Survivor: Mayan Meanderings 10/20 – Incoherent Screaming Matches!
Welcome back to this week's look at Survivor strategy. Each episode we take a look at who is doing what to whom, and how it is helping them win, lose, or just plain ruin their chances at a normal life once the show is over.
Disclaimer - As always, the opinions of this article belong to the author alone and you are free to disagree. It doesn't make you any less wrong, of course, but you're free to your conflicting opinion.
A Different Kind of Ghost Tribe
The episode picked up with Nakum celebrating their first immunity challenge victory since the reshuffling. While team spirit is relatively high in this group, one person is going out of their way to bring down the rest of the tribe. Margaret reminds me of a woman whose husband has left her, remarried and years later, still holds out hope that he'll come back. Except in Margaret's case, she's pining for an old tribe that she knew for little over a week. Most of Margaret's bitterness is directed at Judd, her old tribemate, who quickly decided to align with the new members of Yaxha. Margaret must have missed Lesson #1 in Survivor 101 is to avoid giving people a reason to vote you off, as she sulked around camp, moaning about betrayed she felt.
My biggest issue with Margaret is that she was wrong to put all her faith in Judd from the start. They were clearly on opposite sides of the old Nakum tribe and if they had stayed intact, Margaret would have been just as likely to be gunning for Judd as Judd was for Margaret. The tribal switch meant the old Nakum was no more. Margaret viewed the new members of Nakum as potential enemies while Judd viewed them as potential allies.
Her beef with Judd aside, Margaret was as miserable as the mosquitoes around
camp and drawing attention to herself as someone with a bad attitude, but
someone with no sense of team unity. The old tribe isn't coming back.
Big Bad, Loud, Obnoxious Judd
If Margaret is guilty of breaking the first rule in Survivor, than Judd is guilty of breaking the second; Don't Get Cocky. While Judd certainly played a factor in winning the reward challenge, he didn't do it all by himself. He made a huge mistake in assuming he was more entitled to the beer than some of the others. Why you would choose beer over food with, you know, some amount of nutritional value is beyond me, but a lot of what Judd says or does is also beyond my comprehension. Despite the lame attempt to mask his beer theft, as the only person visibly inebriated, it wasn’t a difficult code to crack. His alliance with Jamie & Stephenie may seem rock solid, but he wouldn't be the first person to have been turfed that felt confident in his position in the game. Given that Nakum was aware they were going to Tribal Council that evening, you'd think Judd would have kept that in mind and kept his behaviour in check. His antics at Tribal Council didn't help matters when he not only unleashed his frustration onto Margaret, but continued to interrupt and talk over some of his other tribe members, particularly those that seem to be on the outside of his core alliance. With Margaret now gone, Judd seems awfully determined to grab the target that she was previously wearing on her back.
Playing Through The Pain
Amy might have re-injured her ankle at the Reward Challenge, but she was able to win the respect of her tribemates enough to keep her around for another week. With Blake gone, all seemed harmonious over at Yaxha, despite having to return to Tribal Council. With the numbers split at 3 original Yaxha and 3 former Nakum, the vote would seem to be based on eliminated the weakest player. Amy's injury would have been the natural choice, but Brian was voted off instead. Why? Did Gary and Danni come to an agreement that if they were to vote off Blake last week, then an original Yaxha had to go next? In any case, Amy’s rebound granted her enough respect to escape being regarded as the weakest link on the tribe. Also going for Amy was Brian’s Survivor savvy. Brian tried to keep his ability to read the situation on the tribe and work it to his advantage under wraps, but it’s likely they realized his potential. In any case, the vote seemed to be one of the least personal in Survivor history, as every one of his tribe members seemed loathe to vote him out.
What About Everyone Else?
With two more Survivor’s sent packing, and a merge likely not far on the horizon, where do those left behind stand?
As Margaret’s closest ally, it would seem that Cindy is next on the chopping block should Yaxha take another immunity loss. Cindy voted with the majority to see her friend sent packing, so we may not have seen any inroads she may have made. However, a core alliance seems to remain strong between the former Nakum members + Judd, leaving Cindy on the outside looking in.
Despite a rough challenge appearance a week ago, Jamie remains one of the strongest members of Yaxha. He appears to be in pretty solid with Judd, but has ruffled a few feathers in the past. As long as Judd keeps the title of Loose Cannon #1, he’s likely safe for a little while.
As earlier noted, Judd’s quickly become cocky, arrogant and obnoxious. While he’s had some strong performances in challenges, he’s not quite the hero he’s made himself out to be, as he had difficulty opening a puzzle bag in the immunity challenge. His attitude could prove to be too much to bear and once the merge happens, the Under The Radar players on Yaxha might be looking for an excuse to get rid of him.
Lydia has seemed to recover nicely from a few close calls at Tribal Council. While she’s certainly not the most valuable member of Yaxha when it comes to challenges, by most accounts, she works hard around camp and helps lighten the mood. Besides, the trio of Stephenie, Judd and Jamie need her around for her vote. For now.
Like Lydia, Rafe has himself in a favourable position with the tribe. Likeable, hardworking and willing to go along with the majority, the core alliance will need his vote come merge time.
Mark Burnett’s golden girl continues to do well in challenges and her attitude has notably improved as their fortunes did. Still, she’s had her shot at the million and sooner or later, it’s likely that she’ll be held accountable for that.
Miraculously spared from the boot last week, Amy is unquestionably hampered by her injury. In a tribe full of athletic, strong members, Amy has got to be seen as the weakest now with Brian gone. Should Nakum head to Tribal Council again, she might be the casualty of a mercy vote, unless her ankle miraculously heals.
Bobby Jon’s emotions run close to the surface and had obviously rattled not only Jamie, but some of his own tribe members with his last outburst at the challenge. He’s no more valuable to the tribe as anyone else and as likeable as he is, has had his shot at the million. It’s an easy vote, should Nakum choose to use it.
Brandon voted with Blake at the Tribal Council that saw him kicked off, but since then, seems to have found himself back in the know. Brandon’s certainly shown his use in the challenges and as long as Amy’s hampered by her injury, would appear safe.
Aligned with her old Yaxha tribemates Bobby Jon and Brandon and new formed friendships with Amy and Gary, Danni is not going anywhere. She’s performed as well as anyone in the challenges and there is just no reason for anyone to get rid of her, particularly since she’d in all likelihood be the swing vote.
Gary still harbours his secret identity, which Danni seems to have uncovered. Should the rest of the tribe clue into his deception, he could have his worst fears realized.
Next Time On (dramatic pause) Survivor
Nakum makes a dramatic appearance at Yaxha; will Jeff say merge? Will Bobby Jon and Jamie resume their screaming match? And more importantly, will anyone catch a word of what they’re saying this time?