This was far and away the best episode yet this season. So many things that I could write about. I’ve considered just publishing a collection of notes, sort of like Nietzschean epistles. I’ll save that for a future episode, though.
So last time, Wentworth, Lauren, and Wardog immediately tried to vote off Devens after his return from Extinction Island. Not surprisingly, Devens didn’t trust them anymore, letting Wardog know with a sharp and funny bit of smarminess. However, Devens’s old ally David did want to work with the other three for at least the next vote and tried to convince Devens to come along. Devens wouldn’t budge, which led David to vote with the other Lesu members over his ally. But David did more than that – Devens had entrusted him with half of an immunity idol in an earlier episode and David refused to give it back. Without that half, Devens’s immunity idol would remain unplayable.
I’ve previously brought up Plato’s example from Republic of a friend borrowing weapons, but only to illustrate how morality can depend on context. In this episode we actually saw Plato’s example play out literally. Devens had let a friend borrow a weapon (half an immunity idol). Now he was asking for it to be returned and his friend was saying no.
Devens saw this as a clear betrayal. Going against the terms of an agreement (at least significant terms) is generally considered one of the worst things that friends can do to each other. There are other aspects of friendship besides trusting someone to keep promises, but it’s a major one. If you can’t trust someone to keep promises, then the other aspects of a friendship usually have to be extraordinarily strong for the friendship to be maintained.
However, David told Devens that he only wanted to hold onto the weapon “for now”. This implied he was willing to give it back in the future, but not for this vote. Why would he be unwilling to give it back now? Because like the friend in Plato’s example, David said that he was currently the “sober one” in this alliance. David’s friend came for his weapon while being in what David considered an irrational state. David thought it would be unwise to let Devens have the weapon until Devens demonstrated that he was once again in a rational state of mind.
During a confessional interview, though, David admitted that he might be wrong. The weight of breaking a promise with a friend was troubling him, as it should. For anyone who values friendship and respects the rights of individuals, there is almost always some moral hesitance to break a promise, no matter how right it seems in a particular set of circumstances. Also, David should consider that he might simply be using the concept of himself as a rational “sober” player to feel better about a betrayal.
Personally, I think David should choose his alliance with Devens over the slight advantage of siding with Wentworth, Lauren, and Wardog for this vote. Truly good alliances are rare in Survivor and they should only be thrown away under dire circumstances. David is not a target for this vote, so the circumstances aren’t dire. Very soon, I think the other three Lesu members will go after David, and he won’t be able to rely on Devens anymore. This is an example of why a hunger for loyal friends has an evolutionary history. Devens is feeling very vulnerable after returning from game death on Extinction Island. Even though he’s not being targeted right now, he needs the reassurance of some loyalty from his closest ally. David told Devens that they will remember their breakup as a crucial conversation and I think David was right, but he’ll be the one regretting it, not Devens. (Though admittedly, in this episode, Devens is the one whose new alliance lost the tribal council vote.)
As a final note, Wentworth was doing some major rewriting of history. She said the Kama tribe “made” the Lesu tribe “go against each other”. Come again? She and Lauren were the ones who wanted to vote out Devens. Is she accusing the Kama tribe of witchcraft? That might explain why Lesu lost nearly every immunity challenge in spectacular fashion. In fact, this was the first episode where a Lesu member played a crucial role in deciding the winner – but that was only because Lauren passed out and the medics distracted all the Kamas who were actually contenders.