Whether you are a seasoned Survivor fan or more newbie, chances are you’ve heard gamers and fans stressing the importance of social gaming. As we have seen many times before, candidate immunity wins and voting records can be worthless if they have no registered capital to back them up. It doesn’t just mean that you are at the top of your tribe’s food chain; instead, you need to make sure that your relationships are strong enough with everyone to minimize any bad luck that could happen to you. This is the lesson we saw reaffirmed in the last episode of Survivor SA.
From the recap of the previous episode, we remember how the dynamics in Survivor can change in no time. Just when you think you get it, things change. In Vuna, Chappies and Paul rightly feel left out after being the only two who didn’t vote for Pinty. Meanwhile, Carla feels high and powerful as the mastermind behind the blind side (though, to her disgust, Paul doesn’t give her credit for it). The alliance of Carla, Mike, Kiran, Tyson, Wardah and Anesu is in power now, and if they are successful, Chappies will be the next to go before he gets too much momentum.
On Zamba, the original alliance of Renier, Anela, Amy, Nicole, Marisha and Dino is still going strong, with one minor difference. According to Thoriso, Shaun managed to infiltrate the alliance and usurped Dino out of his place. This has almost as little explanation as Anela now going through Smash, but I digress. Thoriso, Dino, and Qiean are the new bottom of the pecking order, with Thoriso being the most obvious vote if they go to the tribal council.
In the spirit of Survivor, all of those future plans are quickly thrown out the window during the reward challenge when Nico tells them to drop their buffs. Players randomly select their new buffs and new tribes are formed. Vuna 2.0 includes Anesu, Dino, Kiran, Marisha, Nicole, Qiean, Renier, Thoriso, and Tyson. Zamba 2.0 has Amy, Anela, Carla, Chappies, Mike, Paul, Santoni, Shaun and Wardah. Some players like Carla are delighted to have switched to the right side of the numbers. The same cannot be said of Tyson, Anesu and Kiran on Vuna, or Amy, Anela and Shaun on Zamba, who are immediately tribal line-based outsiders.
The reward challenge is a one-on-one between players for various items, but that’s not what’s important here. Earlier today, Santoni told Chappies about the Immunity Idol Clue she found, but they couldn’t find it. Now that she has been traded for Zamba, she realizes that she lost the opportunity to find him on her own. She talks to Paul about the clue and how they should pass the information on to one of Vuna’s original members. Given the structure of the challenge, Paul is able to confront Tyson and tell him that the idol is three paces north of the water well. Tyson hears it, but he also stands out once Dino points out that they were exchanging a message (oh, the irony of that statement).
When the challenge is over and over, the new tribes settle in the camp. Anesu, Tyson, and Kiran understand the gravity of their situation on Vuna. They went from being settled in their comfortable alliance of six to being withdrawn in their own territory. Tyson doesn’t do himself any favors by disappearing for a while, but it ends up paying off for him and his alliance members. He finds the idol exactly where Paul told him to look, and honestly, this is the perfect person to find it. Having the idol doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be safe if they go to Tribal, but it could be the extra thing he, Anesu, and Kiran need to deal with their change in luck.
The new Zamba tribe is struggling more to find its place, the consequences of the majority of its tribe having been part of the more recent Tribal. Mike recognizes that the best way forward is to stay with the original members of Vuna. The problem is, her closest ally, Carla, makes this goal much harder to achieve. She seems physically unable to hide her aversion to Paul and Chappies, who were already on the sidelines. To make matters worse, she tells Anela, Amy, and Shaun all of this information, essentially giving them the key to changing things in their favor.
Amy is the first to strike, proposing that Chappies eliminate Mike in the next vote. Since that’s exactly what Chappies wanted anyway, it’s no surprise that he agrees, as does Paul. If you really want to get a glimpse of the obvious pecking order on OG Vuna, look no further than Santoni. Although she was unable to vote in the last Tribal, she is fully aware that she was expendable to her native tribe. Not only does it make strategic sense for her to switch, but she also feels better on a personal level with this new majority.
Of course, it’s one thing to agree to a turnaround plan, but another thing to implement it. Zamba loses the Immunity challenge, which means Santoni, Paul and Chappies will have to decide very soon if they go with who they know or with players they just met. While Amy is on Immunity Island, it’s up to Anela and Shaun to secure the numbers. They know the votes on the other side are going to Anela, but they stick to their plan to eliminate Mike. Carla may be the most dramatic cause, but it’s clear to them that Mike will be the biggest threat down the line.
The irony is not lost on Mike that his fate in the game is now in the hands of the people they left out only a turn ago. He doesn’t come down without a fight and gives the last argument of his life as to why they must stay strong Vuna in the new Zamba tribe. If they start to clash, it gives the original members of Zamba the opportunity to take them out once the merge is complete. To Mike’s credit, that argument makes sense, and his skills as a lawyer are fully on display here. However, he doesn’t argue in front of a judge or jury, he pleads in front of Chappies and Paul, and they still don’t know what they’re going to do.
Tribal ends up being a back and forth between the two sides. Chappies, Paul and Santoni are stuck in the classic Survivor dilemma. Do they side with their original tribesmen for a better chance at longevity in the game, or do they create a new majority and oust players who have already fucked them once? In the end, they decide to forge a new path and ignore the tribal lines. Anela gets 3 votes, but Mike gets the other 5, and he’s kicked out of the game.
While Mike was a star this episode, with his vote comes the best of tribe swap situations. Just when the tribe’s dynamic seems to be stagnating, the game is launched on a loop. Those who were once at the top now face the consequences of their social game, for better or for worse. Santoni, Chappies, and Paul saw a chance to potentially change their fate in the game, and they seized it; the original allegiances are cursed.
It’s been a great episode for all of these reasons, and I don’t think it’s going to be the last of the alliance turnarounds we’re seeing. Thoriso, Dino, and Qiean are part of the other tribe, and I’m sure they were more than aware of their position with the original members of Zamba. Combine that with Tyson’s idol, it’s fair to say that all hope is not lost on Tyson, Anesu, and Kiran.
Another free end that will be covered in the next episode is the Immunity Island results. Amy lost her challenge during her time there. As a result, the other tribe will be able to loot their tribe’s camp and take 3 items they want. Amy isn’t sure how she’s going to break the news to Zamba, and it looks like she’s lying to save face. Whether or not that will come back to haunt her remains to be seen, but I can’t wait to see how Mike’s vote and the camp raid impact the future of this season.