by Ian Walker
Up until this point, Survivor: Worlds Apart had been a solidly average season. Despite all of the massive hype that Probst had heaped upon it, the season hadn’t had anything too ground-breaking or exciting, just a couple of interesting characters and fun moments. Then this episode hit, and took the season in a wildly different direction, turning the narrative on its head and delivering the most dramatic and action-packed episode of the season, but also some the ugliest stuff in the history of the show.
After all of that went down and clearly not feeling relaxed, Mike makes matters worse by then getting into a fight with Rodney Lavoie Jr., injecting some drama into a sentimental moment when everybody is trying to read their letters from home. Mike correctly accuses Rodney of organizing a hit on him, but by then Rodney has almost everybody on the Get Mike Out bandwagon, spurring Mike to begin his immunity run to the end of the game.
But the Mike and Rodney fight, however, is nowhere near as uncomfortable as the utter barrage of terrible things that Will Simms II screams at Shirin Oskooi later on. Will already had been feeling pretty raw about missing out on the letters after being banished from the auction. But then he got turnt up to an uncomfortable degree after others leveled some false accusations about not sharing all some food he had gotten in exchange for his banishment, and unfortunately Shirin happened to be the closest within yelling range.
Will’s verbal attacks, and how utterly defenseless Shirin seemed in the moment, caused an uproar amongst the Survivor community unlike anything before, forcing fans to think about what “Good TV” actually means, because this certainly wasn’t “good” but it sure was compelling.
The payoff to this moment came only a few minutes later, however, when Will asked for the chance to receive his letters from home by opting out of the immunity challenge, and Shirin defiantly denied him. This episode already had one jaw-dropping moment with Mike at the auction, but watching Shirin silently but powerfully raise her hand in objection to Will getting his letters sent shockwaves through viewers and instantly created a lasting Survivor image.
While this episode did unleash some real darkness into this season that some fans argue it could never recover from, it also injected the season with the energy jolt it needed. It defined the good guys (Mike and Shirin) from the bad guys (everybody else) and gave the audience somebody to root for the rest of the way.