Edgic is a weekly feature analyzing each player’s edit, mapping characters to their story-arc. Note that our focus is not solely to determine the winner, as is typical of other Edgic sites. For more information on how Edgic works and rating definitions read our Introduction to Edgic article.
You can read previous weeks Edgic posts here.
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What Does This Episode Tell Us?
Fluidity, being able to embrace uncertainty and react to new information, was a new sub-theme of this episode for the Reactive style of game players. Aspects of the game kept changing.
- Michele, a reactive player, found herself at the bottom after messing up the reward challenge, but continued working on her social game, didn’t tie herself down to any one plan or alliance, and expressed willingness to make a move whenever the timing was right.
- Scot, a reactive player, seemed willing to vote with Peter when he wanted to flip, but when Peter (proactive player) went back to the Brains, deciding not to grow and change and make a move, Scot didn’t try to force anything. Letting the game come to him, he was willing to go ahead with voting out Julia, or voting out Peter. He never chained himself to any one plan but always went with what was best in the moment.
- Aubry, a reactive player, had been following Debbie’s then Joe’s lead all season long, shoring up her trust with them. But in the face of new information this episode, we saw Joe (a proactive player) stay rigid in whatever his latest plan was, even if it wasn’t the best for him long-term, because he’d already committed to it. Aubry broke ranks to react fluidly to the new information and do what was best for her by flipping on the brains and voting for Peter.
Fluidity rewarded people. Rigidity left people on the outs. Probst ended the episode talking about how the only thing that’s certain in this game is uncertainty, further validating the style of play that adapts.
Several more players got introduced to the land of UTR this episode, leaving only Debbie, Tai, and Scot as players still in the game who’ve had a confessional and substantial content every episode. As neither of these three seems likely to take home the win for this season, it confirms a quieter winner’s edit than we’ve seen in a while.
And speaking of that winner, the recap specifically showed Debbie saying, “I want to see a woman win this.” Later on during the episode, we hear Debbie mention this once again, this time to Michele: “I’d rather have a woman win this.” That’s a total of three times we’ve heard this statement. When coupled with the analysis of each player’s content this season, we are being given strong signals that a woman will win.
The recap summarized that a swap happened and that Julia was exiled to Brawn beach until she could join the tribe that lost immunity. The shot chosen to be representative of Julia “fending for herself” was of her crying and suffering, in other words, not fending. It’s a reminder that she struggled with the elements and needs others around her in order to do well.
Over at the new Chanloh tribe (blue), we are reminded that it’s an even split across the three Bs, and it’s a Michele confessional that gives this summary. But it is Debbie and her game approach that is specifically mentioned: “Debbie didn’t waste any time in forming relationships” and we see her say, “I’m on the offense, not the defense.” This hits on our edgic post from last week where we discussed the distinctive emerging split in proactive vs reactive game play. This tees up what we are about to see in the episode: Michele (and others) interacting with Debbie, juxtaposing their styles of play.
Finally, the recap mentions the Gondol tribe (yellow). Brains had the numbers, and beauty were in trouble. We see Peter saying, “The objective is to get one beauty out.” The aim wasn’t to take out the Beauty, but rather, to just get one out. This could have been a subtle hint at the fact that the objective was met, therefore another beauty would not be going next. The recap continued, “Tai considered playing his idol,” but Scot is shown telling him to save it, and Tai expresses his worry, but ultimately did as Scot said and kept it. Tai’s storyline is now tied to his idol and anxiety over how it will get played (or unplayed). The recap stated that the Brains took out Anna because she was “their biggest threat.” It lends credibility to the decision.
Neal was in the background to a few scenes this episode. He was subtitled coaching Nick at the reward challenge, “Relax relax” and coaching the tribe at the immunity challenge, “Stacks of two, stacks of three, let’s go.” After the reward challenge, he was one of the people shown complimenting Nick and saying it wasn’t his fault they lost. While he had a few lines, he wasn’t named by anyone, and often those lines were shown without even Neal in the shot. With nothing to comment on and the feeling that he wasn’t present in the episode, we believe the editorial intention here was an INV rating for Neal.
Under the Radar
Cydney barely escaped an INV rating this episode because of two things she said to other players to highlight aspects of those other characters. She was shown saying, “Whatcha doin, Scot?” at the reward challenge to distract Scot from sinking the winning shot, and it set up his timely and accurate response, “Winning.” She was also shown saying, “Damn, Debbie,” regarding Debbie’s statement about Michele drowning herself which served to confirm to the audience that yes, in fact, that was an “Over The Top” thing for Debbie to say.
We also saw a shot of Cydney massaging Jason’s legs while he lies down in the shelter during a Nick confessional. It’s when Nick was saying, “About to take the field as an athlete.” It’s mild, but it shows us that Cydney is warming up Jason to take the field and play this game. It’s in line with what we’ve seen of her game play where she takes a back seat to the more aggressive players and helps and supports those on her team. It looks like Cydney is going to send Jason in to battle to do her fighting for her.
Jason barely escaped an INV rating because of a single line of negative SPV (second person visibility) in which Debbie explicitly labeled him a boot target and said, “I don’t care for Jason all that much and he doesn’t do s**t around camp.” The shot cut to him lying down in the shelter doing nothing, supporting Debbie’s words, which earn him the N tone for this episode.
Having now been consistently portrayed as lazy, snoozing while others are playing the game around him, combined with the scene from Episode 1 where he disgustingly threw his skin into the pot commenting that Alecia could drink it, he’s officially eliminated from winner contention.
Middle of the Road
Tai has been one of the biggest characters every single episode this season. CPP5s nearly every episode! The sprinting streak has slowed to a light jog this episode, not just by registering a much lower visibility than usual of 2 and the less complex rating of Middle of the Road, but by also being toneless for the first time all season. This kind of cooldown bodes well for his winner chances because historically, people with the most visibility and so much tone up front rarely win. The only two things mentioned around Tai this episode were his idol and, ironically given his sentimental viewpoints around all forms of life, his talents at killing and cooking chickens.
The recap mentioned Tai’s idol as a center of focus for his storyline. He has the idol, wanted to play it, Scot told him not to, that worried him but he chose not to. The opening confessional of this episode was Tai essentially repeating all these same points: Scot told him not to play his idol, so he didn’t, and he’s glad because the “the more people know, the less power it has.” Since there’s a lot of anxiety around Tai’s idol and timing on when to play it, this brings up the question of whether Tai’s idol is now less powerful because Scot knows about it. Will that come to hurt Tai’s game later? He ends the confessional with, “And I definitely need some luck.” This furthers the audience’s anxieties of how Tai will ultimately use his idol. We aren’t given confidence around its existence or positive winks in the edit that it’ll ultimately help him; we are told it will be left in the hands of luck.
At the start of the episode, when the Gondol tribe comes back from tribal council, people explain they were happy to keep Tai because he’s a good guy and because Peter wants to try Tai’s Vietnamese chicken. Tai confirms, “yeah keep me until I kill the chicken for you guys,” and this is subtitled. At the end of the episode, before going to tribal again, Peter again says that he wants to keep Tai around so he can try his Vietnamese chicken. Given that Tai hadn’t yet cooked chicken for them, Tai’s directive to “keep me till I kill the chicken for you guys” was followed / came true — he was kept around.
Tai’s other confessional discussed his attempts to convince Aubry to vote for Peter. He narrated that the Brains have the numbers, so why would they “do anything else than the most obvious thing, which is vote out Julia?” This straight narration without more nuanced points or his own strategy on how to deal with the situation leads to the MOR rating. He also says, “I don’t think she believed me,” but we do know from Aubry’s confessionals that she believed Tai. This is one of the first times we’ve seen Tai shown to be explicitly wrong right away. Along with the growing idol worries around Tai’s narrative, we wonder if we’re seeing a new storyline emerge for him: he’s losing his grip on the game.
He had some interesting challenge focus, Probst yelling at the immunity challenge, “Scot helping Tai who is struggling,” which speaks to Scot helping Tai to not play his idol last tribal, and Scot shepherding Tai and Julia to execute on the Peter boot this tribal.
Over the Top
Debbie was OTT this episode because she was an editorial prop for others, and the only sole focus she got herself was that of a one-dimensional character who talks more than she probably should. Debbie obsessively talked about Nick’s Greek god good looks, calling him Adonis, saying he should model, and says she would know because she’s modeled for years and years. Then a chyron pops up with yet another new job title for Debbie, “Part-time Model.” This is an editorial wink at the audience, allowing us to laugh a little at Debbie’s OTT nature. When Michele was upset, she said to the whole tribe, “She might go drown herself,” followed by a Cydney reaction of, “Damn, Debbie,” an editorial nod to us that yes, that was a bit much.
Debbie was used this episode as an editorial tool to juxtapose Nick’s and Michele’s read on people and ability to connect vis-à-vis their interactions with Debbie. So we got a lot of camp scenes of her with them and SPV about her from the two of them. They were both able to read her. Nick knew that Debbie likes people who step up, that she finds him attractive, and that he can’t trust her, all of which Debbie confirmed herself throughout the episode: she said “I always step up to the plate and lead when nobody else will,” she talked at length about Nick’s attractiveness, and she said that she wouldn’t let that effect her game. Michele also talked about stepping up to the plate (and failing) with Debbie, and Debbie opened up a little to Michele, giving her a potential boot target in Jason as well as saying that she would “rather have a woman win this.” We saw Debbie say this same thing to Cydney, so we know that she’s at least in part telling the truth to Michele.
What this all tells us is, Debbie’s approach of being on the offense in this game is leaving little to the imagination. Everyone knows where her head is at. It’s concerning for her game, but we’ve seen her dictate a vote. How? By choosing the the right people to go into battle with. Debbie worked well with the players trying to form genuine bonds (Aubry and Joe) as opposed to other aggressive players (Liz and Peter). Michele is the Aubry in this scenario, trying to use her social skills to form a genuine bond with Debbie, plus we heard directly from her that she likes Debbie. Nick is more of the Liz, trying to manipulate people. But will Debbie see this? Debbie said to Nick at one point this episode, “I can start a fire with one match,” which we the audience know she was unable to do for the Brains tribe. It goes to show that she doesn’t always see things correctly.
Going forward, we will want to keep an eye out on who Debbie partners up with to judge her success. Her offense-focused strategy is showing too much of her hand and may be her undoing.
Scot got a lot of challenge focus this episode. The reward challenge came down to shooting hoops, so everyone talked about the NBA player being the favorite to win, which he did. Jeff kept calling out the use of Scot and his size during the immunity challenge as a positive for the Gondol tribe, including “a lot of people going to rely on Scot,” though ultimately they lost (the edit protecting Scot and blaming Peter and his failed strategy stacking the boxes). While none of this was talked about in a game context, Scot’s size and his boost in challenges is an ever-present focus this season. We wonder if this is a set up for the merge. Will he be targeted for his challenge prowess? Will he dominate in the challenges? Is this all just an analogy to his game play and how a lot of people will rely on him in the game?
We saw a lot of maneuvering from Scot this episode. He tried working with Peter to get a plan brewing and take out a brain. Scot says to Peter, “We haven’t spoken much,” opening the door for Peter to talk to him more. Peter lays out a plan to take out Aubry or Joe. When Scot returns to Peter after the immunity challenge loss, Scot says, “What’s your plan, doctor?… Do you want to talk or no?” again signaling that he’s willing to work with Peter. But Peter is coy, doesn’t engage Scot in a strategy talk, and ultimately tells him what his plan is, which is completely different from what he said the last time they were shown speaking. Peter mismanaged this relationship, pushing Scot away. This results in Scot mistrusting Peter, as everyone else does, saying he’s all “BS” and a “snake.”
Scot is then shown adapting to this fluidly. He’s part of the plan to convince Aubry to vote out Peter. However, as he lays out the game plan to Tai, without a definitive response from Aubry, they shouldn’t risk their lives for Julia. If Aubry won’t vote Peter, they’ll vote Julia out. We know exactly where Scot’s mind is at throughout this episode, and he’s able to give sound reasons for all of his decisions.
At tribal council, Scot makes an astute observation that “there are certain members of the tribe that make a decision, and 10 minutes later, they need to go off and talk about it again, and that creates dissension. That creates distrust and that worries people.” It’s a layered statement about what’s currently happening in the game. It’s a direct commentary on Peter running around talking to everyone then changing his decisions throughout this episode. It’s also a larger commentary on this game on how to cultivate trust and unity with people, and it comes down to building bonds with people, then only committing when you’re ready to execute on that commitment. We will talk more about this line in Aubry’s section.
Based on Aubry’s responses to Jeff at tribal council, Scot is able to continue his fluidity in the game and change the plan. He (correctly) calls an audible for everyone to vote the “original plan,” and he helps shepherd the Peter vote.
Scot has found his stride in this game and has been a rock for people both at challenges and with his vote at tribal; this should set him up well at the merge to be in the know and looped in on plans. It also possibly sets up a switch in his style of gameplay to a proactive style, trying to pull people to a particular side, which, based on what we’ve seen so far, would hurt his longevity in the game.
Julia enters this episode portrayed as being on the bottom of the Gondol tribe. Her themes from last episode continued. She’s portrayed to have great instincts in the game, but her survival is in the hands of others.
When she arrives at Gondol’s camp, she states that she’s “trying to get a read on this tribe because I’m next,” correctly identifying her status. She’s then immediately shown getting to work trying to get to know people at camp, asking everyone what they all do for a living. The edit is giving her credit for being a capable player. Peter said that Julia seemed like someone who’s “not conniving,” which speaks to her social game because we know that her actions are well thought out. When Peter pitches her a plan to save her, she keeps nodding and smiling and says yes to everything. We then hear her reasoning, “as long as it’s not my name, I will go with it because I gotta save myself.” All of this earns her a CP rating because we’re hearing her think through every action she takes and every deal she makes, and it all fits into her strategy of surviving the next vote.
There’s a moment when we question Julia’s read on the game, which is when Aubry and Joe are discussing how Peter is transparently playing both sides and talking strategy to Julia. Aubry says that Julia is “miscalculating what’s going on” by talking to Peter, also implying that Aubry and Joe are the ones in charge. This sets viewers up to ask, will Julia make it work with Peter to save her skin, or will the other shoe drop in terms of her seeing how scheming and arrogant Peter is? Will she approach Aubry and Joe to get them to save her?
The other shoe did drop. Julia quickly calculated what was actually going on. She’s shown stating, “Joe and Aubry are stupid to keep Peter around.” It’s subtitled to drive the point home, and based on all the footage we’ve seen, we know she’s right. She says Joe is “loyal” and not going to flop. This is supported by a later scene when Aubry approaches Joe switching their vote to Peter: just as Julia anticipated, he refuses. Julia also correctly identifies Aubry as the decision-maker and person to approach as the only Brain who can be convinced to make a move. Julia is shown to be the person who planted the seed of doubt in Aubry’s mind that ultimately caused her to change her vote from Julia to Peter.
Julia read everybody and their reactions perfectly, but her fate was in the collective hands of Scot, Tai, and Aubry, all of whom were on the cusp of voting her out. Going forward, we can expect to see her continue to read the game correctly, but rely on others to execute her plans for her.
This was a mostly positive episode for Aubry, though there were a few bizarre moments to talk through. Overall, she continues to be portrayed as always being on the side of the numbers and getting along well with people (one of the emotionally adept players). This episode showed us a turning point in her game where she’s now not just taking marching orders from Joe and Debbie to stick with her numbers. She’s now making her own decisions, sometimes going outside of her numbers to vote instead based on her gut.
We started to see signs last week that, while Joe was the one who named Anna as the target, Aubry was the most valuable player. Peter supports that this week when he says to Julia, Aubry is “the bigger player” and “more important to get out than Joe.” When Gondol loses immunity, Aubry discusses her strategy and how she’s stuck between wanting to get rid of Peter because he’s untrustworthy but keeping him to have the numbers. During this confessional, sympathetic music is played, which is usually saved for moments of personal growth and the like. She ends this confessional with, “that really scares me,” referring to making a move of taking Peter out. We are meant to feel her anguish and go through this rollercoaster with her.
When it comes time to decide who to vote for, Aubry does convince Joe to vote Julia instead of Peter. She has explained her reasoning for this, so we fully understand it. Nevertheless, Julia was shown saying, “Joe and Aubry are stupid to keep Peter around,” and the viewer can’t help but think Aubry swayed Joe to vote the wrong way. However, Julia also identifies Aubry as the person who needs to be convinced to vote for Peter, proving that Aubry is actually *not* stupid enough to keep Peter around if she knows what a threat he is to her game.
When Julia and Tai try convincing Aubry to switch their votes to Peter, Aubry doesn’t commit. She only says, “Thanks for letting me know” while doing camp work with them. We can see the frustration and confusion for everyone involved. We hear Tai’s thoughts, “Aubry didn’t say much at all so I don’t know what she’s thinking.” Scot’s thoughts, too, “We don’t know what she’s going to do.” We, the viewers at home, feel their anguish, and while we also know Aubry’s anguish, as she summarized herself, “I feel like no matter what I do, it’s going to blow back and bite me in the ass”. Nevertheless, we ask, why, Aubry, why?? Why don’t you answer them and commit one way or another?
We know we keep quoting Aubry from episode 3’s tribal council. Expect us to keep quoting it all season long because it’s been fitting in perfectly all season. Aubry said, “There are comments or silences and you have to know what those mean too even though they’re not numbers.” Her comments and silences in response to their attempts to sway her were showing thoughtfulness, that when she’s ready to commit, she will. Unlike Peter, she doesn’t throw her commitment down willynilly. Scot even speaks to this quality at tribal council, “there are certain members of the tribe that make a decision, and 10 minutes later they need to go off and talk about it again, and that creates dissension. That creates distrust, and that worries people.” By NOT committing to a decision that she knows she’s still thinking through, she’s actively trying to not create dissension and breed distrust. We even see how Joe is upset when she discusses changing their decision with him, so she doesn’t want to recreate that circumstance with the others on the tribe. Scot and Tai read her “comments and silences” at tribal, “know what those mean, too, even though they’re not numbers,” and change their vote accordingly to sync up with Aubry’s gut.
Once again Probst kept going to Aubry at tribal council to speak for the tribe and to comment on whatever others said. “Is that alone enough to pull him out?” he asked her, as if it is Aubry’s call…which we know that it is. Jeff comes back to Aubry later, “so Aubry, you have all this information, from here, from there, from there, from everywhere. How do you process it?” again signaling that she’s the person who’s supposed to handle it and decide which way the vote will go. This is also when we get the line of the night from Aubry, perfectly summing up the prevailing approach to this game so far:
“I try to be as logical as possible when it comes down to numbers, but at the end of the day, that is shaded by the gut feeling I get about what people are saying to me.” You can talk numbers and strategy as much as you want, you can make all the sense in the world with it all, but emotional connections and intuition will ultimately rule the vote. You need to be able read people and adapt to survive this season. Will this mode of gameplay continue to be dominant after the merge? All signs currently point to yes.
Aubry’s vote outlined Aubry’s gameplay to date. She first does what she’s been doing all along: voting the way she and Joe agreed on, the easy way, sticking with the numbers. Then, she takes the game into her own hands, and based on her gut, she votes the way she wants to vote. It harkens back to last episode when Aubry said to Joe, “I’m with you on this one,” and we questioned if that meant she would not be with him on one in the future. Here it is. She’s struck out on a new path for herself.
This episode furthered Joe’s character development in a few key ways: it clarified his power dynamic with Aubry, it showed that his style of game play is too rigid and a failing one, and for the fourth time this season, it alluded to him getting medevaced.
Despite appearances in the past weeks, Joe is not in control; Aubry is. While we had clues to this before, this episode made it definitive. Joe is the one described as loyal and unwilling to “flop.” Aubry tells Joe that his argument with Peter was a big deal and that he needs to go “work it out as guys.” Joe is the one who follows Aubry’s orders here…on social game. This comes back to the theme that social game and emotional connections are more important this season. Aubry’s plan works and Joe mends his relationship with Peter, causing Brains to come back together so Peter won’t flip on them. Joe says to Peter, “I can assure Aubry, right?” as if she’s the mob boss sending Joe out to do the dirty work, and he needs to report back. Aubry convinces Joe to vote for Julia which Joe acknowledges when he says, “I’m sick of Peter, but Aubry does make sense.” Even though, later on, she considers changing the vote to Peter again and Joe rejects the idea, it’s because of the next thing we’re about to discuss, his hardheadedness and rigidity. He already made his mind up on Aubry’s original direction, and in that moment, her mind was still uncertain, so she didn’t push it.
At the immunity challenge, after blocks fell on him and Jeff asks him if he’s OK, he literally responds, “Yeah I’m good. I got a hard head.” This is a moment of editorial beauty where random challenge content perfectly summarizes who a character is. Joe is the hardheaded guy, tough, stubborn, and while he can survive a lot, he won’t be a game-changer. Everything this episode hammered home this theme for Joe. People’s descriptions of him were bossy, “loyal,” “won’t flop. “Broaching” Peter was nothing short of an interrogation, which Aubry labeled “wigging out” and Tai labeled “butting heads”. When he makes his mind up on the vote, he refuses to change it. He displays combativeness without the anger; he’s ornery without any ill-feeling. Hardheaded, which literally means “practical and realistic; not sentimental.” How does this work out for his game?
Throughout this episode, Joe says he’s going to take Peter out. The edit beat us over the head with this. Four times, in fact. Count them: (1) “if he lies to me, that’s it.” (2) “If you lie right now, I’m telling you you’re done.” (3) “If we lose the next challenge then we gotta take him out. ” (4) “Keeping Peter numbers-wise, would make sense if he was a straight shooter, but… before you get in a position where, ‘Oh, my God, I’m in trouble…’ you take the trouble out.” We also know that Joe’s instincts are right. Peter is trying to turn on Aubry and Joe. When Joe confronts him, Peter does “start dancing” because he’s not telling the truth. Joe’s “retired FBI” instincts and training are spot on!
Despite these instincts, Joe’s practical, hardheaded side wins out, and he sticks with Peter, and he was left out of the vote. However, it’s interesting to note that all the times he talked about Peter being “done,” he never said it would be at his own hands. In fact, he called it correctly. Peter lied to Joe, and was done. They lost the challenge and took Peter out. What this tells us is that, Joe has great instincts and we can believe what he sees and says about people. He’s just not going to use that to his advantage in this game.
Finally, we have the ever-present Joe might be medevaced theme. To recap, in episode one, Liz mentioned that Joe would be the first to be medevaced from the game. In episode two, Neal said that Joe and Debbie might get sick from drinking the well water. In episode five, Joe’s infected finger had significant focus. In this episode, blocks hit Joe in the head. “Those are big heavy blocks,” Jeff said, followed by a shot of blood gushing down the side of his face. And rather than leaving it there, Jeff ended the challenge by saying, “On the way out, Joe, have medical take a look at that.” We never got a followup that everything was OK. It was left open-ended.
Joe’s character development this episode has started to answer some of our thematic questions for this season. Bonding and following instincts are looking more and more like the successful strategy. Overt, aggressive game play and following numbers instead of gut will leave you on the outside of a vote.
Peter’s depictions was that of a player who had a bad social game and didn’t follow his instincts to make a move, both of which led to his downfall.
We’ve seen up till now that people think he’s arrogant and that he tries to tell people what to do rather than engage with those pesky “comments and silences” and form bonds with people. This theme was hammered home even more this episode. When Julia tries getting to know the group at large, “what do you guys all do?” the edit makes it appear as if Peter hijacked the group conversation, “You’re a B.U. student right?… I’m an ER doctor.” and turned it into a one-on-one excluding everyone else. Then he’s shown having a conversation with Julia in the water in full view of everyone else, isolating her, and looking exclusive. Joe says to Aubry, “I don’t understand the guy… bright, sharp, very intelligent, strong,” as in, Joe doesn’t know how somebody with these positive Brains qualities could be playing this game like such “a dope,” as Aubry finished his sentence for him. In other words, when Peter says to Tai, “I’m not just a Brain,” we are seeing the exact opposite: in this game, he is just a brain.
We see Peter and Scot talking to one another, and Scot says, “We haven’t spoken much,” then Peter jumps right into a game plan. Peter wants to use Scot to make a move but hasn’t been talking to him and building a relationship with him. If they haven’t spoken much, presumably trust can’t have been established. Other things we heard about Peter this episode: “plays both sides,” “transparent,” “cancer,” “pain in the butt,” “snake,” and three times he was called “arrogant.” He has three people ready and willing to make a move against a Brain, but Peter has pushed all of them away. On top of that, he led the strategy at the Immunity challenge without listening to others on it, and it lost them a huge lead and cost them immunity. Tai even tried questioning the approach, but Peter shut him down. His bad social game sent them to tribal.
Most of the episode, Peter schemes and plots to vote out Aubry or Joe. He says, he “might disband this brain trust,” that he’s “positioning myself better,” “not going to let them get in front of me and $1 million.” He even specifically says, “If I’m going to make a move, now’s the time.” Then later on, he says to Julia, “I don’t know if now is too early, but I’m scheming.” He went from “Now’s the time” to “I don’t know if it’s too early” to “scratching my fire plan” and going back to voting with Brains. His instincts told him to make a move. The move would have saved him, but he wouldn’t adapt or take the risk.
There were strong signals that Peter would be voted out this episode as there were many lingering shots of him sleeping in the hammock and totally out of it while the game was being played all around him. He was sleeping in that hammock the way he slept on his instincts and did nothing to save himself. His overall season ranking is MORN. He’ll be remembered as the arrogant guy who always threatened flipping on the Brains but didn’t.
We are combining our writeup for Michele and Nick this week because their episode was a dance around each other. Their scenes were all tightly linked: parallel conversations with Debbie, comparisons in reward challenge performance, conversations with each other, and even tit for tat confessionals as if their confessionals were having a conversation.
Reading Debbie and interacting with her became one main point of comparison between Michele and Nick. We see Debbie early in the episode say to Nick, “I always step up to the plate and lead when nobody else will.” Nick takes his cue from Debbie and says about her, “She wants people to step up to the plate, so I just have to remember, be that person for Debbie.” Nick then steps up to the plate during the reward challenge and delivers, almost beating Scot at shooting hoops. After the challenge, Debbie is shown gushing over Nick’s performance, so he’s “walking the walk” here being that person for Debbie.
Michele, on the other hand, was shown as losing the challenge for the Chan Loh tribe. Afterwards, Michele speaks privately to Debbie, “There’s times that you need to step up, and I definitely needed to step up and I didn’t… When it comes down to something that close, you shoulder the responsibility.” Michele was able to glean on her own that Debbie wants people to step up, and wanted to shoulder the responsibility for her failure to do so, knowing that this is important to Debbie. We see this pay off for her because Debbie then opens a door for her strategically. Debbie names an alternative boot target and mentions that she wants a woman to win. We know Debbie is at least in part telling the truth here because she’s made this same comment about wanting a woman to win to Cydney, whom Debbie said she did want to work with.
We are also given a chance to compare Michele and Nick in their dealings with each other. Nick is shown to be consistently insensitive and condescending to Michele. He proclaims coldly and out of the blue at camp, “Well, Anna’s gone!” and laughs while the camera zooms into Michele’s angry/upset face. Dark music starts playing immediately as we then start hearing a Michele confessional on how bad it was for her that Anna was voted out. Nick doesn’t measure how his words will impact others, or doesn’t care. When Michele pitches a new game direction to Nick, he says to her, “Yeah we’re not going that way. Here’s the thing.” He mansplains how the game works to her, says her read on Debbie is incorrect, and he ends by telling her, “you are definitely the target.” Michele just nods and says “ok” rather than offending him back or calling him out. The result of this interaction is that Nick is still thrilled to work with Michele, “making sure Michele is under my wing,” but Michele foresees making a move against him in the future, “make him believe that I need all the help that he can offer… and when it comes time to make a move, then I will.”
Finally, we have the editorial cues to compare the two with. At the beginning of the episode, Nick says “From here on out, I’ll be bonding and making relationships.” The accompanying camera shot is of him shaking his head looking foolish. We can see why from his statement. Why has it taken him this long to start bonding and making relationships? The edit is undermining his ability to make those relationships. On the flip side, Michele has been shown to successfully build “natural” relationships with people from the get-go. When Michele talks about teetering in the game, sympathetic music starts playing. She ends the confessional by saying she’s going to use her social skills to build herself back up (as we cut to a shot of her rising from the water), then she’s shown putting those skills to work with Debbie, lending credibility to her plan.
As for tone, Nick received a lot of positive tone from Debbie who finds him attractive, and he was pumped up by many after the reward challenge: “nice shooting, Nick. You put the pressure on,” “Noble effort, everybody. Nick: valiant,” “amazing.” He also gets Negative tone from Michele who said, “The way that Nick speaks to me is not in a way I would ever tolerate a man speaking to me in my regular life,” calls him egotistical, says that Nick babies her, treats her like the innocent little girl, “like I’m stupid,” when actually, she’s “a strong, independent woman.”
Michele gets P tone because the paired sympathy music with her turnaround confessional and portrayed Michele as somebody we want to root for, especially after the condescending way Nick spoke to her.
As for gameplay, this episode further portrayed Nick as one of the proactive style game players and showed him in a more rigid, stubborn light. He’s overconfident in his own assessment of things, for example he said about Debbie, “Maybe she’s blowing smoke up my rear end… but I doubt it,” and he talked down to Michele as if her read on the situation was obviously wrong without even hearing her out. Michele, on the other hand, was willing to listen to what Nick said, offered Debbie a chance to speak and showed that she was willing to listen and follow her lead. Michele said she’s going to use her social skills and “when it comes time to making a move, I will.” She’s waiting for the right time to do things. She’s letting the game come to her and is reacting fluidly.
While Nick had some good moments in this episode, they were always shallow, such as Debbie admiring his good looks, or complimenting him for a good challenge performance even though they still lost. There was no substance backing the positives to his edit. Michele, on the other hand, had some low moments, but had deep, validated content that pulled her out of that negativity. Her fighting spirit and genuine attitude towards relating with people kept her in the game, ultimately looking like the better player.
Main Stories in Play
Mother Nature – the extreme elements plus the demands of the game continue to be a dominating aspect of this season. While it wasn’t addressed directly in this episode, boxes fell on Joe during the immunity challenge causing his head to gush blood down the side of his face.
Emotional Intelligence – those able to read people on an emotional level will have more success. Players such as Aubry and Michele are leading representatives of this theme.
Proactive versus Reactive – two battling styles of strategy became the central focus of this episode. Those playing aggressively and arrogantly (Peter, Debbie, Joe) versus those playing passively and relaxed (Aubry, Michele, Scot). The more proactive people are more rigid about how they’ll vote and whom they’ll work with, and the more reactive people have been shown to embrace uncertainty and react fluidly, taking the game day by day.
Walk the Walk – those that can put their money where their mouth is will succeed. Those who make big claims but don’t back it up will fail.
Top: Michele, Aubry, Cydney.
Hanging On: Julia, Neal.
That is it for Survivor: Kaôh Rōng Edgic for Episode 6. Let us know your thoughts and anything interesting that we missed in the comments below.