Assembled deep in bowels of the interwebs is a group of Survivor fans, a gathering of bright and clever minds. Their mission is to analyze the story of Survivor better than ever before in the history of the universe. What follows is their most recent report. It represents that combination of their work. This project was commissioned by The Midside.
Due to technical difficulties, this week’s report will be truncated to three points. Each point will be explained below in one to four short paragraphs.
1. At the end of this first arc of the story, the tribes are all even.
2. The men's decision to go to Tribal Council was portrayed as emotional, but they ultimately chose the more logical boot candidate.
3. The net trade scene was the most important in the episode and made the women look bad.
1. Over the last few seasons an interesting trend has developed. The first four episodes of the season comprise a mini-arc. In Redemption Island, it was the story of the false Survivor god Russell. In South Pacific, it was the construction (or lack-there-of) of a solid core alliance. This season, it is the storm of the men’s dominance. Over the first three episodes, the women weathered that storm (as much as said in the Previously On for this episode). In this episode, they gathered snails and squashed their beef in the sun as the men went crazy. What’s important here is not to jump to the conclusion that the women are ahead of the men, as there was plenty of evidence in the episode that point to this being how Manono let Salani pull even.
First, it is impossible to ignore the result of the immunity challenge. Not only were the women dominated, but the editing emphasized it and the problems they had afterward. Probst mocked them throughout the challenge and after. During the challenge Jay, the nice guy, even told them they sucked. After the challenge the women’s dysfunction was re-introduced, as Alicia admitted her performance was embarrassing (yes, that theme was repeated) and the battle lines between her and Christina were drawn.
Second, the reward challenge and its aftermath foreshadowed the ending of the episode being an even game. After the challenge, Troyzan told his tribe “we have a tarp, they have a tarp,” literally concretizing that the challenge didn’t push the women ahead. Jonas then replied with the reality that Manono was still up a number. Well, after giving up immunity, the men are no longer up a number and what Jonas said is no longer true. They are even now.
Finally, the decision to give up immunity was portrayed as a big move that is possibly stupid, but was never endorsed as completely stupid. It was shown in a way that was similar to Ozzy’s decision to send himself to Redemption Island in South Pacific. It could be argued that Ozzy’s move saved Cochran which was ultimately Savaii’s undoing, so this thread is an important one to watch. However, that move was coupled with a storyline about Cochran’s mistreatment at the hands of Savaii. This season’s storyline is has shown the men as capable of surviving and able to overcome emotion and charm. Regardless, both tribes have lost two members and have had one completely absurd Tribal Council. That’s a tie game.
As begun in episode three, Colton’s dislike of Bill and desire to vote him out was shown as mainly emotional. The two had a fiery disagreement and then an equally uncomfortable Tribal Council. The disagreement was edited as one of the main factors that caused the men to give up immunity, as immediately after it Colton went to Jonas and Troyzan with his suggestion. However, Colton’s emotion wasn’t the only one that spurred the decision. Tarzan’s anger at Leif was shown to be a major reason the men went to Tribal as well. As the group stood around and discussed the decision, Tarzan turned his anger on Leif, saying he needed to be voted out because what he did was bad. That was also the opening riff at Tribal itself.
Interestingly though, if the episode is taken as a whole, the men’s actual vote was the more logical of the two choices. Giving up immunity itself was emotional, there is no debating that. However, starting with the opening scene of the episode, we see a logical case for booting Bill that is consistent with the themes of the season. As Troyzan and Tarzan discussed who goes next, Tarzan says that Bill’s charm is an issue. Just like the repetition of embarrassment being bad for the women, the use of the word charm and Bill’s boot remind us that the men are beyond the charm—or at least Tarzan and Troyzan are. Likewise, Bill himself gave the logical reason for his boot at Tribal. You don’t want to go into a merge with numbers that aren’t on your side. Colton had even delivered that rational a few scenes earlier. So yes, this episode was dicey for the men, but they still made a correct decision in the end. It may turn out this episode’s story is a microcosm of the entire season.
This scene features two opposing confessionals and interpretations.
Chelsea: “Isn't it funny? In the beginning it was us struggling and now the boys come by wanting everything that we win in challenges. It's just crazy how much the roles have reversed in 9 days.”
Troyzan: “The women are trying to be such hard noses. I just don't get that. I don't know if their emotions are turning them wacky or what, but they're just emotional creatures and they just can't seem to think straight… ‘Don't think I'm a bitch.’ Well, you just made a bitch move…It's a free offer. They're doing nothing. They can suntan on the beach while we go fish and bring them half of the food. Like, hello, us anybody home?”
So who is correct, Chelsea or Troyzan? Are the roles reversed or are the women’s emotions turning them wacky? There are three factors to consider for the answer. Internally to the episode we know that the roles aren’t reversed, just evened out. Internally to the season, this deal parallels the chicken deal. It would have benefited both tribes and created an air of compromise between them, but Chelsea denied because she saw the men as her enemy. Thus the rift between them grew, just as it did with her chicken deal. In reality, it is fairly obvious that what Troyzan said is correct. The decision should be a complete no-brainer for the women. They would literally do nothing and would still receive 50% of the haul. In what world do you not make that deal? Is the answer One World?
In a final interesting note on this scene, Troyzan has seemingly taken over Matt’s role as the rooster. After Chelsea denied the chicken deal, Matt’s confessional was shown as the men’s response. After Chelsea denied this net deal, Troyzan’s confessional was shown as the men’s response. Is there a difference between the two or is this scene meant to signal Troyzan’s downfall as the other did Matt’s? Well, we just established that in his confessional Troyzan was right. In contrast, Matt’s was wrong. Likewise, Matt’s was an emotional response (anger) that proves he wasn’t immune to the women’s charms. Troyzan, on the other hand detached himself from the moment and critique how the women were thinking, just as he has done all season, proving he is Beyond the Charm.