On the blue tribe, David and Devens form a bond; they’re both smart, funny, strategic superfans
Stephen Fishbach has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. He is the host of the podcast Paraphrase, where he interviews writers about the openings to their novels. Follow him on Twitter at @stephenfishbach.
“Every decision you make is based on what’s good for now and what’s good for later.” — David Samson, Survivor: Cagayan
Well, there’s no question that the Fishy for this episode has to go to THAT SEAGULL THAT FREAKING CAUGHT A LITERAL FISHY. How cool was that? It played out so perfectly. Julie is talking about how she’s no good at looking for idols. “I’m not a sneaky person,” she says.
At exactly that moment, a gull swoops from the air and snatches its prey.
And the editors played it off perfectly. No sound effects or any special tricks to draw attention. Just the circle of life, playing out in perfect thematic rhythm to the show.
(Meanwhile if you watch The Voice, the only animals you see are the tattoos on Adam Levine’s arm.)
While Julie frets that she’s not doing enough to find idols (but still doesn’t actually go idol hunting), idol fever has broken out at both camps. They search in the trees, scrounge the beach, rustle the shrubs and scratch in the dirt.
The segment’s a perfect reminder of how much work — and how much luck — goes into finding an immunity idol. Victoria says it perfectly. “It’s a big place. Everything’s unique in its own way but also exactly the same. They’re all trees that look a little funky. Where do you begin?”
While the contestants hunt for idols, they also plot and scheme.
On the blue tribe, David and Devens form a bond, which is an early frontrunner for my favorite alliance so far. They’re both smart, funny, strategic superfans.
Wendy and Wentworth are apparently “at war.”
Gavin and Eric are planning to take out a vet.
Ron Clark is daydreaming about future gifs.
And meanwhile, Aubry is stuck on a loop. She just wants to have an open dialogue. She likes the way you think. You remind her of herself.
The reason I don’t like mixed new player/returning player seasons is that the new players become defined by their relationships to the vets. Are you team newbie or team vet? We don’t know that much about Lauren other than that she’s a fan of Wentworth. (And hey she finds the idol!) When Ron, Julia, and Victoria meet up in the water, it’s all about Aubry.
But it is interesting watching the vets scramble with this target. Should they step back or be proactive? Do they try to bond with just a few people, or reach out to everyone?
Aubry’s shotgun strategy could work if she were a new player, or a vet surrounded by other vets. Put out some feelers, see who bites. But with all eyes on her as team captain, it’s inevitable that the rest of the tribe will compare notes.
David Wright seems to be doing it best. He’s created a tight alliance with the other supernerd out there. But whenever anybody else talks strategy, he takes a backseat. Watch him in conversation with anybody, and he’s typically listening, nodding his head and agreeing.
He also targets Wentworth. He wants to ice her before she can ice him.
It’s an interesting question, whether the vets should target each other so soon. If David votes off Wentworth, does that make him more of a target, as the other vet left? Or less of a target, because there are fewer vets to worry about?
I would argue that getting rid of the other vets is in each vet’s interest. Survivor contestants are always worried about arbitrary bonds and power couples. So the vets seem particularly threatening as a group of four. Individually, however, they’re just people.
That said, I’d be very curious to hear your opinions. Tweet me @stephenfishbach.
The Fishy Award
The non-literal Fishy for this episode goes to Wardog. When the blue tribe loses the immunity challenge, Wardog targets Keith for his spectacularly bad challenge performance. (Hey, we’ve all been there).
But then Keith pledges eternal loyalty to Chris. “No matter what point in the game we are in, I’m never turning back on you,” Keith says. “I promise you. Never.”
That makes Chris consider. Why not keep a loyal ally around? He approaches Devens, who talks to David, and soon the target is on Wentworth. It briefly looks like she might actually be eliminated.
When Chris broaches the idea with Wardog, Wardog argues that eliminating Kelley is bad strategy. She’s stronger in the challenges, and the blue tribe really needs to win challenges. But even more importantly, she’s a huge target. That keeps the target off other people.
“She’s a returning player, she’s a threat, she plays the game hard, she finished fourth place last time,” he says. “She’s a gamer. But that means she has a bigger target on her back than I do.”
Wardog manages to sway the votes, and Keith’s torch is snuffed. But does he go home?
Edge of Extinction
The episode leaves us with a question — a question I thought we would never ask. Will Keith take his second chance? Based on his freakout, I’m actually not sure.
A lot of people — including me — were skeptical about the Edge of Extinction. But watching Reem sit alone, with barely enough food, water and shelter to survive, was fascinating television.
I don’t know if I’d want every season of Survivor to play out this way. But I’m so curious to find out how this one does.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.