Wow is right. "Survivor: Cagayan" just went from good to potentially great, with an episode Wednesday night that in and of itself, is all that you can ever ask for from our beloved show. It was entertaining from the start and ended with a Tribal Council shocker that was definitely one of the best, most twisty and unpredictable in the show's 14-year history. Yep, it was that good.
In case you haven't seen it yet, click here to watch this week's episode. And SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers of this week's episode, so if you need to get caught up be sure to read my full Episode 7 recap here.
First a brief bit of house-cleaning: For the past several years, I have followed up my episode recaps on Examiner.com with a weekly "bonus analysis" article over at TheTVKing.com. That site had a good run, but it's creator has decided to pull the plug. So Chris, thanks for running such a great site all these years and for having me be a part of it. But this end doesn't mean that I won't still be bringing you my weekly episode analysis. From now on, you will just see at least FOUR articles per week right her on my Survivor Examiner column: The usual episode preview Wednesday mornings, then the full episode recap, as well as an episode analysis article, and finally my exclusive interview each Thursday with the voted-out cast away. You can keep track of all of this Survivor coverage by subscribing to this column above by my name and title, or by following me on Twitter, @tomsantilli.
So what did you think of this ep? The episode itself was stellar, especially if you're a fan of strategy (and if you're not, why are you watching?) But let's start with the demise of Sarah, the tough police officer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Sarah was in a tough spot, but she made several mistakes tonight...none bigger than letting the power of her "sandwich" position get to her head. Tasha was a voice of reason in tonight's episode, in a moment that might have been over-looked by many. When mediating the feud between Kass and Sarah, Sarah mentioned that she thought Kass didn't like her. Tasha responded by asking, "Does Kass need to like you?" It was a crucial question, because this is Survivor. You don't have to like one another, but you do have to trust one another.
Sarah's position was incredibly complex and difficult. Kass tells her straight to her face that she doesn't trust her, but on the other side she has Tony, a player that she sees as playing a very strong game. Her problem though was looking too far ahead and not playing for today. Sure, Tony may not have been loyal to her until the end (or would he of?), but Sarah would not have been anyone's target for a long time had she stuck with her "blue blood" alliance.
And for those keeping score, it was Sarah, not Tony, who drew the first bit of blue blood. He truly seemed to want to work with her and she was the one who turned.
But Sarah should have been happy to have gone from "odd-woman-out" to a position of power within her tribe. She simply wasn't going to go home this week had she just laid low and voted along with the others. It wasn't explained in the episode why she seemed to be so fiercely against the idea of voting Trish out, but that was clearly a mistake to do so.
In the end though, the mistakes weren't just Sarah's alone. We see it play out over and over again, but you have to take care of all of the members of your alliance, not just a few. Kass's comfort level in the game was clearly over-looked by Tasha and Spencer or she would have never went against them. Had Kass been nurtured a bit more, even with Sarah's "presidential" attitude and their dislike of each other, they would have emerged victorious. They would have flushed two idols from the game and would have voted out Jefra, which would have given them a six-to-four advantage moving into next week's episode. The biggest mistake of all might have been by Tasha and Spencer, in not making sure Kass was feeling important.
But was Kass's decision to flip a good one? We may certainly understand why she felt on the outs with her tribe, who was pandering to Sarah, but her flip has to be categorized as bone-headed...right? Like Spencer said: "Kass, zero chance of winning the game." That has to be true now right? Kass's chances even if she hadn't flipped might be in question, but she now has a bitter jury waiting to assemble, not to mention not a single true ally left in the game. Had Kass just voted along Tribal lines, two Idols would have been flushed and Jefra would be gone. It would be six on four suddenly with the three Brains firmly in power. But when you are made to feel like you are on the bottom, you can't help but understand why she may try to make a bold move for herself.
Elsewhere, you do have to love Tony. He has raised this season up a few notches and is the stand-out future "All-Star" from this cast. His move in tonight's episode to use his Idol on LJ was a bold one, but at the time it may have been a smart one. He clearly felt like they had changed their vote and were not going to vote for him. By using his Idol on LJ, it removes any ill-feelings others may have had for keeping his Idol a secret all of this time. Even though the vote wasn't for LJ, it may have been a smart play.
But LJ playing his Idol? Another bone-headed and unnecessary mistake. At that point, if you're LJ, what reasoning do you have to use it? There was no hint at that point that Tony was going to be the target and even if he was, LJ was guaranteed safe. Worse-case scenario was that he would return to camp minus Jefra or Tony but would still have an Idol in his pants. A secret Idol that could have shaken up the game down the road. Exposing his Idol was just a bad move that he probably thought was the right thing to do for Tony...but it just wasn't smart.
So where do things play out from here? The merge episode often leads us in a direction that the rest of the game will take, but with this group of unpredictable players, it's nearly impossible to tell. Add to that, the reveal this week of some sort of "Super Idol," with "different" powers than a traditional Idol, and it goes to prove that Kass was right about one thing: "There's a long way to go."
So what will the fallout be for Kass? Do you agree with Spencer that Kass has no chance of winning the game now? Was it a mistake for LJ and/or Tony to play their Idols? And what in the heck is this "Super Idol" all about? Post your comments below!
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