The extra issues change, the extra they keep the identical. Not because the notorious swap in All-Stars that left Amber Brkich remoted from her tribe has the phrase “drop your buffs” achieved so little in shattering the established order. This week’s tribe swap successfully cut up the dominant (and largely under-edited) Kama tribe in two, because the dominant Manu alliance of 5 turned their very own tribe whereas outcast Wendy was given new hope. But because the episode performed out, this swap revealed numerous sudden nuances.
These within the yellow buffs of Kama should be caught within the sample of the little-shown, challenge-dominant tribe, however New Manu revealed the extent of Wendy’s peculiar strategy to Survivor. And the newly based Lesu tribe have been robbed of their straightforward vote and compelled to activate one another as they continued a dropping streak that may make Ulong proud. Over on the Edge, too, the dynamics have been rising extra complicated as Chris arrived to a decisively icy reception. In an age of Survivor the place tribe swaps abruptly break the narrative and may forestall us from seeing the consequences of long-term tribal dynamics, this episode broke the mould and gave us time to mirror on the unusual households that come up on the chilly, wet seashores of Survivor.
“SPECIAL IN A VERY SAD WAY”
“Lesu is lower than we even anticipated. Love in Tribal Council, however will it final? Good night, I’m Rick Devens. You’re watching Lesu Night Information. This can be my final report.”
Because the episode opened, we noticed the solidifying alliance of 5 on Manu – Kelley, Lauren, Wardog, David & Rick – positioned with a simple vote towards Wendy, the oddball outsider, ought to they lose yet one more problem. However the Survivor gods had a unique plan, whisking all the alliance away to a brand new seashore the place they must start once more and the place there was no scapegoat to take the autumn. One in every of their pleased household can be on the chopping block ought to the unthinkable – however inevitable – occur on the Immunity Problem. Positive sufficient, Lesu noticed Tribal looming and needed to take out one in every of their very own.
What adopted was an unexpectedly poignant reflection on the bonds which are shaped in a recreation as difficult and draining as Survivor. Solely 11 days in, this little tribe of 5 talked brazenly about how the mutual affection and respect that they had for one another was making this vote notably troublesome. Even the veterans have been affected, as Kelley teared up and David labelled the Tribal as probably the most memorable in his Survivor lifetime. It was a brutal change of tempo from the loud Reem vote or the scrambling plans that led to the Keith and Chris votes, and one which was somewhat sudden given David’s penchant over the previous few weeks for concentrating on Kelley. Studying that the social bonds between these 5 gamers ran so deep helps to retroactively body the context of their first eight days (and maybe contributing to why David and Rick by no means pulled the plug on blindsiding Wentworth), simply in time for this chapter to shut with a sombre remaining broadcast for newscaster Rick.
Nevertheless, the vote was not with out its intrigue. It turned a delicate and considerably reluctant battle between the returnees and their acolytes, with David & Rick squaring off towards Kelley & Lauren, every concentrating on the beginner within the pair. Lauren, lacking house and feeling nauseous, was unable to eat, and regardless of her bodily background as a collegiate athlete, her malnourishment threatened to turn out to be a weak hyperlink for an already faltering tribe. Rick, however, was deemed a long-term menace and the probably to flip to the Kama opposition and promote out his Previous Manu household to save lots of his personal pores and skin.
Thus, it got here right down to Wardog, who for yet one more week, held the facility over the result of Tribal. Within the expertly edited montage of his one-on-one conversations with every of his tribemates, he thought-about the choices earlier than making his selection, siding as soon as once more with Wentworth & Lauren, and leaving David out within the chilly. For 3 weeks operating, Wardog has shielded his alliance with Kelley (and by extension Lauren), and I think about David & Rick have been kicking themselves for not taking their clear shot at Kelley once they nonetheless had Chris’ vote available. However was it the fitting name for Wardog?
Wardog is such a curious character. He’s clever, calculating the chances of their unlucky swap outcome at lower than 1%. He’s calculating and aggressive, turning the votes in his favour and enjoying an efficient technique because the swing vote. He’s self-aware, recognising a few of his personal cussed and intense attributes as points he must rigorously handle within the recreation. His decisions to focus on Keith and Chris adopted a transparent logic, however I’m somewhat stunned to see him take out Rick tonight.
The military veteran spoke of needing a dance companion, an ally to gasoline his personal recreation, and maybe he noticed David – if remoted from his ride-or-die Devens – as a candidate to fill that position. However I query why he didn’t take that tactic with Kelley as an alternative, separating her from a homesick and unwell Lauren? With Kelley having drawn a lot consideration within the early recreation, and with Wardog’s tactic of utilizing her as a defend, I think that he doesn’t see Kelley as being an excellent candidate for an end-game ally. However he needs to maintain utilizing her as his meat defend for so long as he can, and by holding Lauren round, that insulates him behind that lightning rod of a “energy couple.” Then once more, the preview exhibits Wardog going after Lauren and planning the assault with Kelley. If one factor’s clear: Wardog’s gonna Wardog, and I’ve a sense that his recreation goes to be one which gained’t make full sense besides on reflection.
Sadly, although, Wardog’s strategic play minimize out one of the crucial entertaining castmates. Effortlessly humourous, Rick Devens was a fantastic narrator and an ideal off-sider to the equally witty David. It’s a disgrace to lose him so early from the sport correct, however I’m curious to see how he adjusts to Extinction. David, too, is left in a harmful place. The one remaining Lesu to have voted for Lauren, he might shortly develop into the “straightforward” vote Lesu so desperately needed at tonight’s Tribal, however David’s delicate social recreation can work marvels and maybe he’s not as lifeless within the water because the vote rely may recommend.
A GAME OF CHICKEN
Talking of lifeless within the water, Wendy continues to be an entire and utter enigma. Earlier than the tribe swap, she hinted in the direction of her grasp plan to launch the chickens when speaking to David, and his bewildered response: “You need to win, don’t you?” Wendy’s recreation appears destined for a dropping finalist at greatest, notably if her antics proceed, however she is an endlessly fascinating character.
Saved from sure elimination by the swap, she discovered herself within the unlucky minority on her new Manu, outnumbered by 4 invading Kamas in Aubry, Eric, Gavin and Victoria. Though they too noticed her as an expendable vote, Wendy appeared to ingratiate herself together with her new tribe initially. Her bubbly character appeared to attract affection, and as she spilled the beans on the dynamics of her previous tribe, Aubry noticed her worth as an asset in being a font of details about the enemy (and implicitly, a possible quantity with no love misplaced for her previous tribemates). However regardless of this recent begin, Wendy gonna Wendy.
Not even 24 hours into her new tribe, Wendy snuck into the night time to comply with by means of on her promise to jailbreak the chickens, releasing them into the wild to save lots of them from her new tribemates who understandably have been craving the protein. I might see the motivation to free her fowl pals when it additionally obliquely served the aim of punishing a tribe who had ostracised her to the purpose of feeling bullied. However to go forward together with her plan when she’s recent into a brand new begin on a brand new tribe, and with individuals she truly likes? That’s galling in its absurdity. It’s extremely short-sighted from the attitude of the sport – as Victoria famous the next morning, it betrays Wendy as being unreliable – removed from a fascinating trait in a recreation constructed on each belief and deception.
But objectively dangerous gameplay can nonetheless be entertaining. Wendy’s antics positive hit that notice, and it’s clear that the editors are loving the chance to play with this out-of-the-box Survivor character. From the photographs of her thousand-yard stare as her tribemates talk about how cooking a hen on Survivor would work, to her gleeful night-cam celebration of her tribe sabotage, to her shooing the chickens away from returning to the acquainted campsite within the morning, it’s a reel of the ridiculous. Even the remainder of the tribe will get pulled into the whirlwind – Eric’s exasperated confessional about the entire state of affairs, punctuated completely by the emancipated chickens clucking within the jungle, was one of many highlights of what turned out to be a really cleverly edited episode.
20 MINUTES EARLIER
I’m not saying there aren’t issues with the edit. It’s nonetheless irritating that Julia has but to provide a confessional, regardless that she was actively concerned in a minor plot tonight. It’s disappointing that even New Kama will get the brief finish of the story stick, solely having one temporary sequence devoted to their tribe (in contrast even to the 2 scenes given to The Edge). I keep that switching to 3 tribes with Extinction in play was not the fitting name given how thinly stretched the editors are on a great day. And but the Survivor editors are nonetheless evolving their craft in recent and thrilling methods.
Dan’s Idol discover in David vs. Goliath was the primary trace we received of Survivor starting to play with the timeline, and the thought was even additional expanded this episode with a full flashback full with a chyron. The brand new Kama tribe nonetheless left Joe and Aurora in a weak place outnumbered by Julia, Julie and Ron. Nevertheless, Joe sought to sway Ron as a swing vote over a clear dialog on the nicely. Ron nodded alongside and managed to place forth a convincing efficiency to assuage Joe’s considerations (notably given Joe had caught him and Victoria discussing voting out the returnees simply final week), however as we moved to Ron’s confessional, the report scratched.
The properly dialog wasn’t Joe’s concept – it was Ron’s. And it was a deliberate smoke-screen to maintain Joe distracted and provides Julia time to look the returnee’s bag for an Idol. Ruthless and calculating, Ron and Julia made a superb and aggressive play – and seeing their ploy play out in an precise flashback was a memorable method. I hope we see extra of this in seasons to return – maybe someday, even the scheming earlier than an enormous Tribal Council blindside might be saved for an after-shock flashback. Nineteen years on the air and nonetheless going robust, it’s thrilling to see Survivor discover new methods to inform their tales.
That is much more evident to the strategy on Extinction Island. Right here, a myriad of methods have been used to provide the Edge its personal really feel. Simply because the gamers deserted there are remoted from the sport, so to do the modifying tips divorce it from the remaining to offer it a tone that’s bleak, alien and disorienting. The fades out and in of black or lens focus, the dreary broad photographs and the sensible close-up, multi-camera confessionals make Extinction really feel like an entire totally different present – which, in a method, it’s.
Extinction is coming into its personal, too, as extra exiles arrive at the hours of darkness. The bitter reception Chris acquired from Reem and Keith was a shock, harking back to Ponderosa conflicts of previous. As Chris – and later Rick – skilled, Extinction Island goes to convey its personal distinctive problem of leaving a tribe that selected to chop you unfastened solely to reach at a brand new tribe of types, crammed with people who find themselves solely happy to see you for their very own schadenfreude. Extinction is a spot of endless unease – Keith grappled with the temptation to boost the white flag, whereas Chris mourned the lack of an ideal recreation whereas forcing himself to offer fish for Reem & Keith, unsure of whether or not this unusual household was to be a tribe or only a assortment of misfit toys.
The thriller of Extinction is intriguing, and the modifying and cinematography solely improve that have for the viewer. Whereas I’m nonetheless cautious on the twist’s influence for the sport, I’ve to confess that the surreal novelty of Extinction has me enraptured.
Subsequent week, it’s time for our bi-annual double function with back-to-back episodes to race by means of the latter half of the pre-merge. This episode we met 4 odd little households of strangers – the crumbling alliance of Lesu, the weird antics on Manu, the cutthroat Kama and the literal outcasts of Extinction – and subsequent week, we’ll hopefully get to discover these micro-dynamics additional.