Two weeks in a row with a great Survivor episodes. Season 41 looks like it's finally on track, and I'm officially excited for the rest of the season. If you were put off by the first few episodes or don't watch Survivor at all, then 1. I appreciate you giving me this click anyway. And 2. Catch up on the first five episodes now and get ready for the rest of the season. You won't regret it. Oh and while you're at it, make sure you subscribe and listen to Snuffing Torches on Apple and Spotify to hear our full episode recaps. I will get into my full written blog recap below, but you can also listen to us recap the jam-packed episode too.
Alright now onto the breakdown. A LOT happened this episode. Really well edited, good gameplay, a tense tribal council. Just an overall really good hour of television.
Ua Camp (Green Tribe)
We join them after the last tribal council where JD was blindsided. Shantel, Ricard, and Genie are the remaining three and they give some rah-rah bullshit about how they wanted it to be the three of them all along. Sounds like a load of bullshit that any three people would have said, but I digress. They decided to look for the Beware Advantage that should be back in the game since Brad was eliminated. Genie is the one who finds it but brings it back to Shantel and Ricard before opening it. This was dumb. I don't know how Genie didn't realize she was clearly on the bottom of the tribe and could use an idol. Even if it wasn't activated yet and she lost her vote, her vote didn't matter much anyway. Shantel and Ricard were 2 against 1. I guess it's a credit to Shantel's social game that Genie thought she was actually her #1.
So when Genie brings it back to camp, Shantel and Ricard did an awesome job of convincing Genie not to open it so she didn't gain power. Then once Genie left, the two of them opened it anyway and put a bracelet inside so Genie didn't know they opened it. Diabolical. Shantel and Ricard had to decide who'd be the one to open it and lose their vote though. Shantel clearly wanted the power, so she gave her extra vote to Ricard so he could use it to vote out Genie in case Shantel lost her vote, and she opened it. This was a risk because Ricard could've easily just blindsided Shantel with her extra vote, but I guess she trusted him enough to take the risk. And then in an even more diabolical move, Ricard told Genie they should just say the phrase anyway to see if the other tribes had it themselves (when in reality this was just activating their own idol they basically stole from Genie). Pure villainous shit from Shantel and Ricard and they executed it perfectly. It did help though that Genie isn't exactly Einstein. As Ricard said, "Genie is a spare tire that we're about to put on the side of the road when we don't need her anymore."
Luvu Camp (Blue Tribe)
Some shots of Sydney being a self-proclaimed mermaid to start things off. Just had to get that screenshot in for smut purposes. Then there's more talk about possibly throwing the challenge again. Deshawn still thinks Erika is a threat and is growing concerned that the girls are outnumbering the guys in the game which could be a problem at the merge. While I am usually against throwing challenges because I think something can always go wrong, that logic from Deshawn did make sense. Naseer, however, was very against this idea because he didn't want them to lose their flint. I think Naseer thinks the point of the game is to literally survive. But I still love him anyway. He was just happy the tribe was including him in their plans. It made me happy that he was happy.
Yase Camp (Yellow Tribe)
Evvie and Xander are on their own separate walk as Evvie tries to play both sides but says she's really with the girls alliance: Tiffany and Liana. Still, Tiffany and Liana are growing suspicious and decide to go through some bags. They see Xander's Beware Advantage and also his extra vote advantage. Xander, in unfortunate timing, then decides to tell Tiffany about his idol to gain trust with her. He says he found it this morning but our Long Island Queen Tiff knows the truth and is being SASSY to the camera with some eye rolls.
I love when people play to the camera with reactions like this. There was no fooling Tiffany here. She's asking to see the idol and the note. Xander is fumbling through his bag and the papers are falling out everywhere. Tiffany is saying, "Wait didn't you say that phrase already?" and sniffing out Xander's obvious lie. It was tough for Xander. But he had an unreal spinzone saying that Tiffany should forgive him because her job is to work with delinquent kids who make mistakes.
Just an unbelievable line. So overall Xander trying to be honest costs him and Tiffany walks away trusting him even less.
A jungle gym and some slingshots. But before we get to that, we had an incredible moment. It starts off with Shantel and Ricard saying they're exhausted and tired and vegan and it sets up Shantel to say her line about broccoli being small trees. Ricard alley oops it over to Xander who says his line about the butterflies, and then FROM THE CLOUDS…………
Just a brilliant editing job here by Survivor. A true surprise the audience didn't see coming. I jumped off my couch in excitement. It was the perfect use of a flashback. I love how creative the editing has been this season, and this was the best example yet. And him saying he practiced looking for the idol with his daughter was so god damn adorable. So now with all three idols found, Shantel, Naseer, and Xander officially have idols and their votes back. (I have all three on my Snuffing Torches fantasy team no big deal).
As for the challenge itself, yellow came in first and got tarp for their shelter. Blue came in second and got less tarp. And green was headed back to tribal council AGAIN. Truly cementing themselves as one of the most inept tribes Survivor has ever seen. Even the Brains tribe from Cagayan only got down to 3 members instead of 2. As the winning tribe, yellow chose Shantel and Liana to go to this secret advantage island getaway that still doesn't have a name. Has to suck for Shantel to leave your camp for hours before tribal when the other two people can clearly talk about voting you out the whole time.
Secret Unnamed Advantage Island
Shantel and Liana took the dreadful three hour trek to the top of the mountain and really bonded, cementing an alliance for later in the game. They really seemed to connect, and I expect to see them working together at the merge and running the game together. When they got to the top, Liana said her mom would love this view and Shantel very casually dropped, "Yeah my mom would love it too…. if she was alive." We then got an emotional package about how Shantel's mom struggled with addiction, leading Shantel to join a gang before finding God and becoming a pastor. Just a story that's made to be a movie one day. And it's another big notch in her winner's edit, but I'm starting to wonder if it's becoming TOO obvious. I wouldn't be shocked if Liana is the actual winner and Shantel is the decoy. But I am ready to say there's a 50% that the winner is either Shantel or Liana.
Shantel knew she couldn't risk her vote before tribal, so she agreed to protect it so that Liana could gain an advantage, and that's exactly what happened. Liana gained a brand new advantage called "Knowledge Is Power" and it might be the dumbest advantage in the history of the show.
Basically, Liana can ask one player one question. She can either ask "Do you have an idol?" or "Do you have an advantage?" The player HAS TO ANSWER HONESTLY. If the answer is yes, they have to give it to Liana!!!!! And if the answer is no, then tough shit for Liana. That is a MASSIVE advantage. A lot of the "advantages" this season haven't actually been good, but this one is amazing for Liana. I hate it though. The point of Survivor is lying. You can't just force feed a player truth serum. That's ridiculous. I hate this advantage so much. The only good thing is maybe this will teach players to stop being such blabber mouths about advantages all the time and telling people they have one. Maybe production did this to discourage players from having such loose lips in future seasons. It's crazy players haven't learned that on their own by now. Anyway, we're basically getting to a point where if everyone has an advantage then nobody has an advantage. But this is a huge one for Liana. She now knows Xander has both the extra vote AND the idol, so she could basically steal either one from him whenever she wants. Has to suck for Xander. Even though I "can't lie" I'd just be like "Nope. Not me. Wrong guy." The producers would step in and I'd just say, "You guys are thinking of someone else. I have no idol. Not sure what you're talking about." Just a horrible twist overall which sucks because the last two episodes have been really entertaining without added twists and advantages.
Ua Camp Pre-Tribal
While Shantel was gone, Ricard and Genie hatched a "plan" to blindside Shantel but it was clearly bullshit from both sides. Both thought Shantel was their #1 and wanted to use her to get the other out. Another incredible testament to Shantel's social game that these two never really considered teaming up to vote her out and save themselves. She's real god damn good. She gets back and both Ricard and Genie pitch their cases to her as if she just won the Final Immunity Challenge. Both believe that they are Shan's true #1. Shantel then asks Ricard for the extra vote advantage back now that she has the idol and got her vote back. This rightfully sounds off alarm bells in Ricard's head. He gets paranoid there's a plan to blindside him and Shantel wants the extra vote back before doing it, just like she did with JD. Shantel saying the extra vote "rightfully belongs to her" was also insane. It doesn't "rightfully belong" to anyone except the person who currently possesses it. She basically stole it right from JD anyway, so it wasn't rightfully hers to begin with. I thought Shantel came off as too selfish and power hungry here. This felt like the beginning of a break in trust between Shantel and Ricard. Them gunning for each other one day feels inevitable at this point. But going into tribal Shantel had to decide between voting out Ricard or Genie. As she put it, "Do I stick with the loyalist (Genie) or the strategist (Ricard)?"
At tribal, they basically acknowledged that Shantel was in a power position but nobody could feel too safe. Everyone felt like they could be the one going home since it's only 3. Ricard brought up a good point that whatever 2 make it through this tribal will be targets at a swap or merge. But they also have the positive of going through so many tribals and knowing who they can trust. Ultimately, Shantel stuck with Ricard as she has all game and sent Genie home. It's crazy that Genie never really considered playing her Shot In The Dark. It's like people forget that exists. It was definitely worth a shot here. Someone needs to do it eventually.
This was a really hard decision for Shantel. Both sides had their case. Ultimately, I think I would have kept Genie because she was more loyal. As I've said, I think that Ricard is a really smart strategist and a snake who will try to betray Shantel eventually. Genie, meanwhile, was hopelessly loyal to Shantel. She would've followed her around like a lost puppy dog and never came up with a plan on her own to take Shantel out. Shantel has now voted out people in three straight tribals that would've been very loyal to her (Brad, JD, Genie).
But I do see why she chose to stick with Ricard. They have been a dynamic duo all game, coming up with strategies and plans to take people out. Having someone to bounce ideas off is extremely valuable. And Ricard, while he does seem like a snake, has done nothing to wrong Shantel the whole game. Genie, meanwhile, didn't vote with them multiple times. Also by keeping Ricard, she can now maybe get her extra vote back from Ricard that they can use together at a merge or swap. So I understand her decision.
We got a great teaser for next week that kind of sort of teased a merge but not really. Jeff said "Well not exactly" when they all thought it was time to drop their buffs and merge. I am very curious what this will be. We know from pregame press with Jeff that the tribes stay small throughout the season. So one tribe of 12 didn't seem realistic to me. But judging by how shocked the players were, I don't think this is just a classic tribe swap either. I believe it will be something we've seen before to warrant that reaction. Maybe everyone on the same beach but there are still tribal divisions?
My best guess is this: All 12 players now live on the same beach, but they are split into two tribes of six. And it's not one tribe being immune and one going to tribal. Instead, one person from each tribe wins individual immunity and both tribes still go to tribal. So we could be getting two tribals an episode. My thinking is that they need to start eliminating people fast. There are only ~14 days left in the game and there's still 12 players remaining. They have to start eliminating people fast. This would be one way to do it. Then maybe a true merge at 8 or 9. We'll see. I'm excited to see what it is.
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.
Psssshhh too easy. Learning curve.
Not the hardest week. But as I remind everyone in each blog, these are for children.
And that's a wrap for another really good episode of Survivor. I really am excited for the rest of this season and can't wait to see what the twist is next week. Remember to listen to Snuffing Torches and follow us @snuffintorches on Twitter and Instagram.