Survivor 42

Episode 12 Recap – Confide and Divide

What went down in Episode 12?

Photo: CBS

Heeeeeeeeeere’s Maryanne!

After two weeks of turning most of my attention towards the intriguing parallel between Omar and Lindsay, questioning their need to get the other out to increase their chances while also needing each other to make it to the end, the show managed to distract me from the sneak attack!

Maryanne has been playing from the bottom with a lot of savvy over these last couple of weeks. First, finding an Idol and making the insightful decision to keep it hidden. Then, acknowledging that she needs to ensure she gets to the end with proactive gameplay as evidence. And recognising the dangers for her own game and managing to stay on the periphery enough to be in the loop. But even with all that set-up, I was floored by just how effectively and confidently she commanded this Tribal.

Despite pushback, despite doubt, despite others looking at her as a tool to deploy in their plans, Maryanne singlehandedly took out the biggest winning threat on the board. She used her extra vote effectively—the first time the extra vote has made a decisive difference since its introduction 13 seasons ago. She earned it on a ship wheel gamble back in episode one—and all along she’s used it to her advantage. She leveraged it to build trust with Taku early despite being ostensibly on the outs. And that, ironically, contributed to Omar’s determination to protect her at the merge vote because he saw her advantage as an advantage for his game. It’s poetry in how perfectly it came full circle.


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Equally incredible is how Maryanne executed the plan with determined confidence despite half her ostensible voting bloc getting cold feet about the risky play. With Lindsay immune after a hard-fought challenge and her Amulet-Idol expiring, it seemed logical that she’d play it to protect her closest ally, Omar, and ensure her prime target Jonathan was removed from the playing field. But even though Mike and Jonathan wanted to strike out at Omar, they were hesitant and wanted to play it safe by piling votes on Romeo. Yet Maryanne insisted they had to play boldly, and she’d do it without them if she had to.

Maryanne rallied Romeo—dismissed as a factor throughout the merge and trusted him to support her gambit when no one else would. She used an advantage that everybody else wanted to dictate for her own plan. And she made it happen. With her extra vote, she won out with a precise plurality vote: 3 votes on Omar to the 2 on Jonathan and 2 on Romeo. A blindsided Omar went out with a smile of recognition at her execution, and all the glory for the move lies with her. And she’s got an Idol in her pocket to keep her safe for the last vote of the season. She’s incredibly well positioned coming out of this dominant, confident play.

Of course, some good fortune came her way (namely Lindsay and Omar mishandling the expiring Idol), but this was Maryanne’s night through and through. It’s often easy to overlook the savvy of the players that shine first and foremost as characters. Heck, I fall prey to it plenty. Maryanne has been such a force of personality, always coming in with a broad smile and an indomitable spirit. While she’s played a solid game, often having good reads and insightful observation, it’s felt like her energy was what we would come away from Season 42 considering her biggest contribution. And yet here, in a season of some knockout gameplay (the Rocksroy – Hai – Drea triptych from Omar, notably), Maryanne has swooped in with one of the most decisive moves yet.


What struck me as most surprising in this episode was how quickly Omar became enemy number one. He was the last player remaining without a vote cast against him, and he seemed to be exceptionally well-insulated by his numerous key relationships. And yet, suddenly, he’d transformed into the biggest target on the board: how did it happen? It’s easy to point to Drea’s parting shot last week—pinpointing him as the one who’d betrayed her confidence and facilitated the foiling of Knowledge is Power. And while that may certainly have emphasised his role, I don’t think all the blame lies there.

Photo: CBS

With only six players left in the game, there are only so many places to hide. And as effective as Omar has been in whittling down his options, every other player has more than one plan too. And naturally, those are going to intersect. For players like Mike and Jonathan, who’ve bonded over being the ‘big tough guy,’ they know the heat is coming their way. Mike was the decoy plan at the Drea vote and surely recognises that Omar’s scheme to protect the Idol was his move, not Mike’s.

Meanwhile, Jonathan knew he was in the conversation. While Lindsay is his biggest threat to winning out in challenges, Omar’s strategy is outward, active, and impressive, and historically, strategy is valued more than challenges at the Final Tribal Council, especially with a game-savvy Jury such as this one. In both their estimations, Omar was a danger to their games and a more-than-reasonable target.

I’m curious if Omar would have been the number one target in the absence of Lindsay’s Amulet-Idol (which Mike had learned about on the family video reward). Without that in play, Lindsay might have been the chalk pick for the guys to target, given her dangerous opposition to Jonathan and his increasing suspicion of the truth: that she was coming after him. That said, Mike has consistently butted up against other castaways when he feels he’s not had at least an equal footing. While Omar was quick to return the Idol, Omar’s role in the switcheroo gave him the upper hand in the power dynamic, and for Mike, eager to ensure that he isn’t seen as the puppet or plus-one, it made another close ally a perfect target.

Photo: CBS

It’s also notable that Lindsay’s Amulet played a part in solidifying Maryanne’s interest in going against the pair of Lindsay and Omar. While she was already considering her options, learning she’d been left out of the loop to Lindsay’s advantage—while she’d told Mike—was decisive. She might be keeping her own secret about the Idol, but as soon as you tell some allies about an advantage, but not the others, you immediately stratify them.

By contrast, Maryanne made sure both sides knew about her extra vote to factor into this plan, which helped cover her tracks if anyone compared notes. So without the Amulet in play, would Maryanne have committed to breaking up Omar and Lindsay? I still think so. She knew she needed a head on her mantle, and while taking out Mike or Jonathan could be a big move, it wouldn’t be her move.


But what is incredible is that taking out Omar nearly wasn’t Maryanne’s move either. From the first half of the episode, it was Mike and Jonathan’s move. But they relinquished their authorship when Lindsay won immunity, and they became convinced she’d use the expiring Idol to protect Omar. Let’s be fair: it’s a pretty reasonable assumption. So while they wanted to get him out, they didn’t want to risk their votes being nullified, and instead resorted to a safer plan: take out Romeo now and then snipe Omar or Lindsay at the Final Five, where they would have a 3-2 majority with Maryanne’s aid. It wasn’t a bad backup plan.

And it’s worth noting that Romeo was, in many ways, the deciding vote. He’s been ostracised and left out of nearly every plan since merge and has no strong connections. We’ve seen him commiserate with Maryanne about being on the bottom, but it’s not felt as though that’s been a budding alliance as much as just a shared experience. In self-defense, he could have very easily stuck with the plan to vote out Jonathan if he thought that Maryanne was trying to dupe him or if he believed Omar would get the Idol and he’d be the easy sacrifice on the revote. In that scenario, it’s Jonathan who goes out 3-2-2.

But to his credit, Romeo the underdog took the risk, putting his neck on the line to make a risky gamble. If Omar does get the Amulet-Idol played on him, then Romeo probably goes home on the revote. But if not, removing Omar is better for his game as it leaves the tension between Lindsay and Jonathan still in play, giving him a chance to sneak on by.

Photo: CBS

That’s what’s so fascinating about these plurality votes: everyone’s individual decision is so impactful, and the margins of error are both so slight. Jonathan and Mike have more options in play, so risking their house of cards coming down by a bungled Omar vote is nerve-wracking: hence their reluctance to take the shot, even with a split vote in play. And one that would hinge on their backup target Romeo not double-crossing him. Meanwhile, Romeo has been skating through and has nothing to lose, so he is more willing to take a gamble and hope it pays off.

And to circle back to Maryanne yet again, this is where her confidence shone too. She knew she needed to take the risk now if she was going to have a chance at the big reward. Especially with an Idol in her pocket (and Mike promising to play his Idol on her if needed, as added security), she had a little bit of a safety net in case this Tribal went bottoms up. But whereas Mike and Jonathan had something of a public resume to protect, she needed to make her mark now—and she did.

Ultimately, her pitch played out as planned: she, with her extra vote, and Romeo would stack up on Omar, while Jonathan and Mike would cover off the contingency plan. So I am curious where Jonathan and Mike ultimately landed on the plan, given their strong reluctance to buy into Maryanne’s gamble. Did they eventually agree to take the shot at Omar? Or did Maryanne do it without their blessing? On paper, both outcomes look exactly the same, but it could dramatically affect how the Final Five plays out, especially as Mike & Jonathan are on the hunt for anyone who might upstage them. Maryanne should be safe at Final 5 with her Idol, but the landscape around her could be wildly different if this were a purely independent action.


And speaking of independent, this episode’s Tribal felt like it completely severed Lindsay’s chances. While I still think she could win out her way to the end (especially as challenges veer towards puzzles, which has been established as Jonathan’s weak spot) and that she’d have a solid argument, losing the battle here is a really tough blow. I theorised last week that Omar and Lindsay paradoxically needed each other to make the end despite being each other’s biggest threat, and it feels like we’re poised to see Lindsay go out at five if she can’t make Immunity happen. With Mike and Maryanne having Idols, there’s not a lot of room to manoeuvre.

So why, oh why, didn’t she do the “obvious” thing and use the Amulet to ensure she’d have an ally in Omar at the Final 5 and ensure that her biggest opposition Jonathan goes home? I think there’s a non-zero chance Maryanne takes out Jonathan on the re-vote, if the Omar votes get nullified, which leaves her to pick up Mike and Romeo at the Final Five for an outsiders’ push. And even though Lindsay and Omar didn’t seem to expect votes coming Omar’s way, there’s still a huge benefit in the demonstration of power of playing an Idol on someone else.

Photo: CBS

Lindsay has been scrambling to avoid being seen as Jonathan’s plus-one, and by playing an Idol to protect Omar (which incidentally would have worked), it would show her to be more than Omar’s plus-one too. She’s also managed to get the Amulet to its most powerful state, so employing a new advantage, even as a defensive measure, gives her a hook to discuss it at the Final Tribal. Letting an advantage slip silently into the night can be a harder sell to an entertainment-hungry Jury, even if not needing advantages even when you have them can be its own power move.

It’s hard not to view the Amulet going unplayed as a huge mistake. Obviously, it backfired and saw Omar blindsided, Lindsay isolated, and the power shift to an unlikely new threat. But it feels especially egregious based on the flawed justification presented in the episode. Lindsay’s hesitance to use the Amulet was a defensive measure: if the Amulet isn’t played, then the Idol won’t go back into circulation and potentially be found by an adversary. Only… the Amulet-Idol expires anyway, so it’s cleared off the board regardless of whether or not it’s played.

This means, regardless of whether or not it’s played, a new Idol could come back. But even that feels unlikely, given the Amulet was entirely separate from the Idol mechanics in the mix. It’s worth keeping in mind that Lindsay didn’t know about Maryanne’s Idol, so a second Idol coming back around at five isn’t out of the question. But even so, it feels like iffy logic. A sure thing now feels far greater than a future theory.

Photo: CBS

There was surely more at play: perhaps keeping the Amulet away from Omar could help obfuscate their allegiance (or at least not emphasise it). And if they did make the end together, Lindsay might have hoped it was something she could point to as something unconnected to her closest ally. But as much as Lindsay lamented her decision to compete in the immunity challenge only to face Do or Die, it was this decision that feels like it could be her game-losing move.

And it’s such a shame, given everything played out exactly as she needed. She won Immunity to protect herself and left Jonathan open. She had a way to protect her closest ally. Unbeknownst to her, the opposition split their own vote, and as I theorised earlier, it’s not impossible that Jonathan would go home on a re-vote. If Lindsay plays the Amulet on Omar, the Final Five looks very different, and Season 42 probably ends differently than it will now.

But while Lindsay had the power here, it’s worth coming back around to Omar and noting that he didn’t appear to push hard for it either. He also made the decision to give back Mike’s Idol—only for Mike to immediately turn on him. I’ll note that exit interviews have revealed Omar had found an Idol Nullifier in the pre-merge, and this would have contributed to his plans around combatting the returned Idol. He could have also kept Mike’s Idol if he’d voted him off last week—and not even needed the unaired Nullifier! Omar played a masterful game, but as shiny as it’s seemed through the last couple weeks, it wasn’t flawless. No game is.

Photo: CBS

Omar got caught in his own web, to a degree. He was doing everything right, and it just caught up to him when he least expected it. Perhaps he should have been more on guard, especially after Drea’s parting shot. Or maybe he should have made the more ruthless move to snipe the Idol from Mike—and in the process, prevent the Amulet maturing into an Idol while also isolating Jonathan and keeping Drea around as a bigger threat. Perhaps he should have pushed Lindsay to play the Amulet. Maybe he should have kept Maryanne closer. Lots of what-ifs, but regardless of what exactly led to his downfall, there’s no mistake that Omar has been an absolute joy this season.

His glee for the game, relishing in his dastardly machinations, has been a bright spark in an already shining star. That enthusiasm has been backed up by some objectively impressive manipulations and moves. Above all, he’s also been a vibrant character with his eager giddiness, as well as his authenticity and representation as the first Muslim player to make the merge. As with this last run of boots, I would love to see Omar again, and if there’s a player who could adapt to an increased reputation as a schemer, I could see him somehow pulling it off.


I’ll say it again and again, but this season is easily poised for an all-timer for me personally, probably a Top Ten. The sheer delight of its cast amongst its competitiveness has been captivating, but it’s also felt like more than just fluff and fun. These characters, and this Final Five, have been shown to be complex and multifaceted. Their wins have been celebrated, while their flaws and mistakes have been laid bare. There are certainly conclusions to this season I will like more than others, but I am confident (not just Survivor confident) that next week’s finale will be a knockout competition and a memorable, narratively satisfying conclusion.

Written by

Austin Smith

Austin hails from Canberra, Australia. By day, he works by the light of office fluorescence. By night, he can be found swing dancing to Top ‘40s tracks (1940s, that is), playing board games, and enjoying life with his wonderful wife. His pedigree as a long-time Survivor superfan is evidenced by his Survivor-themed 11th birthday party featuring a gross food challenge comprising Brussel sprouts. Austin writes Inside Survivor’s episode recaps for both Survivor US and Australian Survivor.

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