Two tribes became three, but the losing tribe of Manu could not find renewed life at Lesu, and Devens the newsman became the newest resident of The. Edge. Of. Extinction! Tonight’s episode offers double the Survivor, which means double the re-cap, so without further ado, let’s get into it!
I’M ON THE EDGE...OF EXTINCTION
Todd: On Edge of Extinction Island, Rick is sadly picking up sticks. He says that “Everything about Edge of Extinction...says You don’t want to be here.” Yeah, that is the general vibe that I have gotten as well, Rick. He then sums up this part of the game with the succinct statement: “It sucks.” I am still enjoying seeing how people react to being voted out of the game so viscerally, but it can also be hard to watch people be miserable for too long. Luckily, the producers quickly move us away from the Edge of Extinction to the first challenge, and the first:
Mary: I’m digging the Edge of Extinction twist for sure, but I also am getting a little tired of seeing people being miserable. It makes sense--we need to see them broken down before they can get built back up again (and return to the game!), but at this point I have to wonder what kind of condition they’ll be in when (or if) they return. They seem very weak and malnourished, or even more so than the regular players.
COME ON IN, GUYS
Todd: We cut to the first of FOUR challenges in the episode. I’ll run it down more succinctly, since there is so much to get to!
It is a reward challenge, where the winning tribe gets lots of PB&J and milk, and the 2nd-place tribe gets some PB&Js. The tribes have to race through some obstacles, untie some knots tied to a high beam to get some bolos, and then play a giant game of ladder toss. The interesting wrinkle is that every player has to land one of four bolos, which means that Joey Amazing cannot single-handedly win this challenge for Kama. This is a smart move on the producers’ part, but ultimately Kama wins anyway, especially because Wardog proves himself to be terrible at challenges. He can’t keep either David or Lauren on his shoulders especially well, which leads to many fun moments where Lauren is just screaming at him.
For a moment it looks like Lesu might come back, but Victoria lands the last bolo, and Lesu is left with nothing once again. After the other tribes have left, Jeff just looks at Lesu and says, “Wow,” which prompts David to say, “I think we’re running out of adjectives to describe these defeats. It’s almost like we’re cursed or something…We have to think positive it’s the only way out of this.” While I don’t believe Lesu is cursed, they are certainly in a cycle of losing, and that can be a hard thing to break out of in Survivor. Sometimes, losses just pile on top of each other. This unprompted response from David leads Jeff to say: “It’s interesting. I didn’t even ask a question. It’s like you already know the story.” Yup, and the story is sad, Jeff.
IN THE SURVIVOR WAITING ROOM
Mary: Increasingly anxious about losing yet another challenge, Lesu spirals out of control in anticipation of who to vote out. Wardog proposes voting Lauren out because--why not? She’s weak and getting weaker because she’s not eating the rice they have, and she’ll only be a hindrance to them in physical challenges. Side note: WHY is Lauren not eating the rice? She says it makes her sick, but I’m not sure what about rice could be making her ill. It’s not gluten, soo….? Kelley agrees that Wardog has been loyal to her, and she thinks about siding with him. But oh, it’s early in the episode.
Todd: Over at Kama, JULIA GETS HER FIRST CONFESSIONAL! SOUND THE ALARMS! RING THE BELLS! And what wisdom does Julia impart? Kama is on a winning streak and Joe is a threat. Well, at least she got some more screen time.
Basically everyone at Kama wants Joe to go, including Julie, who thinks they should vote out Joe if they lose immunity. RON CLARK, however, doesn’t want to lose Joe’s abilities around camp. He thinks Joe is a workhorse and can’t imagine camp life without him.
At New Manu, they cheers their PB&J sandwiches, with a fun “PB&J Powers activate” from Aubry. Aubry says that Manu is “in the Survivor waiting room,” and she is ready for someone to “wake up from the Kama camp Kool-Aid.” While she wonders why no one is playing hard, Victoria, Eric, and Gavin are contemplating voting her out! Oh no! To throw off Aubry’s suspicions, Victoria suggests that she tell Aubry that she wants to work with her. Upon hearing this, Aubry is overjoyed, and at this point, my worrying for Aubry began. I hoped, based on last week’s previews, that Victoria and Aubry would actually work together, so seeing Victoria slowly draw the wool over Aubry’s eyes was a little hard to watch as a fan of Aubry, but exciting as someone who thinks Victoria could go far in this game.
Mary: On the Edge of Extinction, Chris finds a box with a message for each person on the island. It’s a map of sorts, and Rick figures out the secret of the map first, aligning stars in the border to reveal the location of...something. Reem asks if they should all eat before setting off to follow the map, but Keith sneaks off while everyone else is eating. Needless to say, the rest of the crew isn’t happy, and to be honest, I wasn’t either. I started disliking Keith in this very moment, even though I recognize that his methods are a valid (and maybe smart) way to play. It just seemed dishonest.
Chris physically pushes Keith out of the way to get to the hidden box first, and reveals that it holds sticks and a paper with one word: Practice. Rick goes after the other location, and finds a note that allows him to give someone an extra vote at tribal. The person won’t know where the extra vote came from, and can choose to use it secretly. This is, I think, a fun twist! I like that Extinction Island is finally starting to impact life at the camps, and influencing voting is a major way that can happen.
COME ON IN AGAIN, GUYS
Todd: We arrive at the first immunity challenge of the night, and it is a doozy that basically every tribe struggles with at some point. The tribes must run up a ramp, dive into the ocean, and release two pallets of puzzle pieces. This seems easy enough but many people struggle trying to get those pieces free. Manu even manages to get a lead on Kama, and it looks like Kama could be in trouble for the first time this season, but then Lesu’s struggles continue. No one can get their last batch of puzzle pieces unlocked, until Lauren dives down and finally does. Throughout this section, Jeff has Big Coach Energy, yelling at David to “Release it, David! Let’s go!”
Over at the puzzle, everyone is struggling with this 4-piece puzzle. This is something the Survivor producers love: a seemingly easy challenge that is actually super difficult. Everyone is trying to figure it out and then suddenly it clicks for Kama. KAMA WINS yet again, and Aurora tries to communicate to Manu how to solve the puzzle, but Lesu manages to solve the puzzle before them anyway. LESU DOESN’T LOSE! This is truly a first and everyone on Lesu is so happy that they almost all start breaking down into fits of happy crying. It is exciting to see someone other than Lesu going to tribal, but it also leaves me worried for Aubry’s future in this game!
Mary: I just want to note that in this challenge Kelley gives up and lies down for a good chunk of time. This is another reason why I don’t like Kelley.
I’LL SEE YOU TONIGHT
Mary: I’m honestly SHOCKED Lesu doesn’t lose--and I think everyone is. New Manu decides they want to vote Aubry out because she’s “too experienced” to stay in the game much longer. As far as Aubry knows, the plan is to vote Wendy out. Aubry, in true Aubry fashion, proposes an all girl alliance between Wendy, Victoria, and herself, and the two turn to Wendy to propose this plan to vote out one of the men. Wendy doesn’t seem interested, though. Really, Wendy just seems confused. She spends a lot of time looking at the ground and shrugging, and this is where I wonder briefly if Wendy is a secret mastermind. She seems like she’s trying to avoid lying to Aubry and Victoria, and we will soon see why.
Aubry finds out she gets the secret vote and quietly thanks whoever is in her corner, wherever they are.
Todd: The Wendy exchange between Aubry and Victoria confused me in the moment, but looking back I think you are right. Wendy was trying not to play her hand, and so she played dumb for Aubry’s sake so Aubry wouldn’t think anything was going on at tribal.
Honestly, there are so many moments of dramatic irony in this section, and I spent a lot of this part of the episode internally screaming. Like, Aubry, why would you trust someone who has been gunning for you SINCE DAY 1? I have to give a lot of credit to Victoria here, who perfectly manipulates Aubry into seeing what Victoria wants her to see instead of what is plainly obvious based on everything that had happened up until that point. But it’s still heartbreaking to watch Aubry say: “Every time I try to do something in Survivor, something goes wrong... Maybe I need to have a little faith that just a little bitty thing can go right.” This was the exact wrong time to learn that lesson, Aubry.
IN THIS GAME, FIRE REPRESENTS YOUR LIFE
Todd: *cracks knuckles* Finally, I get to talk about a tribal council, and I’ll be honest, I wish I wasn’t. Not because I don’t want my tribe(s) to go to tribal, but because I am sad about how this one ended. Because this is the first time at tribal for so many players, FOUR have to grab a torch and dip it into the fire because, as Jeff always says, “In this game, fire represents your life.” (I am imagining all of Kama doing the same thing next week, and that will be WILD as well.)
Gavin has a lot of fun tidbits during this tribal. He tells Jeff that everyone was “pretty dang relaxed” when they got back to their camp, and he has a fun rollercoaster analogy about how most of New Manu is only starting to go up the hill, but Big Wendy has had some ups and downs already.
Also, and most interestingly, he says that he and Aubry have a strong personal relationship, which is smart, because he is trying to convince her that she is not going home. (See also: the four of them saying their alliance will be “forged in the fire” right before tribal.) It is also odd because the audience has not seen any of that relationship-building, which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, just that it did not merit being shown.
Big Wendy says it is hard for her to transition between real life and the game, and admits that she maybe hasn’t made that transition yet, in perhaps her most self-aware moment of the game so far. Eric wonders aloud if he will be duped tonight, and Aubry, in perhaps her least self-aware moment, says, “Sometimes things are more simple than they seem.” Famous last words.
AND WHEN YOUR FIRE’S GONE, SO ARE YOU...OR ARE YOU?
Mary: I’m honestly surprised at this vote! I’m also wondering why Aubry didn’t use her secret vote? It seems like a big thing to just not use. The best part is that Aubry doesn’t even really seem mad. She’s impressed they blindsided her so completely.
Todd: I am also surprised that Aubry didn’t use any of her advantages. It seems like she was really confident in her alliance with “Vic,” as she called her, and didn’t want to “waste” her extra vote or her hidden immunity idol. However, it’s not a waste if it keeps you on the island, Aubry! She was thinking two or three votes ahead, and she didn’t realize that Victoria already had a knife in her ribs.
Mary: Duuuuh Aubry goes to Extinction Island.
Todd: Duh! On Edge of Extinction Island, she says that her vote was “JT-level embarrassment,” when it might also be called “James-level” embarrassment. Leaving with 2 advantages in your pocket is never a good look, especially if you a returning player. Still, she says that she loves hitting rock bottom because that is where she thrives. I hope so, Aubry!
COME ON IN, GUYS, PART 3
Todd: At the immunity challenge, everyone is shocked when New Manu walks in. Joe says: “Obviously the Kama strong is no longer so strong.”
For this challenge, the tribes have to jump over big tables(?), untie a bunch of knots, and then hit a target that will spin and raise a flag. The reward is coffee, tea, pastries, and cookies for 1st place, and coffee and cookies for 2nd place.
Throughout the challenge, like many challenges this season, Lauren yells at Wardog, who continues to be bad at almost every challenge. He tries to throw the sandbags for Lesu but his arc is way too low. Lauren steps in for him and hits the target on her first throw, but it is too late. Joe has already won for Kama, and Gavin sealed the deal for New Manu. Kama has now won 7 out of 8 challenges.
Mary: Jeff is particularly harsh this episode, isn’t he? At one point he says, “If you’ve never thrown a baseball, it’s gonna show!” Ok, Jeff! Cool it! He also says at the end that he’s “Sending Lesu back to camp with absolutely nothing!” and he sounds very happy about it. Kelley admits she’s jealous of Joe’s ability to WIN EVERYTHING and for once, I agree with Kelley. Joe seems like a nice guy who’s genuinely trying his best, but man, it gets repetitive seeing him effortlessly win everything!
PEOPLE ARE LEGITIMATELY LOSING IT
Todd: At Kama, Julie talks about how she almost expects to win every challenge at this point. She knows this is wrong, but it is hard to feel any other way. I agree! If my tribe had won so many challenges I would also feel that our future winning was inevitable. After the challenge, Kelley says that Kama has basically had a 2-week vacation, and while that may seem true, they are still having to second-guess every conversation they have, while also subsisting on little food and sleep.
All this comes to a head when Joe gets one of the most moving confessionals to date. Joe is sad to see Aubry go, because it means that these new players still see returnees as a threat. Joe just wants to play Survivor, a game he loves so much, but it is hard to do with such a big target on his back. Joe says, “You got no one to rely on…You don’t. But it makes you appreciate all the people that you do rely on at home.” At this point, Joe starts to cry, and understandably so! Joe is in a very isolated position, on a tribe full of people who see him less as a person and more as an obstacle to their own dreams of winning Survivor, but he doesn’t let that keep him down. “You have to take all that [your family] and use it as fuel.” Yeah! You go, Joe!
Then, Joe makes a great play, telling Julia that she is a big threat, too. In doing this, hopefully the rest of Kama will not see Joey Amazing as a threat but rather as an asset that can help all of them get to the end. JULIA HAS ANOTHER CONFESSIONAL! She thinks she may have to adapt if she wants to stay in the game. That is true, Julia, but look how much you have adapted just in this episode! You went from 0 confessionals to 2!
Mary: Joe’s speech was genuinely moving and it made me feel for him more than I ever have before. I can see how he feels isolated from everyone else.
Over in Losing Lesu, everyone is GOING BONKERS trying to figure out what to do next. Wardog is “scaring” Kelley, and she and David discuss how much they hate him. They both say he has a target on his back because he’s so annoying.
On Edge of Extinction Island, I’m really starting to not like Keith. I took a note that just says, “I don’t like Keith anymore.” *sigh* Reem yells at Chris and I’m not entirely sure what their argument is about. It seems like everyone is going stir crazy from the bad living conditions and the lack of any mental stimulation. They need something to change for them and quick!
Todd: Yep, things are heating up at the Edge of Extinction, and it is riling everyone up. After figuring out the first map puzzle, Rick things he has figured out the 2nd, but it doesn’t lead to anything. While walking in the water, Reem finds a package, and Keith quickly dives for it, claiming an advantage for himself. Reem is mad at herself for pointing it out, and Chris says she gave it away, which leads to their whole spat. Aubry, having not met any of these people before, looks around and notes, quite correctly, “People are legitimately losing it.”
COME ON IN AGAIN AGAIN, GUYS
Todd: There is only one tribal immunity! Twist!
The challenge is pretty basic for Survivor, and Kama wins yet again. The true twist is that both tribes will be going to tribal challenge and voting one person out! Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuun!
Mary: WARDOG IS SURPRISINGLY BAD AT CHALLENGES. No really, he’s so bad. It’s baffling. He’s also bad and won’t acknowledge that he’s bad, which is maybe the worst part about it.
Todd: He really is. II would like to think that if I were as bad at challenges as Wardog, I would at least realize it before it hurt my tribe during multiple challenges.
I’LL SEE ALL OF YOU TONIGHT
Mary: With the twist of two tribes going for a joint tribal, everyone panics a little. It’s more of the same over in Lesu, and everyone discusses who they’d go to rocks for. In an aside with Kelley, Lauren says, “I won’t go to rocks for Wardog,” and I HEAR YOU, GIRL. I am thinking that maybe this is their chance to get Wardog out of the game, but others aren’t so sure. There’s a lot of talk about loyalty and being there for your team, but ultimately it seems like a lot of hot air.
Todd: So much hot air! I love that at New Manu, everyone swore to stay true, and then Victoria admitted, in a confessional, that she would quickly flip on whoever if it got her further in the game. “Don’t ever trust me, man!” Victoria says. Duly noted. Meanwhile, Gavin and Eric agree that they don’t want to go to the merge without each other. Awwwww.
Also: Kelley finds another hidden immunity idol! Which, hilariously, seemed to be right in front of Wardog’s face. She immediately tells Lauren, who then tells Kelley about her immunity idol. Lauren says she will not go to rocks for Wardog. Despite seeming like two big happy families, neither of these tribes are as cohesive as they would like to think.
IN THIS GAME, FIRE STILL REPRESENTS YOUR LIFE
Mary: THIS TRIBAL IS SO STRESSFUL. Al the whispering gave me flashbacks to elementary school and disliking whispering to this day. I’m not sure why anyone ever listens to Wardog, especially after complaining about him for the entire episode, but I guess they did. UGH.
Todd: This tribal is definitely A LOT, with David straight up asking Wendy to come talk with him over by the torches. This is the kind of tribal council that Survivor nerds love, the kind where there are re-votes and the potential for idols to be played. As Eric notes earlier in the episode: “You don’t imagine yourself in the easy tribal council vote. You think of yourself in this situation, going to tribal council, probably gonna draw rocks.”
The first vote is a tie between Lauren and Wendy, and Lauren does not use her idol, which also means, I believe, she cannot use it on the re-vote. That is a gutsy call and clearly shows that Lauren believes in her tribe, no matter how frustrated she may get with Wardog and his shenanigans.
AND WHEN YOUR FIRE’S GONE, SO ARE YOU...OR ARE YOU?
Todd: This was an expected vote, especially once everyone except Wendy got up to talk to the other tribe for the re-vote. That image of Wendy sitting by herself is basically the image of her entire game up to this point, but I am glad that Wendy got to go out on her own terms. She even got Jeff to call her Big Wendy, and then she got a hug! Good for you, Big Wendy!
Mary: Well weren’t we all expecting Wendy to go home soon? Notably, Wendy doesn’t even LOOK at the sign that talks about going home. She just grabs her new torch and heads for Extinction Island. I’m guessing that her new tribemates are NOT going to be happy to see her.
Mary: Still loving Gavin’s floral bike shorts.
Todd: Agreed! He’s got good style. I credit his Tennessee roots for that.
RON CLARK was oddly silent this week, which is fine by me, but I am interested to see how he performs at the merge.
Mary: Does this mean you will also soon have floral bike shorts? Because of Tennessee roots? :p
I am still endlessly amused at your hate for Ron. Hahahaha
Todd: RON CLARK is fine, I’m sure. But also: ughhhh.
A chicken walked into frame during one of Aubry’s confessionals, and the cameraman changed focus to the chicken, and it was lovely and hilarious.
Mary: More chickens, please! It seems like the camera operators are having a good time this season.
Todd: David talking about not having anything but a 2-bedroom apartment and a stack of DVDs and how Survivor helped him change his life was also a moving moment, in an episode full of them.
Aubry’s “When you find the black cat to your witch in Survivor it’s a perfect Halloween night” is a perfect line. Jeff was so flabbergasted.
Any predictions for what happens next week with the Merge? Will Edge of Extinction continue?
Mary: I think they’re going to come back really soon, maybe as their own tribe to compete in a challenge and surprise everyone. They’re definitely coming back into the fold next episode, I’m just not entirely sure how!
And yes, Aubry’s Halloween witch analogy was beautiful--I say that as a cat lover!