Survivor Survival Guide: Knights of the Round Table

“It’s been established that they can beat us in puzzles.”

“Or pretty much anything but sumo wrestling.”

–Tom and JT

At the start of last night’s episode, JT apologized to James, Amanda, and Rupert for turning on them last week and blindsiding Cirie. He swore over and over to Amanda that he wouldn’t do that again—that she could trust him the rest of the way.

I thought it was a bit superfluous on JT’s part: He had allied himself with Tom and Colby by voting out Cirie, and now all he had to do was sway fickle Candice to get the proper numbers until the merge. After a while, I figured this was just creative editing by the CBS crew; it wasn’t showing JT explaining that he was doing this to smooth things over until the next vote. JT, after all, has been “The King” in my two Heroes’ aristocracies, and he’s too smart to choose James, Amanda, and Rupert over the trustworthy Tom and Colby, right?

Evidently, JT isn’t who I thought he was.

After all of last week’s strategic intrigue, it was a bit of a snorer for Survivor last night and another disastrous episode for the Heroes, who lost the Reward Challenge, Immunity Challenge, and two of their strongest players. The Reward was a weird combination of rugby and basketball, where players in a pit battled for three rugby-shaped balls, tossed them up to other players on a platform, who then had to throw the ball into a hoop on the other side of the pit. The Villains came from behind to win 2-1 and a feast of chocolate at a local watering hole, but the bigger story was James’ early knee injury. Much like Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku earlier in the afternoon, James injured his knee on a seemingly innocuous play; it didn’t look like he even landed awkwardly. After a lengthy meeting with medical—who once again has been busy this season*—James was able to stay in the game—albeit with a heavily bandaged left knee that left him barely able to walk: “My niece could beat you in a race today,” Jeff told James at Tribal, only for James to stare back at him coldly and respond, “No she couldn’t” as if it were a serious challenge.

*How hard is it for Survivor to design challenges that are competitive but don’t injure its players? Why don’t they just have a wiffle ball game or something one week?

The Immunity Challenge put together two common themes to this season’s challenges: blindfolds and puzzles. This time, each tribe had one guide who directed his blindfolded teammates to locate 10 large puzzle pieces before they all worked together (and without their blindfolds) to compile the puzzle. With James in the uncharacteristic role of guide, the Heroes had the lead heading into the puzzle. But once again, the Villains caught and passed them, cementing themselves as masters of the puzzle (the great equalizer).

Back on the beach, it all came down to whether JT would side with his first alliance (James, Amanda, and Rupert*) or his new one (Tom and Colby).* I was surprised it was even a tough decision for JT, who told one side he’d vote Tom off and the other he’d take out James. Like I said last week, an alliance of JT, Tom, and Colby (with Candice tagging along) would be very strong; they’re all physical players that played smart social games. Furthermore, Tom and Colby aren’t exactly snakes, and I can’t imagine a reason for them to turn on JT. They’re indebted to him.

*Henceforth known as the JAR Alliance.

**Candice was just gonna do whatever JT decided; she can totally get to the final three this way.

On the other hand, the JAR is loosely joined, antagonistic, physically lacking (especially considering James’ condition), and already have a reason to turn on JT (his betrayal last week). JT’s main concerns with allying with Tom and Colby may have been that he was third in their pecking order if they made it to the finals and that it would be harder for him to win immunity if they were the final three. But with the JAR Alliance, he’s fourth. If that’s the final four, there’s no doubt JT is the first one to go.

In the end, however, JT decided to flip-flop back to his earlier alliance and vote Tom off, further weakening the Heroes. The only way I can see this working out for him and the JAR Alliance in the long run is if they’re able to hook up with Parvati, Russell, and whoever they bring along post-merge (Coach and Jerri likely), but that’s assuming they A) make it to the merge; and B) want to merge alliances.



FIRST ESTATE: James, Amanda, and Rupert

THE KING: There is no King!

I’m really perplexed by JT’s decision, mainly because he forfeited so much of his power in moving from the guy who saved one alliance to the guy who almost wrecked the one he’s with now. He just made it a lot harder for himself to win the game, although in Candice, he has someone he can carry along for a long way without being threatened by her either in a physical challenge or in the final tribal council. Colby has almost no chance of surviving the Heroes’ next trip to tribal.

I’m also sad to see Tom go. I watched his first season on the show, and he was one of the first competitors to absolutely dominate the game. He fought against the idea that the strong had to be voted off early, and then showed exactly why the strong had to be voted off early by winning pretty much every challenge. I can’t remember a single player being more successful in challenges. He then exploited Ian’s misplaced loyalty en route to winning the million in a landslide. I don’t know how others feel about him, but I always liked Tom.

One response to this post.

  1. […] later, I was bewildered when JT went back on what he did a week earlier and voted off Tom. See, look what I wrote then: “I’m really perplexed by JT’s decision, mainly because he forfeited so much of his power in […]


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