Well, that was uneventful!
One of the difficulties with a reality show like Survivor is that, beyond a certain extent, the narrative can’t be shaped. What happens in the span of an episode is as predictable or as unpredictable as the contestants playing the game allow. Sure, the producers and editors can manipulate the story to make things seem more or less suspenseful or to create mini-narratives within the main arc, but if the people you know are in danger within the first two minutes of the episode are the same people who are in danger at the end of the episode, things can get only so interesting.
Such was the case tonight, as Russell allies Stephanie and Krista started the hour as outcasts within their tribe and ended it the same, as the only two viable options for elimination at Tribal Council. This led to one of the more distinctive Tribals in recent memory (more on this later) but didn’t do any favors for the episode as a whole. Once the challenge was revealed as puzzle- and leadership-based and you saw Rob taking the reins for Ometepe, the rest of the episode almost wrote itself: Ometepe wins, and Krista goes home.
The beginning of the episode hinted at something more interesting, as Stephanie and Krista attended the Duel (which Matt dominated yet again) and basically announced to Ometepe attendees Rob and Grant how they plan on completely abandoning the rest of Zapatera should they make the merge. What they don’t do, though, is anything within their tribe to attempt to stay in the game. Once Zapatera loses, neither even makes an overture to the opposing alliance. The dumbest thing you can do in the game of Survivor is not even try, so I don’t know if they were just accepting their fates or too mentally vacant to figure out an approach. Either way, it was staggeringly pathetic.
This all comes to a head at a Tribal, where Jeff and the producers obviously know there is no way they can create the normal suspense as to who will be eliminated, so they decide to confront the matter head-on. The first question Jeff asks is about the two separate alliances and how Krista and Stephanie are on the outside. Krista accuses her fellow tribemates of not seeing the big picture and is rightfully called out for not actually even attempting to play a short or long game of her own. Let's just break it down, here: Her entire game, short and long, was dependent on Russell, and now that he’s gone, she has nothing. Her attempts to explain herself otherwise are laughable to the audience and to the rest of Zapatera, and she is (probably rightfully) sent to Redemption Island. She does manage to call out all of the mini-alliances within the big six before she goes, so we’ll see if that reaps any rewards in the future, story-wise.
One thing of note here is how even though it seems a bit boring now, this episode might end up being very important in the overall arc of the season. Much like how in a scripted series there is occasionally an episode that exists almost solely to set up narrative threads that can be paid off at a later date, several things of note happened here that have the potential to be future stories. The most prominent example of this was Phillip and Andrea’s meeting of the minds, where they bonded over their shared love of not being a total lazy deadbeat (heavily implied: like those ditzy beach bums Natalie and Ashley) and made shallow attempts to feel each other out for potential alliance material. Phillip even went so far as to admit if Matt came back in the game, he sees an alliance of himself, Matt, and Andrea working rather well. Will anything come of this? Who knows, but with Matt’s dominance in the Duel arena and Ometepe picking up a bit of steam at the challenges, this is definitely something to look out for in the future.
Beside the growing discontent of Phillip, Ometepe still remains the Boston Rob show. This week’s feat of Survivor strategy show-offery involved Grant finding the second immunity idol clue amid the reward loot and him coordinating with Rob to squirrel it away without the rest of the tribe noticing. It is quite the amusing feat, especially because Rob manages to swap out the clue for the original one he used to find the actual idol without even Grant noticing. Even though it appears to be covered in dirt from being buried in the ground for a few days. Grant is pretty, but I am starting to suspect his intelligence. Is he really putting all of his trust in Boston Rob? Many a player has done that before and lived to regret it.
- I love how Jeff practically whispers during the Duel and requisite explanation before it begins. It is not large scale enough to deserve a Probst scream! He must preserve the pipes, people.
- So the only way Ometepe can legitimately win a challenge is if Rob basically does the entire thing? Good to know.
- KRASTA? Really, Ralph?!? (Note: I have no idea if it was Ralph, just using a little deductive reasoning, here.)
- The entire drama of Stephanie vs. David in the challenge was maddening. If the rest of the tribe felt so strongly, why was Stephanie allowed to do it in the first place? In short: Shut up, David.
- “These girls remind me of crabs, to be honest.”
- “My relationship with Rob is that he is a dictator, and I am a lord, and I’m waiting for my opportunity to replace the king.”
- “You gotta hustle if you want to make a dollar. Everybody knows that.”
- “If I had to put money on it, I’d say none of them are going to make it to the end. I just wish I was going to be around to see it.”