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S37 E7
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November 07, 2018 at 09:00 PM EST

Angelina just lost Survivor: David vs. Goliath. It’s over. Done. Finito. Pack up that tent. Tear up that million dollar check into tiny little pieces and then let those pieces float down to the floor dramatically like snowflakes of death. All it took were 10 simple sentences. Ten sentences to forever ruin her chances of winning the game. “So, they’ve thrown your name out there. But I’m the only person. I just wanted to be upfront with you, ‘cause I’ve gotten nothing but amazingness from you. And I tried. I thought I had a different vote. We were locked in on someone, and then I come back and they’ve flipped again. I just would rather tell you than have you be blindsided like that. You have such a big heart. I just respect you enough as a person. And I just figured the more information you have, ‘cause I’d rather see you here tomorrow than some of these people.”

That’s what Angelina told Elizabeth before Tribal Council. I knew exactly what she was trying to do here, and at the same time, I couldn’t believe she was doing it. With Elizabeth now assured of becoming the first jury member, Angelina was trying to curry favor — favor that would then hopefully be returned should Angelina make it to the final three. As soon as those words came out of her mouth, we all knew it would come back to bite her in the butt.

Here’s the thing: Angelina’s idea was very smart, and I applaud her for it. But her execution — and I cannot stress this enough — was TERRIBLE! Yes, if you know someone is on the way out you should do your best to forge a connection with that person. But it’s super tricky. You don’t want that connection to be too close, where they then blame you for lying or backstabbing because you all just shared the most intimate details or your personal life or she found your teeth at the bottom of a swamp before you slit her throat. (See: Brenda/Dawn in Survivor: Caramoan.) That can backfire spectacularly. But you want to make what I would call a “surface connection.” Just have a moment in which you can bond superficially and generically so that when that person leaves the game, you are not one of the people she is angry at.

And here’s another thing you absolutely, positively don’t want to do: not bring a jacket on Survivor. Wait, what? Sorry, I got confused. That was last week. No, the other thing you absolutely, positively don’t want to do is tell someone they are going home next and therefore open yourself up to the risk of them taking that information and using it against you. And that is exactly what happened.

Did Angelina think Elizabeth wouldn’t use any morsel or scrap of info she could to fight and stay in the game? If so, that was a massive miscalculation. Elizabeth went and immediately squealed to Carl and Gabby, who, in turn, suggested they tell the Goliaths and turn it on Angelina. “So let’s just blow it up at Tribal tonight,” agreed Elizabeth. (This, of course, was a mistake by Elizabeth. You don’t wait until Tribal to blow it up. You blow it up 30 minutes before you leave for Tribal. That gives folks time to get significantly pissed off and formulate a new plan. While we have seen votes seemingly change more at Tribal lately, it’s still a hell of a lot harder to change minds once everyone is already sitting on their assigned log and staring at Jeff Probst.)

Anyhoodle, Elizabeth did blow it up at Tribal, and the looks and responses from the other Goliaths told me everything I need to know. Angelina is done. Alison pointed out how it appeared Angelina was already trying to manage the jury for her final Tribal Council, and the vigorous head-nodding from all Davids and Goliaths that accompanied it showed they clearly agreed. And Alison’s comment about how Angelina had already “pocketed a vote” pretty much said it all.

Here’s why this move is a death knell for Angelina. This confirms what I wrote last week about how Angelina’s biggest problem was that people already perceived her as being super sneaky. That means it will be that much harder for her to get to the end. But the problem is bigger than that. Here’s what it ultimately comes down to: The other people both in and out of the game will not trust anything Angelina says. And I’m not talking about strategy and flipping and backstabbing and all that nonsense. I’m talking about any attempt to make what Angelina described as “a raw human moment.”

People in the game will not trust her, and even more devastatingly, anyone out of the game who could be voting either for or against her at Tribal Council as a member of the jury will now view any potential moment of kindness through a cloud of doubt, and wonder if it’s all phony baloney sincerity. It now doesn’t matter if Angelina is sincere in what she says or does because not unlike poor Pig Pen, that cloud will now follow her wherever she goes. Perception is reality in this game, and the perception clearly appears to be that Angelina was not being genuine by trying to get in good with the first jury member before sending her to her torch-snuffing executioner with the dimples. Again, it doesn’t matter if that is true or not. Whether people playing think it is true is all that matters, which is why now Angelina can’t win.

As for whether I think Angelina was being kind or cagey by telling Elizabeth, again, it doesn’t matter. But that won’t stop me from giving my take. I do think Angelina had a jury vote in mind when she went to Elizabeth with that information. But I actually think it was something more than that which was not discussed. I think Angelina was pissed. She was pissed about the way the change in voting plans went down without her and she told her alliance as much. I think that telling Elizabeth was her subconscious version of payback and venting all rolled into one. “You all want to make this decision against my will? Fine. But here is my form of protest. I’m going to tell her you all insisted on it and I didn’t want to do it.”

Yes, I am playing armchair psychologist here, but my take was that more than a coldly calculated jury-baiting move, this was just simply Angelina letting off steam. Just look at her in that scene. She’s still clearly upset and rattled. When you’re upset and rattled you tend to say things you shouldn’t, and my best guess is that it is exactly what happened here. That’s where I think there is a kernel of truth in what Angelina said at Tribal Council when she claimed that “It was not jury management, it was a raw human moment where I just couldn’t lie. I apologize to my tribe. I wasn’t trying to be sneaky.”

Okay, she definitely could lie. Angelina has no qualms with that. She also was being sneaky so that’s a bunch of malarkey as well. But I buy the “raw human moment” element of it. Not the way she’s selling it, of course, but more that she was having a raw human moment and let something slip as a kind of F.U. to her own alliance that she shouldn’t have. As far as her other comment at Tribal that “I am an authentic person and this game is very hard for someone who is trying to be a loving person” — well, I have to admit: I did laugh out loud when I heard that. And I imagine you probably did too.

Regardless, I honestly do believe this is a blow from which Angelina cannot recover — either because she is now deemed too untrustworthy to get to the end, or she is deemed not genuine enough to vote for should she make it there. And that’s too bad because I LOVE Angelina as a player. She may not always play well with others, but she plays big, she plays hard, she’s devious (which I adore), she’s smart, and she’s there to win. Her Achilles’ heel, as I wrote last week, is that she’s simply too obvious in her deception — which showed up again this week. But she is entertaining as hell to watch (whether you love or loathe her) and creates story through pretty much everything she does. I would want an Angelina on every single season and the producers would be crazy not to bring her back again, regardless of how she does here.

By the way, if you missed my merge interview with Angelina, you definitely need to check it out. She reveals a bunch of Jacketgate scenes we didn’t see and has some great thoughts about something I have lamented for a long time in these here recaps: the fact that women don’t find nearly as many hidden immunity idols. Go read it! It’s worth it! And I’m not just saying that to get in good with Angelina in case she ends up on the jury. ZING!!!

Anyway, I wasn’t planning to spend 1,500 words on that, but I suppose you weren’t planning on reading 1,500 words about it either. Let’s hit on a few other notable things from this latest episode, hopefully in far less detail.

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