Episode 2 of Survivor 41 is in the books, and instead of the traditional summary/recap, I am here to breakdown the episode into 10 big moments, storylines, and takeaways. For Survivor fans who have never read my MTV Challenge recaps, buckle in.
10 Brad is Clueless
I want to open this by saying that Tony Vlachos is my favorite Survivor player because he breaks the conventional rules of what to do/what not to do on Survivor. Except Tony is a wholly unique player where he is one of the only humans (maybe the only) capable of doing stuff like running around the Island to spy on his tribemates. It feels Brad watched Cagayan when it got added to Netflix and then watched Winners of the War right before he left to film this season. He is trying to replicate what Tony does without realizing that he is completely alienating his fellow tribemates. What I find particularly funny about Brad’s antics is you could tell from Day 1 that Ricard has seen JD as a threat and wants him out, but because Brad is so erratic, Ricard must postpone any plans.
Shan is already over Brad’s antics and then her humoring him after gave me some Sophie Clarke on South Pacific vibes.
9 Barebones Survivor
The lack of rice, losing tribes not getting their flint back, and not getting fishing gear till after the second challenge is taking a toll on the contestants. Hell, one of the tribes still has no flint and no fishing gear following the second challenge. With the pace of the game and the more intense conditions, the separation between those who prioritize strategic game and those prioritize immunity challenges and strength will become more distant.
Some people want to play the game based solely on strategy and social connections, yet, when you lose a challenge and come back to a cold camp with no food, voting out the weakest link begins to look much more appealing.
8 Naseer Must Be Protected at All Costs
Subtitle: He May Not Even Need Protection
A player who has no trouble with the more extreme version of Survivor is Naseer. The new editing format was used incredibly well in this episode as seeing Naseer’s home in Sri Lanka and understanding that long before he played this game of Survivor, the fundamental survival element was just daily life to him. Now, he is doing with a shot at a million dollars playing a game he fell in love with. Naseer is a good guy and a charming fellow. Sydney mentioned that the tribe was planning to extract as many survival details as they could out of him before voting him out; however, due to how likable he is and how much of an asset he is, they will keep him around.
Naseer could potentially be a very formidable threat in this game. As it stands, being the charming camp provider gives him a decent leg to stand on. It is what he does once standing that I find fascinating because he is not just a lovely Sri Lankan; Naseer is a student of the game who learned English by watching Survivor. In his tribe, I’d rank him probably 4th or 5th out of 6th in the hierarchy, which is not the best spot you could be in for the short-term; for the long-term, though, it could put him in a great game position. The Blue (Luvu) Tribe is looking like they will steamroll the immunities — if Naseer can get to the merge, then I think he has the option to make a big move by turning on his original tribe, simply straddling the middle, or coasting on the fact that he won’t be the biggest target for opposing sides.
7 Beware Beware
Last week, I was hyping Xander up as a potential winner, and this week he comes back to bite. Like Icarus, he is flying too close to the sun. After earning an extra vote last week and mostly convincing his tribe it was an asset to them, he chooses to look for an idol this week, finds the beware advantage, and decides that because everything else at this point has worked out for him, why not press his luck? What did he get? An advantage that is one big disadvantage.
The “Beware” advantage: an idol that only works when someone from all three tribes finds their respective ones (having to say a secret phrase at a challenge to confirm the idols are in power). Until then, Xander would not be able to vote at Tribal Council.
I’m undecided on whether or not showing Evvie and Voce the Beware advantage/parchment was a good or bad idea. Xander loses his vote, his extra vote, people know he is two steps away from an idol, and each week he has to randomly drop a cockamamie phrase at the immunity challenges that make him look like a total weirdo. If Xander can manage his way out of this situation, then maybe he is a potential winner. Until then, I say, I didn’t realize broccoli is just a bunch of little trees.
6 Let’s Talk Immunity
The Immunity/Reward Challenge: Tribe members must traverse an obstacle course in the ocean, with the first member unclipping a key underwater. Once all tribe members are across, they would solve a turtle puzzle. The first two tribes to finish won immunity and fishing gear.
Luvu (Blue Tribe) continues to come in 1st Place, they are a physically stacked tribe, and DeShawn/Erika is a strong puzzle duo. Ua (Green Tribe) came in 2nd Place in large part due to Tiffany’s completely sandbagging Yase (Yellow Tribe). JD and Ricard’s puzzle prowess was not great; it simply did not matter, though, because they had such a big lead on yellow from the physical portion. Yase being the weakest tribe in challenges, not having fishing supplies or flint, is a total yikes. They might be Matsing right now.
5 State of the Blue (Luvu) Union
Luvu is a stacked tribe. Sydney looks cutthroat and athletic, Danny is a savvy Ex-NFL player, DeShawn carries himself powerfully and intelligently, Erika seems adorable and is killing these puzzles, and Naseer got a couple of whole paragraphs out of me. The person left out of that summarization, and the edit thus far is Heather. Heather seems like a nice person from the preseason interviews and the few glimpses we have gotten of her. Her issue is she ended up on a tribe of heavy hitters, and if they lose, they may point the finger at her when there is no reason to believe she is weak, other than the fact everyone surrounding has something to bring to the table in challenges. I want to highlight DeShawn; he has been making impacts since the start of the game by carrying the water with Danny and seems to be socially gelling well with everyone.
In all honesty, Luvu feels more like a Goliath tribe than the actual Goliath tribe from Season 37.
4 State of the Green (Ua) Union
Last week, the vote could have gone in any direction Ua, and now it is feeling chalk. If they had not won immunity this week, I feel confident in saying that Brad would have gotten voted out. Shan is in the power position of this tribe as JD, Ricard, and Genie are all likely looking at her as their #1 ally.
3 State of The Yellow (Yase) Union
I compared Yase to the Brains Tribe from Cagayan because they suck at immunity challenges while having some of those dynamic personalities who can go far. Evvie, Tiffany, and Liana formed a female tribe alliance/pact this week, and they planned to take out one of the boys. None of these women want the game to come down to perceived strength values because women always get the short end of the stick when people talk about being athletic/comp beasts. They also know a tribe swap could happen at any moment in which you don’t want to face off against a Xander later in the game. At the same time, I have to note, Tiffany is God awful at these challenges and plays super paranoid. She is making for great television and is a lovely person; it is just clear she is not a legit player with a chance to win, only an asset to those who can manage what she brings.
Xander’s beware advantage might have cursed Voce more than himself. From a pure math standpoint, Xander lost two potential votes, where with Voce, they could have at least guaranteed any tribal would end in a 3–3 tie. Losing the vote gave the men no leg to stand on, and it made Voce the bigger target as he was the one who possessed a vote.
2 Evvie is a Social Game Drug Dealer
Evvie clearly understands that to gain information and trust; you have to give some out yourself. She also knows that you don’t open yourself up too much to keep people on the hook. Keep them coming back for more. When Evvie goes on a hike with DeShawn, she tells him about how the idols work, the fact Xander has one, and throws out the idea of working together without any big attachment. That is a drug dealer type play; Evvie gave him a gram of weed and some rolling papers for free, followed up with her phone number. Evvie gave him all this information without talking too much about herself, which in itself is so impressive. As they go up the hill on their hike, Evvie tells DeShawn to risk for the extra vote as she will be protecting hers, another means to make him feel indebted to her when acting for herself.
The scientific part of Evvie does a great job of asset management, where last week she saw Albert as someone who would be more challenging to manipulate than Tiffany. My fear when it comes to Evvie is she might be sticking her hands into too many pots and could find herself in trouble quickly. I could see Evvie being an early merge boot at this point. If she can continue maneuver as easily as she has to this point, though, then maybe she is just the best player in the game.
1 Votes for Voce
Jeff Probst being unable to comprehend a regular human could know what 1 divided by 6 is, had me dying laughing. Jeff tried to paint Voce as this intellect, and you could tell Voce’s mind was racing that he already had enough to deal with in this tribal, that he then had to explain he didn’t grow up smart to get less of a target on him. There were three people on the hot seat during this tribal — Tiffany due to her faults as an immunity challenge competitor, Xander for his potential advantages, and Voce for being the odd man out of a female alliance. Xander not having a vote had a significant influence on the outcome because if he and Voce accounted for 2 votes, then potentially Evvie takes a harder look at voting out Tiffany after her terrible immunity challenge performance. Instead, it became a Voce or Xander question.
In the end, Voce got voted out 3 to 1. Some people will say Tiffany’s paranoia led to Voce getting voted out, and maybe that is true; what I believe is that Evvie’s asset management realized she would rather play with a politically hand-cuffed Xander than a full-powered Voce. Xander is a bigger challenge asset than Voce, and even if they lose out on immunity next week, there is a decent shot he won’t have a vote anyway. If Xander has an idol and a vote by then, you vote out Tiffany as the weak link. By voting out Voce, they censure Tiffany’s worries as well. I keep seeing parallels between the Yase Tribe and the Brain Tribe from Cagayan, and for Xander, he is somewhat filling a Spencer Bledsoe role despite being vastly different personalities. Tiffany could be their J’Tia, except they don’t have any rice to throw out.
Voce getting voted out was a bit sad because you could tell he was playing a restrained game where he didn’t show his entire personality/motives to avoid getting a target on his back. The way the simulation we are living in worked out was that it did not matter. They lost two challenges, and he was simply the odd man out due to no genuine fault of his own. Yes, he could have potentially made a deeper social connection with Evvie, or Tiffany, or Liana, but it is not like he was a pariah or even a bad player. I went into this season being entirely out on him from his initial preseason interviews to being pleasantly surprised, and now, somewhat shocked he is the third boot.