“If they were smart, they’d vote out [me], but I’m banking on stupidity tonight.” This was maybe the quote of the night on Survivor: Edge of Extinction, and if the result at Tribal Council was any indication, there’s no way that a dummy is going to end up winning this cut-throat season.
As I do at the beginning of every recap, please heed the following. Remember that this recap assumes that you have already seen this week’s Episode 11 of Survivor: Edge of Extinction. If you have not and don’t want to be spoiled, please come back later! It’s important to add that while we WILL hit on all of the important developments of the episode, this is not a linear “blow-by-blow” recap. It is more of a discussion and reaction of what we just witnessed together.
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Everyone’s assessment of The Wardog (real name: Daniel DaSilva) was spot-on accurate: He was a bit blunt, loud and over-bearing. He didn’t let you get a word in edge-wise. He had a tendency to dominate conversations, if not competitions where he really never established himself as a threat. But, as someone mentioned on tonight’s episode, he was also the one who was going to win the game. He was playing the game the hardest, the best. Even Kelley – who was more animated during tonight’s jury than she was throughout most of the game – nodded in agreement when Wardog mentioned that he was not going to be in either Kelley or Lauren‘s end game (speaking of “End Game,” shameless plug: Check out my review of the new “Avengers: End Game” movie!). Yes, The Wardog was riding high, but as he also correctly stated tonight to Ron, “This is going to be our most important vote.”
If it was a question of “stupidity” versus “smarts,” this cast was never going to make the dumb move. Of course, what Wardog was really saying there, was that he knew he was in a desperate situation, and that for maybe the first time in a long time, his game was hanging by a thread, with said thread being held by none other than Ron Clark. Yes, Wardog was a worthy adversary in the gladiator pit that is Survivor, and he took out foe after foe, beating out returnees David and Kelley. But Survivor is also like chess, and using that analogy, it was Ron Clark who meticulously and methodically positioned himself better in the game. If Wardog “had” to take out Kelley at that precise moment last week – as he tried to explain to Gavin – then that plan obviously had flaws. A player like Wardog surely was looking three or twelve steps ahead, so he had to have some sort of plan for this vote, right? He did, and his plan was that he was better than Ron, or at least, would be able to persuade Ron to follow Wardog on his “Goat Hunter” quest. He underestimated Ron, as many have and still do, and now he’s sitting right next to Kelley and David, a perennial “great player” sitting among the losers.
While Kelley can cheer from the jury and think that the game is revolving around her, the players that voted out Wardog did not do so to enact “revenge” on him for flipping on Kelley…they did it because it was the smart play. It remains to be seen if Wardog though, also had a point: That he, Ron and Devens needed each other. They are surely the biggest targets in the game, and now one of them has fallen. Devens is likely toast if he doesn’t keep winning Immunity, which then could leave Ron exposed as the one to beat. And don’t think for a minute that Gavin or the docile wolf-in-a-sheep’s-wool-winter-hat Victoria wouldn’t hesitate to remove Ron from the game. They will, if given the opportunity, as every remaining player other than Ron and Devens are still looking for that thing that can bolster their own “Survivor Resumé.”
We now just have two remaining episodes leading up to the May 15th Finale episode, so it is not too early to start discussing where things may go. The biggest factor, of course, is the unpredictability that the Edge of Extinction will bring to the game. We know that one player will be able to rejoin the game, but at what point? There are now seven left in the game after Wardog‘s exit, so it’s likely that we will be down to five leading into the Finale (barring another “double eviction” which isn’t likely). The returning player will then, presumably, come back during the Finale to make there be a total of six left to win the title of Sole Survivor. That means that returning to the game isn’t a winning ticket…the person that does return will have to survive through a few more Tribal Councils to reach the end. Will the returning player be instantly voted-out as the easy target? Not so fast (and that didn’t quite happen for Devens when he returned). It really depends on who the player is. Now, I’m getting way ahead of myself, but for example, could you imagine Lauren making the Final Five, and then Kelley returning to the game? Do you think Lauren would vote her out? Very unlikely. But if it’s someone else, like Joe, the legendary challenge beast of Survivor lore? You’d have to think that he’d instantly be sent back out of the game the minute he didn’t wear that Immunity Necklace around his neck.
So knowing that the returnee will likely turn the game on its head and make things fully unpredictable (just the way we like it going into a Finale!), who would you like to see actually win Survivor at this point? For some unfounded reason that I can’t quite explain, I feel like I am an “old school” Survivor fan that just can’t wrap my head around the idea of a Sole Survivor having had his/her torch snuffed during the game. Like, if Devens or whoever were to return from the Edge were to win the game? I’d have to admit, I’d be a bit disappointed in a weird way, and would have some level of feeling that the title was tarnished. I know, I know, the rules change from season to season, and this season says you can be voted out and can still win. And Devens has been a great player this season, despite being voted out. But as a Survivor “purist,” it’s just a hard thing to swallow. Would any players in the game feel the same, and make sure that a person who was voted-out doesn’t win?
Using that logic as a guide, all I really want is for the winner of Survivor to be worthy. And that’s why I’m a bit sad that Wardog was sent packing. With him gone, and viewing Devens as “damaged goods” in my eyes, I really feel that Ron Clark HAS to be the winner of Survivor, for me to feel proud about it. He’s the only one left that has played the game the way I like it being played: A mix of social and strategic mastery. Julie? I’ve been liking her more and more, but I just don’t feel like she’s done enough. Gavin? He’s actually been on-point with a lot of his social awareness, but time and time again he is trumped by his allies…this tells me he doesn’t have the respect enough to win, and I sort of agree. Victoria? She has shown flashes of brilliant strategic thinking early on, but lately has been the textbook definition of a floater. Lauren? She still has time to shine and win me over, with an Idol in her pocket and the ability to be the one to take Ron out of the game…so stay tuned. Aurora? She’s clearly a challenge beast in her own right, but she has no real chance of winning based on other’s perceptions of her.
Yes, it has to be Ron. It has to be Ron…right?
Episode Take-away: I was sorry to see The Wardog go, but as he himself stated, they made the right decision. Devens truly has no one left, and with Ron messing with him (as we see in the preview for next week), it’s unlikely he will be around for much longer unless he can continue to win challenges. This episode made clear that Ron is currently everyone’s ally, and Ron himself made a “juggling” motion with his hands when talking about it, and that’s pretty accurate. The main question of the rest of this season will be, can Ron keep all of these balls in the air?
But I keep thinking about this as well: Could Wardog have made it through this episode, had he and Devens used their “mudpool” reward time to work their magic on Lauren and Julie? Was this the major flaw in Wardog’s game?
Voted out this week: The Wardog
Vote: No Idols or advantages played. 6 – Wardog (Ron, Gavin, Lauren, Julie, Victoria, Aurora), 2 – Aurora (Wardog, Devens)
Next Week’s Episode: Ron gives Devens his old advantage, not seen since the very first episode of the season…and although Devens seems happy to receive it, Ron (and the audience) knows that it’s powers have long since expired. Also, bring tissues: It’s the coveted “family visit.”
Quick Note! I appreciate that you are reading this recap! Because of the new “Edge of Extinction” format, CBS is not giving weekly exit interviews this season. Because of this, there will not be an interview article on Thursdays like you might be accustomed to. Further, because of this twist, I’ll be putting my FilmSurvivor Podcast on hiatus temporarily. I may do occasional podcasts throughout the season. However, they won’t be weekly like normal. When I do post a podcast, I’ll link it here.
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TELL US – DO YOU AGREE THAT RON IS THE ONLY WORTHY WINNER LEFT IN THE GAME AT THIS POINT? WHICH PLAYER ARE YOU HOPING RETURNS FROM THE EDGE? AND WHO ARE YOU ROOTING FOR TO WIN THE GAME AND TITLE OF SOLE SURVIVOR?
[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]