I don't totally know how to describe last night's Survivor episode. It was kind of entertaining? But also kind of boring? It felt like kind of a lot happened while also nothing really happened at all? We did have a never before seen twist (which was historically dumb), but it didn't really end up mattering too much. A person went home who we kind of figured might go home. And now we're left with 6, where I think things will start to get really interesting. We're in the endgame now, and things are set up to be a pretty exciting finish, but we had to get through this week first. So before we start recapping that.....
Tough still shot of my face. Anyway, now onto my full written recap...
Post Shan Tribal Council
We rejoin camp after the Shan elimination, and Liana is understandably pretty pissed at what went down. She was the only one left in the dark and feels very betrayed by her closest allies: Deshawn and Danny. She now wants to target Deshawn and is done with their alliance. It was funny how Deshawn somehow ended up the target after that tribal council instead of Ricard. On her way out, Shan said "Ricard, you have my million dollar vote. Deshawn you're a snake." You'd think that would paint a huge target on Ricard's back as someone you want out before FTC, but when Deshawn got back he just talked so much that he put the target on his own back instead. Meanwhile, Xander was finally feeling like he had momentum in this game. He has been the on the bottom, underdog this whole game, but now he sort of had an alliance? Him, Ricard, Erika, and Heather could stick together as a foursome and control the vote. Plus don't forget Xander still had the idol and extra vote.
Another highlight was an emotional package for Danny. He hasn't had much of an edit this season which has made him an unlikely winner, but he opened up on Day 20 about the 25 year anniversary of his dad passing in an accident. It was very sad and heavy stuff and the most intimate look we've gotten into Danny as a person this season. Could this be the start of a winner's edit for him?
I think it's still unlikely, but he does seem very well liked by all. Just seems like a genuinely good dude. He's no strategic mastermind, but he has been on the right side of a lot of votes. I think the biggest issue for him could be his pro athlete background. He said he was going to keep it quiet, but he has also mentioned playing at LSU and in arenas, so I think people either expect it or he just told people. I don't agree with not voting for someone based on how much money they have, and it's not like he made $100 million, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. He's shooting up my rankings a little though.
Immunity Challenge/Do Or Die Twist
Jeff gave the audience a sneak peak of this new "Do or Die" twist that we've been hearing about for a couple of weeks now. Basically, the twist goes like this. The first person out of the immunity challenge will have to play a game of chance at tribal council. If they win, they're safe and a vote takes place. If they lose the game of chance, they go home no matter what. No idols or advantages can save them. Their torch gets snuffed due to a game of chance. But the one way to avoid all this? Sit out of the challenge. You give up your chance for immunity but also know you won't go home on this dumb twist. I almost certainly would've sat out. Unless I was on the very very very bottom and needed immunity to save myself, I see no reason to play and risk it. I was shocked only Liana and Heather chose to sat out. Liana probably needed immunity. Heather didn't. But both are bad at challenges and didn't want to risk being first out. I was particularly stunned Xander played. I guess he's confident in his abilities, but when you're strapped with an idol, extra vote, and now an alliance, I wouldn't be risking it.
We tried to run the numbers on Snuffing Torches and we came up with playing the challenge gives you a 20% chance to be first out (assuming five people play like last night, and assuming all abilities are the same for simplicity purposes). And while they didn't know the chances at the time, it ended up being the Monty Hall problem. If you play it how Deshawn did and stick with your original pick, your chances of safety are 33%. If you abide by the Monty Hall problem and switch boxes, you have a 67% shot at safety. So let's split the difference here and say you have a 50% of safety. So 50% of 20% means that if you participate in the challenge, there's a 10% chance you're going home no matter what happens and nothing can save you. Now if you play, that also means you have a 20% chance at immunity. There's also a 20% chance at being the first out and participating in the Do or Die twist. Which gives you an additional 50% chance of guaranteed safety. So that's a 30% of immunity.
So to sum it up…..
Choosing to participate in the challenge gave you a 30% chance of immunity and a 10% chance of automatically going home. And these can vary slightly based on if you abide by the Monty Hall problem or not. High risk, high reward. And you also don't know how many people will for sure be participating which again would impact things. If you choose to sit out, one person wins immunity meaning there's a 1 in 6 chance you're the person voted out (16.7%) but then there's also the added 50% chance that the person who does the Do or Die twist is going home automatically, thus ensuring your safety. So sitting out ends up coming out to like an 8.3% chance of you going home. Although that can obviously vary based on your position in the game.
I think that math is right?
But basically, I'm sitting out because it's unlikely I'm going to win immunity. And I'd rather just hope that whoever does end up being the first person out loses the Do or Die twist and goes home. And if they don't, then you still have the vote to protect yourself. So two chances of being safe. I don't know, I think I'm rambling now.
Anyway, the challenge was the Final Immunity Challenge from the Philippines where you have to balance the ball that Malcolm couldn't do. Deshawn was the first out and Danny won.
We seemed to have a pretty clear or "A or B" set up before tribal. Deshawn, Danny, and Liana were set to vote out Ricard because they felt he was the biggest threat to win the game and also not someone they could trust. The remaining group wanted to vote out Liana. Danny was safe. Deshawn was either automatically going home or immune. So Liana was the only choice. Xander's reasoning for sticking with Ricard was the "meat shield strategy." He felt himself and Ricard were the two biggest threats in the game. So once Ricard went home, they would then come home for Xander. Keeping Ricard around buys Xander some protection. A smart strategy that Jeremy really popularized in Cambodia.
Heather was down with the plan because she's Heather. Erika appeared to be the swing vote. She realized that Ricard was a big threat to win and getting him out could make sense, but she also valued finally having people to work with with this newfound alliance of her, Heather, Xander, and Ricard. If I'm Erika, I probably vote out Ricard. Her best chance to win at the end is probably sitting with Heather and Liana or maybe Danny. Now at Final 6, there's 3 people left (Ricard, Xander, Deshawn) who I think would beat her handedly. She'd have to get them all out in the next 3 tribals to have a real chance of winning.
Tribal started very early and I wasn't sure why. Figured the Do Or Die twist wouldn't take that long. But it ended up being for a heavier discussion about race in the game and in the real world. Deshawn broke down in tears saying how hard it was to vote out Shantel given their all-black alliance. He was genuinely remorseful. And while I do think he obviously was being serious, it probably was a moment that may also help getting Shan's jury vote back in the end after she called him a snake. But that's just the Survivor nut in me thinking about the game 24/7. I'm obviously not the person to break down race relations much further, but I will say that anyone who says "Get back to the game, this isn't part of Survivor" is misguided. Survivor at its core is a social experiment. It's taking people from all different walks of life, and putting them on an island together to starve and watch them lie, betray, and backstab. To form real connections with people and then break them to save themselves. The game of Survivor is a microcosm of society, so it makes sense that real world issues will enter the game. Oh, and my other takeaway was it so was funny when Heather said, "I had no idea this was going on." I'm sure she meant she didn't know the black players were struggling with this so mightily, but it's funny to think Heather just had no idea racism existed. Got back to her family and said, "You guys will not believe this!"
It was then time for the Do or Die Twist. Deshawn had 3 boxes to choose from. 1 would have fire and save him. The other 2 would have skulls and send him home. He chose Box 1. Box 3 was then taken away, revealing a skull emoji. Jeff gave him the chance to switch or stick with his original choice. As Xander pointed out, this is the Monty Hall problem. Basically probability says you're supposed to switch to go from a 33% to 67% chance of safety. But it's easier said than done in the moment. Especially when, as Deshawn said, you feel drawn to your original choice. It's hard to go against your gut. Deshawn stuck with his gut and was rewarded, assuring his safety.
I maintain that this is a very dumb twist. Survivor is all about the vote. Messing with the vote messes with the integrity of the game. Players should control their own destiny. It's a game about social relationships, strategy, physical challenges, and literal survival. It should not be reduced to a mere game of chance. But with all the twists and changes this season, it feels like players are less in control of their fates than ever. I understand wanting to change things up after 40 seasons, but this was not the time to do it. Survivor had a huge resurgence over quarantine. People fell in love with the show as they binge watched it. This is the first season live for many viewers, and it feels like an entirely new game to them at times. Survivor was given a chance at a rebirth and I'm afraid they might be fumbling it away. I hope new viewers do stick with it because it is still a great show/game, and we have to hope production learns from all these stupid changes.
At the end of the day though, this one didn't matter too much and Deshawn was safe. Liana instead went home with a 5-3 vote (Xander, his extra vote, Ricard, Heather, Erika). The other 3 voted for Ricard. Kind of a useless extra vote play from Xander but I guess time was running out to use it and he wanted to force a tie in case Erika flipped on them. Not the worst play in the world but also pretty unnecessary.
I really think it will be Ricard or Deshawn who win. Xander has a chance if he makes it to FTC, but I don't see that happening. Danny and Erika have slivers of hope but it would be miraculous and also horrible editing/storytelling. Heather is Heather.
Only two episodes left. I'm excited to see how it plays out. Let's hope for a strong finish.