Survivor delivers another very special episode that is already generating controversy.
by Jeremy Fogelman
The most recent episode of Survivor presented a case of unusual strategy because it was split into two tribal councils, the result of one directly influencing the second one. The show has done this sort of “two random tribes” thing before, and it’s usually a good idea. Everything started with a classic “never plan excessively” situation where Rocksroy decided that it was time for an all male alliance.
This was certainly a classic misread, as perhaps only Jonathan and Mike might have remotely been okay with that idea. Omar had allies other than the dudes, as did Hai, who besides wasn’t interested in what he called the “misogyny alliance”. And the Survivor gods of chance delighted in this, having the new mini-tribes set as all the dudes on one side except for Jonathan, who joined the ladies on the other -- meaning that the odds were suddenly in that team’s favor.
Initially Romeo would seem the obvious target, but Rocks’ male alliance business presented a situation where Hai was concerned about him -- it’s a legitimate concern removed from any racial in/out biases. Hai’s closest ally was Mike, so the two were a critical voting bloc -- and Omar was also more connected to either than he was to Rocks or Romeo. So it was in many ways a bit of a tossup, but until the second council, I didn’t really note the pattern -- Chanelle really did make a lot of mistakes after all.
But for the second mini-tribe, our main storyline was Jonathan’s really precipitous fall from grace. The dude salivated over the idea of a big move by targeting Drea and flushing her idol -- again biases aside, she does have the majority of the advantages and is clearly more socially and strategically aware than Tori or Maryanne. But Lindsay easily poked holes in Jonathan’s master plan, which was pretty amusing to watch, and she had a more interesting idea -- split between Tori and Drea in case the latter plays her idol.
And here again Jonathan made a serious error, arguing and telling Lindsay she wasn’t listening and she actually apologized to him. We see that mirrored again in the tribal council when Jonathan accuses Drea of being aggressive and is mainly concerned with not being seen as racist -- in contrast, the more socially aware Lindsay is more verbally an ally and defends Drea in that interaction.
Once the pattern of black players voted out is pointed out by Drea, it’s hard not to see it -- even if some of these things are incidental or coincidental, the players cannot avoid having their biases despite their best efforts at it. It was a pretty fraught council, with Drea and Maryanne doing their best to explain many of the subtleties of the nature of the game, including the reaction from the audience at home.
So both Drea and Maryanne ended up playing their idols while Jonathan had his immunity, thus it went pretty obviously to Tori, who was already the least trusted person in that group (and perhaps the tribe). Meaning we lose both a man and a woman this episode, keeping the relative weights between men and women about the same.
But the really interesting thing is that each tribal council was for each mini-tribe, so they didn’t see the other one -- makes you wonder how the information will really disseminate between them. Drea certainly made herself two likely votes on the jury with Chanelle and Rocks, who visibly showed approval at her actions -- and since she has more influence and social game, theoretically, she’s more likely to get those votes than Maryanne.
Lindsay acquitted herself well despite Jonathan probably losing the game for himself, while on the other tribe, only Romeo still seems unlikely to go far. Mike, Hai, and Omar all have decent enough skills in the game -- when Hai and Mike debated voting out Rocks versus Romeo, they both had pretty good points. Sometimes that’s a rarity in this game.
Anyway, don’t read the comments.
Next time on Survivor, names are being brought up all over the place.