Survivor recap

After last week’s fantastic, best episode of the season, things definitely calmed down a bit this week on Survivor. That’s not to say it wasn’t a great episode (OK, great may be a stretch, but it was a solid episode nonetheless). But with Jeff Probst announcing #dropyourbuffs tonight, much of the episode felt slow, as it took a lot of time familiarizing us with the new tribes that were formed. It ended with another interesting Tribal Council and the episode overall set the stage for what will be coming in the following weeks.

I’m about to break-down tonight’s Episode 5, so here’s your last chance to turn back, as spoilers are a-coming. You’ve been warned.



Tonight’s episode began and ended with David questioning his decision-making. You may recall that David made the controversial play last week to use his Idol on Jessica, saving her and sending home Lucy. I had mentioned in my take on the move, that David was smart to play Survivor one step at a time…but David debunked this strategy when he said tonight that he is a chess player, and that his strategy is to try to look several steps ahead. I get the gist that David isn’t quite sure of what he’s doing thus far, but the evidence is clear: Last week’s move was a successful play for him, and for his ally Ken. Jessica felt so indebted to them, that she told Ken about her “Legacy Advantage” (Ken’s vote for Jessica at Tribal was never explained). It wasn’t explicitly shown, but Jessica must feel indebted to David as well.

Adding to the argument that David made a good move last week, he wakes up on Day 13 and – boom! – he finds another Immunity Idol! The same Idol that was put back into play after he used it the night before. So basically David ended up gaining an ally in Jessica, showed the others that he is not afraid to make big, bold moves and then he ended up with an Idol in his pocket anyways. The Survivor Gods are smiling right now at David, I’m just not sure if they are laughing with him, or at him. Time will tell.

The big development tonight was that the tribe’s were getting a shake-up…but Probst surprised us all by announcing that not only will the players draw for new tribes, but that there would be three new tribes and not just two. Nobody gives a flyin’ fish about the tribe names, so I’ll just refer to them here on out by their colors.

The new Orange Tribe consisted of three Gen-Xers (CeCe, Chris and David) and two Millennials (Zeke and Michelle). The new Purple Tribe kept the showmance going when Millennials Figgy and Taylor drew the same colored buffs (and Taylor referring to his showmance as “Fig-Tayls” is way better than the “Figlor” moniker I had been using…let’s stick with Fig-Tayls here on out). They were joined by fellow Millennial Adam (who remember has a hidden Idol) as well as Gen-Xers Ken and Jessica. Last and certainly least was the newly formed Green Tribe. This tribe had the unfortunate task of getting a brand new beach and having to build their shelter from scratch, but were given a sixth member to help ease the pain. Gen-Xers Sunday and Bret selected green buffs, as did Millennials Hannah, Jay, Will, and Michaela, who was visibly upset with having to start over, and even threatened to flip off Jeff Probst in her confessional. Gotta love Michaela!


As mentioned, the rest of the episode mostly dealt with familiarizing us with the three newly formed tribes. All three of which did have some interesting dynamics. Here is a break-down of what was going on at each camp:

Orange Tribe: Michelle and Zeke were the only Millennials on this Tribe, and they weren’t exactly allies back at their former beach. This left Michelle feeling especially vulnerable, especially when Zeke instantly hit it off with fellow Oklahoma Sooner, Chris. Chris played on Oklahoma’s championship football team, a team that Zeke knew and idolized growing up. We know that Chris had been burned by David and CeCe in the past, so this new bond seemed dangerous, a thought that was confirmed by Chris when he approached Zeke on the beach and told him that he was ready to flip the game. This left Zeke feeling great with his position in the game.

Green Tribe: Jay was the one feeling great over at the new Green Tribe, but he was shocked at how Gen-Xers Sunday and Bret just seemed to stand around and weren’t all that useful in building a new shelter. After the boys tried and tried again to get fire, Michaela stepped in and basically willed the fire into being. She is a total bad-ass, and keeps adding to her resume. Michaela had an emotional moment after she got her tribe fire, and talked about her family a bunch. I personally love how they’re building her character arc this season. She’s one to watch! From a strategic standpoint, Bret and Sunday looked clearly on the outs.

Purple Tribe: At least one-half of Fig-Tayls seems to still possess half a brain cell. Even in front of new tribe mates, Taylor is still all about just making out with Figgy, and seems to have lost all sight that he is playing a game for a million dollars. When Taylor goes to hug Figgy, she puts the stop to it, explaining that they can’t show that they are an item in front of Ken and Jessica. Ken and Jessica had just bonded after the last Tribal, so they seem maybe just as tight as Fig-Tayls. That leaves Adam in the envious position of “middle man,” who could choose to go with either pair should they go to Tribal Council. Adam is growing tired of the showmance, and his kind nature seems to rub Ken and Jessica the right way…all signs of Survivor foreshadowing point to Adam flipping on Fig-Tayls down the road, should he be given the chance to.

Once the stage was set with all of the tribal dynamics, it was time for the Immunity Challenge, where two teams would get Immunity this time around. David did so bad, it led to his team thinking that he was perhaps throwing the challenge (he wasn’t) and it ended up costing him. Michaela – beast-woman – dominated once again and earned her tribe Immunity, while Ken was good enough at shooting hoops to take second place. The Orange Tribe – David, Chris, CeCe, Zeke and Michelle – were headed to Tribal.

Survivor recap

We were in for another #blindside, with CeCe getting a unanimous, unexpected vote-out. But what led to it? Simply put, Chris put his plan into motion, and he was hell-bent on flipping.

For the first time this season, someone used the words “voting bloc,” a term that we haven’t heard since the Second Chance season, where Survivor veterans evolved the game-play past just mere alliances. A “voting bloc” strategy means that you gather enough votes to get you through a particular vote, but that doesn’t mean you have extended loyalty to that group of people.

David, although he had been aligned with CeCe, saw that Chris was forming a voting bloc to get rid of her, and instead of fighting upstream and using yet another Idol on someone other than himself, he just decided to go with the majority vote…just like that. Was this a good move? I’m sure it will be debated again by fans, but in this instance again, yes, I say that it was his best move given his circumstances. If he goes out on a limb again to now save CeCe, he would have only gotten out Michelle, and now would have no Idol. Even if he stayed loyal to CeCe, he’d be up against Chris and Zeke, who now seem pretty close. That’s a much less desirable position to be in than where he is now, potentially at the bottom of his four-person alliance but with the power to play his Idol and blow things up.

As for poor CeCe, man, talk about fighting upstream. CeCe just seemed on the outside of everything all season long, and had been on her way towards a new Survivor record for votes against without actually being voted out. She continued and fought, but never really was able to get into a good working alliance, and she also just didn’t seem to be savvy enough strategically to last too long in the game. That being said, she had quite an opportunity to save herself in this game tonight, when Michelle approached her to try to vote out David. Had CeCe flipped on David, she might still be in the game, but as Keith Nale famously put it, she decided to “stick to the plan!” David is still in this game because he was willing to adapt and change his game, and CeCe didn’t show the same flexibility. But damn…another Gen-Xer bites the dust.


Episode Take-Away: I like the three tribe dynamic because the less number of people at Tribal the more interesting I think the voting becomes, but I’m personally not a fan of three tribe challenges. Finishing second should not win you anything in Survivor. And while it was overall a solid episode, it felt like a Season Premiere in many ways, as much of the episode spent time re-introducing us to tribes and camp life. But it did set up a lot of interesting premises, the most compelling of which being Adam‘s position on the Purple Tribe. I hope though, that this entire season doesn’t turn into “will Fig-Tayls make it to the end together?” Blech.

Strategic Movie of the Week: This has to go to Chris, for his ability to form a new bond with Zeke and his willingness to flip on his former tribe mate, getting CeCe out of the game.

Voted out this week: CeCe

Vote:  4 – CeCe (David, Chris, Michelle, Zeke), 1 – Michelle (CeCe)

Next Week’s Episode: Huge surprise!  Fig-Tayls can’t keep up the act for much longer, and they start to suck face again. And a spinning challenge looks to take a serious toll on the castaways, with Jeff Probst at one point calling out for medical. Let’s do this all over again next week…see you right back here and thanks for reading! But before you go…


Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets