by Jeremy Fogelman
On the latest episode of Survivor, we side-eye the title of “They Hate Me 'Cause They Ain't Me” and ask the question: Why did JD get voted out?
You could be unfair and put it all on “Shan outplayed him” which is true, but on the other hand, he gave her his extra vote advantage -- twice! When Shan told us and Ricard about her crazy plan to trick and guilt JD into giving up his advantage, I thought she was making a terrible move. And I still think that it was a bad movie, it’s just that JD handled it absolutely even worse because there’s no way he should’ve given up his extra vote.
On the other hand, Shan did correctly realize that she could manipulate the ten years younger player that she saw as a “younger brother” (ouch). JD did smartly try to trick Genie into not using her die roll, and she didn’t! But was it him or Shan/Ricard convincing her or both? Either way, JD’s “stick to the plan” moment felt a bit dangerous and I can’t imagine it helped him.
JD was an engaging and friendly guy, but he also was a bit of a showboater -- this episode was the second one in a row where he tried to toss something with some “style” points, this time shouting “Money” right before he whiffed his shot. It was a great Survivor moment even if it was a terrible JD moment. He was a great player to watch, even if his gameplay never lived up to his own expectations.
There’s nothing to speak of, once more, from Yase, except a delightful moment after they won the reward challenge and narrate their own “Previously on Survivor” moment. Tiffany also discusses them having momentum, which could either be a sign of doom or hope -- so far they’re doing well, so she spoke truth. I did also like Fijian local superhero Nathan who climbed down a tree head first and punched a coconut open with his fist.
We finally get some storylines from Luvu too, as Erika tries to shake things up and target Sydney, but Deshawn turns the tables (as he is allied with Syd and Danny) and wants to get rid of Erika instead. Sydney then delivers some delicious villainous nonsense to us saying, “I’m the threat of threats, savvy as hell, I'm good looking” and (the episode’s title) “they hate me cuz they ain’t me”. I absolutely loved it, it’s so over the top -- and earlier we saw Syd fail at making fire and cry alone on the beach while Erika demonized her to us.
We’ve got a game, folks! This is the kind of drama I like to see. I also enjoyed how Deshawn’s attempt to throw the challenge kept failing to his teammates simply being too competent, including Naseer nearly singlehandedly pulling them to a win. And I also appreciate how Deshawn respected Naseer’s big moment even when he was annoyed it messed up his plan.
Ultimately the episode didn’t use any of the editing tricks, but there also weren’t any idol hunts or advantage journeys, just classic Survivor nonsense which feels great as a change of pace. So far I’m really finding this set of players fun and with fascinating personalities bouncing off each other -- like the overly positive Naseer working against the potentially sneaking Deshawn while arrogant Sydney lurks nearby. It's been a lot of fun so far.
Next time on Survivor, Genie finds a Beware advantage, Danny worries about the ladies having the numbers, and Tiffany is on to Xander, whatever that means.