Mayan Meanderings is a weekly look at the political intrigue and alliance related trends occurring in the Guatemalan jungle. Who is wheeling? Who is dealing? And of course, who is reeling?
As always, the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone. Feel free to disagree and offer your own perspective, no matter how very, very wrong you are.
This week’s episode started with Judd reeling from Jamie’s boot. Apparently Jamie wasn’t the only one blindsided. Realizing he’s now the sole obnoxious loudmouth on the tribe, he started to feel a little vulnerable. Anxious to reintegrate himself into the core alliance, Judd insists had they told him about the decision to vote off Jamie, he’d have been more than happy to go along with the plan. Uh huh. Judd may be a lot of things, but he’s smart enough to realize he has to act quickly, in case he’s the next to go.
Sometimes Opportunities Present Themselves…
The next morning, finds the perfect opportunity to redeem himself with the tribe when he overhears Gary working Lydia. To be fair, Gary was just trying to get a feel for Lydia’s place in the alliance and Lydia wasn’t giving him any information that he couldn’t have figured out on his own; mainly that Steph is calling the shots. It’s enough for Judd, though, as he runs to the rest of his alliance and exposes Lydia as a potential traitor. Judd isn’t the most subtle of people, however, and Gary and Lydia realize what is going on. This is enough for Lydia to reveal her true feelings, and contemplate switching alliances. It’s a great idea, except that the numbers are still against her.
In the light of day, this would seem like an overblown reaction on everyone’s part over a just a little strategy talk. Of course, these are tired, hungry, paranoid people who just lost their target for all their pent up anger and hostility. Yes boys and girls, it’s time for the core alliance to begin to turn on one another.
Stupid Is As Stupid Does
And… what is the best way to facilitate an alliance turning on each other? Why, it’s time to play the Reveal Your Loyalties™ challenge, just in the nick of time for Danni and Gary if they have any chance of staying. This is an interesting challenge, as always, because it often sends wakeup calls to those that need it the most. Stephenie is the first to be taken out of the challenge; by Lydia. While this on it’s own could be forgivable, she makes unforgivable mistake of taking out one of her ‘alliance’ members before the sitting ducks; Gary and Danni. Lydia explains that she only did so because Stephenie has won so many food challenges, or has been brought along. Stephenie immediately whines from the loser’s bench that she’s not the only one. While I’m not sure how smart it is to draw attention to your alliance members, she clearly doesn’t buy Lydia’s explanation. If we’ve learned anything over the last two seasons, it’s that you don’t want to be on Steph’s bad side. You’d think Lydia would have caught on after playing good soldier for the past 30 days. Other than Gary’s almost maniacal hatred of Cindy for reasons I don’t quite understand, the challenge continues rather incident free. Cindy and Rafe are the last two standing and when Cindy pulls out the win, she diplomatically chooses runner up and all around good guy, Rafe, to accompany her on the reward.
Jockeying For Position
Back at camp, Stephenie unleashes her anger at Lydia for taking her out first. This would normally be an unwise move, but since the only ones present are non-alliance members, a soon to be former alliance mate and Judd, who is used to angry outbursts, comes out of the incident unscathed. Lydia could have taken this opportunity to deflect attention to herself, but no. Instead, she decides the best way to deal with her tribe turning on her is to… push them away even further. Once Rafe and Cindy return, she launches a campaign to make everyone feel sorry for her and whines about how little she’s had to eat. Gary is happy to lend a sympathetic ear, but being the opportunist that he is, does his best to work the situation to his advantage. Meanwhile, her alliance goes for a stroll together, complaining about how Lydia has done nothing but ride coattails, puts the final nail in her coffin by declaring themselves the final four.
Rafe, perhaps unexpectedly, manages to pull of his second consecutive immunity win and Gary finishes a very close second place. At Tribal Council, Jeff steers the conversation to liars and lying, where Gary finally outs Judd’s lie about the hidden immunity idol. The remaining members of the tribe exchanged annoyed looks, but with the exception of Gary, no one speaks against him. Despite the brouhaha over Lydia, all systems are a go and he’s finally voted out.
Why Gary Lost
The core alliance had wanted to boot Gary the night he found the immunity idol. He was given a brief reprieve when Jamie managed to alienate everyone, but Gary was very much on everyone’s radar. In addition to always being a huge threat at all the challenges, Gary was very obvious with his gameplay, always trying to work an angle to further himself. He was dangerous, everyone else knew it, buh-bye Gary.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Finally, we have a season where all remaining contestants are honest to goodness players. With Lydia finally coming out from under the radar to show signs of wanting to win, we have a final six, and really, a final 10, of people that want to win. They may not be likeable people, for sure, but they are all giving it their best shot.
At this stage, everyone has final two on their mind and no one is willing to talk about it. Everyone must be thinking about how they intend to get there and who they have the best shot against.
Cindy – Once a fringe member of the core alliance, Cindy has managed to quietly sneak into one of the best positions in the game. Cindy’s only apparent enemy has been voted off, as everyone else seems to get along with her quite well. She’s a strong threat that knows when to keep her mouth shut and works hard enough to earn respect. If she makes the final two, she has a great shot against whoever joins her.
Danni - Danni’s likeability is probably the biggest reason she was left last in the pagonging of the Yaxha tribe. She’s still a physical threat, only Lydia really needs her in terms of numbers and she’s too likeable to be an ideal final two partner. Unless she can go on an immunity streak, Danni is not long for the game.
Lydia – At this point, the only thing Lydia has going for her is the lack of respect everyone else has for her. She can’t seem to win a challenge to save her life, everyone seems to think she’s coasting along and her once happy disposition has been replaced by a bad attitude. She might be carried to the final two if someone figures she’s their best chance.
Judd – Hot headed Judd has been smart enough to keep the target off his back whenever it started to come his way, which, let’s face it, has been pretty often. Nonetheless, Judd has worked his way into the now strong alliance of four. He may not be agile, but he’s still a physical threat and not one to shy away from a challenge. Unlike other players, Judd is not one to get too cocky with his position in the game. With the exception of Gary, he has continued to maintain good relationships, for the most part, with everyone on the jury and those about to join the jury. He might be an ideal person to bring to the final two, since he frequently comes across as loud and obnoxious and can be his own worst enemy. Despite everything, he still is in a great position in the game.
Rafe – Like Cindy, he’s proven himself to be a strong competitor in the challenges and still remain one of the most likeable among the tribe. His solid alliance gives him an enviable position in the game. However, I can’t imagine anyone would really want to go against him in the final two.
Stephenie – As the case with almost everyone else, Stephenie is a strong physical threat and has proven to be a very dangerous competitor. Of late, everyone has started to pay attention to the fact that she’s been calling the shots for a very long time. She’s also been rubbing some of her tribemates the wrong way and it wouldn’t take much to overthrow the queen. Like Judd, she’s a great player to take to the final two. The fact that this is her second time around is not lost on many of them and it might just be enough to deny her the million dollars.
Am I right? Who the heck knows? Regardless, it’s bound to be an interesting last few weeks.