by Jeremy Fogelman
As we recount the tied votes and consider surprise votes, we ask the question: Why did Danny get voted out?
If we start to look back from where things went, we can see the strategy among the Erika/Heather/Ricard/Xander majority alliance fairly simply. They split the votes between Deshawn and Danny in case either has an idol, concerned about threats from either one. Danny was an immunity threat having actually won one while Deshawn was otherwise a strategic and lesser physical threat, having done decently at the most recent reward challenge.
But Danny actually going out and looking for an idol ironically put more of a target on him, because it demonstrates that he’s thinking about his game. Although Deshawn has become a new fun presence the last few episodes, and this episode continues that trend with Deshawn insisting that he doesn’t need food but needles Jeff Probst for his letters from home (we know that loved ones can’t be there this season dude to COVID restrictions).
I’m still pondering a bit on that vote -- but perhaps part of it was Deshawn and his “truth kamikaze” problem, although it didn’t get him the vote out. Of course, naturally Ricard was the main target first, but after he won his third immunity idol, that wasn’t an option. But when we think about the final people, who has a chance to win?
Going alphabetically, Deshawn has played a complicated game, playing both well and poorly at times, but I think people mostly respect him -- hard to know if Shan has forgiven him though. I think he has a decent chance to win against most people. Erika has played another mixed game, but I feel that she might be respected even less than Deshawn as a good player -- but maybe she could win in a final three with Xander and Heather.
Speaking of whom, Heather cannot win, she is the goat brought to the end, apologies to who seems like a nice person (her conversation with Deshawn this episode certainly seemed thoughtful). Ricard is considered such a threat to win that that concept has dominated most conversations we see -- it’s hard to see anyone beating him. Finally, Xander still has an idol and has certainly done strategic movies, but he’s never really led anything significant nor is he particularly respected by the other players -- I think he doesn’t have a great chance.
If it does come down to Erika/Heather/Xander, what I’d like to see is Erika being a way to justify a win past “I got out the bigger threats”, although I loved her little “I want to see woman win, ideally me” comment. I suppose I also feel a little bad for Heather who isn’t really an interesting character or a good player, or usually you get at least one of those by the final five. Especially because otherwise this is just a great, entertaining, supremely messy cast that has been engaging the entire season.
Of course, there’s still more twists to come this season so I’m hoping nothing goes too wrong with that, but it’s shaping up to be quite the delightful season, isn’t it? And despite the pain at losing Danny, it was still an entertaining and meaningful episode.
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