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Final thoughts on Survivor: Edge of Extinction

28 May

This was a strange season. It began with the enticing prospect of some old favorites, then saw them mostly sidelined, and when they left the game, the new characters didn’t provide the same entertainment. Then Rick Devens made a run that was entertaining, but his inevitable win took some of the fun away … then it turned out his win wasn’t inevitable at all!

Good things about the season:

The Chris win showed the good side of the Edge of Extinction twist. Chris was an athletic marvel to rival Joe, and at the end we saw that he was good (or even great) at strategy too. Setting up the season this way prevents a good player from being knocked completely out of the game based on something fluky.

Also, Chris’ move to give up immunity to participate in fire-making was a shocking and memorable moment.

The season was unpredictable from week to week.

There were fewer reward challenges than usual, which was fine with me since the stakes are lower in those than in immunity challenges.

Rick had a nice run near the end of the season despite being the top target week after week.

David Wright blossomed. I thought he was just a one-note neurotic character in his first season but he was entertaining throughout this season.

An incredible character moment came when Julia asked Eric about voting David out, and we see her face change when she hears his answer: it dawns on her that Wardog’s suggestions were right on the money. Great camera work and/or editing made that marvelous.

Bad things about the season:

It hurt when David and Kelley got voted out the same week, because suddenly there were more interesting characters at Edge of Extinction than in the game itself. The season’s final seven were Chris, Gavin, Julie, Rick, Lauren,  Victoria, and Aurora. Compare that to last season’s final seven of Nick, Mike White, Angelina, Kara, Alison, Davie, and Christian.

The Edge of Extinction twist did provide two exciting challenges that produced returnees Rick and Chris, but Jeff dubbing the first one “iconic the moment it happens” was laying it on thick. I don’t remember too much about it and it was just a few weeks ago!

I mentioned the unpredictability from week to week above under positives, but in a way it was a negative too. There weren’t really storylines from the beginning that pay off near the end of the sort Survivor usually has. The strong alliances were all broken up, though those breakups could be entertaining too. Then there were Lauren and Kelley holding onto their idols week after week after week … but ultimately Kelley held hers a week too long, and Lauren got talked into wasting hers (with Kelley partially culpable for that)!

Also, there were too many idols that were too easy to find (though this is far from the only season this can be said about).

Rankings Update

Sorry, nobody from this season cracked my best players of all time list. (Rick Devens had a lot of moxie but he doesn’t get a bust in the Hall of Fame next to the Parvatis and Robs.)

While Kelley and Lauren had a nice early run, you won’t see any new additions to my best alliances of all time list.

This season had two strong contenders for the worst players of all time. Upon reflection, I decided that Keith, while horrible, gets a free pass for being 19 years old, but someone else from this season did make the list.

You can check out my full rankings of the seasons (including this one) here.


“Hey it’s my buddy … who I betrayed.” Survivor: Edge of Extinction May 15 2019 Season Finale Recap

21 May

On Day 35, the final five of Gavin, Victoria, Julia, Rick, and Lauren go to the challenge site … but just to watch, as it will be the Edge of Extinction players participating here. It’s quite a huge game setup, with eleven lanes!

When the challenge gets to the final table maze, three players have a big lead over the other eight, and they’re arguably the three most athletic: Joe, Chris, and Aurora. And the winner is Chris, who was the third person voted out of the game this season. After 27 nights at the Edge of Extinction, he’s back.

As for the other would-be returnees, Aubry is in tears and all the others are at least on the verge. Jeff Probst interviews each in turn. At least they are heading to the jury’s “Ponderosa” quarters, not back to the Edge of Extinction anymore.

Back at camp, introductions are in order as Chris hadn’t even met Gavin, Victoria, or Julie! Chris presents himself in a very low-key manner as if he’s just glad to be there, but he notes that he can at least offer information. Everyone worries about how Chris will affect the game, especially Rick who engineered his original ouster! As he puts it to us viewers, “here’s my buddy … who I betrayed.” But Chris tells Rick he’s with him.

You might recall I was aghast back when Kelley was voted out and instantly blurted out to everyone at Edge of Extinction that Lauren had an idol. Well, Chris sits down with Lauren at the first opportunity to deliver what he says is a direct message from Kelley. Supposedly, La Wentworth said: “Lauren has to play her idol correctly for herself or for someone else to have a big enough move [to win the game].” We never hear confirmation whether Kelley actually said this. Lauren tells Chris she could play her idol to protect him, but the key is that he can’t reveal she has it or others could strategize against it.

The immunity challenge ends in a sort of vertical jigsaw puzzle that Julie is way ahead of everyone in putting together. But just as she goes to put in the last piece she panics a bit, and the whole thing is in danger of falling apart. Chris coaches her about how to finish it, which she does to win immunity. And Rick is understandably miffed at Chris’s assistance.

In addition to winning immunity, Julie gets to go on a reward, and she chooses Chris and Lauren to go with her. Once on the reward, they agree the vote will have to be for Rick, but whom should they go after in case Rick plays the idol that he showed everyone at the last Tribal Council? Chris says that the jury’s favorite players still in the game are Rick and Victoria. Why Victoria more than Gavin or Julia who came from the same tribe? Probably because Victoria never took the lead on voting anybody out so nobody has an axe to grind with her.

Back at camp, Victoria and Gavin talk, and the person they want to take out is Chris.

When Chris comes back from the reward, he talks to Rick and says, “If it’s not me … I will fight and die for Rick Devens.” Then Rick asks what Chris got in his bag today. He suspects there was something since when Rick himself came back from Edge of Extinction he received a surprise in his bag. And sure enough, we are then shown a flashback to earlier in the day as Chris finds something in his bag, it’s the same two-part idol Rick got earlier in the season. He has to give half to someone and he chooses Rick, which seems like a very odd choice.

Then Chris tells us there’s only one way for him to ensure he’s safe in the next vote, namely … to get Lauren to play her idol for him? What the heck? We’ve barely seen Chris this season, and all of a sudden he has transformed into Boston Rob! And when he talks to Lauren she says that she is voting for Rick, but if Rick gets up to play his idol she will play her idol for Chris. Again, what the heck? Or rather why the heck?

At Tribal Council, Chris gets to relight his torch and for the first time this season we see freshly showered jury members rather than the ragtag bunch who have been living on a desolate beach. As once again everyone discusses how Rick is the target, Rick gets choked up, or at least pretends he is getting choked up.

When it’s time to play idols, Rick does indeed play his (for himself of course). Is Lauren going to keep her promise? She looks very pained, than she does reach into her bag and go up to Probst saying she has had this idol since Day 2 … and she’s going to play it for Chris!

The votes are read. Three for Rick which don’t count. One for Chris which doesn’t count. And two for Victoria which knock her out of the game.

So why was it important for Lauren to keep Chris around? We are never told this. At any rate, as Lauren immediately says herself, she “Didn’t even have to play it.”

On Night 36, Rick gets up to look for an idol since presumably one has been put back in the game, and he says everyone thinks this will be near camp. But first, he whips out two fake idols that he tells us he made six days ago (and we see a flashback to him doing so). He adds the real notes from his prior idols, plants them,  and starts searching, but others have gotten up too and they shadow him. In no time (at least for us viewers), he finds one and the other players see him find it.

This is not good. Too many idols have been out there this season, or at least they have been too easy to find.

Once he has his idol, Rick quickly gives Chris the half-idol from the day before so Chris now has a full-fledged idol. I still don’t really get why Chris cast his lot with Rick earlier.

Lauren tells Julie “I am so, so stupid” for using her idol on Chris. The women’s consolation is that since two idols were just played the prior night, perhaps that means two were put back in the game.

Then Julie finds an idol, which Rick says must be his fake. Is he right? And then Lauren finds an idol clue … that says an idol is in a tree above the shelter. Well, we know for sure that’s a fake since we saw Rick get that exact clue a couple of episodes ago. Rick watches her “find” the idol and gets a good chuckle. And then Lauren earnestly tells the camera, “It’s as if the Survivor gods granted me, ‘You know Lauren, you were an idiot last night, let’s try again this night.'” Ouch.

Well, one result of all this is that Gavin really needs to win immunity, as the only person with no idol, real or fake!

We see an elaborate platform high above the water. It’s immunity challenge time for the final five of Rick, Chris, Gavin, Julie, and Lauren. It comes down to the puzzle and Rick squeaks out the win over Gavin — though when we see Gavin’s board we see the margin of victory wasn’t as narrow as Probst would have had us believe.

Did this seal the game for Rick? Pretty close, it seems. The only way I could see him losing at this point is if he doesn’t win the next immunity, has to go to the fire-making challenge, and loses that. If he gets to the finals it’s a blowout win.

Rick is still amused by his successful idol fakes, noting that everyone in the game now feels safe at the vote except Gavin. So what will Rick do with his immunity idol? This is the last Tribal Council at which an idol can be played, and Rick doesn’t need it since he’s wearing the immunity necklace. Gavin approaches Rick and asks if he’d consider giving him the idol. Rick says his price is steep: a guarantee that he wouldn’t be sent to the firemaking challenge if Gavin wins the next immunity. Gavin makes the promise, though he tells us viewers he reserves the right to welch on the deal.

Gavin talks to Lauren and Julie about whom to vote for. They figure Rick wouldn’t possibly give his idol to Chris since Rick doesn’t want to face Chris in fire-making. So they resolve to vote for Chris, not knowing about his secret idol. Not to belabor the point, but it makes even less sense now that Lauren used her idol on Chris last Tribal Council since she’s now trying to get him out!

Speaking of Lauren, upon reflection she finds it suspicious that three idols were found all at once, and realizes hers might be fake. Lauren tells Chris the two of them should take out Julie — she has the inside track on a final spot as the most obvious “goat” so that’s one fewer spot for everyone else. And Chris points out that if it comes down to a fire-making challenge he would have a chance to beat Rick, whereas Julie hasn’t made a fire all season.

Meanwhile, Rick and Chris decide to vote Lauren (or do they?) and Rick thinks it’s hilarious that all five players are going to Tribal Council thinking they’re safe.

At Tribal Council we see the jury come in, and Eric is wearing a necktie! That has to be a first in the history of Survivor juries. After the vote, Probst notes this is the last time this season that an idol can be used. Julie gives him her idol and Probst declares it a fake. Lauren does the same, with the same result. And then Rick plays his real idol for Gavin as promised. Chris exclaims, “Dude, are you serious man?” presumably for show. And then he plays his own idol.

Three of the votes are for Chris and do not count, and the other two are for Lauren, who is now out.

At this juncture I wrote in my notes “She was so dumb to use idol” (meaning Lauren) and also noted that Gavin has to win the next challenge and also go back on his promise to Rick. Otherwise, the season is a wrap, game set and match to Rick. Will the final tribal council even be worth watching?

In most recent seasons, the final challenge has been some variation of “stack blocks on a wobbly platform,” which I think the producers like so much because someone about to win the game can suddenly lose. There are several contenders in this one, including Julie, but surprisingly challenge ace Rick puts in a bumbling performance. After Julie’s tower falls, Chris seems to have the inside track, and there’s a great shot of his tower from a low angle — the thing is rocking all over the place. Chris completes his stack, but now he needs to walk backwards a few steps without everything falling. One millimeter of movement looks like it would be enough. He inches back until one of his feet is over the line. He looks down to see where he needs to put his other foot — is that a critical error? But no, he makes the move, his stack holds steady, and he wins! His first immunity could not have come at a better time.

Now Chris has a decision to make, but he would be a fool to take anyone but Julie to the finals. Rick still does make a pitch, namely that if Rick had withheld his half of the idol, Chris would be out of the game right now. But Chris doesn’t beat around the bush, he tells Rick he’s going to have to make fire. As Chris tells the camera, “I’m not going to be the stupidest Survivor ever.” Gavin, to his credit, tells Chris that Julie would not have a shot to beat Rick at fire-making, so Chris should send Gavin to go against Rick.

At Tribal Council, Julie announces that she’s ready to take on the challenge of fire-making. Good for her! And Gavin says he wants to earn his way to the final three so Chris should not pick him to be immune. Rick, ever the quipster, jokes that since these two obviously want to make fire, it should be an easy decision for Chris to have them face each other!

Then Chris says he has given it a lot of thought … and his decision is to give his immunity to Julie and participate himself in the fire challenge against Rick! Wow, I did not see that coming. It is a bold move but a genius move, and now the stakes are really high for the fire-making.

An odd twist: it’s really windy, so the challenge can’t be held in front of the jury as per usual, but will be held upstairs in the voting confessional! The jury watches the three men go up the stairs and Probst assures them “I’ll keep you all posted.” The scene in the confessional is a bit odd since it has a “studio-lit” look so unlike the rest of the show.

The challenge starts. Chris looks like he has a system ready to go, but Rick appears to get a flame going a couple of different times. It looks like Chris has a lead, but then Rick seems to draw even and they both have fire going. But Chris pulls away to win! Rick gives him a gracious “Good job, bro.”

What an unexpected final three we now have! Gavin, Julie, and Chris! And who will win? I had written Julie off but suddenly she might have a shot.

Tribal Council starts at the two hour mark (i.e. when the “reunion” used to start, or rather when it officially per the schedule still does). I really have no idea who will win.

Juror Aubry says there were social politics at work at the Edge of Extinction and Chris says he did have a social game. Aubry also gives Gavin credit for being one of very few to even pretend to want to work with her.

Chris says getting Lauren to use her idol was his big move of the game. He said he used a sales technique called negative-reverse selling (hmm, I’ll have to study that!).

Half the jury claims to be undecided during Tribal Council. Rick points out that Gavin is the one and only player this season who never had a vote cast against him. Impressive!

At the end of Tribal Council, I’m still not sure who will win. Though I doubt it’s Julie. There are so many darn votes! Yet we are shown none.

When Probst reveals the votes, the first six read out result in a tie between Gavin and Chris. Then before you know it Probst has announced the winner … Chris!

In a possibly unprecedented move, Probst has the producers show every vote, and we see Gavin did get four votes to win: Kelley, Lauren, Aurora, and Rick.

After the usual reunion chatter, we see that Season 39 will feature Boston Rob and Sandra as mentors, complete with huge statues of their heads on the beach!

Interesting note about Chris: every season there’s a good-looking 20something athletic white guy whom everyone perceives as a huge threat, yet this type never seems to actually win the game or even come close! Depending on your definition of this archetype, the last one to do so was Aras in Exile Island, and that was 16 seasons ago!

And I do think Chris deserved to win. Putting himself in the fire challenge goes down as one of the boldest moves of all time, and really it was his only chance to win the game — if Rick had won against anyone he would have also won the game, and if Gavin had made fire to beat Rick, that would have cemented Gavin as the most deserving winner.

But not only did Chris make that move and pull it off, he had the Lauren move to his credit, plus he won the final immunity, plus he won a challenge against a huge field to get himself back in the game. Rick probably would have been a more deserving winner, but it would have been  boring because of the inevitability of it.

I’ll be back in a while with final thoughts on the season.









“I can rest on Day 40.” Survivor: Edge of Extinction May 8, 2019 recap

8 May

Night 31: Rick tells everyone that the idol he just played came from an unknown benefactor at the Edge of Extinction. That’s not true, but he wants them to think no replacement idol has been put into the game so they won’t look for one.

Lauren tells everyone she thinks Rick is lying, and she tries to trick him into admitting it but he won’t. We see Rick look all over the place, and lo and behold he finds an idol (conspiracy theorists would say, how convenient that the only “big character” left finds an idol). “I am gonna win this game … I am working harder than everybody else,” he tells us.

The reward challenge has an interesting first phase — you need to toss a ball into an almost-horizontal chute on top of a structure, then have to run through the structure very quickly to catch the ball on the other end of the chute. Problem is, the structure has lots of horizontal bars that are easy to trip on. So the result is that players can only make it if they can catch the ball while falling or catch it over their shoulders. A cool visual.

Gavin wins the challenge and chooses Victoria and Aurora to go with him. On the reward, they agree Rick should be voted out, but what if he wins immunity? They say Julie, but it’s clear Aurora doesn’t like that idea.

We go to the Edge of Extinction where the players are given letters … from themselves! Apparently each was told to write one before the game. A cheap way to try and shoehorn an emotional moment in there. We find out that Wardog’s handwriting is unintelligible, while David’s looks like the lettering from an R. Crumb underground comic.

Rick says “I can rest on Day 40,” and he decides to pretend to search for an idol just so the others waste energy shadowing him. When Gavin looks away from him for just a moment, he makes a break for it, Woo-style.

Rick tells us “I love making them paranoid ’cause it makes them mentally and emotionally exhausted.” Wasn’t that a Russell Hantz line?

The immunity challenge has a funny moment as Jeff Probst does his usual narration — Victoria reminds him “Jeff, I’m playing!” More importantly, Rick wins immunity.

That means it looks like a Julie vote, but Rick wants to avoid that since Julie is the only person who has given the slightest indication she might work with him (never mind that he just denounced her at the end of the prior episode!). Rick and Julie decide to vote Aurora and hope the others will turn on her. Lauren is for it because she sees a potential ally in Julie, but Victoria is against it, and Gavin doesn’t want to go against Victoria’s wishes.

At Tribal Council Rick announces he is going to play an idol for Julie, and he takes it out. Everyone else says how worried they are. Story-minded Jeff Probst goes on a tangent on how being on Edge of Extinction led to character development on Rick’s part. It sure looks like they want to do everything possible to portray Rick as the season’s big hero here!

The votes are cast, and when Probst asks about idols, Rick predictably does nothing. Yet surprisingly, the bluff worked. All the votes but one are for Aurora, who now heads to the edge of extinction.

Next week is the finale, so predictions are in order. It would seem that Rick is an absolute lock to win if he makes the finals, which he has a great chance to do since he still has an idol. If he gets knocked out things get more interesting.

Now the big question: could the person who returns from Edge of Extinction win the game? If it’s Reem, Chris, Aubry, Joe, Eric, Julia, or Aurora I’m going to say no. If it’s David, Kelley, Wardog, or Ron, I would give them a slight chance if Rick is not there at the finals and if they also do something  great after they get back, like winning the firemaking challenge.

Contenders: 1. Rick, 2. Lauren, 3. Gavin

No chance: Victoria, Julie

Edge of Extinction residents: Reem, Chris, Aubry, Joe, Eric, Julia, David, Kelley, Wardog, Ron, Aurora

Idol tally: Lauren and Rick have idols.

“Ron and Julie, you are villains!” Survivor: Edge of Extinction May 1, 2019 recap

1 May

A quick appearance of the season’s logo appears in lieu of a “previously on Survivor” recap, and we’re off.

Rick starts the episode by noting that Ron has now lied to him twice and proceeded to vote out Rick’s ally each time. But Ron wants to talk, and he gives Rick the advantage menu that Ron found back in the first few minutes of the first episode. It has long since lost its power, but Ron knows Rick doesn’t know that. This could lull Rick into a false sense of security and then Ron can vote him out.

It’s time for a reward challenge, and guess what, the players’ loved ones will be participating. Ron and his boyfriend win, and Ron chooses Julie and her husband and Gavin and his wife to join the reward. By the way, we find out Gavin got married immediately before the season and played the game in lieu of a honeymoon!

As for Ron, he tells us “I’m in charge of this game.”  Anytime someone says that it’s usually a sign that person is about to be voted out, especially if he is featured heavily in the episode … which Ron has been!

Rick goes away, presumably looking for an idol, and comes back just in time to catch Aurora red-handed looking through his bag, which she does not apologize for. Later, Rick continues to look, and finds an idol clue … that says the idol is at camp, hanging above the shelter! And to Rick’s dismay when he gets back, it’s way above the shelter — 15 feet up according to him. He gazes up at it, but there is always someone at camp at all times, so when could he try and get it?

He decides that his only chance will be in the dead of night. He will just climb the tree that reaches across camp and hope nobody wakes up. And this isn’t someone like Ozzy who can shimmy up trees effortlessly, but the somewhat portly Rick! First he gets his belt caught on something, without hands free to unhook it. Then the wood starts creaking! But he does somehow manage to make it to the right spot, and more amazingly still, does it without waking anyone up. The idol is his.

Day 31 brings the immunity challenge, and I guess there’s no time to waste showing us Rick handing back the immunity necklace, as we jump immediately to Probst announcing that immunity is back up for grabs. The challenge is one we’ve seen before — brace oneself between two walls with only tiny footholds for the feet. It comes down to Lauren and Gavin, and Gavin wins.

Rick is the obvious target to be voted out. But Ron and Julie tell Rick the vote will be for Aurora. This is their insurance in case Rick has an idol or advantage (a valid one, that is) — if every player but one votes Rick and their votes don’t count, Rick’s one vote for Aurora would send her home, so Ron and Julie would be in good shape either way.

For possibly the first time this season, we see Lauren and Victoria have a conversation. They also consider the possibility Rick will play an idol, but in that scenario Victoria wants to get Ron out (she hasn’t forgotten that he didn’t choose her for the reward). And they want Aurora to join the plan. When Aurora hears about it she tells them about her extra vote, and this is the last week it can be played. She wants to give it to Gavin, which seems insane, but her reasoning is: if there’s a tie and one of the people in the tie is Aurora, Aurora would not participate in the re-vote and therefore she wouldn’t have one vote in that round, never mind two. But Gavin would definitely be part of any re-vote since he has immunity. Though of course, Gavin could potentially double-cross Aurora.

At Tribal Council people wonder aloud if Rick has an idol. He announces “I can end the speculation right now … but I won’t.” After the vote, Probst asks about idols and Rick hands over the advantage menu. Probst announces “Unfortunately this advantage expired on Day Nine.”

But Rick is ready for this eventuality. Oh, is he ever! He exclaims, “Ron and Julie, you are villains! I was already goin’ home, did you just want to make me look stupid? So my kids think I’m an idiot? Except … you’ve proven time and time again that you’re untrustworthy and disloyal, and Julie’s proven time and time again that she loves lying to peoples’ faces. So I would like to play this hidden immunity idol for myself … You guys are gems.”

The jury eats all this up to say the least. And not just them. I haven’t particularly been a fan of Rick up to now, but suddenly I’m cheering for him.

Probst confirms that this idol is valid, and four votes are read, all for Rick, none of which count. There’s one Aurora vote. Then two votes for Ron, who is stunned. Rick notes “Peace, bro” as a third Ron vote is read, sending Ron to the Edge of Extinction.

Contenders: 1. Lauren, 2. Rick, 3. Gavin

No chance: Aurora, Victoria, Julie

Edge of Extinction residents: Reem, Chris, Aubry, Joe, Eric, Julia, David, Kelley, Wardog, Ron

Idol tally: Lauren has an idol.

“Smell you later.” Survivor: Edge of Extinction April 24, 2019 recap

24 Apr

It is Night 27, and we’re down to the final eight. Well, sort of, since someone will be back from the Edge of Extinction as well.

Gavin was left out of the last vote and is annoyed at how Wardog talks to him now, so Wardog is now Public Enemy Number One in his eyes. In other news, Ron tells Julie about Aurora’s extra vote, which Ron still has in his possession.

Later, in daylight, Rick sits with Wardog and Ron and says none of the women will want to take any of them to the end. Wardog notes “We gotta take the goats out,” while Ron tells us he can either align with “the threats or the goats.”

Guess what’s back: the reward challenge! And this one involves diving underwater and pulling oneself back along under the platform one just crossed. I remember Boston Rob doing this challenge in a season years ago. It ends with a ring toss, and Gavin chooses to toss “granny-style.” Not a good decision, as his group loses.

We spend a bit of time at the Edge of Extinction, long enough at least to hear Reem accuse Kelley of killing her Survivor dream … though in reality it’s Reem who was her own worst enemy. Alas, watching this segment brings me to a realization, namely that all of a sudden there is a better group of characters at Edge of Extinction than in the actual game.

Proving my point, we cut to Victoria, Aurora, and Julie (zzzzzz), who talk to Gavin about voting out Rick, whom they consider the person the current jury members would most want to vote for.

Ron gives Aurora her extra vote back, though he tells us that he could still blindside her if needed. And we see some petty squabbles between the two of them around camp. Aurora says of her whole group, “We are literally (sic) dating each other when all we want to do is break up,” and Ron tells us that the prize for spending 39 days with Aurora should not be $1 million but $2 million.

Lauren and Julie are on the reward (a mud bath) with Wardog and Rick, and the two of them decide they want to vote out … either Wardog or Rick. The women also make an alliance with one another. Lauren thinks Rick is the most dangerous player in the game, which is a popular opinion all of a sudden.

But then Rick wins the immunity challenge! Which means players’ thoughts turn to Wardog as the second-biggest threat. Wardog’s pitch is that Aurora should be voted out, and he tells Ron that without Wardog in the game, Ron is who everyone would be gunning for.

Lauren favors voting out Aurora, not Wardog, and as for Aurora, she says “Ron is the one that’s been playing both sides and he’s done nothing but lie to me in this game.”

At Tribal Council, everyone seems quick to claim credit for voting various people out, and Jeff Probst notes “people are working the jury.” By the way, we see almost as many shots of the jury as the players, with Kelley hamming it up, though less so than Aubry in the prior episode.

It’s time to vote, and as Gavin shows his Wardog vote he says “Smell you later.” Indeed, the votes are all for Wardog except two for Aurora (by Wardog and Rick). Wardog says before he leaves, “Y’all made the right decision.”

Contenders: 1. Lauren, 2. Ron, 3. Rick, 4. Gavin

No chance: Aurora, Victoria, Julie

Edge of Extinction residents: Reem, Chris, Aubry, Joe, Eric, Julia, David, Kelley, Wardog

Idol tally: Lauren has an idol. Aurora has an extra vote (that can only be used until the round of seven, i.e. next week at the latest).

“I’m endangered but I’m not extinct.” Survivor: Edge of Extinction April 17, 2019 recap

17 Apr

Night 23: Everyone seems to be blaming Aurora for the last Tribal Council having been stirred up.

Wardog makes a pitch to Ron — what about Wardog, Lauren, and Kelley joining Ron, Julie, and Gavin? And then furthermore how about the six of them voting Aurora out?

And then we go right to an immunity challenge. It’s a tough one in which each player has to crouch down with two bars on his shoulders. If he straightens up too much or crouches down too low, he’s out.  And Jeff Probst livens things up by offering pizza to anyone who cares to pass up the chance at immunity.

Surprisingly, four players take Probst up on the offer.: Lauren, Victoria, Kelley, and Victoria. I’m surprised by all except Victoria, as I can’t imagine they feel particularly safe.

We’ve barely started the challenge when Wardog has a big butterfly land on his ear. Whether for that reason or some other, he is knocked out. Wardog looks like he’s in shape, but he has been a lousy challenge competitor!

Only three players even make it ten minutes, and soon it’s over and Aurora has won for the second time. And now she obviously can’t be the target of the vote. The alliance of six mentioned above includes everyone but Aurora, Rick, David, and Victoria. The six talk about voting out David.

Meanwhile, David wants to target Wardog. It quickly becomes apparent that Julie and Ron will be the decisive votes. And off we go to Tribal Council … at minute 17 of the episode! Is Survivor a half-hour show now, or what?

I’ll cut to the chase: David is voted for by everyone but himself and Rick, so he’s out. And then we see David at the Edge of Extinction, with not even a commercial in between!

The players at Edge of Extinction get a cryptic clue, and there’s a neat sequence in which various people tell us how they interpreted it. The one who interprets correctly is David, who gets an advantage he can send to someone in the game. David tells us “I’m endangered but I’m not extinct.”

We go to a hilltop and an immunity challenge. That’s right, there was no reward challenge in between, for the third consecutive time! Which is certainly fine with me if enough interesting things are going on.

Players have what looks like a huge ping pong paddle with five dimples in it, at the end of a stick. One ball needs to be rolled down the stick into each dimple. Rick announces he has received an advantage from David, and Probst tells him that advantage is that Rick only needs to place four balls to win, not five. And Rick quickly gets three, but every time he rolls his fourth onto the paddle it knocks the third one off! But he finally makes it work, and wins immunity.

However, Aurora was close to winning, and so we’re told she is the obvious target for the vote. But then Wardog tells us he wants to target Kelley. Kelley, whom he’s voted in unison with at every single Tribal Council! Wardog has 30-second conversations with Aurora, Victoria, and Rick, giving them his “elevator pitch” if you will. They’re all easy sells, but now he’ll have to sell Ron. And Ron likes the idea but worries his best ally Julie will be furious if Aurora goes home.

Aurora reminds us that she has an extra vote advantage. And very oddly, she then gives it to Ron for, uh, safekeeping. As we know from previous seasons, giving another player any reason to get rid of you can backfire big-time. So I find this move questionable at best.

Back to Tribal Council, where the jury files in and Joe looks like he’s headed for a comic con in a Jack Sparrow costume. The best part of the session is when Probst notes that they’re on day 27 and yet just one idol and one advantage have been played, both by Rick. Kelley looks really nervous the whole time. Is she going to play her idol?

The answer is no, and Kelley is voted out by a vote of 5-4. There were four votes for Aurora: Kelley, Lauren, Julie, and — surprisingly — Gavin. I can’t say I understand the latter.

Another thing I don’t understand: Kelley gets to the Edge of Extinction and announces she had an idol when she was voted out, and that Lauren has an idol too. Thanks for nothing Kelley! Given that people at the Edge can influence the game, I’m sure Lauren would not want that information to be given out.

With my #2 and #4 contenders out in one week, my rankings have been shaken up, as you see below.

Contenders: 1. Rick, 2. Lauren, 3. Wardog, 4. Ron, 5. Gavin

No chance: Aurora, Victoria, Julie

Edge of Extinction residents: Reem, Chris, Aubry, Joe, Eric, Julia, David, Kelley

Idol tally: Lauren has an idol. Ron has an extra vote (that he might conceivably give back to Aurora).

“You’re such a passenger, Rick.” Survivor: Edge of Extinction April 10 2019 recap

10 Apr

The “Previously on … Survivor” introduction is back! However it is missing the traditional “eleven are left… who will be voted out tonight?”

On to the show itself. Gavin is forming a new group of six comprised of himself, Julia, Victoria, Kelley, Wardog, and Lauren. And no, I don’t think this is going to be the final six.

As for Rick and his buddy David, who voted for different people in the Tribal Council last episode, Rick says “We’re on separate pages, but still together.” Huh? Moving forward, David suggests they try to build trust with Ron and Julie. But they still need to figure out what they’ll do with the idol they each have half of.

Julie is heard from to say that “Julia has been running the show for a long time.” Which is surprising, especially since at one point I was surprised to find out she was even on the show. In other news, Gavin wants to get David out, while Julia worries about the “power trio” of Kelley, Lauren, and Wardog.

We go to the immunity challenge as for some reason there is no reward challenge this time out. David sees some wooden bows sitting out and recalls doing this challenge in his prior season, unsuccessfully. The challenge involves balancing a ball on the bow-shaped wood while standing on a balance beam. It cones down to Gavin, Julia, and David, and finally Gavin wins.

Back at camp Rick’s pitch to everyone is that Kelley, Lauren, and Wardog have voted together every single vote so far. And that trio talks about voting for Ron. The former Yellow tribe (Kama) wants to target Kelley, and Gavin is annoyed that his David plan is overruled. It also sounds like his group of six from 20-30 minutes ago has already dissolved?

David is worried. Nobody is saying much and “If no one says a word it’s because they’re probably voting you home tonight.” And Rick agrees that David is likely the target.

A group sits at the fire and Julia is giving Kelley the weirdest signs I’ve seen since George Costanza signaled to the Van Buren Boys. If it’s meant to reassure Kelley, it doesn’t. By the way we seem to be at the verge of Tribal Council but this is just the 30-minute mark of the episode! Like David, Kelley worries that no one seems to want to look her in the eye or talk to her.

At Tribal Council, Julie gets emotional and bursts into tears. While that happens Julia reassures Kelley everything is fine. Aurora starts ripping the former blue tribe (Lessu), prompting Julia to mouth to her “you’re spilling the beans.” Then Rick continues to try to stir things up and Julia says “You’re such a passenger, Rick.” (The reference is to a David comment one or two Tribal Councils ago, not noted in this blog at the time,  that every player in the game is either a “pilot” or a “passenger.”

As for Julie, she tells Wardog “I’ll work with you,” and she’s not speaking that softly either. Lots of whispering among individual players ensues, and we start hearing Aurora’s name get mentioned. Then Kelley whispers to Aurora.

Julie has more to say: “There’s too many looks that I caught today that you guys [Kama] didn’t think I caught. I’m out.”

Of course the jury finds all of this extremely entertaining. However, I need to call Aubry out. I love Aubry, but her facial expressions are so over-the-top, it’s a bit too bold of a play for camera time, or GIF immortality, or something.

There are so many conversations and so many names mentioned that David finally just asks Kelley “What was the plan tonight, can you tell me?” She admits that he was the target. Also, we get a reaction shot from Probst who as you can imagine is relishing every second.

And in case anyone didn’t get the message earlier, Julie says “I’m ready to jump ship.” And then she actually jogs over to sit next to Kelley! Now that I’ve never seen on Survivor before.

Finally the votes are cast, and Probst asks about idols. Rick does assemble the two half-idols and play the combined idol for David.

The first vote is for David and does not count. The second is for Kelley. And all the rest are for … Julia!

Why in the world the likes of Gavin and Victoria voted Julia, I have no idea. But it was certainly exciting.

Contenders: 1.  Lauren, 2. David, 3. Gavin, 4. Kelley,  5. Rick, 6. Wardog, 7. Victoria, 8. Ron, 9. Julie

No chance: Aurora

Edge of Extinction residents: Reem, Chris, Aubry, Joe, Eric, Julia

Idol tally: Lauren and Kelley have idols. Aurora has an extra vote.