Next Time On… Survivor is a blog here on Inside Survivor all about previews and predictions, but with a new twist! Throughout the season I will be chatting with former contestants from other reality shows about Survivor for a feature on the site called Alternative Reality. Any parts of those interviews about predictions or winner picks will end up here! This week, we are joined by Randy Rice of the History Channel show, The Smartest Guy in the Room.
And as always: this blog is 100% spoiler free speculation. Let’s get into it!
Part One: Previously On…
Let’s tally the votes, er, predictions.
1. Adam will not use his reward stealer to take someone’s loved one visit away. Let’s get real.
Grade: No surprise here! A+!
2. Will is voted out after David attempts to make good use of him.
Grade: Will may not have been voted out, but he certainly dug his own grave. And he did commit to team David. Let’s give me a D here.
3. I have no idea what the challenges for this week will be, so let’s just put our money on Jay or Ken winning immunity because why not?
Grade: Jay won reward so that’s something! Right, guys? Right? Eh. F.
4. No one trusts Hannah anymore. Not even Hannah. Especially not Hannah.
Grade: Adam was willing to give her his idol, so it looks like I was very wrong. F.
Part Two: Calling the shots
The first part of the “next time” preview in last week’s episode features Will and Jay swinging in a hammock while chatting with Adam about the next vote. Will whispers his idea to take David out. The Probst narration: “Will tries to take charge.” It’s followed by a Will confessional: “Now I’m the one calling the shots.”
Notice the word “tries” in that phrase. Will tries to take charge. You could write that line a thousand ways: “Will takes charge,” “Will is ready to take charge,” “Will has a new target.” The use of “tries” here feels very intentional and not in the throw-you-off-the-scent kind of way. “Tries” does not infer success. It is a signal of an attempt gone wrong.
So who’s really calling the shots? Well, both the preview and the commercial are leading us to believe it’s Adam who’s starting to “make the moves to win this game.” We see him talking with Bret in the water about how he doesn’t want Will to “determine his fate,” and also see him shake hands with Bret during the commercial.
These are pretty clear signs of a Will in danger. Too clear. I find myself in a conflict. It makes sense to target a loose cannon like Will game-wise, but why would the preview materials so blatantly paint him in troubled light?
My first thought brought me back to the Will-Jay relationship. It hasn’t exactly been its strongest over the past few weeks, but the first shot of the preview shows them in a hammock together, clearly discussing strategy. And Will made it very clear at tribal last week that he appreciates Jay, and Jay made his plea for Will. And out of the three people who initially had hidden immunity idols, Jay is the only one who still does.
If Will tells Jay that word got out about the idol, Jay will be more inclined to get rid of it as it makes him more of a target. And if Jay feels that Will is his most reliable ally and that he is about to be eliminated, Jay might just save Will with his idol and take out whoever they plan on eliminating. If there’s one thing Jay has proven thus far in the game, it’s that his intuition is sharp as a dagger. I think he’ll know if it’s time to play the idol, and on who he’s got to play it.
The question becomes: who are Will and Jay targeting? The discussion we see in the hammock with Adam mentions David, and David certainly appears anxious in the previews as well, but I don’t believe they are going to stick with that plan if they see other players chatting amongst themselves after providing the idea. I think Will has a much bigger problem with a different player.
During the commercial, we get a Ken confessional: “We don’t know what’s going on, that’s how this game is being played right now.”
I think that’s half the story. Ken doesn’t know what’s going on, but I think other players do. And based off of the last episode, Will isn’t too happy with Ken. My bet for the first tribal council: after Will and Jay unsuccessfully target David, and Will gets put in hot water by Adam and Bret, Jay plays his idol on Will, and the two of them knock out Ken.
Of course, everyone knows that Jay does have an idol, so there is likely tension about going after him and his ally. That’s why I think we have a clip of Adam saying, “I’m so scared,” all teary-eyed during the commercial. Adam is clearly ready to start working his endgame, and the idea of being idoled out probably isn’t sitting with him very well.
I asked Randy Rice about who he thought was in trouble this week:
JD: The preview shows Will in a hammock and talks about him starting to call the shots or something, which I don’t totally buy.
RR: [Laughs] I don’t think anybody buys that. And I think that this power trip that Will’s on is going to get really old really fast and I don’t think there’s any chance that whatever value Will has is going to do him any good. I think he’s a dead man walking.
JD: You think he’s out next?
RR: That would make this week’s preview a little on the nose, but yeah, I’d be sort of surprised if he’s not at least one of the two people whose name goes down at tribal council this week.
JD: Oh yeah, it’s a double elimination this week.
RR: I wouldn’t bet my house, but I’d bet a dollar that Will goes home this week, for sure.
JD: Those are starkly different things!
JD: Who else do you think is in trouble since it’s a double vote-off?
RR: I think, although they showed us in the preview, sort of a battle between David and Will, I think this Ken and Will thing is gonna come back. I think that’s something to look out for because Ken showed himself to be a little too volatile. Will being the most recent flipper and Ken being somebody who’s opening his mouth about the wrong thing at the wrong times… it’s a bad time for the both of them.
JD: Neither of them have been shown super positively in the past week, so that’s a pretty good prediction.
RR: And I think going into the finale, I think it would be satisfying to lose people like Ken and Will. Ken has been a fan favorite, but I don’t know that anyone who’s thinking about this is thinking that Ken really has a shot to win the game. So I think taking two non-contenders out going into the finale would leave things with the most possibilities for crazy stuff, where anyone has a shot to win.
Part Three: Underdog! (Underdog~!)
This is the part where I either disprove my entire last section or verify it beautifully.
We have a clip in the commercial of Jay in the dark telling the camera, “It’s time for the underdog to keep fighting because I’m not going down.”
My bet is on that confessional taking place right after the tribe comes back from the first of two tribal councils this week. The question is: is it in reference to his daring and successful idol play, or is it about him having lost his last true ally? Is it a moment of confidence and self-congratulations or one of willpower (heh) in the face of pretty awful odds?
My guess: it’s his declaration of “bring it on” at his tribemates after successfully saving Will and taking out Ken. Neither Jay nor Will may be in any true power position after this, but it will certainly shake free a couple of committed Ken allies like Adam and David, which could be an opportunity for new life in the game.
Speaking of underdogs, David is absolutely in trouble. He knows it too, and says it in the preview, “the most insecure I’ve ever felt is right now.” I would bet he says that after Ken’s elimination.
Without Jessica, with Ken probably eliminated, and with Adam and Hannah aware enough of the challenge of taking on David at a final tribal council, David is running out of reliable allies. Even if Ken isn’t voted out, I doubt David likes the idea of going against him at the final tribal council. Lord knows Bret, Jay, Will and Sunday aren’t going to protect him for no good reason.
There has been a small trend this season of players going after each other and both eventually getting eliminated back-to-back. We saw it with Figgy and Michaela, and we saw it far more directly with Chris and Jessica. Zeke and David were at each other’s throats, and Zeke is out. All I’m saying is: there is an argument for David’s elimination at one of the upcoming tribal councils, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if David followed Ken who followed Zeke out the door.
Part Four: The end is nigh
It looks like we’re going into the finale with six players remaining. It’s going to be a hectic finale full of strange advantages, several tribal councils and oh no we have to listen to [redacted] speak again at the final tribal, don’t we? Oh, and of course they’re going to bring up the relationship at the reunion show. Dammit.
Anyways, I asked Randy Rice about his winner picks for the season.
JD: Who have been your winner picks?
RR: My winner pick before the season started was Zeke, so that obviously is a fresh wound. But I play a pretty aggressive fantasy Survivor league that is comprised of just my wife and I, and our moms and a few close friends.
JD: [Laughs] Okay –
RR: Just like real Survivor, we do a re-draft right around the merge episode to mirror the game. And we get to choose our five in our re-draft, and my players went home three weeks in a row. So the only people I have left to cling to are Ken and Adam. I’m sort of attached to those players although I’m much happier to root for Adam than I am for Ken at this point.
JD: So you’re pretty much putting your money on Adam?
RR: Yeah I think from here on out, I’m just hoping that all of the focus that’s been on Adam is not a bad sign. I’m hoping that his idol play this week garners him enough loyalty from the people in his cadre that he’s able to sneak his way into the final tribal council and unless Jay is also at the final tribal council, I think Adam talks anybody under the table.
JD: I’m torn! I do think Adam has a really good shot to go all the way in this, but at the same time, I’m afraid he’s receiving that Stephen Fishbach edit, almost. Very emotional, very personal, very involved in the narrative, and then out at seven, know what I mean?
RR: Yeah, I feel like the Fishbach story arc was sort of between Adam and David this season. I have a feeling one of them is going to go the way of the Fishbach –
RR: – and the other is going to final tribal council.
I will be sharing my finale predictions and thoughts on the final six after this week’s episode!
Part Five: Wrap up
The penultimate showdown of penultimate destiny begins!
1. Will is unsuccessful at calling the shots but survives the shot at him via Jay’s idol. (Or, a variant: Will wins immunity and Jay plays his idol on himself for the same effect.)
2. Ken is voted out at the first tribal council. David is voted out at the second. (Additionally, Ken gives the legacy advantage to David, and David gives it to Hannah.)
3. Adam wins an immunity challenge, and so does Jay.
4. Two new hidden immunity idols are planted with two days remaining to use them.