins Immunity” wasn’t very strong. Cassidy just threw out Noelle’s name. Tell her “yes,” even if you’re not ready to commit. Otherwise, she’ll just look for someone who will tell her “yes,” then go after the vote she can’t influence – Gabler.
When I first saw this challenge, I heard Sophie telling Albert “Drop your stack!” She wanted Albert to help her beat Ozzy in South Pacific. It didn’t work. Ozzy won.
It was VERY smart of Cassidy to start stacking her tiles horizontally. I’m liking her game more each week.
Cassidy wins Immunity, and Sami could easily be exposed for targeting her now. It’ll take just one person to expose him.
If I’m Cassidy, I go after Sami. But I think she’s gonna take aim at either Cody or Jesse. She probably knows about Cody’s Idol but doesn’t know about Jesse’s. Gabler immediately exposes Cassidy’s plan.
Jesse knows Noelle has to go for his game to be improved. I knew he’d regret booting Dwight instead of Noelle.
I LOVE these bullet points on Jesse’s plan, even though he probably recorded it after the game was over. Just a gut feeling here.
Is Jesse manipulating Karla into wasting her Idol?
Jesse: “We need Gabler.” Is there an echo in here?
There goes Gabler blowing up Jesse’s plan to Karla (aka “right place, right time”). Is this the return of the AlliGabler? If he pulls off something flashy, props to him. But will it be enough for him to overcome the goat image he has established for himself? I’m thinking no. I’m thinking someone else will get the credit because they just won’t believe Gabler had it in him.
Probst: “Gabler, what part of the surgery are we at now? ... Its like you’re negotiating to buy a car.” Probst has really been reaching for “insightful” comments this season. And its really been bugging me.
Jesse: “My son told me to ‘Get that money, baby.’” I can hear Probst repeating that at the finale now.
Karla clapped when Noelle was voted out. That’s a bad last impression to leave if Noelle saw it.
Jesse to Noelle: “I had to do it.” That’s a GREAT way to own that move dude. That’s exactly what Noelle is gonna tell Ryan, Jeanine and James, and it separates Jesse from Cody too.
I LOVED this episode! Even though the Noelle boot was fairly predictable, the buildup to it was great.
Jesse is VERY good at this game. But as impressive as he’s been these last couple of episodes, I can’t help but remember how I felt the same way about Omar last season. Just the same, in removing Noelle, Jesse got rid of a player he couldn’t manipulate much longer. Noelle (and Gabler) just shares information too freely to let hang around. But Jesse’s got a dilemma now. Who does he sit next to in the finals? Gabler still appears to be a goat, but no matter who else is in that other seat, they might be able to beat him. His biggest competition is Cody because they’ve been perceived as an equal partnership. And if you’re gonna try to carry Gabler to the end, you know you can’t depend on him to keep his mouth shut about any plan you’ve got. You have to wait to fill him in until just before you go to Tribal Council.
Jesse and Cody are like a minor league version of Yul and Ozzy from Cook Islands. Jesse has the calm, cool, steady-burning strategic smarts, who gets great reads on every situation. I don’t think he’s been fooled yet this season. Cody has the stronger physical game, and gets more attention. That’s good for Jesse for 2/3 of the game, but he’s got to start outshining Cody now. If he doesn’t, he’s got to put Cody on the Jury.
Then again, maybe they’re more like Domenick and Wendell from Ghost Island. Wendell was the more calm and calculating of the two, but Domenick’s louder game posed a serious threat. It came down to one relationship in the end. Just the same, Wendell was able to trick Domenick into making a couple of mistakes down the stretch that turned into votes for himself. Will Cody and Jesse end up in the same position? Jesse seems to think before he speaks more than Domenick did.
Cassidy is slowly but surely building a decent résumé too. She’s got an Immunity win, and can reasonably take credit for booting Ryan. The only question about her is the strength of her social game. Its good, but is it good enough? Could she pull out a win if she sat next to Jesse and Cody who split the other votes? There’s a lot of girl power on the Jury.
Karla appeared to stumble this week. She was very worried that some wanted to keep her in the dark about the James vote, and she appeared very scared after seeing her name come up at this week’s vote. Props to her for holding on to her Idol but she looked terrified to me. She seems primed to be fooled into playing it when she doesn’t need it.
Sami’s stock also fell. Everyone seems to know he’s a flake. If he reaches the end, he might have to talk himself into votes at the 11th hour. His game is starting to remind me of Chase’s in Nicaragua. But Chase angered several with his indecision all game long. Sami doesn’t have that problem. He’s just losing trust and doesn’t know it yet.
Owen still has ground to make up, but I can’t say he doesn’t have a shot. Nobody wants him out now, which is good, but he might need some others to create bitter jurors. It’s a safe bet James won’t vote for Owen, but Owen hasn’t angered anyone else.
And Gabler? I still think his chances are the weakest. He has created the mountain he’ll have to conquer. He could pull off a masterful move, but right now, nobody would believe he did it. Gabler probably needs the other finalists to stumble.
What do you think? Was this the best episode of the season? Are you handicapping the jurors so far? Was booting Noelle the smartest move for everyone left in the game? Should pre-jury boots be able to talk game with the jurors? What happens if three people play Idols, and they’re the only 3 to receive votes? What if the remaining 4 players are tied at a revote? Oops, that was more “what if” wasn’t it? Never mind. Let me know what you think in the comments.