Instead of being patient and following a laid out path to victory, Tony makes a bold move that could doom him in the end

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 27, 2015 at 10:12 PM EST
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Credit: Michael Yarish/CBS
S28 E8
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When you have recapped well over 300 episodes of Survivor, a few things are bound to happen. The first is, you take stock of your life’s accomplishments and get SUPER depressed. The next thing that happens is you realize you need to mix it up from time to time. Sometimes, that means writing an entire recap as the infamous Jimmy T (still one of my favorite recaps ever and one of readers’ least favorites…perhaps I should have recognized that the last thing folks wanted to ingest was 3,000 words of meta-Jimmy T speak) or it means breaking format in other ways as I tend to do from time to time. But let’s be honest, my ”format” pretty much consists of random rambling and vaguely agitated strategic analysis, so it’s not like I’m really breaking away from anything of note anyhow.

All this is a longwinded way of explaining how I noticed that there were lots of notable quotes from the contestants of Survivor: Cagayan this week, so we will be relaying the action through those quotes and how they pertained to what else was happening on screen. So here we go with the 11 magical quotes and the stories behind them from this week’s episode of Survivor: Cagayan.

QUOTE #1: “When Jeff turned over that card and it said Tony, I probably pooped myself.” —Tony

Okay, first off, “probably”? You seriously don’t know whether you pooped yourself or not? I mean, I don’t personally make it a habit of soiling myself, but I imagine if I did, I’d be pretty aware of any and all activity going on south of the border. But this quote coming off of the events of the previous Tribal Council was important because it set the stage for ants-in-the-pants Tony to feel it necessary to make a big move. He was upset because he had received votes in each of the past two Tribal Councils. But what was so bizarre about this is that all those votes Tony was getting were from the minority alliance. As in WHO THE F— CARES?!?

Tony was right when he said he took it as a compliment. He should. That means all those minority votes that should be eventually headed to the jury see him as the best player that needs to be gotten rid of. Those are jury votes FOR YOU just waiting to happen. So why get bummed out about them targeting you? Yet this seems to be what spurred Tony on to make the move that I fear will ultimately doom him in this game.

QUOTE #2: “Looking at LJ is like looking at myself in the mirror.” —Tony

Umm…what kind of mirror are we talking about here exactly? Like, a fun house mirror? Because if you are asking any old mirror, mirror on the wall, “Who’s the fairest of them all?” I’m not sure the answer is going to come back Tony. (Of course, the answer is not going to come back Dalton either so I don’t know what my damage is.)

But the point Tony was trying to make is not that he and LJ were twins — unless they were Twins of the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito variety — but rather that they were both great players. And because of that he needed to get rid of LJ to clear his own path to victory. And to clear that path, Tony used the most roundabout faulty voodoo logic I have ever heard in my entire life. Explaining that he didn’t want to be the bad guy and break his pinkie swear promise, Tony decided to trick LJ into breaking his promise to roll with the final 6 all the way. And how did he do this? By lying to LJ about Woo finding a hidden immunity idol. This entire line of logic is so convoluted and illogical that there is no point in even attempting to follow it to conclusion. Being a police officer, Tony knows all about entrapment, and this charge he tried to fabricate against LJ would not stand up in any court of law. Unless, of course, Kass was one of the defense lawyers involved, because she might just ask the judge to convict her client anyway. Trial by ambush!!!

NEXT: A parade of never-ending depressing LJ quotes about how swell Tony is

QUOTE #3: “You might as well just call me The Opportunist because if I see an opportunity, I’m going to jump on it.”— Tony

The Opportunist is just a terrible nickname and I did not want this column to pass without noting that. What the hell is The Opportunist anyway? A less handsome version of Simon Baker?

QUOTES #4-6: Sadsack LJ Medley

“I built a strong bond with Tony and my loyalty is there. I pulled that idol out for him and we’re in it till the end and I trust that he’ll do the right thing.” —LJ

“I made a plan for the future and it relies on patience.” —LJ

“I trust Tony. He’s the reason I’m still out here.” —LJ

You know, I can’t help but wonder at some point if you are a contestant on Survivor and you keep getting pulled aside by a producer to shoot confessional interviews, and then that producer keeps asking you, “Hey, so how confident are you that Tony will stay true to you?”…well, I can’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, you might start to wonder, “I wonder why they keep asking me about Tony.” And you might want to think about doing something about that.

But poor LJ. The more he talked about how great Tony was and how much he trusted him and how they were “in it till the end,” the clearer it became that he was about to get blindsided by The Opportu…you know what? I just can’t with that nickname. But as bad as I think this move by Tony was, and as nice a dude as LJ appears to be, there is something delicious about watching a completely ambivalent lamb being led to the slaughter. These moments are always pure Survivor gold, and this season has been filled with them.

QUOTE #7: “You guys ready to get to today’s reward challenge?” —Jeffrey Probst

I’m always obsessing over Probst’s other go-to moves such as looking to the ground when he instructs everyone to “Come on in, guys!” or when he inquires as to whether they “Wanna know what you’re playing for?” that I feel I have not given this particular Probst-ism its proper due over the past 14 years, even if there has yet to be any evidence presented to the contrary that the contestants, in fact, are not ready to get to a challenge. Still, just once, I’d love for someone to reply “Not really, Jeff. Can we call this one off, by chance?”

QUOTE #8: “I like big moves, bro.” —Tony

Honestly, Tony should probably have this inscribed on his tombstone. It certainly explains everything about his gameplay. Make no mistake, whether you love him or loathe him, Tony is a fantastic player to watch. Because he is constantly in motion. He can’t stop himself! He is addicted to action. He craves the drama. Sometimes this leads to strong moves on his part because he is thinking when and where others are not — like finding that hidden immunity idol and turning Sarah to his side — while other times it can bite him in the butt. “I like big moves, bro,” basically sums up everything about him. That aggressiveness can be both an asset and a liability.

Of course, the other reason this quote is so absolutely perfect is because it was delivered as three dudes were sitting in their robes getting foot massages. Talk about straight up pimpin’! It’s almost as if Tony could not resist making some sort of deal with whomever he went on the Survivor spa reward with. Once it was Spencer and Jeremiah, that just kind of sealed LJ’s fate.

NEXT: More reasons why Tony made the wrong move

But let’s examine what made flipping on LJ such an awful move. First off, you are keeping around three people — Spencer, Jeremiah, and Tasha — that stand a good chance of beating you should they make it to the finals because they will have alliance members on the jury, and the fact that they overcame great odds to get there and didn’t hurt any feelings along the way gives them an advantage. Secondly, you have now turned your back on LJ, Trish, Jefra, and Kass, the last three of which wanted no part of getting rid of LJ. Those are potential jury votes that now could turn against you. Remember: The key is to not just get to the end, but have the people you voted out want to give you the money. That second part of the equation seems to be lost on many players this season.

QUOTE #9: “I love a good blindside, but it’s too soon. No one wants to make a big move right now. You’d be stupid.” —Kass

See! Even Kass thinks this was a bad move. KASS!!! Kass is the patron saint of terrible strategic decisions and if this human flip-flop thinks this was an absurd error in judgment than that should tell you something.

QUOTE #10: “I actually for the first time in this game feel comfortable” —LJ

Note to any and all future Survivor contestants: NEVER EVER SAY YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE! How many times have these words escaped the lips of an unsuspecting contestant, only for them to be voted out one commercial break later? Saying these words is a death wish. It’s like saying Beetlejuice (or Betelgeuse) three times. Do so at your own risk. As soon as LJ said this, we knew he was a goner.

QUOTE #11: “You gotta know when to kiss ass and you gotta know when to kick ass.” —Tony

This follows last week’s assertion that “it’s better to be pissed off than pissed on.” Did Tony pull a Coach and bring a catchy quote book out on location with him? Regardless, by the time they got to Tribal Council all the evidence was mounting that this was a time to kiss ass as opposed to kicking it. Trish was not buying what Tony was selling in terms of getting rid of LJ. Even backstabber extraordinaire Kass was not down with deviating from the plan. (Who knows what Jefra was doing because we never hear from her anyway.) The point is, it would be one thing if Tony could get everyone on board to vote off LJ, but he couldn’t. The only one his lie worked on was Ninja Stealth Woo. It’s as if there was a big neon flashing ABORT! sign staring right at his face, but Tony chose to ignore it because patience is simply not in his vocabulary.

So now Tony just angered four people who may be potential jury votes down the line. And for what? To allow the much bigger threat of Spencer to stay in the game. This was clearly a lose-lose proposition. Although the winners were us, the viewers, as it completed another crazy episode in this anything goes season.

NEXT: The advantage to viewers of otherwise boring memory challenges

Okay, now let’s get to a few odds and ends from this episode that we weren’t able to touch on yet.

• That shot at the beginning of the episode where Tony leans his torch against a tree only to watch it knock down all the other troches (which he then decided to leave on the ground and not pick up) pretty much summed up the entire episode. Perfect.

• Pretty fun reward challenge as the players were randomly divided intro three teams and then they had to throw a rope through a ring which would release 20 sand bags. Those sand bags then needed to be tossed through a tunnel and bounced off a trampoline into baskets. The green team, of course, ended up with a huge advantage after the random draw with three guys (Tony, Spencer, Jeremiah), while both the other teams were comprised of two women and one man. Thus the three guys who probably least needed and would enjoy a spa getaway ended up getting foot rubs and sporting swanky robes. I mean, it’s not like self-proclaimed baldie Tony even needed the shampoo when you think about it.

• I encourage everyone to check out this week’s Q&A with Jeff Probst when it goes up at 7am. He has some pretty candid comments about him not necessarily being crazy about memory challenges like the one that took place in tonight’s immunity competition when the contestants essentially played a glorified game of Simon. And I get why he says it. There’s not a lot of action happening as players just have to remember symbols — or as in this week’s contest, colors — in a particular order. But I may shock some of you when I say that I actually kind of like these games, and I’ll tell you why: These memory challenges are essentially the only opportunity that viewers have to play along at home. You can actually compete against the contestants and try to remember the order yourself and then see how you measure up. That is impossible to do in pretty much every other challenge, including ones with other types of puzzles. This is the only chance we as viewers have to truly compete head-to-head with the people on our screen we have come to love and/or loathe.

Now, granted, perhaps I am the only dorkasaurus who is lame enough to get a thrill performing challenges through his TV set against people that are 8,000 miles and 8 months away (because this was filmed last summer in the Philippines), but it’s still kind of fun. Don’t get me wrong, these things are best in small doses, but I hope the show does not get rid of them completely. Once a season seems about right. Oh, and props to Tasha for winning. And no props to Trish for missing the second color given, a performance that was truly J’Tia worthy. (Random thought: What happens if you are color blind and this challenge comes up? As the father of a color blind son who can’t distinguish between blue and purple, I can’t help but wonder.)

NEXT: Does Tony realize he no longer needs to lie about being a construction worker?

• What the hell was up with Tony saying at Tribal Council that he works in construction? He’s already fessed up to Sarah, LJ, Woo, Trish, and Jefra that he is a cop. What’s the point of carrying on with that lie at this point? Where’s the benefit? No wonder Sarah’s eyes almost popped out of her head Eliza Orlins style. I also love the way that Sarah and Morgan made it a point of looking away as Kass walked by them to go vote. Bitter jury members may make for bad voters in the end, but the facial expressions they provide along the way are simply priceless.

Okay, folks, here’s the best news of all: Next week’s episode of Survivor is going to be INSANE! How do I know this? Because I will be out of town and therefore handing over my recap duties to the dashing Marc Snetiker. And, as, we all know, I always miss the best Survivor episode of every season. So expect Tony to get blinded by a venomous snake, or Spencer to play 18 hidden immunity idols, or, I don’t know, Woo to fall out of a coconut tree or something. It’s all going down, people!

But right now you need to get down with all the other Survivor goodies we have for you. We have this week’s exclusive deleted scene waiting for you in the video player below. And don’t forget about my weekly Q&A with hostmaster general Jeff Probst. Or our InsideTV Podcast exit interview with the eliminated LJ. And, of course, for all the Survivor scoop sent directly to you, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Now it’s your turn. Did Tony blow it this week? Or, phrased another way, did Tony poop himself? Could my episode 1 pick to win, Spencer, actually pull this out? And do you love or loathe the once-a-season memory challenge? Hit the message boards to let us know and Mark Snetiker will be filling in next week to deliver your scoop of the crispy!

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