by Jeremy Fogelman
Previously on Survivor, Xander says the first secret phrase, Shan says the second secret phrase, and Naseer says the final secret phrase. Evvie allows an extra vote to Deshawn, Liana has her steal an advantage, and Erika is sent to Exile Island. There are concerns about Erika getting an advantage, and she indeed can reverse the outcome of the last challenge if she smashes the hourglass...
So as the dust settles from the latest Advantage-geddon on Survivor, we scratch our heads and ask the question: Why did Sydney lose? Part of it was not her fault, the part of Erika screwing her over (even though it did indeed seem that Erika wasn’t immune? It wasn’t really clear). Part of it was other people noticing her as a savvy player and also sort of an arrogant player (and Syd seems self-aware to accept both of those), but it was also because Danny and Deshawn were still terrified of the all women's alliance that doesn’t exist and drove the decision to vote a lady out.
Of course, it didn’t help that Sydney was abandoned by her former allies as they formed new ones -- Deshawn, Danny, Shan and Liana had their new alliance, Naseer and Erika were fine going along with them, and Ricard was immune. So it really left Evvie and Sydney as the potential targets, and it was almost Evvie voted out (who also lost some of an alliance but at least retained the loyalty of Tiff and Xander -- the same dude she’s been wanting to get rid of!).
Looking back, we see that Syd lost her 'Shot in the Dark' opportunity and thus her vote, but if she hadn’t, maybe Tiff would’ve played Xander’s gifted idol for Evvie and left Deshawn voted out. If she hadn’t played it, hard to say, but it was a tough spot to be in. And Deshawn used his own extra vote (which I think was wasted), while Tiff (from Xander) has two advantages and Liana has lost hers.
I think that Liana misread the Xander situation for the same reason she was complaining about him -- she said he’s been underestimating her the entire game, but instead she underestimated him while he correctly read her planned move. Of course, the only reason everybody knew about the Steal advantage was that Shan let it out in front of Tiff, and suddenly everyone knows everything. Xander may have played that one instance well, but he also weirdly trusted Danny, who immediately betrayed his trust.
It also seems that Erika’s big move may have been ignored by everyone, as she’s already voting with her old buddies. And Naseer still has his idol and Shan still has hers and the one she temporarily “lent” to Ricard -- so we still have another possible Advantage-geddon again in the future. But how was the episode overall?
Honestly I enjoyed it, a lot of things exploding with the various factions intersecting and going nuts, even if I feel bad we never really saw Sydney play more than being great for the camera and being correctly suspicious a lot. I’m still kinda iffy on the whole whispering at tribal thing, because it’s often too hard to follow what’s happening and it simply becomes chaotic. But we’re still left with a lot of great characters and players with mixed records -- it’s definitely one of those seasons that might go off the deep end, but so far I’m really enjoying it. I’m still not sure if I think it’s hilarious or silly that Liana’s overpowered advantage was entirely pointless.
Next time on Survivor, everyone wants someone out and Tiff doesn’t know what the plan is.