Well, that merge sure was busy. For a season which has had seven previous episodes primarily focused on the absurd behavior of Sgt. Hulka, Brandon and Phillip, we finally had an episode which was an old-school, hard-core Survivor episode. It had it all – merges, feasts, backstabbing, shifting alliances, swing votes, and friggin’ gross food. It was Season 1-like in the eating challenges, and up there with some of the great merge episodes with the scrambling for power. These are my favorites:
Australia and the Case of the Colby Deception.
Marquesas and The Case of The Failed Boston Rob Power Play.
Pearl Islands and The Case of the Lillian Revenge Scenario.
All-Stars and The Case of the Lex Deception.
Vanuatu and The Case of the Male Purge.
Cook Islands and The Case of The Way You Use An Idol.
Fiji and The Case of The Most Awesome Blindside.
FvF Par 1 and The Case of the F*cking Stick.
Tocantins and The Case of The Dragon Slayer.
Samoa and The Case of The Galu Implosion.
HvV and The Case of JT’s Blunder
Redemption Island and The Case of Matt’s Lament
South Pacific and The Case of The Cochran Revenge Scenario
Now add this one – Caramoan and The Case of the Blown Blindside.
The tribes merged and the two power alliances did battle – the season-long Faves power Stealth R Us alliance on one side, and the burgeoning Alpha Male Alliance (AMC) on the other. Malcolm and Corinne rejoined and realized that with the AMC and her linking with Lord Snow, they had six people against the other five Faves plus Sherri. However, six people does not a majority make when there are 12 people involved. So, instead of risking a Purple Rock Scenario – and how awesome would it have been for Cochran to be presented with that possibility again – they chose to go in a different direction. Corinne set out to convince the Stealth agents to take the easy way out and take out Sherri, i.e. the woman with no remaining alliance. If they did, her six would then pounce on their 6-5 advantage next week by turning on the Stealths and taking out The Specialist.
It was a smart plan, except that it wasn’t the smartest plan they had before them.
When Corinne took her Operation Cougar Vote Out plan to the Stealths, she was met with expected skepticism. Phillip wanted to go for one of the AMC dudes instead – going after the fit young guys. With eight votes on his side, he presented a vote split option – four for Eddie, four for Reynold and even if the four fans united, four for a Fave. The revote would be Eddie or Reynold. Not a bad idea, especially since Lord Snow and Sherri would probably jump at the option of going with the Stealths on that vote.
Here is what was missed. Corinne didn’t need to target Sherri. She didn’t need to try and shore up a seventh vote with her ill-fated recruiting attempt with Dawn. Her power play was right there in front of her – and, best of all, she didn’t even need Erik to pull it off.
Corrine and Lord Snow, along with Malcolm, Reynold and Eddie made up a solid block of five votes. Erik is on his own planet, so let’s assume for a moment that he was not even an option. With Phillip proposing a split vote, Corinne should have jumped at it. All she would have to do is suggest that the male Faves vote for Eddie and the ladies vote for Reynold. She and Malcolm, of course, would be voting with the AMC and Lord Snow. Phillip, Erik and Cochran vote for Eddie. Andrea, Brenda and Dawn vote for Reynold. Sherri does whatever the hell she wants. Meanwhile, Corinne and Malcolm’s coup sends all five of their votes at Phillip. 5-4-3 (or 5-3-3-1) and Phillip is gone. Then they have their five strong into the F11 and can either recruit Sherri, or perhaps finalize Erik or Brenda into their team and take over. It would be a clean takeover and would take out Corinne’s nemesis. And it was all there for the taking.
Except, she didn’t take it.
What she did was bring to light the strength of the core of the Stealth alliance. When she approached Dawn about the new AMC/Snow alliance, Dawn had PTSD flashbacks to South Pacific and Cochran’s flip and the destruction of her chances to win. She went right to…Cochran. Talk about letting bygones be bygones. They went to Andrea and Phillip and the counter move was on. If you want to find the power of this game right now – it’s the Redemption Island/South Pacific foursome. Amazingly, that plays right into my pre-season prediction – which is almost never correct. My Final Three prediction of Andrea, Sherri and Cochran is very much alive and well.
As we look forward, what will be the aftermath of Corinne’s ouster? First, Malcolm needs to buddy up with the Stealths and put all the blame at her feet. He can still plot away with the AMC, but he needs to do some persuading of Erik, and probably Brenda to slide over and join his group. He would also be wise to consider some idol play. With two idols in play with the AMC, they could get the power back if they can play their cards right and get a little luck. The most likely vote next week – the safest vote for the Stealths – is to take out Lord Snow. The likelihood of AMC sliding him an idol is remote. This enables them to have 7-3 advantage and split into a 4-3-3 vote and avoid idol madness.
I am still baffled by the performances from Brenda and Erik. Brenda just doesn’t speak. She was super aggressive in Nicaragua, and she is just kind of there now. She is not getting a winner’s edit – she is getting a likely F6 edit. Erik is playing a Fabio-esque strategy of being a bit spacey and out there. I wonder if he has it in him to do a little last minute maneuvering the way Fabio did during the weakest Survivor season of them all. Until then, we get silent Brenda (also from that same craptacular season) and an Erik who is told who to vote for by having a name pointed to…and no questions asked.