The theme of this weeks episode was predictability. Inevitably, each season of Survivor has an episode or two where there are no surprises or change-ups; everything thing you expect to happen happens. It’s only natural. Sometimes the game just works itself into a state where everyone’s optimal play is as obvious to us as it is to them.
So I wasn’t exactly blown away when Marty showed his tribe the immunity idol he found, or when Jimmy T. started mouthing off about his talents going to waste. And I yawned when bitchy ghetto queen Naonka spent five minutes’ worth of episode in confessionals reminding us she is, in fact, a bitchy ghetto queen. It didn’t surprise me in the least that, once the stronger tribe got its hands on the Medallion of Power they would choose to sit on it, then win the challenge anyway. Oh, and the losing tribe voted off its celebrity coach. Nobody saw that one coming.
What does surprise me is that an episode this by-the-numbers appeared this early in the season. There’s usually not enough room for strategic play this early in the game — too many cooks standing over too many pots. So instead of showing us how individual people are working to win the game, we usually spend the first few episodes learning about the cast. I usually spend the first few episodes of each new season identifying characters and getting a feel for alliances. This season though? I’ve never felt more like everyone is trying to remain on-script.
I cannot wait for Naonka to go home. Her big accomplishment this episode was shoving a girl to the ground, squashing the fruit the tribe had just won at their reward/immunity challenge, scampering off with the hidden idol clue, and then bragging about it for what felt like eons. I swear, in the time it took for Naonka to articulate how amazingly proud she was of “going hood” on that one-legged white girl’s ass, continents divided and reformed.
Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have shoved the one-legged girl down for an idol clue. Heavens, no. By all means, if you’re out there on Survivor you should stomp like God to get your hands on that immunity idol. Tear down the foliage and set your camp ablaze if it’ll get you that million dollar check. If a bitch gots to get slapped, a bitch gots to get slapped. Stone cold straight up playa, you know what I’m saying?
My point here is that Naonka is missing the forest for the trees. She can see the idol just fine. What she can’t see is how the other people on her tribe are closing in on her. The way Fabio reacted to his smashed, broken bananas was heartbreaking. Naonka doesn’t care what Fabio thinks, of course; she doesn’t like him because of his big dumb hair. What she has got to understand, though, is that big dumb hair gets the same vote as everyone else. Big dumb hair can end her game.
The correct thing to do if you crush your team’s reward in order to get your hands on an immunity idol is to fall over yourself apologizing. A little humility goes a long way in this game. Naonka’s response of, “Bitch, fuck your bananas,” basically just unraveled any advantage getting the clue might have bought her.
Camp Oldie lost the immunity challenge, and they deserved to lose. Tribes competed by tossing beanbags at barrels. Land a beanbag on a barrel, score one point. Tyrone started tearing it up for the old folks, landing all the nearby barrels immediately and grabbing a huge advantage for his tribe. He then proceeded to whiff about thirty or forty bags while the rest of his tribe just sat there and watched. Jimmy T. was in the background the entire time, slowly going insane, begging Coach to put him in so he could play. Eventually Tyrone was pulled back, and Jimmy T. did land a point, but by that time the young kids had found their groove and won the challenge.
This is a prime example of how some people play the game by made-up rules, to their own detriment. Jimmy T. waited for Coach Jimmy’s permission to go in and play not because Coach was the team leader, or because doing otherwise was against the rules of the challenge. He didn’t even balk when Probst mocked him for it during tribal council. From the tribe’s point of view, though, Jimmy Johnson was in charge of who played and who didn’t. He’s the coach after all.
So Jimmy T.’s entire tirade about how his talents were going to waste because Coach wouldn’t put him in… well, they just sounded like a convenient excuse to get rid of the celebrity player, if you ask me. Jimmy T. could have yanked Tyrone out of the challenge at any time, but he didn’t. He let the perceived leader take the fall. Calculated strategy? Or just rule blindness? I don’t know that I want to give anyone any credit this season.
Who’s gonna win? Marty thinks he’s smart, but Jill is way smarter. You could see this during their little transaction, where Marty gave all these logical reasons for wanting to get rid of Coach Jimmy… and Jill’s response was “yeah, okay, whatever”. Jill is very much planning to use Marty as her smokescreen. I can’t wait until she knifes him. With the understanding that there are no good players whatsoever this season, I’m going to say Jill for being smart enough to use an incredibly mundane, but effective, strategy.