Previously on Survivor… the titans of the game were falling one by one. Henry. Tessa. Sarah. Luke. It was a bloodbath of entertaining characters and strategic masterminds. Each episode a new majority made the deciding vote. The Asaga Strong alliance reigned before making way for the Champagne Alliance. The Champagne Alliance fell at a nasty vote split four ways. What remains on Day 47 is a group of people who were once part of a tight group who for one reason or another have found themselves as individuals in the game.
Michelle’s trust was betrayed. Jericho lost his strongest ally, and Peter lost his most trustworthy friend. Ziggy flipped back and forth as she saw fit. Tara realised she would never win in her current position. Instead of a Final Six with solid factions fighting against one another, it is a group of individuals working as (in the words of the incomparable Stephen Fishbach) voting blocs. Locky is also playing as an individual but is probably the least aware of the fact: up until tonight’s tribal council, he seemed utterly convinced that he was in a locked down threesome with ex-Samatau tribemates Ziggy and Tara.
Can I just say that it is still unbelievable to me that these people are out playing the game on Day 47? Six weeks. A week longer than the US version and our season isn’t even over yet. Just imagine how emaciated and exhausted castaways look at Ponderosa after a US season; multiple castaways in this season have moved past that point. It is absolutely gobsmacking to me that people can carry on in the island conditions as long as they do. Of course, Tara has a little one-up on the others in the way of a gigantic jar of lollies for her and Ziggy’s own consumption. Ziggy talks about how quickly she’s become “addicted” to the sugar, and she and Tara are shown lingering on the path by the hidden jar. I wonder how many times they can pop out of camp before it becomes suspicious…
Meanwhile, Jericho has reverted to his strategy of stirring up drama to “create chaos” now that his right-hand man and loyal knight, brother in arms has been ousted. Jericho tells everyone that Tara had been letting he and Luke in on the plan for days and so he wasn’t blindsided by the Luke vote even if he is sad about it. Locky immediately has a sit down with Tara about Jericho’s claims which Tara vehemently (and dishonestly) denies. The confessionals of Tara’s reaction to Jericho dishing her dirt to the tribe seems to catch her in a state of half exhilaration and half anxiety: it could be at the eleventh hour Tara has decided to stop being swept along in the game and is going to take strategy into her own hands. Her confessionals center on how she is going to maintain Locky’s trust after Jericho’s little show and tell, aptly she quips “Gotta do what I gotta do to keep Locky calm.”
Early morning on Day 47 and Locky is claiming credit for the Luke vote. He talked about targeting Luke due to how similar their gameplay (or “resumes”) have been. He sees the tribe as split into two groups: himself, Tara and Ziggy versus Michelle, Peter, and Jericho. In reality, the bonds of these two groups seem precarious at best, and we have seen all these people break away from their alliance at one point or another. Heck, Ziggy has been doing it most votes since the merge. The current situation sets up a 3 v 3 showdown and even before the immunity challenge is played people are scrounging for someone to flip over to their side.
The simplest plan of action is the same as the previous episode – vote out Locky. Mainly because he’s a challenge threat, but I’m getting the impression he isn’t the easiest to live or play with either. I drafted Locky to my team pre-season, and I did so because of his physical prowess and adventurous nature. Instead of the jungle man that I envisioned, Locky has become a paranoid macho man who can’t seem to comprehend viewpoints vastly different to his own. He could bro-down with another alpha male Henry. He could work with adoring followers. He just can’t seem to talk to shift human roadblocks in his way. On his recruitment tour of the opposing side of the tribe, he has terrible trouble understanding the arguments that Michelle puts forth. This would be okay except that Michelle is making the exact same arguments that Locky is making but in different words. It’s a back and forth of ‘if you want to work with me so much then flip over and vote with me’ and ‘no, you flip – no, you flip.’ Michelle explains it in the way only Michelle can: “He thinks everyone is his puppy dog.” With even Tara looking to boot him out, looks like Locky is running out of pets.
Onto the challenge and it’s another endurance event. The task is to roll a ball on a track inside a ring using centrifugal force for as long as possible. The task seems simple enough but, as Jonathan LaPaglia explains, it requires you to use enough motion to keep momentum without using so much that it depletes your energy.
The rain is pouring before the challenge even begins and it only continues to get faster as the castaways begin to drop out. The competition quickly narrows down to Peter and Locky. Before the challenge, Peter was emphasising the importance of Locky losing immunity in order to vote him out. Peter thinks swaying Tara to vote Locky will be easier than convincing her to vote Ziggy. I think Peter really wants this immunity and seems laser-focused on the ball rolling around his ring. Just as JLP is saying how much Peter is concentrating, something slips, and Peter is out of the competition. Locky offers condolences in the way of saying he would’ve lasted forever and gladly takes the immunity necklace for a third straight time.
On Asatoa Beach the lines are being drawn. Both sides have named their target (Ziggy and Michelle respectively) and are searching for someone who will flip. Early on Tara hears and reports back that Ziggy is the main target. Locky knows he is safe. Both sides quickly conclude that if nobody flips then the vote will go to a rock draw. With Ziggy and Michelle on the block (and becoming immune if a majority isn’t achieved on a re-vote) this puts Peter, Jericho, and Tara up to draw rocks to decide their fate. Jericho seems unnerved by the chance of this happening: when Locky raises it as a potential concern, he merely replies that he loves risks. Locky tries to persuade Peter by making a case for their history on Samatau together which Peter rejects in favour of the trust he holds with Michelle and Jericho. The only person who it seems would possibly flip is Tara.
The issue with flipping over is this: if somebody flips they’re in the majority of four with five people left. In this case, the fifth is Locky, the person who has won three consecutive immunities. If Locky wins immunity again, as the latest person to move into that alliance, you become an easy out for the original three. Flipping might make you safe for this vote, but it could also make you a guaranteed target for the next. With only six castaways left there is very little room to move. If you make a flashy move, there are no meat shields to hide behind. Instead of being one of many in an alliance you move forward as the least bonded to that group.
Tara can take her chances pulling a rock and keep her threesome strong, giving her a 33.33% chance of surviving tonight’s tribal council. If she flips she survives this tribal council but is looking down the barrel of a 100% chance of going home should Locky win immunity again. From an outsider view, I would say Tara has a little wiggle room in that the others are most likely looking at her as a goat to drag to Final Three. But if the Michelle-Peter-Jericho alliance is as strong as it is being portrayed then Tara could find herself on the wrong side of tribal council very quickly. For the time being, nobody seems willing to budge, and the plan is to go to rocks and hope for the best.
Tribal council! Luke throws in a quick dance move when he first walks in, but the atmosphere is thick with tension. Michelle is willing to lay out the cards for JLP (even stating their target as Ziggy). Tara voices concerns that flipping could lead to eventual death in the game. Peter, Michelle, and Jericho all earnestly state that they are open to working with her beyond this vote. Ziggy thinks she is another big threat for the remaining castaways as she has won the second highest amount of individual immunities. With the options out in the open and nobody willing to flip, Ziggy seems unphased saying “Write my name down, I’ll be safe [in a tie vote], fine by me, ” and for a fraction of a second we see Tara turn to her looking thoughtful. Careful with your words Ziggy!
Time to vote! Ziggy votes for Michelle as the “weakest in challenges” and the least likely to help wrestle immunity from Locky. JLP reads the votes; lo and behold, they come out 4-2. Ziggy has been voted out. Immediately it is obvious that Tara flipped and if you weren’t 100% sure, her demeanour and facial expression give it away immediately. Ziggy looks surprised, but not shocked, and in fairly good spirits as she leaves.
In this recap, I put some emphasis on Ziggy’s final quote at tribal council and Tara’s reaction to it at the time. However, I don’t think this was what flipped Tara over. I think that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the combination of needing to cut ties with Locky plus Ziggy’s unreliable gameplay over the past few weeks have pushed Tara to make a big move. Knowing that she was the other side’s target and potentially safe from a rock draw it is possible Ziggy’s behaviour was calmer at camp when Tara needed her to be guns blazing to defend the trio. Maybe Tara was just sick of sharing her lollies. Whatever the case, Ziggy is now en route to the Jury Villa and only time will tell what the consequences will be for Tara and her move going forward.