Survivor doubles down with a double boot that reveals the new big players..
by Jeremy Fogelman
Apparently Survivor has been noticing the slower pace of recent episodes so it included that well-known post-merge twist of the temporary team split. We’ve seen this particular twist before, which is a good way to shake things up and potentially weed out some of the less interesting players by having a double vote out in one episode.
The immunity challenge was a fast one, with the first team getting Karla her first immunity win and the second team getting Cody his first win. At this point the immunities have been pretty well distributed, kinda unusually -- but it makes things more precarious going forward. In the challenge Ryan demonstrated a lot of capability, as to be expected, which is likely one of the main reasons behind his being voted out.
Why did Ryan get voted out? As Jesse noted, he’s a physical threat but perhaps not so much a strategic one, especially compared to Cassidy. But it’s also about his loyalty or lack of it -- Jesse and Cody are already a supremely tight duo, but is it one that will take them to the end or detonate because of it? They easily bring in Gabler, who has also seemingly fallen under Sami’s leadership -- but who will the “loyalty first” dude really stay loyal to if they’re at odds?
Although Cody and Jesse discuss contingency plans about who gets voted out from the other tribe, they don’t actually seem to change their plans at all. So we get a straightforward, if boring, blindside on Ryan, who isn’t really connected or aware enough to see it coming. Sadly it was easy to see coming -- although he was very unlikely to win at the final tribal council, he could easily block someone else from staying safe which is a danger all itself.
The far more interesting tribal council is the other team, which is set aflame at first by Owen and James yelling at each other. We’ve heard James oddly mention Owen as untrustworthy already, but here he clarifies further that it’s because Owen already put his name down twice. However he’s misremembering things, because Owen only did that once at the Elie blindside vote because he was completely out of the loop. It felt like James simply didn’t want to work with Owen in the first place.
In contrast, Sami is setting himself up as a player making risky but effective moves -- he both wants to retain an alliance with Owen while solidifying one with Karla. When Noelle comes up with the brilliant move to fake Steal-a-Vote from Owen but still vote with him, Sami decides to bring Karla on board instead of leaving her in the dark. It’s potentially very dangerous for him and their blindside, because she could tell James to use his Knowledge is Power or even spare an idol if needed.
Instead though Sami convinces Karla with apparently decent logic that Owen isn’t a real threat but this is the perfect opportunity to get out the more connected and advantage-having James -- hard to say he’s wrong. So Karla has to decide between wrecking the plan because James is allied with her or remove a potential threat before it’s too late. Of course she could also be wrong about the threat and it’s making her seem more dangerous, but we can’t know about that yet.
Either way, I was glad to see some interesting gameplay between Sami and Noelle here, with a tribal that felt like it could’ve actually gone either way, unlike the Ryan blindside. So it’s half of an interesting episode, and thankfully we still have quite a few of my faves left in the game.
Next time on Survivor, the game is relentless and the targets keep changing.