Survivor: Winners At War Episode 11 Recap - One Man Show

*SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY AHEAD*

I feel like I'm saying this every week, but what an episode of Survivor. I've been looking forward to it more every week since quarantine started, and it just gets better and better. Last night was start to finish one of the best 60 minutes of Survivor that I can ever remember. It also featured one of the greatest individual performances in an episode, with Tony putting on an absolute clinic on how to play Survivor. 

Merged Camp (Koru)

The episode starts off with Jeremy alone at camp, waiting for the others to return from the tribal that he had the advantage of leaving. When everyone returned, they were giving Jeremy a bit of the cold shoulder, not wanting to tell him what happened as they bragged about how insane the tribal was. His alliance was upset he left them. Tony told him "we had a plan" even though Tony's real plan was to vote Jeremy out. Ben said that Jeremy is now enemy #1. Jeremy tried to tell Ben that with Tyson gone, he's now the biggest threat left. Ben dismissed this quickly and said Jeremy is ahead of him in the threat rankings. It's very clear that Jeremy is trying to use the meat shield strategy again, but it's very transparent, and Ben saw right through it. Overall though, it was definitely weird that people seemed to be mad at Jeremy just for saving himself from getting voted out. 

Then the Tony episode began. Tony had to start off the season slow, with his hands somewhat tied behind his back. He couldn't make the same mistakes he did on Game Changers. He had to focus on a social game and lowering his threat level. Now, Tony is finally being unleashed. He woke up before everyone else and went idol hunting. Nick eventually joined him, but Tony wisely sent him to an area he had already searched. Eventually, Tony found his first idol of the season. 

It felt great seeing Tony back on his chaos. Nobody knows he has the idol or even suspected of him looking (besides Nick). I'm surprised more people didn't go looking right after Kim played hers. Tony is playing harder than everyone else and it paid off. 

Meanwhile, everyone else was starting the day with a fashion show wearing Sarah's clothes. 

I thought it was a fun, light-hearted character scene and liked the music so I didn't mind it. Tony, however, wanted no part of it and refused to watch. I thought this was a mistake by Tony. He's had a better social game this season, but this was a blunder. He should have just stayed there and watched. Nothing else to do and he already has the idol. 

After that, we got some more Tony scheming. He wanted to play double agent and stay on the good side of the minority four alliance featuring Jeremy, Michele, Denise, and Kim. Jeremy and Michele were sold by Tony's convincing performance and thought he'd be with them going forward. Kim, however, smartly sniffed this out and said in a confessional that she knows Tony is just playing double agent. I feel like Kim has been a little under-the-radar this season, but this was a reminder of what a great player she really is. 

Edge Of Extinction

We joined the Edge to a conversation about how some people really struggle with not winning the game. A lot of people on Edge have lost before so they're used to it, but Tyson speculated that someone like Adam may really have a hard time. I think that's a fair assessment. 

Natalie and Parvati stumbled across a wine bottle with a clue to an advantage. After some distracting by Parvati, Natalie crawled under the shelter to grab it while everyone else watched the sunset.This was a never-before-seen extortion advantage. They had the ability to block someone still in the game from participating in the challenge and voting at tribal, unless the player could meet their fire token demand. I personally didn't like this twist. I'm already not crazy about people on the Edge impacting the game by giving out advantages, but I really draw a line at disadvantages. That just seems unfair. 

They chose to give it to someone who would definitely play hard to not have it used against them. Someone who could cause chaos. The obvious choice was Tony. At first, Tony was ecstatic when he had it delivered to his bag. 

He understandably assumed that it was an advantage he could use … until he got to the bottom where it said it was being played against him. It was a funny moment that really illustrated what a great character Tony is. 

Not only a great character, but also a great player, Tony then used his social game to get the three extra fire tokens he needed to meet their demand of six tokens. He first went to the minority alliance and said he needed to be able to vote with them tonight. Smart move. Michele, however, had none left after using it on that 50/50 advantage. She quickly spun up a clever lie that she already used it on an advantage that will help her in a challenge to get back from Edge. Good stuff from Michele. So Tony went to Jeremy and got one, but he still needed two more. So he then went to his real alliance and got one each from Nick and Ben. And just like that, Tony could pay the debt so he could participate in the challenge and vote. He started the episode with an idol find, and then put on a social clinic by getting these tokens. But there was way more to come. 

Immunity Challenge

The challenge involved balancing on a plank while keeping an item balanced with a long pole. Not one of the best challenges of the season but still a good one. I'll say it every week - the challenges have been great this season. Immunity and two fire tokens were up for grabs. It came down to Jeremy and Tony, when Jeremy seemingly fell out of nowhere. Tony almost seemed upset that he won for a second, knowing that his target is growing bigger and bigger. He even hushed Jeff when he said he was "dominating." Come on Probst, be better than that. Tony could also pay back the fire tokens debt to two people. Unfortunately, we didn't see who or how this went down. I'm assuming Nick and Ben got theirs back since the deal with Jeremy was more just that he'd vote with them. 

Pre-Tribal

So let's check the Tony scorecard. He found an idol. He showcased a great social game. He won a challenge. Now, we were about to see a strategic mastermind at work. 

At first, things seemed like they'd be an easy vote. Kim and Denise realized they didn't have Tony and thus didn't have the numbers, so the plan was for those 7 to split the vote between Jeremy and Michele in case of an idol. Kim and Sarah would vote for Michele. Tony, Ben, Nick, Sophie, and Denise would vote for Jeremy. Meanwhile, Jeremy and Michele were under the impression that Tony, Kim, and Denise were voting with them for Ben. Jeremy mentioned how everything Ben does annoys him. Proof that maybe Ben's social game is not improving as much as we thought. 

Then seemingly out of nowhere, Tony put a new plan in motion. He wanted to blindside Sophie. He felt that she was an under-the-radar threat and was too close with Sarah, who he wanted as his main partner. With the vote being split, he only needed a few votes. He waited until it was almost time for tribal to pitch the plan, a smart move using time to his advantage. He warned Jeremy that everyone was coming for him. Jeremy was hesitant at first and almost didn't believe it. Tony was trying to save his life in the game, and Jeremy was like "nah." Tony told Jeremy to tell Michele the plan, and Tony brought Nick on board who agreed pretty quickly. Nick has become Tony's sidekick, and they've developed a strong connection. I'll have more on Nick later.

Tribal Council

In what feels like a rarity, there were no whispers at tribal. Instead, there was some gameplay discussion about half-truths, building up resumes, blindsides and quiet camp life before tribal. It was time to vote. Nobody played an idol. 3 votes came out for Jeremy as expected, then 2 votes for Michele as expected. But then the big reveal. Blindside. 4 straight votes for Sophie as she was sent packing. She even yelled, "Idol in my pocket!" This is significant because now people know to look for another one, assuming it will be put back. Overall, it was a perfectly executed blindside. I don't think it was an audience blindside. To me, it felt obvious that was going to happen. But it was a HUGE player blindside. Probably one of the bigger ones in recent memory. Sophie, and her alliance, had zero clue that was even an option. 

Final Thoughts

-This was the Tony episode. An idol find, getting the tokens, winning a challenge, and executing a perfect blindside. He put on a Survivor clinic. It was the best, most complete 60 minutes I can ever remember from a player. I can't remember a single episode ever being so focused on one player, especially in a strong season like this. Per Survivor Reddit, he had a single episode record of 18 confessionals. But he deserved all the airtime that he got. He really showed himself as a triple threat. Tony might officially be my favorite player ever. He's right there with Russell Hantz. Tony's definitely the most unique person to play the game. Probably the most entertaining too. He's strategic, he's social, he's chaotic, and he's an absolute blast to watch. Even though he'd probably be considered a villain, it's impossible not to root for him. This is now his season to lose. The question is: has he peaked too early? He had done a good job laying low and keeping his target small, but that's over with now. He can't revert back to that strategy. The damage is done. He has to continue to play balls to the wall and go all out. He still has allies and an idol in his pocket, so he can do it. How will his relationship with Sarah be? It'll all be amazing to watch. I'm rooting for him. 

-Tough way for Sophie to go out. Her pre-merge game was excellent. She was solid post-merge too. She was playing an improved social game, always thinks strategically, and had an idol in her pocket. It was a tough way for her to go. She mentioned in her exit confessional that she was afraid people used to think of her as a "bottom-tier winner" but hopes she proved them wrong this season. I think she did and was really impressed with her game. 

-There's some interesting stuff going on with Nick's edit. He's kind of starting to get the goofball edit that Adam had. There was this shot of him sniffing his armpits. 

And also the discussion of him as the "Evil Donathan Vampire." Those are kind of harmless moments, but I think the bigger problem with his edit is how he just seems to be going along with whatever people say. Tony told him to look at the well for an idol. He did. Tony told him to vote for Sophie. He did. In reality, Nick should be applauded for being the only one besides Tony to wake up and look. He should also be praised for being trusted by Tony and always seeming to be on the right side of the vote. He's gone from bottom of totem pole to a key vote at each tribal. His game is definitely being underrated. He seems to be upset too. He tweeted this out and then deleted it. 

Screenshot courtesy of my friends over at r/survivor

He has since deleted his entire account. You don't want to be seen complaining about your edit. It's understandable, but for spoiler purposes you just can't do it. This makes me think Nick didn't win. Someone who just won $2 million probably isn't complaining about their edit. But I get it's human nature. 

-Just want to give another quick shoutout to Kim's game. She was very "bleh" for awhile this season, but she's lately reminding everyone what a smart player she is. She also seems like she's going to be Tony's biggest foe in terms of trying to take him out, unless Sarah goes out for revenge next week. 

Winner Rankings

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 ( )

Tier 1

1. Tony (2)

Tier 2

2. Jeremy (1)

3. Kim (7)

4. Michele (3)

Tier 3

5. Sarah (8)

6. Denise (6)

7. Ben (9)

8. Nick (5)

On Edge

9. Natalie (11)

10. Boston Rob (10)

11. Tyson (12)

12. Yul (13)

13. Wendell (14)

14. Parvati (16)

15. Adam (15)

16. Sophie (4)

17. Ethan (17)

18. Amber (18)

19. Danni (19)

Eliminated 

20. Sandra (20)

See you next week.