Perhaps it’s because we only had two eliminations, but this felt like a slower week compared to the previous ones for this season of Survivor SA. With the schedule we have, I don’t really hate it, largely in part that this week gave viewers a lot of time to analyze the tribe dynamics in preparation for the finale.
I feel like I know all the players we have left, the game they played, and what their winning conditions are. While Felix’s ousting felt like a forgone conclusion, this episode gave its audience the opportunity to explore several of the possible outcomes that may come about in the final week. This season is truly special, and the chaos that happens in episode 20 is proof of that.
Phil Ruins Everything (Sort Of)
The beginning of episode 20 reaffirms what we already know. Marian, Dino, Shane, and Killarney are all committed to their plan of voting out Felix, weakening the duo of him and Phil in the process. While Phil’s idol makes things a little more complicated, it’s nothing that a simple vote split can’t solve.
The only thing that could ruin all of their hard work is if Felix or Phil wins immunity, so of course, that is exactly what happens. Everyone’s favorite reluctant challenge beast Phil secures another immunity win with a rogue idol in his pocket that expires at the next tribal council. As it is always with Survivor a once-simple vote has now become anything but.
Perhaps an unprecedented side effect of Phil’s win is how it unleashes the players’ paranoia for the world to see. In a way, it makes sense. Everyone this season is playing incredibly hard, but such nuance can wear thin as the numbers dwindle. I expect nothing less from this cast, and they once again delivered with the number of plans that were formed, broken, and reformed in the span of 20-ish minutes.
Now that they can’t split the vote between Phil and Felix, Dino, Marian, and Shane turn on Killarney by planning to split the vote on her instead. This is, of course, to ensure their own safety in the event that Phil decides to save Felix. But the scheming doesn’t end there. Dino is assigned the very important task of convincing Phil to play the idol on himself by pretending to be worried about Shane masterminding his elimination. Again, a solid plan, one that makes sense, but there’s a large flaw in the execution: Phil is already on board to vote out Felix.
No BS is Full of BS
Why is Phil’s willingness to vote out the main target a problem? It’s because the levels of deceptions at play here can potentially sever the trust between Phil and Dino. Dino has had a target on his back since the tribe swap, and I’m sure no one needs Dante to tell them that his chances of winning are high if he makes it to the end. While Dino did great work here in convincing Phil to save him this round, I’m not confident that it was necessary or even beneficial for his game (it certainly wasn’t for Phil).
But let’s back up a little bit because a lot has happened to get to this point. Last week’s episodes were all about the rise of the No BS alliance and their masterful dismantlement of The Breakfast Club. This week, the reigning alliance fell into the same trap as their predecessors. They recognized that their biggest competition for the win was each other and worked on engineering their downfalls in hopes of bettering their own chances.
In trying to ensure they didn’t wait too long to turn on each other, they struck too soon, handing over the power to the outsiders in the process. Now No BS is dead, and the question remains how much damage was done to the remaining member’s games. Phil has been planning to blindside Dino since Tejan’s vote at least, and Dino has his final four alliance with Shane, Killarney, and Marian. It’s shaping up to be quite the endgame for our finalists.
Marian’s Hail Mary
Dino appears to convince Phil that he’s not safe because he promises to play the idol on him at tribal. But, instead of handing Dino the idol now, Phil’s decision to keep the idol and play it for him doesn’t settle the new majority’s concerns. So, to make sure all of their bases are covered, Marian comes up with one more plan, and it’s only something that a true Survivor superfan would be able to think of. She announces at tribal that she has an idol nullifier, and she plans to play it on the person she is voting for. What can I say? It’s brilliant, it’s creative, it’s Marian.
Marian made this declaration in order to scare Phil off from playing an idol on Felix, but as I said earlier, Phil was fine with letting Felix go. This is why I’m worried that all the maneuvers may have been too much, but I understand why they wanted to ensure they had every fail-safe they possibly could. Phil follows through on his promise to play his idol on Dino, but as expected, he receives no votes. Felix is voted out as planned, our last juror before finale week.
Given that this is Felix’s boot episode, it feels odd that I’ve written so much about everyone else’s actions and not enough about him as a player. Truly, Felix is the perfect example of why this theme, and this season, are so remarkable. Though he was originally a pre-merge boot, his game has significantly improved. He learned and grew from his first experience and orchestrated some of the biggest moves of the season. He will be missed, but I can’t help but be grateful that he was given this second chance to prove himself because what a showing it was.
The Beginning of the End
Now we are at the final five, and we are heading into the final week of Survivor SA. I’m simultaneously excited and worried for everyone, and I’m anxious to know their fates. Will the final four alliance manage to stick together? Will Phil be able to win immunity again? Can Dino outlast the target on his back? Will Killarney turn the tides for herself? Can the dynamic duo of Shane and Marian actually manage to be the final two of the season?
The more I think about it, the more possibilities come to mind, and I’m certain these finalists have quite the show in store for us. It’s the beginning of the end, and I can’t wait to see how this incredible season concludes.