I think I may have finally solved the great mystery of where hell Heather’s edit has been. Stay with me, but what if the reason we hardly see Heather is because we’re actually watching most of this season through her perspective? Editing has taken some new swings with 41 — the flashbacks, photos from home, breaking the fourth wall — it wouldn’t be totally out of the realm of possibility, given the precedent set, that the show wanted to immerse the audience so deeply in the action this season that they’ve presented the story as if we’re living it (why else is Jeff always pointing at us?) We don’t need to see or hear from Heather because we are Heather.
Now, I don’t think the show is going to disappoint us by making us lose the game, so with this breakthrough realization, I’m more convinced than ever that Heather will be the winner of Survivor 41 and that this is the most original, ambitious edit ever presented in first-person perspective through the eventual winner’s eyes, watching everything around them unfold. That just has to be what’s been going on or else I still don’t a clue what the show is doing with Heather, but either way, this week was a good week to be a Heather fan — there are dozens of us!
YASE IS YESTERDAY
Following the events of the final pre-merge tribal council, we witnessed Yase completely unravel upon returning to camp. Xander had been made aware that Evvie had blabbed long before this vote about his idol, and obviously the cat was out of the bag that Liana had completely flipped to Shan’s side of the game, so while all four Yases were still standing, they were not at all standing together.
The next morning, Evvie starting what she called her Relationship Recovery Tour, possibly the earliest tour of any kind to take off in 2021. I also have to take a moment to call-out the laziness of Production for leaving the Luvu sign up at this camp the tribe was living at (as seen above). We, of course, didn’t get any explanation as to where the merge tribe name “Viakana” came from or if there was even a merge flag, so I don’t even know anymore. Heather must not have been involved in that discussion or design of the flag, so thus, neither were we.
With all of Yase against each other now, though, Evvie’s effort to make friends with everyone only ended up backfiring. She, Xander, and Tiffany were still the three biggest targets and Evvie fighting to stay alive only made her that more dangerous. All of the scrambling just came off as scripted.
Deshawn spoke to Heather and Erika, a rare combo, about his own take. Maybe the Yase three were still working together, maybe they weren’t, but bullshitting or not, they were still on the bottom so it didn’t totally matter. The best they could do at this point was to pitch themselves getting voted out in 9th place instead of 11th. I do think they genuinely were open to abandoning ship like Liana did, but also thanks to Liana, their ship had already sunk. Liana made like a hare and bounced while Evvie, Xander, and Tiffany were the tortoises who fell behind in this instance.
REWARD: WORKING HARD FOR THAT GRILLED CHEESE
It’s a big day when Heather isn’t on the sit-out bench!
For this challenge, the show once again incentivized not participating at all because doing nothing now earns reward in this game, apparently. The sit-out, and who would have a shot to snag an advantage, was “random” but Erika drew the grey rock this time too. Usually drawing the outlier rock is a bad thing, but this is reverse Survivor where winning is losing, so Erika nearly won twice. However, Xander offered to sit out instead which seemed like a gesture of good faith, but I think Xander knew there would likely be more to this sit-out, so this was far from a selfless good deed.
Xander looked at every inch of that bench except at the 3 inches that actually mattered. At first, I rejoiced because this meant that the advantage wouldn’t be entering the game, but then I remembered this is Jeff Probst’s show. I guarantee that we will be seeing that advantage later, on top of the other one that’s been pre-determined to enter the game in a future episode as well, so 2-in-1 deal. Yippee…
It was a more enthusiastic “yippee” for Evvie who solved the puzzle for her team in a time so fast that made Jeff jump back in disbelief. I don’t know, Jeff, maybe stop using the same puzzles over and over again? Or at least stop being surprised when the “student of the game” type is able to solve them in seconds. Nonetheless, Heather, Tiffany, Liana, Shan, and Xander missed out on a meal yet again. But remember, losing is the new winning, and as appetizing as anything may sound after starving for two weeks, these losers may have won by not filling their stomachs with massive amounts of cheese. I don’t want to think about what the post-grilled cheese and chips runs off into the woods must have been like – emphasis on the “runs.”
LE’GO MY PAPAYA
Again, Heather is the vessel through which we experience this season, so we didn’t see her reaction to missing a meal, but instead the reactions of Shan, Liana, and Xander. Having lost out on the merge feast and now this other food opportunity, Shan and Liana were in literal tears over not getting the grilled cheese. I thought I saw Xander tearing up too, but that may have been from Jeff making fun of him for not finding the bench advantage.
Shan said that the crying gave her clarity, but the only thing that came into focus here was actually the beast inside of her. If Evvie’s Relationship Recovery Tour was on its last leg, then Shan would follow with her own Evvie Elimination Tour. Liana found herself surprisingly working with Xander on this vote plan of Shan’s, but Liana cited that some of the “best” Survivor players have had to work with people they initially were against. The “best” players, sometimes, but other times just the desperate ones. Unfortunately, after last week, I’d lump Liana in with that latter group for now. She only really has Shan, Deshawn, and Danny – if Shan wants to loop in anyone else, Liana isn’t in a position to say no.
That is, until Ricard reached his hands toward the plate of papaya.
I do think this was a little overblown given that Ricard had just one tiny piece of papaya, but perception is reality in Survivor. If people think you’re an asshole for eating food at camp right after a reward, then you’re an asshole. Would I have been so offended? Probably not, but I did enjoy seeing Shan’s Joey Tribbiani reaction to Ricard eating “her” food.
This was a not-so-gentle reminder that while Ricard and Shan are still each other’s #1s, we’re still very much getting a major blowup between them down the road. Ricard seems to be the less reactive of the pair (shady eyes aside), so part of me thinks that maybe Shan will explode while Ricard does a slow-mo walk away from the big boom, but we still have no solid evidence that Ricard is better-connected than Shan at this point. Still, this was the first significant dent in Shan’s otherwise perfect plot armor, so either this episode was to establish the beginning of the end for her, or it was just that winner’s edit “doubt” to make us not as confident that this is going to be a cakewalk for her.
IMMUNITY: RICELINE NEGOTIATOR
When a new Supreme rices, the old one fades away.
The last rice negotiator we saw was Angelina who I am absolutely not ready to have fade from Survivor Supreme status, but I suppose if whoever is the first to initiate rice negotiation with Jeff takes her place …
… then I could think of worse trades.
Jeff wanted “multiple” people to give up immunity in exchange for three days of rationed rice. What the players failed to realize here is that Jeff actually wants TV drama more than they want food. Just like advantages, Jeff doesn’t throw shit into the game hoping no one takes the bait. Personally, I think he eventually would have caved at the “2” offer Shan initially proposed, maybe just offering less rice in exchange. Everyone competing for immunity with no one giving it up for rice is the one outcome Jeff would have avoided at all costs, but the malnourished minds instead met him halfway. Funnily enough, the three people with idols volunteered to sit along with Ricard who, I don’t know, maybe was trying to stand united with Shan after Papayagate.
Within literal seconds, the challenge came down to just two people: Heather and Evvie, and when I tell you that my soul exited my body while watching what I thought was going to be Heather’s first individual immunity win…
DAMMIT! Then I had to come back down to Earth. Heather was so close but Survivor-nerd Evvie probably studied the way to win this challenge too, so she claimed the necklace instead. Worse, I thought, “Oh no! Now Heather’s a challenge beast, making her the perfect triple-threat.” Her sitting out all those weeks in a row was just a way for Heather to hide the fact that she’s super-human.
I bet this isn’t even her final form!
SHAN’S WAY IS THE BEST WAY
With Evvie immune and Liana still for some reason more hellbent than anyone to watch Yase die, the vote quickly switched to a split plan between Tiffany and Xander — nothing too complicated.
However, this season has been made infamous for making things unnecessarily complicated, so Danny threw a curveball (ironic sports analogy!) into the plan by suggesting they split between Tiffany and Naseer instead. This was not Shan’s plan, so therefore, a bad plan.
Honestly, I saw the validity in Danny’s idea. If played correctly, two idols could be eliminated from the game with one vote: Xander plays his out of fear, and Naseer holds onto his own out of comfort but gets the boot. Still, Shan saw Xander as the much bigger threat who needed to go first. Deshawn was down with Danny, but Shan was up in arms over the dissent, shutting down that alternative — a reaction that Deshawn did not take so kindly to.
We got a glimpse of frantic Shan during the Genie vote where she scrambled to get all idols and advantages in her possession, but Shan really unraveled this episode, not compromising well at all when others didn’t agree with her desired course of action. She even admitted in confessional that she had to convince the tribe, “my way is the best way.” Shan, that’s the wrong way to play.
It’s not like Shan was married into a final three deal with Naseer — he was on the shortlist of targets for her anyway, and as Danny correctly pointed out, there was reason to get the jump on Naseer now when he didn’t expect it. Shan has just been used to calling all the shots and spoke about being the one who has to move the needle, so when she saw the needle getting pushed another way, she kind of panicked.
The vote seemed to come back around to Xander and Tiffany, but Shan tried to be transparent in telling Naseer that he was the decoy boot being pitched to Xander. Obviously, Naseer wasn’t a fan of that, so he got Shan to switch to another decoy name:
With every name being thrown around, it was only a matter of time before Heather’s made it into the mix. After initially telling Xander the vote was for Naseer, Shan went, “No, no, it’s Heather” which raised a red flag. Xander called it his “betraydar” going off, or, in other words, his bullshit detector because anyone calling Heather the big threat to boot … well actually, that makes total sense to me and should have made sense to Xander too. Never mind what I was going to say about him being really smart for figuring out that was fake intel from Shan. He is dumb. Heather was the obvious choice here.
“Shit, they’re on to me!”
Once again, what should’ve been super easy became super complicated. The true “target” was Tiffany, but Shan was spiraling as she shifted the decoy vote from Xander to Naseer to Heather, and finally Heather just said that enough was enough! In I believe her only second confessional of the season, Heather called out Shan for being the one trying to tell everybody what to do and I think Heather’s the first person to outright say “I don’t trust her.” Iconic. Legend. Trailblazer. GAME CHANGER.
The last person Heather said she didn’t trust was Sydney and we saw how that one went.
I’m like the biggest Heather stan there is, so I’ll freak out if she does so much as pick up a seashell in the sand, but imagine if Heather, the most invisible player of the season, becomes the mastermind behind the great take-down of Shan, the most visible and influential person of the season. I truly don’t think I’d be able to recover from such a story. That whole “when one Surprise rises…” idea? It might just be what’s going on here between Heather and Shan. Only time will tell.
WAITING FOR THE WHISPER
What the fuck?
I don’t remember any of what happened before Heather became the moment of this tribal council. I do think it’s getting ridiculous that people are practically waiting for the “fake” tribal to be over and for the last-minute scrambling session to begin, but I will allow it this one last time because it caught me so off-guard with Heather of all people cutting Jeff off so that she could cause chaos.
I don’t know exactly what purpose this served other than to make me lose my mind. I guess what happened was that the vote was going to be between Tiffany and…Xander? And Heather wanted to make it Naseer instead of Xander? But she still wanted Tiffany to go? I have no idea. I was as confused as a goat on AstroTurf.
Another fun moment among the mayhem was more divide between Deshawn and Shan. Shan wanted to just put an end to the madness and switch the vote to Heather, but that wasn’t the plan ahead of tribal, so Deshawn had different feelings about flipping so late in the game. Eventually he caved and sat on his seat to pout which set Shan off as she then begged for him to calm down, reassuring him that she wanted to listen.
To call all of this a shitshow would be over-simplifying. Again, I don’t know if this ended up changing anything at all, but all Heather content is good content. #ChaosHeather energy aside and me loving every second of it, my heart did sink because this felt like it could easily have ended up, “what Shan says goes,” and that this was how Heather was going to go. It would be just my luck that Heather’s first words would also be her last.
But I was wrong! Instead, Tiffany’s torch was snuffed by a messy 6-2-2-1 vote, making the third week in a row where we lose one of my favorites. This episode definitely didn’t feel like a Tiffany farewell tour, so in the end, I was a little surprised even though both a Xander- or Naseer-shared split vote logically made sense to result in a Tiffany boot. I really thought she’d outlast Evvie and Xander, but I guess with one immune and the other holding an idol (that Ricard poorly pushed to be played), this was inevitable.
Tiffany’s presence on the show will be missed. She was a comedy queen in confessionals, this episode alone talking about being a hangry 47-year-old and making jokes about asking the Survivor crew if they’d like to be in an alliance with her. Unfortunately for Tiff, she was no Ben or Rick Devens, so there was nothing they could do to help her. It’s a small consolation, but at least Tiffany will sit on the jury. I’m sure we’ll be in for plenty of fun reaction shot as more shit goes down at these tribals.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR …
Two weeks in a row featuring Heather? And we get to see her argue with somebody? What a dream! Speaking of dreams, the Shantasy looks to be fading faster and faster as we see her arguing with Ricard over the extra vote (again) and we appear to be in for some post-tribal fireworks between her and Deshawn. Honestly, I love to see it. Shan’s been portrayed as too “perfect” up to this point, so I’m more than ready to see her unhinged.
Be the drama, Shan!
Heather — Realistically this may be the biggest episode we get with Heather, so I’m giving her all the glory after having way too much fun talking about her. An easy Tiffany-Xander split vote (or Evvie-Xander before Evvie won immunity) is where this ending was headed, and while we still sort of got there, it ended up more explosive — not with a Natalie Napalm, but a Heather H-bomb. It’s celebrating over the little things that keeps me going in this season that’s otherwise been oversaturated with so much. Heather gets one confessional, stands up at tribal council, and I go apeshit. I’m like that Bernie Sanders meme.
I’m just craving more “goofiness” from this group, and Heather’s the one giving it to me even in her few seconds of airtime each week. I’m hard to please but also easy to please — I just have a “type” when it come to Survivor, and Heather’s it.
Deshawn — So Heather was maybe more the “Character of the Week” whereas Deshawn stood out more as a “Player” of the week to watch. He’s the one member of Luvu who’s had a consistently strong edit (so, like, the anti-Heather) and Shan spiraling down the contender list makes room for Deshawn to climb up it. Yase threw some votes his way last week, so he’s not in hiding, but he has strong relationships across the board that should protect him. Danny will make a mighty meat shield physically, and if Deshawn sticks with Shan, she may be seen as outshining him strategically and socially which should make her a sooner target. Basically, Deshawn doesn’t appear to be the best in any of those categories in the eyes of his competitors, but he’s pretty, pretty good in all of them which actually puts him in the best position right now. Deshawn, you might just be a winner, baby!
Oh, right. My bad. How about “bébé” then?
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