I was a little disappointed with the merge episodes last week but it seems the game is finally starting to heat up after a surprise immunity challenge at tribal council. This is done so there are bodies at Redemption Island. I like that there’s stuff going on and I finally get to blog about a tribal council. Poor Mike though, he wins immunity which he desperately needed and moments after the vote has to hand back the necklace he thought guaranteed him three more days of safety. Now if he wants to continue dominating the game he has to win a quiz challenge.
The castaways are asked questions about their stay in Nicaragua, which should be easy if they paid attention. Having seen a number of players keeping journals it would be very easy for them to break the challenge similar to Vecepia way back in Survivor: Marquesas. If I go on Survivor that’s what I’ll do. Jak wins the challenge by guessing that host Matt Chisholm never wore a green hat. Chisholm, eager to fill the vacancy at Redemption Island, plows ahead with the vote.
It’s slightly annoying that the minority alliance didn’t get three days to regroup and exploit cracks. It’s sacrilege to not even give them a tribal council discussion to try and sway the numbers. Thankfully, Mike speaks up and pleads his case laying out that Avi and Shannon will be gone at six and five unless they do something. That’s an accurate view of Shannon’s position but I think Avi has a straight path to final three with that alliance. Shay counters stressing what an all round threat Mike is and that they should take their shot now while he’s defenseless.
Shay gets her way once again, reuniting Mike with his bestie at Redemption Island. It’s tough to see one of the only people playing the game get sent packing but he deserved to go home for thinking the highest mountain in the country was “Mt. Nicaragua.” As his torch is snuffed he asks Casar to vote out Shannon next. Mike disappears into the darkness as a strong gust of wind blows through tribal council. There must be stage hands off screen using industrial fans as it was timed perfectly.
Lee hasn’t even made himself comfortable yet when Mike makes his way to the shelter. They both sit at the fire in shock, unable to form coherent sentences. “Yeah we’re both just sitting here wondering how we went from kinda hero to zero; I thought we had it all planned out, ” says Lee.
Shannon, betraying her original tight five alliance she had since day one, has shown Sala that she is trustworthy. Can someone explain that to me? Shannon betrayed the boys not out of some newfound loyalty to Sala, but because she is a big game hunter interested in taking out the biggest threat at every opportunity. “They’re big players Lee and Michael. Both are incredible players at this game, physically and mentally so it just made sense to get rid of them while I could,” says Shannon
Shannon was in a tough spot last week. Avi was never going to flip so that would have made the vote a 5-5 tie. A huge fan such as Shannon wouldn’t want to risk her game on a rock draw. She did a great job at convincing both sides she was loyal, avoiding becoming a target herself. Shannon did far too good a job though and in doing so created a no win situation for herself. Which ever side she decided to go with she would create enemies. Shannon made the right move for sure but there were probably better ways of going about it. More people should be looking at Shannon as a threat. She is a Shirin level super fan aware of every strategy and numbers loophole in the book, and has shown she has no qualms about betraying her tightest alliance and is a convincing liar. What reason is there to keep her?
Nate then gives a quote about Shannon being a threat for knowing the game. It’s at this point I realize Survivor New Zealand reuse sound bites. The first few times this happene, I thought there was a glitch in the matrix. It’s staggering that despite the hours of interviews producers do daily they still don’t get enough usable quotes. It’s good to reinforce story beats, but it makes the viewing experience slightly repetitive.
The Tom and Shay battle that I still don’t quite understand continues. Shay has been out for Tom since day one, and there’s been very little on the show to justify it. Her grievances with him were most likely a result of the bonding exercises they did at Ponderosa before the game even started, either that or he gave her the “stunk” eye on the truck into Nicaragua.
Tom and Jak were left on the outs after the previous night’s tribal council. Tom is obviously next on the chopping block unless he can manage an immunity win. Nate doesn’t see the urgency in getting rid of Tom. He can see that Tom is unable to pull the numbers together and no one trusts him, so wants to target someone else.
Barb offers a little bit of hope telling Tom to be patient. The old Mogoton (that’s the highest mountain you dingus) members have made it clear they won’t write each other’s names down, which is troubling to Barb. She can see the power structure of the tribe and isn’t going to be happy with fourth place. Now is the perfect time to scoop up Tom and Jak using them to restructure the game. Classic Survivor strategy. Good on ya Barb! Far too often we see people unwilling to make moves or even be self-aware enough to know they’re on the bottom.
The castaways are competing in a coconut chop challenge sponsored by Pizza Hut. The coconut chop challenge is great at highlighting where people stand in the game and what others perceptions of you are. It can destroy someone’s position and flip the game, so I was excited to see it pop up. Pretty sure Sala has no idea what the Rotu Four are so I watched with a smile hoping he would fall flat on his face. Before the challenge starts they all get to sniff an ugly pepperoni pizza. At least they keep to Survivor tradition in having unappetizing pizza.
It goes as you expect it to, Shay and Tom are first out, everyone thinks Barb and Jak are useless and Avi is obnoxiously nice and unwilling to hurt people’s feelings so he uses his own name as an answer. Barb wins picking the three biggest guys Nate, Jak, and Sala to join her. The Nate and Sala picks are understandable but picking Jak was a surprise, especially seeing as Shannon is in desperate need of a good meal.
The show grinds to halt to have an advertisement for Pizza Hut. “I tell you what I’ve been let down a few times in this game, but even in Nicaragua (horrible Kiwi pronunciation much like Chisholm) Pizza Hut always deliver,” says Jak. If it was anyone else other than Jak that spat that out I’d think it was a mandate by TVNZ. Sala says his “explosion of flavor” quote which he’s said about three times earlier in the season (try harder editors) and they all stuff themselves with the worst looking Pizza Hut pizzas.
Shannon then tries to chop a coconut, something I would have left out of my recap if we didn’t just have the coconut chop challenge. It’s so on the nose I’m almost certain the scene happened weeks earlier, and the editors just slipped it in here. Shannon busts open the coconut yelling “I am the coconut woman!” It was at that moment Jeff Wilson from Survivor: Palau found the yin to his yang.
Both Mike and Lee were dreading a balance challenge and the first thing they see walking into the Redemption Island duel arena is a balance beam. They look up to the bench for support and Sarah Lacina is nowhere to be found. They will have to do this one on their own. The castaways have to cross a balance beam collecting three bags of puzzle pieces as they go and once they get to the end complete the puzzle. It’s a puzzle I’ve seen show up on the American version but I have no idea what it’s called. Typing “Survivor puzzle” into Google yielded little help and after the torment it put poor Fishbach threw I am against using Survivor Wiki.
Lee struggles with the balance beam and let’s be honest was never going to win a puzzle challenge. There wasn’t much dramatic tension to the duel. Mike had some serious edit armor. Lee being invisible meant he wasn’t going to take out the highly visible dynamic leader Mike. He stays at Redemption Island waiting for his next victim. If anyone can dominate it’s Mike. He’s shown he’s not just physical, but could succeed at almost any challenge and has an arrogance about him that’s off putting. Premerge I didn’t like Mike. I’m the typical Survivor nerd that is neither a fan of challenge prowess (wow you’re good at carnival games, big whoop) and dislikes alpha male types. I’ve had a change of heart over the past few weeks and have found myself actually rooting for Mike. The perfect outcome would be for Shay and Mike to sit together at the end in the final three. The person sitting next to them can say “well, I was never voted out” and be awarded the win.
Survivor New Zealand hasn’t been the fast paced game that fans are used to. I myself am a fan of “big moves” and not overly interested in watching people fish or survive. But there’s a little part of me that’s patriotic, and I’ve been somewhat of a Survivor New Zealand defender. I’m the type of Kiwi that is embarrassed by things my country does but fight to the death anyone that says Russell Crowe or pavlova are Australian. We don’t have much, guys, let us have that. It’s great to see Kiwis playing Survivor and putting their stamp on it. I finally have the full Survivor experience. There are contestants from my country and some even from my city. I feel a connection to these TV characters that I could never feel with the American or Australian versions.