This week a big offer was made, but it was one that could be refused (and was). However, I have yet to refuse anything this season has had to offer the audience. The first hour of the Survivor double-feature was rather straightforward, but examining both hours as a whole, the story was wonderfully well-told with the rise and fall of “Don Carleone” along with the Davids and Goliaths finally playing like a messy frying pan full of scrambled eggs. Plus, I love me some good, old-fashioned booze-induced buffoonery.
NOT A SCORNED WOMAN
Carl was cocky after making history with his idol nullifier play, and I suppose anyone would be jumping up and down after a move like that, but considering that power was literally invented this season, I’m not sure I’d have gloated too much over the Goliaths not suspecting a thing. Don’t get me wrong— I’d have gloated—but I probably wouldn’t have gushed for too long.
Gushing with questions for her fellow Goliaths was Angelina who was totally “not a scorned woman” after receiving votes yet again. The Goliaths quickly admitted to her being the contingency plan, but first Alison made sure to remind everyone that she didn’t get to vote, so Angelina had no bones to pick there (… just kidding).
Angelina made it known that the Goliath was tribe was as dead as dead can be to her and swore allegiance to the Davids—again, not scorned—which is funny/sad because the Davids haven’t exactly been eager to work with Angelina at all. Poor Ang. She keeps getting votes but the important thing is that they’re never enough! Courtney Yates would dub her this season’s Susan Lucci—her name is always up there, but she never quite gets voted out.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER IDOL
Also always coming up just short has been Nick who has desperately wanted all season long to check “finding an idol” off of his Survivor superfan bucket list. He came close with finding one clue, but that only pointed him toward a vote steal. With this search, he was again successful in finding something but still no idol. All the other guys who found idols snagged them without a clue. What does the show have against the redneck lawyer?
This time, though, Nick’s path to an idol seemed certain. We’ve seen a few times with Jeremy and The Noble One this “sneak off after sundown” nonsense, but is it really that hard to get away from camp? Production’s not going to go through the trouble of building this elaborate fire-lit trail and have no one use it. Come on, Nick, you should know better than anyone else that as soon as you read those instructions that idol was as good as yours. You just had to wait a few hours…
REWARD – ROPE-A-DOPES
Jeff was a little to quick to say that no one practiced this type of challenge at home, not realizing that “slacklining” is a thing. Tons of people do it, Jeff. Google it.
These teams looked fairly lopsided with Purple having most of the athletes, but Orange had Alec and he proved that he’s really all a team needs to win a challenge. Nick choking on the rungs gave Orange enough time to catch up and for Alec to close the gap. Within just a few tosses, Alec sealed it for Orange and he, Mike, Gabby, Christian, and Alison won a picnic including wraps, salad, and wine. Blah. I’d have just taken the wine – maybe the salad too, but only if it was a fermented fruit salad in liquid form.
WORKING FOR THE TIP
The winners waltzed into their picnic shouting “wraps galore,” a phrase I’m sure never uttered in the history of human language before this moment. Alec took this feast opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Angelina and pledge his loyalty to the Davids as well, Alison also jumping on board the bandwagon. They talked about how they never wanted it to be Davids vs. Goliaths and that they didn’t really want to write Christian’s name down a few nights ago … all the while, Mike sat there in uncomfortable silence thinking, “… I did.”
Alec said he was “working for the tip” — but not in the dirty way that might sound. Alec’s a bartender, so he’s used to having to flirt for a little extra money — the tip. He was bringing back the Charmpocalypse and putting the moves on Christian and Gabby who he labeled the two hottest girls he’d ever seen in his life...
Shortly after scarfing down as many of those delicious wraps as possible (or more than what should be possible, in Alec’s case) the reward winners also discovered that they had won letters from their loved ones which meant that Gabby wouldn’t be crying alone for once!
Back at camp Kalokalo, poor Carl was also in tears over how hungry he was. You see, Carl has never won a reward – oh wait, yes he has! When he was back on the Vuku tribe, they won egg-laying chickens, but I suppose those chickens are long gone, and also that’s not as compelling as the “woe is me” narrative Carl was getting this week over not winning any food. It’s like Survivor starves people, or something....
Once the tears dried, Carl set his cleared-up sights on Alec as the next target, probably thinking Alec was Carl’s biggest obstacle between him and some food. Kara was in disbelief that Carl, Davie, Angelina, and Nick would discuss an Alec vote right in front of her considering that Alec was her closest ally. They must have just been cocky enough to not care.
Kara, of course, let Alec know immediately that his head was on the chopping block, so he was likely going to have to win immunity to survive. Unfortunately, Alec had overeaten at the reward and, along with Alison, looked to be having a case of some gastrointestinal distress – their positions of pain not to be confused with a form of exercise.
Not “downward dog,” no. We yogis call that one the “upward chuck.”
NICK’S NIGHT DELIGHT
With the sweet smell of sickness in the air, Nick couldn’t have wanted to get away from camp quicker; however, with his tribemates up late hurling (must have been some romaine lettuce in those wraps), he was finding it difficult to get away to go grab his idol. If only he had been one of those getting sick, he could’ve made up the excuse of wanting to walk as far away from camp as possible as a courtesy to the tribe.
With Davie on lookout, Nick eventually snuck away and followed the torches into the night. The torch walk proved to be more of a cake walk and shortly after setting off, Nick claimed the latest “hidden” immunity idol which somehow looks even shoddier than what we saw last week.
I can’t wait for next season’s idol to be just a decaying dead rat or a pile of fish bones.
IMMUNITY – NOT LETTING GO
For the first time in years, we had a real endurance challenge! Some weren’t exactly up for it, though, and instead chose to sit out to enjoy a warm bowl of nachos with ice-cold margaritas and beer. For everyone except Angelina, Carl, and Nick, it was time for a few hours of torture.
The battle came down to, of course, David vs. Goliath in the form of Christian vs. Alec. Christian ran the clock for a good portion of the time talking about his love of robotics, but finally after 5 hours, Alec could no longer take the pain or the rambling and stepped off, giving Christian his first individual immunity win. This likely mean doom for Alec, but if there’s one person you can’t count out for a comeback, it’s definitely Alec, so maybe there was a small sliver of hope after all.
WHAT’S HE, THE FRICKIN’ GODFATHER?
Alec being a major threat in the game was nothing new, but this week popped up the story of “Carl the Godfather” which I thought was a total joke, but apparently people actually believed that? Carl’s name has barely been brought up this season, and aside from driving the Elizabeth elimination, I never got the sense that Carl was controlling anything. This all just seemed like a convenient excuse to explain why Carl could actually be voted which had me believing that he would ( ...just in the second hour, not the first).
Gabby was the most frustrated with Carl and it looked like the frustration went both ways with Carl being fed up (or hangry) with Gabby’s emotions and paranoia. Gabby went off privately with Christian to vent about these frustrations and even go as far as to discuss getting rid of Carl before another Goliath. Christian and Gabby could have sided with the Goliaths here, saving Alec and taking out the bigger(?) threat Carl, or stay safe with the Davids for one more round and pull off another unanimous vote against Alec. As excited as I was for a Carl blindside, it didn’t make much sense for the Davids to finally get the numbers even only to give the majority back to the Goliaths the immediate next round, so my gut told me Carl was a kill to be saved for another day.
Carl’s cockiness was called out at tribal over his decision to eat nachos instead of compete for immunity, but he tried to defend himself by again bringing up that he hadn’t won a reward (recently) which I can’t imagine anyone buying. That may have been a factor, but Kara was right to call out Carl for being confident enough to sit rather that compete. Speaking of Kara and buying things, I’d like to get my hands on whatever natural shampoo she’s been using on the island—her hair looked like it could be in a commercial, and it somehow looked that way after almost a month without a shower!
A few discussed how tribal lines had fallen, but sadly that just meant that everyone had come together on one single target: Alec. Alec’s big argument was that he could be used as a sort of shield for someone as shots panned to Christian, obviously the player who could have changed the outcome of this vote. When Christian got up to cast his, with the way he described it as a benefit to his game only and no one else’s, I thought he may have actually made it happen. The selfish move would have been to keep Alec as a meat shield—I’m not so sure how keeping Carl only benefitted Christian here given that the vote ended up 9 to 1, so I’ll have to wait and see if Christian later dishes out a dissertation for me to read more on the subject.
Most fans that knew of Alec’s name months before the season aired probably agree with me that he was a surprise breakout star of this cast. I thought the show would bury him over the Instagram scandal, but they can’t air footage that was never filmed, so I think Alec’s edit goes to show that he was what we saw and I think the best version of the “surfer bro” archetype we’ve ever had. A lot of the crazy stunts pulled this season had their strings in Alec’s hands— a season needs someone who likes to live life on the wild side and apply that to the game of Survivor. I expected next to nothing from Alec and he arguably brought more to this season than most, and that’s no knock to anyone else, just a special nod to Alec. I’m glad his TMZ trouble didn’t make him invisible, but he’s a male, so that probably helped a little. Only women are worth of that true “purple edit.”
The ouster of Alec meant the Davids officially gained the majority in numbers for the first time in the game. They claimed the Goliaths didn’t know what they had just done, but given Alison’s reaction, at least a few of them did. Alison felt guilty about letting her close ally Alec go without putting up much of a fight for him and shared her vulnerability with someone who is used to providing comfort in times of tears: Christian.
Alison made a great analogy comparing this game to her work in the hospital and not being able to save everyone all the time, and while she was coming to grips over voting out Alec in order to move forward, finally, with the Davids, she worried that maybe she missed her opportunity to flip sooner and now had just given the Davids the power to pick her and the rest of the Goliaths off one by one. I was praying that wouldn’t happen because for as strong as this season has been, it does not deserve to end in a straight Pagonging.
REWARD – DUNKIN’ DAVIE
This challenge was reminiscent of the Donathan Hurley Hero Challenge from Ghost Island where Don Don dove deep within himself to find the strength to release the buoys for his Malolo tribe ... which still wasn’t enough for them to win, though, because, you know, Malolo.
The hero of this challenge was Davie who showed why he deserved to hold on to his “Black card” with those mad dunking skills. I then dubbed him Dunkin’ Davie.
Why do I keep associating Davie with fast food chains? I guess we’ve already seen nachos, but if there’s a reward involving tacos and Davie wins, I’ll just warn everyone right now that I’ll probably make mention of “Taco Blerd.”
Davie dunking his team’s way to victory meant, at long last, a reward for Carl! Several tears were already shed this episode, but that moment finally made me join in. Seeing Carl win food after struggling for so long* with starvation was probably one of the top 5 (baby) emotional moments for me in Survivor history.
*Ignore the fact that 30 minutes prior in the episode, Carl was stuffing his face with a never-ending plate of nachos and washing it all down with margaritas.
It didn’t take many beers to get “Slimmy Sly” slurring and spilling all the secrets on the boat ride over to the reward with Davie, Kara, and Mike. While Carl and Davie cracked open bottle after bottle, Kara and Mike took advantage to gather intel from the two Drunk Davids. Carl cozied up to Kara and told her that the Godfather’s next move was to take out Alison which wasn’t what she wanted to hear — another Goliath going home. The time instead was looking more and more right for her to make a move against the “mob boss.”
While Carl continued to let loose in more ways than one, the beginning of a coup was coming together back at camp. Gabby was leading the charge to put the hit on Carl, first gathering Christian and Alison, with plans to include Kara and Mike once they returned from the reward. Carl didn’t suspect a thing and held a meeting that night with all the Davids except Gabby, who he had decided was now replaced with Angelina. Carl filled them all in on the Alison plan but told Christian to make Gabby believe the vote was Angelina. This was the final push Christian needed, if he still needed any by this point, to turn the tables on Carl, indicating that he wasn’t about to let all the decisions be made by someone who was half-sloshed.
Christian approached Mike who was already content with jumping off the Goliath ship, but with this new opportunity, it meant maybe Mike could stay good, old Goliath strong once more. Gabby, Christian, Alison, and Kara were united against Carl while Carl and his cronies were unwavering against Alison, meaning Mike found himself in the swing vote position once again. Last time he sat here, we lost Natalie, so suffice to say, I wasn’t confident Mike was going to make the right decision (for me) here.
IMMUNITY – PHONY PERCEPTIONS
Before the challenge began, Angelina struck a bargaining deal with Jeff. It seemed the rice fairy had been living in secret at the Kalokalo camp, slowly depleting the tribe’s rice supply and now they were down to just about two days left of rations. With her background in negotiation at Yale, Angelina volunteered to make a trade with Jeff, offering to give up most of the tribe’s possessions in exchange for rice.
As anyone should do in a negotiation, Jeff passed on the first offer which was admittedly a lowball and counteroffered that if someone were to sit out of the immunity challenge, he’d give the tribe extra rice. Seeing as Jeff’s the executive producer and everything, his offer was pretty much final, leaving the tribe little choice but to accept. Angelina again volunteered as tribute and gave up her shot at immunity in order to up the tribe’s shot at surviving the next nine days.
I think it was actually heartfelt, but I loved Alison’s “great negotiation” compliment to Angelina. Angelina got what she wanted for the tribe, but made the ultimate sacrifice entirely her own and no one else’s. “Great.”
The challenge was standard — climb up and over some obstacles, cross a balance beam, and pick up pieces along the way to solve a puzzle at the end. There was an additional dizzy element to this, but to my dismay, it didn’t lead to any hilarious wipeouts. I guess only Survivor: Maryland can pull that off with its infamous “dizzy bat.”
Another flop here was that there were two different words that were able to be solved with the puzzle, and of course the first person to finish found the “wrong” one. “Perceptions” and “perspective” are nearly synonymous, so whoever thought that’d be a clever “trick” is just an asshole. This time, though, I was okay with the assholiness because it meant Carl not winning, leaving him vulnerable at the vote, but nothing was certain. I still had Mike making me nervous.
FROM FILMMAKER TO DECISION MAKER
To straddle between both sides, Mike said he would have to put his writing and directing skills aside and bring out his acting ability, but after seeing that in play, I’d tell Mike to stick to the writing. Not everyone is a jack-of-all-trades. Only Debbie.
With the way he was talking to people, I don’t think Mike did a great job convincing either side he was voting with them, especially the side in support of Alison. Just the way he talked about voting for Carl with Kara, Alison, and Christian made me think he was totally lying to them. Ugh.
Gabby was committed to the Carl vote more than anyone, using his own “perceptions” word against him and hoping to prove that he shouldn’t have written her off as just an emotional and hysterical woman. Gabby’s got game and she wanted him to know it — she, like me, hoped she’d show it by voting him out rather than having to come back to camp after a failed assassination attempt.
This was the second tribal council of the season where eggs were a hot topic. The tribe assessed that the game had finally become scrambled, although Angelina argued (as she does best) that there was a clear plan in place for the night. Davie then brought up an intelligent point that while there may be a plan for one vote, there were still nine different plans in play on how to get to the end and win. Nothing’s ever easy on Survivor.
The only person who seemed to be without a clear plan was Alison, doubting that her plan was the real one, but fortunately for her, Mike pulled through and didn’t make the dumbass decision to keep Carl, but they at least had some nice parting words for the cowboy.
Okay, so was it “bing” or was it “ding” last week? I’ve heard mixed reports. The audio clearly sounded like “bing” to me, but then why would everyone say “ding” to Carl on his way out? I don’t know. Maybe Carl’s Survivor legacy won’t be the idol nullifier, but instead the show’s version of the whole Yanny vs. Laurel debate.
Carl got his big breakout episode just in time for him to go, but at least his was two hours long instead of what some in the past have only gotten with an hour. Carl was one of the more low-key ones this season, and most of his story before this week only related to his idol nullifier. I’d love to know where all this “Godfather” talk came from, and if he was actually holding that position for the whole game, why were we only hearing about it now? I guess Survivor can’t always be perfect with its storytelling, but at least this season they’ve done a better job than with most.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
Gabby wants to vote out Christian? #WHAT?!? Noooo, this can’t be the end of the nerd love! That’s seriously so brutal though if Gabby follows through and votes out Christian. She needs to so she can win, but it’s like “thanks for keeping me emotionally intact for this entire game…now get out.” That said, I’m here for this gutsier Gabby and am excited to see where she runs with her newfound confidence — only hoping it’s not in the same direction as Carl ran with his ....
Oh yeah! And we get to meet more loved ones. I’m really hoping we get to meet Christian’s dad because I’d love to know what kind of tree that apple fell from.
Alec – A high sendoff for one of the bigger heroes of this season. I said most of what I had to say earlier, but I am glad Alec got the story he deserved and left his unique mark on this season. It was pretty tragic watching everything crumble for him at the end after such a stellar showing, but pending any other NDA scandals, maybe we’ll get lucky and see Alec play once more.
Carl – A very different sendoff than Alec, but certainly not a small one. Carl got this season’s “out of nowhere threat” edit which is always laughably ludicrous. I loved that a large part of Carl’s downfall too was related to him getting too drunk off of beer and of his own ego. “Drunk with power” was definitely the quote of the night for me.
Christian – The major player in deciding the two votes this week. Initially I thought Christian was way too much of a “character” to ever win, and while I still mostly think that, I think he’s proven to have enough strategic and social sense to still be a contender. Thinking on it, would the show really want to tone someone like him down just so he’d fit more of the traditional winner mold? Christian’s problem will still be convincing people to take him to the end, and if Gabby’s already sharpening the knife to stab in his back, then he'd better start wearing that immunity necklace a lot more.
Gabby – Finally fed up with Carl, Gabby came alive and pulled off a grand move to get rid of the Godfather. I loved her “I’ll show him” attitude and hope to see more of that from her. I’m still seeing Nick as the winner, and him being out of sight when he landed on the wrong side of the vote only supports that for me, but the next three weeks could see a major rise in Gabby’s stock if she continues taking charge like she did this week.
Angelina – Poor Angelina thought she was finally on top of the world again this week in the new David alliance only to be blindsided again, but Angelina delivers every single episode and I am so happy she was not this season’s merge boot or, worse yet, a pre-merger. The entire “Angelina asks for things” running gag is simply one of the best to come out of the show in recent years. I’m probably rooting for Angelina the most to win at this point to totally shock the audience and break from the mold of recent winners that for the most part can “do no wrong” via their edit. Also, we simply need her at the final tribal council to make one final ask:
Ryan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser