”Survivor”: A sitting-duck battle
Ah, there’s nothing like a busted alliance to bring out the snakes and the rats. Back in the glory days of Moto, when the tribe was living in luxury and winning all the challenges, Alex seemed like a genial guy, a Harvard-educated lawyer with a heart of gold. He was smart but low-key, mediating between the Lisi-Stacy bossy-bags monster and those at the bottom of the pecking order, namely Dreamz and Cassandra. Then the tribe mix-up happened, and he got tossed into that hyper-testosteroney environment at Ravu. With the merge, we started to see signs of the new Alex: the mastermind behind the Four Horsemen, the guy who was pretty sure that he had the whole game in his back pocket. You can’t fault someone for having a little determination, or for trying to solidify an alliance. But he was so cocky that, when it all went to hell after Dreamz flipped, he just didn’t know what to do with himself. Here’s my take on things, until Dalton is back with you next week.
As this episode began, Alex and Mookie were chewing and spitting out bits of unidentified fruit, discussing the fallout of Dreamz’s double cross and the Four Horsemen’s early demise. Dreamz approached them, asking why they didn’t want to hang out with him anymore, and Alex, naturally, lashed out about being stabbed in the back. Dreamz actually did a remarkable job of befuddling them with his explanation about how they had all been outwitted at the tribal council. In his confessional, Dreamz revealed that he was trying to smooth things over with his former allies in case he makes it to the end and needs their votes. I wasn’t sure last week how considered his strategy actually was; it turns out I underestimated Dreamz. But I definitely overestimated Alex.
Faced with a 50-50 chance of going home this week, Alex decided to fight back the only way he knew how: ”If I’m going down, I’m bringing hell with me,” he said, and later added, ”I am a lawyer,” which I gather means that he cannot help being self-important and blustery. His goal was basically to create dissent just for the heck of it, with hopes that something (preferably another week for him) would shake out. When Mookie discovered the idol by rummaging through Yau-Man’s bag, in a move that can only be called ratlike, he and Alex seemed to have found the perfect opportunity. Except that — oops! — Stacy and Cassandra seemed to have overheard them strategizing about how to make the most of their new information. (The delightful twist is that Stacy revealed she and Cassandra hadn’t even really heard the fellas.) When Mookie and Alex, so pleased with themselves they could hardly contain their smirks, confronted Yau about their information, Yau did what he’s done all along — acted like a gentleman — and told them, ”You guys do what you need to do.” He then told his alliance about the idol and about how Mookie and Alex had ”found” it; the whole thing just served to make the two of them look like they had no respect for other people’s privacy.
Alex tried another strategy to squirm his way back into the fold after the mud-ball challenge (during which, incidentally, Cassandra got Earl in a pretty good headlock), but to no avail. At least he got to enjoy the rain shower and spa service. I’m sure Probst wasn’t fibbing when he said that all of the castaways needed a good scrub, but methinks the camera lingered a little overlong on the product placements — not to mention Earl’s muddy underarm hair.
Also at the challenge, Boo’s self-diagnosed ACL injury turned out to be self-repairing — he just stood up and pop! that sucker went back into place, and he immediately returned to the challenge. I’d like to take a moment to say, ”Ow!” and ”What a trooper!” Not only did he get injured; he also got a trip to Exile Island. Sucks to be Boo. Though I don’t really buy into the strategy he proposed (and which the alliance in need of a catchy nickname, as Dalton has dubbed them, decided to follow), namely splitting their votes down the middle, half for Mookie and half for Alex.
Someone who always seems to be in the middle of strategy talks is Stacy. Thus far, she’s been sneaking under the radar in the new tribe, but her true colors emerge every once in a while: Returning from last week’s tribal council, in the very beginning of the episode, she whispered about the thwarted Horsemen, ”Their days are numbered….They’ll be lucky if they get fed.” Then she turned to the camera, and we were treated to a disturbing night-vision likeness of Cruella de Vil. And in the Battleship-meets-Concentration immunity challenge, she ended up taking out both Yau-Man and Alex in one fell swoop, seeming to lock up Alex’s fate.
With all of Alex and Mookie’s promises to go out in a blaze of glory, ”Scarface-style,” I was expecting something more from tribal council than Alex’s warning about snakes and rats and his fortune-cookie advice. ”Word to the wise,” he said. ”Remember past actions, because they foretell the future.” Riiight, like that quip is really gonna change things up. This was their idea of coming out with guns blazing? Tony Montana would be very disappointed, my little friend. By writing down Mookie’s name, Alex may have avoided being voted off this week, but he sealed his fate, at least in terms of losing his nice-guy status. This was not a case of going along with the majority in order to get in good with them; he obviously didn’t even know about the half-and-half votes. He did manage to save his own neck, but at the expense of the only friend he had left.
Previously, I had bought Earl’s assessment that Mookie’s head was no longer in the game after Mookie got a glazed look in his eye and said, ”When the people came back from the spa reward, they smelled like apples and strawberries.” Thanks to the deciding vote from his buddy, the rest of him’s no longer in the game, either.
What do you think? Does Alex have any chance of earning back everyone’s trust? Is Stacy more of a player than she has seemed? And what the heck was that meat-swing challenge in the preview for next episode?