I liked last week's episode. I liked the twist Producers put on the Auction. The scavenger hunt for bamboo tubes of money was a little reminiscent of a Borneo challenge with Bruce playing the role of Rudy, wandering around the jungle, reading trivia questions, and muttering "I don't know." I even liked seeing knife-wielding Probst attacking a helpless bag of rice.
Then I saw the preview for this week's episode. I know going in that three people won't be able to vote at Tribal Council. The tribe is split into three-person teams 1) Drew, Jake and Dee 2) Kendra, Bruce and Julie, and 3) Austin, Emily and Katurah. We also saw a couple of balance beams behind the teams. My best guess is that Bruce and Katurah will have the most trouble on those beams. Dee and her Ostrich toes will likely kill it. I think the challenge will come down to how well Julie and Emily perform. Emily has generally done better than Julie, so my non-prediction is that Kendra, Bruce and Julie won't be voting, and we'll see another original Belo joining the jury.
Needless to say, I'm not nearly as excited about this week's episode as I was about last week's. Just the same, I'll remain optimistic. Maybe someone who has played themself into a lousy position will end up getting voted out this week. Or maybe someone will talk themself out of the game. It's not a great feeling to see someone like Kellie, who'd been playing a reasonably good game get taken out because of circumstances she had little to no chance to influence. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
And away we go....
Oh yeah, Austin has TWO Idols now. Everybody knows he's got one, but I think only Drew, Dee and Julie know with Kellie gone, he's got a second one now.
Kendra sitting off by herself is only making herself an attractive next boot. Jake's game is pretty much over too, but he's smart for staying close to the majority. At least he's hearing what they're talking about.
Jake isn't playing a great game, but boy is he fun to watch.
There's Bruce working on a fire again.
Everyone is telling Bruce that Kellie wanted him gone, and he's hurt. It sucks to find out your #1 partner was cutting your hamstring, but it's a little late for him to turn things around mentally or strategically. You should never want to be the person asking the group "Can someone explain it to me?"
Bruce realizing how overbearing he has been reminded me of Skateboard Robb Zbacnik having that same "moment of clarity" in Thailand. He woke up too late too.
Katurah and Kendra know Dee is playing a strong game, but it might be too late for them to rally votes against her now.
But Katurah is still hurt by being left out of the Belo information loop, so she brings Kendra's plan straight to Julie, who brings it to Dee. And like a mob boss, Dee shrugs it off.
Austin to his Reba mates "WE have two Idols." Austin wants to flush Bruce's Idol and boot Kendra or Jake. That tells me nobody thinks Katurah is a threat to win. Yeah, Bruce is making fire. Maybe his Idol play will bounce Katurah from the game soon.
Bruce is scared. I think the best Survivor players should always have an element of fear in their game. They shouldn't show that fear, but they should feel it. That helps you maintain the humility usually required to get jury votes. Sandra was always humble. Russell was never humble. Kim was scared several times, but only showed it in confessionals. Bruce is showing his fear to everyone. Maybe he's more hurt than scared. Either way, he's showing it.
Drew: "Bruce has to confront the reality of his situation, or reject that reality. One would be moving forward, the other would be holding back an ego." Drew is very sharp and observant. He's a great in-game narrator too.
Emily is realizing she's on the bottom of her alliance, and is insecure. It's only a matter of time until she figures out they don't want her in the finals either. But I think she's gonna wait too long to move against them.
The awkward silence when Emily suggested Austin and Drew go after Dee was deafening. When someone breaks eye contact with you, that's not a good sign. Emily should know she needs a new alliance, and Drew and Austin should realize they're losing Emily's trust.
Austin: "I don't know if I can bring myself to blindside Dee ... I love hanging out with her." That's a sign that Dee is playing a strong social game, perhaps stronger than we've seen so far.
While I still hate that three people are gonna lose their votes, at least the players are choosing the groups instead of a random rock draw.
Kendra: "Who wants to be with me?" There's that deafening silence again.
Julie immediately tells Kendra "If it's us three in a Tribal Council, then I'm out." Bad move Julie. You just gave Kendra incentive to throw the challenge.
Austin gives one of his Idols to Julie. Did he consider how awkward it could be if/when he asks her to give it back?
We've seen every part of this Immunity Challenge before. I remember the rope bridge from Winners at War.
Ok, so the three who lose their votes have a chance to get them back. This episode sucks just a little less now.
Kendra trapped the ball on her chest as she jumped off the beam. Ok, maybe not so much after I freeze-framed it.
Jake is throwing sand on Dee's head. Malcolm once did that to Probst as he mocked Malcolm's progress. Malcolm was mad that didn't make the final cut.
Austin, Emily and Katurah finish last. Now Austin has to get his Idol back from Julie. Either Julie or Emily could feel abandoned by him, depending on how he handles it. This is a problem he wouldn't have if he'd never told anyone about his Idol(s) in the first place. Now he could have two nervous partners asking for his Idol.
Bruce wins Immunity again. Is he gonna ride an Immunity streak right into the fire challenge?
Well this twist sure created a nice dead moment for Dee, Drew, Jake ... and all of us viewers. We get to see three people not talking about the upcoming vote. There's not much Dee and Drew can do here except maybe position themselves to get Jake's jury vote.
Drew wants to play the Idols for Dee and Drew, but Emily and Julie will be the most nervous. Could this break up the Rebas? Dee wants to make sure Kendra gets more chicken on the Ponderosa.
Note to future Survivor players. If your group agrees to eat more rice because others are feasting, don't walk away like Jake did.
Kendra is annoyed by Bruce, and probably won't want to strategize with him. This is another dead moment.
Really Producers? You couldn't give these people forks? They don't even get chairs?
Julie: "I want to go to the end with Dee." She should want to go to the end with Bruce or Katurah.
Finally something interesting again. How do they get their votes back?
It's a math problem. Emily should nail this in seconds.
Emily: "If it's one thing I'm terrible at, its mental math." See? That's why I don't make predictions.
I wonder if they'll be able to bluff about getting their votes back?
Austin gets his vote back, but now he has an Idol math problem. How do you make four people happy with two Idols, when two of them are in panic mode?
This has nothing to do with Survivor, but how depressing is it to find out Hall is suing Oates? I worked in the music/radio biz a long time, and everyone I spoke to who met Hall & Oates pretty much said the same thing -- "Oates was cool, Hall was a dick."
So every Reba has their vote. Now we find out who's really controlling that alliance. Drew swung the last vote. Who is taking the lead on this one? Emily believes if she had her vote, she could swing it.
Austin: "None of us have a vote." Good move here. That's less pressure to surrender an Idol. But will he tell Julie and Emily?
Dee is pushing to boot Kendra, but Julie is pushing for Jake. Julie is realizing she's being told how to vote. Maybe Julie should tell Kendra that Dee, Austin and Drew all want Kendra gone. At a minimum, it might end up in Julie getting Kendra's jury vote. That way, Kendra will know Julie didn't lie to her.
Drew: "I could change the vote to Jake." Drew thinks he's running the alliance.
Dee: "I want Kendra out, and that's who I'm gonna push for."
I think booting Kendra is the smarter move. Jake isn't moving up the ladder anywhere, and doesn't have his Shot in the Dark, and hasn't come close to winning Immunity yet. You've got some stress-free shots at him in the next few votes.
Wow, the jurors really dislike Bruce.
Kendra: "Kellie is my first friend on Survivor." Kendra just told everybody she's getting Kellie's vote if she makes it to the end. That's great incentive to remove Kendra.
Kellie still looks devastated. That makes me sad.
Probst gave props to Julie's challenge performances. It was subtle, but he just enhanced a reason why she could win.
Bruce makes what he thinks is a joke, and the jurors roll their eyes. How can you not see that and realize you should sit next to Bruce at the end?
Kendra: "I didn't think anybody would lie about not having their vote." Kendra just told everybody she's not outsmarting anyone...which is a reason to keep her around.
It's time to vote. Who's gonna win the Reba power struggle?
Austin didn't close the urn cover all the way. Will anyone pick up on that, and realize he voted? Or does Production go in after every vote to fix things?
I guess nobody pushed to get one of Austin's Idols, which means Julie was in on the vote for sure. But what about Emily?
Kendra is gone. Dee won the battle.
They only saw four votes for Kendra. This is interesting. Will she figure out Austin got his vote back, or will she think a Belo betrayed her? That could affect her jury vote if she thinks Jake or Bruce voted for her. Austin will have to own this move so the Jury knows it BEFORE Final Tribal Council.
From where I'm sitting, Dee is running the Reba alliance. Their votes have gone where she wanted them to go almost every time. The only time she missed was when Sean shocked everyone by quitting. But she hasn't had to push hard either, which is giving Austin and Drew the impression that Dee is going along with them.
I'm also impressed with the fact that Dee doesn't overreact when others tell her someone is targeting her. On the outside, she just shrugs it off. So far, it doesn't seem like anyone is interpreting that as arrogance yet. She's leaning more towards Sandra-esque confidence as opposed to Hantz-esque cockiness.
And since Kendra is convinced Dee is running the Reba alliance, that's exactly what she's gonna say to jurors Kaleb and Kellie. Dee's chances of winning just improved.
Well, this episode wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, but it was still a let down. I suppose one of my favorite lines from "Young Frankenstein" could apply to this episode: "It could be worse. It could be raining."
What do you think? Is Dee actually running the Reba alliance? Is she doing a good job of making the others think they're in charge, or is the building resentment gonna put Dee out soon? Could that be Julie's game-winning move? Were Austin's Idols a total non-factor, or is Julie gonna pull a power move with one of them, since technically it belongs to her now? Let me know what you think in the comments.