Survivor Review: The Family

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Games evolve. The NFL has moved from a league dominated by running the football and defense to an aerial assault. After years of offense, baseball has recently been dominated by pitching. 

Survivor Horseshoes

If the game is played long enough, it will evolve. Now in its 23rd season, Survivor has officially done so again. Gone are the days when alliances changed based on dwindling numbers. A new era has been ushered in: The Family.

Appropriately, this era was started under the stewardship of Rob Mariano. He’s most famously known as Boston Rob, but his other nickname is The Robfather. Heck, CBS even launched an advertisement for Survivor the week after Rob made his famous Godfather quotes that had Survivor written with the puppet strings like The Godfather.

It is a nickname that goes back to Rob’s first season on the show, Survivor: Marquesas. Back then the game was in its infancy, just the fourth season. Either his tactics were not nearly as refined or the players were not ready for it, but his cult-like tactics didn’t work and he didn’t even make the jury.

Two seasons, a wife and a child later, Rob came in to Survivor: Redemption Island perhaps more focused, but most importantly in to an environment that was ready for The Family style of game play he would employ. The Redemption Island wrinkle had no effect on his game or his plan and everyone bought his act en route to a victory.

We saw that strategy in full force this week. Benjamin “Coach” Wade is employing the same tactic to dominate Survivor: South Pacific. Even those who are not born-again Coach believers like Brandon seem anxious to challenge The Family Coach has reacted. Albert and Sophie have both openly expressed their cynicism with the over use of family, but have done little about it.

Even the man who’s manufacturing the tribal climate is unwilling to break stride. One potential move for Coach this week was to vote off Rick with Albert, Cochran and Edna. This seemed like a very logical move leaving Coach with a new alliance of four against two remaining non-alliance members (Sophie and Brandon).

Did Coach make a mistake not trying to narrow his numbers to four? Probably not because it’s obvious that Edna is going home next. Certainly Sophie and Brandon showed a cult-like confidence in her being sent to Redemption next.

Even if, as Cochran suggests, Edna does win immunity, the next targets seem obvious. Brandon took a beating at tribal council and could easily be “five." If not Brandon, Rick seems like the obvious choice as well. 

The brilliance of The Family strategy is that people do not realize they’re not really in the family until it’s too late. It only dawned on Edna this week that she was six and is all but done after next week’s episode. Similarly, it’s unlikely that Brandon and Rick realize that they are five and four and the next to go after Edna.

That leaves a final three of Coach, Albert and Sophie. Isn’t this the perfect final three for Coach? Cochran, Edna and Brandon are near certain to vote for Coach in that scenario. It also seems likely that the former Savaii on the jury would vote for Coach as well.

The wrinkle, of course, is Ozzy. No, not Redemption Island, just Ozzy. If Ozzy somehow loses at Redemption Island, it becomes irrelevant. None of the Upolu being voted out now or to be voted out in the future will challenge Coach or the other two at the final tribal council. 

Ozzy, however, could. He’s got four votes on the jury already – the former Savaii. If anyone gets bitter at being duped by The Family (hello Edna!) the might switch over to Ozzy as well. 

Could Ozzy be the one to bring down The Family?

More from this episode:

  • Great attempt by Cochran to curry favor with Upolu by faking his birthday. I only wish it had worked so there’d be more discussion about it after the season.
  • Whitney has each ear pierced at least four times from what I could see. Seems like a lot, right?
  • We got a Rick quote this week. He’s alive!
  • I’m still struggling to understand Albert’s vociferous defense of Cochran both in front of the tribe and at tribal council. It’s like Lt. Cdr. Galloway in A Few Good Men: I strenuously object!

Cult Like Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (15 Votes)
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Survivor Season 23 Episode 11 Quotes

Awwww, Jeff Probst, I love you.


There always has been a cult like quality to the Upolu family.