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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sometimes Survivor needs to get out of its own way

You see this face? This is Andrea's over the moon face.
Andrea Boehlke, Cirie Fields (Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment)
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Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • Sarah is going all in on her “making moves” strategy in the finals. Which is great for her, you know, if she can actually get to finals. Her dig at the team by saying they voted Debbie because they thought she was in charge was definitely a good one.
  • Michaela dominated on the obstacle course portion of the reward challenge. It was honestly beautiful to watch, even if she couldn’t maintain that lead on the partner lift portion.
  • The title of the episode is also the answer to the puzzle at the end of the reward challenge: “Reinventing how this game is played.” These phrase puzzles are out of control and must be stopped.
  • Alliances of six or more are always the most volatile, because someone always seems expendable. The person who seems expendable to Andrea, Cirie, and Aubry is Zeke, until Sarah steps in. Sarah sees letting Cirie in on her vote stealing advantage and something that could cement her as a trustworthy person to listen to (and therefore convince Cirie to keep Zeke), but it seems like a dicey play when you’re playing both sides like Sarah is right now. Information is power, and Sarah just gave Cirie some of her power.
  • Zeke wants to form an all-new alliance of him, Sarah, Brad, Troyzan, and Michaela. Will it work? Probably not! Seriously, it’s almost impossible to keep the alliance shifting straight this season.
  • Andrea is so focused on her plan to get out Zeke that she completely misses that telling Sarah her plans could completely sink them before she even gets the chance to campaign to everyone. This feels like a classic case of being so concerned about your own issues with a person that you can’t see the big picture. The only person I’m a little disappointed in this is Cirie, though, because she voiced her concern about telling Sarah and then just let Andrea do it anyway without any protest.
  • The above thought is completely wiped out when Zeke is voted out and the votes reveal that Sarah decided to go with her original alliance and vote Zeke out, despite her reservations. I know each episode has to have a central narrative driving the story and the gameplay, and Sarah’s conflict of sticking with her alliance versus her desire to play the game with Zeke is that central narrative in this episode. This could be a good conflict, except nothing in the episode other than a few tossed-off sentences during confessionals made me think she would stick with her original alliance. When Zeke got voted out, it wasn’t necessarily a shock—the narrative was very much Sierra vs. Zeke going in—but it wasn’t really satisfying either, not in the way the episode presented it. Next week’s episode will surely explain her thinking, but sometimes knowing nothing about why something happened so that the show can maintain an element of “surprise” is extremely frustrating, and this is one of those times.
  • What was up with the votes for Tai, though? Was the minority alliance splitting votes? Huh?