This week’s episode was very strange and very entertaining. We saw Dawn lose her teeth and her mind, Brenda and Erik both had confessionals, and a three person alliance was entirely protected from immunity, leaving the majority alliance to scramble right in the middle of tribal council.
Jeff Probst was raving about this season while Philippines was still airing, and I’m beginning to understand why. In my opinion, the past three episodes have been the three best of the season so far. This season has very interesting group dynamics, conflicting alliances and relationships within alliances. These will all undoubtedly unfold further down the line and I believe we’re in store for a very interesting ending to this season. However, quite often we see seasons begin to settle down a little before the last few weeks. Let’s hope this season doesn’t follow that trend.
Malcolm’s double idol play was one of the biggest power plays in Survivor history, and it made for one of the best tribal councils ever. There’s a lot of different opinions floating around about the decisions Malcolm made last night. Personally, I think targeting Phillip was exactly the right move. Every single player was hoping to take Phillip to the end because they knew they could beat him, so by removing him from the game, you shake up everybody’s plans and create the biggest fracture within the majority alliance. People also have to keep in mind that we have no idea how long it was before tribal that Malcolm found the second idol, and how much time the amigos had to plan. This move is the definition of playing to win, and while I don’t believe it will get Malcolm to the end, but I do believe it will get him a third chance to play this game.
Movers and Shakers:
+ 2 Malcolm Freberg
+ 1 Reynold Toepfer
+ 1 Brenda Lowe
- 1 Phillip Shepard
- 1 Dawn Meehan
- 2 Sherri Beithman
One thing I always hate to see in Survivor, is people accepting their fate, and not fighting to stay in the game when their back is up against the wall. When the bromigos threw Phillip under the bus, he instructed his alliance to stick to the plan, force Malcolm and Eddie to play their idols, and let them vote for him. Even though Phillip was almost certain to go home no matter what he did, he has to at least try. However, out of devotion to Stealth R Us, or a lack of care, or perhaps just stubbornness, Phillip has joined the jury. Throughout this season, Phillip has been rude, unpleasant, disrespectful, delusional, and a bully. Ultimately, this behaviour was his undoing. Call it karma, call it justice, call it unlucky, call it whatever you want, the one thing it undeniably was, is good television.
Reynold was a marked man before the immunity challenge. He was the unanimous first choice of the Stealth R Us alliance. Now that Malcolm has made such a bold powerful move, I’m convinced Reynold has moved back one spot on the chopping block, assuming the bromigos can’t find any recruits.
Ever since Shamar’s medivac, Sherri has been nothing more than a floater. The only real scheming we’ve seen from her has been to try drag a goat to the end. However, this plan was inherently flawed since there will almost certainly be a final three and everybody except Phillip would most likely have beaten her. It seems as though Sherri may be a one-trick pony and now that Phillip’s gone, she’s lost her only strong connection to Stealth R Us.
Eddie is one lucky man. I don’t think you could argue that Malcolm saved Eddie this week, and how, he will most likely stick around for at least a little while longer. Eddie was only targeted this week because Reynold and Malcolm were both protected. Stealth R Us have made it clear that they are much less worried about him than they are Malcolm or Reynold.
Malcolm may have saved his alliance for this week but it still looks unlikely they’ll be able to rally the numbers, though that’s not to say all hope is lost. Sherri is a very possible recruit. Her game plan is to take the worst players with her to the end. So far, she’s proven to not think very highly of Reynold, or Eddie at all, and she may believe that they would be the easiest players to beat at the end. Furthermore, with Phillip gone, she’s clearly on the outs of her alliance and really doesn’t have much to lose. Erik is absolutely playing an under-the-radar game. In the past, he has proven to be paranoid, and he is still scarred from the rather cruel number the women of Micronesia pulled on him. Perhaps he’ll feel more comfortable working with his fellow bros. Perhaps his vote for Phillip this week was a sign he’s ready to turn this game on its head. A rather unsuspecting potential recruit is Andrea. Every week, it’s becoming more and more clear that her alliance is threatened by her and does not intend to take her to the end. With her closest ally gone, she may feel more comfortable working with the boys that she clearly has bonded with. There are a number of avenues for Malcolm to work, and it’s absolutely possible he may take control of this game, and if he does he will absolutely be the man to beat in this game. If I were a betting man though, my money would be on Stealth R Us to prevail.
Erik is quite a unique player in that he seems to actively avoid strategy. In Micronesia, he learnt that he is not a very good strategist, and because of this, he seems to be avoiding it as if it were a disease. This is a very dangerous approach, because when it comes to the final tribal council, it’s hard to convince the jury you deserve the million when you didn’t succeed in the three major aspects of the game, social, physical, and strategic. However, it has worked in the past, most notably for Jud ‘Fabio’ Birza, but I don’t believe it’s possible unless you have a particularly bitter jury, or a very week final two or three.
As we get closer and closer to the finish, Dawn’s chances seem to be getting worse and worse. Dawn has screwed over a lot of people after they have confided in her, and though people have won this way, I don’t know if Dawn could, purely because of the way she carries herself and the jury’s perception of her. If a young charismatic guy like Malcolm were to screw you over, you’d feel he outplayed you, but when a mom of 6 adopted children screws you over, you feel she hurt and betrayed you. If Dawn wants to win, she needs to stop crying, stand up and own this strong cut throat game she’s playing.
We’re starting to see that Brenda is perhaps in a stronger position than suspected. Last week, everyone was happy for her to win immunity, and this week, we saw Dawn crying for her help to find her retainer. This tribe has plenty of strong swimmers, but it was Brenda whom she confided in. Brenda may be in a stronger position than suspected, but based purely on the editing, it’s safe to assume that she doesn’t win.
Of all the members of the Stealth alliance, Andrea certainly has the toughest road to the end. Everyone recognises her as the strategist and the biggest threat of her alliance. However, if she can take her alliance to final 6 and get rid of Erik, she has a great shot at dominating immunity, when her competition includes Cochran, Dawn, Sherri, and an injured Brenda. Andrea is a thoroughly underrated challenge competitor. If Andrea can make it to the end, she could beat almost anyone for the million.
Cochran is certainly playing great in terms of the fact that everyone sees his value and no one wants to get rid of him. However, in the past few weeks, a number of people have stepped out in front of him as jury threats, such as Malcolm and Andrea. If Cochran is to win, he’ll need to either get rid of these threats or step up his own game.
Written by Robert Milner.