This happened to be a tough episode to watch, I think. We saw, in my opinion, the two best players of the season take major hits. First, Andrea went home and, then, editors made Cirie look foolish. While the episode certainly delivered on entertainment and, sort of, strategy, in my mind it’s a kind of mediocre lead-in to the finale.
With that said, as is always the case for the season’s penultimate Well, in theory… column, we’re going to dispatch with the theory and take a look at the remaining players and where I see them leading into the finale.
But before we do that, let’s take a brief look at who went home this week. First, I know Dalton Ross found Michaela’s determination in the first immunity challenge inspiring. He wrote about how she kept coming back even though her stack kept falling over and over again. I’m going to disagree with Dalton on this one and say Michaela’s performance in that challenge summed up her second stint on Survivor: She played one way and couldn’t, or wouldn’t, adapt.
While I rooted hard for her last season, this season’s Michaela simply didn’t play a good game. Everyone thought she came off like a hot head, she herself admitted she was so upset at not being picked in a challenge, she missed the chance to grab the vote steal advantage. In this week’s second immunity challenge, oh sure she kept coming back. But she was making a stack without nearly enough support to get to the level needed to win. Because of this, her stack kept falling every single time it got to a certain level where it became way too top heavy. And what did Michaela do? She kept remaking the stack the exact same way, over and over again, refusing to mix it up. That was her game in a nutshell and her leaving instead of Cirie was, to me, a really pleasant surprise.
Andrea, on the other hand, really bummed me out. Once again, Andrea played a very good game. In fact, I would argue this was clearly her best game so far. But she peaked too early. With almost all the big names and big threats eliminated early, it was kind of amazing Andrea lasted as long as she did. It’s a real bummer she won’t be in the final episode, but as much as four-time players are no fun, I would love to see Andrea play again.
OK, so enough with the folks eliminated, let’s a take a categorical look at who’s remaining. Here they are, from least-likely to most-likely to win.
No Chance in Hell
- Troyzan — You would think Troy would be in a good place. If I told you before the season that he would be in the final six with an idol in hand, based on One World, we’d probably think he could win this thing. Alas, Troy’s received a Purple Kelly Edit™ and, besides finding that idol and winning one challenge, done basically nothing. He could be dragged to the end, but there’s no way he wins this thing.
I’m Thinking No
- Aubry — Honestly, at this point, Aubry just doesn’t have the résumé to win this. Heck, she should have won her season, but this season she seems intimidated playing against the bigger-name players. And, of course, Aubry’s edit, I think, tells us she can’t win. We’d have seen at least something from her, right?
You Know, Maybe?
- Tai — I’m not sure if he’s just dumb, has more insight than we’ve been led to believe or simply owns a pair of bigger, um, you know, than anyone I’ve seen on this game, but Tai somehow gets to the final six with two idols. In reality, if he played this correctly, he’d have an amazing shot at final tribal. And if he played it correctly, he could let the jury know he’s running these final days at camp. Will that happen? Of course not. Not even taking into consideration what we saw in the previews, Tai just doesn’t show any ability to play the strategic aspect of this game well. I almost put Tai in the I’m Thinking No category, but he just owns a better resume than Aubry… and potential to take over the game. And, of course, people like him. We’ll see. But, um, not going to happen probably.
- Cirie — Before the last tribal council we witnessed, I would have put Cirie in a better category. I have her over Tai, of course, but not quickly reading the vote steal advantage and making such a public mistake is probably going to kill Cirie. As mentioned by others, the first tribal this week will feature at least three people more than likely with immunity: Tai, Sarah and Troy. Someone also needs to win immunity, and that’s probably not Cirie. Therefore, there’s a good chance Cirie’s sent home early in the finale. I still think that she’s played, by far, the best game out of all the remaining castaways, but I just don’t think she can even make it to plead her case at final tribal with the circumstances she’s in. There are simply too many idols and advantages left in this game and Cirie simply can’t get herself there with challenge wins.
- Brad — At this point, we’re almost certain to see a Brad v. Sarah v. Goat final tribal, right? And while I think Sarah probably stands a better chance of winning right now, I don’t want to underestimate Brad. He looked pretty bad after winning immunity last week, but he’s well liked, works hard around camp, survived despite a dwindling alliance and can claim to have made some Big MovesTM when he had the opportunity with the numbers. Plus, he hasn’t really screwed anyone over like Sarah did to get to this point. He’s probably also a favorite to win another one or two immunity challenges, which will add to his resume.
- Sarah — Clearly, at least to these eyes, Sarah looks to be the favorite. She’s arguably playing a better game than Brad and if she sits with any other players left, she probably wins. But, let’s remember some things: She pissed off Debbie and, well, Debbie doesn’t seem to be the person who forgives and forgets. Sierra now knows Sarah played her. If Cirie is on the jury, she probably gets to explain to everyone how Sarah was wrong and not reading the room well with the vote steal. Andrea could have told everyone how it was really her and Cirie calling the shots near the merge. There are a lot of interesting pieces that we’ll need to figure out here. With that said, Sarah still gets to play her advantage in front of the jury, and that’s big.
And that’s all I got. While, right now, I would say this season will go down as mediocre in the Survivor canon, it does have a chance to go out with a bang. Here’s hoping for an awesome finale. Talk to you all later this week. Enjoy Wednesday.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.