Janet’s performance in the merge episode of Island of the Idols resonates beyond Survivor gameplay, standing up for her castaways despite the lack of support.
It’s an understatement to say that the latest Island of the Idols episode wasn’t a typical merge episode. There was certainly a ton of strategizing and interesting conversations, but for one of the few times in Survivor history, we saw gameplay cross the line. As the only one who definitively stood up against this ploy in a courageous way, Janet Carbin is our clear episode 8 MVP.
Looking at the situation on paper, Janet didn’t have the greatest episode. She went from being at the top of the strong Vokai alliance to being one of two outsiders remaining in the game. However, you have to look beyond the numbers to see Janet’s contribution to this season.
First of all, Janet has shattered the perception of older Survivor players not being able to keep up with this evolving game. Instead of commanding a domineering or bossy presence over her castaways, Janet has shown strong leadership in a caring and moderate way from Day 1. You could tell how much the women respected her viewpoint and advice, always wanting to talk with her when an issue came up.
One thing to remember about this double episode is that it wasn’t Janet who instituted the plan to vote out Dan. It was Jamal who came to Janet and told her that they have the numbers to take Dan out. Janet has displayed the ability to adapt in this game, wisely willing to change her vote in order to support her alliance. So when she heard about this new gameplan, she went in full momma mode, wanting to make this move to protect the women still in the game.
It’s true that this move failed and she was completely blindsided by the result, but the great thing about Janet is that she knows when to let something go and when to pursue it. There was no way she was going to let this issue with Dan get brushed away. Her bold confrontation with Dan, as well as with Elizabeth and Missy took guts, but she wasn’t afraid to approach them to get the truth.
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Those uncomfortable conversations allowed Janet to understand that Missy and Elizabeth used the issues Kellee had with Dan as a means of gameplay. Unlike anyone else still in the game, Janet was clearly repulsed by this move and felt that unwanted touching and harassment should have nothing to do with Survivor. Her stand for what is right put her on the outs, but it was worth it.
Instead of giving up or distancing herself from the game, Janet was determined to find a way to stay alive. While Aaron and Missy went searching for an idol, Janet decided to do the same. Her remarkable endurance throughout that morning to keep looking lead to great results. In one of the few highlights from the merge episode, Janet found a Hidden Immunity Idol!
Now we ultimately know that Janet played her idol when she didn’t have to, but she still negated two votes, and it’s much better to play an idol than to go home with one (or two) still in your pocket! Unfortunately, she did lose Jamal, who was one of the few people who supported Janet and Kellee. That said, Janet is still alive and we can’t forget about her close bond with Tommy, which might come in handy.
Janet might not have made the best strategic or social moves for her game since the merge, but it’s clear that she won’t be comprising her moral values to get farther in this game. She stood up for a fellow castaway and a cause that is bigger than this game despite the repercussions. That in itself is heroic and is deserving of all the praise she has already received from viewers and players alike.