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Survivor New Zealand 2018 Episode 13 Recap – The End Is In Sight


Chuck Cunningham recaps the latest episode of Survivor New Zealand 2018.

I’ve saved up all my Survivor dollars, bidding on a covered item. I was hoping for an advantage, but instead, I get served a bit of humble pie. I was wrong on a few things. I never thought Dave or Matt would take the other one out (maybe at final four) and I thought Lisa was all talk. That was all proven wrong last episode where Dave betrayed his closest ally and real friend outside the game and Lisa actually made a move instead of talking herself out of it.

I was surprised the Matt vote went down like that and I’m very glad things happened the way they did. There were a lot of parallels to last season with two mates going to the end together that was too sappy for me. Add some betrayal to spice it up I say.

There is something I’d like to touch on. Lisa got a lot of praise for pulling off a 3-2-1 plan. The move to vote out Matt was a good one, but it was a bit too cute with the numbers that tight. It’s a miracle the vote went smoothly. Any number of things could have gone wrong. Lisa doesn’t know that Dave and Matt are friends outside the game, but that’s something that could have flipped the vote onto herself instead. If Matt played his idol her treachery would have been exposed. Dave could have sided with Matt, pulled Tess and Adam in and taken her or Tara out saving Matt’s idol for final five. If Dave voted for Tess, it would have created a 3-3 tie with the possibility of a rock draw. Lisa is getting a lot of credit for something that just happened to work out for her. That’s results orientated thinking!

We open with a confessional from Lisa saying she feels guilty that she lied to Matt. “Such a conflicting set of emotions like simultaneously I sort of feel awful and sad but also like amazing and like exhilarated; it’s a crazy game.” Last week Lisa really made her mark and FINALLY gave the jury a reason to vote for her. What came across to me was Lisa’s hesitation to own her move. I’m unsure if she can stand behind her game the same way Barbs did last year. Lisa has a fairly strong case to argue at the final tribal council. There are moves and strategies implemented that could be quite appealing to a jury if she argues it well. And that’s the key word – “IF.” I don’t have that much confidence that she could convince the majority of the jury to vote for her. The more likely outcome is that she goes all neat lady on us.

After an emotional blindside, the tribe regroups back at camp. Tess and Adam are baffled at what just happened and are still trying to process it. Dave, although an instrumental part of the blindside is also trying to come to terms with Matt’s ouster. Adam informs Tess he voted for her (which should be obvious) and she doesn’t take it well. I wonder if Adam could have gotten away with not telling her. He explains his vote saying he thought that’s where the majority were going and he didn’t want to rock the boat. It doesn’t make sense to Tess (as it would to any normal person), and she’s deeply hurt by Adam’s “betrayal.”

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Photo: TVNZ

“Am I the only person playing the game with morals here? Everyone is flipping and turning and lying and making promises they’re not keeping except for me,” says an emotional Tess. Welcome to Survivor. We’re almost at the conclusion of the season and Tess still doesn’t understand the show. Recruits or people unfamiliar with the game introduce an unpredictable element. Not being fans they make mistakes and almost become a wild card. Some people enjoy that. I very rarely do. For one thing, there are lifelong fans of the show desperate to get on and their spot is given away to people that are only there to look good in bathing suits. Tess, for the most part, has been entertaining, but I think every single fan (filthy casuals included) would prefer an attractive blond that’s seen an episode or two. There is a Kiwi Wentworth out there I’m sure.

The next day the mood around camp is tense. Adam voting for Tess has caused a strain in their relationship. Tess is no longer speaking with Adam and isn’t even making eye contact. Tess vents to Dave fearing there’s no hope for her with all the tribe against her. This is the first time all game that Tess has had any adversity. She’s been in the majority the bulk of her time there and doesn’t know how to manoeuvre when she’s on the bottom. It’s funny to me that she’s saying all this to Dave, the lone Chani left in the game who has had to fight tooth and nail to stay in.

Voting out Matt was understandably hardest for Dave. It wasn’t something he ever thought he’d do. Matt was everyone’s number one target, but Dave never looked at it like that. He was happy to go to the end with his friend and see who would come out on top. When he saw how hard Matt was playing and how his friendship was secondary to the game, it scared him. “I feel horrible about it. I never thought in a million years that I’d vote Matt out,” he says.

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Photo: TVNZ

Lisa thinks Tara and Dave are still with her, but she’s written off Tess. It’s a good read that after being blindsided, Tess would be less likely to trust her but at its heart Survivor is a game about personal connections. Lisa should still try to be on good terms with Tess to maybe make moves down the line, keep the target off her back or at the very least work a jury member before they make their way to the bench. Strategy and “big moves” don’t work on all jurors. Some value personal relationships and from what we’ve seen from Tess, she would be that kind of Juror. You can’t tackle the jury with a one size fits all approach.

In voting out Matt, Lisa has got Adam’s attention. Up until now, he saw her as a sweet mum barely playing the game. Now he sees her for the snake she is. “I’m just gutted that I didn’t realise Lisa was such a dragon before this vote,” says Adam. Adam acknowledges how great a move it was but feels betrayed by her and then goes on to call her a weirdo chicken skeleton in typical Adam fashion.

Dave and Tess battle it out in the final round of the reward challenge, and you guessed it, Dave ends up in second place once again. Tess wins a fruit feast, fruit smoothies and a Thai massage (in Thailand they just call them massages). Tess chooses to share the experience with her buddy Adam. Before they head off on the reward, Adam and Tess have a yarn to clear the air. They reaffirm their bond, hugging it out. The pair works out the plan last vote was to split them up by fueling distrust between them. “Lisa’s plan” backfired however as Tess and Adam are just as tight as ever. They resent being treated like game pieces and are united in directing their ire against Lisa.

“If you’re going to get really personal with people and then betray them that’s how they’re going to vote at the end. She like gets really personal gets to know your life, relates to you, lures you in on a personal level and then votes you out,” says Adam. In that quote, Adam explains why Lisa should win. Lisa gets close to you, lowers your defences and then strikes. That’s great Survivor. Adam, however, doesn’t think that’s how the game should be played and considers that “mean” and I think the jury will tend to agree with him on that. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lisa gets zero votes for her cutthroat game (that only appeared an episode ago). People need to remember this is Survivor New Zealand after all. The winner last year was crowned just because he was a nice guy despite two great alternatives sitting next to him (an immunity beast and cold-hearted strategist).

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Photo: TVNZ

Lisa is worried about Tess and Adam getting an idol clue on the reward. If they get an idol it will make things difficult for Lisa. I don’t think Lisa quite realises she’s their number one target and would go home if they managed to find one. Lisa plans on keeping an eye on them when they return to make sure they don’t get an idol (remember how well that worked with Matt?). Wow, great plan Lisa!

Here’s where I rain on a few parades. Okay, maybe I’m a little hard on Lisa. I should be all “Yaaaaaaaas Queeeeen!” like the rest of the community, but when I watch episodes, it feels like the emperor’s new clothes. I see how rough her game is and how many mistakes she’s making that it gets hard to overlook her missteps. Take the previous scene for example, Lisa is back at camp with her trusted alliance, two people she wants to go to the end with and the only thing that will mess that up is an idol. She should have a pep talk with Dave and Tara, putting the fear of god into them that Tess & Adam can’t get an idol. While Adam and Tess are off getting massages, Lisa and co should spend the afternoon searching every square inch of the bush to ensure the idol is within their control.

Yes, it’s a mistake on all their parts not to do this but Tara doesn’t think like that (according to the edit) and wouldn’t be a target anyway. Dave is safe no matter what with his idol, so he probably doesn’t care that another one is out there somewhere. Lisa, on the other hand, is actually vocalising in confessionals about keeping idols away from Adam and Tess but does nothing to prevent it. If you’re worried about them getting a hold of an idol then do everything in your power to get it yourself. Or you could laze around in the shelter and hope one just materialises for you. That’s just as effective.

The massage reward is a good break for Adam and Tess. They’re away from all the schemers (how is Adam not a schemer?) and get to unwind. While getting a rub down from Thai women, Adam and Tess scheme (but they aren’t schemers) to get Dave on side to take out Lisa. She’s the biggest threat and will beat everyone, so they need to get rid of her. The edit is really stressing “Lisa is unbeatable” which is a bit odd. I know the fanbase has been saying that since they read her bio but show-wise, it wasn’t until the last episode that Lisa was a factor.

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Photo: TVNZ

My newfound Tara addiction is satisfied with a confessional. Her goal is to go to the end with Lisa and Dave. The Matt vote solidified their alliance and Tara feels they’ve all played similar games so have just as good a chance at winning as each other (no pumpkin no) sadly Lisa will get more credit and that’s not even factoring in Dave’s underdog story. Who on that jury would vote for Tara?

The immunity challenge (the classic hold onto a large totem poll) is a bit of a pathetic showing from the Kiwis. Adam is out instantly followed shortly after by the two mums. We get a rematch from the reward challenge earlier in the episode with Dave vs. Tess again. Who will come out on top this time? Well, Dave always comes up short (unless he has an advantage), so once again he finishes second (more accurately first loser), meaning Tess wins immunity making it to the final four. Well done Tess!

With Tess safe, Adam’s days are numbered. It’s going to be a 3-2 vote either way. Dave somehow became the swing vote. Not bad. Dave should have been voted out ages ago and right now nobody’s targeting him. He can either side with Adam and Tess voting out Lisa or go with Lisa and Tara voting out Adam. Getting rid of Lisa would increase his odds of winning, but it makes him a juicy target to take out at final four. Would Adam and Tess really take out Tara over Dave? Unlikely.

Maybe it’s the genius fan in me, but Dave really missed an opportunity to wreak havoc. If I’m Dave and Tess is pleading for me to vote with her I’d get her to put it all on the line by giving me the immunity necklace. Let’s say that happens now I have an immunity necklace and a hidden immunity idol. Think of the possibilities.

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Photo: TVNZ

Dave cracks during tribal council. It’s been a hard game for him. He came into the merge down in numbers and was powerless to stop his alliance from being voted out. At the last vote he made the difficult decision to vote out his best mate and that’s still not sitting right with him. He tells Matt Chisholm that his choice pushed him to the brink of quitting but he’ll carry on staying true to himself. That moment was needed to soften Dave. For a few tribals he was made out to be a soulless villain, so seeing the emotional toll the votes are having on him would recontextualize everything for the jury.

Adam and Tess make a good case for Lisa to win in trying to sway Dave to vote her out. Lisa having 200 boardgames makes her the greatest Survivor of all time apparently. The shade thrown at Lisa gets nods of agreement from Brad and Arun, so that’s two votes she probably isn’t getting.

The votes are read and unsurprisingly Adam is voted out. It makes sense for Dave to stick with the mums. They’re easier competition in a final immunity challenge and it’s a safer path to the end with them. Adam is really unpredictable and his vote is usually determined by who pisses him off the most at the time. Adam really grew on me. I think the contestants felt similarly. He has this way of being an absolute dick, but you can’t help but like him. Once Dylan was voted out his attention shifted to playing the game instead of settling his personal grudge. Adam might not have the Survivor knowledge (it really showed at times), but he’s a very capable player able to use his social charm to get his way. Even though he’s out of the game, I can still see him influencing it.

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Photo: TVNZ

The biggest surprise of the episode was that Dave didn’t play his idol. Even if you trust your alliance, you shouldn’t throw away guaranteed safety especially as two people already went home with idols. The jury only has a small glimpse of the game, so the best way to make an impression is at tribal. It feels like a missed opportunity from Dave. To play devil’s advocate, he could argue that he was in such a great position that he didn’t need to play it and if he did it would have sketched out his allies possibly making him a bigger target. Its justifiable but I think an idol play has more impact than holding on to it. It’s hilarious that the fanbase was begging for idols to be included in Season 2 and they ended up factoring very little in the outcome. Eve (took me far too long to think of her name) misplayed one, two went home in alpha male pockets, and Dave gets to hang on to his as a souvenir. Idols don’t make the game interesting, casting players that know how to use them does.


Chuck Cunningham hails from the lackluster country known as New Zealand. He was an aspiring writer until the harshness of reality crushed his soul. When he's not picking up the pieces of his shattered dreams, he spends his time far too concerned with the trivial goings on of reality TV. A super duper fan of Survivor that would most likely be the first one voted out for his awkwardness, lack of fitness and being too "real"