Survivor: Winners at War - Episode 5 Recap
The Buddy System on Steroids
By Jim Van Nest
March 18, 2020
Hello good people and thank you for coming back to the BOP Survivor 40 episode recap. When last we spoke, fan favorite, Tyson Apostol was the latest in a string of "Friends of Rob" to be sent to the Edge of Extinction.
So far, we've had 5 votes and you could argue that 4 of them have been made as a direct shot at one player, Rob Mariano. Obviously, Amber got the boot to break up the potential power couple. Danni and Ethan were in the old school alliance on Sele. And outside of Amber, Tyson is the closest friend Rob has in this game and the fear of Tyson and Rob getting together at the merge had to be weighing on the minds of some of the players on Dakal Beach. Oh yeah, and Tyson also did the unforgivable. He suggested they vote out Sandra.
As we head into episode 5, we know the tribe swap is coming. So, we have the same questions as any other season. First, there are 15 of them. Does that make it a 3 tribe situation? Or will they be 2 tribes of 7 and 1 person gets left out and does some sort of Exile Island thing. My bet is on the former. Also to ask: who will be saved by the swap? And who will get swap screwed? You ready to check it out? Me too.
We begin the episode at the Dakal tribe the morning after the Tyson ouster. Nick is pretty pumped to have lived through the vote and to have Tyson out. He also has found a fire token in his bag and is legitimately touched that Tyson would bequeath it to him despite going head to head. If Tyson does get back in the game, he may have just secured an ally.
We join several of the players talking in the shelter and Yul is commenting on how much he likes everyone and he tells them from his first season, the only person he really became friends with is Jonathan Penner. This leads to a discussion about Jonathan's wife, Stacy Title. Stacy is on Oscar nominated film maker who has been fighting a very public battle with ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease. At this point, she has lost control of almost all of her body. Her mind remains sharp as ever and she can control her eyes and communicates through eye movement. Leading up to the season, Yul talked in all his interviews about his plan to donate the prize money, if he were to win again, to ALS research. He breaks down while talking about and it seems to really hit home with Wendell and Sarah, who actually breaks her "tough girl" image and offers up a hug for her new buddy, Yul. It's actually a very touching moment where the gamebot, Yul, shows his human side for just a minute. All of this leads up to the first...
...Probst sighting!! Sele gets their first look at the new Dakal tribe minus Tyson. Several "wows" and jaws drop. Also dropping today, their buffs. It's time to switch up tribes. Rob tells us that he hates this part of the game as it hasn't always worked out well for him in the past. As everyone starts to reveal their new buffs, we see green. Ayup - 3 tribes. The new tribe layout is like this:
Yara (green) - Rob, Ben and Adam from Sele with Sarah and Sophie from Dakal. What an interesting draw this is. Adam and Ron have been mortal enemies all season. Ben doesn't like Rob and doesn't trust Adam. Sophie and Sarah, while voting together to take out Amber and Tyson aren't exactly working together. Sophie is part of Yul and the Gang (thanks Malcolm) while Sarah is part of Cops R Us + Sandra. They haven't gone after each other, but they're not allies either. This is really a tribe of 5 free agents. And this motley crew has the unenviable task of building a new camp and shelter and everything.
Dakal (red) - Jeremy and Denise come over from Sele and join Tony, Sandra and Kim - 3 of the biggest targets still left in the game. This is an interesting one as Tony and Sandra have been together since the beginning while Jeremy and Denise are a newer alliance. This leaves Kim out there as a potential swing vote. Will she stay with what she knows from Dakal? Or maybe hope to strike a deal with the blue newcomers?
Sele (blue) - Yul, Nick and Wendell come over from Dakal as part of the tightest alliance in the game. And they will hang out with Michele and Parvati. This tribe, by far, has some of the most interesting dynamics. Michele idolizes Parvati and wants to play like her. Nick admitted last week that Parvati was his high school crush. Yul and Parvati played together waaaaaaay back in season 13, though they have not remained in touch. And oh yeah - Michele and Wendell used to date. And by the sounds of it, it didn't end well. Ya gotta love all that drama.
As the tribes leave Jeff, Adam tells us how much he was looking forward to the swap and how screwed he feels with how the swap worked out for him. Also as we head to commercial, we get a real nice PSA from Jonathan Penner and Stacy Title letting us know that we can go to CBS.com/SurvivorALSInfo to get more information on ALS and to learn how we can donate and help try to eradicate this thing from the planet. Well done, Survivor. Very well done!
We come back from break as the new Dakal tribe returns to camp. Jeremy and Denise are blown away by the camp and shelter that Wendell built. Jeremy tells us that he and Denise are George and Weezy and movin' on up. But he's worried about being down in the numbers and he's determined to find a crack. Both he and Denise have zeroed in on Kim as the swing here. She's been beat down so much in the game this time that it's pretty much written on her face. Tony is very worried about Kim and the possibility of losing her to Jeremy and Denise. He does his best to convince her that they and Sandra are the high profile players and they need to stick together or be picked off one by one. Kim, after catching and eating a giant eel, tells us that she appears to be the swing vote in her tribe and that it could be a really good thing for her. And honestly, it could be. But it will all come down to whether or not she chooses wisely.
Over at the new Sele, the new comers are not as excited about the shelter and camp. Looks like Wendell has a lot of work to do on this camp. Parvati and Yul speak for the first time. And you can tell that they have not kept in touch as she doesn't even know his wife's name. We then join Nick and Parvati as Nick embarrassingly admits to Parvati about the high school crush thing. It's SUPER awkward. Also, you can almost see it in her eyes. She is gonna chew him up, spit him out and then dance over his bones. You do NOT tell Parvati effing Shallow that you have a crush on her. No matter how good you think your numbers are. You just don't.
And that brings us to the Michele and Wendell of it all. Parvati tells us that she doesn't think it was a very good breakup and it certainly seems really...awkward. Yeah, I know I just used that word, but this whole segment is awkward AF. Anyway, there's a bit of small talk. Michele asks him if things will be weird. He says no. And after a full season and the first part of this season, for the first time, we're seeing Wendell visibly shaken. He's stuttering in his confessional and he is completely off his game. Honestly, from body language and what I'm seeing, I'm starting to deduce that Wendell was pretty much a dick to Michele. I know nothing but what I see here and I'm seeing a dick-ish situation. What we also see is that Parvati and Michele know they're in a bad place but if they can get out of it, you better believe they're coming for Wendell.
Let's take a trip over to the new Yara beach where the new tribe will be starting from scratch. Ben is...not happy...with his new tribe. He says that Rob and Adam have blown up his game and they don't get along at all and this is the worst case scenario. As they introduce themselves, Rob gets right to the heart of it and asks if Amber was unanimous. Sarah tells him that it was supposed to be Tyson, but that he threw Amber's name out to save himself. She then tells him Tyson was also unanimous. And there you have it, in 20 seconds Rob was able to get a pretty solid picture of what happened. All based on the fact that Tyson would not have thrown Amber's name out there. It sounded more like Tyson and Amber were aligned and on the short side of the numbers.
Next up, in an unprecedented move, Rob and the other guys offer up all the information from their old tribe. They setup how Rob and Adam went head to head and Ethan was taken out in the crossfire. Ben hooks up with Sarah and tells her that Rob was dictating everything at camp and he hated it. Adam hooks up with Sophie and tells how the three of them have pretty much screwed each other over all game. Both Sarah and Sophie know that they can easily flip any of the guys to their side. Sophie comments that there are so many cracks, she's worried the guys will figure out that their best bet is to stick together. Sophie talks about the possibility of a new idol being at this camp. And this leads us to a full on tribal idol search. All 5 of them are looking. And honestly, if you blink, you'll miss Sophie finding the idol and stuffing it in her pants.
She finally gets away and is able to look at the idol and finds that it is another 2 part idol. With no one else to trust, she entrusts Sarah with the other half. She also tells us that she gave Kim's other half back to her before the tribe swap. And that, my friends, is karma. I have no doubts that if Sophie screwed Kim over, there's no way the Survivor Gods would have led her to the new idol. At any rate, with an idol and Sarah's steal-a-vote advantage, the girls are feeling in a much better place. And why wouldn't they? Worst case scenario, Sarah uses the steal-a-vote and they decide who leaves. Ultimately, though, Sarah wants to decide the vote AND keep both advantages. A lofty goal, but with these guys, it's very doable.
After the commercial, it's another Probst Sighting! Today's challenge will have the tribes racing through obstacles, throwing sand bags to knock blocks off a ledge. They'll then use the 4 big blocks to complete a puzzle where all 4 squares on all 4 sides have to be different colors. So, this challenge has everything but standing still in one place. If nothing else, it's super easy to recap. Dakal falls behind early. But Kim reminded us all what a challenge beast she is as she knocked down a ton of blocks and Tony finished it off. So, as these challenges often do, this one comes down to the puzzle. Wendell and Parvati vs Sophie and Adam vs Jeremy and Sandra. And Wendell and Parvati crush it and win immunity. And from last place to immunity, Jeremy and Sandra also finish the puzzle. As we head to break, Rob knows he has the numbers and all they have to do is decide which girl to send home.
We're back from break and it's time to play, "It's Anyone but...Rob? Adam? Sarah? I don't know." Sophie feels like she could be in trouble for screwing up the puzzle. And immediately after getting back to camp, Rob grabs both guys and takes off toward the well. Sophie and Sarah both feel comfortable with the guys, but the fact that they went off doesn't bode well. Rob locks in Ben and Adam and they decide Sarah should be the boot. Before they leave the well, though, Rob pulls a typical Rob move. He institutes his "buddy system". He tells the guys that once they get back, they just sit in camp and don't leave until Tribal. So no one will talk to anyone.
And this is why the game's passed Rob by. This is a horrible strategy in today's Survivor. And especially in today's Survivor playing with other winners. Do you really think that these people have not seen you play and know exactly what you're about? What we get next is a montage of scenes sitting around camp mixed in with confessionals of everyone bitching about no one leaving camp. Rob feels like things are in his favor. Adam thinks it's dumb, Bens frustrated as hell. Sophie has the nerve to call the Rob-father an asshole. GASP! And, I guess this is kinda funny to watch these grown ass adults playing a motionless game of chicken. Then again, it's actually boring as hell and a waste of time. They should have just given us an Edge of Extinction scene instead. Anyway - this finally ends and they go to Tribal Council with one question hanging over us: will either Sarah or Sophie use one of their advantages? Oh, right before Tribal, Sarah does give Sophie the other half of the idol, so there's that too.
This Tribal seems to be a referendum on the difference between previous games and an all winners game. The consensus seems to be that this game is much faster and much more fluid due to the quality of the players. In the past, to get to this point, as Adam said, "You just had to not be terrible." Sophie and Ben agree that in the past, people would play themselves out of the game early, but not on this season. I'll throw it here that Danni 100% played herself out of the game, but the point stands for everyone else. Jeff asked about the obvious 3-2 Sele advantage. Sarah and Sophie both detail their day at camp when they weren't able to leave or have a 1 on 1 conversation with anyone. Rob jumps in to say that even though the guys have obvious bad blood and history, Survivor is a numbers game and he has he numbers. Ben agrees that he's never had a chance where there were 2 obvious votes like this. You can actually see the contempt on Sophie's face for Rob with every word that he speaks. Things aren't looking good for her and Sarah. And now, it's time to vote.
We see Rob's vote for Sarah saying she's just on the wrong side of the numbers. We also see Sarah's vote for Rob. Jeff asks if anyone wants to play an idol and the girls both stand pat. Jeff will read the votes. First vote: Sarah. Second and third votes: Rob. 6th person voted out of Winners at War - Rob. BOOM! Well played, ladies. Well played.
A couple notes on this. First, Rob is right, Survivor USED to be a numbers game. Not anymore. Nowadays, Survivor is a social game. Plain and simple. You can't intimidate and dictate the game anymore. Especially to an accomplished group of players, all sitting on a million bucks from playing before. The game has evolved and the players need to evolve with it. See: Tony and Sandra. Rob has never evolved his game and he's not got 3 seasons under his belt where his style of play got him the boot pre-merge. Second, Sarah is no joke in this game. In her last 2 seasons, she has now slayed Sandra Diaz-Twine and Rob Mariano. Talk about some serious trophies. Also, Sophie is frickin brilliant. A lot of people won't remember her from her first season, but as an obsessed RHAP listener, I've had the chance to listen to Sophie Clarke break down the game of Survivor a ton of times. I've said it before and it still stands, Sophie is either the smartest person in the game, or a close second to Yul. And she is well suited to maneuver her way through the game and the personalities. We could be looking at 2 of the final 3 in Sarah and Sophie. I can't wait to see how it plays out.
Next time on Survivor: It's party time at Yara, now that Rob is gone. We're gonna check in on Extinction where Tyson is doing, "...something sneaky and hilarious." And Jeff tells the players that 2 tribes will be going to Tribal and 2 people will be voted out. The last thing we see is Rob bequeathing both of his fire tokens to Parvati. Which now puts her up there with Natalie as the Survivor billionaires with 4 fire tokens each. Things are starting to get pretty interesting now and I can't wait for next week's double elimination! Until then, take care everyone!