‘Survivor: Kaoh Rong’ Episode 6 Review: Tribal Council Flip Changes Game In ‘Play or Go Home’
Recap and review of Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Episode 6 – Play or Go Home:
Perception is everything in the game of Survivor, and “Play or Go Home” illustrates why it’s important to be on the right side of it. Peter wasn’t necessarily a frontrunner to win Survivor: Kaoh Rong or anything. But with a few different moves, he could have gone a lot farther than he did. Of course, it’s easy to talk about all of this in retrospect, divorced from the circumstances facing Peter at the time of his ouster. But his own approach to the game is as responsible for his elimination as Aubry’s decision to flip on the Brains alliance in the first place. That tribal council alone made “Play or Go Home” an episode worth going out of your way to see.
The irony of Peter’s elimination is that Aubry flipped over doubts about just how loyal he would be in the weeks to come — yet Peter remained loyal to the Brains alliance! Granted, Aubry would have been likely to flip on the revote, since sticking with Joe would have meant two votes for Peter and two votes for Julia. Had they failed to come to a majority decision, they would have drawn rocks. It’s a scenario that most castaways go out of their way to avoid, so it’s understandable why Aubry flipped, even if Peter did prove to be loyal to the Brains. Interestingly, Aubry initially chose to stick with the Brains, but ended up crossing out Julia’s name and writing in Peter’s. It came at the end of a tribal council that was vibrant with indecisive gameplay. Essentially, the edit leads us to believe that Scot and Tai are considering going with the Brains to vote out Julia, just for the sake of keeping the vote easy, and in order to avoid a deadlock situation. There’s also some concern over whether Julia will team with the Brains, since she ends up getting pretty close with Peter when she returns from exile. However, that was more Peter’s doing than Julia’s, as Peter came to her to float the possibility of blindsiding Joe, which goes once again to the issue of perception. It ultimately doesn’t matter that Peter remained loyal to the Brains. The damage was already done the minute he approached Julia, lied to Joe about wanting to get him out, and then went to Julia to change the plan to Aubry, before going to Scot and saying Julia needed to go instead. Peter was an absolute disaster in this episode, refusing to remain consistent in any way whatsoever. Maybe he never really planned to flip, or maybe he was simply trying to redirect the vote to keep Scott, Tai and Julia from suspecting that Julia was the target all along. But the edit doesn’t give us any indication that Peter isn’t just flying by the seat of his pants here. A game that chaotic is hard to pull off unless your name is Tony Vlachos. Peter sewed discord and distrust to the point where he was essentially damaged goods. Sure, Joe showed enough faith in Peter to want to stick with him to keep the numbers, but even if Aubry hadn’t flipped, the vote would have been deadlocked. And when it comes time to write down a name for the revote, do you really think anyone is going to risk going to rocks to keep Peter around?
What’s funny about all of this is that Peter likely would have been gravy had he made it to the merge. He’s exactly the type of chaotic player that people like to take to the end, because that type of player is unlikely to get any votes at final tribal council. But even with divisions within each tribe, loyalty still matters. So when Peter spends half of tribal talking about how the game is “alive” and uncertain, it’s not really all that surprising when Scot pipes up and tells Julia to stick with the original plan. That surprising moment from Scot is preceded by a bunch of smaller whisper-conversations happening in the background, as Scot and Tai try to decide whether Julia or Peter should be the target, while Aubry asks Joe if he really wants to stick to voting Julia. It’s incredibly tense, because you can see the wheels turning in Aubry’s mind, particularly after Scot speaks up to Julia. When she goes up to vote, she writes down Julia’s name, but agonizes over the parchment — for so long, in fact, that even though we never see Aubry change her vote, it seems clear what she’s done by the time she sits back down. Prior to Tribal, she’d noted that whichever move she makes will invariably come back to bite her in the ass: either she sticks with the Brains and runs the risk of Peter turning on her later down the line, or she votes Peter out and loses Joe’s trust. With the merge coming, however, I think Aubry has some possibilities she maybe didn’t have before. While an all-female alliance seems like a bit of a dicey prospect at this stage of the game, I think it’s something that could work precisely because no one is expecting it. The stage has already been set for this alliance over on the Chan Loh tribe with tonight’s strategizing.
Although she’s harboring a pretty huge crush on Nick, Debbie is still very much focused on a woman winning this game. To this end, she suggests to Michele the possibility of blindsiding Jason, since he has a lousy attitude and doesn’t do anything around camp. Much like Julia over on Gondol, Michele is stoked to hear a name that isn’t hers, since she’s a bit on the outside, having blown the reward challenge after learning her ally, Anna, was voted out at the most recent tribal council. However, even though Michele has found an ally in Debbie, and a possible avenue to allow for the Beauties to flip the game on its head, Nick is having absolutely none of it. In the most condescending moment of the episode, he dismisses Michele’s Jason plan out-of-hand. Granted, his condescension comes from a place of strategy, since he’s trying to make Michele see that Debbie is just snowing her to keep her from suspecting she’s next on the chopping block. But an inability to keep his attitude in check is partially what brought Peter down, so unless Nick changes in the coming weeks, he could be the next person set up for a major fall from grace. And it would be a fall, to be sure, since Nick’s stock has risen this week thanks to a strong reward challenge performance, going toe-to-toe with Scot in a basketball-type free throw challenge. Nick has the added edge of not really being on anyone’s radar. He’s in a prime position to potentially flip the game, if he’s willing to entertain ideas that aren’t his own. I’m not necessarily rooting for Nick, (I find him a bit too abrasive for my tastes), but I do like seeing contestants take control of the game, and I think Nick is in a position to do just that. With that said, I think Debbie is the one holding all the cards here, since she has Neal in her backpocket, which means her alliance also has an idol at their disposal if Neal is inclined to use it for their protection. Debbie also has a wide variety of options at her disposal, since she and Neal can team up with Cydney and Jason (and end up acquiring a majority alliance with Scot and Tai as a result), or she can rope in Michele, Cydney, Julia and Aubry to form a female alliance, gaining the majority by getting the men to split the vote over concerns about a hidden immunity idol being in play. It’d be a lot of work for Debbie to pull off, but she’s the castaway who’s frequently shown to have the most flexibility, keeping everyone feeling important and vital. That’s a crucial skill in Survivor, because it inspires loyalty. In a way, I see the same qualities in Julia, from how she played Peter, and how quickly she integrated herself into the tribe. There was still a target on her back, but I think Julia is someone with an intrinsic understanding of the social side of this game, and I think she could be a Natalie White-type “under the radar” player. Basically, this game is wide open, and with the merge on the horizon, that’s an exciting realization.
But what did you think of Survivor: Kaoh Rong Episode 6, “Play or Go Home”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Survivor: Kaoh Rong, watch the deleted scenes from last week’s exciting episode!