Manu won! And got chickens! Then Manu lost, and Wendy wanted to free those chickens, but she hurt her ankle. Still, she swore she would free those chickens. After much scrambling, and Wendy stealing Manu’s flint, somehow Chris was sent to the EDGE. OF. EXTINCTION! Without further ado, let’s drop ourselves into tonight’s episode!
PLAYED LIKE A FIDDLE
Mary: Chris heads over to THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION, where Reem and Keith have little sympathy for him. They both look a little delighted (through their misery) to see Chris has gotten voted off. Reem says Chris is now getting “a taste of [his] own medicine.”
Todd: It is hilarious how over Chris’s sadness Reem and Keith are. Reem, especially, has no love lost for one of the people who voted her out now being voted out himself. “You’re not gonna come in here to the freakin’ Holiday Inn,” Reem says. “Sorry. It’s the Edge of Extinction.” Well put.
Mary: Over at Manu, Kelley comments on how skinny Wendy is getting, and Wendy, flashing a big thumbs up, says, “Survivor diet!” This stuck out to me, simply because I study the depiction of weight in media, and I wonder if there’s ever been much talk about how much weight people lose on the show. It has to be a lot--just eating a little rice every day will reduce you to bones.
Wendy tries to casually return the flint, but everyone knows she took it. They begin to talk about how they’ll vote Wendy out because no one can trust her after the chicken incident.
Todd: Ah yes, the chicken incident. Let’’s, uh, put a pin in that.
Mary: Actually, the chicken incident had not even BEGUN.
DROP YOUR BUFFS
Mary: Kama seems S H O C K E D Chris is gone, and they audibly gasp. Ron calls it a “betrayal.” The tribes get rearranged into three new tribes, but for the most part, things stay the same, with most of Manu forming a new, green tribe, Lesu, and Kama being split between the old Manu and Kama tribes. The only outlier here is Wendy, who ends up staying in Manu and welcoming in new members. The new tribes are:
Kama- Ron, Julia, Aurora, Joe, Julie
Manu- Wendy, Aubrey, Victoria, Gavin, Eric
Lesu- Kelley, Lauren, David, Rick, Wardog
Rick notes, “Wendy’s still with her tightest alliance...which is the chickens. Good luck with Wendy.”
Todd: Somehow Julia’s biggest contributions to this game to date have been her reactions to other people being voted out. She has a HUGE reaction to Chris being voted out. Julie (not Julia) is worried about the swap, but as Mary notes, no one really has any reason for concern except, arguably, Wendy.
As Jeff notes, this kind of tribe swap is unusual. One notable example? Survivor: All-Stars, where everyone was swapped into the same tribes except for one: Amber Brkich. It worked out okay for her.
Mary: And somehow, Kama is still doing Ron’s dance.
Todd: Ugh, RON CLARK! How are you still here? Joe says he is trying to be more social this time around, and the editors cut to him rubbing sand off of Aurora’s face. He says he knows that he and Aurora are solid, but with a tribe of 5 he needs to bring in one more. He walks over to the well with RON CLARK and tells RON CLARK that he is willing to work with him and doesn’t want to vote him out. RON CLARK says, in perhaps the least convincing lie ever told on Survivor, that that’s “not what he would want to do.”
THEN: in a confessional, RON CLARK tells us that this obvious lie is a lie, and that 20 minutes ago he told Julia (hey! Julia!) to look through Joe’s bag to make sure he doesn’t have the idol. The editors then cut to RON CLARK with a “20 Minutes Earlier” tag on the screen in one of the more delightful pieces of editing in recent Survivor memory. To be honest, a lot has been said by Jeff in recent interviews about asking the editors to change up their game, and it has really been showing this season. The attention to detail in the camera work and editing has been similar enough to be comforting but different enough to be exciting, especially for people who have been watching Survivor for years.
Upon coming back, RON CLARK sneaks up on Julia as she is lying on the beach, and she tells him that Joe does not have the immunity idol. Things seem set up for RON CLARK to stab Joey Amazing in the back, unless of course, Kama continues to win every immunity challenge.
Mary: I personally like Ron. He’s weird, and I have a lot of thoughts on him, but I like him right now. I think Ron has the potential to be a mastermind, but he’s not there yet.
Lesu heads off to make A WHOLE NEW CAMP. Wardog says he feels good about their team’s ability to win challenges, but I’m not so sure I agree. David and Rick aren’t particularly known for being powerhouses, and Lauren hasn’t been eating, as she notes during Lesu’s featured screentime. Rick accurately notes that there’s no “odd person out” now that Wendy’s not on their team. That’s good now, when everyone feels close to each other, but it’s going to be bad come tribal time. *foreshadowing*
Todd: OooOoo *cut to footage of a bat!*
Mary: Lauren talks about missing her family, and it sets a tone of family for the entire episode. Each tribe, in some capacity, talks about their ability to be a family, their love for each other, etc.
Over at New Manu, Wendy gives everyone a little tour. She’s interested in being nice and immediately begins telling her new tribe EVERYTHING about her old tribemates. However, Wendy begins visibly twitching once her new team starts discussing what to do with the chickens.
Todd: Aubry is excited about her new tribe, and especially excited that Wendy is on the tribe. I totally get that! She thinks that Wendy would be an easy vote, but as she spends more time with her, she also thinks that Wendy could be an asset. Aubry likes Wendy! And at the same time, probably, Aubry recognizes that Wendy is not much of a threat when it comes to winning Survivor. In earlier seasons, that would have meant an early boot, but now it could mean Wendy surviving all the way to the end. Overall, it looks like things are looking up for Aubry, and if the previews for next week are to be believed, I look forward to seeing what happens when she and Victoria finally get on the same wavelength.
Mary: But then, everyone’s feelings about Wendy are complicated when she frees the chickens. She gets up in the middle of the night and lets those chickens wander into the jungle. I’m confused about the Big Anime Energy Wendy is bringing to the competition this episode. She does a lot of peace sign flashing, big smiling, jumping around, and it seems like an extreme addition to her already hyperactive persona. I know that part of Wendy’s whole thing is that she’s a lot to deal with, but she seemed like even more drama this episode.
Todd: This is such a strange move, highlighted by David’s earlier question to Wendy about whether she wants to win. Wendy says she does, but her actions say otherwise. No one on Manu is happy about Wendy’s decision. Eric wants to chase the chickens down and kill them on the spot, and Victoria says, “Big Wendy let the chickens go, I’m eating Big Wendy.” That….does not bode well for Wendy.
Mary: We cut to the EDGE. OF. EXTINCTION. Where everyone is CLEARLY miserable. You can see the sadness radiating out of them. It’s raining, and everyone just “sits in [their] own wetness,” as Keith says. Chris says that being on the island is like “voluntary torture.” Chris can’t play his perfect game now, and he’s sad about it.
Todd: Chris gets philosophical about how he has a fear of failure and of not being perfect, and he says that “Coming to terms with that, maybe that is part of the journey too.” It is really interesting seeing people who have played Survivor react in real time to their being voted out. So often, we don’t see their reactions until months later, either at the reunion special (if then) or perhaps through social media or carefully constructed interview answers. It has been very interesting seeing the players’ raw reactions to being voted out, and this section was very moving and emotional in an episode that tended towards the more emotional side of Survivor.
Mary: I agree that this episode had a lot of emotion, but I’m feeling skeptical of how much of it was real...but I’ll get to that later. I do think that Chris is having some regrets about how he’s played the game so far.
I’m still very, very curious how these people over on extinction island will be returning. Will we just wait to see who lasts the entire time on the other island and then they get back in the game? Will there be some sort of challenge? WHAT WILL HAPPEN?!
Chris catches some fish for everyone and begins to work his way into their good graces. He says that they’re like “a strange family” stuck on this island together.
Todd: That’s #2 if you are counting mentions of “family” for tonight’s episode! I am also curious. I was intrigued when Chris speculated if they were now a tribe. That would be an interesting twist (and call back to Survivor: Pearl Islands, which I mentioned last week), and it could be very interesting if more players like Chris keep getting voted out and make the Edge of Extinction Islanders physically stronger.
However, I am going to stake a wild claim, knowing nothing, and say that this “strange family” will probably have to duke it out in an extreme challenge of some kind. That seems like the most dramatic way for this all to go: break the Survivors down, let them build themselves back up, and then break it all over again. Classic Survivor.
Mary: That makes a lot of sense! It is the Edge of Extinction, not vacation time, as they’ve said over and over again. As if regular Survivor IS glamorous?
COME ON IN, GUYS
Todd: We are back to only one challenge, and it is a doozy. As Jeff notes before the challenge starts, “Rain coming down in Fiji.” Indeed it is, Jeff. That’s why CBS pays him the big bucks.
Mary: As a side note here, I want to question: Did CBS buy this island? Since Survivor has been filming in the same location for a while, it’s entirely possible that there is some island somewhere that Jeff Probst just chills on for most of the year, and I can’t handle that thought. Survivor is his life.
Todd: Survivor IS life, Mary.
In the challenge, the now-three tribes must race up two A-frames, carrying bundles of rope, tie their bundles together to drag a crate through an up-and-down course, then use puzzle pieces within the crate to solve a very difficult-looking vertical puzzle.
Mary: Things are a slippery mess from the start and Jeff LOVES IT. He cannot stop commenting on how hard it is for everyone to climb this ramp. Really, he can’t stop. He is delighted when people fall. And when Jeff is delighted, I am delighted.
Todd: Truly. On the 2nd A-frame, Joe decides to make a human ladder, which every tribe quickly decides to copy. All three tribes eventually make it up and over, and Kama gets their crate over the course first, followed by Manu and then Lesu.
The puzzle is, as previously noted, hard, and all of the tribes’ members struggle to solve them at first. But eventually Kama, led by Joe and RON CLARK solve theirs first. It is a race between Aubry and Eric for Manu and David and Kelley for Lesu, but Manu pulls ahead for 2nd place, sending the former alliance mates of Lesu to tribal for the 4th week in a row. While handing Manu their 2nd-place trophy, Jeff says, “Same tribe name, different tribe make-up, maybe that’s the difference.”
Mary: It’s exactly the difference, Jeff. IT IS LITERALLY THE DIFFERENCE.
Todd: This happens literally every season. If a tribe continues to lose, even if they have different members, then Jeff acts as if that tribe is cursed, and not as if some people are very bad at challenges. It is frustrating but that was a funny moment from Jeff (even if unintentionally so).
As they are leaving, Kelley points out that Lesu is “like the Cleveland Browns of Survivor.” She’s not wrong. She then says that tonight’s vote is like “cutting out one of the family.” That’s #3 if you’re counting.
I’LL SEE YOU TONIGHT
Mary: Everyone in Lesu looks SO SAD. But no, here we are. It’s the fourth week in a row that my folks have lost. You heard right. David says, “We just can’t catch a break.”
I don’t know why everyone has such a hard time deciding who to kick out, but we don’t get much information about how the vote will go pre-tribal. There’s a lot of talk about how much everyone likes each other, and Rick and David make it clear they want to vote Lauren out because she hasn’t been eating, which means she’ll be weak very soon. Even if you’re strong--and Lauren is--not eating wastes you away quickly. Kelley says, “Wardog is in control of this vote,” and in a lot of ways he is. We go into tribal not knowing much more than we did at the beginning of this segment: Everyone is sad and someone is going home.
Todd: There is a pretty good montage of everyone talking to Wardog, while he puts on his best poker face. It is both funny and also interesting, because Wardog seems like a smart guy who hasn’t been able to really connect with anyone yet. He gets the episode title when he says, describing tonight’s vote, “I need a dance partner.” He can either go with the other men and vote Lauren, or go with the women and vote out Rick. It legitimately seems like it could go either way heading into the tribal council.
IN THIS GAME, FIRE REPRESENTS YOUR LIFE
Mary: Tribal starts out with a WONDERFUL news skit by Rick, who catches Jeff up on what everyone’s feeling. It’s a nice reminder that he’s actually a pretty charismatic dude, which we haven’t seen much of this episode.
Everyone agrees that their tribe is a mess, especially in terms of camp. I think we have to point out that Lesu is at an extreme disadvantage because they had to build an entirely new camp, and they don’t have any of the luxuries the other groups had won in past challenges (although I guess Manu doesn’t either, now that the chickens are gone).
Kelley cries because everyone is so close, and Lauren looks especially miserable. I’m not buying Kelley’s tears, but you had more thoughts about that, yeah?
Todd: Totally! While I definitely agree with you that their talk of tribal unity mostly comes off as fake, I totally buy that they are emotional at this point in the game. Ideally, at this point you have been to tribal once or twice, about as many times as your opponents, but these 5 survivors have been to every. single. tribal. Not only that, they have voted as a bloc each time, which means they are closer than most tribes who end up together after a swap like this. While the tears may have seemed fake, it seems entirely possible to me that the environment of the game up to that point has brought all of those players to a breaking point. Not only physically, as we see with Lauren, but also emotionally.
Mary: There’s big talk about how the experience is worth more than a million dollars from David, and also big talk about what a family they’ve all become. It’s a lot, and someone has to get voted out, so let’s vote!
Todd: That’s #4!
AND WHEN YOUR FIRE’S GONE SO ARE YOU...OR ARE YOU?
Mary: I AM SO SAD RICK GOT VOTED OUT, and I don’t think he deserved it at all. Then again, we all know about my Kelley bias by now. Rick immediately, with no hesitation, picks up his torch and heads to the EDGE OF EXTINCTION, where he’s met by Reem, Keith, and Chris--none of which are happy to see him.
Todd: This is one week where the Edge of Extinction twist really begins to pay off. Rick is such an interesting and likable guy, and he is sure to bring an interesting perspective to life on Edge of Extinction Island. The question is: with 3 tribes back “in the game,” how much time can the show realistically spend with people who have already been voted out? It was fun getting to see Chris’s philosophical thoughts and fish-catching halfway through the episode, but it leaves me a little uncertain on what future episodes will look like.
Todd: When Wardog was describing how there was less than 1% chance of the tribe swap that just occurred happening like that, I was suddenly struck with the realization that if I were in Survivor, I would almost certainly be outplayed by a man named Wardog.
Mary: I think he’s smart, but annoying! I also want to note how funny it was that in Eric’s confessional, when he was SO MAD about the chickens, he hears chickens clucking in the distance. Ominously even, or as if they’re laughing at him.
Todd: That was a funny moment, and I almost expected him to stand up and chase after them. Also, Jeff notes that Joe’s tribe has yet to lose an immunity challenge, and I am really wondering, if you are a member of Joe’s tribe, do you try to lose, somehow, to vote out Joe? Or are you just happy to be riding his coattails to the Merge?
Mary: I am tired of Joe winning. I understand why he’s winning, but it makes for a less interesting show to see the same team win every week--and win because of Joe’s ability to go the farthest and drag everyone else with him.
Todd: Oh, definitely. It also means that we know so much less about basically everyone on Kama not named Aubry or Joe, while we know a lot about the members of original Manu which comes in handy this season considering that no one leaves, they just move to another island.
While I like that Chris caught a fish, was anyone else curious where that fishing spear came from?
Mary: Honestly, no.
We’ll see you next week on…