Seriously, people, Survivor is firing on all cylinders right now. It would be a crying shame if there were folks out there that gave up on this season. Because think what you will about the actual Edge of Extinction twist: The game-play – specifically post-merge – has bordered on stellar. Tonight’s Tribal was one for the ages, and with the straightest-face imaginable I tell you this: It’s already included as one of the Top 5 best, most memorable Tribal Councils of all-time.
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 9 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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Wow, am I pumped up about Survivor this week! All the hype, hysteria and anticipation for this week’s episode paid off in a big way, delivering one of the craziest Tribals you’ll ever watch. The best Tribals, in my humble opinion, are ones where the stakes are incredibly high, but where the viewer is left guessing as to who might be voted out. Usually the show will tip its hand a bit, and for long-time fans of the show, we can identify within the editing of the episode just how things might shake out (for example, the obvious choice is almost never the one that leaves, or if a particular person suddenly starts getting lots of screen-time during the episode, they’re in trouble…and so on). We knew that it was going to be a “live Tribal” when we arrived at this portion of the show at just the 36-minute mark (usually it’s well into the 40s).
Well, the stakes were not only high tonight, but it was absolute chaos at Tribal…absolute, delicious chaos. It’s nearly impossible to parse through all of the twists and turns that happened, all of the great one-liners (mostly from Devens) and to really understand just how badly things unraveled right before our very eyes. But Wardog summed it up best at the very end, when he simply stated, “Rick Devens.” He was the man tonight.
It was all sparked by his fearlessness to just come up with a plan – or as Devens put it, take Aurora‘s plan – and make it work right on the spot. And we’ve seen people get up and go and whisper to one another at Tribal…a somewhat recent phenomenon. But never have we witnessed things at this level, where things were so out in the open, and for sure we’ve never seen so many different plans either catch fire (a good thing) or go down in flames (a bad thing), depending on your perspective, all in front of Jeff Probst at Tribal.
But what I enjoyed most about it was that this was an epic Tribal Council that will go down in history, and it didn’t revolve around game advantages. The Tribal Councils that most would rank as “the best” of all-time, would normally be those that contained one, or more, advantages or Idols being played at once. Now, there are surely some historic Tribals that don’t have any Idols or advantages involved that were still great, but there has never been such a chaotic one as this. And yes, Devens and David were able to get together and unite each of their half-Idols to keep David safe, but it was a move that ultimately didn’t factor into the outcome…and no one will remember that play when this Tribal comes up years from now.
Yes, there was just good ole-fashioned Survivor drama tonight, created by the players themselves, and generated by Devens, a guy who truly has nothing to lose and had already been voted out of the game once! Like, why not do everything you can to blow up the game?
Taking a step back for a second, let’s process what just happened, and the sequence of events that led up to it all. You can point back to last week’s episode, when Wardog subtly got in Julia‘s head about the pecking order within the Kama Six alliance. That little chat upended the Kama Six’s game, and led to the blindside of Eric…the fallout of which put Ron and Julie on the outs. Julia owned that move, the vote-out of Eric, and she had put herself in a good position where it seemed like the Lesu alliance of Wardog, Kelley and Lauren all were willing to work with her, Gavin and Victoria, at least for now. Paranoia might have gotten the best of Julia though, because as we saw tonight, a conversation with Lauren made her believe that Lauren and her allies might not be all that trustworthy after all.
In the cross-hairs were the two veterans, Kelley and David, whose Spidey-senses were definitely tingling through most of the episode. In a key sequence that might be a foreshadow of what’s still to come, Gavin adamantly wanted to vote for David, but was overruled by Julia and other Kama members who were really wanting to vote for Kelley. So for a brief moment, Julia had that opportunity to work with the “opposition party,” but ultimately decided to lean back on her Kama alliance…a decision that is quite frankly a bad one, considering Julia was the person instrumental in breaking up the Kama Six just last week.
So when looking at what happened to Julia‘s game tonight: You have bad blood created with Ron and Julie, who at this point just have adopted the “anyone else but me” way of thinking. You have Wardog and his group knowing that you are the most dangerous threat, and that you clearly are willing to turn on your allies as she did with Eric. Then you have Gavin feeling powerless after he feels his thoughts weren’t heard.
Your closest ally has now become Aurora, who I’m sure is a great person, but who has not quite been portrayed as any real threat to win this game, and who just last week showed a great deal of social unawareness when she talked game while Lauren was out cold on the ground. Yes, if you look at the game Julia had created for herself, it was incredibly fragile…but the spark that finally exploded the powder keg was choosing to insult Devens at Tribal, brushing him off and calling him a “passenger” in the game of Survivor. That’s all it took, and as you can now see, the writing was on the wall for Julia.
Where this leaves everybody in the game, only time will tell. Devens definitely earned some respect and some street cred for how he handled himself at Tribal, and you can be certain that the jury is most likely rooting for him…I mean, the guy is not just likable and funny as hell, but he was at Edge of Extinction with all of them. Watching the scene from next week’s episode where it appears Devens might form an alliance with Victoria strikes me as brilliant for both players, and something no one else would see coming…but we’ll have to wait and see where this goes.
Meanwhile Kelley, Lauren and Wardog voted with each other yet again, meaning they’ve stuck together through every single vote all season long. And I keep mentioning this, but the two Idols in their possession only grow stronger and stronger the longer they remain in the game…not only because they can still use them with fewer and fewer players remaining, but they prevent new Idols from being introduced into the game. There are so many small factions of players in the game now, that something is going to have to give in the coming weeks…sooner than later.
Episode Take-Away: I’m not sure why the Survivor fan-base, on a whole, seemed to cool off to this season…for me, this has been a pretty GREAT season, especially since the merge. There are still five total episodes left, including the Finale on May 15th, so those that stuck with it still have lots of rewards to look forward to. I just love the game-play right now, and how quickly power seems to shift week to week. And on the back-burner, is that this whole Edge of Extinction twist still needs to play out, meaning that we will be kept guessing all the way to the end…just the way I like it.
Voted out this week: Julia
Vote: Devens plays his Idol (formed from the half he had and the half David gives him) on David, making him Immune. 9 – Julia (Kelley, Lauren, Wardog, Julie, Ron, Gavin, Victoria, Devens, David), 1 – Kelley (Julia), 1 – David (Aurora, nullified by his Idol).
Next Week’s Episode: Is there a new six-person alliance: Wardog, Kelley, Lauren, Ron, Julie and Gavin? Maybe so, but we also see that Devens and Victoria might form a secret alliance. And is Wardog in trouble?
On a completely random side-note… the cast of the newest season of The Amazing Race was just announced, and it’s a “Reality Showdown” theme with former cast from The Amazing Race, Big Brother and Survivor competing. Former Survivors competing on the show include Rupert Boneham (Pearl Islands, All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains and Blood vs. Water) and his wife, Laura (who competed with Rupert on Blood vs. Water), Corinne Kaplan (Gabon, Caramoan) and Eliza Orlins (Vanuatu and Micronesia), and Chris Hammons and Bret Labelle (both from Millennials vs. Gen X). The Amazing Race: Season 31 premieres next Wednesday following Survivor!
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. However, 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. I am also 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 TONIGHT’S EPIC TRIBAL COUNCIL? ARE YOU ROOTING FOR DEVENS DESPITE THE FACT HE’S BEEN VOTED OUT OF THE GAME ONCE ALREADY? AND WHO DO YOU THINK IS IN THE MOST TROUBLE HEADED INTO NEXT WEEK?