By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Wednesday, May 11, 2016
"Survivor" is meant to be brutal on the body, the mind, the soul.
This 32nd season has been tougher on contestants than any before, especially on the body. Joe Del Campo, one of the oldest players in "Survivor' history at age 71, made it to the top five but found himself forced out of the game by yet another medical malady.
He was a basic strategic non-entity in this game. Until the reward challenge tonight, he was also a non-facctor in most competitions as well. He was in many ways that invisible player just sliding through, never a threat to anybody. He irritated Douglasville's Cydney Gillon once but that hardly passed for a problem. He basically stuck with fellow brain Aubry Bracco and didn't make waves. Occasionally, he was left out of the loop or got confused by what was going on.
In some ways, Joe would have been an ideal person to take to the finals.
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But alas, this was not to be. He miraculously won his first reward challenge tonight with impeccable aim at the end throwing bags into holes. He brought Aubry and Cydney along for the food reward. On paper, they were supposedly a tight top three though Aubry was considering dropping Cydney in favor of Tai in terms of who to drop next. Joe, in the meantime, sealed his fate by gorging on too much beef.
All that meat caused his prostrate to flare up and kept him from urinating. The pain was too much, even for this tough bird. The doctor didn't want to risk long-term damage to Joe's kidneys. The result: Joe became the third person to be medically evacuated from the game, the most in the show's history.
His departure hurt Aubry the most.
For the second time (after Neil's sudden departure a few weeks ago), she lost her closest ally.
The final four is Michele Fitzgerald, Aubry, Tai and Cydney.
Let's assess their positions in the game:
Michele: She has never been in a great power position but has managed to survive. She won a crucial immunity challenge two weeks ago. She hasn't offended too many people but also hasn't made any real big moves either. Tai last week wanted her out, thinking she was the most dangerous in the group. She's not. Odds of winning: 8-1
Tai: He has been all over the place this season: charming, evil, emotional, arrogant, colorful. He found the immunity idol and gained an advantage, which he squandered last week by trying to get rid of Michele. He buddied up to the bullies of the game, then turned against them at a crucial moment. He ultimately never used the immunity idol because of Joe's medical evacuation. He might actually be an intriguing person to take to the finals given how many people he betrayed. Currently, he has a tenuous alliance with Aubry. He tried to make ties with Michele this week after basically avoiding her even though they were both part of the beauty contingent. Their efforts to connect may be too little, too late. Cydney wants Tai out. I'm not sure if he knows it. Odds of winning: 4-1
Cydney: She has been a shrewd player to date. She kept her head low early on as her brawn crew fell apart around her. She stuck with the bullies until she couldn't take it anymore. She won an immunity challenge last week. She smartly buddied up with Michele and Aubry. She has a bit of a thin skin, which has worked against her at times. But she made power moves when she needed to that have helped ensure her survival. She is trying not to be portrayed as a threat but she is one. Aubry now sees her as one and may be inclined to knock her out if given a chance. Tai, too, would probably go after her. Michele has been loyal and would likely stick with her to the final two. Odds of winning: 3-1
Aubry: She has been the sharpest player in this game to date, making great strategic moves without getting her hands too bloody. She has found the right people to ally with at the right time, even when others (like Neil) disappeared. The way she cozied up to Tai this week was brilliant after she betrayed him last week. She is well liked. Even the bullies respected her game. In any final two scenario (and that's how it appears to be what's going to happen), she would almost certainly have the vote sto win the $1 million. The other three have to realize this and unless she wins immunity, they need to get rid of her pronto. Right now, she seems to have the loyalty of Cydney (though Cydney seems to favor Michele) and Tai (though Tai could certainly shift if need be.). Cydney and Aubry? They have been loyal to date but I can see them turning against each other. Odds of winning: 2-1.
NEXT WEEK: Season finale, 8 p.m., Wednesday, May 18, CBS