'Survivor’ offers a pointless twist and an engaging tribal council in an episode that mostly works.
by Jeremy Fogelman
On the latest Survivor episode “Do or Die”, named for its pointless twist, we consider the question: Why did Liana get voted off? Poor Liana was quite the character this season, playing hard from minute one with a combination of emotion and clarity, with a serious animosity towards Xander throughout. Ah, why does it always have to be the best moment before your vote out?
At the final tribal, after Deshawn gave a teary explanation of his vote against Shan, Liana gave a legit “for the culture” speech breaking down her perspective as a Black woman in the current climate outside and inside the game. A really great moment for her, even if it was her last -- but at least it was quite an effective, strong one. Sure, it’s no “hero music for the exit of Shan the Great” like last episode, but it was a good sign off for Liana.
Liana was very tight to Shan, but that was ultimately her downfall, as she was clearly not trusted enough by her other allies Danny and Deshawn enough to tell her last week’s plan. Which they could’ve, despite their attempts at saying they had no choice in the matter because of the “majority” against Shan. Makes no sense, because it was four against four!
So we did get Deshawn profusely telling Liana he’d never write down her name, and maybe because of his clear emotional reaction to voting out Shan he actually meant it. Danny is a trickier dude to read in that way, playing the more subtle game -- but he actually got a pretty great episode otherwise, as we got his emotional backstory and then he won immunity.
Otherwise, it came down to Erika as a swing vote and Xander with his extra vote that made it obvious. Erika clearly picked the “allies I can trust for now” over “Ricard is the big threat” from her choices, which is a debatable one for sure, but maybe the right one. Although Ricard is certainly a threat, who isn’t? Only Heather, really. As for Xander, he and Liana have been at odds for quite a while, so it does make sense to target her as that probably wouldn’t have changed any time soon.
So Liana was in the minority because of her “duo” alliance and a target because the “bigger threat” Deshawn was twisted into being safe while Danny won immunity. So among the smaller alliance, really she was the only option.
As for the rest of the episode, I can’t say I was really such a fan of the twist that didn’t go anywhere. Deshawn ultimately got a chance to play (what Xander correctly identified) as a variant on the 'Monty Hall problem', but such randomness feels like an unfair twist -- even if Deshawn actually was safe likely because of this twist.
But otherwise I still like this cast, and even Heather gets one or two lines an episode that aren’t pointless. At this point I’m mixed on who I think is playing the best game, but it’s part of the whole “playing well makes you a target” issue with modern Survivor. Sort of a double edged sword when you sometimes get the most “average good” player winning the season. Still, it’s also a great jury so far too!
Next time on Survivor, Danny hopes to find an idol, Ricard is scared, Erika has new plans, and all Deshawn can do is fight.