Survivor delivers a straightforward vote-out in a season that’s becoming less interesting.
by Jeremy Fogelman
Normally I really get into the entire strategic nonsense of Survivor and the possible reasons why people get voted out. Unfortunately we’ve reached a weird sort of stasis point in this season where the big moves are too dangerous and the most savvy players seem to be still playing it safe. Which means that the easy votes are the normal votes after the merge -- Elie, Dwight, and now Jeanine, all the people with the fewest allies.
Jeanine really only had one theoretical ally in Noelle and even more theoretical in Owen as the potential other low on the totem pole players, but both voted against Jeanine in a 9-2 landslide vote out. The only other one that voted with her to vote against Ryan was Cassidy, and I suppose she did that maybe because like she said to Karla, she was sick of all the women being voted out?
I’m not sure, but at this point the numbers are pretty skewed with only three women left and seven guys in the game. But not all positions are equal, and some perspectives I still don’t entirely understand because the show isn’t really showing us everything that would be helpful. James is oddly against Owen this episode for the reason that he doesn’t trust him -- but is that really the only reason?
If there’s something specific that happened, we don’t know about it, and if there isn’t, it feels like James is being unreasonable. I didn’t really hear anyone else specifically target Owen, but he did say later when approached by Sami that he was thankful he was still in the game. So perhaps there’s more that we haven’t seen, which is another ding against the editing of the season.
Ryan was the potential other target mentioned, as he was a strong dude who wasn’t really involved much in strategizing -- more of the classic old school immunity threat that has been more deprioritized over time in favor of strategic threats. Thus why most winners of late have been of the “middle” threat variety, either intentionally or unintentionally not appearing that dangerous. It’s a very difficult line to balance on, but a lot of the current players are basically trying to do just that.
Like the immunity challenge “give up immunity for rice” play -- Cassidy, Sami, James, Karla, and Jesse all volunteer to sit out, which either means they feel comfortable or want everyone else to think they feel comfortable. It’s another balancing act thing, because being too arrogant runs the risk of becoming a visible target, but being noticed as a hard player is also dangerous.
That sort of post-modern high level strategy is an interesting part of modern Survivor, but the problem is that the season hasn’t really been showing us the thought processes behind all potential vote outs. The last episode with Dwight’s vote out felt more logical, and it did lead to a fun moment this time where Jesse revealed he actually had it. One of the few memorable moments of an otherwise fairly forgettable episode.
I still think many people in the cast are interesting to watch, but there’s a lot of uninteresting stuff we’ve been shown so it’s made it difficult to really care about each vote off other than feeling bad about poor Jeanine and her inevitable fall. Skip these boring “final seven” bits and bring on the “turn on each other already” part of the season.
Next time on Survivor, James isn’t the godfather and there are two immunity necklaces.