So much yet so little happened in this episode. As much as I love Reem opening the show each week, piling an entire reward challenge on top of the Edge of Exctinction and trying to squeeze adequate screen time for both times into just a one-hour episode has proven to be impossible. I don’t always need everyone to get a confessional, but it’d be nice to see them or hear them speak any words on air. I needed more Kama drama and certain events at messy Manu to not come out of complete nowhere so that I can make sense of them. What we’re getting out of the people we have seen is good stuff, but this week especially felt like such a rush job. That said, I’ve still got plenty to rave and rage about!
The Edge of Extinction is just officially the weekly rendezvous with Reem for me. After last week, I couldn’t care less if Keith made it to the Edge or not, though did any of us seriously believe that he wouldn’t? Also, last Thursday, a promo aired showing Keith walking with that torch in hand so the big cliffhanger that had us all up in arms was a total joke. Thanks, guys.
Reem was delivered more than just Keith, however, and the next morning the two “discovered” a message in a bottle which was a map instructing them to go climb some stairs. “Stairs?” Reem wondered. She said she thought she had walked the whole island and didn’t notice any stairs so this news caught her off guard. I trust Reem completely, though, so maybe she was right to say there were no stairs last she checked. Since then, Production may had realized that people doing literally nothing on an island wouldn’t make for the best TV, so they came up with a daily group activity for the residences of Reem Island. With map in hand, Reem grabbed a f*cking stick and followed the map’s directions with Keith.
After finding the map and climbing Mt. Everest, the sister mountain to the one Angelina climbed a few months prior, Keith and Reem found a bucket full of rice hanging from a tree. Why did that bucket have to be hung from a tree? I have no idea. Perhaps the rice fairy is short in stature. With that rice came instructions that the climb would need to be made every day the Extinctionees wanted to eat. As Reem eloquently put it, “that sucks!”
REWARD – BARROW O’ FUN
If a visit to the Edge of Extinction means no post-tribal council action at camp, that sucks too. Jumping right into the reward challenge, Manu and Kama were playing for a Keith-esque impossible choice: a multi-day source of protein, energy, and sustenance or … pillows. COME ON GOD, this one’s just brutal!
The challenge was pretty straightforward, rolling a put-together wheelbarrow through a course and then disassembling it into a slingshot — a few skirmishes along the way, some giggly “getting it in” jokes from Jeff, and a possible “that’s what she said” line of, “It is heavy. It is awkward. Nothing about it is easy” depending on who’s the subject.
The Wardog’s #MustWatchManu defied the odds and won their first challenge, and while Ron had the opportunity to rob them, per his Advantage Menu, he chose like anyone would choose to keep it for a potential individual immunity use later. (This, of course, didn’t make the air because who cares about Kama?) Manu didn’t cluck around and they too made the obvious choice to take home chicken. “Nothing about it is easy” for Manu, however, as Wendy also went home with a busted ankle. Bawk!
WISH WE LIVED IN A MEATLESS WORLD
Poor Wendy. Survivor has not been kind to her, and a bruised body this early in the game often spells an early boot. Manu carried Wendy in, plopped her up against a tree, and said “Great, we’re gonna go murder some birds now! Call us if you need anything!” The Wardog seemed to take charge of the chicken situation, proving The Wardog’s poultry knowledge by immediately pointing out which one was the rooster. Clearly, The Wardog must some experience identifying a good cockerel among the crowd – is “chicken farmer” listed on The Wardog’s resume?
Wendy winced at the thought of not all the chickens living to see tomorrow, mostly worked up over how they never signed off on their Survivor sentence, but is there any proof of that? For all we know, those chickens knew eggsactly what they were getting themselves into and signed a legally-binding contract. Maybe it’s their own version of the game — just with a more literal use of the phrase “sole survivor.”
Wendy wanted to help the chickens, but she couldn’t do so with her ankle, so she tried recruiting Rick to her just cause of releasing the chickens into the wild where they’d be able to live free and definitely not die immediately of starvation or falling prey to another kind of mammal. Wendy may have secured the Sia award with these actions, but I truly don’t think she did so with $50,000 in mind. She surely knew, however, that she’d lose $1,000,000 by letting those chickens out of their cage. I admire Wendy’s heart, but she admitted that she decided before the game that if her tribe won chickens, she’d set them free, so it’s Wendy’s head that I’m worried about in the context of the game.
There’s a reason the term “bird-brained” is used as an insult. Chicken’s aren’t bright, and who’s to say that if Wendy let them out, they wouldn’t be snatched by something else 5 minutes later? Not only would the chickens then still be dead, but the tribe would still be hungry. Best-case scenario: the chickens live happily ever after but Wendy’s voted out immediately. Worst-case scenario: they die anyway and Wendy’s voted out immediately. I don’t think Wendy was doing as big of a favor to the birds as she thought she was and instead was only going to cause chaos with a flock of free-flying chickens.
Later, Wendy got into yet another war — this time, with The Wardog who wasn’t having any of her animal rights awakening. Wendy admittedly wasn’t a vegetarian but thought this was as good of a time as any to become one. Ugh. Wendy. You started off so strong, but this episode made you crack in front of your whole tribe. The Wardog said it best here – Wendy had lost her rocker.
(Psst, Wardog, it’s off her rocker)
The Wardog wasn’t the only one fed up with Wendy weeping over the chickens, so Wentworth whisked together some numbers in Lauren, Chris, and The Wardog with a plot to chop the chicken’s one champion. Survivor is kill or be killed, and vegetarian or no, Wendy had wanted Wentworth’s head on a platter for days, so it only made sense for Kelley to cook up something to serve back to Wendy instead.
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
Unfortunately, we only got 4 minutes of Kama this week — that has to be a record low for a tribe to receive in any given episode of Survivor, and I use “tribe” loosely here because we only heard from 3 of the 9 members. Yikes.
Victoria outlined the composition of Kama in telling us that Joe and Aubry were the two most on the outs and that Aurora was the only person down to play with them, so she was also hung out to dry by the remaining six. Blinded by power or by something else, Victoria spoke openly with Ron about Joe and Aubry being a pair that needed to be separated, not realizing Joe was literally bent over not more than six feet behind her, hearing every word she said.
Watching Victoria have that “oh shit” reaction was priceless. The camera work was perfect here too, focusing on Victoria and Ron then suddenly shifting to the reveal that Joe was just barely outside of frame the whole time. It reminded me of a very funny scene from Arrested Development, except the Bluths don’t give a bother about offending anyone.
This wasn’t just a day at the beach. No, this whole interaction gave Joe a funny feeling that he might be on the chopping block. He wasn’t sure??!! That’s like seeing The Wardog rip off a chicken’s head with The Wardog’s bare hands and thinking, “Huh. The Wardog might have just killed that chicken!”
Aubry had more than a funny feeling about where she stood on Kama, so she channeled her good pal Tai and trekked off to find an idol, something she’d yet to do in her now-83-day Survivor career. We saw a Ghost Island-esque montage of Aubry looking in seasons past but without success, and if the editors were going to go through the effort to dig deep and find that old footage, it could only mean one thing…
AUBRY BRACCO BROUGHT HOME AN IDOL, Y’ALL! Maybe it’s recency bias, but this is easily one of my favorite idol finds ever with all the emotions involved for both Aubry and the audience. Aubry has been through some shit on Survivor, and we’ve watched her fight through every bit of it, so getting to watch her come up with this big win, needing it more than ever before, was fucking beautiful. Bracco’s the boss!
IMMUNITY – PUZZLES ARE HARD
Manu looked to have found their magic once more in this brand-new challenge that featured a lot of wild elements in play. I said last week that Manu lacked the manpower that Kama had, but maybe all along it was Keith who was the only dead weight dragging down the tribe. Jeff was so invested in the Manu tribe that he even failed to call out Joe LITERALLY CARRYING HIS TRIBE’S BOAT ON HIS BACK or something along those lavish lines.
The puzzle proved hard in this challenge, but only for Manu. Aubry had played this immunity challenge before too, so … she LITERALLY CARRIED KAMA ON HER BACK to secure their third immunity win. You know, before we’ve said that orange was the color that was cursed on Survivor, but given Manu’s miserable win/loss record, I’m starting to think it’s not the color orange and instead the letter “M.” Think of all the poor-performing tribes in Survivor history: Manu, Malolo, Matsing, (m)Ulong…
The Wardog has a funny feeling there’s been some funny business afoot.
WHERE’S THE FUCKING FLINT?
Wendy made Kimmi look calm by taking #ChickenGate to a new extreme, going so far as to steal the tribe’s flint so they couldn’t light up the oven for dinner! Kelley also made Debbie Wanner’s image wane with some of the death glares she was shooting around camp. Moral of the story: Manu was a hot, scrambled mess over the chickens and their eggs.
It’s Day 8 and Kelley is already just so done with this season’s shit.
The tribe suspected the thief was Wendy since she, you know, instantly fled the flint scene to go into hiding, so voting her out was a total no-brainer … sigh … except for David. DAVID! What in the hell does he have against Wentworth? Does she remind him of an ex? Is he related to Savage? Is Savage David’s ex!?
Oh, right back at you!
Honestly, with how obsessed David’s been with getting her out, it feels like there’s more than just strategy that’s setting off his Survivor Spidey senses. We’ve heard nothing of Kelley coming after David, so why are we to believe he’s not just paranoid and living in his own delusions about her being a danger? I just don’t see it — not this soon.
Rick was nominated to peacefully interrogate Wendy/low-key demand her to give the tribe back its flint, so David joined him in this endeavor to seize an opportunity to swing Wendy toward a Wentworth vote. Her own senses saying she was the target, she of course was on board with anything but, so with David, Rick, and now Wendy, David just needed one more vote to kill Kelley. Enter Chris:
Sure, the guy we’ve heard from the least out of everyone on Manu is all of the sudden going to be the big key to this entire vote. That’s not a red flag at all.
David filled Chris in on the plot to, for the second week in a row, vote out Kelley, imploring Chris not to tell The Wardog or Lauren, but by now we know what to expect with that kind of request in Survivor.
This is the part of the pre-tribal topsy-turviness where I became incredibly frustrated by so much terrible gameplay. Somehow Chris managed to make it seem like voting for Kelley was his idea, not David’s, which made The Wardog believe that Chris was gunning for The Wardog’s closest ally, whom we learned in that same moment was Kelley and not Chris. Therefore, The Wardog decided The Wardog needed to vote out Chris. Then The Wardog went to Rick and shared “Chris’s” plan to vote out Kelley and The Wardog’s counterattack move to vote out Chris.
Trying to make sense of how the names were making the rounds gave me a Manu-sized migraine. I was just so mad at everyone for making so many bad decisions. David and Rick thought it was wise to make a vote right before a suspected swap that would alienate two people (Lauren and The Wardog) while taking out someone they could still use as a shield (Kelley). Chris was right to keep The Wardog’s trust by sharing David’s plan, but he should have actually told The Wardog it was David’s plan. The Wardog would have then thought, “This guy’s giving The Wardog everything. If The Wardog can talk him out of voting for Kelley, which seems very easy, The Wardog will have a loyal Warpup and total control of this tribe” instead of voting out Chris who, again, was giving The Wardog everything. Meanwhile, Wendy was still fucking with the tribe’s food and fire situation, showing no signs of trying to save herself other than saying she’d do what David told her to do — also, continuing to be kept completely in the dark about every vote by everyone on her tribe, which didn’t seem to concern anyone at all that her loyalty could later be a liability.
Kelley was the only person in her right mind, and I suppose Lauren too for sticking by her side. This could have just been an obvious, easy vote for Wendy to keep Manu six-strong, but David, Rick, Chris, and The Wardog all made it a total disaster. Chris had I guess decided he was definitely doing Kelley, so at least she made sense to send a vote back Chris’s way. Kelley’s way too big of a target on her own, and Lauren will be lost without her, so I’m just going to go ahead and give an early congrats to Kama on the winner coming from that tribe. If a Manu manages to make it instead, I vow to become a vegan.
The chicken chatter was of course a major topic at tribal council, Wendy now fully embracing her 8-days-and-counting of vegetarianhood, but what was even funnier about this final act of the episode than that comment was that the tribe basically owned up to no longer trying to “keep the tribe strong” and sort of accepted their fate as the losing tribe. They knew they were chicken-boned in challenges, so this vote was about trust and loyalty.
I guess even though they’d thrown votes at Wendy at every past vote, Manu still thought she’d be more loyal to them than Chris. Yes, he was a physical and I guess social threat (I’m not giving him “strategic” from what I saw) but I don’t think voting him out was the right move for anyone but Kelley and Lauren, given the options. David and Rick perhaps cleaned up a bit of their mess, but it was exactly that – their own mess. Maybe David can do what he says and bury any suspicion that the Kelley vote was his idea, but something tells me it’ll get out somehow, and he’ll regret not finishing what he started.
Did Chris even read the sign or did he just grab the torch and go? This was quite the contrast from what we got from Keith last week and honestly how this decision is meant to be made. If asked last week who I felt was the safest on Manu, I’d have said Rick because he was at the center of the tribe with David and has received solid content each week, but then I would have said Chris because he’s received almost no content this season, so his boot is one I didn’t see coming until literally the last segment of the episode. They’ve given us nothing to really root for in Chris (unless you’re a fan of snakes) so while he’s the most obvious bet to win his way back at the moment, I don’t want to see that happen. If he were to come back at the merge, I could easily see another Matt Elrod revolving door scenario with Chris and that’d just be a waste over someone like Reem re-entering and raising major hell.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
RELEASE THE CHICKENS!
We’ve had someone accidentally let chickens loose on Survivor — I call them “Flicka’s flock” — but I never thought I’d see the day where someone did it intentionally. Wendy’s gone full Brandon Hantz, and that’s a place one should never go. Some Manus would have lost the chickens anyway with the swap, begging the question why they were even made a reward just two days prior, but how does Wendy think this will be a good look for her with anyone in the game? If she can’t be trusted to not starve the tribe, I’d be pretty chicken-shit to work with her myself.
Regarding the swap, it’s absolutely needed at this point. Manu may have squeaked out their first win, but these challenges were still going to be Kama’s to lose. Normally, I’d say that we could’ve used Kama going to tribal council once to put its alliances to the test, but this week we saw that the line was very clearly drawn with Joe, Aubry, and Aurora standing on the wrong side. One vote wouldn’t have had Kama questioning much, and I’d have only lost someone I loved, so this swap splitting up that sixsome is probably the best-case scenario for us Aubry and Aurora fans. As odd as it sounds, my ideal swap result would be a tribe with all four returnees and either Rick or The Wardog winning out until the merge — we already know enough about them so it’s time we see more, or anything, from the rest and get a break from this season’s vet-centric story.
Aubry – I’m still mad at most of Manu, and Kama was quiet, so Aubry’s my only major player for this week. Wendy shot up some fireworks, but they fell more the way of frustration for me. Aubry’s journey on Survivor has been an emotional rollercoaster, and we’re only 3 episodes into this season but have already seen that ride hit some of its lowest points with Aubry’s back pushed so hard up against the wall. Maybe not everyone’s an Aubry fan or a fan of her being brought back for a third time, but you can never blame the players for saying yes to a second, third, or fourth chance. Who would? Aubry still has some serious unfinished business, and even if those flashbacks gave some goofy Ghost Island vibes, the raw emotions we saw pouring out of Aubry during that scene made for my highlight of the episode.
Has it been since the premiere of Kaoh Rong that we’ve seen her break down like that? I remember thinking “this girl’s a goner” in the first 30 minutes of that season, and looking back on that, it’s amazing what a transformation Aubry’s made. I’ve hated Aubry being on the bottom of Kama, but it’s let me love rooting for her as an underdog this season. She’s been down but she’s not out until she’s out. Until then, you can always bet on Bracco.
Kelley – An honorable mention to Kelley Wentworth for just being such a MOOD this week:
I’m here for anyone that brings the sass and kicks ass, and Kelley’s been killing it with both.
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