Thursday, May 9, 2013

Survivor Caramoan Episode 13: "Likability is a Liability"

Episode 13 was the turning point in the game because the next step is going to be the grand finale. And what better way to segue into the Final 5 than with a cruel blindside, right? I can't say we've had more tears in one episode for years, even beating Lisa's breakdown last season and her family visit! This episode is also much talked about in the social media sphere with fans and castaways alike having mixed emotions about what just happened.

Voting out Brenda was, as Cochran dubbed it, a "smart move" because the easy one wasn't, in reference to the Eddie vote. This episode had an uncharacteristically huge airtime for Brenda, which hinted that something was up as she had basically zero (or limited) airtime and confessionals for majority of the season. But the remainder of her alliance (mainly the trio that voted her off) stand firm in their decision to blindside Brenda as being a strong strategic move because of Brenda's actions that might have earned her goodwill, not just among the players left in the game but also with the jurors. But before we delve deeper into that, let's go back to the start of this episode...

The family visit is always an exciting time in the game. It's Day 35. Aside from the starvation and the harsh elements, there is probably one other thing that is beating the player's down - missing their loved ones. Seeing familiar faces of fathers, mothers, husbands, and brothers is enough to bring your spirit back up. It did the same for Erik! He admitted to being at the end of his rope but seeing his brother's video gave him the rejuvenation he needed.

This season also set another historic moment with Jeff tearing up for the first time in 26 seasons! The father-daughter connection must've rigged into his heart, especially knowing that Jeff just recently had a daughter. He must've been really touched as I also felt the same witnessing Brenda talk to his father. Then, the rest of the loved ones came out and you can't deny, and I am speaking as a fan of the show for years, that this is one of the most anticipated moments too! Suddenly, you get to see these cunning people as humans, not as players that are cold-blooded and heartless. Seeing those emotions in Cochran's eyes were touching. My favorite moment was when Cochran and his mom came in last at the challenge and Jeff attempted to make a comment, but Cochran cut him off saying, "Don't say anything about my mom!". Ha!

Brenda ended up winning the reward with his dad and invited Dawn to enjoy the reward at a floating backyard BBQ party. However, the rapid swift of emotions in Survivor is no longer alien. Just as they were rejoicing at the opportunity to spend some time with their loved ones and get some food, a sickening twist came right before Brenda's face as there is another set of loved ones waiting to spend time with the castaways. But here's the cruel twist: she can choose to go to the reward and see her second loved one, along with Dawn's, or give it up so the remaining four can enjoy theirs. Brenda ended up giving her reward which ended in the other four castaways giving Brenda kisses and hugs, while Dawn was bewildered.

Brenda put on a brave face about it, even though her stomach wasn't agreeing with her, as she claimed. But Dawn was more upset about it. She was crying, slamming bamboos against the shelter, and crying some more... She didn't even show a slight hint of gratitude for Brenda to have picked her for the reward, even though they didn't get to enjoy it. Just to know that she picked you was something to be grateful for. And I felt like Brenda should've been more upset because she won it, not you, crybaby.

If that's not enough favor, Brenda felt the need to appease Dawn during the immunity challenge. The goal is to hold on to a rope behind your back as a pulley will lower you down at an angle to the water. The men go down first and it was pointed out more than once during the challenge that Eddie had to win or he'll be going home. When it was only Brenda and Dawn left, they attempted to strike a deal. But Brenda refused because she wanted to "challenge herself", cited Dawn. No deal was made but Brenda ended up jumping in before Dawn. That was a good ploy by Brenda in terms of trying to win back Dawn's favor. She wanted to give the immunity to Dawn but did not let her know that she intended to jump in because she wanted her to be happy and feel good about herself. Again, instead of feeling grateful for it, she returned to camp and started plotting her move to blindside Brenda.

"Likability is a liability."

Cochran cited how Brenda is the most liked person in the island right now after she allowed them to spend time with their loved ones. This puts Cochran into full gear as he discusses with Dawn and Sherri the possibility of getting rid of Brenda when she least expects it. At this point, if you were Brenda, probably the decision to jump off wasn't smart at all. It is just one of a series of decisions she made in this episode that are adding up to the reasons to vote her off. As she earlier claimed, winning in Survivor is always a double-edged sword but having personal immunity is something that you'd be too dumb to give up. It ended up being a million dollar challenge for her!

Cochran's strategic maneuvering is also to be commended here. Early in the episode, as Dawn and Brenda discuss the next possible threat to be voted off, she cited Cochran. I surely expected more of it to factor into the episode but it seemed to have been lost in the daze and confusion of the loved ones visit. It requires masterful manipulation for Cochran to divert any attention off of him while everything of that is dumped into Brenda, at least in this particular episode. I also give props to Cochran for how he presented the Brenda vote to them as an option rather than a desperate move behind his personal vendetta to get rid of an end-game threat.

Tribal council was rather short this episode. Eddie seemed to bid his farewell, citing that this could be his final rodeo. But when the votes were revealed and Brenda got the majority, she left them with a message that put all of the remaining castaways, even the jury, speechless. As Jeff snuffed her torch, she went back a last time and tell them how much she was hurting for the blindside.

The human relationships and the bonds they formed complicate the game and what makes Survivor interesting all these years. Seeing Brenda break down like that is a testament to how real the emotions are involved here. I've been reading a lot of tweets from fans and former castaways about this episode and I've never heard fans been so vocal in the past. If anything, I think that Dawn lost a lot of favor from the jury, just as she did with the fans.

What did you think of the blindside? Was it the right move to get rid of Brenda?


  1. To answer your question, it would depend on whose viewpoint we're going to look at it from. From Sherri and Cochran's POV, it was a HUGE move, and it definitely needed to be done to improve their chances at getting to final 3, and eventually winning. From Dawn's POV though, I think it probably ruined her chances at winning. I think Dawn probably underestimated the extent of Brenda's disappointment at having been betrayed by Dawn.
    I've always said that Dawn's best bet at winning would have been to orchestrate Cochran's ouster. If the jury would be voting between Cochran and Dawn, it would a very hard sell, strategy wise. If Dawn eliminated Cochran and sold a story about being "the new Dawn who did whatever needed to be done to win", there's no doubt in my mind that the jury would have given her the million, no matter who she brought to the finals.
    As it stands though, she now has to defend against her huge backstab, and at the same time only manage to look like Cochran's peon. I really don't see here winning now.

  2. Of course it was the right move for Dawn to vote out Brenda. There was/is no situation that Dawn could win. She might not know that. Maybe if she gets rid of Cochran, she can say she did more than Sherri/Erik. But she wont beat Eddie. The thing here is, Brenda was playing the game perfectly. She stuck with the Favorites the whole way thru, she never pissed anyone off, and she gave the people who she thought would be in the jury, the chance to share time with her family. Thus gaining her more votes. It’d be hard to imagine Brenda not winning. So yeah, Dawn made the move she HAD to do, to even have a chance. And yeah, she backstabbed Brenda, after Brenda got the retainer out, thus keeping Dawn in the game. But I mean. When it comes down to it, Survivor is a game, and When you think you are safe, you get voted out. Everyone should know that by now. She can be honest and humble all she wants, but that doesn’t win survivor. I agree that no one will see that as a good thing for dawn. But cmon now, how good were her chances to win anyway.

    Im still rooting for Cochran. I know that if eddie makes it to the finals he will win. Unless the people respect cochran’s game play. But Cochran has played a damn good game. He’s weak enough to not be a challenge threat (even tho he won 2 early), and he’s smart enough to use his worods to keep his alliance in check. I think every tribal council for a while now, Cochran has said something that has been epic as far as convincing people to do things. It might not appear that way, but Cochran, lays out a lot of strategy at tribal. And maybe that’s where he does his leading. Either way, assuming he doesn’t get med-evac’d. He has my vote. Which is really funny, because I wanted him to get voted out day 1 for the flip he made last time he was on.


Thanks for your comment. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say! :)