Survivor 27.2, “Rule in Chaos” reveals a new side effect of this season’s formula

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Survivor Review, Season 27, Episode 2
“Rule in Chaos”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

During the early stages of Survivor, luck plays a huge role in determining players’ fates. The votes can knock out people who barely get a chance to compete. An alliance forms and starts taking out the others, and it’s a scramble to grab a chair before the music stops. The Blood vs. Water twists have added new reasons to vote out a fellow tribe member. Instead of just targeting weak players and potential threats, the majority must look at the other tribe. The change allowing players to substitute for their loved ones creates the scenario of removing someone to entice a strong opponent to “pull a Rupert” and jeopardize their game. This fate befalls Tyson’s girlfriend Rachel this week, and it’s frustrating to watch a good competitor leave so early. It may lead to great drama next time, but it means that less-exciting individuals may last longer. The choice makes sense from the guys’ perspective; the small gamble could pay dividends. However, it also represents short-sided thinking. If a tribe swap occurs, this focus on winning as a team might hurt their chances in the long run.

The other big news is the return of nasty Colton, who gets bored with his tribe’s conga-line massages and decides to inspire chaos. The problem is that his tribe is much different than the male goofballs on One World. Survivor veterans like Tina, Aras, and Gervase regard him like a crazy person. Tina’s exasperated interview about this idiotic representative of the show’s current era is classic. Even Tyson comes off like a normal guy compared to Colton. Considered apart from the antics, his strategy is also really amateurish. He’s playing way too hard and telling different stories to every person. It feels like self-sabotage from a guy who doesn’t know how to relax and wait for his opportunity. The best part of this segment is the revelation of an alliance of very likable people. Tina, Aras, Gervase, Tyson, and Monica offer a rare example of rational players banding together. The first two in particular seem poised to go far and are playing just the right game at this stage. Now that the group is formed, they can stay focused on winning challenges and not get sidetracked. Colton’s behavior is ugly and won’t survive long with this down-to-earth, rational alliance.

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Redemption Island time! The challenge requires balance more than brute strength, so Rupert’s chances are much lower. After a strong start, his stack collapses and ends his chances to survive. The four-time player is the game’s first victim, and Candice and Marissa survive for another duel. The interesting part is Gervase’s confident rejection (“handle your biz”) of switching in for his niece. He comes off much better during this episode and has a great spot in his tribe. Redemption Island still messes with the flow of the story, but there is added emotion with the family members watching the battles. The tension is much higher, which is exactly what the producers want. Still, it makes the votes at Tribal Council feel less essential. Rupert’s fate is a warning to everyone that choosing Redemption Island is probably a mistake. The challenges are rarely just about strength and usually involve other talents beyond brawn.

Leading up to the immunity challenge, the editing focuses mostly on the returning players and Colton’s messy play. Despite all the twists, there’s an old-school feeling to this season thus far. A main reason is the editing, which is giving a better perspective of the interactions among the entire tribe. A few players are still getting limited screen time, but it’s more balanced than usual. The loved ones get less time, though it does include a cringe-worthy speech from Brad Culpepper about his desire to body slam Gervase (foreshadowing, perhaps?). He’s still being set up for a fall, but it may not happen for a while. The challenge puts one player inside a barrel while the others spin her to a series of bags. Laura and Katie woozily untie the knots and set up Gervase and Hayden for a Skee ball showdown. Although nearly everyone’s officially involved, it’s really just two people on each side. Gervase comes through and ekes out the win to put the loved ones in the hot seat.

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Will Tyson decide to take Rachel’s place? That’s the big question for next week. Despite what the previews suggest, it seems unlikely. Tyson has a strong position in this game, and Rupert’s fate shows that volunteering for Redemption Island is foolish. Another interesting story line is the danger for John, who’s facing doubts from his tribe about his loyalty. He’s concerned that Tyson will replace Rachel and beat Candice, so that makes him less convinced Rachel is the right choice. Having the immunity idol clue is also a possible curse since it puts a target on his back. He may be in trouble, particularly if Candice wins again and gives him another clue. John’s unlikely to rock the boat and make a move, so taking him out seems premature. Even so, Vytas and Caleb are clearly wondering about keeping him with their alliance. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Katie take his place in the five-person group. Their first goal should be winning immunity, obviously. Continued losses will put the returning players in the drivers’ seat, particularly savvy competitors like Tina and Aras. This episode is more predictable than last time, but there’s plenty of potential for shake-ups during the next few weeks.

Dan Heaton






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