Survivor shows us an unlikely victory and an inevitable fall.
by Jeremy Fogelman
The latest episode of Survivor is called “Get That Money, Baby” after Jesse’s quote from the letter from his kid -- he repeats it twice at the tribal council to explain his vote, which ought to have been a warning sign. The final voting total had Noelle voting for Sami while Sami and Owen voted for Karla -- the rest (Cassidy, Gabler, Karla, Jesse, Cody) targeted Noelle, leaving both Sami and Owen in the dark.
This is a first for Sami, who has always been on the right side of the votes until now -- and sadly a typical situation for Owen. Both were mentioned as potential targets this episode too -- obviously Noelle voted for Sami but it was noted by Gabler too that Sami is a flipper. Cassidy brings up Owen as a potential target, and Gabler notes that by voting against Noelle he’d be burning those two. It’s not particularly looking great for either of those now, but Sami has certainly proved himself capable before.
Noelle showed herself as an absolutely inspirational challenge warrior with her astounding come-from-behind reward challenge win -- and it’s not even the first time she’s been impressive this season. But as Jesse notes, she’s also been pretty good socially, able to survive many dire situations so far. With her idea last episode to trick James, she’s pretty good strategically too -- but she got voted out mainly because someone really wanted her out and was smart enough to pull it off.
The episode got pretty cute by following along with Jesse’s blindside checklist, which was a fairly well thought three point plan of (1) Have a Cover Story, (2) Throw the Fall Guy Under the Bus -- Sami, (3) Have a Backup Plan -- Gabler. Sami being the fall guy made him a target from Noelle and she identified Owen as too close an ally to him to bother with her blindside plan against Sami.
It’s interesting how Jesse was able to identify how he was emotionally biased by Noelle giving him the letters from home, he’s certainly a capable player -- but did he accidentally misread things with Gabler? Gabler very savvily realizes that Jesse is highly strategic, and with a classic ironic juxtaposition after Cody and Jesse cheer their steering the ship, tells Karla that something needs to be done about that dangerous duo.
It was a good potential misdirect that maybe they’d suddenly blindside Jesse or Cody, but instead I suppose they’re waiting for later. You could see on Karla’s face that perhaps she was deciding in the last minute whether or not to play her idol -- she correctly saves it for later, but the episode did a good enough job at the misdirects that it wasn’t 100% clear on what exactly what was going to happen in the final moments.
I’m a little bummed to see Noelle voted out, but then again, there’s a lot of great players left I’d feel bad about too -- this episode was actually pretty fun and had some interesting editing choices. The show has been playing with the text on screen stuff a bit more, which I approve of -- you need to keep things interesting or the show gets stale.
It’s a lot of big personalities left and still some game left to play -- we’ve got that emotional part done so everyone is more likely than ever to start betraying each other.
Next time on Survivor, Gabler is hiding in plain sight, there’s mail, and a race to win.