A whirlwind ‘Previously On’ reminds us of how much happened in the first week. Refreshed now, we are ready for week 2. Will it be a calm and straightforward episode? Will it heck.
Immunity and Reward
Arriving at the Immunity/Reward challenge, there is little surprise from Masu that Tania has been voted off, with only Toni appearing to be slightly sorry.
The challenges that Masu has won thus far have been less about teamwork and more about individual prowess (Reward in episode 1, Immunity in episode 4). This time the challenge is again individual. In pairs, one member of each tribe will run a ‘gauntlet,’ trying to get past each other to grab their tribe’s rope to release a puff of tribe-coloured powder. The first to five points wins Immunity and Reward.
For Reward? Not only comfort (blankets, pillows, a tarp, and a hammock) but also bread, butter, tomato, onions, cheese, mustard, chutney — all the makings of braaibroodjie (grilled cheese sandwiches).
Masu absolutely annihilates Yontau, as Steffi, Meryl, Tejan, Palesa, and Dante stroll past Shona, Pinty, Seamus, Killarney, and Felix to a 5-0 victory. Yontau trails dejectedly back to camp as Dino tells us that losing the challenge was embarrassing, disheartening, and “so, so kak” (sh*t).
On Masu beach, Toni complains that Dante has put himself in the prime spot by targeting the other alpha male, Chappies. Marian approaches her to bury the hatchet, although this smart social move is also a strategic one, with her aim being to keep Toni “blue blood strong.”
Palesa sees through Dante’s ego and bluster. In confessional, we hear her insightful thoughts. She is watching and waiting for the time she will slice through Dante’s connections.
While everyone else is snoozing (Dante in the hammock… is this foreshadowing??), Steffi is idol hunting. She finds one by the tribe flag. The idol is valid until there are six castaways left in the game. She decides to keep the idol a secret, as she doesn’t quiiiite trust anyone fully.
Phil v Tevin
On Yontau beach, Phil tells us that he is standing back and letting others do the running to keep the target off his back. He provides the episode title by calling himself “The Rope Dealer.” He plans to give everyone enough rope to hang themselves. He has an alliance with Tevin, but he doesn’t trust him.
Once Yontau loses the challenge, Phil goes to work with subtlety, leading small groups up to the precipice of the idea of a Tevin blindside and allowing them to make the final leap themselves. Everyone sees that Tevin and Seamus are running the tribe. In all the franchises, we’ve seen many an episode where castaways recognise who is in charge but seem unable or unwilling to act. Thoriso, for example, says that Tevin is “a darn good player” but wonders if it is too early to target him.
And here is the beauty and storytelling power of the Survivor SA editors. They show us step by step how the potential blindside of Tevin might be arranged without ever letting us quite know that it is a done deal.
Meanwhile, Tevin is feeling large and in charge, with Seamus as a strong second. He is satisfied that there is tribe agreement around the ‘obvious’ vote of Pinty — someone apparently on the outs, who has annoyed everyone in the tribe. He preaches unity at camp and at tribal council and lays out the plan that they stick together to get as far as they can. “Do this together, get to the other side, infiltrate, and take them down one by one,” he says.
That he now has an idol nestled beside his family jewels, found by the tribe flag attached to a red string, only makes him feel more secure. Although he doesn’t want it to go to his head, he has the game in the palm of his hand, along with the rest of the tribe. He’s delighted it is a long-term idol. He may come to wish it had been a play-at-the-next-tribal-council idol.
The No-Bullsh*t Alliance
Thoriso’s read on the game is as insightful as ever. Tevin and Seamus are running the tribe. One of them needs to go. But that can’t happen until Felix and Dino come to their own realisation.
Phil warns Felix they must watch Tevin in case he finds an idol. Phil has an alliance with Tevin, but he doesn’t trust him. Phil tells Felix and Dino that Tevin and Seamus are brewing something and plants the seed of a Tevin blindside. Dino asks where the other two votes are coming from and suggests that Thoriso may be persuaded. Felix suggests Pinty. Bam! Majority of five.
Anticipating a swap, Phil suggests that now is the right time for a big move. So he christens ‘The No Bullsh*t Alliance’,’ consisting of himself, Dino, and Felix. They pinkie-swear, Dino with his crispy little finger. “It’s a big season with big players,” Dino tells us. “You have to take your shots when they come; otherwise, you are probably going to live to regret them.”
Elsewhere, Pinty is on the scramble. She sets her sights on Killarney, pointing to her poor challenge showing (careful, Pinty) and lack of work around camp. Tevin assures Pinty she is safe, though he is lying to her as he is to everyone. He tells us he doesn’t have time to make bonds this season, so presumably, there is no new tattoo on the horizon.
Pinty pitches Killarney to Seamus, who also placates her, despite thinking that what’s being said is “boobs without nipples – no point.” Seamus pitches “selfish” Pinty to Tevin and Thoriso. Tevin believes that Pinty is the obvious next vote. Tevin tells Seamus, Dino, and Felix that it is too early to be turning on each other. Words of prophecy falling out of his mouth, he continues with, “the problem with the easy votes is you never know where people stand.”
Perhaps sniffing the wind, Pinty pitches Tevin to Phil. He agrees if she can get another three on board. He counsels that she should “lose her sh*t” at the tribal council so that no one suspects a thing.
In a thrilling milestone for Shona, it’s day 9, and she was voted out on day 9 in her previous season. Tevin magnanimously assures her that she’s not going home.
And we’d be much more impressed by Seamus making a fake idol to stash at tribal if Shona hadn’t already done it, and with a more crafty flair. Nonetheless, it’s amazing that never before has this been done, and now it’s been done twice in the first nine days of a season.
Nico opens the proceedings by bringing up the ‘whitewash’ of the previous vote. Everyone preaches unity. There are at least four people who are sincere in this. Nico winds Pinty up, and off she goes. She gets into an argy-bargy with Killarney, states with disgust that she “knows” that she is going tonight and generally throws around her ‘burn it all to the ground’ attitude.
As soon as the second Tevin vote is read, he’s smart enough to know he’s gone. Who would risk this vote if they didn’t securely have the numbers? Tevin, Seamus, Killarney, and Shona vote for Pinty. The No BS alliance of Phil, Dino, and Felix, along with Pinty and Thoriso, vote for Tevin. He leaves with an idol in his groin as a souvenir, his dream of a reunion of the Tattoo Three smashed, but with his love of the game intact. Four tribal councils, three whisker-thin 5-4 blindsides.
The dash, courage, and high emotion of a returnee season are all on display. Two idols found, one immediately exiting the game, and a blindside that will affect both Yontau and Masu in the coming days. The spectre of a tribe swap informed the moves in this episode, and, with tribe swaps by this time in the previous two seasons, we may anticipate the coming swap along with the castaways.