Survivor offers some repeated beats but showcases a fitting blindside.
by Jeremy Fogelman
The latest episode of Survivor is called “Stop with All the Niceness” and gives us that delightful showcase of “pride cometh before the fall”. Sometimes on Survivor it’s a direct line from someone’s arrogance to their getting voted out, and sometimes it’s about someone’s arrogance getting their ally voted out. This episode we got both at once.
Geo has been delighting in his theoretical majority alliance for a little while, with him being the obvious unknowing target last week until Lindsay tanked herself. He and Ryan are a very strong pair, but they also both think of Karla and James as being part of their alliance instead of another strong duo associated with their duo. Last week this wasn’t an issue as their interests aligned in voting out Lindsay, but both Geo and Ryan remained in the dark about their so-called allies' true goals and plans.
The episode gives us a little tease about Cassidy potentially spiraling like Lindsay, but this was just a bit of misdirection, as the ball was firmly in Karla’s court, with her ally James by her side. The “loose lips sink ships” had two instances this episode, one being Geo gleefully telling Karla about his lie to the tribe and actually getting an advantage, while the other was Elie on Baka foolishly telling Sami about Jeanine’s idol for no reason I could detect.
If it hadn’t been for both Geo’s luck in getting his advantage (the third failure of Knowledge is Power, as it wasn’t even used) and his inability to keep it to himself, he might not have triggered Karla’s warning senses enough to be a target. So Geo, in a way, voted himself out through his own hubris and the episode was glad to show us his arrogance in interviews juxtaposed with his actual situation.
The other stupid game decision was Ryan “throwing” his challenge (although it’s unclear how much he was doing) to get a chance to vote out Cassidy. Intentional tribals are almost always a bad idea, with the one possible exception of feeling the need to get rid of a toxic, chaotic person who’s not helping in challenges and will screw things up when they merge. Cassidy was neither of those, and Ryan’s glee at thinking he fooled everyone was another clear note by the episode to foreshadow his potential downfall.
Cassidy correctly picked up on his poor acting, but only Karla was shown making the game-changing decision -- despite James being on her team. As it often happens when big tribes finally lose, Coco was only a little bit away from completely destroying itself -- and this sort of unknowing back and forth is always fun to watch. Nothing though from new champions Vesi, who have certainly been dominating lately.
But the real chaos was on our Baka tribe, as per usual, even though they didn’t lose. Jeanine and Elie (another very tight duo) go searching for idols and we see another use of the Bead Beware Advantage. This time they tell Owen about the advantage because he accidentally runs into them while she has it out -- and he seems to be pretty smart about telling us he’s hedging his bets because Gabler is unpredictable and he wants to be shown as trusting the two ladies.
In contrast, Elie (who I suppose incorrectly still thinks of Sami as her ally) tells the secret of Jeanine’s idol, while Owen kept it to himself! So too late, Sami tells Gabler they just gave Jeanine an idol -- I suppose Elie telling Sami did back him into a corner, because if he didn’t participate with the bead thing, they’d have been screwed. But instead now the whole tribe knows about it, and that can’t be a good thing.
Similarly, Jeanine revealed her loss of the Risk It challenge, which means that now everyone also knows she has no vote. And with the merge coming up soon, she’s in jeopardy. It was a pretty fun episode, with a lot of great personality conflicts and people not seeing their own weaknesses. It’s setting the season up to be a pretty chaotic post-merge situation.
Next time on Survivor, the Merge is coming and there’s some sort of twist.