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 John Kenney is gone:
Honestly, it's a mystery. The pick-on-the-physically-disabled/admit-laziness strategy has never failed on "Survivor" before.
No, really, John is gone because when targeted, he didn't pick an attractive alternative target for the others.John read the tea leaves wrong to an almost absurd degree on this one. It should have been obvious that this was going to come to down to a decision between him and Julie.
Instead, he idiotically made a completely out-of-nowhere move on the very popular Chad. Whatever chance he had at that point instantly evaporated. The look on Sarge's face when the Chad vote was revealed proved that John's idea was never even considered.
He was guilty of playing a long-term game. With 10 players left and without a merge, no one, especially John, should be playing for anything other than short-term success. This long-term thinking led to the decision to target Chad, whom no one wants to face in the final two. However, you have to actually make the final two first and John lost sight of that.
He was lazy. John never really accepted the fates of Brook and other John and acted as if that mentality had won out, when, of course, it hadn't. John's lack-of-work ethic allowed the women to outclass and outhustle the mechanical bull operator into the Lopevi final five.
His tribe lost the reward challenge. Normally, a reward challenge loss doesn't necessarily translate into an immunity challenge loss, but Lopevi missed a golden opportunity to bury Yasur. Instead, Yasur gained energy and strength from coffee and letters. It looks as if Scout and Yasur figured out the loophole, which allowed Scout to dump out her water and let someone stronger jump in.
Tribe Analysis - Lopevi:
Sarge, age 40 - None of his much-bandied-about leadership skills came into play in this episode, and these events could prove to be the downfall of Lopevi. If Sarge is the brains of this operation, he is then responsible for the choice of John as castoff. This was an awful decision that was based on paranoia and a tendency to overmanage a situation. Julie was the correct choice. With a merge pending, keeping John would have given the men a clear majority. John might be athletic, but he isn't perfect and would not have been able to win every challenge. He could have easily been taken down after a few Yasur members had been eliminated. Sarge should have realized Lisa was much more of a threat than John was. If Sarge is betrayed by Twila, the game is sunk.
Chad, age 35 - Ironically, Chad was arguing to keep the very person who was targeting him. He was also the only voice of sanity. No matter the personal conflicts, he advocated keeping the men together for the time being. Julie, as evidenced by her own maneuvering in this episode, is not to be trusted. However, this episode did foreshadow Chad's inevitable downfall. Unless a true friend like Chris or Sarge pulls a Colby, it is apparent that no one wants to face him in the final two.
Chris, age 33 - Chris has now made the unfortunate assumption that Yasur isn't focusing on an all-female alliance. This is based on the fact that they voted out Lisa last time. The lack of brotherhood displayed by Lopevi is discouraging because Yasur looks to be united. In fact, Lopevi might be better off if it loses the next challenge because it could boot Julie and keep Rory in the game for a potential reunion.
Julie, age 23 -Who knew? The youngest remaining player in the game made one of the smartest moves of this season when she tricked Twila into revealing that she had been asked to join the final four and into believing that Julie has been asked as well. (She hadn't.) This served to make Twila more reliant on Julie and less trustful of the men. Of course, it will all be for naught if Lopevi loses next week. In the end, it is possible that a John/Julie/Twila alliance could have forced a tie and a momentum shift.
Twila, age 41 -It is obvious that Julie's ploy got into the head of Twila and that's bad news for the gruff one. Sarge is the one potential ally who could take her to the final two and now Twila will view him with a great deal of suspicion. If this suspicion causes Twila to reteam with the women, it will kill her chances for winning because they would only be tolerating her and using her for their own purposes. She would not crack the final four.
Tribe Analysis - Yasur:
Scout, age 59 -It was a relatively quiet week for Scout, but she will be tested next week. As tribe leader, it is her duty to keep her alliance together and try and woo back Julie and Twila if a merge occurs. Scout is in a good position if there is a merge. She will stay for a long time, regardless of which team wins a majority. This is because she poses no possible physical threat and is a relatively passive personality.
Eliza, age 21 -I get the feeling that Eliza doesn't like many of her tribe mates, but it appears she is locked in strategy-wise for the rest of the game. A move to a guys' alliance doesn't look like it would improve her chances at all, so she has been forced to depend on her fellow females.
Ami, age 31 - After deviating from the logical boot order and dealing with a potential enemy in Lisa, Ami quickly bought back into the concept of girl power and didn't even let Rory make his pitch. While unity is a good thing, she probably could have probably been nicer about it because she might be the one making the pitch to Rory later in the game.
Leann, age 35 - Quiet week for Leann who did well in both challenges. It appears she and Ami have a very close bond. If that's the case, they need to hide it from Scout and Eliza, so they don't alienate them.
Rory, age 35 -After a lot of effort and manipulation, Rory was able to create a whole new persona and situation for himself last week. Well, it only took one rejection from Ami to get him started talking about scorching the earth. Luckily, his wife's letter calmed him down. But Rory still needs to learn to control his anger and swallow his pride in order to stay long-term.
Predictions for next week:
It's difficult to predict anything without knowing if the merge is indeed upon us. A merge really throws everything back up for grabs. Will Twila and Julie remain loyal to Lopevi? Will Rory be welcomed back with open arms? It's very tough to predict anything in this. However, if there is no merge, Rory or Julie are obviously the next ones to go on their respective tribes.
My current ultimate Survivor pick:
I think the men set themselves up to fail by booting John, especially if the merge occurs next episode. Of the Yasur women, Ami is too aggressive, Leann is too passive and Eliza is too untrustworthy. That leaves Scout, who alternates between flaky and resourceful, but remains likable and non-threatening.
BY GREG FELTES