Is Survivor: Edge of Extinction Rick’s game to lose? The former underdog turned villain has risen to the top of everyone’s target list with good reason: he’s a competition threat, he finds hidden immunity idols, and his ego has become more brazen as the rounds go on. Plus, his edit has mimicked a familiar trajectory we’ve seen in the past. (We see you, Ben from Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers!) Rick has all the elements to win the game – “Idol or Bust” basically set up the stage for his winner’s path. But, could this be a fake-out for his surprise fall?
The castaways made it known that Rick was the target. From the post-Tribal Council to the challenge to the reward to Tribal Council itself, everyone mentioned that Rick needed to go. As viewers, we haven’t seen a complete tribe consensus like this in a really long time, possibly since Ben’s season. The problem, however, was that none of the castaways had a sense of urgency to stop him – they sat back until it was too late to do anything.
After he used a hidden immunity idol, why didn’t they all search the beach at night and during the day to find it? They knew an idol potentially would be back in play and they’d all have the same odds of finding it. Why would they even believe Rick that he got his idol from Edge of Extinction Island? The smart decision would’ve been for the group to hit the ground running and start searching after Tribal Council to find it; this process would’ve ensured Rick’s chances of finding it would’ve lessened. Even Lauren knew the truth, but she gingerly approached the subject with him instead of sparking urgency. Procrastination and ineffectual gameplay like this leads to losing a million dollars.
As much as Rick’s latest behavior/edit annoys me, he did an amazing job to ensure his safety for two rounds. He’s on fire right now! Winning the individual immunity challenge was a lucky break, but now he has a hidden immunity idol that guarantees him a spot in the Final 4. For him to win Survivor: Edge of Extinction, he has two hurdles in front of him: the first is overcoming the F4 fire-making challenge, and the second is convincing the jury to vote for him. He has the resume to make a good case, but his ego could rub people the wrong way. Plus, the F4 challenge is never a guarantee, so his chances are still up in the air.
Regarding his competition, only Lauren and Gavin could still potentially put up a fight against him. Gavin has won a few challenges and Lauren knows a good number of people on the jury – they don’t hate her, so that social game could work in her favor. Julie has a reputation of a being an emotional player, so her relationships with the jury has decreased. Victoria, on the other hand, looks too much like a floater to earn their respect; she’s played the strategic game to deserve the win, but her cowardly gameplay pales in comparison to the others. The player returning from Edge of Extinction Island might shake things up; however, this all depends on who returns next week.
The challenges this week had all the familiar Survivor tropes that we’ve all come to love: puzzles, balancing, and throwing a ball to balance on a small opening. Even though I criticize the familiarity of these challenges, they do provide fun and challenging elements for the castaways to compete in. Anything regarding balance always pushes them to frustration, and a word puzzle has so many options that it’s anyone’s game. Having only endurance challenges would make things stale and repetitive; the obstacles courses felt like a breath of fresh air this week.
Gavin was right to be worried about who he took on the reward trip. Just look what happened during Ron’s week when he won the family prize – that prize caused Lauren to turn on Ron and vote him out. Aurora nearly turned on Victoria, Gavin, and Lauren, but she needed their votes to stick around. Castaways should be very careful when selecting people; they need to ensure that whomever they leave behind won’t be angry or plot against them. Regardless of his reasons, he took his closest friends … there’s no denying that.
Aurora’s elimination was surprising because she wasn’t the big threat that everyone made her out to be. I like Aurora, but she is an underdog with a lacking social game. Sure, she can win challenges from time-to-time; however, her resume against the jury wouldn’t have been strong. Instead of getting out Rick’s current ally in Julie, the opposition went for an easy vote to take out the bottom of their totem pole. Gavin, Victoria and Lauren will regret this move – they will need the strength in challenges to ensure that Rick goes. Now, they’re facing an even bigger uphill battle.
“Idol or Bust” was a pre-cursor for the upcoming season finale. The pieces were lined up for which players are on the trajectory for winning, while the others have become the fodder along the way. I won’t be surprised if Rick wins the season – the show has set him up for it. However, let’s hope there’s a big fight between the players to get to that end. We don’t want another case of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers where it was too one-sided and dull.