Tuned In

The Morning After: Endgame

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Spoilers for last night’s Survivor: Samoa coming up after the jump:

Watching a season of Survivor that’s dominated by one strong player, or one strong alliance of players, is a little like watching a horror movie. You spend the entire thing wanting to shout at the screen. It’s obvious to you, seeing it all unfold before your eyes, that there is a killer in the group’s midst, picking them off one by one. It seems like it should be clear to anyone with eyes. And yet they don’t do anything about it. They don’t identify him and eliminate the threat. They keep walking into his traps, over and over. What is wrong with you people! you want to scream. The call is coming from inside the house!

As with a horror movie, I assume that, watching Survivor: Samoa, we are to some extent victims of editing and perception. We are allowed to see how blatantly Russell is playing everyone. But in real life, his machinations are not laid out in front of his fellow players in a conveniently packaged narrative. As they park their car on the deserted road to make out, they cannot see him hiding in the back seat with an axe the way that we can.

At least that’s how I suspect it must be unfolding. Granted, last night Russell’s fellow players had additional reason to vote out Shambo instead of trying to take him out, since he went into Tribal Council with an immunity idol. But why haven’t more people seen the need to try to make a move against him? Maybe because they haven’t seen his dangerousness as plainly as we have.

Maybe. On the other hand, they may be falling victim to thinking that has claimed Survivor contestants over and over again as they get closer to the final: thinking that if they go to the final with Russell, they’ll win the jury because they’re better liked. Which can work, I suppose, but Survivor history doesn’t bear this out: more often, the jury gives its vote to the person they see to have played the game better, and it’s hard to see anyone winning that argument against Russell. (Except possibly Brett, if he makes it to the final by winning one immunity challenge after another.)

This should be clear to anyone who’s watched Survivor, which you would hope, after nearly 10 years, should include anyone actually playing Survivor. But you tell me. Is there anyone now who can take this thing from the evil leprechaun?