This episode was ... interesting. Never before have we had a standard episode’s tribal council take up an entire half of the hour, so the pacing just totally threw me off course like I was a sandbag flying out of The Wardog’s hands. There was a great deal of strategy talk — about the only talk — and then most of it went up in flames once the chaos broke out in front of Jeff and the jury. I can’t quite describe it exactly. I don’t know what the hell happened or why it happened, but I think I was happy it happened? I wouldn’t have minded a bigger SHOCK boot, but I’ll take anything if it blows the game wide open, and this episode did at least that. One of the wildest tribal councils for sure, but I think I’ve seen plenty of wilder ultimate outcomes.
THE WRIGHT SIDE OF THE NUMBERS
The Wardog reminded the viewers that The Wardog controlled the vote that led to the Eric blindside which, with the help of some key Kamas, cracked the game wide open. Ron felt that split but in the form of a splitting headache from the havoc Gavin, Julia, and Victoria had caused for the Kama that Ron built to be so strong. Gavin spoke on the girls’ behalf to solidify a new six with Kelley, Lauren, and The Wardog, Gavin feeling it was time to keep building up his Survivor résumé. I felt like last week more of the credit went to Julia, so it was interesting that we immediately heard from Gavin when Vata ventured back to camp.
Across the way, David and Rick were still working through their “It’s Complicated” relationship status. David stood out to me in this opening segment for all Wright reasons. He was able to acknowledge with Rick that they had voted oppositely but that it didn’t mean they weren’t still together. The next fence David sought to mend was with Julie and Ron who were also left out of the Eric elimination. While the other group of six celebrated, David took the time to mellow things out with the minority voters and knowing that majorities don’t always last in Survivor, I think this was a huge move for David to secure these votes that could prove key later.
THE GREAT SLOWDOWN
Edge of Extinction this week lacked the same excitement of previous visits. For the first time, we only were shown one segment, and it was almost entirely dedicated to Eric with brief cameos from Joe and Chris. I guess that perfectly explains why I had little to rave about — this is supposed to be Reem Island!
For me, most of what Eric was saying was generic (ha, gen-Eric). Edge of Extinction sucks, raising the flag is tempting, but somehow you find the strength to survive. Eric must be important for the show to give him essentially a three-minute monologue, and again, considering what he said could have been said by any of the five, should this be a sign that Eric will be the next one to re-enter the game?
I know, Reem. It’s always The Wardog’s fault.
READY TO JUMP SHIP
Julie was still emotional over the vote but more so because being left out made her feel alone and missing her family a little extra. She and Ron met with Rick and David to discuss how to claw their way up from the bottom and with “Kama strong” no more, Julie said that she was ready to jump ship. She then called out Julia who’d been running the show — brand-new information to literally everyone watching this season. It reminded me a lot of the Kelly Wiglesworth boot in Second Chance where all of the sudden this completely under-edited character was getting called the one to beat, and much like Kelly, Julia was about to suffer a familiar fate.
While Gavin was gaga over the new Kama-Lesu strong, Julia had concerns about the Lesu three being such a tight trio and was hesitant to go all in with them. This was her show after all, and Julia couldn’t have anyone coming for her crown.
IMMUNITY – DON’T BOW IT
Gavin had mentioned earlier that David was one of the biggest threats in the game for being very close to winning most challenges (pre-merge notwithstanding) and since this was an immunity David had fought for before, if I were a betting man, I’d have put my money on David, but there’s always room for an upset. A much safer bet would have been that The Wardog would be the first one out ... which he was. I’d be inclined to wonder if The Wardog was throwing all of these challenges, but we know The Wardog can’t throw for shit either, so that’s a no. If this keeps up, then The Wardog may be diving to the bottom of some stats list our own Jeff Pitman has compiled.
Get your Chet together, dude.
On the other end of the suck spectrum, Gavin and David faced off in the final two, still balancing those balls on their bows. Gavin narrowly edged David out for the win which set Gavin’s move in motion: vote out David. Gavin gloated a bit, looking forward to being the reason David got sent home.
He’ll see about that.
For the first time ever, I also randomly noticed some serious sweat stains on Jeff’s shirt post-challenge. Did his personal fan break or something? Jeff’s always one throwing shade, but evidently, he could’ve used some himself under this sun.
Probst probably hasn’t been that moist since Boston Rob won Redemption Island.
THE LAST SUPPER
When Vata got back to camp it was SCATTER! No illusions were made as to how much of a scramble this one was going to be. Rick the Dick burst into the scene again, going to Gavin, Julia, and Victoria about voting out — you guessed it — one of the Lesu 3. Sigh. Those three had moved past any old Manu/Lesu drama and instead targeted Ron for being the most “strategical.”
Is “strategical” a word? I always thought it was just “strategic.” When I heard “strategical” all I could think of was Will Ferrell’s George Bush impression where he used the word “strategery.”
Lauren passed along to Julia that they were leaning Ron which then made Julia panic, thinking Lesu was trying to low-key bamboozle Kama, so Kama reconvened and decided to go after either one of the Lesu 3 or the David/Rick duo. In Victoria’s words, three was greater than two, so David and Rick were spared. Instead, they set their sights on the Queen Bee, Kelleyoncé.
Kelley, can you handle this? Lauren, can you handle this? Wardog, can you handle this? I don’t think they can handle this!
The following scene was a favorite of mine for how tense the tribe was during its last meal together (at least as this group of eleven). Week to week, all we see is the action, so it’s rare for the show to give us a glimpse of when silence sets over camp. No one was talking; there was hardly a sound except for the scraping of the rice from the pot. It would have been a very unfortunate time for anyone to let something slip out.
David’s Spidey senses were tingling again so he pulled Rick aside to tell him that they needed to play the idol, and they both agreed that their senses were telling them that it needed to be played on David. Kelley picked up a vibe that she’d need to have her idol on hand at tribal as well. Moments like this — no talking, no eye contact, no smiles — reminds us that not everyone’s the best at lying. Not saying anything at all can sometimes be as bad as saying too much. Julia attempted to assure Kelley they were good, but I don’t think anyone would stake a million dollars on a head nod.
“That’s her reassurance?”
We were only 30 minutes into the episode and already headed to tribal council which meant this one was going to be full of fireworks like we were promised in last week’s preview. The only names out at the moment were Kelley, David, and Ron which would have appeared to spell out Kelley and David playing idols to take out Ron, and that may have been enough to bring out the Aubry O-face, but something was telling me there’d be more.
PILOTS AND PASSENGERS
I still don’t know who exactly were the pilots and passengers on the U.S.S. Shitshow, but it goes without saying that this tribal council was a wild ride. I was here for it in the moment, and I do enjoy when the editors try something new — they could’ve tried (and failed) to condense this one down to the usual timeslot — but even though this one was very “live,” in the end, I just felt more like “Oh ... that happened” rather than coming out of it screaming “HOLY CHET. THAT HAPPENED!” as I thought I would.
From showrunner Julia getting cocky, David talking about his aquadump, Aurora hating soccer moms, and Julie having a full #SurvivorMeltdown leading to her shouting “I’m ready to jump ship” — it was a great tribal council overall. I can’t recall anyone ever openly claiming they were “out” and announcing their flip in front of their alliance before the votes were even cast. Julie was really the star of this tribal with just how done she was with the Kama kiddos, nearly coming to blows with Julia who was about as lost as I was.
After all was said and done – and after the jury put on new pairs of pants – David played his shared idol only to nullify one vote as 9 others went to Julia. All of that commotion for an ultimately unanimous vote. Okay…
That’s kind of how I felt. Julia was a fine player, but because she literally got introduced to us like two weeks ago, we didn’t have much invested in her to be WOWED by her epic exit. The show did a disservice to her even more than I originally thought, now knowing how her final tribal council went down. For a vote as crazy as this one, they needed to edit the boot to be an actual character of the season.
That’s why the John Carroll, Sarah, and Savage blindsides are all iconic. We knew where those players stood in the game because we were shown it, not just told it twenty minutes prior to their timely departure. I left those votes thinking, “I can’t believe that happened” and this is 100% on the edit, not Julia, but I felt like a Bluth with my final words of the night being, “ ... her?” I just felt that any other person leaving would have hit harder emotionally which is where this ending fell flat for me. I’m hoping there’s at least some fallout when Vata ventures back to camp.
“It’s going to be ugly when we get home, kids!”
There’s always at least one who gets completely and unwarrantedly ignored by the edit, but Julia’s seems to be a bigger offense than most. She was apparently “running the show” and at tribal we saw how she has it in her to be an assertive if a little aggressive force to face, yet we got nothing much from her until the last two episodes. I think it’s safe to say Julia won’t be back, in this season or a next, but at least before she left, we got to see that she’s a strong player. I think what did her in was just trying to do a little too much maneuvering that put Ron and Julie past the point of putting any trust in her. Had tribal not exploded the way it did, who knows what would have happened. Julie just couldn’t hold it in any longer — like that time in the bush.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR...
In the spirit of the Game of Thrones premiere week, I guess Survivor was trying to get in on that trend with all this talk of empires, kingdoms, and monarchs falling. Funny because I think The Wardog is a big GoT fan, or maybe The Wardog just thinks that Kelley is actually short for “Khaleesi” and just happened upon all those gifs of Daenerys Targaryen, not knowing of the connection.
The game blew up like it was hit by a Natalie Napalm this week, so I have no idea where this will lead. Aurora was the only one that didn’t vote with the other nine(!), so she could be our next easy boot, or a new “empire” does in fact emerge to take out one of the power players like Kelley, David, or The Wardog. To be honest, I’m rooting for Kelley just flying around on a fire-breathing Wardog and seeing how things play out from there.
David – I’ve neglected David this season, but he shined bright for me this episode. I felt he made all the right (re)connections after the last vote and while initially he was set to go, his Spidey senses secured him from that fate, and with the game flipped around in I don’t even know what direction, David could be able to pilot his way through the turbulence and to the end. He’s still got a target on his back, but the merge is where David really made magic in Millennials vs. Gen X, so now that his grudge against Kelley has gone away, David’s all Wright in my book again.
Julie – This episode and ending couldn’t have been what it was without Julie. She could have afforded to wait a few more votes and laid low, but by waiting too long, she also could have been outmaneuvered by her other Kamas, so I support her decision to flip to Lesu since it was made obvious that she was just being used as a pawn by the other players. Julie’s totally impressed the hell out of me this season since I ranked her so close to last going into it. I’m always totally wrong about at least one person pre-game, and Julie’s far and away that one for Edge of Extinction. (Shut up, Wardog.)
Kelley & Lauren – After everything that went down at tribal council, these two still had the guts not to play their idols? I don’t even know, dude.
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