Survivor: Philippines is off to a pretty great start. Alliances are forming while others are collapsing before they even get started, and several players are showing a welcome amount of game-savvy in the early-going here. Now if only one of them hadn’t just gotten voted out.
Yes, Roxy met her unfortunate end tonight, despite making an excellent case that the newly-minuted Malcolm/Angie alliance is exactly the kind of problem the Matsing tribe should be nipping in the bud before it can get an inch off the ground. Sure, there are a lot more failed pairings in the Survivor graveyard than successful ones, but, as Roxy succinctly states at Tribal Council, a pair is a dangerous thing in this game. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and I feel like Matsing might end up regretting their decision to spare Angie, since they could have neutralized this developing alliance while also sending a warning to Malcolm to straighten up and fly right. That said, Malcolm doesn’t really seems to recognize that being associated with Angie is troublesome for his place in the game, and he tries to refute the association at Tribal. Angie, for her part, isn’t really the sharpest knife in the drawer, even if I do think Probst was a bit hard on her for saying she thought that the one thing she needed in this game was cookies. The best Survivor pairings are the ones in which both players are savvy, like Rob and Amber on All-Stars or Stephen and JT on Survivor: Tocantins. However, just because I don’t see their potential as a power duo doesn’t mean it’s impossible for these two to throw a wrench into the game. It should be interesting to see if the Malcolm/Angie duo actually becomes a power duo, or if they just remain cuddle buddies. Regardless, it’s led to the ouster of Roxy, whose tribe didn’t feel contributed enough to justify keeping. Fair enough, I suppose.
However, as one game comes to an end, another finds its footing, when Penner utilizes his time alone at camp to search for the hidden immunity idol, finally realizing that it’s the bull pendant on top of the Kalabaw tribe’s wooden chest. After two previous games of Survivor, Jonathan Penner finally has a hidden immunity idol. He’s understandably jubilant, though I question the thought process behind celebrating so openly in a tribe that’s already suspicious of your intentions (although he danced right past bamboo-hauling Dana, hooting and hollering about how he’s on fire, and she didn’t seem to notice at all, so maybe it’s not Penner whose thought processes I should be questioning). But Penner probably knows how to play this game better than I would. That said, he’s not the only one with idol aspirations, as RC finds the hidden immunity idol clue over on Tandang, and shares it with alliance-mate Abi-Maria. Of course, far be it from Abi-Maria to take the offer of trust at face value. She quickly turns paranoid, confronting RC over her private conversations with Skupin (apparently, she’s either forgotten or hasn’t been told that Mike is in their alliance). The alliance is fracturing far too early for a player with the savvy of RC to put up with it. Abi may have just signed her own Survivor death warrant.
Outside of the primary alliances, inter-tribal relations are also getting pretty nasty. Lisa is crumbling under the weight of isolation, feeling excluded at the Tandang tribe. She doesn’t really do much to help matters, lounging around camp without saying much of anything, before walking off to the water well and breaking down in front of the camera in a confessional interview. Someone who’s this big a Survivor fan should probably know how important socializing is to the advancement in the game. However, it’s just as likely that there are scenes we’re not seeing, attempts by Lisa to integrate into the social circle of her tribe which have been edited out to fit the narrative of the episode. At the very least, her tribe’s knack for coming in first in immunity challenges means she won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
Russell isn’t doing much better in identifying with his tribe. The immunity challenge was a classic Survivor fetch puzzle, in which the tribes send out runners to retrieve puzzle pieces and return them to a separate team tasked with solving the puzzles, with the addition of a tribemate directing traffic from a platform overlooking the puzzles. Tandang takes the win, with Kalabaw taking second, but the real story is in Matsing’s back-to-back losses. Upon losing immunity, Russell flips out on his tribe, shouting that there’s no reason the other big-mouth tribes should be able to beat them, and that the only reason his tribe keeps losing is because the rest of his tribemates don’t yet realize they’re unbeatable. That the rest of Matsing lets the outburst just slide, despite being thrown under the bus for a loss for which Russell is every bit as culpable, is really a testament to their patience. Sex therapist Denise, in particular, really stepped up this week, proving herself to be a pragmatist among hotheads with her rationale behind not splitting up the Malcolm/Angie pairing (namely, her alliance with Malcolm).
But patience is necessary in this game, which is perhaps why Roxy met her end this week. She can’t help adopting an eye-rolling attitude about Angie, and that holier-than-thou persona is off-putting, even if the message behind the attitude is valid. But worse, she doesn’t seem to be much of a team player, engaging in buck-passing every bit as much as Russell. At the challenge, when Russell asks the tribe who among them is willing to run two legs of the challenge, she might have engendered some goodwill and displayed her value over Angie, who immediately refused, by accepting right when Russell asked her. Instead, she adopt the same eye-rolling tone, saying she’ll do it if she absolutely has to, but she hasn’t had enough water and blah blah. Look, everyone is thirsty. Yours is the only tribe without fire-making tools, which makes it harder to maintain a fire or create a new one after a torrential downpour like the one Matsing experienced this episode. In brief, everyone is thirsty. I’m not saying Roxy needed to be a martyr or anything, but show a some sense of proportion. Especially when your problems aren’t the only problems the tribe has, nor are your problems any more significant than what the rest of the tribe is going through.
You’re all in an equally crummy position. You have to at least maintain the semblance of caring about the greater good of the tribe, or you’ll find your head volunteered for the chopping block. On the plus side for Roxy, at least she’s not in the same crummy position anymore. I imagine after she left the island, she probably took a shower, got herself a danish, and plopped down in a big, comfy bed to watch a bunch of hotel movies she could charge to the production. I know I would have. Especially the bed part. But her quest for the million is over, and I imagine that’s an even crummier position to be in.
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