Survivor Worlds Apart - Episode 9
Livin' On The Edge
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
April 20, 2014

Malcolm wannabe.

Hello, good people, and thanks for joining me again this week as we begin the second half of Survivor Worlds Apart. Two weeks ago we were riding high off of a great idol/alliance saving move by Jenn from the No Collar tribe. What a difference one episode makes, eh? As expected, all Jenn did was buy her alliance three more days. And, as it turns out, they didn't know what to do with those three days. Despite serious talks about a girls' alliance, this one (as they usually do) fizzled as Sierra and Carolyn stayed with their Blue Collar alliance and knocked out Jenn's bestie and model patriot, Hali.

I should probably mention Joe's three-challenge winning streak and how he's saved himself from elimination twice with challenge wins. I should also mention that Joe better keep on winning challenges because his days are numbered on this island, and I'm not sure he has the strategic chops to work a deal to save himself should he not win immunity. Lost in all the Joe stuff is the fact that Mike really NEEDS Joe to stick around. As long as he has Joe as this serious major threat, no one will notice that he's positioning himself to go on a deep run in this game. As soon as Joe leaves, it'll be time to play "it's anyone but Mike."

Tonight's previews are interesting. First off, we see previews of a challenge where people are taking some seriously hard falls on some sort of water obstacle course. Then we see shots and a scene from another "test of wills" challenge, which is suggested to be an immunity challenge. But as they're standing there, Jeff mentions how Joe has won three challenges in a row. So, I'm thinking they're trying to trick us in one way or another. Either the test of wills is the reward and the obstacle course is for immunity, or they took some audio from the reward challenge talking about Joe's three wins in a row. Or, I suppose the Reward challenge could be a team challenge, so it wouldn't count as an individual win or loss for Joe. Also in the previews, my personal favorite this season, Jenn, is not having fun anymore and she is ready to go home. Please, oh please don't quit on us Jenn. That's not who you are, I'm pretty sure of it.

We begin tonight's episode right after Tribal. And what do you know, Dan's berating Shirin. Again. Despite Twitter and Facebook posts suggesting that he's just getting a bad rap, it seems that every single week Dan's being an absolute ass to a woman. I mean, sure, it could just be a coincidence that the camera keeps catching him in King Douche mode, or he could just legitimately have issues with women who have opinions about things. Either way, Shirin tells us that she's not done playing and that she's going to do what she has do to try to get in the game.

Around the fire, Shirin lets Mike know that when he makes it to the end, he definitely has her vote. And who is that chirping in the background? Dan. Letting her know that she WILL be on the jury. I don't understand why this dude feels like he needs to come back from Tribal and kick the other side while he's down, but it's become a pattern now. And with that, you have to think that it's just the type of guy he is. So kudos for that, I guess.

Rodney tells us that he thinks Dan is wrong about the "flippers never win" thing. He says that someone who flips at the right time definitely can win this game. And he plans to be that flipper. He has his sights set on Sierra, Mike and Dan. They think he's Blue Collar all the way, but he doesn’t care about any of them. He has boys at home...he's out there to add zeroes to his bank account. Um, well, I think we all know what he means.

While all this is going on, Jenn's in a tailspin. She says that the girls are *expletive deleted* and that she's kind of stoked to get voted out. Shirin tells us that she completely understands why Jenn is ready to be done, but she's still playing with Jenn, so she really needs her to stay in the game. Being on the serious short side of the numbers and with Jenn mentally checked out, Shirin is desperate to find some way into a new alliance if she wants to have any chance of staying in the game.

I know people have been down on Shirin for most of the season, but the play she makes here is potentially brilliant. Knowing she needs a new alliance but also knowing her place in the game right now, she makes the absolute best possible move by going to Mike and Sierra. She could have tried to reunite with the other White Collars, but they've already shunned her. She could try Will, but he's an island out there and will be the first cut of the power seven alliance. She skips over everyone and goes straight to the guy running the game, Mike. She tells Mike and Sierra that her back is against the wall and she'd like to work with them.

Mike, who always remembers the first rule of Survivor, tells her he'd like to play with her, but he would need to know he can trust her. (Oh yeah, here comes another "vote the way I tell you so I can trust you" deal, you just know it.) Mike tells us that pulling in Shirin absolutely could help him down the road when it's time to get rid of other threats in the game. He asks Shirin who she would want to vote out and once again, Shirin knocks it out of the park. The obvious answer is, of course, Dan...But that's Mike's boy. That ain't happening. Instead she says they should get rid of Mama C, Carolyn. She goes on to tell Mike that Carolyn had Will, Rodney and Tyler in her pocket (whoa, you mean she sniffed out Rodney's super-secret alliance?) and a group of four is a big enough group to change the course of the game.

Mike tells us that he agrees with her. There are only 10 people out there, it's not too hard to see who's with who if you're watching. So he gives her the "we're gonna give you a name to write down as a test" speech. Before we head to break, Shirin tells us that she's at a point where she has to hitch her wagon to someone else right now. But once she proves herself and gets "in," then she has the opportunity to start trying to call the shots and do some damage in this game. As the biggest fan on the island, I'm glad to see Shirin finally playing like she knows something about the game. Everything she did right there was spot on. Will it work for her? Probably not. But she's on the sinking end of a Pagonging with a co-captain who has taken herself out of the game. She's out of options at this point, and of the potential things she could have done, she picked the one with the best chance of working.

We come back from break to a Probst Sighting! Today's reward challenge will see the tribe divided into two teams of five. One at a time, each person will need to race through a set of obstacles. They have to dive into the water, climb up a ladder, slide down a big slide, go over a water top net bridge-y thing, walk a balance beam (with soaking wet feet, I might add) then pull themselves up onto the platform. Once they've all completed the course, they'll use a grappling hook to grab rings out of the water. First team to get all five rings wins reward.

Wanna know what they're playing for? They're playing for a chocolate bar, apparently sponsored by *they ain't paying ME deleted*. It's been a while since there was a product placement THIS blatantly obnoxious. And if that's what it takes to pay the bills and keep the show on, I'm good with that. But it doesn't mean I have to play ball. Anyway, winning tribe will go to a chocolate bar with all kinds of candy, snacks and drinks. The tribes are split by a schoolyard pick 'em, but we don't see that. What we see is that it's Mike, Dan, Sierra, Shirin and Tyler against Joe, Jenn, Rodney, Will and Carolyn.

So, we start off with Mike against Rodney. ( this foreshadowing?) Mike gets a slight lead on Rod, but not much. Rod takes a fall on the balance beam, which allows Mike to make it first. Next up is Will and Dan and it is tubby guys on parade for this one. Dan takes a huge fall down the slide and Will slides down as if he's a dead body. Will takes a big fall on the balance beam and Dan keeps the slight lead for his team.

Carolyn and Tyler are next out and Tyler extends the lead nicely, until he falls off the balance beam which gives Carolyn time to get closer. But Carolyn falls off twice, allowing Tyler to get a pretty big lead for Blue. And that pits Shirin against Jenn and frankly, that's not fair. Shirin has trouble on the balance beam and Jenn makes it look like she lives on this course. She passes Shirin and gets to the platform, sending Joe into the water. By the time Shirin finally gets across the balance beam, Joe has lapped her and gotten out of the water, allowing Red to start getting rings.

Shirin finally makes it and Sierra takes off. Horse rider or whatever, Sierra is no joke in these challenges. She's got game. She makes great time and Blue is going for rings before Red has a chance to get one. Mike gets the first ring, and then Carolyn gets a ring for the other side. Sierra gets #2 for Blue and Jenn gets #2 for Red. Mike takes over on ring toss while Jenn is on tossing duty for Red. Before we know it, Mike has Blue winning 4-3. Joe takes over for Red, but it doesn't matter. Mike is money on this challenge and Blue wins reward! Tyler tackles Mike into the water and the girls jump up and down in the biggest celebration we've seen on this show.

Jeff asks them about it and Mike is just so excited to have chocolate coming his way. If it was possible, Jenn is even more deflated than she was before they got there. She says that only people who've been out there can know how bad this sucks. Meanwhile, Joe is shaking his head, which gets Jeff's attention. He says he just doesn't look at things that way. He says they knew what they signed up for and you can't get every little treat. He's just glad to be out there and he's enjoying himself.

While I like Joe a lot and appreciate him as a player, he's not playing a very smart game. This was a smart move on his part. Put it out there how much he wants to be there and do it in stark contrast to Jenn's "woe is me, I wanna go home" baby fit. He's putting it in everyone's head that he desperately wants to be in this game, while Jenn doesn't. He's appealing to the competitor and fan in all of the other people - those people who sat on their couches when NaOnka and Purple Kelly quit, saying things like, "I'd never quit that game if I got to be on the show. And I'd rather have a threat that wants to play in the game rather than someone who would just quit." Who knows? If Joe doesn't win immunity, maybe this line of talk will help give him one more shot.

We come back from break as the reward winners receive the fruits of their labor. There's more product placement and more gushing over how good everything is. Mike sounds like he's in a commercial right now. Everyone gorges on candy and Shirin tells us that she is the luckiest person in the game right now. She gets to go on this amazing reward and she hopefully has an "in" with Mike now. Considering that during the walk from Tribal last night she was dead woman walking, she actually IS in a better place today. It still might not get her anywhere, but at least she has hope now.

Back at camp, the reward losers are pissed - so pissed that they're gonna have some fried chicken tonight. Joe, still in "save my skin" mode, is gonna cook the chicken and rice and make everyone a nice dinner. Everyone but Jenn, that is. She has an even larger attachment to the chickens then she did when they killed the first one. Rodney is doing his best to not be pissed about missing out on all the rewards, but knowing he has some fried chicken coming is helping him with that. "This would suck less if the people sucked less," Jenn tells us. She goes on to say that even though the chickens have basically become her chickens, no one asked her if they could kill one for dinner. Um, Jenn, I like you a lot, but hungry people on Survivor don't really need to get permission to kill and eat a chicken. She goes on to say that she has nothing left out there "except for despair." Wow, dramatic much?

With his belly full of chicken, we get to see a different side of Rodney - master impressionist. He does a spot on impression of Mike and Tribal Council that has everyone rolling with laughter. If you walked into this in the middle, you'd think this was the team that won reward. Rod then goes into a pretty good Dan impression. Who knew the guy could be likable? Even Jenn is cracking up listening to this. This seems to go on for a long time. Everyone just chilling out and having some good old-fashioned fun at other people's expense. Joe tells us that in watching this, he can tell that Rodney is not 100% on the Mike train and he might just try to do something to exploit that. We head to break with more of Rodney's Mike impression.

We come back from break as tree mail is being read. The clue suggests something about keeping on your toes. Joe tells us that he has no one out there and the pressure is on him to go 4-0 in individual challenges. We see shots of Joe and Shirin doing some exercises that suggest they're trying to strengthen their toes a little bit. Jenn tells us that the more she asks to go home, the more likely they are to keep her, so she plans to do something to make them send her home. Joe joins her on the beach and she tells him if the challenge gets down to the 2 of them that Joe should let her win. She wants to have immunity so she can give it to Joe and Tribal. Her thought here is it would pretty much insure she'd get voted out, which is what she wants. And it would be something to throw off everyone else who thought they finally had a chance to get Joe out. Joe's pretty stoked about having two chances at immunity today and he probably should be. Jenn is no joke in these challenges. You do, however, have to wonder if she'd really hand over the necklace if she won it.

This leads to our second Probst sighting! Today's challenge is a pretty simple one. Each person will stand on a rack on their toes. On their head is a piece of wood. They have to hold the wood against a board with only their head. Once everyone gets set, they'll balance on their toes holding their block. Last person with their block still standing wins immunity. I'd love to know how long it takes them to set up challenges like this. Everyone is a different size and even the slightest miscalculation in how the challenge rig is made can result in a win or loss for someone.

The challenge begins and right off the bat, Joe is shaky. Uh oh. But he gets it under control. Whew! Shortly after he rights himself; Carolyn, Will and Shirin drop out of the challenge. As Joe continues to struggle, Rodney and Dan drop out of the challenge. Joe is stuck in a horrible position, barely holding on to the block. And as he struggles, Sierra drops out...and we're down to four.

But let's face it, all eyes are on Joe. He continues to wobble and after fighting it off the entire challenge, Joe finally loses his balance and becomes vulnerable for the first time since the merge. Jenn, Tyler and Mike are the only ones left at this point, so Joe still has a chance. Mike and Tyler are starting to twitch a little, while Jenn is very still. Mike loses his balance a little and he drops out of the challenge. It's Jenn and Tyler with immunity on the line. After 30 minutes have passed, Jenn and Tyler are still going strong.

Jenn's finally showing signs of struggling as is Tyler. Jenn finally starts to wobble too much to control and she drops out of the challenge. Tyler...wins...immunity! Dan is very excited about this. We can tell because he actually celebrated. As we head to break, Jenn says that it's ridiculous how hard she fought in that challenge so she could get a ticket home. She hasn't given up on doing something that could screw up everyone's game and keep Joe in it. I have no idea what that could be, but stranger things have happened, I guess.

We come back from break to finally play the game we've been waiting three episodes for - "It's anyone but Joe." Joe tells us how much he was rooting for Jenn and how at this point he's got no choice but to fight until the end. Joe talks to Jenn and Shirin and tells them that he has an idol and he plans to use it. Shirin tells us that she's a numbers person and she's been running the numbers and there is a little bit of wiggle room for her. She expects the seven-person Blue alliance to split the vote with four for Joe, three for Jenn. If she can arrange for herself and Joe to vote for Jenn, she can flip the game a little by keeping Joe in it and sending Jenn home. Jenn is actually excited about this. She seems to want two things: to go home and to cause as much of a ruckus as possible doing it. So if she can find a way to get out of the game, the chaos she'll cause is leaving Joe IN the game.

We join Mike as he discusses splitting the vote, as predicted. They decide just as Shirin suggested they would. Mike tells us that he worries about a vote split because all it takes is one person to change their vote and then the goat goes home instead of the threat. He tells us that he wants Shirin to vote for Joe, which would insure this doesn't happen. So Mike heads to Shirin with the plan. He tells her he HAS to trust her and she has to put her vote on Joe. He says that all it takes is Joe to catch wind of this plan and vote Jenn to throw the numbers into a tie. So, essentially, of all the things Shirin has been thinking, Mike was already there. If we weren't thinking it already, it is now incredibly obvious that Mike is a Player, with a capital P.

Shirin really likes her place right now. She wants to send Jenn home and honor her wish to leave the game. But she's trying to figure out if that's the best move for her. Either way, she tells us that she could really rock the vote tonight, if she decides to keep Joe.

So Joe tells us that he does not have an idol, which we already knew. But he does have a plan. He just needs to get some time alone. So, he asks Dan if he wants to go talk, and the two of them leave camp. Mike and Rodney have been determined to never let him be alone, so both of them look a little concerned when he gets up. But since he's with Dan, they stay where they are. So when they get away from camp, Joe makes his plea to Dan. Dan, being a huge fan of the show, is probably the best choice for Joe's pleading his case. His appeal is that he really wants to be there. Jenn doesn't, so he should stay. Dan tells him that there is no way he'll be able to sway all those people to switch their vote.

And with the conversation over, Dan heads back to camp while Joe goes to use the bathroom. As soon as Dan is out of sight, Joe takes off. He goes to a little covered area where he has a stash hidden - pieces of one of the crates and things from his torch. Joe makes jewelry for a living, so he sets his mind to creating an immunity necklace. As Joe gets to work, Dan gets back to camp, sans Joe. Mike is freaked out. So he and Dan take off to see if they can find Joe. Mike says he doesn't want him to find an idol. Um, Mike, don't YOU have the idol that Joe would be looking for? I'm a little confused here as to all of the things Mike is doing as if Joe has or could find an idol that HE'S ALREADY FOUND. I mean, you know Joe doesn't have the idol, so why split votes at all? Why do you care where he is? Unless it's just THAT important to him to keep his idol a secret, I don't get why we have all the spy vs. spy stuff for an idol that is no longer hidden.

Joe finishes his idol right before Mike comes up on him, and Joe makes his pitch. He says he knows they're going to split the vote. Joe tells him that he will vote Jenn tonight but if Mike can guarantee him that the votes will go in his favor, he'll give Mike his hidden idol. Mike tells him he has to have it before Tribal. Joe says that he'll give him the idol tomorrow, after Tribal. And we seem to be at an impasse. Mike tells us that he has the idol that goes with the clue that Joe found, but that Joe could very well have another idol.

What never gets mentioned here is if all Joe cares about is getting through one more vote, then why would he want to trade the idol for said vote? Just play the idol, send Jenn or one of the Blues home and get yourself one vote further. Obviously, from Joe's point of view, he has to make a deal because his idol is fake. But from anyone else's point of view, it makes NO sense for him to try to make a deal like this. Mike doesn't say anything about it, but he HAS to know this, right? Mike does tease us a little bit that if Joe gave him the idol he actually might switch his vote.

As they get to Tribal, we're fortunate enough for Joe to be sitting next to Mike, where he hands over his "idol" and says, "Good luck, buddy." Hali is brought in and it's the first sign of happiness Jenn has shown in a few days. You can tell she's ready to be over on that jury. Jeff starts with Jenn and the immunity challenge. He says he can't figure out whether or not she's enjoying her time out there. One minute she's having a miserable time and the next she's almost winning a test of wills immunity. She says that yes, it is possible to want to be there and not want to be there at the same time. She says she keeps going back and forth. There are things she really likes and things she really doesn't. She even points out that learning how funny Rodney is was something that affected her.

Jenn says she wanted to win immunity today for a lot of reasons, including that it would be really cool to have that necklace. So Jeff asks her what she would do with the necklace. For all the talk about not knowing the dynamic when he gets to Tribal, it strikes me as odd that he would ask this question right now. The obvious answer would be, "have immunity at Tribal." Yet, he asks it now as if he knows that's NOT the answer. Anyway, she says that she would give it to Joe, just to see the look on everyone else's face. Jeff doesn't get it. She tells him that everyone is voting for Joe and that as soon as he lost immunity, he'd be gone. Jenn loves the idea of messing with everyone by giving Joe immunity.

Jeff counters with, "Well, then, why don't you just do the greatest No Collar move of all and just get up and walk out?" She says, "That's quitting. I don't quit." He asks Joe how it felt to be that close to immunity. He says he was rooting for Jenn all the way. Of course he was. Joe takes this time to make his plea to everyone. He tells them all how much he loves this game and how he wants to be there. He tells them how long he's waited to get on this show and that Jenn has already quit: mentally, strategically and physically, and it really bums him out that she'll be carried along now because she'd be a better person to sit next to at the end, while he'll go home despite wanting to be in the game so bad. He says that he'd have to win nine immunity challenges (actually, only seven, big guy) but that he'd certainly make it a lot more fun.

Jeff asks Shirin what she thinks of this as a massive fan of the show. She says that Jenn doesn't want to be there, and she totally understands why. She says that she has been able to strategize with Jenn, and for that reason, it's better for her if Joe goes and Jenn stays. But, now that Jenn has basically checked out of the game, it makes her someone that people might look to keep around instead of Shirin.

Jeff gets ready to call for the vote, but Mike interrupts him. He wants Jeff to verify whether or not the necklace Joe gave him is actually a hidden idol. Jeff says that he cannot verify unless Mike wants to play it. Mike says that it's a determining factor on whether someone goes home or stays tonight. Jeff has nothing for him on that. And now, it IS time to vote. We see Tyler's vote for Jenn, "I have no idea what's going on." We see Rodney's vote for Joe, "I have no idea what's going to happen tonight." We see Joe's vote for Jenn saying that he hopes his idol play gets him through one more vote.

Jeff will tally and read the votes. But if anyone wants to play an idol... and Mike does play the idol. For Will? Um, okay. Anyway, Jeff confirms that a hidden immunity idol, so any votes for Will will count. First vote: Jenn. Second vote: Joe. Jenn. Joe. Dan. Jenn. Joe. Jenn. Joe. And we're tied 4-4. One vote left. Ninth person voted out and the second member of our jury: Joe. I could be wrong, but I don't think I remember seeing someone as visibly crushed to be voted out of the game. Not pissed. Not bitter, but crushed. Joe wanted to play this game so bad. He was just too damn likable and too much of a challenge threat. He absolutely had to go, but I sure didn't want to see it.

Next time on Survivor: let's see; whose turn is it to berate Shirin next week? Will? Okay, why not. Looks like Will's gonna blow up on Shirin next week. Maybe Dan will get a break from being the Tribe douche. And Mike looks like he could blow up the game as we see a scene of him suggesting that Rodney flipped, which of course gets Rodney going, bro. So, we have Shirin v. Will (which looks very one sided) and Mike v. Rodney II. Looks like this little side deal Mike and Shirin have going on might actually have some merit to it. No matter, I can't wait to see how this plays out. Let me know what you think, Merica. Hit me up on the Tweet box @vannestjc and give me your thoughts. Until next week, look out for Ben's Power Rankings and take care!