Despite my predictions in the last “Survivor” review, this week’s episode did not feature the downfall of Jesse. Instead, Sami’s game ended. He played with fire throughout the season, and in this episode, he was burned.
The episode began with Sami attempting to convince everyone that he didn’t vote against Karla. He blamed Gabler, but was unsuccessful. Gabler is trustworthy, so Sami’s lie was transparent. Realizing this, Sami came clean. He had flipped back and forth the entire game, and was largely successful in doing so. However, his cards were now spilled all over the table.
Following this, “Survivor” sent the castaways on an advantage hunt. The note was simple, revealing only that the advantage resided somewhere in the jungle. Madness ensued. Every player ran to the jungle, but no one found it for a couple of hours. Sami and Cassidy both unknowingly walked past the advantage, but Cody ended up finding it. It gave him the power to bet on any one person to win the upcoming immunity challenge. If he chose correctly, he’d win immunity as well. Cody’s pick was Owen.
This episode’s challenge was a “Survivor” classic: “Last Gasp.” The players held onto separate metal grates, with the Fijian tide swelling below them. This challenge is famous because of how psychologically taxing it is. The players have their eyes closed for hours, and are unable to see how close everyone else is to giving up. Amid water flowing over them and into their nose and ears, they have to convince themselves that they can outlast the others. This is only the fourth time “Survivor” has done this challenge, and it may have been the best version. Karla and Owen dueled it out to the end, making it over two and a half hours before the tide began to subside. In a historical “Survivor” first, Jeff called the challenge a draw — they outlasted it. Owen and Karla both won immunity, with Cody winning too.
With only four players still available to be voted out, Sami had work to do to avoid the elimination. He first rebuilt his relationship with Karla by lying. He claimed that Cassidy wanted Karla out, and blamed her for Sami voting against Karla last week. This was all false, but it worked. Karla believed her, and now wanted Cassidy out. She had already told Cassidy about her idol, which only solidified her new plan: switching the vote from Sami to Cassidy.
However, Jesse outplayed Karla. He already wanted to vote Cassidy out to weaken Karla, but he smartly realized that if Karla wanted Cassidy out, she must not value her highly as an ally. He and Cody led the charge to swing the vote back to Sami.
As a huge Sami fan myself, this plan saddened me, but it was the correct strategic decision. Sami is Karla’s closest ally, so this weakened her more than taking out Cassidy would have. He’s also great at starting fires. This is dangerous in new-age “Survivor”, as the final four vote is partly decided by a fire-making competition.
Sami was eliminated, but he’ll likely be invited back for a future “Survivor” season, like promising first time players before him. He realized his faults in the game and pivoted accordingly. This was more self-awareness than most players show. In this episode, Sami explained his failures in his own life when trying to go after what he wanted. . It’s safe to say that Sami did not fail in that regard this season. He’s only 19 years old, so he has plenty of room for improvement next time.
One more episode remains before the finale. The Jesse-Cody duo is running the game, and hold two idols. The last time you can play an idol is when five people remain. If they make it through the next vote, they’re both guaranteed to make the final four. Tune in next week to see if someone wakes up, and takes a shot at this pair of “Survivor” kings.