First, two quick notes after last week's rewatch.
Dee's gargantuan toes really were the key to her Immunity win. She was able to keep them in the notches on that pole through most of the challenge, which no doubt allowed her to rely on her arms less. She didn't switch to her "Koala bear" grip where she crossed her feet at the ankles until only she, Katurah and Kellie were remaining, which was right around the 17-minute mark. From then on, her arm strength and crossed legs bore most of the weight.
All season, I've been wondering who Jake reminds me of. I couldn't nail it down until he started explaining his tie vote plan for Tribal Council. Maybe its the thick Boston accent, but he reminded me of Dirk Diggler from the movie "Boogie Nights" as he was trying to convince a studio engineer to hand over his music demo song "Feel My Heat." Jake's plan failed just like Dirk's did.
So this week we're gonna see the return of the Survivor Auction. This was a popular staple of the game until it was carbon frozen after Worlds Apart. If you remember, Shirin advised that season's players not to bid on items so they could all get their letters from home on the cheap. Producers didn't like how that made the Auction boring, so they stopped using it.
But now that it's back, I had some thoughts on improving it.
1) To prevent players from saving their money, tell them up front there won't be any letters from home. This might free them up to spend on other items. They could still pull out some letters if they wanted to. Probst has been lying to players regularly the last couple of seasons ("Yes, you've always been able to swap Rewards."), what's one more lie?
2) Instead of food, offer up a juicy Advantage as the first item. This way, players will know the best stuff might not be held back until the end.
3) Shut some players out completely. Sure, this season's players will be upset, but this might inspire future players not to hold back. With 10 players left, how about offering only 7 items?
4) Tell players the Auction will end if nobody bids on an item. If you really want to be tough, tell them the minimum bid will increase with each item.
Any or all of these suggestions could make the Auction more entertaining to watch, and more challenging for players to strategize around. There may be logistical reasons why some of them might not work too. These are just thoughts that popped into my head a couple of hours before air time.
As for the rest of this week's show, we'll finally see how the vote goes when all but the Immunity winner is on the table. Will the Reba alliance hold? Will someone try to flush Austin or Bruce's Idols? Will we get a payoff on the war between Katurah and Bruce (I doubt it)? This is the first post-merge episode that doesn't appear to have an "easy" target -- someone a majority is willing to sacrifice. So let's see what happens.
And away we go ...
Hee hee, Kellie spelled his name "Seafou."
Drew: Emily is an ally I can trust at least for a few days." That's what Kaleb thought. Seconds later, she was ok with letting Kaleb go. How long until she realizes she can let Drew go?
Bruce: "You're following a dead horse to water." Bruce doesn't understand his metaphors. Does he also think you can beat a horse that's drinking water? Or would it be drinking water faster than a horse?
Jake is trying to smooth talk Julie. In the dark, Julie looks like Jan from Thailand.
Julie didn't even try to let Jake believe she'd work with him. She's given him greater incentive to want her gone now.
Kendra is pitching a women's alliance, and Dee and Julie are doing the right thing by letting Kendra believe they're interested.
Kendra thinks the men are talking about the women, when they're actually talking about tacos. That's a good way of showing how bad Kendra's reads have been so far.
Now Kellie is so frustrated with Bruce, she wants him gone too. Kellie: "Its so tough to work with someone who is inhibiting your game." That's why nobody actually carried Abi-Maria to the end ... twice. When you have to spend more time managing your partner than outwitting the others, it's time to get a new partner. The best Survivor players find a way to make their game easier. Kellie's game gets harder the longer Bruce is around.
Damn, it looks like these are letters from home. So much for my idea.
A scavenger hunt for bamboo tubes of cash. My first thought is to hang by the table, and put someone else's tube in my basket when nobody's looking.
The last thing I'd do here is tell everyone how much money I've got. That's bound to hurt whoever has the most money. They might have to choose between buying letters for everyone and buying some kind of Advantage for themselves. That would be like winning the Loved Ones Challenge, which is usually a lose/lose proposition.
I guess they needed this montage of past Auctions for newbie viewers.
No Advantages. That's a good thing. Only five items are guaranteed. Wow, maybe they were listening to me.
Whoever has the most money left loses their vote? That's a good twist. I knew it was bad to pile up the bucks. If I'm Dee with $900, I'm spending $450 on the first item.
Hmm ... now that I'm watching them bid, this isn't as entertaining as I thought it would be. But I'm glad it was different from past Auctions.
Wouldn't it suck if Emily bought all that meat but she was a vegetarian?
Probst to Emily: "Who are you?" Emily: "This is Emily when she's well fed." That was a very endearing moment for Emily. She has evolved into a much more likable player.
Dee buys a $900 milkshake? I've gotta channel Vincent Vega from "Pulp Fiction" and ask "There ain't no Bourbon in it or anything? I gotta know what a $900 milkshake tastes like."
"Fish eyes, fish eyes, roly poly fish eyes." Barnes and Barnes would be proud. For the uninitiated, that's a classic Dr. Demento song (actually called "Fish Heads"). "Weird Al" Yankovic got his start on the Dr. Demento radio show.
Ok, the squishing sound effects when Austin bit into the eyes were a bit much. I didn't buy it. But after spending 15 years with audio engineers, I developed an ear for canned sound effects.
Austin's pizza looks like the cardboard pizza we had to eat in Jr. High School. Survivor is not known for making good pizza.
Who brushes their teeth with their mouth open? Is Julie the only one?
Wait, did Julie just step back to vomit? That must have been some nasty toothpaste.
Good call on the margarita prediction, Kellie. Normally, I'd say a margarita with a PB&J sandwich sounds pretty bad, but of course, I'm not starving like Kellie was.
Bruce loses his vote, and Emily gets another dumb luck break. But I don't think she'd be in trouble if she lost her vote. Austin, Drew, Dee and Julie would be worried though. That would have been one less vote they could control.
I like how they worked in Kendra's backstory around the beer she bought. It didn't feel forced at all.
Emily spills the info about the women's alliance to Drew. Yet another reason she's not a dependable ally. If I'm Drew, I'm wondering when, not if Emily will turn on me. Sooner or later she's gonna realize she's being perceived as a follower, and won't be able to beat Drew, Dee or Austin.
Katurah looks like she's joining the Rebas. As predicted, the pain of Kaleb's mistake about revealing Bruce's Idol continues to be felt. Jake told Kaleb not to spill the info, but went along with it anyway. Again, if I'm Drew, I probably want to replace Emily with Katurah. Katurah is less likely to get votes from the Belo jurors than Emily. Then if I cut Katurah, I still have a good shot at getting her vote since the remaining Belo all shut her out about Bruce's Idol.
Drew was smart to let Katurah name the target. He knew she was gonna pick Bruce. This makes her feel included, valued and trusted, which is what she's not getting from Belo. Drew's move reminds me of how Coach nudged Cochran into picking a target at the South Pacific merge.
There's another shot of Bruce making a fire. I agree with Jeff Pitman. Bruce is gonna be in the final 4 fire challenge.
We've seen a challenge like this before. I wonder if they're allowed to switch hands when they drop to a lower knot?
Ok, I like how Probst handled the rice deal. No time wasted on the negotiation this season. And more importantly, the players made the decision for themselves.
It looks like everyone switched hands at the second knot, so maybe that was a requirement.
Julie is holding her rope under the knot, everyone else is using the knot for leverage. Is that intentional on her part? If so, she'll be the only one used to holding it there after the last knot.
Bruce wins Immunity. He really needed it, too.
So Bruce doesn't have a vote but has Immunity. He's so annoying, nobody will want to talk to him. But I think the smart player will still discuss things with him. You may need his vote later on, and you'll definitely want his Jury vote. Making him feel valued now could pay off in the long run.
Kendra: "Bruce has Immunity and an Idol." I'm thinking Bruce makes it to the fire challenge now.
I LOVED the quick cut between pissed off Kendra and a jubilant Bruce.
Kellie thinks she'll be the backup vote since she's perceived as being connected to Bruce ... or as she calls him "my ball and chain."
Props to Jake for realizing Kellie and Emily were baiting him into naming a target.
Once again, Katurah physically leaves the majority to watch Jake as he hunts for an Idol. She just gave the majority another chance to talk about booting her instead. And she's taken herself out of the loop again.
Drew pitches booting Kellie, which means Kellie's instincts were dead on balls accurate.
Wow, I think Jake is so discombobulated, I think he's gonna pass out again. But saying "I stuck my neck out for Kaleb" is bound to backfire. It looks like a blatant play for Kaleb's jury vote.
Jake: "If I play my ... an Idol." That's a great bluff, and I think he sold it well.
Wait, Jake says he could play his Shot in the Dark? Didn't Probst say that was done for the game when Kaleb pulled the "safe" card? If anyone else is thinking the same thing, Jake might have just killed his own bluff.
Ok, I guess the SITD is still in play. Jake just played his.
"Not Safe." Kellie, Kendra and Katurah look relieved.
Kellie gets blindsided.
Kellie asks Emily "Did you do this?" and she nods. Just like that Drew doesn't get credit for the plan he conceived. Jake, Katurah and Kendra's shocked reactions showed everyone they had nothing to do with it. Dee, Julie and Emily did a great job of fooling Kendra and Kellie about the women's alliance. Drew missed a chance to publicly own this vote, but I don't think Emily will get credit for it either.
Well this season's cast hasn't done a good job of making their target feel safe. Brandon, Brando, Sifu, Kaleb and Jake all knew when they were receiving votes. Then again, J. Maya and Kellie both got blindsided pretty hard so maybe they're improving.
As much as I like Kellie and the way she was playing the game, I'm not too surprised to see her go. In this "New era" Survivor, anyone who appears to be in control of things is lucky to make it to the final 6. "Keep your head low" seems to be the best formula. How many players got clipped for merely appearing to be in charge? It happened to Shantel and Ricard in Survivor 41, Hai and Omar in Survivor 42, Elie, James, Karla and Jesse in Survivor 43, and Frannie last season. We already saw it happen to Kaleb this season too. I'll say it again, Julie looks like the typical "Keep your head low" player who has been winning these "New era" seasons. But Emily is creeping into that position too.
Kellie's profile wasn't nearly as high as some of those other "New era" victims. It looks like what killed her was the word of mouth that pegged her as the player everybody trusted and wanted to stick with. As it turns out, Bruce losing his vote might have been a fatal blow for Kellie. If everyone thought Kellie was carrying Bruce's vote in her pocket, this became the perfect opportunity to deal a death blow to the Belo alliance, since Bruce couldn't vote.
It's a little sad because Kellie's style turned Kim Spradlin into an elite player in the 39-day One World season. Dee is using that same style, but something tells me she'll be gone before the fire challenge too. The game is always evolving.
And once again, we see the talk of a female alliance go down in flames before it can even leave the station. Jeff can check me on this, but I think the only female alliances that made it to the end intact (or at least mostly intact) were in One World and Micronesia. But even those alliances cut one of their own (Kat and Alexis) while a man was still around.
Next week we'll see 3 people losing their vote. That sucks, because final 9 is a great power-shifting opportunity. But I see a balance beam challenge, and I think Bruce will have trouble on that one. Which could mean Bruce, Julie and Kendra could lose their votes next week. Interesting indeed. Then again, the "Next week on" promos are almost always misleading.
What do you think? Was blindsiding Kellie the move that guarantees the Reba alliance runs the table? Will Emily realize she has to break away from them to have a chance at winning? Is Bruce a lock for the fire challenge? Will Jake ever finish a sentence again? Let me know in the comments.