“All you need is love,” John Lennon once sang, and that was certainly true for the eight remaining castaways on this week’s Survivor. The loved one’s visit divides opinion in the Survivor fanbase. For some, it is a season high point; they have their box of Kleenex on standby, ready to share in the tears. For others, it is often seen as mawkish and manipulative. But there is no denying that the loved one’s visit has provided some all-time classic moments (of course the best being Jonny Fairplay’s dead Grandma lie).
The purpose the loved ones visit provided this season was to fuel these players to push themselves even harder. In a season themed around second chances and playing like your life depends on it, the bonus of love from home gave each castaway an extra incentive to play hard. “This can get me over the last hump,” Keith said as he hugged his wife; the affectionately nicknamed “Big D.” That was true for each one of these players. Kimmi played harder in the game and challenges than she ever has before, Kelley Wentworth was able to pull out not one, but two challenge wins, and Keith himself lasted almost an hour and a half to win his first individual immunity challenge of the season.
There was a touching moment where Jeremy reunited with his pregnant wife Val, and she let him know she’s having a baby boy. It worked on many levels. It was a truly genuine scene and not played up or manipulated. Also, the fact that this story-arc was set up early in the season, with Jeremy keeping his wife’s pregnancy a secret as not to appear as a jury threat, gave this moment an added layer of complexity. Jeremy choosing not to reveal his wife’s pregnancy was probably a large part of why Kelley Wentworth didn’t pick him and Val to come on the reward – well, that and the fact Jeremy has been trying to vote Wentworth out most of the merge.
Spencer and his new found ability to love was another story-arc completed at the loved one’s visit. In a frank discussion with Jeremy earlier in the season, Spencer revealed that he had yet to tell his girlfriend that he loved her. After 30 days away, playing a game in which he has tried to become more in touch with his feelings, he finally said those three scary words (well, it was more of a whisper, but it still counts). As “I love you” left his lips, the chorus of angels began to sing. Although once was enough, the next few times his girlfriend said it back, Spencer just nodded in agreement – one step at a time, robots can’t become human over night.
The other key focus of the loved one’s visit was Joe and his father. Joe described his father as a man who wasn’t very affectionate, although, after ten minutes of them kissing on the lips and tickling each other, I beg to differ. Both the edit and Jeff Probst hit home the story of Joe missing out on the family reward in his previous season and how it was his dream to bring his dad out to the island. As we’ve discussed in our weekly Edgic posts, this was Joe’s goal from his opening confessional in the premiere. Episode one onwards telegraphed that once Joe had achieved this aim, then his story would be over.
Joe pushed himself as far as his body would let him go in the immunity challenge until he finally passed out. The previews over-egged this moment a tad; suggesting that someone was going to get their head cracked open by one of the falling heavy wooden figures. While it wasn’t quite that dramatic, it was still a cause for concern.
Without safety, it was obvious Joe was going to be the next one out. It wasn’t so much that Joe was this huge threat that people were afraid to sit next to at the end. He became more a point of frustration because of how good he was in challenges and the fact he was trying to play everyone in a really obvious, cocky way (as Kimmi and Wentworth discussed last week, and which Joe admitted in his Ponderosa video). What made his elimination even easier was the rise of a possible all-girls alliance between Abi, Kimmi, Tasha and Wentworth. First of all, hilarious that Kimmi of all people was the one to suggest the all-girls idea, seeing as she practically burnt Monica at the stake for a similar suggestion. Secondly, while a female alliance would appear to be the smartest move right now, Tasha showed reservations.
With Joe gone, the game is very much still open as we head towards the finale. Tasha ratting out the girl’s alliance to Jeremy and Spencer could provide just enough of a crack to keep the strategy moving back and forth. Add on top of that the fact that Jeremy and Wentworth both still have an idol each, and there is always the unpredictability of Abi-Maria, then the journey to the final three could be a wild one. Episode 12 was a momentary reprieve from the strategic craziness and provided some much-needed love and happiness for the castaways. They better cherish it while they can because I have a feeling things are about to get brutal.
[Credit to SurvivorAddict for the GIFS]