‘Survivor: Kaoh Rong’ Episode 9 Review: Shocking Blindside Highlights ‘It’s Psychological Warfare’

Recap and review of Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Episode 9 – It’s Psychological Warfare:

Well, I suppose Debbie had to be eliminated sooner or later, but I truly thought she’d be someone who’d make it all the way to final tribal council, which is why “It’s Psychological Warfare” is so shocking, to me. Then again, Survivor: Kaoh Rong has been packed with moments like these, where people with the potential to go deep into the game find themselves going home sooner than expected. And the edit also telegraphed her elimination in ways no episode has telegraphed an elimination — well, no episode but last week’s, when Nick was voted out. But I didn’t care about Nick. I did, however, care about Debbie.

And yet, I can’t pretend that her elimination isn’t her own fault. Say what you will about Julia’s duplicity, but she’s simply doing her best to remain in a flexible position in the game. But Debbie? She let her emotions cloud her better judgment. When Aubry approached her about blindsiding Julia for playing both sides following the reward challenge, Debbie won’t hear of it. It isn’t just that she likes and trusts Julia. It’s that she loathes Scot and Jason. And you know what? I don’t blame her one bit. They’re extremely childish in their reaction to their ally, Nick, being blindsided last week. They not only hide the ax and machete, they dump water on the fire to prevent the group from being able to have warmth and cooked food. Even Tai gets in on the sabotage, being gradually pulled to the dark side by Jason and Scot’s “This is just the way we have to play the game” rhetoric. It’s obnoxious, at best, and downright contemptuous, at worst. So I don’t blame Debbie for wanting Jason and Scot gone. But after Tai’s slip-up about the super idol at last week’s tribal council, it should have occurred to Debbie that the rival ralliance had a trick up its sleeve. But she kept faith with Julia, and it ended up costing her in the end. Upon realizing that Debbie would never listen to reason, Aubry came up with the plan for the girls to blindside Debbie while hopefully flushing out the idols that the men held. Joe refused to go along with the plan, sticking with Debbie and voting for Scot, while the male trio cast their votes for Cydney. This made the four votes from Aubry, Julia, Cydney and Michele enough to send Debbie to the jury. If there was any chance that things would swing in Debbie’s favor, that possibility quickly vanished once Jason and Scot revealed that their alliance had two idols (with Jason giving his to Tai!). There was no way any of the girls would take the risk at blowback just to save Debbie, and it speaks to the shortcomings of her game that her social connections weren’t strong enough to inspire people to stick their necks out for her. But then, even the strongest friendships aren’t always worth the risk of being idoled out of the game.

Debbie Wanner voted out of Survivor Kaoh Rong

Credit: CBS

Of course, with all this having been said, I’m not sure what Debbie could have done to change things. Even if she’d had the numbers to vote out Jason, Scot or Tai, the men would have played their super idol after the votes were read, rendering Debbie’s votes useless. At best, she could hope that one of the girls votes with her and Joe, which would have created a three-way tie between Debbie, Scot and Cydney (who got all of the male trio’s votes). But even then, there’s still a 50/50 shot Debbie goes home on the revote anyway. I think the only way for Debbie to have saved herself would have been to cut Cydney loose, under the Sandra Diaz-Twine “as long as it’s not me” approach. But that would have required Debbie realizing that she was in danger, which she didn’t, even while Aubry was practically begging her not to fall for Julia’s scheming. However, let’s say Debbie actually does end up agreeing with Aubry, opting to target Julia to prevent Jason, Scot and Tai from gaining a numbers advantage. The plan wouldn’t have worked anyway, since Julia ended up winning immunity (in a pretty spectacular challenge that was basically a grown-up version of Domino Rally). This left Debbie with very little mobility, and it leaves her remaining former allies with very little mobility as well, since the super idol essentially makes the men’s trio untouchable for the foreseeable future. That is, unless the Aubry alliance decides to just bite the bullet and vote out one of the three men to flush out the super idol. But that would mean each member of that alliance accepting the very real risk that the person eliminated by the idol’s blowback could be them. It’d be a lot to ask of any alliance, much less one as uneasy as Aubry’s. And yet it’s at least as viable a plan as waiting until final five to make a move. I mean, by then, Jason, Scot and Tai would have the numbers, and they’d be able to pick off the remaining members of that alliance anyway.

'Survivor Kaoh Rong' Episode 9 Results Shocking Blindside Highlights 'It's Psychological Warfare'

Credit: CBS

I suppose there’s a little comfort in the knowledge that even if Jason and Scot make it to the end, there’s almost no way anyone would vote to give them the million, considering what an awful social game they’ve played. Jason and Scot are essentially playing for a third place finish, at best, as their tactics this week didn’t help endear them to anybody. They really ought to have feigned surprise about the ax and machete going missing, if for no other reason than as an excuse to go hunting for another idol under the auspices of searching for the missing tools. This is assuming that Neal’s idol being taken out of the game means another idol has been hidden to replace it. But even if not, it’s still generally good strategy not to be a jerk in a game like this. A little dignity goes a long way, but Scot and Jason showed none of that. They essentially threw a childish fit once things stopped going their way. And it was disappointing to see Tai go along with it. I mean, these guys do realize they need the people they’re voting out to vote for them at the end if they want to win, right? I worry that just being associated with Jason and Scot is doing more harm to Tai’s game than the super Idol is worth. Then again, you could argue that Tai is doing what’s best for his game, since he’s basically guaranteed a million dollars if he goes to the end with those two. In that sense, he’s playing a better strategic game than Debbie did. Yes, he’s aligned with the bad guys right now, but it doesn’t seem like any of this has hurt Tai’s standing in public opinion. Hell, when he put out the second fire, everyone assumed either Jason or Scot had done it, since it was so far beyond what they could imagine Tai would do. That speaks volumes for how strong his social game has been. Everyone likes Tai, even when he votes with the opposition. I guess we’ll see how far that fondness carries if he continues voting with Jason and Scot. But hopefully, he picks a better time to make his move than Debbie, whose big play against Scot and Jason was, unfortunately, too late to actually work. The move would have been to blindside one of the three men before they even thought to play an idol, rather than when they’re feeling on edge. Of course, I say that, but then there’s that pesky super idol, which can be played after the votes are read. Would anything Debbie did really have mattered to her game? Or was she destined to go home tonight? It’s a depressing thought, honestly.

Survivor Kaoh Rong - Episode 9 - Recap and Results - It's Psychological Warfare

Credit: CBS

“It’s Psychological Warfare” is one of the most strategically interesting moments of Survivor: Kaoh Rong, due in large part to the inevitability of its result. I wish Debbie had found a way to turn the tables on Jason and Scot, but it seemed there was very little, if anything, she could have done to change things.

But what did you think of Survivor: Kaoh Rong Episode 9, “It’s Psychological Warfare”? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on Survivor: Kaoh Rong, watch last week’s deleted scenes, complete with videos of the jury at the Survivor Ponderosa!

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