Survivor 27.11, “Gloves Come Off”: Let’s play this thing!

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Survivor 27.11

Survivor Review, Season 27, Episode 11
“Gloves Come Off”
Airs Wednesday at 8pm (ET) on CBS

One of the thrills of Survivor: Blood vs. Water has been watching everyone take a shot and really try to win the game. Even when plans blow up in their face, players aren’t meekly drifting towards their end. This makes it exciting for viewers who don’t want to see Boston Rob make a bunch of dummies look stupid. When Caleb and Hayden realize they can’t win against Tyson, it’s refreshing to watch them work to change their spot. Even though their strategy fails, that doesn’t mean the idea is false. If they had blindsided Tyson or removed Ciera, it would have put them in the driver’s seat to win the game. That risk is worth taking because the reward is a great shot at the finals. It only makes sense for Ciera to join them if it’s an improvement in her ultimate standing. That’s the big question surrounding her choice to reveal their plans to Tyson. He’s offering her a spot in the final three, but does he really plan to stick with it? Ciera has a story to tell the jury, and there’s a chance it might sway them. She’s thrilled to have a spot at the cool kids’ table and believes in this prime spot, despite the warning signs it won’t last forever.

The ultimate victim is Caleb, who’s played a smart game and hasn’t made any enemies. The editing strongly suggests that Ciera is heading out, so it’s a nice switch from some more predictable exits. He deserves credit for developing a brilliant strategy with Hayden that nearly saves his skin. Realizing that Ciera isn’t a good liar and has betrayed them, they approach Tyson and give a slightly distorted version of the truth. It’s smart because their points don’t seem outlandish. Ciera just voted out her mom, so how can Tyson trust her? It’s a desperate move but might even convince a logical player like Tyson. It’s clear from his conversations with Gervase that he’s considering their points. Hayden and Caleb keep it simple and use what Tyson already knows about Ciera to sell the lie. What they don’t consider is Tyson’s immunity idol. That security allows him to still vote out Caleb and test Ciera’s loyalty at the same time. Tyson doesn’t need to play the idol, but he remains in great shape without it. Monica and Ciera both believe they’re in the third spot, and that leaves Hayden and Katie in serious trouble.

Survivor 27.11 Redemption Island

The Redemption Island challenge is a puzzle that plays right into Laura Morett’s skill set. She rocks through it and remains focused on getting back to her daughter. Ciera isn’t so excited about that prospect. The crazy part is Laura giving Tina a free pass to the next round and kicking Vytas onto the jury. What is going on in reality TV this week? Tina is behind from the start and has little chance of catching Vytas on the puzzle. It takes some specific directions from Laura to give her the extremely close win. Along with getting revenge against a Baskauskas brother, it also takes out a strong competitor. Laura should have a great chance next week against Tina and Caleb. Neither is a challenge monster, and Laura’s shown a mastery of the goofy Redemption Island contests all season. This week, she passes the immunity idol clue to Ciera, who drops it right in the fire. Do they know that Tyson has it? The reactions at Tribal Council don’t make it clear whether this is new information.

The immunity challenge offers the classic Survivor gamble of food versus a chance at immunity. Tyson, Gervase, and Ciera sit out and get a surprisingly impressive meal of steak, chicken, and bread. This isn’t just a messy chocolate cake. While the others hold a rope and lose the skin on their hands, Tyson loudly proclaims the meal’s greatness. He’s in top form this week and engages in all types of chicanery with Gervase. No one seems mad, which shows just how well he’s playing this season. It’s obvious from the start that Monica is going to win the challenge. Hayden makes a sterling effort, but it isn’t enough to combat her zen approach. The One World players may have dodged a bullet by removing Monica before the merge. She’s a challenge monster. It’s interesting to note how little we’re seeing of Monica beyond these challenges. She steps onto the stage and grabs immunity and then disappears into the trees. She has a solid path to the end, but winning challenges might not be enough to charm the jury.

Survivor 27.11 Tyson and Ciera

Looking towards next week, the numbers are clearly in Tyson’s favor. Hayden is the likely next target and will need to scramble to avoid Redemption Island. Even so, it only takes one flipped vote to force a tie. Jeff Probst has promised a shocking moment this season that made a camera man gasp. Will we finally see the rocks next week? The previews show Gervase considering a power play, which is one possibility. What’s surprising is why no one is approaching Monica and raising doubts that she’s ahead of Ciera in the pecking order. She may have no interest in flipping, but her chances at the end grow considerably against Katie and Hayden. Despite her underdog story, there’s little chance she could win against Tyson. His gleeful approach to this season has made it impossible for people to hate him. His antics when looking for the idol in his bag do more than draw a few laughs. He’s underplaying the moment and avoiding the arrogant smugness of many who play the idol. Whether it’s good strategy or just having fun for the cameras, he is owning this game. The editing suggests an eventual victory, but nothing is certain in this unpredictable contest. It’s the best season since Heroes vs. Villains and could outshine that fine installment with a strong finish.

Dan Heaton

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