Where there’s a Will, there’s NO SOUL.
Mike Drop: The episode of Survivor immediately after an alliance gets rid of its biggest target is usually an interesting one, because all of the focus that went into getting rid of them suddenly needs a new target – and sometimes the next likely victim is closer to home than you expect. That’s pretty much how it transpired here: with giant challenge threat and all-around stand-up guy Joe now safely sitting on the jury, it was time to consider who Mike’s alliance should target next, and Rodney resolved that the next target should be…Mike. Having cemented a core mini-alliance with Will, Tyler and Carolyn over the last couple of episodes, he gathered them together after the Joe vote and told them of the plan. Rodney was feeling pretty excited about this, because it meant he was making Big Moves! The sort of Big Moves that people always think win the game for you, even though there are countless examples of this backfiring horribly in previous seasons! And on that note: they happened to be having this conversation quite loudly with Mike in the vicinity, so he overheard everything. Whoops.
Lots To Talk About: Rather than a reward challenge this week, we got Survivor Auction, which is always one of my favourite parts of any season (and which is why I was so crossed when Stupid Exile Island Blood Vs Water Nonsense meant we didn’t get one last year). The first item was covered, and there was some heated bidding for it that ended in Will winning. Well, “winning”: his prize turned out to be that he was immediately eliminated from the auction and sent back to camp. (This is why I love the auction: just when you think it’s boring and predictable, they throw you a curveball.) The next item was fried chicken and waffles, which was bid for and won by Shirin, who made a big noise of the fact that she knew everyone else was holding out for an advantage, but since her social game is essentially fucked at this point an advantage isn’t much use to her, so she was just going to eat while she could. I can’t argue with this: that plate of chicken and waffles did look good. (Just imagine what Woo might have purred in her ear while she was eating it.) That said, Mike, Dan, Carolyn, Rodney, Sierra and Tyler all expressed an interest in playing for the advantage. The next item was a giant rum punch (I think), which was of course won by Jenn, who sat there quietly and happily getting sloshed for the rest of the auction. Sierra and Rodney eventually gave up on the advantage and both bid for food, but Mike, Tyler, Dan and Carolyn were still holding out so Jeff decided to fast-forward to the game stuff.
First of all, he brought out the letters from home, at which point Shirin immediately gamed the system by telling everyone that in previous seasons Jeff’s allowed everyone to pay the same prize as the eventual winner to have their letter as well, so someone should just make a lowball offer and everyone else should just let them win it. You might think that saying all of this right in front of Jeff would make him immediately decide to change the rules, but he seemed so amused by this game-hack that he agreed that’s what he would do, so Sierra bid $20 unopposed. Everyone else agreed to pay the same for theirs, although Mike, Dan and Carolyn were looking nervous, so it was agreed that they would all buy their letters and then they’d all still be on $480 to bid for the advantage. Everyone’s hackles were up at the possibility that someone might change their mind at the last minute, particularly Dan, who doubted that Mike would go through with it. And, to be fair, the fact that Mike kept going “no, no, after you” was an obvious red flag. Sure enough, Mike assured them all that he was going to buy his letter, went to the back of the queue, and then after everyone else had paid their $20, he went NOPE SORRY and went back to his seat.
Mike’s had a pretty good handle on the game up to this point, but this was a terrible, terrible move on his part – showing your alliance that you’re willing to mislead them for something as (comparatively) trivial as the auction doesn’t exactly fill them with confidence that you’ll stand by them at Tribal Council. Sure enough, Carolyn swore and immediately returned her unopened letter to Jeff, demanding her $20 back. (We never got to see Jeff informing her that all sales were final, but I’m pretty sure that’s what would’ve happened.) At this point Mike had a sudden attack of conscience (/realised he’d possibly tanked his game in one fell swoop), went to Jeff and paid $20 for his letter so everyone was back on an even keel again, with the obvious difference that now nobody trusted Mike at all. After all that drama, Jeff pulled out the advantage, Mike, Carolyn and Dan all bid $480 for it, they drew rocks to see which one of them would get it, Dan won, and Mike and Carolyn left empty-handed apart from their letters. So essentially Mike just showed his arse to his alliance and had nothing to show for it. I feel the need to say “whoops” again here.
To The Victor, The Spoils: While all of this was going on, what was Will doing? Well, upon his return to camp, there was a note waiting for Will that literally said “go here and dig, idiot” (okay, that’s a slight paraphrase, but it was essentially the same point), and I was briefly horrified that he was on his way to the world’s least-concealed immunity idol, but it actually turned out to be a treasure chest filled with (allegedly) enough rations for the rest of the game, either for him to keep to himself or to share (at which point they presumably become not enough rations for the rest of the game, but eh). Will decides to bring it back and share it all with everyone. Dan tells him not to, that it’s all his, but Will insists that it’s his decision to share it with everyone and he’s happy to do so. How delightful! I sure hope nothing happens to spoil this charming tableau of paradise!
Something Happens To Spoil This Charming Tableau Of Paradise #1: While everyone’s eating, a panicked Mike announces that the only reason he acted that way at the auction is because he knows that Rodney, Carolyn, Tyler and Will have a secret alliance against him, and tells Dan and Sierra that this is bad news for them as well. Despite Mike being completely correct in this statement, the traitors deny all knowledge of a secret alliance and Rodney tells Mike that he needs to calm down. And unfortunately, Dan and Sierra weren’t particularly swayed by Mike’s arguments, making this the second slip-up of the episode for him. So Mike apologised for ruining the lovely moment for everyone, and everyone read their letters from home, and Dan sneaked off to inspect his advantage which turned out to be – gasp! – an extra vote to be used at Tribal Council, when Jeff announces he’s off to tally the votes. Iiiinteresting.
Something Happens To Spoil This Charming Tableau Of Paradise #2: Mike, Jenn and Shirin were hanging around shooting the breeze, and Mike expressed the opinion that Will didn’t share all of the food, and that in fact he just shared the stuff he didn’t like. (Apparently there was more of this in a secret scene on the website where a couple of the Survivors happened upon the chest buried in the sand and thought it looked a bit large for the stuff that it supposedly contained.) So they headed back to camp while still discussing this, and Jenn talked about how they were going to hunt for Will’s extra food. She made the mistake of saying this in front of Tyler, who went straight to Will, who was NOT amused. Unfortunately for Shirin, Mike and Jenn were both elsewhere when Will returned to camp so she got it with both barrels even though we never actually saw her on screen claiming that Will had been hiding food. (I’m not saying she didn’t do it, just that it was never shown.) Will yelled at her for questioning his integrity before getting SUPER-NASTY, telling her that nobody likes her, that all of her Survivor nerd-dom is no use to anyone, that nobody at home is missing her while she’s out there. Dude, that is cold. (Also, I’m pretty sure that nobody was missing Will either, because up until this episode there was precious little evidence that he was ever on Survivor at all.) Nobody stepped up to defend Jenn until Mike arrived, which is pretty terrible, and then Mike removed Shirin from the situation and Will called him a bitch. Mike, Jenn and Shirin then retired to a cave where Shirin cried it out.
Challenge Wars: In the wake of this cataclysmic division of the camp, everyone headed off to that week’s immunity challenge. Will asked Jeff if it would be okay for him to sit out this challenge in exchange for receiving his letter from home, because he’s been missing his family. (Lol at the very idea that Will sitting out this challenge is a thing of value to be offered up. Ol’ Challenge Threat Will!) Jeff, ever the troll, said that he guesses it’s okay for him to do that, as long as everyone else agrees. Gosh, I wonder if anyone disagreed?
Okay, that was BADASS. I know the better gameplay move would have been to sit back and let Will have his letter, but let’s not pretend that Shirin wasn’t ENTIRELY justified in doing that. In the pregnant pause that the editors inserted into the episode right before it happened, Chris and I were chanting “go on Shirin! Go on Shirin!” And when she did it, it was delicious. Rather than saying that she’d denied him his letter for being one of the worst people in the entire world, Shirin simply stated to Jeff that Will had bought himself out of the auction before the opportunity to buy the letters from home came up, and those were the rules. She was so very cool at that moment. With Shirin having earned Will’s ire for all eternity, we then moved to the comparatively uninteresting step of the challenge itself, where the contestants had to carry balls across seasaws using tongs and stick them on a giant candelabra. Tyler gave Mike a run for his money, but it was Mike who clinched a sorely-needed immunity from elimination. (I apologise for not dwelling too much on the challenge itself, but come on. After all that, it was such an anticlimax.)
Beyond Blue: Obviously Mike’s immunity win was a crushing blow to Rodney’s plan, leaving his alliance with the job of having to decide who to vote out in Mike’s place. Will and Dan had a conversation about getting rid of Shirin, but Will declared that he wanted to keep Shirin around to make her suffer (Will, incidentally, had so little perspective about this episode that he tweeted excitedly to all his followers to make sure they tuned in to see his crowning moment of awesome. From what I saw of the responses, it did not work out quite as well as he hoped), so Jenn’s name was thrown in instead, considering that she’s the only other person in that alliance, and she’s more of a challenge threat. (Jenn, incidentally, was barely even shown during that last immunity challenge, so I’m guessing that this was based on the competition overall and not on this particular week.) Over in the mini-alliance, Mike, Jenn and Shirin agreed to vote for Carolyn, and Shirin – correctly – predicted that the other alliance would probably try to vote-split between herself and Jenn. Mike scrambled to get some support, thinking that Sierra was probably lost to them at this point but that Dan’s vote might still be up for grabs, not even knowing that Dan had votes plural rather than singular. So Mike went off to speak to Dan and gave it all he had about sticking with that Blue Collar original alliance, that Dan would not be able to penetrate that core-four alliance, reminding Dan that he had a final-three deal with him and Sierra that he was still intending to honour. It was a solid attempt from Mike because he hit Dan in all of the right places – the only real problem was the fact that it was little more than a day since he’d demonstrated his own untrustworthiness, and it was still very fresh in Dan’s mind. Carolyn was also concerned that Dan was the loosest link in the alliance and considered playing her own idol to save herself, should it come to it, and Dan wailed to everyone that it was HIS DECISION and to just SHUT UP AND LET HIM MAKE IT. So much for Dan The Superfan knowing that this is a game played with your head and not your heart.
Will Vs. Shirin, Round Two: Naturally the saga of Will and Shirin was the main thing that Jeff wanted to talk about at Tribal Council. Will started by giving his side of the story, including the part of Shirin mouthing off about him, and Shirin replied that this was false. We’ll probably never know the exact truth of this scenario, given that we were never actively shown Shirin joining in (although it didn’t exactly look like she was distancing herself) and Will only knows what Tyler told him. Then Shirin gave her side of the story, which was to explain precisely why it hurt so much when Will said she had no family and that no one was missing her: because her dad was verbally abusive and she grew up in a violent household. Will’s response to all of this? Essentially: “I wasn’t being verbally abusive, I was just telling the truth, you have no soul, you are a terrible person, I don’t care.” There’s a slight chance I might have been willing to forgive Will’s actions, given that we’ve all said things we regret in the heat of the moment, but the fact that two days later he was not only not sorry but actively ready to double down on what he said, and to show no regret whatsoever even while Shirin is recounting her abusive childhood, makes him pretty unsalvageable as a human being at this point. I know there’s Survivor and there’s real life, but Will crossed a line here that went well beyond mere gameplay. Since it was also necessary to speak to people who weren’t Will or Shirin, Jeff discussed the issue of the auction wherein Rodney spouted off that Mike’s backstabbing almost caused Dan, Carolyn and Tyler to not get their letters (nope, they were always going to get their letters, because I’m pretty sure Jeff wouldn’t have accepted any returns) and how he only talks FACTS, bro! Finally they all went to vote: Dan didn’t use his advantage, Carolyn didn’t play her idol, and Jenn was voted out with five votes to Shirin’s three and Carolyn’s one. (Mike and Shirin both voted for Jenn in the end, which post-show interviews have revealed was Jenn’s doing – she’d worked out that they weren’t going to get enough votes their way to oust Carolyn, and since Shirin wanted to be there more than Jenn did, she asked Mike and Shirin to vote for her and save Shirin in the event of a vote split.)
The Best Exit Speech Ever: In her exit speech, Jenn informed us all that everybody on this show sucks: that Sierra and Will looked like they had potential, but it turned out that they both suck after all, and she’s going off to the jury to be with her friends and she hopes those sucky people don’t join her any time soon. Aw, Jenn. You truly were one of a kind.
Next week: Tyler goes through Dan’s bag and finds out what his advantage is. DRAMA!