Survivor loses its first uninteresting contestant but keeps its goats

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Previously on Survivor, “game” changers, one tribe lost two: Ciera and Tony, who lost to fellow “royalty” Sandra.

This latest episode was called “Survivor Jackpot” and seemed to be implying a specific sort of prize. In this case, I can see a few possible answers. The idol discovery versus failed search, the goat catch and release, the tribe mix up. A jackpot is all about winners and losers with a big prize, so that’s my theory, because I didn’t hear the phrase used exactly. Maybe I missed it.

So why did Caleb lose? I always see any loss as a combination of three factors: luck, skill, and other people’s skill. In this case, Caleb was unlucky in that he ended up on a tribe as a minority number. He was also unlucky in losing the challenge by a hair, which wasn’t really related to him. He also lost because he didn’t really try to stay in the game. Caleb assumed that because Tai supported him and “we need strong players” that he was safe.

He didn’t make any specific mistakes per se, other than that assumption. Hali didn’t seem to do much that we saw to keep herself in the game other than agreeing to vote against Caleb; it seemed more the work of Sierra and Brad Culpepper realizing the threat of Caleb and Tai united. As for Tai, he as usual struggled with betrayals despite being aware of what he would need to do at some point.

But did Tai make the right move? I don’t know. Clearly he had Caleb’s vote, and certainly not Hali’s, but Debbie seemed on board with the Hali vote. If he had managed those three at least, it would been versus Hali, Sierra, and Brad, a perfect tie. If he had won that vote, he’d have the majority alliance. Now he’s just another cog in the machine of the least interesting tribe. No offense.

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That said, new tribe Tavua with Zeke, Cirie, Ozzie, Sarah, Andrea, and Troyzan only had a few interesting moments. No winners here, but a few very good players and two question marks. There’s no question Troy plays hard, but does he play well? Unclear. His little gambit of getting the idol was certainly fun, and I do think his “pretending to be relieved” was a good play, considering he really was relieved. It was a good move.

Right now, we saw a bit of trickery from Andrea and some poor lying, a push by Ozzie to prove himself, a push by Cirie to mend fences, and a few choice lines from Zeke. Sarah mainly was just shocked that Tony was voted out. I think she probably assumed he’d save himself with an idol first. Troy calling Andrea not as smart as she thinks she is a weird line, and is one of the classic Survivor tricks: Hubris, foreshadowing, or a red herring. Which one, I don’t know.

It’s a good set of players so far, but the real fireworks are on the other tribe.

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On Nuku, it was the more interesting collection by far. Aubry the runner up, Michaela the furious, Varner the amusing, Malcolm the savvy, and the two winners in Sandra and JT. I liked that JT was still in it to win it, blatantly searching for an idol with a clever plan involving pliers. Sure, everyone saw through it, but it was a good idea. Everything with the goat hunt was just killer, from the plaintive bleats to the “they were made for human consumption” to “we have a conscience” to “that’s why Sandra is a villain”.

I felt certain they weren’t really going to kill the goats, but there was a bit of doubt. That’s good theater. Everything up to the challenge was great, with the aftermath not as interesting. Caleb seemed a decent “goat” if you will, but he wasn’t that interesting a character. Nice guy, but I’m okay with him gone.

Next time, JT starts an uprising against Sandra, and a new twist: two losing tribes. And Probst is surprised!

 

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