by Jeremy Fogelman
In the latest episode of Survivor called 'The Strategist or The Loyalist', we sadly wonder: why did Genie lose?
Of course, there are multiple factors here, one of which is that she was far too trusting of Shan and Ricard and another that she was simply the easy vote in the tribe of three. I don’t think Shan or Ricard really wanted to vote out Genie, by this point they had all bonded (just like old Malcolm and Denise from Matsing back in the day) but when you lose the immunity once more it’s tough.
Shan and Ricard have been a very tight duo since the start of the game, and this episode had the only wrench in the works that’s ever happened between them. The two are honest with each other about the potential strategical implications of their moves but it does come down to Ricard asking if Shan trusted him or not. Which ultimately, she did. At least for now. After all, we did hear her say to Liana that Ricard shouldn’t be trusted if she gets voted off.
But the episode did a great job of setting things up so that I legitimately didn’t know for sure what was going to happen -- I suspected the result we got, but we had a lot of potential upsets. Genie might’ve used her dice roll of doom and Ricard was heard telling us he was tricking Genie about Shan. But then we heard both Ricard and Shan express concern to each other that they might be being “blindsided” (although... not really so much here), and I didn’t know if Shan was going to either waste her idol or play it to save herself.
It was also really great to see Shan and Liana bond and cry together over their mountain walk, even if the ultimate choices of Shan protecting her vote and Liana risking hers were the easier choice yet for it. But leading into whatever comes next leaves Shan in a decent place, all things considered -- Ricard and Liana are both potentially real allies for her but Ricard just has Shan. And Liana’s new advantage is really kinda broken -- she already knows Xander has an idol and an advantage, so she could already hurt him.
On Yase a few things did happen, including Liana and Tiffany digging through Xander’s bag just as the footage intercuts with Evvie recommending to Xander that he bury his advantage note. But then Xander messes up his admission to Tiffany because she’s already trying to poke holes in his story, but this then leads to a great moment at the immunity challenge.
On Luvu the Blue Winning tribe, once again we hear from Deshawn and Danny discussing throwing a challenge, but they try to convince Naseer, who insists that it never goes well (the dude learned English from watching the show, I would listen to his knowledge of the history). Danny is concerned about a theoretical women’s alliance at the Merge, which I suppose is possible, but a little ridiculous for his team to worry about. Oh, and Sydney gets another arrogant moment, which I think needs to be every episode now, this time about how she’s a mermaid.
But Naseer delightfully tells us that the two dudes confiding him is “music to my song” which has a nice ring to it, honestly. It’s a nice setup to the challenge with him, as we are expecting the same old same old -- Shan mentions broccoli, Xander repeats his phrase for the third time, and Probst delightfully proclaims that they’re “off”. And we think that’s it until suddenly... Naseer says the third phrase and then we get a great flashback to him finally finding the threeway idol.
Cut to Xander and Shan being super pleased, Evvie looking amused, and Liana looking entirely unamused. It’s really a great cast, isn’t it?
Next time on Survivor, it’s the Merge, but not exactly?! I don’t know what that means, but there are more people I’m rooting for than usual, so that makes this a great season so far.