As much fun as it is to watch the scheming, lying, backstabbing, and blindsides on Survivor, it’s the self-deception that’s often the most revealing about human nature. Last week, Troyzan presented an admittedly self-serving but still sensible plan to four of the players he perceived as being at the bottom of the totem pole. Taking out Kim would certainly have been advantageous to Tarzan, Leif, Christina, and Alicia, none of whom seemed positioned to make it to the final three, much less beat Kim in a jury vote. It made a lot of sense, even if Troy’s salesmanship left a lot to be desired, but Tarzan, Christina, and Alicia were unwilling to rock the boat, all believing themselves to be in much better positions than they actually are (or perhaps just clueless about the gameplay in general). That’s a pattern that continued this week, with entertaining results.
The reward challenge is a classic pecking-order quiz, in which the remaining contestants answer slam-book questions about each other, then knock each other out of the contest in an order that’s often revelatory about where the power truly lies. As always, the Survivors are represented by crude avatars, in this case stick figures that are burned in effigy when the corresponding contestant is eliminated. It’s a pretty cool visual, especially with the skeletal remains left over after the fire burns out.
To no one’s surprise, Troyzan is eliminated first. To no one’s surprise except Christina’s, Christina is voted the Survivor least deserving of still being in the game. This is only the beginning of an epic string of cluelessness from Christina. If she’s not the worst player in the history of the game, she’s at least in the discussion. At the other end of the spectrum, Kim has played a nearly flawless game so far. She’s not a flirty master of social dynamics like Pavarti, or a dominant cult leader like Boston Rob, but she’s easily the smartest player this season, and she's friendly and genuine enough to convince everyone she’s got their backs. This week, however, the cracks in her game begin to appear.
She's right to take Alicia on the picnic reward rather than risk leaving her with the outcasts, but she realizes she’s made a mistake in taking her true ally Chelsea instead of dim-bulb Kat. Troyzan immediately starts hammering Kat, trying to convince her to flip, and while his methods aren’t exactly subtle, I’m not sure subtlety would work on Kat. In a battle of wits, she has no ammunition. Fretting about being perceived as a follower and a weak player (which would almost certainly be the case if she ended up in the finals with Kim), Kat considers making a big move. Again, self-deception comes into play. “No one thinks I’m running the show,” Kat fumes. That should be her first clue that she’s not running the show, but again, she’s a little short in the clue department.
Still, Kat is a rocket surgeon compared to Christina. After Troyzan is eliminated in the first round of the immunity challenge, all suspense leaks out of the episode. At this point, it doesn’t really matter who wins (it’s Kim), since we all know Troyzan has to go. But the episode remains fun, as the seeds are planted for future discord. Still fearing Troy may have an idol, the girls plan to throw a couple of votes Christina’s way. What’s more, Sabrina comes out and tells Christina that’s the plan, and the poor thing still doesn’t grasp the fact that if Troyzan does play an idol, she’s going home. Christina then tries to plot with Troyzan to vote out Chelsea, as if there’s a chance in hell of gathering enough votes to make that happen.
At Tribal Council, Probst (who must have at least a couple of cold ones in him before he has to deal with these people) talks to Christina like she’s six, practically pleading with her to understand that she’s perceived as a worthless player. Why is she still here? “I am one lucky girl!” Ah, you can practically see the jurors salivating at the chance to hand her a million dollars. The reading of the vote is played for suspense, but of course, it’s Troyzan in the end. It’s the right choice for everyone, lest he pull a Vanuatu and beat all the women at their own game, but he does take one last opportunity to sow some dissension by whispering “Do it!” to Kat on the way out. The odds of Kat, Christina, or Tarzan pulling together some kind of coup at this point look pretty slim, but it sure would be hilarious to see them try.
- Carrie was feeling a bit under the weather tonight, so I came off the bench to pinch-hit. She should be back next week.
- Pig! Did anyone else have flashbacks to the Outback season, when wildman Mike Skupin actually did kill and skin a pig? There was no chance these yahoos were going to manage that, but I did appreciate the hilarious Deliverance banjo accompaniment.
- “Kat and Alicia! Gettin’ lubed up!” Always with innuendos, Probst!
- Bubbleheaded as she is, Kat is kind of adorable. I certainly enjoyed her lubed-up shimmy on the challenge course.
- Who had Tarzan as the last man standing? I foresee him and Special Agent? Phil from Redemption Island on a future season together. Two weirdos in colorful man-panties.
- Remember when Colton dominated 90 percent of the discussion about One World? That seems like a whole different season now.