Episode 4 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 Fuck Yes, Reward Challenges Are Back
Due to the abbreviated version of the new Survivor, I expected all Reward Challenges to get wrapped into Immunity Challenges, which bummed me out. In all honesty, I weirdly prefer to watch Reward Challenges because Immunity is something anyone can have, but a Fat Dip of Guac or the chance to watch the cinematic classic Jack and Jill is something special. Hunger can lead players to act irrationally, and watching people have meltdowns due to losing rewards challenges is sadistically satisfying. Likewise, seeing the euphoria of someone engulf a pizza in seconds puts a smile on my face.
For the first time, Luvu (Blue Tribe) did not come out a winner, and it was because their oldest member Heather was unable to complete the physical part of the Challenge. To this point, Heather has been wallpaper and sat out the previous two immunity challenges, so to watch her first moment in the limelight be an absolute struggle was heartbreaking; nonetheless, she tried her best and did not give up. Even better, watching Pro Athlete Danny be extremely supportive and a great teammate to her was crucial because if she had come back to a sullied tribe, she probably would have felt her fate in the game was over. I commend Heather, I commend Danny, and Ua/Yase for finally beating Luvu.
9 Survival Expert Nathan & Cute Baby Turtles
Ua’s Reward for coming in 1st was a visit from survival expert and island native Nathan. Nathan was supposed to teach them some survival tips; however, it felt like he was showing off how fucking cool he is. Then again, I would probably do the same if I were him. He was climbing up 25-foot vertical pole-like trees barefoot to grab breadfruit and then was smashing a coconut with one punch. The guy is an absolute badass, but he gave them the expert tutorial when they needed the beginners. At the very least, he caught and fed them three big fishes, which is more than what Yase got (1 big fish).
We got an incredible scene with Tiffany hyping herself up after their last two second-place finishes in challenges, which is enormous compared to their abysmal start to the season where much of the blame went her way. Tiffany is gaining confidence and footing, and that could go a long way. Plus, once you get food in your stomach, your brain becomes less cloudy. Tyson Apostol won a season with food consumption being a primary emphasis of his. Yase watched a bunch of adorable baby turtles race out to sea, and while it was super cute, I had the same thought as Survivor Legend Davie Rickenbacker.
8 Erika vs. Sydney
Subtitle: Deshawn stalking his prey
To this point, Sydney has been a prominent personality on the Luvu Tribe. Thus far, Sydney’s edit has made her feel somewhat like the boss of the tribe, where when she talks, she speaks her opinions as if they are that of the entire tribe. Meanwhile, Erika has been very under the radar. Erika does not mesh with Sydney at all. Erika pitches to Deshawn the idea of voting out Sydney if they lose, which shocks Deshawn, not because it’s a bad idea, but because he sees Erika as the potential threat she can be. Deshawn sees Erika as a smart girl whose ability to stay under the radar and then kill puzzles is much greater than the outward/visible threat.
The most significant indicator of how much of a threat Erika can be is when Deshawn informs Sydney that someone threw her name out, and Sydney guesses every person on the tribe before Erika. If Erika and Sydney come to a head pre-merge/tribe swap, then Sydney wins as her voice carries more weight currently; in a merge/swap world, the weight of her voice makes her a target for others to jump on. So if Sydney is going to take out Erika, it has to be sooner rather than later. Will this be a battle or a war?
7 Deshawn’s Plan
Deshawn pitches Danny the virtues of throwing the next immunity challenge as a means to get Erika out. He talks about how the merge could be coming their way, and if they go in 6 against 7, it will be easy for the opposing tribes to team up and target Luvu. Next week’s trailer shows them worrying about getting outnumbered by females after seeing all the men on other tribes go down. Deshawn is a gamer, and so is Danny. Even though Danny does not like the idea of not giving his all as a competitor or putting himself in potential danger, he comprehends that for him to have a chance of winning this game, it is a move he has to make both socially and strategically. If Danny were to shut down Deshawn’s pitch, it would create greater internal tribe strife. Meanwhile, as much as it pains him to throw it, and as much as I am personally rooting for Erika, for Danny’s game, he needs more significant outward threats to remain in the game, or else his physique will have everyone targeting him at the merge.
6 Let’s Talk Immunity
The Immunity Challenge: Tribes swam to shore with a heavy bag of blocks, which they untied on the beach. They used the blocks to push out smaller blocks through a tunnel, one of which had a key to a chest that had three rings. The first two tribes to toss all three rings onto hooks won immunity; the losing tribe had to forfeit their flint until the next immunity challenge.
Yase pulled out their first 1st place finish of the season, with some help from Luvu throwing the challenge. Deshawn went all out with the sabotage. Unfortunately for Luvu, Naseer on his own is better than the entire Ua Tribe, as he was pushing puzzle pieces and mastered the ring toss to earn his tribe a second-place finish. JD proved to have no shot-making ability once again, calling out, “Money,” when as Shan said, he should have just yelled, “TRIBAL!”
5 State of the Yellow (Yase) Union
Yase is at peace right now. The other tribes seem to be crumbling; meanwhile, the women of Yase are on a united front, and Xander is currently working as their muscle. The most curious part of the episode was we did not hear Xander talk about butterflies, which means his 3-way Idol may be dead now due to Brad’s vote out. Or they left it out of the edit for whatever reason. Xander has to push himself in these challenges because if he has no vote, he has little shot of making it to the merge.
4 State of the Green (Ua) Union
At the beginning of the episode, Genie was pissed to have been blindsided by her fellow tribemates on the Brad vote. In a huff, she said she would not be making food or helping anyone around the camp anymore. Being a camp provider is a great asset, but when you lord it over people, it alienates you from them. Genie seems like an incredible person; she just lacks game awareness. She voted the wrong way at two consecutive tribal councils, which is a rough look. When Ua loses, she tells JD she will be using her Shot in the Dark, which I am glad to hear still exists as it’s been outside the ether since Episode 1.
When she pitches to JD about her using The Shot in the Dark and him using his vote on Ricard, it leads to a hilarious chain reaction. JD tells Ricard of the plan and how absurd it is, which results in Ricard talking to Shan, and then Shan creating her game plan that I will analyze Shan’s game plan in a couple of paragraphs. My favorite part about Ua is that Ricard is someone who people pegged as a strategist/manipulator, and to this point, he has had to make safe/rational plays because the other people in his tribe are crazy.
3 State of the Blue (Luvu) Union
The Blue Tribe is fascinating because they have not had to go to tribal council. Their team is loaded with athletes, puzzle people, and strategists. Even when their two strongest physical players (Danny & Deshawn) tried to throw the challenge, Naseer still came through and clutched it for them. Erika and Sydney, who have sat out challenges, would be the top challenge competitors on other tribes; that’s how stacked Luvu is. Their internal tribe conflict brewing is the best subplot going on currently.
2 Shan’s Mist
Shan knew the worst-case tribal scenarios were: Genie’s shot in the dark being a successful use with JD blindsiding Ricard, or JD using his extra vote alongside Genie to vote Ricard out 3–2. Those were the worst-case scenario with slim chances of happening, nonetheless, as a 3–1 or 3–0 Genie vote was the most likely outcome. Shan decides to cover her bases and convinces JD to hand her his advantage for a second time, and once she has it, she decides to neutralize the potential threat (JD) and makes him the new target, all while having an extra vote in her pocket. Not even trap cards in Yugioh are that powerful. She is proving to be an excellent player.
JD made a massive blunder, and as much I want to fault him for his boneheadery, I can’t help feeling this is primarily due to Shan’s excellence as a manipulator and strategist.
1 Judgment Day for JD & Where We Do We Go From Here?
The moment JD gave Shan his advantage, his time was up. Kudos to Shan and Ricard for getting Genie on board for this blindside after she has been out of the loop for what has felt like the entire season. JD is a good kid, a true Survivor fan, and a terrible player. I’ve called Genie the easy next vote after Ua’s first tribal council, and l will continue to going forward, especially as Shan/Ricard have been on the same page vote-wise every tribal this season.
Except seen in the trailer for next week, Genie may find Brad’s old Beware 3-Way Immunity Idol or a new advantage completely. It could shake up the game. The merge or a tribe swap is coming soon; we got 13 people left, 6 Luvu, 4 Yase, and 3 Ua. Luvu might be in a bad spot because they could have internal tribe conflict mixed with being easy to target due to Yase/Ua seeing their numbers as the obvious threat. Or Luvu will get their shit together and steamroll. Either way, things are heating up. It is vital to note that four of the five players voted out so far are men. If Yase loses next week, it is very possible Xander exits out the side door and it becomes five out six. Could we see a female alliance emerge at the merge?