Survivor: Edge of Extinction recap: Food for thought
Not since they had the audacity to stage a single season with a guy named Tarzan and a guy named Troyzan has there been so much name confusion on Survivor. Just look at all the moniker anarchy going on during Survivor: Edge of Extinction. First, there is Wendy, who wears a “Big Wendy” necklace, and told the press before the game that she would go by “Big Wendy,” and I have no idea why I keep putting “Big Wendy” in quotes, and yet everyone seems to only be calling her Wendy.
Then there is Rick, who told the press he wanted to go by Devens, and yet then asked Jeff Probst at Tribal Council to be called “Rick Devens,” and why am I putting “Rick Devens” in quotes when that is the guy’s name, but then he was told by Probst “I’m not calling you Rick Devens — the inmates can’t run the asylum when it comes to names,” and yet Probst DOES call him Devens while his tribemates call him Rick. Can they not come to a consensus on this?
Kelley Wentworth is an interesting one. Everyone seems to be calling her Wentworth. On that they can all agree. But when they try to vote her out, they keep writing Kelley. Or, even worse, Kelly. Are the rules different for writing and speaking? And can Kelly Wigglesworth please get a shout-out for appearing on Survivor: Second Chance, thereby elevating Kelley Wentworth to last name status to avoid duplicate name confusion?
But clearly, the most troubling name inconsistency of the season centers on The Wardog. The best part about The Wardog is the fact that he calls himself The Wardog. Not Wardog, mind you, but THE Wardog. Don’t believe me? It says so in his damn Twitter handle!! Seriously, go check out @IAmTheWardog! Instagram? Same thing! Incredible. He also made sure I understood in our pre-game interview that he was no mere Wardog. He was The Wardog.
So where does Jeff Probst get off just calling him “Wardog”? (There I go with the completely unnecessary quotation marks again.) Does Jeff not realize how much funnier it would be if he just added the word The in front of Wardog every time? It’s seriously bumming me out that Jeff is not doing this. I understand the inmates can’t run the asylum, but at least give them a little free time in the prison yard. By the way, The Wardog would totally rule the prison yard. Just tell me you couldn’t see him having some sort of racket involving trading smokes for favors. As another aside, somewhere out there right now a copy editor is gently weeping over my decision to capitalize the T in The when talking about The Wardog, but The is not a mere determiner but rather part of the nickname. The most vital part, dare I say.
THE WARDOG! Get with the program, Probst! Okay, I think that is firmly out of my system now, so let’s hit on the big moments from episode 3 of Survivor: What The Hell Should We Call You Again?
A Scoop of The Crispy (And One Scoop Only)
Cliffhanger resolved! But no sooner do we see Keith arrive at Edge of Extinction than he and Reem must climb up an actual cliff. There are lots of steps and lots of heavy breathing. At the top, they discover rice, but only a little bit of it, meaning they will need to make the climb every single day to get that’s day’s food. Reem’s pretty pissed about it, but, to be fair, Reem’s pretty pissed about a lot of things. I don’t know what her damage is. Does the walk interrupt her busy schedule of staring out at the horizon all day? Seriously, what else is there do to? What’s so bad about a little island Stairmaster action?
I also find it interesting that Keith seriously considered not continuing in the game and Reem told us she would have quit had he not showed up. And she felt the need to mother and take care of him. Who are these people?! The last thing I want to do is minimize how difficult a time they are having because it is super easy to talk a lot of smack from your living room couch. So easy, in fact, that I’ve somehow found a way to make a living off of it. But I think we all, as fans, had hoped the first two people sent there wouldn’t have been so close to giving up before the going even gets really tough deeper in the game.
Right on Target
Hold on, did someone say something about a challenge involving using a slingshot to launch sandbags at a target? Okay, let’s just get this out of the way right now. We all know it’s coming, so since it is merely a matter of time I may as well just embed the clip right here and get it over with…
Ahhhh, that’s the stuff. (Look, after all those nice things I wrote about Fishbach last week I had to bring the guy back down to earth. Natural order of things, and all.) The other main point I’d like to make about this challenge is the color of Jeff Probst’s hat. You all know I have given a lot of love to the orange baseball hat over the years. And It is rewarding to see that Jeff actually listened to my suggestions — taking it from a mere curiosity and little used chapeau to the pole position of go-to Survivor headgear. But I just want to say that the green lid is a solid back-up choice.
And this is a solid challenge from John Kirhoffer and his team. Basically, the tribes have to assemble a wheelbarrow, go through obstacles while collecting sandbags, turn the wheelbarrow into a slingshot, and then hit four targets. It’s a fun one, especially for Chris, who dominates in the target section of the competition, hitting all four and leading Manu to their first victory of the season. Way to go, Chris! I’m sure your tribemates will shower you with praise, and this should keep you safe for several votes at the very least!
Big Wendy Causes Big Trouble
Here are some fun facts about Big Wendy:
• She was not planning to tell the other players her last name was Diaz because she was worried they would think she was related to Sandra Diaz-Twine.
• She has had a stuffed animal named Scruffy for over 20 years that she slept with every night before heading out to the island.
• She makes and sells short-shorts that say things across the butt like “One booty to rule them all” and “Let me Pikachu” (which also contains a little Pikachu with little binoculars on it).
• She eats meat.
That last fun fact is particularly germane in terms of this week’s episode. That’s because after Manu wins the reward, they get back to camp and a hobbled Wendy becomes increasingly upset as the others talk about killing one of the chickens to eat it. Wendy decides she wants to release the chickens and asks Rick or Devens or whatever the hell his name is to do it for her. He says no. She then asks him to be an accomplice. He says no. Not even the “OH YEAH!” Kool-Aid man can agree to such shenanigans.
Around this time, I start sympathizing with Wendy. Not only does her ankle look like the entire cast played Schmergen Brawl on it, but now this poor vegetarian has to sit there while the others talk about how much they are going to enjoy killing and eating an animal. Look, I totally get it. This woman has her principles and it must be difficult to hear those meat-lovers over there salivating over draining the life out of another of God’s creatures. I can’t help but respect her for that. Hell, I too would be a vegetarian if bacon grew on trees. Of course, we have seen this before on the show with other vegetarians, like Kimmi Kappenberg and Tai Trang. Now we can add Big Wendy to that distinguished list of people who have………
……I’m sorry, what’s that? Oh, right. Wendy eats meat. Ummmmmmmmmm… Seriously, I have no idea what to do here. I certainly don’t want to make fun of Wendy for having problems killing and eating things. But, at the same time, I think we can all agree it is a bit odd for a meat eater to start proclaiming “All creatures deserve to live” and “I wish we were in a meatless word” if that person is putting down a dozen nuggets slathered in honey mustard sauce and clearly chooses to exist in a meat world.
Maybe this is the big life-changing moment it takes for Wendy to never eat meat again, and if that is the case, more power to her. I’m all for it. But, not unlike The Wardog said, if we find out later that she just went back and started scarfing down Big Macs and chili-cheese dogs then, well, her reaction may have been a bit much — especially when the worst thing you can do is create waves when you are already on the outs.
But that’s the thing about Big Wendy that I have said all along. She goes big in pretty much everything she does. If anyone was going to go from full-on carnivore to the world’s most militant vegetarian in the blink of an eye, it’s Wendy. She even stole the tribe’s flint so they could not make fire and cook the chicken. Again, that is just a flat-out terrible idea if you are trying not to get voted out. It is also just kind of terrible to impose your sudden-out-of-nowhere culinary reawakening on everybody else. Just, you know, don’t eat the chicken! Obviously, Wendy is super lucky everybody seemed to believe that she did not steal the flint. Had they not, she would probably be hiking up on that bum ankle to get some rice (which at least has no meat in it!) at the Edge of Extinction. It should also be fascinating to see what Wendy does if she happens to win any food rewards going forward.
Back when I was in the midst of celebrating Survivor’s landmark 35th season, I came up with a list of 35 Reasons to Love Survivor. There was a bunch of stuff on there like the incredible challenges, that time someone peed on someone else, and the fact that there used to be a giant gong and cheesy trunk full of cash at Tribal Council. But I’m telling you right now: That entire list is garbage. Nonsense. Poppycock. Because the greatest thing about Survivor was not even on it. The greatest thing about Survivor is when one person talks smack about a tribemate… and that tribemate happens to be a few feet away and hears it.
I cannot express to you how much I love this. It is so insanely awkward and uncomfortable. You see the immediate panic on the face of the person who just got busted and it is positively intoxicating. In this case, I was getting high as a kite on pure, uncut Victoria as the Bronx waitress told Ron how “I think Joe and Aubry kind of come as a pair.” Only problem: Joe was right behind her. It was probably the least smooth move of the season and led to a super weird conversation between the three of them that I want to play on an endless loop until the end of time.
While Victoria was unsuccessfully covering her tracks down in the water, Aubry was sprinting like a maniac to try and find an idol. She’s digging by tree mail, she’s searching the side of the walking path, she’s reaching into trees. Hell, she’s even GOING BACK IN TIME! Yes, somehow through Doc Brown’s magical DeLorean, Aubry travels back to both 2016 and 2017 to retroactively search for idols in Kaoh Rong and Game Changers. Jesus, is there anything she can’t do?!?
And while Aubry is unable to locate Biff Tannen’s Gray Sports Almanac, she does finally find that damn idol that had eluded her for two-plus seasons. And then — just like that first day of that first season back in the shelter — Aubry starts crying, but this time they are tears of joy. Joy, I say! The second idol found this season, and both of them by women — a welcome counterattack to all the discussion lately about how women do not find idols on Survivor. It was something that was openly talked about on David vs. Goliath, but lest you think this was a reaction by the women this season to what they saw on DvG, keep in mind that they never saw David vs. Goliath. That’s because Edge of Extinction was filmed before season 37 ever aired. Regardless, it’s nice to see the ladies getting into the foraging business.
Yo, David Wright! What the hell, man? We spoke out in Fiji and you told me how you had basically practiced every Survivor puzzle known to man. You used a 3-D printer like some sort of super-nerd to make versions of every brain-teaser seen on the show and then solved and resolved them until you could practically do them with your eyes closed. I’ll admit it: I was impressed. So Impressed I named you my pre-game pick to win Survivor: Edge of Extinction. Granted, that is probably the biggest Survivor curse there is, even trumping the dreaded Survivor car curse, so sorry about that, but STILL! I put my faith in you, my man. So I ask you again: What the hell?!
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. We have a new immunity challenge this week, or at least portions of a new challenge. It starts with three members of each tribe in a boat being pulled by four others who are in the water tethered to the boat and basically towing it by swimming to a tower where the folks in the boat will climb up, leap off, and grab a key. Let me stop right here for a second to give a Cool Runnings worthy slow clap for this portion of the challenge and the super-badass underwater shots of people towing the boat and jumping in with the keys. You guys know those shots are like crack for me, and, not unlike Loverboy, I was lovin’ every minute of it. Huge props to all involved for creating, producing, filming, and editing this challenge. (Also, props to Big Wendy for killing it while her ankle was no doubt killing her.) Awesome.
Now let’s get to the less-than-awesome part. Eventually, the tribes use the keys to unlock a box of ship’s wheel puzzle pieces. “Here we go!” I yelled to no one in particular. “Time for David to dominate!” That’s because this is a puzzle we have seen a few times before and I know David had practiced all Survivor puzzles before he headed out there. Ummmmm… David did not dominate. Even worse, he, Kelley, and Lauren went into the puzzle with a lead and then got absolutely SMOKED! It wasn’t even remotely close. If there was no Tribal Council to get to, they may still be there working on it. Wow. Forget about Keith’s will-he-or-won’t-he-go-to-Edge-of-Extinction, this should have been the real cliffhanger: Will David ever finish the ship’s wheel puzzle?
Was David flummoxed? Did he panic? Was he not assertive enough to tell the others how it should be done? Whatever the reason, it certainly did not live up to the pre-game puzzle hype he — and, in turn, I — had been spouting. The good news is, there’s plenty of time for redemption (and without the island, this time).
Kelley Survives a Scare
Listen, I’m just going to cut to the chase. Chris gets blindsided at the end of this episode. But what is fascinating is to trace exactly how and why it happened. And when you do so, you see that Chris really didn’t do much of anything wrong here to earn his ticket to the Edge of Extinction. He made just one key mistake. What it came down to was this: David and Rick wanted Kelley out but needed to pull Chris in for numbers. So they approach Chris about the plan but tell him specifically NOT to tell The Wardog because he and Kelley are too close. Does Chris listen to them? No. Does he get voted out because of it? Yes. Are you getting sick of me asking rhetorical questions? Likely.
But let me say this: I don’t fault Chris for going to The Wardog. If he felt like the two of them were allies and he did not want to burn that bridge to be the third wheel alongside a clearly close duo in David and Devens, then that makes total sense. So I don’t mind him running the plan by The Wardog. Where he erred is how he ran the plan by him. Instead of coming in and bashing Kelley and talking about how she plays the game like a snake, Chris should have put the heat on Rick and David. That way any blowback would come on them, not him. Instead of saying, “I think we should get rid of Wentworth,” you say, “David and Rick want to take out Wentworth. What do you think about that?” Then you assess his answer and judge how best to proceed.
It’s so simple. It’s the same way that when you want someone out, you don’t walk up to a person and say, “We should get rid of [Fill in the blank].” Instead, you say, “Whom do you want out?” That way you are gathering information instead of dispensing it. And once you get their answer, you can try to subtly maneuver them over to your way of thinking. If you’re not good enough to do that, then you’re not good enough to play Survivor. Chris did not make a mistake in having a conversation with The Wardog; he just screwed up the conversation.
And because Chris did not realize that The Aforementioned Wardog preferred Wentworth over him, that made Chris vulnerable. And the fact that he never brought up David and Rick’s names is borderline crazy. (Shift the blame!!!) What is most interesting, however, is that because Chris never brought their names up, The Wardog and Kelly went to bring Rick in to get Chris out! And now he and David had a decision to make: Tell Chris and stick with the plan to oust Kelley but then return to camp with people after them, or switch the target to Chris and keep their hands clean. Ultimately, they chose the latter.
It’s kinda odd. They originally wanted to keep The Wardog out of the loop on the Kelley vote so he would have been upset with their original plan to blindside both of them anyway. So why, then, did they change their mind and oust Chris? Like I said, odd. But, of course, there is no cliffhanger this week as Chris grabs the torch and goes to join Reem and Keith on Depression Island.
And that about does it. But a few important other notes. First off, remember when Lauren found an idol last week and then re-hid it? A lot of you asked what would happen if another tribemate stumbled across that idol and to whom it would then belong. Well, I went to Jeff Probst and asked him and you can read his response right here. Speaking of Probst, we also have this week’s Q&A, which you will want to read, as well as an exclusive deleted scene from the episode which you can watch above. For a chance to win the entire collection of original embarrassing moment confessions written by the entire cast, follow me on Instagram @thedaltonross, and for more Survivor scoop, check me out on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
Okay, now it’s your turn. Should David & Devens — which is not, incidentally, the name of a law firm — have voted out Kelley or Chris? Will Aubry and Joe have new life with the tribe swap next week? And place your bets now on whether Wendy is still eating meat or not. In the meantime, I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!