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Survivor 27.5, “The Dead Can Still Talk” reveals yet another layer to voting strategy

Survivor 27.5 Tadhana

Survivor Review, Season 27, Episode 5
“The Dead Can Still Talk”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

Considering all the twists in Survivor: Blood vs. Water, the old-school vibe has been a refreshing surprise. The family connections are forcing the editors to show the personalities of more than just a few star players. Laura Morett hasn’t received many interviews, but there’s been enough to show her place in the tribe. She thinks creepily flirting with Aras and doing well in challenges will keep her alive. Meanwhile, Laura Boneham is struggling to connect with players who’ve known each other for years. The promos spotlighted a huge blindside, but the logic in the vote is pretty simple. The five-person alliance picks their second or third choice with hopes of thwarting Brad at Redemption Island. The “no strategy” plan is keeping several players in the dark and hiding the alliance’s existence. It hearkens all the way back to Rich’s approach in Borneo. The alliance works a lot better if its existence isn’t obvious.

After the hero shot of the five Tadhana players sitting on top of a mountain, their challenge victory is obvious. Even so, it’s exciting to change up the pattern. The win forces Galang to put their cards on the table and really play the game. The build-up also includes some grisly shots of scratches, bug bites, and lost toenails from the loved ones. They’re presented as the underdogs, which could promise good things for the future. Vytas gets some Coach-like shots of him doing some intense yoga on a hill, but the editors aren’t making fun of him. They’re showing that the smart guy still has life. It’s enjoyable to watch the pace slow down and give the reminder that it’s still a brutal game. Along with the sting of losing, everyone at Tadhana faces physical pain. They need something to raise their spirits, and winning immunity is the perfect solution.

Survivor 27.5 Redemption Island

The Redemption Island challenge is extremely close and nearly sends Brad Culpepper out of the game. He barely edges out Candice in the puzzle and gets a lot of surprise cheering from Galang. After never getting a chance to really play, Candice exits and leaves her husband on Redemption Island to face Brad. John’s been excellent in the challenges and seems capable in both the physical and mental battles. It’s going to be tough to knock him out since he just needs to defeat one person. The awkward conversations among the trio before the challenge show Brad’s surprising dose of humility. Candice is having little of it, but it’s clear that her anger has softened after the chat. Monica again receives the immunity idol clue and throws it in the fire. Is this a wise move? It seems to work because of her place in the dominant alliance, and the idol could mess with their plans if the wrong person finds it. This could be a rare season where the idol never plays a role, though the producers will almost certainly keep pushing to make it available.

The immunity challenge offers a fun, very tall slide followed by the type of ring toss contest that Survivor uses a lot. The simple equalizer gives Tadhana a much better chance to grab the win. Galang doesn’t seem too upset over losing, and that makes sense. There are several recent examples of tribes that rolled in the beginning then fell apart when they finally reached Tribal Council. The imposing Tandang tribe in the Philippines season immediately turned on itself after a long winning streak. The question is whether this newfound confidence will turn the tables on the dominant group. The merge (and a possible swap) are on the horizon, so the momentum likely won’t carry for long. Bringing loved ones into the mix should split the alliance into factions and introduce chances for the players on the outs. Someone like Katie who’s had little power could become a different player if she joins Tina. On the other hand, having a loved one still in the game creates a huge target. This could mean serious trouble for Aras as the merge approaches.

Survivor 27.5 Galang

It’s so hard to know where this season is headed, and that’s an exciting change. The twists felt like desperation, but they’ve created entirely new reasons for voting people out. Laura Morett faces the vote earlier because of her chances at Redemption Island. Instead of focusing on beating John, the attention rests on slowing down Monica by defeating her husband. Aras should be careful or risk similar concerns taking down his game. Can a pair actually make it to the end together? It would take serious maneuvering for two connected players to avoid the vote when the paranoia rises in the final days. Only three pairs remain on the tribes, and the duo that’s received little attention is Kat and Hayden. Are they wisely staying under the radar and preparing to strike after the merge? Both are strong physically but aren’t so dominant to draw attention. Neither is a strategic mastermind, so they could be the last pair standing. The target is growing on Aras, and this might implicate Vytas by association. Avoiding the vote is even more challenging in this new variation on Survivor. It’s so different yet still retains the elements that made it such a hit in the early days.

Dan Heaton


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