All Hail King Rafe! Long Live the King!

We should all be so proud of Rafe! Not only did he utterly kick a$$ in the IC last night, but he single-handedly changed the entire game in the span of about 30 seconds, leading to a complete shift in the balance of power. He once promised to change things up- and now he's delivered! He is awesome, a real testament to how character, intelligence and delivery can change a player from a likely pawn and target to a power player and master-strategist. Many may argue that his choice had little to do with strategy; after all, Jamie was annoying everyone. The brilliant part of the strategy was that he went only to Lydia and Stephenie.

I think Rafe may have been an undervalued player up to this point, but I doubt that he will be from now on! We already know he is a wilderness expert, but it appears that he is also thoroughly versed in...Animal behavior!! Will this good king's reign continue? Looks good for a few more weeks, as long as he keeps delivering his ideas in his very non-threatening manner. Even when he complains, he does it with a smile! Of course, he has attracted some attention now for being both mentally and physically right-on.

There will be major repercussions from him deciding to approach Steph and Lydia about axing Jamie. The most obvious is of course, the fact that Judd was left completely out of the decision! I was stunned! I thought, "Maybe the edit just didn't show Steph, Lydia & Rafe approaching Judd about it". But when I saw the look on Judd's face during the reading of the votes, I knew he had been left out of the loop. What a great moment!

This was also a bold move on the part of Stephenie. I had thought that she would hold to her "alliance" with Judd, since he's somewhat despicable (sorry Judd fans but he can be one disgusting guy) and therefore easy to beat in an F2 situation. Guess I was wrong! Now it looks like she would rather the F4 be her, Rafe, Danni & Gary, which seems VERY risky to me (for a Steph win). There was a fair amount of “who deserves it more” chatter this episode as well, so the rest of the TC’s might reflect that attitude more than in seasons past. I think that this whole turn of events spells doom for Judd unless he wins all remaining IC's, or if the focus returns to eliminating the powerful first.

I am wondering if the edit of last night's episode left out a discussion about Judd being a liar, because I am surprised that the subject was entirely left out! Shouldn't we think that all of them would hate Judd for lying about the mini-idol (except Steph, who knew)? And if there had been a discussion about Judd's Lie, including a confrontation with Judd, it may have come out that Steph knew it was a lie and said nothing, squarely putting a target on both Judd and Stephenie. Such an interesting twist- I really wonder why Gary didn't push the subject. It could have taken the target off of him for two weeks at least. Maybe it will still come out. As we saw from the promo for next week- Judd is just a tad PO'd! I can see him getting loud and obnoxious next week, start feeling like a target, and deciding to try to bring Steph down with him. Either that or he will just dummy-up and play nice. But why start now?

This was a truly great episode. I know that Cindy fans will be all over her positive edit! She had more camera time last night than every episode combined. That girl is a spitfire, and I thought she was headed for an IC win. I hope she continues to get more face-time, her opinions are usually right on. Unfortunately, her low-key approach is so very low that it almost doesn't exist!

Also given a good edit was who I like to call "InvisiLydia". When Rafe, Steph & her were contemplating Jamie's oust, Lydia said to them, "Is this what YOU want to do?" And Steph responded with, "Only if YOU want to". A look of realization passed across Lydia's face which clearly said to me that she now feels important for the first time. Not a pawn, not a target, but a player with important decisions to make and a team member with a significant place in her tribe. It was nice to see that. Not that I think it will ultimately get her farther than two more weeks. She did blow it nicely for her team at the RC.

I was also happy to see the Danni/Steph connection finally happen. Early in the series we were told of Danni's admiration for Steph, but they never connected due to old tribe lines. Now that they’re braiding each other’s hair, they have the potential to become the strongest and most powerful alliance this game has ever seen. A Danni/Steph F2 would be awesome!! Of course, they'll have to be rid of the strongest IC threats left, Rafe and Gary, another possible F2. Cindy has strength, but if she doesn't get her act together and start winning, she will not be able to save herself after Judd and Lydia go.

It’s so great when Survivor surprises. I have been to every single Survivor website known to man, and most to all of them have been touting a Judd/Steph F2. Can’t see it happening now that Judd will probably never trust Steph again, and I am so very glad! Seems the two aren’t as tight as everyone thought. Spoilers and speculation are fun, but it’s even more fun when they are proven wrong. It forces us all to sit back and just watch with an open mind, because nobody, NOBODY knows what will happen, I don’t care how many seasons you’ve watched or how many logic and editing calculations are made. Spoilers are merely coincidence and consensus.
And like Duke, if anyone does know, they’re not telling!

-A.L. Cronenberg is a freelance writer and avid Reality TV fan