It’s Day 30 in Samoa and a powerful alliance has taken over the Fa’amolemole camp. With David eliminated, the OG Heroes are stuck on the bottom at the mercy of King George and his round table of former outcasts. You have, Shonee and Liz, the queen and princess of the court. Gerry, his loyal wizard and trusty advisor. Matt, the plucky farm boy who left the security of the Heroes for grand adventure. Hayley, his old ally and rival from an old kingdom. And Simon, his sworn nemesis, who he humbly accepted in his hour of need. Together, this seven-person alliance is knighted by Matt as the Vigilantes, paying homage to (aka stealing) Nina’s failed merge name to be used against her.
Meanwhile, Flick, Sam, Shaun, and Nina are on the outs as peasants living under tyrannical rule. Shonee and Liz confront Flick with their disappointment regarding her flip, taking the move very personally. And that’s where Flick’s biggest strength, her top-tier social game, becomes her biggest weakness. The bonds she forms are legitimate and strong, but burning them with boneheaded strategic plays makes the wound sting so much more. And Shonee, getting over the pain thanks to two and a half seasons of dealing with annoying flippers, swears revenge on Flick and vows to take her out next.
As the Heroes try to salvage the situation, they agree on one thing: they need to find a crack, and Simon might be their ticket to salvation. He was the last one in with the new majority and has every reason to flip again after a month of being relentlessly trolled by George. But on the other hand, the Heroes threw a challenge to vote him out and nearly would have had the double punch of Nina’s Hayley blindside scheme and Liz’s mutiny not happened. So either way, Simon’s working with people who’ve burned him, which makes his choice all the more compelling. He’s gone from the absolute bottom with every single player out to get him to having seats at both tables with no shot of going home here.
At the immunity challenge, it’s a battle of endurance as players hold up a proportion of their body weight. Challenge queens Hayley and Liz outlast the rest, but it’s Liz who takes home the necklace this round, securing immunity for the Vigilantes and leaving the OG Heroes totally exposed. And once everyone’s back at camp, the Vigilantes convene in plain sight to deliberate their target. They don’t have the numbers to split the votes, so it has to be a seven-strong pile-on with fingers crossed in the event an idol gets played.
Seeing the writing on the wall, the Heroes search for cracks but come up empty-handed. Hayley won’t tell Flick a thing about their plans, Liz is tight-lipped with Sam, George can only tell Nina it’s a collective group decision, and Simon tells Shaun he might as well go idol hunting because the seven’s not budging. Figuring there are no other options left, that’s exactly what the Heroes do. As Flick narrowly misses an idol, Shaun debates whether to use his idol to save the day or protect himself in the future. Playing it now might save himself and his allies a couple more days, but the timing won’t shake things up. But if he can weather the storm a bit longer and wait for the perfect timing, that idol could put him in a power position heading into the endgame. Tough decisions indeed, but either way, he’s not telling a soul about it.
Though Flick’s fate is largely sealed, that doesn’t mean certain Vigilantes aren’t thinking a few steps ahead. Hayley and Simon meet up and agree that their new majority can’t hold forever. Someone has to make a move eventually before the OG Heroes are totally wiped out and give the unbeatable George full control at the final seven, and Hayley’s ready to lead that charge when the timing presents itself. And Simon, having buried the hatchet with George just deep enough to leave the handle within reach, agrees with her. He might not trust the Vigilantes to let him get to the end, but with Hayley’s assurance that he’s not alone and has options, he’s ready to lay back and let things play out in paradise.
Tribal Council is a solid ten minutes of the Vigilantes trolling the Heroes, calling out Flick for not getting on the right ship at the merge, and, as Matt wonderfully puts it, drowning without a lifeguard in sight. But Matt’s cheekiness is short-lived when the Heroes put their votes on him as a scare tactic. A strange move considering it only alienates him further, but I see what they’re going for. It tells Matt he will be collateral damage if the Heroes play an idol, so maybe it will convince him to jump back and protect himself.
But that won’t be happening tonight because Shaun saves his idol for another day, and Flick is steamrolled out of the game as the first juror. I’m sure we’ve all seen the jokes about her record-breaking number of incorrect votes at this point, and this season did nothing to boost her legacy amid her amusing downfall, but I do think Flick deserves some credit for her game this year. It wasn’t great strategically, but socially? Oh, it was top-tier. Her insane survival at the swap was all her doing, and had she made the right call to join George’s alliance when it was offered twice in a row, she could’ve set herself up to go deep again. But alas, she played with fire and got royally burned, unlike that fake idol she should’ve thrown in the fire, all things considered.
— SurvivorAU (@Survivor_AU) February 28, 2023
Moving forward, the OG Heroes are obvious cannon fodder, and Shaun’s idol is the only hope they have… unless Hayley decides to strike as the previews are suggesting. Shaun, Sam, and Nina need a miracle to get back in the running, but she might be willing to throw them some life preservers if Matt won’t. And with this season’s endgame being billed as one of the greatest ever, I have a good feeling about next week. A couple of easy votes at the start of the merge are to be expected, but with so many big players left and some playing with house money, the Vigilantes might face a civil war in the coming days and give us some spectacular TV.