Adam tries to win Taylor back in a very twisted way
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS Entertainment
SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
S33 E8
  • TV Show
  • CBS

Whooooooaaaaaa, what’s up, Bros and Bettys? Like, it’s totally me, Taylor! Or you can call me Tales. Or Tails. Or Bro. So, my main bro, Dalton — who is not really much of a bro, but don’t tell him that — asked me to fill in on this week’s Survivor recap, and I was all “ROCK ON!” He was all, “Take it seriously, dude,” and I was like, “How do you spell seriously?”

Hey, man, I’m not a writer, I’m a liver. And I’m living the dream. All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine — that’s what I say. Or someone said that, at least. But life has been seriously less than chill ever since my girl Figgs got a one-way ticket to Bummertown. Like, who am I supposed to mouth, “You are hot” to over and over now? Bret? Groady. But no worries.

Anyway, I totally watched this week’s Survivor, and at first I was all “Yuh!” And then I was all “Ooooooooo.” Then I got hungry and went and took all my roommate’s food, which is TOTALLY not stealing, by the way. Than I was all “Yuh!” again. But in the end, it was, like, “Oooooooo.” Survivor is deep, man. Makes my head hurt.

So, like, Dalton told me his recaps come in around 3,000 words. I’m at 200. So I guess I have to talk more about, like, my thoughts and stuff. Soooooo, like, hidden immunity idols! Am I right? Crazy! Wow, man, there’s just, like, so much stuff. Things are more… moderner than before. Bigger, and yet… smaller. It’s computers. Uhhhhhh… SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!!!!

Okay, that about enough of that. Dalton Ross here. I’d like to formally apologize for the above. I thought Taylor could cover for me this week and offer some Jack Handey level Deep Thoughts, but clearly I thought wrong. So you’re stuck with me for another week. But I’m going to break form a bit, and instead of going through every nook and cranny of the episode, I instead want to touch on some bigger themes and questions. Let me just set up this metronome that Taylor can stare at to keep his mind occupied while we continue on.

Merge Time!

Two became three, and then three became one as the tribes merged. You could see this coming, which is exactly why I argued that Jay should have waited to get rid of Michaela until he saw how the numbers shook out post-merge. (You think he regrets that move now?) He certainly didn’t regret it at the start of the episode, telling us that, “I’m pretty proud of myself.” It must be nice to feel proud of yourself. I recap reality television shows for a living, so it’s not really a sensation with which I am too familiar.

Basically, every Millennial entering the merge fell into one of two camps: Those that thought they were in a great position to run the game, and those who wanted revenge. Hannah fell into the latter category, instructing us that, “Jay thinks I’m this pathetic idiot that can’t see past his pretty face, and intense gameplay, and chiseled abs, and unwavering confidence, and hairless torso, and devil-may-care smile, and magnetic charisma, and….” She would have kept going but started hyperventilating again at the memory of Michaela’s ouster.

Everyone, it seemed, had cause for optimism, which is something you don’t usually see. Aside from the reunited Kappa Kappa Survivor, you also had Zeke reforming his “nerd voting bloc,” while Chris was excited to merge his Vanua and Gen X alliances into one. Everyone saw a viable path to victory, which means this merge happened at just the right time with just the right people.

Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering, Vinaka means “thank you.” So I’d like to go on record as saying Vinaka to the remaining players for not naming their merge tribe after a stuffed animal or the backward spelling of an old one-night stand that you tricked everyone into thinking was actually a word meaning tranquility in the local native tongue. (I mean, I would have named my tribe Scoopadacrispy, but you can’t have it all people.)

Speaking of which, FUN FACT ALERT! We had our EW PopFest convention the other week out in Los Angeles. Fans flew in from everywhere (including overseas) to compete in real Survivor challenges against folks like Tai, Woo, Ozzy, Rob C., Abi-Maria, Mari, Peih-Gee, and others while Jeff Probst called the action. Well, one of the others was Phillip “The Specialist” Sheppard. I went up to say hello to Phillip and thank him for coming, and it was clear — even though we met on location and have spoken several times — that he had no idea whom I was. He thought I was a fan, which I guess in certain respects is on the money enough. I cannot report what color underwear he was wearing, but I can say that he was rocking some tremendous facial hair.

NEXT: A new twist in the game

Adam’s Advantage

While everyone was feasting on merge goodies, Adam used the time to steal away and look for an idol. That’s smart in that everyone was pretty occupied with food and might not miss him, but my big question was: Did he search the food crates as well? We know this show has a history of hiding idol clues and what not within baskets of reward or merge food, so hopefully he scoured those suckers first.

He eventually did find something on the roof of the tree mail structure, but it was not an idol, nor a clue. Instead, it was a brand new advantage in the game: a reward steal. Basically, Adam just gained the power to steal a reward after it has been won by someone else. (Which would make this the perfect time to bring back the Survivor car reward, I might add!) Okay, folks, how do we feel about this new wrinkle in the game? Here are my thoughts:

As a player, I think you would have to be pretty crazy to use this advantage. You want to be making friends after the merge — both to keep you in the game and then vote for you to win. Pilfering someone’s reward after they earned it is definitely not the way to do that. I suppose there are certain scenarios where it might potentially be worth considering —say you are almost certain to get voted out, and your adversary just won and selected people you need to sway to go with him/her on an overnight reward, so you swap places with that person so you can be the one doing the swaying instead — but in general, this seems like a very dangerous, self-destructive power to have.

Which is why it is a perfect thing to introduce into the game. If nobody uses it, no big deal. It’s as if it never existed. But if someone does use it, then get ready for a seismic event the likes of which this country has not seen since… well, less than 24 hours ago. The point is, there’s nothing to dislike about this twist. It does not give any one person too much power. There is no pressure to use it. But it forces the player to make a choice (always a good thing) and offers up the possibility of something super dramatic happening. A smart little addition by the producers. Well played.

A Secret Stash and a Secret Plan

And you thought Taylor could not get more infuriating than refusing to play the game and instead fixating of his hottie showmance girlfriend. Then he goes and starts stealing food in the middle of the night. I guess that’s actually not that infuriating. Stealing food is a calculated risk in the game. If it works and nobody notices (#CoconutBandits), then good for you. Again, it’s a game, so if you believe that nourishing yourself and keeping your opponents less nourished will help your standing in said game, then go for it.

So I don’t mind Taylor stealing food. But what was infuriating was Taylor’s explanation later on when he was called out for it at Tribal Council. He said he did not consider it stealing to take extra food for himself and then just sort of devolved into laughter and cries of “Rock on!” while having no self-awareness whatsoever. Look, if the “chill bro” act is just that — an act — to make people underestimate and overlook him in the game, then the guy is Freakin’ Daniel Day Lewis. But Taylor is not Daniel Day Lewis. I’m not even sure Taylor knows who Daniel Day Lewis is.

No matter, because Taylor’s food thievery and lack of concern about the tribe’s reaction to it is not even what I want to focus on here. Nor do I want to focus on Hannah telling Jeff Probst that she wants to eat him. (And trust me, I have a good 4,000 words on that in me, if you want. I mean, we could scrap the rest of this entire recap and just do some deep dive fan fiction on Hannah eating Jeff Probst. We could easily shift from column A to column B in a heartbeat.) No, what I want to focus on is this: Adam.

NEXT: Throw your hands in the air, and hold ‘em up like you just don’t care

So Adam saw Taylor making like a Sneaky Pete and heading off in the middle of the night to stuff his face and bury his secret stash of food. Adam figured that a little 1-on-1 time could be good in getting himself back in Taylor’s good graces after voting out his island girlfriend. SMART! Well done, Adam. Mend fences. By catching Taylor red-handed and then telling him his secret is safe, you show him that maybe he can trust you after all.

In the interest of building trust, Adam also decided to tell Taylor about his new reward-steal advantage. I’m totally fine with that as well. Again, the reward-steal is not a true game-changing twist like a hidden immunity idol or Super Idol or Double Vote or anything. If Taylor squeals about it, so what? It’s a low stakes calculated risk. If that blows up in Adam’s face, no biggie.

But then Adam did something else. Clearly identifying Taylor as the strategic equivalent of a Pauly Shore film festival, Adam attempted to turn the snowboard instructor against one of his alliance partners in Will. And this is where Adam went one step too far. He miscalculated, pure and simple. Taylor may be easy to manipulate, but not right after you voted his girlfriend out of the game! (Not the girlfriend he evidently got pregnant before he left for Fiji, mind you, but rather the girlfriend on the show that is no longer his girlfriend because she found out about the pregnant girlfriend back home. ROCK ON!)

I really like Adam, but he overstepped here. And he knew it too, saying as much later in the episode. Because of course Taylor then told Jay and Will exactly what Adam said, making him their target when he was not even previously on their radar. Adam’s lucky this misstep didn’t come back to bite him in the butt. Or at least that Taylor didn’t take his butt, stuff it into a mason jar, bury it, and then bite it later.

Endure This!

Ah, it was an old classic Survivor challenge, but with a new wrinkle. Yes, Probst had on his orange hat, and yes, he stared down at his feet when he instructed the players to “Come on in, guys!” But something else was different. Instead of players just having to stand there with one hand raised like they were all Arnold Horshack waiting to be called on in class while hoping that a giant bucket of colored water did not drop on their head, they hand to balance on a narrow perch and hold both hands up and have them tethered to the bucket.

This is one of those challenges that looks so simple but is a stealth ass-kicker. Go ahead, hold your hands up in the air. Keep doing it. I realize you probably feel a bit silly right now and are worried you look like you have been caught doing the Mannequin Challenge and are pretending to be frozen mid-wave doing the wave at a sporting event. (By the way, do people still do the wave, or is everyone too busy Snapchatting, taking selfies, and checking out fantasy scores on their smartphones? Seriously, I don’t go to sporting events anymore, so I am honestly curious if “The Wave” is still a thing.)

The point is, something as simple as raising your arms over your head may be easy, but keeping them there is shockingly difficult. That’s why what Jessica and Will endured was so impressive. Each went over 90 minutes in that position, until Jessica finally faltered. Seriously impressive work by both of them. Of course, it might have been a bit more dramatic had they not shown us Will directly before the competition saying how he thought he had to win immunity to stay in the game. I naturally assumed the challenge was his once that came out of his mouth.

NEXT: Everyone considers voting out everyone

Scramble City

First off, has anyone checked to see if Hannah is done eating Jeff Probst? I mean, it can take a snake three days to digest a small mouse, so I’m not sure how long cannibalistic consumption — mixed with intermittent hyperventilating brought on by anxiety attacks — clocks in at. Anyway, after the challenge, everything went haywire. The guys from Kappa Kappa Survivor wanted Adam out, but Michelle was not down because she felt it was a personal move as opposed to a strategic one so she wanted Adam to stay. Adam also wanted Adam to stay — go figure! — and said he was willing to work with anyone to make that happen, even going back to Taylor and somewhat sadly offering to write anybody else’s name down to save himself.

Meanwhile, David and Ken were disagreeing over whether to target Michelle or Taylor, and then David and Hannah were worried that Adam was flipping on them to save his own skin. “Adam wanted to sit at the cool kids table” is how Hannah summarized the plight Adam brought upon himself, basically comparing the homeless shelter manager to every 1980s teen film ever invented. But in the end, the coalition of freaks, geeks, and fogeys protected Adam (who didn’t even have to use his hidden immunity idol) and Michelle was blindsided instead, becoming the first member of the jury.


But don’t count Kappa Kappa Survivor completely out. Jay still has an idol, and sneaky folks like Dave and Adam could decide to make a move at any point to gain leverage. We’ve certainly seen weirder things before. Okay, I’m still nursing a serious election night hangover so it’s time to bounce, but don’t forget to check out my weekly Q&A with Hostmaster General Jeff Probst as well as our mid-game Q&A with Zeke (who reveals a big game move we never saw) and also make sure to watch the exclusive deleted scene in the video player below. And for more Survivor nonsense, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss. I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy, but until then, may life grant you immunity from all that bums you out.

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Episode Recaps

SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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  • 41
  • CBS
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