On April 20, “Survivor” released its seventh episode of the season. As a longtime fan, I didn’t find the results to be shocking, but plenty of interesting plot points held my attention along the way.
As per usual, this episode began with the fallout from the previous vote. A few contestants were on the wrong side of the vote, and wanted to know why they weren’t part of the final plan. Chanelle and Romeo were understandably frustrated, and aggressively questioned Hai and Drea. Maryanne took a different approach. When Lindsay explained what had happened during the vote to her, Maryanne pretended to be OK with it, while understanding it meant she was on the bottom of Taku. Her route is a better way to foster trust, and is more effective in my opinion. Maryanne has been getting more and more screen time as the season has progressed, and I can’t help but feel like the culmination of her story will be central to how Season 42 plays out. I’m not predicting her to win, but she may end up being the protagonist of this story.
Another possible protagonist is Drea, just based on the ridiculous number of advantages she has accrued. She already shared the 3-way advantage amulet with Hai and Lindsay, which is an extra vote with three of them in the game, a steal-a-vote with two of them in the game, and an idol if only one remains. She also received an extra vote at Shipwheel Island by choosing the risk option. A single extra vote can change the outcome of a Tribal Council, but two together are immensely powerful. She even found her tribe’s immunity idol, and activated it before the merge. In this episode, she found the “Knowledge Is Power” advantage while sitting out of the reward challenge. It allows players to ask anyone else if they have an advantage or idol at Tribal, and to steal their idol if the answer is yes. In all honesty, I really dislike the effect this advantage has on the game. It feels more like something out of a board game than a “Survivor” advantage, and not being able to lie runs counter to everything “Survivor” is about.
It actually turned out well last season, when Liana asked the wrong person (Xander) if he had an idol. However, this only happened because Shan let it slip that the advantage existed: it’s way too powerful when no one knows about it. Thankfully, Tori has already noticed Drea acting suspicious, so she may be onto her scent. Either way, Drea adds an incredibly powerful advantage to the insane bevy she already had. She’s a couple of advantages away from being able to vote out Jeff Probst, so I’m fascinated to see how she utilizes her treasure chest throughout this post-merge endgame.
At that same reward challenge, Jonathan went “beast mode” yet again, winning the challenge basically by himself and earning PB&J sandwiches in the process. At this point, everyone knows how big of a threat Jonathan is, so it makes sense that he is trying to just win everything he can. He tried to do that in the immunity challenge, but lost in a close competition to Tori. Tori has now won the first two individual immunities, and they’ve been vital. She’s been the top name on the chopping block both times, with her win changing things up again this week.
It was made clear early on that the large alliance would not be splitting apart in this episode, so the vote was quickly reduced to the vulnerable outsiders: Chanelle, Maryanne, and Romeo. Mike wanted Chanelle out badly, and went to work on getting that done. She had thrown a vote on him during the Daniel vote-out, in case Daniel had an idol, which destroyed all trust Mike had in Chanelle. I find it kind of funny that he was so mad about this because he voted for Chanelle to go home the week prior, but people tend to conveniently forget things that don’t justify their own narratives. After all, everyone’s the hero of their own story.
Romeo sensed that he was on the outs, and it isn’t hard to see why. Drea, who was previously his closest ally, literally couldn’t look him in the eye while lying to him. It was hilarious to watch, but certainly wasn’t funny from Romeo’s perspective. He started scrambling to improve his position, and voiced his concerns about Drea to Rocksroy and Omar. Of course, they’re both part of the majority alliance, so this only hurt Romeo. Omar used his statements as a reason to target him, and labeled him as paranoid, which Drea had already been saying. This was a good move from Omar, who is doing a great job of playing both sides. Everyone trusts him, and everyone thinks he’s aligned with them.
However, I can’t criticize Romeo too much. He was the decoy boot initially, with the main target being Chanelle. The people in the majority alliance acted like he was crazy for worrying about being targeted, when for all they knew, he was a Chanelle idol away from sitting on the jury. He was in an impossible situation, and trying to better his position only increased the likelihood of him being targeted. It comes back to the inability of large groups to see outside of their own perspectives. They’re the heroes of their stories. Romeo trying to impede their games ultimately reflects negatively on him. Thankfully for him, Mike’s disdain for Chanelle overpowered Romeo’s paranoid label, and Chanelle became the first member of the jury.
Only 10 people remain, with seven of them being part of the majority alliance (Hai, Omar, Rocksroy, Lindsay, Jonathan, Drea, Mike). It’s only a matter of time before they begin to turn on each other. Whether that time will come in the next episode remains to be seen, but the game isn’t as predetermined as it currently seems. For Tori, Maryanne, and Romeo, surviving one more vote could make a world of difference. They’re just trying to stay alive until the game breaks open, and I, personally, can’t wait to see that happen.