A super idol denial leads to another jaw-dropping tribal council in Survivor: Kaôh Rōng’s best episode yet.
In the run up to Survivor: Kaôh Rōng, we counted down the 50 Best Survivor Episodes of all time. While the list features many classic episodes and fan favorite moments, it’s almost a shame that we did it before Survivor: Kaôh Rōng aired. The misfit season that nobody wanted to touch continues to deliver the goods. And this latest episode was up there with some of the all-time greats.
What made this episode so enthralling wasn’t just the explosive tribal council – although that was the delicious icing on the already delicious cake – it was all the little moments leading up to that climax. It wasn’t just a sub-standard episode elevated because of a great tribal council. It was an already very good episode cemented as a great episode because of the tribal council. There was a perfect mixture of tense challenges, humor, and some exceptional strategic maneuvering. All within a classic downfall edit.
The comeuppance of Kyle Jason and Scot Pollard has been long overdue. Even with the vote not going their way the past two weeks, they have still maintained an off-putting arrogance and sense of entitlement due to their possession of the Super Idol. Their egos only increased when everything seemed to be falling into place for them throughout the episode. Debbie Wanner had been voted out by her allies. Julia Sokolowski was still living out her favorite John le Carré novel and playing double agent. Tai Trang won an advantage (an extra vote), keeping it out the hands of their primary targets Aubry Bracco and Cydney Gillon. And Jason won the immunity challenge in an epic, all-dancing, all-spitting showdown with Aubry.
But the more things went right, the more their egos grew. They became blinded to what was going on around them, and what was going on around them was Aubry Bracco and the great Tai heist of 2016. Tai never looked comfortable alongside Jason and Scot, even when he went all darkest timeline and poured water on the fire last week. He struggled with whether to listen to his head or his heart. Aubry, who has been a keen observer and picker-upper of emotional nuances, recognized Tai’s dilemma and skillfully appealed to the human beneath the player. She offered him not only authenticity but logic; she used her head to get into his heart.
In the modern era of Survivor, which is overflowing with idols and extra votes and all sorts of twists and advantages, it was refreshing that good old fashioned talking dictated a blindside. Social skills and strategy were what tore Tai away from his captors, and it made the result all the more satisfying for it. Not that idols didn’t play a part in the excitement of the episode because they most certainly did. Oh, they most definitely did.
The initial reveal of the combo Super Idol was met with a heavy dose of skepticism, and rightfully so. An idol which can be played after the votes are read is unnaturally overpowered and can stifle game-play and take away the unpredictability that makes Survivor such compelling television. However, the twist of having to combine two regular idols to form the Super Idol paid off big time when those four votes for Scot poured in, and he looked at Tai expectantly, only to be met with a dead-eyed stare and the word “No.” Everything about the moment was perfect. From the position of Tai sat between Jason and Scot, Julia’s out of the loop confusion, and the smiles on the faces of Aubry and Cydney. When Scot held up Jason’s idol in his post vote-off confessional, it made the moment even sweeter.
Thirty-two seasons in and Survivor still manages to surprise and delight. Wow indeed.