Mayan Meanderings Episode 8 (11/3) - Loose Lips May Cause Flips
Mayan Meanderings is a weekly look at the political intrigue and alliance related trends occurring in the Guatemalan jungle. This episode Nakum and Yaxha were supposedly no more despite all evidence to the contrary. The newly merged tribe was named Xhakum although Naxha or something original might have been more appropriate. Now that we are down to the final ten, letís take a look at where everyone stands.
As usual, the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone. Feel free to disagree or offer alternative viewpoints. The author doesnít promise to read them though.
The Tribe Formerly Known as Nakum
Nominally, the six members of Nakum who remained at the merge are poised to pagong the minority Yaxhaians. The first post-merge boot did nothing to dissuade the casual viewer from concluding that the remnants of Yaxha are not long for this game. Things are actually more complicated than that. We have been shown a definite hierarchy among the six which gives the impression that Nakum is actually one group of three and three potential free agents. Remember though that there may be agreements between people we have yet to see or havenít seen in a while. For instance, before the tribal switch, Gary and Stephenie were clearly working together. There have also been hints that Stephenie and Lydia may be more closely allied than we know.
The Inner Axis of Evil
Watching Jamie, Stephenie and Judd this week, I thought I was back in my junior English class reading Greek plays. You remember those, donít you? The main character always met his downfall because of a fatal flaw. That flaw was usually hubris. These three have plenty of overconfidence to go around and appear convinced they are in control of the game. Iím sure that Nurse John from Marquesas and Amy from Vanuatu are watching and shaking their heads. It should be comical when the three of them realize that three is not a majority until there are only five Survivors left and that their minions have minds of their own.
Jamie-Mark Burnett may want to test Jamie for steroids because he exhibited all the symptoms of Ďroid rage. Iím convinced that Jamie used to steal lunch money from the smaller kids in grade school. Being a bully and gloating does not a Survivor winner make. It does lead to mutinies by the supposedly inferior members of the tribe. Jamie is probably safe for at least one and perhaps two more tribal councils. After that, his only real chance of making the final two is going on a Colbyesque individual immunity streak or having other people put even bigger targets on their backs every three days. If heís still around at the final four, someone may choose to drag him to the finals figuring heís an opponent that can guarantee you a million dollars. Maybe this experience will teach Jamie that it is sometimes wise to use your inside voice instead of blurting out everything you are thinking. His biggest mistake (of several) was not mentioning Cindy when talking about Judd playing for ďtheir alliance.Ē
Judd-As irritated as Judd was by Jamieís antics, he really should have thanked him. Until Jamie became drunk with power, Judd appeared to be the first of the Axis who would be taken down. Unfortunately for Judd, the previews for the next episode make it seem like he becomes drunk on something other than power. Vomiting in the shelter may well shift the first target from Jamie back to Judd. Juddís choosing to participate in the immunity challenge might have taken the spotlight off the Axis if Jamie hadnít chosen to tell Jeff that Judd was playing for them. Judd is going to need some luck and perhaps a six inch tall immunity idol to make the final four.
Stephenie-Stephenie is living in some sort of a delusional world where she is immune from being targeted at this point. She seems to think that having been on Survivor before entitles her to a free pass to the final four. After all, she is Americaís Sweetheart! Thus, there was no question that Stephenie would choose to eat rather than participate in the immunity challenge. She doesnít seem to recognize that she and her fellow Axis members are in fact vulnerable. Stephenie telling Bobby Jon that sheíd do what she could to make sure Brandon went before him so that Bobby Jon could make the jury this time was more than a little condescending. I wonder how she felt when she heard Bobby Jon confess that he canít spend more than five minutes with her without wanting to vomit. Queen Stephenie may find herself scrambling without a strategy when Jamie and Judd are toppled unless she can rely on Gary or Lydia. Barring immunity wins by Judd and Jamie, sheíll be the last of the Axis to get the boot because she hasnít shown herself to be a force in challenges this time around, and she hasnít been outright rude to the others.
The Meek Three
As we all know, the meek shall inherit the earth. The real question is will one of them win a million dollars. It is possible but only if they play their cards right and recognize that they have the ability to switch the game up. The three of them are classic swing votes. It is going to be a matter of timing. In order to succeed and improve their position, at least two of them will have to act together.
Rafe-Rafe is a good guy who is more than a little uncomfortable with the attitudes of Jamie, Judd, and Stephenie. He wasnít happy eating all the chocolate and honey or making fun of the Yaxhaians while they were off fishing. Maybe Rafe was one of the kids who had his lunch money stolen by the Jamies of the world. Rafe chose to eat rather than compete in the immunity challenge because he knew there was no risk that heíd be going home at the next tribal council. He tried to be as polite about it as possible. Despite his misgivings about the Axis of Evil, Rafe was smart enough to realize that this tribal council was not the time to flip on the Axis. He will probably wait for another tribal council or two and then try to convince Cindy and/or Lydia to join up with the remaining members of Yaxha and start taking out the Axis. Rafe appears to be positioned to go far in the game. Everyone seems to like him and no one seems to think of him as a threat. If he blindly sticks with Nakum, he will probably be voted out when there are five left barring immunity.
Lydia-Who? You know. Lydia is the diminutive fishmonger who was in grave danger of being booted more than once at the first few Yaxha tribal councils before the tribal switch. Since then, sheís become the cheerleader/mascot of her tribe(s). In fact, she sat out almost every immunity challenge once the numbers between the tribes became uneven. Now that Lydia has made the merge, she is going to be off everyoneís radar screen for a while. She felt comfortable enough to feast instead of compete and is pretty much assured a spot in the final six and perhaps the final four no matter how things shake out. Lydia has also shown that she may be tougher in challenges than the other survivors anticipate so long as she doesnít have to try to guard Danni in another Mayan basketball game. This episode, we got no insight into Lydiaís strategy going forward. Can she be persuaded to turn on the Axis? Maybe not because it appears that they would take her to the final four with them.
Cindy-Cindy made the merge only because Nakum won the last few immunity challenges. She knows that she would have been gone if Nakum had gone back to tribal council. Cindy also knows her place in the pecking order. She is clearly sixth out of six. If she had any doubts about that, Jamieís blunder in not mentioning her competing for ďthemĒ cleared those doubts up. Cindy chose to compete in the immunity challenge because as she explained, this is her one chance at Survivor. I didnít think of it when I first watched, but I almost wonder now if that was a veiled jibe at Stephenie. Cindy has shown that she is a strong competitor in the challenges. Relying on her ability to win immunity once it is down to the final six or on finding the hidden immunity idol would not be Cindyís best move. She thought about voting for Jamie at the last tribal council. Donít be surprised if Rafe and Cindy make a move in the next few episodes with or without Lydia. Also keep in mind that Cindy was on the original Nakum with Danni and Bobby Jon so she may feel comfortable allying with them.
The Tribe Formerly Known as Yaxha aka The Underdogs
Entering the merge down in numbers turned out to be just as grim for the members of Yaxha as is usually the case. The four of them really did appear to be a tight knit team unlikely to turn on each other. In the end, being the worker bees around camp was not enough to save Brandon who was perceived to be the biggest threat to win immunity by the former Nakum. Things do not look good for the remaining three, but there are hints they may be able to win over two or more of the Meek and change the game on a dime.
Gary-If Gary thought that anyone still believed that he was a landscaper, leading the Yaxha four in a team cheer before going to announce the merge to the members of Nakum wasnít too bright. We got very little actual strategy talk from Gary. He did suggest that the Yaxha members act stupid for a while when they got to the Nakum camp. Gary made fishing flies and collected wood for the fire and generally worked hard. He also guaranteed himself that he would survive tribal council by winning immunity. The one hint we got that Gary and Stephenie may still be aligned is that the elimination order announced by Stephenie was Brandon, Bobby Jon, and then Danni. There was no mention of Gary. Unless there is something there, Gary is going to have to be more persuasive and convince Rafe, Cindy, and or/Lydia to turn to make it farther than seventh place.
Bobby Jon-Bobby Jon is hanging on by his fingernails. It is clear that he is the next target of the Axis. As if that wasnít enough, he admits that he is with a hairís breadth of getting himself disqualified from the game by physically attacking Jamie. Bobby Jon has repeated that his goal this time was to make the jury. Itís good that he set his sights no higher. Bobby Jon is not much of a strategic player. If he is going to survive beyond the next tribal council, heíll need to find the hidden immunity idol, win immunity, or hope that Gary and Danni are able to start a mutiny within the former Nakum members.
Danni-It appeared that Danni was firmly in charge at Yaxha. She is in control no more. Danni is feisty underneath that calm exterior and stronger than her skinny build would lead one to believe. She also appears to get along with everyone (at least to their faces). Her dome head lead her to be the first one out of the individual immunity challenge this episode. She may be able to win other challenges. However, she is going to need more than immunity to last long in this game. Danniís best bet is to keep working on Cindy who was her tribe mate on the original Nakum and Rafe. Unless she can convince them to join with her, Gary, and Bobby Jon, Danni is not long for this game.
Brandon-Brandon was toast once the merge happened. He had shown himself to be too strong in the challenges and was viewed as a threat. Brandon tried to find the hidden idol and did his best to win immunity. Once he failed to do either, Brandon accepted his fate. It didnít help his spirits that Jamie kept yammering at him that he was going. Itís too bad Brandon had too much class to go out in a blaze of glory by popping Jamie in the mouth.
For the first time ever, there is a hidden immunity idol which gives the person who finds it the ability to grant themselves immunity at any tribal council before the final four. This six inches of stone could put a crimp in the best laid plans of the survivors. The holder of the hidden idol would be smart to keep its discovery hidden from the others until it is time to use it.
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