“Every time you open your mouth, you risk saying something that can get you voted out.” –- Jeff Probst, Survivor: Blood vs. Water
Who says contractors can’t do fast work? This week on Survivor: Kaoh Rong, Utah contractor Jennifer Lanzetti needs just a couple of hours to build her own blindside. Last week, Jennifer seemed to be sitting pretty on Brawn. This episode, she wins the Fishy for the most effective self-eviction since Corinne sabotaged her own schemes in Caramoan.
Jennifer, Jason, and Scot seemed to be the heart of Brawn, with Alecia and Darnell outcasts, and Cydney as a solid fourth. That’s a pretty sweet position, since at a merge, agro Jason and human giant Scot would be the bigger targets. Meanwhile, Alecia was an obvious next boot.
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But it can be tough to sit still on Survivor. One of the hardest parts of the game is how demonically slow it can move, especially at the start. Imagine a roller coaster inching its way up its track for three weeks towards the wild dips and loops of the merge. You can go crazy with waiting and leap off the track to your doom.
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Maybe her earworm whispered some bad advice last week, because Jennifer decides it’s time to make a big move – well before it’s time to make a big move. She suggests to Cydney and Alecia that they form a girl power trio to take out Jason, who grosses her out. I loved the scene of Jennifer asking Alecia “what’s the best thing you can do in this game?” The only way this could have been a more perfect metaphor for the blind leading the blind is if Jennifer had literally walked over a cliff, instead of just figuratively.
Ironically, both of Alecia’s answers – being honest and winning challenges – are better than Jennifer’s “get out the power players now, while you still can.” Remember this is day 6. For context, I got heat for my Joe fixation on day 29.
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At this point, though, the worst you could say is Jennifer is playing too fast. To her credit, she pulls in new allies and makes a plan. But when Scot approaches her, Jennifer realizes that blindsiding Jason will also alienate him – not something she had apparently considered. Jennifer decides to reverse course.
You have to remember the timeline of all this. Survivor moves at its fastest in the few hours between a challenge loss and Tribal Council. For the past few days, the tribe has been snoring in the shelter, exchanging idle stories, maybe reciting a poem or two. Now Jennifer is making, breaking, and re-making plans all within an afternoon. Cydney’s head is spinning. As she says, “It’s really up in the air at this point, and that’s a very dangerous way to go to tribal.”
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Jennifer, however, is not content to just weaken her position with one ally. She needs to destroy her entire game. At Tribal Council, after everybody has agreed to vote Alecia, Jennifer takes a wrecking ball to her credibility by saying that the tribe’s plans were “definitely up in the air.” Scot picks up on her remark, and the rest is history, as Jennifer digs her own grave so quickly that James Clement would be proud. She backpedals furiously, tries and fails to “be completely honest” and blame Alecia, admits to Jason she targeted him – “absolutely!” – and then gets up on her stool and offers some prayer to the Survivor gods of trust. Her frantic attempts to save herself just confirm her demise.
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Timothy Kuratek / CBS
The rest of the Brawn tribe plays the whole scene perfectly. Jason sniffs out that something is amiss when he sees Jennifer and Alecia chatting together. Scot correctly reads that Jennifer’s verbal slip has a deeper meaning. Cydney realizes that a wishy-washy ally can be as dangerous as an enemy. And Alecia adds just enough fuel to the fire at Tribal Council to let Jennifer self-immolate.
If Brawn can take Alecia’s advice – if they can win a challenge and be a little honest with each other – the remaining players could all go far.
Survivor: Kaoh Rong airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.