A player's habit of sharing secrets about her own advantages finally catches up with her.
Advertisement
SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
S42 E11
type
  • TV Show
network
genre

There are certain problems you run into when you recap a reality television show for 40 seasons. The first is just a general lack of self-worth. You dream of spending your career writing copy to change minds and move hearts and instead spend two decades opining on people named Benry and Papa Smurf and making balls and poles jokes during challenges. Not exactly the stuff of Pulitzers.

There's also that occasional feeling of personal dread that creeps up if you ever deign to do the math and consider just how many hours you have spent watching that particular TV show… and, even worse, writing about it. Oh, how those hours could have been spent learning a language, getting a law degree, or… I don't know… even spending time with — gasp! — family. Instead, I was too mesmerized by the fact that someone named Skinny Ryan wrote "Die Jerks" on his Outcasts tribe buff and proceeded to write a thousand words on it.

But because I sublimate and ignore my feelings as a default setting, the most problematic issue with recapping the same show over and over like some sort of multiverse loop from hell is trying not to constantly repeat myself. Sure, it happens. There are certain words — knee socks, Medallion of Power, Fishbach — that seem to make their way into my recaps more than others, but I do actually try not to say the same thing over and over again.

But man do Survivor players sometimes make it damn near impossible. For example, how many times do we have to watch contestant after contestant tell someone about an idol or advantage, only for that to end up sinking their games? The number one rule of Survivor is to keep that information under wraps. Well, that's actually not true: The number one rule of Survivor is to answer "Not particularly…" when Jeff Probst asks if you "wanna know what you're playing for?", but nobody in 42 seasons has ever taken me up on that.

Look, I don't want to have to keep yelling and screaming about people who can't help themselves when it comes to flapping their gums and talking about all the power they have, and yet THEY KEEP DOING IT! Over and over. Season after season. Hell, Drea has already done it several times this very season and almost got voted out on day 5 after she first spilled to Swati and Tori about her extra vote, and she still couldn't help herself here.

There was absolutely zero reason for Drea to tell Omar about her Knowledge is Power advantage. Just sit on it, use it, take Mike's idol, and then let everyone know they now have an opportunity to take out a guy who is a decent bet to win the game. That's it. Done. But like so many players (including herself) before, she couldn't help herself. And it may have cost her $1 million dollars.

And now I'm the bad guy! I don't want to be the bad guy. I don't want to chastise Drea. The same way I don't want to chastise Lindsay for taking part in the immunity challenge… but will (later). To make things even more frustrating, Drea is no dummy. She's smart. She knows the game. SHE SHOULD KNOW BETTER. But people can't hold on to a secret, even when it's their own. It's like that piece of hot goss that you can't wait to share. It's that $20 bill burning a hole in your pocket. People can't help themselves — even the same people that watch the show on TV and yell at players for doing what Drea did this week. They then get on the island themselves and find they are no better at zipping the lips as the people they chastised.

It's human nature, and it drives me crazy. Especially when it forces me to sound like a broken record and once again beg and plead with future Survivor players to learn from the mistakes of those who failed before them. But I guess it bears repeating, so here we go… again: Never tell anyone about any idol or advantage in the game unless absolutely 100 percent necessary. Knowledge is indeed power in this game, and once you hand over that power, it can be used against you. Don't believe me? Go ask Drea.

The worst part about me having to issue this reminder is that it is far from the last time I will have to do so. I guarantee you I will have to issue it at least 42 more times… or however many seasons Survivor soldiers on for. And I will hate myself for it. This insidious cycle will carry on and I will be forced to cut and paste this entire missive all over again. It is my lot in life. Okay, let's get into the rest of the episode.

Survivor
Mike Turner and Drea Wheeler on 'Survivor 42'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Food and feet

First off, am I the only one who laughed when the Survivor 42 board that started the episode fell back into the water? Yes? Okay, let's move on then. Which is fine, because that wasn't even the best part of the episode's opening minutes. I mean, what else can compete with random inter-spliced images of Romeo looking like a guilty kid sneaking his hand into the cookie jar, only this time, his hands were all over the rice in the pot.

It's not like Romeo is challenging Chappies from Survivor: South Africa for the title of King Food Hoarder, but it was still amazing to see the scrawniest person out there just kinda saying "Screw it!" and helping himself. Hey, it's an individual game, right? (BTW, if you crave more Romeo eating footage, check out an exclusive deleted scene.) But Romeo and Maryanne actually seem to be in a really good position in the game right now, because all the bigger threats are now targeting each other. So they can just sit back, eat everybody else's rice and tear off their toe nails all they want.

Speaking of which, how is possible to have a toenail fall off two to three times a year? Speaking of which, does anyone have a barf bag? Speaking of which, does anyone know why barf bags are no longer on airplanes? Did people just stop barfing at 30,000 feet all of a sudden? And what exactly is someone supposed to do if they feel sick mid-flight? I should note that never in my entire life have I ever seen someone actually get sick on an airplane, even in the era of barf bag abundance, but I still kind of miss the comfort and safety net of a well placed barf bag in my seat. Anyway… toes without nails. Gross.

I was also intrigued by the hangry Jonathan and Drea "fight" about the fishing net. I put air quotes around fight because it was the mildest of disagreements when compared to the pantheon of classic Survivor shouting matches. It's kind of what Probst alluded to at the mildly strange end to the episode where he talked about how hard the contestants were playing while also getting along. Even the folks at the center of this season's most combustible relationship — Tori and Rocksory — have turned out to be post-game buddies at Ponderosa. When Probst mentioned he "can't think of a season where I've ever seen this much fierce gameplay and camaraderie," it reminded me of Millennials vs. Gen X. And that reminded me of Bret Labelle getting absolutely wasted on a reward. And thinking about Bret Labelle wasted makes me very, very happy.

Better to be lucky than smart

Remember how I said I don't like repeating myself and sounding like a broken record? Well, the needle is about to start skipping again. But like Lando Calrissian pleading "It's not my fault" after the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive did not fire up while fleeing Bespin, I too am not to blame in this instance.

When Survivor decided to repeat every single twist on season 42 as season 41, that meant I have to constantly repeat my feelings on both the twists themselves and the strategic decisions made in their wake. So for those of you who don't remember my word for word scorching hot take from six months ago or didn't bother reading to begin with, the bottom line is… I don't have any issues with the Do or Die twist (except a minor one, which we'll get to in a bit).

Unlike the blatantly unfair and gimmicky Hourglass twist, the Do or Die twist affords each and every player the opportunity to make their own individual decision on whether to compete in a challenge (and risk being the first one out and potentially going to the jury as a result) or sit out (and then have no chance at immunity). Of course, the choice is simple. You should sit out. 100 percent. And this comes from me! Nobody hates sitting out of challenges more than me. Talk about repeating myself: I must have written down the same thoughts on sitting out challenges a million times. It turns me into Cypress Hill and I get all insane in the membrane.

But even though Probst keeps trying to sell how competing in a challenge in this instance might be a smart call if you feel vulnerable, that's actually completely untrue. If you're someone on the outs, your best bet is to take a seat and hope that whoever is out first in the challenge goes home instead. And according to the odds, both Deshawn last season and Lindsay this one had a 50 percent shot of going home when they did not switch their box. Their faulty strategic gameplay (they would have had a 66 percent chance of winning had they switched) ended up working in their favor and they were both safe, but that doesn't mean it was the right call. Don't believe me? Just ask the person who decided to play and was safe as a result!

"I'm very disappointed in myself," said Lindsay. "Because that was such a dumb decision. I felt safe. I didn't need to do that." Later at Tribal Council, she added that "My competitive nature overtook my gut and I made a poor choice." She's right, because your chances of coming through that Tribal unscathed are much better if you don't compete in the challenge, just simply by putting someone else so squarely in the firing line that is not you.

Survivor
The cast of 'Survivor 42'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Which is why I was once again praying to the Survivor gods that NOBODY would actually take part in the challenge. How amazing would that have been? No challenge. No Do or Die game at Tribal. Nothing. The chaos-lover in me would have been all over this. Probst just kind of shrugging his shoulders and sending people back to camp with no competition. Or what if only Jonathan had opted in? Would they still have run the challenge with only one person? God, I hope so.

Before we wrap up on the Do or Die twist, I mentioned there was only one small thing as a creative element that I did not like about it, and it has to do with time. If you're neurotic and have watched way too much reality television like I have, you can predict the future by checking the clock. I'm not talking about some sort of internal clock. I'm talking about an actual clock.

When Lindsay lined up to play Do or Die and there was still more than 10 minutes left in the episode, that told you everything you needed to know. She was destined to win, because it would not take that long to simply pick a wrong box. In that case, there's no voting, there's no reading of votes, there's no torch snuffing, there's no Mike being absolutely ecstatic about being voted against twice by Drea. The episode is just… over.

Having that much time left on the clock telegraphed the result, which is kind of a bummer. Maybe you didn't notice because you are able to simply sit and enjoy a television show like a normal person without ruining your life and self-spoiling your favorite program because you are not an insane person that aligns episode running times with activity on the screen. Welcome to my (pathetic) world.

The man in the middle (again)

We've already hit on Drea's big mistake and her inability to keep her own secret. But who was the person she mistakenly trusted with the valuable information that ultimately did her in? Yep. Omar. Again. I honestly can't recall another player that had so much information from so many directions just handed to him, but maybe that's just because my memory sucks.

The question is whether anyone is going to wake up and realize that Omar is smack dab in the center of every big decision that gets made — either by directing the vote, or relaying (mis)information that leads others to do his bidding for him. Since this group does not appear likely to suffer from the disease known as Bitter Jury Syndrome, Omar is probably sitting pretty unless someone connects the dots.

As to how he played the information that was given to him, I do think Omar made the right call by not overreaching in getting Mike to give his idol and then voting him out so he could keep it. Mike is the one very emotional player out there. Stealing his idol and then voting him out would have been practically begging him to poison the jury well. As tempting as it may have been, this move enables Omar to keep mowing down the competition while appearing to be a good guy in the process. Smart.

Survivor
Maryanne Oketch and Lindsay Dolashewich on 'Survivor 42'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

The not-so-silent assassin

Back after episode 1, I made Maryanne my pick to win season 42. I also picked her to win every Survivor season thereafter. It was kind of a joke. I just loved her spirit and energy and general joie de vivre.  But hold on a second… could Maryanne actually win this thing? Obviously, Omar is the frontrunner. And Drea said Mike wins if he makes it that far. And Lindsay (who now has a full amulet idol) has a résumé that keeps growing. But that also makes them all targets.

As previously stated — Crap! I'm repeating myself again! — Maryanne is not on anyone's radar right now. And she has an idol (that nobody knows about). And while she may drive folks cuckoo for Cocoa-Puffs, I get the sense everyone does feel genuine fondness for her. Should she make it to the end, it might be very hard not to give her the money. And should she make it to the end, I say to the jury… DO IT!

Oh (no) Canada!

Any dreams of an all-Canadian final three were canceled like SCTV in 1984 after Drea got her torch snuffed. I've already gone into detail into what Drea did wrong, which was basically talking too much about all her various idols and advantages, but she did a lot right as well… namely, acquiring all those idols and advantages. She was clearly seen as a very strong social and strategic player by her peers, which is why they got rid of her.

It was actually really interesting to see the goofy, silly side of Drea after she got voted out. Outside of a random maniacal laugh that popped up from time to time in her confessional interviews, she seemed so serious. Then again, Survivor is a serious game, and Drea definitely had her game face on. To see her go all bubbly and giggly like Maryanne once her game was over gave us a peek into a side of Drea we didn't catch a whole lot of on the show. And maybe we'll catch more of it on the jury.

Holy smokes, we have our penultimate episode of Survivor 42 next week! And you know what that means — updated season rankings! Where will Survivor 42 fall? Find out then. But wait, we're not done with this week! We'll have my exit interview with Drea up on Thursday morning as well as an exclusive deleted scene with Romeo doing even more eating. For additional Survivor stuff, you can follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss and Instagram @thedaltonross, so knock yourself out on that front. Meanwhile, it's back to the stove I go to cook up a fresh scoop of penultimate 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.

Related content:

Episode Recaps

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!"

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 41
rating
genre
network
stream service

Comments