Ok so last week, Hannah quit, and I wrote "I hate quitters" in my column. After thinking about it, I realized I should have probably rephrased my knee-jerk response, and instead, I should have said "I hate how quitters affect the game."
Hannah's quit robbed us of a vote. We didn't get to see whose names got written down, and by whom. Casting a vote is a huge strategic element of the game, and we didn't get it.
We also missed out on the first example of this season's most significant twist. The Belo tribe won the Immunity Challenge, and got to send one member to Lulu camp. That person got to talk to the Lulu members as they discussed who to vote out. That person also got to attend Tribal Council, AND cast a vote too! That person turned out to be the aggressive Kendra, who voted for Brandon. Who knows if the Lulu members found out about Kendra's vote while the game was in progress?
But I have questions. Why was Kendra chosen? Did she volunteer? Did they draw rocks? What did she discuss with the Lulu members? Did the Lulu tribe tell Kendra the truth? Did Kendra make any side alliances? Why did Kendra vote the way she did? We missed out on all of these answers when Hannah quit. That info got cut from the final edit.
But there's a bigger concern to me. After hearing about all the hate Hannah got - including people posting negative reviews about her business - I got pissed off. Plain and simple, Hannah didn't deserve that. I also think Rob C. and Stephen Fishbach had a great point that part of the blame should fall on the Survivor Casting Dept. Hannah applied on a whim, and was nowhere near as prepared as she should have been. Hannah isn't fault-free of course. She needed to stop smoking as soon as she was cast to play. She could have slept outside for a few nights, practiced making fire with or without flint, starved herself a little to see how she'd react to the hunger, etc. Apparently, she did none of those things.
Hannah also says she listened to several podcasts, read interviews from former players, and did a ton of research. At least two dozen players (including Shane from Panama, and Zane from Philippines) have discussed how hard it is to play while dealing with nicotine withdrawls. Hannah either ignored their advice, or didn't actually do as much research as she claimed.
Hannah's quit wasn't nearly as bad as some others. For example, NaOnka and Purple Kelly both quit Survivor: Nicaragua with 11 days left, then served on the jury and voted for Fabio to win. Or how about Colton Cumbie, who faked an illness when he quit in One World, begged Probst for another chance to play, then quit again in Blood vs Water? Then there's Lindsey Ogle, who bragged about how tough she was in pregame interviews, then quit as soon as her alliance's leader Cliff Robinson got blindsided?
Hannah never pretended to be the epitome of resilience like these players did, yet she's received more immediate grief than all of them. Hannah might have served herself better by bowing out before the game began like Mellisa McNulty did just before the start of Survivor: Fiji. Just the same, the Casting Dept. has been doing this long enough. There had to be warning signs from Hannah they chose to ignore.
But enough about quitters. We've got 17 remaing players to talk about.
We've got three very aggressive players (Kendra, Sifu and Emily) who seem determined to gather the most targets to put on their backs. We have Bruce who says he doesn't want to be the leader, but can't stop himself from acting like one. And we have four players (Dee, Julie, Kellie and Sean) who we've barely seen so far. With Lulu both unable to sit out a player, and carrying the weakest player so far (Brandon), it seems most likely we'll see them at Tribal Council again. Will the intel gathered by Kendra come into play? We'll see.
And away we go ...
I never missed the "previously on Survivor" segment, but I guess its necessary since there was so much info left out of the premiere.
Does Sean work for Lulu Lemon clothes? Did he just get a product plug in there?
Emily: "I feel like I'm being gaslit." Emily, you did that to yourself!
Emily is surprised Sabiyah was upset she called her out? Emily doesn't know how she comes across.
Sabiyah: "Emily doesn't know how she comes across." Is there an echo in here?
Emily: "I didn't know she was so sensitive." Emily doesn't strike me as a very empathetic person. That's a pretty important trait to have in Survivor. You have to be able to see things from perspectives that aren't your own. Yul from Cook Islands and Winners At War waas a master at this.
Sifu: "I can punch things without feeling it." Sifu, talking about your strengths is NOT a good thing in Survivor until you're sitting in the finals. Pilot Terry alienated a lot of players doing this in Panama.
Austin finding the Beware Advantage is bound to hurt him. He's gonna need a lot of time away from the tribe to solve the clues, and find the Idol. His best chance would be when someone else goes on a Journey, and one or two others are off filming confessionals.
Katurah: "Bruce says 'I'm not Dad,' but he's acting like Dad." It sounds like Bruce is as self-aware as Emily.
Emily knows she's in trouble, and its smart to look for an Idol, but not when everybody else knows it. She'd be smarter to do like Kelley Wentworth in Cambodia, hang around camp a lot, and wait for a moment when others are gone.
So what does Emily do? She tells Sabiyah "I can read between the lines, you don't want me to find the Idol." She's a candidate for my "Worst Players" list now. There's value in pretending someone else can fool you.
Brandon finds the Beware Advantage, and Sabiyah opens it. Why won't these players listen to me? Even if she finds the Idol, it has already lost power because Brandon knows she's got it.
Sabiyah finds the Idol, and now Brandon is in a good position. He's got information, but doesn't have the risk.
Sabiyah: "If I have the idol, they gotta know about it." No they don't!
Hey, there's Dee! She gets to talk about her toes. But t least she got to say more than Julie.
Oops, nevermind. Julie is getting a lot of strategy content. Does this mean Dee gets dumped at final 5 because she's too likable to sit next to in the finals?
I understand why they don't want to include Sifu in their alliance. He's been too shifty. But why exclude J. Maya? Probst has been calling her "J." (short for "Janani." I think I'll do the same thing.
Kaleb: "Emily has a big mouth." That's why she'd be a horrible alliance partner. Kaleb is smart for trying to make her feel better. She could end up on the jury, and remember his comforting. But as a partner? Nope. The first player I think of with a big mouth who killed her alliance is Abi-Maria.
Emily: "You can't brute force things in this game." Boston Rob said that once ... then he tried to brute force his way through Winners At War. Brandon could still leave next, but I think Emily has already killed her game.
Don't get on the boat!!!!!
Brandon volunteers, and Emily is still trying to get on the boat. At least Bruce and Drew did Rock, Paper, Scissors. They don't appear as eager to get an Advantage.
Katurah's eye rolls are starting to remind me of Eliza Orlins and Courtney Yates.
Drew is gone. This is a good time for Austin to go Idol hunting.
So the three guys have a choice whether or not to play. I say don't play. You're gonna be under suspicion anyway. Why make it worse by possibly losing your vote? Brandon already knows there's an Idol at camp, so this Advantage probably isn't an Idol. Other Advantages are probably not worth losing your vote over.
Napoleon Dynamite, I mean Drew gets the Advantage, but Brandon doesn't. Not only has Brandon screwed things up for himself, he's screwed it up for his allies too. Drew gets Safety Without Power, which is ... ok. We saw Jeremy save himself with this in Winners At War, but it was a pyrrhic victory. His allies felt he abandoned them. Jeremy lost some trust in the process, then got voted out.
Brandon makes his situation worse by telling everyone he doesn't have his vote. I'm with Sean - "Where are your strengths?"
Drew, your tribe is rubbing your head becaause that's a good place to hide an Advantage. Now Drew tells everyone he's got "Safety Without Power?" He's just given all of them reason to work against him.
But Austin bought it, and tells Drew about his Beware Advantage. Good lord, why can't players keep anything secret anymore? Why disclose this info so soon?
Brando, good job in wearing your buff to cover your boobs. It helps you bond. If your tribe is speaking Swahili, learn some Swahili.
I feel like I've seen 200 confessionals with the same backdrop as Kendra's. The Green screening is strong with these editors.
There's Bruce with the same background, I think.
Brando to Bruce: "I feel like you're my Coach right now." that's bad for you, Bruce. They're seeing you as a "leader."
It looks like Brando has the strongest connections on Belo so far.
Hmm ... Probst told the other two tribes that Hannah was voted out instead of saying she quit. He's straight out lying to them again.
I'm glad they're not allowing back-to-back sitouts anymore. That forces the players to strategize more. Stronger players might sit out so they can play the next challenge if they lose this one.
It looks like each target is hung higher, or further out than the next one. If I'm Jake going first, I hit the highest or furthest one first, and leave the lower ones to the smaller players.
(Spoken in Eddie Murphy voice) "Did that hurt Kendra? It looked real painful when you slammed into it."
Brandon didn't help himself by doing the puzzle, but he might have been worse doing a different part. It seems obvious either Emily or Brandon is gone. Keeping Brandon is keeping a player who probably can't beat you for the million, but he could send you to the next Tribal Council. Then again, Emily probably won't be able to beat you at the end either, and her mouth is more likely to get you targeted if you stick with her. Tough choice here. It might come down to whoever visits from Reba because Brandon and Sabiyah don't have votes.
Sabiyah: "I don't want Emily to play her Shot in the Dark." Why is it a bad thing if she does? Why do people think the Shot in the Dark will work every time?
Sabiyah has to melt the candle to get her Idol? Is the Idol fireproof? This is yet another reason NOT to take the Beware Advantage.
Brandon says only three people are voting tonight? What about the visitor from Reba? is this person even showing up at camp?
Emily giving up her Shot In The Dark could be an interesting move, but it also tells everyone she's totally defenseless. I think that was a bad decision. How will Sabiyah play it?
The question they all should ask is 'Can our four beat the four strongest on Belo and Reba?'
Not a word about the twist. This is frustrating.
Kaleb: "Emily was trying to play all 26 days in the first week." That's classic Alpha male style.
I think I might keep Emily. Brandon is just too much of a wreck to depend on. Sure, you can't trust Emily, but you can trust her to be Emily. She'll sink her own ship. Just make sure you're not on it when she does.
So I guess only Sean, Kaleb and Emily voted? As the credits rolled, I only saw 3 votes. So what's the deal with the twist Hannah discussed in her Exit interviews? Is this happening or not?
So Brandon followed in the footsteps of Jacob Derwin from Ghost Island. He was an overly-enthusiastic superfan who was obsessed with getting cast, then fell on his face once the game began. Brandon literally fell on his face last week. Both of them greatly overestimated their ability to play the game. Jacob overestimated his strategic ability, Brandon overestimated his physical game.
It just boggles my mind that these new era players can't keep their mouths shut when they find an Idol or Advantage. I understand the need to build trust, but haven't we seen enough players get backstabbed by the person they chose to trust? Is that trust worth it when more often than not it ends up hurting your game?
What do you think? Does this new twist actually exist, or did Hannah come up with an ingenious cover story to deflect some of the hate she's getting? Was Austin smart for telling Napoleon about his Idol clues? Did the Lulu Lemons boot the right player? Should Sabiyah stick with Emily for a while, knowing she's a good shield? I've always wondered if a "Frenemies" strategy could work. Is this what Sabiyah is planning? Emily is up for anything at this point, but Sabiyah should know Emily will bolt at the first chance to improve her position. Let me know what you think in the comments.