We're now three episodes into Survivor 41, and I don't know what to make of it. Last night saw more new twists and advantages, and we said goodbye to an awesome character in Brad, who should be remembered as an all-time pre-merge player based on entertainment value. A shooting star in the Survivor universe, but as they say, the brightest stars burn out the quickest. As I've said in the first two recaps, I'm worried about how new Survivor fans who binged the show over quarantine are liking the new season. There's just SO many advantages (or disadvantages really) that it's hard to keep up. The show has become more about the advantages and twists than the players and gameplay. And that's a problem. Every single thing we see from camp life is people searching for advantages, finding them, stupidly telling people about it, and then talking about how to play it. There's been little to no character development. We don't have a great read on tribe dynamics. All strategy revolves around the advantages, which I guess is fine to a degree and gives the audience more to think about and analyze, but I do miss good old-fashioned Survivor gameplay and lying and backstabbing.
But hey, it's still Survivor and at the end of the day, there's no other show I'd rather be watching at 8 PM every Wednesday night. Even the worst of Survivor is better than the rest of television. But it's okay to be critical about something you love. All my concerns just come from a place of loving this show and wanting to make sure everyone else does too. And if we are looking for optimism, the cast is promising from what we have seen, and the game always picks up after the merge anyway. As long as the game doesn't become TOO flooded with even more advantages, it'll be interesting to see how they all come into play later in the game.
Alright now before we get into the breakdown, it's time to plug Snuffing Torches again. Our new Survivor podcast is live with another new episode to break down last night. It's me, Jeff D Lowe, Glenny, Nate, and Jake Marsh. We've gotten positive feedback so far, and if you haven't listened yet, I urge you to give it a chance.
Alright now onto the episode recap.
Yase Camp (Yellow Tribe)
The episode started off with some waterworks.
Liana was crying because…. well I'm not quite sure why. She was on the right side of the Voce vote. I guess she was upset at herself for not making the "big move' of getting Xander out and then not finding the Beware Advantage that was right in front of her face, but still felt like a pretty unnecessary time to be crying. I still like Liana though and think that if anything, an emotional moment like is good for her edit and helps her winning chances.
The Beware Advantage this time was hidden right in plain sight by the shelter. Our Long Island queen Tiffany is the first one to see it, but she's right next to Evvie and Liana. Tiffany wisely is upset that they saw and she couldn't keep it to herself, but her hands were tied in that spot.
The "advantage" tells her she has to sneak out in the middle of the night and go to a new island. Really wasn't a big risk for her though when 2 of the other 3 people on her tribe read the note with her.
Luvu Camp (Blue Tribe)
Going to blue camp first here because I want to spend more time on the green tribe. I almost shit myself at the start of this scene when Sydney says she "felt a body next to her in the middle of the night." Thought we had another Creepy Dan situation on our hands like in Season 39. But nope. It was just Naseer talking strategy in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Sydney rats on him and tells the rest of the tribe that Naseer wants to blindside Danny. Naseer baby, what is you dooooingggg? I want to like this guy and he seems like a bundle of joy and excitement, but my God is he not great at this game. Your tribe is winning every challenge and you're talking blindsides in the middle of the night for no reason? Never throw a name out or start talking strategy until it's necessary before a tribal council. Otherwise people just have the chance to find out about it and you paint a target on your own back. Naseer already did this in Week 1 and Sydney ratted on him then too. Even though she last week realized what an asset he is to the tribe's survival, she's rethinking that now and thinks he's too erratic.
At this camp, the Beware Advantage is also hidden right by the fire. Sydney spots it and is able to slyly pick it up with nobody noticing. She says she doesn't want to risk Heather or Naseer getting it. Naseer we know why. But Heather? Almost forgot she was playing with how little screen time she's had. As Glenny said on Snuffing Torches, imagine her inviting people over for a watch party and she's just not on the screen the entire episode? Maybe the editors decided to just hide her all season as an Easter egg. Anyway, it would've been nice to know why Sydney didn't want Heather to get it, but we can assume it's because Sydney, Erika, Danny, and Deshawn have an alliance. They just don't show tribe dynamics and alliances though so it's hard to tell for sure.
Sydney's Beware Advantage is the same as Tiffany's. While I'd typically be weary of picking it up because of the risk, I think you have to do it here. It says that if you don't, you have to leave it there in the exact spot. So you then know someone else from your tribe will get it and maybe gain an advantage they can use against you.
Ua Camp (Green Tribe)
And this is where a lot of the action was happening. It starts off with Brad being upset at these crazy hooligan kids being loud.
A couple weird things there. First of all, it seems pretty late? Like not exactly the crack of dawn. Maybe 10 AM? So seems fair for JD and them to be talking. Second of all, strange that Brad was the one still in bed while the young whippersnappers were up. Felt backwards. But I guess he was mad they were awake and not working. So he gets up and gets things started like the true Wyoming rancher he is.
It pays off because the early bird got the worm. In this case, the worm is the Beware Advantage, which was again obviously hidden in plain sight. Maybe the producers didn't trust their searching abilities after only Xander was able to find the other Beware Advantage for the idol. Brad takes the advantage because he says he's a high risk guy. Love it Brad.
Then later at green camp, the tribe is searching for the idol together. They can't believe it hasn't been found yet. JD is wondering if Ricard or Genie have it. I thought to myself, "I mean come on, JD. There's no chance Genie has it." But I was sort of(?) wrong. Because we then get a flashback to 30 minutes earlier of Brad and Genie finding the Beware Advantage for the idol together. But it does belong to Brad. It's the same as Xander where he has a weird phrase - "I didn't realize this til now. Broccoli is just a bunch of small trees" and can't vote until someone from each tribe finds it and says the phrase at a challenge. It clicks for Brad that Xander said his butterflies line at the last challenge.
Brad then foolishly tells Shantel about not only the idol, but also his other beware advantage! When will people learn???? Loose lips sink ships! Unless it's absolutely necessary, you just can never tell anyone about your advantages. You don't know who you can trust this early, and it just paints a target on your back. I mean think about that if you're Shantel. Brad says, "Hey I know we're in an alliance. But I actually can't vote with you for the foreseeable future. And once I can again, I'll be more powerful with an idol. Oh and I can also steal someone's vote whenever I want. Keep me around?" Just mind numbingly dumb. These advantages don't have any value if you keep telling people about them.
So Brad, Sydney, and Tiffany sneak out at night to go to this secret location. What a trio.
This is another prisoner's dilemma, but one they can talk out. Each has the choice between a steal-a-vote advantage or a tarp for their tribe. If all three choose steal, they all lose their vote at the next tribal. If all three choose tarp, they all get a tarp. If there's a split, then the people who chose steal-a-vote get the advantage, and the people who chose tarp get nothing. Not even the tarp. The difference here like I said is that they had plenty of time to talk about the advantage together. It just took one person to take one for the team and say they didn't want to risk losing their vote.
Brad made it clear he wanted to steal a vote. This was shocking. I imagined Brad would think a tarp is the most important item one can attain on Survivor. But Brad is a risk taker out there to play. "You win the game by taking risks. Risks equal rewards." (Spoiler alert: This is NOT the case). Tiffany also said she's "here to play Survivor not play it safe" and is being very aggressive. This rubs Sydney the wrong way, who loses trust in Tiffany. She also said "I don't even know where she's from." But once Tiffany opens her mouth, you should she's a Long Islander. Ultimately, Brad sticks with stealing a vote. Sydney doesn't trust Tiffany so she chooses tarp. And Tiffany doesn't trust Sydney so she chooses tarp too. Brad gets the steal-a-vote. They get nothing.
There's no right answer about what to do here. It depends on the situation and what your read is on the other two players, as well as your standing within your own tribe. There's no perfect winning strategy guide for Survivor that you can blindly apply to all situations. Rather, it's all about adapting. Read the situation at hand and make your decision. Be flexible. So it's impossible for me to say what I would have done here. But I think what each player did made sense for their own situation.
This challenge was some swimming, some rope balancing, and some sort of basketball. Top two tribes are immune. First gets a lot of fruit. Second gets some less fruit. Third place goes to tribal and loses their flint.
Brad starts off by saying his weird broccoli sentence and kind of butchering it. But it's clear enough for Xander to get the message and give him a little head nod. Xander then basically says, "Yeah that's I why I was being weird last week about the butterflies." But unfortunately for them, nobody says it from the blue tribe so they still can't vote. All three have to say it at the challenge to activate the idol. So Xander probably could've waited to see if someone from blue said it first, but I think he played it off well. Xander and Brad both come off as weirdos anyway, so it doesn't really matter. They also shared a little moment during the challenge when Xander said to Brad "I like what you said about broccoli" and Brad basically said, "Yeah I butchered that."
As for the challenge itself, Tiffany redeemed herself after last week and upset the world by getting across the balancing rope.
Then we have JD going with the finger rolls and just failing miserably.
I would absolutely hate JD if I was on his tribe. Despite Brad being 7 feet tall and getting some on for his tribe (maybe he really is Bill Walton in a wig?), the green tribe lost and was heading to their second tribal council. Blue came in first again. Yellow in second.
Yase Camp Pre-Tribal
When they get back to camp, JD says he's going to the bathroom. He comes back shirtless with his extra vote advantage clearly showing through his pants line.
At first, I thought JD did this on purpose? Like when people put a fake idol in their pocket that they clearly want people to see. But no. He just really was that dumb. Jeff hypothesized on Snuffing Torches that maybe he accidentally pooped on his shirt? But then why not have it in your pocket. Just mind numbingly stupid.
Shantel feels betrayed and doesn't know if she can trust JD anymore. He "comes clean" but he literally had to because he was caught red-handed.
Ricard and Shantel are pissed. Trust is lost. But JD pleads that he now "belongs to them." Shantel pitches to Ricard they vote JD.
Brad is the other one on the chopping block. Ricard says JD is very indebted to them, whereas Brady is untrustworthy, is sneaky, a harder worker, better in challenges, and has these advantages. It's clear Ricard and Shantel are running the show together. But I know they will inevitably turn on each other one day. Both are way too smart and surrounded by way too many dummies. Ricard will definitely try to blindside Shantel at one point but fail is my guess.
Meanwhile, Brad and Genie think the play is to vote JD. Keep in mind that Brad can't vote because of the Beware Advantage. But he does have the steal-a-vote advantage. But he says he can't use that either? That's weird to me. You shouldn't need to have your vote to steal a vote. It's not like the Shot in the Dark advantage where you need your vote to offer up as collateral. This is just an advantage to steal someone else's vote and use it for yourself. It's pretty dumb he couldn't use it. There's a chance he just didn't understand the rules, but I'd bet he cleared it with the producers who told him he can't vote. So these advantages really all suck.
In a last ditch effort to save his neck, JD gives up his extra vote advantage to Shantel as a show of trust. I usually hate doing this, but it made sense here. They already knew about it. It wasn't going to do him much good tonight. And he needed to prove to Ricard and Shantel they could trust him. This solidified that he was their puppy dog.
Shantel then had an emotional confessional about how she chose her mom over a dad in a divorce and he started to cry or something? Didn't see that one coming. She said she'd feel bad losing JD who feels like family. My main takeaway here is that Shantel has a MAJOR winner's edit. Always relating strategy back to her personal life. Emotional story arc. Plus she's a good player who is shown to be controlling her tribe. She's my winner pick by a mile right now.
So going into tribal, it's Brad or JD.
At tribal, Ricard gave a good answer about how he'd rather work with people he trusts than strong players who are good in challenges. Something I always agree with. The tribal then centered around JD who was giving an emotional speech about how much Survivor meant to him as a kid. He was always bullied and Survivor was his escape. He worshipped Ozzy and Woo, etc. etc. Shocking he was bullied in high school, and I wasn't. Anyway, this was another example of a guy giving his Final Tribal Council speech way too early. Like Naseer in the first episode. If anything, this would make me want to vote JD off more. But they decided to stick with him and vote Brad out in a 3-1 vote. Genie voted JD. JD, Ricard, and Shantel voted for Brad. Brad couldn't vote. So long, cowboy.
-I will miss Brad. He was a very entertaining character who played hard. He made things interesting. Instead of another gamebot superfan, he was just a real, authentic Wyoming rancher who maybe doesn't even have cable TV. Would like to see him back in the future at some point and he'll be missed this season.
-I wonder what happens now to Brad's 1/3 of the idol. This is a tough break for Xander. But I imagine it just gets put back in the game? Hidden back at their camp. And now they know to look for it since they knew Brad had it. This would be my best guess.
-They need to do graphics on the screen that keep rack of who has what advantage. They did it for JD and I saw it for Brad too. This is a good idea they should keep doing. Like stats at a baseball game. It's just too much to remember.
-It's hard for Jeff and Survivor to keep pushing all these advantages when they have been nothing but disadvantages so far. We always hear him preach "Make big moves! Take risks! That's how you win!" Well that's just not true. Brad played aggressively last night and took a bunch of risks for these advantages and look where that got him. It also didn't help that he was telling anyone who would listen that he has them. But still. It's just better to play it safe early in the game. And if Survivor wants to push this "new era of fast paced play and advantages" then they have to hope that everyone who keeps finding these stops getting screwed over.
-Next week looks interesting. A lot of stuff shown from the blue camp which makes me think they might be heading to tribal council for the first time. I can see Sydney being in trouble based on the preview.
Game Within The Game
This is a new thing that's an interactive feature for fans all season with word puzzles and shit online. You can play it here.
A little different this week but still not rocket science. "Don't rock the boat."
And for the word scramble.
Full disclosure, I guessed "run" at first and was wrong. Turns out it was "urn." Took me a second there but I'm still 3 for 3. (This is for children though).
And that's a wrap for the Week 3 recap. A lot to keep track of but hey, that does make it more fun. For an even more elaborate recap, listen to this week's Snuffing Torches on Apple or Spotify. Please.
Til next week!