As Day 18 arrives, the Heroes and Villains enter to find a classic Survivor staple waiting for them: the Survivor Auction! And to kick it off, JLP has a treat for everyone in the form of a surprise swap. I honestly wondered if we were getting a swapless season akin to the original Heroes vs Villains, but I welcome the change of pace. The Villains were flopping hard, and the Heroes weren’t that interesting to watch, so it’s not like there was much to lose by switching things up.
But by the grace of bad luck, we get one of the most lopsided tribe shuffles I’ve ever seen. The new Villains are incredibly stacked with almost every physical threat in the cast (David, Hayley, Jordie, Liz, Nina, Sam, Shaun, and Simon), while the new Heroes are the misfit underdogs already resigning themselves to a brutal losing streak (Ben, Flick, George, Gerry, Matt, Paige, Shonee, and Stevie).
Right off the bat, we have two big headlines. Jordie’s worst fears have been realized as Simon is within range of joining the Meat Tray, leaving the Joker exposed from every angle. And the Spice Girls have been divided, with Liz separated from her allies in a season where newbie women are dropping like flies and strong men are sticking together.
However, there’s a lot of game to go and lots of money to be spent. Benajmin, desperate for any advantages he can get his hands on, gets trolled by a scroll and stuck with a single onion. Liz, Sam, and Shaun feast on some of their favorite foods, adding more fuel to their overpowered tribe. And when a phone call home is up for grabs, Jordie and Matt selflessly attempt to give each other a shot to talk with their pregnant partners back home until Jordie finally accepts the offer. Sam Frost, who’s somehow had three loved ones play Survivor in the past year, hosts an impromptu Survivor gender reveal party and gives Jordie the boost he needs to survive the new Villains.
With one last item up for grabs, George wins a trip to the Survivor Surprise Party with two guests of his choice, and of course, he takes Liz and Shonee to have one last Spice Girls strat-chat. Treated to a massive feast and a free idol for Shonee to add to her collection, the trio promise to meet at the merge no matter the cost. If Liz is in danger and makes it known, Shonee will pass her the idol at a future challenge. And if she and George are in danger, she’s got double protection ready to be played as a last resort. The Spice Girls may be divided, but they shall divide and conquer.
On the new Villains, Simon is living it up. This is his dream tribe, dubbed the Super Villains, and he’s going to make the best of this lucky break by immediately flipping to the Meat Tray. Shaun, Sam, and David need a physical threat to add to their collection of beefy shields, and he’s happy to oblige if it means salvation, protection, and revenge against those who’ve wronged him.
But Simon’s ambitions might be a tad naive because Shaun’s not exactly interested in recruits at the moment. He’s got it good with the old Heroes and their simple majority, so while Simon is willing to flip, it might be in Shaun’s best interest to keep him at arm’s length. And if that means Simon’s toast, so be it.
And Jordie is doing his best to beat Simon to the punch with a “fake it until you make it” strategy. David’s a footy player? Oh, Jordie loves football! Shaun cut the sleeves off his shirt to show off those massive guns? Oh, Jordie wants to try that too! He’s totally one of the boys. Not exactly the most fun he’s had on the show, and you can bet the Meat Tray is getting devoured at the merge if he has anything to say about it, but he’s in survival mode and doing what it takes to scrape by.
Meanwhile, the new Heroes are a tribe divided. Paige is ready to take Ben out after his clutch idol play foiled her alliance’s plans, and she’s more than willing to use the old Villains to get the job done. Everyone seems to be on board for an easy 7-1 vote that won’t cause any chaos. But once the immunity challenge rolls around and the Heroes are facing an expected Tribal Council, Paige gets word from her allies on the new Super Villains that George should be the target. And thus, the plan switches on a dime. The old Heroes need to stay strong, use their majority while it’s still good, and take out the king before he can work his magic. With Paige leading the charge and Flick and Matt happy to join the cause, they just need Ben and Gerry to seal the deal.
Ben himself is a shockingly easy vote for Paige to grab. I expected him to immediately flip to the Villains after how he was treated by the Heroes. But instead of testing the waters across tribe lines, he decides his best move is… to keep trying to prove himself to the old Heroes? Look, I like Ben, and I’m glad we have a newbie who’s playing hard when most of them have no idea what game they’re playing and get purpled as a result, but I don’t get his logic here.
The Heroes wanted to vote Ben out multiple times and almost did a day ago. Hell, they made him the target before Gerry at the last vote, and Gerry spent a chunk of that day telling the entire tribe how much they suck for voting him out and why he’s probably flipping at a swap. This isn’t the group Ben should be trying to win over when the Villains are right there and in need of numbers. But then again, I’m not out there, so maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye. I just hope Ben’s not royally shooting himself in the foot after the swap handed him an opportunity on a silver platter.
As for Gerry, he’s the man of the hour as the obvious swing vote, but he keeps his cards close to his chest, promising to think on both options and leaving it at that. On the one hand, he’s from the old Heroes, and they have some numbers here. It would be easy to stay Heroes strong until the merge. But that’s also coming with a massive downside: George would have to go. When Gerry arrived on the Villains, George quickly recruited him as a proxy member of the Spice Girls, giving him more hope in the game than the Heroes ever did. And with Stevie firmly on George’s side after that masterful performance two episodes ago, George is ready to harvest the fruits of his labors with a four-person coalition against Paige.
— SurvivorAU (@Survivor_AU) February 14, 2023
With the lines firmly drawn and votes changing, Shonee senses something off about camp and at Tribal. There’s too much whispering, too many conversations she’s not in on, and too much at stake to risk losing a Spice Girl this early. Expecting the planned 4-3-1 vote has changed, she whips out one of her idols and plays it on George, nullifying four votes against him. That leaves poor Paige blindsided with the remaining votes, having dared to stick her head out and lead the alliance in a big game hunt for the biggest villain of them all.
The Spice Girls have officially taken over and started their world tour, an eighth newbie in a row bites the dust, and three old Heroes are about to bow before royalty and beg for mercy. This is George and Shonee’s tribe to run as they please, and I’m living for it.
Though this season is still flawed for typical Survivor AU reasons, it’s also so much fun. Week three was an absolute roller coaster between Sunday’s unhinged 40-minute Tribal, Monday’s long-awaited evolution of the Heroes’ ho-hum dynamics, and Tuesday’s much-needed swap and Spice Girls takeover. Three idols got played, three people were blindsided, and three great episodes revitalized the season when it needed them most. If this is how the rest of the season will be played, with great characters and great players doing great things, then bring on a great week four ASAP.