Until the day Jeff Probst puts me on that island and I get my chance to play Survivor—and I will get my chance to play Survivor—I will never understand the faulty logic behind adopting a strategy that places a greater premium on making some sort of statement rather than winning the game. It’s called Survivor, not Moral Victory! More on that later.
This episode, Where’s the Beef?, held few surprises, but did show how some players are playing smarter than their last time…and how others are simply throwing strategy out the window in favor of sheer stupidity.
I’ll be the first to give credit to Kass. She seems to have learned from some of her past mistakes on Brains vs. Braun vs. Beauty. She’s moved from being a player all about making big moves to a player trying to build a smarter social game. That makes perfect sense. There’s nothing wrong with big moves in this game. But making big moves just for the sake of it is not a winning strategy. Kass learned she had to be less self absorbed this time around and perhaps it’s paying off. I’m sure she’ll still make a big move, but hopefully she’ll be more strategic about it. In the meantime, she’s added a couple new clubs to her bag, so I’ve warmed up to her this season.
Monica’s Brilliant Recipe for Losing
Monica, however, proved herself to be nothing more than a one-dimensional idiot with her talk of an “all girl” alliance. Really? We’re still here? Has it not been proven time and again that this strategy is pretty much pointless and more likely to collapse? Someone needs to inform Monica that the object of Survivor is to win. Period. How you get there doesn’t matter. But go ahead and spend all your time on the island building your house of cards around a strategy that gives zero consideration to the short game, the long game and jury management. Monica’s grand plan makes about as much sense as an all-left-handed-people alliance. Smarten up, Monica.
While I was happy to see Andrew win for Angkor, I seriously thought someone was going to die on that beach. Angkor needed a win. Badly. I hate to see one tribe get decimated throughout the season; especially when they’ve been throw into worse circumstances than the other tribes. So, props to Savage for pulling out the win.
What I found most interesting about the challenge is all three tribes picked big, strong men to compete. In Angkor’s case, it made sense. Savage and Woo would’ve been the logical choices, but for the other two tribes? I could easily see how Bayon’s Wiglesworth or Kelley Wentworth on Ta Keo could’ve been competitive. They’re both athletic and capable, and this challenge was more about endurance than strength. Or how about you, Monica? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Given that this was the first actual reward challenge of the season, looks like the show will commence forth with two challenges per episode.
Meanwhile, back at Angkor…
Abi-Maria is proving herself to be one of the most emotional, least strategic players in the history of Survivor. She’s a complete wildcard and will go only as far as others take her…if they can survive her gut-level, wildcard voting strategery. I can understand being chapped if your name gets written down in Tribal Council, but to hold an open, public grudge over it? I’m not sure how that helps you. In my mind, the less personally you take the vote, the better you can strategize. In other words: learn from it, Abi! LEARN! Where Kass learned from past mistakes, Abi insists on repeating them over and over. That’s perfect if you want to be a stooge. If you want to win? Not so much.
Immunity Challenge: The Blind Leading the Blinder
This challenge combined two of what I consider the most difficult circumstances I could ever face if I want to win: wearing a blindfold in an obstacle race and putting together a 3-D puzzle. Please, make me the caller in this game. I’ll happily bark directions at my tribemates while they stumble and fumble through the sand, carrying oversized blocks.
I don’t think there’s any real rhyme or reason to how you win this one. Just hope someone on your tribe is good at puzzles. But what the hell happened to Angkor?! After winning food at the reward challenge, they should’ve been fueled up and ready to tackle this challenge. They looked like a bunch of dead-ass sleepwalkers by the end of it all. Savage, Woo and Tasha all are physical threats in challenges, but they clearly expended their energy inefficiently in this challenge.
Tribal Council: Strategy vs. Emotion
I’m not sure she deserves credit for it, but Abi has become the fulcrum for all of Angkor’s votes right now. Sure, she backed into it, but it’s a crown she’s wearing and knows it. And given the outcome of the vote—4 – 1 to boot Varner—perhaps she’s playing smarter than I give her credit for…Nah! I’m not ready to say that. But the tribe made the smart move in both short-term and long-term strategy in voting out Varner. He is a sharp, conniving player who spent several days working out alliances and deals. His downfall is he was too conniving—and not enough of a physical asset (especially with a broken toe)—to thrive on a dwindling, losing tribe.
Woo is not the most strategic player in Survivor, but Angkor weighed his ability to compete in challenges and made the smart, pragmatic move. Plus, Woo poses no strategic threat moving forward in the game. He’s not too different from Abi in the sense that he’s a guaranteed vote for an alliance. His only asset is winning challenges, which he will need if he makes it to the merge.
Survivor Employee of the Week: Andrew Savage
By singlehandedly winning a much-needed reward challenge for Angkor, Savage earned the honor of Employee of the Week. Not only did it bring food to a malnourished tribe, it was something of a moral victory. Of course, they maintained zero momentum and still had a date with Probst at Tribal, but at least they got to eat. All because of Savage.