Somebody famous once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” On tonight’s wild episode of Survivor: Winners At War, several players took some big shots, risking their games in the process, because really, why not? You win, or you lose, right? In the end, it really is that black-and-white. Sometimes, it just comes down to the flip of a coin.
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 of Survivor: Winners at War. 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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Thank you Adam! This season has been a wild ride in and outside of the game, and Adam was gold through-and-through. As recently as last week’s Recap, I called Adam’s game this season “reckless” and “all-over-the-place,” so it was only fitting that things went down the way they did tonight for Adam. I had started to believe that Adam might had started morphing into the perfect “goat” candidate (not “greatest of all-time,” but like, an actual goat), the guy who had burned so many bridges that maybe he’d be the ideal opponent to sit next to at the end. But for that to happen, Adam needed to get a few votes further into this game. The chaos and paranoia that his game brought this season was just too much to handle by these other all-stars, who are all looking to get control of things by eliminating as many of the wild-card candidates as possible.
Adam‘s paranoia came to a hilarious, uncomfortably awkward climax when he basically tried to play Jeff‘s Tribal Council podium as an Immunity Idol. It was a desperate move. A move that arose out of his astute attention to detail and awareness, two qualities that were virtues for Adam on his winning season, but here got the best of him. The move was at once memorable, an iconic moment that will be talked about and will most likely appear on lists of “Survivor moments” for the rest of eternity. But Adam’s attempt at finding a miracle Idol wasn’t idiotic, or on the level of other doltish moves this game has witnessed over the past 40 seasons. At that point, Adam’s name had already been written down by the majority, and he was going home. So why not go for it? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?
So no harm, ultimately. The bad part about it is that we learned at the very tail-end of the episode that Adam actually was playing a bit more aggressive and loose because of that Idol that he thought he had imagined was up there on that podium. Was Adam’s fate already sealed coming into Tribal, or did his actions and the actions of others during that crazy, whisper-filled Tribal Council actually cost Adam his game? We know now, looking back on this season, why they kept showing Adam investigating the voting booth and other areas of Tribal.
An Idol might not have been hiding in plain sight, but several major threats in the game still are. One of the most fascinating elements of this season of all-winners has been watching the dynamics form, and the powers shift, Tribal to Tribal, day to day, and even minute to minute. Remember when all the old-school legends were too big of threats to let play this game? Well, Tyson worked his way back into the game and suddenly is flying lower-than-low on the Survivor radar. And just ask Adam how deadly of an oversight this is…seemingly with no real power in the game, Tyson is the one that first pitched the game-plan to get rid of Adam, the plan that eventually stuck. Sometimes, being alone in the game, at certain key points in the game, is much more dangerous than having numbers, or several advantages at your disposal. Even the preview for next week didn’t show Tyson as a name that people were throwing around.
Speaking of names not being thrown around, how about the great Kim Spradlin-Wolfe? I know she had an Immunity Necklace around her neck tonight (as she tends to have), but Kim came into the game as arguably one of the biggest targets out there, old-school and new-school included. She’s not on anyone’s radar and looks poised to make a big move next week (judging by the preview). Plus, she can dominate challenges. But that’s what I mean, this season, everyone is a major threat, so it’s no surprise that nobody can make up their minds until the very last second!
Adam‘s ousting still leaves Nick and Michele in a precarious situation moving forward, and Nick more than Michele – perception-wise at least – is not going to be off the hot-seat. We enter next week with 10 left in the game, so there is still room for the others to go for the “easy votes” before they shore up their final pushes towards the end of the game. However, being that this is “Winners At War,” I don’t think these winners are going to be able to resist the “big move” and that’s only good news for Nick and Michele in the short-term. Long-term, I think this season is going to be very hard to win without a very strong strategic resumé…I mean, you have an all-winner jury looking to crown the “best of the best,” and you’re simply not going to get the win without having done something major. People on the bottom might be willing to make big moves, but they’re just given fewer and fewer opportunities to do so.
Michele‘s decision to trade four Fire Tokens for a “50/50 Coin” was also a debatable decision, but I say, again, why the hell not? Michele’s Fire Tokens are useless to her if she gets voted out, and she’s clearly on the outs. From the comfort of our couches, we may be screaming about how stupid it seems to give up four Fire Tokens for something that may not even give her anything at all, but when you’re on the bottom, even having a 50% chance of getting Immunity sounds like a game-changing opportunity.
Over at The Edge, just a day or two removed from the major let-down of not getting to get back into the game, we saw that the focus was on the group. Parvati and Danni found the advantage fair-and-square, and they successfully scored Michele‘s Four Fire Tokens. Using it to get some food for the whole camp is maybe just an act of camaraderie and bare survival, but I’m sure as we get closer to the end, we’ll see a more individual approach to living on The Edge from the ousted contestants.
Let’s not leave without commenting on Sarah‘s eyebrow-raising decision to give up her Chinese food reward to Nick, for his birthday, and claiming it was not done for any sort of strategy. This whole sequence didn’t seem right to me. First, Sarah is way too savvy a player to be acting naive as to how this might have looked to the other players. Second, EVERY action in the game of Survivor is strategic, and she knows that. Part of me thinks that this might have been an early bit of foreshadowing for Sarah’s story, a glimpse of just how comfortable she’s gotten in the game. Sure, her move might have been made with the purest intentions, but to not realize how it would be perceived was just out-of-character for Sarah, or it was a sign that she’s feeling like she’s in a position of power, and is oblivious to the fact that others would knock her down for what she did. With her name now publicly being thrown around and Sarah herself catching wind of it, I don’t think Sarah will repeat the mistake, but one mistake on this season might be all it takes to throw your game away.
Legacy Watch: Since the game of Survivor will forever be changed as this season rolls along, I’ve added a new segment where we’ll take a look at whose game legacy’s have taken a hit, and whose have risen, based on the actions of this week’s episode. We tend to forget that although this season is made up of all winners, normal Survivor biases still come into play. Adam Klein is the youngest winner in Survivor history, and at age 28, was the youngest player this season as well. His game this season was actually much like his winning season: He played with emotion but had a keen sense of awareness, and even though he fell on the wrong side of the numbers along the way, he kept re-positioning himself to get farther in the game. I thought that his bumpy relationship with Ben might have evolved into a working relationship much like it did with his in-game rival Jay during Millennials vs. Gen-X, but Ben is a different dude altogether than the more calm and cool Jay. I don’t think Adam’s legacy gets tarnished in any way based on his performance this current season. He was simply running with the big dogs and he got bit…but he went down scratching and clawing.
Episode Take-Away: It was another great episode, and I loved Tony‘s take on the season. With the old-school now out of the way, we no longer have the old vs. the new, now it’s the “lions” and the “hyenas.” The lions being the ones with the big targets, or big reputations coming into the game, and the hyenas being the other folk who lurk in the shadows and come in for the scraps once all is said and done. If the regular order of nature has its way, the lions will come out on top, but in the game of Survivor, it’s eat or be eaten. The lions got one of the hyenas tonight, but the battle is just beginning. Or as the cheesy new Survivor music claims, “They’re coming for you!”
FIRE TOKEN/ADVANTAGE TALLY (current)
Parvati: 4 FT (bartered from Michele, it wasn’t shown this episode if it was used to purchase food for The Edge)
Denise: 3 FT
Nick: 3 FT
Jeremy: 2 FT, 1 “leave Tribal before it begins” advantage
Sophie: 2 FT, two-halves of an Immunity Idol
Sarah: 1 FT, a “Steal a Vote” Advantage
Kim, Tony, Ben, Ethan, Danni: 1 FT
Natalie: 0 FT, 1 Immunity Idol
Boston Rob: 0 FT, 1 Immunity Idol
Michele: 0 FT, “50/50” Coin Advantage
Amber, Parvati, Yul, Tyson, Wendell, Adam: 0 FT
Sandra: Out of the Game
Voted Out This Week: Adam
Won Immunity: Kim (1)
Vote: No advantages or Idols played, although Adam unsuccessfully tried to play Jeff Probst’s podium. 8 – Adam (Nick, the rest of votes were not revealed on TV), 2 – Nick (not revealed on TV), 1 – Sarah (Adam). Adam gave his one Fire Token to Denise.
Next Week’s Episode: The Chaos from tonight’s episode seemingly carries-over to next week, because strategy is in full-swing and no one is safe.
Quick Note! I appreciate that you are reading this recap! Those that have followed me also know that I am also a RottenTomatoes-approved film critic, and with the current coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been putting movie reviews on hold, mainly since none are being released in theaters. In the meantime however, I encourage you to check out my past movie reviews as I am the film critic and Executive Producer of the TV show, “Movie Show Plus,” the #1-rated local program in the Detroit-market (episodes are also available online at the website, www.MovieShowPlus.com.) 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 THIS EPISODE? WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO ADAM AND THE PODIUM? AND WHO ARE YOU NOW THINKING IS BEST POSITIONED TO WIN IT ALL?
[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]