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“SURVIVOR: CAGAYAN” Ep. 8: Off-Balance

I’m going to make the horse drink the water.


Contestants on the game of SURVIVOR are constantly balancing themselves, maneuvering fine, wobbly lines between actions that will help them advance and behavior that will lead to their ouster. And then, SURVIVOR Buffs, once in a while, there’s a player, a team, an episode that forgoes these rules, doesn’t maneuver the fine lines, ignores the lessons of the past – and is kind of amazing….

The return to camp after the last Tribal Council – when Morgan’s ta-tas said “Ta Ta” – is strangely tense, due to Sketchy Tony’s disproportionate and unnecessary reaction to getting 3 votes cast against him at Tribal Council. Instead of gloating, or extending an olive branch to the other Tribe, or any other expected post-Tribal action, Tony starts yelling at Spencer, cycling through a number of topics, emotions and positions. He demands that Spencer say it was because Tony’s a threat, then says that Morgan was unworthy of being there, but Tasha and Jeremiah were kept around because they deserve it. He whines that he didn’t deserve those votes because he works all the time, then storms off with the passive aggressive shout, “Thanks for the compliment.” This whole outburst reminds me of the Whitney Houston interview/argument with Wendy Williams on the radio many years ago and makes me wonder how easy it was for Sketchy Tony to bring crack with him to the game. The whole situation is schizo and narcissistic, and Sketchy’s need for Spencer to actively reinforce his “Biggest threat” title is the ultimate in passive aggressiveness. Ugh…

104359_d6167bWell, Sketchy Tony is nothing if not demonstrative, so his nonsense does not go ignored by his peers. Female Skeletor and LJ spend the morning discussing Sketchy Tony’s erratic behavior, his increased anxiety, and his impact on their games. Basically, it’s clear that Tony and his paranoia will have to be managed. But it seems pretty obvious that a majority alliance of 6 would stick together to get rid of the other three people – unless one of the 6 is a crazy cop who schemes are more complicated than the plot of AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Sketchy Tony gets LJ to ask if Tony wants to flip on Wu. LJ says the words Sketchy wants to use against him, but not in the way Sketchy will present it to others, as he tries to get LJ blamed for bad-mouthing others and trying to flip on the alliance. You know, the stuff Sketchy Tony is actually doing. It just seems weird that Sketchy Tony needs LJ to physically utter the words to justify the deception to himself.

Time for the Reward Challenge. Everyone splits up into 3 groups of 3 for yet another maze. Interestingly enough, the winning team of Spencer, Jeremiah and Sketchy Tony represent the Brains, Beauty and Brawn Tribes, respectively, further reinforcing the importance of well-roundedness  in this game. The prize, a beach spa day, and the randomly selected teammates are both fortuitous for Spencer, who needs to scramble as part of the 3-person smaller alliance and has been waiting to talk thing over with Tony. Since the prize is pretty much “lay there and chill,” both Spencer and Jeremiah have a ton of time to talk strategy with Tony, who is a power player on his Tribe. Since Sketchy Tony loves to hear himself try to sound smart, he tells story after story, SURVIVOR lesson after SURVIVOR lesson, goaded on by Jeremiah and Spencer, who know the best way to get on Tony’s good side is to pretend they care about and believe what he says.

Between the Challenges, Tasha tries to get LJ to meet her to discuss plans. He agrees to listen, but then never leaves the shelter, for fear that Tony will spin out of control104359_d7617b if he sees that. Also, LJ thinks Tasha has nothing to offer him, while Tasha realizes she needs to find answers anywhere. The first place she looks is within the recesses of her memory, which is essential to the Immunity Challenge, which Tasha wins, defeating a former Brawn Tribe person and former Beauty Tribe member in another well-matched competition.

Spencer, who still has a Hidden Idol, get great news when Sketchy Tony approaches him to push the timing of the anti-LJ plan up. This plan requires so many ridiculous moving parts, and also needs a bunch of people to shut the hell up for the day. At Tribal Council, so many people discuss the strength of the 6 person alliance, which appears solid. Trust,an ever-present Tribal Council topic, is brought up again, as is the inevitability of the breakup of the alliance of 6. And, although he believes himself to be a great reader of people and their trustworthiness, LJ is completely blindsided when Woo and Tony, the latter of whom LJ said he knew very well and trusted, while trying to manage him for the last 3 days, flip their votes.

In his exit interview, LJ discusses the importance of timing in the game. It’s a concept Sketchy Tony has mentioned repeatedly with regards to LJ. And while LJ sounds 104359_d8049blike less of a paranoid crackhead than Sketchy Tony does while discussing timing, it’s the cop who actually ends up making the big move at the right time. LJ and Trish got comfortable with the 6, and, even though they mentioned cracks forming and the breakup of the group before the end, they then spent all of their energy trying to maintain the status quo. This type of game play makes players then unable to see the changes within alliances, and also doesn’t give them any practice about how to adapt when the game throws something new at them.

Sketchy Tony on the other hand, is never comfortable. He’s been playing the game super aggressively from the start, a trait on SURVIVOR that often annoys fellow contestants, although, in this case, it causes this alliance to spend more time on him. He’s loud and belligerent when he’s mad, something nobody likes to see, but he’s forgiven. And he comes up with these insane plans that require a whole bunch of people to keep quiet about a lot of stuff that has to go perfectly. He’s like Beyonce, releasing her full album and 13 videos simultaneously with none of the many involved people leaking the information. Somehow, like Yonce, Sketchy Tony makes these risky big moves, and they work. He’s awful at striking the balance that is normally necessary to do well on SURVIVOR, but – for now – he’s effective.

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