Our muted reaction to Lindsey's quit: Eh, *shrug*.
The best we can muster is moderate disappointment, and almost no outrage. As far as we could tell, Lindsey's sole role this season was as a foil, narrative-wise: she (with Cliff) was a phantom plotter in Tony's story he made up to trick Sarah into an alliance, and she argued with Trish, repeatedly. In their pre-game interviews, both she and Trish mentioned they have short tempers. Should we be surprised that, when stuck on a tribe together for 14 days, they irritated each other? Nope. As we see it, she almost quit three episodes ago. She did so now. At least she didn't wait until the jury phase. Writing "Shame on you! Lindsie" in the sand seems about as much fuss as is warranted.
Still, it made for an underwhelming episode, in part because we can think of at least two former Beauty tribe members we'd rather see leave before Alexis, and in part because Lindsey's early self-removal dampened our enthusiasm for the rest of the show. Were it not for the excitement of the upcoming merge and Tony's bull-in-a-china-shop gameplay, this would have been pretty dark. And not just because the first 5 minutes or so were filmed in nightvision.
The unstoppable force that is Tony Vlachos
We thought maybe we should start calling Tony the "Russell Hantz That Doesn't Suck," but upon further review, maybe it would be more appropriate to call Russell the "Tony That Sucks." Both are commendable for the relentless, gleeful energy they bring to the backstabbing and deceit of Survivor, but the difference between them is that Tony seems good-natured about it all, especially around his tribe, whereas Russell is just a belligerent, intimidating bully. Even so, Tony probably can't win, since now Sarah and LJ are wise to his double-talking antics. (As are Trish, Jefra, and Woo, but come on, what are they going to do?)
Tony's main problem is one of excess. He's playing hard enough for two or three people right now (ten or twenty, if they're Morgan), which is fun to watch, but sooner or later, things have to fall apart, don't they? He just crossed more than half the remaining players, several of whom still have ties to his tribemates, and there's a merge coming. He's throwing out move after move, some of which work, some of which don't, and before you get a chance to evaluate the last one, there he goes again doing something else. It's entertaining, he's having fun doing it, but it can't possibly end well. Even so, we hope it doesn't end soon.
Not that anyone cares, but here's a brief scorecard of his performance this episode:
The heavy hand of production
Two reward challenge-related events left us scratching our heads this episode, trying to fathom why the producers put such tight restrictions on the contestants' decision-making. First, what possible reason is there for sitting two people out from Solana in the idol-swatting RC? This was a low-intensity challenge, done in short, one-on-one bouts, with extended rest between turns competing. There is neither a discernible advantage nor disadvantage to competing twice.
It's nice that everyone officially "playing" got to compete, but otherwise this was just dumb. But not as dumb as giving Tony and Woo a list of three reward items, and forcing them to choose only two, in their time as Raiders of the Lost Aparri. This ridiculous micro-management absolved Tony and Woo of any negative consequences ("Sorry guys, we have to take at least two of these things. Blame Probst if you're mad"). And they still had two bags of rice! It's too bad J'Tia wasn't still around. She wouldn't bother with these cumbersome rules.
The one-man tribe
As was finally discussed as Solana headed to Tribal Council, the ex-Brains remained united in this episode, helping all three of them get to the merge. But as far as the rest of the episode was concerned, the only Brain left was Spencer. Every event that happened in Aparri this episode was seen almost exclusively from his perspective. Reward Challenge loss? Let's hear what Spencer thinks. Alexis wants Jeremiah out? Spencer again. Jeremiah got an idol clue? Let's call up Spencer on the Spencerphone! Your tribe needs to talk about booting someone? We know a guy!
Now, this is hardly the end of the world, because Spencer has insightful, interesting things to say. But it's still frustrating, because the Spencer Spotlight comes at the expense of hearing from Tasha, and from Kass, and from everyone else on the tribe. Kass, for example, had the title quote, but was otherwise completely unheard from until the 45-minute mark. Alexis had a whopping two-episode story arc, where she went from wanting to flip on Jeremiah to still wanting to flip on Jeremiah, but being unable to convince anyone (the Brains clearly made the right choice, Alexis was the biggest threat among the three ex-Beauties, at least as far as we could tell from her invisible edit). On the plus side, the editors did seem to take at least a passing interest in Sarah, so maybe it's a two-person tribe, after all. Each of whom was shown reacting to Tony's yells of "Top five!" too. Feel free to over-interpret accordingly.
The looming merge (as seen on TV)
We hope there's a lot more going on post-merge than the simple scenario Sarah presented in the preview (solid alliance of five on new Solana, solid core of the other five people on new Aparri, with Sarah in the middle). On the surface, this seems unlikely: These new tribes have only been together for five days. Just two days ago, Woo was on the wrong side of the Cliff vote in Solana. Jeremiah and Morgan still don't trust each other. Sarah had seemingly solid ties to Woo, Tony, and Trish before the swap. Spencer probably doesn't like being seen as the third wheel in Tasha and Kass's alliance. There are a number of possible ways these people could realign themselves post-merge, and it would be an absolute tragedy if all that happens from here on out is a simple six-over-five Pagonging, regardless of the way that six breaks. Stop lowering our expectations, Survivor.
Recaps and commentary
Exit Interviews - Alexis Maxwell
Exit Interviews - Lindsey Ogle