“I gotta fit in, not them. There’s more of them than there is of me.”
– Rudy Boesch, Survivor, season 1
Wednesday on Survivor, the men dominated the challenges and sent the women to Tribal Council. But just as the alliances on the women’s tribe solidify, everything is in flux for the men – thanks to the scrambling shenanigans of one sulky strategist.
“He’s making Russell look like a little schoolgirl!” Jonas says. He’s talking about Colton, who’s been shirking his responsibilities at the men’s camp to spend time with the women.
The viewers know that Colton isn’t trying to make alliances. He just wants to make friends. The poor kid feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere – too girly for the boy’s tribe, one appendage too many for the girl’s tribe.
However, just as the tiny violins reach a crescendo in his pity party, Colton rallies. He reveals to Tarzan, Troyzan, Jonas and Leif that he has an idol. “I’m playing this at the next tribal council, and I’m not going home,” he says.
I’ve written before how the idol is best used as a rallying point around which to make an alliance. Colton forces the men to rethink what they had considered an easy first boot. He thereby puts himself at the head of possibly the most motley alliance in Survivor history.
I thought about giving the Fishy to Colton for his Holly Hoffman-worthy tribe turnaround. But while Colton may be temporarily on top, he’s already managed to alienate everybody. Even as he asserts his dominance over the men’s tribe, he still can’t wait to join up with the women. And they can’t stand him! Colton needs to form real bonds with somebody – fast.
So the Fishy award this week goes to dark horse candidate Kim. In stark contrast to Colton, who is seemingly everywhere but does nothing, Kim has managed to stay out of the spotlight but in control.
Everybody else in the dominant women’s alliance has distinguished themselves as either a threat or a liability. Adorable moppet Kat is clueless in challenges, and everywhere else too. Alicia is a sociopath who fantasizes about watching her tribemates die. Chelsea is a physical beast. Even crafty Sabrina let herself get branded as the tribe’s leader – a notoriously short career to have on Survivor.
Only Kim has managed to stay in the middle. When perennial irritant Colton faces his gender identity crisis, it’s Kim who most gently pushes him away.
“You can understand – we are two tribes, and you’re from the other tribe, and you’re in our camp,” she reminds him. “That seems like a really dumb, dumb, dumb move on our part.” By keeping the rejection in game instead of personal terms, she kicks Colton out of camp without offending him.
But Kim really earns her Fishy when the tribe debates booting blow-up doll Kat over policeperson Nina, who looks like she just shambled in off the set of The Walking Dead. “We need these girls to trust us,” she tells Chelsea.
Kim doesn’t just mean Kat – she means all the girls. Kim knows that as soon as you start turning on your alliance, the precarious, largely arbitrary trust that keeps it intact is gone. Suddenly, nobody’s loyal to anybody.
I also loved how elegantly Kim deflected Jeff when he asked what qualities she brought to the tribe. Kim didn’t highlight her athleticism, her strategic smarts or her leadership. “I feel like I’m a great communicator,” she says. What a fantastically non-threatening thing to be!
So Nina shambles off of Survivor in search of braaaains, and the women’s alliance remains intact. But how much will loyalty matter if they can’t win a challenge?