Survivor Review, Season 27, Episode 6
“One-Man Wrecking Ball”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
In the pre-merge game of Survivor, it’s easy to think too far ahead and step into the muck. During her first appearance in One World, Kat believed in her alliance and felt betrayed when they kicked her out. She was a fun character who talked constantly and didn’t really understand the game. Kat’s goofy personality drew a return invitation, and she has spent this season under the radar. Of course, this week reminds us that changing your limited game isn’t so easy. Her feeble attempts to stir the pot blow up in her face and kick her right to Redemption Island. Apparently Kat hasn’t spent much time watching the Australia season. Tina is an intelligent player who has no qualms about stabbing others in the back. She’s immensely loyal to her alliance, but there’s fierce determination behind the kind façade. All Tina needs to do is pass some information to Monica and watch the dominoes fall towards the less experienced Kat.
Once Kat tries to sway her towards Monica, Tina has several choices. She can go along with the plan and go after Monica, but it makes little sense to betray a close ally. Another option is to convince Kat to stick with Vytas, but Tina doesn’t really believe in the girl-power alliance. Aras is her strongest ally, so why not keep his brother? She won the million by aligning with a powerful guy and using him as a shield. Losing Kat doesn’t hurt her chances after the merge. In fact, it gives her more options if Aras doesn’t make it. Tina becomes the power player in her tribe and has little to worry about from Laura Boneham or her daughter (obviously). Vytas is no dummy; he realizes that scrambling won’t save his fate. He needs someone to shake up the alliance, and Kat easily obliges. Vytas spends his time building relationships and making it harder to vote him out. He isn’t screaming “this is my island!” and trying to inspire chaos. He’s telling his story and going after their heart, which makes Tina’s case to keep him even easier. Monica gives the final push after hearing that Kat is targeting her, but Vytas helps his status immensely.
It’s refreshing to see the editing slow down again to focus on the people. Watching Vytas describe his time in jail as a teenager, it’s clear there’s more happening that savvy gameplay. The Blood vs. Water concept has pushed the story more towards relationships, but it’s the sharp editing change that has really made the difference. Despite Redemption Island and the other twists, this feels like an early season. The players are discovering the game as they go along, and there’s no single way to play. On the downside, this week includes one of the lamest challenges in the show’s history. It’s definitely the worst Redemption Island contest of this season. Basically, winning comes down to grabbing bags of “puzzle pieces” from a balance beam. These tiles are just the numbers 1-100, and players must line them up in a row. That’s it. Once Brad Culpepper falls behind, there’s little chance for him to stay alive. Unless John trips and knocks himself unconscious, he’s not going to lose. Laura Morett fulfills Aras’ hope and wins the challenge to deliver the final blow on Brad. His speech about being an anchor to Monica is heartfelt, and he exits with a lot of class. Laura takes a shot at Aras by giving the idol clue to Vytas, but he immediately throws it in the fire. The producers have to pulling out their hair by this point. The players won’t play their game! Where is Russell Hantz when they need him?
Tribe swap! Immediately following the challenge, Jeff Probst brings down the hammer on the unsuspecting players. It’s a random draw (no producer manipulation), and it sends Aras, Tyson, and Gervase to Tadhana. Katie and Vytas join the remaining four women at Galang. Ciera is the only girl on Tadhana, and Vytas is the only guy on Galang. Will that seal their fates? Jeff certainly thinks so, especially for the lone guy. He’s a bit obsessed with gender dynamics, and not in a forward-thinking way. The challenge is another fun swimming battle, and it gets lopsided when Tina and Laura Boneham make a serious mental blunder. Amazingly, they still come within seconds of winning. Monica and Tina have major puzzle skills. What’s interesting is the tribe’s lack of interest in voting out Tina. She apologizes for her error, and nothing more is said about it. She’s playing a brilliant game and uses a similar approach to when she blew a team challenge in her original season. Laura Boneham is safe because no one considers her a threat. Tina is good because people like her and don’t recognize her intelligence. It’s a telling reminder that managing perceptions is a pivotal element to this game.
Looking ahead, Gervase and Tyson remain focused on defeating Aras, but next week may be their last chance before the merge. They’re playing a dangerous game and need to be careful. If Aras catches wind of their plan, he could turn the tables. It would be a shame to lose Tyson, who’s amazing television and loves messing around. He resumes his role as the coconut bandit while giving the front of bringing food to the tribe. His constant undercutting of Aras without being obvious is awesome. If they don’t make the sub-alliance too obvious, the Gervase/Tyson duo could deliver serious damage after the merge. Monica is also ready to play and shows her mettle this week by staring down Kat. Their confrontation is awkward yet shows Monica that Tina is telling the truth. Meanwhile, Kat now sits at Redemption Island and worries that Hayden won’t date a bad Survivor player. Did he see her first season? There are so many intriguing story lines, and the game will surely heat up as the merge looms on the horizon.