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Exile Files is a weekly look at the political intrigue and alliance related trends occurring on the Panamanian beaches and on Exile Island. Who is wheeling? Who is dealing? And of course, who is reeling? This article is a purely subjective analysis, and we cannot be held accountable for your rankings in your office Survivor pool.

Where We Left Off…
After last week’s tribal council, a shocked Ruth Marie was ousted from La Mina. She was shocked, you see, because she was promised to be the fifth person in the 4 man + 1 alliance. Her boot gives that spot to Sally, who believes this is some sort of achievement. Uh, not when your tribe keeps losing the way it’s been. A five person alliance is only good if there are more than six people in your tribe, and right now, that’s not the case.

Status Report: La Mina
La Mina continued their losing way with yet another loss at the reward challenge. It was close, but not when you consider that La Mina had a large lead that evaporated thanks to Dan’s crappy tosses and Sally’s failure to catch a slippery fish. Casaya chose to send Terry to Exile Island, once again, as they correctly pegged him as the glue that holds La Mina together.

Essentially, La Mina is a tribe of 4 men with a strong alliance and one woman that they may or may not use as a pawn. But how strong of alliance do they have? Austin, Terry and Nick turned on Ruth Marie pretty quickly, believing Sally is a bigger asset to the tribe. Despite his efforts, no one much listened to Dan or saw his side of the situation. From what we’ve seen so far, Dan isn’t exactly a powerhouse in the competitions and doesn’t seem especially close to anyone other than Terry. If Terry keeps spending time on Exile Island, it wouldn’t take much for Sally to convince Austin and Nick that she is a bigger asset than Dan.

Status Report: Casaya
Shane, of all people, gave a bang-on description at tribal council when he called Casaya the dysfunctional functional tribe. Despite the seemingly excessive number of Type A personalities, this tribe does seem to work well together. Yes, they sulk, fight and bicker about thinking stumps, but they manage to whether the storms and come across as a cohesive unit; at least when it comes to the challenges. After all, La Mina seems to think that Bruce is running the show. Even their loss at the immunity challenge was a close one, as they made a last minute surge and almost pulled out another win.

The core alliance of Aras, Shane, Danielle & Courtney seems to have quietly added one more person; Cirie. Before tribal council, Cirie, supposedly next on the chopping block after Melinda, was included in discussion of how the tribe would vote that night. After initial disagreement about who should get the boot; Shane wanted Bobby gone, while Aras thought Bruce was the best choice, Shane deferred to Aras. Later, the girls, led by Danielle, got together and rallied Shane to go with his initial instinct and vote out Bobby. The look Danielle & Courtney exchanged when they realized yet another woman had been voted out on La Mina might have been the catalyst, but something woke the women of Casaya and they are not a group that are willing to go without a fight.

Where Do They Stand? La Mina
La Mina has to start winning some challenges; otherwise, all this talk about the fifth person in their alliance is useless. While we didn’t see much from Terry this episode, clearly he remains in charge and calling the shots. We have no idea if this concerns the other men in the tribe, but they seem to be more than content to follow Terry, even to their own execution.

The Players
Austin – Austin had a rough week with the beans, but the immunity win gave the tribe a few more days to recover and regroup. Austin has a close relationship with Nick and enough influence with Terry to change his mind. In addition, he has developed a relatively close friendship with Sally, who would likely vote anyway he wanted her to, now or after the merge. Not a bad spot to be in.

Dan – Of the remainder of the tribe, Dan seems the most content to follow Terry and be his right hand man. While Dan was openly upset with the decision to vote out Ruth Marie instead of Sally, he didn’t hold the sway with Terry he perhaps thought he did. Austin, Nick and Terry easily outperform him in the challenges and they have barely won any at this point. Sally might get voted out before him, but chances are, he’s the next on the list.

Nick – Like Austin, Nick also had a tough week. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but that can be a good thing and work in his favour. He apparently works hard, does well in the challenges, has a close friend in Austin and is firmly entrenched in the boys alliance. He’s pretty stable, at this point.

Sally – As the only tribe member without a penis, she’s at a disadvantage. Terry isn’t likely to change his mind, so her best course of action is to rally Austin and Nick to vote with her and against their alliance. Since that doesn’t seem all that probable, a surprise tribal switch would be her best chance of staying any longer.

Terry – He’s the leader of the tribe and he has the hidden immunity idol. I think he might be in good shape.

La Mina Power Ranking:
1. Terry
2. Austin
3. Nick
4. Dan
5. Sally

Where Do They Stand? Casaya
Casaya is one hot mess. Half the tribe hates each other and even the ones that have a shared interest in spirituality; Bruce, Courtney & Aras, are at each other’s throats. The tribe breeds drama, but yet, they manage to work together when they need to. I challenge anyone to say this isn’t one of the most entertaining tribes in years. You may hate the vast majority of them, but they certainly are unpredictable. I can’t remember the last tribal council when four names were read.

The biggest development with this tribe was the decision by the women to take power into their own hands and vote out Bobby. They cut Aras out of their plan, thereby sending a clear message that they don’t need him and he isn’t the leader that he seems to think he is. Shane’s vote for Aras, despite his claims that it was just a throwaway vote, was also a strong signal to Aras. Yes, Bruce lucked out, but his consideration for others might have scored him points with the women when it mattered.

The Players
Aras – Aras is in a peculiar position because he’s lost quite a bit of power, but seems to remain safe; at least for now. His tribe betrayed him, but yet, they didn’t vote against him (minus Shane, of course). Aras will do one of two things; he’ll go back to camp and create a scene demanding to know who voted for him and be outraged that they’d betray him, or he’ll quietly ask what happened, why he wasn’t included and be as cooperative as ever with the rest of the tribe. If he’s smart, he’ll do the latter.

Bruce – Bruce didn’t do himself any favours when he huddled with Bobby in the outhouse and drank the last bottle of wine. He’s still very much an outsider, but the tribe seems to agree that they can trust him down the road. He’s shown that he handle conflict reasonably, as he did with Aras, but clearly there is still an alliance on Casaya and he’s not part of it.

Cirie – Head down, mouth shut. Cirie has weathered her first tough storm on Casaya, but surviving two tribal councils when she was clearly next to go. Danielle & Courtney seem to be aware that women are disappearing and Cirie is more of an asset to them than a liability. Cirie was the third vote that made all the difference in this tribal council and that should speak volumes about her place in the game right now.

Courtney – It’s gotta be tough being one of about the three most annoying people on the history of the earth, but Courtney has done well for herself, so far. She’s created a sub-alliance with Cirie and Danielle and seems to remain aligned with Shane, if not Aras as well. Courtney doesn’t have to take orders from anyone, just yet, and that’s just as she likes it.

Danielle – Like Courtney, she’s in solid with the core alliance and now with Cirie. It was Danielle that took the initiative to rally the other women and vote out Bobby. Danielle might have wanted Bobby gone because she didn’t trust him, but chances are her decision was a personal one as well. In other words, don’t mess with Danielle, or you might find your way home.

Shane – He’s certainly not the most likeable guy, or the quietist or the most cooperative. He’s a loose cannon, works hard and is a big reason why the tribe has succeeded in the challenges. He aided the women, not by voting out Bobby, but by rendering his own vote useless. I can’t even try to guess what Shane is thinking or what his strategy is, but whatever he’s doing is working for him. However, Shane’s liable to change everything very easily by pissing off the wrong people. Voting against Aras meant voting against his closest ally. It’s all a crapshoot from here.

Casaya is so hard to rank, because the whole nature of their tribe has been unpredictable. Things can shift in this game so quickly, but after the vote, this is how things, as I see them, stand:

Casaya Power Ranking:
1. Danielle
2. Courtney
3. Shane
4. Aras
5. Cirie
6. Bruce

If Courtney is one of the three most annoying people ever, who are the other two? Send me your ideas at missfilangi@fansofrealitytv.co m