Some episodes of Survivor are good because of their unpredictability. Other times they’re good because of innovative strategy or ruthless gameplay. We’ve seen plenty of that already this season, leaving viewers with excellent payoff and excitement for what’s next. This episode did not have any of that, but nonetheless, it was still a great if emotional watch, particularly towards the end.
Nothing distinctly unprecedented happened, but it was surprising in its own right in that arguably the biggest threat to win the game is now a part of the jury. We have reached the phase of the game where the most polarizing characters are taking the fall, but that doesn’t make it any easier to process. Last week it was Santoni, and now, the most formidable duo of the season has met their end after Kiran is deemed too big a threat by his rivals.
With only five players left, there is very little fanfare regarding who will be voted out, especially after Chappies secures his own safety by winning immunity. In exchange for the lack of suspense, we get valuable time dedicated to understanding the players on a more individual level. Who do contestants want to go to the end with? What do they value in the game? How likely do they think they are to win?
Viewers can make their own predictions, but now we have an opportunity to further analyze the final four and their journeys to this point. Now we are left to contemplate what the end of the season might look like, and with Kiran gone the possibilities have turned on its head.
Making and Breaking Deals
The last Tribal Council was rough on everyone, but Tyson still considers it a win in his book. He won the fire-making duel, adding another point to his Survivor resume, and got his intended target Santoni out. He’s the player with nine lives, always able to survive another round, despite almost always being a target. You can tell that he’s put a lot of thought into the case he wants to make to the jury.
His partner in crime, Kiran, is much less optimistic about the events of Tribal. Despite everyone apologizing to one another back at camp, Kiran is pretty certain that the League of Shadows is broken beyond repair. Unfortunately, with so few people left, this means he’s going to have to rely on players that he wouldn’t normally trust otherwise.
Kiran has decided that he does not want Anela to make it any further into the game, so he tries to pitch getting rid of him to Nicole in hopes that she will take the opportunity to separate herself from her former tribemate. Anela is aware that his double-agent status has jeopardized him, and he will probably have to pick a side soon.
Despite Anela’s untrustworthiness to his allies, everyone has no choice but to rely on him for a vote. Tyson recognizes this and makes sure to remind his former ally that it is an absolute priority that they vote out Chappies as soon as possible. Operation Get Rid of Chappies is back in full force, and it’s an agenda that Chappies is all too aware of.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Chappies will very likely have to win out from now on if he even wants a chance of reaching the Final Tribal Council; even Chappies himself admits to this. However, he still tries to make a pitch of his own to Nicole and Anela, just in case he doesn’t win immunity. He may be a physical threat, but the duo of Tyson and Kiran are equally, if not more deadly, and he wants to make sure the former Zamba members are fully aware of this.
The Minister of Rice
Chappies is awarded some extra time to make his case when he wins reward and selects Anela to join him. Truthfully, he couldn’t have picked a better person for this reward, where they are able to conspire about the endgame over a meal and drinks. Anela’s built up quite the reputation over the last few rounds of being a flip-flopper, and he’s more than willing to betray his allies if he thinks it’ll build up his resume to the jury.
Chappies hopes to use Anela’s self-interested gameplay to his advantage, proposing that they take out Kiran or Tyson next, even if Chappies doesn’t win immunity. To his face, Anela agrees, but to the camera, he admits that he’s going to make the decision that’s best for him and him alone.
Back at camp, Chappies is back to his old eating habits, but with new restrictions. Kiran has been elected as the Minister of Rice to the tribe and has the authority to ration out rice to prevent future theft. He’s running a tight ship, and given how dire the rice situation is, they should have appointed him sooner. But since when has Chappies let tribe etiquette stop him from doing anything, especially eating? Not only do he and Anela lie about the size of their food reward in order to also be able to eat at dinner, but Chappies’ Diner is back and fully functioning.
This time, Kiran and Anela wake up in time to catch him in the act of his late-night feasts. Luckily for Chappies, he’s only eating crab he caught himself, but the damage was already done. Kiran got what he wanted by catching Chappies back to his old tricks. He showed Anela that his rival is not to be trusted and that he has no consideration for the rest of the tribe.
Despite their differences, Kiran and Chappies are admittedly similar in how they use every opportunity possible to advance themselves in the game. Whether or not it does any good for Kiran’s game is another thing entirely, but Kiran has hope that this can help him sway Anela.
The Inevitable Finally Happens, But It Doesn’t Make It Easier
Many of the contestants feel that this immunity challenge is do or die for their game. Chappies is an obvious one, but Anela is also worried that the tables will turn on him at any moment, and Kiran believes that his fate completely hangs on who wins the challenge. Whether it’s due to the extra helpings of food or just pure momentum, Chappies wins immunity yet again.
Without a doubt, this is the worst-case scenario for Kiran, as he is well aware that his best chance of him staying was if Chappies was also an option to go. No one wants to take the risk and sit next to Kiran and Tyson at the end, and between the two, Kiran is the bigger threat to win.
As much as it pains me to admit, all of the players left besides Tyson have a motive to vote out Kiran, as he explains in depth. As the appointed Minister of Rice, he’s preventing Chappies from sneaking extra helpings of food. He tried to blindside Nicole last round, and he doesn’t have the necessary amount of time to sway her to betray Anela. He called out Anela for his poor gameplay last Tribal, so the likelihood of him aligning with them this time is slim to none. Throw Tyson’s injury from a few challenges ago into the mix, and it’s clear that Kiran is not only the bigger threat strategically, he’s also more likely than Tyson to win the next immunity. It’s Kiran and Tyson against the world, and it’s becoming incredibly apparent that they can’t maneuver their way out of this one.
After Nicole and Anela talk it over, they agree that Kiran should go over Tyson. This is where the episode really diverges from the formula we’ve been accustomed to. Anela and Nicole inform Kiran and Tyson that it’s going to be one of them tonight and… that’s it. There’s no dramatics, no attempts at scrambling, no second option to convince the audience that we may have a blindside to look forward to. We know that the vote is between Kiran and Tyson, but it’s most likely Kiran going here.
What the episode lacks in unpredictability, it makes up for in heart. Just before Tribal, Kiran and Tyson share an embrace, knowing that this is the end of the line for them. Tyson is clearly getting choked up in this moment, an incredible turnaround for a player that commonly reminded us that he was his own number one. This is a Survivor character moment at its finest, a time where even the most competitive of people like Tyson can be emotional about another player going out over him. It’s heartbreaking but powerful all the same.
Tribal Council is intriguing, but it feels like a foregone conclusion. Nicole defends her game to Nico, and Nico defends Chappies to everyone, and Kiran admits that his time in the game is most likely ending tonight. Kiran’s prediction becomes a reality when the votes are read, three for him and two for Nicole. In the blink of an eye, the season’s strongest strategist is out of game but not without promising that he would sway the jury to vote how he wanted.
This time last week, I was convinced that Kiran was winning, and it wasn’t even close. I struggled to even think of who would come in second, because he’s contributed so much to the course of the game. Now that he’s gone, I don’t know where else to look, but they all have a case to make if they reach the end.
Chappies might be relying on the immunities to stay afloat, but he’s also been an essential fixture to the merge strategy. Anela may be a selfish player, but that’s exactly what you need to be in Survivor. While Kiran was making the plans, Tyson was right there to make sure it was perfectly executed. Despite what was said at Tribal, Nicole also has a few individual wins under her belt, and she has never given up when met with adversity.
We have our final four, and what a fantastic group it is. With two episodes left, we are so close to the end, but I’m confident that no one is taking the easy route to get there.