Thus ends the first act of Survivor 42, and all in all, it’s been a much stronger showing than what we got in 41. I know everyone, I care for most, love a few, and I think I only hate one. Each tribe is just barely holding itself together which would make next week’s episode exciting if not for that fact that we’re probably getting the shitty twist again (ugh). So far, though, every element of 41 that’s been rehashed here has been improved which makes me think next week has a shot not to suck. It may be a shot in the dark, but it’s a shot. First, however, let’s wrap up this pre-merge.
I like when the show opens with immediate post-tribal council camp scenes because everything is fresh from the vote, and it’s an especially juicy treat when the vote is divisive. We wondered last week whether Rocksroy voted for Tori intentionally as part of a vote split, but it turns out, Rocks was just left out of the loop.
Romeo tried to repair the relationship by explaining that Swati was making too many promises, but Rocksroy still felt as though he had gotten a wake-up call on his poor social game, the one that’s pushing Tori to want to flip on Ika the first chance she gets. Tori confirmed exactly what I worried about for Ika last week — while Swati was making too many number ones, I think her loyalty to this “four strong” would have been stronger than Tori’s. For as long as Rocksroy is with Ika, Tori will never be.
Tori will end up either making a mess of the merge vote and be voted out within the first one or two, or this pissy attitude of hers will get her picked up and taken to the end where she’ll be Reem’d by the jury. Either way, I should be satisfied. No one’s going to give a million dollars to that smug smile.
The only woman right now who strikes me as having a strong shot to win the game is surprisingly Drea who I thought came out of the gates a little too strong but has calmed down a bit with the guidance of her right-hand man, Romeo.
We learned a little more about Romeo’s pageantry career in which he uplifts women and builds them up to be the best they can be, driven by his love and admiration of his personal hero, his mom. It’s a weird thing to admit in Survivor that you’re there to “support” which is exactly the thing I worried about with Romeo from his pre-game press. Unless this was ironic foreshadowing, I think the scene of Drea snagging the Beware Advantage confirmed that Romeo is currently playing a runner-up game.
That’s not to say he's playing poorly — quite the contrary — but if he’s at the end with Drea, it could be the classic case of the louder, more dominant personality and the person who found all the “stuff” in the game taking credit even though it may have been the craftier, more cunning social player who was really more responsible for getting both to the end. We’ve seen this play out a lot, just the genders typically reversed. We’ll see — I’d like Drea winning at this point as she’s been fun to watch, and I love her confessionals, but I’ll feel bad if Romeo is “robbed” in this sort of way.
One last thing before I leave Ika – that location of the advantage. Much like it looked to be the case at Luvu last season, I don’t buy for a second that that package sat in such plain sight, unclaimed, for eight days. This was definitely its second, maybe even third location after Ika failed to find it sooner. That’s a great strategy for future Survivor players, actually – don’t waste time looking for an idol early and paint a target on your back. Just wait until it moves into more obvious view.
HERE'S MORE MARYANNE!
I, of course, love Maryanne, but I won’t lie — I sympathized majorly with Jonathan here. I’m an introvert, which doesn’t mean I hate people (at least by default), but I need my personal space. Stuck in a shelter all day with two people who won’t stop talking about things you couldn’t give a single fuck about? Absolute torture. I felt this face.
This wasn’t the first time we saw tension at Taku caused by Maryanne talking too much, but that tension has clearly been building over the last few episodes. I still think Taku’s the most “kumbaya” of the three tribes with Vati and Ika very much living in “holy crap-baya,” but when one tribe member almost cuts off the foot of another, I can’t help but sense a little aggression.
Omar came across as the one trying to keep Taku together and acknowledged that while Maryanne can be a little much, her extra vote and hopefully soon-to-be idol make her an asset. Omar worried that if anyone feels “petty” that could put them in trouble when the tribes merge, though — cue an ominous camera shift from Maryanne to Jonathan.
Something tells me that the Mario Kart master may have a blue shell with Jonathan’s name on it later.
Maryanne said she always plays as her Mii, but me? I always play as the princesses in Mario Kart or Mario Party. There’s just nothing more satisfying than making my friends eat Cat Peach’s dust on the tracks or curb-stomping them in minigames as Rosalina. I always get the bonus star for minigame wins.
SOMETHING FISHY GOING ON
I don’t know why Vati allowed Daniel to take their fishing spear into the ocean given his reputation of losing everything he touches, but I sure know one man who wouldn’t have let that happen after his personal experience in Pearl Islands.
What the tribe instead questioned was why Daniel wanted to even fish in the first place. Daniel’s opted to sit out of almost every challenge because of his shoulder, yet all of the sudden he was ready to be Rupert and play fisherman? They needed to consult Hai here because something wasn’t adding up.
Mike described Daniel as a liability and the question became how long this tribe could afford to carry Daniel through the game. Hai and Lydia agreed that Daniel was a problematic player, but he was also transparent — i.e. he doesn’t know how to hide his game. On the other hand, Chanelle was harder to track and, I agree, would be the bigger threat to them at the merge. I don’t know what changed their minds after this, but I followed their logic up until this point.
The other issue of transparency on Vati was what to do about Mike’s idol. It was discussed openly with the tribe, so somewhere off-screen Mike must’ve told Hai and Lydia about the Beware Advantage, explaining that if he didn’t say anything about it at the next immunity challenge, he’d still get an idol at the merge but the other two tribes wouldn’t know about it.
This was exactly what I was trying to figure out the other week with the new rules on this Beware Advantage idol. If not all three idols are found, then the rules say whoever did find one gets to keep it, with full power, at the merge. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. The issue for me was: what if each person only thinks that all three idols hadn’t been found? Mike is expecting an idol anyway, but if all three were found but failed to be activated at a challenge, as the rule states they must, what then? Technically everyone failed, so then no one should get idols, but Mike thinks he did everything right so in his mind he should get an idol.
Ultimately, this is a moot point now since everyone did the thing at the challenge, but I guess if Mike didn’t say anything, everyone’s idols would’ve still been activated? So the only penalty for not activating the idols publicly is that they’re just powerless until the merge? I don’t know. Do I care? Not really. This should be the last we ever see of these stupid secret phrases.
IMMUNITY – POTATO!
Drea was the one who said she was having an existential crisis over whether or not she was a potato, but the real potato of the night for me was Omar. I understand “slow and steady wins the race,” but Omar almost looked like he was trying to throw this challenge with the way he was so delicately moving those ropes. While he may not be an actual potato, I’m pretty sure if Taku lost this challenge, Jonathan was going to eat him anyway.
Luckily for Omar, the green slingshot in this challenge is unlucky (Ua lost this challenge last season) and despite a delay, Jonathan was able to beast his way to another Taku victory along with Ika, sending Vati to tribal council.
This time, I was less worried about Vati voting because Hai and Lydia had moved from the bottom to the top and I was pretty sure Daniel or Chanelle would be an easy boot. On top of feeling Lydia wasn’t in any danger, she also got selected to go on a “journey” which meant guaranteed content! Did I need another journey this episode? No, but since Lydia was sent, I was not complaining.
LEARNING A LOT
While Lydia and Rocksroy learned little about each other, this week’s special journey segment was spent on Lydia who shared with us what Survivor has taught her about herself and how even in her short time, she’s learned how to be more confident in who she is and what she looks like. Other than that, the show kept this journey short and sweet which made sense since both players chose to play it safe and protect their votes. Thankfully, Lydia did not make the same mistake she saw Chanelle make, or else I’d have lost the warm and fuzzy feelings Lydia had me feeling from her personal story shared here.
How could you not trust that face to be the “queen-maker”?
Honestly, it was a little rude of Daniel to call Lydia that as if to imply she wasn’t already a queen herself, but we know Daniel’s not great when it comes to thinking before he speaks.
Much like last time Vati voted, the initial plan hinged on the journeyer not losing their vote, and since Lydia didn’t, it seemed like easy pickings between Daniel and Chanelle, the “two weasels in a chicken coop” as Hai put it. Mike was down with whatever Hai and Lydia wanted to do, so this pairing ended up the boot-maker. I think we got a lot more strategic narration from Hai, indicating he maybe had a little more influence than Lydia, but one line at the end right before tribal council stood out to me from this segment.
Hai said, “whether it be Chanelle or Daniel that goes into the merge with me will determine how well I do in this game.” Obviously, that means this vote will ultimately be critical to Hai’s fate in the game which makes me nervous because I don’t see looking back at this and going “good thing Hai voted out Daniel” as much as I see myself later thinking, “Hai should’ve voted out Chanelle.” Daniel was only going to flame out harder than he already had, but the merge is where Chanelle’s going to pick her game back up and if anyone is going to regret not getting rid of her when they had the chance, narratively, it’s going to be Hai.
FRIENDS TO THE VERY END
Even at tribal council, it was obvious to me which “weasel” was way more dangerous. Daniel talked about how while Survivor is a cutthroat game, there can still be real friendships made that last a lifetime. Chanelle then took no time trying to twist Daniel’s words and accuse him of using them to manipulate the tribe. Normally I’d agree, but with Daniel, I do think he was being genuine here, expressing his friendly feelings toward especially Mike, who we learned was 117-year-old.
Or maybe he’s not, and Hai’s still just really confused when it comes to numbers.
Maybe it was nerves, knowing she was on the chopping block, but Chanelle came off as so cold at this tribal council. Even to Jeff she was short and snippy — which I don’t mind, of course, but it didn’t help her case next to the guy who was pouring his heart out about how much he loved Vati. I’m still not sure — I guess the others felt that Daniel was more unpredictable in what he could do, whereas Chanelle could cause damage but in a more calculatable way.
To give an analogy like Jeff so desperately desired at this tribal council, and since Mario Kart came up this episode, Daniel and Chanelle are like shells, hehe. Both hurt other racers, but Chanelle’s the red shell whose target is clear whereas Daniel is a green shell who’s capable of hitting anyone. By that same token, though, Chanelle’s not going to miss her target but Daniel might, so this analogy is actually pointless and only time will tell whether Vati made the right decision or not. I still think they made the wrong one, but this race is far from over.
No shot in the dark? I’m not sure I agree with that either and even less sure on Chanelle’s vote for Mike (I can only think she thought Daniel could be saved by his shot, so she needed another name in the urn instead of just her own). Daniel and Chanelle knew it was one or the other leaving, but I guess a 50/50 shot wasn’t scary enough for either them to take a 1/6 shot at safety. That, or Hai, Lydia, and Mike finally did a decent job of fooling the target which Taku and Ika had failed to do at their tribal councils. But the target was also Daniel so…
Nah, Daniel wasn’t the worst player we’ve ever seen, but he was right to call it early that he wouldn’t win season 42. It was easy to see that he was just a big kid living out his childhood fantasies, so he wanted to do as much as he could in the game (except when it came to challenges, apparently) which caused him to overplay. Chanelle and Mike kind of screwed him at the first Vati vote, but had he handled the situation better, he could’ve returned to camp with Mike and Chanelle still on his side. I was honestly surprised to see him go this early because his story felt like it had legs and a feeling of, “what will Daniel do next?” He may not have been a great player, but he was pretty good TV. For only making it 5 episodes, I feel his story was fleshed out and we got the full picture of who Daniel is and what he was or wasn’t capable of in the game. He had some funny moments and if it weren’t for him driving the train off the rails at the first vote, then I’d have lost Lydia and maybe even Hai before the merge, so I kind of have Daniel to thank for them remaining in the game.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR …
Hai’s the only one with the correct reaction to next week’s 2-hour episode: FUCK!
Until I see otherwise, I’m just going to assume it’ll be a literal repeat of last season’s “not exactly” merge where half the cast wins immunity only to have it stolen from them later by an hourglass twist that presents a fake decision. Pissing me off even more is the fact that this is the first time ever we could enter a merge with three tribes who’ve never swapped and are even at 4-4-4 but we’re not going to get to see that dynamic play out because only 4 or 5 (I forget) will actually be vulnerable at the vote. I think it’s safe to assume whichever team has Jonathan will “win” the first challenge which means they’ll actually lose immunity, so Jonathan’s individual immunity run better start immediately, or else a whole arsenal of Mario Kart items is going to be launched his way and he’ll end up a predictable almost-merge boot.
Lydia – The stars of the week were some of the season’s duos, one of which is Lydia and Hai who were fun to watch at the top this episode instead of being blindsided on the bottom. I think she technically has more content now than Erika did at this point, so her winning isn’t out of the question, but sadly I’d probably say her odds are low. Between her and Hai, I think Lydia should outlast Hai when he inevitably goes out for being too big of a threat later, but we haven’t seen enough of Lydia’s game to know if she’ll be able to steer the ship at that point. Either way, she’s made the merge and I don’t think she should be an immediate target anytime soon which means she’ll be around to provide more laughs. Lydia is clearly a comedian, but I enjoyed seeing her more serious and vulnerable side as she opened up about herself during the journey this week. Sometimes humor can be a defense mechanism, but it sounds like Lydia is finding her own and growing more comfortable with who she is, so other times, it can just be fun to be the butt of your own jokes. #bfja
Hai – As mentioned, of Hai and Lydia, Hai was more of the “voice” of this vote with us getting a lot more insight from him at camp during the pre-council scramble. Once everyone else meets Hai, they’re going to soon learn how smooth he is and I think he’ll struggle going very deep in the merge. Jonathan’s a bigger target than him, Rocksroy may rub people the wrong way and end up ousted early, but then people will start looking at social/strategic threats, and Hai should be #1 on everyone’s radar. He’ll also have Chanelle working against him, I think, telling everyone how he managed to climb from the bottom to the top of their tribe, masterfully manipulating that first Vati vote in his favor. I’d still love a Hai win, but those odds are lower for me at the moment. Next week should either confirm that or surprise me if Hai shows he’ll be able to sneak by for a while.
Romeo – The other important duo of the week was Romeo and Drea. Romeo’s stuck a little in that “beta” role to Drea’s “alpha” but it’s too early for that to be a real problem. In fact, that’s the ideal spot you want to be in at the start of the merge – Romeo just can’t stay that way for the rest of the merge. Drea’s loaded with loot now, so she’ll be hard to take out, but as the man who knows all of her secrets, Romeo would also be best-equipped to be the one to pull that trigger. Romeo’s story this week of being a big supporter of women in his life is important for understanding how Romeo operates, so the question will be whether or not he can abandon that supportive role and take on a leading one to win this game. I think he already is playing a leading game, so as long as he can let the eventual jury see that, I think his would be a fun story to see end with a win like he’s helped so many others achieve throughout his life.
Drea – Is Drea the most dec’d out woman in Survivor history? Shy of $2 million, of course, she wasn’t wrong to call herself “Survivor rich.” Between an idol, an extra vote, and an amulet that can turn into one of three powers, Drea’s quite powerful headed into the merge. Immediately, she’ll have connections to Lindsay and Hai with their amulets, but I think the three will be likelier to gun for each other than work together. Whoever is the last one standing has their amulet turned into an idol, so if Drea wants an extra vote and two idols, then that’s her move. Three major advantages all to herself? Cue that evil laugh I love:
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