We open at Redemption Island. Hannah is surprised to see Tony and hugs him. She has spent two days alone fending for herself so is probably grateful for the company. “Had a little cry before and now you’re here, so that’s good,” says Hannah. Tony isn’t exactly a people person (he pretty much got voted out for being a prick), so it might not be long before Hannah gets tired of him.
I love the juxtaposition of the next two scenes. Over on Mogoton, Shay is praying for Tony’s safety and wishing him well. On Redemption Island, Tony is praying that he gets back in the game to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him (Shay being one of them). Tony, with fire in his eyes, says through gritted teeth: “I’m gonna figure out who… who the ones are that backstabbed me and then I’m gonna get them. I’m gonna nail ’em.”
The Mogoton tribe have mixed feelings about Tony leaving. Sala feels they made a mistake getting rid of a loyal and trustworthy guy. Shay the ice queen that she is, isn’t that cut up about losing Tony. “I was originally in an alliance with Tony, I mean it obviously didn’t work out,” she says. With Tony gone the heat is off Tom a bit; he questions who else voted for him but having more room to play, he isn’t overly worried about it.
The next day the Mogoton tribe are in brighter spirits. “It feels like a new tribe with Tony gone,” says Tom. “There’s a bit more bonding going on everyone is sort of coming together really nicely,” says Izzy. The audience is treated to some Coach-chi/yoga led by Izzy. Sala is my spirit animal in this scene saying he feels stupid. Besides my incredible hatred of small talk and unwillingness to starve myself, the thing stopping me from going on a show like Survivor is that I don’t want to be forced into doing yoga. It happens almost every season and I know I’d resent the person who made me contort myself like a Chinese acrobat.
The name of the show is “Survivor, ” and production has wisely decided not to stray too far from its survivalist roots. In place of numerous idol searches, we instead get to see the Mogoton tribe searching for snails to sustain themselves. Watching the US version, you’re not really exposed to how hard the living conditions are as the game and Jeff Probst suck up screen time.
I don’t know if it’s that Survivor New Zealand is on twice a week, the inclusion of the Redemption Island twist, or that the production wants to get to the heart of what made Survivor great in the first place. But we get a lot more time with the castaways, learning about who they are and spending more time around camp. There’s very little inclusion of host Matt Chisolm as the focus is on the castaways themselves.
This episode we get a number of camp life scenes, and I’m enjoying it. It’s the little moments that make Survivor, and I doubt a U.S. Season would waste time on something as mundane as the castaways brushing their teeth with charcoal. I secretly hope Georgia’s aunt and uncle lied about that trick just to make her look stupid on national TV.
As the younger members of Hermosa bond over brushing their teeth, Nate watches over contemplating his next move. It’s evident Nate and Barb are on the bottom, and both are biding their time looking for an opening. “I’m like a lioness lying in the long grass looking at my prey,” says Barb. It’s easy for me to pick sides here. Why the hell would I root for the beautiful young people to do well? I can’t relate to that. Every time Georgia is on screen she exudes happiness, it’s exhausting and irritating to me. Doesn’t this girl know that life is a series of disappointments followed by the sweet release of death?
It’s pretty clear that “George-Michael” are in control of the Hermosa tribe. They have made no attempt to hide their closeness and aren’t concerned about a possible coup. Nate recognizes that Georgia has Mike wrapped around his finger, and Mike has Lee’s loyalty making them an unbreakable three. For Nate to move forward in the game one of them needs to go. Nate tries coaxing Shannon over to his side while washing pots. A keen observer, the Police Sergeant has identified that Shannon isn’t immersed in the group and thinks she can be pulled away. Shannon isn’t that comfortable with her position and feels like Mike is telling everyone what they want to hear, she’s open to working with Nate but would need Jak to come with her if she jumped ship.
A reward challenge win is vital for the Mogoton tribe. It shouldn’t be underestimated how much momentum can effect the game. History has shown that when a tribe keeps losing its hard to break out of that funk. The tribe needs to come together and dig deep to avoid becoming the next Ulong tribe. “It’s pretty important to win today, we need it for morale, we need it for what ever the reward is, we need to show the other team that we are strong,” says Avi, the youth expedition leader.
Over on Hermosa, Nate is worried about his standing within the tribe. I’m still competitive mentally; maybe the old body is struggling to keep up with the mind.” If nothing changes, Nate is in big trouble. He knows he has to help his tribe and perform in challenges to be kept around. Maybe this reward challenge will be an opportunity for him to shine. We’ve all seen the episode right? It isn’t.
I’m not really a challenge guy. I come to Survivor for the strategy and the quirky human moments. Usually, while a challenge is happening, I’m checking emails, cooking dinner or sending snarky tweets to Colin Stone. However, “Hot Pursuit” is a perfect Survivor challenge to me. I’ll always remember Tom Westman leading his Koror tribe to victory in Palau, and an exhausted Phillip Sheppard being a hinderance to his team in Caramoan. It’s a challenge that takes strategy and a whole lot of heart to win.
Hermosa having an extra member must decide who to sit out. This is an easy decision. Love ya Barb, but this challenge probably isn’t for you. Sit this one out, and we’ll get you on the “bake lamingtons” challenge. The tribe, however, are torn between sitting out Jak or Nate. “I don’t have much of a tank on me, to be honest,” says Jak. Nate volunteers to sit out as the tribe was wasting too much time on the decision and not focusing on the challenge.
It’s an exciting start as Mogoton sprint in the shallows (great movie with Blake Lively), almost catching up to Hermosa when Barb falls repeatedly. I should totally be a Survivor coach. Barb drops out, and Hermosa is able to recover. The women of Mogoton all unclip and give their sand bags to the men of the tribe, hoping the drastic strategy pays off. Jak is next to drop out, and despite carrying his extra weight, the tribe seems to be moving faster. Led by Mike, the four Hermosa members catch up to an exhausted Sala.
I just love seeing incredibly beautiful people succeed over lovable underdogs. It’s sort of a good life lesson. The Mogoton tribe gave it everything they had. They tried to outthink their opponents and had far more determination than those they were facing yet still came up short. They stand defeated on the mat. Not upset at losing tea and coffee just upset at losing once again.
“I’m completely devastated about the loss particularly with myself, really,” says Avi. I didn’t think much of Avi in the premier; he was almost invisible. He’s growing on me now. In episode two he single-handedly flipped the vote to save his buddy Tom, and the more I see of him, the more I think he can win. We learn he spent nine months teaching in Gana, a situation that mirrors his time in Survivor. He didn’t eat much and was isolated, missing not only the creature comforts of modern life but his loved ones also. But at the end of that experience, those things and people that he missed were still there. Having had that experience in Gana, I feel Avi can go the distance.
Both tribes are gearing up for the next tribal council and trying to secure the numbers. Having sent Tony home, Tom is in a great spot. He has two loyal numbers in Avi and Izzy, and the worst case scenario is a 3-3 tie where he will most likely end up safe. Both Izzy and Tom want to target Shay as she’s quick to put her hand up to sit on the bench and put the pressure on other people.
Over on Hermosa, Shannon is distrustful of Mike. She can see he is at the center of every alliance and isn’t sure where his true loyalty lies. “I think Michael is very very cleaver, he’s playing the game, he’s got so many alliances, I can’t even keep track I don’t know how he keeps track.” No matter what there are a few people ahead of Shannon in the firing line but she’s in a good swing position. Jak is fourth in that alliance, so it makes sense for him to flip. He’s an interesting character, and I think that’s how he wants to come across to the other castaways. “Everyone thinks I’m a bloody joke and I wanna keep it that way,” says Jak.
It’s time for our second Redemption Island duel. Sala and Lou were chosen by Mogoton to spectate because they were closest to Tony and he would appreciate their support. Over on Hermosa, Georgia and Shannon are decided upon with a paper scissors rock match.
I didn’t quite like Tony in the game but I’m loving him on Redemption Island. This has all the intensity of a Korean revenge film and Tony totally looks like a guy that would eat a live octopus. This oldboy is determined to reenter the game and exact his vengeance. “New Zealanders are fairly laid back, fairly easy going. However, there is one thing New Zealanders do not tolerate and that’s backstabbing,” says Tony. He vows that if he returns to the game he will help the Hermosa tribe take down Mogoton. If I squint he kinda looks like a 60-year-old Ozzy, angry at the tribe who didn’t appreciate his survival skills.
Tony grills Sala and Lou asking if they voted him out which they both deny. For the third or forth time in six minutes Lou calls Tony family and bursts into tears. That girl throws that word around more than a Fast and Furious movie. I’m not sure if she’s cut out for this game. You’ve known this crotchety old man less than a week and you’re already in tears at the thought of him leaving, I don’t care that much about my own family. These exchanges aren’t going to help Shay, as the Hermosa tribe are given vital information that she was the one that flipped.
Hannah and Tony must break four tiles with a cannon ball to stay on Redemption Island and get one step closer to $100,000. The budget really shows with some of these challenges. Most of them look more like party games at a backyard BBQ than a Survivor challenge. New Zealand is a country founded on the sentiment “Oh well you did your best” so Tony chipping the corner of a tile still counts as a direct hit. Something Jeff Probst wouldn’t let slide.
Hannah tries her best but loses the duel 4-1 being eliminated from the game. I know a lot of survivor fans are upset at her losing but Hannah was in a Survivor Kobayashi Maru, an unwinnable situation. She had so many obstacles to overcome. She has to win every duel and if by some miracle she manages to reenter the game she does so with a huge target on her back. Everyone else has had time to bond and prove their loyalty where as Hannah would come in even more of an outsider than she was on day one. If Hannah fights her way back winning duel after duel she has such a powerful narrative that you can’t let her get to the end anyway. So as hard as it is to see her go it was an eventuality.