A painful episode to watch unless you are a big fan of infections, Wednesday night’s installment of “Survivor: Kaoh Rong” might just get under your skin if you let it. But let’s lance this thing together, maybe keep an eye on it for a while, and don’t allow it to take us all out of the game just yet. There no doubt it’s irritating though.
Don’t read this if you haven’t yet seen the most recent episode, as spoilers are to follow. Get caught up on Episode 7 here.
Damn medical-evacuations suck, but none more than ones that happen at extremely crucial points in the game, to extremely likable players. Neal was an eccentric yet smart player who definitely had what it took to make a deep run in the game. His exit right at this stage – immediately following the merge – is frustrating on many different levels, especially because it looked like we were gearing up for a great Tribal Council. Would Neal have played his Idol on Aubry, or would they have even been smart enough to sniff out the fact that Aubry was the target? Could the Brains have survived Tribal in any scenario? Let’s take a look.
With Nick and Michele ultimately choosing to go with the Brawns, Neal, Aubry, Deb and Joe would have found themselves in the minority, with seven voting members on the other side. With seven, it would have been very risky to split votes 4-3, because if an Idol was played on the person with four votes they would now be safe and the next highest vote-getter would have gone home…that would have been whomever Neal, Aubry, Deb and Joe would have voted for. In any scenario (based on what we saw strategy-wise), Neal’s Idol could have saved his side and could have potentially blindsided an unsuspecting member of the majority alliance. That’s all fine and dandy, but they still would have been heading into next week down in numbers, 4-6.
But the scenarios are endless, and there is no getting around the fact that medical-evacuations are never good for the game or the show in general. It’s great that Neal has made the jury and can vote on a winner, but I hate when anything but strategy dictates the flow of a season. Neal could have misplayed the Idol and found himself going home even anyways. Or perhaps he would have decided to cut ties with Aubry, and keep the Idol to himself to use in a future week. Who knows. We’ll never know. But what we know now is that the Brawn and Beauty coalition (bigger than an alliance) is the winner in Neal’s exit.
Nick and Michele seem like the real winners this episode in fact. Nick was finally shown as a strategic player capable of subtlety, instead of just bullying Michele to do his bidding. There is a path to the end for Nick and Michele if they can maneuver things properly, although they are increasingly going to face tough odds if Tai, Scot, Cydney and Jason stay together with their “Super Idol” looming. Cydney – if next week’s preview is any indication – may be smart to jump ship soon and get some kind of blindside going, because it is looking like she is definitely on the outside of the Jason and Scot power-bro-mance.
Getting back to Neal, how crappy is it that he didn’t hand his Idol off to Aubry? That’s a total dick-move, right? Hopefully my interview with Neal will shed some light as to why that didn’t happen.
Some other thoughts on the newly merged tribe: The longer Deb stays in the game, the more she becomes the person you want to sit next to at the end. Joe too. While both may be easy-pickings right now for the majority alliance, the savviest players will consider this. Aubry is simply a sitting duck at this point. Tai is quickly getting lost in the mix, right where he would want to be. Consider the fact that if Tai makes it to the end sitting next to two guys – Jason and Scot – considered bullies by most, he is an absolute shoe-in to win the money. It’ll be interesting if Jason and Scot see him as a threat the further he gets in the game, but breaking up the chances of playing that Super Idol all but cements Tai to the two Brawns.
All of this is great to theorize about, but don’t be surprised if we haven’t seen our last medical-evacuation of the season. And who know how it will end up ruining the game’s momentum. It’s a major bummer, but these evacuations are a reality when it comes to our favorite Reality Competition Show.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for my exclusive one-on-one interviews with Neal, and be sure to follow me,@tomsantilli.
Very Important Note For Next Week! In 13 seasons of professionally covering Survivor, I have not missed a live episode…until now. Next week (the 4/6 episode, Episode 8), I will be gone celebrating my wedding anniversary with my beautiful wife, and because of this, there will be a few changes. First, there will STILL be an Episode Preview article that will appear on Wednesday morning, but next week there will NOT be an Episode Recap Wednesday night. When I return (by Monday, April 11th), I will post an Analysis article on Episode 8. Also, due to this leave, my Exit Interview with the voted-out cast-away will NOT take place on Thursday like usual…CBS however, has been kind enough to reschedule an interview with me for the following week, so I will post it by the following Monday or Tuesday.
So to recap: Next week there will be a Preview article as normal on Wednesday morning, but no Episode Recap article Wednesday night. And then there will still be an Episode Analysis article and an exclusive Exit Interview, but instead of these posting on Thursday per norm, you will have to wait until the following Monday or Tuesday. Everything will return to normal for the 4/13 episode, Episode 9. Got it? Good!
Be sure to subscribe to this column (above) or follow me on Twitter, @tomsantilli. Following me on Twitter or subscribing (where you would get email alerts every time a new article posts) are the best ways to stay tuned-in with all things Survivor as we progress through the season…and thanks for reading!
Also, be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.