Survivor Worlds Apart - Episode 13
My Word is My Bond
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Sherpa
May 18, 2015

Ben Willoughby sure is going to miss that hat.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to the penultimate episode of Survivor Worlds Apart. That's right...we're a week away from the season finale and I don't know about you; but I have NO idea how this season is going to end up.

My boy Mike has been getting a winner's edit from Day 1, but I'm not sure he has enough left in him. Mama C was in a great position last week, but she knocked out her only true ally in Tyler. She has an idol, but that will only get you so far, and then you need some help. At this point, I wouldn't want to sit next to Carolyn at the final tribal, so I can't imagine any of these players will want to either. Sierra is getting the "missing person" edit, and yet, if she sat in the final three with Dan and Will, she could win the game by default.

Oddly enough, the best odds might be with Rodney at this point. While he has been WAY more lucky than good this season, if he can put his thoughts together, he has an argument for winning the game. I think it's a hollow argument, but with the competition that's left, it could be enough to win. I feel pretty confident that neither Dan nor Will has any shot at winning this game. The No Collars and Shirin will not cast a vote for either of those guys and that's the bulk of the jury. So, if you're Dan and Will, at this point, you're just playing for higher prize money and more air time.

To remind you about last week, Mike finally lost immunity but had plans to play his immunity idol. Though both Dan and Tyler were thrown out as possible votes, Mama C and Sierra joined forces with Mike and Tyler was sent packing. They saw him as the biggest threat to win the game, so they made their move. I'm not so sure it was the best thing to do. I'd have gotten rid of Dan. Even though I just said that Dan can't win the game, Dan does have the extra vote. And while he can't use it to win the game, he most definitely could use it to end someone else's game. If I'm Mama C, I'd have thought long and hard about getting rid of that advantage and keeping my closest ally in the game for one or two more votes.

Either way, tonight will be all eyes on Mike as he'll once again be fighting for his game life in the immunity challenge. If he gets it, it'll be a fun afternoon at camp as the alliance decides the next piece to cut. If he doesn't, it'll be much less interesting as we'll watch him scramble to try to get himself one step closer to the end. And with that, let's get to it.

We start the show at camp after the Tribal. Mike is super pumped about playing his idol and finally breaking up the alliance. He's not stupid, though. He knows his back is still firmly planted on the wall. Immunity or an idol is all that can keep him safe and he knows it. The next scene is vintage Dan. He struggles to get the fire lit and as Mike offers to help, Dan tells us all about how bad of a person Mike is and how he's done now that his idol is gone. He tells us how Mike always wants to be the hero and that it's all about him. The rest of Dan's speech sounded like, "Me, me, me, me, me, me, me." But it's all about Mike.

In the foreground, Dan finally gets the fire lit, celebrates and then tells Mike that sometimes other people want a shot. As Dan high fives Carolyn over his fire triumph, she voices over that she doesn't trust Dan at all and that his advantage makes him the next biggest threat after Mike. She plans to keep in good with Mike just in case things go awry with the alliance. That way she'll have another option. FINALLY, someone in this alliance that's using their head for something other than whining and crying. That's EXACTLY what you have to do.

So that same night, Carolyn and Mike are down on the beach and they agree that Dan has to be the one to go next. Then she drops the bomb by telling Mike that Dan's advantage is an extra vote. Mike tells us that he loves him some Carolyn and he really hopes they can work together to get to the end. As they continue to discuss how huge the extra vote is in a six-person game, Carolyn tells us how she has things working on both sides. She adds, though, that if Mike doesn't win immunity, he has to go. And, as much as I'm a Mike fanboy, she's absolutely right.

I really do like the idea of the only two people worthy of winning the game working together, so I hope this late-game alliance pans out. Carolyn and/or Mike (or ever better - both) making the finale is absolutely necessary for this season to have a satisfying conclusion.

We come back from break to a Probst Sighting!! And who doesn't love that? Today's challenge is another obstacle course followed by a puzzle. Today's puzzle is a word puzzle. The reward today is a helicopter tour of the island followed by a surf and turf lunch with wine. Hey Rodney, how does it feel to STILL not have a reward? (Gotta love it when Jeff twists that knife.) He's seeing stars and he's tired of being on the same beach all the time. He suggests that maybe someone will let him go on reward. Naturally, this gets Jeff's attention a little more. So Jeff asks him if it's a sense of entitlement. Since he hasn't gone on reward, does he feel like they owe it to him?

The Whambulance starts back up about his birthday and someone promising to give him their reward. Jeff's response is to say to Mike, "Another big element that seems to be missing in this; the reason it's called a reward is you EARNED it. And it gives you an advantage." Mike says it's hard to see Rodney struggling, but the only thing he can say is, "Win." THANK YOU! If he wants to go so bad, stop being a challenge liability and win a damn challenge. Oh yeah, this reward will be two teams of three. The first team to solve their puzzle (the answer of which is, "A reward with all the fixin's" - that might be important in a minute) wins reward.

So, our teams are Mike, Carolyn and Will against Dan, Sierra and Rodney. You know where this is going right? Mike wins. Carolyn goes on all the rewards and Rodney always loses. Anyway, we'll skip the first half of the challenge because it doesn't matter. Once both teams start working on the puzzle, it takes over an hour before someone even gets close to solving it. Some highlights of the puzzle portion: When collecting pieces, Rodney gets ahead of where he's supposed to be, which causes a slow down on his team... again. As I said, it doesn't matter because no one can figure out the puzzle, but it's just another example of Rodney not only not winning challenges, but actually hurting his team. Anyway, as they agonize over the puzzle, the biggest clue should be the tile that is "N'". I mean, shouldn't that help a little? The first mention-able discussion comes from Sierra. She says, "Fixin'. F-I-X-I-N'“ Dan, Survivor guru that he is, says "No." I need the Probst sound clip from a few weeks ago, "Dan is...wrong." Honestly, it should just play every time Dan opens his mouth.

It's around this time that Jeff gives out the first hint. He tells them to think of the way they talk on Survivor. At the 30 minute mark, Jeff suggests that the puzzle may as well be in a foreign language. We see a shot of "Wax" set up from Mike's tribe. Huh? And on Dan's tribe, we zero in on that ever-popular Survivor word, "Shain't." Really?

Anyway, Jeff tells them to think Survivor. It's been on 30 seasons. "I say the same 200 words over and over and over. I'm in therapy I say the words so often." That should do it, right? Nope. We check in again at the 45 minute mark. Jeff tells them that maybe this is a blue collar phrase and to not worry about grammar. And this inspires Rodney, "A reward that will fix wishin'." Sure, roll with that Hot Rod. This might shock some of you, but that is...wrong!

At the hour mark, Jeff breaks in to let us know this is now the longest word puzzle in the history of the show. He asks them to remember what it is they're playing for, what does it come with? Dan asks Rodney, "What's he saying?" Rodney asks back, "Is he giving us a clue?" Sierra, "I'm not even listening to him." Oh, Sierra! I was so with you suggesting "Fixin'" right out of the gate, and then you go and say that. If you could see me, I'm shaking my head in disgust right now. Carolyn looks at Mike and says, "He's giving us hints." And as Jeff goes on about commercials that will throw in "this and this and this. A complete set, everything you need." And Mama C about jumps out of her skin. She doesn't say it, so we can't know if she got the same "fix wishin'" vibe that Rodney got. But the red team goes nuts and gets to work. And whadaya know, "A reward with all the fixin's". Mike, Carolyn and!

Before they can enjoy their reward, we have to talk about Rodney. Mama C is actually agonizing over this decision. Jeff asks her if she's good to go, she says to wait a second. Jeff breaks it down. What it means to give up a reward. After listening to Jeff, Carolyn decides, "All right, I'm gonna keep it." Boo yah! She should keep it. For many reasons, actually. The first of which being, SHE EARNED IT! The second of which is that she needs the food, protein and rejuvenation too. She's out there to win a million bucks for her family, not hand it over to Rodney's ass. And third, because giving up a reward to someone else never helps you in the game.

Dan's "Flippers never win" credo is bollocks. The fact that no one ever really gains anything from giving up a reward is proven. Time and again. It's almost as guaranteed as the old Car Curse used to be. So, good on ya, Mama C. Enjoy the ride and the dinner and don't feel bad about it one bit. You earned it. You deserve it.

When we come back we join the winning trio on their helicopter ride. They're having a blast, especially as they fly over an active volcano. This is the kind of thing that you just don't get to do. Mike has never been on a helicopter before and is also thrilled that there's a White, Blue and No collar on the reward. Carolyn tells us that this is the best reward yet. She's been on almost all of them, so she would know! As they eat, they talk about how they can actually feel their minds getting sharper.

And Mike throws it out there, "What do you think about...this final three?" Carolyn, remembering the first rule of Survivor, is all over that. She mentions the whole White/Blue/No thing and says she's on board. Will hesitates. So Mike asks him, point blank, "Will, could you entertain a thought of a final three with me and Mama C?" Will completely ignores rule #1 and tells Mike that he's still public enemy #1 and that he's a threat to win immunity all the way out. Um, Will...that's the perfect reason to align with him. Or at least TELL him you're aligned with him. For crying out loud, Survivor is the ultimate game of "if you can't beat him, join him."

And Will, YOU can't beat him. If you lock down a final three with them right now you accomplish SO many things. First, you give yourself another option if things go bad. Second, if Mike really believes he has a final three deal, the chances of him continuing to scramble for everyone else's vote dramatically decrease. It's simple Survivor play. Maybe as important as Dan's simple math that he harps about so much.

Mike does ask Will for one favor. "Please don't let Rodney beat me." Will says that Rodney's even getting on his nerves. Mike starts the conversation about Rodney constantly wanting people to give up their rewards. Mama C chimes in that he keeps trying to guilt her into it. Mike tells us that he's not sure where Carolyn’s head is right now, but if she's not with him, he definitely needs immunity. As they finish up their steaks, we head back to camp to check in with the others.

What do you suppose they're talking about? Did you all know that surf and turf is Rodney's favorite meal ever? No?? Well, it is. And as he talks about this, Sierra tells him she doesn't want to talk about it. Since Sierra won't listen to him, he has no choice but to talk to the only people that can't tell him to shut up and to quit his damn whining. Us! He tells us that he's taking it personal and that after Mike; Mama C is the next to go.

Just a suggestion, Hot Rod, but maybe if you called her Carolyn instead of Caroline, she might give more of a shit what you think. If after 34 days you STILL can't call her by the right name, why should she give you anything? So as Rodney finally shuts up and takes a nap, Dan goes hunting for food and he comes across a couple green melon looking things on the ground. They don't look rotten, but we don't know what they are. So, he brings it back and they cut it up and dig in.

Apparently, they're super sweet and tasty and Rodney is feeling like his old self again. Once he has some melon in him, he's ready to go, bro. And Mike, that redneck, better watch out, bro. Cause Rodney's coming full force, bro. And you don't want that, bro. Have you noticed that the number of "bro's" Rodney uses is directly proportional to how full his belly is? No? Well, that's what you pay me for!

We come back from break to the reading of Tree Mail. Dan lets us know that if Mike wins immunity, the five will have to turn on each other. He's very adamant about not letting Mike win immunity. Speaking of Mike, he's down at the water talking to Sierra. He tells her to look at things. Dan only has a chance against Will and Rodney. And with that in mind, he will NOT be looking to take Carolyn or Sierra to the end. He's suggesting now is the time to strike, especially with the advantage hanging out there. She tells us that Mike has a great point. Dan's advantage could be used to send her home. However, it could also be used to help her get further in the game. She says that no matter what, if Mike loses the challenge today, he's going home. No one wants to sit next to him at the final tribal. Well, she's right about that.

Oh lookie, another Probst Sighting!! Today's challenge is simple to explain, less simple to complete. Each person will use a grappling hook to grab three bags. Inside each bag is a ball. Once they have all three balls, they'll use a ball to complete an octagonal table maze. First person to get one ball to the center of the table maze wins immunity. As they start tossing, Dan, Mike and Sierra are quick out of the gate. Dan gets the first bag and Sierra is first to get two bags, but Mike catches up and is the first to get all three bags. Dan gets his third bag and gets started on the maze.

In the midst of all this, we get several shots of Rodney throwing his hook dead into the ground. Seriously, has this guy been a factor in ANY challenge? No wonder he can't win a reward. For a big strong guy, he's amazingly inept. W While Rodney struggles; Sierra gets her third ball, and then even Will gets his third ball. Mike and Dan have had the most time to work on the maze, but they keep dropping their balls through the holes and start again. Mike now has his ball in the final circle, but can't seem to land his ball in the hole. Sierra has now made up ground and has gotten her ball into the inner circle. After shots of both balls all around the final hole, Mike wins immunity!! As we head to break, Mike revels in his immunity win and tells us that he's too excited to watch one of the five go home tonight.

We get back to camp for the lackluster congratulations to Mike. Dan tells us that Mike is unbeatable. He's thoroughly frustrated. They knew they would have to turn on each other and he feels that Carolyn needs to be the one to go. He talks to Will, Rodney and Sierra and they all agree that Carolyn is the vote. Sierra tells us that the plan is Carolyn but Dan's advantage makes him a huge threat and they've always gotten rid of the huge threats.

During this exchange, a very subtle comment is made by Sierra and I feel it should be mentioned. She's been pretty invisible this season. I mean, we really could call her Purple Sierra. That being said, she's not an idiot and she HAS been playing the game. And right here is a very under the radar comment/move that shows she's a player. As Dan is confirming the votes for Carolyn, she looks at him and says, "We're saying if they get wind of it." I'll explain in a minute.

As Mike comes back into camp and Dan leaves, Rodney asks Mike who he's thinking about. They agree that it's Dan. Carolyn says that Dan is the biggest threat with his advantage and everyone "agrees" that it's Dan. Mike tells us that if they're so hot to get rid of Dan, maybe Dan should stay and he should target one of them. So he goes and seeks out Dan. He tells him that the alliance is gunning for him. He tells Dan that he can just sit and watch it happen. Or, they can do something together and save Dan.

Dan, of course, doesn't trust him. Because Mike is evil. Mike is crazy. Mike never knows. Dan tells us that he is insulted by the gall of Mike to come up and act as though he's the savior that can carry Dan to the next round. He says that he has his advantage and he might have to use it. He'd rather go down swinging that watch strike three go by. Now, let's go back to Sierra. It seemed superfluous at the time, but her comment is HUGE right now. Everyone agreed that Mike and Carolyn would be told it's Dan.

So, with that knowledge, Dan doesn't even think about joining Mike. Not even for a second. That is a really big play right there, disguised as an off the cuff remark. But that's how you keep an alliance intact. So, Sierra sits in a position right now to do like Keith Nale and "stick to the plan" or she can switch it up, join Mike and Carolyn and take a shot at dumping Dan.

While Sierra made a real nice play there, Mike is the master Survivor player this season. We should all already know this, but just in case we didn't, he proves it right here. He tells us that Dan was so uppity in their conversation and he was SO sure that he wasn't going home, that it made him question the "plan." If Dan feels THAT solid, it's because he knows he's not going home. And since the obvious plan is for Dan to take Rodney and Will to the finals, Mike deduces that one of the girls has got to be the target of the vote tonight.

Now, before I start bowing at the throne of Mike, this is as much about how horrible Dan is at this game as it is how good Mike is. All Dan had to do was play along and act worried. He could thank Mike for bringing it to him and agree to whatever Mike wants to do. Again, Mike is dangerous. Scrambling Mike is twice as dangerous. So instead of calming the fire inside of Mike, all Dan did was stoke it. Well done, chucklenut.

With his new thoughts, Mike goes straight to Carolyn and Sierra. Even his approach is fantastic as he sneaks up on them in the middle of a Dan discussion and scares the crap out of them, especially Sierra. I'm going to type his entire little speech here because it's THAT good. "Really fast, just look who's in the shelter sleeping." Carolyn notes that it's Dan and Rodney. "That tells you everything you need to know about Tribal day. Who feels safe, who doesn't. He points to the sleepers and says, "That right there is the Survivor code for 'I ain't going nowhere. I don't need to do nothing.'"

You can actually see it come over Carolyn’s face and she searches for words and has none. "Dan is voting one of you tonight with the boys. One million percent. One million percent." He points at Carolyn and says, "And I think it's you tonight. I'm gonna let you guys finish talking and go get my stuff." And he walks away with the aftershock of this bomb lingering. What's interesting here is that Sierra KNOWS what's going on and Carolyn is left trying to figure it out. Carolyn tells us that she's worried that Mike is right and they're gunning for her. She is not totally sure she can trust the guys. She's torn between saving herself with her idol and trusting that the guys are voting Dan and saving it for one more vote.

On the couch, we're screaming to play the idol, right? But out there, she's already final six. If she makes it through this vote to the five...her idol guarantees her final four and she's gotten as far as she can with the idol. That's a HUGE carrot to have dangling out there when it comes to tonight's Tribal. So, I guess the question is: will Carolyn roll the dice and take her chances? Or will she guarantee her spot in the final five?

So, we get to Tribal and Jeff brings in the jury. Shirin can hardly contain herself when she sees Mike with the necklace on. Even Tyler cracks a smile upon seeing that the five will have to sacrifice another member. Once everyone gets seated, Jeff starts with Mike. He asks Mike about the feeling at camp after he won immunity. Does the group still seem as trusting? Mike says that there may be a couple of them wondering about it, but as long as they have a common enemy, they seem to be sticking together. But one of the five is going home, so there was some scrambling going on at camp.

Jeff asks Rodney about where trust is with him. He actually can't answer the question. He's having a hard time putting together a sentence. Jeff asks him if this is about fatigue. He goes on about having limited food and fatigue and how he's having a hard time concentrating and putting thoughts together. So, he asks Jeff what the question was again. Jeff asks him if he trusts in the relationships he made. He says he's just tired of being around the same people 24/7. He says that he doesn't know who might be turning on him, but you have to trust the people you've made alliances with.

Probst asks Carolyn about who to trust, or if you can't trust anybody. She says that you want to trust your people, but it's not that easy. She knows her head is on the block tonight. People will tell you what you want to hear because they're trying to save themselves. She is VERY nervous tonight.

Jeff asks Dan if Carolyn has a reason to be worried. Mike has immunity and she's shown herself to be an immunity threat as well. He says that Carolyn has proven herself to be very good, but she's not the only one with her head on the chopping block tonight. He knows his name has been thrown out there as well. There's some talk about Dan's advantage. Will finally speaks but doesn't say too much. Rodney suggests having the advantage is like a strong-arm tactic. It can be used to keep people in line. Sierra also speaks at Tribal. Just wanted to throw that in there. Dan then says that tonight might be a great time to use his advantage, but next Tribal might be even better. At this Mike rolls his eyes, and Jeff announces that it's time to vote.

They show us NONE of the votes. As Jeff goes to tally the votes, Dan speaks up about his advantage. And in case we didn't get it the first time, he gives us the go down swinging speech again. Jeff announces to everyone that Dan's advantage is an extra vote. This vote will count the same as the others, so there will be seven votes tonight. As Jeff explains this, you can see the wheels turning in Mama C's head. As he goes up to vote, she starts to shake her head with a look that says, "I should have known."

Jeff tallies the votes and comes back to ask about an idol. "I'm not taking any chances, Jeff. I'm not going home tonight." And Carolyn reaches in her bag and pulls out the White Collar idol. Everyone still in the game just looks on in shock. She gives Jeff the idol and comes back to high five Mike. On the jury, I'm pretty sure Shirin may have peed herself. This is EVERYthing she hoped for in getting to play this game and she's loving it. Hell, even Jenn cracks a smile. So, Jeff reads the votes.

First vote: Carolyn. This elicits applause from Mike. Second, third and fourth votes: Carolyn. This elicits as "WOO!" from Carolyn. The fifth vote is also for Carolyn. All that's left are Mike and Carolyn's votes. Hmmm, who could it be? The next vote is for Dan. And the 13th player voted out of Survivor Worlds Apart is, FINALLY, Dan. I'm pretty sure I could hear the cheers of almost 10 million people as Dan's torch is snuffed. The best part of this boot was watching the realization come over Dan's face as he realized that there was nowhere to run. And with that, one of the least likable people in the history of the show was sent packing. What was it he said a couple episodes ago, "Smell ya later"? Yeah, that.

Aside from the fact that Dan has proven, over the course of this season, to not be that great of a guy; he was also not even a remotely good Survivor player. Again, Jeff's mantra from that old challenge, "Dan is...wrong," pretty well sums up his entire game of Survivor. As soon as he made his mind up about something, he was wrong. And his decline began over letters from home. So Mike tried to double cross you, dude. Get your head into the game and realize that you're playing for a million dollars and not some letters from home. If it's THAT important to you, don't go out there.

Either way, the horrible game play continued all the way up into the Tribal Council tonight. Forget for a second that Mama C felt pretty comfortable going into Tribal. Forget for a second that she had no plans to play her idol...until you gave her a reason to. (I mean, seriously, dude...who in the hell else would you have been voting for?) Forget all that. Playing the advantage tonight couldn't help you. It was a 4-2 vote. What if it was flipped? Then your extra vote makes it a 4-3 vote and you still lose. Carolyn had the votes to go home. Adding one on top was a complete waste of an extra vote.

Attention CBS: for the most part, we liked the extra vote twist. Please don't look at how horribly your latest twist ended up playing out. It's not the twist's fault. It just landed in the lap of one of the more inept players to ever step foot on Survivor beach. Give it another try with better players and I bet it pays the dividends you were hoping for this season. Okay, enough about Dan. He's already wasted enough of our pixels. Let's get to the finale.

Next time on Survivor: Carolyn gets cornered about her idol. But she doesn't back down, just points out that they all voted for her. It all comes down to this. We hear Mike say, "That's a million dollar mistake." Next Wednesday IS the two-hour finale episode followed by the Live Reunion. Included in that reunion will be the reveal of the Season 31 Second Chance cast.

A quick note on that. I LOVE the idea of letting the audience vote on returning players for the next season. However, this second chance thing has TOTALLY overshadowed Season 30. I can't imagine that's what they had in mind, but that's what is happening. Further, by revealing the cast AT the reunion, you're taking away at least 10-15 minutes of THIS cast's swan song. We're already gonna have to waste a crap-ton on time on Will and Dan vs Shirin. Now you're going to take more time away from this cast? Hell, may as well have the pre-jury sit in the audience! That's right, I said it!

At any rate, keep your eyes peeled for the BOP Second Chance Ballot reveal - where you can see the ballots that the BOP Survivor columnists have cast. Look for Ben's final Power Rankings and then tune in for my two-part recap of the Survivor Worlds Apart finale. As always, you can find me on the Tweet Box: @vannestjc. Have something to say? Think I was too hard on Dan? Think I was not hard enough? ARE you Dan and you want to try to explain yourself with the same nonsense I've heard on all the exit interviews? Again @vannestjc, hit me up!! 'Til next week, take care everybody!