A recap of tonight’s episode of Survivor is coming up, just as soon as I trade away a bead I was saving for my daughter to get back two far inferior beads…
So it is, six years since there was last a post on this website, I return from hiatus and the mandate of covering Politics, Sport and TV continues, but now with some added competitive reality television shows thrown in. Back in the day, you’d have found Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy and some other drama series recaps on this page, but fast forward from 2016 and suddenly hardly any show is watched weekly anymore, with the exception of shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race. Since I have become a fan of both in the intermittent year, I’m excited to return with a recap of tonight’s episode.
Let’s start at the beginning: Borneo. Okay maybe not quite back that far, but let’s do a quick run through of what had happened so far this season. First off, in the opening episode, after Jeff Probst had spent a good twenty minutes finding out the origin stories of every player this season of Survivor, we had the Baka tribe (who will always wear yellow) lose the first challenge, go to tribal council and decide to vote out a woman of color, Morriah. This was in spite of the fact that an older bald dude with a beard who is called Mike, but is not the older bald dude with a beard who is called Mike from season 42, because this guy wants to be called Gabler – told everyone immediately after the challenge it was his fault and he wouldn’t hide behind his immunity idol but, in no way contradicting himself, that he would play his shot in the dark. His fellow tribe mates took this flip flopping to heart, and voted off someone who seemed completely solid and had not messed up in the challenge. It’s almost like they wanted him to be waking them up by placing palm fronds on them a few episodes later.
Episode two was much different, in that we saw Justine, a woman of color, voted out but this time by the Vesi tribe (who will always wear red); in episode three, the same tribe saw the majority suddenly decide that strength was more important than alliance and they voted out Nneka, who is a woman of color. It therefore almost began to seem like progress was being made in episode four, when some shenanigans between Vesi and Baka sent Coco (who will always wear blue) to tribal council and for their first vote out, they got rid of Lindsay, who is a Caucasian woman.
So through four episodes, it has been a case of not so much drop the 4, keep the 3 for Survivor 43, more like take away 26, keep the 17 as we had a boot list more akin to Gabon with the gender imbalance so far. It would, however, become even worse than that should Cassidy become the fifth straight female in a row to be voted out, which was what we find out is the plan from Geo as the episode begins. Both he and Ryan are so sure they are in charge of things at Coco that they seem to have overlooked the fact that it was Karla and James who told them to vote out Lindsay right before tribal council. There’s definitely enough foreshadowing here – before where the credits used to be – to suggest that they could be returning there again by the end of the hour as both Cassidy and Geo have confessionals in which they display far too much confidence that they are in a powerful position within the tribe.
Next up, we visit the dysfunctional Baka tribe, which I have been dying to go to tribal council ever since Elie had tried to play off the Gabler’s two tribal idol – which is obviously still valid and nobody would ever think was not – was no longer in play and is convinced that the person who’s speciality involves implanting heart valve’s into people’s bodies, thinks that it meant any two tribal councils, not ones he was specifically at. To begin with today, Elie and Jeanine are
looking for idols heading to the water well when they happen to notice a ‘Survivor Tree’ (side note: absolutely love the editing wink and nods towards the confessionals and the way they lit the tree up to highlight what Elie was saying) that surely contains an advantage somewhere upon it. In what seemed like a pre-determined decision, it was Jeanine who went to go and get it (after about six thousand ants had also found it, but seemingly did not want to risk their votes by opening it) while Elie went and stood nearby. I have a feeling this was less altruism from Elie, and more she recognizes the power of knowing where all the advantages are, without having the target on your back by actually having them yourself.
She need not have worried about that too much though, because within a few minutes everyone on the Yellow tribe was fully aware of the fact that Jeanine had an idol. They had decided to tell Sami about it, but then got caught out reading the note by the water well when Owen came upon them, saw them reading pieces of paper and they attempted to hide it, only for Owen to ask “So where was it?” That they actually thought they might get way without him noticing they clearly had found an advantage was underestimating perhaps even more than they had Gabler with his own idol. What was he going to think the paper was? A little sudoku the producers had given them to pass the time? After a confessional where Owen speculates that he could easily blow up his own game by refusing to give up his bead to make her idol valid, thereby making himself a target and someone neither of them would trust again in the game; everyone plays along and gives Jeanine the beads from their bags and then encourages Gabler to do the same. Now he’s been saving some for his daughters, but is willing to give up two, terrible, boring green beads. These are not the right beads but the correct, awesome, big yellow one with blue squiggly lines is one he really wants to keep…until Jeanine asks again and he caves. Dude, you had the best excuse not to hand it over and now, not only did you give someone you’re working against power, your daughter will be watching this episode, looking at the boring green beads you gave her when you got back from Fiji, and wondering why you so willingly gave up the awesome bead.
Anyway, Sami takes him aside to make sure he fully understands what he’d done with the bead so that he did not have to wait till tonight to feel regret.
Sami: Listen, those beads that we just gave Jeanine
Gabler: Uh huh
Sami: That gave her an idol
Gabler: …Gave Jeanine? We just gave her a fake idol?
Sami: No we gave her a real idol
Sami: She found an advantage. I didn’t have time to tell you
Gabler: *blurry mouth censor*
Come to think of it, it took him so long to understand what he was being told, maybe I get where Elie was coming from after all and I think he could still be convinced his idol has expired.
Next up we go to a challenge and it’s for…immunity! This early in the episode I wonder if this means we will have two tribal councils, but no it’s only the last team that loses a player and we continue the one per week vote out ratio of the season so far. For the challenge, they have to get through a bunch of sticks barrier, a la the one they had to build for each other in Palau, but has already been made, then go through some obstacles, over a see saw with water to fill a bucket to lower a gate, none of which matters because it all comes down to which of three people can throw three balls up a ramp and onto a ledge before the others. In this crucial position it ends up being Ryan for Coco, Dwight for Vesi and Sami for Baka. After Dwight gets his three up, it’s between the blue and yellow tribes and a mistake from Ryan, where he knocks off the two balls he had already gotten on his ledge, Sami comes through and does another celebration that shows his tribe he’s probably younger than the 24 he’s claimed to them he is.
Except, after the challenge we get a confessional from Ryan who tells us that he had in fact, thrown the challenge because he wanted to get rid of Cassidy and had thrown the ball deliberately to knock off his other two! How clever! How absolutely positive that he’s probably going to go home then. I’ve rewatched the tape and do I think he did it on purpose? Possibly – he was aiming at the left hand side and his tribe mates were telling him not to, so I don’t not believe him, but if it actually was a strategic decision, it was a bad one. Nothing we have seen so far (not least because she’s hardly been shown much at all in the edit) suggests that Cassidy is someone who needs to be gotten rid of as soon as possible – I mean they put up with Coach for 36 days in Tocantins – or who represents a threat to Ryan at any point, so what’s the urgency to go back to tribal council?
At the end of the challenge, the red tribe got the reward as well, which was a big tarp for them and – unlike last week – they did not take the opportunity to swap for any previous reward, which apparently they can do and according to Jeff, has always been a thing. Rather than ask to go to the Great Barrier Reef to illegally take Coral with Colby and Jerri (even if they had, Colby would still get all the credit); or to have dinner on the Great Wall of China with Todd, Courtney and Denise; they keep the tarp. They also get to decide who is going to go on a journey from every tribe and they pick Geo (Coco), Jeanine (Baka) and Jesse (Vesi).
Before we get to that though, the strategic mastermind of Ryan decides that he should be the decoy to tell Cassidy, as he was a good actor, that they should not talk game with him, and to make sure the energy had changed so that Cassidy would buy into it and would not play her shot in the dark. Since Karla and James relay all this information to her, it makes Ryan’s martyr approach (two Coach references in my first Survivor post) even more see through and thus Cassidy is able to enjoy it enough to get paranoid and think she might actually be the target, which makes Karla and James consider switching it to her…didn’t we see this last week?
Meanwhile, on the adventure, this time they are going out to a big rock, or hiking an incline to get to a decision, but the trio instead have to get on a boat that takes them directly to a sand spit. Then past the sand spit to a dock where they get a boat to paddle back to that sand spit. Really seemed like the producers were just messing with them at this point, but the journey does give Geo the chance to assure the other two that he really needs this advantage, please do not take it away from him, because he really needs it. The other two, realizing that they only had a one in three shot of getting something of unknown value, but could potentially make an ally by allowing Geo to have it, both decide to risk their vote anyway. This decision is particularly costly, because it ends up being Geo who wins anyway and he gets the worst advantage that does not come in an hour glass shape, as it is the Knowledge is Power, back to fail for a third time.
At this point, we have the following advantages and vote changes in play:
Vesi: Cody – Hat Immunity Idol; Noelle – steal a vote; Jesse – no vote; Dwight – nothing
Baka: Gabler – Immunity idol for one more tribal council; Jeanine – no vote and an immunity idol; Sami/Owen/Elie – nothing
Coco: Karla – Immunity idol; Geo* – Knowledge is Power (but is unaware of Karla’s idol); Ryan – ability to throw challenges he shouldn’t throw; Cassidy/James – nothing
*Okay not for long
Before we get to Tribal Council; Geo tells only the people he can trust (everyone but Cassidy) that he got the KIP advantage because he knows they have his back and he’s running this tribe. Since they know he did not get anything that could be used to save him that night, that pretty much seals his fate. Jeff leads Coco through the dance of asking Ryan about his culpability in the failure at the immunity challenge and how he seems so kind to just fall on his sword. All the while, Cassidy is rolling her eyes, but does not get called out, so the blindside stays secret, Ryan gets stunned, but Geo goes home, at least with the KIP as a souvenir. Which is more than what we can say for the awesome bead that Gabler was saving for his daughter.
Next week: From the preview, it looks like we are hitting the merge territory, but of course in this new era, nothing is simple and everything must be earned, so we will be seeing some kind of twist. Let’s hope it’s not that it’s Chilis instead of Applebee’s this season, but that the smashed hour glasses are no more and whoever wins immunity, keeps it