Oh, Colton. We get that superfans come in all shapes and sizes. While they've all watched every episode, some have dissected and analyzed the respective strategies of the Hatches and Heidiks, while others have contented themselves with memorizing boot order by season, or collecting buffs and theme songs. Some can do well on the show (Todd), others less so (Spencer). One slot does not fit all. Still, they're all fans, and because of that, we feel obligated to support them, no matter how poor their in-show performances end up being. (Note to SEG: Please cast a wider variety of superfans.)
So it's because of this that we narrowly avoided awarding Colton the second Trolly of the season, displacing previous recipient Tarzan, even though the latter seemingly went the extra mile this week, spending pretty much the entire episode in a pair of far-too-brief briefs, occasionally while dancing with a spear. In seasons past, that alone was enough to secure the prize for an older gentleman for at least a week, if not two. But now? Oh no, now the bar has been raised.
The problem with Colton is: it's not clear how much of what he's doing is real, how much is strategy, and how much is just putting on a show for the cameras. So we'll give him a pass this week (and the consolation Sitty instead), and instead turn our already-scarred eyes back to Tarzan. You've earned it, sir. No confessionals needed, just strutting around in next-to-nothing, being dubbed "a classic" by Leif, and generally blowing out retinas across the country. Well done, Tarzan.
Although we do have something of a bone to pick with Jonas for egging your hijinks on. And mentioning Russell Hantz. Maybe things are different in the Salt Lake area, but that sort of behavior doesn't fly around here, mister. Since this is a first infraction, we're going to let you off with a warning. Just don't let it happen again. Please.
After serving up a heaping pile of overconfidence in the first episode, Matt all but disappeared in this one. Barely even on-screen, apart from the challenges, he had no confessionals, and was not even a part of the camp scenes, for the most part. We would venture that this meant he was clearly up to something, but his partner in crime(-lording), Jay, also met with a similar fate. But Jay was hardly a center of attention in the last episode.
Maybe it was just a side-effect of Salani's monopoly on the camera crews this week: thanks to the DIY RC, their IC loss, and having the unfortunately ubiquitous Colton infecting them, Salani got pretty much all the attention. In the past, though, a huge amount of face time followed by an invisible episode was a harbinger of doom for a contestant. Hopefully Matt survives the first tribal council Manono attends, although from the editing of the first two episodes, that seems fairly unlikely. (Would it kill those guys to boot Tarzan instead?)
We're sure Jeff Probst was franctically scanning twitter during the Pacific airing of this week's reward challenge for cries of anguish at his absence. No doubt there were some, even though this same stunt was pulled before, in the same location (Bocce challenge in Samoa). As challenges go, it wasn't much (take a bunch of ropes from a crate and unravel them), and it didn't really last long enough to make Probst's absence noticeable. What would he have said, really? "Manono, untying knots! Salani, also untying knots! You've gotta dig deep and untie all those knots! Oh look, Manono's done! This challenge is over!" (Actually, that's crazy. There's no way he'd refer to the tribes by their names.)
So instead of throwing an ICU or a Sitty Probst's way, we'll instead give one to his stand-in: Colton, who got the RC started. Colton did a LOT of sitting this week, including immediately after the RC, as the rest of his tribe was busy fixing up their camp. Then he went over to Salani, and stood around there, not working. He did shed a few tears to ingratiate himself (there's a fine line between ingratiating and irritating), and he did share his idol with the other non-frat boy members of his tribe. While sitting, of course.
What did all this sitting earn Colton? Well, on the one hand, he could plausibly be viewed as part of three separate alliances: (1) he's ostensibly spying on the women on the behalf of Matt & Michael's group, (2) he's allegedly the "ringleader" of the outcasts on Manono (and "ridiculously smart," thanks again, Jonas) , and (3) he's more than begged, repeatedly, to actually be a part of Salani. On the other hand, pretty much everyone on all those alliances think he's annoying.
So while, in a positive light, you might view Colton's petulant refusal to lift a finger around camp as being reminiscent of Richard Hatch in the first episode of Borneo (which would be a complete misreading, since Hatch was a consummate provider for his tribe, fish-wise... although we should probably be grateful that Colton didn't choose to emulate Hatch's wardrobe decisions), there's no getting around the fact that nobody on either tribe seems to like him, AND they're all mystified as to why he's acting the way he is (to be fair, no more so than the audience). So in reality, he's copied the worst parts of Russell Hantz's Survivor experiences--doing nothing around camp, going out of his way to antagonize his tribemates, and gloating about hidden idols shaped like fish hooks--while so far doing nothing positive. Coupled with Cochran's failure to live up to (his own, in confessionals) advance billing as a master strategist last season, we're starting to think Survivor is casting superfans just to make America *hate* Survivor superfans.
So anyway, yes, Colton gets this season's first Sitty (none were awarded during South Pacific). And yes, as one would expect for the inverse of the Beasty, Colton is actually increasing his chances of reaching the end by doing so very little. As long as he makes the merge.
Let's be honest: there was not a lot of strategy here. Sure, Colton secured an alliance by exposing his hidden idol to Troyzan, Leif and Jonas. But from the CBS site, it appears that Michael either already knew, or has at least guessed, Colton has one. So there's still plenty of time for that "strategy" to fall apart before it leads to anything.
Besides, the women of Salani were the ones actually manuevering this episode, voting someone out for the first time (sorry, Nina). And to that end, we see Chelsea as ending up in the best position. While Sabrina is the nominal tribe leader, it was Chelsea who shoved her forward when it came time for someone to volunteer, then it was Chelsea who pointed out that Sabrina has a talent for non-confrontational directness, which should avoid hurt feelings, as long as Alicia or Kat aren't involved.
Then when it came time to boot someone, Chelsea was the one entertaining Nina's requests to please, please, please get rid of Kat first. She then discussed them with Kim (who also came off looking good, albeit a tad invisible). Even though Salani kept Kat at the expense of Nina, Chelsea gave a solid impression that Nina's concerns weren't falling on deaf ears. She's pretty much playing the exact opposite of Colton's game: confident, level-headed and approachable. Whether that leads to greater long-term success remains to be seen, but at least she's playing the game properly.
Recaps and commentary
Exit interviews - Nina Acosta