Survivor 41 Episode 8 Recap: Best Laid Plans

If you think about it, plans on Survivor – more often than not – go awry. There can only be one Sole Survivor, and as much fun as it is to watch a winner’s run and look back at all of the key moments along the way, the fun of the show is in the plans that…well…don’t go as planned.

There was a lot of that happening this week on an episode that ended with yet another “live” Tribal Council. A missing person’s report was about to be filed on Heather, who up until this point has barely been shown, but she got some significant air-time in Episode 8’s latter half. Seeing her give a confessional interview was nice, but she then acted as the catalyst for turning Tribal on its head. It ended up being all in vain. Not only did Heather’s coup attempt go nowhere, but what ended up happening can’t be good for her game. Maybe she felt she had to do something, and having noticed that her name was thrown out earlier in the day perhaps set off some alarm bells for her, telling her that she was at the bottom of her alliance. But approaching it the way that she did not only exposed her lack of game knowledge, it gave the rest of the tribe good reason to target her as soon as they take care of their Xander and Evvie problem.

So what exactly was going on at Tribal? It appears that the “plan” heading into this week’s Tribal Council was in fact to split votes between Xander and Tiffany…hopefully Xander’s Idol would get flushed and Tiffany would be sent home. Tiffany, Xander and Evvie are clearly the minority at the moment, and as this episode pointed out, they are more than fractured, they’re completely separated and playing individual games at this point (that in and of itself is too bad, because, just like they did last week, their best chances to stick around deep into this game is to band together, and maybe navigate their way through with some well-timed advantages and some luck along the way). This Xander/Tiffany split-vote was the plan because Shan had squashed Danny‘s very smart idea to possibly target Naseer instead…had they blindsided Naseer, they might have been able to still draw Xander’s Idol out, plus vote out another Idol that would have left the game in Naseer’s pocket. But Shan wasn’t having it. Naseer did not react kindly to finding out his name was used in telling Xander and Tiffany who to vote for, and Naseer in fact first mentions Heather‘s name to be used instead of his own. This makes sense for everyone except for Heather.

Now I get why all of this might have made Heather feel uneasy, but I don’t quite understand why this led her to try to do what she tried to do at Tribal Council. Unless she thought that the votes would split between Naseer and Xander, how could she have possibly gone home? Maybe she didn’t want to risk her game on the chance that Tiffany might play her “shot in the dark.” Which, by the way: Tiffany, why the heck didn’t you play your shot in the dark??? If there was ever a sure-fire time for a player to do so, you would have thought it would have been Tiffany at this particular Tribal. When she was asking crabs and crew members to join the vote (jokingly of course), you knew that she was desperate…so why not play the one thing that might have saved her game? But digressing back to Heather, I’m not exactly sure why she wanted to switch votes to Naseer. Even if she did have a great plan, Deshawn told her best: Look, I have your back but I wasn’t given time to really process or think about this. In other words, this was way too late to try to pull what Heather pulled, and it likely will seal her fate in the game.

From the demise of the original Yase Tribe (Xander, Liana, Tiffany and Evvie), through the end of the episode, it was quite the night for each of them. Tiffany of course was sent home, fulfilling the original “plan” the others had laid out, albeit not at all in the way in which they foresaw it happening. We had last seen Evvie begging for Tiffany to use Xander’s Idol on her, and she ended this week’s episode sitting pretty with the individual Immunity Necklace around her neck. Evvie has a major uphill battle ahead of her, as she is seen as such a tremendous strategic and social threat (showing that she had memorized a past Survivor challenge didn’t help her). Being the underdog also makes her someone you want to root for, and her only real hope is lasting long enough to start watching the majority turn on itself. She’s not someone who is going to “sneak by” though. Her only real hope is trying to get the scattered minority players organized and weaponized…Xander, for example, may not trust Evvie after he learned she leaked his secret last week, but he’d be good to stick with Evvie in the short-term at least, because they do need each other in this game.

We watched last week as Liana completely betrayed the rest of her tribe, putting all her faith in her new core alliance member, Shan. She then had the audacity to try to fool Xander once again this week. Xander might be the most underrated player out there this season, and that can most definitely mean the downfall of everyone else. Really Liana, you’re going to try to fool Xander again this week? Really Ricard, you’re going to push hard for Xander to play his Idol when he doesn’t need to?  Kudos to Xander, who had another amazing overall episode, and for never losing his cool in the face of chaos. He smartly held on to his Idol once again, and every week that he has it, his limited amount of power grows. Let’s not forget that he still has an extra vote as well. Try as the others might, but Xander has not been knocked from his position of power in this game just yet, even though his alliance numbers are dwindling around him. Like Evvie, he faces an uphill climb, but unlike Evvie, he has a bunch of advantages. And darn it all, after taking Erika‘s place on the “sit out bench” during the Reward Challenge, Xander had a chance to find yet another advantage, but he wasn’t able to find the hidden scroll tucked underneath his bench. Whatever his fate ends up being in this game, I’m sure that he was kicking himself while watching from home tonight as to what could have been.

Then there was the papaya. I have to side with Shan on this one, as even though Ricard didn’t think it was that big a deal to grab a piece of papaya after returning from a food reward, he should have realized the bad optics that move would carry with it. The uneasy and deteriorating relationship between Shan and Ricard has been an ongoing sub-plot all season long thus far, which means that this will pay-off in some way, shape or form. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

I mentioned a few weeks back that Shan has definitely been the stand-out future “All-Star” of the season (although there are others with potential still). But her supposed “winner’s edit” that some think she is getting thus far is edging dangerously closer to a “Russell Hantz” edit…meaning that her style of gameplay might get her the most screen-time this season, and it might make her the most “deserving” player to win in the eyes of the fan-base, but it’s starting to feel like she may never be able to win over a jury. Her edit has showed her as a force of nature in conversation with others, and we saw it blow up this week between her and Deshawn, who is simply tired of it being Shan’s way or the highway. I imagine others feel the same, and if they all end up being sent to jury (by Shan perhaps) and start discussing Shan to one another, I feel like it will be resentment and not respect that is fostered towards her. Even her closest ally, Ricard, seems to have serious reservations about her. I could be wrong, but it’s starting to feel like Shan can’t possibly win the game, even though she might very well be the best player out there (if this sounds familiar, see Russell Hantz). There is a lot of game left to be played, but I think Shan needs to work on how others are perceiving her if she’s going to have any real chance of winning the game.

Episode Take-Away: Another week, another “live” Tribal Council. I continue to go back-and-forth on this newest version of Survivor Tribal Council…sometimes I really like it and other times I find it annoying. Last week I wanted the chaos to end so I could possibly watch a chaotic, unpredictable vote, and this week I wanted it to keep going so that it would lead to an unpredictable outcome of some kind. Despite all the hoopla, the person that was supposed to go home did go home. Tiffany becomes “Mayor of Ponderosa,” the title given to the first person sent there (be sure to watch the great Ponderosa videos that pop-up on CBS.com by the way, each remaining week of this season as players get voted out).

It would have been nice had Xander found that advantage, and after he didn’t I felt even worse for Erika, who had Xander not volunteered to sit-out, might have found it herself.

I do love that almost every major alliance that we’ve come to know looks like its on the verge of fracturing heading into next week’s episode. That can only be a good sign for how the rest of this season shakes out!

Erik Reichenbach DabuDoodles Art. After a week off last week, Erik is back! 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!

“Live Tribal”

Art by Erik Reichenbach – DabuDoodles.com

Voted Out This Week: Tiffany

Individual Immunity Winner: Evvie

Vote: No advantages or Idols are played. 6 – Tiffany (Ricard, Shan, Erika, Liana, Heather, Deshawn), 2 – Heather (Evvie, Tiffany), 2 – Xander (Naseer, Danny), 1 – Naseer (Xander)

Current Advantage Tally:

  • Xander has 1 extra vote and 1 Immunity Idol
  • Shan has 1 extra vote and 1 Immunity Idol
  • Naseer has 1 Immunity Idol

Next Week’s Episode: Deshawn seems fed up with his alliances as the majority alliance appears to be crumbling before our very eyes.

Important Show News! CBS made some big announcements regarding Survivor in the coming months. First off, the Season Finale of Season 41 will air on December 15th.  March 9th, 2022 will mark the debut of “Survivor 42” coming out of the gates with a two-hour premiere. Mark your calendars!

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 THIS WEEK’S EPISODE? WHAT WOULD HEATHER’S MOVE AT TRIBAL ACCOMPLISHED? AND WHICH PLAYERS ARE YOU ROOTING FOR/AGAINST AT THIS POINT?

[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]