Double Tribals And A Whole Lot Of Chaos: Survivor 41 Episode 9 Recap

Absolutely loaded episode of Survivor last night. We had two tribal councils, two important votes, and two blindsides (well one for sure blindside and one kind of blindside. Didn't think Evvie should've been blindsided but it seems like she was). We also had some good ole-fashioned beef with Liana's weird hatred for Xander (Team Xander). The merge portion of this game has definitely improved a lot from the pre-merge. It's still not a great season, but it's sort of become just a chaotic mess that you can't look away from. There's a serious lack of good players which hasn't made for great gameplay, but it has made for some entertainment. The Gabon vibes are strong (although Gabon was definitely better and funnier). Anyway, I'm at least way more into this season that I was a month ago. Let's get into the full recap, but first.... 

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We broke down the full episode for an hour last night to make sense of everything that happened. So listen to that and read this too. Away we go....

Post Tribal Council

After the last chaotic tribal council where Heather started the live tribal to target Naseer, there was some fallout. First up was Shan vs. Deshawn. Shan is a horrible alliance member and consistently has a "my way or the highway" mindset that was rubbing the Deshawn the wrong way. So they basically start talking shit about each other to other people, but end up making up at least for the time being. I think they will be headed for a clash very soon though, especially judging by the scenes for next week. 

Our other big showdown was the clash of the titans - Naseer vs. Heather. Two strategic masterminds. Similar to Russell Hantz vs. Boston Rob on Heroes vs. Villains. 

Two weeks in a row of Naseer saying he wasn't going home. He was really temping the Survivor gods. 

Naseer was mad that Heather tried to get him out at the last tribal council. Heather's defense was "Well I didn't vote for you" but it's a little hard to use that as a defense when she did get up at tribal council and started telling everyone to vote for him. She didn't end up voting for him (Xander did and wisely stayed quiet to keep the chaos, a great move), but it was reasonable for Naseer to still be upset at her. However, in Survivor you just have to let things go. Causing a whole scene and confrontation is just poor gameplay. Smile and pretend everything is fine, then plan their execution behind their back. But Naseer is not exactly a mastermind. 

Two more interesting moments I want to touch on. First up was the moment where Shan said "just the four of us need to talk" and dragged Deshawn, Liana, and Danny away from Xander and Erika on the beach. 

This is just kind of a shitty move. Mainly it's poor gameplay by her to further isolate people. Even though they're on the bottom, things can always switch up. And Xander and Evvie will remember little things like this, whether it's later in the game or them being on the jury. Erik from Seasons 16 and 26 put it well. 

Survivor is a social game at the end of the day, and being kind of a shitty person to people will cost you. And Shan "The Pastor" has been pretty shitty. And the reason she called the meeting was basically to say she wanted to target Erika and Heather because they are "dangerous." Yes, that's right. SHE DESCRIBED HEATHER AS DANGEROUS. HEATHER!!!!!!! Maybe there's just a lot we're not seeing because the Heather we know is not exactly the definition of "danger." Erika does seem to know the game and have a strategic mind, but she also is not this strategic mastermind Shan believes she is. 

And the other big thing I wanted to touch on was Ricard's winner's moment. His little package about being deaf in his right ear and reading lips and body language to understand people was very powerful. He got emotional and talked about how he'd love to be the first hard of hearing winner in show history. This was the biggest winner's edit we've seen on Ricard yet. He's definitely a very smart and strategic player who is positioned well, but up until this point, I didn't think he had the winner's edit. I could see his snake like gameplay rubbing some people the wrong way and maybe making him the victim of a bitter jury. But there's a reason the producers decided to include this little package and build a nice story for Ricard. He might just fuck around and win this game. (Also I thought the edit of the sound being distorted was very funny. Do you think they consulted Ricard on how he hears or was it just "Ah fuck it, this is probably what it sounds like"). Still nothing will top the edit from Deshawn's dad "Remember the 3 Ds!!!"

Immunity Challenge

This was another endurance challenge. Stay on the post as long as possible. I call this the crucifix challenge. Unless that's inappropriate to say. Then I definitely don't call it that. The twist for this challenge was the ten castaways were split into two temporary "tribes" of five each. One person would win immunity on each tribe, and both tribes would go to tribal council and vote someone out. The final person standing wins reward for their tribe: a chicken and beef stew. This felt like the producers realized "Oh shit it's Day 17 of 26 and we still need to get 7 people out." I expect to see more accelerated gameplay the rest of the way. 

On yellow was Heather, Naseer, Erika, Shan, and Ricard. 

On blue was Xander, Danny, Deshawn, Evvie, and Liana. 

The main takeaway from the challenge was Liana's insane hatred for Xander. 

I'm not sure why Liana hates Xander so much, but it makes me hate her. We've seen her distaste for him be consistent throughout the season, but this was the worst it's been and was more personal than ever. Saying how much she hates his face and can't stand to look at him. Imagine the reaction if Xander said that about Liana? My goodness. He might be beheaded on live TV. It makes sense that Liana is bitter after he played her a few tribals ago with the "Knowledge Is Power" Advantage, but she disliked him well before that. And Xander only had to do that to her because she was planning to betray him. So I don't know what Liana's problem is. Maybe she secretly has a crush on him and this is classic pushing each other over in the sandbox behavior? No clue. I'm firmly on Team Xander though. 

On the yellow tribe, it was Erika and Naseer left. Shantel was clearly cheering on Naseer right in front of Erika, which is yet another poor social play from mean girl Shan. Naseer couldn't last and stepped down, giving immunity to Erika who needed it most. She basically stepped down immediately after so her tribe wouldn't get reward, but I wouldn't want people rooting against me to enjoy stew either. On the other side of things, Xander outlasted Deshawn in a long battle to win immunity. So Erika was safe at her camp and Xander was safe at his. 

Blue Pre-Tribal Council

Let's start with this group because it was a little more simple. You had Danny, Deshawn, and Liana from the majority alliance with Xander and Evvie on the outs. Xander had the immunity necklace and also the idol and the extra vote. Basically the question was could Xander and Evvie swing someone to vote with them? And if not, could Xander give his idol to Evvie?

But first…. Liana asked Xander for the idol so she could feel safer???????????

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAH

Talk about a Hail Mary attempt from Liana. What an outrageous request. Love how fast Xander shot her down. 

Their best shot was to convince Deshawn to betray Liana. Liana was Shan's #2 and getting Liana out makes Shan less powerful, which Deshawn wants. Plus Deshawn and Evvie had a deal to not vote against each other dating back to their time spent together on the Advantage Island thing. Danny, Deshawn's closest ally, seems less likely to go along with it because he thinks Evvie is too dangerous. So it's really up to Deshawn. Does he stick his alliance and not rock the boat? Or does he betray Liana and risk losing 3 of his closest allies in Shan, Ricard, and Danny? If he does this, he joins the motley crew of Xander, Evvie, Heather, and Erika. A group he could presumably lead but also a group he has less trust and relationships with. 

Blue Tribal Council

This happened second but we'll talk about it first because it was the simpler tribal council. Xander decided not to play his idol on Evvie and Deshawn decided to stick with his alliance, meaning Evvie went home with a 3-2 vote. I think not playing the idol made sense for Xander. I rarely want to give someone else the idol. Especially this late in the game, Xander can basically get himself to the final 6 or final 5 with a correct idol play and maybe another challenge win or two. And it's not like Xander and Evvie were exactly best friends. 

HOWEVER, some folks on the Survivor Reddit came up with a plan that Xander definitely should have employed. 

This is an excellent point. I almost forgot Xander had the extra vote. Did Xander consider this and decide he didn't care enough to keep Evvie? Or did he just never consider this as an option? Even though Liana was his main target and this would've protected her, he could've still taken out a significant person from the majority alliance. And losing the extra vote is much better than losing the idol. It also would've been a great moment of TV. But oh well. 

And as for Deshawn's decision to stick with Liana, I wonder if it was at all impacted by seeing Naseer voted out? Maybe he was afraid when he saw that blindside and wanted to just play things safe? Not sure. If I'm Deshawn there, I would have voted out Liana though. But we'll see how his decision works out for him. 

And lastly, farewell to Evvie. She was a good player. She was on the wrong side of the numbers, but she understood the game and was a great social player. When we saw her preseason bio say her pet peeve is "men" I figured I would not like her. But I thought she was cool and wouldn't mind seeing her on a future season. I was surprised how blindsided she was though. She wasn't sure who flipped on her. But I thought it was pretty obvious that she was just on the bottom and the majority alliance took her out. I guess she had more faith in Deshawn than we thought. 

Yellow Pre-Tribal

This is where things got more complicated. So over here we had Erika, Heather, Naseer, Shan, and Ricard. At first, it seemed like Shan, Ricard, and Naseer would stick together to vote out Heather. Naseer was still mad at her for betraying him at the last tribal. And Shan remained convinced that Heather was a threat for some reason. She thought taking her out would also weaken Erika, the other big threat in Shan's eyes. Naseer told Heather how he was sorry she had to go home tonight. A move that almost never works out for the person saying that. 

Ricard had other plans though. He thought Naseer was a bigger threat than Heather due to his idol and likability. He is for sure correct. But Shan didn't like that plan. Because once again, Shan is the worst alliance member of all time. They tell Heather and Erika the plan is to blindside Naseer though, and so with Naseer voting Heather, it's ultimately up to Shan and Ricard to vote out either Naseer or Heather

Tribal Council

Tough break for our first jury member. 

There was some interesting discussion at this tribal about how seemingly nobody with an idol or advantage is being targeted this season. It's a mindset of "Oh we can't vote for this person who has the idol" as opposed to "Let's get this person out because they have an idol." Ricard wisely hypothesized that it's because so many people have advantages that they don't want to paint a target on other people's backs who have advantages, because that would in turn paint a target on themselves. Makes sense. 

As for the vote itself, it was confusing at first. There were 3 votes for Heather and 3 votes for Naseer. Shan used her extra vote, hence the six votes. On the revote, it was 3-0 Naseer being booted. Shan was presumably able to use her extra vote on the re-vote too, which explains why Jeff read 3 votes instead of 2. 

The voting breakdown went like this

Heather and Erika voted for Naseer

Naseer voted for Heather

Ricard voted for Heather

Shan voted for Heather and Naseer

At first, this move from Shan seemed to make no sense. If they wanted to take Naseer out, why waste the extra vote? Her and Ricard could've just voted for Naseer and that would've been enough with Heather and Erika's votes. And if they wanted to take out Heather, then their votes along with Naseer's would've been enough for a majority. But the Survivor community came together to figure it out. 

Basically, it was an ultimate safety plan to protect against the following: 

-If Erika and Heather decided to flip and put their two votes on either Shan or Ricard (let's use Shan to make this simple)

-And if Naseer voted Heather

-And if Naseer played his idol

-And if Shan and Ricard voted for Naseer

Then their 2 votes on Naseer would've been negated. There would've been 1 vote on Heather. And there would've been 2 votes on Shan, sending her home. 

So the plan to put 2 votes on Heather and 1 on Naseer guaranteed that Heather would get 3 votes (Ricard, one from Shan, and Naseer). So even if Erika and Heather flipped on Shan or Ricard, they'd be safe.

So that's why they played it, which was smart thinking. But ultimately it was unnecessary. It probably gave Erika and Heather way too much credit but I guess it's better safe than sorry. It's also very possible this was all Ricard's idea and an added bonus was he didn't want Shan to have her extra vote anymore. 

As for Naseer, well he was just not very good at this game. Could've played the idol. Could've teamed up with Erika and Heather to target a power player in Shan or Ricard. But Naseer was not exactly the master strategist. A likable player but he had no chance to ever win. 

Winner Rankings

Tier 1

1. Ricard - At the top for the first time this season. He's by far the smartest player of the bunch. He's positioned well. And I like his edit after his emotional package last night. 

2. Deshawn

3. Shan

Tier 2

4. Xander - I'll say it again, I see more lovable, underdog "golden boy" edit than winner edit. Think Malcolm or Spencer. 

5. Liana

Tier 3

6. Erika

7. Danny

Heather Tier

8. Heather

And that's a wrap for an eventful week of Survivor. Again, make sure you subscribe to Snuffing Torches on Apple and Spotify to hear more.