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.
In modern-day Survivor, “Big Movez” are a large part of a winner’s “resumé.” While the game has become a bit too focused around this and less about long-term strategic and social gameplay, it is the reality of the current game. To persuade juries, bitter or not, that you deserve the title of Sole Survivor, chances are you’re going to have to compile a pretty decent list of moves credited to you – and doing so is no easy feat.
When plotting blindsides and orchestrating alliances, you have to be extremely tactical about how you approach each and every situation. And often, the Survivor Gods grant no forgiveness. If you make a mistake and get caught, you might as well be digging your own grave. In today’s Tribal Talk, we will be examining one such strategic mistake – Chris’ exchange with Wardog.
PROBST: (to Rick) “So Devens, when you lose one after another, after another (challenges), there’s a point where it might just become ‘I need to kick into game mode. I can’t worry anymore about a tribe.’”
RICK: “Oh yeah. The first two Tribals were based strictly on ‘We need to get stronger.’ And it’s not working. You have to re-evaluate, and I think a lot of people had that running through their minds today.”
This conversation between Rick and Probst was followed up by a similar question directed at Wentworth, who gave the same response. It appears that contrary to what I predicted last week, the removal of physical liabilities is not really helping Manu. Fortunately, they are recognizing this early and preventing the possibility of following in the footsteps of the Ulong tribe from Palau and Matsing from Philippines.
The second half of Rick’s answer also brings to light what we all needed to hear – lots of people had been running the idea of switching things up through their head. This included Chris, who was willing to make a move on Wentworth. At Tribal, the person pinned for orchestrating the attempted Wentworth blindside was Chris, when in actuality it was David, just like in last week’s episode. The theme the editors were trying to present to us through this episode was that David orchestrated the move, but because Chris talked to Wardog about it, word spread that Chris was one the organizing it, hence why he ended up being the boot.
I think Wentworth has a small idea that David is working against her, but that inkling is probably diminished for the time being because she will assume she cut off the head of the snake when in actuality, she did not. This David vs. Wentworth battle is becoming more and more intriguing to watch, and I’m curious to see how long it will be before one of them takes the other out.
Following the Immunity challenge, it became very evident that there was a significant push to eliminate two people. David continued angling for Wentworth while Kelley’s gang was dead set on Wendy, especially following the suspicions of flint-gate. However, one point in this week’s episode flipped everything around – Chris explaining the Wentworth blindside plan to Wardog. While David encouraged Chris not to spill the details, he did it anyway. The payoff that he gained from this was not only the boot but he also just propelled David into a terrible position in the game strategically.
David has been operating in the majority for the past two episodes, and now that Wentworth’s side has even numbers (if David is with Rick and Wendy) – then the two-time player’s plan to blindside Wentworth may have to vanish for at least a couple episodes. Unless the upcoming swap somehow makes it a possibility. The best case scenario for David is that Wentworth ends up on a swapped tribe with the old Kama who are on board with taking out returnees. The only downfall to that would be that if they are good with Wentworth going, then he will probably be next.
There isn’t a whole ton to elaborate on with the post-challenge/pre-Tribal scene because the entirety of the boot can be traced back to Chris telling Wardog about the plan. Had that not happened, I imagine Wentworth would’ve been a goner.
During Tribal itself, the editors did a fairly good job concealing exactly who would be leaving. Obviously, the only options were Wentworth, Chris, and maybe even Wendy. When Rick spoke of wanting to change things up, he could’ve been referring to either Wentworth or Chris. In the end, it was the latter, but it was definitely not as easy to read as it was last week.
Was Chris the right decision for the tribe? No, it was not, in my opinion. With a predictable swap coming next week and things ramping up even more as we go from two tribes to three, at least a couple of the returnees are going to be in a good position. With fifteen castaways remaining and a three tribe split, we’re going to end up with five people per tribe. Mathematically, that means at least one tribe will have at least two returnees. Those returnees would only need to grab one newbie to play on their side, and they’d have the majority.
With that in mind, I think it was a big mistake for the newbies not to seize the Wentworth blindside opportunity. The tribe had three chances and didn’t take any of them, and now I predict that they’ll pay for that. There was also the easy vote in Wendy, who is likely to flip since she clearly doesn’t care for her current tribemates. Better to vote her out now than let her dye her hair yellow.
However, swaps can always bring about unforeseen relationships and rivalries so I won’t speak too confidently just yet. My core point is that I’m not sure the Manu newbies understand how lethal these returnees can be since they’ve all made it very deep into the game before. If they continue to allow them to stay, they’re going to become exponentially more and more dangerous.
With a swap coming up, it’s hard to know what matters since you cannot predict who will end up with who. Instead of rambling about all the endless possibilities, let’s just focus on the swap itself. As stated earlier, at least one tribe will have at least two returnees, possibly more. That means that a returnee monopoly on that tribe is possible. If they can pull over one newbie to their side by using persuasion tactics, they’d be set for the merge, at least.
However, I do think the majority of the Manu tribe does realize that every minute they keep returnees around is another minute of borrowed time that their games are living on. Kama doesn’t necessarily grasp that concept yet seeing as that they haven’t had to go to Tribal, though the edit certainly indicates Aubry needed that idol.
Thus, my prediction is that post-swap, the Manu newbies are going to try to take a real stand on this returnee boot situation by working with the Kama newbies to pull off a move or two. It’s possible this all falls apart if the two tribes take on the standard cat-eats-mouse style of gameplay, but I don’t foresee that happening. The players this season seem to be fairly level headed, and working together would be their best option at this point considering that they all understand having all four returnees around come merge would not be a good idea. If they could work together, it would also show immense strategic traction and would be very good for the edit overall.
DOWN THE ROAD
At this point, I’m predicting that two out of the four returnees will get booted before the merge, and the remaining two will be picked off shortly after. The newbies really seem to be on board with returnee blindsides, but they haven’t been able to successfully pull one off just yet… though Kama hasn’t been given the chance with their winning streak.
There is the possibility of all four returnees making the merge and creating a majority, but I think that’s highly unlikely. Plus, we’re going to see the return of our first Extinction Island castaway at that time, so that could bring with it a whole new layer of gameplay as the castaways figure out that there will be yet another chance for a booted castaway to return to the game.
Currently, there are so many what-ifs with the swap, Extinction Island, and the returnees, that I can’t make as many safe predictions as I could in earlier episodes. So, for now, let’s watch what is given to us and hopefully next week the results of the swap will help shed some light on the future direction of gameplay. See you next week for another edition of “Tribal Talk!”