This analysis of "Survivor: Vanuatu"'s latest episode is by columnist Greg Feltes of CBS station WBBM in Chicago, who offers weekly commentary on the popular reality TV show.
Why Rory Freeman is gone:
- The other members of his alliance made a gigantic miscalculation last week. The original members of Lopevi were really thinking with the wrong piece of anatomy when they allowed Julie to supplant John in their core alliance.
If they had done the right thing and kept John around, it would have been five guys and five gals. At worst, this situation would lead to a tie. More importantly, this would have given them more leverage with Twila, who would be without a trusted ally. It was ludicrous for the men to assume that Julie had any type of loyalty to them. Ironically, it is the guys who are playing this game with sentimentality and emotion. (Lex made the same mistake during "Survivor: All Stars" when he took Rob's word to save Amber.)
When the Lopevi men saw that Yasur had voted out Lisa, they automatically assumed Yasur wasn't heading into the merge focusing on an all-female alliance. What they failed to grasp is that this wasn't an example of the end of sisterhood. Instead, it was a sign of an incredible amount of ruthlessness and motivation to win on Ami's part. Not realizing this, they voted out John, who was lazy and untrustworthy, but wasn't likely to switch sides, if only because it wouldn't do him any good.
- He finished second in the immunity challenge.
Placing second only served to identify Rory as a physical threat who needed to be taken out as soon as possible. A poor performance might have made Chris look like a bigger threat and timelier target.
- He refused to play nice.
In the end, Rory couldn't hide his disgust for the women, especially when he was the only man left on Yasur. It should have been evident to him that a merge was coming and his fate wasn't sealed. There was no reason to be belligerent and angry, especially when Ami was only playing the game to win. If he had been more accepting and more sociable, the women might have been impressed by his attitude and kept him around longer than Chris, Chad and Sarge.
Sarge, age 40 - I guess there's a reason they call Lea "Sarge" and not general. His alliance is now worthless and it's all his fault. Lea must feel like the biggest old fool there ever was after he was taken in by the charms of Julie and Twila. The decision to boot John last week will continue to prove costly unless there is a major shift in tribe dynamics.
If you watch "Survivor: Inside" on the official Web site, Twila revealed, while voting, that Sarge would have been the target if he hadn't won immunity.
Lea is strong and smart, but there is no way he can win seven consecutive immunity challenges. He is in deep trouble. At the surface, he has little recourse right now. His plan for the immediate future should be to outlast Chad and Chris and hope for a fissure to develop between the women. It wouldn't hurt to make one run at Julie and Twila to try and guilt them. Lea's only real hope is Eliza or Ami saying or doing something extremely stupid.
Chad, age 35 - Chad's instincts about Julie last week were proven correct, but that knowledge doesn't mean anything now. He is in the same boat as Chris and Lea who were easily taken in by Julie. His amiable persona might buy him time, but no one wants to face him in the final two.
Chad had a stunned look on his face as he saw Rory walk away, and for good reason. However, he cannot let that sense of shock set in permanently. From this point on, he has to examine every one of his actions and words carefully to make sure they don't lead to his demise. The women are in control now and he needs to accept that as soon as possible. Chad's best bet is to remain focused and look for mistakes to capitalize on. Both of those tasks are difficult if you are out of the game mentally.
Chris, age 33 -Chris is also now stuck in a failed alliance. His position is a demoralizing one, but he has experience with this type of blow to his self-concept. In episode one, he was responsible for his tribe losing the immunity challenge, but he didn't dwell on it too long and survived because of his resolve and interpersonal skills.
Chris' attempts at making several one-on-one pacts were humorous, but it's always a good idea to have a backup plan. Unfortunately for him, it looks like Chris' backup plan needs a backup plan.
Julie, age 23 - This kid can play. It is important to remember that all of this week's events were set up by Julie's brilliant ploy last episode, when Julie tricked Twila into revealing that she had been asked by the men to join their final four. Julie then told Twila that she received the same offer, which was a very good lie. This conversation served to effectively separate Twila from the men. The payoff came this week when Julie brought Twila back into the now-dominant six-member female alliance without much argument.
Was Julie better off with the guys? No. In the worst-case scenario, she moved from fifth in the guys' alliance to fifth in the girls' alliance. Plus, there is a chance to go deeper into the game. With the guys, she would never have cracked Twila/Chad/Chris/Lea. With the girls, she is close to Ami and Eliza, so there is a lot of room to maneuver.
There is a downside to her scheming. Everyone left in the game right now will be on the jury if they don't finish in the top two. If Julie were to make that final two, she would have a lot of problems getting the five necessary votes to win. This is because it's highly unlikely that Chris, Chad and Lea will vote for her to win after her blatant betrayal.
Twila, age 41 - Twila must have a remarkable poker face because I was just as surprised as the guys when she rejoined Yasur. Absence must make the heart grow fonder because the level of affection between Scout and Twila was unexpected and had to be unnerving for the guys.
Twila actually would have been better off siding with Lopevi because she will probably be the first woman to go after they pick off all the men due to her awkward nature.
Scout, age 59 - It was a quiet week for Scout who is apparently letting Ami do all the heavy lifting strategy wise for the time being. If this is intentional, it is a smart move because it keeps the blood off of her hands and allows her to remain above the fray.
Eliza, age 21 - Shockingly, it was a quiet week for Eliza as well. She just needs to stay off people's nerves and contribute around camp, so she doesn't trigger a controversy that will hurt her alliance.
Ami, age 31 -Ami is playing this game as hard as anyone ever has. However, she might be making it too personal. There was no need to tell Rory that he was going to go before Travis and there was no need to keep food secrets away from the guys. These little blips on the arrogance radar screen are troubling for her chances.
It appears that Ami is running the show now and that's got to feel good. However, she should take note of what happened to Rob Cesternino and Jon Dalton. Both were masterminds who led their alliances deep into the game - only to be taken out because of the huge targets they placed on themselves by being leaders and controlling the game so effectively.
Solution? She needs to spread accountability for alliance decisions around. When Chad is booted in the immediate future, Ami shouldn't be the sole party blamed for the decision. It would be wise for her to start talking Scout up as the actual leader of the alliance.
Leann, age 35 - Her enthusiasm and energy are infectious. Cheerleader isn't the most glamorous role in this game, but keeping morale up is a worthy goal and helps to maintain unity.
Predictions for next week: Lea doesn't win immunity and is sent packing.
My current ultimate Survivor pick: Logically, the winner will most likely be a woman.
I think Julie's most deserving of victory at this point, but rarely does the best player actually earn the title of sole survivor. Scout appears to still be the favorite because of her inherent likeability and non-threatening nature.
BY GREG FELTES