Next Time On… Survivor is a little blog I’m doing here on Inside Survivor, predicting the events of the next episode based on hints from the previous one, as well as the preview trailers and commercials.
Part 1: Previously on… Survivor
I struggled hard to avoid spoilers last week, and it resulted in a rather messy set of predictions. Regardless, let’s review:
1. Woo is pulled from the game for some cheating-related incident.
Verdict: What in the hell was I thinking? I mean, he left the game but… yeah, I’m an idiot.
2. A tribe swap takes place resulting in two tribes.
Verdict: After I had sent in all my materials for the week (this blog and my power rankings), I submitted to curiosity and checked the preview for the episode to check what the spoiler everyone was talking about was. Not only does a shot towards the beginning of the preview trailer show every contestant standing with their tribes, sans Terry, but then spends a chunk of time talking about the upcoming tribe swap. It’s amazing how fifteen seconds of a commercial can reveal so much about the upcoming episode that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. I was right about this, but it wasn’t much of a prediction in the scheme of things!
3. Joe and Stephen are on the chopping block. Joe because Stephen is plotting to eliminate him. Stephen’s plotting may end up negatively affecting him if Jeremy really wants to keep someone like Joe around. He could rally troops against Mr. Fishbach.
Verdict: Had Bayon gone to tribal council, I still believe this could have been the case. Of course, Ta Keo ended up at tribal instead so I will take another strike.
Part 2: Holy Merger, Batman!
Let’s start at the commercial spot: the “Play To Win” (Preview) video on CBS.Com. This might be the busiest preview video thus far in the season, so I’m going to attempt to figure out which parts actually say anything about the upcoming episode. I’m not going to look into any small clip that might just be filler.
The general feeling of the trailer is, well, Stephen says it best: “It’s gonna be chaos.” Nearly everyone with a confessional in the preview sounds like they’re ready to get down. Ciera is “going for the jugular,” Kass has “unleashed the beast,” Savage is a “raging bull” who has just been woken up! The video wraps up with a wide-eyed Jeff Probst exclaiming, “this is too much, even for me.”
Stephen has one other prominent line in the preview:
“Things are changing. Not just in this game but in the history of Survivor strategy.”
I’m not taking this line lightly. I get that, in terms of editing together a compelling preview trailer, Stephen’s line is meant more to hype up the viewer than to reveal anything about the upcoming strategy. That said – we hear it from Stephen. Remember the first week or two when much of the Survivor community was joking about the “Purple Stephen” edit? Podcasters and bloggers thought, just for a few moments, that Stephen was going to be the season’s comedic sidekick.
Now? I think he’s about to start running the game.
Stephen, Kimmi, and Jeremy is a tight trio. Unlike the recently developed Ta Keo Five – Kelley, Kass, Joe, Keith, and Ciera – Stephen’s small alliance feels more natural with fewer potential fractures. If I were Kelley, I wouldn’t feel safe with those other four as they were together from the beginning. Ciera and Kass are clearly tighter than Ciera and Keith or Kass and Kelley.
Even though Jeremy and Stephen aren’t in total agreement about prospective voting decisions, they show no immediate signs of turning on each other. On top of that, Kimmi is Bayon strong; she appears to have no interest in stirring the pot. Any small alliance willing to compromise with each other and work together stands a better chance of long-term survival than a larger alliance with uncertain members.
The preview trailer seems to imply that two forces are going to be battling it out on the new merged tribe. Spencer calls them, “two warring groups” in the video. What I’m saying is: I think we have a pretty good idea of who these groups are at their cores. The real question becomes: how do all the other players factor into this? Based on pre-existing alliances and current circumstances, I want to try to figure out who each of the remaining 13 castaways will be aligning themselves with.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s call them the Bayon and Ta Keo alliances.
We know Kimmi, Stephen and Jeremy are at the core of whatever this group becomes. After the last vote at Ta Keo, I think it’s possible that a vulnerable Savage joins back up with Jeremy and that he’ll have just to relax on the whole, “I want to get rid of Fishbach” thing for a few minutes. Likewise, Jeremy and Spencer appear to have a pretty fantastic relationship, and I don’t know why Spencer wouldn’t put his trust back in Jeremy. Stephen, on the other hand, has an existing relationship with Tasha (who has a pretty tight bond with Savage as well). If they can get Tasha and Savage, Abi will probably follow.
So, to summarize, I foresee Stephen, Jeremy, Kimmi, Spencer, Savage, Tasha and Abi voting together.
A five-person Ta Keo alliance was clearly defined two weeks ago. It consisted of Kelley, Kass, Joe, Ciera, and Keith. Now, the one guy on the outs, Terry, was taken out of the game for reasons external to the game itself, so the tribe never had to go to tribal and prove their loyalty to each other. The second swap occurred before any act of unity was made. If these five reunite, they’re going to need to gain the trust of Kelly, as well as flip someone from the opposing alliance. How would they go about this?
To be honest, I’m not sure where Kelly is going to end up. On one hand, I think she’s probably committed to Spencer at this point. They haven’t worked together, per say, but they haven’t truly worked against each other. They have been together for a considerable amount of time at this point and most likely have a decent amount of trust in each other. On the other hand, Kelly appears to prioritize strength and hard work over social standing. Would Kelly align with Joe and Keith just because she likes their moxie? Would she see Kelley as a fellow female athlete and feel better about working with her instead of the tribemates who saved her and Spencer?
I… don’t think so.
Even Kelly has to recognize that if she wants to last in the game, she needs to be in the numbers majority.
For now, I would add Kelly to the Bayon side of the merge.
Part 3: The Return of Chaos Kass
Okay, so… I don’t think this whole “Chaos Kass is back” moment at the end of the episode was a true indication of what’s to come next week.
“Here’s the line, it’s been drawn, people should think about who they’re working with and the manipulation they are trying to run.”
This sounds to me like Kass caught a few tribe-mates scheming either about her or her alliance. The clip makes it look like Kass is addressing a portion of her tribe, specifically Tasha and Kimmi in the shelter. That said, we also see shots of Jeremy, Spencer, Ciera, Stephen and Savage during her rant. I don’t know how calling out a big chunk of her tribe is going to help her continue to be someone who her tribemates want to work with, but it got her pretty far last time, right?
But, man, Kass’ entire narrative thus far has been about her growth and ability to learn how to be a socially, self-aware player. There have been more than a few references to Kass’ chaotic past, but how could there not be? It’s her character; it doesn’t mean she needs to act recklessly for the sake of acting recklessly. Either this moment signals Kass’ upcoming downfall or simply a low moment in what has been an incredibly clean run so far. I personally cannot visualize how this works out in her favor, but I also don’t see anyone targeting her at the vote.
Part 4: Like Monica Before Him
When Monica was eliminated, it was for a reason hinted at rather briefly during the episode from the week before. Bayon did not attend Tribal Council that night, but we were still given a bit of foreshadowing about the events of the next episode. Something very similar took place on Bayon last week during Stephen’s genuinely fantastic and frustrated confessional about wanting to take out Joe, despite his alliance’s reluctance to do so. There’s another Stephen confessional clip available on Survivor’s YouTube channel titled, “$1,000,000 Can Buy A Lot of Chicken,” where Stephen talks about being bad at ring toss and really not giving a damn about it.
Answer me this: why did this emotional, heartfelt yet strategy-centric confessional find a place in the episode rather than the one we can find online about his ambivalence towards a reward challenge? I think it signifies something is coming in the next week. It’s preparation for a twist in the gameplay.
Last week I predicted that Joe and Stephen would be on the chopping block, as Stephen attempted to take out the most apparent golden boy, but it was premature speculation. This week I’m going to make the same prediction, but I’m a lot more confident about it. I think I’m backed up by Joe’s appearances in the previews where he doesn’t really add anything more than the obvious.
“Thirteen… that’s such a big number!”
“Now the game is on. Like, once you make the merge, things are about to change.”
Like Monica before him, his confessionals are becoming less about a personal perspective and more just to make his presence apparent before his nearing departure. And let’s be honest, what has Joe’s narrative been this season? All we’ve gotten is how pretty everyone thinks he is and how happy he is camping out and providing for his tribe. We have seen no growth as a player out of Joe, and this is a season that has repeatedly rewarded change and growth, at least from the viewer perspective.
Also, do you remember Stephen’s confessional from original Bayon? Weeks ago we were given insight into Stephen’s plan to take out Joe the moment the merge hit. Clearly, he wanted him out last week, but he didn’t get that opportunity. Now at the merge, he will have it, and we’ve known about the plan since the beginning.
Part 5: Wrap-Up!
I’m ready for one hell of an episode, and I hope you all are too. Let’s break down what I’m expecting.
1. The alliances I detailed in Part 2 are going to be the basis for the gameplay of the rest of the season.
2. The “return of Chaos Kass” will be somewhat overlooked in the coming week, maybe mildly affecting the mood around camp, but it may re-emerge as a social strategy problem in the episode after this coming one.
3. Joe and Kelley will be on the chopping block this week. Joe has been in Stephen’s line of fire for a while now, and now that the merge has hit, I think those he is working with will be more willing to make the move. If they are still reluctant, they may target Kelley because Joe was so actively trying to protect her. I don’t think she’ll use the idol if they do at this point.