This week, I’m focusing on five minutes of television. We’re gonna break this tribal council down like the fucking Zapruder film (look it up, Millennials).
John is a nerd on the internet who has never been on Survivor, but has been podcasting about Survivor since 2013. This season, in The People’s Survivor blog, he will blog about his experiences as a Survivor viewer. Follow John on Twitter @purplerockjohn.
“The Lannisters send their regards.” – Roose Bolton, possibly Jay’s father
This blog is generally used as a place to recognize failure on Survivor, because it frequently abounds. But this week, I’m going to do a deep dive on one of the most insane tribal councils the show has had in a while.
First, a quick reminder of some of the things that have happened to get us to this point in the season:
- Michaela did this:
- The women of color are voted out en masse, leaving Michaela as their sole representative
- The internet falls in love with Michaela
- At the start of this episode, Michaela celebrates the fall of one of her former tentative allies- Figgy of House Figtayls
We begin after the challenge loss, when the Ikabula tribe gathers to sit silently on a log. One of them will be going home tonight. But we all know it’s Bret, because he talked in this episode.
This vote is just a necessary step in Michaela’s long march toward victory. Like young Robb Stark, she got a few morale-boosting wins early (Queen in the North!) and she’s confident her success will continue. And why wouldn’t she be? Of course Bret is getting voted out. Michaela is the hero in this story.
Before we get to that completely obvious vote, we get a confessional saying that Bret will be going home. (It’s odd that Survivor is just going to give away the obvious boot like that rather than try to sow doubt with a red herring candidate, but whatever.)
Next, Michaela tells everyone tribal council is a good thing. (Hmm, that’s concerning. A lot of people who get voted out say stuff like that.)
That’s followed by Jay telling Will that maybe they should get rid of Michaela. (Ah, there’s our red herring! Now we just need a scene where Jay and Will go tell Sunday and Bret of this plan.)
There is no scene of Jay and Will telling Sunday and Bret of this plan. (Why was there no scene of Jay and Will telling Sunday and Bret of this plan?!)
Instead, the tribe walks in to tribal council. (No, *you’re* terrified of what’s about to happen.)
Probst starts tribal council by noting that the last two tribal councils featured the majority voting out one of their own. But Michaela reassures us that those tribes were made up of sketchy people, and this tribe is very trustworthy. So true! I don’t know I was worried. Let’s just skip ahead to the voting and ignore that ominous music.
After the vote, Bret and Sunday are all business. Will has a thousand-yard stare going. Jay takes a deep breath and steels himself for what’s about to come. Hannah has a bad feeling, and looks around nervously. (Actually, maybe she doesn’t have a bad feeling. Hannah is always like this.)
Probst reads the votes. Two votes for Bret. Nothing to see here.
But then, a vote for Michaela.
Then, a second vote for Michaela. Michaela is understandably disappointed that Sunday and Bret chose to target her. But then the third vote is read:
Strap yourselves in, because the next sixty seconds of tribal council are gonna be LIT.
First, Michaela reacts. Screaming “WHAAAAAT?!” and turning to look at Jay would be enough of a reaction on its own. But Michaela isn’t done there. Check out how she extends her body across several time zones to make sure Will gets a piece of these rage daggers her eyes are shooting.
Still, Michaela knows who the kingpin is in this scenario. So she leans into Jay: “Did you do that?”
“Yeah. I did it.”
Did it just get about 3,000 degrees colder in here?
Michaela locks eyes with Jay and begins an epic staredown.
Just a silent, piercing stare. Remember in the preseason videos, when Michaela said that her facial expressions would say as much as her mouth? Here’s what Michaela’s eyes are saying:
This goes on for what feels like an eternity. Probst even stops himself from reading the final vote, because magic is happening here- the little stoner boy isn’t backing down from Michaela. Let’s take stock of how everyone else is feeling in this moment:
Will has never been more uncomfortable in his life. What a wild ride Survivor has been for him: A few episodes ago, he saw boobs for the first time. Then they offered him milk in a reward challenge. Now he’s sitting on a stool at tribal council, wondering why warm liquid is pouring down his leg.
Bret has been in improv comedy classes, and he’s still never cringed this much. This is what the kids call “awkward af”.
Sunday is not shown, presumably because she’s already verses deep into a prayer begging forgiveness for what she has just done.
Hannah is basically just being Hannah. Except that this time, we can all relate to her freaking out. Because this shit is crazy.
Roughly seventeen minutes have passed, and Jay and Michaela are still staring at each other. Probst is so excited that he puts the urn with the votes in front of his crotch.
There is still technically one more vote to read.
At last, Probst reads the final vote for Michaela. It’s over. Michaela’s torch has been snuffed.
Michaela glares back at Jay again. Even the Stringer and Avon beef in The Wire ended with less tension than this.
And how does Jay react to Michaela’s glare, after he decided she wasn’t in his plans and sent her home?
And thus ends the most intense sixty seconds the show has had in a while. Adam, can you give us your imitation of the O face Survivor producers definitely made when they were watching this one in the editing bays?
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cambodia