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BY ROB CESTERNINO
After getting off to a rocky start in this game, it's really been an amazing turnaround for the women. Since Monica went home in episode 5, there have now been four consecutive men who have left the game. I'll talk about exactly what is going with the men in the 5 Things That Stood Out from this week's Survivor:
5. Bye, Bye, Byars - It's rare on Survivor to see a player end up being THIS far off the scent of what is really going on in the game. It seemed like last week Jay Byars was on the verge of figuring out what Kim and the women were up to, but after having a particularly reassuring conversation (at least for Jay), he seemed convinced he was safe with the women. Though Troyzan started to put the pieces together, Jay was in such denial he went to Kim to tell her about Troyzan's hidden immunity idol and truly sealed his fate. Cue Facepalm!
Strategically, Jay was a dead man walking once him and Troyzan agreed to send Michael and Jonas home. By sticking with the Salani women after the merge, Troy and Jay cut off any options that they might have had and put all their eggs in Kim's basket. The fact that Jay won last week's immunity challenge after Troyzan won the week only made the women more determined to get them out of the game. Not realizing that his previous victory made him a threat, he gave up a chance for immunity this week for some chicken wings and a beer. As Jay now knows, there's never a snack that tastes as good as the immunity necklace feels.
4. Kim Powers - For the second consecutive episode, we get a front row seat for the inner workings of Kim's strategy in the game. While she may have oversold the plan a tad to Troyzan arousing his suspicion, her manipulation works to perfection on Jay. She is so persuasive with Jay that she actually causes him to develop a case of Stockholm syndrome when he reports back the information about Troyzan having an idol.
As a Survivor veteran, there's something I always look for when I watch the Survivors lying to each other. I try to see which players make eye contact when they are lying in the game. Kim is the only player on this season that looks people in the face while she is lying to them. In the scene when Jay wants assurances that the plan is to vote out Alicia, all of the other women look down at the ground while Kim is the only one to look directly at Jay. Later on with Troyzan, Kim looks him right in the face and smiles as she repeatedly tells him he is safe. While Kim may have oversold the case to Troyzan, you see what a cold-blooded assassin she truly is in this game and why she is my pick to win it all at this point.
3. Troy Meets World - For Troyzan, he put the pieces together of what really is happening on "Survivor: One World" just a week too late. Last week, HE was the one to be manipulated by Kim when she told him about Michael's alleged plot to get him out of the game. While Troyzan was much more clued in about what was going on than Jay, he ultimately ended up wasting the hidden immunity idol since he would not have been voted out of the tribe.
Going forward, the prospects are not looking good at all for Troy. All of the women want him out of the game and he just gave up the hidden immunity idol. He also has nowhere to turn since the alliance of women looks airtight and with Leif and Tarzan still in the game, it doesn't seem likely the women will begin to turn on each other. For Troyzan to survive in the game, he will likely need to go on a bit of an immunity run. While he may not need to win them all, a week or two of being safe might be just long enough for the women's alliance to fracture and give him a chance to get off of the hot seat and back into this game.
2. Chelsea Lately - I for one was happy to see the turnaround for Chelsea in this week's episode. Chelsea began this week's show conflicted about the impending betrayal of Troyzan and Jay. Chelsea actually told Kim that she would prefer not to know about the plans so she would not have to lie to the men. Since knowledge is power on Survivor, a request like that is basically suicide, especially with a savvy player like Kim.
By the end of the episode, Kim had finally put on the big girl panties (to borrow a term from Sabrina). The morality of lying should not be a factor for anybody this far into the game of Survivor. Each person that accepted an invitation into the game of Survivor knew what they were getting in to. Chelsea's realization that she loves money more than her friendship with Jay was the smartest thing I've heard her say this season. Winning an immunity challenge works in her favor too. If Chelsea can sit next to Kim at the end, she play off of the jury's potential animosity and say that she won challenges and it was all Kim's idea to vote everybody off. Even if Chelsea was more involved than she leads on, nobody says the manipulation has to end before the final tribal council.
1. The Game is Afoot - Here's an interesting tidbit: Can you tell me the only man left in the show who voted with the majority alliance this week? It happened to be none other than TARZAN! I for one am a bit bum-puzzled about what is going on here. Is Tarzan working with the women at this point? He did say at tribal council that the women were smarter than the men in the game but we've never seen him have a strategic conversation with any of the women. As an unabashed Tarzan fan, this is great to see. For Kim, she needs to realize that her best chance of winning the jury vote has to be by sitting with Tarzan at end and I'm hoping that just maybe she has started to see the appeal of Tarzan, too.
Do you think Troyzan still has a shot in this game? Is Tarzan really working with the women? Let me know what you think about everything I've said on twitter, I'm @RobCesternino