It is Tuesday afternoon, and I’m sitting on a couch in the English department office, staring at a list of notes from last Wednesday… and the Baker’s Dozen remains unwritten. Here’s why: Over the weekend, I was up in Durham, Maine, helping the Crowley clan plan next year’s Durham Warriors Survival Challenge. (It’s going to be brilliant. Apply!) I had Survivor on the brain all weekend… I just wasn’t writing about San Juan del Sur.
Anyway, if you’re at all interested in a condensed version of what I would have written about if I wasn’t busy designing challenges, debating the merits of hidden immunity idols, and otherwise shaping a season of Survivor, here ya go.
1) Josh played far from the perfect game
Among other things, he really needed to ask Jon and Jaclyn who THEY wanted to take out after Jeremy won individual immunity. And yet, the game was far better with Josh in it, so I’ll miss him. He ended up being screwed over by two important factors: he was forced to put together an alliance with flawed players (to put it mildly), and Julie’s quit denied him the post-merge power position he had established (only to have it snatched away by production deciding to cancel Tribal). We will see him again on a future season – one of only two players who have earned it – so I suppose I can’t lament his departure TOO much (he’s gonna twice get to play the game I want to play just once).
2) Survivor has an annoying habit of using the edit to give credit to players for things that they didn’t really do…
… because it supports the overall story that the show is trying to tell. An early season example: Baylor pitching the idea of blindsiding Rocker (that was Josh’s doing). Last week’s data point: Jon getting a lot of screen-time about going after Jeremy. Everyone out there is interested in taking out Jeremy at this point, but when he finally leaves, way too much of the credit is going to be handed to Jon. Why? Because he’s getting a Final 3 edit, that’s why.
3) It would be really interesting to know how many times the winner of Survivor sat out of challenges (reward or immunity).
Given that juries often place undue importance on challenge prowess (remember, Ozzy would have won South Pacific if he hadn’t choked away the final challenge), I would imagine that sitting out hurts a player’s standing with the jury. I don’t think Missy can win the game anyway, but not being picked in last week’s reward challenge indicates that she’s considered the weakest player remaining, which in turn suggests that the jury isn’t going to look too kindly on her at the Final Tribal Council, should she get there.
Writing that paragraph made me realize two things: Even when a season is horrible, I still obsess over random small facets of the game… and I ought to ask the violently pacifistic ruler of this web site, Jeff Pitman, to answer my question.
4) Sure looks like Jon got a helping hand finding that idol, doesn’t it?
The clue itself was highly cryptic, but heck, who needs a clue when there’s a highly conspicuous – and climbable – rock spire on Exile Island? And then when a camera man is willing to climb up ahead of you as you ascend said rock spire, aren’t you pretty sure that it’s up there? And for good measure, all you have to do is look up and see the helicopter overhead – isn’t that an obvious giveaway that the idol is in an elevated spot that will look good when filmed from the heavens? (To be fair, that could have been a Dream Teamer whose appearance was altered so that he was a Jon Twin, but on a big screen in HD it sure looked like him.) Heck, if you were a producer, and you knew Jeremy was going home soon, who else would you want to help out there? Jon is the least offensive winner out of the rest of the cast, isn’t he?
5) You know that the producers had to be pulling their hair out over who went on the reward.
Natalie is right, usually there’s some strategizing that can happen. But not with this group, these players, this season. The show needed drama – and just can’t catch a break even with reward challenge winners (makes you wonder why they didn’t rig the teams for the challenge, as they do from time to time).
6) Why is Jeremy talking about Keith’s gameplay?
And why did we see Keith tell Alec that they needed to touch base with Jaclyn when Jon was on Exile? I mean, we don’t need to know anything about Keith’s ability to play Survivor… unless he gets to the end. Which is why he’s safe until the endgame, folks.
7) Reed threw the memory challenge.
No way he goes out first. Bet he even thought of himself and Josh as the Aras/Vytas merge threats going into that challenge (Vytas and Aras were the last two standing in the merge memory challenge in Blood vs. Water 1). Good on Reed for not wanting to repeat history (Vytas and Aras were targeted right after the merge… but seems to me that he made it wayyyyyyy too obvious.
Side note: If you’re going on Survivor, practice how you approach other people – Reed has a habit of appearing next to other players and saying variations on, “Heyyyyyy, watcha talking about guys?” It’s transparent – he wants to interrupt or intrude or insert himself – and it’s also a little bit creepy. Need to be more diplomatic and socially aware in those moments.
8) THERE WAS SO MUCH BAD STRATEGY THIS WEEK
Part I: Josh telling Baylor she owed him. Even if Josh knew he was going home and this was his way to make Baylor feel bad – as he’s said in his exit interviews – Baylor is not the sort of player or person who would respond well to this sort of guilt trip. You can’t appeal to a player’s past, you have to look into the future: what Josh did to get her to this point is immaterial, the conversation has to be about how he can help her get to the end.
Part II: Thanks to being (ever so temporarily) in a power position – and just being self-centered fools – Alec, Wes, and Keith have forgotten that Survivor is not a camping trip, and these aren’t your closest friends. If showing class isn’t a strong enough motivation to keep your bodily functions personal and private, then you have to remember that this is a social game, and you need the other players to keep you around. Instead, the Meathead Alliance made it so that the thought of living with them for another two and a half weeks was utterly unbearable (and Josh is the one who paid the price).
Part III: Keith is right, Baylor is lazy (many players have been saying it – inside the game and in exit interviews). But you can’t be confrontational about it. Players are going to annoy you out there… deal with it. And there are ways to get people to help – in Survivor and in life – without antagonizing anyone.
Part IV: Jaclyn COMPLETELY EXPOSED that she and Jon were waffling between the two alliances when she told Baylor that the guys needed to be nice to her because they needed her vote. For both short and long term reasons, you need to have the other players thinking that you’re solid with them (short: so that the players don’t scramble and line up votes against YOU; long: these are jury members you’re potentially pissing off here). Catastrophically bad gameplay (and why if a member of Team JJ wins, it better be Jon).
Part V: Anything Alec does is, by definition, bad gameplay.
9) Jon and Jaclyn made the right choice
It’s an interesting dilemma: go with an alliance full of people you can beat at the end (and are easy to manipulate during the endgame), but who might screw up the plan by winning individual immunity challenges along the way… or go with a group of castaways who you can probably beat in typical post-merge challenges, but which includes a landslide winner (Jeremy) and other players who will be shaping their own endgame plans.
And now that I’ve written that, I’m second guessing Team JJ. Maybe they should have stuck with Josh’s alliance, then used Alec and Wes to take out Josh and Reed and then coast to the end. Hmmmmm.
Naw, they made the right call. They’re going to get to the Final 7, team up with Baylor and Missy, take out Jeremy and Natalie, and then backstab Missy. One of these two are going to be in the Final 3. Book it.
10) I loved Natalie and Reed’s dueling appeals at Tribal
Natalie’s hard sell about picking an alliance you can trust was the perfect emotional appeal. Also implied in her words: She, Jeremy, Missy, and Baylor will be easier to deal with over the next couple of weeks than the Meatheads. If I were staring at a fortnight of farting, I too would consider the flip.
(Side note: Keith should never be allowed to say things like, “This is how it is on Survivor.” LIKE HE WOULD KNOW. He watched MAYBE one season on DVD before going out there – and was probably dipping and drinking while doing so.)
Reed’s counterargument was strong: Team JJ WILL be targeted as a power couple. I think Jon and Jaclyn know, though, that both of them won’t get to the end – but they’re okay with that, so long as one of them gets there. Why? Because they assume that if they get to share their story with the jury, that they’ll win. And why wouldn’t they, given that he was a star athlete and she won the first beauty pageant she entered? They’re used to things being easy (Jaclyn’s medical condition aside).
11) Fortunes Rising: Jon and Jaclyn
They’re safe in their new alliance until Reed, Alec, and Wes are gone… and at that point, everyone will want to take out Jeremy – and he’ll want to target Missy. In other words, Team JJ won’t be a target, and will once again be the pivotal voting block between adversaries. And it’s an easy pick, isn’t it? Jeremy’s gotta go.
12) Fortunes Falling: Wes
Being a challenge threat in the minority alliance immediately post-merge = huge target. Add in Keith’s “I’m glad he’s gone” comment AND his “I’ve done the worst thing in Survivor history” self-accusation – which means that Keith is going to be instrumental in his son’s elimination – and it’s pretty clear that Wes isn’t long for the game.
Which leads me to…
13) Prediction Time: Wes Gets Blindsided
As this week’s promos reveal, Reed is going to find out that Keith has an idol (or at least an idol clue) and then rat him out to the rest of the tribe…
Which means we’re finally going to see Jon’s SuperTease moment about going after the person with the idol…
Which means that these less-than-capable players will confront Keith, letting him know that he’s on the chopping block…
Which means that Keith will probably overreact and tell someone that he’s going to play his idol…
Which means that there will be talk of splitting the votes on Keith and, most likely, Wes, since they’ll now be unable to quietly blindside Keith…
Which means that Keith will be under fire at Tribal, confirming his fears…
Which means that Keith will play his idol…
Which means that the secondary target will go home…
… and that will be Wes.
That’s it for this edition of The Baker’s Dozen – if you’d like to keep the conversation going, leave a comment below!
Andy Baker is a long-time, but definitely not long-winded, Survivor blogger.
Follow Andy on twitter: @SurvivorGenius