My Final First Thoughts
“I’ll be honest- she kind of scares the tar out of me. I think she’ll probably play really well.” -some rocket surgeon writing articles pre-game
Oh no, I got another prediction wrong, I said tonight’s boot would be the super winner at first and then finally ranked her at #3. Now my second, third, and fourth picks to win are all gone, and Liz is gone, oh man. I’m just the worst at this.
That having been said, woohoo! Go Cameron, go Cameron! You’re the harbinger, you’re the harbinger!
I’m glad that my curse on all of those not acquainted enough with Harry Potter spells enough to fight back has finally given the Survivor world some benevolence. Tonight’s boot, Liz, got ten confessionals in her three episodes and I could not recite to you one of them. Whenever I think of her, I think of a lot of long words that mean nothing. Story-wise, I’d rather her running mate Peter, who built cockiness upon cockiness upon just balls-out cockiness, have been sent home, but this is a house-cleaning I can absolutely approve of.
This episode had a pretty distinct type of real truth flavor to it. They didn’t really fudge around on which side of the Chan Loh schism the hammer was falling. Remember when I thought Peter was actually getting it together and playing a decent game? Yeah, well that’s one first impression I shouldn’t have abandoned- Peter ushered in a wave of blistering idiocy and arrogance that I don’t think can even be argued as the edit- everything fed into his arrogant shutting down of Neal as Neal basically tried to avoid giggling in his face. It’d have been funnier if Peter was sent packing after all of the crap he said, but as it stands Liz didn’t contribute much if any intrigue as a character and I basically moved on from really expecting her to win when I discovered that Michele was “her, only way better”.
Alas for few, Liz was sent home after Debbie, of all people, spun the tribes around on her finger and ran amok manipulating all of them. A split vote that was set to go Neal-Aubry-Joe instead went Aubry-Pete-Liz with Debbie never in contention for a single vote, the only tribesmate who wasn’t, with everything being at her whim. She moved with purpose and sent Liz careening out of the game as Peter held back an “impressed yet disgusted” Silas Gaither grin of fury as he visually plotted the death of the cat lady goat of his that just decimated his game.
Priceless all around.
Presumably the last thing Liz sees before she falls asleep at night.
I referred to Liz Markham as a literal gamebot several times in my pre-game articles, and I think I was right. She was very capable and intelligent but ultimately didn’t seem to understand enough of the HOO-MAN culture and behavior to be able to connect to anyone. I’d reckon out of anyone people on Chan Loh were least connected to Liz. Joe was old, but he worked hard. Neal was weird but he worked around camp and was shown interacting with others and clearly leaving impressions. Aubry was shown with weakness but also giving her all. Debbie is Debbie but she also made emotional bonds and poised a good goat look. Even Peter, as patronizing and egotistical as he was to clearly everyone, also provided a lot of muscle and tribal benefit. Liz came in with a bag of tricks but didn’t have the emotional or social muscle to lift even the smallest screw out of it.
Her breakout episode was in Episode 2, where Joe clashed with her over their methodology at camp life. Joe was more straightforward and dangerously proactive, whereas Liz had lots of booksmart theories she didn’t know how to execute. Liz played it safe with the water, Joe thought she was stubborn. Liz’s only connection was with Peter, who also thought Debbie was primed to be his goat. Come Episode 3, Liz would insist on voting out Neal at first chance, suspecting he was smart enough to flip on them come a swap and wanting to take out the liability. Problem is, no one actually wanted Neal out, and the vote split they planned also claimed Aubry.
With the enemy so close to their gates, you had them relying on Debbie, who had Aubry on her side, and Joe, who didn’t respect Liz. It was, quite simply, the wrong boot order, chosen by arrogance and the belief that they would always run everything no matter what. Liz, in theory, had ideas of what strategically would work, but she seemed to miss the cue that not only was Debbie not great at challenges, she annoyed everyone and only Peter and Joe ever entertained working with her. With Debbie off the table, as soon as Neal and Aubry knew that they were being gunned for the game was over, and we were permitted the slow burn of watching Debbie freaking Wanner orchestrate a reverse split vote.
Now, my friends, we get into some behind-the-scenes crap. None of this affects the knowledge of the season or spoils anything but if you want potentially inaccurate explanations about things that don’t overly matter, here’s some fun trivia.
On the surface, it all makes sense. Debbie genuinely played strategically brilliant, getting rid of someone also weak, confrontational, connected to few, and someone vocally against someone she considered her #2 ally. Under the surface, however, a lot of other things were at play. For one, the boat situation in Kaoh Rong was different than the Cambodia raid next season-slash-season after. In Cambodia, there was still rice waiting for them at the camps even as Woo scored the extra bag. Not the case in Kaoh Rong. Chan Loh didn’t get a decent supply of rice, and production believed the rampant shellfish life would be enough to feed the people around in addition to the boat supplies.
Unless, of course, you were allergic to shellfish like Liz.
Not only was this poor woman largely starving herself to death like the other Liz in Australia, she also had a point about the water. According to sources and hinted at by the fact that Liz never got “Liz The Day After” video like Darnell and Jennifer did, Liz was sick enough that she was the season’s first medevac after her vote-out (which, for the record, was at best a reason to choose Liz over Peter and almost certainly not manufactured). From these reports, she was taken straight from the filming location and to a hospital in the city, where she started to regain her health over the course of the pre-jury Ponderosa time.
Sad to say, as much as Liz came off as a robot on-show, her body was clearly very, very human. She likely wouldn’t have lasted long anyways, which could have driven her boot over the much more disagreeable Peter, so it makes sense that if you had to pick between the starving gravely ill cold one and the strong but egotistical one, you keep the doc around because better to heal the sick than generate them. I’m just glad Liz got the honor of being booted for a pretty poor game so she could have that to her name rather than being the poor woman’s Dana Lambert.
Pity The Living
I’m still running into image problems, and fought just to get that one up, so you’re welcome. I’m gonna look at my goofy little notebook to see what’s up with it. Last time this was the case, the incomparable Michael Harmstone of the TAR division copied and pasted my article, images and all, onto the website. This is the Autopsy, where most of the images are already there, and if not, aren’t as fun or consequential as they are during Hindsight Bias.
I don’t feel like it’d be fair to make Harmstone Igor all of my stupid, goofy photos every time. If I can fit ‘em in, I will, but I’ll have to find another way to emphasize a character’s success if they don’t already have profile pictures up. Maybe I’ll just make them rainbow and point arrows at them, like the true professional journalist you’ve come to expect from me.
A very light “would earn an intro card from me” reward. He didn’t get much airtime but when it did it was this rare occurrence of counter-smugness looking endearing in the face of smugness. After being targeted either for reasons we didn’t see, or didn’t exist, Neal was flat out told he was being targeted, and his response in confessional? “They need to be punished.” Rock on, Neal, you loon. When Peter drops “It’s not your plan” when professing the plan he knows will work, you can just see Neal trying not to giggle right in his face. It’s a fantastic foil to Pete Christy’s attempt to make Kelley Gottleib finally leave the Earth. Furthermore, he pretends to reach for an idol, as if to further drive home how silly Liz and Peter are for shooting themselves in the foot like they have.
It’s not as forced as Nick is, but it is playing to the audience, the kind I can deal with. The imbalance of power pays off well and Neal laughs all the way to the bank. Neal is the audience surrogate. Like us, he thinks him being targeted is bizarre and ridiculous, he knows he ain’t going anywhere, and he couldn’t find this funnier.
This lady makes me happy to be alive and watching Survivor: Kaoh Rong (Dead vs Living vs Probably Will Be Dead Soon). We got our first vote on Chan Loh, where this crazy cat lady with fifty careers, a loud mouth, and permanent pom-poms, controls a vote that perfectly snows an ER doctor and an MIT graduate. I mean, this isn’t just “great for her standards” like a lot of the credit Alecia gets, this is just flat out great.
Debbie owned this vote and controlled her tribe like one of the greats, pushing the tides perfectly, convincing the doomed duo she was demure enough to side with them, and taking the smothering egotism in stride despite the fact that I’m pretty sure Debbie believes she exists on a higher plane of humanity. I don’t usually give someone a top spot just for being strategic, but the fact that it’s Debbie (and the fact that she’s fantastic while doing it) just makes my day. It’s what, for me, pushes her past the acceptable level of kookiness and into legend.
Joe- For what was initially seen as his conflict vs Liz, he was quickly downgraded to “soldier of Debbie”. Not good for his odds. I still like him okay but he’s far from the most dynamite character.
Good God, what an overperforming tribe this episode. Peter was inhumanely cocky. I don’t even remember all of his ridiculous quotes but I could just make them up and you’d believe them. He compares himself to mafia hit men, he talks about the vote as though it has all the certainty of the weather, and at one point says people like Joe, who is twice his age and was fighting pirates while Peter was in diapers, appreciates it when Peter talks to everyone in a fatherly (read- sun-blisteringly condescending) voice to instruct them to do his bidding. When things go wrong, he just has possibly the most beautiful blindside look on his face that ever existed. It’s a delicious downfall, even if it didn’t send him home. From that look on his face, he looks incensed to be stuck with these people. Good.
Aubry- At one point in the episode, she said something along the lines of “I don’t like men” or “I’m so over men” which gave me way too much false hope. She was probably the best performer in the line of crap-eating grins sparked from when Liz and Peter knew they were boned, possibly because she was the only one getting votes. She’s in an awesome spot. Also, her headband reminds me of the Fire Flower costume from Super Mario Land 2. These are the references you come to me for.
Julia- Still a very under the radar presence, but still shows she’s pretty strong and entirely agreeable. Probably the safest of all 15 remaining contestants, and it isn’t even close.
Dear idol hiding system,
Anna- Does the world a solid favor and plans to vote out Nick. Good for you. Thank you.
Nick- I keep finding new ways to be impressed at production’s efforts at no-showing our latest and possibly most pathetic tryhard. Nick’s only airtime is him saying you can be fake about emotion on Survivor and be all right. Then Anna gets a confessional saying “Nick is weird and fake, time to vote him out”. Glorious. I’d rate him a bottom-tier contestant, but a top tier editing joke. CBS is done with you fugazis.
Caleb- Caleb’s inspired a lot of long, contentious conversation with my friends. I’ve realized, however, why he makes me happy. As it stands, I’ve gone over his torrid history with CBS and with decent society, both with his stalkmance on Big Brother (wow, it is not okay with me that word didn’t even bring up one red spell check line on my Google Doc) and his often bigoted comments busted on Instagram and other places that have since been removed. Has he changed? Again, I’m a broken record, I can’t say. This seems nice and respectful so far, but I’m not sure it’s fair to congratulate him for being a decent dude. It’s more of a cosmic relief than anything.
However, he has the unique distinction of being a side character of Tai’s, which is unprecedented for a white straight alpha male to be to a tiny gay Vietnamese man. We get Charlie kissing up to Marcus. We get Michael Snow tagging along to Corinne and the Three Amigos. Not since Rudy and Richard themselves, where Rudy got about half the airtime Hatch did, has the proportion been the inverse of conventional editing culture. I appreciate that. It also makes me think that the circle of life is gonna take Tai’s best friend into the night quite soon, however, because nothing he’s gotten has been very separate of Tai. I’m okay with that, though.
Michele- Got no airtime, still the best winner contender from this crowd of freaky freak lunatic freaks just by virtue of not finding new ways to screw the pooch today.
Scot- *checks* Yep. Still there. Thank God he was too, because then who would have gotten the idol clearly intended for him?
Cydney- I think, if only by default, she’s generally the sanest and most respectable of the To Tang tribe- as Alex Kidwell pointed out last week on The Tribe, quite the title to give to the woman who promised three different personalities. I’m a little confused as to why she just let Jason and Scot get the idol and high five each other and all but blow each other on the treasure chest and not get a little worried about her fate, but if they missed last TC, she’s probably not getting Matsinged. Long-term, she’s in good with two potentially good goats. And she’s not the misogynistic monster I expected for the most part. Yay.
Jason- There’s this show I hate-watch called Ink Master. It’s like Project Runway for tattoos, and sociopaths. Every person on the show, from judges to contestants to the freaking canvases, are all awful, sociopathic, egotistical, maniacal, violent, misogynistic slices of shit. The dead pigs they drag in for some of the canvas work are generally the most charming, respectful, and safe to leave around your children as anyone. I realize that I hate Jason because all of his qualities remind me of a particularly bad brand of Ink Master character, which I don’t want in my Survivor life.
Alecia- Alecia Watch has seen the impossible character, the most foreshadowed first boot ever, enter episode four and potentially a swap. Not much new is happening but that’s good enough for me.
My First Final Thoughts
What makes a blindside delicious isn’t necessarily the method of blindside, or who does it to whom, or whether or not it shocks us. However, all three of these factors were at play, and they spiced up an already great one. Liz/Peter’s split vote plan got turned around on them as they had to watch everyone revote to eliminate one of them, all marching along with crap-eating grins. This blindside was done by crazy cat lady water fraud egotist Debbie to probably the two with the best brains credit of anyone on either brains tribe. This was a surprise to no one, as Neal giddily awaited for the executionists above his head to be taken out by the heroine of the episode.
However, what makes a blindside truly legendary is character development. Liz went home, which lessened the blow after seeing Peter be otherworldly egotistical, but it’s still thankfully Liz, who didn’t deliver, sparing us interesting characters all around. The entire time, Peter processes with a disgusted grin the fact that he was nearly blindsided and has zero power now. That’s what made this vote-out great.
Add in a mildly tolerable idol chase scene and fun Tai time on Gondol, as well as an ass-clenchingly tight challenge, and you’ve got another solid episode. Best of all, with another tribe going to TC, the momentum changes and speeds up a bit. Now we know exactly what things are like on two tribes, and it’s not just “Alecia Holden’s Magic Show”, which was fun but changed zero dynamics ever. Now, conflict is setting in on all three tribes, and it’s gonna fuel what comes ahead.
Here’s hoping what comes ahead is a lot of fun.
Liz, if I could, your intro shot would go here. I’ll fit it into next article. I was too busy poorly photoshopping my head onto a deranged woman’s body to figure out how to do basic pleasantries. I’m sure you understand. Hope you’re feeling okay.