Before Survivor’s finale, Tony’s alliance finally makes a move–wait, not really, never mind

“The game right now is in my hands,” Tony said midway through Survivor Cagayan‘s penultimate episode. That seemed to be the consensus: “Tony’s winning,” Spencer said. “Everyone seems to be handing Tony this game, much like the pizza, on a silver platter.” Kass said, “No one in this game should have that much power.” (Then why not, you know, do something about it last week or the week before? Aargh.)

Yet Tribal Council played out in a way that suggested that the game finally had been wrested away from Tony–except not at all, because Tony, as it turns out, also voted for Trish. Why exactly he did that wasn’t clear. One possibility is that, at the very least, Woo clued him in and Tony conceded to the will of the people, because he had to get rid of someone anyway.

However, I think this may have just been the best move for Tony, and the producers didn’t let us see him talk about that. Instead, they let us believe that Woo might have fallen on some balls when he fell out of the tree, since he finally seemed ready to actually play the game. (Love Woo, find his game to be frustratingly boring.) Meanwhile, Tony easily could have saved Trish–giving her his normal idol and playing his super-secret-stupid-power idol if votes turned up that were for him–but he did not.

Tangent: let us celebrate that the Tyler Perry/seasons 12/13 idol is officially dead, having not been used. Probst confirms it’s “only good until the final 5.”

I think the reason for Tony’s move might be found in Kass admitting that she “sufficiently pissed off people.” While she’s a wild card and a strategic threat, though not of Spencer’s level, I’d guess Tony is thinking that he wants her at the end with him, in the same way that she wants to take Tony to the end with her.

They both think the other is unlikable enough to beat easily (but I think only Tony is right in this case). Kass says and does non-advisable things, such as picking a fight with Trish and calling out Tony and Woo about their private conversations, neither of which seemed to have any real point.

Let’s back up: I was thrilled Spencer won immunity in a pretty spectacular come-from-behind victory during the 1,825 puzzle challenge. Otherwise, he would have been voted off and this episode would have had a less interesting conclusion.

Spencer and Tony’s head-to-head competition at the end of the challenge illustrated how both of them have been playing the strategic game. Tony was flailing pieces around and just doing things to see what would happen, while Spencer stood back and analyzed the puzzle before quickly solving it. Then again, Tony’s hard-core, almost manic effort has worked well for him so far.

At the lame reward challenge, and I say that both because we’ve seen this before and because it was a lame reward, Probst didn’t bother to weigh the mud, since Tony’s bucket was overflowing and everyone conceded instead of forcing Probst to do his job and weigh the damn thing. What if it’d had a huge air bubble in it?

That actually seems like a good metaphor for the game: People look at Tony’s external effort and seem to just fall over and give up. Spencer has been the sole exception this late in the game, though he hasn’t had allies up until this point, and it’s not even clear if he does now that everyone voted against Trish. The group could easily take out Tony in the first vote of next Wednesday’s finale.

By the way, was I the only person who thought that the reward was going to be a family visit? Probst seemed to be teeing them up for a big, emotional reveal:

“After 34 days in these conditions, not only do you miss comfort food from home, but you miss …”

FAMILY YES FAMILY TEARS CRY CRY WHERE ARE THEY HIDING OMG OMG OMG

“…the convenience of having that comfort food delivered to your home. … Piping! Hot! Pizza!”

FUCKING PIZZA WHAT. FUCK THIS.

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.