April 26, 2017 at 09:00 PM EDT


TV Show
Reality TV
run date
Jeff Probst
Current Status
In Season

The Survivor gods are vengeful gods. We have watched their wrath in the form of a cyclone that took players off the beach and into a shelter for the first time ever on Millennials vs. Gen X. We have seen all the times they have felled contestants with injuries and infections that have shattered dreams and forced folks prematurely from the game. We bore witness to that time they mind-controlled Jeff Probst into wearing a cowboy hat for an entire season. As I said, vengeful gods.

But there is one thing that upsets the Survivor gods more than all others. The Medallion of Power? No, not that. A final three instead of final two? Close, but no. The Outcasts twist? Getting warmer. The thing that truly triggers full-on wrath-of-Survivor-gods type stuff is when someone says something like this: “We have complete control of this game… There isn’t a line drawn in the sand. There is a line drawn in concrete.”

How many times have we seen people talking all about how comfortable and in control they are, only to then watch them get blindsided that very same episode? Well, whatever the astronomical total is, you can now add one more example to the pile as Debbie started the hour chatting all about how perfect everything was and then finished it by having her torch snuffed after Sarah switched teams.

That type of overconfident blindside has become a Survivor staple, right up there with puzzles that negate the other 90 percent of a challenge and Jeff Probst looking at his shoes as he yells, “Come on in, guys!” Memo to all future Survivor players: Never talk about how awesome everything is going in your producer confessional interviews. Never! Sure, one can point out that there are no doubt just as many — more, even — examples of people saying similar stuff and then editors just not using those comments because nothing happened later to hilariously contradict it, but it still serves as the ultimate jinx. So why risk it?

The only choice the Survivor gods had by the time the players got to Tribal was whether to strike down Debbie for her insolence, or Sierra for having the sheer audacity to proclaim, “As of now, I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat and it feels great!” In the end, the gods played Eeny Meeny Miny Moe and brought Lucille down on Debbie, ousting the human roulette wheel of professional careers right out of the game. Cochran advised her to never feel comfortable, but how long did we really think that lesson would be followed? (And no, contrary to what his recent string of appearances may lead you to believe, Cochran does not count as one of the Survivor gods.)

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Okay, so that’s that. Let’s delve into what else went down and recap this son of a bitch. We begin right after Ozzy’s dismissal from Tribal Council with Debbie and Sarah offering conflicting reports on whether lines are being drawn in sand or concrete and how any tides may affect said lines. And then Zeke and Andrea are getting into it over his decision to defect — which actually left him in no man’s land after the people he defected to did not include him in their plans. “Everyone here knows you’re shady,” says Andrea, and I kind of get the feeling that she’s right judging by how Debbie and Sierra reacted to his intel last week. But Zeke’s a smart guy. He can possibly rebound.

We head off to the reward challenge, which features a big water obstacle course players have to go through before retrieving a grappling hook and then five rings. Culpepper and Cirie end up as captains, and there are two big things of note about whom they end up selecting. First off, Brad intentionally does not pick Troyzan and Sarah because he says Survivor 101 is to never bring your entire alliance on a reward. There are two problems with that.

Problem No. 1 is that when you leave alliance members behind, they are likely to flip. You see, Brad is only half right here. If you win an individual reward, the last thing you want to do is bring your two best buddies with you so that the people on the bottom of your alliance realize they are on the bottom and then get to go bond with folks trying to flip them. But in a situation like this, with Brad purposely leaving someone like Sarah back to scheme and plot and feel undervalued… well, you can see how that might have been an error in judgment. Oh, and problem No. 2 is that you can’t fit a six-person alliance on a five-person team, so simple math was sort of standing in Brad’s way of bringing his entire alliance with him anyway.

The other odd thing about the way the teams are chosen is that Michaela is the one person who was not selected. Now, there is no doubt that Michaela is not as strong in the water as she is on land (unless she is in the water wrestling while taking her bikini top off), but for neither team to select her was surprising, especially when you consider that Cirie (who has been nurturing her since the merge) was one of the folks doing the picking. Michaela reacted to the snub in her usual calm, cool, and collected manner, explaining to Jeff that she was feeling “like they some bitches… I don’t give a f— what happens. I’m just watching.” What she should have been watching was what was going on down by her feet, but we’ll get to that later.

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