Survivor Review: The Cardinal Rule

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After the opening few moments of Rounders, the now-broke Mike McDermott narrates the scene of him driving a delivery truck by saying:

To Rounders who forget the cardinal f****** rule... always leave yourself outs.

While we likely could write an entire article about how ‘always leave yourself outs’ is an important rule to keep in mind in Survivor, I’d rather focus on those who forget the cardinal rule: as long as it ain’t me.

Edna vs. Ozzy

On the penultimate episode of Survivor: South Pacific, "Then There Were Five," Brandon forgot the cardinal rule. He was so focused on Albert not going home he forgot that there was always a possibility he could go home by giving up his idol. Why Brandon thought he would be safe without the idol while Albert was not safe without the idol I’ll never understand.

Of course, you could easily argue that Brandon has never been playing this game with the cardinal rule in mind. From the get-go his crusade against Mikayla was in complete disagreement with Sandra Diaz-Twine’s now famous line. He put his neck on the line simply to get a cute girl removed from the game.

Since that time Brandon has so proudly trumpeted and lived by his faith, he’d make Tim Tebow blush. Combined with Coach, they turned Survivor: South Pacific from a game of Survivor in to a squabble at your local congregation. What mattered more than staying in the game was faith and honor.

Fortunately for us, the game could never be completely replaced. Brandon gave Coach an opportunity to play the game this week, confident that Coach would not take it. Coach will tell you until he’s blue in the face that his decision to vote out Brandon came from God, but we know what really happened. To quote another movie, Braveheart:

You let yourself be deceived. In your heart you always knew what had to happen here.

Coach started out playing Survivor, building a family culture to create unity. It was exactly what Boston Rob rode to the top of last season. Along the way he ran in to Brandon, who took Coach’s theme to an extreme. Suddenly, Coach was straying away from what he came back to do: win Survivor.

Would Coach have voted for Brandon if, say, he won immunity? Maybe he really did want to get rid of Albert. Regardless of what he might have done, hopefully Coach some day admits that playing with Brandon was too dangerous. He was bound to get burned eventually.

Albert found out what playing with Brandon can do. Brandon did not go off his rocker like he has earlier in the season, but he created a situation few other competitors ever would have done.  ho’s bold enough to gather up the tribe and air dirty laundry? Only someone who has none to air.

This was the problem of playing with Brandon. He plays the game of Survivor in such absolutes you have no choice but to go along with whatever his plan is. If he catches you going behind his back, you can’t counter with you felt he was going behind yours. He wasn’t. 

One thing I found particularly interesting about Brandon’s air it out session with Albert was a casual comment Albert made at the end of the argument. Talking with Rick, Brandon and Sophie, Albert said that none of them had to go home. They stood there, silent and confused, but no one took Albert up on the idea. 

Why did any of them have to go home? Why not try to send Coach home? Sure, he’s got the idol, but he’s been the most confident player this entire game. How could he have ever expected it? If nothing else, isn’t it worth the risk?

Besides Ozzy (who is out of everyone’s control at this point, so not worth discussing as a threat) who else is going to beat Coach? If Coach walks in to the final tribal council and describe how he built and led the dominant alliance in the game to the finals, isn’t that what this game is all about? He’d have my vote, that’s for sure.

Yet, no one seems to think he’s a threat. Everyone talks about the final three being themselves, Coach and anyone else. Do the remaining players really feel like Coach is beatable? If they can’t vote for Ozzy, I see the five (including Ozzy) former Savaii members all voting for Coach. That’s all he needs.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, Ozzy could derail everyone’s plans. If he makes it to the finals, he wins.

More from this episode:

  • Typically I’m fine with Brandon being chastised and humbled. However, when he caught Albert and Coach talking about him and called them out on their lame excuse of what they were talking about, Coach turned in to a Hantz by trying to scold him for calling them out. He manipulated Brandon in to feeling guilty for questioning what they were talking about when they were completely bsing him. 
  • Coach once again manipulated Brandon with his subtle use of words when Brandon described what God wanted them to do and Coach countered that Brandon heard what God wanted him to do. Coach had not yet heard from God about what the Lord wanted Coach to do. Semantic BS if you ask me.
  • Will anyone else be ‘disappointed’ if the dark past Brandon has/is hiding from everyone is that he was in the gang scene? I really want it to be something more dramatic, particularly if it involves women after his bizarre crusade against Mikayla.

Then There Were Five Review

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Survivor Season 23 Episode 13 Quotes

We can stand on our head in the water and blow bubbles for six days.


The alliances within the alliances will be revealed.