Survivor Review, Season 27, Episode 7
“Swoop in for the Kill”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
Survivor: Blood vs. Water has been filled with personal stories and conflicts that have made it one of the most consistent seasons of recent years. Even an arrogant goofball like Brad Culpepper offered plenty of entertainment with his failed strategy and the anger he inspired in others. We’ve seen players truly moved by the plight of their loved ones, and there’s been a greater sense of fun during the challenges. On the other hand, there’s the story of Laura Boneham. After being voted out on the first day and saved by her husband Rupert, she settled into a background role. Others have called her annoying or ridiculed her attempts at strategy, but her position was secure. Why vote out someone who’s barely a threat? Laura seems like a nice person, but she doesn’t have the type of personality that thrives on Survivor. Her face doesn’t exude warmth like Tina or fun like Tyson. It’s hardly fair to diminish her value in this way, but it’s the nature of this game. If a player doesn’t bond with tribe mates and seems to act irrationally, they may decide to remove the question mark. Playing under the radar is a successful path to the end, but straying so drastically can change the score quickly.
Laura isn’t the first player to tell another they’re facing the vote. Dan Berry basically received a 12-gun salute while getting voted out on Exile Island. The trick is making sure everyone is ready to follow the same path. Also, it isn’t clear that Tina is committed to voting out Vytas. Choosing to remove a non-entity instead is not a hard decision. Tina keeps a strong ally to go along with her daughter, Aras, and the other returning players. The merge will arrive next week, so why not keep another friend and ensure the numbers are solid? Vytas does have bonds with the original Tadhana members, but Tina’s daughter is one of them. This choice makes less sense for Monica, who might be on the outs behind the two main pairs. She’s a wild card and playing a strong game, so it wouldn’t be shocking to watch her turn on her closest allies. The women aren’t focused on girl power, so there’s no certainty that Monica wouldn’t find new associates if the numbers point against her.
The Redemption Island battle sends Kat out of the game because of her limited puzzle-solving skills. John is a master, and Laura Morett is right behind. The odds of either of them leaving are very small, despite some encouragement to Kat from Hayden and others. She’s a nice girl and a passionate competitor, but Hayden makes the right move by choosing not to take her spot. This feels like a real relationship and not a showmance (thankfully), and both recognize that his chances are greater to reach the end. Hayden is playing a clever game and has managed to avoid being a major target. No one seems to recognize his potential, and he’s doing a good job at not showing his hand. If the sneak attack on Aras happens soon, the fallout could remove several powerful opponents and give him the opening to take over a prime spot. The edit has been focusing on the Baskauskas brothers, but they could be heading for a fall. The shots of Aras meditating on a hill and dreaming about winning feel like a set-up for his ultimate destruction.
The conversation at Tadhana focuses on Aras, and Tyson sets up a new alliance of five to take over the game. Along with Gervase, this group includes Caleb, Ciera, and Hayden. That’s an unlikely trio but could bring just the surprise he needs to turn the tables. The immunity challenge is a tightly fought affair that comes down to Tina and Tyson battling over their bolo-throwing skills. These tribes seem hugely outmatched, but the challenges have been extremely tight. The highlight is watching everyone stop Aras from moving during serious chaos within the obstacle course. That deft play keeps Galang right there, but Tyson just pushes them through to victory. It would have been interesting to see the outcome for Tadhana at Tribal Council. Instead, it comes down to either Laura Boneham or Vytas. She’s clearly been won over by his stories of past troubles, and that plays a role in her defeat. The danger for him is getting arrogant because of the success in avoiding elimination. His confessionals show a renewed confidence but also a sense of entitlement that might not serve him well. It could be a different story for Vytas after the merge.
Next week, it’s merge time! One player will return from Redemption Island; the final battle looks like a grueling endurance challenge. This should favor Laura Morett, who doesn’t have the same bulk as John. He’s a puzzle master and has been rolling, but it may take a special effort for him to get back in the game. Laura Boneham’s return would be a big surprise, but anything could happen. This episode is more of a table setter for the post-merge action. The last few episodes prior to the merge are often less inspiring, and this one follows that pattern. Still, it sets the stage for a truly exciting finish. There are plenty of worthy competitors remaining, and the different alliances and possible layers should deliver big surprises. Can Aras or Tina repeat and take the title? Will a new player like Hayden or Vytas grab the win? Has Gervase learned enough since his time in Borneo to grab the victory? Could Katie or Ciera surprise and take over the game? There are plenty of interesting story lines in place, and the potential remains for an intriguing next act. Let the chaos begin!