With COVID-19 still a thing (get vaxxed!), I’m not sure if we’ll get in-person loved ones again for 43 and 44, but this episode gave me hope that with another year to plan, in case we don’t, Survivor will have at least developed the hologram technology they need to make the next visit to “the Sanctuary” even creepier. Last week was as serious as the show has ever been, and this week we went back to campy there. Pick a lane, people. As Survivor fans, we’re all passengers just hoping the show doesn’t make us carsick, so I guess it’s good this episode was relatively smooth and straightforward, but I wouldn’t have minded some bumpiness just to make me feel something. Even the boot was like the most graceful exit we’ve ever seen despite it being a blindside. Give me some Randy Bailey buff-burning or Judd Sergeant “scumbags” energy! Only three episodes to go — things should be HOT!
MIKEY NO LIKEY
So … I guess … we’re just … not going to talk about that second tribal council on the show? Okay, well, moving on then ….
It was instead quickly established this episode would be all about “King Hai.” Hai was happy he got what he wanted with his last vote, but as Omar pointed out, “Mikey no likey.” Mike was upset with Hai for essentially cornering him into voting out Rocksroy to whom Mike had made a promise. Vati just really can’t help but be the chaotic tribe, can they? Everything has fallen apart since Jenny left.
Omar, of course, loved hearing a Vati vent about one of its own as Omar had already been eying Hai as a threat; this just gave him more ammunition to use against Hai whose downfall would become the big narrative of the night.
SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING NEW
This was a big breakout week for Lindsay — a little too late for me to consider her Erika 2.0, but at least she finally got to shine.
After her frustration over Jonathan fumbling the last vote, Lindsay was ready to drop him as an ally. Omar agreed that Jonathan just doesn’t understand the game, so not wanting to be dragged down by his dumb strategy, Lindsay looked elsewhere for a new plan. She searched high and low, literally touching a re-hidden hidden immunity idol in a tree but letting it sit because she didn’t realize it was an idol. So much for new beginnings ….
But Maryanne didn’t make the same mistake! For her, it was another classic case of the bunny rabbit having dinner in the mailbox … or something. This time, Maryanne also opted to not make the mistake of sharing her idol with the tribe which I believe makes this one of only two advantages in the game that everyone doesn’t know about, the other being Drea’s Knowledge is Power. Unbeknownst to Maryanne, keeping her new idol a secret should prevent Drea from stealing it too, though, we’ll wait and see if Maryanne can truly keep this under wraps.
Reward – “Fun”
This was one of the laziest challenges ever, only a couple steps up from the “draw matching rocks” game they played for the Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers loved ones visit. Run up the beach, climb over an obstacle, cross a balance beam, land a sandbag on a podium, win. Jeff must just not have had his coffee that morning or didn’t want to stay in the rain too long.
Lindsay was heating up and finally won her first individual challenge, allowing her to take Omar and Mike on an overnight trip with pizza, beer, and a bed — the latter sounding the most enticing given the torrential downpour.
Nothing else to really say about this “challenge” other than that it was a meeting that could have been an email.
PAIN AND RAIN
That face says it all.
This episode started on a high for Hai, which felt classically misleading, and this segment cemented to me that this night was Hai’s swan song. Hai received his personal story package showing us some photos of little Hai as he talked about how much worse things could be and had been for him in his life. Hai brought up the point that in Survivor, there’s a finite end to the suffering, as opposed to in life when pain can be felt without an end in sight. True statement.
What Hai didn’t quite have as much foresight for, however, was his own end, but ahead of that, he thought found a potential new ally in Lindsay, the emerging central character all of the sudden. They talked about voting for Jonathan which again made Hai feel like everything was going great and that he was at the top of his game … about a half hour away from being eviscerated by a guy wearing an emu shirt.
At the “Sanctuary” reward, Lindsay, Omar, and Mike were surprised along with the audience to hear some strange voices speaking to them from seemingly the beyond. Reportedly, the loved ones “visit” happened the same way on 41 but was cut for time, so this was a new experience for us. I think the show could’ve just cut straight to the videos rather the creepy audio, but I’ve hated many new ideas much more than this one, so it was fine. It gave me a laugh watching the three figure out what the hell was happening.
Once through with all food for the stomach and food for the soul, it was time to talk strategy. Omar opened the floor with a bold lie to Mike about Hai calling him his “puppet.” Mike was already at wit’s end with Hai so this was the last nudge he needed to be pushed over the edge. A clever lie by Omar, but I don’t think a “Hai said …” line was necessary. Mike could have easily went to fact-check that with Hai which would’ve caught Omar in the lie, but perhaps knowing where Mike already stood with Hai, Omar made the right assessment that he wouldn’t have to worry about this getting back to Hai.
This reward really made me feel like this could be our final three. Hai and Jonathan were already targets; Maryanne and Romeo were left out of the original alliance of eight that formed at the merge, and once all of Drea’s advantages come out, no one’s going to want to sit next to her at the end. Thus, a final three of Omar, Mike, and Lindsay makes sense to me.
Before this episode, I’d have said Mike wins that, but with how much he was shown to be so easily manipulated by Omar, sadly, I’m switching on that and saying now that Omar might take the win. I thought his edit was too “obvious” especially after Erika’s low-visibility win, but it seems the show may have overcorrected by making Omar the obvious frontrunner. I have reason to believe everyone should vote him out, but we’ve seen no indication from anyone that that’s what they’re thinking.
That could mean one of two things: he’s not as playing as strong as he seems and won’t get credit for moves at the end, or he’s playing so well that that he’s snowed everyone and they’ll respect him when he pulls the wool from over their eyes at final tribal council. Based on this episode and my new final three prediction … I think the latter. Omar just has no “doubt” in his edit yet where Lindsay does for not having much of an edit and Mike now does for sort of looking like a “big dummy” he’s struggled with being labeled in the past.
For the record, I don’t think Mike’s playing dumb and I still think he can win this, but Omar undeniably played him hard this week.
IMMUNITY – BIG MAN, BIG FEET
When do these “stand up and balance something” challenges go away finally? Final five? I remember thinking the shuffleboard challenge in Vanuatu was a little weak, but I’d take that over another endurance challenge that only actually lasts about 20 minutes.
Jonathan fans are probably crying that this one was “rigged” for a small woman to win, but every puzzle they could argue, “this was rigged for someone with a brain!” so it’s just best not to engage with that kind of argument. You end up looking like this, fearing for the future of humanity:
With Lindsay immune it meant both of the named targets of the night, Hai and Jonathan, were still on the chopping block, or as Mike would prefer to say, the “gilla-TEEN.”
(I don’t know why but I’m just so obsessed with the way he said that word)
^Hai was about as impressed as I was with Jonathan’s monkey run “talent.” He really buried that lead about himself, huh?
Mike was also at the point of “had it” with Hai, really taking offense to Hai allegedly calling him a puppet. As much as I hated it…everyone was right. Hai was the much larger threat at this stage of the game. Jonathan’s big threat comes from being a challenge beast, and in immunity challenges, he’s gone 1 for 4 at this point, same as Hai, so Hai having the bigger brain made him the better boot.
This seemed too easy which is why I doubted it may actually happen. What sealed it for me, though, was Hai’s absolutely pitiful excuse for a lie in telling Jonathan that he had an idol he would be willing to play. I have no idea why Hai thought that would work, even on Jonathan. He could’ve used his bestie here to give him a “bitch, please” reality-check:
Even Omar thought this it was “too perfect” for Hai to go. “This is a move everyone wants, so therefore I must make a different move” was somehow his logic here, so what did he do? He proceeded to try and turn the entire vote around on Jonathan instead…
That’s the “5 Gs” face: Good God Get a Grip, Girl.
This is what bothers me about Omar. He talked a few weeks ago about wanting “options” but when he has them, it’s like he wants to go with whatever the big spectacle is rather than with what’s better strategically. He’s done well socially to position himself in the best spot currently, so why does he always want to rock the boat? This time it at least wasn’t another tired attempt to keep Taku together, but going against the rest of the group to save one person who everyone wants out doesn’t make sense to me.
Hai having no other committed allies does make him an easy ally for Omar, but at what cost? Being labeled the guy who keeps changing votes at the last minute? I keep waiting for this “coming to Jesus” moment on Omar from everyone, but the deeper we get, the less I think it may actually come to be. Is Omar’s ride to victory really this smooth? Is he just building obstacles for himself because he’s bored? This week was all about cutting off the head of the snake, which was allegedly Hai, yet still no one thinks Omar is the bigger snake. There’s a huge disconnect between what we’re seeing and what the players are seeing, and kudos to Omar for keeping it that way — it just baffles me. I don’t know why Omar called him “King Hai” when it’s been no one but “King Omar” deciding every vote.
“WE’RE ALL SICK”
You know what I’m sick of? The analogies. The only thing I will not miss about Hai is how every tribal he had to give Jeff some janky analogy that makes the eyes roll into the back of my head. This week was about how Survivor was like a blindfolded marathon race — everyone running but no one knowing who was in 1st place. Wow. What an image.
Another annoyance was Omar bringing up how it’s important to know when to drive and when to cruise, contradicting his actions this week when he threatened to turn the car around. How this man hasn’t crashed yet, I truly do not know.
When talk turned to “evening the playing field” I noticed the cuts to a few specific players when Hai categorized threats as physical, strategic, and social — the flashes were to Jonathan, Mike, and Omar, respectively. Jonathan’s label as “physical” makes sense, but is the show trying to tell us Mike is superior strategically and Omar is superior socially? I’d have flip-flopped those, but knowing the show tends to favor “strategic” in the edit, that may give Mike enough to barely hang on after the beating his winner edit took this week.
Time will tell there, but time was finally up for Hai who was so evidently so good at convincing people not to play their Shot in the Dark that he convinced himself not to either. Whoops.
In both 41 and 42 now, my winner picks went out in 8th place, so I’m trying to think what that means for the winner of this season. I would’ve said Rocksroy because of the hourglass thing, but that’s out. My own shot in the dark at pre-game assessing had Erika around 10th, so that same pick for this season was … Jonathan. Lol, so no correlation there.
Hai was a great Survivor — well-rounded game-player and character. A couple of my friends told me that Hai reminds them so much of me, and I thought “wow, what a compliment!” Then they said it’s because of the all the sour faces he makes all the time which — ouch. But fair. Resting bitch face — or “disgust” face as I like to call it — is a trademark trait of both Hai and I, apparently.
Hai definitely could’ve won the game if he made it to the end, so if he’s ever back he’ll have to find a way to lower his threat level. I guess the big guys aren’t all that scary anymore, so maybe he should hire Jonathan as a trainer to bulk up. Do a face-swap on them and you probably get a more realistic visual of how menacing they really are as players.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR …
Sigh…we’re getting “Do or Die” again, I’m sure of it. Remember, the cast of 42 didn’t watch 41 so it’s all brand-new to them!!! SO THAT MAKES IT FUN, OKAY!!?? Well, at least Jeff’s idea of “fun” which, remember, looks like this:
Omar – I tweeted this, but if Omar is the winner, I genuinely want to know why his edit is this way and why Erika’s was that way. He’s playing a good game, and we’re seeing every bit of it. Erika played a winning 7-1 game and we hardly saw any of it. Does Survivor just suck this bad at editing men vs. women? Did they go, “oh, thank god, Omar won, so now we don’t have to somehow make a winner edit out of someone like Lindsay”? If Omar wins, it will be the most telegraphed win since, well, Tony. Hmm, I sense a pattern here.
Omar is definitely at the strategic center of everything, so I’m not saying he should be invisible, but give us any reason to doubt that he’ll win, or if this is how the show wants to edit dominant winners, at least include women when they deserve it too. Omar would make a deserving Sole Survivor, but I’ll be so unenthused by it because of the edit. There has to be a happy medium between “I didn’t see this coming at all” and “I didn’t see any other possible ending.”
Lindsay – Maybe this was Lindsay’s “breakout” like Erika had hers, just a few episodes delayed? Probably not, but I’m happy we finally heard a lot more from her and got to see her get a few wins (outside of losing out on an idol). I do think that if the final three is Lindsay, Mike, and Omar, the fight will be focused between the latter, but Lindsay is also like Omar in that she’s never really been a target. I don’t see that changing when everyone’s name has been mentioned or already written down. I don’t think it’s totally impossible for Lindsay to surprise us, as she had all the right stuff on display this week, but the last 4 episodes of the season is never the right time to start shining.
Mike – As Lindsay started to shine, Mike started to dim. I loved the confessional he gave about his family and being able to see and hear his enthusiasm when they showed up on-screen. The personal story is all there for Mike to win: the “big dummy” proving people that he can be strategic, learning to love and appreciate others’ differences, being a family man. This guy’s an amazing human even if he killed #GaysForMike when he voted out Lydia, Chanelle, and Hai almost all in a row (and last week he wanted to vote out Romeo!), but Omar was shown to be the stronger player this week, and I don’t know if they’d have made Mike look so easily manipulated by Omar if Mike wins in the end, especially if both Omar and Mike are in the final three.
See, that’s the “doubt” in the edit I need to get behind a winner. I don’t need someone who’s so perfect, flawless, and seemingly without any match in skill — give us character. I won’t deny that Mike, too, has had an unbalanced heavy edit, but I can see why. To me, Mike is more fun and off-the-cuff whereas Omar feels rehearsed like he’s reading off-the-script. I want emotional investment, and Mike makes me feel that. Especially now that we said bye to Hai, I will be looking like this if Mike doesn’t take the ultimate victory for Vati:
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