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Survivor 27.3, “Opening Pandora’s Box” presents the worst quit in Survivor history

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Survivor Review, Season 27, Episode 3
“Opening Pandora’s Box”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

Last season, the Survivor producers made the inexplicable decision to cast Brandon Hantz for a second time. He was clearly unstable during his first appearance, and it was only a matter of time before he exploded. The choice to bring back Colton is different because he controlled the game on One World before exiting. Even so, there are definite similarities. Colton is a nasty player who thrives on making others miserable. That strategy may work with newbies, but he’s found no traction with the returnees. Luckily for him, they’ve been rolling through the immunity challenges. He might coast for a while and find a way to reach the merge. Instead, Colton’s frustration leads to the lamest quit in the show’s history. Players do everything to play and avoid the vote, and he gives up after seven days? Brandon’s exit was horrible, but it came from a misguided feeling that he was leaving on his own terms. This choice is worse and proves that Colton should never have returned. Jeff Probst and the producers share the blame for giving him the chance. The only relief is that it happens so early. Colton exits with a whimper and comes off even worse in his second appearance.

Thankfully, an interesting episode happens around that sad moment. The Redemption Island duel is a tense affair with Rachel and Marissa battling to the end in the brutal heat. Both are tough competitors, so either option is unfortunate this early. Rachel falls just short, and it’s too bad to watch an engaging player exit so soon. She convinces Tyson not to take her place, and his anger’s completely focused on Brad. Marissa joins in the fun and curses out the arrogant figurehead, and the result is great television. Although he survives a possible blindside this week, Brad’s putting a huge target on himself. His transparent gameplay keeps creating new enemies, and his own tribe doesn’t love him either. Marissa’s passion is inspiring, particularly when placed next to Colton’s lack of it. Candice again rocks the challenge and gives another immunity idol clue to John. Unfortunately, the well-meaning guy blunders another chance to prove his loyalty and faces the consequences. It’s hard to blame Candice for giving him the clue; she doesn’t realize he’s so inept at acting shady. Brad may be a dummy, but even he recognizes that John is a wishy-washy ally.

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It’s the Baskauskas brothers’ show this week, and both are prepping to battle at the challenge. Aras receives a lot of screen time, and it’s clear that he’s in a great position. The laid-back atmosphere at the returning players’ camp is really helping them in the challenges. They’re playing it just right and watching their loved ones struggle. Time for a rumble! The big contests have family members battling directly. Tina shows true grit against her daughter and proves her competitive drive while barely staying out of the water. Katie takes her best shot and does much better than the feeble efforts from Ciera. The other major fight comes between Aras and Vytas, and the editors play up their history. Aras was the college athlete, and his older brother was a bully. Vytas makes it easy by using shady tactics when Aras tries to be sportsmanlike. Beyond this challenge, both guys are shining and have an excellent shot to make the end. They’re going to be a major force if the pair survives all the way to the merge. It’s also fun to see the returnees getting so much enjoyment from watching their loved ones compete. Although they want to win, the satisfaction from seeing the family members play Survivor is a rare part of this season.

Leading up to Tribal Council, it’s clear that a blind side is coming. If there’s any doubt, the episode description makes it very obvious. Thanks CBS! The differences between the returnees (besides Colton) and the new players are remarkable. Brad is playing the short game and acting like the merge has already happened. The others are letting him lead and realize that his power is limited. John doesn’t see the danger and believes the promises of loyalty from his alliance. The immunity idol has saved players and helped them win the million, but it’s also a curse. During the pre-merge phase, tribes are just looking for a reason to vote out a player. Being transparent is the only right move in this situation. On the other hand, this vote shows the temporary nature of this alliance. No one is safe going forward. This news is refreshing for Katie and Ciera, who’ve discovered a chance to survive. If the seeds of discord remain on their tribe, they may not face the vote for a long time.

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This episode sets up plenty of interesting story lines for the upcoming weeks. Will John and Candice find a way to take out Marissa and both continue? Can Tyson overcome the loss of Rachel and an injured shoulder to move forward? It will also be intriguing to see if Brad’s arrogance hurts Monica’s chances. She’s part of the dominant alliance in her tribe, but voting her out is the obvious move to impact him. It’s difficult to say where this season is heading. It isn’t hard to make the case for a bunch of different players as contenders. That unpredictability could lead to a surprisingly entertaining season.

Dan Heaton


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