Luck has always played a large part in the game of Survivor. Still, after one of the craziest tribe swaps in the game’s history, it’s pretty clear that fate has smiled on some players more than others. We’ve seen the same tribe attend the first three Tribal Councils of the season. While there was technically a different tribe there this week, it was still made up of all the same, familiar faces.
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 4 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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Boy, if Wentworth, David, Rick, Wardog and Lauren didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. If Wardog’s math is to be believed (and who am I to doubt it?), there was about a 1% chance that the tribe swap would have yielded the results that it did. This astronomically low outcome was a killer blow to these five players. Under normal circumstances, they should have fared better on the whole. Splitting into three new tribes, as an alliance of five, you would think that at least two, and maybe three of them, would land somewhere new.
That would normally mean that at least a few of them should have been safe from harm just based on their buff draw. But the fact that the game basically plucked chicken-loving Wendy off of their tribe and then pit them against each other, was just cruel and unusual punishment. For certain, it’s easy to say that their demise has been their own fault. They continue to vote out strong players like Chris. Then, they keep around physically weak players like Lauren, who has apparently stopped eating for a few days. But still, that’s one heck of an outcome considering the incredibly slim chance that we were going to see all five of these players back in front of Jeff Probst by the end of the episode.
Of course, the worst luck of all goes to Rick Devens, the Macon, GA Morning News Anchor, who thus far has given us most of the comic relief on the show. His ousting basically comes at the hand of Wardog. He found himself in that sweet-spot position of being the swing vote between two tightly-knit duos. It’s a shame for us viewers. I feel like Rick’s personality would have provided much-needed levity moving forward through the season. It also breaks up what seemed to be the most potent power-couple so far (Rick and David). But I think it’s a bit unfair to call Wardog’s decision a “good” or “bad” one at this point. It’s still too early to tell how his decision will help shape the game.
But he obviously either felt like Rick/David were too strong and needed to get broken up. Or he possibly feels like the longer Wentworth stays in the game, the more of a shield she will become for his game. Being gunned for by pretty much everyone, he probably knows that Kelley is going to need as many allies as possible. So, he might figure that she’s much less likely to turn on him than maybe Rick/David would have been.
The “wow” moment for me was the fact that Lauren decided to keep her Idol in her pocket! Just wow! If you’re ever going to use it, this seems like the time! But by correctly reading the situation (or just by making a lucky guess), Lauren has not only stayed in the game, with a close ally in Kelley, but she’s maintained possession of an Idol. If she can figure out and overcome what she’s going through physically, Lauren could be in a great spot moving forward. She would be nestled nicely in-between the two huge targets of Wardog and Wentworth.
I have never liked it when a season of Survivor has started off with the same tribe going to Tribal Council over and over. First, it’s redundant, but second, it really prevents the audience from getting to know ALL of the contestants. We really only get to know the player’s true strategies once they approach being at Tribal. We have now watched four episodes (nearly a third) of this season. Of the original 18 players, we’ve still yet to see nine of them at Tribal.
And while I was initially quite bummed to see that these same five were headed back to Tribal, I actually thought it ended up being pretty interesting, just seeing how close they all were and how respectful they were towards one another right up through the vote. As their numbers continue to dwindle, and as they continue to eat up the air-time, we are likely looking at the group of players we will be rooting for down the stretch. Everyone loves an underdog. And this group is already facing an uphill battle.
Most impressive of all – from a historic point of view – is the game of Joe Anglim. He has now appeared in 25 total episodes of Survivor. Joe has had Immunity (whether by winning tribe or individual challenges) in 19 of them. He has the miraculous ongoing record of having lasted for 32 days in Cambodia his last season, and never casting a vote against the person who was actually voted out at Tribal. Joe can add 12 more days to that from this season. His hair also seems to grow more than a foot per episode, which I believe is also a record. But his clueless in-game nature is what will always define him to me.
We saw him tonight get played by Ron Clark (secretly one of my favs this season). He thought he was bonding with him. Instead, Ron was just stalling to give Julia more time to rifle through Joe’s bag back at camp. Joe just doesn’t have the social awareness to be a “great” Survivor player, although I get why he is a “popular” one. And speaking of Ron, unless I understand it differently, his cool “Advantage Menu” that he found during the Premiere has now been rendered useless. It was only good to be played at one of the first three Tribal Councils. Just like the strange tribe swap, it just doesn’t seem like the “luck” is on the side of this season when it comes to “potential” drama and what could have been.
Episode Take-Away: I want to see other players at Tribal! But I must say, I am actually beginning to dig the dynamic that is forming out at the Edge of Extinction. And you can give Reem all the credit for this. I love, love, love that she is making sure each new face suffers a bit. She is ensuring that no one gets a warm welcome. None of these ousted players know what to expect. Or what chance they might eventually get to re-enter the game. I’m sort of digging how these interactions are going thus far. Yes, we are now four episodes deep in Survivor and guess what? An unprecedented 18 out of 18 players still have a shot at winning Sole Survivor. That in and of itself feels a bit weird, but in another way it’s quite compelling.
Voted Out This Week: Rick Devens. He chose to go to Edge of Extinction, joining Reem, Keith and Chris.
Won Immunity: The Yellow and Blue Tribes
The Vote: No Idols or advantages were played. 3 – Rick (Kelley, Lauren, Wardog), 2 – Lauren (David, Rick)
Next Week’s Episode: Wardog looks to get rid of…Lauren? Maybe he isn’t being as strategic as we thought. And elsewhere, Aubry is given a glimmer of hope, when Victoria approaches her about maybe voting out Eric. Is that for real though?
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. 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. 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 ARE YOUR THOUGHTS THUS FAR ON THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION, AS A TWIST? ON THE SEASON AS A WHOLE? AND IF YOU WERE WARDOG, WHO WOULD YOU HAVE VOTED FOR AND WHY?
[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]