Last week’s episode was one for the books. We had a huge blindside, a bunch of stunned faces, and history being made as Brad became the first person in Survivor New Zealand to be voted out with an idol in his pocket. It was arguably the best episode of the series thus far. I feel like this is a theme with this season though. Each episode has made me excited to watch the next, something that can’t be said all the time with Survivor seasons, especially recently.
However, with that said, last week was not a great showing for my girl Renee. It was her worst episode to date and was actually the first time she had been on the wrong side of the vote (no one in the game can say that anymore). My hopes and aspirations slowly drifted into the wind; I was not too upbeat about the outlook of her game. It turns out, she had one fatal flaw that she could not overcome, and it showed in the most recent episode.
When the tribe returns to camp from tribal council, Tess is in immediate panic mode. Surprisingly, for such a big blindside, only two people did not know it was happening, Tess and Renee. Tess went from the top of the totem pole to the ground floor in a matter of seconds. She isn’t sure of anything anymore. Can she trust anyone? Is the Khangkhaw alliance still alive? Who will she cuddle with tonight? All the important questions.
She gets an answer to one of those questions the next morning. Tara, who surprisingly is allowed to speak, informs her that the alliance is dead and gone. It is no more. I’m not sure who gave her the power to decide this, but sure we can go with that. As this is one of the first pieces of strategy we have seen from Tara thus far, it is all I have to criticize her on. A major Survivor rule is to make the people on the bottom feel as comfortable as possible. This prevents them from coming after you. Tara did the exact opposite of this.
This rift between Tess and Tara creates a space that good players can utilize. And it isn’t the only disdain between players on the island. Renee and Dave also refuse to work with one another, for reasons that we have kind of heard about, but I will definitely touch on later.
The good player who I am talking about is Matt. Far and away the best player left in the game and the biggest threat. He knows that as long as people are fighting and unwilling to work with one another, it allows him to stay off people’s radars. He gladly lets Tess know that he does not trust Tara either. Tell the people what they want to hear. Speaking of this, he handled getting back from tribal very well. He let Renee and Tess know that he heard Brad was making final three alliances and he was not in them, so he wanted him out. Not trying to break everyone’s trust, he just wanted to protect himself, and you can’t fault him for that.
At this point in the episode, it seems almost certain that another Khangkhaw member will be going out. But, the editors are playing their best tricks and for sure fooled me early on. I thought it was bound to be a Tess vs. Tara vote, which is all we heard about for the first quarter of the episode.
At the reward challenge, (sidenote, the Outpost is for sure gone now, unfortunately) there is popcorn and a movie up for grabs. The winners get to go watch a screening of Jurassic World (not the new one) and eat popcorn. Matt Chisholm throws in the bonus of a big surprise from back home. Although, you could tell this was a voice over and the winners did not know of this.
The challenge is throwing bags at a 5×5 puzzle to knock it down, and then to build it back up as quick as possible. I’m not sure why they had to switch sides, as the challenge would work the same by seeing whoever can knock theirs all down and build it back up first, but that’s semantics. Far and away the most comical part of this challenge is Tara. She is quite literally standing there watching her team throw, volunteers for the puzzle which she was too tired to do, and proceeds to wipe down the bench so the puzzle pieces she has to stack don’t get dirty. You cannot be serious with this effort. I would have lost it on her. Eve, Renee, and Adam are better people than I for holding it together. Let’s just say Tara had a tough episode.
After Adam goes on an epic rant about how much he loves Jurassic Park and how much Tara loves to dust benches, the team of Dave, Matt, Tess, and Lisa go enjoy their reward. Everyone gets a taste of home with a video from his or her loved ones. Call me emotional, but I love watching these videos. It makes you learn more about the players from an outside
the game perspective and you can’t help but wonder about the rush of emotions one must go through in such a moment.
The game goes on though. And there are two things from the reward I wanted to point out. Dave and Matt were sitting so close together. I thought they were trying to hide this alliance? Lisa also gets a wake-up call. She allows her mind to refocus on why she is here to play (for her family) and realizes that she needs to vote out Matt, as there is no way anyone will beat him in the end. She knows she can’t make a move on him now; eight is too tough a number to make a big move. It seems like she is waiting until next tribal to strike.
As much as I love Matt so far, and think he is playing the best game, it almost feels like a Dom/Wendell with Laurel situation. Laurel would say at the beginning of the episode she wanted to take them out and then would find a reason not to. Let’s see if Lisa falls into this same trap or not.
Matt and Dave get to talk back at camp about their next moves. They know this is a crucial vote as it could decide how the rest of the game is played out. Matt thinks the best move for him is to target Renee or Eve. I strongly disagree with one of these options, and it may not be whom you expect. You can’t vote out Eve. It seems like she and Dave are close. Dave and Renee are the opposite of close. If you are going to target a Chani to attempt to get back in the good graces of the group, it has to be Renee.
Due to the division between groups I discussed earlier, this decision basically determines what side you are going to play with from here on out. Target Renee, you leave Tess and Adam as outcasts. Target Eve/Dave, you leave Lisa and Tara as outcasts. I kept thinking of scenarios in my head to try and save Renee, and none seemed logical. The only problem with this plan is you are really playing the middle hard at this point. If you get caught in a lie, your game may be finished. Other than that, the maneuvers Dave and Matt have been able to pull off while still keeping their friendship a secret have been impressive. Maybe a bit unfair, but nonetheless, impressive.
In an edit note, we got a quote from Matt where he said he felt like he was playing a winner’s game. I usually take this as a sign the player will not win. However, last season, I believe Avi had a similar quote, and I dismissed his chances. We all know how that turned out.
At the immunity challenge, the players need to roll six balls into holes on a plank while keeping it steady. I thought this would be rather difficult, but it turns out Dave and Adam thought otherwise. Dave almost wins it, with five balls on the plank and his last one almost falling into place, until it rolls off, taking two other balls with it. He then also drops his remaining three. He went from nearly winner to last place so quick. Adam is then able to take the victory easily.
At camp, it seems pretty apparent that Renee and Tess are scrambling, while no one else is. The other person on the chopping block, Dave, gets one confessional, where he says he is going to play his idol. That basically sealed Renee’s fate. We get one more scene of Tara telling Renee she is just going with what everyone else is doing and then saying she doesn’t know what the plan is. Why not just say Eve or Dave and make it easy on yourself?
Some highlights from tribal include Brad and Arun predicting who voted for Brad last time, Brad incorrectly thinking Renee will stay in the game, and Renee having an absolutely killer eye roll. But actually, the jury sitting so close to the remaining players, and staring right at them, is so intimidating.
At tribal, we finally learn what Renee meant when she said the Chani boys had betrayed her trust first. She was talking all the way back to the Josh vote when she received one random vote. Apparently, she convinced herself it was Dave and this is why she turned against him. After multiple people saying it was Josh, she continues not to believe them. This is the hill my girl decides to die on. I don’t even understand how you can think it was Dave who voted for you. It was a 4-2-1 vote to get Josh out. If Dave had voted for you, that is saying either Adam or Matt voted for Josh. Unless Adam convinced her he did indeed vote for Josh, I do not see how she thought this was the case.
Finally, we get to the vote, and Dave doesn’t play his idol again. This guy has huge balls. Three votes in a row he was on the chopping block, and he didn’t play it at all. He and Matt must really be closer than we think. Renee gets voted out 5 votes to 3 on Dave. This leaves Tess and Adam as having voted incorrectly two times in a row.
With Renee out of the game, I want to go through who is left that can win. Eve and Tara cannot win under any circumstance. Matt, Adam, Dave, and Lisa are threats. I don’t see Tess being able to win. The continuous quote from the beginning of the season was that a Chani would win the game. This leaves only Dave. Will he finally be able to break his narrative about coming up just short and pull off the win? If I were a betting man, which I very much am, I would be putting my money on Dave.
On next week’s episode, it looks like an idol is back in play and Lisa is not too happy with it blowing up her game. It also looks like a lot of people are crying, not too sure why. Anyways, can’t wait to watch their pain!