6:48pm PT by Daniel Fienberg
Cockiness Reigns as 'Survivor: Kaoh Rong' Pits 'The Jocks vs. The Pretty People'
[This article contains spoilers for the Wednesday, April 6 episode of Survivor: Kaoh Rong.]
If only there were a lesson that we could take from this week's Survivor, something that this hour taught us regarding how to correctly or incorrectly handle being in a position of power.
"Don't be Nick."
That's a pretty good lesson.
One week ago, Nick won individual immunity, seemed to be successfully navigating a position between leftover Brains, Brawns and Beauties and was probably close to the odds-on favorite to win, or at least to cruise along unabated until well into the 30s, day-wise.
Then, for some reason, Nick decided to do everything wrong. Maybe Nick didn't obliviously plunk his head on the chopping block quite as aggressively as Jenny did in the season's second episode, but he definitely gave the editors all of the ammunition they needed to construct as clear a narrative of cluelessness as one could imagine.
Beat-by-beat, this was a simple anatomy of a blindside, one pointless blunder after another.
It started with Nick pulling Julia aside after the women and Tai went off for a somewhat gender-segregated fishing trip. Nobody asked Nick to check in on Julia to see what had been discussed, strategy-wise. And certainly nobody asked Nick to check in with Julia within 10 feet of Cydney. But he took it on himself to stoke Cydney's paranoia, which we previously hadn't known existed, giving birth to Irritated Cydney.
Then at the immunity challenge, why did Nick have to bail out on the silly stand-on-a-bar-with-your-arms-behind-your-head task while grandstanding about the upcoming tribal, which would be his first this season? Why did he have to natter about his safety in the game while Cydney was standing behind him at internal war with herself trying to appear composed as she went head-to-head with Tai for an immunity that neither of them even needed?
Finally, what exactly did Nick gain from going to Aubry and telling her exactly the voting split planned by the Brains and Beauties? It didn't even serve a purpose in his blindsiding, honestly. Cydney was the presented as the mastermind of the anti-Nick faction and she wasn't even there for the conversation with Aubry and knowledge of the voting split made no difference once people had decided to target Nick. Really, that was just a bit of Nick cockiness that the editors showed us to fuel our eagerness to see him taken out.
And, as plotted, the blindside of Nick was totally a pleasure to behold. He brought it upon himself and he earned it. Do I still wish that Michele had played a bigger role in Nick's ouster after Nick's overconfidence at controlling his Beauty-mate in recent episodes? Yes. The editing was more invested in making us surprised and happy to see Nick go when probably I would have been more interested in seeing what led Julia and Michele to make the move they made now, when they seemed tentative. But if we'd known they were voting against Nick, there wouldn't have been any tribal council drama. Choices!
I hope Julia and Michele get to explain themselves more next episode and I hope Tai explains how he came to write Jason's name down, because that was as odd as Tai randomly outing the existence of the super-idol and reinforcing the Us vs. Them dynamic at tribal, a gaffe that may or may not have related to Julia and Michele's vote.
So that was pretty dumb, Nick.
And three cheers for Irritated Cydney.
Other thoughts on this week's episode:
Bottom Line, I. The editors are taking pleasure in swapping and swaying our sympathies almost on a weekly basis. Up last week, Nick's gone now. Cydney has been getting a nice edit so far, but this week was practically heroic. Jason, portrayed so negatively consistently this season, got to have a passionate monologue about his daughter with autism. People seemed moved by the story, but the editors were less convinced, especially since Jason's story was presented as the initial tipping point for Irritated Cydney's mini-revolt, the moment at which she realized or recognized that she couldn't remain beholden to her Brawn alliance and that she had to play for herself. Still, it was a generous edit for Jason this episode. She had little to do with saving herself, but Aubry got one great talking head quote after another this week, right up to her tribal council pronouncement that she was scurrying around looking for alliances like "Cochran's Dreamgirl." Heh.
Bottom Line, II. But the most heroic of all this week, once again, was Tai. Right up until he possibly blew his alliance's power position at tribal council. But that immunity challenge edit? That was crazy. Basically, once Tai started talking about how this immunity challenge was still easier than surviving war and refugee camps, you knew that he was going to outlast the previously composed Cydney because if Tai had lost the challenge after that comparison and after his prayer and all of Jeff Probst's admiration and praise, what would the point have been? The editors love Tai.
Bottom Line, III. Actually, as I think about it, everybody other than Nick was getting a generous edit this episode. Julia was the hero of the reward challenge, which then earned her the chance to listen to Scot Pollard's earnest story about how his NBA earnings still weren't enough to support his family. And even Debbie didn't say or do anything stupid this week.
Bottom Line, IV. So just days after ice cream magnate Neal goes home early, we get an ice cream reward? I'm trying to think if that's coincidental, ironic or just something silly. And how sad for Neal to get medically evacuated and then have to show up at tribal, now on the jury, with just that little bandage on Mount Saint Neal.
Bottom Line, V. The first half of the reward challenge was pretty good, with the two teams trying to figure out how to transport one player with a series of poles, but I'm not sure the second half, with everybody standing together on one tiny platform, was as difficult or different as the designers initially thought it would be. And yes, I get that the immunity challenge was arduous and required much mind-over-matter, but fatigue at that sort of immunity sets in really early. And it's set in already for me. Mix stuff up, guys!
That's that for this week ...