You know what was missing from this episode? Twists. You know who didn’t miss them? Me! This was another camp- and character-focused week, so it unsurprisingly delivered all kinds of delicious drama. Vati was a mess, Ika was a disaster, and even the triumphant Taku teased us with its tiny cracks. We’re a third of the way in and the tribes are beginning to tear themselves apart internally and I cannot wait for more. The players aren’t “nasty” — there’s just the right amount of healthy conflict to keep the show exciting without it getting dark or depressing. If we’re stuck in this “new era” full of twists, I can at least lessen my bitching about it if the cast can still carry a strong show like this one has been doing and I hope continues to do.
I was very much looking forward this whole entire week to the official Vati roast of Daniel Stunk (I’m sure that joke’s never been made before). I did feel a little bad for Daniel because he’s obviously a genuinely good guy, but good guys can make bad decisions, and this guy made many last week, so he deserved to face the firing squad upon return from tribal council. In one single night, Daniel had betrayed literally everyone on the tribe, and in the spirit of Festivus’s airing of grievances, now he was going to hear about it.
I think the harshest critique came from Hai who said Daniel had “literally no backbone.” Normally it would be hard to imagine that literally, but if anyone in this cast could lose their backbone, it’s obviously Daniel. According to Hai, he might as well just be a head, arms, and legs.
I’m mostly just legs too but not that extreme!
Daniel is now public enemy number one and bitter that his former number one took none of the same heat. I’m not convinced that the target won’t still shift to Chanelle, but either way, I hope Hai and Lydia stay away from being on the bottom again. There’s at least strong promise in that with the exchange we saw between Mike and Hai who committed to a new alliance — the one that should’ve happened when Jenny was still around but WHATEVER I’M DEFINITELY OVER THAT AND I’M SURE THIS ONE WILL BE FINE.
Mike also had my favorite line of the night by declaring that there was no kumbaya left at camp and instead it had turned to “holy crap-baya.” I love that for Vati, and for this season. We need tribes with trust issues, and I thought it was Vati who would remain the hottest mess, but then along came Ika with the rest of that “hold my beer” attitude in the episode.
REWARD – TAKU’S TITAN
This challenge was over quicker than Jeff can ask, “Jonathan will you marry me?” leaving little else to digest and discuss here except for the really bad sales pitch Jeff gave for this reward of “decent-sized” fish.
Understandably, Vati and Ika were a little annoyed about not having a “Goliath” on their tribes, and while Jonathan was a big asset in this challenge, his strength wasn’t something that couldn’t have been replicated in this instance. Jonathan took command of Taku and directed Omar and Lindsay through the ropes like a champ, whereas Vati and Ika didn’t look like they had a leader. That looked more like what lost them this challenge rather than lacking a 7-foot-tall He-man.
Still, Jonathan received more praise from Jeff and this time shared the “love” by announcing to everyone that Taku was a tight four. I agreed with the rest of Taku’s reactions to that statement – Jonathan’s setting himself up to be the biggest merge boot target ever seen on the show, and if I’m Maryanne, Omar, or Lindsay, I don’t want to be the back-up vote for when he inevitably wins individual immunity.
I love Maryanne so much for never being able to hide her emotions. That look of “I don’t know this man” killed me!
LIVE TO SERVE
As Jonathan ripped apart what were actually pretty big fish with his bare hands, Maryanne and Omar connected over what was said at the challenge, confirming that Jonathan was sloppy there. It’s an interesting question on what to do with him before the merge. Taku is on track not to lose again, assuming there’s only one more vote before three tribes become one, and while Jonathan is a giant meat shield, as I mentioned above, what happens when he’s immune? Would taking out Jonathan now help Taku blend in more at the merge, or is it better to keep him and hope the target on him keeps the rest of them safe? Probably a moot point since even if Taku decided to throw a challenge to get rid of Jonathan, Jonathan would just win it anyway.
His might is impressive, and this week we learned where that comes from – a dad who sounds little high-strung and over-competitive with waking up his 3-year-old to do pull-ups – but it doesn’t seem to totally have traumatized Jonathan like it would have traumatized 3-year-old Ryan. Jonathan is proud to use his massive muscles but not so much for himself as for others which is atypical of these meathead-looking men. There’s still absolutely no chance this guy is getting anywhere close to the end, but I appreciate him as a character for not fitting the mold he could so easily fit into if he wasn’t so selfless – an early contender for a future “Heroes” tribe for sure.
TROUBLE WITH TORI
We got literally nothing from Ika last week, and it’s almost like they knew it, so they gave us double the drama this week. Circling back after some time, we caught up with this tribe and confirmed that they, too, were a complete disaster.
Rocksroy was playing the role of classic Survivor dad whose only focus was keeping up the camp and not keeping up with the social strategy. Even one of Rocksroy’s closest allies, Romeo, gave us the run-down of just how obnoxious Rocksroy was acting, setting us up for what I thought could be the next boot.
But, Rocksroy wasn’t the only troublemaker, as we still had Tori talking herself into bad situations. Her options were limited as Drea still wanted her out, and Drea was close with Romeo, so Tori’s only option was to stick with Swati and reluctantly try to work on roping in Rocksroy. Attempting to use the knowledge of Drea’s extra vote against her, Tori told Rocksroy about it as a way to say Drea couldn’t be trusted. Rocksroy, of course, not being of the soundest strategic mind, instead turned this around on the person who had been honest with him, Tori.
Rocksroy realized he had been deceived by Drea, but what bothered him more was the fact that Tori was a snitch, so he snitched Tori out to Drea.
I don’t totally disagree, but I found it funny that Rocksroy’s first instinct after finding out Drea lied to him was to go tell Drea who it was that sold her out.
Drea had been wanting to work with Tori for reasons I still don’t understand, but this was what would seem to destroy any remaining possibility of that happening. With Drea, Romeo, and Rocksroy all together to take out Tori, this left Swati with the only option to abandon ship before Tori torpedoed her too. Tori keeps finding herself in trouble, but she also keeps managing to talk her way out of it somehow. I have to give her some credit for that, but sooner or later, her actions will catch up to her. She may still make it to the end, who knows, but I don’t think she’ll be getting any jury votes if she does. Tori’s probably my zero-vote finalist pick at this point, so at least that’ll give me someone to root against for the next two months?
IMMUNITY – REDEMPTION FOR LYDIA
I guess the theme of this episode was “fish.” Fish reward, fish puzzle, me fishing for a third “fish” thing to list here.
My sweet Lydia’s only time to shine this episode was in this challenge and she…well, she tried. Bless her heart.
This one obviously did not favor shorties, and I remember it giving Adam Klein a tough time in Winners at War, too. In that season as well, though, the puzzle was “the equalizer” which meant that Lydia hadn’t lost it yet for Vati.
Jonathan once again pulled Taku to another win, mimicking a motorboat in the water as he yanked his tribe to the puzzle platform. It came down to seconds between the other two tribes, and despite having a time advantage, Drea and Swati couldn’t best the puzzle beast that is Lydia, thus giving her redemption from her less-than-stellar start. Was this puzzle too much of an equalizer in this case? Maybe. Am I mad about it? Absolutely not.
I also think Lydia knew exactly what she was doing. She doesn’t want to end up getting called out as a threat like Jonathan so instead of being in the water — I’d bet my life on her being able to out-swim Jonathan there, no question — she decided to bomb in the beginning, knowing she could easily still win with the puzzle. Go ahead and keep sleeping on her, but just know that when Jeff says, “The winner of Survivor 42 … ” the screen will flash to this face:
And the 2nd and 3rd place finishers will embrace:
This is the final three I need as justice for Jenny!
YOU’RE MY NUMBER ONE
Props to the editing team for this pre-tribal scramble. Sometimes when tribes get messy, the vote becomes hard to follow and the “surprise” isn’t fun in the end because it’s just frustratingly confusing (see: most Winners at War tribal councils) but while Ika was exactly the “disaster” Rocksroy said they were, it all made sense in the end why the vote was between Tori and Swati and why the boot was who it was.
Tori stirred up shit, but Swati stirred up shit too, and it was a matter of choosing whose shit was less shitty. Drea and Rocksroy sounded like they were initially in the boat to boot Tori, but Romeo ultimately had the big sway, I think, in shifting to Swati after talking with Tori. What turned the tide for Romeo was Swati telling Tori that he, Drea, Rocksroy, and Swati were working together. What I think happened was that Tori got caught up in some messy lies, but she ultimately owned them (finally) and defended that she had only reached out to Swati and Rocksroy out of desperation from feeling like she was on bottom. Since she was on the bottom, Romeo understood that, whereas with Swati, her actions were more of a “betrayal” because she was supposed to be committed to an alliance with Romeo.
Then, everyone compared notes and we got the “You’re my number one” segment with Swati which was just perfect. To me, it painted pretty clearly that Swati would be the one to go with the edit burying her that way, but it was very comedic so I forgave the obvious foreshadowing. Swati played how I’d expect any 19-year-old to play Survivor which is why I never find interest in their games. What’s ironic is that Swati specifically said in the premiere that she didn’t want to end up as the young girl who gets voted out early, but thanks to playing exactly that kind of naïve young’un kind of game …
Yeah. Sorry Swati.
I do think long-term still that Tori will be the bigger threat to Ika. Swati may have tried to stay loyal to all of her “number ones” but Tori will have absolutely no loyalty to this tribe or to anyone in this game but herself. I understand the frustration over feeling betrayed by Swati’s side-deals with everyone, but Tori is still tremendous trouble. Time will tell, but especially Drea, I think, is going to be one who wishes she’d have resisted Romeo more and stuck with a Tori vote this round.
AGENT OF CHAOS
With all the she said/she said talk, I was hoping tribal council would turn into an open forum rather than everyone avoiding the elephant in the room. Immediately we could tell that Drea was just done with all the drama of the day, unable to even put into words the “vibe of the tribe.” Her pause said it all. We all know that exact feeling — having so many words to say that you can’t even get one out.
It didn’t take long for Swati to step in and call out Tori as the one who was killing that vibe, and we got what was our first “fight” I’d say at tribal council this season. Last week, Hai and Daniel deliberated over who should go, but they themselves weren’t the targets. At Ika, it was Tori vs. Swati and both young ladies knew it, so this was no time to be a “lady” and instead it was time to brawl.
Swati used the term “agent of chaos” to describe what she felt Tori was painting her as, and I felt like the rest of Ika was trying to figure out whether the saboteur was really Swati or if it was Tori instead. If this was a game of Among Us and Ika voted to eject Swati, I think they’d be saddened to learn then that the imposter, or “agent of chaos,” was still among them.
There’s the third “fish” thing I was looking for earlier!
In her final answer to a question at tribal, Swati told Jeff to hit her up in a couple of years, and I think that’s exactly what Swati needed to go further in this game. She seemed mature for her age, but she made a lot of mistakes in her social game that I think she’d have been able to avoid with a few more years under her belt or maybe after a little more studying up on her Survivor history — you know, really perfect her game like who I consider to have played the best first game ever, the winner of Survivor: One World, Kat.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
I’m sure Jonathan’s a big fan favorite right now with all that he adds to the show “for the plot.” However, if he tries to hack off a chunk of Maryanne’s foot next week, then most of the Survivor fandom is going to be coming for him, and not in the Jeff way. That will be a fun time at Taku, and then I get to see this face again finally at Vati:
I’d have the exact same reaction to someone telling me Daniel’s the one to beat. Dude … just how Hai are you right now?
Drea – I was really impressed with Drea this week. I was worried from the premiere that she’d lose her cool at some point, but despite being linked to a lot of the drama on Ika with the other girls doing her dirty and trying to vote her out, Drea kept calm and didn’t panic. I can’t recall if Drea has children, but I bet she felt like the mom of Ika having to listen to Tori and Swati tattle on each other — her composure at tribal council was very controlled, but I could tell she had just simply run out of fucks to give by that point. I’m glad she finally realized that Romeo is the correct ride or die of this tribe, and hopefully at the merge she’ll just ditch Rocksroy and Tori if they’re both there. Drea will deserve a rest by then.
Romeo – Once again, Romeo remained the one person on Ika who was never a target. Even surrounded by chaos, Romeo is rock-solid. Part of me, though, wonders if Romeo is just that good or if Ika is just bad. Socially he’s excelling now, but he doesn’t have the strongest competition. I think at the merge, he should fare well to go far, but while he’s been a key decision-maker at Ika, my question is if he’ll be able to be the same kind of ringleader to build up his resume or, no longer being the only voice of reason on a tribe, will he let others take too much of the command?
Lydia – She gave me a new photoshop template. That alone is Player of the Week title-worthy.
Jeff wishes he could be that last one.
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