by Jeremy Fogelman
The latest episode of Survivor is called “Ready to Play Like a Lion” and nobody gets voted out at all, at least not quite yet. The episode starts with Shan and Ricard arguing and at odds with each other about that extra vote he’s “holding” for her. It’s the sort of thing that is really only a setup for later and the potential new alliances that might be there or not.
The tribes gather together for a fake merge of sorts, which has a complicated twist Jeff tells us about in a camera shot within a camera shot. The players will be divided in two with two players left out, the winning tribe gets great food and immunity at the next tribal council, and then they decide what to do with the left out players. One will join the team and get immunity and food and the other will head to Exile Island where they will be gifted with extraordinary power.
It turns out that due to random chance, most of Luvu ends up in one group and they have more physical capabilities -- even if it ultimately comes down to Ricard solving the puzzle for them. Naseer is brought into the tribe and Erika exiled, for the reason that Danny is concerned about an all women’s alliance. Which has become a bit tiresome at this point, especially after he “jokingly” tells Evvie about his concerns (which is a dangerous move anyway because there actually was a woman’s alliance on Yase).
Before the tribes finally come together, Shan reconnects with Liana over their bonding experience, and Liana ends up telling both her and Tiff (who delighted me with her Hebrew phrase shout out of “Baruch Hashem” after getting situated). Even if Liana wasn’t too happy to be doing it. And Tiffany tells us that she is a bit worried about Liana and the secrets she’s kept. And Liana is also worried about Xander and his advantages.
For his part, Xander connects with Naseer about being physical threats, and he also delights us at home with his pun of “merge-atory”. I don’t know how long it took him to come up with that little bon mot but it was worth it. Shan makes another overture to Deshawn and Danny about being an alliance of POCs, and it does give us Deshawn sincerely pondering the idea. Will he and Danny choose this new alliance over their men versus women one?
It’s a lot of setup for potential complications, which is great, even if the true twist is yet to come. On Exile, we get a well done and emotionally impactful backstory from Erika, as she successfully makes fire by herself, about her parents coming from the Philippines to Canada and trying to give their kids a better life. Suddenly she’s a real character, isn’t she?
So when Jeff arrives with his Time-Turner hourglass, I got a kick out of it. Adding this sort of silly nonsense with actual game outcomes isn’t a bad idea, as long as it’s fair in some way. Here she’s taking away the challenge success of one team if she “reverses” time, but only by changing immunity -- at least she can’t take away their food.
But it seems like the best move for her is probably to hurt the people that hurt her, even though it could annoy them. Then again, she’s clearly at the bottom there so what does she have to lose? Overall, an interesting episode of Survivor, but this isn’t a show typically having cliffhangers. I suppose occasionally it’s fine but hopefully this isn’t a common thing.
Next time on Survivor, Erika will make a big decision and we will find out about it.