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“I don’t know why everybody wants to work with me. I think I’m a freakin’ weasel.” — Ryan
This week of Survivor was all about cause and effect for Ryan. Last week we laid out the pros and cons for Ryan in determining whether to oust Chrissy or Roark. My final takeaway was that it was probably a good move to keep Chrissy, under one key condition: as long as he could mend fences with Ali. That never happened.
The episode began with Ali asking Ryan why he blindsided her with the Roark vote. Ryan kept repeating over and over that he thought they were getting too close while Ali kept repeating over and over that she only knew her for four days. Interestingly enough, it was Ryan who lost his cool, raising his voice and contorting his face into all sorts of painful poses as if he was auditioning for enrollment in the Eliza Orlins Absurdly Over the Top Tribal Council Facial Expressions Academy. (Dean of Admissions: Hannah Shapiro.) It was the first real social blunder we’ve seen from my episode 1 pick to win it all.
Instead of asking Ali to speak privately and then very calmly explaining that he couldn’t risk the Healers reuniting at the merge and also couldn’t risk Ali having second thoughts about it because she had grown fond of Roark — while letting Ali vent and blow off some well-deserved steam — Ryan got overly defensive. And that just raised Ali’s apprehension. “I can’t have enemies in this game,” he told us. “So she may have to go.” And go she did. Losing Ali changes the math for Ryan’s decision last week. Instead of just a losing Roark or Chrissy decision, it now becomes a choice between the following two options:
Option A: Lose Chrissy and then Roark
Option B: Lose Roark and then Ali
Option B starts to not look quite as good now. Ryan may view Chrissy as just as strong an ally as Ali, but again, he just met her so how can he be sure? Plus, there are now only three Hustlers going into the merge, as opposed to four Heroes and five Healers. Who knows if those numbers will hold after the tribe swap — and yes, Ryan has positioned himself in a good place for a possible Hustlers/Heroes alliance to take on the Healers, but again, do you want to bank on that?
And then there’s this: Ryan may have shown his cards too early. Ryan knows he’s a weasel, and now others may know it as well. Chrissy and JP watched Ryan turn on one of his own and now he has to go explain to Devon and Lauren why he did it. Ask yourself this question: Would you trust Ryan 100 percent after that? If I were out there — and let’s all thank God I am not so you don’t have to stare at my pale, scrawny pathetic excuse for a body every week — I’d want to cut Ryan’s throat before he slit mine.
None of this means Ryan can’t still win this game. He remains in a decent position heading into the merge. I’m still fine with him as my pick to win. But I’m surprised he didn’t handle the Ali fallout better. There was a way to thread the needle and keep both Chrissy and Ali in the game and on his side — just feed Ali some mumbo-jumbo about not wanting her to have to get blood on her hands— but he wasn’t able to pull it off. Having a great social game is not just making people laugh while they split open coconuts for you. It is handling damage control in a way to prevent strategic fallout. Ryan was unable to do that this week. We’ll see if that was merely a blip on the radar, or a sign of things to come. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a sign that we should recap the rest of episode 6, so let’s get to it.
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“Down Goes Cole!”
Okay, that’s an outdated Howard Cosell boxing reference that will probably be lost on 98 percent of you — maybe 95 percent now that I made the mistake of overexplaining it. Anyhoodle, there was some food (or lack of it) drama over at the Yawa beach this episode. It started when Sex Doctor dropped his fish into the fire — which I swear is not a euphemism — yet still saved it and shared it. This was in stark contrast to Cole, who had caught a big fish and kept it all to himself. That certainly did not impress Ben. “Cole’s showing his true colors, and they’re not good.”
This leads into some squabbling about how much food to eat and when to eat it. Cole’s philosophy: “I think you should eat big when you have it.” And, to be clear, when Cole says “you,” Cole means “I,” because he also explained to us that “I need a bigger serving because without me there will not be victory for the Yawa tribe.” This attitude is not winning Cole many friends. Lauren argues that Cole is digging his own grave, but I don’t agree with that assessment. After all, digging takes waaaaay too much energy for Cole.
But just as we’re thinking about what a Wendy Whiner Cole is, he later full-on passes out and almost bashes his head in on bamboo. Luckily, Cole has a Sex Doctor and a nurse to take care of him, in what would under any other circumstances be shaping up as a tired but true plot from a late night movie on Skinemax (working title: Threeway Island).
Cole shrugs the whole incident off as “standing up too fast,” and we never see Survivor medical on the scene, so we have to assume it wasn’t too bad. (As Jeff Probst explains in our Q&A, however, medical did examine Cole to make sure everything was hunky dory — we just didn’t see it.) But if you think this weakness is not going to be pounced on by other contestants, then you have never watched Survivor. Either that or you are still daydreaming about Threeway Island. Mike points out that if Cole is feeling this way on day 16, how is he going to be feeling even deeper in the game? Good question.
Ben also points out that Cole “should have worried about appetite more than his six-pack” and while a six-pack of Milwaukee’s Best surrrrrrre would hit the spot right about now, I know what he’s getting at. Ben’s right in that the sculpted muscleheads are the ones who have traditionally suffered the most out there, going all the way back to the show’s very first quitter in Osten. More muscle demands more calories and protein, and when you are starved of those things, the body shuts down. It’s actually the skinny people like Ryan who are best equipped to handle the dramatic decrease in calorie intake. See, I always knew there were advantages to being a skinny dork! Maybe I should go on this show after all. (Recap continues on next page)