Spoiler alert! Proceed with extreme caution if you have not yet watched Episode 8 of “Survivor” Season 41
After last week’s theatrical tribal council – which saw the playing of idols (real and fake), pointing of fingers and the drawing of a clean line between the majority alliance and the bottom three – Episode 8 should have been the calm after the storm on the latest season of “Survivor.” Xander, Evvie and Tiffany emerged with even larger targets on their backs, and the core-four alliance of Shan, Liana, Deshawn and Danny appeared airtight.
Yet tribal council dissolved into chaos once again just before the vote – all thanks to one person who, until this point, had barely 3 minutes of total screen time to her name.
Without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s episode and how each player measured up.
“Relationship Recovery Tour” Goes Awry
Coming out of last episode’s tribal council, Evvie, Xander and Tiffany go their separate ways for what Evvie calls a “relationship recovery tour.” Deshawn, who they pitted against Sydney at the last vote, wasn’t having any of it.
As if there weren’t enough advantages to track, Jeff plants another one under a bench at the reward challenge. Xander, wasting no opportunities to curry favor with his tribemates, offers to sit out in Erika’s place after she randomly draws a rock.
The other 10 players are randomly divided into two teams. One by one, they must scale an incline, jump off a platform, dive for puzzle pieces, sail to another platform and assemble the puzzle… all for a measly reward of grilled cheese.
Props to the show’s editors for milking the suspense with Xander – he seems to look everywhere but at the advantage hidden right under his leg. “A missed opportunity,” Jeff muses.
Back at camp, Shan and Liana start to break down after losing the reward for a second time. Naseer cuts some papayas for them – and Ricard has the audacity to help himself to a piece after his giant lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches.
Astonishingly, Ricard cannot believe he’s expected to not eat more after winning reward. He doesn’t even pretend to be sorry, until he realizes that Shan – the game’s most dangerous player – is on the verge of a rage blackout.
Perhaps that’s why he volunteers along with Shan, Xander and Naseer to sit out of the immunity challenge in exchange for a three-day supply of rice for the entire tribe. Their reasons for sitting out are pretty transparent: Shan and Naseer are protected by multiple allies and advantages. Considering that Xander is on the outs, it’s a risky move, but one that is consistent with his game play, which has been one well-calculated gamble after the other.
Evvie narrowly defeats Heather in a classic block-balancing challenge. With her win, the majority alliance’s plan collapses and, as Xander puts it, everyone’s “betraydar” goes up.
At first, a Xander-Tiffany split seems all but certain, but things get complicated when Deshawn throws Naseer’s name into the mix. Shan reluctantly approves after Deshawn accuses her of being a bad listener, but this blows up in her face when Naseer catches wind of the new plan. The cycle then repeats with Heather. Shan is shocked and angry when other people hold her accountable for the decisions that she masterminded.
A rather diplomatic (i.e. bland) tribal council follows. Everyone is ready to vote – but wait, someone has an objection! In the episode’s most suprising twist, that someone is Heather. Before now, her only memorable contribution to the season was when she cried after screwing up a challenge. What a shock to see her stir the pot like this. Several minutes of whispery scheming ensue, leaving Queen Shan shook to the bone.
When the dust settles, Heather and Xander receive 2 votes each, and Naseer receives one. The rest go to Tiffany, who becomes the first member of the jury.
Winners, Losers & Snoozers
Evvie was this week’s champion for obvious reasons – winning immunity was her only chance at surviving tribal council, and she pulled it off. Bonus points for winning the reward challenge by remembering the puzzle from an old season. Xander also deserves major props for hanging on at the bottom, and keeping his cool when Ricard practically begged him to play his idol.
Congratulations are also in order for Heather, who finally did something!! That being said, the bar was on the floor, and it’s up to her to raise it. Deshawn is a winner for standing up to Shan not once, but twice. Whether or not he’s strong enough to stab her in the back is the question.
Unsurprisingly, Erika and Danny are this week’s snoozers. Erika talked a big game last episode but has yet to make a move, while Danny is sitting pretty on Shan’s court.
There were five losers this week, starting with Tiffany. Part of me is disappointed that we didn’t get to see her play longer, but when push came to shove, she did little to secure her spot beyond bad-mouthing her former alliance. Ricard’s alliance with Shan is a ticking time bomb, and his papaya faux pas did little to prolong it. Naseer finally seemed to realize he’s not part of the core-four alliance, while Liana failed to make headway with her alienated former tribemates.
Other than Tiffany, Shan is this week’s biggest loser. Cracks began to show not only in her alliances with Deshawn and others, but in her composure. If she continues down this path, it’s only a matter of time before the tide turns against her. For the first time all season, her road to the final 3 doesn’t seem so clear-cut.
Quote of the Week
“I’m 47 years old, feed me already.” – Tiffany, on losing her second reward challenge in a row
“Survivor” airs weekly on CBS at 8 p.m. and streams on Paramount+ and fuboTV.