Survivor: One World – Who Will Go in Episode 9?by William Hammon -- 04/11/2011
I’m just going to get this off my chest right now: I’m pissed off! As Troyzan put it in Episode 3, “It’s not Survivor if you’re not lyin’.” That’s all well and good for the players, but as a viewer, I absolutely cannot stand being lied to by the producers and editors.
Let me clarify. I know that misdirection happens within the preview material. Red herrings are just a part of the experience. It’s part of the fun of this column. Find the real story amongst the jumbled bits of misinformation and make an educated guess.
But there’s a difference between a red herring and an outright lie. A red herring is suggestive footage and text to make your brain think a certain way, only to show you a solution that’s completely different using the same evidence. Last week, on the other hand, was an out-and-out lie.
In the commercial promo, the narrator (along with text slates) said these exact words: “It’s the biggest shocker of the season… A major player is about to get played.”
Can someone please explain to me in what universe Mike was a major player? Yes, he was in the majority based on previous tribal lines, but he never had any say in the proceedings throughout the season. He stole supplies on the first day, entered into an ill-advised macho man alliance, and then when Matt was voted out, he lived on borrowed time for the rest of the game. The only thing close to a move he made was ratting Leif out to Colton, and even then, the plan was still to get rid of Bill. He may have lit the Colton powder keg, but he didn’t control the explosion one bit.
Also, how is it in any way shocking to get rid of the biggest physical threat left in the game? In reference to the press release, how does blindsiding the most obvious target “eradicate any sense of security?” I’m pretty sure everyone on that beach knows exactly where they stand at this point. The men know they’re screwed, and Christina knows she’s on the bottom of the women’s alliance. Absolutely nothing changed.
As fun as it is to do this column, and as much as I say that it’s not about being right every week, it really is frustrating to spend hours coming up with cogent theories, only to see them dashed by one of the most procedural votes in Survivor history. It took a long time to process all that information and eventually land on Sabrina as my victim, and all that effort seemed wasted when I saw Mike get the boot.
Yes, I’m sure Mike himself was shocked by the outcome, but the audience wasn’t. Anyone paying attention knew he wasn’t going to win, and that his days were numbered from the third week. It’s one thing to lie in the game; it’s quite another to lie to the audience.
The reason I harp on this is two-fold. First, the main reason I’m angry about this is because the editors broke one of their own rules. It’s one thing to throw a red herring in from time to time, but to directly speak a lie to the audience is fairly unprecedented. If a major event happens in the game, they’ll basically tell you what’s about to happen. When Kelly and NaOnka quit, they didn’t hide it. When people get injured, you see the medics, so you know an evacuation is coming. When the men gave up immunity to vote Bill out, they didn’t mince words. They said it would be a never-before-seen move, and it was.
So when they say that a major player was going to be blindsided in the biggest shock of the season, a move that leaves everyone’s security in question, that’s tantamount to an oral contract as far as I’m concerned. When you say such categorical things, we have to take them at face value. To be lied to after the fact is just insulting to our collective intelligence as an audience.
The second reason that this irks me so is that the past episode basically just ended the season for me. Barring a fantastic blindside (which I doubt since Mike’s ouster was supposedly the “biggest shocker” of the season), Kim has already won this game. This episode served notice. She and Troy were the only real contenders left, and seeing as how she chose the women and so easily duped Troy, there’s nothing else for it. Personally, I’d argue that the manipulation was more a strike against Troy than a point in Kim’s strategic favor (I much more applaud her ability to run interference with Jay), but that’s ultimately irrelevant. She was shown to have more of a handle on the game than Troy, and that’s all that matters.
The rest of the season will likely play out like a combination of Vanuatu and Thailand. There will be no intrigue as the men get Pagonged (or should I say “PaDONGed?” Is that too dirty?), and most likely Troy will be the last man standing by virtue of his idol.
For those who recall what is universally agreed as the worst season in the show’s history, the editors tried to inject some drama into the latter stages of the Thailand season, begging the audience to think that something other than the patently obvious was going to happen each week. It didn’t work. Eventual winner Brian Heidik played what is arguably one of the greatest strategic games in Survivor history, but it was just so boring to watch. By the time Penny got voted out, we just wanted to collectively fast forward to the finale just to get it over with. I get the feeling the same thing will happen with Kim’s near-guaranteed victory.
The only intrigue, if you can even call it that, will be in guessing whether a former Manono member and/or another man gets voted out each week. But even then, that’s like calling “tails” on a double-headed coin. I may finally get off the schneid, as I’m an embarrassing 0-for-8 so far this season, but any victory I get will be hollow at this point.
So let’s get down to business and determine which man (or man sympathizer) will be joining Mike and Jonas at Ponderosa this week. We begin, as always, with the official CBS press release.
Temptation is sweet for ravenous tribe members vying for individual immunity, and rumors of a hidden immunity idol send Tikiano into a tailspin as they head into Tribal Council.
The “Cheat Tweet” this week slightly alters the wording of the second half of the press release, so I think it’s worth transcribing. As always, the text is corrected to compensate for Twitter-necessitated shorthand.
It gets complicated as rumors of the hidden immunity idol send Tikiano into a tailspin.
Moving to the videos, it becomes clear that the men are scrambling at this point. In the end-of-episode (EOE) preview, host Jeff Probst states the obvious, telling us the women are in control. In fact, it’s so obvious that even Tarzan realizes that the women will band together to take them all out.
As Troyzan hints that something major is about to happen, Probst interjects to say that the men are going to fight back. Jay tells Kim (well, at least it looks like Kim; the shot is over the woman’s shoulder and it looks like her hair) that the next four votes will come from “your side,” implying that he has a way to turn the tables so much that women will go out in four consecutive votes. I’ll believe it when I see it.
The scramble is on as Troy asks Christina who she’s voting for, and Jay tells Kat that they need her to move forward. I can’t tell by his inflection if he means that he and Troy require Kat’s help so that they can move forward as a group, or if he’s just blowing smoke up her bum and saying that everyone needs for her specifically to advance in the game. The clip ends with sound bites from Troy and Jay. Troy thinks they’re going to be able to pull a “switcheroo,” while Jay promises that some blindsides will be coming.
The commercial promo answers the first part of the press release, as this week’s immunity challenge is the classic temptation endurance challenge. Players will hold one hand over their head as they are cuffed to a very sensitive string holding up a bucket of colored water. The slightest move will tip the bucket, eliminating that player. Along the way, Probst will be offering food (we see cookies and milk as well as fried chicken) to anyone willing to drop out and give up immunity.
During the footage, we get a wide shot of the challenge in progress. There are seven people still standing. From what I can tell, those people are (from left to right) Leif, Troy, Chelsea, Kim, Alicia, Kat, and Jay. This means that by this point, Tarzan, Christina, and Sabrina have already checked out. Right before that shot, we get a close-up of Kat volunteering to step down. Another shot has Jay threatening to vote out someone if they take the food, followed by a quick clip of Christina being eliminated (you can tell it’s her because of the black bikini she always wears, even though they don’t show her face).
The narrator then switches gears, saying that it’s time to go big or go home. We are treated to the same clips of Tarzan realizing the obvious and Jay pleading to Kat that we got in the EOE preview. The next shot is of Kim interviewing that she’s ready to “draw the line” and turn quickly on the guys (presumably Jay and Troy, as she couldn’t care less about Leif and Tarzan at this point). This is followed by an interview with Chelsea where she says she’s not comfortable with taking out all the guys yet. The clip ends with a sarcastic “Please” from Alicia and Sabrina saying that you have to “put on your big girl panties and make a big girl decision.”
So that’s what we have to work with this week. We already know three people who won’t have immunity, and apart from maybe Sabrina, none of them are surprises. We also know that with the women in the dominant position, this is really the last chance the men have to turn the tables. If they can’t get rid of a woman this week (preferably without having to play Troy’s idol), then they’re all sitting ducks. Troy would still last the longest by virtue of his idol, but even then he’d either have to play it and/or win every immunity challenge once the idols expire.
It appears that the prime flip targets for the men will be Christina and Kat, as they are considered the weakest of the women, and there have been attempts to get rid of them in the past. Essentially, the four remaining men will attempt to convince them that they’re at best fifth and sixth once all the men are gone, but with the men (particularly Jay and Troy), they’d likely be elevated above Leif or Tarzan.
From what I can gather in the text, Troy will use his idol as a means to consolidate power, using it as a bargaining chip to try to recruit Kat and Christina. There will be at least the initial hint of success, as there are clips of Jay bragging about some blindsides coming (famous last words?), and even promising Kim that the next four votes would be women. If he truly feels he’s got the numbers thanks to Christina and Kat, that would imply the next four would be Alicia, Kim, Chelsea, and Sabrina in some order.
However, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. One, Kat has shown nothing but loyalty to the women. They may have been upset with her early, and even considered voting her out in favor of Nina, but that was a long time ago. Two, Kim has an idol of her own. If Troy can use his to try to gain votes, Kim can do the same thing. She can also go one step further than Troy, and use her idol to threaten the likes of Christina and Kat, telling them that she’ll use her idol to take them out instead of one of the guys, since they can safely vote out a woman and still maintain numbers.
There will apparently be some dissent amongst the female ranks in the form of Chelsea, but I sort of discount it. She wanted Tarzan out two weeks ago, and again last week, but in the end she admitted the wisdom of keeping a non-threat around and did what she was told. She may have misgivings about taking out all the guys this week, but a few gentle nudges from Kim and Sabrina will bring her back into line.
It really all comes down to Kat and Christina. Troy and Jay will attempt to use Troy’s idol to lure them over, and if the text is to be believed, it will be in the scramble leading up to Tribal Council.
However, I really don’t see it working out. The men had two chances to get Christina over to their side and they blew it. At the merge, she would have flipped to them to save Jonas, but the men were feuding amongst themselves and couldn’t come together as a group. Last week, rather than trying to recruit her, they targeted her. She’s smart enough to remember these things, so I doubt she’ll be all that eager to switch things up at this stage, especially since it represents a lateral movement in position. She’s sixth with the women, and she’d have to assume she’d be sixth with the men plus her and Kat.
If the men do somehow recruit Kat and Christina, then look for either Chelsea or Alicia to be their prime target. Chelsea is the biggest physical threat on the women’s side (along with Kim), and Alicia could be used as fodder to further solidify Christina on their side.
More than likely, however, the men will fail, and the PaDONGing will continue. If so, the safe pick is Leif, as he’s former Manono and more of a threat than Tarzan (though that’s not saying much). If the ladies want to pull a power move, they’ll go for Jay. The clips of him bragging in the EOE preview just reek of ironic foreshadowing, so I have to assume he’s in danger if he doesn’t win immunity.
The third option is for the majority women to target either Kat or Christina for being noncommittal. This happened in each of the last two gender wars seasons. In Amazon, right after Rob Cesternino betrayed Heidi and Jenna, he went right back to them to vote out Christy, because she was too lackadaisical and wouldn’t agree on a voting target. In the second episode of Vanuatu, the disparate alliances on the women’s tribe decided to forego their original targets and instead vote out Dolly, since she wouldn’t pick a side before Tribal Council.
The same could happen here. If Christina appears willing to go to the men, or if Kat isn’t clearly on the women’s side, the majority women (Alicia, Kim, Chelsea, and Sabrina) could easily decide to dispatch one of them and give the men a stay of execution. They’d still have the numbers advantage; the men would readily agree to vote out any woman they’d be willing to sacrifice; and in doing so, it would take away one of the men’s options for a flip later on.
No matter what the outcome, I don’t believe for a second that Kim’s position will be upset one iota. She’s already won this game. We just have to wait six more weeks for it to become official.
So that’s where we stand. If the men continue to fall, look for either Leif to go in a procedural vote or for Jay to go via blindside. Christina and Kat are the next likely candidates, in case the majority women decide to trim some wishy-washy fat. On the off chance that the men’s power play succeeds, then either Alicia or Chelsea will go, but that’s a long shot.
If I had to pick one of these three outcomes, it would be the first. There’s a reason why I transcribed the “Cheat Tweet” this week, and that’s because of word choice. While the press release chose to be vague about the possible chaos caused by Troy’s idol, the tweet actually used the words, “It gets complicated.”
To me, complicated implies that there will be an agreed upon target for the women, but the threat of idol blowback will make accomplishing the goal slightly more difficult, causing them to plan for contingencies (perhaps a split vote of some kind). In the end, the result will be the same, only it will be just a tad trickier to pull off. If I’m right about that, then it means a man is still going, even if it’s not as cut and dry as they thought after the immunity challenge ends.
There, I named six targets out of 10 remaining players. Can I get one right for once?
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If Bill Hammon ever gets on Survivor, he promises not to just be picked off. If he’s going out, he’s going out kicking and screaming. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/WilliamJHammon. You can also subscribe to his podcast on iTunes or at realityrant.podomatic.com.
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