If not for having four challenges within them, I’d have suggested these last two episodes be squeezed into just one hour because they were practically identical to me. Everyone’s targeting Rick, he finds and pulls out an idol at tribal council, someone else goes to the Edge of Extinction. Lather, rinse, repeat (Where’s The Wardog for that?) Nothing new or exciting happened in the episode that should be the one to amp us up for the finale. I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m going to keep spinning anyway because that’s what I do. Just read the blog, bro!
GRINDING FOR THE IDOL
Gavin, Victoria, Lauren, and Aurora were shockingly given credit for organizing the Ron boot on the “Previously on...” segment and soon after returning to camp, they solidified themselves as a final four alliance, hoping to have seen the last of the idols and advantages (as Lauren nods awkwardly in agreement). Aurora was happy with this new alliance, her first real one since Joe, and for the first time felt like she had people she could trust and work with ( ... Lauren nods awkwardly in agreement again).
Of course, there was still the Rick Devens debacle. With one idol used, Rick was determined to find another and to aid his efforts, he tried telling the tribe that idols and advantages must only come from the Edge of Extinction, claiming his was sent to him from there. Lauren obviously knew that was a pile of garbage because she found her idol almost 30 days ago on that very beach. Lauren confronted Rick to get him to fess up about his fib, but he insisted she was wrong, so Lauren laughed and went on her merry way. I liked Lauren’s boldness here in cornering Rick, but there was one flaw with her otherwise mastermind plan:
You don’t leave Rick alone! That’s how he finds idols!
Look what you did, Lauren!
Actually, the whole argument about people needing to patrol a player literally 24/7 so they don’t find an idol is insane. If that’s how you’re “supposed to” play Survivor then maybe I don’t want to play after all. Even if they took shifts, what happens when Rick finds an idol in front of them anyway? All the tribe will have gained is the knowledge that Rick does have an idol, unless part of the responsibility of that patrol is to tackle Rick every time that he touches a tree. Okay, maybe that would be fun, but still — watching Rick like a hawk wouldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t get an idol. The end result could be the same and everyone would just have a little less energy because of it.
With Rick being enemy number one and now having another idol the tribe didn’t know about, it set the episode up to be another snoozer. When everyone’s talking about voting out Rick but we know Rick can’t be voted out, where’s the suspense? If there’s ever been a time that I’d have advocated for editing the show out of sequence, this would have been that time. I think I would have been on the edge of my seat a bit more not knowing Rick’s fate 5 minutes into the episode. It just made the rest of what we saw ... kind of not really matter.
REWARD – I HATE BASKETBALL
Aurora may have blown it with the basketball shooting, but could you imagine how The Wardog would have done in this challenge? After taking hours just to get one ball up into that initial chute, you know The Wardog would have immediately gotten wrapped up in those ropes, letting the ball drop to the ground. Really, the show should be more accommodating to people like that. It’s unfair to expect everyone to have at least an ounce of physical ability.
Lauren and Julie went full Wardog in this challenge too and never made it past the first obstacle (that’s why you never go full Wardog). With only two balls to land on the final beam, it was anyone’s game between Gavin, Aurora, Rick, and Victoria, but Gavin’s form was the best, netting him a win. He got to pick two people to join him on reward and he selected Victoria and Lauren with the reason that they hadn’t been on rewards in the longest time ... but actually, Aurora had more days in between rewards than Lauren, so with this selection, Aurora had one more item to add to her list of least favorite things:
That’s also the face she makes when someone falls for reverse psychology.
HIGH OVER FIJI
The look of pure joy on their faces is precious. I’ve never flown in a helicopter, but I’ve always assumed their seatbelts must be Hulk-proof for them to fly so often with the doors open. That, or helicopter pilots are the steadiest pilots in the air.
The Civil Air Patrol knows how to pick ‘em!
The best part about this whole reward was the ride taking Gavin, Lauren, and Victoria right over their beach where Aurora had written a loving message in the sand for them to see from the sky:
On the reward trip, the trio talked about the obvious in voting out Rick, but also brought up that if he was immune they’d vote for Julie. Lauren nodded along once again since immunity was still up for grabs, but she kept to herself that she wasn’t going to be down for a Julie because the two had grown close since their spa day. They must’ve formed a support group for each other having both been scarred by the scene of Rick and The Wardog lathering each other up with mud.
Wait a second — Lauren was talking about not voting out Julie? Was Rick hiding under the table at the reward? This had to have been his influence!
Spy Shack scoot over!
When I said last week that I missed Reem, I should have been more specific. I missed raging Reem. This week was too happy! Everyone on the Edge of Extinction received letters from their loved ones. Oh wait, no. From themselves. So…kind of. I can only imagine the moment in pre-game Ponderosa where a producer pulled them all into the room and said, “Okay, we’re going to do a little activity! You’re all going to write a letter to yourselves!” I’d have been like ...
“Are you freaking kidding me, dude? What are we, five?”
I can imagine Reem’s letter to herself saying things like “For the love of God, don’t be the first person voted out, dude” or “You better have lasted longer than this bald-headed idiot walking around here, man. The one with ‘Rawdog’ tattooed on his arm.”
I suppose this is the last we’ll really see of the Edge of Extinction aside from another quick “get on the boat” note at the start of the finale, if that, so the show must’ve wanted to send us off on a positive? Personally, I think they should’ve stayed on brand with one final roasting from Reem. A better group activity would have been to have everyone sit in a circle and listen while Reem roasted them all, Michael Scott-style.
“Chris, the only thing big enough to fill the space between your ears is ... you know what, dude. Boom, roasted.”
“Aubry, I don’t know what’s more overly sexualized — Chris or you moaning about coleslaw in your sleep. Boom, roasted.”
“Joe, maybe if you cut that dirty-ass hair out of your face, you’d finally be able to see that you suck at Survivor. Boom, roasted.”
“Eric, remember that one time a chicken clucked in your confessional? Good, because that’s all I remember about you, bro. Boom, roasted.”
“David, if there’s one freakin’ thing on this island that could rival what Chris is packing, it’s definitely your stupid hate boner for Kelley. Boom, roasted.”
“Kelley, you already got blindsided by that idiot Wardog which is more embarrassing than any other burn I could give you. Boom, roasted.”
“Wardog, Tony wasn’t the reason you got cut from Cagayan. They just trimmed their original theme, Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty vs. Bozos. Boom, roasted.”
“Ron ... I like you.”
The Reem stays Reem. Later, dudes.
IMMUNITY – I HATE PUZZLES
Hey, it’s me at work on a Friday afternoon!
This just was not Aurora’s episode. At all. She was first to the finishing line once again, but not the first to cross. Rick threw another wrench into the tribe’s plan by winning immunity. In a way, he actually helped them because it allowed for them to not have to worry as much about the mystery of an idol. It also means he can use his idol later, which calls for Rick to win only one of the next two immunity challenges to be guaranteed final four and a shot at final three by making fire. I might end up with my head on (or under) a table too if that happens.
This last Wednesday night or most of the season, to be honest.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK?
The tribe split quickly into two groups after the challenge: Rick and Julie one way and Gavin, Victoria, Lauren, and Aurora the other. The last vote laid everything out on the table so there was no reason to hide where alliances stood.
Rick’s plan, for the third tribal council in a row, was voting for Aurora, but this time he had the extra goal of keeping Julie safe, seeing as she was the only person who remotely entertained the idea of working with him. The other four were forced to name Julie as their target but there was a worry Rick could play an idol on her; however, I agreed with Gavin’s assessment. No way was Rick going to do that. If he had an idol, he was 100% keeping it rather than putting himself in a do-or-die spot in the next immunity challenges.
After Julie and Lauren spoke, Lauren reaffirmed her reasons to keep Julie and vote out Aurora instead. Lauren felt closer to Julie and she felt she could more easily beat Julie in the end over Aurora. Rick also made a comment about taking Julie to the end — either they’re both underestimating Julie, or we are meant to see her as a goat (I don’t).
Lauren pitched to Gavin voting out Aurora, but he didn’t want to make the move without Victoria while Lauren was ready to vote out Aurora with or without Victoria’s blessing. Victoria caught wind of that but ultimately felt a little stuck — we later saw her cave to voting out Aurora, but I’m not sure what more she could’ve done to take out Julie. At best, Victoria would have been looking at forcing a tie which would only have put her more at risk. It was at least another round of Victoria’s name remaining off the chopping block, but who really notices stuff like that when Rick’s making a splash at all the tribal councils?
With Rick wearing immunity, there was no reason to hold back hiding who the tribe wished they could vote out or where the lines in the sand were drawn with Julie feeling she was on the bottom with Rick. Aurora especially was very vocal about wanting Rick Devens out of the game yesterday while everyone else backed up that he needed to be sent back out of the game ASAP.
When Rick pulled out his idol and threatened to use it on Julie, the other four just rolled their eyes (as did I). Yay, another BIG MOVE performance. As we clearly saw right before tribal council, Julie wasn’t the number one target — for once, him voting against Aurora aligned with everyone else. However, the idol bluff has sparked much debate over whether or not Aurora’s ultimate ousting was Rick’s influence or not. I firmly believe ... it was not.
I hate Rick trying to take credit for this vote (and last), but I’m not dense enough to deny that the showboating is working. The jury loves it, the other players admit that he’s playing “a great game,” but I don’t like it. What I like even less is that we have evidence that Aurora was leaving well before Rick pulled out the idol, but even the show’s forgetting its own narrative and letting the audience believe that Rick alone changed the course of this tribal council.
If people want to credit Rick for walking out the “winner” of this vote, fine, but claim it’s because of him winking and winning over the jury, not because of him getting the tribe to vote out Aurora — that was Lauren and Gavin. I also don’t like that there’s an argument that these two (or three, including Victoria) should have said, “Hold up, bro,” and taken credit back from Rick right after the vote. That would’ve just looked petty and asinine. It was basically just a lose/lose for those who voted out Aurora that Rick, for the first time in a while, actually voted for the person that left and made a big deal about it.
Rick’s this season’s underdog, on record, but Aurora has had the greater struggle in my eyes. With Aubry out before the merge and Joe being Vata’s first victim, Aurora was completely alone just halfway through the game. I loved watching her come alive at the merge and break out as one of the season’s snarky stars for me. Also, her tribal council fashion game was fierce:
Aurora was as funny as she was fearless, and I feel that despite her non-existent pre-merge edit, we got to learn a lot about her once the merge hit both as a player in the game and a person outside of it. Without the whole Edge of Extinction twist or returning players, Aurora could’ve been given a greater story — which can be said about almost everyone — but at least when I did get Aurora content, it delivered. She’s a strong contender to win her way back into the game, but I think she’d face the same tough road to get to the end and win — maybe she’d come back and work with Rick and Julie, but going to the end with Rick wouldn’t be a winning move. Regardless of Aurora re-entering, she’ll leave this season as one of my favorites, and that’s the more prestigious honor, I think.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR...
Prediction time! Heading into the finale, I’ve got a 1 in 16 chance of picking the winner. Best odds ever!
Picking whoever is coming back is a crapshoot, but I think whoever it is won’t make it to the end — at most, one Edge returnee will and I’m saying it’s Rick. If the editors this season have been surprisingly clever, I’m going to say David is going to win his way back given the earlier talk of him being a challenge beast. Gavin was the one going on about that the most, so this means that David will win immunity at six and he, Rick, and Julie will get Lauren to turn on Gavin and vote him out.
At five, Lauren plays her idol without really needing to and she, Victoria, and Julie vote for Rick — but, ah, he plays his idol too and his vote and David’s send Victoria out. Lauren or Julie wins the final immunity challenge, taking each other to the end and letting Rick and David battle it out at fire. Remember Rick joking about cutting David at final four? Well, this wouldn’t really be a betrayal, but Rick winning would be his way of eliminating David from the game. This gives us a final three of Rick, Lauren, and Julie who finish in that order — something like a lopsided 10-2-1 vote. Rick Devens is the Sole Survivor and half of the Survivor community rejoices, “greatest winner ever,” while the other half deletes their Twitter out of dissatisfaction and shame.
The Wardog doing the math on what this will do to that list of Followers.
Lauren – Lauren’s really coming on strong at the end of this game and while Rick was at the forefront of all the action this week, Lauren played behind the scenes and pulled the strings. Once Rick’s name was off the table, Lauren had four options, and while the easy thing to do would have been to stick with her new alliance of four and vote out Julie, she knew she had a stronger connection with Julie than she did to Aurora, so Lauren got the group to split from the divorce lawyer. Shout-out to Julie as well for building that key bridge to Lauren in the game.
Lauren has held onto an idol since Day 5 or 6 with hardly any reason to ever use it, and while she could have gone the way of Aurora, being a simple “loner” to vote for once Kelley left, Lauren has instead led the last two votes. She’s an endgame underdog turned powerhouse with an idol in her pocket — not to mention Lauren’s looks lately. She’s her own individual, but it’s easy to see why Lauren and Kelley clicked so well this season.
Rick – I really think this is Rick’s game at this point. All signs of the story just point to that in a very Mike Holloway way in that, while this final five/soon-to-be-six has more to root for than Worlds Apart’s, I still don’t feel like the general audience is supposed to want anyone else to win besides Rick. There’s a chance he’s the fallen angel on Day 38, but it’s been forever since the show’s built someone up this much only to have them fall short. Christian was a universally-loved fan favorite, but David vs. Goliath saved itself from becoming The Christian Chronicles with its dynamite cast and the ending still felt satisfying without him winning.
Not every fan would be dissatisfied with Rick losing, but many would, so would the show go this far out of its way to do that to a large portion of its fanbase? After Kaoh Rong, I’m sure the show made it a point to make every season’s winner make sense at least over a losing finalist. Rick’s mistakes have been made up to be Big Moves™ that garner big reactions, painted to be everything right when he’s still done wrong, but in Survivor, perception is reality, and the perceived reality is that Rick’s running the game. That’s great for Rick, but ick for the show if this means the future of Survivor is about who’s the loudest, not the smartest. Although, that could have some upside.
Reem Daly – winner of Survivor: Legends (and maybe still this season, who knows).
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