Survivor: One World Review, Season 24, Episode 5, “A Bunch of Idiots”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
Tribal swap! For the first time since Survivor Nicaragua, a pre-merge switch happens to throw a huge wrench in the plans of the early kingpins. Prior to the reward challenge, Jeff hands out eggs randomly to each player. Smashing them reveals the tribal colors (blue or orange) for the new configuration. The result is easily the most lopsided split since Koror kicked Ulong right out of Palau seven years ago. But that’s not enough. Jeff has one more surprise: the tribes will again live at separate locations. So much for One World! Even a terrible concept like Redemption Island lasted for two full seasons. The clever idea to place everyone at one beach wasn’t perfect, but it deserved more than 25% of a season.
Looking closer at this move, there are clear reasons why the producers decided to jettison the intriguing concept. First of all, viewers who aren’t obsessed like this reviewer might struggle to keep the tribes straight. This decision was set up before they realized the tribes would end up lopsided. The new Salani tribe is basically a group of giants. Second, keeping the tribes on one beach would encourage the men and women to maintain their original alliances. Now Colton and Alicia have the chance to work together! Splitting them apart makes sense, but it also brings a more traditional feeling to the season. It’s still a fun episode, though it lacks the fireworks that might be possible with the less conventional format.
After Jeff’s ominous phrase “men and women are no more”, the cast is split into the superstar Salani tribe of Michael, Sabrina, Kat, Jay, Chelsea, Kim, and Troyzan and the less imposing Manano tribe of Tarzan, Colton, Christina, Alicia, Monica, Leif, and Jonas. The reward challenge involves carrying massive buckets of water with holes in them. This requires the teams to move quickly and decide how long to wait before transporting the water. Although Colton is ready to just give up before it starts, this challenge is actually close. Salani pulls out a close win and grabs the treasured prize of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and coffee. They also can stay on the original beach while the losers must venture into the harsh Samoan waters to a “new world”. Yes, Jeff actually uses that term.
The episode focuses on the strategies of the Manano tribe, so it’s obvious they’ll head to Tribal Council. Of course, all the planning comes from only Colton and Alicia. The other players will go along with anything that keeps them in the game. This is an unfortunate tactic for Monica, who’s easily the strongest physical player in their tribe. Combined with her likable personality, she’s the most likely victim. What makes little sense is Alicia’s interest in working with Colton. Assuming they continue to lose immunity challenges, she’s only buying herself a few more rounds. The merge usually happens with 10-12 players left, so it’s possible Alicia will make it. Even if they merge at 12, that leaves seven men and five women. There’s no guarantee the original alliances will stick, but Colton will have few qualms about turning on her. Alicia’s decision to vote with the men puts Christina in a dangerous position for next week. While anything can happen, she’s alone and must hope for a miracle.
Back on the Salani beach, Kim locates the other “hidden” immunity idol, which improves her already lofty status. Predictably, she doesn’t keep this information to herself and immediately tells Chelsea. Even though they’re allies, this is still a bad move and could make Kim a target. This tribe seems like they’ll roll for a while, though. The editors have a great time contrasting the badass moves by Salani (catching chickens and crabs) with the bumbling Manono group (Tarzan falling down, losing a chicken). The immunity challenge is a mix of water polo and basketball with very few rules. Titans Michael and Jay spend most of the time pushing over their helpless foes. Monica makes a valiant effort and scores a basket, but the inevitable Salani win eventually happens. Colton actually tries pretty hard this time, though his reward is spending a lot of time under water.
Tribal Council lacks the hatred and chaos of last week but still includes great entertainment, mostly from Tarzan. When Colton tells him to vote for Monica, the dim-witted plastic surgeon has no idea who she is. At Tribal Council, Jeff asks him to name the other players, and he also forgets Jonas, who’s been with him since the start! The rest of Tribal Council involves players praising Monica, which is a clear sign she’s heading home. She’s one of this season’s strongest physical threats, but her downfall is not focusing much on strategy. Colton is still awful, but he rightfully describes most of the group as a “bunch of idiots”. The further he gets his teeth into the game, the harder it will be to get him out of there. Christina is the only player unaware of Monica’s exit, and her guffawed response is priceless.
“A Bunch of Idiots” doesn’t provide the shocking moments of last week, but it’s still a solid episode. Despite reverting to the more predictable Survivor formula, there is still plenty of entertainment. The lopsided tribal split is disappointing, especially because it puts Colton and Alicia in the driver’s seat at Manono. Thankfully, these tribes are just temporary and should leave an interesting group when the merge occurs. A compelling scene depicts Kim, Troyzan, and Jay forming an alliance on the beach. These three players are among the most likely to go far in the game, and their chances are higher if they work together. This bond could help to avoid a Colton massacre and lead to an exciting finish.