Sometimes, you wait forever for a Survivor Auction, and then two come along at once! That’s right. After a tepid pre-merge, Survivor UK treated us tonight not just with a much-welcome merge episode but also with an auction and a compelling vote-off. For a moment, I had to check I was actually watching Survivor UK.
Coming off the Shai blindside last week, the remaining castaways were raring to get to the next stage of the game. Nathan, Doug, and Pegleg were riding high, Laurence was looking for a Hail Mary, and Christopher and Ashleigh were ready to start making big moves. But before all that, host Joel Dommett surprised the newly merged tribe with a Survivor favourite, the Auction, which recently returned on the US version.
Looking fresh in their new pink merge buffs, the 11 tribemates gathered to bid on various items. This included bacon butties, beer and crisps, toothpaste and toothbrush, spicy chicken and chips, shampoo and conditioner, afternoon tea, and even an advantage. Sadly, with product placement not allowed on the BBC, there was no sponsored Greggs Steak Bake reward. However, we did get to see Laurence downing a bottle of ketchup like he was pounding sambuca shots.
Chris emerged as the biggest winner from the Auction, not only finding a secret scroll inside his shower items but also placing the winning bid on a separate advantage. If you needed any more evidence that there is a lack of Survivor fans on this cast, the fact that Chris won the advantage for just 600 Dominican Pesos tells you all you need to know. Seriously, over half the tribe left without having spent any money.
At the merged camp on La Nena beach, Chris told Ashleigh about his advantage haul. The secret scroll was a clue to a hidden immunity idol, while the other advantage turned out to be an extra vote, which is good for the next three Tribal Councils. Working together, Chris and Ash quickly found the idol; Chris was so excited he worried he’d return to camp and announce his discovery from the treetops.
Chris didn’t need to announce anything, though, as his target was already increasing before any advantage came into play. After their tiff last week, Lee and Chris still weren’t seeing eye-to-eye despite having their eyes on each other. Lee told his new tribemates that Chris and Ash had become something of a “power couple,” while Chris and Ash were ready to cut Lee loose.
This was all great news for the outnumbered Caletons, Tinuke, Matthew, Leilani, Nathan, and Laurence. Ash spilled to Tinuke that Lee was targeting her at the next vote, which came as a surprise to T that another woman was being targeted despite the 7-4 majority for the men on the tribe. It shouldn’t really have been a surprise, though, as that’s been Lee’s agenda from the very start.
Ash and Chris weren’t on board with Lee’s crusade against the women and told Tinuke and the old Caleton members that they wanted to work together to vote out Lee. Again, music to the Caletonian ears. All they needed to do was make sure Lee didn’t win the season’s first Individual Immunity Challenge.
Lee put up a good fight in the Leg Up challenge, where tribemates must keep a ceramic vase balanced on a see-saw with their foot. But in the end, Doug walked away victorious after Tinuke, Leilani, and Chris all dropped to give him the win (secure in the fact that Lee had no chance of winning).
As Tribal Council loomed, things got chaotic back at camp, which feels refreshing to say for a season that has been chiefly played tediously straightforward. The numbers quickly gathered on Lee, but Hannah started to have second thoughts. For some strange reason, she decided she needed to be loyal to the man who had been unashamedly voting out all the women in the game.
After Hannah spilled the plan to Lee, he went into panic (and self-righteous) mode, trying to pull together the numbers to take a swipe at Ashleigh. Original La Nena members Doug and Pegleg were on board with Lee and Hannah but needed two more for a majority. Peg and Hannah suggested that Laurence and Matthew could be swayed.
The writing was on the wall before Tribal even began. Even though he’d swapped to La Nena, Matthew’s real loyalty always belonged to his original Caleton members. And Laurence was just happy to be out of the crosshairs, sitting back and enjoying the mad panic.
At Tribal Council, Lee displayed a masterclass on how not to play Survivor. He rambled about people being “fake,” how he’s loyal to his friends, and threw needless insults around. At one point, he referred to Ash as “airhead Barbie” and Chris as “curly Chris,” saying he reminds him of a poodle. Let’s just say Lee didn’t help himself battle off the misogynist claims at this Tribal.
Thankfully, Ash and Chris didn’t take Lee’s diatribe sitting down and fired back at the pro boxer. Chris brought up how Lee wanted an all-male alliance, which, of course, Lee denied. Ash defended herself, stating she is just playing the game and moving forward with those she trusts. Lee tried to fight back, bringing up Chris’ attempt to throw the last Tribal Immunity challenge to vote out Tinuke.
It was all very messy but a much welcome change of pace to the usual slow and boringly guarded Tribals we’ve been seeing. It was nice to finally see some fire and passion for these players, even if a lot of the gameplay was terrible.
In the end, Lee’s mouth got him into trouble, with Ash and Chris delivering the knockout blow in a 7-5 vote. It was a long-overdue vote-off and a much-needed episode that brought with it promise for the second half of this season. The only downside is that Lee became the first member of the jury, and there’s no doubt he’s going to be one of the bitterest jurors this show has ever seen.