The ‘previously on’ is hardly necessary as the events of last week are seared on our brains. This is Survivor at its tip-top best. And another scorching episode to come.
The editors give us plenty of time with New Yontau as they make their way into camp and begin to unpick that evening’s sensational Tribal Council. Phil has buyer’s remorse from the live switch of his vote from Dante to Shona. He thought he was in danger; had he been, this would have been a great move. But, as he was not, it’s not. He tries apologising to Dino, who plays the understanding pal but privately calls Phil a “mofo.”
Dante asks Dino why he voted for him. Dante seems to think that votes only go one way, as he himself wrote down Dino’s name. Meryl thinks the plan was stupid and short-sighted. “That dragon is sitting there brewing,” she says, referring to Dante. But oh, Meryl, it would have been brilliant and long-sighted if it had just worked as intended.
Nonetheless, Dante is still there, and he thinks Dino is a “slimy little snake.” He laments that “everyone should listen to the Messiah. I’m bringing the message, and no one is listening.” Which makes him Cassandra, but let that lie.
Queen Palesa manages to escape unscathed because Dante thinks she “saw the light” and voted with him against Dino, not realizing Palesa voted that way in hopes of Dante going home. Dante is ready to go all-in with Palesa, feeling Meryl is moving away from him, while Palesa plans to play double agent. Meryl and Marian are now wary of Palesa, thinking she wants to weasel into Dante’s number two spot.
At the water well, Dino starts saying his goodbyes. He’s a “dead man walking’,” telling Phil it has been an honour to play with him. Phil apologises again. Palesa jumps on Phil from a great height. “What the hell,” Palesa thinks, “we said we were going to do it; that’s all you need.” While promising Dino and Phil that she will continue to work both sides, privately, Palesa questions working with them, fearing they will ruin her game in the long run.
Immunity and Reward
Killarney has a whizzy moment before the challenge but recovers in time to be told about — be still my beating heart — the Fresh Stop reward! But to get all of that food, plus immunity, the tribes are going to have to work for it. And work they do, with one member of each tribe guiding their blindfolded tribemates through a maze to collect puzzle pieces, then making the puzzle.
Thoriso and Dino are the callers and puzzle makers. (I have a slightly shameful confession. I love blindfolded challenges.) It starts calmly enough, with Dino very precise in controlling Yontau. Thoriso starts getting understandably agitated as several of her tribemates forget right from left. But once Yontau has all their puzzle pieces, the game kicks up to 11, as they become strategically rowdy on a suggestion from Shane.
Without hesitation, all of Yontau makes so much noise that Masu can’t hear Thoriso calling. Dino solves the puzzle “The Sweet Taste of Victory,” and Yontau claims immunity and reward. Masu is very ticked off about the “foul” and “nasty” play from Yontau, though I count at least two Masu who would’ve done the same given half the chance.
Yontau must go to the out-of-sight food shack one at a time, and then they have three minutes to shove in as much as possible. Shane asks Dante, “Are we going to draw straws?” taking every opportunity to appear as the beta. Piles of chicken, chippies, wraps, burgers, waffles, fruit, doughnuts, and, of course, a huge cake wait for Meryl, who goes first.
The giant grey cake with tribe symbols catches Meryl’s eye, and she destroys it. Inside, she finds a Tribal Council Pass, which allows the holder to send themselves or anyone else out of Tribal Council, unable to vote but immune from the vote. What follows is a marvelous montage of castaways stuffing their faces while frantically pulling everything apart to find an advantage. Arriving last, Marian wisely decides that the advantage will already have been found, so she concentrates on eating. A queen after my own heart.
Another thing I love is watching Survivors stuff their faces while searching for an idol, but nothing will ever beat Luke Toki in Australian Survivor 2019, searching through popcorn, sobbing, and cramming ice cream into his mouth as he watches a video from his family.
Yontau Strat Chat
Despite Yontau not going to Tribal Council, the fantastic storytellers of this season give us some strategy talk to tide us over. Back at camp, Dante warns Meryl, Marian, and Palesa how dangerous Dino is, while Meryl fronts him with giving Dino the whole plan. She questions sticking with Dante and privately tells Marian about her Tribal Council Pass. Now The Full Package alliance has an advantage each, with Marian’s Diplomatic Immunity and Steffi’s Immunity Idol.
Masu Is A Boiling Cauldron
Felix tells us in confessional that he approves of “dirty play” in a competition as long as it’s within the rules. Hard agree. Meanwhile, at the campfire, Pinty and Steffi get into it about rice rations and Pinty’s raised voice. Steffi apologises, but Pinty doesn’t want an apology and, in confessional, identifies Steffi as a threat.
Hey you guys, Toni doesn’t like lying. It weighs heavy on her. (Tejan, on the other hand, is finding he’s quite good at it.) Toni pitches Pinty to Tejan and lies to Felix, Thoriso, and Pinty by suggesting Killarney. Felix agrees to vote out an original Yontau, who currently have a 4/3 numbers advantage over the original Masu. This is an apparent show of faith, but he and Thoriso want Killarney out for their own purposes.
Thoriso identifies that Toni and Tejan, in fact, hold the power, and she reasons that they will align with her and Felix because they are the steadier and more predictable pair in the tribe. Thoriso’s usually impeccable reads on the game may be letting her down this day.
Killarney thinks the four are herself, Steffi, Toni, and Tejan voting for Pinty. Felix and Thoriso think they are the four with Toni and Tejan. Pinty thinks the target is Killarney.
Toni and Tejan have gracefully manoeuvred themselves to be the deciders, when being down in the numbers after a swap is generally thought to require scrambling. Whichever way they go at this Tribal Council, they plan to return to camp in a 4-2 majority.
Pinty runs to collar Felix and to complain that Steffi is worse than herself. lolz. Pinty is worried that if Steffi makes it to merge, she’ll hook up again with the “other side.” She proposes that they get Toni and Tejan to vote for Killarney, Steffi and Killarney to vote for her, and then Pinty, Felix, and Thoriso will vote for Steffi. She’s envisioning a delicious 3-2-2 plurality vote, and it looks good to her.
But where are the bonds, relationships, and understandings that would allow her to make such a manoeuvre? We’ve seen players before mentally move castaways like pieces on a game board, as if they have no volition, rather than ask the vital question — to get them to do what I want them to do, what’s in it for them?
And although it’s generally not a good idea to give a flat-out no to any proposal, Thoriso is a no for voting anyone but Killarney. She tells Felix and Pinty that it is because Killarney is a closed player not prepared to work with them, which is hazardous. But, of course, it is for her own purposes. Thoriso wants to be the sole “outsider” going into the merge. Shona is gone, and with Killarney gone, Thoriso will be the only one with “goat potential,” and that suits her perfectly.
With little prompting from Nico, the tribemates exclaim how much they love this new tribe. Oh boy, how they love this new tribe! The two targets are relaxed, each convinced the other will go. In answer to who feels unsafe, they all obediently raise their hands. And there must be some truth in that. Pinty says she is scared of being blindsided again. Toni, with a sad shake of her head, observes that they all went that way.
They all agree the votes will be a “general consensus.” Let’s see. After three Killarney votes, the Pinty cascade begins. By the second one, Pinty is looking around with accusation and betrayal. Felix denies blindsiding her. Toni whispers “I’m sorry” to Pinty and to Felix and Thoriso, who are now in “big trouble,” their games slipping through their fingers.
In Pinty’s confessional, she is sanguine. “No regrets, man. I’m really grateful for the opportunity, really grateful I got to kick some arse out there. I’m a little bit bummed it ended this way but kudos to them. I didn’t leave without fighting.” And like that, one of the most entertaining, open, prickly, and energetic castaways is out of the game. She will be missed— unless perhaps, you have to share a camp with her.
Next time on: Tejan finds his idol! Toni wants to play with Felix 100%! Felix doesn’t buy that bullsh*t! Meryl and Marian don’t think Dino is good at the game! Masu needs to WORK at the challenge! The clang of the big blue ball slipping from their hands boding ill for their chances.