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A solid Survivor, two strong challenges, one delightful jury face

A solid Survivor, two strong challenges, one delightful jury face
Survivor Kaoh Rong's Julia Sokolowski (Photo by CBS Entertainment)

Compared to the emotional high that concluded last week’s episode of week’s Survivor, this episode was somewhat of a deflated letdown. But that’s really only by contrast, and we need episodes like this one to move things along to get to that next moment. “It’s a ‘Me’ Game, Not a ‘We’ Game” was a decent episode over all.

That’s true even though the Tribal Council drama seemed to be mostly manufactured in editing—though the editing did a fantastic job of that at the end. The beginning, eh, not so much; it was a long Tribal during which nothing happened, except for Jeff Probst dragging out his whiteboard and listing all of the possibly plays for the tribe and trying to get them to do something else.

After voting, when Tai asked Aubry if he should play his idol and she said, “I think you’re fine, but it’s your gut,” I could not believe he didn’t play it—especially since the episode started with him saying, “from now on will not be a blindside,” the Survivor editing equivalent of a giant spaceship hovering over a city. The editing even made us think it was the wrong decision, with a focus on Julia grinning.

But the vote proved that was the best decision for Tai: the non-Jason/Julia players were unanimous in getting rid of Julia, even Michele, who was teary as her former ally left. The possibility Michele and Cydney teaming with Jason and Julia probably never was that likely, though moments in the episode suggested that was on the table, not just lip service to the people on the bottom of the voting pile.

Julia was a strong player, though she played her duplicity a little too openly and, alternately, underhandedly. But to give her a Probstian compliment, at least she played hard. As she said, “you have to cheat and steal and mess things up” in Survivor. (Her Ponderosa video and post-exit attitude are both wonderful.)

I am disappointed Jason didn’t immediately join Scot at Ponderosa, though I do see how Julia is more of an active threat than he is, and he can be voted out next week, assuming he doesn’t win immunity. But oh! No one better take that man to the finals and give him $100,000 for his awful behavior.

The show seems like it’s moving toward an Aubry-Cydney-Michele final three, which if it wasn’t on its way to happening before, seemed solidified by the helicopter ride. At the very least, all three seem to know that they cannot make it to the end with Tai, who will win against any of them. Both Jason and Joe, who is still on this season, seem like possible final three carry-alongs.

Joe deserves some credit for his performance in the reward challenge, the first of two strong obstacle course-based challenges. I admit that, when we saw the results of the random draw to pair the players, I immediately dismissed Tai and Joe of having any chance. (Tangent: The Survivor gods deprived Jason of reward, which is so perfect.) But while they did fall behind at one point, Joe’s ring-toss game was spot-on, and they were one ring away from hooking a helicopter ride reward.

Equally impressive was Michele’s immunity challenge win. She memorized 12 numbers and symbols, which I’m so impressed by, especially since I couldn’t memorize those if I put the television on pause and stared at them for five minutes.

Two images that illustrate Survivor perfectly

Let us take a moment to appreciate two things. First, camera angles like this:

Survivor, Tai, Joe, challenge

Survivor‘s outstanding crew continues to give so much attention to small details like that—or like the shot that started underwater of a starfish and then lifted above the surface. They make all the difference, and yet so few other shows bother.

And finally, let us also appreciate this forever:

Survivor, Scot Pollard, jury face

Scot Pollard’s jury face

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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