Episodes 13-14: All fall down
Published: March 14, 2021
Natalie White won Survivor: Samoa in a landslide jury victory, but the show's refusal to even attempt to explain why, and instead embrace Russell Hantz's 'this game is flawed' mantra, remains a dark mark on the season. But they did it, and it's done, and at least it's over.
Episodes 11-12: Slipping away
Published: March 2, 2021
As Survivor: Samoa speeds through the Pagonging of Galu in Episodes 11-12, it also locks in the fates of the Foa Foas not at Team Yellow's core: Jaison and Mick. They're aware of the problem, but there's also very little they can do. So as with Galu, nothing happens. But at least the recap episode wasn't terrible.
Episodes 9-10: Idols ascendant
Published: February 25, 2021
The crux of Survivor: Samoa, the point at which the balance of power flips from Galu to Foa Foa, comes in Episodes 9 and 10. First Russell Hantz plays his idol correctly, idoling out Kelly Sharbaugh, then Laura Morett fails to win immunity, freeing up Shambo to officially flip (and Fincher to follow her). Hantz finds two idols in this span, the first with extremely suspect provenance, but in the end, it's not the idols that are interesting, it's that people are finally willing to look past original tribe alliances.
Episodes 7-8: The bounce-back begins
Published: February 8, 2021
The fate of the Foa Foa tribe feels its grimmest at the end of Episode 7 of Survivor: Samoa, but the foursome somehow find a way to avoid receiving votes at the next episode's merge Tribal Council, despite none of them being immune. It's the start of a reversal of fortunes, and it happens despite all Russell's schemes falling flat, him misplaying an idol, and being out of the loop as the merge boot was set up.
Episodes 5-6: The storm
Published: February 4, 2021
There's a dark cloud hanging over Episodes 5-6 of Survivor: Samoa, one filled with foreboding for Galu. But also, mostly, rain. Almost all of which ends up on the contestants, crippling the first episode's post-IC scrambling, then taking away one contestant's shot at the game in the next episode. A look at what Survivor learned from this, and what could have been.
Episodes 3-4: Rise above, we're gonna rise above
Published: January 30, 2021
There are good and bad aspects to Survivor: Samoa's second pair of episodes: On the one hand, nearly all the time spent with Galu is delightful, which is good, because they're the focus of Episode 4. Unfortunately, while there's a great story in Episode 3, as Jaison demands that Ben be booted, the show chooses to smother that in unnecessary (and inaccurate) deification of Russell Hantz.
Episodes 1-2: Welcome to Hantzvision
Published: January 23, 2021
There's a lot going on in the first two episodes of Survivor: Samoa: picking tribal chiefs, a hero challenge, two immunities, an idol find. Unfortunately for the season, almost all of that action is shown from the perspective of one person: Russell Hantz. We do get occasional efforts to also show the Galu tribe (a.k.a. Shambo and a bunch of people who aren't Shambo), but it's mostly Hantz. So here's an effort to try to deduce/ reconstruct what we missed.
Jeff Pitman is the founder of the True Dork Times, and probably should find better things to write about than Survivor. So far he hasn't, though. He's also responsible for the Survivometer, calendar, boxscores, and contestant pages, so if you want to complain about those, do so in the comments, or on twitter: @truedorktimes