With a new (and very hectic) schedule, Survivor SA’s first week of Season 9 has come to a close. Viewers were shocked to lose two heavyweights right off the bat, and the punches keep on coming with Episode 4.
While many players on Yontau are trying to show that they’ve learned from their mistakes, two characters are clearly struggling with the idea. So it’s no surprise that two of their strongest personalities, Tania and Pinty, butt heads almost immediately, and it’s even less of a surprise that they were the two options to be voted out in Yontau’s first tribal council.
Masu is Still a Messu
Before we get to Yontau, let’s talk about Masu, who just voted out PK in a 5-4 vote. While those left out of the vote were understandably shocked at what’s transpired, Toni is beyond consoling after losing her closest ally. This leads to further disparities between Toni and the rest of her tribe, namely her getting triggered by Dante raising his voice at her. She later shares her feelings with Meryl, who feels uncomfortable with all this information being loaded onto her without her consent.
Another disagreement arises the next morning when Toni and Dante try to make amends, and it’s clear that nothing is truly resolved on the post-merge tribe.
Amidst the disarray, Marian is more powerful than ever after establishing her core alliance with Steffi and Meryl. With Marian’s strategy, Meryl’s social game, and Steffi’s physicality, this trio lives up to their self-appointed name, ‘The Full Package’. I think these three definitely have what it takes to go all the way. Yes, there are their obvious strengths, but I’d say their greatest asset is that this is not an easily detected alliance, given that it doesn’t involve any of the obvious pairs. We don’t get to see much else from The Full Package this episode, but I’m intrigued to see where it goes from here.
Dino vs. Nature
They haven’t had to go to a tribal council yet, but Yontau is still in pretty rough shape. Despite them doing their best to maintain the façade of a united tribe, the cracks are there, and they are visible. The first fracture we see in this episode is that Pinty does not want to give up her sleeping location by the fire, which has become more popular due to the freezing nights.
The main story of Pinty vs. Tania starts here, but the bigger story (for the moment) is that Dino, who has been relatively quiet so far, has fallen asleep by the fire and burned his hands in the process. They turn out to be second-degree burns, and while they look gruesome, the medical team clears him to continue playing in the game. For Dino’s sake, I hope that this is the last we hear about his injury and that it doesn’t impact his game outside of his challenge participation.
Risk and Reward
In lighter news, Masu finally wins an immunity challenge thanks to Steffi and Dante’s unimaginable strength. With this immunity win comes reward, a Future Life feast at that. The multiple confessionals of players endorsing the product are expected. What isn’t expected is how everyone on Masu decides to openly search for hidden idols or advantages during the reward. No one finds anything, but it does provide a clear picture to the differences between the two tribes.
Masu has tossed all presumed pleasantries aside in the name of big moves and unapologetic tactics. The pre-mergers feel like they have something to prove, while the post-merge players just want to play like they did the first time, only better. With results like these, how can I complain about the means?
Pinty vs. Tania (vs. the Rest of Yontau)
For those not yet caught up, Pinty and Tania do not get along. The tension between the two has been brewing for a few episodes now, but it’s finally come to a head now that they are attending their first tribal. Tania is on the outs of the tribe and is presumed to be going home. But Pinty’s behavior has been rubbing a few people the wrong way, and Tania’s disgruntlement is only amplifying the situation.
Between Pinty eating more than her fair share and her disagreements on camp life, some other Yontau members are beginning to see how her staying could be detrimental. On the other hand, Tania is doing herself no favors by calling out others’ behaviors and then refusing to strategize with them, as she did with Shona and Thoriso. Her comments regarding Pinty’s eating do not sit well with the rest of the tribe either, least of all Pinty.
At the core of it all, it seems like the majority of Yontau doesn’t really want to pick a side; they just want the arguments to stop. It’s hard to pretend that you’re one big happy family when family members can’t even pretend to be cordial with one another. While no one wants to make a choice, that’s exactly what tribal calls for. Despite Pinty and Tania both asking for the timed idol, Seamus decides to flush it and play it on himself. As expected, he doesn’t receive any votes. In the end, Yontau chooses to move forward with Pinty, and Tania is voted out unanimously.
Shona’s Side Plot
In between all of the mess that is the clash of Pinty and Tania, Shona’s planning ahead for her future in the game. She may not be able to steal idols this season, but she was able to craft a fake one — and a pretty convincing fake too. We only learn about her plan right before the tribal council, and her planting the fake idol is one of the last shots we see. I’d be shocked if this idol doesn’t come into play later down the line.
The first week on Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts has not only met my expectations, but they’ve also exceeded them. We’re all going to lose some favorites along the way (I’ve already lost one) but take that as proof of the cast’s quality. These players are here to play and play hard; no one plans on taking their second chance for granted. I have no doubt that Week 2 will build off this beginning in the best way, and I can not wait to see what’s in store.