The strange decision-making continued on tonight’s episode of Survivor UK, and I’m not just talking about the players. Between Leilani’s approach to the tribe swap and production’s choice to abandon a challenge before it had finished, this was another odd and sometimes frustrating edition of Survivor.
After being voted out by the Caleton tribe last week, Leilani joined Le Nena in the middle of the night, waking them from their bamboo beds to share the news. Leilani had a couple of choices of how she could play this twist in regard to improving her position. She could have done a Gerry (Australian Survivor) and completely wiped her hands of her old tribe. Or she could have spun a lie to fool La Nena and stay loyal to Caleton.
Weirdly, Leilani decided to do both, which only worsened her position. She initially lied to La Nena about what had happened at the last tribal, claiming she was voted out by her tribemates after she got into an argument with Shai. This lie would have been fine had Leilani planned to stick to the story until she could reunite with her old tribe. However, with the lie weighing on her conscience, the next day, she decided to come clean and explain what really happened.
This didn’t do anything to improve Leilani’s standing with her new tribemates, who are now all questioning whether they can trust anything she says. If “honesty and integrity” is the game she wants to play (which is a lousy decision in itself), she’d have been better off telling the truth as soon as she arrived at the La Nena beach.
Leilani’s gameplay wasn’t the strangest decision of the episode, though. No. That goes to production, who decided to scrap the Sumo at Sea reward challenge with both tribes tied on points. I get that Chris and Rachel suffered injuries (minor, thankfully) after clashing heads, so the challenge needed to be momentarily stopped. But did it need to be called off entirely? Why couldn’t two other players step in to complete the final match-up? It was a deflating end to the challenge.
There may be a lot of red tape and legalities involved with the BBC, so challenges must be shut down the second a sniff of an injury occurs. If that’s the case, then I suppose it’s hard to put the blame entirely on production. But production can be held responsible for giving both tribes the reward (home comforts)! I could only laugh when Joel strolled into camp with blankets and deckchairs under his arm like a British holidaygoer heading to the beach.
Not to be all “back in my day,” but between the huge haul of food gathered at the marooning, the fishing gear, the barbecue, and now the comforts (which included mattresses!), these castaways are truly being spoiled. And they don’t even deserve it, given all the moaning and whining, especially on Constantly Complaining Caleton. I’m glad it stormed on them overnight and soaked their new pillows; it’s as if the Survivor Gods themselves were unhappy with this turn of events.
The Survivor Gods continued to punish the Caleton complainers as they lost their second immunity challenge in a row. Thankfully, there was actually a semblance of tension this time around. I won’t go as far as to say the gameplay was groundbreaking, but there were at least competing plans and differing targets. We even had talk of a split vote due to Jess and her worry that Shai might have an idol!
Shai has been a target since day one, but his consistent effort across the challenges has kept him around. So, while Jess and Rachel pushed to vote him out, others, such as Laurence, Matty, and Nathan, were less willing to make that move. The guys saw Shai as an asset for the tribe, whereas Rachel and Jess have performed weaker in the challenges as a whole.
Whether accurate or not, it definitely felt like Tinuke was painted as the key decision-maker in this vote. It seemed like how the vote turned out would be whichever way she went. She explained her reasoning for each target, noting Shai’s challenge strength, Jess’ malleability, and her emotional connection with Rachel. But it was her last point that pulled through in the end — she couldn’t manipulate Rachel in the same way she could Jess.
At tribal, there was talk of plans upon plans, with everyone claiming not to know which plan would come through. But really, only Rachel was being honest when she said she had no idea how the vote would turn out, and that’s because she was the real target. With Jess and Rachel putting two votes on Laurence (as part of an intended split vote in case Shai had an idol), everyone else voted for Rachel, sending her home in a 4-2 vote.
While the episode was still like trying to squeeze strategy out of a stone, there was at least an attempt at thinking beyond the simplest plan. And with Laurence catching votes, Jess on the outs, and Leilani’s lies catching up with her, there is hope that the game will open further up from here on out.