Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Survivor: “I’m No Dummy”

Illustration for article titled Survivor: “I’m No Dummy”

Sometimes, Survivor episodes are about one person stepping up and taking action, formulating a killer plan, and executing it almost flawlessly. Kim accomplished this very thing just last week, and it was a joy to watch. Other times, Survivor episodes are about one person who has their back against the wall attempting to take action, formulate a killer plan, and execute it to perfection. These types of episodes are immensely satisfying if they work, as everyone loves to root for an underdog, especially a clever one. The problem when they don’t work is that all of the scheming just feels like wasted time listening to the soliloquies of the doomed. Tonight definitely felt like one of those times.

It’s no secret Troyzan was on the outside looking in this week. Even CBS acknowledged his outcast status, revolving the entire episode’s marketing campaign around his underdog attempts to stay in the game despite being the main target of the dominant female alliance. To his credit, Troyzan immediately recognizes his precarious position in the tribe and makes it well known to everyone that he won’t simply go quietly into the night. All of the infectious energy that endeared people toward Troyzan thus far takes on a strangely manic turn when he is put in the crosshairs, but at least it is manically entertaining.

Basically, the entire tribe knows Troyzan is on the chopping block—including Troyzan—and knows he must win immunity in order to not get his torch snuffed this week. He gets a leg up by buying an advantage in the immunity challenge during the auction, and makes good on his monetary sacrifice by managing to outshoot Tarzan for the ultimate immunity victory.

This is where the episode turns from everyone against Troyzan to Troyzan against everyone, as he vocally tries to get Tarzan, Leif, Christina, and Alicia to form an alliance with him and knock out the strong original four-girl alliance of Kim, Chelsea, Kat, and Sabrina. It’s basically the only play Troyzan has, and it’s honestly a good play for pretty much everyone he’s asking to join him. The problem with making a huge move like this is that people on Survivor are far more risk-averse than you would think they’d be. Yes, Alicia and Christina are on the absolute bottom of their female alliance, but do they know that? And even if they do know it, is it worth alienating the very powerful foursome that much to be the bottom of a five-person alliance instead of the bottom of a six-person alliance? With great risk comes great reward, but there’s always the chance a big move can backfire.

Needless to say, by the time we get to Tribal Council, it’s pretty obvious Troyzan’s ploys didn’t work, and either Tarzan or Leif will be going home. Troyzan is completely frustrated by his lack of progress in flipping the game to his advantage and immediately starts pointless fights and just generally talks in circles. Even Probst can do nothing but shake his head. Troyzan makes one last desperate appeal for his idea of a new power alliance to work, laying everything out on the table in front of the entire tribe and the jury, but it is to no avail: Leif is voted out, and Kim’s alliance of six is still strongly in power.

Now, all Troyzan can do is attempt a different scheme next week and keep winning immunity idols. If he doesn’t, the rest of this season—just like this episode—is likely to be quite the predictable affair.


Stray observations:

  • The Survivor auction is always a lot of fun, so it’s nice to see it back again now that Redemption Island is over. Christina’s auction strategy revealed a lot about her general game strategy, in that it was practically nonexistent. What was she waiting for?
  • Why does Tarzan need Survivor to give him $500 to get the shocks on his Jeep fixed? Isn’t he a plastic surgeon?
  • Kim’s greatest strength as leader might be her totally complicated vote splitting strategy. She’s not one for the clean sweep vote, this week illustrated by splitting the eviction vote between Tarzan and Leif. Hell, even Tarzan voted for Leif!
  • Kat: “Yo, there’s BACON on there!” Does she think the B in BLT stands for bread?