My immediate reaction to this episode was “WHAT THE FUCK!!??” and then after some time to think and rewatch, I’ve calmed down and sort of understand what happened. Still, it was a rough one, and I mostly blame the editors for thinking it’d be “fun” to blindside us with a fan favorite boot like they did, also failing to fully explain why the vote went the way it did. “Why didn’t they vote for Rob or Parvati?” That’s still a question worth asking, but one whose answer isn’t that difficult to find if we sit down and think about it. So that’s what I did!
TARGETING THE BIG DOGS
Survivor can no longer afford an iconic opening credits sequence, but they can hire someone to perform and — what I assume — write an original song be played as the show opens. THAT MAKES SENSE.
I don’t think Adam and I were thinking about the same show last week because he whined that Danni was voted out because Rob, Parvati, and Ethan decided that. This whole narrative is annoying to me because the Sele tribe gave those three power, and now they’re mad that they have it? Danni suggested voting out Parvati (days after she suggested Rob, remember), and when the other old schoolers found out, they threw Danni under the bus. The ball was entirely in new school’s court, and they chose to play with Rob and the gang, so they can’t exactly blame Rob for getting his way there ....
Regardless, new school was finally fed up with old school running the camp. They talked amongst themselves and determined it was time to take out one of the big dogs with eyes set on Parvati. The key was voting her out, though, while not completely pissing off Rob and Ethan. Michele said Rob would be butthurt, but he’d get over it — because that’s Boston Rob, the forgiving Godfather.
Adam was so confident in his relationships with Rob and Ethan that he carefully planted the seed and set them up for what would later go down. He approached Ethan and said that Parvati would be the vote but that Adam still had Ethan’s back. Now, Ethan’s old school, but Adam underestimated Ethan’s ability to “adapt” as Adam wanted all the old schoolers to do — Parvati was Ethan’s #1 ally, so zero chance of Ethan not telling Parvati what Adam told him. It was funny, for Adam being so sick of Rob running the show, he didn’t exactly prove he knew what he was doing when he tried to take the reins for himself ....
Up against new players, Adam’s honesty may have been appreciated. Everyone’s just scrambling to survive, so they’re more likely to play the “as long as it ain’t me” game. However, this group is the greatest of the greats. They don’t play that way — they’re out for blood, and if someone comes for their people, they’re going to strike back.
SHARK IN THE WATER
I was dying for Dakal to go back to tribal council this week so we could see more drama unfold, but instead we were in store for more build-up to what surely blows up next week?
Once again, Tony provided all the laughs and was the main reason Dakal was worth watching. The new fishmonger Sandra laid the bait, and the next morning, Dakal had a shark. Getting it back to camp, then, was the tricky part, but Tony had another simple plan that probably went something like this:
Simply catch the shark, simply grab it out of the water, and simply run it onto the beach so it can’t swim away. Next, simply carry it back to camp, simply chop it up, cook it, and eat it, and you’re fed for the day. Simple as that. Bada bing bada boom.
Oh yeah. Tony’s scared of sharks. A simple, minor detail.
Somewhere among the chaos, Tyson let slip another minor thing to Yul and Sophie about how big of a threat Sandra was — Tyson was doing all that he could to climb up one rung of the Dakal ladder (maybe he should’ve consulted with Tony on that instead). Yul, however, valued Sandra. She just trapped a shark which made the tribe happy, and a happy tribe means a happy Yul. Yul likes when everyone is just nice and happy.
Except, Yul then did something sneaky. Yul let Sandra know that Tyson had thrown her name out and as any queen would do when someone comes to take her throne, she said, “off with his head” more or less. She reminded us that if someone f***ing comes after the Queen, she better not find out about it. Unfortunately for Tyson, she did find out about it, and now Sandra’s coming right back at him.
Tyson has been painted as “next to go” on Dakal, but in the first four votes, the first person looking likely to leave ends up staying, so my gut says Tyson will find a way to eat shark another day. Sandra, Tyson, Tony, and Kim are all the big fish to be fried at Dakal, and they need to realize that they’re better off with each other than without. If that foursome teamed up, it’d be one epic alliance. However, I’m not sure the other five would let that happen. Still, I’m going to give myself false hope about them all making the swap. That should leave me in a good mental state after next week’s show!
^Me looking toward next week, naively optimistic
Before I forget, Tyson had an incredible zinger about the whole shark situation. Some of Tyson’s best lines can be missed if you aren’t paying attention, and he gave his tribe some wonderful words of wisdom this episode. As Tony was regaling his tale of Man vs. Shark, Tyson said, “the key to a shark fight is to get the shark on land.” Tony proudly replied, “That’s what I did!” and Tyson nodded, “Good.”
I died. It reminded me of the Pearl Islands final four immunity challenge where a trivia question was something along the lines of, “which of these is the best way to avoid a shark attack?” and the one person to get it right was, naturally, the smart-ass Jonny Fairplay with the simple answer of “don’t go in the water.”
Jesus. Give me Tyson every season and I’ll never complain about too many returnee seasons again.
SHE COUNTS SEASHELLS BY THE SEA SHORE
I’m not going to spend too much time on the Edge of Extinction because I just don’t care. I will say that Natalie is doing an amazing job at hoarding all the fire tokens, and for her efforts, I hope she wins her way back into the game. The pessimist in me, though, wonders if this is all for nothing and some challenge beast will come to EoE late and return to the game via the revolving door. That’s what I hate about Edge of Extinction — it could all end up for nothing. For the sake of the story, I hope Natalie has a big payoff, but if she doesn’t, then I’m just going to be pissed off*.
*unless Danni wins
GOOD COP, CRAZY COP
When Sarah got the note about having to sneak into the other tribe’s camp, I thought, “Ugh. Here we go. I already hate this.” Then, she recruited Tony to help, and I quickly changed my tune to “I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS. PLEASE CONTINUE.”
I was disappointed that Tony couldn’t go all the way to Sele with Sarah, but like a good partner, he did what he needed to do. I liked how it was so dark that he felt it was necessary to use a giant fucking stick to feel his away around, but what was also 100% absolutely necessary was covering Sarah’s face in ash so she wouldn’t be seen (her bright pink shirt notwithstanding). The ashes from the fire pit were too dry, so Tony agreed with Sarah to spit in them, and then as she blew, all the spit-covered ash whipped right up into her face.
So many unnecessary steps were being taken here by Tony with his big crackhead energy, and I was so here for it. Tony TV is a show that desperately needs a spin-off or spit-off. Between Tony and Tyson, I don’t know when I’ll stop laughing this season, and I pray to the power of magic that I never stop.
Once Tony remained back at Dakal, the magic went away. Pitman can point out of I’m incorrect, but I believe this is somewhere around the 4th time someone has had to sneak away from camp at night for a sniff at an advantage. Jeremy (31), Chris (36), Vince (39), and now Sarah (40) have all had successful finishes to their nocturnal missions which begs the question as to whether this is even that big of a risk at all. Even sneaking into another camp, while it comes with added suspense, has been made to look easy. Congrats on another steal-a-vote for Sarah, though (and a third fire token for Natalie).
Between the note delivery to begin with to the boat pick-up and drop-off, this whole twist just breaks down too much of the fourth wall for me. I need someone like Tony to do it and bust into camp, start banging on pots and pans, and just scare the living shit out of people. The number of people that scream in terror is the number of fire token’s he gets his efforts. That I would watch.
IMMUNITY – LEAPS AND LADDERS
^Me watching literally everything this season.
My favorite part of this challenge was Dakal’s reaction to the news that Danni was voted out at the last tribal council.
“Danni, you guys? Really?”
Probst was a dick in this challenge. I felt like the entire time, he was hoping his story would be Boston Rob rebounding from the “you sucked” performance he gave last time, and if he lost again, then there would be someone else to blame. As if he’d been waiting for 4 years, Jeff took a lot of that pissy Probst angst out on Michele, especially when she was last to cross the jumping platforms. Every chance he got, he reminded Sele that that slowed them down, completely overlooking Rob going full Wardog (never go full Wardog) with the ball toss. It was “Sele” struggling at that point rather than “Rob choking again.”
The redeeming quality about the challenge was how extremely tight it was at the end. Even as Dakal placed their last piece, they accidentally knocked its connecting piece out of the frame, giving Sele a few seconds to potentially sneak in and steal the win. They did not, so it was another loss on the puzzle for Rob, but “FUCK MICHELE, IT WAS ALL HER FAULT!!!” Probst probably yelled when he got back to his production cabin, punching his way through the door, no doubt.
For Probst’s sake, a Rob voted hadn’t really come up yet, as the one name we’d heard from Sele so far, Parvati, was reiterated by Denise to be Sele’s target. On the other hand, that meant Parvati was the one who was probably safest.
I loved the editing choice to show that silent standoff before everything went up in smoke at Sele. It wasn’t too long before Jeremy made the first move for new school to go off and confirm the vote for Parvati. Adam, meanwhile, did a little dirty deed by filling Rob in on the plan, essentially trying to make Rob feel like he was Adam’s #1, the guy to be trusted over everyone else who was trying to blindside him. Adam was needing Rob to play the role of a loyal soldier here and trust that Adam, his new commander, would take care of him.
Rob said himself, “I don’t play like that,” and the exact point Rob made was that Adam should’ve known that being the super-duper fan that he is. Rob’s plan was then a big “fuck that” as he tried to flip the game around on Adam. He approached Michele and Jeremy who said that they were debating between Adam, Denise, and Ben, but Rob quickly told them to cut the crap because he knew what was up and that Adam told him everything. For once, the bomb wasn’t Ben.
This didn’t sit well with especially Michele who told us she felt like Adam threw her and the rest of the new schoolers under the bus by secretly filling in Rob and Ethan about the vote for Parvati. Naturally, word got out to Parvati, and she delivered a very on-brand line about wanting to devour Adam and spit out his bones on the Edge of Extinction. I believed her, too!
Those are not eyes you want shifted your direction.
Michele and Jeremy held the cards here, and while Adam had done fucked up, wanting to “weaken Rob” was still on their minds. Parvati was still a viable option, but for the briefest of seconds, Ethan’s name was mentioned. For the sake of the blindsiding the audience, I think the show did a bad job at explaining what ended up happening after that.
Michele and Jeremy weren’t set on Parvati and Ethan because they were too afraid to work with Rob, instead only feeling comfortable enough to “weaken” him. No. Jeremy’s the meat shield guy — he wanted Rob as a shield, and maybe Michele wanted Parvati. That’s why I ultimately think they landed on Ethan. They wanted to break up the trio and pick up the leftover duo for themselves as allies. That’s the only thing that makes sense to me here.
I’m completely fine with Rob and Parvati being kept around for strategic reasons because they do exist, but I feel bad the players are being edited to look like sheep for it. I don’t know what I’d do in that situation — it’s entirely dependent on what my relationships were like on the tribe. If I felt like Rob and Parvati wanted to work with me and I could benefit from them being shields, sure I’d keep them, but if I felt like I was only a number and would never be able to execute a plan that wasn’t their own — I don’t play like that.
The issue with keeping all the shields in the game is that it limits who else can be voted out, and eventually it just becomes the non-shields vying for who gets to stay shielded the longest. There is still plenty of game left, so I don’t think Jeremy and Michele necessarily made a bad move here so long as they gain allies in Rob and Parvati rather than just armor. At Sele, they’re certainly safe after Adam went rogue. I can’t see a scenario where it’s not Rob/Parvati vs. Adam if Sele were to vote again, but I think this may be the last we see of that before the swap. With that in mind, I think Jeremy and Michele walk away the winners from this tribe — after landing at the bottom from a blindside with the first vote, they’ve managed to bounce back and really hold all the balls on their tribe.
I’m just making sure the casuals get it (because they’re definitely reading all the blogs).
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH THIS TRIBE?
Another example of eyes you never want set on you ....
This was a fun tribal without it having to get over-the-top nuts with whispering. Rob vs. Adam is a great dynamic because on the surface, Adam looks like he’d get steamrolled, but he was very well-spoken and calculated in what he had to say about Rob. Unfortunately, Rob is still Rob and as soon as Adam brought up “the statue,” those were fighting words for Rob.
I couldn’t help but laugh at Rob just working his magic once again, using Adam’s own very thoughtful words against him. Admittedly, Adam did a great job holding his own against Rob without getting too flustered, but Boston Rob just doesn’t break. Even watching that through my TV screen, I felt that intimidation, forceful yet finessed. I think because he’s Boston Rob, he can get away with it, and to use one of Michele’s word from the night, it’s made me a little “giddy” to watch, wondering just how far Rob can go and still get away with it.
I wasn’t ready to lose Rob or Parvati, and while I like Adam, his story this episode would’ve had a satisfying end if he was booted. It just didn’t feel like anyone else’s time to go — until that 5th vote ....
I didn’t think this would actually happen. Of all vulnerable parties, Ethan felt like the least likely given his lack of significant airtime this episode. I can only think that the show wanted us to feel so blindsided that they intentionally hid him — I hate when they do this because it makes the logic behind the vote so much more confusing, easily causing frustration from fans. Even if it was more painful, I’d rather have had Ethan get a bigger exit than just a sad, “Sorry, E” from Parvati. He’s a legend of the game and a legend of a man, so seeing his torch snuffed knowing what he’s been through in the last 16 years to get back here just about broke everyone, I think.
As sad as seeing that snuff was, I reluctantly admit this was for the best if the other two options were Parvati and Rob. Ethan was always going to be loyal to them, and he was either going to go out this way, as collateral, or get blindsided by their vote out of the game, only to follow in their footsteps soon after. Ethan is a hero, but Winners at War is already too bloody for players like him. I think he adapted as best he could — he just got in with the wrong crowd which I’m not sure could’ve been helped. No one would’ve expected Ethan to try to fit in with new school over his old school crew.
I’m glad Ethan at least was given the chance to come back and that he was physically able to compete. His is definitely a name that this season would have not felt right without. Hopefully he’ll be a great source of fun and happy feelings from the Edge as the rest of the game continues to grow dark and depressing. That’s not saying I’m hating this season — far from it! Ethan’s vote just isn’t the first and I know it won’t be the last that makes me feel like a masochist making it through the rest of this season. (I’m still not done being butthurt over Danni .... )
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR...
BUT I SWEAR TO GOD, IF ETHAN DIES I’M GOING TO DIE!
Luckily, we know Ethan doesn’t die, but given his health history, I’m worried. Hopefully this is just a minor case of exhaustion from running around for advantages, and Ethan will bounce back because watching Ethan “go” twice in two weeks is not going to be good for the fanbase.
Dakal is due for a tribal council, but otherwise Adam is doomed on Sele. I think we’ve had enough action at the latter camp, so I’m excited to see the Dakal dynamics finally play out more. Sandra voting for/idoling out Tyson seems too obvious, but right now, the only logical choices look to be either those two or Kim and none of those are a good look, so I’m hoping for something out of left field. I’ll go with a bold boot and say Sarah gets sent to the slammer. (My ideal pick Nick would be something out of the stadium with his next-to-nothing edit, so I won’t aim that high.)
Michele – Michele just can’t catch a break. To anyone in the audience who Michele was trying to prove herself, a lot will probably respond with, “well, she should’ve voted out Rob or Parvati, so she still sucks and Aubry was still robbed.” Admittedly, my immediate reaction was “why the hell Ethan?” but as I’ve come around, I think there’s a lot here that we didn’t see. Regardless of who was voted out, the kudos for the boot was going to Michele. She killed it. If her intent was to keep Rob and Parvati in the game as shields, she not only accomplished that, but burned Adam’s bridges with everyone (except herself), thus strengthening her own with them. Michele is subtle, but she gets the job done — that’s why she won. If Sele were to stay together, she and Jeremy would be in the driver seat, but even if a swap is soon, she’s still sitting pretty like the Beauty she is. I’m very proud of Michele this week and am glad she seemed to get the strategic credit she’s so long-deserved.
Adam – Not a “player of the week” for all the right reasons, but a major character he still was. Adam has had several right ideas in the game — letting Rob run the show for a bit while building a coalition to take control later. The execution of that coup d’état almost worked, but Adam let arrogance get the best of him. He thought that he was smooth enough to get away with telling Rob and Ethan that he was voting out Parvati but that they could still trust him. He honestly had the best intentions, but some of the worst actions. You especially don’t approach the Godfather and tell him you’re taking over the family business but to not worry because you’re generous enough to let him still sit at the table. Adam should’ve known Rob wasn’t going to take orders like that, but the events that ensued were so entertaining that I’m glad Adam thought Rob would. I appreciate Adam wanting to play an aggressive game, and while he made mistakes in Millennials vs. Gen X that didn’t get him voted out, Adam’s up against some of the most elite players in the history of the show — any more bad reads, and Adam’s going to end up dead ... if he isn’t already.
Rob – I’m becoming a broken record, but I just cannot get over Rob 6.0 (lol at that even being a thing). At this point, I think he’s being used as someone who looks like he’s in control of them game while it was definitely Jeremy and Michele pulling the strings this week, but watching the Robfather in action has still been a highlight of the season for me. I watch his eyes when he’s on screen, and there is so much processing going on behind them – it’s mesmerizing. In that initial conversation where Adam was telling Rob that everything was going to be okay after Parvati was voted out, you just know there was one thing on Rob’s mind: “How do I turn the tables on this kid?” Whether it was Rob telling Jeremy and Michele to cut the crap or calling out Adam at tribal council for doing exactly what Adam was doing, I loved watching the man operate. I know he’s polarizing, and I can attest to that because I’ve now been on both ends about him, but it’s undeniable that Rob is 3 for 3 in delivering epic entertainment on Winners at War. I may just finally be okay with him making my Survivor Mt. Rushmore.
Eh, on second thought, I’m good.
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