*SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY AHEAD*
It happens very rarely, but I was disappointed with Survivor last night. It's basically the only entertainment we have right now, and I need Survivor to bring it every single week. If anything, now should be a time for two-hour episodes packed with extra gameplay. Instead, we wasted nearly half the episode on the family visit. I may sound like I'm just complaining about a wholesome thing, but I will clarify my stance as we get into the recap.
This was a surprise loved ones visit. It usually happens later in the game. I can't remember it ever happening at Final 10. You could tell the players were genuinely shocked. This is also the first time where every player could have multiple people visit. While some just had their fiancés/spouses/siblings, everyone with kids was greeted by their entire family. I'd imagine this will only be the case for this special season, and we'll go back to one visitor per person going forward. Getting to see their entire family was probably part of the negotiation to get these winners back here. While it was taking a little long, I thought the whole families were a nice twist, and I was actually getting some goosebumps enjoying the nice moments.
But the biggest twist? No challenge. That's where they lost me. After Jeff faked everyone out by saying the whole family would participate, he told them that everyone would go back to camp to get their Survivor experience. This aggravated me. Look, I'm sure it was nice for everyone, but it robbed us of some drama. Everyone always gets extremely butt hurt when the challenge winner doesn't pick them for reward. That would've been multiplied tenfold with the kids factor. Imagine the kids crying because they didn't get picked to go on reward? The vengeance tours people would have went on? Would've been incredible!
I've always said my strategy would be to never win the loved ones challenge. Way more downside than upside to winning it. Everyone who you don't pick hates you. But there's also a new strategy my dad brought up to me last night. Just have nobody show up for you. Tell them "I have nobody in my life." Big time sympathy card. Nobody is voting you out that night. Also maybe this was my dad's way of telling me that he doesn't want to come visit me when I do make the show one day.
Everyone went back to camp for their picnic, and I thought that was it. No.
Edge Of Extinction
Once we joined the Edge of Extinction, I felt what was coming. When we saw the boat out in the distance heading towards them, I really knew what was coming.
Everyone on Edge also got the family visit! Not only do you not have to win a challenge, you don't even have to still be in the game! Ridiculous. Sure there were some nice emotional moments, but that's not what I watch Survivor for. By the time this had ended, half the episode was over.
I get it. They miss their families. These people have given a lot to the game of Survivor, and this was Survivor thanking them. But Survivor has also given a lot to them. Notoriety and a million dollars! And it was only 24 days! I, and am sure most people, have gone 24 days without seeing my family. It's especially the case right now during quarantine. Obviously you miss them and have the luxury of talking to them via text/calls/Facetimes, but I still think Survivor hypes up that length of time a little too much. This is not soldiers coming home from an actual war. This is 20 millionaires on a reality TV show for a few weeks. All getting paid handsomely I'm sure, and the winner getting $2 million dollars. I didn't need to waste half the episode seeing waterworks. It just felt too forced and played up. I'm sure it was a great experience for all the players and families. They deserve it. But condense it into 10 minutes or something. Not half the episode on one of the greatest seasons ever. Or make it a two-hour episode.
Side note: what happened with Sandra? I'm assuming she couldn't go home because of spoiler reasons. She's probably at some form of Ponderosa. I wonder if she was allowed to have her family visit or if that luxury only went to people who stayed inside the game.
This challenge was a familiar one we've seen multiple times before. It involved balancing a rope as you stacked puzzle pieces to spell out the word "Immunity." The winner would also be granted two fire tokens. Tony ended up winning the challenge. It came down to him and Ben, but Ben's pieces fell towards the very end as he rushed to catch up to Tony. So Tony won immunity and got two fire tokens. It was his first individual immunity win ever. As he pointed out, it's extremely ironic that his first win ever came on a challenge involving patience.
Since we had no camp activity shown earlier in the episode, we really had no idea who would be on the chopping block. Like most pre-tribals this season, things seemed pretty chaotic. The first plan we saw was Jeremy approaching Tony about splitting up Sarah and Sophie. Personally, I thought that was a smart suggestion. They are both super smart players and are as tight as anyone left. Tony, however, shot this down due to his relationship with Sarah. This aggravated Jeremy.
Meanwhile, Sarah was advocating to Tony that she wanted Kim out. She claimed she was the biggest threat left to win the game. Tony shot this down too and said he wanted Tyson out. They bickered for quite a bit. They have an interesting relationship, but it's clear they trust each other and want to work together.
While Tony, Nick, Ben, and Jeremy were all sitting together, Jeremy mouthed to Kim that he wanted to go talk. This set off some alarm bells. Tony threw out the idea of blindsiding Jeremy. Those three guys plus Sarah and Sophie. And for the first time really all season, we saw some clear alliances forming. On one side was Tony, Ben, Nick, Sarah and Sophie. On the other side was the poker players Jeremy, Kim and Tyson, plus also Michele and Denise. Kim told her alliance that she has the idol. Jeremy told them about the safety without power advantage where he could leave tribal but wouldn't get to vote. The problem is that this would screw over his alliance, leaving a 5-4 vote. Sarah and Sophie also discussed Sarah using the steal-a-vote advantage that would give six votes to their side and prevent a tie. So there was a lot unsettled going into tribal, but we did have a pretty clear 5 vs. 5 split.
It didn't take long for the whispers to start again at tribal council. Kim started it this time. I'm honestly not sure why there was a need for it this week. It seemed like each group had their plans set before tribal, and this was before any advantages were played. People online are started to get tired of the whispers and saying they should be banned at tribal. I have mixed thoughts on this. While "live" tribals can occasionally be fun, they're now almost becoming the norm. That's not good. Maybe it's just because this season is so chaotic, but I think that people should be able to make their plans ahead of time. However, I also don't think you can outright ban tribal whispers. It is part of the game. The game is constantly evolving and changing. If you want to change a plan at tribal, you should have the right to do so. I think the solution might be to mic players up during tribal. The viewers can't really hear what's being said, and we miss out on strategy. If tribal whispers are allowed to stay in the game, which I think they should, then the solution is just to mic them up individually. I do think that in future seasons with newbie players, we won't see as many whispers as we are this season.
It was time to vote. Simultaneously, Jeremy and Sarah both stopped Jeff. After some hesitation of who would go first, Jeff again said it's time to vote. And the same thing happened. Despite insisting "ladies first," Jeremy ultimately had to be the one to draw his gun first. He played his safety without power advantage and left tribal, much to the disappointment of his alliance. I don't blame Jeremy at all for this. They were going to target him, and why risk a re-vote? He also didn't know that Sarah was about to play her steal-a-vote, but that would have been even more reason for him to leave as they would've been outnumbered 6-5. There was probably no better time for Jeremy to use it. Will his alliance be mad? Probably not. Alliances are shifting every week anyway, and I'm sure they get he just had to protect himself.
Jeremy left and the whispers really picked up again. Finally, a line in the sand was drawn when Sophie said "Why don't us 5 just go behind the torches and make our decision?" So Sophie, Sarah, Tony, Ben, and Nick went to make their decision and plan how to use the extra vote. The 4 of Kim, Denise, Michele, and Tyson needed to decide how to play Kim's idol.
It was again time to vote. Sarah played the steal-a-vote to take Denise's vote. So it was now a 6-3 advantage. They could split the vote and negate the idol. Then they they'd have the majority on the revote. It was a smart play.
It was time to read the votes and Kim made her big decision, playing it on Denise. This was a bad choice. Stealing Denise's vote should have been a pretty obvious decoy and meant that they were likely voting for Tyson or Kim. If I was Kim, I would've just protected myself. But she chose to play it on Denise. It also didn't really matter because if things went to a 3-3-3 split as expected, then they'd be screwed anyway on the revote. So if you're Kim, play it on yourself or don't play it at all.
The votes were read. The first two were for Denise and didn't count. Then two votes Sophie. Then five votes Tyson, was who was sent home. Something was definitely off. The majority 5 plus the extra vote should've split three votes each on Tyson and Denise. And then there should have been 3 votes on Sophie from Kim, Tyson, and Michele. This means two things. First of all, they didn't properly split the votes, as Tyson got 4 votes to Denise's 2 among those six. And it also means a 5th vote was cast on Tyson from the Kim-Tyson-Michele trio. Obviously this had to be Michele. Maybe she was afraid of the vote being split on Tyson and herself. If so, this was a savvy move. The big blunder was the majority "six" not splitting the vote correctly, although it ended up not mattering due to Kim's incorrect idol play and Michele flipping.
If Survivor still revealed the votes at the end of each episode, this would be a lot easier to figure out. Hopefully, my explanation makes sense. The Wikipedia page for the season does somehow keep a tally of who voted who. You can check that out, but it just follows what I said.
So that wrapped up a confusing tribal. Three advantages were played, so there should be more re-entering the game soon. Tyson gets voted out for a second time. He had no fire tokens to give so he just flipped off everyone instead. Maybe he can win another challenge to get back in the game. For now, we'll have to settle for some classic Tyson humor on Edge.
The episode wrapped up with a heartwarming moment, as everyone from Edge hugged Jeff to thank him for their family visit.
I've never seen Jeff so happy. It almost made the whole loved ones stuff worth it.
This is a running ranking I'll keep all season long of who I think is most likely to win the game. The person ranked last isn't necessarily my prediction to go home next, but I just think they have the least chance of winning the game. It's based on "edgic" which is a mix of "logic" and "edit."
Previous Week Rank in ( )
1. Jeremy (2)
2. Tony (4)
3. Michele (1)
4. Sophie (3)
5. Nick (6)
6. Denise (5)
7. Kim (7)
8. Sarah (8)
9. Ben (9)
10. Boston Rob (11)
11. Natalie (12)
12. Tyson (10)
13. Yul (13)
14. Wendell (14)
15. Adam (15)
16. Parvati (16)
17. Ethan (17)
18. Amber (18)
19. Danni (19)
20. Sandra (20)
See you next week.