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Thread: Lex Gives the Skinny: Thanksgiving Edition

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    Courtesy and Goodwill Mantenna's Avatar
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    Lex Gives the Skinny: Thanksgiving Edition

    From the Santa Cruz Sentinel; link to article here.

    Lex van den Berghe: The Skinny
    Game on: Plenty to give thanks for on ‘Survivor’
    Thanksgiving night’s episode of "Survivor: Vanuatu" truly delivered and gave everyone something to be thankful for.


    Last-man-standing Chris was certainly thankful that, against all odds, his butt was saved rather than kicked off the island. And we were all thankful that strategic twists and eleventh-hour scrambling saved what might’ve become a dull and predictable final four episodes to this season.

    Truth is, after a day of celebrating and a belly full of beer and tryptophan-packed turkey, if this episode hadn’t been as action-packed as it was, I would’ve spent my Thanksgiving night as I traditionally do: passed out in the easy chair (grandpa-style), rather than typing away at my laptop into the wee hours of Friday morning.

    But before we get too deep into this week’s episode, let’s rewind one week and check out some highlights.

    From a sentimental point of view, last week’s episode was a favorite of mine. As you might remember, I was lucky enough to travel to the island paradise of Vanuatu just a few weeks ago and last week’s show took me back to familiar places.

    Reward challenge winners were treated to a journey deep into Vanuatu’s backcountry, to a primitive village where people still live as they have for hundreds of years. There, they enjoyed friendly hospitality Vanuatu-style, complete with ritual dancing, roasted pig and plenty of kava, the local narcotic nightcap of choice.

    Watching Ami, Eliza, Chris and Chad "go native" made me nostalgic. I was lucky enough to visit that very same village, where I danced, feasted, and made some new friends. And as small as that village is, it was easy for me to identify some of the local friends I’d made while I watched last week’s footage.

    But last week’s show wound up with anything but a happy ending. A victim of the battle of the sexes and a character no one in their right mind would want next to them in the final two, our local boy Chad was sent packing and I was truly bummed to see him go. I was left with the feeling that we’d never gotten the chance to know Chad and that he was ejected with a lot of game still left in him.

    Even though this week’s episode featured the ever-popular family visit and a couple of interesting challenges, there was so much strategic scrambling and maneuvering Thursday night (a quality sadly lacking so far this season), that I felt I should give it the most attention.

    The one player whose situation was most desperate, Chris, began planting seeds of dissent in the girls. It seemed that his stock in the game had practically hit rock bottom, but, despite all of his lying and deceiving lately, you’ve got to hand it to him — he never gave up. Chris wasted no time in approaching a few of the girls and telling them stories he knew would erode what little trust they had in each other.

    And it worked. Before you knew it, there was conflict in girl-town.

    First, suspicion was cast on Twila and Scout when Chris exposed their history of double-dealing with the men-folk. Ami wasted no time in waging an inquisition to smoke out any possible traitors. And so the wheels of destruction were set into motion and girl power became a thing of the past.

    Ami made another potentially game-ending mistake when she caved in to Leann’s silly impulse to vote Eliza out of the game next because she thought that Chris somehow deserved to stay in the game longer than Eliza.

    What? Deserving? It’s so funny how players almost always stray down this path of misplaced righteousness, especially toward the end of the game (I should know. I’ve strayed myself). But thinking this way will only cloud your judgment and make you screw up. You never keep people around because they deserve to be there. You keep them because it makes strategic sense to keep them.

    When Twila and Scout caught wind of Ami’s decision to eliminate Eliza, they saw their opportunity to change-up the whole game and climb to the top of the pecking order. Twila simply murmured to Chris that although his situation seemed hopeless, it was anything but.

    And so, just when we all thought that this game was over, for all intents and purposes, and that it was going to predictably wind down like a tired old clock, that Hail Mary pass I talked about a few weeks ago was thrown and Chris was shrewd enough to catch it and run with it.

    A new alliance of four — Twila, Scout, Eliza and Chris — was formed 30 days into the game, and the course of the game was radically changed.

    Leann stepped up this week and made it clear that in the tribal chain of command, she was lieutenant to alpha-dog Ami. But when her boss won immunity, it cost her — big time. Given their druthers, the new alliance of four would’ve been gunning for Ami, but they had to settle for the next best thing. And so, in one of "Survivor’s" best blindside bootings, Leann’s torch got the snuff.

    Tribal council was deliciously tense and awkward this week — you could practically feel the air tingling with electricity, even through the television. And as Jeff read the votes one by one, the players’ facial expressions said it all. For Eliza and Chris, it was relief mixed with pure elation that they’d actually pulled off such a coup. For Ami and Leann, it was shock and the harsh realization that their foolproof plan was unraveling at the seams.

    With only a couple of episodes left before the finale, let’s take a quick look at the remaining players and evaluate their chances...

    Chris is just lucky he’s still in this game. He’s done a great job of latching onto and piggybacking other players (first it was Chad and Sarge, now it’s Scout and Twila), and he’s also exploited a few rare golden opportunities, but I still put him on the endangered list.

    Ami is one of "Survivor’s" great players. She’s proven herself to be a master manipulator, she’s always thinking several moves ahead, and she’s willing to take great risks. Unfortunately, her brazen game style and unapologetic boldness have made her an obvious target and may reduce her shelf life. And one of her strengths, her ability to play this game with little emotional connection, could prove to be a tragic flaw. I think she’s now very alone in this game.

    Eliza has proven to be a very resilient and slippery wild-card player this season. She seems to be on the chopping block every week, and yet she survives each time. It would seem that of all the players she has the fewest friends on the jury, which would make her a good choice as a final-two partner. This could prove to be her final wild-card play.

    Julie is excess baggage at this point. She’s not much good to Ami anymore because of the numbers disadvantage, and nobody can really trust her because she’s been playing all sides and everyone’s on to her. She’s done.

    Scout has played a brilliant under-the-radar game. She’s always been on the inside track when it comes to planning and decisions, but she’s never gotten her hands dirty in the process. Scout and Twila are now in the driver’s seat.

    Twila has played a very strong game, acting and moving when she needs to and pulling back when it made sense. I suspect that if she found herself in the final two, she’d have the support of the men in the jury, which could prove to be her secret weapon.

    In a perfect world I’d love to see Ami and Twila face off in the final two, but realistically it just ain’t gonna happen. Hardcore, cards-on-the-table players like Ami rarely make it to the final two. And now that her loyal troops have all either defected or been eliminated, her only hope is to win every single immunity challenge left.

    If I had to put money on it, I’d say the safe bet would be with Twila, Scout and Eliza. Mark my words, two of these girls will be the last pair standing. And from my vantage point, I’d say Twila’s the one sitting in the ol’ catbird seat.

  2. #2
    Snoozin' on the beach
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    Don't quit your day job Lex.

    Chris never gave up? That's exactly what he did this episode. The narcing out didn't do it either, it was Leann shooting off her mouth that did.

  3. #3
    Horror of Horrors emjoi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shady64
    Don't quit your day job Lex.

    Chris never gave up? That's exactly what he did this episode. The narcing out didn't do it either, it was Leann shooting off her mouth that did.
    ... but.... Leanne shot her mouth off because there was friction over last weeks failed coup, which Chris revealed.

  4. #4
    Snoozin' on the beach
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    Nah, Leann shot her mouth off because she was over confident, that has nothing to do with Chris and what he said. There was tension before the failed coup.

    It's just like Rory taking credit for breaking into the women's alliance, when in truth it was completely Lisa's fault for saying something really dumb at the time. Or Ami taking credit for booting Bubba. He got caught giving signals. They all did it to themselves

  5. #5
    FORT Newbie Meg1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mantenna
    I was left with the feeling that we’d never gotten the chance to know Chad and that he was ejected with a lot of game still left in him.

    eh...i think any of the game still in him was puked out after the kava encounter.

  6. #6
    Leo
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    Lex is as good a Survivor analyst as he was a player during ASS... which doesn't say much.

  7. #7
    FORT Fan ManySkills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mantenna
    Ami is one of "Survivor’s" great players. She’s proven herself to be a master manipulator, she’s always thinking several moves ahead, and she’s willing to take great risks.
    I agree with all that you've said, Lex.

    Another way to look at it is ... who's playing the game and who's not? Ami, Chris, Twila, Scout are playing, and Eliza and Julie (sorry guys) don't seem to have the requisite skills.

    So my bet is you'll see a player and a non player in the final 2, so that the player can (hopefully) guarantee votes for the million.

    Gotta admit, it's now gotten interesting.

    Thanks for a good analysis.

  8. #8
    FORT Fogey razorbacker's Avatar
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    Julie is excess baggage at this point. She’s not much good to Ami anymore because of the numbers disadvantage, and nobody can really trust her because she’s been playing all sides and everyone’s on to her. She’s done.

    I think Lex has missed perhaps the most under the radar alliance going & that would be Julie & Chris. She has been feeding him info, she told Leann that Eliza should go before Chris, & she has never voted for Chris. So I think there is at least one person who can trust her & I don't agree that everyone is on to her. Chris needs to approach Julie & Eliza & break up the one remaining strong team of Scout & Twila before it is too late!

  9. #9
    JR.
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    I wouldn't call Ami a great player just yet. She hasn't had to deal with any real adversity up until now. We'll see how she does now, and if she makes it to the end, then praise her.

  10. #10
    Horror of Horrors emjoi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ManySkills
    .... Eliza and Julie (sorry guys) don't seem to have the requisite skills.....
    I dont think Eliza is in any way a strategic player. She doesnt have a Grand Plan. But the girl survives, despite so much opposition.
    She's smart enough, or simply vocal and active enough, not to be sheeped off the show.

    I give her high odds of making it to the end.

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