Survivor Review, Season 27, Episode 9
“My Brother’s Keeper”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
Considering the tremendous amount of footage that’s shot on each day of Survivor, it’s remarkable that the stories flow so smoothly. The combination of camp life, challenges, and Tribal Council works swiftly to keep the audience engaged throughout the hour. When the producers choose to cram two eliminations into one episode, it cranks up the pace to a ridiculous level. The story becomes a frenetic ride through challenge/Tribal Council/challenge/Tribal Council, with a bit of strategy thrown in the middle. The downside is the lack of much context to the votes and alliances set in place for the future. On the other hand, it avoids the drag of predictable exits. Vytas and Tina are the obvious choices to go next, and the cracks are just a set up for the battles to come. They join Aras at Redemption Island for an epic battle that will remove either a former winner or one of the season’s most intriguing players.
Despite the lack of surprises, this episode outdoes the uneventful double-boot shows from Redemption Island and South Pacific. Those saw the beginning of a Pagonging, while these votes open the door for many possibilities. Tyson and Gervase must hope that they’ve developed strong bonds with players like Hayden, Caleb, and Ciera. The leading duo has nowhere to hide and needs to continue pointing the target at others. Katie is the obvious next victim, but she’s less dangerous without Tina. Laura and Ciera stand out as the last couple, so one of them may be heading out soon. The question is still whether Tyson moved too quickly against Aras. He has the immunity idol, but it could mean little if the four remaining loved ones decide to band together. Amazingly, Hayden and Caleb remain in the strongest position and could decide the ultimate road for this game.
Let the puking begin! The first immunity challenge brings out some nasty food to induce plenty of gagging and vomiting. Tina continues her poor eating from way back in Australia and exits quickly. It comes down to Gervase and Monica, and the dish is the same one that he couldn’t eat in Borneo. Can we call this a Switchback? Of course, that sums up more than half the challenges by this point. Monica wins her first individual challenge and does a silly victory lap towards Jeff to revel in the win. This points the target on an angry Vytas, who decides it’s a good move to curse out the others at Tribal Council. His wise silence during Tina’s earlier outburst only goes so far. The interesting aspect is the way the vitriol turns toward Monica. This pushes her to ignore the split-vote plan and throw another vote at Vytas. Her anger is understandable, but nobody likes a lone wolf at this part of the game. When combined with her lack of self-awareness following the vote, it reveals why her chances are slim to win a jury vote.
The bonus for Monica is her increased potential to get pulled along as the goat right to the end. Tina does her best to transfer the attention to Monica, but it makes little sense to change the plan. Once Katie grabs immunity, it seals Tina’s fate. The entertaining part is watching Tina cheer for her daughter to win the challenge. Her excitement as a mom outweighs its impact on her game. The coin-balancing task is pretty random yet works in this episode because it takes little time. Katie maintains her cool and could be around for a while if the others look elsewhere. Following the challenge, there’s a funny sequence with Tina looking for the idol. Caleb and Hayden aren’t great at tailing her, so she gets a few minutes alone. Tyson wisely lets everything play out and doesn’t show his hand, which is rare for the idol. Tina isn’t very convincing at selling the idol discovery, so they don’t even split the vote to remove her.
While Tina is fighting for her life in the game, the Baskauskas brothers are bickering on Redemption Island. Vytas blames his younger brother for ruining his game, while Aras has the resigned look of a defeated athlete who’s just lost the World Series. They should have an edge against Tina in the challenge, but her puzzle mastery always gives her a chance. The previews hint that Ciera is ready to take out her mom; are the editors throwing out a red herring? It would make for an intriguing situation, especially given Laura’s protective feelings towards her daughter. The interesting part is that splitting from her mom is probably the best thing for Ciera’s game. She could join with Hayden, Caleb, and Katie and take over the game. Of course, this assumes that anyone would fall in line with this plan.
The others have to recognize the danger of letting Tyson stick around, but plenty have made the same mistake in past seasons. He’s set up as the clear front runner, but he’s only passed the first few obstacles. The editing hasn’t suggested that a plot is brewing, so a coup would be a surprise in the near future. Could we see a random final three with no returning players? That prospect seemed unlikely before the merge, but the departures of Aras and Tina have tipped the scales. Tyson can only fly under the radar for so long. He’s not taking the Boston Rob route and enforcing his will on the newbies to keep them in line. He’s trying to act like just part of the team, and the injury helps his case. When the physical challenges return, he could step up and take control. His odds are best to win the game, and the others must work together to stop a waltz to the end.