Was the first half of this week anything we didn’t expect? Did anyone really think we weren’t going to see the exact same hourglass twist again? If so, please DM me and let me know because I’d really like to learn how to live my life with that kind of optimism and hopefulness. So brave.
Somehow, it wasn’t all bad this week, as long as you aren’t a Chlamydianator (if you don’t know what that is, then you clearly aren’t one and should be ashamed). It was a strong “merge” episode but one that I will forever say could’ve been stronger without the rehashed twist and the show going out of its way to lie to its players all for the sake of a gag. That part was about as fun as it would be to shove 18 eggs into my mouth at once. Talk about a gag!
POWER TO CHANGE THE GAME
I bitched enough about this stupid twist last season that I should probably just skip repeating myself, but I can’t. I am once again here to take out all my anger and frustration in the form of words and say much I fucking hate this bullshit shenanigan of a twist.
It all comes down to the same flaw this twist last season: Jeff lies. Jeff said that whichever team won immunity would be safe at tribal council — after 40 seasons of that being true, no one had any reason to question the truth of that statement.
Jeff acted like giving them a little more information about Exile Island — that the person sent there would have “power” — could justify the decision in such a way as, “well, if they were worried about the power, they should’ve sent someone else.” In addition to that point though, even if one of the challenge winners elected to go, Jeff said they’d be giving up everything they just earned, including immunity, I assume.
So, even if Jonathan decided to go to Exile Island like he later said he considered, he’d have been presented with the same decision as Rocksroy: immunity for yourself or no immunity for yourself. In that moment, no one is going to consider anyone’s immunity but their own, so in any conceivable scenario, that hourglass is getting smashed and the players who just won immunity are going to lose it. They could give the players as much information up front as they want, but in the end, the person sent to Exile Island without immunity is going to choose the option to give immunity to themselves. Duh.
Thus, the sequence of events was the exact same in 42 as it was in 41, as we all anticipated. The only small step in the right direction was not spreading this shit across two weeks of TV, but I still hated it. I was hoping it would be Jonathan that left so that we could’ve gotten the biggest negative reaction from the general fanbase as possible after seeing their favorite get screwed by the twist, but instead it was me and my favorite who ended up fucked.
On top of the show getting cut for me about halfway through due to local storms, making me having to finish the morning after, I had to start my Thursday with that vote. FFFFFUUUUUUUU!!!!!!
Outside of that, honestly, the episode was good. I think the 4/4/4 dynamic really did wonders and while there seems to be a pecking order for now, I expect it will change. There was a lot in this double-episode, so rather than go through the usual play-by-play, I’m going to do what I did after the premiere and speak to where I see each player standing in the game as we start the second half, kicking off with who I think is the current king at the top and working my way down to the bottom and the boot. Survivor didn’t give her the grand, extravagant, sensational send-off I wanted them to, so I’ll do it, dammit!
Omar may have pulled off the big power move of the episode (if we don’t count Rocksroy’s which was less of a “move” and simply a choice not to be a total idiot), but to me, Mike stood out as the one who entered this merge and played it best to position himself to get to the end – Mike was making the rounds this episode! I didn’t hear him make Swati’s mistake of telling multiple people they were his #1, but just look at all these new friends Mike made:
Omar and Hai are painted to be the biggest strategic
powerhouses right now, but I assume that will only lead to
trouble for them later. Mike, however, is the guy
everyone’s growing to love. He’s been shown to
have strategic sense without always having to be the
“leader” of every vote, but he’s always in
with the right side of the numbers, and especially at the
first merge vote, that’s huge. He may have lost a loyal
ally in Lydia, but by voting with the majority, he confirmed
his loyalty to this new alliance of
seven and according to my math, six allies are better than
one. The word “shield” was brought up a lot
this week, mostly talking about Jonathan, but Mike’s set
himself up well to have multiple shields and multiple backup
plans to his original Vati 4. I’m so impressed with this
surprising social threat.
Mike also continues to give me zingers like coming up with the phrase “buff-shaming,” which was hilariously appropriate for those walking around camp with those shiny, new, purple buffs. It’s funny that I find myself rooting for an alpha male type, but Mike’s one of the more complex one’s we’ve had on the show. He’s strong and sharp, but he’s also soft and silly. If he stays on this current trajectory, not only do I think he’d be a fun, likable winner, but I think he could be the most likely winner at this stage of the game too.
I hate Omar. Not really, but also, really. I get why he did what he did to save Maryanne, and I give him major props for doing what his fellow risk-taker Chanelle only said she could do which was to control the vote without actually having a vote. However, I can’t believe that no one called out Omar for raising a major red flag about his commitment to the alliance we saw come together. They had eight, and the only person outside that eight who was eligible to go was Maryanne, so that was the obvious vote. Omar, though, not wanting to lose Maryanne, an original Taku and someone whose idol and extra vote he could potentially use later, twisted things around to take out poor, sweet, little, innocent Lydia — you BASTARD!
Cases can be made for why both Omar and Hai are current front-runners, but the difference this week in their games was striking to me. Both were strong social players to quickly find themselves in with all the cool kids, but Hai knew when to push and when to hold back, and while Omar said that he wanted to hold back (due to not have a vote to cast) he went ahead and pushed all the way to get out the person he wanted. Again, impressive, as he clearly has a tight hold on the tribe, but this should hurt him more than help him in the long run. Unlike Hai who showed flexibility, Omar alerted the tribe that he only wants his way. He was able to convince them time, but I don’t think that will work another time. What I could see happening is that when it’s time to take out a Taku (either the next vote or the one after, to keep numbers even), instead of letting it finally be Maryanne, Omar may try to push for Lindsay instead which I could see success in doing. If he stays too true to Taku, then I worry for him.
Omar seems like another guy that everyone likes, but when you look at him vs. a guy like Mike, you’re bound to assume Omar’s a bigger strategic threat (it’s the glasses), so my gut says he’ll still go far, but I think he’ll struggle to overcome the hurdle of the final few votes before the end. He may be on top for now, and it was a good for his edit to get all the credit (hey, that rhymes!) for the vote, but coming out this strong at the start of the merge is just a little dangersome to me.
Somebody call the LGBT+ police — this man should be thrown in gay jail for what he did to Lydia!
No, just kidding. I can’t fault the dude for giving into peer pressure – it’s what Omar should have done. As tragic as this was, Hai did what was best for his game when he realized the deck was stacked against him. What he did was self-preservation and pushing too hard to keep Lydia, who he was pretty open about calling his closest ally, would have painted a bigger target on his back than the one already being painted. Since Day 1, Survivor has been about “learning to adapt” — Hai may not have liked this set of circumstances, but he adapted so his chances at long-term survival were greater.
With each week, I grow more and more worried for Hai. He had an impressive rise to power on Vati, and within this new tribe, he was also super quick to join a new clique. Up there with Omar, Hai comes across as one of the ones most in control of the game, but that’s not something to let be known. I think losing Lydia this week could actually help him — it showed that he’s not at the top of the tribe. If someone was truly running the game, they wouldn’t let their #1 ally go so easily. Maybe this vote will end up being a blessing in disguise and Hai’s status as a threat can shrink a bit while focus shifts to the two original tribes now with higher numbers, Taku and Ika.
I’m still rooting for Hai the most if only at point to serve as a #JusticeForLydia. It pains me that even if he makes it to the end, his girl won’t be there to vote for him, but I’m not out on him being there just yet. These next couple episodes will be telling – if he can blend into the background and coast a bit within this new alliance, then I’ll feel better, but if he continues in this little “cold war” that’s starting to brew between him and Omar for that top contender spot, then I see it ending only in bloodshed for both. Hai let Omar win this battle, but in doing so, I think Hai set himself up better to win the war.
The most impressive move Drea made this week was her calling exactly what Rocksroy was going to be able to do at Exile Island. That was nuts. How do you call a twist that has literally never been a thing in 40 seasons? Damn, Drea!
Another “cold war” at camp is centered around the Amulet Advantage which involves Drea, Lindsay, and Hai (that’s two different wars for Hai — yikes!) We didn’t get direct insight from Drea on this, but we were reminded that it’ll be a storyline to see later. This was instead a quieter week for Drea which probably doesn’t help her case for winning, but it should keep her safe for the next several weeks at least. In one of her confessionals, she talked about Tori continuing to be annoying and having no chill, so if Tori is the target next week, I expect Drea to be a lot more present there.
Maybe not as strong of a winner contender for me as the first three on this list, but Drea did exactly what she needed to do at this merge. Ika’s been a ticking time bomb, so she needed to find new friends, and she did. I was a little surprised she pulled in Rocksroy over Romeo with the alliance, but maybe playing differently than Hai, she wanted to keep her cards a little closer and not reveal that Romeo was her #1, potentially saving him for some secret use later.
I think Drea is exactly where one wants to be right now — not at the top, not at the bottom, but firmly in the middle and part of the important decision-making conversations. She’s still “Survivor rich” so if one thing’s for sure, Drea will not go quietly from this game.
Lindsay was in a similar spot as Drea of not having a lot of contribution to this episode but we were reminded she’ll be an important player later. Once we knew how immunity would play out, I assumed that if Jonathan wasn’t immune, he’d go, and if he was immune, Lindsay would leave – simple as that. Lindsay’s probably giving me the least right now, through no fault of her own other than just not having as exciting of a story going on, so I’d have preferred if she was the “almost-merge” boot, but good on her for doing what she had to do as well.
Erika winning last season broke down a lot of Edgic barriers so I can’t confidently count many people out yet, but if I could, Lindsay would be one on the shortlist with Tori. Lindsay doesn’t really have any story, even at this point in the season which is where Erika had here big breakout. Socially, Lindsay’s doing well I guess and is in the big new alliance, but in terms of story, she’s the most expendable not just to the Takus but to everyone. That’s why I was so sure she’d be a backup vote to Jonathan. It made sense. If the big hero’s invulnerable, take out his sidekick.
I think Hai’s right about the amulet-holders being more likely to come for each other than work together and since the beginning I thought Lindsay would be the first one of the three to take that hit, so I’m still banking on that. My only wonder is when it will be. We know Omar’s going to hustle to help Jonathan and Maryanne stay in the game, so when it’s Taku’s “turn” to lose a member, I’m thinking it’ll be Lindsay more than Jonathan after what we saw this week.
This guy had to be the biggest, most obvious, merge boot ever so the fact that he survived this week was quite a shock. Although, technically this wasn’t the real merge, so there’s still potential for him to go next week, but everyone’s kind of in love with this idea of keeping some stronger people around as a shield, and shields don’t get any bigger than Jonathan. I still can’t see that lasting forever; it just means that instead of going out at 12 or 11, maybe Jonathan can cling to life a bit longer and make it to 8 or 9. By then, he’ll have won some more challenges, and the players will be thinking, “Yeah, I don’t need him getting in my way of the million.” Hai called him “the biggest human I have ever seen in my life” which doesn’t scream “let’s drag him to the end” to me.
Jonathan’s been a fun character this season. I watched alone this week, but I still make faces when I do that because maybe there’s a ghost who lives in my apartment who’s still entertained by me. When Jonathan talked about eating 18 eggs and 9 pieces of cheese at every meal, I definitely made this specific face:
As disgusting as that sounds, I think it would be funny if for the remainder of Jonathan’s time on the show it became a running gag for him to talk about other insane things about his diet or general life as a large man, unless it all just begins and ends with eggs.
For as naturally big as he is, Jonathan must also naturally be a warm personality. If he was a dick, I don’t think as many players would’ve been as keen on keeping him around, which for the one-thousand-forty-second time confirms that above all else, SURVIVOR IS A SOCIAL GAME. Despite any major physical or strategic threat one may pose, that threat can be mitigated by a stellar social game. I still think Jonathan’s physicality is too much to hide behind even the best social game in the world, but he’s in a better spot than I thought he’d be, somewhere in the middle of the food chain with plenty of people to eat below him.
The man of the hours! I’ve criticized Rocksroy for having a rocky social game, but ironically, it’s what put him in the primo position of the week. Having a rough relationship with Tori is what pushed her to “gift” him the visit to Exile Island where he’d go on to make a no-brainer decision to give immunity to himself. I’ve already bitched enough about that across two seasons, so I’ll skip to where I think Rocksroy will stand when this week’s dust settles.
I mentioned this when discussing Drea, but I was surprised Rocksroy was roped into the eight-person alliance when he wasn’t even at the beach? Is his social game not actually as bad as it seems, or is Rocksroy viewed as just an easy vote to secure numbers? Either way, this episode should be the only time we ever see Rocksroy in a position of major power. He plays a very “old school” game which should keep him loyal to his original crew of Drea and Romeo, though I don’t know why he voted for Lindsay at tribal council instead of Lydia as Drea did. Maybe he forgot who they were voting for so he just combined Lydia and “Lynn-Z,” hoping his vote would count toward whatever the majority was:
This guy just totally does his own thing and I’m starting to love it. What we see is 100% what we get and while this is “reality” TV, it’s still rare we get someone so authentically themselves as Rocksroy. Who knows, so far, the hourglass smasher has a 100% win rate on Survivor, so never rule out Rocksroy!
Rocksroy’s teary-eyed time at Exile was a little touching, but the most emotional moment of the episode for me was Romeo’s. This was exactly why I’m so glad Survivor finally went away from casting basically the one “token” LGBT+ player. I can only remember one other major time where we’ve seen a sit-down talk between two members of the community like this which was with Bret and Zeke in Millennials vs. Gen X. It’s so important to show these kinds of conversations to educate people on the LGBT+ experience and show that not every story is the same — in fact, they all are wildly different. Both Hai and Romeo are openly gay, but we learned that “open” wasn’t the same for them and that for some people in Romeo’s life, hearing him speak to that on the show will be the first time they’re hearing it at all. I was so happy the show spent time on this in what could’ve been an easily all-strategy episode and hopefully anyone struggling with similar issues as Romeo took away that above all else, being your authentic self is being your best self. What a great moment for Romeo to realize that and what a great human Hai was there in support of that.
In terms of Romeo’s game, he kind of got lost in the shuffle here which is what I worried would happen to him. Like I’ve mentioned, I’m not sure what made Drea seemingly dump him for Rocksroy, but Romeo is very much on the outside of this new tribe, only ahead in ranks to Tori, Chanelle, and maybe Maryanne. Romeo voted for Maryanne while Drea voted with the majority for Lydia, but I have to believe the pair communicated and perhaps came up with an intentional split vote. Still, if Romeo’s only “in” right now is with Drea who has a lot of other options to consider, Romeo may not be making it as far as I thought he could. Hopefully he can find his place here and not just be one of the next three or four to go because I do think he has a very powerful and relatable story, still one I’d very much like to see end with a big win. Either way, I’m glad to see that Romeo will walk away from Survivor a stronger person, but being the Sole Survivor would give him an even bigger boost that he deserves.
Maryanne fans were SWEATING this week. As both a Maryanne maniac and Lydia lover, I, of course, was DISTRAUGHT. The boot options were both terrible for me and I was hoping there would be a third door that opened for either Jonathan or Lindsay (since Tori was immune). While a close call, I don’t think Maryanne is necessarily close to being sent to the jury just yet. Once immunity is back up for grabs for only on person next week, Tori and Chanelle look to be lined up as the next to go. After that, we’ll probably see some kind of shake-up from the seven, likely Jonathan or maybe it will be Rocksroy who will have rubbed some more people wrong by then. Maryanne still has her idol too, and with Omar likely to let her know when to play it, I think she’ll use it right when the moment presents itself.
Maryanne is still one of the season’s biggest characters so I think she still has life in her even though she may be on the bottom currently. I don’t see her being a major decision driver anytime soon but she also isn’t the type to play a passenger game either. I expect her to do something crazy and as big as her personality. Maryanne will be another one who will absolutely not go quietly from this game, and if/when her boot episode comes, it will be epic, I’m sure.
If anyone should kiss Rocksroy’s ass for his “decision,” then it should be Chanelle. It was so uncomfortable to watch not once but twice Chanelle walk up to a group who immediately dispersed a few seconds later to get away from her. Part of me feels bad for her because she’s just trying to play the game, as you should when you meet new players, but the other part of me realizes that perception is everything, and the way Chanelle played pre-merge has made her perceived to be someone that no one wants to play with post-merge.
It's strange because she’s not even chaotic in any particular way. Yeah, she lost her vote. Whoops. She threw a vote at Mike. Sorry! None of that was chaos for the sake of chaos, but nonetheless, it seems like no one really wants Chanelle as an ally. I guess when you don’t have someone’s back when you say you do, that makes sense, but Chanelle doesn’t strike me as a bad person, so I hope that she was able to have some genuinely wholesome interactions on this new tribe and people didn’t just run away literally every time she approached. She doesn’t deserve to be ghosted physically … maybe just strategically.
Chanelle has one hell of a climb if she’s to have any shot at winning this game. I can tell she’s a fighter so she may be up for the challenge, but realistically there are just too many numbers against her right now for her to have a fighting chance. With Lydia out of the picture, her best move may be to try and make amends with Mike and Hai, but I bet those two see themselves as more marketable as a standalone duo rather than a Vati threesome (#GaysForMike). I do love an underdog though and while I haven’t been high on Chanelle’s game this season, if she becomes that, I could change my tune. Instead, I think she’s set to go pretty soon here, but hopefully she’ll have a fiery sendoff at least. If I know anything from my ORG days, if someone senses it’s their time to go, they’ll make sure to go out in a blaze of glory.
Tori should have been the boot because she should not have won immunity. I present my one and only argument – that “I” was upside down. See how it’s supposed to be narrower at the base?
I guess I can’t have it both ways though if I claim that the team that won the boulder challenge should have been immune – dammit!
Tori’s been in trouble a lot, but never enough to get the boot, but I think this week it may have happened had she not been wearing the immunity necklace. With Lydia leaving, I have to think Tori and a Taku will be next just to keep numbers even, but there’s something about Tori that just has her barely scraping by. She’s still one-note: “I don’t like my tribe and I especially don’t like Rocksroy.” While she was quick to present herself as a free agent at the feast, that only confirmed to everyone that Tori does talk too much, making her an undesirable ally.
I can at least appreciate the humor Tori brings in being so little aware of herself. One of my favorite Tori moments of the night was when she told Jonathan that she wanted to vote him out because she wanted to win more individual challenges. Sure, it’s obvious to think that, but you don’t tell Jonathan. Of course, the most “Tori” thing Tori did was try to lecture Rocksroy on why smashing the hourglass was wrong and how sending him to Exile Island was “a gift” for which she expected a favor to be returned. We all know there was absolutely no good intention with sending Rocksroy there — Tori wanted to enjoy her “merge” feast without his company as well as two days with him away from camp. That entire decision was a gift to herself, not to Rocksroy.
Tori’s the obvious next to go which, in reality, means she isn’t. I’m still kind of feeling “final three goat” with all the people she’s already pissed off and more on the way, I’m sure. I can only hope that the Tori train is an entertaining wreck at least.
Tori Meehan, future Survivor zero-vote finalist.
MIKE YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO TAKE A BULLET FOR HER, WHAT THE FUCK!!?? YOU LOSE YOUR ALLY CARD!!!
Was Lydia even out of earshot when Jeff gave the tribe its buffs? RUDE. When I say that I’m gutted, I mean I feel like Jonathan ripped open my chest and split apart my ribcage with his bare hands and my guts spilled all over the floor. This was not Lydia’s time to go — she won immunity! I literally don’t even know what Lydia did wrong. Yes, we saw that Omar didn’t want the vote to be Maryanne, so he twisted Lydia’s words around to make it seem like she was targeting the alliance she was supposedly in, but what was Lydia’s mistake? Talking to Omar at all? Make it make sense!
I felt Lydia’s presence a little more this season because of social media, being the proud Chlamydianator that I am, but on the show, she got a little shafted. She wasn’t purple’d, but I imagine there are many hysterical confessionals left on the editing room floor because they weren’t game-botty enough. I appreciated her story, though, of a young woman kind of finding comfortability in who she is and what she’s capable of — I loved in her final words how she acknowledged that not making the end didn’t mean the experience wasn’t meaningful because it sounds like it absolutely was — for her and for us!
I never expected myself to be rooting so hard for a Gen Z’er but here we are. We should all feel very robbed of not having Lydia on the jury as I think she’d have been a hoot there, at tribal council and at Ponderosa. Add this to the list of reasons why I hate the bullshit fake merge twist. Whatever. We’ll see Lydia’s face again in one form or another. She is a star and “Survivor 42 contestant” was just her first major breakout role.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
“Someone is creating chaos. I don’t like that.”
No, shut up, Hai, we do like that! The promo was just a bunch of random names being thrown around. Chanelle. Maryanne. Romeo. Tori. All four were on the outs this week, so none of those names are a surprise. The only surprise was Drea calling Romeo a paranoid bitch. Woof. I guess we’ll find out why Drea didn’t include him in the alliance this week. “If they gotta go, they gotta go” – Drea, laughing at everyone she’s about to destroy.
She’s a savage.
I’ve talked at length about everyone, but officially, standouts from this episode for me and ones I’ll be watching closely are Romeo, Hai, Mike, and Omar. Romeo and Hai brought the most heart to the episode with their talk about different experiences as members of the LGBT+ community. I’d really love for either of these two to win, but my head is telling me that it could more likely be Mike or Omar at the top of the current contenders list. Both had strong strategic episodes, and Hai did too, but it seems like Omar and Mike have more connections which will lead to more influence. I feel like these four guys are the ones we should be eying as potential winners here. Hai was my pre-season pick and I still want him to win the most (because I’d love to brag about that), but I think I’m hearing a stronger name whispered to me from somewhere — specifically, a Hoboken whisper.
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