We are still in the getting-to-know-you phase of Survivor. Jeff Probst is firmly at the helm of the reality show juggernaut, commenting at every turn about how both Fang and Kota tribes are settling in at their camps, winning or losing challenges, having some skirmishes between purported “:leaders” or followers. Each tribe is trying valiantly to win both reward and immunity challenges because they need the momentum and moral boost to carry them through these initial weeks.
In last week’s double episodes, Kota burst out of the starting gate with relative ease. People found their roles to play in setting up a shelter, finding water, digging latrines, and the stronger personalities prevailed over the lesser ones because of basic survival instincts. You need water and you want to complain that Ace, the worldly and slightly stuck-up photographer, is bossy? No. Let’s get this all done first. And let’s win all the challenges –and then figure out whether Ace or anyone else manages to rise to the cream of the proverbial crop.
On the other hand, Fang seemed stuck in the mud. Unable to win challenges took away some of their spark. So too did their worry that they could not find a leader to kick their butts into action. Or better put, no one wanted to step up to the task. GC was asked to do this by Jeff Probst at tribal council and he accepted very uncomfortably. GC lacks confidence for some reason to manage, even if he possesses some organizational skills. He isn’t lazy; he gets things done and also can keep some semblance of order because Fang badly needs it. But GC is also touchy, even prickly, and not averse to criticism, especially by petulant whiners like Randy. In asides to the camera, he has already said some nasty things, like when he dogged GC about his apparent knack for giving orders. Randy, a cantankerous soul of 49, does not like to be told what to do either. Even Gillian, voted out last week, had to pay dearly for her attempt to lead. Her mistake was that she didn’t contribute enough. Oh, and she was “old” too.
This week saw a reversal of last week. This time it was Fang’s turn to prevail in both challenges, a welcome shot in the arm. But it also gave them a bye of sorts: winning events tends to make you a little giddy and allow you to ignore the fact that you still need someone to be a leader of sorts. Or the fact is that this can all wait until next time. GC eventually yielded his own hold only because he tired of people’s attitudes. Others would come forward perhaps. But it was the decisive win at the start of the show that clinched it. An unusually violent game, in which a member of one tribe had to be pulled away from holding on to a wooden pole, then dragged across the dirt to a finish line, was certainly rough. It also brought together a pair of Fang players who made mincemeat out of Paloma, the slight Mexican woman from Kota. That choice was significant as well since Kora’s “leader” Ace, selected her because he wanted to show others how physically weak she was. Paloma saw through this somehow and began a campaign to discredit Ace. Ace made sure not to put in strong players and thus protect some of his favorite players, including the female ones. The winning team won some bedding —sheets, blankets and pillows.
Others on Kota were hip to Ace’s power plays besides Paloma. Corinne continued to show her own quick wit and aggression, telling Charlie that she suspected that Ace had purposely put Paloma in the reward challenge because of a strategy he had to kick off the weak women first. But Corinne also saw that one seemingly weak woman was being kept at Ace’s side: Sugar. Corinne felt that the thing Kota had to do was remove Ace and thus put an end to his machinations. Charlie, ever wide-eyed, found Corinne “smart” and told her so. We the viewers knew that Ace was keeping Sugar close to him because it would be difficult to imagine him with her, in his words, until the very end. But something more insidious might be going on. Ace is very perceptive and a good student of human behavior. It is likely that he is keeping Sugar, the retro pin-up model in short blond curls, close to him because she will do what he says.Sugar is also emotionally brittle, having lost her father several months ago. In this episode, Sugar was also sent to Exile Island, which is where we learned about her late father and how this experience was very meaningful to her. At the island, she was successful. In contrast to Dan, the attorney, from last week who grew impatient and who returned with no Immunity Idol, Sugar found it handily. When she returned to camp, she chose only Ace to reveal this information. (She can now produce this at tribal council if she feels that she may need it.) We’ll see how this potentially interesting relationship, where Sugar appears to be doing things to please Ace, develops in the next several weeks.
At the other end of the female spectrum on Kota, both Paloma and, to a lesser extent, Kelly, are a far cry from the more Alpha-like women like Corinne. They appear to simply operate under the radar, not say much and deliver their comments passively –and to the camera off to the side. But they aren’t terribly happy, especially when they also seem excluded from daily life around camp. Paloma finally had the guts to start complaining about Ace. She didn’t hold back. At tribal council she suggested that her sibling-like bickering with Ace was no joke. The problem is that she isn’t terribly reserved; when she lets loose, she lets loose. Kelly somehow got into it as well, which earned her an eviction vote. When the dust had settled, Paloma really didn’t need to open her mouth. That’s the thing with fait accomplis. You think you have a chance to put your neck out there and do something, but your goose is already –and harshly—cooked.
Reward Challenge: Fang
Immunity Challenge: Fang
Player of the Week: Sugar