Overplaying is just as bad as underplaying on Survivor. Castaways want to build up their resumes so that they’ll have something to bring up during the finale, but sometimes these moves come at the expense of their own games. Plus, doing too much can make you seem like a huge target and expose your true alliances. Ron fell victim to this effect during Survivor: Edge of Extinction.
For the last few weeks, Ron took control of the middle (along with Julie) to decide some crucial votes. A leadership role wasn’t on his mind, but he influenced enough people to turn the tide into voting blocs. He exposed himself as a strategic threat that had a strong social grasp. Ironically, Wardog’s earlier premonition came true: once he got voted out of the game, both Rick and Ron would be spotted as the next main targets to get out. And if Rick avoided elimination, Ron would be the next best choice. Ron’s target status made him a dangerous risk to keep around.
When did Rick become the underdog/villain of Survivor: Edge of Extinction? His underdog status followed him throughout the game – from his early elimination to him being in the minority vote. But, his edit has changed recently to be more confrontational, deceptive, and brazen. Rick is now the main enemy at camp, and he doesn’t resist the urge to clapback at any castaway who does him wrong. Early Rick wouldn’t have confronted Aurora about looking in his bag or calling out Julie/Ron for their shady moves at Tribal Council. This new Rick is more confident and strong. He was so lucky this week to find the hidden immunity idol; he had one foot out the door.
There are two potential paths for Rick based on his edit: this is either (1) his winner’s edit or (2) his losing villain’s edit. I’m leaning more toward the latter here. Everyone is banding together to get him out; his only chance to win would be to win every challenge to get to the Final 3. If he makes it to the Final 3, he has a good number of votes from the original Manu to win. Though, I wish Rick was more likable again. This change in his demeanor is toeing the line between cocky and confident.
The loved ones’ visit is an iconic and important part of Survivor’s season-long progression. When the loved ones arrive, the moment symbolizes that the season has entered its final stretch. There’s no more waiting around for people to sit back and watch their enemies pick each other off – they have to think about their resumes and make moves. And every move that is made has a significant effect on whether or not someone will win. Jeff Probst was right on the money when he said that the decisions made by the winner of the loved ones’ challenge affects the rest of the game. Case in point: Ron didn’t pick Lauren for the reward and she turned against him because of it.
I love that the loved ones got to play in the challenge. Having them sit on the sidelines and watch is a waste of time, especially when you consider how much time and difficulty it took to get them to the island. The best way to make the most of the experience is to have them take part in the challenge too so that their input has an effect on their loved one’s destiny. The guests had an equal stake in wanting the game to win. This change should be implemented to future seasons – this will change who gets invited to the island and the challenges to compete in.
Victoria’s behind-the-scenes gameplay is working wonders on her survival, but she’s not standing out too much and wowing people with her moves. This balance helps her at Tribal Council; however, it will hurt her during the finale because she’ll have to convince the jury that she made these moves, which is an uphill battle unto itself. Her plan with Lauren was a masterful move that guaranteed a big target would be eliminated. Plus, her social game was strong enough to pull in both Gavin AND Aurora to make the moves happen without Gavin using the extra vote against them. Victoria (like Lauren) is a strong underdog, but she has to step forward as a contender if she wants any chance to win.
With Survivor: Edge of Extinction’s growing “jury,” a new strategy has emerged as a brazen and effective tool: playing up to the jury. Like with Wardog’s elimination the previous week, the current players were saying things and acting a certain way to impress jury members to win their votes. This time, Rick made a grand show of playing his hidden immunity idol to show that he was a savvy gameplayer AND the extent of Julie’s/Ron’s level of shadiness. We all love exciting Tribal Councils, but Rick was a bit too obvious with his intentions. This tactic might be a slippery slope for future seasons with more people using Tribal Council dialogue as a strategy.
“Awkward” showcased a great strategic move that delivered a shocking blindside at Tribal Council. The jury was living for the moment, and we were treated to an hour of strong gameplay. Overall, this was a great episode to start leading us into the home stretch.