Huh. Well. Looks like I was wrong about a few things, for better or for worse. At least this season is shaping up a little better than I might’ve thought after last episode. So that’s a plus, even if it had to come at the expense of sweet, sweet…
What a Bittersweet End
Debbie! No! Why? *sigh* It was inevitable I suppose, and while, had Debbie done the seemingly impossible and just kept her mouth shut, she might have kept the witch/warlock archetype. Aubry, however, pointed out Debbie’s hubris had re-emerged, and as such, this season’s second ruler was toppled. I would never call Debbie an overly competent player—probably pretty average when all is said and done—but damn, the woman was entertaining, and I will dearly miss her.
The sweeter side of Miss Wanner’s exit, however, is the fact we, the audience, escaped an all-star Pagonging. Nobody wants to watch that, and while I would’ve rather seen Tai, Troy, Brad, or Sierra go, based on the preview we were given, Debbie’s exit looks to at least cause some pandemonium. I can’t be too salty with that.
Although I didn’t think this episode as a whole was particularly incredible, now with only ten players left, I’ll say this: it did mix up some of what I thought was going to happen this season. No Pagonging is good, but let’s look at a few other edits this season, namely the fortunes of Troyzan, Sarah, Cirie, Michaela, and the quickest of notes on Sierra.
“Bahhh,” Said the Goat
Troy won an impressive immunity this week. Given how lackluster he looked in challenges in the first portion of this season, I was happy to see him succeed especially given his more tempered, modest persona. That being said, while it might have been a small inclusion, his comment at Tribal made me all the warier of his chances. When it was brought up whether or not someone might flip, Troy dismissed the possibility (bah), questioning why any of the “strong” six would even think to do such because making it to the final six is pretty neat (obviously summarizing here). Considering, out of the ten remaining players, five have never made it to the final six, that’s not the worst point in the world. The point, however, is not what should be noted. What we all should pay attention to is the fact that, as Jeff leads off Tribal talking about impressing the Jury, Ozzy gives Troyzan a baffled expression for his comment. Might this be nothing? Of course. Yet it could also foreshadow Troy making to the end and people questioning why he’s there. We shall just have to wait and see, my friends.
Really…No One Noticed You Swimming to Michaela’s Platform?
If this episode said one thing to me it’s this: I’m feeling ever more confident in my preseason winner pick. Not only did Sarah get overwhelmingly good content with her swimming back to help Cirie, she was edited as the big swing vote who simultaneously noticed an advantage Michaela did not, vowing to be the first person to ever use a vote-related advantage properly. That, dearest readers, is a big promise, but if she does it… well that would make for a pretty “game changing” Tribal, don’t you think? Good luck, Sarah. You’re proving to be the player I thought you’d be back in Cagayan, an everywoman who uses her personal life—in this case, noticing stuff because she’s a cop—to her advantage.
I still believe Cirie to be a tragic hero this season, placing anywhere from sixth to fourth. Her perseverance and commentary after the challenge all but solidified that story arc to me. Not only did her sticking out the challenge make her a rootable figure for any who are not familiar with her legacy (although, in my opinion, she should’ve thrown in the towel and conserved some calories), her confessional saying she’d be proud of her sons’ efforts even if they failed seemed to me an implication for her fate. She will fail, yet again, and we the audience, yet again, will be saddened by this. Oh well. If anyone gets a fifth shot, I can only imagine Cirie will get a nod before Rob, Ozzy, and/or Rupert. At least I can hope so.
Putting aside the fact Michaela came off looking horribly for missing the advantage that was literally lying at her feet, I cannot help but be entertained by this woman. Yes, I’m not out there playing with her, and so, no, I don’t know what she’s like in person amidst stressful conditions, but whenever Michaela is given camera time at Tribal, I can’t help but smile. I said preseason I thought Michaela could be like Kim Spradlin. That prediction was just one of the many, many things I’ve been wrong about this season. I don’t think any amount of time will allow Michaela to be the smooth criminal Kim was simply because Michaela is so, so, so blunt. She is like many of my friends in that regard, and maybe that is why I find her so charming. Still, given the little pow wow Brad, Sierra, and Debbie had about how awful she is, I don’t think Michaela has any chance of winning. Too bad. Hopefully she can stick around for another few episodes and cause some real havoc.
Final note for Michaela: while I don’t agree with the mini-tantrum she threw after not being picked for a reward team… I don’t really blame her. She is undoubtedly one of the most athletic people out there, and given how silly a few players looked trying to do the challenge, well if I was Michaela, I’d be pissed, too. I really hope Michaela wins one immunity challenge before she gets the boot. I think it’d be nice to see her prove to the rest of the cast she deserved to be out there in some regard.
Prove Me Wrong
I know I’ve been what one might call “critical” of Sierra. Now, however, with everything seemingly up in the air next episode after Debbie’s exit, this is Sierra’s chance to change my mind and the minds of everyone who questioned her casting. I look forward to seeing if I can, once again, be proven wrong. Make something happen.
What’s Next in the Story?
A Descent into Madness
I will not try and speculate all the facets that will go into the next episode’s boot, as, if the preview is to be believed, there are far too many to simply discuss. That being said, Debbie’s boot signified one important thing: everyone has the means to scramble now. Yes, it would appear Culpepper and Sierra are in the worst spots as they were on the wrong side of the numbers and both Tai and Troy are rocking idols. Still, in many narratives, this would be the point in the story that a final challenge or obstacle is presented for the story’s protagonists. Perhaps next episode is where Culpepper shows off what Monica taught him, rallying the troops he so recently lost, but then again, maybe he winds up getting a surprising boot. Who’s to say? All I can say is this: after this episode, I have high hopes for the remainder of the season, especially the next episode. If it shapes up the way it could, the next episode could distinguish who the legitimate game changers are and who is destined to the mediocrity of repetition. Let’s hope some sparks fly and the cast doesn’t all settle for a safe, boring boot (like Michaela).
A Closing Thought, Dearest Reader
There’s not a lot to say here, my friends, but with an even number of players left and a whole mess of them looking to either make a move or even just stay alive…we might see the first ever back-to-back rock drawing seasons (and potentially the first player ever in Zeke to be a part of two of them). Although part of me would love to see a different colored rock cut someone who wouldn’t have been in any danger for some time (maybe Tai, simultaneously getting rid of two idols in the process), I never truly enjoy seeing someone getting rocked out. Yes, I think it’s a decent enough solution to tie votes, but especially after Jessica going home last season… something about it just seems dirty to me. Now, do I have a better solution? No. No, I don’t. Oh well. Rocks are, if nothing else, exciting, so that’d be pretty neat!
Wow. This turned out to be way shorter than I intended. Oh well. Probably for the best I don’t waste more of your time. I’ll leave you with a prediction…if rocks aren’t to come to fruition and people don’t settle for an easy boot, I think the only person who’s safe is Michaela—at least for one more week—as taking her out would hardly be seen as a “big move.” Aside from that, everyone seems like fair game on paper, though Troy, Cirie, Sarah, and Culpepper all seem to be late gamers, and then Tai’s got idols for days. So… Sierra, Zeke, Andrea, or Aubry. Maybe, now that the big six alliance has been cut down a notch, people might think the Zeke-Cirie-Andrea dynamic is getting a little too powerful. If last week showed one thing, it’s that Zeke and Cirie, while good players, aren’t the threats to win challenges like Andrea is. If Andrea isn’t rocking that necklace, I think she could very easily be the one to go.
Cheers, friends. Until next week.
Dan Otsuki has been watching Survivor religiously since season two, and is a recent graduate of the University of Puget Sound, where he double majored in English and Religious Studies. He's also applied to play on the show every time he's been able to do so.
Follow him on twitter: @DanOtsuki