Liana's game-changing Knowledge is Power twist is neutered after Shan let the cat out of the bag.
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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
S41 E7
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This is how confusing Survivor has gotten: They actually went back and aired a "Previously on…" segment this week. Even with all the twists, that may be the most surprising thing about this entire season. I thought the "Previously on…" segments were a relic of the past, in some Survivor graveyard right alongside the opening credits, the Rites of Passage, and other things we complained incessantly about when they are on our TV screens eating up precious episode time — and then complained incessantly about when they were gone because we are impossible to please. However, apparently, I was mistaken, and the "Previously on…" segments were actually buried somewhere on Ghost Island while maturing and accumulating awesome new powers.

Well, it's back! And THANK GOD for that because if you actually remember all the advantages that have been unleashed this season then you are clearly some sort of robot — one that most likely has been sent to our planet to destroy all of humanity, as outer space robots tend to be. Of course, the one downside of the "Previously on…" is that we had to be reminded of the terrible hourglass punish-the-people-who-just-won-the-challenge-for-absolutely-no-reason-other-than-cheap-shock-value twist. But I'm going to try my best to not dwell on that and rather just note the obvious conclusion of the twist, which was Erika flipping the script and giving herself and the other challenge losers immunity. Yay?

"It's not the game I'm used to," reacted Deshawn to the twist, echoing millions of viewers' cries for help. "Maybe that is the new Survivor." So just as Erika reset the game with her smashy-smashy, let's reset ourselves and get to the big moments from this week's episode.

Survivor
Erika Casupanan and Jeff Probst on 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Feet Don't Fail Me Now

After the old Triple Lindy-switcheroo, Sydney, Danny, Deshawn, Evvie, Ricard, and Naseer now had to compete in an individual immunity challenge to achieve safety heading in the merge. Even though I got into this last week, I feel like this aspect of the twist has been buried by all the negative attention paid to the time-turning hourglass. Had producers just combined Yase and Ua, and had them compete against Luvu in a tribe competition with the winners going straight to the merge and the losers having to fight their way into it, that would have been super cool. It would have been a way to spice up the merge in a completely fair and sensical way without that extra layer of interference. If only I could make history by changing history and smash something to make that have been how last week actually played out.

Crap, I'm rambling again. It happens. Okay, so the immunity challenge this week had the players using their feet to release a rope and then stack blocks in a circle with a flag in the middle. It's super awkward to watch people do everything with their feet. It's like some weird giant Phantom Menace reenactment with everyone playing the part of Sebulba the Dug. It also looks hard as hell. Evvie was sooooooo close to winning, but faltered while trying to place her flag, giving Ricard the window he needed to win immunity. With only 5 targets for the rest of the tribe to choose from in terms of voting someone out, this immunity was a huge one. For Evvie and Sydney, who were both so close to winning, it would make the next few hours very precarious.

Survivor
An immunity challenge on 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

The Mad Scramble

With Danny and Deshawn wanting to get a woman out of the game, that put the target squarely on Evvie. And once Liana shifted allegiance over to her new fearsome foursome of her, Shan, and D&D, then the target was locked and loaded. All that was left was to see how Advantagepalooza would play out. Because Xander was ready to play his idol for Evvie. And Liana was ready to use her Knowledge is Power advantage to take away Xander's idol. And everyone was telling everyone everything.

Tiffany told Evvie about Liana's advantage. Then Evvie told Xander about Liana's advantage. Then Xander told Danny about Liana's advantage even though Danny already knew about Liana's advantage and was on the other team, and I'm not exactly sure what that accomplished other than alerting Liana to the defenses being put up against her. It was around this time that both sides starting parsing out every single word of the Knowledge is Power rules, realizing that Liana had to successfully figure out the person actually in possession of the idol at the time she asked the question for it. Which is why it was right around this time I started yelling at my television screen. The words that came out of my mouth? "GIVE THE IDOL AND ADVANTAGE TO TIFFANY!"

The logic was simple. Liana would guess that either Xander or Evvie had the idol. Which is why you give it to Tiffany. So instead of Liana having a 50% chance of guessing correctly between Xander or Evvie, her odds decreased dramatically in terms of successfully sniffing out that Xander actually gave it to someone who has not even in jeopardy of being voted out. I may have been smart enough to figure it out, but would Xander/Evvie/Tiffany? This is what I was left to contemplate as Xander, Evvie, and Liana gathered in the most awkward meeting imaginable as Liana pretended to still be with them and they pretended to still be with her — all of them knowing it was just a pageantry of misinformation and deceit. I loved every second it. It was like a super uncomfortable episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm on steroids.

Survivor
The cast of 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

The Sting

"I think part of my worry is because I'm so self-obsessed." That was Sydney right before Tribal Council, and she was right to be worried and right about being so self-obsessed… which is what makes her fantastic TV. But we'll get to her in a minute. First: The big ruse.

I'll be honest. I thought while watching that Xander and Evvie were lying it on waaaaaaaaaaaay too thick. Here was Evvie saying she was feeling okay because Xander was going to save her, and here was Xander taking out a big package from his pants (slight pun intended) that I assumed in the moment was just a bundled-up rock of some sort. But then he opened the idol package, and then I was confused. Why does he still have the idol? Why did he not give it to Tiffany? And why is he showing it to Liana knowing that she has the power to take it away?

But the questions went even deeper, because remember: Liana knew that Xander knew about her Knowledge is Power advantage. Did she really buy that hilariously awkward pre-Tribal meeting and believe Xander, Tiffany, and Evvie believed she was with them? She must have, right? Because otherwise, once Xander goes out of his way to show that to Liana with the full knowledge that she has the power to take it away, that sets off alarm sirens all over the place if I'm her. But it didn't.

So Liana explained her power as Evvie and Xander both submitted themselves for Academy Award consideration with lots of pained looks and hands on heads just to seal the deal on the deception. And then the fateful words came out: "Do you have an idol, Xander?" The response: "No, but you can have this fake." Watching Liana's reaction was like Bart Simpson going to slow-motion to pinpoint the exact second where Ralph Wiggum's heart breaks during Krusty the Klown's  29th Anniversary Special.

The most amazing thing about this sequence of events… well, the most amazing thing after Xander's fake idol play… and Xander's casual response… and Liana's reaction… and the snippy back and forth between Evvie and Liana… is the fact that all of this was Shan's fault! Had Shan not brought up the advantage to Liana in front of Tiffany, then nobody on Yase would have had any idea the power existed, and Evvie would most likely be out of the game, as the new majority alliance wanted. WHOOPS!

But Wait… There's More!

I am definitely too lazy to do the research on this, but I think there's a pretty decent chance this could have been the longest single Tribal Council where only one person was voted out in the history of Survivor. (Not meaning the longest Tribal Council to ever take place, since they can go on for two hours unedited sometimes, but rather the longest to ever air.) The Tribal Council took up 16 minutes of air-time, an absolute eternity for this show, and, of course, plenty of time for the contestants to each run a few laps around the Tribal Council set.

As if on cue, it descended into another "live Tribal" with everyone walking in circles as if to clear the "MOVE!" bar on their Garmin watches after sitting for too long. As I watched this all go down, I was struck by a question: What the heck happened between Deshawn and Sydney? They were always depicted as being super tight on Luvu before the merge, yet all episode this week Deshawn was throwing Sydney's name out there as a target. I know Danny was worried about the women having numbers over the men, and I also know that options when it came to people to vote out were severely limited (especially after Ricard won immunity), but is Deshawn really closer to Nasser now than Sydney, even after Naseer said he wanted to target Deshawn earlier in the season? Apparently so! (Yes, Naseer has an idol, but as long as they made him feel safe enough he would not use it.)

Sydney knew it too, which is why she became the first person ever to use her Shot in the Dark, giving up her vote for a one in six (or two in twelve — same thing) chance at immunity. That chance did not come through, and we're going to come back to that in second because what came next was a little drama playing out between Tiffany, Xander, and Evvie in terms of whether to play the idol for Evvie or not. Tiffany was about to play it, but Xander told her not to. Even after Evvie repeatedly asked her to play it, Xander held firm, arguing that she would not be the target because they thought she had the idol. And he was right, as Sydney received 5 votes to Evvie's 4.

However, this is where things could have gotten VERY interesting. Let's say Sydney's Shot in the Dark worked and she received immunity. Now, she's out of play and it is between only Evvie and Deshawn. So what happens once Tiffany asks about using the idol after Sydney is safe? Under those circumstances, would Xander have let her play it for Evvie? Because Evvie is now more exposed. With Sydney out of the mix, it would end up with 4 votes on Evvie and 3 on Deshawn and Evvie goes home… UNLESS the idol is used for her. It would have been fascinating to see how that discussion played out. I tend to think in that circumstance Xander would have told Tiffany to play it, but with all the confusion over extra votes and what have you, and trying to do math on the fly, perhaps he would not want to risk burning it.

But we'll never know. Instead, Sydney was sidelined by her former tribemates and alliance-mates. "I'm relieved I'm not on the jury so I don't have to see their faces ever again," said Sydney after her torch snuffing. "And I'm just glad I'm me, because what I have outside of this game is 500 kajillion times better, so that makes me feel good, even if it's super immature." See, that's why Sydney is so great: She will say absurd and ridiculous things that normally would be super off-putting due to how conceited and immature they are, but because Sydney is self-aware enough to point out the self-obsessiveness and immaturity herself, it somehow becomes oddly endearing. At least to me.

It also makes her fabulous TV. Seriously, Sydney is a producer's dream. She is a walking unfiltered soundbite. Unfortunately, because Luvu kept winning challenges (even when some of them tried not to) we never really got a chance to see what Sydney could do as a game player. But at least we have not heard the last from her. That's because I'll be chatting with Sydney Thursday morning, so keep your eyes peeled for that exit interview. (You can now read it right here!) Also, we have an exclusive deleted scene from the episode featuring more footage of Erika from Exile Island going live at the top of this here recap. And you can also get more nonsense over on my Twitter @DaltonRoss and Instagram @thedaltonross. Have fun with all that, and I'll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy.

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
Survivor

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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