Survivor 27.4, “One Armed Dude and Three Moms” shows the value of simplicity

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Survivor Review, Season 27, Episode 4
“One Armed Dude and Three Moms”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

Brilliant. In a season filled with twists, it’s the simple moves that can change the game. After watching his fiancé quit last week, Caleb steps out of the shadows and executes a stunning move at Tribal Council. Nothing ever happens at Tribal Council! When change-ups occur, they usually use the immunity idol. This move involves doing math and realizing it wouldn’t take much to kick out the figurehead. By announcing his vote for Brad in front of everyone, Caleb realizes he can sway the girls’ votes and create a 3-3 tie. Players don’t want to pull rocks, so the odds of taking out Brad are very good. There’s a chance that everyone votes out Caleb, but that still leaves the guys in power. It makes little sense for Katie and Ciera to follow that plan. With just a few words, Brad’s fate is sealed. The amazing part is that he lost the game with his blindside of John last week. That changed the numbers from 5-1 to 4-2. This gives Caleb a rare chance to flip and change the game.

After Tadhana’s inevitable loss at the immunity challenge, there’s little strategizing on display at camp. That leaves a lot of time for Tribal Council, so something is bound to happen. Still, it’s hard to anticipate that Brad is heading home. He handles it well and doesn’t get petty, and it’s clear that Brad isn’t a bad guy. He’s just not very good at Survivor. Ciera’s look of confusion says it all. The result helps her game, but it doesn’t make sense. How did this powerful leader go out so easily? This type of move is what fans want to see. Players at the bottom realize they aren’t ready to stop playing and take out the leaders. The voting includes a classic move from Hayden that seems designed for the editors. He starts to write Ciera in the re-vote and crosses it out. When he hesitates and the shot fades back to Jeff Probst, it’s a sharp move from the editors to keep us guessing. Vytas ultimately flips and removes his ally, and Caleb’s ascension is complete. Brad leaves to face the Codys at Redemption Island in possibly the most awkward night in the history of reality television.

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The episode begins with the Redemption Island “truel”, which forces Candice and John to battle each other to survive. She seems to be in trouble and falls behind Marissa, but her deliberate approach keeps her alive. A slow, diligent plan helps with this type of puzzle, and Candice’s experience is essential. Marissa shows passion and made quite an impression during her short time on the island. Brad takes more flak this week and gets flicked off by Candice right at the start. It’s hard not to feel a little bad for the guy, who has a huge ego but isn’t ready for the blowback of his actions. The highlight comes when John (on Candice’s urging) gives the immunity idol clue to Monica. They’re clearly trying to mess with her game, and it’s fun to watch the devious play from Candice. What makes this sequence fun is Monica’s choice to throw the clue in the fire. Take that, Survivor producers! Immunity idols have become a curse, and the paranoia rarely helps a player’s game. Monica recognizes the danger and throws this move back in their face. Brad’s exit may actually benefit her in the long run, though she probably won’t see it that way.

There’s little strategizing happening at Galang, so it’s time to see Tyson and Gervase covertly drinking coconuts and lying to the rest of the tribe about it. Their shady move is endearing, particularly when they sell Monica and Laura Boneham on the missing juice. It’s pretty clear that Galang isn’t losing this immunity challenge, which comes down to the puzzle once again. Laura Morett shows her mastery and outshines Ciera again to win the challenge. Despite his shoulder injury, Tyson actually competes and does well. The unsung hero is Laura Boneham, who again displays impressive athletic skills in the water. She’s quietly heading to the merge and may not be their first target at Tribal Council. The continued wins from Galang are pretty boring, and they show the big advantage for returning players. They aren’t overwhelmed by the moment and think more clearly in the stressful challenges. It might be time to rethink the “fans vs. favorites” idea.

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With all the strategy happening at Tadhana, it’s difficult to speculate on which returning players are in the best position. Aras and Tina seem to be running the show, but Tyson and Gervase have formed a strong bond on their love of mischief. They don’t have loved ones in the game, so the target shouldn’t be as large on their backs. This season continues to surprise and has remained interesting during the part of each season that often lags. Moves like Caleb’s usually happen after the merge. Considering the added layers of bringing loved ones together, the post-merge chaos should reign. Will Caleb thrive with this newfound power or face the consequences? Vytas and Hayden are in a new spot as the minority alliance. Winning the next challenge is the key to avoid following Brad to Redemption Island. It’s a remarkable turn of events after only four episodes, and it’s impossible to know what will happen next in this intriguing season.

Dan Heaton




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