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.
SURVIVOR RUSH HOUR
This week, just a few short minutes after the challenge scene aired, I saw the castaways grabbing their torches and heading for Tribal Council. Why was this so abnormal? According to my DVR, about twenty-two minutes remained in the episode, when normally it sits at about twelve. This, paired with the information we received in the preview trailer, let me know one thing for sure: This was going to be a Tribal to remember.
In what will without a doubt be our most complex Tribal Talk yet, we will be taking a look at the absolute chaos and pandemonium that ensued at this week’s Tribal, and what the outcome means going forward.
This week, we will be omitting the “Question Highlight” section once again, as we will be examining the Tribal as a whole.
To understand what happened at Tribal Council, we first need to understand what the initial plan was. To do that, we need to go back to before the Immunity Challenge.
Vata beach was socially in shambles after the Eric blindside the previous night. Kama was now more divided than ever, and even Lesu was fractured into halves: consisting of Wentworth, Lauren, and Wardog on one side and David and Rick on the other. The interesting thing about Lesu’s situation was that they had the incentive to put the divide be behind them – that incentive being the halved Immunity Idol. If they chose not to work together, the idol would become a blackmailing chip, which doesn’t benefit anyone. Consequently, David and Rick were able to mend the damage.
Meanwhile, the Kama tribe had gone from fractured to shattered. Ron and Julie’s egos had anvils dropped right on top of them by the Eric blindside, which outraged them. Rick and David approached the now outcast duo of Ron and Julie as Rick explained how he had stuck with them, and mentioned that the lone vote at Tribal was from him, just as the icing on the “trust cake.” Rather than take this proposal strategically, Julie began showing how the Eric blindside had torn her to pieces. She wept in a confessional about how no one is there for her, and explained how Survivor is so difficult because no one is truly looking out for your best interest because like you, they’re only looking out for themselves.
On the opposite side of the tribe, the trio of Gavin, Julia, and Victoria approached the Lesu 3 and solidified their alliance in place, setting their eyes on David as the primary target. However, it seemed that Gavin was the only one fully on-board with this new alliance, as we later saw that Julia and Victoria had other ideas and weren’t wholly trusting of the Wentworth, Lauren, Wardog trio.
Before Tribal Council, the plan seemed so delicate you could shatter it with the tap of a finger. Julia and Victoria basically forced Gavin into switching plans as they wanted to target Wentworth. The belief being that they would lead Lesu on, but the flip back to old Kama. But Gavin wasn’t really feeling this new plan. Meanwhile, Ron and Julie were now left in the dust to fend for themselves. And since Rick and David seem to have been abandoned… did we really know where their heads were at? And what about the Lesu 3? If they’re being flipped on, how will their votes fall? Wentworth certainly got the vibe that something had changed.
The fact that none of these questions were answered before we headed to Tribal should have been an excellent indicator that this was going to be a very messy, very live Tribal Council. And without a doubt, it was.
In the craziest Tribal we’ve seen this season, and arguably one of the craziest we’ve ever witnessed in the history of the show, there’s a lot to break down. When Tribal began, from what I can understand, the plans were as follows:
Lesu 3 (+ maybe Ron and Julia?) targeting David.
Rick and David – unknown.
Kama – targeting Wentworth.
However, things started to head downhill after Julie once again got emotional, this time right in the middle of Tribal. She explained her frustrations to the tribe very thoroughly. However, in the middle of this Julie-rant, we cut to Wentworth asking Julia if they were still set on the plan. And at this point, we saw the action that acted as the catalyst for the rest of this explosive Tribal. Julia let out a stifled, yet exuberant giggle, almost child-like. Probst then turned to her and asked what was so funny, to which Julia explained about the Wentworth situation.
Rick then took this opportunity to exclaim the equivalent of “Julia, didn’t you just accuse Kama of working with the Lesu 3?” Following this, Aurora entered the picture and shifted the discussion around Lesu being untrustworthy and dysfunctional. Eventually, Aurora made the point that, in reference to David’s shark/minnow analogy, that other forces may be forcing the minnows to move, not necessarily just a shark. But, Julia quickly intervened and stopped Aurora since she was getting dangerously close to revealing the Kama plan.
Cut back to Rick, who explained that if people were really looking for a way off the bottom, everyone could just admit that Ron and Julie had been cut off from the Kama majority. By admitting so, that would allow them to team with the Lesu alliance as a whole, making a seven-person majority. Julia quickly realized that this plan was a decent one and could potentially get her voted out, so she dismissed the idea publicly and directly called Rick a “passenger.”
Fireworks exploded between Rick and Julia, and Julie took this opportunity to explore new options and offered her loyalty to Wardog. He subtly agreed, and from what I can gather, they were planning on Aurora being the boot. Seeing this, Wentworth made the grand move and got up out of her seat to go talk with Aurora. At this point, all plans began unraveling as we spiraled into complete and utter chaos.
Piece by piece, plans came exposed as people realized what was going on. David even tried making up with Wentworth during the madness. Other notable events included Victoria trying to explain to Lauren and Wardog how she told Julie and Ron to gun for David, which David hears and exclaims “I heard that.” Aurora got upset at one point, expressing her frustration at “soccer moms.” And Ron joked that they should target Victoria, getting a “What?” from his beanie-wearing friend but two feet away.
However, once everything began to settle down, the real plan was set in place. As people finished up their discussions, it appeared to be one giant voting bloc targeting Julia. At this Tribal alone her confidence had shot through the roof, and everyone realized that it wasn’t worth risking something crazy like going to rocks to protect the already shattered alliances. Thus, everyone, including Julia’s closest allies Gavin and Victoria, voted her out, with the exception of Aurora.
What we can gather from this crazy Tribal as a whole is that in Survivor, when things get as heated as this Tribal did, one of two things will usually happen. Either the players will stick to their guns all the way and pull a stunt like rocks, just like David did in Millennials vs. Gen-X (with all due apologies to Jessica Lewis). Or, like at this week’s Tribal, the castaways will come to a consensus that taking a giant risk like rocks isn’t worth it for anyone, and it’s better to minimize the losses, aka Julia, in this particular circumstance.
Overall, I think the Lesu tribe made the right decision because trying to split the vote would’ve blurred lines even more, and I don’t think anyone’s alliances could’ve afforded that at this point. But as for Ron and Julie… I think they rushed this move out of fear, which is understandable. However, they may have just backed themselves into even more of a corner.
Without having seen episode ten yet, I already know what I would name it if I was in charge: “Nuclear Fallout.” That seems like an appropriate title considering the gravity of the damage that now needs to be repaired. While the tribe did ultimately unify for the vote, this could be a one-time only occurrence, a voting bloc established in the moment between both major alliances to keep everyone safe, except Julia. But now that they all survived the blast – they have to deal with the fallout.
I predict alliances will be very fluid in the upcoming episode and it may take a while for everything to separate out. It’s definitely not an easy fix. If a regular blindside is like repairing a roof after a bad hailstorm… then this Tribal Council was a deadly tornado that ripped the house off its foundation. At this point, that’s all I can say for certain, because what comes out of this Tribal is still very much up in the air.
Aurora, however, might be in trouble since she was the only one to not vote for Julia. Given her UTR edit, she’s a likely candidate for leaving in the first Tribal of an episode with two of them, like this next one.
DOWN THE ROAD
The rare appearance of a genuine Live Tribal is entertaining to watch, from a game standpoint, it informs us that the contestants need to do a better job at communicating prior to the vote. So… did this episode show strategic development? No, it absolutely did not. If anything, it was a step backward. But, from an Edgic and casual viewer’s standpoint, this episode is exactly what the season needed to give us that second wind. The real question is: can we get the strategic prowess that we’re looking for in the next episode?
If Lesu and the Kama “majority” – or whatever is left of it – can sort things out between themselves and get back to “normal” – if that’s even a usable term in Survivor – without suffering another deadly Tribal like the last one, then we might just get what we need to make this season one for the books. Until then, we all need to pray that the castaways are smart enough to wiggle themselves out of this one. If we backtrack strategically any further, the damage may be irreparable with only four episodes left before the finale.
We’ll find out soon. Tune in next week for another edition of “Tribal Talk!”