“There are definitely times to play idols for other people — namely, when you need to control the numbers or need to save an alliance partner that will ultimately help you get further in the game.”
Does that sound familiar? It should, because that was yours truly in last week’s Survivor recap while arguing why David made the wrong strategic choice in choosing to play an idol for Jessica. The basis of my verdict last week was rooted in the fact that David burned an idol trying to patch together an unworkable alliance that was nonsensical to begin with, considering it was right before an obvious tribe shake-up.
But — as Yogi Berra used to say — it was déjà vu all over again as here we were, one week later, and David once again had an idol and an opportunity to play an idol for someone else. Only this time he didn’t play it. And this time, I would argue, it would have made a lot more sense to do so.
First off, let’s be clear: This was not a slam-dunk use-or-don’t-use-the-idol scenario. If David uses the idol on CeCe and Michelle goes, then he’s out of an idol and the tribe is potentially deadlocked 2-2 should they make it back to Tribal in three days — a distinct possibility with two terrible challenge performers in David and CeCe. So things could get sticky there. And let’s not forget Chris promised to choke David in front of Jeff Probst should he use the idol. That sounds dicey, too. By not playing the idol, David is assured to get through the next vote as well. That means he can control who leaves next time. That makes sense. I won’t fault him for that. All of the above supports David’s decision to hold onto the idol.
But playing the idol would have made sense when taking a more long-term view of the game. If David plays the idol, he does two things. First off, he gets someone out (Michelle) who openly talked about wanting him gone. Secondly, he sets himself up to potentially take out two Millennials — Michelle and Zeke — thereby evening the number of Gen Xers and Millennials in the game. Plus, in getting rid of CeCe, David just made himself the biggest target on the tribe because of his piss-poor challenge performances. It’s always smart to keep a bigger target around, but David just voted his off. So there is certainly a compelling argument to using the idol as well.
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Again, the unpredictability of potentially picking rocks next time out, thanks to a deadlocked tribe — say, David and CeCe on one side with Chris and Zeke on the other — throws everything in this idol-playing scenario into question. (Then again, would Chris even be there by the next Tribal? If Chris follows through on his threat to choke an idol-playing David, he’s automatically tossed out of the game. Advantage: David!)
Look, all things considered, I actually think David probably did the right thing here. Too many variables moving forward, and when you weigh all the pros and cons, holding onto the idol is probably the best course of action. But ceding numbers, making yourself the obvious next target, and leaving someone in the game who has stated they want you out also makes an argument for playing the idol a strong one — unlike last week.
Okay, there’s a lot going on this episode, so let’s recap this bad boy from the very top. We begin back at the Gen X camp after David just used his idol to save Jessica. He’s worried his tribemates will be upset with him; however, Chris says he’s not angry, but rather “just curious, why the dramatics?” Duh, you’re asking a professional television writer why he went for dramatics by standing up and making a big speech on television? That’s like asking Taylor not to say the word “bro.” He is a bro! Bros gonna bro, bro!
Anyhoo, David makes nice with everyone and then Jessica apologizes to Ken. As part of her apology, she tells Ken all about her Legacy Advantage and how she was going to give it to him had she been voted out. If I’m Ken in this situation, I say something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, can you excuse me for a second?” Then I go over and find David and beat the crap out of him for using that idol and costing me a Legacy Advantage. Then I return to Jessica and hug her and tell her, “It’s okay, honey, we’re all good,” while thinking about how much I want to beat up David again.
The next morning, it’s a full-on Idolpalozza as Gen Xers scurry around looking for the replaced idol, knowing a tribe reshuffling is likely imminent. But David has an advantage the others don’t: He knows to look for the logo printed on the side of whatever object the idol is hidden in, and sure enough, he finds a suspicious-looking log and the idol tucked inside. So David is back in business.
NEXT: Three is the magic number