Another episode of Survivor UK down and another woman voted out. That’s now five women and Ren (non-binary) eliminated in a row. For context, there have only been seven episodes so far. Was there some kind of ‘You Can’t Vote Out The Men’ twist that I missed? Even in a tribe of six with only one woman available to cop votes, she still got voted out. It’s beyond parody at this point.
Much of this is due to the “tribe strength” mantra that has permeated the pre-merge, not helped by the intensely physical challenges. For a cast not particularly interested in playing strategically or out of the box, it’s easy for them to fall back on the reductive “men stronger than women” conceit, even if it’s not a wholly accurate representation of reality.
Because let’s face it, Jess, who was voted out of Caleton tonight, was no weaker in that immunity challenge than anyone else. The loss came down to a botched puzzle, which the entire tribe was working on. In fact, Jess was holding up the puzzle pieces longer than anyone else. Meanwhile, on La Nena, Tinuke continued to show her strength by lasting in the Chain Reaction reward challenge.
So, no, the women aren’t physically weaker, but that’s the mindset established in the game from the start, and it’s become increasingly difficult to shake. When the players are so cautious and nervous about being targeted, it’s easy for them to just rely on the tried and tested thing that’s worked so far.
You could argue that Shai and Laurence weren’t necessarily thinking along tribe strength lines. They made a strategic move to vote with former La Nena members Doug and Pegleg to take a strike at the Nathan and Jess duo. But the question is, why target Jess and not Nathan? After all, if it’s challenge strength they’re so worried about, then won’t Nathan be more of a post-merge threat to them?
But they targeted Jess because it was the easy vote based on precedent. It was easy to use her as a fake decoy under the guise of “voting out the weakest.” Yet, I’m sure if Shai and Laurence really wanted to, they could have convinced Doug and Pegleg to take out Nathan instead.
It’s a shame that Caleton lost because I think the action on La Nena could have been a lot more interesting to watch. Still buzzing from their Indian takeaway reward win, La Nena entered the immunity challenge raring to go. Well, except for Christopher, who had his own plan in mind to throw the challenge.
Christopher told Ashleigh that purposely losing the challenge could be a good idea so that they could start picking off some ex-Caleton members. Ashleigh seemed to agree, and so the leopard-print-wearing Welshman set about throwing the challenge in spectacular fashion. Seriously, at one point during the puzzle portion, he put on his swimming goggles and started doing cartwheels!
Unfortunately for Christopher, try as he might to sink La Nena’s chances, Caleton had two puzzle blocks out of place and lost the challenge. All that hard work (or lack thereof) for nothing.
Had Christopher’s plan worked, I’d have been intrigued to see whether this ridiculous throwing attempt went unnoticed. I mean, surely not, right? Even host Joel Dommett called it out mid-challenge. There was a solid chance that La Nena turned against Christopher, especially when you have a straightforward player like Lee, who seems to be all about putting in your best effort in challenges.
At the very least, we’d have seen Tinuke, Matthew, and Leilani trying to sway over one of the OG Le Nenas to make a majority of four. Although, who am I kidding? It would probably just have been another woman.