This time last week, I did something a little bit risky in my cast assessment and made the prediction that our poor exiled beauty Julia would find a way to get in tight enough with her new Gondol tribe that she'd make it to fight another week and avoid the fate that had fallen upon her alliance member Anna the week before. I also predicted that Peter was the least likely to win of the remaining Gondol tribe members. Basically, last week was a pretty solid week for me predictions wise and I'm patting myself on the back about it. So there. Let's get into it!
Peter hits the beach after tribal ready to make some big moves. He’s finally ready to turn on the brains, recognizing that he’s (rightfully) still at the bottom of the brains alliance. He speaks with everyone individually to share that he’s gunning for Joe. On the surface, this is such a smart plan in everyone’s best interests (except for Aubry and Joe, of course); however, Peter goes about it in such a dumb way. He starts bonding with Julia in the water, in plain view of Joe and Aubry.
Speaking of which, Joe and Aubry show they’re playing this game without any kind of flexibility. They realize they might need to take Peter out before Peter takes out them…but they’ve gotten so comfortable with the idea that Brains tribe is ruling the Gondol beach that they haven’t taken the time to bond with anyone else. They decide they might need to take out Peter, but how are they planning to do that when they don’t have a relationship with anyone else on the tribe? They’ve made the dangerous mistake of isolating themselves as a twosome who thinks they’re running the game on a six person tribe, ironically the same issues that were Liz and Peter’s downfall.
On the other end of the spectrum, Julia kills it. She bonds with everyone immediately. Peter latches onto her because while he saw Anna as conniving, he doesn’t see Julia as at all threatening. When Joe confronts Peter and ultimately scares him back into not making his big move, it’s Julia who approaches Aubry and shares that Peter’s gunning for her, playing on Aubry’s insecurities because she recognizes that if she can’t get a majority to vote for Peter, it’s Julia going home now that Peter has chickened out on his flip and will be voting with Joe against her. Julia/Tai/Scot are an unlikely but incredibly strong, adaptable alliance. It seems likely that they’ll be able to join back up with the remaining brawn members and a few others post-merge and run the camp.
Michele is 100% at the very bottom on Chan Loh. She couldn’t help carry the pole in the immunity challenge last week, forcing Cydney to basically carry it alone. In the reward challenge this episode, she really cost her tribe a lot of time upfront when she couldn’t untie the knots underwater. Finally, her morale is very low after discovering that Anna got voted out, who was her closest alliance. She goes straight to Debbie, who tells Michele that she’d be interested in trying to get out Jason, giving Michele the same little speech she’d given Cydney about wanting a girl to win this; however, it doesn’t feel as genuine this time around. It seems pretty clear that Michele is firmly on the bottom and Debbie’s the only one interesting in making her feel included, which is so smart.
Nick, on the other hand, seems to be bonding with his tribe pretty well. Last episode, we saw him have conversations with Jason which seemed to suggest Jason was interested in taking him in. This episode, we see him bonding with Debbie, and displaying more awareness and social intelligence than he has all season. He sees that Debbie needs to talk about herself and allows her to do just that, slipping in small complements to build on the crush he can tell Debbie has on him. He also almost wins his tribe the reward challenge, despite having to make up lost time AND being up against a professional MBA player in a challenge which ultimately comes down to shooting baskets. Ironically however, the very thing that puts him in a good position pre-merge could be what puts a big target on his back when the two tribes join together next week. He does seem pretty interested in sticking with Brawn, which could make it easy for Cydney/Nick/Jason to team up post-merge with Scot/Julia/Tai, which is all they would need for a 6/5 majority in the vote. If they add Michele into the mix, they’ve got a solid 7.
In general, the edit on Chan Loh this week was quite strange. We only saw confessionals and conversations between Nick and Michele, Nik and Debbie, and Michele and Debbie. Neil, Jason, and Cydney were pretty much non-existent this week. It’s making me wonder if the dynamics among this trio will be a centerpiece of the forming of new alliances next week come merge. It also could have simply been an edit treatment ala the beauty tribe the first few episodes, where the higher-functioning tribe that stays out of tribal isn't granted much air time because there's so much more happening back at the Gondol beach. I guess only time will tell.