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Bubba, We Hardly Knew Ye

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 Travis Sampson is gone:

(Note: Am I the only one mildly amused that someone with the job of loss prevention couldn't prevent his own loss? Probably.)

He got the short end of a very short straw.
Thanks to Scout's unbalanced selection process, Sarge only had one choice when it came to picking which tribe he would take with him back to Lopevi. He had to take the one with more strength and, more importantly, more men.

This led to Travis and Rory being abandoned on a tribe where they were grossly outnumbered by women who had spent their first several days on the island plotting for this very moment. They simply didn't have a chance to change minds, especially in such a short time period.

He didn't adapt after the tribal mix-up.
It should have been obvious to Travis that it was either going to be him or Rory that would get the boot if they lost the immunity challenge. He should have shifted his entire focus to making sure that it was Rory who became the target, which shouldn't have been that hard.

Rory is a temperamental isolationist. It wouldn't have been that hard to manipulate or goad him into causing a scene in front of their new tribe. Disharmony is a prime reason to vote someone out, especially if there are no pre-existing alliances in play.

Instead of playing smart, Travis made the idiotic move of trying to communicate with a former tribe mate at the challenge. This was highly unnecessary and clumsily handled.

Discussions of taking out the girls and then reuniting at the merge should have been done before the mix-up because they had plenty of time. Also, it was doubtful that any tribe would be willing to lose several challenges in a row just so partners at another tribe could survive. Plus, this is a Lea team we are talking about. They weren't about to throw any game of consequence.

Several players this season have either been booted or suffered setbacks because they are too focused on long term planning. If "Survivor" traditions hold, the players are still two or three challenges away from the merge. That's a long time. Travis should shut up and let Rory get booted.

Tribe Analysis --- Lopevi:

Lea/Sarge:
Age: 40

Scout handed Lea the perfect tribe for this phase of the game. Lopevi traded a malcontent and an unfocused family man for a hard-working older woman and an attractive, athletic youngster. It is the stronger tribe by a wide margin and should be able to win any physical challenges in the immediate future, which would lead to a majority come merge time.

Lea himself is doing well. He acted appropriately modest when his tribe elected him their official leader. His attention should now be focused on bringing John K. into his slightly altered alliance.

John K.:
Age: 22

Brady should be kicking himself for being outwitted by John last week. Instead of mounting another feeble attempt at taking out Rory, John threw Brady under the bus and survived. Now he gets to reap the rewards of buying himself more time.

John finds himself with options for the first time since the game began. He can align with the other three men or take the riskier path of aligning with Twila and Julie to force a tie. His previous interaction with the women gives him a nice little advantage, but John should not get cute and overplay his hand.

The youngest player remaining in the game needs to not blow this opportunity. Aligning with Lea, Chad and Chris might feel dirty because of the way they treated him, but it's the smart play.

Chad:
Age: 35

Chad still is not receiving a lot of screen time, but he performed well in both challenges and finds himself on the male-dominated tribe.

Chris:
Age: 33

Ditto.

Twila:
Age: 41

Luckily for her, she fits in a lot better with this group than Julie does because of her age, maturity and work ethic. Heck, she even has a fellow highway construction worker (Chris) on her tribe.

That should allow her to survive the next tribal council, but the situation doesn't scream long-term security. There is no reason for her to not get aggressive by working with Julie to convert John. If it doesn't work, Julie still goes regardless. If it does, it's a potential game changing moment.

Julie:
Age: 23

Julie has been in a precarious situation all game long because of disloyal alliance members and bad luck. This latest twist might be the last straw.

She has little in common with any of her new tribe mates besides John, who probably won't risk a sure deal because a pretty girl asks him to. Her only chance at survival is an unbelievable challenge-winning streak (very unlikely) or Twila getting on people's nerves (possible, but not probable.)

Tribe Analysis --- Yasur:

Scout:
Age: 59

I don't think Scout is playing the game so hard that she really thought out her selections for different tribes. Whatever her intentions, she did a good job of picking a team that Lea had to pick, which left her with a team that benefited her enormously even if it is physically weaker.

Eliza:
Age: 21

Eliza has to be careful. She again appeared prepared to recklessly shift alliances in order to keep Travis' physical strength around. The problem for Eliza is that the most unpopular girl on her tribe right now is Eliza and there was no obvious alternate target to Travis.

She has to keep her mouth shut for a while and enjoy the fact that Twila is left for dead on the other side of the island.

Ami
Age : 31

Ami is another player guilty of focusing too much on the future. Her selfishness regarding not wanting to show the guys how to utilize the coconuts was self-defeating.

As I've noted before, we are likely two or three challenges away from a merge. Wouldn't it be a good idea to have everyone well feed and energetic when it's challenge time? Plus, it's not like Travis and Rory wouldn't notice all of the discarded coconuts.

Leann:
Age: 35

It was a quiet week for Leann who is part of the dominating alliance in her tribe.

Lisa:
Age: 44

Lisa really had more control of her destiny that any other player this week. She got to choose between Lopevi and Yasur.

And she made the right choice. If she had moved to Lopevi, she would have been stuck in alliance that would lose four to three at the next tribal council. Instead, her choice guaranteed that she would outlast Travis and Rory at the very least.

We did see Lisa spar with Ami regarding the coconut fiasco. Although I agree with Lisa that withholding that information was stupid, she probably would have been better off remaining silent and maintaining team harmony.

Rory:
Age: 35

Rory has done a very nice job of not letting negative energy affect him in this game regardless of the circumstances. Instead of panicking and begging for survival, he made peace with his situation and tried to be as affable as possible.

However, all of the affability in the world won't save him next week if Yasur loses. His only hope is to survive until the merge, which is a long shot at best considering how many consecutive challenges Yasur would have to win.

Predictions for next week: No matter how effective his pleading is next week, Rory is done if Yasur loses. I see no scenario where the women make the mistake of taking a man into the merge that could easily backstab them. However, I don't think it will come to that next week.

The official "Survivor" Web site said in its preview of next week's episode that one castaway is heavily conflicted heading into Tribal Council. No one on Yasur would feel conflicted about voting Rory out. However, there is a good probability that someone at Lopevi like John K. could flirt with idea of teaming with the women to force a tie. Still, Julie looks to be the next to go because Twila is simply a better fit for Lopevi.

My current ultimate Survivor pick: Scout is still the person to beat. She now controls a tribe that she handpicked. Her tribe selecting her as its leader further reinforced her popularity and credibility. As long as they only lose one more member (Rory) before the merge, she should be in good shape. Lea and Chris are also in good positions.

BY GREG FELTES