Tribe switch leaves Fang full of losers

Last week on Survivor Gabon, the Fang tribe won two back-to-back challenges, after losing every other challenge up to that point. This week, the Fang tribe was again decimated in a challenge–even though the tribe has new members.

In an apparent effort to keep one tribe from being awesome to the other tribe’s lameness, Jeff Probst made the tribes rank their members from most to least important, and then stand on pedestals to illustrate how liked or loathed they actually were. Marcus and Matty were ranked the highest; Kelly and Susie were judged the least important. Based upon that, Marcus and Matty started a new pick-’em round, and Fang now consists of Matty, Ace, Crystal, Jacquie, Ken, Kelly, and GC, while Kota is Marcus, Dan, Charlie, Randy, Corinne, Susie, and Bob. Sugar was sent to Exile and will join the tribe that loses a member next week.

Notice how Kota’s central alliance–Marcus, Charlie, Corinne–managed to keep itself together. Also notice how Fang still is mostly populated by people who have failed to impress so far–losers, basically, except Jacquie, who they dumped last night. That was perhaps one of their most moronic decisions to date. At first, I bought into the old Fang members’ thinking: they were worried that Ace, Jacquie, and Sugar (when she joined their tribe) would be powerful if Sugar had the immunity idol, and they had more control over Kelly, who isn’t close to Ace, Jacquie, or Sugar.

Regardless of who they got rid of, Fang outnumbers Kota, and that’s why it quickly became obvious that the far more rational decision would be to dump former Kota member Kelly who a) didn’t participate at all in the challenge, and b) isn’t well-liked. I’ve actually found her to be quite pleasant on the show, especially compared to Kelly before the show, but between the ranking and her obvious contempt for her old tribe, there’s clearly a lot of interaction we’re not seeing. At her new camp, Kelly said, “I’m so happy that I get to, like, talk and you guys, like, talk back.”

The other moronic part of dumping Jacquie was that she’s physically strong, and Fang needs her to not continue to lose. Jacquie was one of three people on the new tribe to actually bother participating in the challenge, which was a blow-out. “One of the most lopsided challenges thus far,” Probst said, after offering color commentary such as “Nobody even attacking Marcus; Crystal just watching” and “Kelly just hangin’ back.” Later, he said it was “without question, one of the worst performances I’ve seen at a challenge.” Probst also had some absurdly obvious statements, such as when Dan fell out of his boat and Probst said, “Dan, you’re out of your boat!”

While Fang is a mess and their strategizing was lame, at least we’re finally seeing a bit more strategizing. Coming off such a strong season in terms of game play and strategy, it’s extremely obvious that this season isn’t even out of the gate yet.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.