There was a lot of deception on this week’s edition of Survivor 44…perhaps even more than normal. Not one, but two fake Idols were introduced into play, with all of the materials and the idea itself being provided by production, with hopes that it would play out this exact way. They couldn’t be more ecstatic thus far, even though we haven’t exactly seen how either of these fake Idols will play out.
Both Matthew and Danny were able to locate their hidden keys and unlock their mysterious tribe birdcages. In doing so, they both now possess real Immunity Idols, but packaged along with their real deals were items that could easily be used as fakes. To both of their credit, they not only took the real Idols, but managed to wrap the “fake” in the original “real” parchment, and placed them back in the birdcage unnoticed. Jaime located Matthew’s fake Idol, and Matt located Danny’s fake Idol. Both have no idea – and no reason to suspect – that they are now instant candidates for the Survivor Hall of Shame. There’s nearly nothing worse than playing a fake Idol at Tribal Council, only to have your torch snuffed, hearing giggling in the background as you depart.
After Bruce’s medical evacuation that began the game, Claire represents the third-consecutive female to be voted out. Each tribe, in fact, has now voted out a woman first. This is sadly the new trend on Survivor. It’s been around since the beginning but has gotten worse in recent seasons. With smaller tribes (starting with three tribes of six as opposed to what had been the standard two tribes of eight or more), physicality is often a huge priority. The perception is that the losing tribe doesn’t want to lose any more challenges, so often times the big, bulky athletic male will be kept around. Ten of the last 12 first vote-outs have been women, but to me, this Claire vote-out comes with an asterisk. If a male player had volunteered to sit out of three consecutive challenges to begin the game, by the same standards, that person would be the easy first target of his tribe.
Those two fake Idols took up most of the air during Episode 3, but the A-story ended up being the demise of Claire. She seemed like a favorite to many to go far in this game. She inexplicably though, is responsible for her own downfall. Sitting out a record three straight challenges? What in the world? How do you go out on Survivor and compete in ZERO challenges over the course of the first seven days in the game? Sitting out one can be called “taking one for the team” or “putting the team first.” But you simply have to show the rest of your tribe that you are a complete player. Her sit-outs were maddening quite frankly. It’s not as if she had an injury or a good reason. Of course, she had other attributes, but I’ve just never seen anything quite like this scenario. Claire’s lack of awareness as to how this would be viewed is simply astounding.
While I do believe it was a straightforward decision and vote, we did finally get to see some of the inner tribe dynamics at the Green Tribe, having now attended their first Tribal Council. Although we didn’t get a lot, we did finally hear from Josh (who thus far has been given a famed “Purple” edit), and interestingly, many on his tribe find him to be an even bigger threat than Danny. Danny and Josh are tight, as are the nerd-mance of Matt and Frannie, with Heidi landing square in the middle. Keep in mind that Danny has a real Idol while Matt has a fake, and while it might seem that Heidi will still likely be the swing vote between the two duos, keep in mind that Matt still has no vote for one more Tribal, having lost it at the Risk/Reward excursion. That fact and that real Idol in Danny’s possession definitely gives Team Danny the edge should Green end up back in front of that menacing gargoyle at Tribal Council.
Elsewhere, the aftermath of the Helen vote-out showed us the “chaotic” side of Carson. While Sarah has no choice but to go along with things, it’s clear she won’t forget Carson’s blindside of not only Helen but of Sarah’s trust as well. Don’t forget that Sarah still possesses that crazy “Inheritance Advantage” as well, so she may be down but she’s far from out.
The show seemingly just started, but we only have a few more episodes remaining until the usual “merge” episode. So far, the trend has been to vote out super strategic players (all of whom just so happen to be women), with Maddy, Helen, and now Claire out of the game. Of everyone, I’m surprised to say that I think the kooky Carolyn is in one of the best overall positions: She is in a majority alliance on her tribe (along with Yam Yam and Carson), and has an Idol in her possession. And should she make the merge (which seems likely unless her tribe loses consecutive upcoming challenges), she is the sort of player that I don’t think will feel like a big threat to the other players. In some ways, she’s striking me as a female version of Gabler from Survivor 43, and we all know how that turned out.
Episode Take-Away. I always root for an even division of tribes as we inch closer to the merge, so I was happy to see the Green Tribe at Tribal Council this week. This allows for an unpredictable post-merge game, and also gives us the opportunity to see all player dynamics early on, which helps with our investments into the characters.
I think Matt and Frannie are adorable, but they’re in trouble at their tribe. Green simply needs to win upcoming challenges and if they do, Matt and Frannie at least have a chance post-merge. But even then, a known showmance so early on in the game is going to make their love story a challenging one, should it need to include one of them winning in the end. And watch out for Josh. The viewer knows very little about him, but the way the others talked about him at camp makes me think he’s a very formidable player. And teamed up with Danny, the “Tony Vlachos” of Season 44, they could be their own deadly version of a power couple. Especially if they manage to keep Heidi as a number. In that scenario, Heidi has some great shields in front of her for a long run of her own.
Sarah seems in trouble should Orange Tribe end up back at Tribal, because even with that “Inheritance Advantage,” she doesn’t have the numbers to survive the next vote. And at Purple, Matthew is a dominant force, and the others would be foolish to leave him around for much longer. But now with an Idol and tons of allies, he’s in an amazing position as well.
On Fire With Jeff Probst. The Survivor Official Podcast that followed this week’s show was all about casting, a dream for those that are looking for some sort of inside edge as to how to get picked to appear on this show. This has become a very interesting companion piece to each week’s new episode, and I highly recommend. You can find the podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
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: Claire
Won Immunity: Orange Tribe and Purple Tribe
Vote Result: Claire played her Shot-In-The-Dark, unsuccessfully, losing her vote. Matt was unable to vote. No Idols or advantages were played.
4 – Claire (Heidi, Frannie, Matt, Danny, Josh).
Current Advantage/Disadvantage List:
- Sarah – Inheritance Advantage
- Lauren – Extra Vote
- Matt – Cannot vote for one more Tribal, possesses a Fake Idol
- Jaime – Possesses a Fake Idol
- Danny – Immunity Idol
- Carolyn – Immunity Idol
- Matthew – Immunity Idol
Next Week’s Episode: It looks like something big is about to go down on Survivor. Jeff Probst talks about how “this could change the game” and we see players shocked when they see an incoming boat, a sign that normally means something important is in fact about to happen.
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TELL US – WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS EPISODE? WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF CLAIRE SITTING OUT THREE CHALLENGES AND THEN GETTING VOTED OUT? 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]