It’s hard to follow-up a fantastic premiere, and this Episode 2 falls in line with many others before it, just being “okay” for me and was lacking in laugh-out-loud moments. Yase was a disastah which ended up making for an exciting ending, but a lot of other storylines from last week were put on pause. I love a shitshow tribe, but sometimes that means sacrificing content from other tribes. I want to love all tribes equally for being train wrecks, but we’re only just leaving the 41 station, so there’s still plenty of time to reach derailment — have no fear.
This episode started off wild, which made me believe we were in for more wackiness than what we got.
As if I need more reason to be annoyed by JD, he stupidly asked Brad who was clearly lying in the shelter with his eyes closed, “Trying to take a nap?” The obvious answer should have been “yes,” but in retrospect, maybe Brad wasn’t napping and instead pretending to be invisible here.
Anyway, Brad was not sleeping, or he was until JD asked if he was, but wanted the tribe to think that so that when he saw JD and Ricard walk to go get water — a task he said never needs two people, knowing what “getting water” actually means — he could sprint down another route and initiate a little spy session.
I already made a Fortnite reference last week so my quota for the season is more than met, but I understood Brad’s hiding logic here because when I play Fortnite, I am what I call a proud “bush camper. ” I find a nice cushy bush on the map — I know all the best ones — and hide there until a match is down between me and two other players or duos (if I’m playing with a partner). After those two whittle each other down a bit, I jump out, finish the job, and steal the Victory Royale like a total punk, but a win’s a win! Thus, Brad’s “bush camping” made total sense to me.
What lost me, though, was Brad closing his eyes so that JD and Ricard could no longer “feel” his gaze on them, as if it burned their skin like the sun. I know Brad said he was a hunting expert but . . .
Brad heard his name being talked about, and after Ricard and JD left, Brad bolted back to camp to resume his fake nap, telling Shan a bit of what he heard. I wondered last week where Shan and Ricard stood after the vote, but they confirmed to be each other’s #1s, so Shan blew Brad’s cover to Ricard as soon as she had the chance. Obviously, Ricard did not take to this well and I anticipate death glares being delivered in the near future. Maybe if Brad kept his eyes open a little more, he’d have seen this coming . . . instead, if Ua loses again, he may end up more of the dreaded deer in the headlights.
With Luvu yet to vote, there’s not as much drama here like there is at Ua and Yase, so of the three tribes, Luvu’s got the lightest edit thus far.
After Naseer shot himself in the foot last week playing too fast too soon, this week we saw him viewed as a major asset to Luvu, being the only who could start a fire. We got a glimpse into his Sri Lankan upbringing, including some choice B-roll footage showing what I can only assume is the first remote-looking village the film crew could find. We saw some personal photos of Naseer, but I don’t believe for a second that the show flew to Naseer’s actual hometown just to film a few wild chickens and a small river.
“Hey, a river’s a river. The audience won’t know whether this is Naseer’s childhood river or not.”
Deshawn and Sydney joked about how inept Luvu was without Naseer, and Sydney stated that he may not be the first boot that he initially seemed, getting tossed after he’s taught them what they need to know. This redeeming segment following Naseer’s first impression makes it seem like he’s recovered, but I’m still not convinced. A bad first impression is hard to break, and while spirits are high with a current winning streak, if/when Luvu loses, I could easily see them reverting back to boot the tribe’s initial instigator of drama.
Small tribes continued to prove to be the most fun because of how easy it is for players to become paranoid when as little as two people walk away from camp together. Left behind while the tribe looked for food, Liana and Xander worried whether or not they should read into being alone. Being alone, however, also allows time to idol hunt.
Xander set off in search and was soon successful in finding what Tiffany couldn’t — for all the talk of this season being harder despite shorter, it sure didn’t take Xander long to look in the right tree. At least his prize wasn’t perfect; in fact, it may be the worst “advantage” in the history of the show. Admittedly, Xander had the choice to take heed of the giant “BEWARE” warning, but how bad could something also labeled “advantage” really be?
Pretty bad, actually. Xander learned his advantage was only activated if the two other tribes agreed to take the same risk of opening the note, and until they do, Xander will not have a vote at tribal council. Xander was instructed that he still didn’t have an idol, he now didn’t have a vote, and the only way he would win both back would be to make a complete fool of himself at the next immunity challenge along with two other people.
Sure seems that way!
While the offer would have been tempting, I’m not sure I’d be able to open an envelope with such a warning label. I’d be quicker to stage someone else finding it with me; that way, they could take the bad, and I could at least be aware of the good they got if not later share in it.
Xander once again played the honesty card and confided this curse in his closest allies Evvie and Voce. Evvie observed that while he was powerless at the moment, if Xander pulled this off, not only would he hold a lot of power (an idol and an extra vote), but it’d be in line with what she’s seen too often in Survivor which is men getting credit for everything at the end. Evvie does not want this to be her fate in the game, so she expressed her secret loyalty to Tiffany and Liana with whom she shared Xander’s advantage find. It’s hard at this point to envision a man taking credit for Evvie’s moves because right now she’s the one making most of them at Yase.
IMMUNITY – BALANCING BUTTERFLIES
We didn’t have to wait long for Xander’s moment of goofy glory as he delivered the line, “I truly believe that butterflies are dead relatives saying hi,” and the other tribes’ reactions were appropriately “WTF”:
Much to Xander’s disappointment, no one followed up with the other idiotic lines, which means he’s going to have to somehow work this into every immunity challenge from now until someone else gets the hint. By about the third time he says this, if I was there, I’d be asking Medical to consider pulling him from the game due to apparent concussion. That boy ain’t right.
Tiffany also wasn’t right for this challenge as the poor woman struggled hard getting across the balance beam. She didn’t quite get the hero moment the show gave to Cirie a few years ago, but at least she’s currently my top contender for the Debbie Donato Wanner Award for Best Performance on a Balance Beam — Michele’s been the reigning recipient for over a year now. We did, however, get some dramatic slow-mo shots and shouts as Yase cheered on Tiffany, but the greatest cheerleader of the night, maybe ever, was Heather:
I literally cannot handle how cute she is, oh my god!
Heather’s words and gestures of encouragement led Luvu to another victory followed by Ua, sending Yase to another vote. Ahead of that, though, Jeff revealed that Luvu would be sending away someone from Yase (to return before tribal council). They selected Evvie and then needed someone from either Ua or Luvu to join her, so Deshawn volunteered to go off on what we found out would be another trip to the summit.
I thought it was a little lazy for this to play out exactly like we saw last week just with one less player. Had Xander and JD ended up here again, how would that even have worked? Xander technically had no vote to protect or risk, and would JD have had to risk both his votes or just one of the two? These are questions that will likely never be answered and two that I’m sure the show simply hoped would never need to be.
Evvie was quick to open up to Deshawn about Yase social dynamics. At first, I was surprised she was so transparent, but Evvie astutely realized that there’d be a swap soon-ish, and Yase would be hurting for numbers, so she used this time with Deshawn to secure her a potential lifeline down the line. She even gave Deshawn an extra vote for free which was another issue I had with the twist being re-used. The only way the choice is compelling is when each party doesn’t know what they others are going to do, but if they’re allowed to strike a deal at the summit, then it’s pretty anticlimactic.
Deshawn, thus, won an extra vote, but I think Evvie won bigger here with how much social capital she bought with her bold honesty. If she doesn’t directly swap to a tribe with Deshawn, she at least has solid odds of landing with someone who knows her to be trustworthy. Compared to last week, there was at least more strategy talk at this summit to make it exciting, so I’ll forgive this being a déjà vu date just a tiny bit.
ON LIFE SUPPORT
As Yase prepared for another vote, Tiffany admitted the loss was “a little” on her. Ehhhhhhh, okay. I wasn’t there, but the story certainly was suggesting the responsibility was more than “a little” on Tiffany.
Voce described the tribe as being on life support, in desperate need of a plan to keep Yase going to a third tribal council next round. It was obvious in Xander and Voce’s eyes that Tiffany needed to go, but the issue was that Xander didn’t have a vote and Evvie was off fraternizing with the enemy. Thus, they needed to lock in Liana, but she was secretly committed to the girls, so she immediately made Tiffany aware that the guys had their target set on her, making Tiffany just “a little” paranoid.
When Evvie returned, that escalated even further. Evvie and Liana wanted to take out Xander before he could be armed with an activated idol, but Tiffany wasn’t having it. Even though Evvie knew exactly what Xander didn’t have up his sleeve, Tiff was in a tizzy because if he played an idol, she’d be the one getting snuffed. She emphasized that no matter what, voting for Voce was the safe move.
Evvie and Liana, clearly the closer twosome within the threesome, even eyed Tiffany for a moment as the tables turned. “Paranoia will destroy ya” as was said on Survivor many years ago, and Tiffany was becoming a victim of her own. I worried that her behavior here was in fact going to be her big mistake. Being on life support, the tribe needed to figure out a fix soon, and Tiffany was like an open wound, maybe not as dangerous as longer-term threats Voce and Xander, but hers was the immediate bleeding that needed to be stitched fast. She was spared last week, but my guess at the time was that she wasn’t going to be spared again, sadly.
CUTTING AN ARTERY
I naively thought we may have been out of the woods on the whole “Jeff talks to us like we’re all children” thing, but he had to lecture us as Yase walked in, explaining how the vote was between “tribal strength” or “alliance loyalty” as if that was a brand-new concept. Does anyone else get major Elmer Fudd vibes every time Jeff does this?
Also, after last week’s “controversy that shouldn’t have been a controversy,” Jeff’s literal first sentence to the tribe was “ ... I just wanna commend you guys.” I’m already fearing another social media field day on that one ... good grief.
Forcing the narrative, Jeff kept conversation ahead of the vote centered around the theme of strength vs. loyalty, giving Tiffany especially an opportunity to speak on her challenge performance while defending that the game isn’t just about challenges, but social game too. I’d argue it’s 90% the latter these days, but Jeff would like us to believe it’s a 50/50 toss-up that could go either way.
Voce made more surgery analogies about how Yase was “bleeding” like a cut artery and how it was important to learn from the error as to not commit it again. Later talking about losing his dad and being raised by a single mom, I really thought Voce was suiting himself up in some plot armor – that is, establishing a narrative that we are meant to care about for the rest of the season. However, that ended up being a major misdirect. Of the three names on the operating table, I was thinking the likely boot was Tiffany > Xander > Voce, so I was pretty surprised that Voce ended up the one left to die on it.
I feel really robbed. Voce didn’t give me a good impression at all pre-season, but after the premiere, I ended up enjoying the energy he brought and quickly 180’d to thinking he’d be a late-gamer. Aside from one too many medical analogies, Voce’s confessionals were highly entertaining and I loved his reactive commentary. He ended up an exciting narrator who I think would’ve given us some great moments had he stuck around longer. He was supposed to be an overconfident, delusional villain that was voted out in a big blindside. While I was blindsided myself, it wasn’t the one with fireworks that I was imagining. For that reason, I’m super sorry to see Voce go, but it just goes to show that no one is safe in such a small tribe, and with that, the doctor is out ....
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
I’m pretty sure that CBS dropped the Episode 3 promo ahead of Episode 2 airing (along with an accidental YouTube screening of Episode 2 twelve hours too soon) because I definitely saw these clips Wednesday morning. Luckily, I wasn’t paying that close of attention or else I’d have known Tiffany was in no actual danger of getting snuffed on Day 5. I don’t know what to make of the preview clip, as per usual, but the “Oh, God” screenshot is ridiculously over-dramatic. I can only gather from this that instead of seeing the summit trek again, someone’s getting a midnight boat ride to another island to take part in a twist. Maybe we’ll finally get to meet the monster?
Evvie – This episode was the Evvie show, and I was living for it. I called her the savvy one on Yase last week, so unsurprisingly, she was at the center of the tribe’s strategy once more. She’s still tightest with Liana and confirmed her loyalty to the girls alliance, but she handled Voce and Xander extremely well too, and rather than Xander feeling betrayed, I think Evvie’s social game is strong enough to keep him still hanging on as his only hope – realistically, it is regardless of what he wishes. Evvie took another risk in being so forthcoming with Deshawn, but she’s right in knowing Yase is ya-screwed come a swap, so her establishing an early cross-tribal bond as an honest player is going to score huge for her, I think. Evvie’s come out of the gates super strong, but I still think she’ll be perceived as a super threat later in the game — too much to call hers a “winner edit” but this season could keep up as “the Evvie hour” for many weeks.
Tiffany – Without Tiffany, this episode would have been a total snoozefest. She was overly paranoid about Xander’s powers when Evvie had all the evidence on the contrary to support that Tiffany had nothing to worry about, but I’m glad she brought the chaotic energy. However, I do wish she could’ve been calmed down into voting out Xander over Voce because Voce had way more future value as a character. It’s interesting to me that Tiffany had so much influence on the Voce vote when Evvie and Liana knew they had nothing to lose by voting out Xander, but twice now Tiffany has gotten her way with the target, so for as much as she may have seemed “messy,” she’s doing something right.
Liana – Still my stealth assassin after week two! Evvie had more of a relationship with Voce and Xander it seemed, but I think Liana’s been the one to whom Tiffany should owe her life. Of the Evvie/Liana pairing, Evvie is sitting in more of the driver’s seat currently, but I think this will be a benefit to Liana’s late game. Assuming they stick together, they’ll be making a lot of decisions as a duo, and when I think Evvie will be eliminated near the end, that could be the time Liana emerges from behind her meat shield and claim a lot of game on her own. She may have thought voting out Voce was idiotic this week, but if that ends up a mistake, she can blame Evvie. No one in the game is looking at Liana as a frontrunner now, but that could a reason why maybe we should be…
“Ricard reacts to things,” though, is the first and foremost edit I’m following right now.
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