Episode 3 – The Devil You Know
“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” is an idiom that refers to the philosophy that, given two options, it is better to go with the option you are familiar with rather than risk choosing an option you aren’t familiar with. In episode 3, we are shown multiple different instances in which a person or a group of people are forced to decide between trusting the devil they know or the devil they don’t.
This theme doesn’t really come into play until tribal council. In this episode, instead of having a traditional tribal council where the tribe that lost the immunity challenge goes to tribal council and votes someone out, the two losing tribes joined together to vote one person out. Prior to this tribal council, there was a tribe swap that resulted in lopsided tribes. The new Mana tribe was made up of 4 original Nuku players – Brad, Debbie, Sierra, and Tai – and 2 original Mana players – Caleb and Hali. The new Nuku tribe was made up of 5 original Mana players – Aubry, Jeff, Malcolm, Michaela and Sandra – as well as 1 original Nuku member – JT.
In episode 3, the Tavua tribe won immunity, causing both the Mana tribe and Nuku tribe to go to tribal council together to vote out one person. In a traditional round, the person at a numerical tribal advantage is often on the outs with their tribe and becomes the easy boot. In the Mana tribe, Hali was not in the majority alliance and was slated as the next to go. The episode showed us multiple times in which the majority Mana alliance made it clear that Hali was going home if they lost. Meanwhile, on Nuku, things were a little more unsettled. JT was the only original Nuku along with five original Mana. However, JT was seen as a valuable tribemate both in challenges and around camp so he was not as clear-cut of a next boot as Hali was on the Mana tribe. Instead, JT tried to encourage Malcolm to boot out Sandra, seeing her as the ring-leader of the tribe. Additionally, the Nuku tribe was in the lead in the immunity challenge until Jeff Varner choked and caused them to lose. In a traditional tribal council, doing terrible in a challenge is grounds for elimination. However, this was no ordinary tribal council.
In this tribal council, the Mana and Nuku tribes merged into one group for this tribal council. Instead of having to target one of their own as is traditionally the case, both tribes planned to stick together as a strong unit against the other tribe. The majority alliance on either tribe was planted firmly against the other: the Nuku – Aubry, Jeff, Malcolm, Michaela and Sandra – versus the Mana – Brad, Debbie, Sierra and Tai; a 5-4 voting majority for the Nuku alliance. In addition, both tribes had a player that had spent time on the same tribe as players from the opposing tribe before being swapped to their current tribe. The majority Nuku alliance had spent 12 days together and likewise the majority Mana alliance. Prior to being swapped, JT spent 6 days on the Nuku tribe with the now majority Mana alliance. Likewise, Hali spent 6 days on the Mana tribe with the now majority Nuku tribe. In this case, instead of “the devil you don’t know”, it was more of a “devil you used to know”.
When the tribes were at tribal council, Debbie made a statement that JT “used to be really, really, really close” to the now majority Mana alliance when they were on Nuku together. Sandra disputed this by pointing out that Debbie said “used to”. Throughout this tribal council, JT was distressed between staying strong with his new tribe or using his old tribe to help him make a big move against his new tribe, while also allowing his old tribe to keep all of their members. JT stated earlier in the episode that his closest ally in the game was Brad, who was in the Mana tribe. During tribal council, JT got up out of his seat at two different times to talk to Brad: once to tell Brad the vote was coming in on Sierra and once to tell Brad to vote for Sandra. JT had set up a move; if a Mana member had the idol, they would play it on Sierra and Sandra would go home, while he voted with his new tribe – trying to make a move while avoiding all blame. It didn’t work. The Mana tribe took JT’s advice and used the idol to protect Sierra but then voted out Malcolm, despite JT’s request. Although JT got up to talk to the opponent twice during tribal council, the Nuku tribe kept JT in the loop and the six of them maintained their plan to vote out Sierra. The Nuku tribe could have decided to change their plan and keep JT out of the loop and instead reel in Hali, who was previously on the Mana tribe with all of the members of the Nuku alliance, to maintain their 6-5 majority. During tribal council, Hali made it clear that she was open to voting with the Nuku tribe, requesting information and joining the Nuku huddle to tell them she would vote for Brad with them. Hali pitched that, at this stage of the game, a physical threat should go home. Despite this, the Nuku tribe still voted for Sierra.
The Nuku tribe chose the devil they knew over the devil they used to know and they chose incorrectly; JT burned the Nuku tribe. JT chose to trust the devil he used to know over staying solid with the devil he knows and he chose incorrectly; the Mana tribe burned JT.
Check out our previous Themes for Episodes 1.1, 1.2, & 2, all conveniently in one post! And, of course, leave your thoughts below.