It’s hard to believe that we were just beginning a new season of Survivor SA a few months ago, the first new Survivor that we’ve had from any franchise in over a year. Now we have reached the penultimate episode in a season that has surpassed expectations of what Survivor in the times of COVID could look like. With just four players left, two original Vuna and two original Zamba, both the contestants and the viewers leave this episode with a better understanding of everyone’s winning chances, but the lingering wonder if we’re in for a blindside of our own in the finale.
With all that in mind, we have to come back to the most recent episode. What was supposed to be a simple vote was complicated by the revelation that this season would end with a final two, not a final three, as most players assumed. Just as players thought their fate was sealed, for better or for worse, this announcement threw a wrench into everyone’s endgame plans. Despite the change, a misunderstanding led to the same result, and Tyson was voted out in a 2-1-1 split.
More Food Fights and the End in Sight
Even with the numbers dwindling, camp life dynamics have been more or less stagnant between everyone. Losing Kiran, his best friend and brother in the game, has made Tyson even more motivated to win. And he really needs a win here because it’s clear he’s the most likely person to be voted out, especially if Chappies wins immunity again. He’s played an incredible game and is likely to win if he makes it to the end, but getting there is the issue. He has very few options left, but he chalks it up to evidence of how big of a winning contender he has built himself up to be.
The only person with a bigger target on their back than Tyson is Chappies, who is reinvigorated after his choices to forage for food were defended at Tribal Council. Chappies may have won the respect of the jurors, but there’s no love lost between him and Tyson, especially once Tyson knows just how much food he has been hoarding from his starving tribemates.
Etiquette surrounding the sharing of food has been the center of much of the tension amongst the players, but Chappies remains unbothered by his choices to hoard food for himself. In his eyes, Survivor is a selfish game, and everything starts with you as an individual. To Chappies, he is the only one who understands this, so he is justified in hiding coconuts and sugar cane from the other contestants.
To his credit, Chappies is correct in stating that Survivor players need to put themselves first, but it is not just him that is playing selfishly. A lot of these players have been playing for themselves, but sometimes that involves putting trust in others to get there. Tyson has repeatedly stated that he is his own number one, even though he grew especially close to Kiran. Nicole may not be playing particularly selfishly, but no one has said a bad thing about her yet. She has some immunity wins under her belt, and she may find herself the dark horse of the endgame.
Finally, there’s Anela, who might just be playing the most selfish game of all, with mixed reactions from the audience and his peers. As a lover of chaos, even nonsensical chaos, when I say he’s playing a selfish game, I mean that in a great way. If it comes down to Anela and Chappies, the winner may be determined by which kind of selfishness the jury respects more. Even in this round, despite Chappies pushing for a final three with Anela and Nicole, Anela hopes that Chappies loses immunity so that he has options on who to vote out moving forward.
Immunity, Reward, and Something More
Though Anela has been obsessed with building a Survivor resume, taking out Chappies is one accomplishment he won’t be able to add to it (at least for now). Tree mail states that the final four are going straight to an immunity challenge. Nicole and Anela want to win for the sake of winning, but for Tyson and Chappies, this challenge is the difference between winning the game and getting voted out. In the end, Chappies just barely edges out Anela by a few puzzle pieces to secure his fifth immunity win in a row.
Chappies’ immunity win doesn’t just come with a guaranteed spot in the final three. This challenge also has a reward component, where Chappies gets to have breakfast with any juror of his choice. Unsurprisingly, he chooses Anesu, someone he was close with in the game but is also highly respected by the jury members. Chappies is able to ask Anesu any questions he wants about the jury, and Anesu leaves him with a blueprint of how to win the game, including who he stands the best chance against.
This is where the reward begins to feel a little overpowered. Of course, breakfast with a juror is already a huge advantage, but being given unlimited knowledge about the state of affairs in the jury house feels anticlimactic for a season that has delivered in unpredictable moments. What’s more, this reward has one more twist once Anesu leaves.
It turns out that Chappies has also been granted the ability to remove any juror of his choice (the first sign that perhaps this isn’t going to be the final three that most are expecting). This, on top of the breakfast, feels like far too much advantage coming out of one challenge. Chappies would likely have won another challenge if they wanted to spread the rewards out instead of condensing them into one all-encompassing reward.
Nevertheless, Chappies has pulled off quite an impressive feat to get to this point and was delivered a concise blueprint from Anesu on how to win the game. Now he just has to get there and use everything he’s been given to his advantage.
Zamba’s Back in Charge
Chappies may be the most likely contender to win at this point, but Nicole and Anela’s votes hold a lot of weight as the only pair in the final four. They know that by sticking together, they have a clear advantage in the next round if it is a final two. Even more impressive, they overcame a 6-2 deficit after losing Amy and Renier in the Tied Destinies twist.
As a last-ditch effort, Tyson puts his pride aside to make a final plea to Chappies about voting with him to split up the Zamba pair. He tries to appeal to Chappies’ competitive side while building up Anela to be a threat to give a compelling Final Tribal Council performance. While Chappies sees the logic in his pitch, it’s still too little, too late. He is convinced that it isn’t a final two this season, and Tyson is his biggest threat in the end.
Armed with new information from Anesu, Chappies is confident that he’s writing Tyson’s name down at Tribal. Tyson is also confident that the vote is him, as he’s far too big of a threat to bring to the end. Then Tribal happens, and Nico reveals that there will, in fact, be once more immunity challenge and that this season will be a final two.
Chappies knows that neither Anela nor Nicole would take him to the end, but Tyson might if he tried to save him. So he lets both Nicole and Tyson know that he wants to vote for Anela now. Clearly, despite the whispers, Anela can tell by process of elimination that the vote has shifted to him. This final two reveal right before it was time to vote was a brilliant move, as it allowed for on-the-fly thinking and shifting plans down to the last possible second.
When it comes time to vote, Chappies has two votes to write down. First, he votes to remove a juror, and he picks Wardah. Considering her last words to the players was to not let Chappies win, I’d say that this was a wise choice on his part, though I’m sure we’re missing out on some fiery jury questions from her. Second, he has to vote someone out of the game, and he votes for Anela. Shockingly, he’s the only one. Tyson votes for Nicole, while Nicole and Anela both vote for Tyson, outwitting both of the Vuna players and taking out one of the biggest contenders for the win.
Upon looking into this further, it appears that Tyson hoped that Anela would also vote for Nicole, which is why he went in the direction he did. Sadly for him, his risk reaped no reward this time, and Nicole and Anela took out a threat without any help from Chappies. For the first time possibly all game, the last of the Zamba pairs have pulled one over on their Vuna counterparts. This may be the one move that neither Tyson nor Chappies can take any credit for, and Tyson pays for it dearly.
Tyson had a lot to prove to his peers as the youngest of the season. In his final words, he said the game he played was unorthodox and authentic. I say he hit the nail right on the head. As Chappies says at the beginning of the episode, Tyson was underestimated throughout the season. For what reason, I have no idea, because his impact on the game has been huge. Finding two idols, playing them correctly (one for the aforementioned Chappies, which saved the OG Vuna from a near-certain Pagonging), and being the last member standing of a tight trio, the list goes on for Tyson’s achievements. Tyson played well for someone who had never seen the show beforehand, and he was unapologetically himself through the process.
A Chappies-Tyson final two would have been one for the ages, but sadly it was not meant to be here. The final three we do have delivers a compelling storyline of their own, and next episode, we will finally get to see how this incredible season ends. Will Chappies be able to win out and secure the jury votes? Will Nicole or Anela get the last laugh? Will losing Wardah and gaining Tyson shake up the jury dynamics? Nothing is set in stone until the finale airs, but all three finalists have a believable case for the win. I can’t wait to see how it all comes to a close.