Welcome to the Survivor Guy, our weekly look at the wheeling and dealing in Survivor. This is not a recap; for that tune in to your regularly scheduled recapper, Lucy.
Welcome back, Survivor fans! It's that time of the TV viewing season when we watch 16 or so
wannabe actors and modelsordinary Americans go on what may be the world's most famous month-long camping trip. But we digress.
Fei Long won the first immunity challenge, and for that reason alone they look to have the upper hand. Unlike Zhan Hu, they seem to have some collective common sense; something that is apparently not so common in Survivor. They were able to complete their shelter a day ahead, and is somewhat united. (Or, at least, not as caught up in bickering as Zhan Hu is.)
The most significant development we saw in this tribe was the emergence of the early schemer in he game – Todd. Jean-Robert's instincts of him being untrustworthy were accurate (although telling him so has to be one of the most stupid moves we've ever seen). Letting Aaron be the visible leader was a smart idea; it lowers his own threat profile come merger time, but will keep him mostly in the information loop. Unless he screws things up significantly, he should be safe to the merge.
The only real alliance we've seen any hint of is Leslie and James. Intriguing is the word we'd use. James is this season's premiere physical threat, but he freely admits to having no social game. Leslie, on the other hand, might well be at the opposite end of the spectrum. No physical game, but we doubt you can become a radio host anywhere without being a good people person. We'd keep an eye out on this pair; if they play their cards correctly they could go far.
It's hard to guess who's on the low end of the pole at Fei Long, but our guess would be Courtney. If we folks can see her bad attitude at home, imagine how bad it must be for those around her! The longer Fei Long stays undefeated, however, the safer she'll be when the time does come for their turn at tribal council. Right now, it would be tempting to boot her for being an annoying little git, but there's some long-term strategic merit to keeping her around. She's no challenge threat, and her social game is probably not impressive either.
Meanwhile, Zhan Hu is in the proverbial toilet. Name every possible problem a Survivor tribe can have, and they have it. Lousy shelter? Check. Too many chiefs? Check. People getting sick? Check. While an out-and-out blowout like what happened in Palau is not likely, chances are this tribe will not enter the merge with numbers on their side.
One thing that will not be in short supply at Zhan Hu is discord. Peih-Gee and Ashley are both clearly on the outs, and beyond that it's hard to see clear alliance lines. Peih-Gee will be quite capable of raising a ruckus on her own, and if Ashley considers herself threatened – which is a certainty after that last tribal council – she'll add in a mess of her own. Still, failing a major fiasco in the immunity challenge that can be blamed on someone else, either Peih-Gee or Ashley will probably go next.
Adversity has a way of bringing out “leaders” in a tribe – largely because Jeff likes to say to failing tribes that they need leadership. More often than not, of course, their “leadership” extends merely to beginning the scapegoat-hunting that ensues after a failed immunity challenge. However, being the “leader” frequently does put in a good strategic position. Dave has that role (largely by default) right now. It should keep him safe for now, and probably even until the merge.
After this many seasons, you'd think they learned something! – Why is it that we had so many displays of stupidity this episode? Let's start off with the obvious – Courtney. It's one thing to not approve of something against one's beliefs and discreetly let yourself out. But to act like a teenaged brat during said ceremony is another thing entirely. One thing for sure: Courtney will not be joining Mensa, or writing a Miss Manners column anytime soon.
Another person who won't be joining Mensa soon is our poker pro, Jean-Robert. His conversation with Todd has to be one of the most bizarre and pointless conversations we've ever heard in Survivor history. (And that's saying something.) Moby Dick may well be able to read people well. But what is the point of telling them they're “clever”? If it was meant to flatter Todd and form an alliance, we'd understand, but it was exactly the other way around. Was it precalculated to piss him off? It sure seems that way. Jean-Robert seems to have lost his marbles already. And he doesn't even have starvation to blame this time. (Unless, of course, the food intake needs of a beached whale are higher than expected.)
Game. Over. – Because of our new found... position, we've become fond of taking notes during Survivor episodes. Right around the part that Chicken started getting bossy, we wrote down “uh-oh”. Later on, when he started acting like a jerk to his fellow tribe, we wrote down “GAME OVER”. Chicken not only hanged himself, he built the gallows and grew the plants they made the rope from. It's almost like he wanted to leave, although we know from his famous “Dayum!” line that he didn't.
Let's go over just how badly Chicken screwed up. He started acting out like a whiny, pointy-haired boss when they built their shelter. He may have been right, but his way of going about it did not impress his tribemates, and early on you can't risk that. Strike one. Then, when his advice was ignored, he started passive-aggressively. Strike two. Then, even when they'd lost, he kept annoying his tribemates. And you're out, Chicken. Sorry, but your gameplay was somewhere between “dreadful” and “horrifying”.
The only thing we saw coming out of Ashley during the preview was... well, we can't say that in polite company, can we? Reply here or PM us for comments.