After an immunity challenge win by Gavin, and a weird day of scrambling and awkward silences. One of the wildest tribal councils in Survivor history leads to the ouster of Julia, the woman who would be Queen. And now, the castaways must deal with the fallout. What will this week’s episode bring? Let’s dive into our recap to find out!
I DON’T KNOW IF I HAVE A TOMORROW
Mary: Everyone is still kind of shook from the latest tribal council, but none more shaken than Aurora, who knows she could be on the chopping block if she doesn’t win immunity for a second time. What’s weird to me is that we get an extended confessional of Aurora crying and reflecting on how she grew up in the foster care system. While I’m not unsympathetic to her story, it seems late in the season to influence viewers’ emotions with a sad past story. I’m not sure how Survivor typically handles this, but in The Bachelor (which I still argue shares a lot of reality TV lineage with Survivor), we like to get our sadness out of the way up front so it can be referred back to throughout the season.
Todd: This late in the game, a confessional like this either signals a soon-to-be boot, or that the player in question might be a finalist. My initial thought upon seeing this was that Aurora would be the next to go, but the Survivor producers and editors have been craftier in recent seasons, so there was no way to know for sure.
However, David’s confessional about how the idol that he and Devens played for him last tribal was a “wasted idol” is an even bigger clue about who might be going home this episode. At the same time, we see Wardog strategizing to get Aurora out (so maybe Aurora is truly the one to go?), creating a 6-person alliance with his Lesu tribemates, RON CLARK, Julie, and Gavin. This alliance feels like it came out of nowhere? But suddenly Wardog is very tight with Gavin after last week, and Gavin seems pretty willing to work with whoever, I guess?
Mary: Yeah, Gavin is super chill, and I’m here for it.
COME ON IN, GUYS
Todd: The episode pretty quickly moves to an immunity challenge, which signals that this will be another unusual episode. The castaways have to hold onto two bars that are holding up a pot. If they move the bars up too high, the pot will drop, and if they drop the bars too low, then they will trip a wire. Basically, they have to hold the bars in exactly the perfect spot without moving.
But of course there is a twist: anyone who wants to sit out may do so and enjoy a LITERAL MOUNTAIN of pizza. Look, Jeff, I know that there are only so many ways to present things, and you want the rewards to look aesthetically interesting, but a mountain of pizza(???) is one step too far for this pizza-loving guy. Lauren, Kelley, Victoria, and RON CLARK decide to eat pizza. Good for them!
Mary: This is, no lie, my favorite part of the episode. I wondered, you know, Wardog is SO BAD at every physical challenge, how will he mess this one up? It turns out he doesn’t even have to blame himself this time. He can blame a butterfly. Jeff says something along the lines of: “You can’t let anything distract you, not even for a second,” as a blue butterfly flies gently into frame. It flutters around Wardog’s face for a bit, then lands on him. He goes out seconds later, dropping his yoke.
A little later, David asks Rick how he’s doing, and Rick sings a news-jingle, and, putting on his best reporter voice, says, “This just in: this sucks!” He drops seconds later. These sorts of endurance challenges are hands down my favorite. You never know who’s going to be good at them.
Todd: They are pretty fun to watch and seem like they would be awful to be a part of! David turns his attention to Aurora, who says she is not dropping, especially after the last tribal. David tries to hold on, but he can’t, and Aurora wins her 2nd individual immunity challenge. Aurora is proving that she is a challenge beast, with or without Joey Amazing.
A $1 MILLION DECISION
Todd: Kelley is disappointed that Aurora won Immunity, but she says there are other options: namely, David, Devens, or Victoria. The new alliance of 6 decides to vote out David. Gavin is happy with this, because he wanted to vote out David last week. Wardog, out of nowhere, declares that David is his “nemesis” and says that even though he has this new alliance, you can never be too sure of anything.
Mary: Gavin might be happy with anything, though! He just wants to stay in the game. Also, WHEN did David become Wardog’s “nemesis?” WHEN?! This could be a trick of editing, where tension has brewed behind the scenes, but it seems more likely that everyone is just stressed and David seems like a good person to take it out on. OR perhaps Wardog is mad because David is friends with Rick, who told him to shut up last week.
Todd: These both seem like real possibilities. Also, it is entirely possible that Wardog thought of David as his nemesis on Manu/Lesu, because he was also closer with Kelley and David often wanted Kelley out. It is still a weird thing for Wardog to say at this point in the game.
Mary: Something you’ve said before (when we were watching older seasons) was that the newer seasons are so jam packed with content that they don’t have time to ruminate on the politics of alliances and camp life--or at least the nuances of a bunch of strangers living together. I’m not sure, now that I’ve seen both old and new seasons, whether I think this is a strength or weakness of new episodes. On one hand, you get to see more intense moments between people who are making hard decisions on who to vote out, but on the other hand you don’t get to really see how these people get along on a daily basis. It’s entirely possible David just gets on Wardog’s nerves and he wants him gone. But we can’t really know that without more of a look into the small stuff--and newer seasons just don’t have time for that!
Todd: That is very true. We don’t even see Julia on Edge of Extinction Island, and if people have been having trouble with other tribemates on Vata or earlier, we just haven’t seen that. Conversely, it’s entirely possible that Gavin, Victoria, and Lauren have been talking to other players, but that has been left on the cutting room floor as well.
While Wardog’s 6 mull over their plan, David and Devens spring into action, trying to pull in Victoria, Aurora, Julie, and RON CLARK to vote out Wardog. Victoria loves the idea, as she feels like she is on the bottom, and Aurora is surprised to find herself working with Devens and David but she wants to break up the Lesu 3, who she feels are running the game.
During his pitch to RON CLARK and Julie, David says there is always a conversation that you think back on and wonder why I didn’t make that move, which struck me as reminiscent to his conversation with Rick a couple weeks ago. It also feels like David is pitching really hard--perhaps too hard?--but it still somewhat feels like things are up in the air before tribal.
RON CLARK and Julie find themselves in the position to be the swing votes. Whoever they vote out will probably go home. RON CLARK calls Julie his “ride or die” and Julie says it is a $1 million decision.
Mary: I think Ron seems like the type of person to call anyone his ride or die, then turn on them for a corn chip...which, I guess, in Survivor makes a lot more sense than when I normally say it.
MY BRAND IS LOYALTY
Todd: At tribal, the first question goes to Rick, who says that he wasn’t playing a very trustworthy game before he got voted out, but now that he has come back, he wants to play a game based on trust. At the same time, Kelley tries to downplay how tight the Lesu 3 are, which basically no one believes.
Mary: This tribal seems kind of cut and dry. All of the players went in with their minds made up, and the pre-tribal scrambling was mostly about the big picture, not the picture of this one council. What’s interesting here, I think, is that we see how the groups are getting more complicated and loose. People are feeling more willing to turn now, more willing to mess stuff up at the most opportune moment.
Todd: I think that is exactly right. The tribal lines are fracturing from tribal council to tribal council. One clue in this tribal is that when David says, for what feels like the 1000th time this season, “My brand is loyalty,” the entire tribe groans and Lauren says that’s not really a line he can use after claiming loytaty to her and then writing her name down. Good point, Lauren! Wardog proceeds to call David a squirmer, which David eats up, then leading into another analogy about how people who vote for him are bailing water out of a sinking boat. Kelley sees what David is doing but feels confident in her alliance.
And she should be! David gets voted out, with a few votes getting thrown at Wardog. On his way out, David says, “You know I had to try, but I am gonna claw my way back in.”
Mary: WHY is everyone making a speech before they leave now? I’m not sure if this is a thing they all decided to do or if it feels justified to them or not. One theory I have is that, because they don’t always have confessionals/goodbye messages at the end of the show (during the credits) anymore, there’s an opportunity for the contestants to say a little something before leaving, but honestly it’s kind of frustrating.
Todd: It certainly feels like it could be a situation where most people say something and it is usually edited out. It’s certainly not a new thing to this season, specifically, but it points to another way that this season is structured differently than past seasons.
At the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Post, David does not even break his stride before picking up a torch and heading to the Edge of Extinction.
I’M IN DANGER BUT I’M NOT EXTINCT
Mary: Oh, extinction island. How I love you. Everyone is miserable, absolutely miserable, and David makes a big deal about how he doesn’t know how things work on this new island and he wants to figure things out. Joe comes up to the rest of the group with a bunch of messages in bottles, and there’s a little clip of David being confused but willing to charge in and participate. It pays off, because David soon finds an advantage hidden in some rocks by the beach. He gets to grant someone an advantage during the next immunity challenge. I immediately begin hoping it’s Rick and that their friendship is still strong!
Todd: It certainly makes sense that he might give it to Rick, though at the same time he says that he could use the advantage to make in-roads with people still in the game, so who knows really? Also, we get a little montage of people search in places all over Extinction island, trying to decipher the clues, before David finds it in this large outcropping of rocks. Fun!
COME ON IN, AGAIN, GUYS
Todd: The second challenge of the episode is a balance competition, where contestants have to balance a paddle while fitting five balls into little dimples. It looks difficult, and it proves itself to be. Before the challenge starts, Rick raises his hand to tell Jeff he has an advantage, and honestly, why did Rick have to announce this? Did the producers tell him to do that? If he hadn’t raised his hand would nothing have happened? Seems unlikely. Also: how does Rick know the advantage came from David specifically? Anyway, instead of having to land five balls, Rick only has to land four.
Mary: Rick knew his advantage came from David because THEY ARE FRIENDS. I think this challenge was a clever way for Jeff to say “balls” 5000 times and snicker like a 12 year old. That being said, I’m so glad Rick won! I know he had a major advantage, but he’s still one of my favorite players and I like seeing him win for once.
Todd: Yup! It looked like either RON CLARK or Aurora (but literally no one else) would give Rick a run for his money, but Rick is able to pull it out, despite knocking a ball off his paddle TWICE! Go Devens! Also, if you played a drinking game with Jeff and the world “ball” during this challenge, I can only assume you are currently dead.
I’VE ALWAYS HAD TO BE THE SCRAPPY UNDERDOG (talks pre-2nd tribal council)
Todd: Back at camp, the new alliance of six decides to vote out Aurora. But then, Wardog thinks about it, and decides now is the perfect time to vote out Kelley. The editors show us Wardog surreptitiously talking to Victoria, Aurora, and Rick about voting out Kelley. This is another fun sequence in a season that has been full of little moments like this. Wardog feels good about his plan but he knows it has to be stealth and he HAS to convince RON CLARK.
Mary: I’ve been thinking about Wardog a lot recently and unfortunately. I think he’s probably more strategic than he seems. He’s kind of getting a “dumb guy” edit if there is such a thing, isn’t he? Each time he tries to strategize and get people to be on his side, he says identical things to each person, privately. This seems like a stupid way to go about things, but it’s honestly a good strategy. He’s rehearsed what he wants to say, and he says it well--only we, the viewers see it all in rapid succession and know he said the same thing.
Todd: The biggest proof of his strategic acumen is that his plans are convincing: they work!
RON CLARK isn’t sure what to do, because Julie, for some reason, only wants to vote out Aurora. He doesn’t want to anger his closest ally, but he also seems persuaded by Wardog’s plan.
Mary: Kelley is suspicious that she might get voted out soon, and she says she’s suspicious that there might be a secret plan that she doesn’t know about. In a confessional, she says there’s a nice sense of calm being in a major alliance, but someone could easily mess it up. She’s glad, she says, that she’s got her idol. I want to remind everyone here that Lauren AND Kelley both have an idol, and no one knows about these idols except for them. REMEMBER THIS.
Aurora talks to Ron Clark, telling him that she wants to give him her advantage (of an extra vote) because she doesn’t want to go out of the game with it. That way they’ll both have it if she stays in the game. Ron Clark VERY ASTUTELY notes that he could just use the advantage to vote Aurora out and get what he wants. As Todd said to me after the episode, everything Ron Clark says this episode makes him seem like a bowler hat wearing, mustache twirling villain. He’s one second from tying Aurora to the tracks!
WE’RE IN THE ENDGAME NOW
Todd: At tribal, Jeff asks Rick, who has some experience with this question, how you know when you are the one being voted out. Rick says: “When things are a little too easy. When things fall into place so perfectly for you.” Which feels like it should be a red flag to Kelley, who had earlier commented on how easy tonight’s vote would be. RON CLARK, fresh off stealing the world’s supply of hydrogen, says that “Once a group of people tastes the blood of a blindside, they become addicted and they want more of it.” Kudos to RON CLARK for getting the episode line, and making a pretty astute point about the way that blindsides lead into other blindsides on Survivor.
Kelley says that a blindside every tribal is not a good decision. Which is almost certainly true if you are playing Survivor, but not if you are watching Survivor. More blindsides, more fun! (And also, more problems!) Victoria mentions there are scarier people still in the game besides her, and Kelley--doing a pretty good job giving Avengers some free publicity--says that while people are thinking about the Endgame (in theaters April 26th), you also have to think about who you can trust.
Jeff points out that only 1 advantage and 1 hidden immunity idol has been played so far in this game. “27 days in,” he says, “That is unusual.” Apparently, everyone thinks that all of the advantages are on Edge of Extinction Island. Which is weird! And also, shows what a good job Lauren and Kelley have done keeping their hidden immunity idols secret.
The votes are brought out, and NO ONE PLAYS AN IDOL. Seriously, Kelley and Lauren have nerves of steel (and are very confident in their alliance-mates). The votes are read, and Kelley is voted out.
Mary: I’m honestly not surprised or sad to see Kelley go--you know I’ve disliked her from day one! The group has been talking about voting off all the returning players for a while now, and it makes sense to vote Kelley off since she was the last one. Still, it might’ve been smarter to get rid of Wardog, who seems to be gaining some traction with the group. I really, really hope he isn’t in the final tribal, but we may be headed that way.
Todd: This is certainly an interesting vote for Wardog. After the talk earlier this season about keeping returning players around to use as shields, this episode sees both of them go home, and now who is left? Wardog, RON CLARK, and a bunch of players whose motivations we do not entirely know or understand. It should make for an interesting final run of episodes. Also, almost certainly a returning player is going to make it back from the Edge of Extinction, right?
Mary: Oh, most definitely! I predict very soon, too.
Mary: David looks so so thin on this episode. I know they’ve been on the island for a considerable amount of time at this point, and I know David was thin to begin with but WOW. I felt worried about him.
Todd: Aurora is emerging as much sassier than the early episodes this season might have led us to believe. Hopefully, she has more sass left in her, because I can only imagine she will need all of it to survive the remaining players.
Mary: Also, I’d like to note that I felt extremely grossed out by the “mountain” of pizza. I’m saying this as a person who really likes pizza. Pizza was not meant to be piled up like that.
Todd: Mmhmm. That was a moment of hubris on Jeff’s part.
Jeff’s “another blindside” in the 2nd tribal council might rank as one of the best Probst-faces in recent memory. It was just a very odd delivery from our normally pretty stoic-yet-relaxed bro-host.
Mary: I hate to say it, Todd, but your boy Ron Clark had a really good night. He had a lot of good, villainy moments and was involved in some planning. I wonder if he’ll move out to the forefront to be the ultimate villain!
Todd: I definitely think that is a possibility. If he can “let off the pedal” a little, as was discussed tonight, I could see him having a similar trajectory to Mike Whtie from last season. In fact, they both have a similar energy. I could see RON CLARK wandering around the island with a glass of wine.
Also, Julie, re-arranging paintings on the Titanic is not a thing. Sorry.
Mary: Also, at one point Wardog mentioned Coach in an argument and I got mad at Coach being Coach all over again.
Todd: Oh, you mean the Dragon Slayer?
Join us next week for more Survivor goodness! As we near the end of the season, who do you think is set to be the winner?
And who will escape from the