For the record, I hate these mid-merge un-merges. They’re just a weird shift in momentum and if a majority alliance ends up with numbers on both quasi-tribes, they result in two easy outsiders getting ousted. One vote was exactly that and the other was a little more exciting, but ultimately, this week didn’t shake up the game as much as I’d have liked it to. Still, Heather didn’t just go back into the shadows and instead, she put on another show at tribal council, so can I really complain?
I LOVE YOU TO PIECES, BUT…
Yes, of course I can!
Sometimes in modern Survivor , we skip to the next day after tribal as if there’s no important debriefing to watch. Luckily in this episode, we got to watch the aftermath of that “trainwreck” tribal unfold, but not exactly the way I wanted.
Not just because I’m a Heather stan, but I was dying to know what in the fucking fuck Heather’s intent was with that stand-up performance. People were pissed at her but she was ultimately spared, against Shan’s suggestion, as the tribe decided to “stick to the plan.” I would have loved a confessional from Heather here explaining what she tried to do as this would have been brand new insight, but instead, we mostly got a rehashing of Deshawn vs. Shan because who needs to understand what’s happening on the show anyway…?
This was a story we’d seen before, just escalated further. I do still love the tension between Ricard and Shan, but theirs is more of a Cold War whereas Deshawn vs. Shan is a brawl . I also found it comically ironic that Shan said Deshawn was being “immature” for pouting when Shan has on multiple occasions become a little bratty when a vote isn’t going the way she wants. While she and Deshawn made up the following morning, there was still enough of a crack there for chaos to ensue which is what Evvie, and me, hoped would happen.
THROWING A NAME AND WRITING IT ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS
Unfortunately, the bigger rift was between two people who weren’t exactly calling the shots anyway. I love Heather but she had me majorly cringing here as she tried to defend herself, lying that Evvie told her to vote for Naseer, then putting Evvie on the spot to confirm — Evvie did confirm something , but she confirmed that Heather was a liar.
This isn’t what we needed, fighting between the bottoms. Soon after the Heather/Naseer spat, the tops met very publicly on the beach as if to say they weren’t threatened at all. Shan’s line in front of Xander and Erika, “We should talk ... as a four” before walking away with Deshawn, Danny, and Liana was almost as cringy as Heather being outed by Evvie. It was no secret at this point that they, and Ricard, were running the camp but the other 5 apparently couldn’t get their shit together to do anything about it. I wasn’t sure what the issue was, but I now wonder if it was Naseer?
All of the sudden, Naseer was talking about how Shan and Ricard were his two closest allies, but was he blind to their beach conversations with their closest allies? Another out-of-nowhere narrative beat was Shan suddenly saying Erika was dangerous after throwing a tantrum last week when the tribe didn’t want to vote out Xander. I think in many ways, many people are threats, so we can sometimes read between the lines and guess at why Erika was suddenly a danger, but we shouldn’t have to do that. Shan’s not stupid, so if she senses something off with Erika, there could be, but we haven’t seen it.
Erika talked about being a lamb wanting to emerge as a lion, but aside from smashing the hammer, she hasn’t packed much of a punch. That’s not a bad strategy; it just leaves me confused by the story sold to us of her being this big threat to Shan who’s actually been the biggest, most obvious threat since Day 1. It’s just getting hard each week when things flip flop and we aren’t exactly presented everything to make sense of it. I’m getting lost.
No stranger to sometimes feeling a little out of loop on conversations going on around them was Ricard, who had a segment in the spotlight to share how hard it can be to be hard of hearing. Completely deaf in his right ear, Ricard has had to learn in life to become an expert at reading lips and body language to better his understanding of people. This was a beautiful scene and a favorite of the week but had me wondering why it took so long for this story to unfold.
If you look closely, you can tell Survivor pulled out the old buff-o-matic to recolor Ricard’s Ua buff he was wearing when he gave the confessional days ago but that aired later here which means the show had been sitting on this talk for some time.
I feel like the “maybe I could be the first hard of hearing winner” story would have had an immediate intro at the start of the season if things will play out that way for Ricard, but it’s not impossible. I still am settled on the battle being between Shan and Deshawn both in the moment and long-term for the win, but these three were all my “Super Like” swipes from my pre-season Tinder session and somehow, given my usual terrible track record for picking winners, they’re all still looking strong.
Shan has felt too straightforward of a winner for a while now and I still need more story from Deshawn, so of the three, I’d honestly love a Ricard win the most right now. He brings a lot for me with serving savvy strategy and savage side-eyes, but I was happy we got to see a softer side this week. Maybe if Shan’s the hero who lives just long enough to see herself become the villain, Ricard will be the opposite who started off as kind of the snarky villain but will soon become the heroic hard-of-hearing Sole Survivor.
It was really cool to hear him talk about how through the weakness in his right ear, he’s picked up other abilities that suit him rather strongly in the game of Survivor — an interesting and important little segment to showcase. Wow, the show focusing on the people again for content! What a concept!
Not gonna lie though, this was too much focus for me.
IMMUNITY – I HATE HIS FACE
The editors evidently didn’t think we could get enough of it, though.
After the tribe was randomly divided down the middle, the numbers didn’t land any way I hoped they would. It would’ve been wild if all of Shan, Ricard, Liana, Danny, and Deshawn ended up fighting amongst each other, but the Survivor gods were not that kind. Instead, it looked like an easy Heather/Evvie double boot night after immunity was decided. Much like Liana feels when she looks at Xander’s face, I felt like I could’ve keeled over and hurled.
Another bit that bugged me in this challenge was Jeff letting Naseer hang on for as long as he did. When it was just the ~showdown~ between Erika and Naseer, Erika was set in stone while Naseer was struggling to keep his hands in the position they were required to remain. As soon as Jeff yelled at Naseer once, if I was Erika, I’d have asked for the immunity necklace then and there. Naseer was out. Erika won. Done.
Luckily, even with the leeway from Jeff, Erika was still able to win a big immunity for herself. I loved that she also didn’t attempt to stay up on the perch for more than a few seconds to win her mini-tribe a meal. She knew she was their target and was like “fuck y’all, you can starve.” I hugely support that.
The other shoutout goes to this absolutely sociopathic smile on Xander’s face for most of this “painful” challenge.
Liana may have a point.
IT’S EVVIE, PERIOD
At the “blue” camp things were looking, well, blue for Evvie. Liana, Danny, and Deshawn were in an alliance and while we were presented what looked like maybe Deshawn and Liana considering to vote with Evvie and Xander ... I never really believed that would happen. All hope was not lost though, as Xander had an idol that could’ve guaranteed something interesting happening by going for one of “Shan’s minions.” I know that technically only Liana was labeled that, but if Shan does win this thing, the title will apply to the entire cast.
I can’t believe that for a second Xander and Evvie actually believed Deshawn or Liana would not vote for Evvie here. The only thing less believable was the chance of Xander giving Liana like she asked him for ... again . Liana, the note clearly said you only had one shot, aaaaand you blew it. It was embarrassing. Don’t embarrass yourself twice. You need to read the fine print …
Really, the story here seemed like an easy Evvie vote unless Xander pulled his extra vote our idol out of his bag — more on what I wished would’ve happened with that a little later.
YOU HAVE TO GO HOME TODAY
Them’s fightin’ words, Naseer!
Yellow too initially seemed like an “easy” vote, given Shan already throwing out Heather and Erika’s name over the past 2 episodes and being adamant to keep the vote off Naseer. However, since the half-merge episode, I’ve had this gut feeling about a Naseer blindside. I actually thought he would go in Sydney’s place after his confessional about how he was so happy to make the merge made me think that was ironic foreshadowing to him not making the actual merge. Here again, Naseer was a little to confident in both his “closes allies” and idol. When he flat-out told Heather she was going home … oof !
Hell hath no fury like Heather scorned.
This could have stayed that easy Heather vote, but thankfully, Ricard shook some fucking sense into everybody — or just Shan ’s body — by pointing out that maybe all the focus shouldn’t be on Heather , and this was the one instance in which I would ever agree with that statement. Ricard was going to try to flip the vote from Heather onto Naseer, and it was in that moment with that hair, that beard, and those brown, compassionate eyes that Ricard became my literal Jesus .
Erika and Heather were obviously in on this, but the stop to the plan was Shan. She, who Ricard would later refer to as the most high-maintenance alliance ever, still wanted to target Heather and also worried about Naseer playing an idol. Ricard suggested also using the extra vote which at first had me going “huh?” but we’d draw some conclusions on that after the vote. Ricard really wanted to be in the driver’s seat for this vote, and I was fully on board with that ride, but Shan wasn’t.
I get it Shan. We can’t stop talking about Heather. But Ricard was right to be baffled here — Naseer was the one who needed to go; however, the plan needed to be perfect. Not only did Shan need to support it, but a crucial part would be to convince Naseer he had no reason to be worried. Heather would need to channel Caryn Groedel and put on a convincing portrayal of a woman who thought she was getting voted out.
I, of course, had no doubt Heather was up to the task.
CUE THE IDOL
Look at that Shakespearean sensation! I had no doubt Heather would deliver, but would Shan and Ricard?
This first tribal council was more of the rollercoaster than what the second claimed to be. Moments in, we had Heather summoning giant beetles from the sky to land on Tiffany in what will be the first of many iconic moments from her as a juror.
Tiffany and Heather were giving me comedy!
Such range! Such talent! Move over, Meryl!
I do think at least some of what Heather said was from the heart, the bit about being proud of herself and looking forward to watching with her kids. When she said that, though, I thought, “fuck this show” for airing that statement despite giving Heather next to nothing to share with her family when it’s come to this experience show far. They’re starting to make up for it, but they’ve got a long way to go.
This vote was wild. Part of me was living the fantasy of Heather surviving, but the other part of me knew that what Shan wants, Shan gets, and she wanted Heather to go. When the vote came back a tie, I was baffled myself. An extra vote was used to force a tie? But I think Mike Bloom broke the case wide open first – this was insurance for Shan and Ricard. If only 5 votes were cast and Naseer played his idol, Heather and Erika could’ve thought ahead and voted for one of Ricard or Shan and they’d have left the game. By using the extra vote, Ricard and Shan would at least end up in a 2-2 tie vs. Heather and try to pin the Naseer vote on her to get him to break the tie in Shan and Ricard’s favor. Deep stuff!
I know many fans were upset to see Naseer go, but I was happy for Heather to live to slay another day!
I’ll admit, I’ve never been on the Naseer train as much as everyone else, but I genuinely loved how genuinely happy this guy was the entire time — he’s even smiling during the snuff! I think he was a little naïve to believe that the duo that decimated their entire original tribe would be locked in with him to the end, but if not for Ricard, it may have happened. I’m not sure what else Naseer’s plan was the whole game since Luvu was such a non-factor for the first half of it, but I think we got enough of Naseer to know he’s one of the good guys. “That is Naseer!”
I know they had to show the tribal councils in the order they did because that’s how they played out in real time, but I wished we could’ve smashed an hourglass to flip flop the order because this second vote was a frustrating fumble to me.
I don’t care if this sounds like Thursday morning quarterbacking, but Xander fucked up. I know he wanted to keep his idol, but he could’ve kept Evvie too if he used his extra vote. By forcing a tie, he and Evvie would’ve forced Deshawn to flip on Liana; otherwise, Deshawn would be left to draw rocks with Danny and that would be the worst-case scenario for him. Kudos to Deshawn for duping Xander and Evvie into thinking he’d vote their way because that’s the only reason Xander would’ve had to hold on to everything .
I don’t see Xander going far on his own, and I don’t know why he put himself in the position to do that. If he and Evvie took out Liana, that would weaken Shan and her alliance would crumble which would give them options. Xander still has an idol, so assuming he learns from what happened to Naseer, he’ll at least survive the next time he doesn’t have the necklace, but what good is an extra vote in an alliance of one? This could have been a second wild tribal in row for the night, but instead, Evvie’s parting words were my own:
I still can’t believe Evvie and Xander were that blindsided by this. I sure wasn’t.
The queer queen and her message to the kids! Ugh, my heart! Between Evvie and Naseer leaving, this season really lost a lot of heart this week. They are both just such pure humans who do nothing but emanate joy around them. Evvie especially is someone who I would love to be friends with and I feel like is the type who would be everyone’s biggest cheerleader. I think that’s also why I loved Evvie so much on the show — I do have a dear friend who reminds me of Evvie in many funny and wild ways, the shared “biggest cheerleader” characteristic being the #1 and the owning of a rad pair of rainbow underwear maybe or maybe not being #2. I saw a lot of her in Evvie and I saw a lot of myself too — just a really cool, funny, amazing, smart, goofy, inspiring person to be around! Evvie, you will be missed! Bring the bug spray to that jury bench!
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR …
Shan’s not taking it well that it’s Day 18 and both Heather and Erika are still in the game, but now she’s even more mad at Deshawn because he ~talked~ to one of them, so she’s voting him out! Ricard’s name is also being thrown around which by “Next time on Survivor …” logic I’d bet they’re both safe. With Xander having an idol still and us getting another fake-out on the alliance of five falling apart, a safer bet is that the boot will be Heather or Erika. It doesn’t need saying who I prefer there.
Ricard – Ricard was the major standout for me this week. I mean, he single-handedly swooped in to save Heather — what more do I need to explain? I was happy to finally see Ricard make a move that looked like his own. He and Shan had their usual married couple arguing before settling on a vote together, but from what we could tell, the Naseer vote was driven by Ricard, and Shan only came around to being a reluctant passenger. Ricard was 100% right to blindside the guy with the idol and it was brilliant the way he and Shan played the extra vote to ensure their safety. Plus, we got to hear a more personal story from Ricard which is always a rare bonus in any modern era episode.
Ricard also was smart to build the bridge to Heather and Erika because in the albeit unlikely event that the minority takes a swing that takes out a majority alliance member, that swing won’t be at Ricard. Next week if it truly is Deshawn vs. Ricard, do we think Erika and Heather will vote out the one who saved them this week? I think not. I said before that I didn’t know if Ricard would be able to build an army to take down Shan, but maybe I was wrong and that he doesn’t need an army. Maybe he can win if he just builds a flock.
The Mafia Pastor taken down by gay Jesus — now that’s an ending.
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