There’s something supremely satisfying about a good old-fashioned Survivor blindside. Between the promos, the editing, and the episode title itself, the show doesn’t pull any punches with what the outcome will be tonight, basically saying "it’s blindside time, so get ready." Thankfully, the blindside is so well-crafted and thoroughly entertaining that it doesn’t much matter we knew it was coming. It’s still great.
Facilitating this blindside was the very welcome appearance of the merge. Although the entertainment level of the episodes has ticked upward a bit following the tribe shuffle (though honestly most of this was due to the departure of Brandon) the merge was desperately needed to keep things lively, lest Gota continue to decimate Bikal in every challenge. The blessing of the merge is twofold: The game shifts to individual immunity, and everyone immediately goes into scheming scramble mode as they attempt to stake their claim in the new tribal landscape.
Specifically, the people staking their claim most loudly are Corinne and Phillip, who are working opposite agendas even though they purport to belong to the same alliance. It’s basically a big continuation of the ongoing power struggle between the two players, as Phillip unbendingly wants to get rid of a “power player” Fan like Reynold or Eddie and flush out an idol in the process, while Corinne wants to boot the much easier sell in Sherri. When Phillip refuses to bend an inch to Corinne’s way of thinking, she gets furious.
Here’s the thing, though: Although Phillip’s boorishness is simply a combination of his personality and his misguided belief if he plays the game exactly like Boston Rob he can win, Corinne’s anger at him is almost solely motivated by the fact that if Phillip’s plan goes forward, it completely screws her secret, totally separate alliance with Malcolm, Reynold, Eddie, Michael, and Erik, so she really doesn’t have any sort of moral high ground to stand on in their argument. The fact is, Phillip wants to keep all the power, Corinne wants to snatch it, and neither of them will be satisfied with the opposite outcome.
Corinne plays the situation fairly well at first, going to Cochran and Andrea and trying to get them on her side about voting Sherri out. Her key mistake is when she goes to Dawn in frustration and lets her true intentions slip about voting Phillip out in the vote after Sherri. Yes Dawn, the most open and honest person in her alliance, the one least likely to be down for lying and scheming. Yes Dawn, the woman who has to go by herself to cry because the stress of the game gets too much for her sometimes. What Corinne sees in Dawn is a soothing, mothering presence she can vent to. In reality, Dawn is someone who pays close attention and keeps close relationships, and those relationships (and the bad experience she had with keeping quiet last time around) are what prompt her to go to Cochran and Andrea and tell them all about Corinne’s plans.
This is the point where it becomes pretty obvious that the proposed, mythical blindside of Phillip in the future is about to completely shift into a very real, very brutal blindside of Corinne in the present. The swing vote in the situation is Erik, someone who Cochran intonates hates strategy and is terrible at it, but all Erik can muster about his potential as swing vote is basically a SNL Miley Cyrus “It’s pretty cool.” From there, it’s fairly clear he is going to go where the breeze takes him, and that breeze is the final swing vote in sending Corinne to her demise.
This is confirmed when, after a fairly tame Tribal Council, the first four votes are read and it’s a Sherri sweep. But the vote reveal wasn’t orchestrated to be a surprise to us. The votes were placed in that order solely to lull Corinne into a smug sense of security and then slowly rip every bit of that security away, as her name is called over and over again. As much fun as a Phillip blindside would be next week, after enduring at least three episodes of Corinne’s nasty one-liners, strange obsession with Michael’s sexuality, and general offensiveness the look of absolute shock on her face was nothing short of delightful. It’s always satisfying to see someone get their comeuppance on national television, even if there are worse people left in the game.
This was one of the most entertaining episodes of the entire season so far, and a great example of the show at its best. If this is what this game is going to be like now that the tribes have merged, this season might just be able to pull itself out of its unpleasant Brandon-and-Phillip-generated haze.
- I didn’t know I missed the gross eating challenge until they resurrected it. Now that Fear Factor (and it woefully misguided reboot) is but a distant memory, seeing people make faces while eating mildly disgusting things is once again fun. Especially fun: Seeing Cochran dominate.
- But yeah, I was pretty sure they were saying shit worms.
- Malcolm pushes for the merged tribe to name themselves Enil Edam. They think it means “New Beginning,” but really it’s just his mother’s name, Madeline, backwards. All together: Awwww.
- Malcolm is going to be in huge scramble mode next week, as his entire alliance was exposed and fell apart in one clean sweep tonight. My dream team would be him and Cochran working together, but that's never going to happen.
- Erik: “Mine moved a little.”
- Malcolm: “He’s Ginger Kobayashi, what am I supposed to do against that?”