In the past two episodes, we lost the season’s biggest character and IMO its most all-around talented player. I wonder if it all turns into a Chappies coronation from here. I’m not rooting against him per se, but I’d prefer it if this wild, unpredictable season had a wild, unpredictable ending, and a Chappies victory march would not be that.
- Chappies is at it again with his midnight diner, and this time he has coconuts and pieces of sugar cane that he found as well. The next morning, he gets up early and gathers five sugar canes and 10 coconuts and buries them. Eventually Nicole and Smash wake up and they find a couple coconuts too. Amusingly, Chappies thanks them.
- I feel like production is insulting our intelligence just a little bit here. There are no palm trees anywhere in sight, nor are there any wild-growing sugar canes. Where oh where could they be coming from? I mean I get it, the castaways are almost out of rice and production doesn’t want them to starve even though (or maybe especially because) they’re so close to the end, but I would have preferred just having the rice increase overnight by magic.
- Smash gives a very confusing confessional and has a very confusing talk with Tyson, but it sounds like he wants to take Chappies to the end and beat him with the jury (we can infer that he expects it to be a final 3 and that he or Tyson will win the last immunity challenge). Hoo boy, this is a big mis-read. Tyson just wants to win the immunity challenge and make the obviously right move of voting out Chappies.
- Smash comes back with tree mail telling them to prepare for an immunity challenge. Everyone seems surprised, like it’s happening early. There’s still ambiguity about whether it’s going to be a Final 3 or Final 2.
- Immunity challenge: Race out to a structure in the water, release a key that will unlock and lower a staircase on another structure on the beach, climb the staircase and retrieve a second key that will unlock a bag at the water structure with rope and monkey’s fist that will hook and lower a ladder on the second level of the beach structure, climb to the third level and retrieve a key that unlocks yet another bag at the water structure that contains some of the pieces to a very difficult puzzle at the top of the beach structure.
- In addition, the winner of the challenge gets a Futurelife-sponsored breakfast buffet and gets to share it with one member of the jury. I do not like this advantage. It’s too powerful. You’re obviously going to invite someone who’s sympathetic to you and has influence with the other jurors, you get to hear what the jurors are saying at Ponderosa, and you get to workshop your final tribal council statement. It has some of the problems of Survivor: Edge of Extinction, where the returnee got to spend tons of time with the jury and knew exactly what they had to do to win their votes. Plus, by definition, this advantage is going to help someone who already has a big advantage (the Final 4 immunity necklace).
- It’s fairly even until Chappies lands the monkey’s fist on his first try and everybody else has great difficulty with it. Chappies gets out to a huge lead but the puzzle is incredibly time-consuming. Everyone is on the puzzle eventually, and Smash gets within four pieces of finishing it, but Chappies finishes first. It’s his fifth immunity challenge win, tying the Survivor South Africa record.
- Back at camp, Smash and Tyson commiserate about losing the challenge to Chappies. Tyson reminds Smash that he went from a 6-2 minority (after the Tied Destinies twist took our Renier and Amy) to a 2-1 majority (implying that Tyson thinks he’ll be voted out next).
- With a big breakfast coming, Chappies has no more reason to horde food, so he digs up his coconut and sugar cane stash and brings it to camp. This pisses Smash and Tyson even more. Smash thinks this is ammunition he can use against Chappies in Final Tribal Council, while Tyson gets on his high horse about how this shows what kind of (terrible) person Chappies is. This is getting way too close to the moralizing and resentment that made season 7 unpleasant.
- Chappies arrives at the breakfast buffet and is greeted by the ever-delightful Anesu, who is the right choice. Although she’s not a vote that Chappies needs to swing (she handed her Tribal Council Pass to him after she was voted out, and he used it to avenge her), she’s smart and respected, and has lots of influence with the rest of the jury. She tells him he’s got “outplay” sewn up because of his immunity wins, and that the jury actually respects the food stealing and whatnot as within the bounds of “outwit”. If anything, Chappies’ shenanigans have actually swayed jurors who were on the fence or inclined to vote against him. Anesu says in confessional that the key is for Chappies to own up to the supposedly shady things he did and be proud of the game he played. She tells Chappies that in a final jury vote, his chances are best against Nicole, then Smash, then Tyson.
- Anesu leaves, and all of a sudden there’s an envelope on the table labeled “Only open once your breakfast guest have left” (my inner copyeditor is screaming). It’s yet another advantage: Chappies gets to remove a jury member. You’ll be shocked to learn that I HATE HATE HATE this. You don’t hand out multiple overpowered advantages that can only go to someone who is already in a hugely advantageous position (I’m not referring to Chappies specifically, but to whoever had won Final 4 immunity). That said, I’m sure we all remember Jean misplaying this same advantage in Season 6.
- Separately, Smash and Nicole check in with Chappies, and the three are set to vote out Tyson. Tyson goes to Chappies and pitches getting rid of Smash. He notes that Smash has been to the most tribal councils, was consistently in the minority from the merge onward, and is the most articulate of the remaining players. Chappies humors him, but doesn’t bite.
- Tribal Council: Nico makes it official: it’s a Final 2 and not a Final 3. Chappies says that this might change this vote. I don’t understand why it’s a surprise to anybody. It’s Day 37; did they think the Final 3 were just going to hang out on the beach for two days? Chappies whispers to Nicole that he’s thinking about voting out Smash, then he pulls Tyson aside and tells him the same thing. As the only one left out of the discussion, this naturally makes Smash nervous.
- First Nico reads Chappies’ juror elimination vote. It’s Wardah. This was absolutely the right choice. Wardah and Chappies were in opposing alliances at Zamba 2.0 and throughout the post-merge, and of course were at each other’s throats at the tribal council where Wardah was sent home. Despite what Anesu said, Wardah is surely an anti-Chappies juror, and you can bet she’s not being at all shy about expressing her opinion at Ponderosa. A rain-soaked and very sad-looking Wardah departs.
- Then Nico reads the regular elimination votes: Tyson, Nicole, Anela, TYSON. If you’re watching Australian Survivor, it’s the second 2-1-1 plurality Final 4 vote of the week. Tyson is the second eighth member of the jury, if that makes sense.
- Tyson voted for Nicole, Chappies voted for Smash, and Nicole and Smash both voted for Tyson. So neither Tyson nor Nicole were swayed by Chappies’ whispers, even though he was truthfully telling them that he wanted to vote out Smash. If they both had believed him OR if Nicole but not Tyson had believed him, Smash would have gone home. If Tyson but not Nicole had believed him, it would have been a fire-making challenge between Tyson and Smash, and obviously Tyson would have had a massive advantage, having already done it before.
- In his final words, Tyson said that he misread the situation. Let’s unpack what he must have been thinking. Remember that Tyson’s final pitch to Chappies before tribal council was to vote out Smash, so Tyson must have thought that Chappies agreeing to do all of a sudden was some kind of trick, so he should therefore vote for Nicole. But why would Chappies want to trick Tyson into voting for Smash instead of Nicole? It could only be to turn two votes for Nicole into one vote for Nicole and one vote for Smash (Chappies wouldn’t be trying to turn three votes for Nicole into two votes for her, because he could just flip his own vote, nor would he be trying to put a second or third vote onto Smash, because then it wouldn’t be a trick). But if one vote was for Nicole and one vote was for Smash, that means the other two votes would necessarily be for Tyson! So under no circumstances should Tyson have voted for Nicole. He both overthought and underthought what was happening. It’s slightly reminiscent of how Tyson (Apostol) essentially voted himself out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. To be fair, Tyson (Zulu) had only a few minutes to work all of this out.
- I wish someone had mentioned this during the episode, but: Remember what happened way back in the merge episode? It was wild, with the Immunity Island necklace, a vote steal, and two idols played. One of those idols was played correctly, by Tyson for Chappies, negating seven votes against him. Womp womp.
- So it’s clearly now Chappies game to lose (but in an endurance final immunity challenge, he very well could lose to Nicole or even Smash). Again, I have nothing in particular against the guy, but honestly, I would be disappointed if all of the incredible gameplay we’ve seen this post-merge (including Chappies’) gets rendered moot by six consecutive immunity challenge wins. And the alternatives aren’t great: either a lackluster final 2 of Nicole and Smash or one of them channels Woo and takes Chappies to the end (Smash probably, given the hints that were dropped this episode).
Assistant Dragon Slayer began watching Survivor in 2013 with Survivor: Caramoan, but continued to watch the show anyway. He is up to 59 seasons and counting (43 US, seven Australia, five South Africa, two New Zealand, two Japan). So there.
Favorite player from each country: Cirie Fields (US), Luke Toki (Australia), Santoni Engelbrecht (South Africa), Lisa Stanger (New Zealand), Sakiko Sekiguchi (Japan) [and Maryanne Oketch (Canada)]