On a season all about pushing yourself to the very brink of what you can handle, tonight’s new episode of Survivor was all about cutting the dead weight.
As I do at the beginning of every recap, please heed the following: Remember that this recap assumes that you have already seen this week’s Episode 2 of Survivor: Edge of Extinction. If you have not and don’t want to be spoiled, please come back later! It’s important to add that while we WILL hit on all of the important developments of the episode, this is not a linear “blow-by-blow” recap. It is more of a discussion and reaction of what we just witnessed together.
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Come on Jesus! Those were the final words we heard during tonight’s episode, as we saw 19-year-old Pre-Med Student, Keith Sowell, come to the “Edge of Extinction” crossroad. Here’s a kid who didn’t learn to swim in preparation for coming on Survivor. He clearly just doesn’t have the physicality to make it far in this game. Now in and of itself, that’s OK…for sure. Not every player that has graced our screen in this game has been a physical beast, or even physically fit. Keith, to his credit, has shown some amount of strategic prowess, although “prowess” might be a little too kind. He kept the target off of himself last week by throwing Reem under the bus. And this week, despite his horrible performance during the Immunity Challenge, he had appeared to find safety when the target shifted over to Kelley Wentworth.
And look, I get it. Keith was just 19 when he played this season. That is quite young, even by Survivor standards. If you’re wondering, Keith is actually just the seventh contestant EVER to be on Survivor under the age of 20. Now sure, a few players like Todd Herzog (who was 20 when he won) or Jud “Fabio” Birza (who was 21), have done quite well without the “life experience” to draw from. So, I’m not saying that there isn’t hope for young players in this game. But something about Keith just made me feel like he wasn’t mentally prepared to come into this game. And not just because of his age. Look, if you come on Survivor and get voted out after six days, and then are given an opportunity to come back in the game? You take it!
Last week Reem was ticked off when she was the first boot, but man she didn’t hesitate to grab that torch for a chance to re-enter the game. Keep in mind that Keith has no idea what this “chance to get back in the game” is, and yet he is still contemplating quitting. And yes, I know he was technically voted-out. But does it not constitute a Survivor “quit” if a player voluntarily chooses to leave the game?
I think the legacy of this season will be that people who actually went to the Island of Extinction will be cut some slack when referred to as a “quitter.” They are facing harsher conditions over longer periods of time than any other players in the game’s history. But if you have a chance to get back in the game and you don’t take it? Quitter! While Keith was saying “Come on Jesus!” and looking for a sign. I was saying to myself in frustration: “Come on! Jesus! The sign you are looking for is right in front of you and it says you have a chance to re-enter the game!”
My point is, I kind of hope Keith quits at this point…if he is even considering quitting the game after six days, chances are he’d be worthless at Extinction Island and therefore, not quite worth our time as viewers.
I’m also not a huge fan of how they made his decision end on a cliffhanger. Will anyone be anxiously-awaiting next week’s episode to see the fate of Keith? “Edge of Extinction” needs to provide more “edge of seat” drama if it plans to win us over.
Thus far, it’s been what I had feared it would be. It’s a time-suck away from the actual game being played back on the island. We get to see shots of a poor soul huddled in complete misery, awaiting the next commercial break.
Sort of like us, when forced to watch a player sit around without anything to strategize about. Yes, some of my frustration is that I was really looking forward to seeing the dynamic on Extinction Island with more than one person there. Still, from the looks of it, we may not have anyone there by next week.
Speaking of the actual game…now this I’m liking! I’m digging the cast thus far! But, like Aubry, I usually root for the tribes to go to Tribal Council as early as possible in the season. Then, we can see all the cards on the table and see where people’s loyalties lie.
The Yellow Tribe won their second-straight Immunity (with fishing gear and flint!). We have yet to see if they really are against the returning players. Or if Aubry and/or Joe has been able to get in any of their good graces. What we have seen on the flip-side, however, is that David Wright is doing just that. As a returning player – and a known strategic and social threat – he has nestled in quite nicely at his tribe. He formed the first “Final Two” alliance of the season with Rick. David put himself in a position where he doesn’t seem all that threatening.
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Kelley…er…Wentworth as they’re calling her, is right where she usually finds herself: In the cross-hairs of pretty much everyone. It wasn’t talked about much during this episode, but the fact that her closest ally Lauren found a hidden Idol might be HUGE for Wentworth’s future in the game. If Lauren discovers she is in the minority and Wentworth is her only ally, she would definitely use her Idol. I would presume. It would also be the perfect move for her to fulfill her in-game fantasy of being just like her idols, Parvati Shallow and Wentworth herself. How cool would it be to use an idol to save your idol?
I really began digging Wardog this episode, after not knowing what quite to make of him during the premiere. Sure the guy’s demeanor and personality will make him unable to play the game under-the-radar. However, he showed a very level-headed side of himself. I loved what he said at Tribal about not needing to have a “Survivor Checklist.”
He wants to play the game making a series of rational decisions. First impressions on a guy named Wardog would be that he is maybe hot-headed or not all that smart. However, he is showing that he might just be a formidable player not just physically, but in the other important areas of the game as well.
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Episode Take-Away: I really liked the segment of tonight’s episode that emphasized just how hard it is to find hidden idols out there. We’ve grown to know as viewers that if we are shown a segment about a player or players searching for an Idol, chances are someone is going to find one. But this episode took some time and stretched it out a bit, showing basically both camps out scouring the island for hidden advantages. It’s sort of fun to remember too, that the game has evolved so much that there are no longer even clues to Idols, but players are just finding Idols without them.
Ultimately, the Edge of Extinction twist has promise, but it will be a huge bummer if (or when) Keith decides to exit the game. And if Reem actually exits the game herself. I think the anticipation of the whole premise is based on their being interaction while on the island, but it could end up being weeks before that even happens.
But like all Survivor twists, I for one am thankful that they continue to push and experiment with the game, knowing that not every single twist is going to play out as super-exciting (Ghost Island comes to mind). On the whole, though, I’m digging the cast and the season and I feel like it is chock-full of several people that know this game well and plan on playing it to the fullest.
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But Survivor needs to cool it with the “cliffhanger” ending. We are cool with them trying out new twists, but don’t mess with the structure of the game and the show itself. For 19 years we’ve watched Survivor, and have had a solid “ending” each and every week. It’s not always a satisfying ending, but there is a culmination of events that plays out and then comes to a definitive end, before starting the cycle over again fresh the following week.
I for one don’t know why they would drag out Extinction Island relationships, which leads me to all but assume that Keith chooses to check out of the game early. And if a player is going to choose to quit, then why even give them the attention with a cliffhanger ending? Just let the dude choose to go home, and let’s be done with it. On to next week. I really, REALLY hope that this “Extinction Crossroads” is not played up as a cliffhanger each and every week.
Voted Out This Week: Keith Sowell (episode ended on cliffhanger as to whether he’d stay in game or not)
Won Immunity: Yellow Tribe
The Vote: No Idol was played. Sadly, lost in all the drama of the cliffhanger ending, for some reason, they didn’t show the votes being cast this week like they do pretty much every other week in the show’s history. We know that Keith was voted out with SIX total votes, and that Wendy received ONE and Kelley received ONE, but sadly we don’t know who voted for who.
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Next Week’s Episode: Aubry and Joe realize that they are in trouble! Kelley tries to firm up some alliances! And Reem teases that she might just raise up that white flag and leave the game if no one else joins her on Extinction Island, and soon.
Quick Note! I appreciate that you are reading this recap! Because of the new “Edge of Extinction” format, CBS is not giving weekly exit interviews this season, so because of this, there will not be an interview article on Thursdays like you might be accustomed to. Further, because of this twist, I’ll be putting my FilmSurvivor Podcast on hiatus temporarily…I may do occasional podcasts throughout the season, but they won’t be weekly like normal…when I do post a Podcast, I’ll link it here.
Those that have followed me also know that I am a RottenTomatoes-approved film critic, and I encourage you to check out my weekly movie reviews as I am also the national film critic for AXS.com and am a movie critic/TV personality in the Detroit area. As always, the easiest way to get all of my Survivor coverage and movie reviews is to follow me on Twitter – @tomsantilli – or on Facebook.
TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE CLIFFHANGER? DO YOU HOPE KEITH STAYS IN THE GAME? AND WHICH PLAYERS ARE YOU LIKING AND/OR HATING THUS FAR?
Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell