The Breakfast Club has been DEVOURED as the outcasts grow hungrier for the win, and I still love to hate to see it. I feel like the votes this week were a little less shocking if still as socially complex as ever, but even though they were straightforward, their stories made sense and had a satisfying end which is far more important to me. It sucked seeing such great players go but, in their place, emerged new masterminds and manipulators making strong pushes to be one of only two outcasts who will reach Day 39 across two seasons. I haven’t thought about that as much I should — 18 people who didn’t make it to the end of Survivor their first time won’t make it there again, and some not even close! The emotional weight of this is not unrealized, however, as Return of the Outcasts remains an extreme emotional roller-coaster week after week. I’m obsessed as ever with this season and its following stars of Week 4!
Marian finally breaks the curse of my biggest stanees of the week getting the boot, and Marian was the sole triple-star earner, like the triple threat she is! Episode 14 ended up a pretty simple, straightforward boot for what was the takedown of the season’s biggest asshole, but what earned Marian a star in the STANdings there was her tactful lying in wait to make a move on Meryl, first taking away her meat shield. I also loved that in all the chaos of Dante freaking out about getting votes onto Dino at tribal council, Marian calmly sat there and told him, “Keep it the same,” knowing he’d be standing up soon again when he went to grab his torch …
Love that big Sherri Biethman energy.
In Episode 15, Marian was a beautiful mix of hero and villain. One of her standout moments for me was after the reward/immunity challenge when Tejan was complaining about hunger and Marian took some small satisfaction out of keeping him malnourished and weak. I was finally like, “ah, there’s that Season 5 reputation I had only heard rumors about,” and later when she talked about allies in the game, she delivered a great line, “is a friendship going to buy me a house?” Marian will make friends after the game — I’m loving that while she’s in it, everyone is competition. But, being the masterfully manipulative players she is, she turned down a hidden immunity idol at the outpost to instead bring home rice for the tribe and win some favor, both for the tribe and a big stan star from me for following in the footsteps of a former Survivor who probably would’ve earned a stan star from me every episode had I been giving them out during her season: Angelina.
Of course, after the big Steffi blindside, it was no surprise that Marian had an enormous Episode 16 and earned herself a third stan star in a row. She was next in line on Meryl’s list, yet she managed to completely flip the vote around and she ATE her former Breakfast Club and Full Package ally! On top of that, she had a major come-from-behind victory in the immunity challenge with an emotional breakdown over the win (a trend this week). This was a very emotional episode for Marian and one that made me really double down on my hopes for her winning this whole thing.
With Meryl out of the way, this seems like a two-horse race now between Marian and Dino, pending any Survivor SA surprises with a winner edit, which is far from being out-of-the-question. I think that scene between her and Dino, though, where both talked about how the winner of this season should be someone who has an intense love and passion for the game was foreshadowing that one of these two will ultimately take the title they so desperately crave. I also appreciated Marian pointing out that she doesn’t need a lot of BIG moves to win; she just needs a lot of smart ones, and while she was blindsided bigtime this week, her recovery was executed so well that I think Marian will definitely still be in this game after another 4 episodes, and I hope she’s in the final one (as a finalist, not a juror).
I was really nervous for Dino in this merge after the Palesa vote (I may never emotionally recover from that, by the way), but he once more proved that his performance in his first game wasn’t the best evidence of his true potential. He could have gone down in flames had he stuck with Toni, but he saw the original Masus gunning for her, so he jumped ship. What earned him a stan star in that episode was how incredible his read was on Steffi as the one to snuggle up to — strategically! Dino made sure to let us all know he had a fiancé!
By working so hard on Steffi, he quickly earned her trust and had another member of the powerful Breakfast Club protecting him, adding to Dante’s list of grievances against him. Dino saw that Steffi and Killarney weren’t working with Toni like Toni thought, so Dino did what he had to do to survive and turned on Toni — if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
Dino’s even bigger episode was the third of the week in which he somehow ended up in the swing position when it was finally time for the three queens (Marian, Meryl, and Steffi) to take swings at each other. His target was initially Meryl, and I loved his confessional about why he chose to bring Meryl on reward, pretending it was to pay her back for the last one, but in actuality it was to keep her out of camp so the rest of the players there could plot her demise. Brilliant!
Dino’s shining moment, though, right up there with Marian’s was his emotional immunity win — his first as well but with the added car reward. After winning that, Dino opened up about how he had had a shaky couple of years financially and had to sell off some assets, including his car, so this was a reward he desperately needed. Imagine if Meryl had tried using her OUTsurance reward send there! Awkwaaaaaard!
Dino is playing the game hard and sometimes ruthless (voting out friends over foes for the betterment of his positioning) but how could you not love this guy? It’s clear his cast feels the same way, and while that should make him too big of a threat to take to the end … I wonder if anyone will be able to betray their heart and cut him? The only two I couldn’t see crying over a Dino boot would be Shane and Killarney — Shane because he sees himself as the hero of the season and Killarney because I’m not sure she understands that when people are voted out, they leave the game for good, so she may not realize the emotional impact of writing Dino’s name down. Or she’s just playing the biggest hustler game in history and is running the show like she says she is — I don’t know.
All that to say, I’d love Dino winning just as much as I’d love Marian winning. What I would love even more is both of them in the final two, but both would be boneheads to let that happen, so whichever of the two takes the other one out I think wins the whole game.
Meryl’s target finally grew too big to ignore, but she at least had a big week in her big sendoff. I think Meryl was the one to start the series of emotional first-time immunity wins (Phil’s was a little more funny than heartfelt), winning immunity not only on the day she was voted out previously but also on the date one of her kids was born. Her victory was also another surprise story of the tortoise vs. hares (so I guess the win shouldn’t have actually been surprising), and I of course love moms crushing it on Survivor, so Episode 14 was a big Meryl stanning episode for me. Her reads on the game were sharp as always, too, especially clocking how Felix was trying to save both Dino and Dante at that vote, ultimately letting it go toward Dante while craftily not having to cast the vote herself due to her trip to the Outpost. She got everyone to do her dirty work with Dante, and it was impressive to see it all play out.
Things went downhill for Meryl after that, and fast. She narrowly avoided being blindsided at 9, saved by Felix finally stepping up to play and shift the vote to Steffi, but once it was revealed just how full Meryl’s pouch was, the tribe decided to pounce on her. Still, Meryl gets a stan star for her swan song episode in which she came up with a stellar strategic move … if only everyone wasn’t already against her by that point. Using her tribal council pass to shrink the opposing side’s numbers? As brilliant as it was last season when Chappies did it! Had Meryl still had the other men on her side, her 3-2-2 split plan would have been perfect. Unfortunately for her, her game was already looking too perfect, so the ones who saved her at the last vote sent her packing at the next.
Meryl was a sharp, social player her last time, but I don’t feel like she drove much of the game — she also didn’t last long enough to do so. This season, however, Meryl sat at the top of the totem pole for many weeks, and it’s only for that reason that anyone decided she needed to be knocked down. After Week 1, she was looking like a solid winner pick, but I suppose everyone else caught on to that. A sad ending for her, but certainly no game to be sad about! I don’t doubt that her decision not to play the 50/50 does haunt her a bit, however … I wouldn’t be surprised if they re-shot her final interview when she did flip it, but that “Safe!” was the ultimate “Oop!” of the week.
If you’d have told me I’d be upset over a Steffi boot before the season, I’d have laughed, but I’ve been singing her praises for four weeks now so it’s no surprise I’ve done a total 180 on her. Her final stan star from me comes for her gameplay in Episode 13 where I thought she was setting herself up very well for a win. I loved the “cross-pollinating” phrase she used to describe what she was doing to give herself a few more appetizing alternatives to the Breakfast Club. Major props to Felix for, I think, calling that one correctly and making the move on Steffi ahead of Meryl and Marian. Steffi had the strategy, she had the social game, she’s been a beast in challenges (despite running on a bit of a bum knee) – it made perfect sense for her to go. She’s one of the fiercest physical competitors this show has seen, and while in Island of Secrets, that brought out an uglier side of her, it’s clear she’s grown and this time that drive to win just focused her attention on the, in my opinion, more important elements of the game. So here I am, a surprising Steffi stan at the end of her second run, devastated she didn’t go the distance! Motherfucker!
Yeah, I’m literally giving Phil a stan star just for taking a piss. But what an iconic piss it was! Survivor has had other legendary leaks with Kathy the OG and Fabio, but neither of those two strategically used their urine to actually win an immunity challenge. Put this man on SurvivorSA: Game Changers. Also, the camerawork during that moment was just …
Going where no men have dared gone before … well, except maybe Dino.
Tejan, oh sweet Tejan, the most strategic player you are not, but I appreciate you trying. He’s been a mostly quiet player this season but has broken out of his shell in the past week (for better or for worse) with surprising I CAN GET LOUD TOO WHAT THE FUCK (kinda) moments at tribal council. His eyes weren’t the first to look at Meryl, Marian, and Steffi for running the show, but he earned a small stan star in Episode 14 when he was so bold as to call them out at tribal for it. The vote still went for Dante, but could Tejan be credited as the instigator for the next two to come? Probably not, but I appreciate him speaking him mind. The proceeding episodes didn’t portray him in the best of light, and I think Tejan has the second longest shot of winning this next to Killarney, but he’s also so much of a wild card that he could do some unsuspecting damage (especially with that idol) – please just don’t direct that at Marian or Dino, thanks.
I died when I saw Marian tweet the gif form of that Moira moment when talking about Felix this week because it was verbatim what I asked when he made the big push for Steffi to go in Episode 15, earning a whopping stan star #2 of the season. I appreciate that Felix is finally playing a bit harder, and that was indeed a big move to add to his résumé, but I have to also acknowledge that almost literally everyone else in the game is a bigger threat than him, so unless he was actively plotting his own boot, it would be hard for Felix to not be in a good position right now. I will give him credit for perfectly playing the Dante/Dino sides to ensure his safety, and since then he’s 100% saddled up with the No BS alliance. He’ll probably play a critical role in what may be a later decision to vote out Dino, but in the last episode, he also talked about how it was hard to betray his morals, so I’m not so sure he’ll do it. If Dino does win, I think Felix will have a major part in making that happen — I don’t see Felix winning, but I’m happy to report he’s won me over more here than he did in Island of Secrets.
The man, the myth, the legend in his mind and his mind only … okay, maybe mine too. Shane’s almost always close to a stan star just for some of the wild shit he says, but he’s just not as main of a character as some of the others. That said, when Shane shines, he shines spectacularly, and he did in Episode 16 for me. Shane’s far from the one in charge if you ask anyone but Shane, so I found it hilariously ironic that he was so critical of Tejan and Killarney’s poor social games. He was also dissing Dante’s game (and if Shane thinks you suck, you must really suck) which had me rolling this week too, because I love all Dante slander. Shane is just living his best life in his own world and I love it. I feel like he’s going to go out one of these days thinking the tribe finally banded together to boot the biggest threat of the season and there will be no convincing him that that wasn’t their M.O. We have 8 more episodes with only 5 more boots, so there’s going to be some “filler” time that I hope will go a lot more to this fascinating man. If nothing else, I’m here for his fashion journey as we saw this week with his new toga.
The original Shane:
Shane in red
Shiny Shane bling:
Shane-tay you slay!
Halfway through, I couldn’t justify giving half the cast stars — though they’d arguably deserve them — so I raised the bar to a Top 3 only this week instead of 4. My two “brain” picks to win are also my two “heart” picks to win so this bodes extremely well for how satisfied I will be at this season’s ending. If my “gut” had to break the tie … I honestly think I’d go with Dino. I tried to block out the shitty second half of Island of Secretions, but I recall Rob winning a car for “Fan Favorite” — so does that mean that since SA is in the opposite hemisphere than the US, winning the car means you win the game? Or does an audience-awarded car (it should have been Seipei’s!) not count, thus the curse remains in effect? Dino winning or losing will be the determinant on that, I guess.
Almost everyone has been amazing TV, and even those with fewer stars have had a few moments at least that made them sparkle, so this will undoubtedly be an exciting finish. I don’t know how the episodes will shake out with 6 tribal councils (including final) spread over 8 episodes, but SA knows how to tell a good fucking story, so however they do it, I’m sure we’ll remain entertained!
OUSTED OUTCASTS – WEEK 4
What a tragic, heartbreaking series of torch snuffs … and Dante.
I deservedly bitched about Dante all season, but admittedly all four of these players elevated their games to the next level — I just hated that Dante went full Hantz with his “my way or the highway” approach and general gross attitude toward some people, especially Toni and Dino. Obsessed, much?
Toni had a big week last week post-swap but tragically fell victim to Masu turning on itself as I worried would happen. I pointed out last week that only Yontaus had been booted after they voted out Tania, but she passed her torch to Palesa and now we’ve seen four Masus follow Palesa out the door. HER POWER! Toni didn’t want Palesa to go, but she let that vote slip through her fingers, leaving her fate in the hands of the Breakfast Club as well as Dino and Phil who were just desperate to be a part of any plan that wasn’t their own departure. Sad to see her go, but happy she had such a big story in the first half of this season!
Dante was then the big, satisfying villain boot of the season and went out with a glorious temper-tantrum and this iconic exit, standing up to leave before Nico even read the last vote:
That might be my favorite screenshot of the week, even up against Phil’s crotch-cam with the pee droplets. Dante was the center of a lot of drama, but his major negative energy felt like a black hole at times, so I’m glad the final seven isn’t left with anyone that I just genuinely do not like.
Steffi and Meryl looked among the best positioned to get to the end, but we knew the Full Package was eager to flip on one another, so it was to be expected that one would outlast the other two. I was devastated to see them both go, but I have nothing but high praise for the way they stepped up their games to become top contenders to win it all.
We’re down to the last third of the game, and with just Marian and Killarney as the last women standing, the odds are stacked against a woman winning, but it’s going to be an extremely close call, I think, between Marian and Dino, who I’ve stanned just as much as I normally do any woman on the show, so a Dino win would be like an honorary win in that regard. Still, with the boot order of Thoriso, Palesa, Toni, Steffi, and Meryl, this has been a ROUGH two weeks for fierce feminism.
Please, Marian! Grab this game and those boys by the balls, and show them who’s the girlboss!
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