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Survivor: Guatemala, Episode 11 MVP: Pants on Fireby Betsy Wasser -- 12/01/2005
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A belated happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I think we can all agree that one of the things we could be thankful for this year was that Survivor was a regular episode and not a clip show on Thanksgiving night. And as a bonus, it was an exciting episode. Cracks are forming in the main alliance, Gary told the tribe about Judd’s idol lie, and we got a truly suspenseful tribal council. Sure, Gary was voted out in the end, which was the most obvious choice, but up until the moment Jeff counted the votes, I wasn’t sure what would happen.
In the midst of all of the arguing, politics, and such, one player emerged once again as the strongest of the bunch. That was this week’s Most Valuable Player, Rafe. Rafe has really started to impress me lately, and if he winds up winning, it will be well deserved. Let’s look at what he did this week.
The reward challenge was the classic Rotu-4 “take out the people you don’t want to win” version. Rafe went quite a long time without anyone taking out any of his pots (though Cindy bested him in the end). This tells me that Rafe is either well-liked in the tribe or that no one really considered him to be worth taking out. Either of these reasons is a good thing for Rafe. If everyone likes him, they may be reluctant to vote him out. If he makes the final two, he would have plenty of friends on the jury. Then there’s the other side of the coin. There were certain players that everyone wanted to eliminate. The main alliance didn’t want Gary to get the reward, so they took him out quickly. Lydia didn’t want Stephenie to get another food reward, so she was also eliminated early. No one had any reason to get rid of Rafe. It’s exactly that kind of thinking that can keep a player in the game. Sandra took that strategy all the way to a million bucks in Survivor: Pearl Islands.
It was also interesting that Cindy chose to take Rafe with her on the reward. We don’t know what her reasoning was – maybe he was an easy pick because he’s come in second, or maybe it’s because he hasn’t gotten many rewards – but no matter. Rafe used that time with Cindy to his advantage. Rafe is in an interesting position. He is in an alliance with Stephenie, Judd, Cindy, and Lydia. Lydia is getting on people’s nerves and could be perceived as a coattails player, so she’s likely to go after Danni. Cindy would probably be next, as Steph and Judd seem to be close. Rafe is in the middle. Stephenie and Judd both like him a lot, and Cindy seems to be on the fringes. But Rafe and Lydia are also close. If he wants to, he could side with Lydia and Cindy to take out power players Judd and Stephenie. The time Rafe spent with Cindy talking strategy certainly keeps that door open for him.
I have a few thoughts on the reward challenge and the way Lydia and Stephenie handled it. Lydia made her feelings about how much Stephenie had been eating crystal clear. Although she claims it wasn’t personal – and I think she meant it – Stephenie certainly took it personally. Stephenie is one of the strongest, best positioned players in the game (at least for the moment), and by confronting her, Lydia put a big target on her back. Stephenie, on the other hand, overplayed her hand. Calling out Lydia in front of the rest of the tribe probably wasn’t the best move. If Lydia isn’t a complete moron, she should see what the rest of us see – that she’s number five in a five person alliance. Players like Stephenie should be making her feel secure, lest she strike up a conversation with, say, Gary, Danni, and Cindy or Rafe. Stephenie should have kept her mouth shut and just basked in the fact that she’s going to be voting out Lydia very soon. In fact, maybe next season, David Bloomberg should add to his “What Survivor Players Should Have Learned” another rule - When in doubt, shut up.
But enough about Lydia and Stephenie. Let’s get back to Rafe. Rafe yet another individual immunity. Obviously, he’s doing well, but the lucky thing for Rafe is that he is, as he put it, a little gay Mormon. If you were to give your knee-jerk response to who the immunity threats are, you’d probably say Judd or Stephenie, not Rafe. Quietly, he’s a powerhouse and is playing very well.
After Rafe won immunity, Gary made a last ditch effort to stay in the game. He appealed to Rafe, trying to get him to align with him and Danni. Rafe seemed to be considering it, but wound up voting with his alliance. It was the right thing to do. There is a time for Rafe to make a move, but now is not that time. When the number gets to five, that’s when Rafe needs to decide if he’s better off with Lydia and Cindy or Stephenie and Judd. I’ll be anxious to see what he does. But until then, Rafe, enjoy your MVP award. I think it looks great with the immunity necklace.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with comments and MVP nominations at BetsyWasser@Gmail.com.
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