Candice and Sandra’s decision to vote with the Villains rather than the Heroes will not go down as one of the top moves in Survivor history. It probably won’t even make the list of top five moves of this season. But their decision to vote for Amanda rather than Russell last night will impact Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains more than anything that has been done this season.
That’s right, the most influential move of the season.
The vote lacked the flair of last week’s epic double-immunity idol play by Parvati or the drama of the Boston Rob-Russell Clash of the Titans. However, the vote directly determined who will win Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. How does it get more influential than that?
If Sandra is able to convince Candice to vote with Amanda, Rupert and Colby for Parvati, the Queen of Survivor, one of the biggest threats of this season is gone. She’s also the glue behind the Villains alliance. I’m not certain that Danielle and Jerri would stay with Russell to the end, more or less each other.
Beyond the downfall of the Villains alliance, imagine the dynamics of the new found controlling alliance headed by Sandra. First off, there would certainly be a show down between Amanda and Sandra at some point. Despite Sandra making the move that kept the old Heroes in the game, she’d still have to feel insecure because she’s the outsider looking in at a tight group of four.For that reason, I believe that Sandra inadvertently made the best move possible. What’s her end game playing with Amanda, Candice, Rupert and Colby? Still probably fifth. Even if she managed to make a friend out of Candice (who is on the outside looking in at Amanda, Rupert and Colby) they’d still have to go crawling back to the Villains at some point to get the numbers back on their side.
Because of Russell’s bullying of Candice, Sandra and Candice are now bedfellows and swing votes amongst a group of six that can’t last forever. First, do not underestimate the power of having two votes vs. just one. If Sandra and Candice can act as a unified voting block of two, they’ll have groups coming to them to be the swing votes before long.
Second, Russell, Parvati, Danielle and Jerri will not last forever. One (if not two) of those four will turn on each other before they vote out Sandra and Candice. Parvati and Danielle are likely in it until the end. Jerri doesn’t seem likely to work with Russell and would rather side with the Queen and her Princess. Russell will figure this out and come to Candice and Sandra before he’s sent packing.
Something that was particularly curious to me about Sandra’s actions this week was that she had a preference for who was sent home. Her M.O. in her previous season was “as long as it ain’t me” and even though she wound up in the middle of a power play, her name was never on the chopping block.
I wonder if, by the end of the episode as they were closing in on tribal council, her self preservation instincts kicked in. She has a (semi-) private conversation with Candice in a last ditch effort to convince her to vote for Russell. Sensing that she’s not getting anywhere against the thoroughly brainwashed Candice, she asks “tell me who you want to vote for.” We don’t hear Candice’s answer, but it seems very likely that she said Amanda and Sandra reverted to “it ain’t me” and went with Amanda.
What’s truly amazing is that Sandra can come out smelling like roses from this entire ordeal, again by accident. Candice claims that Sandra was going to vote for Russell, but the vote goes for Parvati. Even if Candice claims they changed their mind after the fact, Sandra professed her innocence from the beginning and stuck with her word. Her conversation with Candice where she tells Russell to leave them alone can be spun as Sandra doing everything she could to make sure Candice was on their side.
Even if Russell doesn’t buy it, as long as someone does it works out as a positive for Sandra. Jerri’s is a likely candidate to buy into that angle, but even if she doesn’t, Parvati might be happy to use it to her advantage against Russell down the stretch.
Sandra’s hatred for Russell is an interesting angle that Parvati and Danielle could possibly play now if they decide to go after Russell at some point. Although Sandra is contemptuous towards all four of the remaining Villains, Russell is still enemy number one and she’d certainly work with Parvati and Danielle if it means getting rid of Russell.
That’s likely Russell’s Achilles heel heading into the final stretch of the season – he does not have much margin for error. Almost everyone in the game would unify, even if for just one vote, to get rid of him. Later in the game, Russell could try to play to the numerical sensibilities of Sandra and Candice and/or remaining Heroes to keep himself alive, but it seems as if the remaining players would act irrationally if it meant Russell was going home.
No matter what happens, because Sandra and Candice voted with the Villains alliance, Rupert and Colby now have to rely on individual immunity to have a shot at winning the game. Otherwise they’ll end up on the jury just like JT and Amanda.
The game may have a little bit more order to it than it did two weeks ago heading into the merge, but there’s still plenty on our mind.
- Did Sandra and Candice make the right move?
- How much longer can Parvati and Russell co-exist?
- Is Russell's ignorance over the last two weeks signs of cracks in the King’s armor?
- Was Amanda and Danielle’s immunity idol clue fight the most ridiculous in Survivor history?
- Have Courtney’s jury antics surpassed Eliza’s already as the best ever?