Survivor takes a step down with a fairly straightforward and well-meaning episode.
by Jeremy Fogelman
After all of the sparks that have flown in the first two episodes of the season, this episode teases us with a so-called divorce of “island married” Jesse and Dwight but ultimately has everyone performing a very normal and expected blindside. The gang on Vesi loses immunity again this week, which will send their numbers down to four -- and the tribal lines are already pretty stark, with Noelle and Dwight sticking together in secret, Jesse theoretically still friends with Dwight, and Jesse and Cody very tightly allied.
Last time Nneka and Jesse ensured that Cody got his idol and didn’t lose his vote, although that part also helped their moves out too. This episode got a brand new backstory from Nneka, talking about her plans with a mission team for displaced children in Nigeria. We also get an emotional speech from Jesse about how voting out Nneka would feel like voting out his mom -- but I guess we have a new Ciera Eastin (she famously voted out her mom and Jeff kept bringing it up again even on later seasons)!
But at this point Nneka was unfortunately in the “challenge weak link” category and was unable to get her alliance to keep her in the game to prioritize loyalty over theoretically a better chance at winning. It’s hard to argue that she wasn’t doing as well as she could at the puzzle when she admits it both to us and out loud to her tribe. Sadly it didn’t seem too likely we’d keep Noelle and Nneka, because even if Noelle had been the target and used a steal-a-vote, she likely would’ve voted for Nneka too.
Her blindside was about as nice as you could get, with the whole tribe playing pretty nice despite everything -- we even get a cute moment where Jesse asks for the team to perform their survey of confidence in a better way. Similarly on Mysterious Island, Owen and James (who I guess don’t feel the risk is worth the reward, but James has barely been in the show so far while Owen technically got a vote already) agree to overtly not risk their vote so that Noelle can get an advantage. It’s the sort of thing that could potentially be a real allying moment between the three of them or maybe nothing at all.
On Baka and Coco, things get a little interesting in different ways. On Baka, a game is played where Gabler is used as a tool to trick the ladies, and he totally doesn’t realize it. Ellie, Jeanine, and Sami discuss trying to trick Gabler into revealing whether or not he knows his idol is still good, but Sami wants to play his own 19-going-on-22-year-old game (he gives a side-eye of sorts when Elie says that she’s closer to Gabler than he is, which doesn’t seem true).
Sami just flat out asks Gabler, who says he knows his idol is still good -- and Sami drop the bombshell that the ladies went through his bag. And then most amusingly, Gabler tells this bombshell to Owen, who pretends he didn’t already know about it! So Gabler ends up telling the ladies a lie, that he thinks his idol is defunct, and they buy it! Not a great look for those two ladies, but a great look for Sami and Owen.
On Coco, the only thing of note is that Karla initially doesn’t open a Beware Advantage, but then changes her mind and goes back to get it after all. Sadly it’s the same old bead thing, which is a shame for originality, but Karla’s approach is completely different from Cody’s.
Cody was able to use his connection with Jesse and Nneka to get both a plan to get beads and help to do it, while Karla uses social skills to barter for beads by creating jewelry for people. It’s interesting because both use social capability but in different ways, but it does make the episode a bit less interesting in terms of the nature of the advantage. The post-tribal stuff wasn’t as interesting this time around, but there’s a lot of really interesting potential coming with this cast, which is already great.
Next time on Survivor, revenge is on people’s minds and there’s a war coming.