Is Tony’s Survivor success so far skill or just insane luck? I can’t quite figure it out. Last week, he flipped on one of his own alliance members, in a big power move done without the knowledge of most of the rest of his alliance. It’s the kind of backhanded thing that could easily derail his entire game, but Tony? He comes out of it in an even better position than he went in with. It’s impressive. I think. It’s honestly hard to tell at this point.
The biggest reason Tony appears to completely in the clear with his alliance is the Trish—the socially intelligent true center of Tony’s group—immediately decided that Tony going behind her back to get out LJ was no big deal. It’s interesting that, unlike the previous episode’s editing made it appear, Trish had no idea Tony and Woo were voting LJ out. The conversation with Tony we saw was only Tony probing her interest, and then deciding it would be better to keep her in the dark. It’s either a testament to how secure Tony has made Trish feel or a testament to Trish’s long game to see how having Tony around will help her for now, but Trish deciding not to hold Tony’s power move against him is absolutely critical to his success in this episode.
Less happy with Tony’s move is Jefra, who feels so betrayed by Tony and so insecure in her alliance that at one point it brings her to tears. Jefra is the one who immediately wants to know who flipped post-Tribal, the one who decides to defect to the other alliance just to vote out Tony, and the one who ultimately changes her mind and comes back. Jefra seems to have a tremendous amount of power in this episode, but it all ends up being mostly a ruse; Jefra would only have power if her flipping would give the other side of the alliance a majority, and her flip only makes the two sides even. Despite all of Spencer’s careful wooing at the Reward, despite all of Jefra’s insecurity about Tony’s loyalty, ultimately Jefra flipping would only create an unstable situation for both alliances and a particularly unstable situation for her, so she wisely decides to stay the course.
But key in Jefra’s decision, and key in most socially-based decisions within Tony’s alliance, is Trish’s influence. Once again, Trish notices someone’s social vibe changing, and once again, she takes action to help her alliance. Trish letting Jefra vent about Tony then assuring Jefra their alliance was still strong absolutely set the stage for Tony to come in and give his own assurances to Jefra, assurances that kept her vote. It’s hard to tell if Trish is gunning to be in the finals with Tony and hoping he makes enough people angry they’d rather vote for her, or if she’s internally planning on getting rid of him at a later date, but Trish is quietly, systematically playing a great social game. The best part about her game is that now that the nastiness with Lindsey is over, her game has also officially become fun to watch; a nice, sane counterbalance to Tony’s manic strategizing. I want these two as part of the final three, because seeing them debate their different game styles would be fascinating.
We’re not ready for the finals yet, though. With Jeremiah gone, the biggest wild card in the opposing alliance appears to be Spencer. Having played his idol here, Spencer is sort of a man without a country and a man without a move to make. He basically has no alliance left, no safety net, and nothing to lose. Watching him try to figure out a way to squirm out of this one could be pretty fun.
- Tony ‘s new spy shack is far more entertaining than the old one ever was. Please send all gifs of Tony lurking in the bushes my way.
- Tony has the fancy idol, and also a random piece of wood he hauls around in his “bag of tricks” in order to be as obnoxious as possible during Tribal Council. Noted, Tony.
- Tony’s reaction upon finding the fancy idol was akin to a father seeing his child for the first time. He might love that idol more than anything else in the world.
- The Reward location was beautiful, but that was the most low-key “letters from home” sequence ever, yes?
- It turns out Woo’s big fall in the previews wasn’t all that serious after all. Except for Woo’s poor butt (and maybe his pride) nothing seemed too damaged.
- You can’t really “blindside” someone unless you have a majority, Tasha.
- “I didn’t break promises, I did it for a reason.” I genuinely don’t know what this means.