Survivor 42 recap: Omar is running the game
- TV Show
"I came out to play the game, and I played it well until the game outplayed me." — Hai Giang
Those are some gracious words in defeat from Hai. Yet not entirely accurate. The game did not outplay Hai. Omar did. Yes, the Canadian virgin with the horrifying emu t-shirt of which nightmares are made continued his so far socially dominant run on Survivor 42. He doesn't have a single idol. He possesses no advantages. In fact, he lost a vote at Tribal Council. He appears unlikely to win a single challenge anytime soon. But is there a bigger threat in the entire game that Omar Zaheer?
The past month of Survivor 42 has been one big winner's edit for Omar, as the veterinarian has set himself apart from the pack as the one player post-merge that everybody wants to talk to. Everyone feeds Omar intel thinking he is their biggest ally and supporter, and then the dude gleefully goes and uses that intel to take out the competition — either folks who don't share his same endgame vision, or others who could potentially beat him at the end. And this week Omar added an entirely new wrinkle to his repertoire — that of a villain.
Make no mistake, everyone lies on Survivor. The second you tell someone they're safe and then write their name down, your pants are on fire. But some lies are bigger than others. And completely making up something someone said about someone else is a whopper. But that is exactly what sneaky Omar did.
On a Sanctuary reward getaway that began like something out of a horror movie, with super creepy disembodied voices of loved ones — as if Survivor had gone and murdered the contestants' relatives and the parents, spouses, and the significant others were communicating awkwardly from beyond the grave — Omar decided to take aim at Hai, and he did it by making up a whole bunch of Hong Kong Phooey. Knowing that Mike was already uncomfortable with voting out Rocksroy and that he believed Hai had strongarmed him into doing it, Omar decided to use Mike's pride against him, telling the Jerseyite that Hai had bragged to him that "Mike will do whatever I say in this game. He is my puppet."
It's a good thing Mike is a firefighter, because there was a five-alarm fire raging in his head upon hearing this piece of fake news meant to stir him up. And that one simple lie was all Omar needed to turn a rock solid ally against his partner. It was deceitful. It was diabolical. And it was also delicious. This full heel turn by Omar does not make him a bad guy. It makes him a good player. I'm a firm believer that the only bad lie in the game of Survivor is one in which you get caught. As long as the risk of getting caught dispensing misinformation does not outweigh the reward of using a fib to get a huge threat out of the way and bind an important player closer to you and your cause, then let 'er rip!
Making the lie even more incredible is that last week's episode showed that it was not Hai who spearheaded the plan to get Rocksroy out; it was Omar! So he started the movement to oust man-alliance obsessed Rocksory, and then when Mike expressed apprehension about Hai putting pressure on him (for carrying out Omar's move), Omar flipped the blame back on Hai. Brilliant. Evil brilliance, sure… but brilliance nonetheless.
At this point, is there any way Omar is not winning this game? With the edit he has gotten this season so far, it's as if he is walking around a with a big emu on his front and a giant neon sign flashing "WINNER! WINNER! WINNER!" on his back. Or maybe season 42 is pulling a season 41 and completely ignoring the actual winner until the final episode. Speaking of Erika… if Omar does indeed become the Sole Survivor, that would make back-to-back Canadian champions, the most impressive and pop-culturally relevant duo from the Great White North since Bob & Doug McKenzie told us all to "take off." Eat your heart out, Tom Laidlaw!
Whether this is an obvious winner's edit or a complete misdirection, I will say that season 42 has had a pretty even editorial spread. No purple edits in this cast. Everyone has had a moment, even Lindsay, who was everywhere this episode. But still… Omar. It's all about Omar, who has, so far, played an outstanding social game — even coming up with the merged tribe name. And I enjoyed watching him get his hands dirty this week. Not as dirty as a rectal palpitation mishap, mind you, but dirty nonetheless.
And the way he casually turned on his bromance partner Jonathan and considered flipping the vote yet again just before Tribal just for the heck of it shows you this guy is not there for an adventure or to make lifelong friends. If all that happens in the process, great. But he's not there for that. He's there to win. Cold blooded.
But even though Omar's ruse — which sounds vaguely like a piece of The Wire-inspired fan fiction — worked to perfection, there is still a chance this lie could come back to haunt him, and in a big way. Let's say Mike does not make the final 3. What happens when Mike gets to Ponderosa and Hai asks why he voted him out and Mike tells him what Omar said? Once Hai reveals the truth, if Mike believes him, you could have two pretty peeved jury members with Omar's million-dollar fate in their hands. It actually doesn't even have to be Mike. What if Lindsay (who was there during that conversation) has her torch snuffed and then asks Hai about the Mike thing? One pissed-off juror can have an outsized influence on the jury if persuasive enough. And me thinks Hai is persuasive enough.
Not saying that will happen by any means. Omar certainly better hope it doesn't. Okay, let's look at a few other big moments from episode 10 of Survivor 42.
Kula Meets Kula
One of the things I was really looking forward to this week was seeing what happened when the two groups separated into two Tribals came back together. After all the emotion of that second Tribal Council (which was largely a reaction to what had happened at the first Tribal), what would happen when everyone reconvened to update each other on what had gone down, and why?
So how did it go? Beats me! That's because they didn't show it. Like… any of it. I would think that might have been some pretty important material to cover, but apparently not. In fact, the only real update that we saw was Lindsay bringing Omar up to speed on what a terrible strategist Jonathan was — so terrible that she started to worry she would be seen as a bad strategist by association. Which, honestly, is some serious high school stuff — not wanting to hang out with the super dweeb because that might make one dweeby by association. I guess I get it. I mean, Jonathan's strategy last week was pretty bad. Almost as bad as Lindsay's idol hunting skills.
Of course, Lindsay's pain in juuuuuuuuuust missing out on the idol was our gain, as my girl Maryanne found the idol instead. That's a serious trade-up. Maryanne went from having an idol that everybody knew about to now having one that nobody knows about. Let's hope that she — unlike everybody else this season who won't stop advantage oversharing — can actually keep it that way.
She Sells Sanctuary
Just look at how happy Jeff Probst is in that photo above. It's raining cats and dogs and yet… the dude is beaming! What the f&¢% is wrong with that guy? This is the way Probst always is when it rains at a challenge. He loves it! And I love that he loves it. I still remember when I was out in Palau for the marooning on season 16 and the heavens opened right as the contestants raced over to another island to retrieve an immunity idol. One of the most intense rains I've ever experienced out on location, and as I shivered off to the side, I looked over and there was Probst with a stupid grin plastered all over his face.
And why shouldn't he be grinning? Probst knows a downpour looks dramatic and incredible and shows what an ass-kicker Survivor is. But even with that, I cannot express to you how few professional hosts would embrace getting full-on drenched while doing their job. Actually, I can. The number is one. And his name is Jeff Probst. Just out there looking giddy as hell while pretty much any other big network host would run back to a climate-controlled trailer and wait it out until sunny skies prevailed. Or forget about the trailer. Maybe the other diva hosts would rather spend some time in… the Survivor Sanctuary!
That was the reward for whomever could overcome a serious case of the shivers to win a challenge by maneuvering a sandbag through a series of obstacles before landing it on a target. In what would be their first duel of the week, Lindsay would overtake Jonathan and land her bag to take the win — taking Omar and Mike ostensibly because they had not won any big food rewards, but also to talk strategy.
Now, I don't know whose decision on the Survivor creative team it was to not just launch into photos and video messages from back home while on the reward, but to instead start with spooky ghost-like moaning that sounded not unlike Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis's pathetic attempts to scare Winona Ryder's family out of their home, but whoever's idea that was… that person deserves a massive raise. Seriously, for a second there I thought we were about to be introduced to an actual Ghost Island! (Is that Chris Noble I hear doing spooky rapping about Dwyane Wade?)
The only thing that would have made the super random ghostly messages any better is if the producers had just said "You know what? F— it!" and started playing them back at the Applebee's feast. They should also immediately go and start inserting the ghostly noises into past episodes from former seasons on Paramount+. Michael Skupin burning his flesh off back in season 2? Juice that with a little ghost audio, won't you? Bob Dawg about to go "drop a deuce" in Casa de Charmin? Fire up the ghost audio! And, of course, every Rites of Passage segment ever now absolutely needs ghost audio from the contestants whose games died along the way.
Anyway, apparently either the ghosts or the loved ones convinced Lindsay to tell Omar and Mike about her secret amulet BECAUSE THAT IS ALWAYS SUCH A GOOD IDEA!
Threat Level Assessment
There's honestly not a lot to say about the immunity challenge (stand and balance a ball for as long as you can) other than that Lindsay impressively outlasted Jonathan to win her second straight challenge. But before we get to the tribe's impeding decision as to whom to vote out, can I ask you all a question: Have I showed you all my monkey run?
The thing I don't understand about the monkey run is why someone would wait until day 19 to show it off. It seems like the type of thing you either bust out on day 4 or 5, or don't bust out at all. I'm not sure why coming back from a challenge on day 19 was the right time to engage in monkey walk protocol. I will say… it was pretty legit. I mean, that was some serious Planet of the Apes, Caesar-on-the-rampage-type action right there.
Having now witnessed Jonathan's mastery on both two legs and four, the tribe had to decide whether to jettison him from the game or get rid of the other big threat in Hai. Mike already knew where his decision was heading: "I'm not anybody's puppet. I'm not playing anybody else's game. I'm playing my game!" (Actually, you're playing Omar's game, but close enough.) Eventually, it seemed everyone was on board and had decided on Hai, which led to this super confusing 180 from Omar, who out of nowhere proclaimed that "Everything is working out perfectly. But it's almost too perfect. Because then you start thinking: Should I just work with Hai now because nobody trusts him?"
Maybe Omar was just doing producers a solid and feeding them a quote to add a little drama and uncertainty into the Tribal Council mix, or maybe the Survivor Sanctuary ghosts were whispering creepy sweet nothings into his ear to confuse him, but when it was all said and done, Hai was sent to the jury, as he was evidently deemed the bigger threat to take out.
Hai Says Bye
Had he done nothing else after day 1, Hai still would have been an all-time Survivor legend if for no other reason than nonsensically smearing blood all over his body at the marooning challenge. Of course, that unexplainable moment was impossible to top, but Hai still proved to be an important player who propelled the action forward.
He had good moments (like when he masterfully played Daniel at the Vati tiebreaker Tribal) and he had not-so-good moments (like when he freaked out over having a meaningless vote cast against him by a player completely on the outs and not even in his alliance). He was able to separate personal and professional — being a sympathetic ear to Romeo's journey as a gay man while also fighting like hell (before backtracking) to get Romeo out. He was a strong narrator, punctuating his comments with enough attitude to be entertaining, yet not off-putting.
Hai's big game fault seemed to be not blending in enough. He was clearly seen as someone calling the shots, which is not a great place to be at this stage of the game. But Hai took his blindside like a champ, exclaiming, "Well played, gang. Oh my God, that was amazing. That's how I wanted to go out. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant." It was brilliant. And in this case, brilliant was spelled O-M-A-R.
Okay, a few programming notes. I'll be chatting with Hai on Thursday morning so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for that exit interview. We'll also have an exclusive deleted scene for you because that's how we roll. And if you are the type of person who enjoys super weird seasons of reality TV, then you may want to waste some time with my look back at the pop-culture curiosity that was season 1 of Big Brother. It's honestly worth the click just to watch a contestant struggle down the stairs with her comically oversized suitcase. And for more Survivor stuff, you can follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss and Instagram @thedaltonross. Otherwise, have a great week and I'll be back next time with another scoop of the crispy.
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.
- Rocksroy Bailey reacts to super-emotional Survivor Tribal Council
- Tori Meehan weighs in in that intense Survivor Tribal Council
- Survivor 42 episode 9 recap: Drea and Maryanne take a stand
- Watch Romeo Escobar come out as gay to his entire tribe on Survivor
- Chanelle Howell says she was 'vilified' on Survivor 42
- Survivor 42 merged tribe name meaning revealed
- Lydia Meredith reacts to being undone by the Survivor hourglass twist
- Daniel Strunk explains his 'catastrophically wrong' Tribal Council meltdown on Survivor
- Swati Goel explains that Boston Rob mixup on Survivor
- Jeff Probst explains why he stopped a Survivor challenge for the first time ever
Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning $1 million, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "Dig deep!"