Recap video and review of Survivor: Caramoan – Episode 4 – Kill or Be Killed:
As much as I love the show, I don’t know if I can stomach back-to-back seasons of Survivor where one tribe just gets decimated without end. It wasn’t that bad last season since Malcolm and Denise were worth rooting for, but the collection of Fans on the Gota tribe aren’t nearly as compelling. At least not yet. Survivor: Caramoan is still offering some solid drama, giving us an episode in which two castaways are sent packing — but they’re both from the same tribe, meaning that unless a tribe swap is on the horizon, we’re in for a long, slow death march to final seven, when Stealth R’ Us will be forced to cannibalize itself so that the game can get interesting again. Well, interesting from the perspective of who’s going to actually win this thing, because as it stands now, it’s not looking good for the Fans. That said, it isn’t like this episode wasn’t exciting, in its own right. “Kill or Be Killed” won’t enter the pantheon of all-time great Survivor episodes, but it was definitely packed with some of the more interesting strategic plays of the season so far, and I’m a total sucker for strategy.
The dominant narrative of the episode was the gradual implosion of the Gota tribe, as Eddie and Reynold are miffed that Shamar is still around instead of their friend, Hope. Meanwhile, Shamar continues to be overbearing: he decides to dictate terms for his continued presence in the game. He knows the Gota tribe needs what little physical prowess he brings to the table, and so he makes a proposal — he’ll stay in the game if they let him lounge around in the shade all day, and bring him rice at meal times. It’s one of the more brazen moments I’ve seen from the show, as I found myself wondering if Shamar ever had any intention of doing well in this game, given his complete ignorance of any and all social graces. I don’t know that you can be that incendiary and still win the game. Richard Hatch and Brian Heidik are the only two people I can think of who were polarizing throughout the game, yet still ended up winning despite being absolutely hated by most of the jury. Of course, they won their seasons only because the jury hated the other person more. And if you’re going to play a scorched earth game, like Shamar, you really do need to get to the end with someone the jury is going to hate more than they hate you. Even if Shamar had done this, I doubt he’d still have won the million dollars, nor does it appear he would have cared enough to try.
Yes, it’s time to say farewell to the biggest layabout since Gervase Peterson in Season One, as Shamar was medically evacuated from the game due to a corneal abrasion sustained during the reward challenge, when sand got into his eye. It’s one of the more peculiar medical evacuations in the history of the game, but no less serious, as Shamar risked losing his vision if he’d stayed (not that the medical staff was giving him the option of staying). After Probst asked Shamar if he felt as if he was letting his team down, he brought in the rest of the Gota tribe to say goodbye, leading to the sight of Eddie and Reynold having to feign niceties for a guy who’s done nothing but screw them over since day one — first by being lazy, then by siding with the opposing alliance, and lastly by being evacuated from the game before a critical immunity challenge.
Last week, I spoke a lot about how Shamar was something of a tragic figure in the lore of this game, and while I still feel like that’s true, I find myself siding more with Eddie and Reynold than I was before, re: Shamar. He made the entire process needlessly difficult on everybody, including his own alliance-mates. I’m sure he was a big hit with producers once they discovered him, and I’m sure they thought he’d make for great television. But for me, he’s done more harm than good. It could be argued that his laziness and lousy attitude was one of the seminal causes in the downfall of his tribe, which, in turn, has resulted in some of the episodes being less exciting than they could have been. We hardly get to check in with the Favorites, since we have to spend the majority of our time with the tribe that’s lost immunity. This is without even getting into how boring it can be to watch challenges as one-sided as the Favorites (Bikal) tribe’s dominance over Gota. Then again, it’s entirely possible the Fans would have never won those challenges anyway. I suppose we’ll never know now.
Losing Hope means that the tribe is down another athletic youth, while losing Shamar cost them another strongman. These losses show in their challenge performances. Gota lose the reward challenge to the Favorites, who win the aid of a native bushman for the day, and even the Favorites are starting to feel bad for the Fans. Andrea speculates that the feast being prepared for them by the local bushman (a small, enigmatic man named Tata) was probably something the Fans desperately needed. I get the feeling that when the merge or a tribe swap comes, Andrea is going to be the first person to work with the Fans to try and turn the game around. She seems constantly irked by Phillip and his glad-handing, as he inducted Erik, Brandon and Brenda into Stealth R’ Us, effectively making the entire Bikal tribe into one big alliance. Erik is “The Silent One”, Brenda is “Serenity” and Brandon is “The Conqueror”, and though Phillip is busy feeling self-satisfied, Brandon shares, in a confessional, that he has no intention of truly aligning with Phillip, he’s simply playing along. He says that Phillip is a lousy secret agent if he can’t tell when someone is lying right to his face, which is rich coming from a guy who believed his alliance-mates in his original season when they said they wouldn’t vote him out if he gave up his immunity necklace.
In the immunity challenge, Gota loses again despite strong showings from Eddie and Reynold. It becomes immediately apparent that the tribe was hurt by Laura’s absolutely abysmal challenge performance. And so the scheming begins. Sherri had assumed that their alliance was just going to split votes between Eddie and Reynold to flush out the hidden immunity idol, but Matt is fed up with losing. He begins a one-man crusade to get Laura voted out, approaching Reynold about securing his and Eddie’s vote. Reynold is appropriately skeptical, given how he was burned by Laura last week. Laura, sensing the end, tries to engineer a blindside of Reynold, and as we go into tribal council, there’s a genuine feeling that the vote could go either way. On the one hand, getting rid of Laura seems like a no-brainer for the majority alliance, since it would result in a stronger tribe, and they would still have the numbers over Eddie and Reynold anyway. On the other hand, there could be a tribe swap in the coming weeks, so perhaps it would be better to take out one of the stronger competitors in the game while they have the chance, to avoid the risk of either Eddie or Reynold ending up on the opposing tribe. Laura brings up this point in her argument for why she should stay, and it seems like she might have been able to sway the tide of opinion against her, if only for a moment.
But then Reynold plays his hidden immunity idol simply to be on the safe side, and any hope Laura had of staying in the game goes up in smoke; although, strangely enough, it turns out that Reynold didn’t even need to play his idol, as the vote was pretty much unanimous against Laura. In this sense, the majority alliance gets to have their cake and eat it too — they get rid of a weak challenge performer while flushing out the idol so that Reynold is unprotected. In the event that he does wind up on another tribe, he’s no longer got his “Get Out of Eviction Free” coupon. That said, if a tribe swap is on the horizon, this move could come back to bite them. Either way, I feel like the game is about to pick up in a big way.