After an injury-filled premiere episode, it was finally back to business this week on Survivor.
We’ve all heard the description of our conscience as having “an angel and a devil on both shoulders.” Each whispering into your head as to what action you should take, from their unique and biased perspectives. On Survivor, the devil usually wins this argument, and it definitely seemed to tonight for Carson, who ultimately sealed the fate of his Day One ally, Helen when he decided to vote her off instead of the “easy” vote, Carolyn.
But the editing was a bit murky, to say the least. Viewers had been made to believe that Helen, Carson, and Sarah were a strong, dominant Day One alliance. Sure, we never quite know where players stand until they vote at Tribal Council, but obviously what we were shown through the first two episodes doesn’t seem to tell the full story. Helen was not only voted out and blindsided, but it wasn’t just Carson who did the deed. It was a unanimous vote (Sarah did not have a vote, but didn’t seem alarmed by the vote’s outcome). And not only did Helen leave the game (much, much too early for my liking!), but Carolyn‘s hidden Idol wasn’t even flushed.
What the heck was really going on with the Purple Tribe tonight?
Before the episode ended with that head-scratching Tribal Council, much of it dealt with those mysterious, intriguing birdcages found close to each camp. We know that last week, Brandon publicly retrieved the Idol at the Orange camp’s birdcage, and successfully played it to save himself at Tribal and send Maddy out of the game. Kane was left out of that vote, and we saw him unsuccessfully scrambling around the jungle, looking to see if the played Idol had been put back in play, as is customary after an Idol is used (Kane came up empty thus far).
This week, we saw how the birdcage played out at the other two tribes. At the Green Tribe, Danny showed us how it should be done: With stealth, caution, and attention. He located the hidden key in the jungle, and then managed to unlock the cage and retrieve his Idol without anyone suspecting anything. Best of all, he was able to replace the bag in the birdcage exactly as it looked before, so no one would notice that the Idol was in fact no longer in there.
To contrast what Danny did, we had Carolyn over at the Purple Tribe. Oh, Carolyn. From literally the first seconds of this season, the show established Carolyn’s goofiness and her eccentric, unpredictable behavior. Is she destined to be one of those “fun and entertaining” pre-merge characters that liven up the game in its early stages? Or is she a player that can somehow manage to go the long haul? I can tell you this: She’s the type of player who if she does make the merge, could be very dangerous. Only because no one will believe she can win the game (way too early to tell this of course, but her aloofness might make her a prime candidate to take to the end).
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Carolyn retrieved the Idol, only to completely forget to “reset” the scene of the crime. In a tense and funny moment during the episode, she raced back to try to restage the birdcage before her tribe returned to camp. She did, but did such a bad job placing the bag back in the cage, that it was immediately obvious to everyone else that it had been tampered with. And that someone had retrieved the Idol. Miraculously, no one suspected that Carolyn was the culprit! This, despite the fact that she was the only one removed from the rest of the tribe.
This clearly doesn’t speak to any “genius” on the part of Carolyn‘s gameplay, but it might speak to the poor gameplay and observational skills of the rest of her tribe. They each had their theories as to who they thought might have taken the Idol, and whom they thought was acting shady, but none of them guessed right. None of them guessed Carolyn.
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Is that what led to Helen’s demise? Did the others really assume that she had the Idol? Were they looking not only to blindside a very strong social and strategic player but also to perhaps flush out an Idol as well? The editing wasn’t clear as to what the motivations were in voting out Helen, so we’re just going to have to wait until next week to find out for sure.
Episode Take-Away: It was nice to dive into the strategic part of the game, after going through the danger zone that was the first episode. All three camp Idols have now been found – one has been used – and the game officially feels on.
I’m curious as to what will happen with Kane over at the Orange Tribe…on the outs after the Maddy vote, and caught by Matthew clearly looking for an Idol. Kane will either be quickly out of the game the next time they lose a challenge, or he could end up being a lone wolf should he survive until the merge. An intriguing storyline to keep an eye on.
Equally intriguing is the “dork-mance” romantic relationship that is budding between Matt and Frannie. It’s hard not to root for them at this point, but when true love calls, it’s almost impossible to hide it away. This is VERY EARLY in the game to be targeted as a power duo, but we know that love endures all things. Could it endure another 21 days of Survivor?
Last and certainly not least, there has to be some storyline importance to the odd decision to have Claire sit out back-to-back challenges to begin the game. Now to be fair, her tribe has not had to go to Tribal Council, but it does seem strange. Even more relevant is that the show is including this in the episode, which means that it will become relevant to the game at some point.
As you may be aware, there is a new, official Survivor Podcast! On Fire with Jeff Probst is a must-listen-to companion piece that drops at the end of each (East Coast) airing of Survivor. I highly recommend it. I also listen to it and will give you a few of the highlights each week in case you don’t have time to catch the new podcast episodes.
This week’s edition of On Fire was all about Idols and Advantages, from the perspective of production. Key takeaways were:
- Advantages and Idols are here to stay. Sorry haters or Survivor “purists,” but according to Jeff Probst, the game becomes boring if there isn’t some element that allows players to “flip” the game. Watching majority alliances pick off minority alliances is just not riveting television. They see Idols/Advantages as necessary to allow for the game to be flipped on its head.
- There have been Advantages introduced into the game that were never found by the players, and thus never seen on TV! Jeff Probst describes a time in a recent season when an advantage was actually placed inside a raw fish that was given as a reward, but the players never saw it. And on Millennials vs. Gen-X, a riddle given at the merge feast was never closely looked at, leaving a hidden advantage to just stay hidden for the remainder of the game.
Erik Reichenbach DabuDoodles Art. We’re honored here to be associated with Survivor legend Erik Reichenbach, who just so happens to be an amazing artist. As always, we’re thrilled and honored that he shares his talents every week in my column and with my audience. His latest piece is below!
All of Erik’s work can be found and purchased on his site, DabuDoodles.com, and I urge you to support this fantastically skilled former Survivor player!
Out this week: Helen
Won Immunity: Orange Tribe and Green Tribe
Vote Result: Sarah lost her vote and was unable to vote. No Idols or advantages were played.
3 – Helen (Yam Yam, Carson, Carolyn), 1 – Carolyn (Helen).
Current Advantage/Disadvantage List:
- Sarah – Inheritance Advantage
- Lauren – Extra Vote
- Matt – Cannot vote for the next two Tribals
- Danny – Immunity Idol
- Carolyn – Immunity Idol
Next Week’s Episode: Kane tells us he wants to be a hero. We see the showmance becoming a major liability. Does Danny eat parchment? OK!
Quick Note! I appreciate that you are reading this recap! Those that have followed me also know that I am also a TV personality and Film Critic in the Detroit area, as well as a RottenTomatoes-approved film critic. 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? DID CARSON MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE IN VOTING OUT HELEN? AND WHO DO YOU PREDICT WILL WIN SOLE SURVIVOR?
[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]