Liz and Peter (above, left to right)
I wanted to rewatch the episode before I gave my solid opinions on it- due to some funky medical scheduling I ended up having my viewing schedule thrown off whack and I always love watching it twice so I can pick up on bits I missed in the heat of the moment. And this episode? Chock full of all of those bits. For some people it was nothing but bits and pieces I missed that are just Christy (Smith or Drew, take your pick) levels of embarrassing in retrospect. In a chat of my friends I just blurted out every ridiculous Liz and Peter line that I’m sure they’d love to choke themselves to take back now, but thank God they were captured, because they made this episode magnificent. I think that whether Liz or Peter went home, this downfall is one of Survivor’s most hilarious, and I didn’t even notice on my first watch just how legendary it was.
This episode was pretty different than the other two. I think the result was made evident the moment Peter made the unfortunate mistake of opening his mouth. Everything else was either filler (To Tang) or fun character moments. Because of this I’m going to open with the wreck of the day and then get to the other two tribes.
Anatomy of a Downfall
Please, enjoy a selection of perfectly picked and polished downfall lines that summarize Peter and Liz this episode. It’s the least I can do.
“Here we are strategically planning how to win this game and you’ve got a guy working on his six pack.” -Peter, with Joe in the shot
“If we keep Joe and Debbie, then Final Immunity isn’t even a problem… they’re goats.” -Peter, believing that telling his partner that taking two goats to the FIC can mean only good things for her fate
“Debbie doesn’t have the drive to make a big move in her” -Liz
Liz: “I think losing today was a blessing in disguise!”
Debbie: “How about that.”
“You’ve gotta communicate with Liz and I better” -Peter lecturing Aubry, one of the many times he clearly refers to Liz and himself as not only a unit, but the unit in power
“I think our tribe, including company CEOs and seventy-year-old FBI agents, really appreciates some upstart thirty-something ER doctor talking to them in a paternal voice about what to do.” -Peter (okay, it’s paraphrased but would you really know?)
“I can’t trust someone who is just revealing themselves every day by opening their mouth.” -Aubry
“Or we all think we’re the smartest one here so we’re okay.” -Neal in response to a drawn-out answer about how the tribe functions
“Well, it’s not your plan.” -Peter to a giggle-stifling Neal
Probst: “So Peter is flat out dictating what he would like to have happen.”
Debbie: “Ya know, good for him for throwing it all out there.”
“I feel like the person who goes home tonight will not be completely shocked.” -Liz
“I think we’ll go forward as a stronger tribe. And what stronger means… *eyebrow raise* will be interpreted later.” -Neal
“I like all these people, I respect some of their gameplay… but Liz and I are smart people and we’ve thought about everything!” -Peter, to Aubry’s astonishment
“Third person voted out of Brains vs Brawn vs Beauty- Liz” -Probst, amidst the sea of smug Chan Loh grins.
A Jar of Brains
Chan Loh has clearly revved into the lead as the overperforming tribe of characters, especially after cutting their weakest link. Liz was okay, but she to me was the personification of customer service playing Survivor. Always with a professional smile saying almost rehearsed things and then leaving when she got too boring with some very convoluted final words. It’d have been funnier to see Peter go out of fear that he’d fuck Chan Loh at a swap as that’s why he and Liz overthought to take out Neal, but Liz was already very sick as I elaborated on in the Autopsy, and Peter played the douche role a hundred times better.
I don’t think Peter opened his mouth in the two or so days of this episode without saying something he’d later regret. Watching the episode, they either made a mastercut with surgical precision, or they just took lines at random from an endless spout of douchy, cocky strutting and controlling. The latter definitely seems to be the case. The guy was planning Day 38 to the detail on Day 7. Unless you, I dunno, have an alliance of five, each with idols, literally playing the game to help you win, you are not allowed to confidently play the game like that without God’s ring hand itching to smack you out of the skies like the Tower of Babel. Everyone noticed, and everyone was annoyed by his egotism and his hypercontrolling nature, especially Aubry, who just doesn’t like boys.
Aubry or Joe are in contention for two things- most silent Chan Loh member, or best Kaoh Rong twitter page. However, this episode, while Debbie largely kept things professional, Aubry flat out showed complete, impartial disdain for the asshattery spewing from especially Peter’s mouth. A profuse stream of eye-rolling, glaring, surprised utterances, and minimum tolerance erupted from her at every present point in the episode she spent within twenty feet of Peter, and had she had it her way she’d boot the bastard easy. Seeing as Liz already dismissed her as weak before having a similar breakdown and Peter was saying Peter things, Aubry was one half of the audience surrogate.
The other half would be Neal. The sense of Neal that I get is that he’s spent his life as a left-of-center type of CEO. The one who makes a good amount of money but is also kind of smugly self-aware and does his best to be above it all. Out here, that means we essentially have an entrepreneur on an adventure. Since this guy’s done activist stunts like hiking the highest mountain in Uganda to plant the world’s most take-that rainbow flag in existence, adventures don’t seem new to him, but he definitely seems the type to relish it. I think out here, he feels like a rougeish pirate from the back seas who gets himself in and out of trouble with a knowing smirk and an Alton Brown-esque flair for the dramatics. He gets to be us this episode, where it’s very clear Neal isn’t going home like Liz and Peter are, and we get to watch the plan against them light up in utter flames like a bottle of Kerosene. “They will be punished”, indeed, but we were rewarded.
Joe hasn’t gotten nearly as much airtime, but the episode opens up with him doing sit-ups on the raft in the ocean, as if his life is one long, quiet laugh at the idea that ew ew old means weak. Since he got zero airtime in resolving his beef with Liz, I know I’m eliminating him as a contender, but it is funny to see Peter go from “lol he’s old and useless” to “lol he works out too much” yet still feel like an undefeated genius. Still, for now, Joe is not the lead agent, rather the soldier to the crazy.
Admiral Debbie of the Seven Careers led the episode in every way. It’s kind of freaking unbelievable. This move against Liz and Peter was a very talented move, and it was dispersed with a lot of very talented gameplay. Her smoothly working Aubry over with the social game and “suggesting” Neal as an ally to earn her trust completely, her fluffing off Liz by playing demure as Liz doled out instructions, covertly keeping Joe in line and passing the message to Neal that he’s in trouble. Don’t let the craziness fool you- Debbie is strategically and even socially very adept and can control this game. Is she going to win? I’d say not likely, as she’s still got a lot of hugely annoying personality traits. Still, people say Jason can win because Tony won and Tony was crazy and negative. Yet, if it’s anyone who emulates Tony’s type of edit, it’s Debbie. I will go out on a limb and say she has a nonzero chance of winning Kaoh Rong. Chan Loh is a bit of a mess as a tribe, but as it stands I think all five leftover characters are stars and I hope they go on to prove their worth.
yeah, we know what all the rules are
A lot of people I know fast-forward through idol hunts, and I can’t say I blame them. I don’t think they’re always irredeemable. They can provide quirky character moments, unique frantic scenarios, or sneak in dynamic changes. Still, sometimes when you know what’s gonna happen, best to tune out. The To Tang idol hunt is a predetermined mess that ended with the worst-case scenario, and that made it hard to rewatch, especially considering it took up a whole segment of airtime commercial to commercial and felt like half the episode.
So what is there to say about this idol hunt? For one, it’s every bit as BS as I predicted. The strongest male got to it and gave it to the Probst dreamboat in Ink Master. If you could see Alecia climbing the tree to get it, or lifting a giant log to hit it, I don’t see color the same way as you do, but I hope you’re enjoying this purple tribe more than I am. Because of that, there was little hope that Alecia would get the idol especially since Alecia thinks she has Cydney and Cydney does not have Alecia back. Alecia was cornered and any hope she would get the idol was drowned out in a sea of smug Jason confessionals where he assured us he was one of the best bounty hunters in Southeast Michigan, which better include Detroit or that’s nothing impressive. Cydney watched the guys get the idol, which meant she escaped any of Jason’s ire, unlike a certain other blonde subhuman dodo.
Other things Jason has too much pride in.
Yeah, to get to the key, Jason shoved Alecia out of the way hard. What do I think of this? Well, from what it looked like it was a freak panic accident. I don’t think Jason would be actually violent with Alecia. Still, it’s a matter of dynamic. When I see NaOnka and Kelly Bruno scrap for an idol clue, I think if you’re thinking “poor legless woman being brutally attacked!”, then no. Kelly Bruno is a strong woman and was just as into that fight as NaOnka and likely could kick NaOnka’s ass hopping on one leg even if NaOnka threw the other into the fire. What makes that moment so icky, however, is that NaOnka then goes on three separate shalinguas about how Kelly Bruno is the worst because she only has one leg and ha ha she only has one leg I’ll throw it in the fire.
What I’m saying is, I think people being pissed off at Jason for shoving Alecia comes back to the attitude that Jason has towards her. To Jason, she’s too stupid and useless to deserve a name. He spends his time demeaning her, badgering her, making her do the bitch work, and laughing with Scot about feeding her his toe skin. I don’t think he intended to shove Alecia in that scenario and hurt her, but his attitude has made it clear to viewers that if he did shove her off the side of a mountain by accident he wouldn’t really have a problem. He’d probably be more careful around Scot or even Cydney, but since it’s Alecia, I think all Jason sees is the sandbag from Super Smash Brothers. Shove it around, move it out of the way, it’s not like it has a soul or deserves any respect.
Storm’s a Coming
I’ve been slowly getting more and more impressed with Cydney Gillon as the season goes by. Promises of multiple personalities aside, she’s the only one on Brawn that seems, like, human. Scot is one tone and one facial expression stacked on top of six feet. Jason is a caricature of himself that devolves into total assholery. Alecia I am starting to believe is actually the idiot savant I thought she was, and as much as I adore her it’s for her being everything people think Kat is but actually isn’t because Alecia isn’t cripplingly self-conscious and not hamming up for a returnee stint.
Cydney has expressed a lot of emotion, but all of it has been way more controlled than anyone else. She’s kept a level head enough to play both sides with one keenly unaware and one too aware to see any problem. She took a risk letting the guys take the idol, but if what Alecia said about Scot and Jason being targeted at swap or merge wasn’t true before, it is now, and since they survived one TC she doesn’t have to worry about being Matsinged out of the tribe while Scot and Jason remain. Come swap, I think Cydney easily has the most options and can reinvent her game the most ways, and props to her for setting it up. I’m starting to come around on her as the only sane woman. I think she’s very well spoken, chillaxed, and intelligent and it also comes with a good bit of personality. I wouldn’t mind seeing her win.
I hear if you unlock this idol, you get to go back to watching good Survivor!
This is just an aside, but as much as I loathe the very idea of a “power idol” that basically cancels a vote-out without an ounce of predictory effort (the compromise that allowed the normal idol to circulate for nearly a decade) I am starting to believe combining two idols to make it is essentially fool’s gold. Yul used his Super Idol to make it moot whether or not he got voted for in a 5-4 scenario (though props to him for swinging Penner and basically clouding the white alliance for the rest of the game). That’s the only time I think a super idol would ever be relevant, and that’s only if the holder is blindsided. Otherwise, it’d be smarter to use the two idols in two separate occasions. Conversely, the concept of the super idol is generally destroyed by the advent of the split vote. There was talk of a 2-2-2 split in Cagayan between Tony and Trish. Had Tony used his super idol there, the revote lands on Trish, not Tasha. Again, Tony had good enough alliance control to keep it from happening, but it wouldn’t have had much of an effect other than a free round for Tony to be outnumbered on. As such, having two idols and having the intuition to play them makes the Super Idol even more clearly a complete cop-out to make up for a screw-up.
I think we have a chance of seeing a super idol play, but if it’s played, I think it’ll be at the ass end of a split vote. I think that this will happen against Jason and Scot, seeing as they actually got airtime about wonder twins and yadda yadda yadda. They’ll save it for a Super Idol, be victims of a vote split, and Jason will have to cut Scot to literally not go home. At the very least, I hope the super idol is this bleeding useless so we never have to see it again. Seriously. Stop. It never works.
I’d just like to remind everyone how amazing it is that Nick is getting completely decimated by the edit. It’s nice to see Survivor outright say “no, being genuinely human and having emotional intelligence is a thing, you tryhard nimrod” after a season like Cambodia where EVOLUTION OF STRATEGY VOTING BLOCS CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE dominated the conversation like the group of useless buzzwords that they were. Nick is the only blight on the Gondol tribe, and Gondol knows it. The theme of the season seems to be emotional and physical perseverance. Nick is sorely lacking in emotional intelligence and might not be a tangible human being as much as a redditor with a greenscreen.
Too many times, Survivor sends messages, especially about strategy, that seems counterintuitive to what made earlier seasons so great- emotion will dictate things, you will show emotion with so much suffering out there, and if you’re smart you’ll factor that in. Instead, we mostly get “you have to do x or you don’t respect the game” and that just sucks the soul out of Survivor. Fitting that someone so robotic and unreal as Nick would make the editors reverse course and start repairing the heart of Survivor.
P.S. if Jason actually wins you can retract everything I said here and just add it to Cameron’s burning pile of bad predictions.
Gondola into Paradise
As I rewatched the last episode I realized something about Gondol that I don’t usually notice about tribes. Usually, I notice the inverse- I notice what a wreck Luzon is, how hapless Coyopa is, how much of an internalized disaster Escameca is. This time, I’ve noticed that Gondol is just a fantastic tribe in every way. The people are generally nice and the characters are mostly okay, though that’s not really what I mean. I mean, they are all playing Survivor in a very healthy and productive way and it’s making them a flawless tribe.
Socially, an alliance of three means TC pre-swap would always decide the majority and with Nick as a unanimously agreed upon target they’d have a peaceful one, but Nick still isn’t disconnected enough to fall away. In addition, the women are semi-covert enough that the men feel no need to jump ship and flip if given an opportunity. This is because socially they’ve all bonded very well, open, receptive, and connected to each other emotionally. Even as Tai lost trust by going idol hunting, the rest of the tribe is still very kind to him and makes him feel included even if you get the sense that he isn’t in the best spot. Not only that, but with Tai, their camp life has been insanely efficient and everyone’s willing to make sacrifices to keep the fire going. They also do great in challenges, encouraging each other and performing with a powerful focus that gets them ahead every time we don’t have challenge beast Aubry dominating the scene.
Of course, for many of these so-called “love tribes” like Galu and Rotu, their fate is decided by Tribal Council. Will they crumble at a swap or future TC? On their own, I’m surprisingly doubtful. They’ve got a plan, there’s no need to stray, or enough bad blood to really dictate anything wild. At a swap, of course it’s easily possible for them to be outnumbered and screwed from there. That’s not even factoring in the hand of God- medevacs could mess with the boot order on even the most beautiful days.
Still, I’m gonna say Gondol takes it home. I would wager they set a new record for least amount of people voted out of a tribe. I can see it happening- Tai in fourth, a F3 of the girls, and then a medevac or two. It’s an esoteric record only Survivor Wiki and I care about but I don’t doubt its being possible.
Nants Ingonyama Bagithi Baba
Alright, America, here you go. For once and for all, here’s how it’s spelled, here’s how it’s pronounced. You’ll never see the sunrise of 90s animated Africa the same way again. You’re welcome.
Even if he might be just a reluctant cog in the Gondol circle of life and death, Tai is clearly the star character. At this point, he’s racked up an astonishing seventeen confessionals in three episodes, and is the clear Gondol star if not the star of the season. He’s clearly a unique character in every regard- background, energy, narration style, and morals. The chicken scene itself, where he reluctantly and remorsefully helps kill a chicken despite being pro-animal rights in order to help the tribe get some extra protein, is a subversion of other animal lovers who try to impede, protest, or criticize the tribe for doing this. Tai doesn’t like it, and it makes him sad, but he knows he’s got a tribe to feed.
I mentioned this in the Autopsy, but rather peculiarly and progressively for his demographic, Tai has a character that primarily acts as a satellite to him- Caleb, of all people. Independently, Caleb doesn’t have much of his own content- though he has some decent emotional online confessionals that suggest maybe our big lug is growing. No, I don’t think with Caleb the morals of “has he changed enough to accept Tai” or “is this acceptance of Tai a subversion of what’s expected of Southern Alpha Males” are at play. It’s not about Caleb. Caleb is about Tai. He’s Tai’s friend. He understands Tai’s sensitivity towards nature even if he disagrees. He likes Tai despite initial surprise. We aren’t really supposed to see it past that, though for me it’s hard not to because if this is who Caleb becomes I’m actually happier with that than the Amber-stalking Arab-mocking fiasco known as Beast Mode Cowboy. I’d like to see Caleb leave this game more mature, but as it stands, he’s Tai’s sidekick, not the other way around.
Next Episode- Previews Run Rampant Here!
(I was going to grace you with a screenshot of Jason’s horrific, startling shoulder sunburns I saw in a screenshot for next episode but I will show mercy on you.)
Look, next episode is clearly going to be about medevacs. It’s almost impossible to see it any other way. The challenge is going to have like fifty people knocked out and I think at least one leaves. There have been clear shots of at least two people who get seen by medical being addressed, but as it stands, I don’t care about or really acknowledge those because they could easily be fakeouts or people sent into the game. I won’t even mention who they are.
I do have my medevac theories, however. There are two I’m working on. The first, to me, seems like a left-field addendum that adds onto everything else. I think with all the intensity and the multiple Probst panics and the influx of medical for multiple people, we may see the show’s first multi-medevac. Technically, I believe there have been other challenges that inspired multiple medevacs, mediquits, or medical related vote-outs (the chase challenge in Micronesia comes to mind for ruining Penner’s knee and making Chet injured enough to quit, and Schmergen Brawl is infamous for taking out James’ leg and Borassi’s blood pressure), but none where two people have to leave the beach immediately. This seems like the kind of humongous moment to build a season’s hype around, as Survivor has done. This challenge could probably take out two people easily.
As for who goes home here, I’m uncertain on one of them, so I’ll refrain to my pre-game predictions of a To Tang member- too stacked for the malnutrition and the heat, one of them could easily bite it. As for the other, I’ve got a much stronger prediction. Tai made many comments about the circle of life and how to best fall into the cycle. I think he’s going to experience loss bigger than one of his chickens- his best friend, Caleb. I saw a clip of Tai bawling like Baby Mario during the whole scene while being decidedly uninjured. Some have said Tai would cry no matter who got medevac’d, but clearly y’all weren’t startled by just how bitter and sorrowful that crying was. That’s the cry of someone who’s deathly worried about their closest friend out there who is almost certainly going to be removed from them. That’s why Caleb’s edit, despite being a BB contestant who fits Probst’s lovely lovey love demographic, is so Tai-centric: his medevac shakes Tai up and makes him play the game harder. Yeah, I am in fact saying this makes Caleb Reynolds the Kaoh Rong equivalent of Rachel Fougler, and I am content with that.
Either way, I get the sense that this medevac and challenge went desperately, direly away from what was planned. I think it’s gonna be a mess that production tries to fix, but really doesn’t need to. Raw drama is missing from Survivor oftentimes these days and now it’s time to see a little more of that. Kaoh Rong is already giving Survivor iconic moments related to the survival element- this will not only be intense, but blow Survivor as we know it out of the water and into the eyes of pop culture again, even if for a moment.
This episode seemed to happen in chunks. The beauty chunk, the brawn chunk, the challenge chunk, and two halves of one brain chunk. As such, the article this week wasn’t as character-focused or individual, but more around the tribes’ identity themselves. I said last week we had some momentum going, but nothing stops momentum like sand in your face from desperate helicopters (just ask the Heroes!).
See you in two days for what could be a literal autopsy.
P.S. This is about two-thousand words shorter than usual. I promise you no such mercy again.
P.P.S. lol Peter