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It’s always uncomfortable to watch a Survivor player get put in an impossible position, but it’s even more uncomfortable when it results in putting that player in emotional turmoil just because they are the swing vote. Monica went through a lot during this episode with not a lot to show for it in the end. Brutal.


Monica has had an interesting journey through this game. She started out fairly prominently featured due to her husband’s antics on his tribe, followed by her husband’s so-called persecution at Redemption Island due to those same antics, followed by a long stretch where she was portrayed as paranoid and playing too hard. Despite being such a big character during the early portion of the game, once the tribes merged, Monica faded into the background—part of Tyson’s alliance but seemingly only appearing to show up at immunity challenges, kick everyone’s ass, and then fade back into obscurity.

Until tonight. Following Hayden and Ciera’s big move at last week’s Tribal Council, they were down in numbers and desperate to either find a way for both of them to get immunity or persuade someone to join forces with them to take down Tyson. With Gervase firmly on Tyson’s side, their only hope is Monica, and the strategy is a desperate one: Tell her all of the horrible things Tyson has ever said about her and play on her insecurities. (Side note: I found it interesting just how confident Ciera was in her decision and how solid she was in her alliance with Hayden. When that girl commits, she commits, until she changes her mind. That’s not a slam; it’s fun to watch someone play this way.) While this strategy is understandable—Ciera and Hayden really don’t have anything else to offer other than the opportunity for Monica to make a “big” game move by switching and influencing the jury—boy, is this not fun to watch. Seeing someone get their feelings hurt in real time is a tough one, especially when the person doing the hurting is doing it on purpose for their own personal gain.

But this is a game, and things like this are part of the game, no matter how unpleasant they may be. What’s interesting is how the player reacts to it, and Monica reacted in pretty much the only way she could: She got her feelings hurt, she analyzed the situation, and she decided to stay with her original alliance of Tyson and Gervase. That she did this following a Tribal Council where both sides were using her as a pawn in their own games, all while proclaiming Monica’s decision somehow would reflect on her character in some way, was pretty impressive. Monica might not be my favorite player, and she might strategize a little too much and get a little too paranoid, but she’s incredible at immunity challenges. When her back was against the wall, she didn’t let herself get manipulated. There’s something to be said for that.


It was especially tough to watch Monica get jerked around because either way she decided to go, she was probably in the same position, game-wise. She’s pretty clearly third place to Tyson and Gervase, but is there any reason to think she’d be higher than third place in an alliance with Hayden and Ciera? And with the possibility of Ciera’s mother coming back into the game, Monica would have to know that she would quickly be fourth in a four-person alliance, rather than the third she is currently. Monica might not have a very compelling speech to give the jury at the end of the game, but in my mind this non-move was perhaps her biggest move of the game, and as good as anything Gervase has done.

I’m not sure where all these passionate feelings about Monica came from; likely, they’re just a reaction from watching people attempt to manipulate her for their own good, all while asserting it was actually for her. It might be part of the game—and in my mind, all’s fair in a game like Survivor—but that doesn’t mean I can’t be happy when she doesn’t fall for it.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Monica threw her whole game away by not switching. That’s the beauty of Survivor: You never really know until it’s all over.


Stray observations:

  • Did Tyson say all of those horrible things about Monica? We saw him say offhanded remarks about her being paranoid, but if what Ciera was saying is true, most of that is on the editing floor.
  • Most hilarious exchange of the night, as Tina was beating her daughter in the Redemption challenge: “Katie, are you okay with this?” “…Sure.” “I love you, honey.” (Katie was not okay with it in that moment.)
  • “You are going to have to dig deep” is a common phrase associated with Survivor? Really?
  • I say Laura B. beats Hayden and Tina at Redemption and comes back into the game. Hayden is surprisingly awful at individual immunity challenges, and Tina is practically a non-entity this season.
  • “She’s not great at Survivor but she’s really come in handy.” Okay, we did hear Tyson say that.