We're officially in the endgame now. Last night was the penultimate (great word) episode of Survivor 41, leaving us with 5 castaways heading into next week's finale. Making the finale episode is a huge accomplishment so congrats to Xander, Erika, Heather, Ricard, and Deshawn for reaching it. Last night wasn't the most exciting, jam-packed episode by any means, but I do think we're set up to have an exciting finish next week. But before we get to my finale preview at the end of the blog, let's get through last night first.
But before we do that.... this is the part of the blog where I ask you to please subscribe to Snuffing Torches on Apple and Spotify. We were in studio last night with everyone except Jake Marsh and had a good episode breakdown while also reminiscing a bit on past seasons and even American Idol. Give it a shot if you haven't yet.
Now onto the episode recap....
Post Liana Tribal Council
We pick up at camp after the emotional tribal council from last week. Deshawn said there were no hard feelings and he didn't want anyone voting based on feeling guilty about what he said regarding black people's struggle in the game. I thought it was funny when Xander said "You spoke so eloquently." Just such a classic moment of a white guy feeling awkward and thinking "Well I gotta say SOMETHING here." Heather, fresh off learning what racism is for the first time, was emotional and said "This is my time. I needed to be here." (I'm just giving Heather a hard time because it's funny and I'm trying to keep this light. She means well. Maybe that was even the start of her winner's edit!).
Anyway, now onto the game. Deshawn and Danny couldn't understand why the rest of the tribe didn't take out Ricard when they had their shot. He is the biggest threat to win and with how good he is at challenges, they may not get a better shot to take him out. But I understand why Xander, Erika, and Heather chose to get Liana out instead. If Liana is still in the game at Final 6, her Danny, and Deshawn would've had a really strong 3 that would've been hard to break up. At best, they could've forced a tie at 6. So I understand their decision. Just have to hope Ricard doesn't win out every challenge and you can take him out in an easy vote. (Although that may happen because he is good at everything).
And as I said last week, for Xander it was a brilliant use of the meat shield strategy, which he explained to Danny.
The reward challenge split the tribes up into two teams of three. It was Deshawn, Erika, and Xander against Danny, Ricard, and Heather. It was some swimming and then ball shooting. The reward was either grilled chicken and vegetables or cake, cookies, and candy. Deshawn was upset because he wanted a family letter.
Look, I love my family. But I'd much rather have food at that point. What's my family going to say in a letter? That they love me and hope I'm doing well? Yeah I know that already. Give me the food because I'd be fucking starving.
As for the challenge itself, Heather was the star as always. She did pretty well in the first half but instead of retrieving balls, she had to sit on the deck because she couldn't tread the water anymore. And Danny struggled as well. So they had no rebounders. As Jeff said, "Interesting and confusing strategy." So Ricard was helpless as Deshawn sank his shots and won reward for himself, Xander, and Erika. They chose the protein over the sweets which I think was the obvious decision.
On their reward "feast" (which I use loosely because it didn't seem like much chicken), the trio discussed a potential final 3 deal. Erika is afraid of sitting in the Final 3 with Heather because of the fear that she won't be able to differentiate their games, and those fears are flamed by Deshawn. It's crazy to me that Erika is thinking that. Everyone should have Heather in their ideal Final 3. Unless there's really some weird editing going on, it feels obvious that Erika is considered a way better player than Heather. But Deshawn is pitching the idea that him, Xander, and Erika could all pitch a very different million dollar story to the jury. Whereas Erika's and Heather's could overlap a lot. But I still think Erika would stand no chance in a final with Deshawn and Xander and she has to realize that.
Meanwhile back at camp, Danny went looking for an idol but didn't find anything despite it being very close to him. Ricard and Heather were suspicious of him and Danny did a decent job making it look like he maybe found it. But unfortunately for him, that was not the case.
We finally had a good old-fashioned obstacle course and puzzle as an immunity challenge. And getting people dizzy is always a funny added bonus. Ricard proved he is good at yet another thing as he won his third individual immunity necklace. So the plans to get him out were soiled.
With Ricard winning immunity, everyone had to pivot since there was no clear Plan B. But it was pretty obvious that Danny and Deshawn would be the ones on the chopping block since they were outside the alliance of four. They checked Danny's bag and didn't see an idol, but there was still the possibility he found it and hid it. So splitting the vote on them seemed like the logical option. They were trying to decide who had a better chance to beat Ricard in a challenge. It seemed like voting Deshawn was Plan A, but Erika lobbied to keep him due to her new Final 3 deal with him.
I was surprised nobody has even considered targeting Xander. It's like they thought he was impossible to vote for just because he had the idol. But flushing an idol is always a possibility and they probably could've blindsided him enough to not even play it. But that didn't seem to be discussed. Instead, Deshawn and Danny basically accepted the fact that one of them was going home. So Danny decided to tell Deshawn he was a former NFL player for the Cowboys and Bears. Pretty cool moment.
The highlight of tribal was Deshawn's "truth bomb" or as Xander said "truth kamikaze." Knowing he was probably on his last leg, Deshawn decided to spice things up by telling Heather that Erika told him she doesn't want to sit next to Heather at the end since they've played such similar games. This was a pretty dumb move by Deshawn. While I get wanting to try a Hail Mary, he could've done this privately to Heather at camp. Would've been easier to come up with a plan to swing her then instead of in the middle of tribal. Deshawn and Danny should've tried to bring over one of those four and forced a 3-2-1 vote since they were splitting. It only took one person to flip to their side. But doing it at tribal was too little, too late. It actually almost cost Deshawn. Based on the comments made by Ricard and Erika, it seemed like Danny was the original plan but Deshawn almost talked his way out of the game with that move.
But maybe doing it so late didn't allow those four to come up with a plan to change the vote to Deshawn, because after the vote split everyone voted for Danny, sending him home. His "Go Cowboys!" with a wink was very cool on the way out.
Deshawn and Danny ended up voting for each other because they had no choice. But it would've been smart if, for example, Deshawn said "Hey let's both vote for Erika and force a 3-way tie" and then Deshawn actually just voted for Danny and sent him home 3-2-1 since the other four were splitting the votes. But I guess they were too close to be that diabolical, and it may not have even worked. Forcing a 3-way tie would've been pointless because one of them still would've went home on the revote.
Jeff said next week will have two tribals, two challenges, and a fire making challenge. Some people thought that means it's a final 2 but I don't think so.
-Final 5 challenge and tribal
-Final 4 challenge and fire making challenge
-Final Tribal Council counting as the other tribal council
Is the breakdown I imagine we'll see. I think it will be an exciting finale. There's multiple people with a legitimate chance to win. And just to remind everyone, they already revealed the winner on the island similar to season 1. I think they were afraid of doing a live reunion reveal due to COVID. So maybe there will be some sort of reunion over zoom? But the winner was already revealed on the island months ago.
Here is how I break down everyone's chances.
1. Deshawn - He was my preseason winner pick and he's going to stay that going into the finale. Last night's episode really felt like it centered around Deshawn. I think he's played a good enough game and will have friends on the jury and can pitch a convincing million dollar story. If Ricard is there, Ricard wins. But I don't think they let Ricard there. I bet the Deshawn, Erika, Xander Final 3 comes to fruition and Deshawn wins in a close vote.
2. Ricard - If he's at FTC, he wins. That simple. But will they let him get there? If he doesn't win the Final 5 challenge, he goes home. If he doesn't win the Final 4 challenge, he's in the fire making challenge where he has a chance to save himself. I just don't think they let him survive another vote knowing how dangerous he is. His only chance is winning the Final 5 challenge and then either winning the final challenge or the fire making contest.
3. Xander - I think maybe Xander just isn't viewed as too much of a threat. And if he's not viewed as a threat, then that might mean he's not viewed as a winner either. I think he's played a good game but he has been on the wrong side of a lot of votes too. I think his best chance of winning is being in the Final 3 with Erika and Heather, which feels unlikely.
4. Erika - If Survivor was finally going to have it's first woman winner in years, I don't think she'd have such an under-the-radar edit. We've heard that Erika is a threat from other players, but we haven't really seen it ourselves. Her only real chance to win was a Final 3 with Danny and Heather. I think any of the three listed above beat her.
5. Heather -
And that's a wrap. I'm excited for the finale next week. It's set up to be a good one, and Survivor finale day always feels special regardless.