"Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill," Phillip
"Do as I say, not as I do," Platitude
Off with her head! Though it started sooner than expected, the downfall of Zapatera is upon us. Consistent with the story we've been told so far this season, a pauper rose up and took down the queen. The queen, who was made to look really bad when she declared that she wanted to punch him in the face. The more interesting part of the Zapatera edit, however, is how it played into the big question from last week. Though they chose loyalty last week, the tribe chose spunk this week.
Emphasized by Ralph's "inability to understand" the word, the theme of this week's episode was cohesion. Because they chose Sarita over Stephanie, Zapatera was shown to be lacking cohesion. In fact, the entire Tribal Council was essentially a mediation on this subject. While the discussion was entertaining for its strategic musing, the main point of it was to demonstrate the division between Sarita and David as "what's wrong with Zapatera."
What's wrong with Zapatera? Like Stephanie, Zapatera members had been shown liking David yet considering voting him out. In contrast, the Zapatera members have been shown disliking Sarita, yet never considering voting her out. Choosing loyalty that is not based on common values and personalities. is not choosing loyalty at all. It is choosing the trappings of an alliance, but not the substance. It is why the vote was 4-2. It is why Jeff Probst ended Tribal Council by definitely stating that the tribe was not cohesive.
Over at Ometepe, in a clever bit of editing, Rob said to Phillip, "I don't want anyone to feel like we're not one cohesive unit." The irony is, of course, that Rob is building that cohesion by keeping their common enemy in the game--Phillip--where as, as David pointed out to his tribe, they voted their common enemy out earlier. Essentially, it comes down to "othering" another person. You "other" someone by excluding them from the group for their difference. A by product of pointing out that "other's" difference is you notice the similarities between yourself and the rest of your group. This is what has happened (editing wise) on Omepete. If you no longer have an "other," you don't notice the similarities in your group, you notice the difference as the natural process of finding the next "other" begins. This is what happened (editing wise) on Zapatera. It was the story of this episode: the continuing rise of Ometepe and fall of Zapatera. It's why, to continue the god storyline, Sarita closed the episode with a tongue-in-cheek "god bless them" for her former tribe.
(Note: it must be recognized that some of this othering process surely did aid Zapatera's initial cohesion and Ometepe's continued cohesion--just not as much as the editing might lead you to believe.)
No, god won't bless, Zapatera. You know who he will bless though? Matt, who once again references being at his mercy, saying that he'll stay in the game as long as god wants him to. And stay in the game he did, beating Stephanie in a tense duel as Rob and Phillip looked on. Yes, there were Zapatera members there, but they had nothing to do with the story, which was all about what Matt would do when he got back in the game. First, Stephanie ran her mouth, per usual, warning Rob that they were going to come after him (no duh) and telling Matt to go back to his tribe. Her diatribe served two purpose. First it foreshadowed Rob's upcoming showdown with Zapatera. Second it foreshadowed Matt rejoining Ometepe. Then, Phillip ran his mouth and the most important storyline of the episode gained steam.
What is so intriguing about Phillips turn in this episode is that it seems to have signaled his outgrowing his pauper status and his integration into the group. He began by saying one thing and acting completely against it. Though he said he was waiting for Rob to act first, he in fact acted first unintentionally by tipping his hand about not being cohesive with the group. Though he said not to make a mountain out of a molehill, he did so by acting up over Rob's Rice (which Rob should market after the show). However, despite these contradictions and being labeled as Rob's next target, Phillip about-faced after the challenge. He celebrated his tribe for their victory and claimed that he finally felt like part of the group, all right in time for the merge. It's very interesting, especially considering his behavior at the duel.
After Matt won, Phillip had to say something and basically sucked up to the Christian who is fending off the lions. This scene has significance for one main reason. Though it could easily just be read as Phillip bucking Rob's authority, it must be considered in conjunction with a scene from a few episodes ago. When they were both paupers, Phillip pulled Andrea aside and suggested they align with Matt if he comes back. Was this scene at RI further foreshadowing of such a three person alliance? It's unclear, especially considering Andrea's seemingly Anti-Matt comments last week. However, one thing is clear. There are no longer any paupers on Ometepe, as it is a cohesive unit thanks to their god.
Yes, I am finally comfortable declaring that Rob is the god this season. All of Matt's references, though on the surface are about big-G God, are clearly about him. It is now obvious for one reason. Zapatera will fall at the hands of Ometepe. Why? Because they spurned their Survivor god whereas Ometepe did not. Plus, Ralph pretty much said it at Tribal Council. "Then call me a loser." Ok, loser, I am so sure of the Ometepe beats Zapatera storyline that I am willing to make a few predictions. The remaining Omepete and Matt will at least make it to the Final 8--if not comprise the entire Final 7, the Final 3--if there is one--will feature at least two Ometepe, and an Ometepe will win the game. There are only a few questions I have remaining:
How far does Rob's godhood extend? Is his only purpose to help his tribe win or will he win this game with such a dominant edit?
What will be the result of Natalie's nu-Amber storyline?
What will be the result of the Phillip, Matt, and Andrea storyline?
What part, if anyone will David play?
Based upon these questions, there are essentially two ways I can see the season unfolding, with three possible winners. Here are the two scenarios:
1. Rob controls everything and runs the table. He takes Ashley and Natalie to the Final 3. This explains several things: Rob's dominant edit, Natalie's Nu-Amber edit, and Ashley's bitchy queen edit. The Matt, Phillip, and Andrea stories would be used to explain how Ometepe beats Zapatera and as obstacles/reasoning as to how Rob gets to the end. Imagine if Andrea/Matt spurns the other and stays loyal to Rob, enabling this Final Three.
Winner in this Scenario: Natalie or Rob
2. Matt's rebirth into the game causes the paupers to rise up and overcome the power alliance of Rob, Grant, Natalie, and Ashley. This explains several things: the Matt as Jesus metaphor, the Phillip-Andrea-Matt foreshadowing, and the royal treatment foreshadowing. It would also make Rob's dominance and Ashley's bitchy queen edit obstacles/reasons as to why this group gets to the end. Here I see the Final 3 as Matt, Andrea, and Phillip(with an outside chance of David).
Winner in this Scenario: Andrea or Matt (with an outside chance of David)
Which scenario am I leaning towards? I believe the first will occur because there has been more end game foreshadowing around Rob and Natalie. I especially feel that the first couple episodes pointed to a Natalie win, although I don't think it can be denied that if Rob were to win, this would have to be the story the editors would tell.
There's a giant elephant in the room right now though. I haven't even mentioned Grant. He has no story. You just know he's going to get Gregg'd at some point. Don't believe me? Well then, there's one more thing you have to do, you know what it is:
(Do it, Rockapella.)
Think about it.