Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts

Episode 23 Recap – Peace, Calm, & Confidence

What went down in Episode 23?

Photo: M-Net

Wow. Leading up to the season’s finale, we knew the road to the final tribal council would be bumpy, to say the least. The penultimate episode did not fail to deliver the highs and lows we’ve come to expect of this season, rounding off with a last heartbreaking elimination and the completion of this season’s jury. Though the winner is about to be revealed, the leading up to it must be revised first.

It’s day 38, and the final three rejoice in making it this far, with Dino, Marian, and Shane sitting at a sand dune contemplating the final battle ahead. Dino asks each what this game has taught them. Marian voices peace, Shane mentions calm, and Dino rounds up by saying confidence.

Shane is positive he has the jury on his side and even declares that if he’s taken to the end, that would be the other person’s biggest mistake of their life. Whether this is foreshadowing or a bad read on Shane’s own gameplay is yet to be determined. Marian states she knows she has done the work throughout the season and has a fair chance of winning. Dino is not sure that winning the last immunity challenge is the best option for him, as he would have to choose who goes with him to the end and who becomes the final jury member and ultimately face the consequences of that choice.

Thus, with this, the final individual immunity challenge of the season begins. As Nico is about to explain the challenge, he surprises the final three with a loved one’s visit. Already tears are spilling down when the loved ones come running down a hill and hug their respective family and friends. Through the laughs and tears, it was funny to see Shane being Shane as he muttered to his friend that Dino won a car while the latter was tearfully presenting his fiancée to everyone.

After a daunting challenge where Shane, Marian, and Dino get simultaneously soaked and sunburnt, Dino pulls off the win. As the ultimate superfan, Dino celebrates accordingly as he has a guaranteed seat at the final tribal, pulling off an impressive performance as a former pre-merge boot.

Each player secretly confides in their loved ones about what is coming next, with Dino confessing that though he’s made promises to both Shane and Marian, he doesn’t think he can beat Marian in the end. Dino gets confirmation from his fiancée that “he needs to do what he needs to do.”

After the loved ones leave, Shane explains that even though they’re adversaries once more, the beauty of the game when it comes to returning players is that the game doesn’t turn personal and that there will always be respect between them.

At camp, a sombre afternoon awaits the players. Shane decides he will not scramble for Dino’s vote to take him to the end, while Marian has an inkling that perhaps Dino will send her to the jury. Dino continuously struggles between his heart and his head, as he doesn’t want to break his promises but knows he needs to pick the right person to have a chance of winning. Marian pointedly asks Dino if he’s taking Shane, and Dino tells her about his fiancée’s advice, noting that he needs to honour that above everything else.

It becomes increasingly heart-wrenching to see Marian breaking down as Dino says he can’t win against her, and not just because of her story, but because he believes her to be the best player in Survivor SA history. Dino is aware that the jury might not respect this move and see him as a coward, but he will spin it as a strategic risk he had to take.

As the final three settle to face the next tribal, Meryl whispers in a confirming tone to Dante, “It’s like you had a premonition.” Dante replies, “No…you just had to listen to me.” It’s clear that Dante is still gunning after Dino, even from the jury, which might indicate that Dino would have a better chance of getting Nico to vote for him than Dante. Dino could still surprise us if he gets Dante’s vote, but that would be a BIG and unlikely if.

Nico begins by pointing out Dino’s past injuries due to him getting burnt and going full circle now by winning immunity. Then he moves on to Marian, asking her if she felt her game “going down with her” as she lost the challenge. Marian’s voice shakes as she explains that she knew she needed to win and is about to be voted out. She also brings up the earlier conversation at the dune, noting that Dino is being hypocritical with his word as he says he doesn’t feel confident sitting with her at the end.

Dino defends himself by stating that Marian is one of the best players this game has ever seen and questions whether he has a reasonable shot against her, regardless of his confidence in his game. Dino also clears up that taking Shane to the end is “no walk in the park,” but considers this plan his best option. Surprisingly, Marian confesses that if she had the necklace herself, she would’ve picked Dino as she’s one of the few willing to face the jury alongside him. Shane refuses to say his choice and says there are different kinds of loyalty to consider.

Nico offers Marian and Shane another opportunity to plead their cases to Dino before the vote. Marian says she’s sure she’s about to be voted out but feels like a winner, while Shane remains quiet. Dino then casts his sole vote for Marian, making her the ninth and final member of the jury. Now the power shifts to the jury, and the final two have one last night back at camp. Seeing the jury clapping the final two feels very rewarding as a fan, as all seem not to be taking the game personally and will vote for who truly deserves to win the game (except maybe for Dante).

Finally, day 39 is here. Shane and Dino celebrate with a feast for being the final two, each expressing how rewarding it is to have returned and have played a much better game than in their first season. Shane considers himself an underdog, which is how he will present himself to the jury and use his humour and pragmatism to sway votes. On the other hand, Dino lists every player who was voted out of the game from the beginning, which helps him understand how far he’s come. Dino wants to present his case to the jury in a friendly manner so they know how he thinks and not judge their perceptions of how he played the game.

The final tribal begins, just as Dino looks like the giddiest fan to be there, and Shane seems to be bringing out the roman senator within himself. Shane and Dino give their opening speeches. Shane opens up with the jury and explains that due to him being in the army, he longed to get rid of the skillset he gained to analyse and manipulate people, as well as his PTSD. Shane also tells the jury what he admires about each of them and jokingly blames them for making him care about them.

Dino greets the jury and tells them about how he faced his inner demons to gain confidence with how he played the game, his strategy towards obtaining social capital, and how his fluidity allowed him to manoeuvre himself into the position he’s in now. Dino then surprises the jury by exposing Shona’s fake immunity idol next to the fire pit hidden at the first tribal that the Yontau tribe went to. He explains how he decided to not use it just for showmanship but rather in a cleverer way to help him in the long run.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, just as the jury is about to start their Q&A. Emotions are running high as the uncovering of this season’s winner draws nearer, and just based on the short clips of the upcoming episode, it seems the jury will go all in against the final two.

We’ve seen how players have won and lost, the game depending on their performances against the jury. We’ll have to wait and see whether Dino and Shane can defend their games against the pressure and who will be the next sole Survivor of Survivor SA.

Written by

Mariana Loizaga

Mariana is a lawyer and a writer from Mexico City, Mexico. She has a masters degree in International Relations from the University of Surrey. Her hobbies include reading, blogging, and of course watching Survivor. The first season of Survivor she ever saw was Survivor: Philippines and she became so fascinated with the game and its many layers that she went back through the archives and watched every single previous season.

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