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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Survivor: “Make Some Magic Happen”

The less-terrible one.
Hunahpu tribe
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It’s pretty safe to say this season is in a bit of a slump. Coyopa isn’t the first Survivor tribe to be a complete failure—most recently, Matsing was so terrible that Survivor: Philippines devoted a whole episode to the tragedy of their struggle—but it’s maybe the most boring tribe to ever be a complete failure, and that makes all the difference. There’s no Denise or Malcolm to make the time spent with Coyopa seem all that worthwhile, unless Jon suddenly becomes a strategic mastermind once the merge finally happens. The result is a lot of repetitive, predictable strategy, which doesn’t make for the most exciting season so far.

Before Coyopa lost both challenges (again), it really seemed as if Hunahpu might finally have to get down to the business of voting someone out. Most of the episode was spent dealing with Hunahpu’s various miseries, all of which they brought upon themselves by eating too much rice and then making the decision to trade all of their “comfort” items for another bag. Jeremy points out the stupidity of trading things for food this late in the game, and he has a point: A merge is coming up, and there’s a definite possibility of a food reward at the next challenge. He turns out to be right, and gets to feel pretty smug about his rightness when a terrible storm blows through right after they have to give up their tarp, a tarp they probably didn’t need to give up because they won a huge quantity of kabobs at the reward challenge. Coyopa may be terrible at challenges, but Hunahpu is terrible at decisions. Neither are all that fun to watch.

In addition to seeing the bad decisions of Hunahpu, we do also get to see some of its alliances in action. The focus is mostly on Jeremy, who is scrambling to solidify his place in the game before the merge. This means keeping ally Julie in the game and talking her through her breakdown over the horrible weather conditions. It also includes some prescient commentary from Jeremy about Reed and Josh and their prominence in the game, making it very clear that both are on his radar. It’s probably pretty smart of Jeremy to have them on his radar, because they completely dominate this episode, challenge-wise. Between that and their rock-solid, built-in alliance, they definitely presented themselves as the Hunahpu pair to beat.

And then there’s Coyopa. Poor, terrible Coyopa. The least interesting thing about Coyopa this week is how they had a pretty significant lead in the Immunity Challenge, only to lose it when Jon and Missy could not get it together on the puzzle. Again: Poor, terrible Coyopa. The most interesting thing about Coyopa this week is Dale deciding he has nothing to lose, and making a fake idol to show to Jon to try to bluff his way out of going home. Dale even goes so far as telling Jon that if he doesn’t get his name written down, he will give him his “idol” after Tribal Council. Dale’s idea? Vote out Missy because she has strong ties to the other tribe. Jon takes the news of Dale’s idol to his alliance of Missy, Baylor, and Jaclyn, who decide to split the vote between Dale and Keith in order to flush his idol. The editors try to make it seem as if Jon is seriously considering Dale’s plan, but it never really feels like a viable option, and Dale is easily sent home.

If there’s one thing to watch on Coyopa it’s just how much Keith seems to be skating by in this tribe where he is the supposed “outsider.” He’s an easy vote, one where no one will immediately retaliate. Voting him out breaks up a loved-ones pair from being together, post-merge. And yet, every time his name is brought up, someone mentions how they don’t want to vote him out. People just seem to like him. This doesn’t mean Keith can win the game in the long run once the merge happens and all the game dynamics shift once again, but it’s at least an interesting tribe dynamic where interesting tribe dynamics are a scarcity. Thankfully, next week is the merge and the horror that is Coyopa will be no more. It could not come soon enough.

Stray observations:

  • That rice trade was bullshit. Make it a real hardship, Jeff, and force them to forfeit a Reward Challenge, or sit an extra player in an Immunity Challenge. Let’s play tougher.
  • How awesome was Reed at the blindfold puzzle? I’d watch out for that guy in a game obsessed with puzzles.
  • “I’m a meat collector.” O…kay?
  • “Who’s Big John now?” You, I guess?