History is full of tragic romance stories. From best-selling novels to Hollywood blockbusters. There is something about them that speaks to our human core. We allow ourselves to be sucked into these idealized romantic relationships even though we know that tragedy lurks just around the corner, poised with a knife ready to stab us in the heart. We can’t get enough of it; we eat it up. Whether it’s Cathy and Heathcliffe or Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, the tragic romance will be forever part of our collective culture.
Survivor is no stranger to devastating romantic entanglements, from Colby and Jerri to Brenda and Chase, and of course who can ever forget the harrowing tale of lust and yearning that was Billy Garcia and Candice Woodcock.
So what would Worlds Apart be if it didn’t have its own tragic romance to add to the annals of Survivor history? A lesser season that’s what it would be. While the show quickly deprived us of what was sure to become a blossoming relationship between Jenn and our hair-feather friend Vince, in stepped the brothers from different mothers (but possibly the same father), Joaquin and Rodney.
He was a Marketing Director from New York. He was a General Contractor from Boston. In an ordinary world, their opposing lifestyles and East Coast rivalry would have created resentment and hatred. They were like apples and oranges. But sometimes love transcends cultural and fruit-based boundaries. You know the kind of love I’m talking about? Love that’s instantaneous. Love that just makes you want to high-five and swing your arms back and forth. Love that makes you stand up and say “forget everybody else, this is our world, and you’re just living in it.” That was the kind of love that Joaquin and Rodney had.
“Joaqney” had an unbreakable bond, built on a mutual lack of respect for women, the inability to form coherent sentences and an unnatural obsession with the word “bro.” It was like they’d been waiting to meet each other their entire lives. Maybe they’d crossed paths before? Maybe they’d accidentally brushed arms while grinding on a seedy nightclub dance floor? Maybe they’d both added the same Ed Hardy t-shirt to their Amazon shopping basket? Call it fate, call it destiny, call it a gift from the gods, Joaquin and Rodney were meant to be together. Unfortunately, not everybody wanted to see our star-crossed lovers happy.
You see, Rodney was from the other side of the tracks, growing up in a no-nonsense, tough blue collar family. His dad Mike was a hard-ass, always on his case about his work ethic and lazy attitude. But deep down Mike was just looking out for his son, he wanted the best for him, he saw his potential and wanted him to apply himself to become a better person. Meanwhile, Joaquin was a spoiled rich kid, used to the finer things in life; he would sit around the house all day with his equally wealthy friends, poking fun and looking down on those less fortunate than himself. No one could have predicted the sparks that would fly between Joaquin and Rodney when they met, but the fact is, there were sparks, and boy did they fly.
But Mike couldn’t sit idly by and watch his only son be sucked in and manipulated by this handsome, rich scoundrel. Who was Joaquin to come into his home wearing his fancy shirt and trousers and try and tear his son away from him? Mike had spent time and patience on raising his family and setting them on the right track, and he’d be damned if he was going to let some outsider come in and ruin everything he had built. But Rodney wouldn’t listen to reason; he was infatuated with Joaquin. He’d never felt this way about anyone before; as far as he was concerned he was done with his family, they couldn’t understand true love.
And here is where our beautiful love story meets its tragic conclusion. Unable to pull his son Rodney back into the fold, Mike only had one choice; he had to take Joaquin out of the picture by any means necessary. So he pulled his family together, and they organized a hit on Joaquin. As the sun set and darkness filled the sky, the family gathered together for one last time, before the trigger was pulled right in front of Rodney’s eyes. As quickly as Joaquin came into Rodney’s life, he was just as quickly taken away, leaving Rodney shocked, confused and heart-BROken.
What Else Is Going On?
The start of what is hopefully a beautiful redemption arc for Shirin. Last week her best buddy and fellow superfan Max was voted out, leaving her blindsided and on the outs. I think that Max getting the boot was the best thing that could have happened to Shirin; it was a much-needed wake-up call that I think has provided her with a dose of self-awareness. She had her down moment but then she picked herself back up and made a concerted effort to bond with her tribemates, and she nailed that shot in the Reward Challenge. “Deal with it. Adapt. Fix it.” That is sound Survivor advice. And the best thing of all, the merge is next week, and the timing couldn’t be any better for Shirin.
The merge in most seasons is often the most anticipated episode, but I think especially so this season. The editing, for the most part, has been fair across the board, allowing us to understand the dynamics between each character, so it’ll be fascinating to see how things develop come merge time. But Shirin (and maybe Rodney too) is by far the one to keep an eye on because she truly is the Charlie Kelly of the group, aka, the Wild Card. Where Shirin decides to go at the merge could be pivotal in setting the tone for the remainder of the season. Or she’ll be voted out next episode, but right now I’m choosing to believe in redemption, baby!
The Nagarote tribe won the reward and got to see the migration of turtles returning to the beach to lay their eggs. It’s a good job Nagarote won because if the other tribe won I think Joaquin and Tyler would have been like “Eww, nature? I didn’t come out here to see that!” But this was a cool little moment as the Nagarote folk stood under the moonlight and watched a giant turtle bury its eggs in the sand. All it was missing was Probst in the background yelling, “You’ve gotta dig turtle!” Jenn remarked that “the turtles’ chances of life is much smaller than my chance of winning Survivor,” and all I could think was, I bet that turtles chances of life are still better than Rodney’s or Dan’s chances of winning this season. I’d put money on that turtle winning this season over Rodney or Dan.
Staying on Nagarote for a second, how funky was their post-challenge win celebration? Will’s got some moves!
Who Got Game?
There were a couple of people that impressed me this week regarding their gameplay, and it isn’t the usual suspects. First of all Sierra; last week she was the obvious next boot but was saved by a tribal swap and found herself in a swing position. Being the swing vote can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you play it. Get too cocky with it and then you could be swiftly booted like Sarah in Cagayan. But play it to your advantage and you can control the narrative of the game. Sierra played it correctly, she listened to all sides, made all parties believe she was with them and in the end made the best move to advance herself further. She chose to go with Mike, Dan, and Joe, and when you’re choosing the alliance with Dan, the guy whose idea of a sensitive pitch is to tell you to “Close you mouth and open your ears,” then you know how bad it must be to live with Rodney!
Mike also impressed me last night. I liked what I saw of him in the first episode of the season, but the subsequent episodes showed him to be hot-headed and a bit too self-serious. But here he showed a game awareness I hadn’t seen up until this point. He rightly spotted the danger in the Joaquin and Rodney relationship; he correctly targeted the right one in that partnership, and it was his bond and treatment of Sierra that had a large part in her choosing to align with his group. Even throwing the challenge, to keep a number in Kelly on the other tribe, was smart in theory. The actual throwing of the challenge was terrible, but that was partly Kelly’s fault for not remembering the items (she was probably still concussed from last week), but Mike still managed to pull it off unscathed.
Jenn and Hali are still playing well it seems but with Nagarote not going to Tribal Council this week we didn’t get to see much progression in their strategy. Tyler, who I think has shown great game awareness was hardly present last night, which doesn’t fill me with much hope that he is a potential winner. I think with someone like Tyler his personality just isn’t as big and engaging television as many of the other people on Worlds Apart. This season is jam-packed full of personalities from Mike to Rodney, to Shirin, to Dan, to Jenn. Tyler ends up blending somewhat into the background which is probably a good strategy to go far, but his edit at this point doesn’t scream winner to me.
So right now my winner picks are still Hali first, then Jenn, and now Mike in third. But with the merge approaching things could change dramatically.
Here are a couple more bonus gifs of Rodney looking confused.