Survivor Survival Guide: “Worst Case Scenario”

“Don’t ever fluff on a Southern woman. I ain’t no sittin’ duck, honey.”

–Jane (bless her soul)

Man, where to begin?

The twin tribal council episode is another Survivor contrivance, but one I’ve grown to accept more so than the tribe switcheroo. Within a season, it’s a change-of-pace runner: the Dave Meggett to the rest of the season’s Rodney Hampton. Things move more quickly — the Immunity Challenge begins at about 8:10 — and the majority of the episode is spent in the taut setting of Tribal Council.

Before we get there, we had a long “Previously on…” segment that established Marty and Yve on the outsides of their tribes. This was not too surprising; last week I predicted Yve would be the next to go from Espada precisely because Dan had changed his vote while she had not.

Dan threw a wrench into that thought early, by telling Holly he was thinking of quitting. Now, I understand Survivor is hard, and I also understand that Survivor is still harder than I think it is. But I’m getting pretty sick of people considering quitting. This didn’t use to happen, right? I mean, I know people do occasionally quit. But this is the third time in six episodes we’ve had a “___ might want to quit” storyline. That’s too much.

Over at La Flor, Brenda outlined her plan to flush out Marty’s idol with the help of Jane. Jane’s vote gave Brenda six votes to work with against two, meaning her alliance could split three and three for Marty and Jill while not risking any of their own.

The Immunity Challenge involved digging with a paddle for small rope circles, tossing them into a bucket on your back, and then hanging them on a pole. First to three would win individual immunity, represented by some pretty sweet immunity necklaces. It didn’t look too difficult, which is kind of a theme when it comes to twin tribal episodes: The Immunity is always forgettable and unclimactic. Holly and Jill won in forgettable and unclimactic fashion, setting up a final duel for the reward, which was to “feast” on chicken and beef kabobs during the other tribe’s Tribal Council. Jill won, forgettably and unclimactically.*

*The only thing that interested me about this whole challenge was the draw for spots. Probst always talks about drawing for spots, but they never actually show this draw. Apparently, there was a Rock-Paper-Scissors contest to see which tribe went first in the challenge, which begs a lot of questions. Who played? Was it a series? What did they go with? They don’t even show this in the bonus content online.

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This, of course, was the “worst case scenario” for Brenda and her alliance; now there was no clear second person to split their votes between with Marty. Brenda and Sash decide to go with Kelly B., because of the tremendous threat her artificial leg poses down the line.* Marty, meanwhile, tries to work over JudFabio, telling him he’s a grandmaster in chess who twice beat Argentine grandmaster Guillermo Vilas as an eight-year-old. Now, this fib wasn’t exactly believable. I could buy that Marty would be a good chess player, but an eight-year-old who beat another grandmaster, and twice? Come on. But, I did appreciate how he named the hypothetical Argentine grandmaster after Argentine tennis star Guillermo Vilas, just to toy with the youth of JudFabio. JF did fall for it — “It does make sense, man” — but whatever plan the two of them hatched or started hatching didn’t come to fruition in this episode. Sash told Marty that they were all voting Jane off, which seemed plausible enough to him, since he didn’t know the extent of Jane’s assimilation into La Flor (then, or at any point in the episode).

*I think KB’s artificial leg has made her one of the most unlikable castaways of all-time in the eyes of her peers.

Back at Espada, the decision was between Yve and Dan — the two remaining members of the old Espada who hadn’t shifted over to “the kids” as Holly did.* Dan was still a physical liability — if not a pronounced one this week, since it was an individual challenge — while Yve posed more of a long-term threat. She displayed, at the very minimum, a desire to think strategically — something Dan had not. Furthermore, she had good relationships with Marty and Jill, making her a problematic person to take to the merge, as much as Yve tried to sell this as a reason for keeping her.

*Holly, the first person to play the “Maybe I should quit” game, is emerging as a leader in this tribe. This is nothing short of a stunning turn of events. I would say that the two castaways who have most benefitted from the tribe shakeup are Holly and Alina.

La Flor’s Tribal went first, and it was definitely the more intriguing. Probst started the line of questioning on the topic of trust, which, if there were a Wordle made of everything ever said at Tribal Council, would probably be the biggest word.* After some perfunctory comments, which included Jane saying she has a bit to be worried about because she may not be thought of as the strongest player, Brenda made a bold move by telling her that she only had to worry about being voted off by Marty and Jill. Marty denied it, saying he never brought up the idea of voting for Jane, at the same time implying that he did sign off on it. After this all went down, Marty admitted to Probst that he was less comfortable than when he got to Tribal, and just before the vote, he turned to Jane and mouthed “Vote Brenda,” which always struck me as crass and unsporting.

*Other contenders: game, vote, tribe, and immunity.**

**Upon consideration, I’d place “trust” behind all four of those. But still…

The vote went down, and Marty surprisingly decided NOT to play his hidden immunity idol. That appeared to be a major mistake when the first three votes read Marty. The next four were split between Brenda and Kelly B., before the final vote went to KB, setting up a tie. On the revote, La Flor unexpectedly voted out Kelly B. instead of Marty, who breathed a giant sigh of relief.

It’s a day after I’ve watched this, and I’m still trying to figure out the various thought processes. Let’s go with Marty’s first. So there was this moment before the last vote was revealed, where Marty looked in Jane’s direction and seemed to think, for a second, that Jane’s vote for Brenda was the last one to be revealed. I figured Marty had overrated Jane’s allegiance, never realizing that she wasn’t with him. But if this were the case, why wouldn’t Marty play his immunity idol? If he thought he had the third vote to take Brenda down, the only thing that could stop him is not playing the idol. And then it dawned on me: Marty never thought he was in trouble. He thought everything Brenda and Co. did was a bluff to flush the idol without ever voting for him. He didn’t consider that they’d split the vote. The first of these was fairly astute: Brenda’s calling him out at Tribal reeked of “Make sure he feels on notice and thus plays the idol.”* The second of these was ignorant. I think that Marty assumed La Flor was, in fact, voting for Jane as they had told him. The look to Jane was less a “I think we’ve got her” than a “You got me,” and Marty’s relief at not being voted out was 100 percent genuine.

*The fact that they still voted for him made this an even more astute ploy by Brenda, up to a point, which we’ll discuss later.

The bigger dilemma emerging from this is the following: Why did La Flor vote Kelly B. off instead of Marty once it was tied? Brenda had discussed the possibility of this tie earlier, weighing keeping an enemy in Marty or keeping a betrayed ally in Kelly B. The choice didn’t seem that difficult: Marty is already a bigger enemy than Kelly B. will become if you split votes with her, Marty already has a key ally in Jill, and most importantly, in this scenario, Marty still has a hidden immunity idol! How this is even a tough decision is beyond me. The entire “flushing the idol” strategy, which it turns out was executed to near perfection despite the “worst case scenario,” is all for naught because they were afraid of Kelly B.’s artificial leg.*

*Talk about a phantom threat! I’ll be here all week.

This makes things very interesting moving forward. The same dynamic lingers, except now Brenda and Co.’s voting bloc has been reduced from six to five. They can still split votes next episode (three for Marty and two for Jill, with two coming for one of them) and take one of them out regardless, but to leave Marty around for another few days seems unwise.

After that, the Espada vote was forgettable and unclimactic. Yve went after Dan, pointing out the obvious — that he was weak and that he didn’t want to be there anymore — while Dan rebutted by calling Yve arrogant, which reminded me of this. Yve rightfully came back at Dan, who did earlier in the episode say, “I don’t need the money. I’ve got a Range Rover. I’ve got a Ferrari. Why am I doing this?”* In the end, it didn’t much matter, with Yve being voted out six to one.

*This appears to be an all-too-legitimate question: Why is Dan here? What about him could have possibly stood out in the contestant pool? He may be the castaway who brings the least to the table in the history of the show.

I, of course, am upset that Yve was voted off, even more so after hearing her the day after. I mean, she didn’t mind being there! She’s one of the rare people who was legitimately upset that she wasn’t on the island anymore, and that, combined with her fandom for the show, makes it tougher to see her go.

The La Flor Aristocracy — or, the La Floristocracy:


SECOND ESTATE: Purple Kelly, JudFabio



Marty and Jill are still at the bottom, because they need to swing someone else to their side — JudFabio? — to change the numbers. Brenda appears to be running the game with Sash as her No. 2 (her Cardinal Richelieu!), meaning that while she’s the state, Sash would be my choice from this group to actually win the game at this point (ugh…I don’t get good vibes from him). I could see those two carrying Jane for a while since she doesn’t pose a physical threat, up until the point possible juror sympathy becomes an issue. JudFabio can be a swing vote, as can Purple Kelly, who has made it through six episodes without saying a single thing on air (by my memory).

Nothing much changed at Espada, where Dan is still at the bottom of a seemingly egalitarian alliance. My guess is that changes soon.

One response to this post.

  1. […] and Marty had their moments—such as the back-and-forth about Jane at Tribal a few episodes back—but it never boiled down to a me-against-you tête-à-tête the way it had between Boston Rob and […]


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