I really liked the way that JT tried to explain his vote to the tribe at the start of the fifth episode. Sure, it was hard to believe and likely seemed like groveling, but at least he did something. Clearly everyone but Tom and Colby were confused what happened and if he didn’t say anything, it only would have become the elephant in the room. He likely has a long way to go before renewing the trust of Amanda, Rupert, James and even Candice, but I thought he had a good start to that process.
For as much as we applaud the Villains for not going after the immunity idol, there are some questions that need to be answered as they let Russell search for the idol druing their Coach-led Tai Chi session.
- No one was keeping tabs on the least trustworthy guy in the game?
- Is the cat just out of the bag at this point that Russell’s going after the immunity idol even though his tribe agreed that whomever got it would be immediately voted out?
I’d have to assume at this point that everyone knows what Russell is doing and simply doesn’t care. Seems like a very bold, but very dangerous plan.
Give Russell credit, however, for how he’s using the idol. He’s not only using it to protect his own butt someday, but he’s flashing the idol around to gain people’s trust and build an alliance. Don’t forget that back in the first episode when Russell approached Parvati about an alliance, she was skeptical, but figured that she was better off with him than against him. After showing her the idol at the reward, she has clearly changed her approach to Russell.
You got her, Russell, she’s in. She’s your side kick.
Speaking of sidekicks, Coach continues to dominate this season in terms of absurd scenes. Last week we had his surreal, crying break down with Tyson after Coach was insulted by Sandra at tribal council. This week we have Russell bowling over the “lost puppy,” Coach, by showing him the immunity idol.
This actually happened.
As if Russell needed any more impetus for continuing to call himself the King of Samoa, Coach provided him with the opportunity to knight him, something a king does! Even more fitting is that Russell knights him the Dragon Slayer and although he doesn’t say it, clearly the dragon Russell wants Coach to kill is Boston Rob.For someone who was so completely in control of his season of Survivor, Russell is astoundingly fixated on Boston Rob. Clearly Russell realizes that Boston Rob’s continued leadership and dominance in the challenges has made him untouchable within his own tribe. I'm continually surprised that Russell’s sole focus is to eliminate Rob, rather than to put himself in position win the game. Perhaps the two go hand in hand, but Russell has to realize that if he tries to get the Villains to vote Rob off, they’ll mutiny on him in a heartbeat.
Russell’s fixation with getting rid of Boston Rob brings us to two interesting approaches to Survivor. The first, and most obvious, is focusing on eliminating threats and playing an aggressive game that way.
The other, more subtle approach, was made famous by Cirie – as long as it ain’t me. I have always been a fan of the former way of playing, especially from a viewer perspective. However, as we enter the 20th season of Survivor, perhaps the latter is a more effective approach.
Consider how many people have seemingly been deserving winners of Survivor and how many have “flown under the radar” as everyone likes to say, without doing real research, the group is split evenly, at worst. While the approach of each winner is subject to debate, I’d bet that more people have won simply making sure they were not eliminated rather than targeting specific people to eliminate.
Two great examples of that on this season are Cirie and Candice. The episode that Cirie was voted out, JT actually suggested getting rid of Candice that week instead of what seemed to be the original group consensus, Tom. Instead of simply saying “sure, as long as it ain’t me” Cirie lobbied hard for someone specific, Tom, and it came back to bite her – she was eliminated.
The same scenario almost manifested itself this week with Candice. Her alliance – Amanda, Rupert and James – had decided that Tom needed to go. Candice, however, lobbied against that move because of James injury. Understandably, he potentially represents a liability at future challenges. Her argument that he was the weakest one almost came back to bite her when Rupert privately suggested to Amanda that if they used Candice’s logic, she should be voted out. As it turns out, Candice ultimately acquiesced to her tribe’s wishes and voted with them against Tom.
While Candice’s move to vote with the numbers was the smartest move for her, getting rid of Tom instead of James was a ludicrous move for the tribe. Though we had a great exchange between James and Jeff Probst about who could win a foot race at tribal council, the fact is, Jeff is right – James is a liability.
So far, the challenges have often required a specific number of contestants and players from each tribe have sat out, regardless of the inequity of numbers. For the Heroes to rely on that to prevent James from keeping them down in challenges is a dangerous game. Often in many of these challenges only the team with more numbers has to sit players out and the short handed team has to have everybody compete. The Heroes will be in a lot of trouble if the run into a challenge where the entire tribe has to run through the woods or swim out and back.
Let’s run through some pertinent questions heading into the sixth episode:
- The Villains continue to dominate while the Heroes seemingly weaken their tribe each vote. Can the Heroes rebound?
- Will Russell’s blatant searching for the idol come back to haunt him or save him?
- Where does Candice fit in the Heroes tribe?
- If the tribes merge, when will it come?
- Has there ever been a more dominant Survivor challenge contestant than Boston Rob?