As a refresher, each week, Tribal Talk will break down what happens at Tribal Council to try and determine what exactly caused the latest eliminee to get booted. Sometimes, that may mean a simple explanation of a simple boot, and sometimes it may mean a Cirie-style exit Tribal explanation with idols and advantages galore. This will usually entail a few different parts:
-A short analysis of one or two of Jeff Probst’s questions to the castaways.
-An analysis of how the plans made at camp compared to the actual result of the Tribal Council.
-A breakdown of any idol plays, advantages, and a review of who voted for who and why.
-An analysis of how the vote will affect everyone’s games moving forward.
MINIMIZING YOUR LOSSES
In Survivor, most of the time there is going to be a “shield” in front of either you or your alliance. This shield doesn’t necessarily always take the hit, but more often than not, we hear contestants comforting themselves during confessionals by saying something along the lines of “I’m worried, but _____ is a bigger threat, so at least I know it’s not me.” However, rarely, the Survivor Gods aren’t so kind – and they put a select few castaways in a no wiggle room scenario, where the only people able to be voted out are your closest allies.
Unfortunately, that was the case this week for the newly formed Lesu tribe, and Rick became the victim of the solemn occasion. After perhaps one of the most heartfelt Tribals the show has ever seen, let’s dig in and find out: Love aside, what caused Rick to be placed on the bottom of the totem pole?
THE MAIN IDEA
This week, I don’t have a specific question and response to analyze, because of the rare occurrence of a Tribal with almost zero strategy shown to us. This Tribal revolved around love and respect, and we got that message pretty frequently throughout. Nobody wanted another player out, and the castaways all relayed that very clearly. What the Tribal came down to strategically was just simple math. Over the past four episodes, David and Rick had bonded, and likewise for Wentworth and Lauren, which meant that mathematically, Wardog’s vote would decide who got the boot.
That game plan is virtually as straightforward as you can get a vote to be in Survivor. Everyone knows clearly where the lines are, and it’s just accepted that somebody will be the swing vote. In fact, because that approach can only appear if a tribe is so close that they don’t want to lie to each other, it is rarely seen. The only circumstance where this gameplay is heard of somewhat regularly is at the Final Five, where you could have a similar two vs. two battle with a swing vote in the middle and even that is relatively uncommon. Ultimately, Wardog ruled to send Rick packing, and this week we will be looking at why he decided to do that over the other option, Lauren.
LESU THAN AVERAGE
Now that we have three tribes, there’s a little bit more to break down following the challenge.
Firstly, it would be a sin not to mention Chicken-Gate. It was painful for me to watch Wendy, whose gameplay up to the swap had been horrendous, get a second chance at life in the game on the new Manu tribe – and squander it almost twice as fast as she did the first time. As if stealing the flint wasn’t enough, she proceeded to pull off an even more disgusting gimmick by releasing the tribe’s main source of protein – all of the chickens. And it didn’t take a genius to figure out how the tribe felt about that. By morning, the tribe had figured out what went down, and Wendy had, for the second time, solidified her place on the bottom of the totem pole.
I don’t think there’s any light at the end of the tunnel for Wendy at this point. It’s just a dark, endless abyss of ignorance and emotional upheaval. I suppose the only glimmer of hope is that she could remind the tribe that she dismissed the chickens peacefully and that her gimmick wasn’t a rage-filled outburst like Survivor has seen in previous seasons (enter Brandon Hantz).
On Kama, the tribe remains virtually unchanged, but we are still under-informed on most of the strategic goings on. Julia, four episodes in, has yet to receive a single confessional, which does not look good for her game. I imagine one of two things is occurring here. Either the editors are using the Kama winning streak as a reason to cut some of their edit time to make space for the Edge, or Kama simply isn’t giving the editors any content to work with since they haven’t had to do any serious strategizing yet. However, considering that their winning streak could end unexpectedly and the tribe seems to understand that, I imagine the former is correct. The editors probably won’t give us much more than we’re getting already on Kama until they lose a challenge.
Finally, Lesu. If there’s a tribe to feel bad for, it’s definitely those in green. Not only have they dealt with a newly proclaimed vegetarian and flint thief, but they’ve also attended every single Tribal of the season thus far. On top of that, they had to vote out someone from their ultra-tight alliance of five and now are in the minority tribe-wise, 5-5-4. They certainly don’t look good at the moment, but this is Survivor, and things can change abruptly. I wouldn’t sentence them to a Pagonging come merge just yet. Wentworth and David are both strong players, and Wardog and Lauren appear to be as well. I think they all still have a decent shot if they can not lose any more challenges.
The only thing worth looking at during this episode’s Tribal is Wardog and his ultimate decision of who to send home. David and Rick weren’t changing their votes, and neither were Wentworth and Lauren, so we need to look at why Wardog ultimately booted Rick. The edit didn’t give us a lot, because since his vote was the only potential surprise, they needed it to be unpredictable. From what we saw in the episode, he weighed both options equally. Lauren wasn’t eating, which was not good for the tribe physically, but Rick was going to be more of a social threat down the road. That’s all we got, and we were left to deduce why Wardog ended up choosing one reason over the other.
I think that Wardog thought back to the Keith situation and said to himself “We’ve been here before and eliminated a physical liability, and it didn’t help.” Removing the first physical liability didn’t do anything for the welfare of the tribe, so I think Wardog assumed that doing so a second time would be another wasted vote, and he might as well use this opportunity to remove a threat that could be around come merge. It’s also likely that after the Chris vote, he wanted to continue to keep Wentworth around as his shield since she’s more likely to take the heat off of him than Rick is. And regardless of that, Lauren really isn’t physically weak at all – I think production put that into the edit to make it appear as though Wardog had a valid reason for voting her, had he chosen to do so. If we really look at things, Lauren was the first one on top of the A-Frame structure in the immunity challenge, so I wouldn’t call her weak at all.
Ultimately, I think what placed Rick on the bottom of the totem pole was that he was seen as a potential social threat down the road, and it made more sense to get rid of him now than it did to do so later in the game when it would be much harder to do so.
It’s not easy to predict the future of these three tribes considering that it all depends on who wins immunity, but at this point, I’m predicting that Lesu will pull themselves together and finally win their first Immunity challenge. Kama seems to be strong, and I don’t think that they will be losing anything anytime soon, but as for Manu, with Wendy on their annoyance radar and causing them more and more inconveniences, they’re going to end up losing a challenge and most likely boot Wendy.
If Lesu was to lose another challenge, David would be in trouble since he’s in the minority now. Other than that, none of the players’ games have changed that drastically since the ultra unlikely swap hardly changed anything, which can be good for some players and bad for others.
DOWN THE ROAD
Personally, I think episode four was the best one we’ve seen yet, and call me sentimental, but I really enjoyed the over-emotional Tribal. If it happened frequently, it’d be annoying, but all of the Lesu five seemed genuinely connected. David said it was the most emotional Tribal he’d been to and that kind of genuine emotion is nice to see on a show like Survivor once in a while.
Ultimately, this season is slowly gaining traction, and I think come merge we might have a very enjoyable game going. Plus, soon, we’re going to get to see how the castaways react when they find out about the Edge! I imagine it will throw a ringer into a lot of people’s plans and cause some intriguing strategy among the castaways. I’m excited for what’s to come! With a double episode coming at us, there’s going to be a lot to dissect. See you next week!