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Winners at War – Episode 3: Out for Blood

Another good episode, I assume we’ll have a lot of those this season. I’m really glad we’re getting scenes like the ladder last week or the shark this week. These scenes are also the reason why we love Survivor. Can you imagine how amazing this season would be if there wasn’t so much time used for the Edge of Extinction, or time spent at camp explaining who gets which advantage? OK, let’s see what happened to whom this week.  

Sele

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment
  • Adam Klein (one token): Wow Adam! He started the episode in a way that made it look like he was taking control of the game. I was so proud of him. He knows that he’s not seen as a threat at the moment (see the little respect Paravati has for him in confessionals), but he also knows that if he wants to have the slightest chance to win, he needs to become a threat. What better way to do that than to take out one of the biggest threats in the show’s history? But then, he made a terrible mistake and tried to play both sides. I believe that he had some sort of alliance with Ethan and Rob, an alliance that hadn’t been shown before, as well as an alliance that actually wasn’t so much of an alliance. That’s the only explanation I have about him telling his plan to Ethan and Rob, as well as him trying to target Parvati and not Rob. He bit on more than he could chew. Blindsiding Parvati or Rob would have been huge on his resume, and I believe that he could have easily pulled it out. He didn’t need to try to appease Ethan and Rob before the vote or try to get their approval or I don’t know. How did he think that would work out? I assume that he read his relationship with Ethan wrong and that he had no idea that Ethan considered Parvati as his number one. What about Rob? Did he really think that Rob was closer to him than to Parvati? Is the Rob Parvati alliance a secret thing? Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe it was. The way votes have gone in Sele never really showed the real picture of who is really with who I believe.
    And in the process of trying to take control and still play both sides, Adam managed to alienate the people he could have been in a real alliance with, to the point that they kept him in the dark about the real target. This is bad for Adam, even Denise and Ben showed that they don’t really trust him after all.
    Now, it could have been much worse. Adam could have been voted out, and he wasn’t. Keeping him in the dark for the vote can be to “teach him a lesson” but still work with him later on.
  • Ben Driebergen (one token): Glad to hear that Ben really wants Rob out, I do like Ben more and more every week. However, the fact that no one else seemed to have considered voting Rob out also means that Ben doesn’t really hold any power in the tribe. Right now, he’s seen as just a number by his tribemates, and that’s not too much of a bad thing at the moment. Earlier in the game, he could have been an easy vote as he seemed to be a loose cannon, but right now, he’s in a good place. It also should be noted that only Denise and he have voted for the right person every time.
  • Denise Stapley (two tokens and one idol): Her early mistake seems to be long gone. Denise is in a very familiar position now, for better and worse. Sure, she’s once again in the tribe that’s losing challenges and keeping on going to tribal council, but she’s also once again the person that people keep coming to. Sure, she’s not leading any charge against anyone, it could be perceived as not making the moves, not being the leader. Still, she’s the person who knows where the votes are going every single time. That’s a good position to be in. And to cement even more that position, Adam gave her half the idol back, and Danni gave Denise her token after being voted out. Denise is not going anywhere anytime soon.
  • Ethan Zohn voted out: And the whole Survivor fandom screamed in horror on that day at 8.55 pm Eastern Time. We were all excited to see Ethan play again after so many years, after almost dying not once but twice. And we had seen a side of him that we hadn’t seen before, Goofy Funny Ethan (more in the secret scenes than on the actual show, but still). He was not a threat (yet) and while he was in the minority alliance, in all logic, everyone else should have gone before him. So, how did that happen? Unfortunately, just like Danni, he fell victim to being “too” old school, I believe. Danni got paranoid when she saw how fast the game was going. Ethan, on the other hand, didn’t try to catch up. He did all he could to keep the slower pace that he’s accustomed to. Sure, there wasn’t much he could have done to save himself, but there were a few things.
    The first and most important one was to treat alliances as something that can change and evolve over time because they do nowadays. When Adam told him that he was targeting Parvati, he should just have jumped ship. His alliance was in the minority, they had very little chance to win that vote, one of the three of them would have been sent home to the Edge of Extinction no matter what. He should have minimized his chances to be the one. He didn’t. He tried to save Parvati. That cost him the game.
    Either his old school thinking told him to not betray his alliance, especially if doing so would have him end up at the bottom of another alliance (except that it wouldn’t be the case here, the five new schoolers are not an alliance by any means). Or he thought that the old school alliance could sway Jeremy, Michele, and Ben into voting with them. There is something important we didn’t see, I’m afraid. I guess there was no time for it because it was imperative that we see Danni catch a fish at the Edge of Extinction, right? 
  • Jeremy Collins (one token and one “no tribal for me” advantage): The question everyone was asking today, just like last week was “Why not target Rob? Why is everyone only talking of weakening him?” I think I know the answer, and the answer is in part Jeremy. He said it before the game started, Jeremy wants to use his meat shield strategy again. Rob is his meat shield. They’re not really in an alliance, but they’re friendly enough that they talk strategy together, even if they’re not above lying to each other. The exchange that they both had with Michele when Rob came and said that he knew what was up. Jeremy and Michele tried to play stupid. Rob didn’t buy it, but then he bought that they’d target Adam with him instead, was really telling. It was a lot of bluffing and counter-bluffing, just like in poker… Oh, wait, poker again. Remember, Jeremy was also part of the poker alliance. Rob and he do have a working relationship. Jeremy has actually been using Rob all along. And as long as Rob is in the game, Jeremy can stay somewhat under the radar, a position he needs to be during this pre-merge after being very close to be the first one voted out. He’s playing a very similar game than in Cambodia. He has no reason to change at the moment.
    Overall, it’s interesting to see how some players are playing very similar games to the times they won (Rob, Jeremy, Denise, Michele, Yul, Danni, Ethan) with various degrees of success, and some are playing the opposite game (Ben, Tony). I think this is something to keep an eye on. Indeed, Jeremy or Michele can play similar games, those are strategies that can be repeated. The same way that it’s smart of Tony or Ben to completely change their strategies, the way they won is definitely a one-time thing.
  • Michele Fitzgerald (one token): We just saw that Rob is most likely being “protected” by Jeremy (and by the fact that Adam wanted to keep a working relationship with him too), but it’s most likely Michele who saved Parvati. Something that has strangely been completely edited out from the show so far is their friendship. In a season that doesn’t shy away from talking about past relationships, it’s odd that this one is ever mentioned. Why is that? Because it predates Michele’s first appearance on Survivor (whereas every other player this season met because of Survivor)? No idea. It’s a shame though because I believe that it’s quite relevant at the moment. This episode really showed Michele being the driving force behind this week’s vote, but it didn’t show how Parvati was spared, most likely thanks to Michele.
    In any case, I’m glad that they’re showing that Michele deserves to be here and that she didn’t take anyone’s spot. I always assumed that she deserved her win more than people give her credit for, but we never really saw the whys and the hows. We’re starting to. Kudos to her. She’s in a very good spot right now. More or less “in charge” with Jeremy. Denise and Ben happy to tag along. Adam will have to if he doesn’t want to be the next one out, and Parvati owes a big one to Michele too.
  • Parvati Shallow (two tokens): There is strangely not that much to say about Parvati this week despite the fact that she had a very good chance to be voted out. Everyone is talking about the threat she is, and don’t get me wrong, we all know how much of the threat she is. But she also hasn’t played in 10 years. And while she stayed closely connected to Survivor in many ways over these past years, she hadn’t actually experienced the “new school game” firsthand. Is it also going too fast for her? Because right now, she almost seems like a sitting duck who got saved by external forces. So, there is no denying that she played not one, but two of the best games ever in Micronesia and Heroes vs Villains, but she shouldn’t be so cocky when talking about Adam, because hadn’t he overplayed his hand, he would have sent her home, and he’s a much stronger player than she gives him credit for. Parvati is on borrowed time right now, and only winning challenges or a swap can save her.
  • Rob Mariano (two tokens): I had a debate with some people on the internet this week about whether Rob was a bully or not. I think he is, some people don’t. One thing that we can all agree on though is that his way of playing the game is to be very dominant and controlling and that’s pretty much it (for someone who always says that the key to winning the game is adaptability, he hasn’t shown much this season if ever). When he loses that control, he usually loses the game soon afterward. Well, he just lost control. Yes, he maneuvered perfectly Adam who was thinking that they both were much closer than they actually were. Yes, he maneuvered very well his conversation with Jeremy and Michele to a certain point. And yet, he got blindsided. He’s not going to be happy, but what can he really do right now? The strategy to weaken him has worked. He has little to no power in his tribe right now. Just like Parvati, he has to hope for a swap (that doesn’t seem to be coming) or starting winning challenges.

The State of Alliances at Sele:

  • Old school alliance: Rob & Parvati
  • Denise and Ben (with Adam on probation?).
  • Jeremy and Michelle.

Dakal

Tony and ladders, the real power alliance this season so far. Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment
  • Kim Spradlin-Wolfe (one token and a half-idol): We didn’t see Kim at all this week, did we? 
  • Nick Wilson (one token): That’s two episodes in a row that we’re not seeing Nick. It’s a bit worrisome. And yet, I’m not worried. I think that the way this season is shaping, the edit is focusing a lot on Sele early in the season because a lot of them won’t make the merge, so their story is being told first. Nick is probably safe until the merge. His lack of screen time is concerning for his chances of winning the game, but not for his longevity in the game.
  • Sandra Diaz-Twine (one hidden immunity idol with an expiration date, zero fire token): On the other hand, we’re seeing a lot of Sandra. Great, as she’s one of the greatest Survivor characters! And I’m very proud of her that we’re seeing her being a provider. She’s often being criticized for being an amazing social player, but not much else. Last week, we saw her win a challenge (sure, she sat out again this week), this week, she provides food. I love her very positive -yet not over the top – edit (as opposed to her edit in Game Changers). I’m still not sure how long she can last, though. I’m afraid that she’ll be targeted soon after Dakal starts to lose. If they lose… This week we got a glimpse of trouble brewing between Tyson and her. I think it could be a misdirection though. 
  • Sarah Lacina (zero token, one “steal a vote” advantage): So Sarah got another “steal a vote” advantage, just like in Game Changers. Her edit is pretty much middle of the road now, which could be a good thing for her. One little thing about the “invade the other camp at night” thing. We saw it last season too, and I’m not sure what to think about it. It was kinda fun seeing it last season, but seeing this again feels unnecessary. It creates some fake suspense for nothing. The thing is that while the players are sleeping, they’re not exactly on their guard. They don’t expect someone to come to their camp. And even if they hear someone fumbling around, they can simply assume that it’s one of them going to relieve themself, or even a camera crew walking around, as there is always camera crew nearby. So, that’s basically fake drama. Some screen time that could be used for more interesting things.
  • Sophie Clarke (one token and a half-idol): Not much about Sophie this week, but just enough so that she stays at the forefront of the Dakal members that “matter” at the moment.
  • Tony Vlachos (one token): Could we just have an entire show that’d just be Tony doing things? The guy is just the most entertaining contestant ever or what? However, don’t let that fool you. While I’m sure he’s not acting, that he’s really like that in real life, at the moment, he’s also being goofy so that people lower their guard near him, so that the target on his back becomes smaller. And it seems to be working. He’s still under house arrest, he still can’t go run around the jungle by himself. I’m sure it’s very frustrating for him, but that’s for his best, really.
  • Tyson Apostol (one token): Interesting that we got some strategy content from Tyson this week when there were little to none on Dakal. It shows Tyson as one of the important players to pay attention to in this tribe. It’s unfortunate that he’s thinking of targeting Sandra, I don’t think that’s his best move right now, quite the opposite. I also wonder how much of a misdirection that is (the fact that we saw it in the preview last week really makes me think that it is, it could even be coming from earlier, when they were scrambling to vote out Amber)
  • Wendell Holland (one token): He was pretty much invisible this week. Just like Nick, it could be because his story has yet to “happen”, but after the very positive edit he got early on, I wonder why he’s really falling into the background at the moment.
  • Yul Kwon (one token): I really really love Yul’s analytical mind. When Tyson pitches to him to target Sandra, it makes sense, and he has no reason to shoot this idea down. However, after some reflection, he realizes that right now Tyson is a bigger threat, and “betrays” him. And in any case, pitting Sandra against Tyson is the thing to do for him, his alliance is only an alliance of four in a tribe of nine, it’s not a majority. So he must do all he can to make sure the five remaining players don’t band together.

The State of Alliances at Dakal:

No change from last week:

  • The nerd/solo players alliance: Yul, Sophie, Wendell, and Nick.
  • The Cops R’ Us + Sandra alliance. Is it really an alliance or two alliances that Tony is part of? How close are Sandra and Sarah?
  • The free agents, former poker alliance: Tyson and Kim.

 

The Edge of Extinction

  • Amber Mariano (zero token): It’s the first time (ever) that I see her taking some initiative, running to go find a clue at “camp.” Too bad it was the wrong clue.
  • Danni Boatwright (zero token): She caught a fish I guess.
  • Natalie Anderson (three tokens): While I still hate Edge of Extinction, at this stage of the game mostly because of the quantity of screen time it takes away from the other players, we have to admit that watching Natalie still playing hard and totally owning Amber and Danni makes the whole thing a little more palatable. And it seems that she is really paving her way to returning to the game right now. On the other hand, she doesn’t really have any competition at the moment.

 

“Warrior” of the Week

I started this little thing during Blood Vs Water, the “don’t let that fool you” award (credit to Gervase Peterson for inspiring the name). Every week, I give an award to the “impact player” of the week, the player who made the biggest difference, the biggest move, who affected the game the most that week. Note that it can be a positive or a negative (orchestrate a blindside or on the other hand royally screw up his game or his alliance’s).

  • This week, the Warrior award recipient goes to Michele Fitzgerald. While orchestrating Ethan’s blindside was at least a two-person thing (three with Denise?). Michele really was shown to be the force behind that move. More power to her. I’m not a Michele hater, but I do think that she needs to prove something a little more than many of the other players. Well, she kinda started doing it.

 

Winner Pick

My predictions are starting to get some losing points. I thought that Ethan was a sure thing until the merge and here we are. At this point in the game, it seems that most of Dakal will make the merge, especially if they merge at 13, as they will probably do.

Tyson is still one of my main picks to win, and the fact that he got strategy content this week comforts me in that opinion, especially because that content had nothing to do with the other things that took place in this episode. As I mentioned, the conversation could even have happened earlier, but they were shown this week to make sure we see something “important” involving Tyson this week. In Dakal, Yul and Sophie are also among the front runners, and I wouldn’t count Wendell out just yet, the fact that they’re winning challenges doesn’t really help us see a lot of what’s happening at Dakal.
Over at Sele, Adam’s potential winner edit took a big hit, while Jeremy’s and Michele’s stock really raised a lot. Denise is still in contention too.

 

Next Person Voted Out

  • If Sele , logic seems to imply that this time Parvati or Rob will have to be the target. However, the fact that they survived this tribal implies some people (Jeremy and Michele) want to work with him. Adam could be in serious trouble next.
  • If Dakal goes to tribal, this week’s episode implied an upcoming showdown between Tyson and Sandra. However, next week’s preview implied that instead of going after each other and let Yul and Sophie pick up the pieces, Tyson would muster the many-times player together, and it’d be the smart thing to do instead.

 

Next Time on Survivor

 

Adam is targeted, Tyson musters the people with connections around him, and someone is in physical trouble at the Edge of Extinction. I’m sure at least two of these three are misdirections. Which ones?

 

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