Recap in Brief:
One hour; two tribals. Following Zeke’s elimination, Will, once again, buckled up his big boy pants and overtly strategized. Quickly moving to the immunity challenge, Jay won an oddly short (more on that later) challenge. Trying to put the target on David would prove costly for Will, as his over strategizing was seen as too threatening, prompting the group (minus Jay) to vote him out 6-2.
After yet another mis-vote, Jay seemed to be on his own, even after trying to work with Adam to get rid of David. Yes, David is the Susan Lucci/Jean Robert of Season 33 (bonus points if you get that reference). In a puzzle challenge that even Monica Culpepper would call “neat,” Ken won, with a little assist from Adam. After a great pitch to David and Ken, Hannah presented Sunday on a silver platter as the target, noting how easily it would be for her to be the Final Tribal Council goat. With the votes counted, Jay played his idol, but to no avail, as Sunday would be voted out 4-2.
With that, Sunday’s quest for screentime would end, bringing us to Day 36, with the finale and legacy advantage reveal looming.
2 Tribals; 2 Furious?
One hour for two challenges and two tribals is a TALL order on the surface. With the right editing and focuses, it can be a non-factor (Dave Ball/Monica Padilla Samoa boot episode), or turn out like the Whitney/Dawn South Pacific boot episode that I love to hate on. While we didn’t get to see any of Shambo’s prophetic dreaming come to strategic fruition, this episode didn’t feel like a total waste of time, despite two more predictable boots. Without some decent strategizing in the latter half and Jay/Adam character building, this episode could have very well been a massive bust.
In last week’s edition of Casual Corner, I mentioned how even the casuals picked up on the fact that players like Bret, Sunday, and Will were massively under the radar in terms of screentime and importance. With this in mind, it was ever-apparent that the three would either be easy boots in this double boot episode or the perfect final tribal goat. As expected, when all was said and done, both Will and Sunday were voted out (Sunday’s reasoning being exactly our thoughts, as well), leaving Bret as the final member of the Ika Bula purple trio.
Does this mean that Bret will be the first one out in the finale or the Final Tribal Council goat who believes they’re still relevant? Let’s face it, Bret’s chances of actually winning are the same as David feeling confident in his abilities at a water challenge.
This entire season, Adam and Jay have been pitted as rivals, whether directly or based on their factions. This has only been exacerbated in the post-merge when Jay became the prey and not the predator. The relationship between Jay and Adam has been really fun to watch play out, as both have a mutual level of respect for the other as a player and a person. We got to see this firsthand at the family visit reward.
That level of respect increased by leaps and bounds as Adam revealed the story of his mother’s battle with cancer to Jay. This was such a fantastic scene, as both men were emotionally raw and unfiltered with each other, which led to a genuine talk about gameplay and motivations. Whether you’re a fan of one, both, or none, you can’t argue that scenes like this are what still makes this show special thirty-three seasons later.
Within the first four days of the game, there was a clear delineation of the majority and minority, with both minority factions identifying as the “misfit groups.” I remember Hannah’s “please use me” speech and inability to take a MASSIVE hint after the Mari boot as a time where I thought the Triforce and friends would dominate the season. Frankly, I’m glad that the swap and merge mixed things up for the better.
Calling it now, but if there are any people on future seasons that fit Hannah’s “head in the clouds” persona or David’s social anxiety mold, they will be voted out early. This season proved that those players are very dangerous, and I would be VERY surprised if this season isn’t used as justification for that vote.
Maybe I blinked for an abnormally long amount of time during the first immunity challenge, but when it was over, I gave an audible, “that’s it?” With the “physical challenge, then puzzle” precedent set, this one felt very quick and not complex at all. Call me crazy, but “stack ten discs, move them here, and then roll them into a slot,” seemed like a bit of a downgrade in challenge quality after a season with mostly decent challenges.
Bum-puzzled 2: Electric Boogaloo
In what many have argued is the best season of Survivor (joke, it’s only Kim Spradlin’s fave season), male model Jay Byars caught the eyes of many Americans. While he didn’t dominate anything in One World, Jay did dominate the quote game, providing us with the term “bum-puzzled.”
This term felt incredibly apt during the second immunity challenge of this episode, because, of course, Ken’s attempt at spelling “Millennials” was about as accurate as Dan Foley spelling “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.” I’m VERY quick to preach my Survivor knowledge, but one of the things that I overlook is the mental and physical fatigue. Even with more feast rewards than normal, castaways are incredibly deprived of things like food, sleep, and sanity. Ken’s inability to spell is just one manifestation of that. Credit is definitely due for those that, at this stage of the game, are still rationally thinking and making good strategic decisions.
Damned if you do; damned if you don’t
Another week, another idol (mis)play. That’s three idols this season that were technically misplays, when we hadn’t had a single instance in almost five seasons prior. Every week I talk about this, but it’s entirely necessary 1) to stroke my ego and 2) to characterize this season. Walking into this season, I fully expected the overly gimmicky theme to translate into gameplay, eventually resulting in a lackluster season. Fortunately, this premise has been massively smashed, with this season being incredibly refreshing and enjoyable.
But back to idols. This week’s idol misplay is not one to scoff at. Despite legitimate strategic conversations and very reasonable paranoia at camp, Jay was in a sticky situation regarding his safety. Frankly, once the post-merge crosshairs focus on you, it’s hard to shake that away. Even though Jay, along with us at home, basically knew it wasn’t the best idea to play the idol he needed to ensure his safety. Will getting rid of the idol make Jay less of a threat to everyone else? Only time will tell, especially with Adam’s advantage now burning a hole in his pocket.
Don’t call it a comeback
Speaking of the Peruvian Prince of Challenges, Jay’s challenge history is murky to me. When I look back, it feels like Jay has Mike Holloway’d his way to the finale, when he has only won 2/7 immunities. Obviously, he has been winning more when it truly counted, but his resume seems far bigger. I think playing the idol lessens the target a bit, but don’t be surprised if Jay walks into every remaining tribal council assuming that he’s the one to go.
Tick Tock: The Sequel
Last week, I had a quick gut check when we looked at how many people and days were left in the game. Castaways need to buckle up for a wild ride, as the final six will vote someone out every day until Day 39. At this stage of the game, there’s no time to have an off-day.
Still, having six people at the start of the finale seems daunting and makes me worry for the front half of it. I’m hoping the finale lives up to the rest of the season and doesn’t suffer from trying to tie up too many loose ends. Time will tell.