Survivor: Winners at War - Episode 2 Recap
It's Like a Survivor Economy
By Jim Van Nest
February 24, 2020
Hello good people and welcome back to Survivor Season 40: Winners at War! After an absolutely fantastic premiere, Survivor is back to see if they can live up to all of the pre-season hype and follow up on the first episode excitement.
20 winners hit the beach and the game took off from there. We saw one major unlikely alliance in Rob and Parvati. We saw one pretty obvious alliance in Adam and Denise. Tony put himself under house arrest, Ben was schooled by the master, Sandra got her feelings hurt and then my winner pick, Natalie, and Rob's ride or die, Amber, were sent to the Edge of Extinction.
Overall, the game play in the first 2 hour block was off the charts. And there were plenty of surprises in this cast, despite the fact that they're all winners. Yul Kwon showed that he is, in fact, the smartest person on the island by putting the "Poker Alliance" into the universe. Adam Klein showed that he is more than just a super fan. He and Denise were legit in trouble and he was able to turn it around and help lead the charge to break up Jeremy and Natalie. And the fact that Tony was able to keep himself under control was a very under rated part of the premiere. Now that I've said that, let's sit back and watch Tony implode tonight. Either way, it is time to start the show.
We begin on Edge of Extinction and instantly, I'm annoyed. And look, I know that you know that I hate EoE. But this is one of those examples of why I hate it. We should be getting some footage of the Dakal tribe after the Amber vote. The Poker Alliance was broken up. Kim found herself in the unfamiliar spot of being on the bottom. Tyson made a move to sacrifice his boy's wife in order to save his own ass. And we get NO aftermath on this, because we have to check in with Amber on Extinction. It's just wasted show minutes on something that shouldn't even exist. And all we get out of it is that Amber isn't giving up.
We start the actual show over at Sele as Rob finds a fire token in his bag and he knows. He knows that can mean only one thing. Amber's gone. He shares the news with Parvati and you can almost watch it take a second to click with her what it means. They try to explain away how it might have been Sandra to get voted out, but come on. He knows.
Time to check in with Ben and Denise. Ben is determined to not be the idol hunter guy and instead to make relationships. So, he's giving some tips to Denise on how to find the idols and whaddaya know - Denise finds an idol. But - this is a cool "friends" idol. She has to give half of the idol to another player by sundown. Then, in order to use it, the idol has to be put back together and played as one. And Ben really plays this well. He tells her that she can use this idol to bring someone else into their group. He doesn't ask for or expect her to give it to him. Well played, Cowboy.
Denise takes the information to Adam and he's both excited and happy that she shared it with him, but a bit bummed that Ben also knows about it. He doesn't really trust Ben. Denise floats the idea of giving the other half of the idol to - you ready for this - Parvati. WHAAAAAAAT?!?!? That pretty well sums up Adam's reaction as well. His exact words are, "My God, I think that's a terrible idea." He tells us you do NOT give an idol help to one of the best players in the game. So, when all is said and done, Adam is rocking the second half of the idol. Adam is thrilled to have the idol, but he's nervous about playing the game with Ben now.
Time to finally check in with Dakal after the big Amber vote and we're not talking about the game at all. Yul is trying to pull down breadfruit from the trees to eat. He's working on this with Kim who tells us that she is playing from a place she's never been before, the bottom. So, she's searching for an idol. Whaaaat? She finds an idol? Who'd a thunk? Anyway, Kim finds a 3 piece idol as well. As she is admiring it, Tony and Nick stumble on her and she kinda freaks out. She doesn't really trust either of them, so she does NOT want them to know she has it. She's actually good if they think she was looking, as long as they don't think she found anything.
She tells us that she has a really good feeling about Sophie, so she heads off to find Sophie to talk to her about this 2 piece idol. As soon as she does, we get a fantastic confessional from Sophie where she says Kim should have shared this with Tyson and that she (Sophie) is the last person she should have shared this idol with. Sophie tells us that Kim is the most socially aware player in the game and that everyone knows it. As we head to break, you can actually hear the gears in Sophie's brain cranking to figure out the best way to screw Kim over with this idol information.
And here we are at the great time killer, Edge of Extinction. Natalie and Amber get a note that clearly is a clue to something. Natalie says nothing and lets Amber try to work it out and then plays dumb. "Oh, that's what it means?" While they didn't figure it out, Production highlights the actual clue in the note and it's the first letter of each line spelling out WATERWELL. Meanwhile, she has eyes on finding whatever it is as she wants more Fire Tokens. So, they go off on a search of the entire island and come up completely empty handed. Natalie actually goes to the water well to get, ya know, water. And when she takes the lid off, there it is a bottle with a note. This note is the "Safety Without Power" advantage. This is the one where the player can choose to leave Tribal and be immune from the vote, but also not cast a vote. Now comes the strategy of sending it to the right person, someone who still has their Fire Token. Keep in mind, as far as she knows a Tribe could have pooled tokens for a tarp or something. What she knows is that Sandra has no tokens as she bought the last idol. She also knows that at some point both Jeremy and Rob had 2 tokens. I think I know what she's gonna do.
Back over at Sele, I'm right. Jeremy has an advantage in his bag, if he wants to spend his Fire Token. He assumes it's from Natalie and he happily buys the advantage. He was on the bottom and out of the vote last time, so having a get out of jail free card could help.
More hijinks and breadfruit over at Dakal. Tony is trying to keep himself occupied by...building a ladder to get up into the trees to pull down these breadfruits. Wendell, Sophie and Tyson all scoff at the ladder and just expect him to break the ladder and himself. So they stand the ladder up and the first rung breaks. But he keeps going and next thing you know, Tony is like 20 feet in the air pulling down breadfruit to eat. Everyone has a laugh at this, but at the end of the day, his ladder worked AND no one is thinking about him as a threat. Except for maybe, Sarah.
We see them on the beach and they're complaining about how they can't really even play. Sarah is worried about people seeing them together since they were Cops R Us back in Cagayan. After a couple minutes, they solidify that Cops R Us is back and even though Sarah distinctly remembers Tony's half of Cops R Us voting off her half - she feels like she knows him better now and knows what he's about and she thinks they can actually work together this time around. As we head to commercial, I can't tell you how excited I am to see Tony finding his way to stay in the game. Every episode with Tony Vlachos on it is a better episode of Survivor, in my opinion. #TeamTV
And we come back from break to...a Probst sighting! Today's challenge is a big physical challenge ending up with a big puzzle. Each tribe will race out with a cart to retrieve 3 keys. These keys unlock 3 super heavy trunks. Once they have all 3, they'll have to disassemble the cart and put it and the trunks through an obstacle. Then reconstruct the cart and carry the trunks over even more obstacles. Once through everything, they open the trunks to get their puzzle pieces. First tribe to finish the puzzle wins immunity and a Survivor spice kit.
After setting up, we see that Dakal has Sandra and Sophie setup to do the puzzle while Rob and Denise are there for Sele. It's tough as Rob is huge in the physical portion of a challenge, but he's easily the best puzzle builder out there. The tribes are neck and neck as they disassemble their carts. But this is where the absence of Rob on the front end of the challenge comes back to bite them. Dakal works out a big lead as they get over the obstacles pretty easily and Sandra and Sophie get to work on the puzzle. They have a huge lead in the puzzle when Rob and Denise get started. They make quick work of the first section and the tribes are back neck and neck.
Rob takes an odd strategy into the 2nd portion of the puzzle and separates out pieces. Meanwhile, Sophie and Sandra are crushing it. There's no point in dragging this out, Sophie and Sandra absolutely destroy Rob in the puzzle and Dakal wins immunity and reward! I have no idea what Rob was thinking, but he blew this thing horribly. On the way out, Parvati is concerned that old school players are outnumbered and she wants to see one of the new schoolers to go to even that up a bit.
No victory lap for Dakal, we go straight to Sele and Rob is lamenting the horrible performance in the challenge. To really punctuate it, I'll let Ethan sum it up as he speaks to Rob, "Dude, you sucked today." I love me some Ethan. Rob decides to rally his old school group to decide which new schooler they want to get rid of. He mentions Jeremy and Ben. Down at the beach, we see him offer these options to Ethan and Parvati. Um, where's Danni? I thought she was part of this? Oh, there she is - she's on the beach watching this trying to figure out why she's being excluded. She tells us that she thought she had a bond with them, but she clearly feels like she's on the bottom now.
We join a conversation with Danni, Ethan and Ben and she's trying to plead her case to stay in the game. She blurts out that Rob wanted to do the whole old school alliance thing. Ethan is in shock. He says, "You know he's not...you know who this is right?" as he points to Ben. Seriously, Ethan is the clear MVP of episode 2. He's killing it tonight. They try to back track it but Ben ain't no dummy. He actually feels kinda good knowing that the old school alliance is actually a thing. So he sets his sights on Danni. We see him saying as much to Adam, Jeremy and Ethan. Wait - is Ethan involved in every single strategic conversation on this beach? Like, seriously, every single plan somehow includes Ethan.
Danni meanwhile goes to see Rob. She tells him she feels like she's on the outs with them. Rob doesn't feel that way. But she keeps going and decides that she and Rob should vote for Parvati. Rob, who's not idiot, does what any good Survivor player should do. He says, "Yes, I'm in." But he's not in. We see him talking to Adam and - wait for it - Ethan! He tells them about the conversation and punctuates it by saying he's good to take out Danni. This is all music to Adam's ears. But, he admits, he'd rather take out Parvati than Danni and he's not so sure he won't try to make that a thing.
Ethan spreads the word to Parvati who is in shock that Danni would try to make this move and that she would use Rob, of all people, as the person to try to do it with. I love incredulous, "how stupid are these people" Parvati, for what it's worth. The big concern for this group is Ben because he's all over the place.
Michele and Jeremy catch up and discuss what they want to do. Jeremy wants to control the game, so he's not so sure that Danni is the move they should make. Adam joins the conversation and they start talking about blindsiding Parvati. He knows where the idol is, so he isn't worried about that. He is, however, worried that this could backfire on him. But, to win the best of the best season, he's going to have to make some major moves. Uh oh - could one of the big dogs be going down?
We start Tribal with Adam having an issue getting his torch in the hole. We all have a laugh and of course, Jeff starts with Rob. He and then Ethan talk about the speed of the game and how it's been constantly moving. Ethan brings up that having not played in so long, he might be missing things. Michele calls bullshit on that saying that last tribal, every single person lied right to her face, and she's "new school". Danni brings it back to how the game has changed and how her loyalty game from last time isn't working this time around. Parvati mentions something about the "old school" alliance and Ben jumps in and brings up Danni letting it slip that there was an old school alliance.
I'm not exactly sure what happened next, but Rob and Parvati are kind of pounding on Ben, but he's not wrong. There was an old school alliance. Their girl screwed it up and now they're trying to paint him to look like an idiot. Ben dares to mention the idol and Ron chimes in to create one of the most mind blowingly idiotic I've ever seen in Survivor. Rob makes everyone empty their bag at Tribal to see who has the idol. I've seen a lot of people chirping about this amazing move Rob made. What a crock of shit! It was classic "Rob-father" grand standing and accomplished absolutely nothing as both Denise and Adam were able to hide their half idols. Adam, to his credit, was the only person with the stones to stand up to this. He eventually emptied his bag, but not before letting everyone know how stupid he thought it was. Rob is NOT making friends. Also, it was paranoia induced amateur hour playground bullying on display on Survivor. But because it was Rob, people go along with it and I'm sure Jeff found himself oddly aroused as it was happening. For me, it was just stupid and assholish. But, what do I know; I'm just a dude with a keyboard.
And with that, it's time to vote. There was also some whispering going on at Tribal, but it led nowhere. Hey Survivor - if you're going to show people whispering to each other, you have to subtitle it. If not, stop showing it because the audience gets left in the dark. Also, no idols were played. Ultimately, this was a lot of ado about nothing as Danni is unanimously voted out becoming the 3rd person sent to the Edge of Extinction. Whatever. I'm REALLY enjoying this season without the Tribal Council theatrics. So, that stuff can be left behind as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, on her way to Extinction, Danni gives her Fire Token to Denise.
Next time on Survivor: Adam and Denise appear to be hunting big game at Sele beach; meanwhile, Tyson has thrown out the Queen's name on Dakal. "If you're gonna f*ing come after me, I better not find out about it." And - Tony catches a shark with what appears to be his bare hands. Now, THAT'S what I'm talking about. TeamTV has been gold this season and this looks to just be more of it. Seriously, at this point, I'm ready for some of Jeff's favorites to get gone so we can see some more of some of the others. Tony, Yul, Sophie - they've been crushing it this season, so let's see more of that, shall we? Ok, enough whining from me. The episode ends with Danni arriving at Extinction. It's hugs and introductions as Danni reminds us she does still have life in this game. Alrighty then. And that closes out Episode 2. I wanna know what YOU think - so hit me on Twitter: @vannestjc. Let me know if I got a little too annoyed with the Tribal antics. Til next week, take care.