Parvati unable to manipulate men to save her, Sandra sacrificing her game to save someone else? These are truly the end times, in case the last week of our lives hasn’t been proof enough for you. As exciting as the end of this episode was, it still felt like a shotgun to the face (not that I’m speaking from experience, but I imagine this is what that feels like). I’m numb from this week’s loss, but we’re #InThisTogether as we mourn our majesties and move on with the masochism that continues to be Winners at War.
NO MORE BOSTON ROB RULES
The mood was “yippee” at Yara after they gave Boston Rob the boot. This would be the only screen time for Yara this week which means that every little bit shown here should be important (key word: should). It was quite the celebration, Adam citing that his tribe was practically singing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.” Adam, however, wasn’t totally celebratory as he realized he may have shot himself in the foot by taking a shot at the big dog last week.
With Ben buddying up to Sarah and Sophie, Adam felt he could be in a worse position without Rob than he was with him. Adam just can’t win. He’s taken heat with the rest of his original tribe for not pulling that trigger sooner, and here we are telling him it was too soon. Survivor is all about adaptability, and I think on Sele it was safer for Adam to make a move on Rob, but on Yara, he probably should have waited one vote.
The move only made sense if he was more certain than he was uncertain that Sophie and Sarah would either turn on each other or would pick up Adam as their third over Ben. Otherwise, he served Sarah and Sophie all the power on a silver platter, and faced a face-off with Ben should Yara lose immunity. If this scene wasn’t mere misdirect, then Adam looks like he’ll lose that fight, so Yara better continue that winning streak or else Adam will have a fun reunion with Rob very soon.
Personally, I think this was all just to spook us and Adam will be fine next week as Yara wins another immunity. Adam’s a new-schooler, so he’ll escape my old-school curse this season just like the rest of them.
TINKLE TIME WITH TYSON
This had me laughing my man-panties off.
Tyson carried a giant log back to camp with a note attached to it, instilling the fear of God in the eyes of everyone who had been on the Edge for the last log challenge. The message was something about turning over every stone and being in the right place at the right time, leading everyone to believe they had to flip over all the rocks on the island (probably still easier than the log challenge, to be honest).
Tyson being the smart man he is realized that the latter part of the message referred to the tide, so he went to an area on the rocks that were exposed more during low tide, quickly finding the fire token opportunity that was up for grabs. The problem, though, was that Rob was trailing him, so the first thing that came to Tyson’s mind in order to turn Rob away was to make him think he was taking a whizz. Genius.
In order to earn the fire token, Tyson had to sell an idol nullifier to someone in the game which was an easy sell to Parvati who had a small fire token fortune of her own (of course, the advantage she got had to be the shitty idol nullifier instead of an idol she actually could’ve used). With that, Tyson had earned his first token on the Edge. He stared in deep thought at the menu, asking whether he should buy a challenge advantage with one token or hope to save up to three tokens to buy an immunity idol. The easiest and smartest choice was obvious, so Tyson bought ...
... peanut butter.
I died. The editing of this was beautiful. As Tyson walked off with something in his bag, we all expected him to pull out either an advantage or an idol, so when he hoisted out a ginormous jar of peanut butter, I absolutely lost it. This was one of the most Tyson things ever.
“Why wouldn’t he buy an advantage?” Well, if I recall from Edge of Extinction, the “disadvantage” amounted to having to untie some extra ropes, and the advantage was just a little practice at the challenge, so honestly ... it wasn’t the worst decision to dig in to the peanut butter as it’s kind of a power food. We all initially laughed at the idea of anyone spending their tokens on food or luxury, but Tyson will end up with the last laugh as the peanut butter purchase probably pays off for him.
IMMUNITY – PRIDE COMETH BEFORE THE BALL
Production must have had an overstock of peanut butter because along with immunity, PB&Js were the reward here. Last week, I turned Sophie into “Yara Greyjoy” but apparently, I compared her to the wrong Game of Thrones character as her psychic ability this week in predicting that the tribes were playing for PB&Js showed her to be a little more of a Sophie Stark.
Dakal was dead last in this challenge, and with only one tribe winning immunity, that meant I had to root for Sele because I’d rather Yara go instead of getting what would probably be a Parvati boot. At one point, Jeff said, “Dakal – the only tribe without any balls” which would later prove not to be the case, at least for one of them ....
Sele seemed to be sailing to victory, but arrogance got in the way as Wendell announced his victory a little prematurely, causing him to drop and allow Yara to take the lead and later immunity.
This pissed me off. Knowing Parvati’s ass was on the line and that Wendell would only be the decoy boot, this jerkwad just blew it all. A small part of me hoped this would be what Parvati needed to bury Wendell, but I don’t think “keeping the tribe strong” has seriously been the rationale behind any votes this season, so I knew better than to think his costly performance here would spare Parvati.
It was frustrating, and I was pissed.
I didn’t even want to get started on Dakal – that was going to be a totally different kind of disaster.
IN SEARCH OF A SWING
That shot on the swing almost made me cry. True love right there.
Parvati knew as well as we all did that she was probably screwed here, but holy shit did she put up one hell of a fight. This is exactly what you need to do when your back is against the wall on a tribe – stay cool, calm, and collected, but still go for the kill.
Parvati knew she had Michele’s support, so she began working the boys. She said Yul wasn’t open to anything, so she went to Wendell and while it was clear she was trying to manipulate him, she wasn’t aggressive about it. Wendell brought up the usage of fire tokens for the first time as a social bargaining chip in the game, asking Parvati for two tokens in exchange for his vote. I think his ask for her to hand them over before the vote was a little greedy, and she likely agreed because the deal didn’t really take off. However, she still got some gain from that conversation.
Parvati used Wendell’s wavering over mere fire tokens as reason to flip Nick, but he wasn’t looking to budge, despite his inner superfan’s best wishes to play with Parvati. Michele also had gathered that her girl was a goner, but wanting to have her cake and eat it too, she let Wendell know that she would still be voting for him so she could claim Parvati’s tokens. It was a little messy of Michele to tell Wendell, but understanding that he’d still be in the game, it was Michele’s best move rather than him seeing a surprising second vote live at tribal council.
The editing team tried with the Wendell story, but Michele already going with her contingency plan made it clear to me what the vote would be on Sele. I could not say the same about Dakal.
WHERE THE FRICK IS TONY?
Ah, yes, this must be how the blow-up begins.
As much as I loved Spy Shack 3.0, I was thinking, “NO TONY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING???” He was the only person without an idol or advantage going into this tribal council, so his odds were already not looking great, but my heart sank as I thought the spy bunker would sink his ship for good.
Sandra was set on sticking with Tony and Kim, going so far as to tell Denise and Jeremy both that that was the deal. Once they found Tony, fist bumps were exchanged between him, Sandra, Kim, and Jeremy, solidifying that the votes were going to go to Denise.
The “as long as it ain’t me” mantra should’ve ended Sandra’s discussion there, but in a big shock, Sandra secretly went to Denise with another plan. “Scratch the Tony thing,” I thought, “This is how a big name goes down in flames.”
Sandra got greedy. That’s most of what happened. She wanted Denise to stay but didn’t want it to be herself that made the move which I found a little odd. Surely if Sandra wanted Denise to stay over, presumably, Jeremy, she could’ve swayed Kim and Tony that direction? Or if she wanted Tony out, offer him up to Denise and Jeremy! Then she could’ve played her idol at tribal council just in case anyone tried to turn on her, and she’d have been fine and hopefully gotten out the person she wanted out. She wouldn’t have risked the end-of-the-world scenario had she pursued any of those routes.
I assume she wanted to earn Denise’s trust, or maybe just her fire tokens, but Sandra could’ve offered her vote instead of her idol and likely accomplished the same – or accomplished anything at all that wasn’t equal to getting voted out of the game. Her idol handout had room for reward but so much more for failure, and not just that, but embarrassment. Not that I wanted to see the queen ever leave, but if I had to think of the worst way she could go, I couldn’t have even imagined something as heartbreaking as this.
KEEPING IT REAL
In a last-ditch effort to avoid the Edge, Parvati put Wendell on blast at tribal council, and it was beautifully brutal to watch. For the record, I don’t think Wendell did anything super dirty, but Parvati had to spin some kind of web to trap the flies in, so she made Wendell the scapegoat, even bringing up the awkward history of Wendell and Michele’s past relationship. Parvati was in full attack and defense mode like never before, and it got hot. Poor Yul just sat there wishing he could be anywhere else.
I think Parvati did the best she could, but as usual, votes were mostly locked in before tribal council. When Wendell asked one final time for her to give him a name, even if she said Nick or Yul, I’d be surprised if that would have sealed either of their fates. Wendell would’ve just snagged one of Michele’s eventual tokens. Probst said Michele looked “emotionally distressed” to which I went, “you think!?” My heart was racing, I felt short of breath, but it wasn’t the Coronavirus that was settling in – it was the anxiety over losing a legend.
I love that her torch crashed down so loud that Parv let out a “whoa!”
Even though it’s been a blast to watch her back in action after a decade, this season never really felt like it was going to be Parvati’s game, so I’ve always had a sad feeling behind every time I cheered for her, sensing that her time would still be short. I was hoping she’d find a way to break up the boys on Sele, but I really can’t fault her for anything or say “she should’ve ... ” because her only “mistake” was winning Micronesia.
We talk a lot about Survivor legacies this season, and for many that have already made their mark on the show, I don’t feel this season tarnishes any of that history. Parvati was the seventh person voted out of the season (or eighth – it seems the tribal may have been aired out of order), but I wouldn’t say the other thirteen(/twelve) that lasted longer are necessarily “better” – they just bested her this season. The reason Parvati had any target on her back was because she’s one of the best. If we were to take these 20 winners and erase their memories before playing again, then we’d be looking at a much different story. In short, the legends stay legends this season, only opening the door for others to make legends of themselves.
It’s a pity that Parv didn’t last longer to bring black widow havoc to the second half of the game (I don’t see her getting back in), but I’m glad she flew out to Fiji even knowing she’d have little more than a small chance in hell of winning. It’s that kind of fearless attitude that makes her a Survivor legend , so hopefully she bequeathed some of that along with her fire tokens ....
ALL FOR SHOW
I am still shooketh.
Most of what I remember before Denise’s reckoning was talk about “threats and non-threats” and Jeremy acting like a duck, so your typical stuff as the players try to hide what’s really happening – not like Sele who was all about keeping it real.
If you aren’t a Sandra fan, then this tribal council may have been the best one ever for you. If you’re like me, a big Sandra stan, I obviously loved this show for the spectacle that it was (I’m still a Survivor fan) but boy did it tear me a new one.
When Denise played her first idol, I held on to hope that she was going with Sandra’s plan, even if that meant losing Tony (I’d take his loss over Sandra, but just barely), but when she pulled out the second, I knew Sandra was fucked. We all did, right? Even Sandra knew. Look at her face after Denise played the first idol vs. when she played the second.
It’s always fun to see how someone pulls off their unique “playing an idol” performance, and Denise’s was appropriately amazing — sweet Denise asking Jeff to give her a minute, then after sitting down from the first idol play, she asked, “Jeff, can you give me one more minute?” This was a savage move, and Denise knew she was pulling off something incredible here. I hated it and I loved it all at the same time.
I sat there shaking, as if I was under the Sorting Hat, begging, “Not Sandra. Not Sandra.” But I knew. The queen wasn’t just being dethroned – she about to be decapitated.
Knowing she had an idol that was going to expire, Sandra should have been 100% safe this episode, but still one small part of me wondered if something wild would go down. Maybe she’d hold onto it to avoid making the target on her back even bigger? Maybe she’d misread the votes and play the idol for Tony instead of herself? I never would’ve guessed this outcome, but as soon as she suggested it to Denise, I was like...
^Her first confessional ever. We knew we had struck gold right at the beginning.
I’m taking nothing away from Denise’s obviously impressively BIG MOVE™, but I’m still going to defend the queen a bit. Yes, she made a horrible judgment call, but being one of the first we’ve seen to barter fire tokens like she did proves why she was one of the legitimate game changers to appear on Game Changers. She didn’t feel she needed to play the idol (hindsight being 20/20), so instead she thought of a creative way for how to still make use of its power, gaining fire tokens and an ally in the process.
As far as I’m concerned and will always be concerned, the queen stays queen. Much like Parvati, her legacy would’ve remained no matter what happened this season – winning a third time would’ve only made Sandra even more incredible. It was inevitable that this season would result in the show’s second two-time winner, but no one can take away that Sandra was the first, and she did it on a season where a two-time winner was not inevitable. Between both of her Day 16-finishes, Sandra proved she’s not perfect, but she’s still the best goddamn motherfucker to ever play this game and I will always stand by that.
The queen deserves to enjoy her retirement. She could’ve stopped after win #2, but she came back to go for #3 with the odds stacked against her, and 3 years later she did it again against even more odds, arguably impossible ones. She loves this game so much and that’s why I love her. She obviously wanted to win, but with 2 million already in her bank account, I think that has given her the freedom in her last two seasons to play bigger and bolder, and it’s been a thrill to watch. Sandra didn’t need another 2 million to prove she’s the best. She just is.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR...
They’re really milking this Wendell-Michele thing, huh? All we saw of the preview was that and Tony back to being a wild ass, sprinting down the shoreline as Jeremy talks about how big of a threat he is which luckily should mean Tony’s safe. Only one winner prior to Heroes vs. Villains remains, and just so they’re all killed off for me before the merge, that’s who I’m guessing is to big the big “shock boot” as we typically see in this episode. So, all that Wendell and Michele stuff will once again amount to nothing, and instead, they’ll bury the hatchet, Wendell and Nick will talk, and the world will weep as the three of them get together to take out 4-D chessmaster Yul.
Denise – Jeff calling out, “Dakal – the only tribe without any balls” was quite the irony as Denise proved to be carrying the biggest balls of all this episode. This one will obviously go to her, and she deserves it even if it sort of overshadows the loss of two queens in one night. The move was great, but I’m not convinced yet it will end up being the best. Doing that to Sandra was flashier for Denise, but was it the right move for her future? I don’t gather that Denise was that tight with anyone in the game except for Adam, but Sandra gave her an opportunity to build a bridge. One thing that could’ve been better than kicking the queen off of her throne was to have some serious blackmail on her. She could’ve used the idol trade as leverage, essentially buying Sandra’s vote for as long as Sandra didn’t want to get out that she was really the one to idol out Tony or Jeremy. I’m not sure what else Denise gained from taking out Sandra, but she probably will still make it out okay. I just see more potential to Denise specifically in keeping Sandra over Tony (the only other logical choice) but maybe I’ll be proven wrong. If nothing else, Denise will always be able to say, “I did THAT” which is still cool. Hell of a performance, Denise.
Michele – Forced into a corner and voting out her island bestie is a sad spot Michele has been in before, but doing so benefitted her last time, and she reaped the benefit again this time in the form of Parvati bequeathing her fire tokens. Michele is playing masterfully, and even if Sele loses again, I think she’ll be able to manipulate the men a little better than Parvati because her reputation precedes her a little less than Parv’s did. If Michele can make nice with Wendell, I think they can convince Nick to flip on Yul and make this a totally new-schoolers’ game going into the merge. That sucks, but I still have people to root for, and Michele is one of those most of all. Carry on the torch of Parvati, and melt those boys like butter!
Tyson – I was quite content with Edge of Extinction being the Tyson show this week, covering all his antics from the tinkling to the tasting of that peanut butter perfection. A lot of people are probably thinking “what an idiot” for spending his fire token on peanut butter, but the calorie benefit makes sense to me. Tyson’s far from an idiot, and having a big energy boost before a challenge could have a bigger benefit than an advantage that saves 30 seconds on untying some knots. I still think he’s the first EoE returnee, so the peanut butter strategy may prove the winning one. I had my doubts at first, but I trust Tyson. If he told me to go spend all my money on toilet paper, I’d probably do that too.
Maybe that’s how this whole frenzy started…
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