Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 46 recaps
Wild cards and wild strategies
By Damnbueno | Published: March 28, 20234
Survivor 46 Episode 5 recap/ analysis

Wild cards and wild strategies

For the better part of four episodes, we watched Kenzie, Tiffany and Q get increasingly frustrated with Bhanu, who was very game-naïve and completely dedicated to being honest. Q said “This is too much for him. He has a passion for the game, but he doesn’t understand it.” Bhanu’s well-intended information sharing mercifully put an end to his game last week, and undoubtedly made it more difficult for his remaining Yanu tribemates. Q, Tiffany and Kenzie had different approaches to handling Bhanu. Q thought he could become Bhanu’s game mentor, while carrying Bhanu’s vote in his pocket. Q wanted to use Bhanu to give himself more power in the game. Kenzie used a more subtle approach and tried to massage Bhanu’s feelings, hoping to maintain his loyalty to the tribe. Tiffany had a much shorter fuse, and simply wanted him gone ASAP. This brings up an intriguing question: What’s the best way to handle an unpredictable player aka the “Wild Card?” For answers, let’s take another look through Survivor history and see how past players have done it.

Normally when I do a historical recap, I do it chronologically. But this time, I decided to start with what I think is the best example of handling an unpredictable player I’ve ever seen.


Noura Salman (Island of the Idols): Noura knew how the game worked, and understood its basic strategies. The problem here was that almost nobody in the cast could figure out WHY Noura made decisions. Noura started off on a rough note. The tribe woke up to see their fire was still going, and Noura announced she didn’t sleep because she was the only one stoking the fire. Noura was fishing for compliments and didn’t get them. In confessional, Molly said “We all feel its wearing to be around someone 24 hours a day who can be a grating personality. In Survivor, you need to bite your tongue, and Noura doesn’t.” Jamal, Lauren, Molly and Jack initially thought they had Noura in on a plan to remove Jason. But they didn’t know Noura would go straight to Jason and warn him. Word of Noura’s warning spread, and Noura found herself on the outs. Nobody understood why Noura would trade a spot in the majority to go to the bottom, but that’s what she did. Luckily for Noura, Lauren saw Molly as the bigger threat, and convinced a majority it would be easy to remove Noura at any time.

As the game went on, several players (especially Jamal) tried to carry Noura’s vote in their pocket, only to get burned when she had a last-minute change of heart. Only Tommy figured out how to handle her. Tommy took the time to listen to Noura’s irrational rants, like when she said she might vote for someone because he reminded her of an ex-boyfriend. This made Noura feel included and valued. Tommy’s patience paid off at the final 4 when Noura won Immunity and could decide who’d be in the fire making contest. Because he’d listened to her, Tommy knew Noura wanted Lauren out of the game. All game long Tommy subtly let Noura know he wasn’t good at making fire (even though he was). Noura put Dean in against Lauren, which secured Tommy’s spot in the finals. And the crowning achievement? Tommy even convinced Noura to stand over Lauren as she practiced making fire. That served two purposes – 1) It hindered Lauren’s practice, and 2) It made Lauren more annoyed with Noura, which made Noura less likely to get Lauren’s jury vote. Tommy got 8 of the 10 jury votes and won the game.

The late Clay Jordan (Thailand): Way back in the olden days when players could bring a luxury item with them, Clay brought a golf club. That right there should have told his tribemates he wasn’t there to help them survive, he was on vacation. To say he wasn’t a workhorse would be a huge understatement. His tribe found a spacious cave to use as a shelter. Clay urinated in it, admitted it, and said he’d do it again. His tribe’s women (Ghandia, Helen and Jan) often fought with him. They wanted him gone immediately. Clay got saved at their first two votes when John proved to be more initially annoying than Clay, then Tanya was too sick to continue. He was a dead man walking until eventual winner Brian saw how Clay was good for his game. Brian struck a deal with Helen that ended up saving Clay and Ted and resulted in Ghandia being blindsided. Brian’s manipulation here was elite-level, but I was more impressed with Brian’s long con here. Brian managed to convince Clay that he had Brian’s complete loyalty, even though Brian had similar deals with Ted, Helen and Jan. Brian also had Clay believing he was playing a better game than Brian and would be able to beat him in the final 2. This earned Clay’s loyalty for the entire game. In this example, Brian put the unpredictable player in his pocket and carried him to the end as a finals goat (even though Brian won the final vote 4-3).

Lill and Burton

Lillian Morris (Pearl Islands): Like Bhanu, Lill was dedicated to playing with honesty. She even wore her Scout uniform to the island, and undoubtedly felt an obligation to live up to what that uniform represented. And like Bhanu she looked to her tribemates to help guide her through the game. Her tribe’s “leader” Andrew Savage promised to tell Lill if she was in danger, then helped blindside her. A twist allowed Lill to reenter the game, and she promptly returned the favor to Savage, and helped vote him out. But in the process, she unknowingly put her vote in Burton’s pocket. Burton returned to the game in the same twist, and secured Lill’s loyalty by promising her a final two deal. Lill voted as Burton asked all the way to the final 5 when eventual winner Sandra convinced Lill that Burton’s real partner was Jonny Fairplay. Lill voted as Sandra asked, and blindsided Burton. In this case, everyone who tried to carry Lill’s vote ended up getting burned when she realized what they were doing, except Sandra, who later convinced Lill to take her to the final 2 instead of Fairplay.

Shane Powers & Courtney Marit (Panama): This season had several unpredictable players, and eventual winner Aras found himself surrounded by them. On day 1, Courtney decided it was more important to hold a funeral for a dead turtle than to build a shelter, find food or make a fire. Shane quit smoking just before the game started, which shortened his already volatile temper. He once went into a shouting rage when someone dared to sit on his "thinking rock." After a swap, Shane and Courtney ended up on the same tribe and quickly aligned with Danielle and Aras. The problem here was Danielle ended up hating Shane, who hated her right back. Shane also hated Courtney. Also contributing to the madness (which was wildly entertaining to me), was Bruce, whose priority was building a Zen rock garden – which Courtney ruined by doing yoga in it. Socially, this tribe was a mess, but they managed to win enough challenges to have the numbers at the merge. In the middle of this madness were Aras and Cirie, the only two tribe members with a firm grip on their sanity. Aras talked Shane out of quitting for the sake of the alliance. This tribe was primed to tear itself apart, which would have been fine with Cirie since she was on the outs. But Aras managed to be the glue that kept them together by reminding them of the loyalty they’d pledged to each other. Aras found something that was important to all of them. They pagonged the other tribe, and along the way, Aras and Cirie (mostly Cirie) used the tension between Courtney, Danielle and Shane to get them both to the final four. Aras eventually won the game after Cirie went out in a fire making tiebreaker.

Anh-Tuan “Cao Boi” Bui (Cook Islands): This season’s tribes were initially divided by race, and Yul was particularly aware that the minorities were in a sense, representing their race to the entire audience. Cao Boi didn’t care how anyone might be perceived and annoyed his entre tribe by telling a steady flow of Asian jokes as his tribe paddled into their camp. Cao Boi made himself an instant outcast. Yul never let on how much Cao Boi annoyed him, and unbeknownst to Cao Boi, Yul had 1) found the Idol and 2) formed a close partnership with Becky. While Cao Boi wasn’t very socially perceptive, he wasn’t game naïve like Bhanu. After a swap, Cao Boi suspected Penner had the Idol, and he came up with what he called “Plan Voodoo,” in which the tribe would split their votes to flush out the Idol. Unfortunately for Cao Boi, he pitched his plan to Yul, and suggested Becky be the backup vote if Penner saved himself with the Idol. Yul recruited his new tribemates into a new alliance and convinced them to remove Cao Boi. Yul managed to keep his Idol a secret too.


Andria “Dreamz” Herd (Fiji): This season, the players spent the first day without tribe designations, and Dreamz initially tried to form an alliance with the other Black players Earl, Cassandra, Anthony and Erica. Earl didn’t want to limit his options, so he chose to let Dreamz believe he was cool with the idea. But once tribes were chosen, only Dreamz and Cassandra found themselves on the same tribe. Dreamz was on the outs on his original tribe, and in a majority on his swapped tribe, but never shared a camp with Earl. Meanwhile, Earl was making and strengthening bonds with everyone he came in contact with. Dreamz always worked in his own interest. So, when a split tribe challenge sent 5 people to Tribal Council, Dreamz’ swapped tribemate Mookie tried to put Dreamz’ vote in his pocket. Mookie wanted Stacy gone, but Dreamz got nervous when Michelle hinted she might want him gone. Dreamz changed his mind at the last minute and helped vote Michelle out. Mookie was left dumbfounded as to why Dreamz flipped his vote. He got mad at Dreamz, which only served to alienate Dreamz. When the merge came, Dreamz was still unsure which alliance he should stick with, but he still trusted Earl. In one of my favorite episodes ever, Dreamz ping ponged from one alliance to the other, sharing information freely. Earl realized Dreamz was playing double-agent and fed Dreamz phony information that resulted in Edgardo being blindsided and power shifting to Earl’s alliance. And the best part is when the dust settled, Dreamz still trusted Earl. Both Earl and Dreamz made it to the finals, where Earl won in a unanimous vote.

Jessica “Sugar” Kiper (Gabon): Sugar has the distinction of annoying the majority of her tribemates in two seasons (the other being Heroes vs Villains), but she did the most damage in her rookie effort in Gabon. Much like Noura, several players never took Sugar seriously, and figured they could remove her anytime, so they focused on more threatening targets. Sugar was an emotional wreck, breaking down at a moment’s notice. She even cried when she was sent to Exile because she got to eat some fruit, but nobody else could. Her volatile and unpredictable mind shifts burned many. First, Ace partnered with her, and even convinced her to give her Idol to him. He got burned after a swap when Kenny convinced Sugar to get the Idol back, and help vote Ace out. Kenny and his partner Crystal carried Sugar’s vote for a while until final 6 when she decided Crystal was “being mean to Matty,” and gave her Idol to Matty. Sugar helped vote Crystal out, which effectively ended Kenny’s game too. But then at final 4, Sugar abandoned Matty, so she could force a fire making tiebreaker to in effect, save Bob, whom she saw as a father figure. Sugar made the finals, but got no votes, losing to Bob. Sugar was never really there to win. I’ve suspected she was there to help her acting career.

NaOnka Mixon (Nicaragua): The short-tempered NaOnka had “first boot” written all over her. She pushed over Kelly Bruno (who had a prosthetic leg) while grabbing an Idol clue out of a fruit basket, stepping on several bananas in the process. She stole Fabio’s socks when she couldn’t find her own, and she fought with many. Just the same, her tribe won early Immunity challenges, and she managed to join an alliance with Brenda and Sash. Brenda helped flip their first vote to Shannon, whose volatile comments greatly helped her efforts, but Brenda missed a warning sign about NaOnka. After NaOnka got caught hiding some of the tribe’s food and supplies, Brenda probably should have replaced NaOnka with a more dependable partner like Alina, but Brenda and Sash stuck with NaOnka. Brenda got burned after the merge when a rejuvenated Holly convinced NaOnka to help vote out Brenda. Then NaOnka quit at the next Tribal Council.


Greg “Tarzan” Smith and Leif Manson (One World): Tarzan wasn’t initially playing to win, he was playing to stay in the game long enough to share the experience with his wife. He was annoying (possibly on purpose) which convinced several he’d be a good finals goat. And Leif? He just didn’t understand the game. While this season’s tribe all began the game on the same beach, for the most part they stayed true to the men vs women premise presented to them as the game began. Leif got himself into trouble when he accidentally warned Bill that he’d been targeted. Leif ended up staying when Bill got voted out. After the merge, most of the others didn’t take either of them seriously, mostly because the women’s alliance took control of the game by taking out bigger targets. Leif was dispatched at final 9, but once Tarzan saw his wife at the Loved Ones challenge, he came up with a plan that could get him into the finals. Kim realized Tarzan had put his vote in Alicia’s pocket and saw how Alicia might be able to control the next couple of votes if Tarzan stayed. So, she fooled Alicia into thinking Tarzan was playing her for a fool and trying to split the women up. Alicia fell for it and helped boot Tarzan. Then Kim got Alicia voted out next.

What’s interesting to me here is the way eventual winner Kim handled both Tarzan and Leif. Kim didn’t interact much with Leif at all. Leif ended up voting for Sabrina because she took the time to get to know him. But Kim did get Tarzan’s vote. Kim kept a safe distance from both of Tarzan and Leif, getting one vote, but losing the other.

Abi-Maria Gomes (Philippines): Like Sugar, Abi-Maria tormented tribemates in two seasons, making her second appearance in Cambodia. But she’d embraced her villain image the second time around and was playing to the cameras. But in Philippines, she was her sincerely annoying, true self. Her tribe didn’t go to Tribal Council before the merge, but that didn’t stop Abi-Maria from doing damage. RC greatly overestimated her ability to play the game and didn’t put much thought into partnering with Abi-Maria. So, when RC found an Idol clue, she told Abi-Maria, who insisted RC keep it secret. Pete couldn’t stand RC, so when Abi-Maria told him about the clue, Pete used that info to flip Abi-Maria’s loyalty. He found the Idol clue Abi-Maria had shown him and slid it under RC’s bag. When the clue was “discovered” with the entire tribe watching, Abi-Maria concluded RC had betrayed her. RC fell to the bottom and never recovered, leaving first at the merge. Pete was happy, but he ended up getting burned too.

After RC left, Pete recruited Jeff and Carter into his alliance, and was poised to take control of the game…until Abi-Maria spoke. With Jeff and Carter sitting behind her, Abi-Maria said, “It’s me, Pete, Artis & Lisa.” Then she turned to see Carter and continued “and you and Jeff are here so I guess you’re in the alliance too.” Pete’s face palm was almost as good as Q’s when Bhanu asked “Did I say something wrong?” Jeff and Carter decided not to side with Pete. Despite having majority numbers at the merge most of the Tandang tribe ended up on the jury, mostly due to Abi-Maria’s unpredictable blurts of information. She also inexplicably announced she had an Idol at Tribal Council, which hastened Pete’s exit. Like several others on my list, these players made the mistake of letting the unpredictable player stick around long after she proved she wasn’t dependable. I’ll offer this side note about both 2-season players. The Heroes vs Villains cast voted Sugar out first overall, no doubt not wanting to deal with her flaky decision-making. Abi-Maria finished 6th in Cambodia after burning Shirin, Peih-Gee and Joe. Jeremy was the only one who avoided conflict with Abi-Maria, and he won the game.

Keith Nale

The late Keith Nale (San Juan del Sur): Keith’s son Wes was the bigger Survivor fan and knew the game much better than his father when they played in the second Blood vs Water season. Most realized how naïve Keith was about the game and saw no reason to prioritize voting him out. But at final 9, the game was primed for a power shift. The majority was splitting votes between Keith and Wes, and suspected one of them had an Idol. Keith was included on a plan to blindside Jon, and he indeed was holding an Idol. But Keith got flustered by Probst’s questioning and blurted out “We just gotta stick with the plan.” This alarmed Jon’s majority alliance who immediately realized someone had included Keith in on a plan. Natalie Anderson whispered to Jon that he should play his Idol. Jon took her advice, which made Keith nervous. He offered his Idol to Wes, who turned it down. Jon’s Idol negated 4 votes, and Keith’s negated 3 against him. Wes was voted out with just 2 votes. Keith finished 4th, then returned to play in Cambodia and made another deep run, finishing 5th, mostly because the others were more concerned with bigger threats. He played a better strategic game, but also offered to fall on his sword so Kimmi could stay. Keith was a long shot to win in Cambodia but had a very solid chance to win in San Juan del Sur because he had more friends on the jury.

Wendy Diaz (Edge of Extinction): Big Wendy moved to the beat of her own harp, and she was fine with that. Wendy made fast friends with Reem, and even when Wardog told her Reem was the consensus first boot, Wendy still insisted on voting differently because she wanted to stay loyal to Reem. That sent a message to her tribe that she couldn’t be counted on. Wendy put herself on an island and hung around for a few votes because she wasn’t a strategic threat but was a challenge asset. She ultimately got sent to Edge of Extinction before the merge and chose to leave after losing the re-entry challenge. She was never playing to win.

The faster-paced new era Survivor doesn’t give players as much time to identify the unpredictable players, but we’ve had a few of them, and all of them made fairly deep runs. At one point, Mike Gabler appeared to be a medevac waiting to happen, but he stuck around mostly because his tribe won a few Immunity challenges. But at the merge feast, he famously blurted out “Elie searched my bag,” which put a target on Elie she couldn’t remove. She was the next one booted. But Jesse and Cody managed to carry Gabler’s vote in their pocket for most of the game. Jesse lost the fire making challenge to Gabler, who went on to win the million. Carolyn Wiger’s personality quirks got her labeled as unpredictable early on. After Bruce was medevaced, Carson found himself in the middle of two pairs – Yam Yam & Carolyn, and the much more stable and predictable Helen & Sarah. I was critical of his decision to vote Helen out and was sure he’d get burned by Carolyn. But after departing in a swap, Carson turned out to be the glue that held the Tika 3 together with the information he could get from the other alliances. If he were better at making fire, Carson might have won the game. Finally, Emily Flippen waved her flag of unpredictability on day 1. First, she called out returning player Bruce, which made others fear she’d do the same to them. Next, she was way too aggressive in targeting Kaleb and Sabiyah while they were off doing the Sweat vs Savvy challenge. Emily seemed certain to be first voted out but got saved when Hannah quit. Thankfully for her, she recognized her mistake, and adjusted. But the moment Dee realized Emily’s presence was a threat to pull Austin and Drew from her alliance, Dee saw to it that Emily left immediately.

So, what’s the best way to remove an unpredictable wild card player? I think I like the way Yul, Kim and Dee handled them. Keep them at a safe distance, simultaneously making them believe you’re supporting them without actually giving them any valuable information. Then at the first sign they represent danger to your game, get rid of them. Q, Kenzie and Tiffany got their warning sign about Bhanu at their first Tribal Council. They ignored it and got burned. I know hindsight is 20/20, but how much stronger would their positions be if they’d booted Bhanu instead of Jess?

We get to find out now, when we can finally see how those not named Bhanu are playing. And away we go ....

Yeah, yeah, the tribe is sad about Bhanu. Let’s get on with the game. Time for a swap.

Tiffany: “We’re the worst tribe in Survivor history.” I’m still sticking with the Airai Fans Tribe from Micronesia. Only 4 of them made the merge (partly because of a medevac). Two of them quit and 6 of them got blindsided. They couldn’t make a fire even when they had flint. My 2nd place is Ulong from Palau, who couldn’t win any Immunity Challenges. 3rd place is the Zapatera tribe from Redemption Island, who all laid down and died after the merge. And in 4th place I have the star-worshiping, obedient sheep on Ometepe from Redemption Island. They wouldn’t even eat without Boston Rob’s permission.

Worst tribe ever?

Now that I think about it, maybe the Ometepe sheep were worse than Zapatera. Tough call.

Ben was stuck in a van with 6 guys and Taco Bell? I hope they kept the windows open.

Siga shelter

Moriah sees how charismatic Ben is. If they’re frustrated with Ben’s reluctance to talk strategy, he could be in trouble.

And now the women think Ben or Tim has the Idol. Is Jem’s Beware Advantage scam working? Maybe she got lucky. It was an unnecessary risk with no upside.

Everyone on Siga is following one of my basic rules – stay physically close to the majority.

Dance party

Wow, Hunter just missing the Beware Advantage reminds me of when Survivor did the same thing with Russell Swan in Philippines.

Venus is channeling her inner Andrea when she decided to follow Malcom’s Idol hunt in Caramoan.

Venus dogging Hunter

Hunter found Nami’s Beware Advantage. He’d better not sleep on the bamboo like Randen did. I still want to know how he can get the Idol if he moves to another beach. Its episode 5. Tell us already!

Tiffany: “Why is this rain coming through the tarp?” Could it be because you put it on top of the palm fronds instead of under it? I’m no camping expert, but that just didn’t make sense to me.

Why is rain?

No Treemail means no swap. Damn!

Q hints he might want to stop playing. That’s the second time he’s said that. And as Kenzie says in confessional “That’s one step further for me.”

Ahh, but Q said it to make Kenzie feel safe? Ok, never mind, that might not be such a bad play. Just the same, Kenzie could spread Q’s “I want to quit” message around at a merge. He could be handing out a reason to vote for him later on.

Tiffany thinks she’s in a bad position? I wonder why? She’s the safest of the three, and whoever stays will think they’ve got a completely loyal partner.

Tim suspects Jem. Her ploy is turning back on her, and it easily could have been avoided. No matter how this plays out, she has lost Tim as a possible ally, and she’s running the risk that Tim will turn others against her.

Jem and Tim

Jem: “I just found out I’m a fantastic liar.” That’s the third-worst statement you can make in a confessional, right behind “I’m in a good position,” and “This plan is fool proof.”

Probst: “I thought you were gonna say (the last tribe to finish, is) Yanu.” Soda calls Probst “shady” when she was throwing all the shade their way just a short time ago.

Since there was no swap, we get to watch a huge challenge with 5 people sitting out. As Mike White might say, “This isn’t fun.”

IC starting line

Maybe it’s the conspiracy theorist in me, but Hunter seems to be taking his time through this challenge. He should be much further ahead of Kenzie.

Hmm ... Hunter and Tim left that hatch door open after they climbed up through them, making it easier for those coming behind them. But both Kenzie and Tiffany closed their hatches after getting a pouch. What’s up with that? Were Nami and Siga supposed to close their hatches?

Q and the hatch

Shocker, Hunter and Q take another spotlight role in a challenge.

Don’t look now, but Venus has performed pretty well in these challenges. She’s a slow swimmer, but she’s been great on land. As Probst said, she hit her target with one shot. I won’t be surprised if she wins a couple of post merge Immunities. Tiffany has been pretty solid too.

Venus hits her target

I’m glad Yanu won Immunity, but only because I want to see where the lines are drawn on another tribe.

Probst loves giving that Idol to Venus. Soda didn’t reach for it this time, and Venus didn’t try to hand it off either.

Tim volunteers to take the Journey. Even though he might be in trouble, I still think that’s a bad move. He’s almost asking to lose his vote.

Tim will take it

I’m still wondering if there’s an unofficial rule that nobody can take two Journeys in the same season. I don’t think anybody has taken two Journeys yet.

Q knows he needs meat shields after the merge, but he’s playing too hard. Its interesting that he didn’t name Charlie as a physical threat.


Tim spills info about Maria’s Extra Vote, and their parents’ connection. Then Hunter admits he’s close to Tevin. Bad move guys. It would be better to say “Let me see who I can pull in,” or “I’m not sure who I fully trust yet because we haven’t voted.”

What the hell, now the people on the Journey get to choose whether or not they want to play? They even know what the test will be? Bhanu, Ben and Liz didn’t get that choice.

What’s with the Survivor history trip? Do they think people will like trips down memory lane? Oh wait ... I do that all the time, don’t I?

Hunter doing the puzzle

I don’t know if I could list 20 seasons in order either. I’m pretty solid on the first 20 but get mixed up on 21-40. Then again, I’d never want to get on the boat either. My morbid sense of humor was hoping Kenzie couldn’t make a fire.

Yanu making fire

We haven’t had a hint that anybody on Siga is in trouble besides Ben and Jem.

Naah, Jem, nobody’s gonna notice that huge hole in the footpath.

Jem gets her idol

Since the women think Tim is gonna have an Advantage, it might mean Ben is gone. And right on cue, that’s exactly what they’re talking about. Ben doesn’t have a vote either, but he was smart enough not to tell anybody.

Uh-oh. Maria just said “This plan is very fool proof.”

Now Jem is overplaying by pressing Ben and Tim into saying a name. Even her arms-folded posture screams “I’m pressuring you.” I bet Ben has a Billy Joel song in his head now.

Ben vs Jem

Ben screws up by letting Maria know he might not have a vote. That could be a fatal mistake.

Ben: “Tonight, we find out the alliances.” My thoughts exactly.

This Tribal Council would be more interesting if I didn’t know 4 people were totally safe, and the 5th has an Idol. Right about now, I’m thinking we’ve seen so much of Ben because he’s leaving tonight.

Charlie: “We don’t have a Hunter or a Q.” Right there are your top two merge targets. Will Siga try to recruit the Yanu Three to go after undefeated Hunter?

Jem: “I think nobody wants to rock the boat.” I thought Ben wanted to rock everything.

Final words, with idol

Jem gets voted out while holding an Idol. She did it to herself. She’s now the 24th player with that dubious distinction. Well, technically Lauren Rimmer from Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers was only holding half an Idol, so maybe Jem is the 23rd ½?


We’ve heard from dozens of Survivor players that there’s a lot of down time during the game, especially when some players are off filming confessionals. The boredom can get worse when you don’t have to go to Tribal Council. They don’t have phones, cards, bored games (pun intended), or anything. Once they’ve heard each other’s personal stories, there’s not much to fill the down time, especially when you’re sleep-deprived and starving. I think Jem’s boredom is why she took such an unnecessary risk. Curing her boredom was more important to her than contemplating the negative implications of her actions. I never saw how planting a phony Advantage without also planting a phony Idol to find would improve her position. Jem’s move had “backfire” written all over it. She did it to get the scent off of her, but it achieved the exact opposite.

Jem was overplaying, and it caught up to her. Soda and Kenzie are also overplaying, and it has gotten them targeted. That seems like a theme for this season.

I guess I have to give props to Charlie for possibly convincing Maria to vote for Jem. Charlie knew if he sided with the women, he’d be #4. Ben is flaky enough on the outside that most people won’t take him seriously. But he’s so likable, it won’t be hard to convince people to vote him out later on. Putting a target on Jem might be more difficult, especially after a merge. But I have to wonder why Maria agreed to boot Jem. Her position is weakened now. She’s easily #4 with Charlie, Ben and Tim, she has no idea where Ben stands, and she has just alienated Moriah. And she burned her Extra Vote in the process. This was a horrible move for Maria, and I thought she was playing pretty well up until now.

So, we enter a merge next week with 13 people ... unless of course the Producers pull some more “earn the merge” shenanigans. We know Hunter doesn’t have a vote, Ben just got his back, Tevin has an Extra Vote, and Tiffany has the only Idol. Venus has vowed to defect at the merge, Q wants Kenzie out, Tevin wants Soda out, and Moriah knows she never really had any partners. How does Hunter find an Idol if he switches camps? Will this guys alliance with Hunter, Q and Tim go anywhere? And Yanu doesn’t have any secrets. Even Q and Kenzie could expose Tiffany’s Idol in an attempt to save themselves. I’m interested in seeing how it will all play out, but even more than that, I hope EVERYBODY is vulnerable. I really don’t want to see 6 or 7 people with Immunity again.

And keep any eye out for the merge feast. I’m always intrigued by who hugs whom first, and who sits next to whom. Sometimes that can be very revealing.

What do you think? Did Jem shoot off both of her feet while playing with a loaded gun? Who is in a strong position at a merge? Who is in the weakest position? Could Liz eat any of that Reward food without breaking out into hives? Which tribe was worse, Ometepe or Zapatera? And how would you handle a wild card player? Let me know in the comments.

damnbuenoDamnbueno 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.