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Survivor: Winners At War Episode 12 Recap - Cookies And Chaos


We have to enjoy every second of Survivor while we still have it. Last night was the third to last episode of the season. We have two more two-hour episodes, but then Survivor is off our screens for the foreseeable future. They can't even film Seasons 41 and 42 next. I'm not mentally prepared to live in a world without Survivor. But thankfully, we're right now in the midst of perhaps the greatest season of all time. Last night was another gem of an episode. Let's get into it. 

Merged Camp (Koru)

Everyone got back from tribal, and things were HEATED. Ben was being his typical immature self and refusing to talk to Jeremy, while he was upset at Tony for the move he pulled. Then Sarah really flew off the handle at Tony. She told him it was a "fucking grimy" move and told him that he sunk her game. It seemed like the Cops-R-Us alliance was in trouble, but Tony was able to talk her off the ledge. He swears on his family that he's still with her until the end, and Sarah eventually calms down. By the next day, she seemed like nothing even happened. I think it's pretty clear these two have a tight relationship outside the game and don't want Survivor to jeopardize that. But I still always get annoyed when people get so butthurt after a vote. It's a game, people. It's also bad strategy to appear so upset anyway. 

Tony then had to do damage control with Ben. In order to gain his trust back, Tony told Ben about the idol. I thought this was a mistake. While it seemed to help a little bit, you should never reveal your idol. And Ben still seemed very weary of working with Tony after that. 

Overall, it was clear that Tony was now seen for the big threat that he is. Was it a mistake to make such a big move? Did he peak too early? He was worried about that. But he realized that the "laying low" approach was over and done with. He needed to keep playing balls to the wall. So he went from spy shack to spy nest. He climbed up a tree over the watering well and waited. 

Unfortunately, the only person that came by was Sarah, who already knew about it. So the spy nest ended up being more for CBS promotion and a fun Tony moment than anything else. 

The real conversations were going down over at the very impressive bench that they've built. Kim was rallying the trips to vote out Tony. She said it's clear that he's running the show and they needed to make a move before it's too late. She was getting Michele, Ben, Denise, and Nick on her side. I think it was the right move for Kim to lead this revolt. They'd be crazy to let Tony get to the end. However, it was a mistake to start this plan so early. They hadn't even had the challenge yet. Plans are constantly changing this season, every minute. Trying to put together a masterplan to take out the Godfather is bound to fail if there's too much time for it to fall apart. This was her mistake. 

Nick, realizing he couldn't just be viewed as Tony's puppet in the game, realized he needed to make some moves. He was on board with the Tony plan. He formed a Final 3 with Michele and Denise, thinking that was his best shot to win. He didn't think he'd have any chance against Tony, Jeremy, or Sarah. It was smart for him to think this way. He's playing a better game than people realize. 

With Sophie's idol out of the game, there was an idol search knowing that it would get put back on the island. A lot of people were looking, but Ben ended up finding it right in front of Tony. He tried to hide it, but Tony saw it immediately. I get why Ben would want to conceal it, but you have to realize Tony is right there. And know that he just told you about his idol right before that. This made Tony really upset. He couldn't believe Ben would try to hide it from him, and Tony worried that maybe he shouldn't trust him much going forward.

Edge of Extinction

Over on the Edge, everyone had the opportunity to earn fire tokens. It was a race to retrieve 20 coconuts from the backside of the island and bring them back to the shelter. The first six to finish would get two fire tokens each. Everyone else was shit out of luck. Boston Rob got out to an early lead, but fell and cracked his elbow. 

He said once that happened, "I was toast." Although, it was never really explained why. He wasn't show getting medical attention, but I'm guessing he did and that slowed him down? Otherwise, it's not like a bloody elbow would stop him from running. It was a bit weird. But we know Boston Rob would never just take himself out of a competition, so I'm sure there was some legitimate reasoning that we didn't see. 

Natalie and Sophie had a race for first, which Natalie won. Didn't really matter though. The rest of the top six were Yul, Tyson, Parvati, and Wendell who just beat out Danni. So they all got two fire tokens. Danni, Boston Rob, Adam, Ethan and Amber (not sure if she even did it) were out of luck. By my count, Natalie and Parvati now both have five tokens between this and the six from extorting Tony last week. They're in good shape for the challenge to get back in the game. 

And then of course in the most predictable thing of all time, Rob still finished the challenge despite his injury because of his pride. He got some inspirational music and confessionals as he walked back with his last coconuts. I have grown to like Boston Rob, but I think even he'd have to admit that watching that back was a little bit cheesy. 

Immunity Challenge

This is a challenge we've seen multiple times before. The players must stand on a small surface and hold one arm straight up in the air to balance a bucket of water over their heads. If they move too much and the bucket falls, they're out. This was double immunity. The last man and last woman standing would both get immunity and two fire tokens each. 

After only a few minutes, Ben started asking for food. He wanted peanut butter, cookies, and milk. Not sure how they knew that this would be a challenge where you could drop out for food. Unfortunately for Ben, he touched the structure before food got brought out and was eliminated. He was on the honor system and admitted it. 

Eventually, it was Michele, Denise, and Kim left for the girls. Tony and Nick were left for the guys. Nick offered Tony a fire token to let him win, but Tony wisely wanted to go for his third straight necklace. Minutes later, Jeff came out with exactly what Ben was craving. Kim and Michele both dropped for it, giving Denise immunity. Nick was debating it, and he ultimately stepped down after Tony agreed to give him one fire token. So Tony got his third straight immunity for one token. Definitely worth it. He's the new Ozzy all of a sudden with this challenge domination. 

Michele, Kim, and Nick got to enjoy their snack. Typically it lasts until the end of the challenge, but since the challenge ended right there, they had some time to eat. I always think that stepping down is obviously a mistake. But if you really don't think you can win then I guess it makes sense. Nick and Michele were probably losing anyway. Kim should have stayed on though, especially since she was the one leading the grand charge against Tony. It's just hard to take yourself out of a competition when the prize at the end of the tunnel is $2 million. 

To be fair, those do look pretty incredible. 

I didn't really see the need for double immunity. Some on Twitter said it's because this challenge is typically won by women. Kass from Cagayan even speculated that it's just to help Tony, and suggested that production helped him having his arm slightly bent. 

You can see Michele chimed in a bit too. I think the idea of production helping players sometimes gets overblown. Production never tells anyone how to vote, and that's ultimately what matters most. I think complaining about production helping players can come off a little whiney. It was interesting to see Michele chime in here and agree. It's starting to feel like we're in the middle of watching a Tony coronation that can't be stopped. I won't complain. 


With Tony immune, Kim and company had to change up their plans. The new target was Jeremy, who seems to be on the chopping block every single week. Kim, Michele, Denise, Ben, and Nick were the five gunning for Jeremy. Ben, with a seeming change of heart out of nowhere, decided to tell Tony that Kim was gunning for him earlier. Once Tony caught wind of this, Kim was his target. He started rallying the troops. He had Jeremy and Sarah but would need to convince Ben and Nick. Ben was dead set on voting Jeremy. He doesn't even want to talk to Jeremy for some reason. I don't know what exactly happened between them, but they somehow went from allies to worst enemies. Jeremy tries to talk with Ben and smooth things over, but Ben would barely give him the time of day. 

Nick then got himself caught in quite a pickle. Tony asked Nick if anyone had thrown out Tony's name and Nick denied it. Tony said, "Well Ben told me Kim was planning to target me and that you were in on it." I laughed out loud at Nick's performance after that. He stuttered and stumbled and just said, "Oh yeah... uh... I'm trying to remember." Have to be a little better than that Nick, come on. Funny moment and Tony saw right through it. Tony pitched the Kim plan to him too. 

Meanwhile, Michele wanted to protect her ally Jeremy even though she had to vote for him. She gave him the 50/50 safety coin. He could flip at tribal and have a 50% chance at an idol. I don't understand why Michele did this. If you want to help Jeremy so bad, vote with him. If not, then why help him with an advantage you had to spend four fire tokens on? Save it for yourself at next tribal just in case. I believe it can last be used at Final 7. Didn't make much sense to me, but Jeremy had it in his pocket going into tribal. 

Tribal Council

I had zero clue what was going to happen heading into tribal. It seems like that every week. There's really no set alliances and things change every minute. The game is moving faster than it ever has. It didn't take long for the whispers to start again at tribal council. Tony started by whispering to Jeremy and that led to a whole change reaction. Eventually, everyone was involved. Kim was getting paranoid. Ben didn't know if he needed to play his idol. Sarah might have been in trouble. Everyone just kept saying "same plan." It was total chaos. Sarah eventually just sat there. Denise did the same. Jeremy tried to talk to her and she shunned him, saying, "I'm done. I'm ready to vote." This pissed off Jeremy. The finger in his face was a bit disrespectful. Jeremy told her, "You know you're only safe tonight, right?" 

Everyone had enough and it was time to vote. Even the players are getting fed up with tribal whispers. They seemingly started for no reason this week. I'm not sure why Tony thought Jeremy wasn't with him. He was the other name on the chopping block so he was obviously voting Kim. The audience is definitely getting annoyed with the whispers too based off Twitter and Reddit. It's almost every week now. I will reiterate my thoughts on them that I said in my blog a couple of weeks ago. 

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.

Jeff came back with the votes and asked if anyone had an idol. Tony then put on a Godfather performance. He said "Give me one minute, Jeff." He first asked Jeremy who he voted for. Jeremy said "Like I said I was." This meant Kim. He then asked Sarah how she felt. She was weary at first so Tony was going to play the idol on her. Sarah insisted he didn't have to though. I guess Tony just wanted to show Sarah he had her back after last tribal, but this seemed unnecessary. Her name wasn't even thrown out there. Unless he feared that they were targeting his closest ally since they couldn't get him. But he ended up not playing it. 

Jeremy then pulled the coin out of his pocket, and said "I'm gonna do it." After a quick chat with Tony, Jeremy decided not to play it. This was a weird decision to me. Jeremy knew he was getting votes. Why not just flip it? It's not even his so he probably has to give it back to Michele. And it's only good for one more tribal. Regardless, it ended up being the right decision. Kim went home with a 5-3 vote. Tony congratulated Ben on a job well done, and his master performance was complete. Boston Rob was impressed. 

Tony was able to convince Ben and Nick to vote for Kim. Kim, Michele, and Denise voted for Jeremy. And then there were seven. 

Final Thoughts

-Tony continues to play a masterful game. He's becoming a challenge beast all of a sudden, but he's also just so powerful. He heard Kim was gunning for him. And Kim went home. For as much praise as his strategy gets, his social game is unbelievable. People recognize he's the biggest threat left, yet they still want to work with him and tell him information (see Ben). And tribal council was incredible to watch. He called the shots and made sure everything was played (or not played) correctly. 

-Everyone now knows Tony has the idol, but I don't think this is a bad thing. It might just make everyone afraid to vote for him. He used the super idol perfectly in Cagayan to scare everyone away. Maybe he can do the same this time, especially since alliances are not really big enough or strong enough to split votes. So that could play to his advantage, and of course he can always just play it if he needs to. 

-Credit to Kim for trying to make a move against Tony. It needed to be done. Like I said earlier though, she did it too early. Once he won the challenge, she was in trouble. That's why you wait until just before tribal. She also should not have stepped down at the challenge, and she knows that. 

-Jeremy's game continues to be very interesting. I see people asking why he's viewed as such a threat when he's really just been on the chopping block all season and needs other people to save him. Part of it is his reputation proceeding him. People saw what a great game he played in Cambodia and are going off that. He's also just super likable (except to Ben) and a jury threat. But I do agree that he's not exactly playing a great game this time around. Credit to him though for sticking around this long despite always being a target. 

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 (1)

Tier 2

2. Jeremy (2)

3. Michele (4)

4. Sarah (5)

5. Denise (6)

Tier 3

6. Nick (8)

7. Ben (7)

On Edge

8. Natalie (9)

9. Tyson (11)

10. Boston Rob (10)

11. Parvati (14)

12. Yul (12)

13. Wendell (13)

14. Kim (3)

15. Sophie (6)

16. Adam (15)

17. Ethan (17)

18. Danni (19)

19. Amber (18)


20. Sandra (20)