I never thought I’d be pleased to see an Australian Survivor-style non-elimination twist, especially so early in the game, but given the current state of Survivor UK, I’m on board with it. The season needed something, anything, to spice things up, and perhaps this will end up injecting some life into the game.
We’ve seen the “vote someone onto the other tribe” twist before, most recently in Australian Survivor’s Heroes vs. Villains. It worked out brilliantly in that season, with the vote out providing much-needed clarity for Gerry, which in turn had repercussions on the game’s direction moving forward. Whether it will have a similar effect on Survivor UK remains to be seen, but it at least provides the potential for drama, which has been sorely lacking so far.
Leilani was the person voted out of Caleton and sent over to the La Nena tribe at the end of the fourth episode. It’s hard to say whether she would have been the boot anyway, but based on how the season has gone until now, it seems a safe bet. Despite her yoga skills coming in handy for the Immunity Challenge, Leilani remained a target due to her previous weak performances in challenges.
The other option on the table was Shai, pinpointed by his tribemates as untrustworthy and standoffish due to his quiet and serious personality. In confessional, Shai recognized this negative perception, noting that he is simply introverted but that this can come across to others as aloof and impolite. Tinuke, in particular, seemed deadset on taking out Shai once the opportunity presented itself.
However, I’m not so sure that’s how it would have gone down, even if this was a normal elimination. Shai has proven his worth in challenges repeatedly, even beating Lee in the episode’s Reward Challenge showdown and helping Caleton earn a barbecue feast. As Nathan and Jess both said, Shai is a major asset for challenges, and that has been the driving factor of the votes so far this season.
So Leilani was probably doomed either way, but at least now she has a second chance at building bonds with her new tribe. As she left Tribal, she told Caleton that she had their backs, but how will she feel after she’s slept on it? It’s not as if she was particularly close with anyone on Caleton, and if La Nena is smart, they’ll do whatever they can to make Leilani feel welcome and part of the tribe.
The La Nena women and Ren, especially, should make it a priority to win Leilani over to their side. With Lee’s “men stronger than women” sentiment being the tribe’s current ethos, it doesn’t look good for Ashleigh, Hannah, and Ren. But if they can pull in Leilani, they’ll at least be able to tie things up. And there are players such as Doug and Christopher who would only need a little bit of convincing to flip on the men’s alliance.
But that’s all on the basis that these players will start, well, playing. If the game continues along this safe and steady approach, La Nena will simply stick together and boot Leilani out as an easy vote. That would be terribly boring but wholly predictable for this season.
The frustrating thing is there are clearly a few castaways on this season that are ready to play. But they’re having to take a cautious approach due to how many non-fans are involved. After Laurence filled Tinuke in about what really happened at the Outpost, she expressed her desire to find the hidden immunity idol for herself. Plus, her wanting to take out Shai showed she is thinking beyond tribe strength.
Similarly, on La Nena, Doug and Pegleg went idol searching, with Doug finding the package under Peg’s nose and later sharing the news with Ren. The Doug and Ren duo has the most strategic potential in the blue tribe, and once they can make their mark and start dictating the game to their pace and style, all the better it will be for the TV show.
Overall, the fourth episode was better than Episode 3, though that is damning with faint praise. The challenges remain the centerpiece of the episodes, but the camp scenes are lacking in their ability to highlight personalities and relationships. But at least there was some semblance of gameplay in this episode, and hopefully, the swap twist will kickstart the drama for the coming episodes.