Episode 3 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 JD and Brad are Two Hilarious Messes
After playing a terrible social game, Brad stumbling upon two advantages felt like production pouring gasoline on an existing fire. At this point, we had seen Brad telling tribe members to their faces he was considering voting them out. Brad sprinted across the beach to spy on his tribemates, only to the dismay of his other tribe members. Then we see him get paranoid and fixated on JD. Once Brad becomes an easy vote out, he gets two advantages, and suddenly, the game feels a little different. I have to give Brad credit for creating a scarecrow version of himself for his nighttime excursion; it had me dying laughing.
Watching JD do Reem and Woo impersonations was a big episode highlight as well. JD is a true Survivor superfan, a genuinely charismatic, good-looking, and friendly guy, and has the aspirations to be one of this games’ greats, and when you add it all together, it is a disastrous mess. He is the definition of trying to do too much. JD wants to be the funny guy around, he wants to kill the challenges and find advantages, and while it’s all with good intentions, it puts a target on his back and limits his potential. One of the keys to success in Survivor is building a foundation you can rely on; whether it’s being a camp provider, a challenge asset, or forming an immediate close-bond/alliance, you need something you know you are awesome at first before you can move on to the other parts of the game. A fault of being a Survivor fan is JD idolizes these great players and wants to replicate their best moments without realizing you need the fundamentals.
Like in Sports, nobody wants to practice fielding ground balls or taking a hundred free throws, but they are necessary parts of the game. Survivor is about subtlety and smaller social bonds you form; if you can get those done, then the edit will have you looking like a superhero.
9 People Do Not Beware
I keep waiting for someone to see one of these advantages with the Beware logo and actually to resist temptation. Thus far, I have not seen the Risk/Reward end positively for anyone except for Danny & DeShawn during the prisoner dilemma hikes. Xander is currently playing a handcuffed game on Yase. Brad and JD have targets for people finding out they have Rewards. After their interaction during the Tarp/Steal vote decision, Sydney and Tiffany are already not on good terms.
The pure amount of advantages, twists, and rules this early into a season is making me feel discombobulated at times. Keeping track of extra votes, shots in the dark, people without votes, and whether or not butterflies are just dead relatives saying hi is a lot to deal with. Most fans would prefer to see more camp life and interpersonal relationships in the game rather than advantage-seeking ventures and footage. There should be only one advantage pre-merge, an immunity idol hidden at Tribal Council in the exact spot Adam Klein thought there was one.
8 Person of Interest: Sydney Segal
Sydney optimistically reminds me of Brenda Lowe from Nicaragua (pessimistically reminds me of a couple pre-merge boots). They both carry themselves powerfully, are beautiful, intelligent, and speak well in front of people. Sydney is a chess player where she is planning the right gameplan in her head, and thus, when someone goes entirely off the board, you can tell she gets a bit frustrated. At the same time, it is apparent to others that she is there to game, and while she has a decent shot of running her tribe pre-merge, she could quickly become a target if things go sour. During the Steal a Vote/Tarp decision, you could see Sydney getting frazzled at the first sign of opposition with Tiffany. She saw the Extra Vote and the chance of losing a vote as unnecessary risks that could sink her game, which it would have been wise if Brad and Tiffany could have figured out the same. Sydney didn’t tell her tribe about the advantage for a reason.
It is good to have a general gameplan when you go into Survivor, yet, you need to adapt. Sydney’s strategic mind is sound, but I’m not sure her adaption and social game skills are on the same level.
7 Let’s Talk Immunity
Luvu (Blue Tribe) comes in 1st place for the third straight week, and there is no reason to believe they will lose a future challenge unless they choose to, especially when you consider they have both strong athletes and puzzle people. Add in the fact they have the benefit of always keeping their flint, have the most fishing equipment, and now a bunch of fruit to give them some much-needed calories. Yase (Yellow Tribe) finally pulls out their first win of the season, and their decision to keep Xander pays off as he is integral towards them winning the challenge and getting them an extra week of safety. JD fumbles the challenge hard by trying to get a bit flashy, and once again, gets caught doing too much. Ua takes their second L of the season.
6 State of the Yellow (Yase) Union
Since Yase did not have to vote someone out this week, they did not get their usual screentime. We got a scene of Liana in tears over the fact she had to vote out Voce instead of Xander since she saw Xander as a more significant move. Evvie and Tiffany made the right choice in keeping Xander as he is a more considerable challenge asset and currently does not own an immunity vote. The opening scene leads me to believe that Liana will make a big move in the future where she follows her intuition/gut. Whether Liana has a good read of the game or not, she is someone with her heart in the game, and you love to see it.
Xander is still between a rock and a hard place because he still needs two additional people to find the immunity clues (one that will get rehidden) to get his idol and, importantly, to have his tribal vote back.
5 State of the Green (Ua) Union
The Green Tribe is mainly at the whim of Shan because the personalities of the tribe itself are so diametrically opposed, and she is the only one who fills the Venn diagram of what each is looking for in an alliance partner. Ricard sees her as a fellow game player who is not irrational, JD sees her as someone just like him except he thinks he is a little smarter (which is wrong), and then Genie and Brad are old school players who see JD & Ricard as too snake-ish; thus they put their trust in Shan. Ua is the weakest tribe to me, where even though Yase has been worse in the challenges, they at least have more dynamic characters (or from what we have seen).
4 State of the Blue (Luvu) Union
Last week, I praised Naseer for his survival skills and for being incredibly charming. This week it is apparent Naseer lacks tact when it comes to social game and comes off as a bit arrogant. If Luvu ever loses an immunity challenge, it looks as though it will be him on the chopping block. Ironically, two Luvu Tribe members I look at as possible winners (DeShawn & Sydney) might be overplaying their hands based on the preview for next week’s episode. I think all of that could be a smokescreen for what could be a 5–1 Naseer vote out.
3 Shan is emitting Big Sophie Clarke Energy
Sophie Clarke won Survivor South Pacific by managing the egos and personalities of crazy and unaware human beings. She constantly had to pull back her own beliefs, knowing that she would need to pick the right horses to ride with to win the game. Right now, I feel Shan is in a similar boat where she is choosing between two messes in Brad and JD. Whereas Brad is more simple, he could also be more stubborn, and with JD, he might be more erratic; he is also good-hearted and potentially flexible.
Shan is fun and intelligent, and I would like to see her go far in this game.
2 End of the Cattle Road
It came down to JD and Brad at Tribal Council. At one point, Genie got put under fire by Ricard for voting for him at the first tribal council; however, most of the attention went to JD and Brad. JD poured his heart over his love for the game, whereas Brad had mostly unbreakable confidence that he has had this entire game. In the end, Shan chooses for their tribe to take out Brad as he is potentially a day away from owning an Immunity Idol and an extra vote. Even though JD is messy, Shan sees him as someone with a good heart and willing to hand her his advantage as a trust point.
As we advance, if Ua loses an additional challenge, JD is the person you expect to get voted out unless an idol or advantage shifts the game.
1 Let’s Talk Potential Merges & Swaps
Luvu (Blue Tribe) still has all six of their original members, and based on how they are competing in the challenges; I have no reason to believe they will lose one in the future as they are stacked physically and mentally. In the trailer for next week’s episode, you see Danny talking about how some people in the tribe want to throw the mission. I could see how that is beneficial. Going into a merge or even splitting into 2 tribes with your entire original tribe still intact makes it easy for the remaining Yase and Ua members to team up against Luvu. Then again, staying six strong and trying to Pagong your opponents does not seem like a bad strategy either.