Survivor: Edge of Extinction

Tribal Talk – Ignorance Isn’t Always Bliss

Jaden Bartlett guides you through the latest Tribal Council.

Photo: CBS

The game of Survivor has evolved enough that forty-three-minute episodes are often not sufficient to explain all the happenings of the game. Frequently, with the instability of strategic gameplay combined with the players’ feuding agendas and explosive personalities, Tribal Councils can become complex and confusing very quickly. Even confessionals are limited due to the tight time constraints, forcing some players to receive lesser edits than their gameplay deserves. With only about 12-minutes to work with for each Tribal, the editors often leave it up to us, the viewers, to deduce why some players voted the way they did. While these Tribals can sometimes seem overwhelming to a casual viewer and make the show harder to watch, they are definitely understandable with a bit of analyzation.

But don’t fret, Tribal Talk is here to be your guide through the darkness, and explain the complicated, confusing votes of modern Survivor every step of the way. Each week, Tribal Talk will break down what happens at Tribal Council. Sometimes, like this week, that may mean a simple explanation of a simple boot, and sometimes it may mean a Cirie-style exit Tribal explanation with idols and advantages galore. This will usually entail a few different parts:

-A short analysis of one or two of Jeff Probst’s questions to the castaways.
-An analysis of how the plans made at camp compared to the actual result of the Tribal Council.
-A breakdown of any idol plays, advantages, and a review of who voted for who and why.
-An analysis of how the vote will affect everyone’s games moving forward.


The label of “tribe mom” is a dangerous thing to wear in modern-day Survivor. Carolyn Rivera, Chrissy Hofbeck, and “evil stepmother” Missy Payne are just three of the many castaways who have, at some point, had to deal with this label. Some of them succeeded, and others did not. Unfortunately, for first boot Reem Daly, the latter rang true. In our inaugural Tribal Talk, we will be analyzing and looking at different aspects of this foreseen first boot. In addition, due to the extreme predictability of the edit, we will be looking at what Reem could have done differently to prevent her premature trip to Extinction Island

S38 reem
Photo: CBS


PROBST: (To Reem) “You seem annoyed already.”
REEM: “My name got thrown out today! Like, I’m pissed off, and there’s no good reason behind it.”

In this answer alone, an experienced viewer could deduce one thing that sets off a huge red flag when shown in the edit – extreme ignorance, or a huge lack of self-awareness. Based on the numerous scenes back at camp of Reem moving her fellow castaways’ clothes and personal belongings without permission, followed by the confessionals of her agitated tribemates expressing their frustration, Reem saying “…there’s no good reason behind it” does not reflect well upon her game. As I stated earlier, when the edit makes a clear point of showing us what the tribe doesn’t like about a certain castaway and then that castaways shows up at Tribal with no acknowledgment of the issue – that sets off big, big red flags, edit-wise.

The other thing that should tell us right away that Reem was in danger is the amount of discussion centered around her at Tribal Council. 99% of the time, the editors will give us a variety of questions at Tribal directed at different possible targets, leaving the viewer to create their own prediction. But when 95% of the Tribal content this episode revolved around Reem and only Reem… it was very hard to picture her making it out with her torch still burning. Remember, an average Tribal with no idols or advantages played takes approximately 90-minutes. So the editors have a lot of footage to choose from, and when almost everything they give us centers around one person, that should raise major flags.

S39 Wendy Reem
Photo: CBS


Now, in Reem’s defense, she hadn’t really done anything morally wrong. Moving people’s things to keep them dry is not bad in and of itself, but within the context of the game, it can be. This was certainly not a Brandon Hantz situation where Reem went into some mad rage and was throwing food and clothing across camp; all Reem was trying to do was help and show her tribe that she was useful to keep around. But in Survivor, the thing you have to be cautious about is first impressions. They are crucial to the rest of your game and especially essential in surviving early votes.

Reem would’ve been a decent contender had she remained aware of perceptions, but the rest of her tribe tainted her first impression as they gave her the “mom” title, which usually carries a negative connotation. As I said before, I could understand where Reem was coming from when she didn’t want to admit she did anything wrong, because she didn’t. It only becomes bad once you look at it in the context of the game and see how other players could use that as a reason to vote her out, which they did. The only advice I would’ve given to Reem is that in those crucial first few days, the tribe will be looking for any and all reasons to make someone a target but themselves, and you have to be extremely careful of what you do. Had Reem done that, she would have been far better off.


After Manu lost the challenge, we were given our first bit of strategic gameplay. Names like Wentworth and Lauren were thrown out by the group of Rick, Wendy, and Reem by the well. Keith was also in attendance during this little assembly; however, he didn’t appreciate the names being considered. He went immediately back to the main camp where he explained what went on to the group of Wardog, David, Lauren, and Wentworth. To combat this, Wentworth sent Wardog and David on a recon mission to try to flip Wendy to their side of the numbers. There was a bit of discourse at first, particularly from Wendy, but Wardog managed to keep the situation under control and accept that Wendy was not going to change her vote.

This led to another thing Reem could have done to prevent being given the boot. We saw before the challenge that the majority of Manu’s camp scene revolved around Reem being portrayed as the rabid belongings transporter. After the challenge, Reem had plenty of time to talk to other people and discover the problem she had created – and fix it. But instead, she proceeded to try and create a vote with a minority alliance. We must also remember that at this point, there probably wasn’t a ton Reem could have done to avoid her name being thrown around, seeing as that the majority was already scheming against her and the “mom” label really wasn’t going to rub off. Reem had dug herself her own grave, in a way, unknowingly, but instead of trying to appease the majority, she mounted a failed minority uprising.

It brings to light yet again how, in Survivor, it is crucial that you remain attentive to your tribemates’ morale around the clock, and know your place in the tribe, even if you think that place is unfair. Reem’s ignorance of how her actions were being perceived caused her to be sent to Extinction Island. Had she been more self-aware of how she was coming across from the beginning, someone may have seen more of a reason to keep her around. It might seem difficult to tell the tribe you are sorry, even when you know you haven’t done anything wrong (which she hadn’t), but you have to take that hit if you want to benefit your long term game.

S38 Tribal
Photo: CBS


During Tribal itself, almost all of the conversation centered around the star of the show, Reem. What this Tribal turned into wasn’t so much a question and answer format, but more of a debate. The rest of the tribe took subtle – and sometimes blatant – verbal jabs at Reem, and then she would fire back with something that usually didn’t make a ton of sense. “I’m going with age discrimination, to be quite honest with you,” she said to Jeff. “You’re a legend; it should be an honor to have your name thrown out.” (To Wentworth) Time and time again, Reem was unable to acknowledge what her fellow tribemates saw as her faults – again, whether valid or not, Survivor is about playing to your audience. One of the biggest things you have to do to excel is manage your emotions, and that includes admitting your faults, even if you know you aren’t wrong, which was certainly the case for Reem.

It seems fairly obvious that Reem hadn’t particularly done anything wrong game-wise, she just had made a simple mistake, and people all piled on that as a reason to vote her out. This can often be the case in Survivor, such as with Katrina Radke’s exit in Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, another player who fell into the “mom” category. With the first Tribal looming, tribes will jump on the smallest reason to vote out a castaway, whether that be age, an annoyance, or a bad “feeling,” and use that to “gang up” on that castaway and send them home.

While Reem moving her fellow castaways’ belongings without asking isn’t necessarily a smart thing to do right off the bat, she didn’t deserve to be booted solely for that reason. Just like in HvHvH, the tribe didn’t quite have their relationships solidified enough, so they instead piled on top of the easy scape-goat to give themselves more time. But regardless of that, Reem could have potentially been saved had she admitted to her “fake” faults and taken one for the team.


First boots can affect a tribe in a lot of different ways. Sometimes they end up being a “filler vote,” giving the rest of the tribe time to develop their relationships, but other times they can be huge blindsides to provide a foundation for some dynamic gameplay throughout the season. As for this Tribal, I’m going with the former. Reem was most certainly not a bad player and probably would’ve had a very good chance to go far, but unfortunately, she was given the “mom” label and simply couldn’t remove it. I think that the rest of the tribe is best off using the next three days to solidify their bonds so that another “filler” move like Reem’s isn’t necessary. If the tribe wants to think long-term, sending people home for reasons that aren’t really game related can’t be something that happens constantly.


In the end, I think this premiere gives the season an opportunity to gain some strategic traction, and hopefully, we see some more personal development as well. If the castaways can take advantage of this opportunity over the next three days to solidify bonds, they could very well manage to make this a compelling season. Only time will tell! Until then, all we can do is watch and hope that the castaways this season are as determined and entertaining as the David vs. Goliath cast.

See you next week for the second edition of “Tribal Talk!”

Written by

Jaden Bartlett

Jaden Bartlett is a 16-year-old high school sophomore from a small town in central Iowa. In his free time, he hosts a Survivor game on Twitter called "Twistvivor." He also enjoys singing, running, playing the piano, and being around his friends.

9 responses to “Tribal Talk – Ignorance Isn’t Always Bliss”

  1. On the one hand, she jumped all over Keith for giving her the “mom” label. On the other hand, she kept doing mom-like things. She can’t have it both ways.

  2. I mean maybe, but it was probably just out of second instinct for the returnees. Wentworth’s biggest move only happened because the other alliance failed to split the votes.

  3. Yup, that’s it. I covered it somewhere up there in the article, but I’m guessing the majority just figured that since they had a large majority, they could afford to split the vote just in case Reem had an idol. It was unlikely, but possible, so they took the safe road. Not really a reason other than that.

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