I don't have much to write this week, since the challenges were both rather simple and there isn't much plotting or strategy this early in the game--at least not that they choose to show us. To me, the games being played at home in camp this week were more interesting than the challenges, so let's recap. It's rare that the Survivors get to have a fun afternoon without worrying much about the necessities of life, but early in the game such things can happen. It's also been rare for us to see the Survivors using their luxury items, so it was a pleasure this week to see two primo luxury items get plenty of use. Brian's guitar entertained Chuay Gahn and one of their monkey neighbors, and Clay's golf club and ball gave himself, Brian and Ted a fine game while Helen and Jan had their misadventure at sea. Then, you might say it was a game of sorts for Tanya, Ghandia and everyone else to sneak around Helen and plan her anniversary celebration without her knowing about it. Like the game of strategizing it understandably made Helen paranoid, but turned out to be good for the tribe.
Sook Jai, by contrast, seemed to be playing a different, more serious game. Robb's position seems unclear now--he's still obsessed with the shelter, but now he's hanging with Jed and Stephanie, the rebels who think food and water are (gasp) just as, or even more, important. What's his story? Unfortunately, with so much happening at Chauy Gahn, we haven't seen nearly as much of Sook Jai yet, so we may never know. I am no longer exclusively siding with Jed, though; it's fine to try lots of different things when you're new on the island, but if your attempts to bring home food aren't meeting with results afte a few days, you'd better change your strategy. What seems likely is that this tribe is playing the division game prematurely, and although they continue to win, I think it won't last. Their divisions will start to hurt them real soon.
As for the challenges... the reward challenge was a decent one, being thematic and all (the word for those manual carriages is 'palanquin', by the way), but fairly dull. We've seen blindfolded races before, and in my opinion the others were more interesting. The one with the totem poles on the Marquesas, for instance, involved each seeker moving and being directed separately, which made for a much more interesting game than one where everyone moves in the same direction all the time. (Would have been even more interesting if the Marquesas tribes had been 6-6 at the time--ten people on the field at once!) Plus, Kathy and Gabriel were more interesting (and distinguishable) leaders than Tanya and Penny. The main attraction of this challenge was the lumps and bumps various individuals took... this puts it on par with a slow boxing match.
The immunity challenge measured basically just two related skills--swimming and diving. It was also dull for this reason and for the reason that there was no teamwork. The most interesting thing about it may have been the lotuses themselves. Each lotus had twelve pieces, and while the pieces looked mostly the same, the way they fit together was unique. It reminds me of the Snafooz puzzle cube (also available in plastic): a set of six nearly square puzzle pieces that are all ridged discinctly on the edges, but can be fit together in only one way into a perfect cube. It takes a little ingenuity to make pieces that work like that. But not too much, really.
We still haven't seen any confessionals from Ted. Probably will next week, though.
I find that I'm really liking Helen, despite her poor decision not to take the map with her. She slogs through tough spots, she keeps going despite being nigh exhausted, she "has the personality of an encyclopedia" but more besides: fans and Survivors who, like Ghandia, have a problem with how Helen keeps her emotions in check, are overlooking several very emotional moments Helen has had. She certainly has personality as well as skills, and it would have been a grave mistake to vote her out instead of Tanya.
So anyway, I haven't anything more to add except for naming...
This week's players:
Best Player: Jake. The poor guy endured being slammed into poles and managed to recover enough to bring home that reward. Later, he swam a lightning course out to his lotus piece. He really -is- in great shape for his age! Moreover, he's done his humble best at keeping his unruly tribe in check without being overbearing.
2nd Best Player: A tie between Ted and Brian. These two put forth solid efforts in both challenges while many players were fumbling, but more importantly, they showed their tribe they know how to have a good time in the wild. Making music together, beating Clay at his own game of golf, and becoming the apparent leaders of Chauy Gahn, Ted and Brian are both very well-positioned.
2nd Worst Player: Tanya. Maybe she couldn't control what her body did, but excuses only go so far in a game like this. First she let down her blindfolded tribe as a guide, and then she didn't participate at all in the immunity challenge. She gave up trying to eat and drink after a while, which may or may not have been wise, but it certainly sealed her fate. Chauy Gahn was right to vote her out instead of Helen.
Worst Player: Stephanie. Sure, she managed to redeem herself from sitting out the reward challenge by barely outracing Clay (with a head start) at the end of the immunity challenge. But she's the one to blame for being sick in the first place. Strategically and psychologically, it's hard to imagine why Stephanie not only separated herself from the group building the shelter, but also refused to get food with them, refused to eat their food, sat apart from the fire, refused to sleep in the shelter, and was stubborn enough to sleep in the rain. Her constitution failing her, Stephanie made herself not only an outsider, but a sick outsider. Where's that gleam Jake saw in your eye now, Steph?
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