If you can’t do the math, then get out of the equation, right Dan?
Boston Out All Over: As marvellous as Jenn’s idol play at last week’s Tribal Council was for her, her alliance, and pretty much everyone watching, it wasn’t exactly brilliant news for the swollen blue collar alliance, who’ve now lost Kelly. As was written all over his face at Tribal, Rodney was particularly put out by this turn of events, because he thinks Mike is leading them all wrong – particularly since Mike seemed to think it so necessary to vote Rodney’s BFF Joaquin out instead of Joe, and now they’re down two alliance-partners and the ex-no collars are small in numbers but strong in spirit, or something.
Part of where it got slightly confusing for me was where Rodney blew up at Mike over changing the target from Hali to Jenn, because I was under the impression from last week’s episode that Jenn was always the agreed target and that Hali’s name was really only thrown into the mix when they were telling Will who to vote for, to see if he’s trustworthy. (I’m sure Hali’s name probably came up in conversation at some point, but everyone seemed pretty happy to vote for Jenn.) Anyway, this only made Rodney even more determined to pull in his bizarre misfits alliance of Will, Tyler and Carolyn, and round on Mike and his cronies once the more obvious targets of the ex-no collars are out of the way. It’s certainly a plan, but there are still *counts on fingers* four people left in the minority alliance, so that’s at least four Tribal Councils to get rid of them all, and a lot can happen in 12 days on this show.
Sensitive Skin: It’s safe to say that the atmosphere in Merica is not entirely harmonious, and that bridges are not being built between the minority and majority alliance. Example: they had some leftover salami from the merge feast last week, and Rodney and Shirin had a huge fight about whether to cook it with the skin on or not. Yep, that was A Thing That Happened. It wasn’t entirely about salami (well, it might have been about Rodney’s salami, if you know what I mean), and I think it was mostly about Rodney thinking that Shirin is a big dumb girl who sits there being loud when she could be Holding Herself To A Higher Standard, while Shirin is probably wondering why Rodney needs to be like that all the damn time. Anyway, this didn’t really end up having any bearing on the episode as a whole, other than as a piece of the overall “the blue collar alliance really hates Shirin” cake, and I probably didn’t need to mention it at all, but it’s an argument about salami. How could I not?
Balanced Individuals: This week’s reward challenge required the contestants to make their way across a balance beam and collect bags of puzzle pieces. The first three to complete this part of the challenge would advance to the final round, where they’d have to use their puzzle pieces to complete a 3D-ish puzzle in the shape of an anchor. To the surprise of no one, Shirin was unbalanced (tee hee) and quickly fell out of the running, while skinny, athletic types like Joe and Hali secured spots in the second round, and Mike was presumably guided there by His God. The second round was interesting, at least in as much as watching other people do puzzles can ever be that interesting, in that all three of them had and lost the lead at various points, since the puzzle was fiendishly designed to have a number of almost-solutions but only one correct one. In the end it was challenge beast Joe who took the victory, and got to pick three people to take on the reward with him. No fool he, Joe chose swing votes Carolyn, Tyler and Will. It wasn’t subtle in the slightest and everyone knew what he was up to, but it had to be done. Then Probst threw a spanner in the works by allowing Joe to pick one more person, and as he was scanning the line-up considering who would be his best choice of those remaining, Shirin could no longer contain herself and squealed “superfan!” Because, you know, she’s a superfan, and she hasn’t been on a reward yet, and lord knows her days are probably numbered. So Joe grudgingly decided to take her along, and it was literally the greatest day of Shirin’s life. I know she’s annoying, and I can’t even imagine what it must be like to actually live with her, but stuff like this where she’s just so dorktacular that she can barely function endears her to me in ways I can’t even describe.
Jenn’s Thoughts On Rodney:
Just in case anyone was wondering.
Zip It: So Joe, Tyler, Carolyn, Will and Shirin got to go on reward, which was a zipline ride over to a picnic. The zipline ride was not without incident, because Shirin went too fast and nearly smashed into a tree, and I think she came pretty close to severing the hand of the guy who was supervising the whole thing in the process. Well, you can’t say she doesn’t make an impact, can you? Now, with Jenn’s idol spent, that almost certainly meant that there was another idol out in play and ready to be found by someone, and Joe was savvy enough to not only spot that the clue was in the bottle that Carolyn was drinking from, but also to get her to hand it over without noticing. (At least, as far as we know she didn’t notice. Carolyn’s kind of a closed book: maybe she notices everything, maybe she notices nothing.) What Joe wasn’t quite capable of doing, sadly, was chugging the clue into his mouth and removing it without Tyler seeing, so he ended up having to share the clue with Tyler. Tyler’s probably the last person I would share an idol clue with, given the choice, because he just seems so slippery, but obviously Joe’s hand was forced here. Apparently Will also came to this reward? Maybe he did things? Is Will even really on this show any more? Was Will ever really here?
Idol Speculation: The extreme probability of an idol clue being hidden somewhere on the reward challenge was not lost on Mike either, and it wasn’t difficult for him to get Tyler to squeal. (Quite why Tyler decided to share the whole clue with Mike rather than just part of it, well, that’s for Tyler to answer.) After Joe and Tyler’s abortive attempt to find the idol on their own, Mike announced to the whole camp that Joe had found it as a distraction tactic – I don’t entirely know why, but given that it seemed to stop Joe from actually going back to look for it again, I suppose it worked on some level. Meanwhile, Mike went off and hunted at length for the idol (eating termites straight out of a tree for “substinence” along the way, because Mike) and finally found it, while giving a lengthy lecture about how idols don’t just fall into your lap on this show (lol someone never watched Cagayan), you have to go out there and *work* for it. See, it’s that kind of thing that makes me worried that Mike is our winner this season. Well, not worried, because there could be worse winners, but I’m still lukewarm on Mike as a personality. Let’s not forget that while Dan and Rodney were the two biggest sexist douchelords who ganged up on Sierra, Mike was still part of the pile-on as well.
Fandom Wank: Meanwhile, Dan decided to have a little chat with Shirin. Sorry, that should be a “belittling” chat with Shirin, as he lectured her about being a big dumbhead superfan who can’t do basic math and really should have found herself a better alliance. Isn’t being a mailman a social job? Shouldn’t Dan be better at talking to people than this? Anyway, Shirin mumbled to herself, not entirely convincingly, that maybe she’s got a big plan that Dan hasn’t worked out yet, and Dan scoffed because HO HO HO the silly little girl thinks she’s going to outwit the big boys. The inclusion of this scene in this episode can, as far as I can tell, serve two purposes in the overall arc: 1) to build up the sense of dismay at what actually happens at the end of this episode, or 2) to make it more satisfying when Shirin outlasts Dan. God, I hope it’s the latter.
The A-Racing Maze: A deceptively simple one for immunity this time: sliding a puzzle piece through a maze in order to release it, and then using that piece in a slide-puzzle to spell out a famous Survivor saying (“outwit, outplay, outlast” in this instance). The blue collar alliance’s main goal in this was to stop Joe winning at any cost, since they couldn’t really afford for him to win another immunity, and Dan took this to heart, racing through the challenge and yelling to Probst that he’d got it. Probst came to look, and informed him that he didn’t. Everyone resumed their puzzling, and a few moments later Dan declared that he’d definitely got it this time, and Mike even looked over and congratulated Dan on his win before Probst confirmed that Dan was in fact WRONG AGAIN, and before Dan could submit for a third time, Joe got it right and won immunity. Tee hee hee. Dan was FURIOUS, and that’s always fun.
Girl Power: As the subject of who to vote for came up, Sierra finally seemed to wake up and remember that she was playing Survivor and went off for a chat with the ex-no collars. When she heard what Dan had said to Shirin, she shared her own story of Dan’s giant jackassishness and expressed an interest in flipping to join a women’s alliance. The former Nagaroteans were pleased by this, but were also aware that they needed one more person to flip in order to have a majority, so Shirin approached Tyler and encouraged him to flip and join them in voting out Dan, since it might be their last chance. It was a surprisingly not-terrible attempt at persuasion on her part, in that she did seem to tap in to some of Tyler’s potential fears about his place in that large alliance, but she didn’t particularly offer up what he would gain by coming over to them – and I think that might be where she went wrong. Meanwhile, the Escameca alliance decided that, with Joe immune yet again, they would target Hali. There was a groundswell of support for voting out Shirin instead, because she’s just. That. Annoying, but since the strength of her bond to the rest of the group is still something of a question mark, it was agreed that taking out Hali would be far more damaging to Jenn in the long run.
Oh Say, Can You See? (Or Have You Been Blindsided): At Tribal, the air was thick with the prospect of mutiny, from whatever source it may come. Dan gave a lengthy speech about how it would be super-dumb to flip because “flippers never win”, at which point Shirin’s superfan senses kicked in and she was all NUH UH BECAUSE TONY FLIPPED ALL OVER THE PLACE AND HE WON CAGAYAN SO THERE. It was promising to see Shirin use her powers for good rather than for evil (although I question whether Tony was a flipper, he was really more of a backstabber), anyway. By far the better response, however, came from Hali, who pointed out that they are team MERICA, and America owes its life to the thirteen colonies who flipped on the British imperialists and reclaimed their land for themselves. Her speech made no sense, but was no less amazing for it. (Fun fact I learned this week: it was actually Hali who came up with the tribe name “Merica”. She was drunk at the time.) Sadly, she failed to rouse the required support because neither Sierra nor Tyler ended up flipping, and Hali got voted out 7-4, much to the shock of the Nagarote alliance who seemed to clearly think they’d secured those swing votes after all.
And Now What?: This episode left me kind of uneasy, mostly because at this stage the players I like are all in the minority alliance, and they’re all going to get picked off by the big giant alliance of misogynist grossness because I don’t really see any route back into the game for any of them, and there are enough goats in the main alliance (DAN) that it’s not even worth keeping them around for that reason. I realise there’s still a great deal of game to go, and all manner of things can still happen, but in the event that Dan and Mike’s alliance do end up picking off Jenn, Joe and Shirin next, we’re basically going to be left with a group of people who are either invisible or appalling, and any mutinies staged will simply be one awful person attempting to dethrone another awful person. That’s not something I have any great excitement about watching, so I’m just going to sit here praying for a miracle, because I don’t want this to be a series that started well and then somehow went to shit as soon as it hit the merge.