Something about Survivor thus far just seems…anti-climactic. Yes, we’re just three episodes (and four Tribal Councils) into the season and still pre-merge, but it feels like we’ve already lost some of the game’s most interesting players. Is the lack of a “theme” for the season making things feel off? Usually the theme only ends up being relevant until around the merge anyways, but with no real over-arching concept to tie things together, the show has thus far just come across as generic.
There is still a lot to like, and it’s way too early to anoint Survivor 41 as a hit or as a big miss. I for one, think that the whole three-way Immunity Idol – complete with the ridiculous phrases about butterflies and broccoli – is pretty hilarious. The fact that Xander will have to continue to utter his silly line about butterflies again and again is just amusing, right? But not amusing is that Brad Reese was blindsided this week. His blunt approach that we witnessed in the first episode made me think that he wasn’t going to be long for the game anyways, but his impressive collection of early advantages has now been flushed down the toilet. It may have been the better game move for Shan in the long run, but for viewers, it sucks that all of these potential advantages won’t be used, at least not now.
The three-way Idol only works if three people possess the “beware advantage” at each camp, so it’s unclear what will now happen to it, since Brad‘s portion of the clue is no longer in the game. Will it transfer to another player? Be put back out in the wild? The closer we get to a merge (still a few episodes away), the greater the chances that not all three portions are even found, which would be a big bummer from a game standpoint, but an absolutely delightful development if you consider that it may mean we get to hear Xander talk about butterflies each and every aching week.
What a difference a week makes by the way. During the first week, Naseer seemed like he was on the outs but in last week’s episode it had looked like he had become an indispensable member of the Blue Tribe. Cut to this episode, and Naseer is once again on the outs, and can even feel the shift himself. The preview for next week has the Blue Tribe so desperate to assumingly get rid of Naseer, that they debate whether or not they should throw an upcoming Immunity Challenge. We don’t quite know the tribe dynamics at this camp yet since they haven’t been to a Tribal Council, but things are not looking great for Naseer.
It looks like the “tribe summit” is a set portion of the show this season, and I do like that it adds in some additional choices and risky advantages. This week, Tiffany, Sydney and Brad got to sneak off in the night, and make a decision between gaining a tarp or earning a “steal a vote” advantage. If all three pick tarp, all three get a tarp for their camps. But if all three were to pick steal a vote, they’d all lose their upcoming vote. A split would result in nothing for those that selected tarp, but would earn a “steal a vote” advantage for those that picked that option. Brad walked away with the only advantage, but really the major development I thought at the summit was how bad Sydney and Tiffany rubbed each other. Tiffany may have overplayed a bit enough to scare Sydney with her aggressive gameplay, but Sydney did not do a good job of reacting to it all. Sydney’s “bad vibes” could have been avoided had she just let Tiffany be Tiffany, but the friction may end up affecting both of them if and/or when they end up on the same tribe together later in the game.
With Brad out of the picture – and his advantages with him – it does look like JD is the odd man out, with Genie being in trouble as well. Shan and Ricard seem to be a force to reckon with, but now down to four, they really need to win some challenges. They had every reason to vote out JD this week after JD clumsily revealed his “extra vote” advantage (it was sticking out of his pants in plain view of the entire tribe). Sure, JD might be indebted to them now, but Brad was too and had a bunch of advantages that could have really helped them all out, especially with their tribe numbers dwindling. JD giving his advantage to Shan to hold could have gone down as one of the most bone-headed decisions of all-time, and had he actually used his head a bit, he could have taken that advantage and flipped the script to blindside Shan or Ricard (had JD gone to Brad and Genie plus his extra vote, they could have voted out Shan or Ricard 3-2). It doesn’t seem to be the best strategic move for JD to just relent and to have targeted Brad, putting his game in Shan’s hands like that instead of taking control of it himself, but only time will tell whether or not it was a good move for him.
Episode Take-Away. We’re heading into the fourth episode of Survivor and we still have no idea what’s going on over at the Blue Tribe. I mean, we sort of do, but they have thus far avoided Tribal Council so we really don’t have a good idea. I always hate when early-game Survivor plays out like this, because I want to get to know the whole cast. The worst part about it isn’t just not getting to know the tribe dynamics, but we’re not getting to know the contestants. Heather and Erika, has anyone seen them or heard from them, or could even identify them in a line-up? I do hope that Blue decides to throw a challenge next week, at least we’ll presumably get some more screen-time for them in the process.
All in all – despite what I felt to be just a so-so episode – at least this week felt like a regular episode of Survivor. There were no real flashbacks that I can recall, and I don’t think Probst addressed the camera directly…for all of the pre-season hype about how the show’s format was going to change, I think it was a bit exaggerated. This is still Survivor, and even though we don’t seem to have any break-out All-Stars just yet, I’m not ready to give up on the season as a whole. I do feel like the audience is ready for a shake-up – a tribe swap or something – but we’ll probably all have to wait at least two weeks for something of that magnitude to shake-up the game. Also keep in mind that with the game this season only lasting 26 days (normally it’s 39), it’s not like they shortened the episode count…if you do the math, they are going to need to get rid of a bunch of contestants more so than normal. That means that we could also be in for more than a few double elimination episodes or twisty Tribal Councils that send more than one person home. It’s just going to have to happen at some point to get the count down before Finale night in December.
And will someone please roll their “Shot in the Dark” die already?
Erik Reichenbach DabuDoodles Art. For those that followed this column the past few seasons, you also know that this page is the EXCLUSIVE home to new artwork from none other than two-time Survivor contestant and legend, Erik Reichenbach. Each week, Erik contributes a brand-new, original piece of artwork relating to the new week’s episode. It will appear here usually in the days after the show’s airing, so if it does not appear here now, check back usually by the weekend following an episode and give this page a refresh. All of Erik’s work as well as past works can be found and purchased on his site, DabuDoodles.com, and I urge you to support this amazingly talented former Survivor player!
Voted Out This Week: Brad Reese (green tribe)
Won Immunity: Blue Tribe (Danny, Naseer, Sydney, Heather, Deshawn, Erika) and Yellow Tribe (Xander, Liana, Tiffany, Evvie)
Rewards Won: The Blue Tribe won a big plate of fruit and the Yellow Tribe, finishing in second, received a smaller plate of fruit
Vote: No dice rolls, no idols/advantages played. Brad not allowed to vote due to Idol disadvantage. 3 – Brad (JD, Ricard, Shan), 1 – JD (Genie). Brad voted out.
Current Advantage Tally:
- Xander has 1 extra vote and one-third of the Immunity Idol (cannot vote until other two-thirds are discovered)
- JD has 1 extra vote
- Deshawn has 1 extra vote
Next Week’s Episode: Sydney looks like she’s getting a bit emotional, and Deshawn floats the idea to Danny about throwing the Immunity Challenge. Wait…is all the drama next week coming from the Blue Tribe?
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 I encourage you to check out my past movie reviews and my movie show (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 DO YOU THINK OF THE DECISION TO VOTE OUT BRAD? WHO IS PLAYING THE BEST GAME THUS FAR? AND WHICH PLAYERS ARE YOU ROOTING FOR/AGAINST?
[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]