Battle of the sexes? That’s so last week. This week on “Survivor,” it’s all about gods and peasants.
The original conceit of “One World” — two same-sex tribes, one beach — was cast aside this week in favor of a new twist: The men and women have swapped tribes, resulting in two mixed-gender teams. On one side is Salani, composed of the game’s smartest, sexiest players.
On the other side of the aisle is Manono, consisting of … well, everyone else. Season villain Colton Cumbie continues to dominate the orange-wearing Manono even (and especially) through adversity, going so far as to convince his defeated tribe to oust their strongest member, Monica, because she was his “biggest threat.” In short, Colton and his men remain on top with villainess Alicia in tow, making what’s already a cluster-cluck season of “Survivor” all the more confounding.
But the episode was not without its strategic upsides. On Salani, a new alliance bridging the gender gap seems to have emerged between Troyzan, Jay, Sabrina, Chelsea and Kim. It’s that last name in particular who stands out as the most valuable player of the week, even if Manono wins the award for most entertaining player of the week.
MTV: We’ve been talking for a while about a split happening this season, Rob. It was inevitable. But I didn’t expect the “One World”
twist to end so soon. Were you surprised?
Rob Cesternino: Yeah, I was not expecting that on a season called “Survivor: One World,” that we would have a whole new world.
That seemed a bit out of left field. But I think it’s definitely going to be more interesting than if anyone was still on the same beach.
What’s the point in dividing a tribe if people get to stick together?
At first, I didn’t think it made a lot of sense. But in a switch, you want to see people get screwed by it. If everyone could still go back and talk to the people on their original alliances, it would not screw people over as bad. That’s the whole fun of shaking things up.
MTV: I thought it was interesting, that when the camera zoomed out of the One World beach and you see where the new Manono is, it didn’t seem like it was an insurmountable distance between the two. If they really wanted to put in the effort, maybe Manono could hoof it back to the Salani tribe.
Cesternino: I guess so, but I bet that would be very frowned upon by production.
MTV: Fair enough! [Laughs] Let’s look at the split — we’re looking at the Greek Gods versus the Peasants now, right?
Cesternino: Or the Village People, I thought! [Laughs] It was not exactly a fair tribal split, was it? It’s almost like you couldn’t make these two teams more unfair. All of the genetically superior people are on one team, and all of the also-rans are on the other team.
This seems like it’s going to get lopsided very quickly. Plus, you have Colton, the most destructive force to ever meet “Survivor,” who is going to drive his tribe into the ground.
MTV: It’s not even that Salani is just physically dominant, though. It seems like they have the players who are best equipped for conventional “Survivor” strategy.
Cesternino: Right. They’re not just physically superior, they have all the players who know what they’re doing in the game, like Chelsea and Kim and Sabrina and Troyzan and Jay. All of the levelheaded strategists are on this team, making an alliance. I won’t be surprised if the Colton tribe not only runs themselves into the ground, but then just totally gets picked off at the merge.
MTV: Looking at the most valuable players on these two teams, Kim’s pretty hard to beat, making a new alliance, finding an immunity idol, sharing the information only with Chelsea …
Cesternino: It’s hard to come away from tonight’s episode and not think that Kim isn’t the front-runner to win. She just has everything you’re looking for in a winner. She has Chelsea, she has an alliance, she has the idol, she’s talking about how easy this is, and not even in a cocky way. After tonight, if Kim isn’t in the final three, I’ll be very surprised.
MTV: She’s looking pretty good.
Cesternino: Both aesthetically and strategically!
MTV: Well, let’s look at who isn’t doing well, namely, Manono. That’s a schlubby group of Survivors if I’ve ever seen one.
Cesternino: They are a disaster. But they’re lovable!
They’re lovable losers. Except for Colton. They’re a ragtag bunch of lovable losers with this delusional leader at the head of the team. I mean, poor Monica. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why no one would want to be in an alliance with her. She was one of the most capable women on the show, and when Manono’s biggest difficulty going forward is winning challenges, they go and get rid of the one person who could help them win? I think not only was Colton in a hurry to get to tribal council last week, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be going every single week until he’s voted off the show.
MTV: But if there’s one great thing that came out of the split, purely on an entertainment level, it’s that the two worst people in this game are officially allies. Colton and Alicia are in tandem now.
What do you think of this terrible twosome?
Cesternino: I think Alicia might be in the worst position in the entire game. She’s riding shotgun with Colton as his car is going off the cliff. There’s no way for [her to do well]. What is the scenario where she thinks her old tribe will take her back? They’re going to get to the merge, and they’re going to get back together? It’s not going to happen. Or somehow, is Colton going to stick with her and keep her until the end? That’s not going to happen either. For Alicia, I don’t think this ends well in any way, shape or form.
MTV: On a similar note, again on an entertainment level, I’m pretty certain that you and I both walked away with a newfound appreciation for Tarzan.
Cesternino: I am loving everything about Tarzan. I love that it’s day 14 and he doesn’t know the names of the people on his tribe. I love that he’s able to make up new words. I love his shirt. I love everything about Tarzan. But the one thing that irks me:
He’s not on Twitter, at least to my knowledge! I need Tarzan on Twitter going forward.
MTV: I think that with this column, we can officially start the campaign to readers out there: Get Tarzan on Twitter. We can co-sign that, right, Rob?
Cesternino: Look, if we can get Betty White on “Saturday Night Live,” I think we can get Tarzan on Twitter. [Laughs]
MTV: Wrapping up as usual, who looks best leaving this week’s episode? I think that’s got to be Kim, right?
Cesternino: Yeah, Kim. Really, everybody on Salani. I would sign on right now that the final five is Kim, Chelsea, Jay, Troyzan and Sabrina.
MTV: You think that alliance will stick? You think men versus women, that’s totally done?
Cesternino: I do. I think that’s done. I think that’s the new alliance going forward. I almost wish the show would mess with these guys and switch the tribes again, because I almost think it’s so unfair that these five people have found each other. I think they’re just going to cakewalk to the end.
MTV: Well, if this season has been anything, it’s been unpredictable. I would not put a second switch past the powers that be.
Cesternino: I think another switch would be genius on the part of producers. It’s never been done before, a double switch. The teams are so lopsided. Unless we just want to see Colton run this tribe into the ground and ultimately come in sixth, I think a second switch would be amazing to see.
Get more of Rob’s thoughts on “Survivor” at his website.
What did you think of the latest “Survivor”? Tell us in the comments section or hit me up on Twitter @roundhoward!