Survivor 41 didn't get off to the best start through the first 3 episodes, and I was growing nervous that this season would be a dud and the show would lose all the momentum it gained over quarantine. But after last night's episode, I officially have optimism again. Last night's episode was by far the best of the season. It was just a great hour of entertainment. It's not a coincidence that it was also the episode that had the least to do with twists and advantages. It was just good ole fashioned Survivor. Two funny challenges. Great characters driving the show. Gameplay, strategy, and a ruthless blindside to top it all off. It was the perfect episode of Survivor. It gave me that adrenaline rush high that all great Survivor episodes do. I'll just be sitting on my couch around 9:05 buzzing about the hour of television I just watched.
This was the best episode of the Survivor season so far so it makes sense that this was maybe our best episode of Snuffing Torches so far too. If you're reading this blog, I assume you're a Survivor fan. So if you're a Survivor fan, then you better be listening to Snuffing Torches. Give it a shot, and I promise we won't disappoint.
Okay NOW onto the recap.
Ua Camp Post Tribal (Green Tribe)
We start the episode at Ua camp after the Brad vote out. Genie is not a happy camper. She feels blindsided by the Brad vote and says she's done taking care of her tribe with food and helping around camp. Every man and woman for themselves. I always think the bitter sore loser route is the wrong move after a tribal that didn't go your way. Just going to isolate yourself from your tribe further. You can be pissed deep down, but you have to put on a good game face and start thinking about what you can do to improve your standing within the tribe. Threatening them ain't the way to do it. Shantel tries to calm her down by telling Genie that she wasn't actually Brad's #1 because Brad didn't tell her about his steal-a-vote advantage that he told Shantel about. JD then gets annoyed at Shantel for not telling him about Brad's advantage after JD gave her his extra vote to hold onto (which has now been returned back to JD). Overall, I get what Shantel was trying to do, but I didn't love saying that in front of everyone. Sort of just shows everyone in the tribe just how good she's playing and makes her a bigger threat.
We had our first true reward challenge of the season and boy oh boy, it did NOT disappoint. First place got a Fiji native to come teach them stuff around camp. Second place got a fish. Third place got nothing. But who cares about all of that. One woman stole the show and her name is Heather.
That was probably the best clip from the challenge thanks to Jeff's commentary, but I highly recommend going back and rewatching the whole thing. So many laugh out loud funny moments from Heather's complete and utter inability to throw and catch that ball. Haven't laughed that hard at a Survivor challenge in forever. It was so god damn funny.
This was a quick, under-the-radar funny moment of Heather just nowhere close to where she was supposed to be.
One positive for Heather was that JD almost embarrassed himself even worse, and he's supposed to be an athlete.
Just so many embarrassing moments for JD this season. (More on that later).
Eventually, green won reward and yellow finished second. Heather was unable to successfully throw and catch her ball one single time. They turned it into a really emotional and inspirational moment, as her tribe supported her despite the performance.
Love what I saw from Deshawn and especially Danny here. You'd think the former NFL player would be less forgiving of a challenge performance like that, but it seemed like he was genuinely forgiving to Heather and actually cared about her. Massive points to his social game.
I did think they went a little over the top with the emotional music and Jeff's speech and all that. I know Survivor eats that shit up, but it just felt like a little much for a grown woman that just couldn't throw a ball in the air. Not exactly like she was a cancer patient or someone getting out of a wheelchair and walking for the first time. But anyway, still a very funny saga.
Yase Camp (Yellow Tribe)
A quick shot at Yase camp as they're happy to finally be winning again and have their fish. Tiffany says she's always motivated by food challenges and they see some little turtles.
Ua Camp (Green Tribe)
Ua is enjoying their Fiji native helping our around camp. Would've loved to see him and Naseer interact. But I love this reward. Just a classic Survivor reward. I did think it was funny how usually when we see island natives in Survivor they're dressed in like tribal shit and war paint and head dresses. But this dude just had on a normal t-shirt and shorts. Like he just walked out of Dick's Sporting Goods.
Luvu Camp (Blue Tribe)
We hadn't seen much from them through the first three episodes. They were winning all the challenges so we didn't know much about their tribe dynamics and alliances. But we finally got a glimpse into what's going on over there. And it looks like Erika wants to cut some heads. She's bored of winning challenges and not going to tribal council. She says she's a lion dressed as a lamb and wants to target Sydney, who is shown being too emotional after not being able to start a fire. She brings up the plan to Deshawn about voting Sydney off for being a hothead and a threat, and Deshawn does a solid job of convincing her he's down for that.
But Deshawn is not down for that. He goes right to Sydney and tells her about it. Sydney is not happy and starts hyping herself up with some incredible quotes. "I'm the threat of all threats." "I'm hot." "All girls hate me cause they ain't me."
I love it from Sydney. Every season needs a villain, and she is embracing that role with her arrogance. Also me and her kind of hit it off on Twitter after the show. No big deal.
Waiting for the DM but I did get the follow back so we should be married any day now. Alright, now I'll just bonk myself and get back to the episode recap.
Danny, Deshawn, and Sydney clearly seem to have an alliance. Deshawn says he trusts Sydney way more than Erika. He's even down to throw the challenge just to get Erika out. He's worried she'd flip on them at the merge and be a strategic threat. He also thinks that if there's a merge where there's say 6 blue tribemates and 7 from yellow and green, they'd just easily combine to pick all blue members out. That is a fair concern. You don't always want to be the tribe with the plurality unless it's a majority. But I still think throwing a challenge to get Erika out is unnecessary. Seems like an unnecessary risk and something can always go wrong. Why voluntarily go to tribal council and risk even giving yourself the chance to go home? Especially with all the advantages floating out there, you never know what can happen. Danny is hesitant to throw it given his pro athlete background. So it seems up in the air heading into the challenge.
We had some water shit, some assembly line shit, and some ring tossing shit. It gets revealed pretty quickly that blue is clearly trying to throw the challenge, led by Danny and especially Deshawn. He was trying his hardest to throw the thing. He was walking slow with the blocks in the water. He was retying knots.
Then Danny was trying to be slow pushing the blocks through the assembly line, but Naseer was in full beast mode. It also didn't help that the other two tribes were utterly incompetent. There was a funny shot of Evvie just swimming in the wrong direction. Honestly, if Luvu really wanted to throw it, they shouldn't have sat Heather. But I digress.
They are at the ring toss and Deshawn is doing a good job of missing without making it TOO obvious. I actually thought he did a perfect job of trying to throw a challenge. It wasn't obvious enough to make people suspicious, but he was effective at slowing them down. Unfortunately for him, Naseer was still in beast mode so he took over and couldn't miss. Also unfortunate for him was that JD continued to embarrass himself in challenge after challenge.
So blue came in second and green was headed back to tribal council. Honestly a great job by the editors with that little clip above and also the whole episode. I thought Luvu was heading to tribal for sure based on the edit. We finally spent a lot of time at their camp, and mixed with them wanting to lose the challenge, it seemed inevitable that they were going to tribal. But we were fooled thanks to JD's incompetence.
Ua Camp Pre-Tribal
It seems like either Genie or JD are heading home. They're sitting together on the beach basically acknowledging "It's either you or me." It's as if they were outnumbered 7-2. But it could've very easily been 2 vs. 2 AND JD had the extra vote advantage!!!!! I know JD thought he was in with Shantel and Ricard. But it's still crazy he didn't realize that he could take control of the game if him, Genie, and his extra vote came together to take out Ricard. That would've been the right move. He should've realized how close Shantel and Ricard actually were, and if you take Ricard out (who is a smart player in his own right), JD would've then become Shantel's #1. But he did not realize this. Instead, he just wants to make sure Genie doesn't use the Shot In The Dark and roll her dice. And Genie wants to target Ricard.
But Shantel does a really solid job of convincing Genie that the vote should be on JD instead of Richard. She has to make sure that Genie believes her enough to not roll the dice. And she wants to make sure that just in case she does and the plan to get Genie out is foiled, her vote sends JD home instead of Ricard. So it was a smart plan by Shantel if her goal was to protect Ricard over JD, which it clearly was. At this time, voting JD still seems like the "fake plan" to make sure Genie doesn't use the Shot In The Dark.
But that fake plan would eventually become the real plan. Shantel thinks that JD might use Genie and his extra vote to blindside her. So she tells Ricard that she's going to act paranoid enough to convince JD to give her his extra vote advantage again so she can hang onto it during tribal and feel safe. To be honest, I missed the scene where Shantel said she was going to purposely act paranoid while watching last night. So I thought Shantel was just coming off as very paranoid. But it was actually brilliant acting by her. It was good enough to convince JD to AGAIN give her the advantage. What an idiot. For someone that says he was such a superfan and wanted to make big moves and avoid being a stupid player, he really did not accomplish his goal.
So now that Shantel has JD's advantage, she officially is considering blindsiding him so she can keep his extra vote for good. She starts to hum her villainous little tune.
The humming thing is a little forced to me, but whatever. I still love Shantel as a character and a player. The "gangster turned pastor" storyline is clearly being displayed. Sometimes she's an angel. Sometimes she's a devil. But whatever she is, she's a really, really good player and still my favorite to win. I also loved her quote, "I don't want to be a villain but I want to be an assassin." However, while I am praising her a lot right now, I didn't ultimately agree with her decision last night. More on that in a bit.
So going into tribal, it seems to be either JD or Genie. JD thinks it's Genie and is hoping she doesn't user her Shot In The Dark. Genie thinks it's JD and is maybe going to use her Shot In The Dark. Ricard and Shantel, now equipped with JD's extra vote, are the ones making the decision.
Some emotional shit about how they've all bonded and will miss each other yada yada yada. Nothing too juicy. Glad we've had a break from live tribals for a bit. Makes them more special when they do happen. It's time to vote and Genie decides not to roll her dice. It worked out for her, but I thought that was a mistake. Maybe JD and Ricard really convinced her the plan was actually JD, but I still think I roll the dice there just in case. It didn't matter though. JD went home with a 3-1 vote in a MASSIVE blindside. Biggest of the season so far. He was stunned and even asked, "Any particular reason?" The reason is you were a really bad player JD.
-I don't agree with Shantel's move here. I know it was flashy and she got the extra vote from JD. But she basically had TWO extra votes between the advantage and JD if he was still in the game. He was extremely loyal to her like a puppy dog. They had a brother-sister relationship, and she was clearly able to get that advantage whenever she wanted. She basically chose an advantage over an ally. And that's not a move I'd make. I'd always rather a person I can trust than an advantage. That's just old school vs. new school Survivor. She chose new school. We'll see how it works out for her, but she's now voted out two allies who really trusted her in back to back weeks with Brad and JD. I guess Ricard is her true #1 but I'd be weary of him. He's a snake and now with only three people on the tribe, I can see Ricard trying to team up with Genie to blindside Shantel unless she uses the extra vote. We'll see what happens.
-Farewell to JD who was a highly entertaining player. It wasn't in the Malcolm/Ozzy fashion that he wanted. But he did make for great TV with his corniness and constant failures. I'd bet we see JD play again one day. If there's a Second Chances season in a few years when JD is older and more mature, I can see him getting a call to return and being a much improved player.
-Big points to Deshawn and Danny this episode. We finally saw some footage of their tribe, and I was impressed. They clearly are running things at that tribe. Both have a very good social game. I like their chances to go far.
-We didn't see anyone say the secret phrase at the immunity challenge. Maybe Xander said it and they just didn't show it. Or maybe he didn't bother saying it when he saw Brad was gone and nobody else said anything weird.
-Just another shoutout to Heather for that challenge performance. We have still yet to see Heather speak words to another human being at her camp this season. Only one confessional and what she does in challenges. But I guess she's in a pretty good spot and seems well liked. Everyone had her back after the challenge and didn't even consider making her a target. In fact, they were going to throw a challenge just to get someone else out!
-We know from Jeff that tribes will stay small throughout the season so I'm not expecting a tribe swap or merge too soon. I'm thinking maybe they merge at 9 or 10? We will see.
-Again, I just want to stress how good of an episode this was. Best of the season by far. Hopefully we get more episodes that are character-driven instead of advantage-driven. Characters make Survivor. Twists and advantages don't. And some characters are lately developing in a promising fashion that gives me hope for this season after all.
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.
I'll be honest, I needed to use the hint here.
Red E, 4, tri bull
"Ready for tribal?"
The word scramble was much easier.
Again keep in mind that these are basically for children.
I'd be pretty surprised if it's not one of the top 6 people I have listed
And that's a wrap for this week. Best episode of the season and Survivor is SO BACK. Once again, I am please asking you to subscribe to Snuffing Torches, listen, and give us a nice 5-star review. Apple and Spotify.
'Til next week.