By James Rowland
Instragram – @jrowl
Twitter – @jamrowl
Tribal’s One-Two Punch
Let’s pick up where we left off. The tribe is put straight into another immunity challenge. Mike, who thought he would be safe for three days, now has to relinquish immunity the very same day he won it – ouch.
Survivor New Zealand goes old school with the trivia challenge. It’s sudden death style, with your first wrong answer putting you out of contention. The first few questions test the Survivors’ recollection of past events in the game and their knowledge of Nicaragua. In the end it comes down to Matt asking “How many times have I worn a green hat?”. Jak correctly answers zero and doesn’t fall for the trick question. Matt you sly dog.
After the immunity win Matt directly tells the tribe it’s time to vote. Mike interjects, wanting to voice a last ditch effort, as he knows he’s in big trouble. His plea really does fall on deaf ears and he is voted out by everyone with the exception of his alliance members Jak and Tom. Mike adds fuel to the fire Lee started, further singling out Shannon and asking the tribe to “please vote out Shannon next”.
Considering Mike’s alliance was just proven to be in the minority, and with no time to create further bonds Mike was put in a corner here. This twist was harsh, but it saved the viewers two predictable episodes. Short of another immunity win, he was the next to go.
I also love in the second vote someone wrote ‘still Shay’. It’s a bit of a potshot at production, saying really? make us vote again? Nice little tidbit.
Lee is shocked to see Mike arrive at redemption island soon after him. Imagine being in Lee’s shoes at this moment in time. Even as a super fan I’d have the same reaction. Pretty crazy that they both thought they would be in the final four and then within the space of an hour they are both on redemption island.
Fallout From The Shock Tribal
Back at Casar, the majority could not be happier with what went down. They got to eliminate the two biggest immunity threats in a one-two punch. Shay is very confident at this moment in time. The plan to overthrow the boys went off without a hitch and she’s already plotting her next move, guess who Shay wants to vote out next? I’ll give you a hint… it’s the same guy she’s been wanting to vote out since day four. That’s right! It’s Avi!!! – Just kidding, of course it’s Tom. Will she finally get her wish next vote?
Tom and Jak feel pretty dejected at this point believing they are the next two to go. Until low and behold, a strategist is awoken… It’s your friendly neighbourhood Barb! Barb is on the front foot and lets Tom and Jak know she wants Sala out. She rightly can see that Sala is so bloody loved by everyone that if he makes it to final tribal council, it’s a shut-out! Barbara – the sly dog is using these two stragglers in Jak and Tom to play some solid strategy and I love it.
Reward For… Pizza!
Next up we have the ‘coconut chop challenge’, the challenge where everyone answers revealing and jarring questions about each tribe member and their move can often show who is on the bottom of the pecking order. By the way, if I ever do play Survivor, I’m on the record saying I do NOT want to win this if it is for reward. There is little to no upside.
The reward is for Pizza Hut! And damn son, they look pretty tasty. Matt struts over to the tribe and wafts the pizza steam all around the tribe, How brutal!
Naturally, Tom and Jak go strong for Shay and vice versa. There’s no love lost there and the three of them are out of the running quickly. Now this is where the challenge gets really interesting, if you are not subtle enough in your choices, the entire pecking order of the majority alliance could be outed.
Jak cops quite a few harsh answers, he is the consensus answer for “who does the least for the camp” and “who needs a wake up call in life”. Jak should be pleased with these answers because it proves that his facade of being a goof who doesn’t do much strategy is paying off.
It comes down to Avi, Sala, Barb and Nate. Two strong couples left at the end of the challenge. This is something that, if it were not for Barb’s advances to Jak and Tom before the challenge, they could of used to their advantage.
Barb ends up winning over Nate, and has to pick three people to indulge in the Pizza with her. I was thinking to myself, is she smart enough to pick one of the swing voters here or will she pick the majority. Barb picks her bestie Nate but is smart enough to keep Sala in her good graces and also chooses Jak, who she can continue to groom. Great gameplay.
The ‘invite’ for the redemption island duel specifies that only two may attend. Jak wants to go because of his close bond with the duellers and Tom also raises his hand. Nate thinks it’s better if one of the majority members go along too, just in case there is some information that Tom and Jak may hear but not share. Nate is really on the ball lately, not letting anything stump him.
Nate and Jak view the duel between Lee and Mike who are in relatively good spirits, considering their position. Nothing of much value is said by the two boys who fight off in a balance beam and puzzle challenge. Mike does get out to the early lead and completes what looks like a difficult puzzle first. Lee is sent to be the first member of the jury.
Sala is starting to realise that there will come a time where people will want/have to go back on their word. To Sala, his word means everything to him. Sala is turning out to be almost too nice for Survivor. It’s hard too see because the player in myself is annoyed, but the human side of Sala is very beautiful and you can tell that he just can’t separate life loyalty and game loyalty.
The survivors have gone a bit stir crazy. Avi is in a slump and is becoming tired of the repetition of the game and the struggles in catching fish. Jak has gone the complete other route, sporting a quite dashing loincloth and performing a ‘fish dance’. I’m glad they have the blur filter in New Zealand editing.
The immunity challenge comes and it is run in heats. Barb and Shay are eliminated after the digging section and the rest have to collect water in their mouths and fill up a bottle. It was really weird seeing Jak and Nate give up half way through the challenge, knowing that they would not catch up. The final puzzle aspect is played between Tom, Shannon and Avi. Tom smashes the puzzle and wins immunity very quickly. This outs Tom as a serious challenge contender as he was not previously seen in this light. Good to win, but also dangerous.
The plan is set in motion with Barb, Shannon, Nate, Jak and Tom on board to vote for Sala. Jak is acting grim and playing off that he is resigned to going home. Nate is unsure about the vote as he believes Sala is a great guy. Another moment where you’ve got to decide how you will play this game. Barb has chosen the path to vote out the biggest threat, will Nate play with strategy or his heart?
Shay and Avi are very confident in their vote, they believe their alliance will stick strong and that Jak will be the next to go. As far as we see, they do very little scrambling before tribal due to their confidence.
Sala is shown to be feeling a bit iffy, he must know that he is a threat and there is a small sense of doubt creeping in.
We get to tribal and the first member of the jury walks in. Lee, sporting a Tom Selleck style moustache peers on with a steely look. He reacts strongly when Matt asks the tribe if Shannon is to be trusted. Shannon has done well to avoid the backlash so far, but she will really have to ramp up her gameplay to avoid the predicted upcoming barrage.
Sala tells us the hardest part about this game is creating bonds with people and then voting them out, something that comes a bit easier for others. Looking at you Barb, you badass.
The vote is cast and Sala is sent to redemption island voted out 4-3-1. Nate does not vote for Sala but allows for it to happen by casting a throwaway vote for Shannon.
Avi and Shay are truly blindsided and the hero of the season is sent packing.
On the block:
This may be a stab in the dark, but I believe Barb will regroup with Shay and Avi and they will vote off Tom. She will tell them that Sala was too dangerous but they are still together.
On the up:
BARB. Barb proved her strategic chops this episode and I bloody loved it. +100 Barb.