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.
DOUBLE THE DRAMA
This week, due to their scheduling, Survivor granted us a surprise double episode – something that usually comes either at the premiere or sometime after the merge. Regardless of us getting this treat a few episodes early, it didn’t mean that the content was any less interesting. In this week’s double episode, we saw the eliminations of returning player Aubry Bracco and the chicken queen herself, Wendy Diaz.
Aubry was voted out unanimously, and the edit post-immunity challenge told the story of Aubry’s demise entirely from her perspective, so it was reasonably well explained. Thus, Tribal Talk will examine Wendy’s boot alone. With the inevitable appearance of a Live Tribal at the second Tribal Council due to the 4-4 split and the very nature of there being two tribes at one Tribal, there is a lot more to break down.
PROBST: “Wentworth, this really is Survivor warfare…”
WENTWORTH: “Yeah, I definitely think this is a battle tonight, but we are four strong, and we would welcome anyone over here with open arms.”
Wentworth’s response captures the heart of this Tribal. These joint Tribals can be accurately described as “warfare.” In the end, only one tribe is going to lose a member and knowing that it seems ironic that both tribes were speaking about how they were not going to change their votes. In reality, both of them were playing a little game of chicken (no pun intended).
We saw back at the Lesu camp that Wentworth, Lauren, and David agreed they would not be willing to go to rocks for Wardog, and at Manua, Victoria at least suggested she would not go to rocks for Wendy because of her own game of chicken. Because of this, the real game became targeting the person on the opposing tribe that would get the other members of that tribe to mutiny. The only tribe able to do this correctly was Lesu.
Manu took a shot at Lauren, who nobody on Lesu was willing to vote out. But Lesu targeted Wendy, who everyone, including Manu, agreed was worth losing if it meant not going to rocks, hence the outcome that we received. But there’s a bit more to dive into when it comes to how both tribes arrived at their selected targets knowing full well that it was going to be a Live Tribal Council. Let’s take a closer look at that.
THE ROTTEN EGGS
After the challenge, Lesu and Manu both quickly realized that there was going to be a Live Tribal that night since the split was 4-4. Each tribe needed to nominate one person from the other tribe by voting for them and hope they chose the person that the other tribe was willing to lose. They could plead their cases at Tribal if they needed to.
For Lesu, it wasn’t that hard. They were fully aware that Wendy had been planning to set the chickens loose and that, if she’d succeeded, there was no way in hell that Manu was going to rocks for her. Because of Wendy’s chicken coup, they were more than willing to sacrifice an original tribemate who wasn’t loyal to them anyway. Not to mention, by sacrificing an original Manu, it showed a willingness to work with the old Kamas.
The decision was far harder for Manu. There was a justification for sending each of them home. Wentworth and David are returnees, so maybe they were targets to Wardog and Lauren the same way Aubry and Joe were targets for Kama. Was Wardog’s personality annoying everyone? Or would David and Wentworth really be willing to go to rocks for Lauren and risk what may be their last chance? Manu trying to predict the person on the bottom of the totem pole for Lesu was far more difficult, and they ended up choosing Lauren.
However, Lauren was the wrong person to target. We see in the edit that the only person Lesu would not have gone to rocks for was Wardog. I don’t blame Manu for not being able to figure this out; it’s nearly impossible since they aren’t at camp with them. Lesu had a huge advantage by knowing about Wendy, whereas Manu did not have the pleasure of knowing any of the Lesu tribe. I think that had the tie been between, for example, Lauren and Victoria, we would’ve seen rocks because neither tribe would’ve given in. I also don’t think anyone on Lesu would’ve voted Wentworth out after David’s change of heart. It’s unclear if David was even a consideration, so I won’t go there.
That’s all there is when it comes to looking at the tribe’s reasoning because all it was was a giant game of chicken. The complicated aspect of the Tribal was the “live” aspect, and all the whispering and talking between tribes that was bound to happen.
When the rare Live Tribal does make an appearance, one thing is always for certain – there will definitely be whispering and cross-alliance chatting. The real talking began when David asked Wendy to move behind the stools and talk, and from there, everyone else began whispering as well. Everyone was weighing all options and trying to figure out how truthful everyone was when they said: “I’m not breaking.” Off the bat, everyone stuck to their guns and voted as they said they would, inducing the tie. But from there, Manu flipped their votes to Wendy. And by doing so, they did the right thing.
The reason I say that is because if both tribes can agree on anything, it’s that losing Wendy was the best move since a merge is probably coming soon. With eight original Kama remaining, Lesu’s only hope is that they can get Wendy out of the way now and then maybe gain a number back if someone valuable like Rick returns from the Edge next week, and even then it would be a 5-8 split. Old Manu/Lesu would somehow need to flip two original Kama members by convincing them that it isn’t worth keeping big physical or social threats around like Joe or Victoria.
Next week, the merge! The merge episode is always exciting in Survivor because not only is it where the real gameplay begins, but it also draws defined lines in the sand that often prolong themselves throughout the remaining duration of the season.
As for the Edge… it all depends on what the challenge is, but I could see Reem, Aubry, Chris, or Rick coming back. Reem because of her drive – while not really mentioned in the edit, she does seem to have a lot of it, and it may just be enough to give her what she needs to win a competition. Aubry because she’s obviously the most experienced at individual challenges and great at puzzles. Chris – despite his knots disadvantage that Keith will probably play on him – is the clear physical threat and might dominate the whole thing. Rick is the dark horse. He isn’t a top dog when it comes to physical challenges, but he has something more valuable: a very logical brain. His ability to maneuver things calmly and efficiently may be what wins him the challenge.
That’s all I can say because none of us have an idea what the merge is going to bring until we see it. Next week once some lines have been drawn, I should be able to make some more predictions regarding strategic gameplay.
DOWN THE ROAD
The first half of the game is officially complete, and I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised with where the season is headed. The edit has not been horrible, and the twist is actually proving to be enjoyable and fun to watch. I think after the merge happens, all we need is some great, dedicated gameplay and some more character development as well. The pre-merge game laid a substantial foundation – it’s up to the post-merge to build the structure. Next week, we will see whether or not this whole Extinction Island thing can really change the game, or if the returning castaway just gets sent right back.
From here on out, things are going to get a lot more complicated and shift focus from cross-tribe dynamics to inner-tribe dynamics, and we will also be talking a lot more about large alliances and who is holding power when it comes to the vote. I hope we’re in for a wild second half of the season! See you next week for more “Tribal Talk!”