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S37 E4
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October 17, 2018 at 09:00 PM EDT

“If I go home tonight with guns blazing, I’m happy.” — Natalia

I mean, you didn’t look happy. There was the stare down at Alec after he flipped sides and joined the Davids to vote you out. There was the beginning of the talk back with, “I knew it. I knew I couldn’t trust you.” There was the rebuttal after Alec apologized with “Don’t be sorry. Shut up” — hilariously followed with the torch placement query of “Where do I put this?”

There was the exasperated final comment of “Why are you smiling? Oh my God, I can’t handle you right now!” There was even an awkward stumble out of Tribal Council. And then, a few minutes later, your final words ended with “I’m pissed. I want to hurt him so bad.” So this wasn’t exactly a Bobby McFerrin concert is what I’m getting at.

But we, as viewers, were amply able to follow the don’t worry, be happy mantra. Not that we were happy to see Natalia go. Natalia is the sort of type-A paranoid control freak we love to watch in this game. It’s actually a shame to lose her this early. But it made for a hell of a Tribal Council. We longtime Survivor viewers always like to sound as if we’re 518 years old and talk about how much better the show was back in our day and how we walked through 18 feet of snow just to get to the television set and you kids today have no idea how lucky you are!!! But one of the best things about the evolution of Survivor is the fact that votes actually do now seem to change right at Tribal Council. As much as the show tried to make you believe this was happening back in the day, it was all kind of a ruse — clever editing and misdirections to keep the result in doubt.

But that has changed. Not for every Tribal, mind you. And not even most of them. But a few times a season now, you will see a player — or players — move to a different plan in the moment, and it is exhilarating to watch. I have no idea what made Alec change his vote. Maybe Elizabeth constantly talking about his “balls” finally got to him. I also don’t see how this was a smart move for him. With Carl now entering the tribe, the Goliaths just went from a 3-2 majority to a 3-2 minority. True, Davie and Elizabeth don’t seem particularly close, but do you want to bank on the three Davids not ganging up on you should they lose the next challenge? I wouldn’t.

Plus, in terms of resume building, pre-merge moves count far less than post-merge ones, so I’m not sure how much of a benefit you really get for that alleged big move. And, if anything, I would be more likely to credit Davie or Elizabeth, because the person finding a crack in an alliance and exploiting it is inherently more impressive than the person who was merely exploited. So I don’t know what the hell Alec was thinking. (Yes, I get he didn’t trust Natalia but can you trust Davie and Elizabeth — who were both trying to get rid of each other — any more?) My hunch is that this was not a smart move. But damn it was fun to watch.

And while I kid about Natalia obviously not being happy over her ouster, contrary to her statement before the vote, I love the fire she showed on her exit. She did go out guns blazing, as promised. It was a thought echoed by Jeff Probst as he noted the philosophy once espoused by Neil Young: “If I go down, I want to burn out, rather than fade away.” (I am relatively confident Probst was paraphrasing from Young’s “My My, Hey Hey”, although every fiber of my being is hoping I am wrong about that and it was actually a nod to Def Leppard’s seminal metal anthem “Rock of Ages.” If he just could have thrown in a little “Gunter glieben glauchen globen” as well then my life would truly be complete.)

Okay, so much else to get to, and there ain’t nothing to it but to do it. We begin the episode at a beach that appears to be set up for a challenge. Psych! It’s a tribe swap! But before that, Bi has an announcement to make. “I actually have to make a really sad announcement. I sprained my MCL yesterday, and I’m an athlete so I have made the decision to leave the game.” Listen carefully to what she said there because the semantics are important: “I have made the decision to leave the game.”

That means Bi is not being medically evacuated. She is leaving on her own volition. That is quickly confirmed in the language Probst uses to describe all the trouble the David tribe has endured. “It’s not the Goliaths that have somebody medically evacuated,” says Probst, referencing Pat. “It’s not the Goliaths that have somebody quit,” then referencing Bi. And then, in case there was any doubt, he officially announces: “Bi has made her decision. Bi is quitting the game.”

So what exactly happened here? We saw Bi’s injury in the last challenge. We then went back to the David camp even though they won the challenge (for her to tell us that she has sprained her MCL) which I pointed out last week was highly unusual and probably done as a seed planted for her to be medically evacuated from the game. But I was wrong. She was not medically evacuated. In this case, it appears Dr. Joe and the medical team told her she was okay to continue in the game and she made the decision to quit rather than risk further injury.

This is a tough one. What was Bi told by Survivor medical in terms of her injury? How would staying out there and playing as opposed to leaving and properly rehabbing impact her career as an MMA fighter? Did she use the injury as an excuse because her best buddy Jessica was blindsided a few days prior? I have no clue. But I asked Jeff Probst about it in this week’s Q&A and look forward to asking Bi when we talk Thursday morning. Regardless, the distinction was clearly made and for those keeping score, BI’s exit will not go down as a medical evacuation.

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