Again, sorry for lateness. Explanations all in due time. It’s just been rather busy.
Which is a shame, because this episode rocked. Almost every season my favorite episode is the merge episode. It’s not only a moment that marks the turning point in the game, but it is also the moment where the moves come fast and furious and there is inevitably someone who is getting blindsided.
This episode marked the coming of age of Tyson 3.0, who has essentially wrested control of this game. For now. And it made me wonder about something. And I know what you are going to say, if you are going to praise Boston Rob for the 8 millionth time, you guys should just get a room already. I know. My man love for Boston Rob is well documented on these pages – and as a Yankee fan, trust me, it kills me. But once again, the best player in the history of Survivor may have his fingerprints on another player’s game.
Taking his last two appearances on the show – Heroes vs. Villains and Redemption Island – and seeing the players he played with, what do we have? Coach 3.0 on South Pacific was light years beyond anything he showed in his first two seasons. When Phillip and Andrea came on the second Fans vs. Favorites they were different strategic players. And now we have Tyson 3.0. He was Rob’s right hand man on HvV, until Tyson got duped by Russell and managed to vote himself out of the game. And ruin Rob’s game in the process. But other than that, he spent all that time with Rob. And I wonder how much has rubbed off.
Because this Tyson is a different player. Not every three-timer improves – think Russell, who had only one kind of game to play and that got old over time. Think Colby, whose third game was pathetic. Think Rupert who still can’t make strategic moves four times in. Tyson found himself in what appears to have been a pre-game alliance, which if he stuck with it, would at best earn him fifth or sixth place. And he could have done that, and it would have been his best finish yet. And he could go on the reality show appearance circuit and brag over those who never got that far. But he didn’t.
He spearheaded a new alliance, one forged by the actual goings-on of the game they were playing. Thanks to the tribal shifts, and the early vote outs, he found himself on a tribe with four others whose loved ones were voted out. And the idea struck him – let’s join together. It was a brilliant move. Along with Gervase, Caleb, Ciera and Hayden, they were targeting the power couples – Aras/Vytas, and presumably Tina/Katie. And the smartest move of all the smart moves would be to take out the only one of that crew to have won and never lost. Aras.
Aras was a better winner on Exile Island than I give him credit for – because I felt Terry and Cirie dominated that season. But his social game is impressive, and he’s a real physical threat. And now here he is at the merge, reunited with his brother, and strongly aligned with the mother-daughter. And he thinks he is home free. It makes me absolutely certain that Mrs. Rupert’s exit last week was not for reasons we witnessed – it was because Tina was saving Vytas for her alliance with Aras. The Yoga Man was a huge threat this season and Tyson wisely saw that to be true.
And credit to Gervase, who hasn’t played this game for 12 years, and the version he played was very different. He never made a power move that season, mainly because no one other than Hatch and his alliance understood exactly what they were playing. But here was Gervase presented with a choice – this new logical alliance, or the first one he was in. And I believe he chose wisely. That man now has a real good chance of winning this thing if he plays his cards well.
Tina wisely saw this to be an issue, asking Vytas early in the episode if Aras had Gervase locked down. He didn’t. Then she turned around and made a rookie mistake – telling Monica that she had moved up to fifth in the alliance, ahead of Gervase and Tyson. Never. Ever. Say that. To someone. Monica wisely read between the lines – she was fifth place if she stayed where she was.
Ironically, this season only, that fifth position is a rather good one for her to be in. She’d be with two couples. She just needs to pick one, vote with them and make the Final Three. Assuming, of course, there is a final three. And I’m not sure about that. We have 11 players left – it’s either a F3 with eight on the jury, or F2 with an odd number of jury members. But I get where she was – traditionally, you don’t want to be told that. And it burned Tina because Monica is a logical add to the Unloved Alliance.