I have seen many an episode of Survivor where the producers try to convince the audience that the majority alliance is going to crack, and I say to myself: 'nice try Survivor, but there is no way they are breaking this week', and they almost never do. However, last night, for the first 30 minutes, I actually thought they might fall apart.
For those of you who read my last review, I thought Malcolm's double-idol blindside last week was great theatrics, but a poor long-term strategy. He was still down 6-3. The alliance had more than enough numbers. However, I was shocked at just how crushed the majority was by his maneuver. Brenda, who had been strong and sunny all game, was singing a funeral dirge. Dawn has been weeping for awhile, so she's not the best example, but, Sherri, who despises Eddie and Reynold, was actually talking about joining the boys out of sheer frustration and fear that they couldn't be beat. Even Cochran was temporarily gloomy.
You can make fun of Phillip and his "Stealth-R-Us"
all you want. But, he created a feeling that you were part of a team.
And, even though he was not respected, and openly disliked, he provided
something that they immediately missed - a feeling of safety and
protection that comes from being in a larger group. Even though they
were still up 6-3, the majority had no confidence after the Malcolm maneuver. The formality of the group was gone. They were overrun with fear.
I hate to compare Survivor to war, because the stakes are not the same, but you see this type of reaction a lot in military history when an army with a huge advantage in numbers becomes panicked by the superior tactics of the enemy. During
the Civil War, Robert E. Lee had so psyched out the Union generals that
they would commit blunder after blunder because they completely
overestimated Lee's capabilities (and, to be fair, they were also
horrified by the casualties). When Grant finally took over, his subordinates would panic and yell, "Bobby Lee! Bobby
Lee! What's he going to do next?!?!!", and Grant would holler back:
"Let's stop worrying about what Bobby Lee's going to do and start
worrying about what we're going to do to Lee!" The Union had finally found a general who could defeat Lee.
Anyhow, back to Survivor. While Brenda and Dawn were hiding in the field tent, two people stopped the panic - Andrea and Cochran. Andrea brilliantly blocked Malcolm from getting another idol, and Cochran got the clue and won immunity (Dawn was practically standing next to Cochran at the end of the challenge BEGGING him to win it). All of a sudden, when Cochran got the necklace, the boys no longer seemed invincible - and the reasons for bolting from the majority started to melt away.
Eric is in a much better position with this group than Malcolm & Co. Bolting would make no sense (though Andrea did point out one possible reason - he was burned by an alliance of females the first time he played). Aside from that sort of irrationality, he's better off where he is.
Sherri hates Reynold and Eddie, and her body language to Malcolm screamed "I AM NOT WITH YOU." Once Cochran had immunity, I never thought she was going.
It's also worth remembering she hasn't seen Malcolm's first season.
She didn't see him align with Denise and stick with her until the end. So, when he promised her the final two, those were probably less convincing words than they otherwise might have been.
Anyhow, because of the fine work of Andrea and Cochran, the alliance held.
The coming attractions show Cochran saying that this is the beginning of the end of the six-person
alliance. I believe it. It's 6-2 and time to start planning one's
endgame. But, I still think if Reynold doesn't win immunity, they'll
rally to ditch him. Eddie, who is less intimidating in
the challenges, might be useful to someone when it gets to seven (a
classic time to get a swing vote and make a move). The alliance might
start their cannibalizing then.
Andrea and Cochran have been the two best players this season, and it would be nice to see them both in the finals. If only
one makes it because the other took him/her out, that's Survivor. If
they both don't make it, it's because the crybabies started to wise up.
Once Malcolm and Reynold are gone, there will be a lot less moaning and
a lot more ruthlessness. Right now, I think Cochran
might be in a better position to handle this than Andrea. I get the
vague feeling there are some people who are relying on him for strategic thinking. I also think they are more intimidated by Andrea. But, it should be interesting. These
are two very young players who (partly because they had the experience
of competing before), are playing at a very high level. I'm very
curious to see how it plays out.
I have to say a few more things about Malcolm now that he is gone. I've
been accused a couple of times this season of hating Malcolm. I like
Malcolm, I just think the producers oversell him as a player. He does a
lot of questionable things, and I point them out. I think he's a good
tactician but terrible strategist. The
double-idol blindside was great tactics, but where's the long-term
strategy? Why did he bolt the main group for an alliance with people
who were not only disliked by many, but also feared (Corinne, Reynold & Eddie)?
However, he's a nice guy (and to his credit, the double-idol blindside did come closer to breaking the alliance than I thought it would). His closing comments were also very classy. He admitted to believing Sherri, and
I'm not going to blame him for that. He had only two choices - believe
Sherri or live in panic. Better to believe Sherri when you don't have
any other option. At some point you have to trust someone when all your other cards have been played.
Finally, even though I criticized
him a lot, I'm going to miss him. He's more fun to watch than Reynold
or Eddie. He tries. He spent his money to get a clue, while the other
two sat there. I wish Reynold had gone instead, but the alliance (wisely) went for the more dangerous player.
A few people have played this game three times. I'm sure, he's on the
producers short list. He might be overrated, but he's still fun TV.