After last week, I wish I could say that spirits are high in the Osindile tribe and bygones are officially bygones. Sadly, that is far from the case. If anything, dynamics are messier than they’ve ever been before, with very little wiggle room for players to maneuver through the carnage. Everyone has something to answer for, and by Tribal Council, everyone’s dirty laundry has been aired out. It’s equal parts marvelous and disastrous for all involved.
Before the power dynamics as we thought we knew them are ‘smashed’ (pun intended) to smithereens, the players and the audience get a much-needed reprieve with the beloved family visit. Castaways are able to step outside of the game, if only momentarily, and remember who they are outside of a TV show. Of course, nothing lasts forever. The good vibes go up in smoke, quite literally, when Santoni and Tyson face off in fire-making after Nicole plays her fire idol. Tyson wins, and the dynamic duo remains intact once more, but at the cost of one of the biggest players of a remarkable season.
The League of Shadows, Assemble!
Chappies is down and he’s down bad. He was caught stealing from the tribe and was brutally called out at the last Tribal. He’s public enemy number one with almost everyone and has few options to get to the end besides winning out. To add salt to the wound, Anela, whom he saved with the Tribal Council Pass last round, has no intentions of being loyal to him. He’s solidified a new alliance with Tyson and Kiran called “The League of Shadows.” With Nicole as a plus one, the trio holds a majority no matter who wins immunity.
There were a few options Santoni and Chappies could have gone with their advantages last round, but it seems that they made the wrong choice here. They put their hopes into the wrong person, and by doing so, they actually made it easier for Kiran and Tyson to solidify their bond with Anela without betraying Wardah. By idoling Wardah out of the game, Kiran and Tyson didn’t have to choose between their two trios to get to the position that they are now.
As expected from the last round, tensions remain insurmountably high around camp. Tyson and Chappies’ tolerance for one another has run out, their rivalry shifting to an inexhaustible feud. Chappies declares that he won’t tolerate any more disrespect from Tyson, and Tyson argues back that Chappies is the last person to talk about respect, given everything that’s transpired over the past few days. Essentially, it’s more of the same of what we heard last episode, but with The League of Shadows by his side, Tyson is committed to his new mission, Operation Get Rid of Chappies.
It’s a Family Affair
With everyone still feeling the ramifications of the last cycle, the castaways are in dire need of anything that will lift their spirits. This means this is the perfect spot for the family visit, arguably the most sought-after Survivor reward possible. Santoni’s sister, Tyson’s best friend, Kiran’s sister, Anela’s brother, Nicole’s brother, and Chappies’ wife all made the trip to support their loved ones for the day, and the difference on all of their demeanors is instantly recognizable. With the last few rounds being particularly intense, it feels like the players and the audience can take a deep sigh of relief, especially when things end positively for everyone.
This season’s family visit is different than many before it. For one, the family members are there to help in the reward challenge, meaning they provide some minor assistance in the beginning before they cheer them on by the side. Secondly, this is less of a reward challenge than it is an immunity advantage challenge. So, when Chappies does eventually win, he does not have to choose which loved ones get to go on a reward with them, but rather which two players will have to face Chappies in the immunity challenge, for which he chooses Anela and Santoni. That means Kiran, Nicole, and his biggest adversary in Tyson will not even have a chance at immunity.
As someone that has been a big fan of this season’s twists and advantages, this immunity advantage seems too powerful for anyone, especially at the final six. It gives far too much power to one individual, with very little opportunity for the other three to do anything about it.
Being an avid Survivor fan, I’ve been known to anxiously wait for one of the most pressing dilemmas a player can face, and that’s who they select on the loved ones’ reward. The real question, of course, is who is deprived of their loved one and what the ramifications of the choice will be. Here, no such decision was made because all of the loved ones got to go back to camp, spend time together, and enjoy some burgers.
While this may seem like a missed opportunity to really stir the pot, there is enough drama occurring without the loved one dilemma. Truthfully, Survivor is a difficult game, but it’s also been an exceptionally difficult year. Given the struggles that everyone has faced over the pandemic, the loved one predicament is not necessary with the season we’ve had thus far.
The time back at camp is what one would expect. Everyone is in good spirits with their taste of home, and players are given the chance to share their experiences with their loved ones. The highlight of this segment is Kiran, who is able to use his keen knowledge of the game to detect an idol hidden behind the OUTsurance sign during their feast. With the help of Nicole’s brother (sorry Nicole), Kiran is able to secure the final idol of the game during the last round in which they can be used.
Anela Ruins His Own Plan
After Chappies does end up winning immunity over Anela and Santoni, Operation Get Rid of Chappies is forced on hold. There is no Immunity Island this round, so Nicole’s fire idol and Kiran’s regular idol are the only advantages left in play. Luckily, The League of Shadows has a backup plan now that Chappies is no longer an option. If they can’t take out their biggest obstacle to the end, their best bet is Santoni, a plan that Nicole is also on board with.
With an idol in his pocket, no one is better positioned than Kiran. He’s been steadily in the middle, and everyone seems to believe that he is loyal to them. Nicole believes that they’re all voting out Santoni, while Chappies and Santoni think the plan is to finally take out Tyson.
Fully committed to The League of Shadows making it to final three, Kiran realizes that Chappies is not their only adversary in this goal. The fact of the matter is that Nicole is a much bigger challenge threat than Santoni. Plus, Santoni is always an option for the next round if Chappies wins immunity again. For The League of Shadows’ best interests, Kiran pitches that they should actually vote for Nicole and convince her to not play the fire idol.
Not everyone is down with this plan. While this could be the best move for The League of Shadows, Anela doesn’t see how this benefits him as an individual player. Nicole is a number for him, and Kiran and Tyson will receive all the credit if they convince Anela to betray her. Now that we’re so close to the endgame, the talk of Survivor resumes has plagued us once again. Players aren’t just thinking about the case they’ll make to the jury; they’re also thinking about how their game will compare to the other finalists. Anela, in particular, is worried about his chances, especially if the plan is to sit next to Kiran and Tyson.
With this realization in mind, Anela attempts to pull off what could be potentially the biggest move of the game: blindside Kiran. He tells Nicole about the plan to vote her out and then tells Santoni and Chappies about Kiran’s idol (which they didn’t know previously). Anela wants them to all put votes on Kiran since he knows Kiran will play his idol for Tyson. Santoni suggests that they split the votes just in case, which Anela deems too complicated. When he sees the other three adding their own ideas into the mix, Anela backs out after realizing that he will not receive full credit for this move either.
In a completely unprecedented turn of events, not only does Anela decide to betray the blindside that he started, but he also tells Kiran everything—the plan to blindside him and the fact that everyone knows that he has an idol. Finally, in a decision I can only assume Anela made because he wanted to make the game harder for himself, he tells Kiran that it was his idea, and he’s the one that told them everything.
Kiran says it best when he calls Anela’s gameplay the most amateurish gameplay he’s ever seen on Survivor. It’s truly baffling that such a series of mistakes could be made this far into the game, but I can’t lie; it made for excellent television. The final six were all hoping for an easy vote that worked in their favor, and without Anela’s wavering ideals, we might have gotten just that. Instead, it shook the game up and left everyone in a sense of unease right before the vote. This season, there’s no such thing as an easy vote, so I suppose I should give a small thank you to Anela for keeping the tradition alive in the most unconventional way possible.
Everything Goes Up in Flames
Heading into Tribal, there’s not a clear picture of what to expect. Many scenarios have been thrown around, so it’s anybody’s guess for where votes will fall and how idols will be played. What is unexpected is the usually calm and collected Kiran revealing everything that’s transpired over the past few days, including exactly how the failed plan to blindside him came about.
Kiran’s airing everyone’s dirty laundry out in front of the jury, and it’s hard to tell who he plans to align with from this point onward besides Tyson. Whether this is an attempt to make a case to the jury or just an opportunity to vent out his frustrations, Kiran is using this time for all of its worth. And frankly, what better time to call everyone out than the last time he can play the only classic idol in the game?
Kiran does indeed choose to play his idol, but for himself, leading Nicole to also play her fire idol. Despite everything, Anela sides with Kiran and Tyson, while Chappies, Santoni, and Nicole split their votes, 2 on Tyson and 1 negated vote on Kiran. Due to the fire idol being played, Santoni and Tyson face off in the fire-making challenge to determine their fates. It’s incredibly close between the two, but Tyson edges out the win when his rope is cut first.
The fiery Santoni is officially out of the game, going out in the blaze of glory that she deserves. There’s not much game left this season, but her absence will definitely be felt. A one-of-a-kind personality, Santoni played as her most authentic self from beginning to end. For her to be such a groundbreaking presence throughout the game, losing her so close to the end is heartbreaking. I wanted nothing more than for her to be able to make her case in the final tribal council, but sadly, it wasn’t meant to be (this time at least). One thing is for certain, she has made an indelible mark on Survivor as a whole.
We are down to the final five players, and it really feels like anything is possible. Will Chappies continue his immunity streak? Can Tyson and Kiran survive another round together? Is it possible for Anela to clean up the mess of his own design? And will Nicole forge her own path to the end or be taken out just before the finals? We are at the point where there are no guarantees, no easy votes, and no more room to hide. Just when it appears that we know what direction the game is going, our expectations get thrown out the window. Luckily, that’s what is so great about it.