I’m a little miffed that the Aubry Bracco boot was squeezed into a double feature of Survivor. I needed time to properly mourn, but instead we moved right into the second hour of Wednesday night. I guess the show just wanted us to get to the merge and the big Edge of Extinction reveal, or maybe it hoped we wouldn’t be as mad about Aubry’s ouster if we didn’t have time to stew over it. These two hours as a whole weren’t actually bad, but with two of the bigger personalities booted and expecting the bland challenge beast Chris to re-enter next week, I’m a little nervous about where the season goes from here. But before we get too dark, let’s focus on what hopefully isn’t the last glimpse of light in this season.
We didn’t see get to Reem point and laugh at Rick upon his arrival this week – that’s just freakin’ lame! However, in the first hour, Reem thankfully still found a reason to get on someone’s ass.
Chris “found” a box on the beach, and inside it contained a map for everyone which Rick soon revealed to be a clue to two different points of interest on the island. While the group solved the “stars align” riddle, they evidently did not put together that the prize waiting may only have been for one person. They decided to take a short rice break, but Keith couldn’t wait and “snuck” off to go follow the map by himself.
Reem, Chris, and Rick quickly determined that Keith had selfishly abandoned them, so they even more quickly put their shoes on to chase after him. This is an individual game, so while I don’t think Keith was an “a-____” he was kind of a dumba$$ for so blatantly bolting out of camp by himself. With ease, Chris caught up to Keith and tackled him to grab what seemed to be an advantage in the form of “practice” for some unknown event in the future. A good Survivor fan would have recognized Chris’s find as pieces of the “jailbreak” challenge which was coincidentally used in the not-so-different Outcast challenge in Pearl Islands.
As Chris kept Keith at bay, Rick went to the other key location on the map and discovered an extra vote to give to one of the players still active in the main game – essentially a gift from beyond the grave. I’m not the biggest fan of giving power to these people, but I suppose I have to accept that the Edge of Extinction is itself an “active” part of the game this season, so they have just as much of a right as anyone. I’m more okay with them giving help to players that haven’t been voted out rather than finding an advantage they themselves could use upon re-entry into the game. Going back in is reward enough – they don’t need extra votes or idols along with that.
REWARD – DAMMIT WARDOG!
This challenge was like the immunity challenge last season that was more or less a formality for two tribes to finish while the other one just waited to die (I still think Natalie could have won that one for Jabeni but whatever). It truly was a matter of determining which tribe would get the bigger plate of PB&Js between Kama and Manu — not a lot to watch. No matter how many times Lesu yelled at The Wardog, they weren’t going to be carried to any victory on those shoulders.
As David said, though, after the challenge was over and Lesu was left to lament on their mat, it’s important to stay positive in this kind of unwinnable situation. I hand it to people who can always “look on the bright side” like that because personally, when I’ve had just a fucking day, I always look more like this:
Her tribe may always be losing, but these looks have Wentworth winning my heart.
LOVE, SUNSHINE, SPRINKLES, AND RAINBOWS
As per usual, the story at camp Kama was peace, love, and Joe. I don’t know what narrative the editors are trying to tell with this tribe, to be honest. I guess so long as there’s footage of someone talking about Joe, they’ll throw it into the episode even if it totally contradicts what we heard the week before. Last episode, Ron had Julia searching Joe’s bag for idols which even had me wondering if Kama would throw just to boot Joe, but this week Ron was dancing to a different tune, singing Joe’s praises and about how Kama couldn’t survive without him. Sooo ... which is it? Do you want him in or do you want him out?
We now know that none of this even mattered at all before the merge, which begs the question of why Kama’s only story this whole time has been when they should vote out Joe? All we really have learned about the others is that Ron likes to dance, Joe almost got Aurora to turn straight for the stay, Julie suffers from urinary incontinence, and Julia can, in fact, talk. I don’t want to individually call them boring as people because this problem is strictly editing, but I found irony in Joe calling the tribe “rainbows” when we’ve hardly seen anything colorful from them at all.
HEATING THINGS UP
True story: that chicken actually found its way to Kama, but it too nearly died of boredom there, so it returned to life on the run at Manu. The chicken would rather be dead at Manu than alive at Kama — what’s that the tell us?
Things actually were getting a little hot at Manu, but it wasn’t the chickens that were about to get burned. As was is in their Kama blood, Victoria, Gavin, and Eric debated over what to do about their own returnee, Aubry. Now wanting to take the weaker Wendy to the merge, Victoria came up with the idea to manipulate Aubry into believing that the Witches Coven was coming back and was coming for the Eric and Gavin. Watching Aubry put so much faith in Victoria was sad but also scary. I too was mesmerized by just how good Victoria is at being bad. Could there be a new Supreme on the rise?
Wentworth better watch her back.
Like the dodo bird, Lesu was assumed dead by this point. As David went to find an idol to extend his life just a few more days, Kelley and The Wardog left Lauren to lie/die on the beach so they could discuss their next inevitable tribal council. They both were more loyal to Lauren than to David, but The Wardog obviously didn’t feel comfortable going down to a three-person tribe with two tight gal pals, so The Wardog tried convincing Kelley that losing Lauren was best for both of them.
The Wardog’s argument made sense for The Wardog, but Kelley surely had far less to fear from Lauren than from David. A tribe of David, Kelley, and The Wardog would put The Wardog in the driver’s seat where Kelley would be in command if it came down to herself, The Wardog, and Lauren. I love the pairing of The Wardog and The Wentworth, but The Wardog going all “evil mastermind” has me worried the two will eventually split and force me to take sides later in the game. That will not be a fun episode for The Ryan.
IMMUNITY – COMEBACK KIDS
The immunity challenge was reminiscent of the reward where Lesu looked to be out soon after it started. At this point, they were just running on fumes as the Lesu lethargy really showed in their “diving” ability:
Or Kelley’s “dying” ability.
Once again, I was waiting for Manu and Kama to officially put Lesu out of its misery, but the puzzle was proving difficult, so much so that it miraculously allowed Lesu to make up time in what Probst prematurely labeled one of the biggest blowouts in Survivor. Probst too soon at throwing out superlatives? Talk about a #SurvivorBlindside!
Correcting himself, he called this challenge one of the greatest comebacks in Survivor when Lesu lugged its way to the final platform with the other two tribes. Soon after, Kama completed their puzzle — extending Joe’s multi-season streak of avoiding pre-merge tribal councils — and while Kama tried to help its allies on Manu, the Survivor gods finally smiled on Lesu and let them avoid the vote for once, making them happier beyond belief.
Who exactly determined dodos couldn’t fly? Can we get a science check on that?
OPTIONS FOR AUBRY
“It just seemed so easy” — famous last words *sobs*
This was wild. I didn’t notice on my first watch, but this entire pre-tribal segment was narrated by Aubry — not a word from anyone else confirming or denying what she was saying. I guess in retrospect it was made obvious that Aubry was the odd woman out, but she sure thought she had options, and I sadly did too.
I never totally believed the Eric vote would happen, and when Wendy couldn’t answer Aubry about it, I figured that meant the rooster stan would be roasted. I don’t know how someone can be in a 4-1 minority and not say yes to literally any kind of offer, so the only explanation I can think of is that Aubry approached Wendy well after Victoria did, so rather than lying to Aubry, Wendy just chose to say nothing. That should have been another red flag for Aubry on top of, like, her entire 13 days in the game. (sorry girl)
Aubry had an idol, and Rick had given her the extra vote to use, so knowing Aubry is no idiot, I thought she’d be able to come to the conclusion that she was being duped. Everyone I was watching with was freaking out that Aubry was about to be blindsided with not one, but two advantages, and I just calmly said “Guys, she’s fine. These newbies aren’t going to get her that good.”
Famous last words.
^Me the whole time, feeling 100% confident that Aubry was going to survive this vote.
Aubry talked about finding the black cat to her witch, but the bigger hocus pocus was coming from the red-headed devil sitting to her left. Victoria, Eric, and Gavin all did great jobs keeping straight faces ahead of what would be the biggest blindside of the season thus far, and the even more amazing thing is those three had no idea just what they were up against, with what was in Aubry’s bag. Any slip-up, and Aubry could have singlehandedly cast one of them out of the game.
When I saw the first two votes come back for Aubry and Wendy, I was still under the spell of thinking that the tribe simply stayed Kama strong, so when the next came back as another for Aubry, it was an audible “holy shit” moment for me. I was so pissed but so impressed all at the same time.
Lauren Rimmer was right to never trust a redhead.
Of course the returnee I thought had the best chance of going deep was the first to be duped by the n00bs. I guess it’s better than her going almost all the way and leaving in the middle of another Advantage-geddon like Cirie, but this one still cut me to my core. Like Cirie, I think Aubry too has reached that status of having such an impressive resume that no one will ever want to work with her again in Survivor. Even in a “Legends” season I still think she’d be a potential first boot simply out of fear. Aubry’s one of the greats and an early departure here doesn’t tarnish that. Maybe not the title of Sole Survivor, but I’ll go ahead and give Aubry the title of classiest competitor to ever play this game, always tipping her hat to those that bested her. She’s better than most — certainly me who, if was ever blindsided, would absolutely walk out of tribal council looking like this:
Whatever. I’d rather keep it sassy than classy.
EDGE OF ERUPTION
Reflecting on her new home at the Edge of Extinction, Aubry felt she hit rock bottom, hoping the night before was all a dream, but putting a positive spin on her present situation, she knew that the only way to go from rock bottom was back up. It would be a hell of a climb, though, especially with the island about to become the edge of an explosion.
The gang got more maps, and these led them to another box, but this time with a disadvantage to be handed out by the person who first touched the box. Reem spotted the ocean-buried treasure, but she was standing next to Keith who proceeded to grab it once Reem alerted him of its presence, leading to this meltdown:
“You’ve lit off a volcano, bro!”
Chris accused Reem of giving away the (dis)advantage, and Reem…well, Reem did not care for that comment. She erupted on Chris and ranted that she was fed up from listening to his bullshit for twelve days. Poor Aubry was a bystander to this dysfunctional a.f. family, worrying that people were legitimately losing it and that the worst part about the trainwreck was not knowing how long it would last.
I’m starting to grasp the concept of leaving the Edge of Extinction by choice.
REWARD – SLUGGER
Lesu’s last win proved to be a fluke as they were back to their old ways with this reward challenge. Jeff may have called it another Survivor blowout, but this one I may suggest labeling a Survivor shitshow, especially for The Wardog.
Every dog has its day, but today was not The Wardog’s. Lesu left the challenge empty-handed, as is standard, and Wentworth walked out like she was about to cut a bitch, as is also standard.
If The Wardog was an actual animal, Lesu may have made that one-way trip to the vet after this one.
Winning. Ugh. It’s so hard to win every challenge and watch your friends on the other tribe get voted out — absolutely rough, I tell you. For the first time ever, I was in real tears for Joe here. His #SoBlessed life must really hard for him.
That should’ve been the sound of your BS detector going off. Are we really supposed to cry with the guy who hasn’t had to play the hard part of the game yet? Okay, fine, he feels alone and misses home, but — NEWS FLASH — so does everyone. Yeah, it sucks for Joe that he can’t help but be “Joey Amazing” but that’s the reality of the game. Good try on his part coming up with the idea to make the rest of Kama think they’re just as big of threats as he is, but ain’t nobody buying that.
And did Joe really try to use “I’ll win all the immunities” as a selling point on Julia? Uhh, hey Joe, if you win all the immunities, that just makes Julia and everyone else on Kama all the more vulnerable. “You’ll never be able to vote me out the rest of the game” isn’t exactly the case you want to make to your tribe if you want to see the merge. Next idea!
I feel like saying much more about Lesu and its constant losing is just beating a dead Wardog. Lauren’s face there says it all — they were all just #SoDone with this life. What else is left? The Wardog whined about conserving calories for challenges, yet it seemed like The Wardog was doing the most running around these days, always crunching those numbers.
My friend Melanie had the best commentary on that: “Like 4 is such a hard number to crunch.” For real. How many different scenarios are there to go through with just 3 other people on the beach with you? Calm the fuck down, Wardog. I mean, I love you dude, but you have zero chill —
– and you weren’t kidding about those crazy eyes.
IMMUNITY – KAMA CAN’T LOSE
I’d like to believe that Kelley wasn’t referring to “Joey Amazing” there but instead Jeff’s constant commentary focused on him.
This challenge was much of the same broken record with The Wardog still being unable to throw and Joe carrying Kama to victory, but this time that didn’t mean 2nd place safety for Manu. Survivor brought back the fan favorite double tribal council, except the less fan favorite version where two tribes go together and vote out one person, because having two tribal councils in one hour-long episode would just be too much. Actually, in this season, it would.
With Manu and Lesu even in numbers, the most obvious result of the vote would be a 4-4 tie leading to rocks, so the question became whether the tribes would stand their ground, making David draw rocks for the second time in his Survivor career, or if someone would flip because why the hell would you draw rocks on Day 16?
READY TO ROCK?
Yep, that was the question. Manu and Lesu both convened at their separate camps (the dumbest decision made about this tribal twist, not letting the tribes talk beforehand) where they decided it was “all for one and one for all” except ... not. Victoria was the first on Manu to make any logical sense, realizing that it was far too early in the game to draw rocks and that losing an ally was better than losing herself to a random draw. I honestly don’t know if Gavin or Eric would have later flipped if not for her, so I hope they thanked her for making them not be dumbasses.
At Lesu, it was the same conversation with The Wardog pushing The Wardog’s agenda to vote for Wendy, the one that the three Kamas would most likely flip on. The Wardog may have irked the tribe by barking more orders ... but Kelley, David, and Lauren were correct to go along with these ones. The Wardog is usually right about these things, though. However, if push came to shove, like Wendy, even The Wardog wasn’t one worth going to rocks over.
Was that Kelley’s reaction to Lauren admitting she wouldn’t draw rocks for The Wardog or was it to The Wardog standing five feet from a hidden immunity idol and not noticing?
Woof. This at least was a nice example of not all idols being totally rigged for certain individuals to find. The casuals may cry “of course a returning player finds the idol,” but it’s clear as day that this idol could’ve been claimed by anyone with a keen eye. When The Wardog walked away, Kelley dove at what she saw over The Wardog’s shoulder, scoring her third career hidden immunity idol along with her own “bing” moment and what I think was her first smile of the season.
“Wentworth Does Not Count! Here We Go Again” starring Meryl Streep as Kelley Wentworth with a special appearance by Cher as Reem Daly, coming this Spring to CBS.
GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL
This gunfight was more like a cockfight (not literally – calm down, Sia) because, in an odd tie-in to the theme of the last few weeks, it turned into a game of chicken between Manu and Lesu, both trying to get someone from the other to flip by using a Manu/Lesu-Strong scare tactic. Wendy and David appropriately sat in the middle of the set and became key components in discussion, finally at one point having a private convo of their own — a moment of David doing what he does best to keep tribal councils “live.”
What Lesu did to Wendy was deliciously savage — trying to get her to flip on Manu while knowing that Lesu was sending its four votes her way, aiming for a 4-3-1 split to avoid a tie. Wendy was smart enough not to fall for it, but Lesu played this one even smarter by targeting the person for whom they knew the old Kamas wouldn’t go to rocks. Also, that was one hell of a ballsy move on Lauren and Kelley’s parts not to play their idols, feeling confident that Kama would cave and agree to whack Wendy.
As much as Manu made it look like they wouldn’t break, they made the right decision to do so. I’d be willing to go to rocks in Survivor if my situation was absolutely dire, but with 13 people left in the game, this situation was not that. Especially with the merge on the horizon, where so much can change, it would have been simply stupid to stand their ground for Wendy to have only a chance of one of Kelley, David, or The Wardog leaving instead. Ultimately agreeing to vote with Lesu in the re-vote may also build some early bridges as they head into the next phase of the game.
Wendy made a lot of waves in the game, but I’m satisfied with her story ending here. I love me some chaos in my Survivor, but Wendy’s was a little much for me. As I’ve said before, she was more frustrating than fun at times, and like most other fans, I was tired of her and the fucking chickens *wags my finger in Wendy’s face*. Her whole exit was just so her too. Being voted out of Survivor is a grand experience, but not one you should be smiling about, especially your first time. In my opinion, if you’re not irate, you weren’t in it to win it. But again, I mentioned how I would walk out after a torch snuffing, so ....
I could see Wendy going one of two ways at the Edge of Extinction if she doesn’t make it back into the game. The elements and the people likely won’t phase her at all and she’ll stick around as long as she can, or I could see her considering leaving out of boredom alone. There are more chickens out in the world for Wendy to free, but not before she takes a bite out of a nice, meaty cheeseburger, of course.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
Ahhhh, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! I’m genuinely excited to see the reaction to players coming back into the game, but I’m also stuck with a few too many favorites I’m wanting to see re-enter, so I’m inevitably going to be let down at least a little. Reem, Aubry, and Rick are who I’d like to see come back, in that order. Reem’s been great wreaking havoc on the Edge, but I’d like to see that same volcanic activity impact the players left in the game. Aubry, of course, is a favorite, but I don’t know if my heart can bear watching her lose again which would be the most likely outcome for her. Whoever escapes the Edge, I just need them to work with the Lesu 4, Joe, and Aurora. Otherwise, it’s going to be newbie Kama in command and I’m just not especially here for any of them.
Chris will naturally be the one who wins his way back, naturally, since that would be the most boring result for me. Resenting old Manu, he’ll gravitate toward Eric and Gavin and the rest of the Kama crew leading to what could be a very depressing Manu manslaughter with side-hits on Joe and Aurora. What a bizarre season this has become where I’m rooting for Joe to succeed, but I need him to right now for the sake of my other interests.
Victoria – The Ice Queen cometh. This wasn’t a shocking side of Victoria to see, but I’m glad it finally came out in full force. If Kama comes out on top, then this thing may be Victoria’s to lose. She’s played an impressive game so far, minus that awkward encounter with Joe, and being able to pull off such a stone-cold lie to one of Survivor’s best is no small accomplishment. I wish Victoria would have worked with Aubry rather than against her this whole game, but I appreciate her gameplay and being able to separate her head and her heart like a hardened villain. That’s the kind of killer player I can get behind, so while I’m rooting for her alliance to lose out at the merge, if they don’t, then at least the crowning of a Queen Victoria at the end of the game is something I could support. Obligatory #SurvivorMaryland shoutout.
Lauren – A lot of Lauren’s content this week was her getting called weak or wasting away, but Lauren’s strength actually stood out to me more than ever. Sure, she’s a bit sluggish around camp, but she holds more than her own in challenges unlike some others (DAMMIT WARDOG!) and basically stared down the barrel of a gun at tribal council and said, “I dare you to fire.” Talk about a badass. I’m also glad she finally told Kelley about the idol she found so as to restore my faith in that ride-or-die duo. With Lauren and her bestie equipped with the only two idols currently in the game, they hold a lot of power and should play critical roles in what is now all that’s left of Manu overcoming some major merge obstacles. Could we be in for another Heroes vs. Villains-style merger with Kelley and Lauren throwing up two idols to save their squad? That’d be hot.
Reem – Speaking of hot, hot damn, Reem! As much as I’d like to see Reem actually get her hands dirty in the game again, another part of me wishes she stays on the Edge of Extinction because I know it wouldn’t even be half as entertaining as it has been without Reem bringing her edge there. If she does end up lasting the entire 30-whatever days on the Edge of Extinction, I do hope she gets special recognition of some kind for bringing so much to this season — it’s like the twist was designed for her. Reem’s also right up there with Kelley in being able to shoot killer looks that give me life.
All she needs is a “Die, Jerks” bandana to complete that “Revenge from the Edge” ensemble.
There it is.
Ryan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser