Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts

Episode 17 Recap – Balance of Power

What went down in Episode 17?

Photo: M-Net

This episode takes the advice of Felix to “just relax” and allows us a breath after the relentless drive of week four. After the unified vote for Meryl, the Final 7 are calmly having strat chats, all of them mentally moving the pieces around in their heads. We get two challenges, well, one full Reward Challenge and five-sevenths of an Immunity Challenge. And loved ones. And loved dogs. Let’s recap.

Time to Rise

Before dawn, here comes Felix, like the knocker-uppers of old, to wake the exhausted castaways with tree mail. They figure either the challenge or the reward will be a long one, possibly both. They dare not hope for the loved ones’ visit, figuring it may come at Final 6.

Killarney reveals in confessional that she has kept a secret from her tribemates. Her mother recently died, and Killarney buried her while unwell herself. Then her partner got sick and died within a month. And this was only two months before arriving to play. She’s on Survivor, still mourning, still trying to make sense of her life. All the talk of a loved ones’ visit must be hitting differently for her.

Can you spell Fonz?

The castaways arrive at the challenge. Tejan brings along a huge walking branch. It is the Staff of Power to summon the Survivor gods, and it signifies that the balance of power now lies in his hands. Nico announces that a reward is on the line. It’s chicken schnitzel and veggies, soft drinks, an advantage at the next Immunity Challenge, and a loved ones video chat. Food for the belly and food for the soul. Shane just wants the food and the advantage. Same here, Shane.

Phil wins the challenge and is given a dilemma. He can have it all on his own (the food, the advantage, the video chat) OR he can take two people to talk with their loved ones too, but nobody gets food or advantages. When the game gives the players choices, we get fantastic Survivor. Phil is stymied. He thought he’d be able to take three or four people with him and get them all food as well as the video calls.

Luckily for Phil, the others generously make his decision for him, telling him to go on his own. But one won’t quite alone, as Tejan plays his OutSurance OutBonus OutReward OutToken. Tejan will get everything Phil gets, including the advantage at the next challenge.

Some BS

The No Bullsh*t alliance has got to Final 7 intact, outlasting the Breakfast Club and the seemingly inseparable Full Package, which was dismantled last week. Now, each member of No BS looks about himself to see how he can bolster his position.

Phil talks to Tejan over chicken and gravy. This is an opportunity to chat. Phil says they are physically capable at challenges, so they can win and protect each other going forward. Tejan says there are four people that he needs out before Phil. Phil hopes Tejan’s list is the same as his own. Tejan suggests himself, Phil, and Felix as the Final 3, naming Dino and Marian as the biggest threats. Phil isn’t confident he would beat Dino at Final 2. He doesn’t like the thought, but Dino has to go.

Phil and Tejan speak to their families. The MVP is Tejan’s dog Fonz, his baby boy. They have big manly hugs afterwards. It’s touching. I’m not a huge fan of the loved ones’ visit, so I heartily approve of it being turned into a game mechanic with strategy on the line.

Meanwhile, back at camp, Dino and Marian talk, interrupted by Killarney. Dino wants to progress with his biggest competitors, naming himself, Marian, Phil, and either Felix or Shane as a Final 4. Dino thinks they are the appropriate reflection of the entire season. But the problem is, can he then win against them?

Elsewhere, Felix approaches Shane, who talks about blindsiding and backstabbing “your current alliance.” They agree to talk openly after the Immunity Challenge.

He Is Coming For You

Shane, Marian, and Dino talk Final 4, but all privately wonder if they can win against such strong players. Should they take Killarney or Tejan, seeing them as goats? Meanwhile, Shane is a man after my own heart, as he tells us, ”You can either come here to make friends or you can come here to make two million Rand.”

The tribe sits in the upgraded shelter in the rain. There’s barely any rice. And what will the challenge be? Eyes are cutting to the right and to the left. Marian and Dino mouth to each other that Felix is coming for each of them.

Felix mentions to Dino that Marian and Tejan must go, though in confessional he admits that he’d rather Dino go first. However, if he gets Marian out, then Shane is attached to him.

The five men agree they have each other’s backs and suggest Killarney or Marian as the next target. Felix counsels relaxation. This is not bad advice, as you can move the pieces here, there, and everywhere in your head, but until you know who is immune, it’s all just talk.

Use Your Head

The Immunity Challenge is a classic. Stand on your tip toes inside a wooden frame and hold a block between your head and the beam, no hands! Phil and Tejan reveal their advantages—they can start five minutes after the others. This is a challenge that some can’t even do for five minutes, so it’s a genuine advantage. In fact, Marian drops before Phil and Tejan even begin. But even with his advantage, Tejan is out next. The engineer closely examines his block, wondering where the fault lay. Shane suggests it’s his bald head.

Everyone else follows, some seemingly out of nowhere, some after a shaky struggle, until it is only Phil and Felix (his ‘first out’ streak now well and truly broken) who remain in the frames as the episode ends. And so we imagine them, still standing there in the cold, calves aflame, their game resting on their heads.


Written by

Sarah Carradine

Sarah is a writer, director, editor and podcaster living on Gadigal land in Sydney, Australia. Her plays and her opera have been produced throughout Australia, New Zealand, and in the US. She podcasts about reality and scripted TV. She co-hosts a true crime review podcast for RHAP called Crime Seen.


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