Survivor 42 Episode 12 Recap: In It To Win It

The Survivor amulet – introduced during the first episode of this season – has finally reached its highest potential and has become an Immunity Idol…all of that, only to expire in Lindsay‘s pocket.

It was another stellar episode of Survivor 42, in a season that continues to push the entertainment envelope. Down the stretch, every time there seems to be a cool, chaotic scenario present itself as an option in the game, it ends up playing out. Tonight, there were a few safe choices as to who to send home, but Maryanne had other ideas and once again up-ended the Survivor apple cart. Omar, who had been this season’s puppet master, orchestrating big moves behind-the-scenes week-to-week, had his strings clipped by a player (Maryanne) who at the beginning of this game might have seemed like the least likeliest person to ever win Survivor…but who now seems like a strong candidate to become Sole Survivor.

It’s come down to this, the Final Five of Survivor 42: Maryanne. Lindsay. Jonathan. Mike. Romeo. It’s been quite a while, if ever, that we’ve seen four of this caliber of Sole Survivor candidates all make it to this late stage in the game, at the same time. I’ve left out Romeo, but to his credit, here’s a guy who was a super-strategic threat pre-merge who has simply been playing from the bottom (it’s a debate whether or not he ended up there by bad luck or due to his own paranoia, but if you want to call him a “goat,” he’s one of the better goats that Survivor has had). Five are left as we head into next week’s three-hour Survivor 42 Finale (be sure to check back here for the season wrap-up as well as updated lists of all-time Survivor Winners and Most Memorable Seasons!).

Depending on who you were rooting for, tonight either induced a massive celebration or a frustrating groan. For me, my mind always tries to make me cheer for the underdog in any situation, so while I LOVED Omar and thought he had the potential to be one of the most impressive winners in quite a while, I was SO on board with Maryanne‘s plan to blindside him since Omar was at the top and Maryanne was perceived as being on the bottom. But from the perspective of Team Omar and Team Lindsay, man-oh-man. Things seemed to have worked out perfectly! Lindsay went up against Goliath (aka Jonathan) and beasted-out an Immunity Challenge win – her second – only to choose not to play her amulet-turned-Idol on Omar. Her reasoning? Thinking too far ahead. She was more concerned about a potential Idol coming back into play the next day after Tribal, than she was making sure her number-one ally even made it there. It was a bone-headed move any way you slice it. But thinking too far ahead is something that players tend to do when they feel a bit too comfortable, and I think that Lindsay – riding high after navigating last week’s “Do or Die” challenge and with an Immunity Necklace around her neck – was feeling just that. I mean, do you know how many things had to occur for that amulet to turn into an Idol, and then you don’t even play it? Ugh.

What is so incredible about this season and this group of players though, are that they are all in it to win it. There has been no dead weight. Omar was orchestrating, Maryanne was scheming, and Mike was taking things into his own hands. Rightly so, everybody saw everybody else as a major threat to their own games.

Jonathan continues to impress me (despite how he’s fallen out of favor with some viewers), not only as a physical competitor but with his in-game awareness. Player “types” like Jonathan rarely make the merge let alone Final Five, and even this deep into the game, he loses a challenge and still isn’t voted out. It could be said that his social game is just fine, given that he was the target tonight, but other connections he has made – like befriending Mike and keeping an uneasy yet respectful alliance with Maryanne – saved him. His rivalry with Lindsay has been one of the most rewarding storylines of the season, and it was great to see Lindsay bounce back and beat him this time after losing to him at the last challenge.

Speaking of Lindsay vs. Jonathan, I think that their final showdown will of course, obviously, take place during next week’s Finale. But I think it will happen early. If you look at that game as it stands, both Mike and Maryanne have Idols that must be played next week, so barring an Erik Reichenbach-level mistake (hi Erik!), both of them will make Final Four. I see no scenario where Romeo is targeted next, so that leaves…you guessed it…Lindsay vs. Jonathan. If one of them wins the next Immunity Challenge, it is likely that it will mean the other will finally be sent to jury. It’s the ultimate showdown between two outstanding competitors. I think the odds are in Jonathan’s favor actually, if you consider that I think Lindsay is more vulnerable in the unlikely event that one of the other three – Maryanne, Mike or Romeo – win Immunity. At this point, Jonathan might actually be looked at as someone that Mike and Maryanne may want to sit next to at the end…yes, he’s been an impressive competitor, but both Maryanne and Mike would – rightly so – believe that they are both more likable than Jonathan in the eyes of the jury. Same goes for Romeo. I think neither Mike nor Maryanne would want to sit next to Lindsay if given the choice. That ultimately means that it’s not only Lindsay vs. Jonathan, it’s Lindsay vs. Everybody.

Beyond the Lindsay/Jonathan match-up, the most intriguing thing heading into Finale is the dynamic between Mike and Maryanne. Yes, they helped each other out, but they both have shown to have great in-game awareness (for the most part), so they both have to know that the other is their next biggest threat. Sitting next to Lindsay or Jonathan, each of them could make the argument that they are more well-liked. But if Maryanne goes head-to-head against Mike in front of the jury? They’d be rolling the dice as to who the jury actually thinks is most-deserving.

Speaking of rolling the dice, this week was the last chance for the “shot-in-the-dark” to be played, a concept that might have added a few extra layers to gameplay but one that never quite materialized into anything dramatic for TV. But maybe the show should give it time? The “extra vote” advantage has been around for a while, and never actually made all that much of a difference at Tribal until Maryanne‘s double-vote this week. What do you think, should the “shot-in-the-dark” be given some more time to make an impact or do you think it should be retired a la “The Medallion of Power”?

Not only has this been a great season, from the balanced tribes headed into the merge, to the great Tribals and challenges we’ve witnessed, but I’m again struck by just how great this particular cast is. More specifically, how they all seem to just “get it” when it comes to the game of Survivor. Omar, for example, was just a few days away from a million bucks, and upon being blindsided, he smiled, gave hugs and laughed about his misfortunes. Drea did the same last week. Here is a group that respects the game, that understands it, and who we all hope will make for the least-bitter jury in history. Because there is nothing that sucks the energy out of a Finale quite like a bitter jury, so here’s hoping we won’t have one.

I personally believe that anyone remaining can win Survivor (yes even Romeo…could you imagine if his “fake Idol” that was teased last week, led to a huge blindside of some kind? That would skyrocket Romeo’s value to the jury!). But because of the way it is shaping up, I feel like it will come down to either Maryanne or Mike. The best news of all, is that I would honestly be 100% satisfied with any outcome. That means we can just sit back and enjoy the fireworks next week, because if we’ve learned anything at all from Season 42, it’s that it’s going to be a fun ride.

Episode Take-Away: I thought for sure that the vote was going to be on Jonathan and that the editors were just faking us out to maximize the drama…but nope! Kudos to Maryanne for working her plan and convincing two dudes to help her deliver what is definitely one of the biggest moves of the season. If she can move Mike and Jonathan, she can sway a jury. But now Maryanne is a known factor. Others now know what she’s capable of, and all of them would be fools to let her get to the end. But with an Idol and her strong will in her possession, it may not be up to the others to decide Maryanne’s fate at all. She would be the unlikeliest of winners, and at the same time one of the most-deserving and rewarding ones. Even with her move to dethrone Omar, she still strikes me as an underdog…and who doesn’t want the underdog to come out on top?

Erik Reichenbach DabuDoodles Art. Survivor legend Erik Reichenbach has been kicking out some amazing artwork all season long, and I’m so thrilled and honored that he shares his talents every week on my column and with my audience. His latest piece 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 can be found and purchased on his site,, and I urge you to support this fantastically skilled former Survivor player!

“Less Is More”

Art by Erik Reichenbach –

Out this week: Omar

Won Immunity: Lindsay (2)

Vote Result: Maryanne used her “Extra Vote” advantage to receive two total votes. No other advantages or Idols were played. 3 – Omar (Maryanne #1, Maryanne #2, Romeo), 2 – Jonathan (Lindsay, Omar), 2- Romeo (Mike, Jonathan)

Current Advantage List:

  • Maryanne – 1 Immunity Idol
  • Mike – 1 Immunity Idol

Next Week’s Three Hour Finale Episode: There’s no way that this won’t end great. Jonathan calls it a “Battle Royale.” We see Lindsay searching frantically for an Idol (is there one out there to be found or was this included as a final red herring?). Maryanne seems to target Jonathan. And Romeo presents a fake idol. I just can’t wait to see what else Season 42 has in store for us!

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