Ahhh the merge is here and in one of the most unpredictable episodes in a long time, we saw RC go home after Penner saved himself with a Hidden Immunity Idol.
Just How Good Was this Episode?
Where do we even start? There are so many things that could have happened and so much I am sure that we were not shown as far as deal making goes.
People are saying that this might be the episode in the post-Heroes vs. Villains era of Survivor, but I still believe that one goes to the South Pacific merge episode. In that one, we got so much more resolution than in this one. This episode had so much uncertainty that it’s hard to tell if this decision will even affect anything at the next Tribal Council.
This serves well for the rest of the season, as South Pacific turned terribly boring for the next 4 or 5 episodes post-merge, while I think that this one will remain interesting perhaps for the rest of the season. To put it in movie terms, the payoff wasn’t as high here, because we’re not really sure what the aftermath will be.
What we saw on this week’s episode was something nearly unprecedented in Survivor history in which essentially factions of 3 different tribes combined to target 3 other people. There were 8 people that formed a majority alliance in this episode!
It helps that they were targeting returning players, but still that blows my mind!
Did Jeff Kent Strike Out?
Now would be a good point to discuss this week’s big decision. Jeff Kent was faced with 2 main options of how to vote in this week’s episode. His first option was to join Pete, Abi-Maria, Artis, Lisa, and Malcolm with his group of Denise and Carter in order to split the votes against Penner and RC.
Now at first this seems like an alright choice for him, being a strong male leader who’s alliance is down in the numbers. He gets to join a group that has some serious factions in it. Usually he would be a target in this scenario, but instead he has the possibility of getting rid of someone from the other tribe!
But, I think this ended up being the worse choice for him to make, because on the other end he was offered for his main alliance of him, Carter, Denise, and Penner to be joined by Skupin and RC in order to create a majority alliance of 6. Had he taken this, he would have been in the majority of a majority alliance!
But, for Jeff Kent there was one problem with this. Yes, this alliance would feature 2 returning players.
Jeff Kent hates returning players.
He is scared to death of them and will do anything, yes even screw up his own game, to not lose to a returning player.
So instead of taking what looks like a pretty for sure thing by bringing in RC and Skupin, he joined Pete to split the votes and unsuccessfully got Penner out.
This leaves us at what should be a really interesting episode.
It would seem like Penner would be an obvious choice for the next boot, but in a season where there is a non-unified 8 person alliance, anything could happen.
What Should Each Player Do Going Forward?
Let’s take a look at what every person’s best move should be going forward, now that we are at the final 10.
Penner: It looks like Penner will be pulling a Troyzan, in which he isolates himself from everyone trying to win out with immunities. Let’s hope this isn’t so, while Troyzan’s choices were extremely dumb, at least he was a challenge threat, and was facing all women and Tarzan who he could legitimately have a chance at winning every immunity. Penner is probably not in the top 5 challenge competitors left. He is way to savvy to give up like this, throwing a large fit to further remove himself from everyone. Penner needs to find a couple of factions (Denise and Malcolm and Lisa perhaps?) to form something with. But I think his best move is to try and throw somebody under the bus and just get to the next week.
Pete: Well he came out on top this week and does seem to have the most people on his side. I think next week he should go after Skupin, then perhaps try to blindside Jeff Kent, in order to get a real grip on the tribe. Eventually he should get it down to him, Artis, Abi, and Lisa, making sure to get Lisa nowhere near the final 3.
Artis: See Pete.
Abi-Maria: See Pete.
Jeff Kent: Tough to say. I think he and Penner are pretty much done, so his best move would be to just get rid of him ASAP. From there, maybe try to get Malcolm and Lisa on his side to swing the numbers his way. Maybe even get Skupin, because really, he has no more experience than them this far into the game, he’s not a threat.
Carter: See Jeff Kent. (Speaking of which, could Carter be the Fabio to like a Jeff Kent’s Marty? Obviously Marty and Fabio weren’t as close, but kind of similar huh?)
Skupin: Lay low. Start building solid relationships with everyone not close with Pete. Eventually he could turn into an important number to flip the game around. If he sees any opportunity for an alliance, he needs to take it.
Malcolm: He is probably in the best spot, well second best anyways. He didn’t get any blood on his hands in this vote (having no relationship with Penner and didn’t really betray RC). He is right in the middle of the alliance being either #4 or 5 in Pete’s alliance and having a connection with Denise that could get him to jump. Not to mention he is probably still in good with Skupin. Malcolm’s decision should be based on which way the cards fall. At some point he will have to make a move, but it cannot be too early or too late or he will be screwed.
Denise: She is in the best position in my opinion (unless Pete can lead some sort of Tandang 5 charge) having allies on every corner, while not being the obvious threat that Malcolm is. At some point, people are going to turn against Malcolm’s likability and athleticism to try to get him out. Denise, while very athletic, will not get this strong push against her (I don’t think). My advice for Malcolm is the same for her. And my advice for both of them is to stick together. They are each other’s best bet in the game.
Lisa: She continues to rise in my mind every week and I don’t think her winning is inconceivable. In fact, I think that she will make the final 3 as Penner not-so-subtly predicted this week. To do this, Lisa must decide who she wants to play like: Lill or Sandra? If she plays like Lill, then she will constantly be convinced by others (Pete is kinda like Fairplay in this scenario) to do what they want. This will cause others to see her as a pushover and not win. Not to mention, Lill, at the last minute, chose to stand up for herself and voted out the person she had the best chance of beating!
On the other hand, Sandra is the type of player who really understands the game, remains in the middle, and jumps wherever she needs to jump. Lisa is also right in the middle and will go wherever the numbers go, but she needs to make clear that others see her as playing intentionally. If they don’t, all the niceness in the world won’t give her that million dollars. I think that Lisa knows the game. She speaks the Survivor language, and I think that that gives her a solid shot at winning this game.
Is there going to be a final 2!?!? RC became the first jury member, which would make a final 2 more practical (with 9 jury members). Otherwise, they risk the chance of a tie (with 8 jury members and a final 3). I’m excited at this possibility, because I do think final 2 is better than 3.
We still have 2 Hidden Immunity Idols left and unless Pete and Malcolm decide to team up, we will definitely see them come into play.
Was Penner tipped off to play his idol? What if someone told Penner to play his idol in order to get RC out and next week’s tirade is just an elaborate ruse, in which Penner is actually a part of a majority alliance?! Probably not.
It will be interesting to see what Skupin’s plan is, because he did ditch voting for Pete and instead voted for Penner. Too many possibilities to get into this.
Player of the week: Malcolm. He dealt with Lisa in a great way and this vote establishes him and someone who will be important in the future.
Next week: Who really knows right?