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Survivor – Likability is a Liability

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Wow! Another great episode down, and one more to go. I can’t wait for Sunday night! I have some pretty strong feelings about who from the final five I’d like to see win, and some complaints about tonight’s episode.

So if you’ve seen it, click through.

OK, one complaint. Survivor needs to foreshadow a little less heavily, because over the years a pattern has emerged. I always say that the unpredictability of human nature is what keeps Survivor fresh after over 20 seasons, and I stand by that. But occasionally heavy-handed editors can get in the way. Tonight’s episode foreshadowed Brenda’s elimination a little too strong. At the start, Eddie told us that he was going home – and if not him, then Cochran. So there was a good chance they’d be safe.

Later, Brenda was targeted as being too likable. Ruh-roh! And then the nail in the coffin: After losing (throwing…) Immunity, Brenda said “It’s the perfect plan, if we can just stick to it everything will go amazing.” There was no need for Tribal Council at that point – Brenda had just eliminated herself.

Dads and Dilemmas

OK, let’s back it up. At the start of the episode, Eddie was certain that he’d be going home – unless he won Immunity, in which case he thought Cochran was a threat. He was right about that – Brenda and Erik were saying that they’d want Cochran gone after Eddie. Also, Erik was starving and miserable.

crying

Visits from loved ones always cheer people up, though. And I’ll admit, these ones were more touching than usual. Brenda was adorable and made Probst tear up, Eddie wrapped his legs around his burly dad like a baby, and everyone ugly-cried.

reward

The challenge involved unscrewing ladder rungs, then assembling them and tossing three bolos onto them. I thought Erik and his fit brother had this in the bag, but Brenda and her dad surprised everyone and won! I was rooting for them, because they were just too cute. Brenda was going to get to spend the afternoon with her dad, and she chose brenda and dadDawn and Dawn’s husband to join them… but there’s always a tough choice to make.

This time, everyone had TWO family members visiting. So Brenda could either spend the afternoon with her dad and sister, and Dawn and Dawn’s husband and son, or she could give the other four players time with their loved ones. Brenda quickly decided to give up reward for everyone else, but I think it was a mistake. Will keeping the reward lose you votes? I hope not, not if you played well. But appearing as a threat because of social bonds and likability is, I think, an even bigger risk. And it certainly came back to bite Brenda.

*Highlights from the reward include 1) Cochran casually chatting with his mom about her flight, because he knew there was no way in hell they’d win, and 2) Cochran mocking how “cool” his dad was trying to appear, what with the barbecuing and wearing sunglasses.

Dawn, of course, was in tears over not getting to spend time with her family, while Brenda comforted her. “I’m so mad I could SPIT!” Dawn fumed. Spit? Really? Wow, what a threat. When everyone yelled “Thank you, Brenda” from the floating BBQ and came back to shower her with hugs and gratitude, I knew poor Brenda was toast.

Lean In

immunityThe Immunity Challenge was a strength-based endurance challenge, but one that gave a bigger advantage to lighter players. Therefore, the boys were out first, followed by Sherri. It came down to Dawn and Brenda, and Brenda refused Dawn’s request to just let her have it. I hate when players pull the “I haven’t won an Immunity yet, you should drop out” card. If someone dropped out to let you win, you didn’t really win! That’s an Immunity with an asterisk next to it.

brenda02Brenda refused and fell in, but it was faked – she confirmed later that she’d have held on a lot longer if it had been Eddie up there with her. No! Bad, Brenda! That was a foolish mistake, and it might have cost her a million dollars. Had Brenda not done that, she just might have won her way straight to the finals.

Betrayal

Cochran was the one who really wanted to blindside Brenda, but he didn’t want to do it without Dawn’s approval. I knew they wouldn’t tell Erik, because it seems like he’s pretty tight with Brenda. But it’s interesting that Cochran and Dawn are so close that he wouldn’t make this move without her – because he, Sherri and Eddie could have done it. Dawn was on the fence, but she knew Brenda was a big threat.

I agree that Brenda was a threat, but to play devil’s advocate for a moment, isn’t Eddie as well? Eddie has not been as good in challenges as Brenda, but he’s certainly capable of winning one. And if he makes it to the end, he won’t have betrayed anyone. He’ll likely have votes from Reynold, Malcolm and Andrea. Plus anyone else who’s too pissed at whoever he’s sitting next to. Letting Eddie get to the end could be a big mistake, and without Brenda in the mix he might have an easier time winning challenges.

Dawn went with the blindside, and out went Brenda. Even though I have Dawn in the Survivor office pool, I was kind of rooting for Brenda to stay in the game. She’s just too likable. Of the remaining players, the only satisfying winners would be Cochran or Dawn. If Sherri, Eddie or Erik win it will sour an otherwise enjoyable season.

I can’t wait for Sunday night! Is someone going to get medically evacuated in the final days of the game? What a bummer that would be! “Cochran was on his way to Final Tribal Council, but dropped on a machete on his foot and had to be pulled from the game.”

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