Last week, we got to know the Manu and Kama tribes, and Reem was voted out. However, she didn’t leave the game entirely, instead opting to stay at Edge of Extinction Island, where life seems bad! The returning players are still struggling to not be voted out, and everyone is scrambling for idols this week on...Survivor! So let’s jump right into it.
There’s a war on
Todd: Over at Kama, they are almost comically too happy about the way things are going. Ron Clark (ugh) decides they should organize a dance routine for when they enter into the next challenge. Aubry gamely plays along but then tells the audience that she hates when Survivor is all about people getting along. She likes going to tribal council because that’s when you know where the lines are drawn.
Aubry tries to talk about creating an alliance with Victoria and Julia while they are both chewing on sticks in the shelter, but they are uninterested in talking to Aubry. In fact, after she leaves, they tell Ron Clark what she said, and there is a pretty hilarious montage of Aubry telling basically every new player on Kama that “We can have a dialogue” because “you really remind me a lot of me.” It is pretty funny, but it is not a great look for Aubry. She had better hope that Joe keeps winning challenges for Kama, or her days might be numbered.
In fact, Victoria straight up says they should vote Aubry out, which is certainly not a bad idea on Victoria’s part. You go, Victoria! But I definitely feel for Aubry. If no one will play with her, then her third time on Survivor could be nasty, brutish, and short.
Later, Eric and Gavin decide to start looking for the hidden immunity idol, not realizing that Ron Clark already has the aDvAnTaGe MeNu. Julia, seeing the men of the tribe running around and looking for an immunity idol, asks, “You don’t think there’s a hidden immunity idol out here, do you?” Oh Julia. Yes, of course they are! This prompts New York City mom Julie (a different person) to philosophize on why she is not also looking for immunity idols. It’s a good question Julie, and it leads to a pretty great confessional where she talks about hunter-gatherers and then declares that she is “not a sneaky person,” which, you know, fair. Me neither, Julie. Me neither. Regardless, she seems fun and more with it this week than last, when she was mostly getting splinters and talking about peeing in Central Park.
Overall, the newbies on Kama seem pretty smart, and like they will drive a knife into Aubry’s heart as soon as they can, which, again, is sad for me as someone who has enjoyed Aubry in her other seasons. But she has to slow down and stop scrambling so much or figure out another way to get through this season besides hoping Joe continues to win challenges for Kama (assuming that these tribes stick together for more than another episode or 2). Weirdly, Joe doesn’t do much around camp besides look for an idol.
Other Kama members update:
Ron Clark still seems bad. I know you all want to vote out Aubry, but what about voting out the guy who thinks it is a good idea to dance your way into the challenge?
Victoria seems like she is ready to play the game, but the fact that the tribe keeps winning is preventing her from doing that.
Aurora gets a confessional early where she says that Kama’s morale is high, but otherwise fades into the background of the episode, as do Gavin and Eric (besides their idol hunt).
To be honest, it is hard to get to know a tribe when they keep winning and winning. Aubry’s right: tribal council is where you learn where the lines are drawn, and it is also where you get to know who everyone is, for better or worse.
Mary: But over on my side, it’s easy to follow a tribe that keeps losing! Camp life in Manu is hectic this week, and everyone is debating on how to best go about proceeding. Wendy knows she’s in danger because she got so many votes last week, and she tries to talk to people she trusts to make tenuous alliances in the tribe (though no one calls it that). Kelley also knows she might be in trouble—though I don’t think she’s as worried about it as we soon see she should be—and she declares an open idol hunt for the tribe. “It doesn’t even matter who gets it,” she says. Well, Kelley, it kind of DOES matter who gets it. A lot. The group walks around the island for a while, trying to find an idol. Lauren, on her own, stumbles across an idol in a fallen tree. “If I was an idol, where would I want to be?” She muses. In a confessional, Lauren talks about how she’s admired Kelley and Parvati Shallow, that they were her Survivor queens and her role models for how she’d like to play the game. I haven’t watched any seasons Parvati has been on, and I’m not familiar with Kelley’s past experiences either—do you have any more info on that, Todd?
Todd: Well, the show does an interesting thing here, in that the editors include footage of Kelley’s old season (Survivor: Cambodia, not San Juan del Sur, just pretend that season never happened), as Lauren describes Kelley finding 2 hidden immunity idols and playing them to her advantage.
While the word “legend” has been thrown around a lot regarding these players, especially Kelley, Parvati is one Survivor player who might actually deserve the name. She played the game three times and made it to the Merge each time, landing in 6th place her first time out. When she returned, for the first “Fans vs. Favorites” season, she created an all-female alliance which helped her get to the Final Tribal and win, 5-3, over fellow favorite Amanda Kimmel. In her third appearance, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, she once again made it to the Final Tribal before losing to the true Queen of Survivor, Sandra Diaz-Twine (the only person to win Survivor twice).
So, for Lauren to say she is modeling her own game after these two players who have both competed well is saying a lot. Her getting the idol, a feat that women achieve at a lower rate than men, as Julie of Kama rightly notes, is a huge mark in her favor, and makes me think that Lauren may be more than just Kelley’s lackey this season.
Mary: Lauren gets the idol, saying over and over again that Kelley is a role model of hers, and then tucks it away for the future, saying she doesn’t want anyone else to know she has it just yet.
There’s a lot of attention paid in this edit to Dave and Rick, who seem to be forming a close friendship, or at least an alliance. Dave thinks that Rick is smart and hilarious, and Rick thinks that Dave knows his way around the game and can help him get far. Rick says he plans to slip through the game shielded by people like Dave, and Dave kindly says, “You could do that and then cut my throat when we get down to the last five or four.” Rick makes a joke out of this, saying, “OK, let’s shake on me cutting your throat at four.” I’m starting to come around on Rick.
So basically, Wendy wants to vote out Kelley, Kelley wants to vote out Wendy, and a third option lurks on the horizon...the blindside!
The music in the transition continues to be SO MUCH.
Todd: Oh yeah!
Come on in, guys
Todd: Jeff tells Kama to take a good look at Manu, who voted out Reem last night. At this point, the tribes barely know each other, so no one is really surprised and Jeff jumps right into the challenge, which is a reward/immunity challenge. The winning tribe will have their choice of spices, knives, and a cutting board or fishing gear! (The fishing gear is the obvious choice). Jeff tells everyone that Aubry has taken part in this challenge before. When he asks her what she remembers, she says, “That is one heavy snake.” And then Jeff reminds everyone that Aubry’s tribe lost the last time she took part in this challenge. Thanks, Jeff.
The challenge begins and I immediately feel like this is not going to go well for Keith. He struggles to swim to the jungle gym that both tribes have to climb up and over. Chris comes back to help him, but he really slows Manu down while Joe and Eric lead Kama in lifting a huge snake over the jungle gym and Kama makes its way to shore. Manu struggles to lift the snake, apparently not realizing that the HEAVY SNAKE would be heavy. Eventually they untie it and manage to get it over as well.
Then, there are more knots to untie, discs to find, and rings to be tossed. Joe starts tossing for Kama and immediately sinks the first one. Chris starts tossing for Manu and it seems like they might still be in it.
But then...Keith decides to tag in for Chris and can’t manage to get any of his rings near the target, while Eric and Joe continue to throw rings onto oars that then spell out the word Immunity(?). Look, these challenge producers have to make the challenges say something or raise a flag, otherwise why are they even there?
Manu loses yet again, and Kama picks the fishing gear. On the way out of the challenge, Wardog says there may be a 3rd option besides Wendy or Wentworth--Keith.
Mary: Keith does so bad. That’s all.
I’ll see you tonight
Mary: SO MUCH SCRAMBLING. As everyone walks back from the challenge, B-roll of sharks plays, which is never a good thing. Kelley looks mad, but at this point it might just be my prejudice against her and I acknowledge that.
Todd: But at least the sharks look cool! You can always count on Survivor for some cool footage of wildlife.
Mary: Everyone tries to get their choices confirmed for tribal over in Manu, and it’s kind of a mess. Dave and Rick decide that they want to blindside Kelley, and that now is the time do to it, but they have issues getting everyone on board. War Dog argues that Kelley is “the strongest female” on their team, and that they need her for challenges, but Rick and Dave disagree. War Dog says that he’s out in terms of voting for Kelley.
Also, there’s the business of Keith doing so bad in the challenge. Very bad. Keith and Chris have a weird heart to heart where Keith promises to stay loyal to him and they share a weak fist bump (it doesn’t seem to really connect, but the intention was there!). Chris then goes to Rick and tells him that he thinks they should vote out Kelley, that now is the time. The blindside might have the votes after all! Rick and David are excited.
Todd: This is a smart play by Keith, and really shows that he has the capability to be a smart Survivor player. At this point it seems like Chris and Keith are going to be bros forever! That fist bump! So tender.
Mary: At the end of this segment, Kelley goes around telling everyone, “I’m trusting you guys with my life right now—“ so she knows that she might get voted out. She says that, because she’s been on the show before, everyone in the tribe knows her game, making her a non-threat. Kelley also says that she trusts Lauren but “not all these other people.” I think that what might be happening here is that Kelley likes the possibility that she can manipulate Lauren because Lauren idolizes her so much. I halfway expected, at this point, for Kelley to somehow talk Lauren into telling her about the idol—I still think that might be a possibility in the future.
Todd: That is definitely a possibility. The fact that Lauren did not immediately tell Kelley is honestly one of the more surprising moments of this episode.
Mary: I think that this is one of those situations where our preferences for different play styles of Survivor is apparent, Todd. I really love the sweethearts—like Bob from Survivor: Gabon—and that’s why I’m so into Wendy this season. Kelley is not a sweetheart at all. She reminds me of Todd from Survivor: China—who I know you love! That sneaky sort of manipulative style isn’t for me. I think it’s because I want to believe that if you do your work and help people you’ll win eventually, and maybe that’s naive of me, especially where Survivor is concerned!
Todd: I don’t know that it’s naive, but it is the kind of attitude that would get you voted out of Survivor very quickly--or taken to the end as a goat!
Because in this game, fire represents your life
Mary: Jeff is really cutting to the heart of things this season. As soon as everyone sits down, he asks Wendy if she’s scared she’s about to get voted out, then turns and asks Kelley the same thing. Keith also thinks he might be on his way out because of his performance in the challenge. No one really says much about Keith, which seems like an indicator of how people are going to vote. I’m a little peeved about Kelley’s attitude the whole time. She says she knows that she might get voted out, but she tries to advocate for herself by saying that she can always be someone’s shield. They can always take her to the end and then axe her. While that might be true, I don’t really think that’s a fair defense of herself, especially when she’s been so aggressive in her play style this season. I don’t know if this is typical for Kelley— Do you have more insight, Todd?
Todd: It is hard to say, really. The first time that Kelley played (and this keeps getting overlooked because of how she performed in Survivor: Cambodia) she got voted out 5th, and while she showed a lot of promise, it was not enough to save her. In her 2nd appearance, she did better, and was crafty and strategic, especially when it came to finding idols, but that kind of play style will not work when everyone knows that is something you are capable of. She seems to think that she can bulldoze over people this season in an attempt to cow them into submission, not unlike Boston Rob did on his winning season, but I don’t know that she quite has the clout for that, and it seems like that strategy is going to backfire on her.
Mary: Rick tries to joke a little, and says that strength—as in physical strength—becomes more and more important the farther along you get, but that it might not seem that important now. War Dog has about as much of a sense of humor as you’d expect someone named War Dog to have, and says, NO STRENGTH IS VERY IMPORTANT OF COURSE. He doesn’t smile much. I still don’t know what I think about him. Everyone seems nervous going into voting, and we don’t get a strong sense of who’s going to get voted out, but the edit—and the tribal conversation—seems to indicate that it’s going to be Keith or Kelley (in a blindside). Everyone heads off to vote with their giant decorated Sharpies.
And when your fire’s gone, so are you…or are you?
Mary: Oh Keith. Keith, Keith, Keith. As he walks towards Jeff with his torch, Keith says, “Y’all think y’all are still gonna win challenges?” This is a BOLD parting phrase, but it makes a lot of sense. Getting rid of Keith isn’t going to make the tribe stronger, not really. It’s not even going to change things in a functional way. Eliminating Keith on the basis of him not being strong doesn’t track for me, because Survivor isn’t always about physical strength. That being said, I’m not really sure that Keith’s strategy game was up to par either—I haven’t seen enough of him to make that assessment! The show ended on a cliffhanger, which seems like a Survivor rarity, and we get Keith agonizing and praying over if he should go to Extinction Island or not. I think ultimately he’ll go (knowing that he can always leave if he wants—it’s a TV show, not true isolation), and I hope he and Reem can team up and make life better on their little private island.
We don’t get to see who voted for who like we usually do during the credits. Instead, we cut to Reem on Extinction Island, who we haven’t heard from the entire episode. She says she hasn’t eaten anything but a few bites of coconut over the past three days, and she hopes someone else shows up soon or else she’ll have to raise the sail that will send her home for good. I know that the implication is that she hopes someone will show up soon to help her, but I can’t help but think of the cannibalism implications that could be subtext—being on a desert island and all! I hope we see Reem with lifted spirits next week as she and Keith settle in on Extinction Island!
Mary: Ron’s dance is so funny to me. I think his style of education is really apparent here. His school is known for being very hip.
Todd: Near the beginning of the episode, Wendy talks about how everyone is falling for Kelley’s shtick and she says, “Not I! I can see right through that.” What I’m saying is that Wendy is great, and Wardog is very bad. I am surprised his over-strategizing with the Keith vote didn’t backfire and get him sent to the Edge of Extinction.
Mary: I’m really enjoying everyone’s colorful shorts this season. Ron and Gavin both have bicycle shorts, and I think that’s a good pick—they probably dry more easily and are more fitting for different types of challenges. I wonder if over the seasons people have refined what they’d take to the show and gotten smarter about it—or if they just have more choice now.
Todd: Lauren talks about growing up watching Parvati, which makes sense because her first season was in 2006, but Kelley Wentworth? Her first season was FIVE YEARS AGO! Not sure the math checks out there.
Mary: I love how much Keith said “dang” on his way out. He seems sweet.
Todd: Agreed. But we will have to wait until next week to see what choice he makes. Will he leave? Or will he join Reem on the