With the last episode before the merge, both tribe’s boot order seemed to be extremely fluid. On Brains 2.0’s beach, the editors appeared to be suggesting a Nick vote-out; however, it was also easy to either Michele or Neal going home given Nick’s budding relationship with Jason. Obviously, we weren’t able to see that situation play out, but it’s something everyone needs to pay close attention to when each side is trying to drum up numbers after the merge.
At Beauty 2.0, Julia seemed to be the easy out for the three former Brains in the majority. After all, she was coming back from exile and will be a key number against them when the merge hits. Instead of playing it relatively safe, Peter elected to make a play against his allies Joseph and Aubry. When this was sniffed out by former FBI agent Joseph, Peter tucked his tail between his legs and went back to them, hoping to live to fight another day. Unfortunately for Dr. Obama, the damage was already done.
Scot, Tai, and Julia made their pitch to Aubry and, eventually, convinced her to vote her assumed ally out. Was that a good move? And how did Peter’s boot shake up my power rankings? Read on to find out.
12)Peter Baggenstos (-3)
Strategy: 6 Challenge: 4 Entertainment: 6 Total: 16
As the pre-merge villain, Peter played his role perfectly. He was so much fun to hate and never stopped building himself up as this arrogant jerk who everyone wanted to see go home. Peter was pretty good at strategy, he just has zero people skills (or the people skills you need to survive a game of Survivor. I’m sure his personality works great in an ER).
I was impressed by his ability to quickly reassess his own game over and over again to try and save himself from the social faux pas he continually committed. Even in his boot episode, Peter found himself caught in a lie by Joseph, but was able to fix that relationship and get Joseph back on his side. That’s pretty impressive, considering the spot Peter was in.
All that said, you knew his style was going to catch up to him sooner or later. It was a fun ride for Dr. Obama and I hope to see him back someday. Don’t ever change, Pete.
11) Joseph Del Campo (-1)
Strategy: 5 Challenge: 4 Entertainment: 7 Total: 16
I wasn’t too high on Joseph’s strategy of getting Peter to admit he was targeting one of his alliance members. I think there are ways to be more subtle and not draw so much attention to yourself. Then again, I’m not a former FBI agent and Joseph’s tactics did ultimately work. Maybe Joseph has more game than I thought. After all, he made the merge as a non-threat (especially in challenges) and now looks poised to be someone’s goat or a solid under the radar player. Of course, nothing is ever as it seems in Survivor (much more on this later).
10) Michele Fitzgerald (+2)
Strategy: 6 Challenge: 4 Entertainment: 6 Total: 16
I really liked what I saw from Michele this week. She showed off just a hint of game during her confessionals about Nick and, if she’s able to actually use him as a shield in the merge, that plan could work well. We haven’t quite seen enough out of her to prove to me that she has what it takes to effectively control an Alpha Male like Nick, but the precedent is there for this to be a good strategy. I ultimately think it’s going to work, especially if she hooks up with Julia this week. That could be a great twosome.
9) Julia Sokolowski (-1)
Strategy: 6 Challenge: 5 Entertainment: 5 Total: 16
Speaking of Julia, she did a great job of staying off everyone’s radar this week. She should’ve been the easy vote. She was coming back from exile and is a former Beauty, making her an enemy of the Brain majority on Beauty 2.0. However, she quickly got on Peter’s good side and that ending up proving his willingness to flip to Aubry. It was a very low-key effort, but it kept her safe and demonstrated that she may have enough game to play well without Anna. If she sticks with Tai and Scot, while bringing Michele, Jason, and Cydney into the fold, she could have a significant say in how the rest of the game goes. Pretty impressive for an 18-year-old.
7(tie) Cydney Gillon (-3) and Kyle Jason (-2)
Strategy: 5 Challenge: 6 Entertainment: 5 Total: 16
These two were nearly invisible this week. Neither had a confessional and no one was really talking about them. I don’t think they’ll have many more similar weeks. Given their edits and gameplay, I would be very surprised if these two don’t play a major part in the rest of the season. Jason is an Alpha who will try to put himself in the forefront of the tribe’s strategy. Cydney, on the other hand, excels at playing from the shadows. Her subtle manipulation might be the strongest of the season. If these two don’t make it to at least final seven, I’ll be very surprised.
5(tie) Debbie Wanner (0) and Neal Gottlieb (-3)
Debbie: Strategy: 6 Challenge: 5 Entertainment: 6 Total: 17
Neal: Strategy: 5 Challenge: 6 Entertainment: 6 Total: 17
I’m grouping Neal and Debbie together because I didn’t see a big gap between either of them this week. They’re both on the verge of running their tribe, but have been smart to attempt to stay away from that role. Debbie is a little more vocal about her scheming and is more likely to go home because of it. However, I’m still pretty high on both competitor’s chances, though they do appear to be in the minority when the merge hits.
4) Tai Trang(-1)
Strategy: 6 Challenge: 5 Entertainment: 7 Total: 18
As usual, Tai isn’t high on this list because of his gameplay. Sure, he led the pitch that ultimately sent Peter home, but that felt like more of Scot decision than a Tai decision. Scot was just aware that Tai is better at connected people and correctly assumed he could sway Aubry. No, Tai isn’t some Survivor savant, but he is incredibly entertaining. As “America’s Favorite”, Tai is must-watch TV. As a Survivor player, Tai is just decent. That said, he does have that idol, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play a big part in the post-merge game.
3) Nick Maiorano (+4)
Strategy: 4 Challenge: 7 Entertainment: 8 Total: 19
Nick’s arrogance and challenge ability gets him this spot. I mean, the guy almost beat Scot Pollard (a former NBA player) in a basketball shooting contest. Granted, Scot shot about 50% for his career, but still. It was impressive. And after that showing, the edit appeared to be setting Nick up to be the Peter of the post-merge. He’s arrogant. He thinks he can control other players. And every time he opens his mouth, the edit plays footage to show him being incorrect in his assumptions. Unfortunately, I am just a little worried that Nick might be the merge boot, which would be unfortunate for anyone looking for a fun Survivor villain in the second half of the game.
2) Scot Pollard (-1)
Strategy: 5 Challenge: 6 Entertainment: 8 Total: 19
Scot continues to be a pretty fun character that plays a villain almost as often as he plays a fun-loving oaf. You have to wonder what that means for his actual place in the game though. Will he emerge as the post-merge villain and take Peter’s place as the guy we most want to see go home? Or will he continue his team-up with Tai and Julia to become “America’s Alliance”? It’s hard to say, but I have every confidence that Scot is going to be around for at least a few more weeks and leave an NBA-sized mark on Survivor: Kaoh Rong’s post-merge game.
1) Aubry Bracco (+10)
Strategy: 6 Challenge: 6 Entertainment: 8 Total: 20
I can’t’ say enough how much I loved this move from Aubry. Her Brains alliance was in a very bad position if they kept Peter in the game. At the merge, he would flip on them in a heartbeat and the Aubry-Joseph duo would’ve killed off any chance of the Beauties working with them against Peter or the Brawns by voting off two of their players back-to-back.
Now, the Brains may not have the appearance of numbers on their side, but they do have a solid core four and have made in-roads to working with the Beauties after saving Julia. It’s still a very precarious position for Aubry to be in and she could very well be the merge boot. However, now there’s at least a glimmer of hope that she might be able to get back into power, which makes this the best play she had, from my perspective.
I see the numbers breaking one of two ways. Either the Brawns and Beauties team up and target the Brains or Julia brings Michele and Tai to the Brains who will target someone like Nick. The former seems more plausible given what we’ve seen so far, but you never know in this game. Thus, I think I’m going to hedge my bets and pick Nick as your most likely merge boot. Outside of maybe Jason, I don’t see anyone who really wants to work with him and it’s obvious that he is, by far, the biggest immunity threat left in the game. I think each side of the beach takes the easy vote this week and lives to fight another day.
I could also see Joseph or Aubry getting votes if the Brawns and Beauties stick together. They can’t make a play to flush an idol, they don’t have the numbers. Tribal would be a 4-4-3 split. If they guess wrong and put the most votes on the person with an idol, then one of their players is out of the game. And you have to assumed either Debbie or Neal have the idol because they’ve been on Brain beach the longest. Thus, if those two tribes stick together, they have to target someone that wouldn’t have the idol played on them. In this scenario, I would put my votes on Joseph. Aubry is a good player and someone might be willing to play their idol to keep her around. Joseph is expendable. It’s going to be a very exciting merge episode. See you Wednesday.