I am going to start with what everyone was talking about last week, the cliffhanger from Adam’s jury villa. The day after Adam arrives, Matt decides that it is time to let someone in on the secret that he and Dave are childhood friends. Matt believes he trusted Adam so much and feels he deserves to know this. Wow.
I know it must be hard for Matt to hold that secret in for so long, especially once you are in normal living conditions and it doesn’t seem to be as big of a deal for you anymore. But if you are really best friends from back then, keep it to yourself now that your game is over, even if he did vote you out. That is being a sore loser. You got beat. Get over it. And to tell Adam, who may be the biggest gossip on the cast, is just a crazy move. There’s no way you think it is staying a secret after that.
Anyways, more on that situation later, because I have a lot to say about it. For now, we have another great episode, with an unbelievable set up for the finale.
After returning from tribal council, where Adam was voted out and Lisa faced an all-out assault against her life in the game, the superfan is unsure of whether or not Adam’s speech will hurt or help her going forward. Initially, as we saw at tribal, she says that Adam did a better job explaining her game than she ever would have been able to do. I can’t help but think this is a plus for her. Adam painted Lisa as the main strategist and biggest threat in the game. Usually you want to be the person if you can make it to the end.
However, I’m not sure everyone on this jury is going to be appreciative of the strategic aspect of the game. I would say Eve, Brad, and Adam are three right away that will not take that into consideration when casting their votes. But I am getting ahead of myself, as this only ensured Lisa made the final four, not the final three.
As there are only four left in the game, camp life gets a bit mundane. Dave tries to gut a fish, quite miserably I might add; I’d rather the fish just would have lived than go through that. Side note, the chickens are still alive, why is this not a story?!?!
The way the rest of the game is shaping out is like this – there is a 95% chance that either Tess or Dave will win immunity. If it is Dave, Tess is going home. Things could get interesting if Tess wins though. Dave recognizes this as well and goes into survival mode. He comes up with the contingency plan to make a deal with Tess to take each other no matter what. I think they both knew the other was lying, but it was at least a lifeline to Tess, and the right move to make if you’re Dave.
We also hear from Tara how she is beginning to mistrust Lisa as she seemed to have made deals with so many people. Only took 37 days! I’m not sure why this needed to be added to the episode, besides to make it look like there was a chance Lisa could be going home.
At the reward challenge, Dave manages to create the puzzle and navigate his ball through the maze before anyone else even completes the puzzle portion. I was shocked Lisa didn’t run away with this one after they all arrived at the board around the same time. But alas, maybe the second place, or the Jinho curse, is actually over for Dave.
Dave picks Tara, who has not been on a reward, or maybe she just wasn’t on the show all season long. This is probably the right pick. I could see taking Lisa instead, as Tara and Tess disliked each other for a lot of the game and that would make it even more difficult for them to come together to form a plan, but I think Tara was the safe choice to make.
It was cool to see the hotel in the middle of a small village, and how gorgeous that infinity pool was. Also, it looked like that may be in the same village as the jury villa? That could have been awkward if a juror had seen them. I give Dave and Tara credit for not immediately jumping in the pool, because that would have been my first move. The only strategy talk we see is them both mentioning how Tess has been in their ears, trying to see if there are any cracks in the alliance. I give her credit for hustling, but it’s a little bit too late.
The following day, the final immunity challenge takes place. I love when these are endurance challenges. I think Australian Survivor has nailed this concept perfectly. Don’t leave it up to luck, make them work for it. If you want it bad enough, go and get it. This challenge is straight up hanging from a pole. We’ve seen this challenge before; it obviously is more suited for lighter people (Andrea won in Redemption Island, where three smaller girls outlasted everyone else and handed it to her). I think that actually gives everyone somewhat of a chance here.
But boy, oh boy, do we get a challenge. This was epic. The bugs, the heat, the discomfort, it had it all. Dave and Tess both lasted about 80 minutes. Tess was given all the motivation she needed when Tara and Lisa both said they wanted Dave to win in order to take her out of the game. This was a huge mistake. It is one thing to think you’re on the outside and going home; it is completely different to actually confirm you are the one going home and have to give it everything you have. And Dave adds another second place to his name. Curse not over.
I’m glad Tess won. It makes things interesting. What I’m less pleased about though, is that Tess is getting a very favorable edit, and has been in the past couple episodes. She receives the emotional scene where she proclaims she did this all by herself, with no alliances and did not get pulled to the end. She has been the underdog in the past two/three episodes. And who doesn’t love a good underdog story right?
With Tess being safe, she has a lot of power. Usually, the person who wins here has almost all of the power unless there is a split vote. Tess wants to target Dave, as he has the most similar game to her and they would be likely to split votes. It is a reasonable thought; I think they are both very social, well-liked players. Tara, however, will not vote Dave as she promised him she wouldn’t. Lisa seems too skeptical to vote Dave as it looks like it is setting her up for a blindside.
And then we get a Tara confessional. As soon as she said this line, I knew something was up. She says, “I kind of just have this little epiphany going through my head, and it seems like I need to make sure that two good players are sitting there in the final three.” Okay, let me break this down. She doesn’t think Tess is a good player. And why would she say this about herself? You would say, I need to make sure I am there with another good player. So you begin to think, what is up? Surely she can’t be throwing her game out the window on day 38? Could you imagine a quit/medevac to force a final three? They would have to change to a final two on the spot I would think.
At tribal, Adam gets giddy with excitement when he sees Tess with the immunity necklace. This confirms a vote for Tess at the finale. Also, can we talk about the order of the jury coming in/being announced. It is just random every time and Matt Chisholm doesn’t even announce them in the right order. Wild move.
There was not much going on at tribal, and to be frank, I was still wondering what the heck Tara was going to do. The first time I’ve thought that all season. But I want to point out something Lisa says, “Play for the juror that you would be.” This could not be truer. For example, I would play strategically as that is what I would value in a winner. Someone like Tess who never watched the show before would play socially and make it a popularity contest. This literally decides winners and makes fans like us very unhappy, very often.
As the votes are being read, we realize that Tara fell on the sword for her alliance. She splits the votes between Dave and Lisa so that she can be voted out. A 2-1-1 vote at final four! That has never happened before. I didn’t even think it would be possible as it isn’t very reasonable most of the time. Also, this has to be the first ever jury of all long hair people right?
I want to compliment Tara. I know a lot of the season we have been tough on her. She has not received a lot of screen time and I’m sure that is tough. But she played a huge role in shaping this game. She helped vote out everyone Lisa did. She probably saved herself a lot of scrutiny at final tribal. And now, she gave us the gift of a very up in the air final tribal council. Had she been in the end, I would assume she would not receive a vote. But, all three of the finalists can feasibly win this game. That does not often happen in Survivor!
But all in all, a very classy and noble move by an incredible person. She gave up her chance for the two most deserving players, one of whose dreams she just fulfilled. Good for her. She is a far better friend than most people deserve.
Now onto the juicy stuff.
If you watched Tara’s jury villa and saw the end of the episode, you now know that everyone knows about Dave and Matt. They tell Tara about it almost as soon as she sits down. Tara, rightfully so, feels betrayed as she just gave up her spot for Dave.
Outside of Tara’s gripe with the secret, as she just handed him a top three finish, I am seriously confused by everyone else’s disgust with Dave. Listen, it sure looks like an advantage in your initial thought process, but it is really more of a disadvantage. Look at it this way. Dave’s game is ruined and Matt is on the jury. Doesn’t seem to be an advantage to me.
Think about this now, what could Dave/Matt have done differently in the game? You get there and see someone you are friends with, not your fault at all. If you tell everyone, then they will immediately target you for this supposed advantage. If you don’t tell everyone, you have a burden to carry all game that can ruin it at any moment. It also is probably the hardest to vote out someone you have a relationship with (ex: Ciera and her mother, Laura).
Now, these jurors also have to realize that Dave, even with his good friend on the island with him, made a huge game move to vote him out WITH AN IDOL, even though he did not want to, because he could not beat him. Dave made a huge game move to give him a chance at the sole survivor title. The key word is game move. Matt, by telling everyone, made a selfish move and received no backlash for it. Matt had also said at several points during the game that he would be willing to vote out Dave. So this was not a one-way street of just Dave’s betrayal.
And lastly, if people really are disgusted and can’t believe he wouldn’t tell them about this friendship, listen to the following quote from Tara’s jury villa. She says, “I don’t think I would have made the same decision as I did last night.” This is exactly why he didn’t tell you. That’s all you need to know.
Now that that is over, here is my breakdown of the final three.
I would say that Tess has no chance due to her gameplay, as she has not played well at all. However, she won a couple challenges, was the underdog, and has a lot of friends on the jury. She also only voted correctly once since the merge. That is not a winning resume.
Lisa played arguably the best game. She was the driving force behind the path the game took. She made the season a great one. She deserves to win. Can she voice this to the jury and explain her moves, a la Kristie Bennett?
Dave. Oh, Dave. The last Chani remaining. We’ve heard a Chani is going to win this game. Dave has a good case, fought his way there from the bottom, and had an idol that he never had to use even though he was targeted several weeks in a row. He made a huge move in taking out his friend. How will the jury receive this news though? As of now, it doesn’t look good.
But, I am sticking with the Chani strong statement. He will put second place finishes in the past (because he had an “advantage,” and he needs those to win). I think Dave manages to turn the whole ordeal into a positive, and Matt casts the winning vote for him. That way they will have each voted for each other once. It all comes full circle.
It is going to be an interesting finale. Honestly, all 3 have a chance, but I think Lisa seems like the outsider right now. Tess has some sure votes on the jury. Adam and Brad are 100% going to vote her, and I think there is a strong chance Renee will too. Dave most likely will still have Arun, and I still think Matt will vote him. The deciding votes will come down to Eve and Tara. I could see Tara voting either Lisa or Dave, and Eve…well, to be honest, I have no clue about Eve. Dave seems like the logical choice, but if anyone has a right to be annoyed at Dave/Matt relationship on the jury, Eve is probably the one.
In the end I think it will come down to a 3-4 vote. My gut is everyone not voting Tess will get together, and vote for the same winner, giving Dave the win, and Lisa third place. The other option is Lisa gets one vote, then casts the deciding vote for Dave.
Matt’s revelation at Jury Villa has given the finale an element of suspense/surprise that – up until the end of the last episode – I didn’t think possible for Survivor NZ. It seemed clear to me that Dave would be crowned the Sole Survivor, with Tess the runner-up, and Lisa as the “robbed goddess” of the season. Now, I just don’t know. Will Lisa and Dave exchange third and first place positions, respectively?
Contra this blog, I actually think that Dave would not have made it this far without Matt protecting him in the game. Dave seems like a nice guy and all, but as a Survivor player he is rather mediocre. He has okay social skills, slightly-better athletic skills (but not entirely great here either), and rather poor strategic skills. (He would have most likely taken Matt to the end but for his supposed “betrayal.” And once it was revealed to him, Dave simply shifted his allegiance from Matt to Lisa, never questioning whether it was a game savvy move or not to go to the end with her.)
Although I am ambivalent about Matt’s reveal, in the end I do think it is better that it came out before the end of the season rather than after it. It would have been a very bad look for the producers if Dave was anointed the winner and the jury only found out after-the-fact that he was childhood friends with Matt (especially since Dave doesn’t seem inclined himself to reveal this info in his jury speech).
The finale should be a doozy!
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