Well, that was awkward, wasn’t it? Simon’s idol was nothing but a tacky idol clue, Flick ended up with egg on her face trying to play it, and Simon himself had to explain it all to the class on the spot. And Flick’s going to make sure she gets the full story, intent on blowing up his game come the next mat chat. Though it was a complete accident done with the best intentions, perception is reality in Survivor, and the only perception here is that Simon conned the old Heroes. And they’re pissed.
But for the new Heroes, we have a small development in King George’s kingdom. Shonee, Stevie, and Gerry are all great allies, and Liz still has a chance to make the merge with her idol as a last resort, but that’s only five Spice Girls for a 12-person merge. So George needs a new recruit before it’s too late, and with Flick making it clear she’s not keen on accepting any deals after last night, he offers Matt a chance to jump ship.
I can’t say the pitch is all that good as George blatantly tells Matt he’d be last in as the sixth member, so it comes across as more of a “we’ll save you from our impending wake of destruction” threat than a genuine offer to give him hopes of actually winning. But Matt’s open-minded to the idea of a flip, believe it or not, though he won’t commit to it just yet. Sounds like a plot point saved for the merge vote, so it’s just a waiting game for now.
— SurvivorAU (@Survivor_AU) February 21, 2023
Meanwhile, the new Villains are experiencing a change of tides. As Simon lives it up as a hero in his mind, his fellow Villain Liz is busy making inroads and securing new allies among the old Heroes: David, Nina, and Sam. David (who finally gets his first confessional after 11 episodes of lurking in purple purgatory!) feels a bit iffy about letting Liz join them as a fourth. Still, the Heroes can’t stay together the entire game. Something has to give, and with Liz on board and willing to target some power players like Shaun and Hayley, so this new four has serious potential to flip the script.
At the reward challenge, Flick reveals the fake idol debacle to the new Villains, dropping Simon’s jaw and sparking conflict between him and the rest of the cast. George, in particular, drives the point home, reminding Shaun that it’s his second time getting duped by a fake idol while clowning on Simon’s meme of a game once more for good measure.
And while the Villains will take home a lovely Chinese buffet reward, Simon’s hopes of survival are the main course, and everyone’s digging in like there’s no tomorrow. Distraught and brokenhearted over his “brown, wooden circle of disappointment,” Simon hopes and prays that Shaun will remain true to his word and take him to the merge anyways.
But Shaun’s got strong feelings about all this. The deal was a trip to the merge in exchange for an idol. And there wasn’t an idol. Deal’s off, Simon’s toast, and Shaun’s done with his nonsense. So done, in fact, that he and his allies scheme to throw the next immunity challenge and send Simon packing right before the merge for a second season in a row out of spite. The Villains want it; the Heroes want it; everyone except Simon wants it. So why not take an easy vote for once?
With Simon choosing to sit out for some reason, he can only watch in abject terror as the Villains blatantly throw an easy memory challenge and seal his fate. Deja vu, perhaps, as this is almost exactly how his original downfall in Brains v Brawn went down. But Simon’s not totally dead in the water, as paranoia in paradise becomes more than just a tacky saying on the back of his shirt.
The first plan is to split the votes between Simon and Liz while Simon casts a stray vote for Sam in the event both old Villains have idols. Easy, simple, and safe. But Sam’s still feeling the heat from his last Tribal and doesn’t feel safe even with Simon as the big target. He got four votes last time, even if it was a contingency plan, so nothing is stopping him from ending up in the same position again. Shaun lies to his face and assures him it’s a 4-3 vote between the old Villains, but he needs to hear it from more mouths to be sure.
And that’s where Nina comes in, happy to inform her ally that Shaun threw him under the bus as a backup plan. Shaun wanted to play more villainously this season, and his reaping both the rewards and the drawbacks of that route. As someone who values loyalty and honesty, this is a breaking point for Sam and his connection to the Meat Tray.
Soon, Sam and Nina realize a Simon boot might be the wrong play here. He’s on his own without a single ally and no power, so why waste a vote on him when big threats like Shaun and Hayley are totally exposed? Grabbing David and Liz, the core four conspire to blindside Hayley before she can reach the merge and unleash the beast, adding a last-second twist to what could have been a predictable downfall episode.
But speaking of twists… it’s time for another non-elimination episode to crash the party and take the wind out of this episode’s strategic sails. Bummer, I know, but at least this twist isn’t that intrusive and puts the game in the hands of the players for a change. In the return of a classic AU twist, one player from the Villains can mutiny to the Heroes, who join Tribal Council on the jury bench.
— SurvivorAU (@Survivor_AU) February 21, 2023
Every Villain will cast a vote for themselves should they wish to mutiny, or they can leave the parchment blank to remain a Villain. If more than one person takes the offer or nobody writes their name down, a rock draw determines who joins the Heroes instead. And to nobody’s surprise, Liz takes the offer without hesitation, reuniting with her Spice Girls to bridge the gap between her two alliances prior to the merge.
Not exactly the most exciting way to end a week of Survivor, but with how amazing this pre-merge has been and how many non-elims we need in the wake of Jackie’s evacuation screwing with their schedule, I’ll take a harmless mutiny over Purgatory, Exile Beach, or any other twist that wastes an entire week of gameplay as opposed to a single episode. And selfishly speaking, seeing Hayley or Simon going home this early would be its own circle of disappointment, so at least the twist has that upside.
But the merge is coming soon, and both tribes have obvious outsiders to pick off in Simon and Flick. However, the lines may be a bit blurry. David, Nina, and Sam lost a number but not their hope of a blindside, and Liz’s arrival on the Heroes will cause a rift between her and George when their strategies don’t align. This season’s theme is chaos for better or worse, so with at least one vote left before the merge and this cast embracing that beautiful trainwreck energy, I wouldn’t count anything out as a possibility.