THAT IS HOW YOU DO IT ON SURVIVOR !
I don’t know if they have an “A Team” and a “B Team” in the editing room, but whichever team was responsible for this episode needs to permanently take over for the bunch of knuckleheads who gave us last week’s “monster.” The two were night and day in comparison — we got a story driven by people rather than pieces of paper; we had the heroic underdog tribe, the strategically complicated tribe seemingly (and willingly) headed to tribal council, and then the actual losing tribe showed off some seriously savage gameplay. It was a good night be a Survivor fan again and I was losing all my liquids, sweating it out in excitement!
YOU PLAYED ME
Right out of the gates, Genie came in HOT which I love to see. Strategically, players are better off playing it cool after a blindside, but instead of coming back to camp with a lie like, “Oh yeah, I didn’t like Brad either. No big deal,” Genie was ready to burn it all down. She took some heat out on her tribe like they were her water bottle and essentially said, “you do your thing and I’ll do mine.” The tension was ... thick.
I was surprised that Shan stepped in with such force too, opening Genie’s eyes to the fact that Brad wasn’t her BFF since he had told Shan about his extra vote but didn’t tell Genie. This also opened JD’s eyes about Shan who he learned hadn’t told him everything either. Shady Shan!
Ua was raw and real with each other, and that’s when Survivor is at its best. They laid everything out, dished all their dirty little secrets, and somehow, they were going to have to reunite to avoid another date night with Jeff. Everyone was upset and untrusting of each other, yet still, they were forced to live and work together — the beautiful concept on which this game was built.
REWARD: NO QUIT
I finally got my Heather content ... but it was not exactly the kind that I wanted. While all three tribes competed for the reward, all attention was on just one — Luvu, who couldn’t make it past part one of the challenge due to the hindrance of Heather. I felt so bad for her, and she kept herself together pretty well in the challenge with a positive attitude, but after it was over, she completely broke. It almost broke me to watch.
I’m glad the show spun this positively rather than playing clown music or “boi-oi-oing” sound effect because this particular failure wasn’t as funny as others. We’ve all had our days of defeat, but most, fortunately, haven’t had them on a “stage” in front of millions. Heather was already down on herself and didn’t need to be buried. I absolutely loved Danny’s reaction — the guy who’d later say that he values victory so much that throwing a challenge would be considered a sin. Perhaps having experience on a professional sports team helped him coach Heather through the loss, but I thought it was really sweet of him to say that she gave the challenge 100% which meant she didn’t let herself or anyone down. It was all love on Luvu as well coming from the other two tribes. Selfishly, Yase and Ua also had to be thinking, “I hope Heather makes the merge,” — let’s be honest, but there was definitely genuine support there.
I appreciated Heather owning her poor performance and taking it as an opportunity to grow stronger. Others in her spot may not have reflected the same way — imagine if this was the attitude we saw instead:
Not as heartfelt of a moment and much more warranting of the “boi-oi-oing.”
Yase wasn’t the big winner of reward day, but they were at the point of celebrating even the smallest of victories with the single fish they won from the challenge. I noted and appreciated Tiffany acknowledging the fish’s “he or she” pronouns too.
Yase was on an early losing streak set for total annihilation, but they’ve bounced back as the scrappy underdogs of the season. The beach scene with the turtles was very symbolic of the tribe, these little babies digging themselves out of a hole in a proving of their determination and resilience. I think that especially Evvie, Liana, and Tiffany are the tightest alliance in the game right now and could go the distance. Ua’s rocky and Luvu hasn’t had to test itself yet, and until then, they can’t have the same level of trust that the Yase women have after surviving votes together.
As in the famous tale of the
tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race, and
often times that’s true on Survivor. If JD was
the hare, Yase’s the tortoise, and the early losses will
only make them look less threatening once they hit the merge.
Much like the turtles, I expect Tiffany, Evvie, and Liana to
succeed. Just because you lose doesn’t mean you still
can’t win — ask Denise.
Come on, Cirque du Soleil!
Ua was living for Nathan — the Cirque du Soleil star and “the best stripper you’ve ever seen.” Nathan worked that coconut like a pro and it’s a shame Ua didn’t have any singles to stuff into his underwear — it’s important to always tip.
With Survivor showcasing how to live off the land, I had to question, “What year is it? 2005?” Shan said this was the most “Survivor” that Survivor has ever been in 41 seasons which is a hard disagree for me when we’ve seen lions, crocodiles, and bowel obstructions threaten players’ lives, but I liked that we got to see some old school throwback in this “new era.”
Having taken notes from Nathan’s Declassified Survivor Survival Guide, Ua felt more confident in its ability to gather, fish, cook, and overall thrive at camp — a lot of benefits Genie had been providing. Thus, Ricard simply felt, “we don’t need her” anymore, so this ended up not being the most rewarding reward for Genie. She was going to need to knock Nathan off that stripper pole if she wanted to impress the tribe again.
OKAY WITH LOSING
Erika (who?) said that the reward challenge proved Luvu wasn’t an unbeatable tribe, a realization that dialed the strategy at Luvu up from a 1 to a 10. We finally got to see just how Luvu was living with each other. Erika described herself as a lion dressed like a lamb, and much of the fun in Survivor is voting people out, so having not had as much of that fun in the first 9 days made Erika eager to start making moves — or as Deshawn put it differently, made her “a little bit sus.”
Erika apparently has had her eyes on Sydney as someone who could threaten her game for being so reactive and impulsive. Erika confided in Deshawn that Sydney needed to be the first to go, but since Sydney had previously made Deshawn aware of Naseer targeting him, Deshawn returned the favor to Sydney about Erika. It dawned on me here that everyone on Luvu had been brought up as a boot contender ... except Heather (from what we’ve seen). Naseer came under early fire for targeting Danny and Deshawn, and Erika called out Sydney, so naturally Sydney wants to retaliate against Heather. Meanwhile, Heather was 100% responsible for the tribe’s first major loss, yet she’s the one who’s sitting pretty.
Her social game is clearly off the fucking charts.
Sydney wasn’t surprised Erika wanted her out, calling herself “the threat of threats ... savvy as hell ... good-looking ... a physical threat ...” Brains, brawn, beauty — Sydney’s got it all. “They hate me cause they ain’t me,” she put it bluntly. Sydney obviously has an ego, but there’s something endearing about it because she’s so authentically herself and isn’t trying to be anything she’s not. She’s just like, “yeah, I am amazing. What of it?” In contrast, JD, for example, also has an ego but he’s literally said he’s trying to be someone who’s played before. Sydney? No, fuck the rest. She’s all about herself, and I love that — as a person on TV, not necessarily someone I’d probably love spending time with in the real world.
Sydney’s definitely going to get what’s coming to her though in terms of an unexpected comeuppance. She’s going down the road I thought Voce would venture, and I can’t wait for that payoff. Sydney has almost a Coach-level of self-confidence, I think, and there is just so much TV potential with that — I hope Sydney’s able to slay many dragons before her own head gets chopped.
Deshawn brought up a good point, asking if it was really that bad for Luvu to lose an immunity challenge. Whether the tribes merge at 12 or 11, going in with a full stack of six is just asking for trouble. Even at 11, someone like Erika or Naseer is bound to flip to Yase and Ua who will have no problem taking shots a Luvu’s numbers. There was definitely merit to Deshawn’s “master plan” of throwing the challenge to get rid of Erika now before she gets rid of all of Luvu later. If Luvu gets to that merge with so many numbers, they’re just asking to be the target — Danny and Deshawn especially have the most to lose in that merge scenario.
Danny, being the athlete he is, though, called throwing a challenge a sin, so he wasn’t so sure he could go through with it even if it came with a big benefit to his strategic game. If he did agree, there’s also always the factor of another tribe sucking so badly that they even lose to a tribe throwing the challenge ....
Next in line behind Hiki and Luzon we had — wait, not Yase? The way this challenge started, I was sure that Yase would be the tribe that would lose to Luvu despite its best efforts to throw, as was confirmed by Danny and Deshawn in some unexpected (but enjoyable) mid-challenge confessionals. Variety is the spice of life, and while I don’t need commentary over every challenge — Jeff’s is often too much as is — the comedy from these were perfect as Danny and Deshawn narrated their struggles over trying to lose this challenge. Danny was dragging, Deshawn was practically crawling across the ocean floor, but Evvie had to go and have a “hold my buff” moment and swim backwards at one point.
I feel like this happens more often than not whenever a tribe is trying to throw a challenge — another tribe manages to fail even more spectacularly. Eventually, though, Yase and Ua caught up once they remembered Lauren Rimmer’s trick to winning this particular challenge — you gotta put your boobs into it.
AKA a Rimmer job.
When it came to tossing rings, Yase was the first to finish, and after Deshawn literally was attempting to toss away win here, Naseer finally stepped in to secure it. JD was given a nice doofus moment as he shouted, “Money!” upon missing what would be his last toss — once again overselling and underperforming. Shan was right that he’d have been better off shouting “Tribal!” as he lost this one for Ua. I’d say he’s not so much “the shit” like he thinks he is, but rather, “the Chet.”
ALL OUT OF LIQUID
Genie rightfully felt she was in the hot seat after the Brad blindside and said she’d have been crying had it not been for losing all of her liquids from sweat. That’s a tough spot to be in, but sometimes you just can’t spare the moisture.
Genie was a considering a roll of her “shot in the dark” die and asked JD to vote for Ricard. JD feared that if Genie was saved, he’d be the one voted out, so he instead tried to talk Genie down from that decision while also making sure Shan and Ricard voted for Genie.
This is the one moment advantage talk came into play since Shan knew JD had an extra vote, but at least it related to the currently complex social dynamic within the tribe. If JD ended up using his vote and voted with Genie, that would’ve meant Shan or Ricard leaving the game in a 3-2 vote, so they had to keep Genie focused on voting out JD and JD on Genie. Another wrinkle, however, was that even if JD didn’t play his extra vote now, if Ua lost again, he’d have the power to force a 2-2 tie and then who the hell knows what would happen. What followed this was an absolutely legendary move that had me going:
Shan was going to ask JD if she could “hold on to” his extra vote to be sure it wouldn’t be used against her, and once again JD delivered it to Shan’s bag, but this time, Shan started singing her sinister “Shanthem.” What if she actually did vote out JD and held on to his extra vote for good? “I don’t want to be a villain” my ass – this was a stone-cold killer move.
“I’m against you, JD.”
Between JD and Genie, Genie is who I much preferred to stay, and if it also meant JD leaving in an Erik Reichenbach-esque way, oh my god, the perfection of that! I did my best to hold back tears for Heather during the reward challenge, and going into this tribal council, I was glad that I did.
FARTING ON EACH OTHER
It’s not talked about enough, but yeah, some gross shit has got to go on at these camps, and like a 10-year-old boy I giggled at the tribe talking about how close they were, having lost all modesty and letting their gases release freely around each other — not their liquids, I hope.
Blah blah blah, everyone’s super close and loves each other so voting someone out sucks — SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP! I’ve been the boy crying wolf about this tribe needing to get rid of JD since the premiere, so I still wasn’t sure it was going to happen. Would Shan really but the cutthroat queen and vote out JD after convincing him to “lend” her his extra vote? Would Genie roll the dice and save herself? This one didn’t scream “boot episode” for Ricard to me, and Shan was still at the top of her game, so I knew it was going to be Genie or JD getting the votes.
As if granted by another Genie, I got my wish for Genie to stay and finally the Malcolm-/ Ozzy-/ Woo-wannabe was satisfyingly shanked by Shan the assassin! “Any particular reason?” he asked as he stood up to grab his torch. “Many particular reasons,” in my opinion, so I was thrilled to see these three all still in the game:
I would not be mad if this is what Final Tribal Council looks like.
I’ve raked the kid over the coals enough already, so I’ll lead off with compliment and say, “Your hair is gorgeous, darling!” If you’re going to go, go out in style, I say. While I didn’t beat around the bush berating JD’s terrible gameplay during his short 9 days, he admittedly served as a strong pre-merge character with a complete story which is far from standard on the show. Like any kid obsessed with Survivor from a young age (relatable), he came onto the show wanting to follow in the footsteps of his heroes, but rather than walking in those footsteps, he made the mistake of sprinting. That eagerness was ultimately his undoing and should serve as a reminder to all “future Survivor players” that you can’t just hit the beach and go balls-out. Not everyone can be Richard Hatch.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR
Goddammit. Just when the going was good again, the very first clip from next week shows another Beware Advantage. I assume Genie finds Brad’s re-hidden one — whether it’s spent time on Ghost Island maturing into an even greater power, who knows — so, I hope it doesn’t ruin another episode. At Luvu, Danny is nervous about the numbers women currently have — 4 out of 5 boots being men thus far — and at Yase, those nerves are justified as we see Tiffany and Liana searching Xander’s bag and I don’t think they’re looking for more turtles. I just want more broken bonds and blindsides — please spare us all another week of butterflies and broccoli.
Shan – She’s getting too good to be true. Shan is running Ua like a mafia boss, but how much longer can she actually keep it up? She could be said to be playing “the best” right now, but could that just make her a giant target in a few weeks? If Shan’s still on her way to a win, then we’re in for a hell of a ride if she’s making moves like she did this week this early, but while I’ve been unwavering on my winner pick since the initial press release, this week has me starting to worry. She’s either going to be one of the strongest winners in the series, or she’ll rightfully be taken out by another assassin who more willingly will take on the necessary villain role (Ricard?)
Deshawn – Another top pre-show pick of mine, Deshawn is the one leading Luvu in strategy. He’s got a tight bond with Danny, Sydney and Erika are coming to him with information, and while Naseer initially put a target on Deshawn’s back, literally everyone else seems to have it. I agreed that Luvu probably needed to lose this week, especially for Deshawn. Failing to pull off a fail is quite a feat and one that may end up haunting Deshawn and Danny because if anyone’s looking to target Luvu, they’ll be looking to target these two, but for now Deshawn is definitely in control of his current tribe.
Genie – This week I finally got the fire I expected to see from Genie. Even though it was not the best game move, I loved her “Oh, hell no!” energy getting back to camp after the Brad blindside. I think that served as the kick in the ass she needed to play a little harder rather than just keeping her head down at camp. Next week could go extremely well or extremely bad for Genie with the Beware Advantage, but I’m hoping this was just her beginning and not the beginning of the end.
Erika – Just because I’ve had zero reason to talk about Erika until this point. I wondered if she and Sydney would butt heads, and it seems they have. I liked her taking initiative at playing the game, something that Luvu’s hardly had to do, but she made a critical error in telling Deshawn she wants to vote out one of his closest allies. Being able to read the room is one of the most important skills a player can have in the game. If only Erika could’ve read a little about how that was going for JD ... oh well. I like her spunk at least!
Heather – Like Erika, we finally got Heather content I’ve been begging for — well, not exactly. I wanted more crazy dream talk or clips from home showing her playing with her pet opossums. Instead, what we got was much less light-hearted, but ultimately my heart was full. I loved Heather’s vulnerability and while she did break down in tears, pretty much the whole cast surrounded her with love which was heartwarming to see. Heather’s demographic is especially under an extreme microscope on Survivor, so every little misstep is magnified, but like I called out earlier, Heather’s falter this week didn’t seem to have any affect on her position in the game. She’ll bend and snap back like it was nothing!
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