It was a Survivor episode full of corny phrases, three of which were finally uttered out loud to activate three different “Beware Advantages” into actual Immunity Idols…the other silly line, given by Hai, perfectly summed up his perception of tribemates Chanelle and Daniel. “They’re like two weasels in a chicken coop,” Hai tells Lydia. And with Hai and Lydia firmly in control of their camp, it was about time for one of those “weasels” to go pop.
A few Tribal Councils ago, Daniel gave us his own reasons why he would never be able to win Survivor. Since then, he’s added to this resumé. After separating his shoulder mere minutes into the game, Daniel was then caught floundering during one of the most disastrous Tribal Council appearances in the show’s history. He had lost all trust, and all allies and as we saw tonight, even his physical limitations were starting to rub the rest of his tribe the wrong way. How was Daniel able to go spear fishing, yet he opts out of every Immunity Challenge due to his shoulder injury? How could Daniel not see the optics of this? Not that Daniel would have been much of a help to his tribe, but it is super-annoying to be laying it all on the line out there and have a feeling like someone on your tribe isn’t pulling their weight and giving it their all.
Daniel was a good character, and an even better story…a player that overcame all adversity battling and overcoming Leukemia since childhood. But he all but imploded out there, and maybe with the exception of his shoulder injury, all wounds out there in the game for Daniel were self-inflicted. As clear a target as he was though, I was a bit surprised that Hai, Lydia and Mike targeted Daniel over Chanelle this close to a suspected merge. Daniel is Daniel, and while both he and Chanelle would likely not work closely with Hai and company post-merge, you’ve got to believe that Daniel would probably end up imploding elsewhere. In comparison, Chanelle seems like a much more savvy Survivor player, a person who could become a major threat if she could just work her way from the bottom. Why not take out the bigger game threat now, and let Daniel put the inevitable target on himself down the road? That could have been a big blunder for Hai and Lydia’s game.
Much is being made over the single vote that was cast for Mike (from Chanelle). Why would Chanelle vote Mike and not put another vote on Daniel to help her chances of staying? Well first of all, Chanelle had no idea that Mike, Hai and Lydia were going to split votes, because even if Daniel would have successfully played his shot-in-the-dark (SITD), Chanelle would have gone home tonight. However, had all three votes been placed on Daniel like she must have thought, her vote for Mike would have forced a tie between Mike and her (assuming Daniel put his vote on Chanelle, and assuming again a successful SITD for Daniel). She likely still would have gone home, but she would have went down swinging. The risk of this move is that she now has pissed off Mike, but with the “not quite a merge” looming, who really cares? Chanelle wasn’t planning to work with any of these people anyways.
While Chanelle survives to fight another day, Hai and Lydia have a major asset in their corner with Mike, a guy who seems like he will favor loyalty above back-stabbing if and when it comes down to that point. I think Mike made the right call this episode in deciding to activate his vote and his Immunity Idol…they really needed Mike’s vote to survive this week, and it would have been foolish for Mike to be playing for three or four steps ahead instead of securing his next foot forward. But Hai and Lydia would be smart to keep Mike in their corner, because Mike will become a bigger target the further he gets in the game (nobody wants a nice guy like Mike to make it to the end because he could win!). And with an Idol now in his pocket, his loyalty to them could prove to be invaluable.
With Mike‘s Idol becoming active, so now is Maryanne‘s and Drea‘s. Drea is crushing it at the moment, now possessing lots of “Survivor cash” in the form of an extra vote, one of the three Amulets, and now an Immunity Idol. She’s also a fierce physical competitor and fully capable of winning some upcoming Individual Immunity Challenges. Poor Maryanne, who most thought was probably losing all of her marbles the past few weeks, rambling on about bunnies and whatnot, now has a bit of power…and with all three tribes knowing about the secret phrases and the Idols that are now active, she seems a bit less crazy…that is, unless you’re Jonathan, whose patience seems to be really wearing thin.
This is quite an exciting point in the game, because as we saw in the preview for next week, the tribes seem to be merging, even though Jeff Probst admitted that whatever was coming was “not quite” a merge. Will they all share the same beach but still be split into their tribes? What makes things very interesting is that for one of the first times in recent memory (maybe ever?) three tribes are going into a new phase of the game with equal numbers, four-to-four-to-four. There are no numbers advantages, and all three tribes have some toys to play with, in the form of Immunity Idols, extra votes and Amulets. How these advantages are played, when, and by whom, will most likely determine who will sit at that Final Three come Finale night.
Episode Take-Away: So who is set up to succeed at this new stage in the game? It’s hard to know what the twist is, but it’s so fun to speculate who might come out on top. Over at the incoming Blue Tribe, the power duo of Romeo and Drea seem like a force to be reckoned with, and once again they are working with all of Drea’s advantages. However Tori will likely be a wild card, and Rocksroy had his trust shaken as we saw play out in this episode. Of the Orange Tribe, Jonathan may have the biggest individual target on his back more than any other remaining player, simply due to his challenge dominance thus far…if he ever loses (and that’s a big “if”) a challenge, it may be in the best interest of everybody else in the game regardless of their original tribe to vote him out then and there. The good news for Maryanne, Omar and Lindsay are that none of them will be immediate threats, although Maryanne’s bubbly personality may be reason enough to target her first…her Idol makes that all the more interesting. Then with the Green Tribe, with Daniel now gone, Chanelle will be a free agent, and the trio of Hai, Lydia and Mike may seem to have an early leg up when it comes to their odds. There are so many ways this game can twist and turn, and with a very strong cast this season in my opinion, we could be in for a not-just-good-but-great stretch of post-merge episodes. Or, post-not-quite-the-merge episodes.
It all will start to reveal itself next week with a two-hour Survivor! Does that mean two people will go home? I’m not sure! But we shall soon find out!
Erik Reichenbach DabuDoodles Art. Give it up for Erik Reichenbach, who has been killing it all season with his weekly Survivor artwork contributions! All great artists need a break from time to time though, and that time is now for Erik, so unfortunately no new art this week. But all of Erik’s past works can be found and purchased on his site, DabuDoodles.com, and I urge you to support this amazingly talented former Survivor player!
Out this week: Daniel
Won Immunity: Blue Tribe (Rocksroy, Tori, Romeo, Drea), Orange Tribe (Jonathan, Maryanne, Lindsay, Omar)
Vote: No advantages or Idols played. 2 – Daniel (Hai, Lydia), 2 – Chanelle (Mike, Daniel), 1 – Mike (Chanelle). Tie-vote led to a re-vote, where Daniel was unanimously voted out 3-0.
Current Advantage List:
- Drea – 1 Immunity Idol, 1 Extra Vote, also has Amulet (current power: 1 extra vote if all three are played)
- Lindsay – Amulet (current power: 1 extra vote if all three are played)
- Hai – Amulet (current power: 1 extra vote if all three are played)
- Maryanne – 1 Immunity Idol, 1 Extra Vote
- Mike – 1 Immunity Idol
Next Week’s Episode: We’ve been waiting all season for Jeff Probst to shout, “Drop your buffs,” but we thought that would mean we’ve arrive at the merge! But when asked plainly if that was the case, Jeff tells us “not quite.” What does it all mean? Find out next week with a special two-hour episode!
Quick Note! I appreciate that you are reading this recap! Those that have followed me also know that I am also a RottenTomatoes-approved film critic and I encourage you to check out my past movie reviews and my movie show (episodes are also available online at the website, www.MovieShowPlus.com.) As always, the easiest way to get all of my Survivor coverage and movie reviews is to follow me on Twitter – @tomsantilli – or on Facebook.
TELL US – WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS EPISODE? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DANIEL’S GAME? AND WHICH PLAYERS ARE YOU ROOTING FOR/AGAINST AS WE HEAD CLOSER TO THE MERGE?
[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]