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Survivor: Samoa, Ranking the Survivors, Episodes 8 and 9 – Who Am I Aligned with This Week?by Brian Towers -- 11/17/2009
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Wow, those were two great episodes! Galu has taken a position of extreme advantage and, through their arrogance, potentially ruined it. First, they tossed away Erik in an ill-considered eleventh-hour panic move, and now, Russell outplayed them and Kelly is gone.
Add in that they’ve spent the whole game trying to drive Shambo away, and the net result is that if Shambo jumps ship, suddenly the votes are tied at five and the Galu advantage is gone. Ladies, I’d be sure I could make fire if I were you!
One other thing: Galu, exactly how hard is it to spell the name “Russell” in its traditional form? “E-L-L,” right? THREE of them wrote “Russel”!
With all that said, here is the latest version of my rankings.
1. Russell Hantz (2) – For the second time, Russell finds a hidden immunity idol before its presence is officially known (and obviously, without clues). Brilliant! How can Galu vote against him with any degree of confidence now? That fear is his best defense in the game, and vaults him back to the top of my rankings.
After initially telling the camera that he was going to keep his newest idol find a secret, he was smart to share his good fortune with his team. They needed to be quickly convinced that Russell’s plan could work, though in an Insider clip, Jaison admits he was only 30% confident it would.
At some point Russell will have to deal more harshly with his former tribemates, but for now, he needs their numbers desperately. In last week’s Insider clip “Keeping the Numbers,” he reveals he seriously considered passing his old idol to Jaison when it seemed Jaison was the target.
It was also clever to show his idol to Shambo. As she is the most powerless (and least aligned) player in the game, what could he lose? The gain could be her trust and her vote. A little more on this later on.
He’s done outwit, he’s done outplay, and now all that remains is to see if he can outlast!
2. Natalie (1) – Natalie (a.k.a. The Rat Killer) is still in a good position. With Galu stubbing its toes repeatedly, her former tribe now has a chance in this game.
Mildly on the down side, with Kelly’s elimination, Natalie’s chance of being incorporated into a women’s alliance is now unlikely to transpire. However, I’m not sure if Natalie ever put a lot of stock in that option. When Natalie talked about the women’s alliance on the Insider clip “Gathering Attention,” she said, “I don’t think I can trust Laura.”
Natalie’s strength is in playing the social game, by far. If there’s a “Know Your Competitor” challenge, she’s odds-on to win. However, her pretense at the last Tribal Council that since the merge, life has been just fine for their outnumbered tribe was irritatingly transparent, and Probst called her on it. In confirmation, on separate Insider clips, both Jaison and Mick said they feel like unwelcome outsiders in Galu’s old camp.
3. Brett (6) – Brett lost an ally in Kelly, but his position remains as strong as it can for a nearly invisible big guy. Hey, maybe without Kelly hogging all that screen time, we might actually find out who Brett is!
Getting serious again, Brett did not support the vote against Monica, and felt that the former Foa Foa members needed to go first. They did, and they do. In his Insider conversation with John (“The Risk of Turning On Foa Foa”), he showed he underestimated the ties on Galu, but he did get a read that Laura was not to be trusted.
It’s good to see he’s actually strategizing with others. I don’t think Brett is anyone’s primary target yet.
4. Shannon (8) – Once again, Shambo is in a pivotal position in the game, and it leads to her highest rating yet. She can even up the sides by siding with the former Foa Foa tribe and turning on those who have disrespected her from day one. She did tell the camera this week that she feels she’s been aligned with Foa Foa for the last two weeks, and the player she trusts most is Russell. Mind you, I’m just not sure how all that gels with her last two votes being cast against first Jaison, then Russell!
But even if she chooses not to follow that path, it seems the former Galu are now aware of the importance of playing “Survivor 101,” which will also keep her safe for several weeks. Either way, Shambo’s with us for a while.
As an indication of exactly how far Shambo is removed from the flow of the game, consider this bit of trivia I unearthed for you: In 19 seasons, hapless Jason from Micronesia is the only other player to make it this far without ever voting for the player who was actually sent home. In fact, Jason never did write down the name of the one going home! Hopefully Shambo breaks her string soon.
I do give credit to Shambo this week for being the one to propose booting Kelly over Monica if Laura won immunity. But of course, she didn’t vote that way when it counted… because Shambo is a wild card.
5. Mick (7) – In last week’s Insider, Mick revealed that he’s glad to shed the role of tribal leadership. Perhaps now we’ll see Mick play some game? Strategically, he seems to be a follower without an agenda of his own, and his screen time diminishes every week.
A separate clip showed him resisting Kelly’s unsubtle attempt to dig for information, which made me think that maybe he’s not quite as hapless in this game as I’d thought.
6. Monica (Tied 3) – Monica is still seen, as Erik told us, as “a weak player,” “not contributing to camp life.” With a women’s alliance now unlikely to come to fruition, perhaps her only hope of success is to be seen as “the easily beaten one” that a strong player may wish to take in front of the jury. However, as long as Shambo is still in the game, that role is taken. Still, Monica’s easily disposable at some point before the difficult choices must be made.
This week, Monica was one of two who wanted to consider the possibility that Russell had found another idol. However, when Dave offered to boot Natalie instead, she backed off and agreed that it was better to boot Russell. So she gets no points for not having the courage of her convictions.
In Monica’s defense, since she had some vague, secret hopes for a women’s alliance at a later point, Natalie was not the alternative she was hoping for. However, she failed to offer up Jaison or even Mick as an alternative.1 2 Next-->
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