I’m really enjoying the season so far. Season one was a pure season. It had issues, but I liked that we got to know everyone. There were no invisible edits like you’d find in the States. The focus was more on characters than gameplay, which I appreciated. Watching characters calculate vote splits for big chunks of screen time stopped being interesting years ago.
In a way, season two feels fairly pure as well. That seems odd to say in a season with idols and the Outpost twist. Is that due to the infancy of the game or the good-natured participants? I’m not sure. Casting did a great job finding people willing to play, but there’s still this old school vibe. The invisible five give me flashbacks of the Tagi four. Their strategy consists of grouping together and picking off those who failed to notice. The newly introduced idols are somewhat of a novelty, the contestants not fully grasping their true power (an idol for the tribe… come on now). This season would feel right at home sandwiched between Panama and Cook Islands on the DVD shelf. Who do you think would be left off the DVD cover?
The level of gameplay isn’t at a Season 36 level. Despite that, it’s still compelling. I know what makes almost every castaway tick. A predictable pre-merge boot in the American version would be sacrificed to give the winner more screen time. Here, we see them struggle and feel for them on the way out.
I didn’t mention this last time, but the edit of Kaysha’s boot genuinely fooled me. When we delve deeper into this world of strategies and analyze the show more thoroughly, it becomes difficult for the editors to pull one over on us. We can see the breadcrumbs the editors leave us and predict where the story is going. The term blindside has been thrown around so much these days that it’s lost all meaning. The Survivor New Zealand team didn’t need to flash #Blindside on the screen or have Matt Chisholm manipulate the Previously Ons. They misdirected us in the edit and gave the audience a true blindside.
We open up the episode directly after tribal council. Dylan can barely contain his excitement to still be in the game. His tribemates glance at him as if to say “not for long.” Matt gives a confessional about knowing he was exposing his alliance by splitting the votes and that losing Kaysha was a bit of a blow to him. They were close and she could have been a trusted ally down the line.
I still don’t really understand the alliance of five’s thought process. The only thing I could come up with was that Kaysha had gone to the Outpost and they were worried about her receiving an idol. The alliance being in possession of the idol should have shut down that kind of paranoia though. We heard from Brad, Matt and even Adam in previous episodes that they liked and respected Kaysha. She was the complete Survivor package. Why get rid of her? I empathize with Dylan and I see a lot of myself in him. HE SHOULD NOT STILL BE IN THE GAME! They took the opportunity to get rid of a threat to win the game. It’s an ok play. The problem is that threat was loyal to you (at least more loyal than Dylan will be). They also executed the play poorly. Not informing the two mums of the plan shone a spotlight on their alliance. Take the easy vote. Pile your votes on Dylan and create the appearance of unity.
Countless past Survivors have stated that your first tribal council gives you a glimpse of where you stand within the tribe. It’s where you finally get to test your alliances and see what someone’s words are worth. There’s three people that came out of that tribal council that should know exactly where they stand. Only one does. Tisk tisk!
Dylan has to deal with the fall out from his kamikaze tribal council performance. He thought he was going so threw everything at the wall. Tara is upset that he brought her name up as someone to vote out. Did that happen? I tend to block out any scenes with Tara in them. And Tara you tried to vote him out… how are you the victim?
There was a scene over on Chani. Nothing much to note really. Eve talks about her not so hidden immunity idol. Having everyone know she has it puts a massive target on her back and makes it impossible for her to fly under the radar. That’s the second time I’ve noticed Eve talking about her Danni Boatwright strategy. It screams losing finalist to me. Nobody wants to vote for that style of play unless you’re sitting next to a prick (Eve, Adam, Dylan final three confirmed?).
The Khangkhaw boys of Brad and Adam worry about Dylan flipping going into a swap. That’s why you should have kept Kaysha. “If he’s gone it will make life easier for everyone,” says Brad. That invisible five are baffling to me. At times they kind of know what they’re doing. With all five of their powers combined they make one average player. It’s like the bodega Captain Planet.
At the reward challenge, Chani are shocked at Kaysha’s absence. Chisholm draws attention to the fact that women might be becoming an endangered species on the season. Tara puts it down to a coincidence as opposed to a patriarchal conspiracy, so she has some sense.
Before the challenge, Chisholm says the three words every Survivor fan loves to hear “drop your buffs.” Dylan’s prayers have been answered. Once a sitting duck, he now has a chance. Those in a cushy spot are for the first time sweating. I know they sweat from physical exertion and the humidity of Thailand, but I’m trying to paint a picture. They crack eggs to reveal what tribe they’ll go to. I’ve never understood this practice. Is there some Reddit thread I can skim to get up to speed on this?
The new tribes breakdown like this:
Chani: Dylan, Arun, Dave, Josh, Adam, Renee, Matt.
Khangkhaw: Eve, Tara, Brad, Liam, Lisa, JT, Tess.
Ironically Dylan (the bad egg) gets a good egg, ending up on a tribe with three original Chani members and three original Khangkhaw members giving him power as the swing vote. He could do the safe thing and continue to help eradicate Chani, but his original tribe has given him no reason to stay loyal. The kid nobody wanted to pick on the first day now has the power to pick who to go home. The authority has shifted, and all it took was three more days.
Ali and Patrick of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers were both gone pre-merge so we didn’t really get to see how their relationship outside the show could impact the game. I don’t even think there was any mention of their friendship on the show. It was this weird unspoken force that must have influenced things early on (Simone was robbed!). It’s intriguing to see how the Matt and Dave friendship will pay off. I don’t see either of them targeting their childhood mate, which could come back to bite them later in the game.
The Chani members that stayed on Chani are in a great position. Dylan is ready to jump ship, Adam hates Dylan and would vote him off the next chance he could (even if he is a Khangkhaw number), Arun has a secret pact with Josh, and Matt and Dave grew up together. They have various different avenues to pursue and at the very worst they lose Renee (which I’d be ok with).
JT, Eve and Liam are in a decent position on paper. They’re on a tribe with two members of the invisible five and the two Khangkhaw mums. It would be the perfect opportunity to shake things up if those mums wanted to (which they should).
The newly formed tribes compete to win comfort, flour, and peanut butter. Missed opportunity to offer up some Marmite as a prize. I’m disappointed that in two seasons of the show they’ve yet to give out a taste of Kiwiana. Where are the pineapple lumps, bottles of L&P or the overrated pavlova? (Don’t steal it like you did Russell Crowe, you Aussie scum!)
I must have missed the point of the first leg of the challenge. It shouldn’t have made it out of the planning stages. Tess gets injured and the medic gets their fourth appearance on the show. They’re really getting their money’s worth out of the medics this season. To avoid a lawsuit, they skip to the second leg of the challenge. Tess sits out to deal with her mild concussion.
They must make it from A to B using a number of items such as boxes and planks without touching the ground. Barrels were included in the assortment of assets unused by the set builders and I know it’s optimistic, maybe even a little silly to hope for such a thing but I was waiting for someone to try riding the barrel Sierra Dawn-Thomas style. New Khangkhaw wins and gets to celebrate with peanut butter. Liam and Tess (each the mastermind of their own tribe) give us a Maths lesson. Four does indeed beat three.
Eve left her idol back at the old camp. It’s the very thing her minority need to stay alive and it’s not in her possession. Hanging it up in the lounge might not have been the best idea. While new Chani get the tour of the camp, Dave scuttles off and makes sure the hidden immunity idol stays hidden. Dave seems to do just enough every episode for me not to discount him entirely.
Dylan still salty about Kaysha’s elimination and his own treatment on Khangkhaw sets out to strike back. He goes off with Arun to fill water bottles. Bad move on the invisible five’s part to leave Dylan alone. They should have one person shadowing him at all times to make sure nothing untoward goes on. I’m hesitant to use the phrase “buddy system” because I feel Adam would strongly object to that.
Without explanation, Eve is sent to meet Chisholm. She’s told she has to get a medical checkup but doesn’t understand why as she feels fine. It’s a creepy scene. If Chisholm put on a rubber glove I was gonna contact standards and practices. Thankfully we’re spared a Chisholm snuff film. He has brought the idol she left back on Chani. She can either keep it for herself or give it to anyone of her original tribe (seriously what kind of dilemmas are these?). I’m unsure how I feel about this. She’s in the minority on the swap tribe and that idol would help Chani. Survivor is a game of consequences for me. A slip of the tongue can ruin you, betraying your ally can come back to haunt you, every little thing you do can bounce back at you. Eve leaving her idol behind should have had consequences for her and shouldn’t have been smoothed over by production.
The two mums are irritating to watch. Lisa (the self-proclaimed superfan) thinks it’s odd Brad is suddenly including her in strategy talks after keeping her at a distance at the old tribe. A red flag for most to question how valuable they are to the alliance and consider doing something to change their position. Lisa wants to stay the course. Tara gives a similar confessional saying she thinks Tess and Brad have more allegiance to each over her (and Lisa I’d say). Four beats three so no need to rock the boat just yet.
I can’t see the game through their eyes. Each of them has brought up reasons to flip, dismissing them in favor of staying loyal to a tribe that doesn’t want them. I get the sense both of them are happy to get one round ahead and don’t consider the game longterm. Superfan Lisa is glad to be experiencing Survivor. Every day there is another day living her dream. But really, does anyone dream of coming in seventh on Survivor? I hope I’m wrong. These mums can really take control of the game if they wanted. Either one of them could be a better version of Barbs.
Looking at the tribes on the mat at the immunity challenge there is a very obvious disparity. Chani now have all the physical players. The tribe mixup, originally designed to even things up has made the two tribes even more unbalanced. Going into the challenge, it’s hard to picture any result other than failure for Khangkhaw.
It’s a typical Survivor challenge, do the physical thing to get puzzle pieces then put all the pressure on one person to come through for your tribe. JT and Dylan battle it out on the puzzle with Dylan coming out victorious. He collects old mate idol, saying winning out on the puzzle ticked something off his Survivor bucket list. It’s a nice moment. He’s gone from almost out the door to the hero of the challenge.
The original Chani members stuck on Khangkhaw have to figure something out. It’s become clear Lisa and Tara aren’t budging, giving each of them a one in three shot of going home. Luckily Chisholm returned Eve’s idol to her increasing the trio’s chances of staying. It’s not hopeless.
The four Khangkhaw members want to knock JT off first but are concerned he might have an idol. Unwilling to risk it they have to decide between voting for Liam or Eve. It’s essentially a coin flip. JT’s sketchy reputation has managed to keep him safe.
At tribal council JT is honest. He tells everyone he doesn’t have an idol which only makes them more skeptical of him. JT is a rare type of castaway that can make people trust him when he’s lying and distrust him when he’s honest. It’s working for him so far. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Chani stack their votes on Brad and gamble with the idol. Eve stands up to present it to Chisholm. She hands the idol to him and decides to play it for herself. An agonizing decision in the moment I’m sure. No votes for Eve will be counted. I thought I’d point out that this interaction proves JT’s honesty. He didn’t have the idol. Tribal council shows you whose words you can trust. Maybe JT’s are a little more believable now.
The Chani members celebrate. Their little rebellion finally gaining traction in the game. Brad sits on his idol overly comfortable in his position. When Brad receives his third vote the Chani members eagerly await their triumph. The four subsequent Liam votes show why Brad was so confident. Khangkhaw had out-thought them. This may sound crazy coming from me, but I attribute that to Lisa. It’s the Edgardo plan. Stack your votes on the least likely person to have or be given the idol. You can take out a pawn to weaken the opposition while minimizing the potential risk to your side.
Liam was an interesting character. He didn’t have a head for the game. His youthful enthusiasm and can do attitude more than made up for it. He was a loyal soldier who would have died for Chani. And he did. He wasn’t voted out for anything he did. What made him likable at Chani made him likable at Khangkhaw. Nobody wanted to vote him out; he was the contingency plan. Eve who had preached she would use the idol for the tribe could have saved Liam if she did what she promised. If situations were reversed, Liam would have. That’s just the kind of guy he is.