“You haven’t seen irritated Cydney. Irritated Cydney will blow the whole game up.”
Sometimes, it all comes down to something as simple as that. Not some huge strategic maneuver that will redefine how the game of Survivor is played for seasons to come. Not some bold, calculated play put into motion after careful consideration of several options and the future outcomes attached to each. Not some revolutionary approach to game theory weighing out short-term risk versus long-term reward. Nope, sometimes someone just pisses you off.
Now, to be clear, Cydney was worried forces were starting to conspire against her. It wasn’t like she turned on Nick because he started washing his wart-infested feet in the pot of water or anything. (Sup, Max!) But her defection definitely came from a place of anger. Sure, that was probably super annoying the way Nick indiscreetly pulled Julia aside, but there was no indication or reason to believe that Jason and Scot were not honoring their core alliance with Cydney. But she got irritated and paranoid, a pretty deadly combination in this game.
It’s just another fascinating example of the way things in the game of Survivor can turn on a dime. But while anger and paranoia have led to many defections over 32 seasons of the show, we are seeing something else happening in terms of the evolution of the game and the moves people make in it.
While the goal of Survivor has always been to get to the end, more and more people are realizing they have to build their résumés along the way, even if that means making what could be nothing more than a lateral move, just so you have something to hang your proverbial buff on. Look no further than the discussion between Michele and Julia right before Tribal Council where they talked about the need to prove they’ve earned it. It’s debatable whether moving from an alliance of seven (where you held a 4-3 edge in Beauty members over Brawn) to an alliance of five or six (is Joe in this thing?) where you could be outnumbered by Brains (if Joe is indeed in this alliance) is a good strategic play.
You could argue both ways on what gives you better odds for long-term success, but when in doubt — and if all things basically equal out — it is always better to be active rather than passive. This is why Fishbach came off as so stalkery obsessed with Joey Amazing last season. He felt he needed a big move to argue his case at the end, so he targeted Joe as that move. Rightly or wrongly, the guys on the tribe here were probably perceived as running the show due to their overbearing nature. Julia and Michele realized they needed to step out of that hairy, tattooed shadow and control their own destinies. That’s how you win the game if you get to the end.
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Okay, let’s jam through this sucker from top to bottom and recap the latest episode of Survivor: Kaoh Rong. The festivities begin with the comedic stylings of master impressionist Scot Pollard! He starts his revue with a pretty spot-on imitation of Hostmaster General Jeff Probst’s trademark “Previously on…Survivor,” and then moves on to Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates. We have a regular Rich Little, everyone!
In what will become a recurring theme throughout the episode, Jason brags about how solid the alliance is with everything “set in stone.” Meanwhile, Aubry leans on an old Survivor standby, comparing the tribe to cliques in high school. (Never heard that one before!) She says the tough guys and pretty girls are running the show and “the shy, nerdy people are on the outside.” Hold on a second, did she just call Debbie shy? Debbie is about as shy as Kanye West at an awards ceremony. But the point holds that nerdy Aubry, wacky Debbie, and old dude Joe are making like Rudolph and Hermey and are indeed the misfits at this point.
NEXT: A classic reward challenge