Usually, when it’s someone’s boot episode, especially someone who has been non-existent for much of the season, we get quite a bit of footage of said player. It’s only fitting, given how invisible she’s been from the jump, that Kelly Wiglesworth would get one (ONE) confessional in the episode that would see her go home. In fact, the only real development we got for her as a game player was people like Stephen claiming that she was a “big threat” to win the game.
If you’re like me, you’re wondering how this is possible. The edit certainly never painted Wiglesworth as a potential winner. Sure, she hadn’t made waves, but would an old school game involving little to no moves actually lead to a victory? In this season, it sure didn’t seem like it. If anything, she was set up to be someone’s goat, not a winner of an all-returners season.
And that’s why, even in her boot, Kelly is far from the most interesting topic to look into when dissecting the episode. Instead, it’s the move Stephen, Jeremy, and Spencer made to align themselves with the Witches’ Coven (Ciera, Kelley, and Abi, if you weren’t on the up-and-up). Was that really the best move for any of their games? Have they completely blown up their alliance going forward? It’s certainly something worth discussing.
Let’s first examine Stephen; after all, he was the fulcrum that brought this move along. In the immunity challenge, Fishbach elected to go after the advantage, narrowly beating out Spencer for an item that allows him to cancel someone’s vote and then vote twice himself. Even without anyone knowing what that advantage is, Stephen effectively placed a huge target on his back.
Think about it. No one knows about Jeremy’s two idols, so Stephen has the only advantage that’s publicly visible in the game. Making him an obvious target going forward because people will assume that, at worst, Stephen has an idol. And then, Fishbach decides to blindside his nine-person alliance and side with the Witches in getting out Wiglesworth.
If Stephen was sweating with Savage still on the island, this has to take him to a whole new level. He just went against a majority alliance that he and his “voting bloc” had tons of control over to side with a group of three girls that have little to no interest in keeping him in the game. Now, Stephen has put in the legwork with Ciera and might believe that he has her on his side; however, I wonder if this move was needed. If he had been able to axe Joe here, I think people are fine with that, but Kelly? That’s a little dicier.
I mean, are we to believe that Stephen can trust the Witches going forward? It’s certainly possible, but doesn’t seem likely. And will old school players like Keith and Kimmi be willing to go back to Jeremy, Stephen, and Spencer with Kelly gone? Maybe, but I think the people those three blindsided are more into alliances than “voting blocs”. Of course, Stephen has that advantage in his back pocket and Jeremy has two idols, so maybe it’s not over for the know-it-all. That said, you have to be very nervous if you’re a Stephen fan for the next boot or two.
Jeremy, with those two idols, can probably afford to make a big move like this to try and build his resume. He’s also so good at talking people down, that I think he might be able to bring Kimmi , Tasha and Keith back to his side (he’s probably lost Joe). That said, Jeremy has to play his best Survivor next week or he could be in a very bad position if Stephen goes home. I think Jeremy thrives in chaos and this next week will be a test of that.
Spencer was probably hurt the least by this move. He really did seem to be on the bottom of the majority alliance and might’ve been an easy clipping had the alliance stuck together. Now, he has options. I think he and Ciera can work well together and the same goes for Kelley. The trick is, whom do they target next? Spencer could really use a Joe boot because that effectively makes him the resident challenge beast. Thus, I think his best move is to try and keep this bloc together for one more week and get off either Joe or Tasha (if Joe wins immunity).
As far as the Witches go, they’re happy to be in the game for another week and could have the target off of them. If the majority alliance turns on themselves, then the Witches can just sit in the center and, essentially, choose who they want to go home. They went from a position of no power, to potentially absolute power. It’s incredible how quickly this game changes.
Finally, the blindsided four represent an interesting group. You have to figure that Joe and Keith are tight and the same goes for Tasha and Kimmi. I’m not sure if those two groups are super interested in working together, but there’s no reason to assume they won’t. Joe’s best move might just be to try and get the women together and go after Jeremy or Spencer. He knows that his best chance to win is to win as many immunities as possible going forward and those two (and Tasha) seem to be his biggest hurdles. Keith would probably follow him wherever he goes, though there’s something to be said about Keith and Jeremy working together.
For Tasha and Kimmi, a women’s alliance is certainly a possibility, but I don’t know how willing Kimmi is to get away from her manly meat shields. She’s surrounded herself with beef all season and it’s hard to see her changing up that strategy this late in the game. Tasha will be more open to a move; it’s just a matter of finding the numbers to move with her.
This week may have been a little boring, but it set up some juicy prospects for next week’s two-hour show.
The team of Jeremy, Keith, Kelley, Kelly, and Kimmi were Luzon bad in that reward challenge. Of course, it would’ve been much more interesting if one of the three Luzon members in this season had been involved. Instead, Spencer and Tasha were killing it on the other side and Kass was busy being Queen of Ponderosa.
Jeremy’s second idol find sure had a touch of Mike Holloway editing, didn’t it? If Jeremy wins this season, people will point to this moment as the edit giving the ending away just a little too early. That said, it’s great to see Survivors get emotional moments like this because it makes them feel more like real people.
Stephen beating out Spencer to the advantage buoy was very surprising. Who knew Stephen was such a good swimmer? Maybe it’s just his length that got him the win, but I was actually impressed with Stephen during an immunity challenge. There’s a first time for everything.
That’s all for this week (or at least this column). Lots to unpack in the strategy portion, which means that we’re getting to the real meat of the season. Check back this weekend for my power rankings and next boot list.