Survivor 41: Episode 4 Debrief
Episode Four finally foregoes the complicated advantages and twists for more traditional Survivor gameplay, including some action in the Luvu tribe finally!
No Twists, Plenty of Game Talk
Episode 3 received a lot of mixed reception based around the editing focusing on “new” advantages that didn’t make much impact on the result of the episode as a whole. Episode 4 felt a lot more like a typical Survivor episode for the better, foregoing the time consuming explanation of a new advantage and focusing on classic game talk. After this episode you have a pretty good feel of the strategic dynamics of each tribe when in the last episode it felt like we had to guess who had the power.
Genie’s Questionable Gameplay Continues
I had my doubts about Genie’s ability to thrive in the game since episode one, when after a live tribal council happened she threw a random vote at Ricard, completely missing the direction that the rest of the tribe went. After Brad goes home, she misplays again by letting her emotions and frustrations get the best of her, getting confrontational with her tribe and declaring she was no longer planning to help the tribe around camp (I guess she was the main provider, but we don’t see any camp life so how would we know). I understand being angry, but why vocalize it and isolate yourself more?
Heather the Sympathetic Challenge Goat
A big deal is made of Heather’s inability to reach the end of the track to catch the ball, which dooms her tribe into last place at the reward. It was a wholesome moment to see how encouraging her tribe was to her which was further echoed by Jeff, and as a whole it exemplifies the passion that the castaways have for each other and the game this season. I think a lot of weaker challenge competitors in the past would have dismissed their poor performance as something to be expected, but Heather was so set on proving her strength to the tribe that it made her failure feel even bigger. You can tell how much Luvu loves and appreciates her and wants to see her succeed, which was really sweet.
Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crown: Luvu Wants to Start Playing the Game
With too much success comes too little gameplay, and in this episode Luvu has reached the breaking point of contentment and is ready to start the scheming. Erika makes the first move and starts to get her pieces together to blindside Sydney with Deshawn, but unbeknownst to Erika, Deshawn prioritizes an alliance with Sydney over an alliance with her. It leads to Danny and Deshawn actively trying to lose the immunity challenge, but some bad luck and a truly powerful performance by Naseer thwart their plans. I had hypothesized before that the four younger players of Luvu held the power in the tribe and I think that was proven right: Heather didn’t factor into any strategic conversations and Naseer was clearly not throwing the challenge. Erika being the first to show interest in dissolving the good thing that Luvu had going was a huge mistake by her: she was wildly close to being voted out.
Shan the Mafia Pastor
Once again Shan dictated the result of the Ua vote, choosing to blindside JD and take his extra vote advantage instead of cutting off the strategic outcast Genie. The social manipulation of young JD by ramping up the paranoia and pressuring him to give up his extra vote yet again as a show of trust was a very impressive move. Now Shan is sitting atop Ua with Ricard as go-to alliance member, Genie owing Shan some favors for keeping her around, and an extra vote to use just in case things turn sideways.
Cutest Animal: Baby Turtles
While Luvu schemes and Ua implodes, Yase is just here vibing with the turtles.
Biggest Zoomer of the Episode: Deshawn
Don’t think I didn’t catch Deshawn dropping a “sus” when discussing Erika’s game. You know you’re in the new era when cringe Among Us language has entered the Survivor lingo.
Entertainment MVP: Deshawn and Danny
Their decision to throw the challenge, followed by their confessional commentary as pretty much everything goes wrong was a highlight of the episode for me.
Strategic MVP: Shan
She’s had the most impressive game of everyone so far, both strategically and socially. The only worry I have is that:
- She’s showing her strength too soon and once the merge comes she will have a target on her back so big that it will be impossible to ignore
- Ua continues its challenge mediocrity and she has no merge numbers.
What I think Shan needs to further the game the most is a favorable tribe swap, preferably in the next episode. She seems to have a good enough social game to adapt to new tribemates and form alliances that can give her more safety in the back half of this season.
Goat of the Episode: JD
The backseat Survivor strategist in me sees how stupid giving his extra vote away was; he should have teamed up with Genie early after returning from the immunity challenge and used the extra vote to have the clear numbers and get a threat in Ricard or Shan out. I’m sure it was more complicated than that, he clearly had a more developed relationship with Shan and Ricard than Genie and hoped that the trust he had built earlier on would hold. Regardless, the result of this episode was Shan finessing JD’s advantage from him, and he goes home looking like an enthusiastic Survivor fool.
PLAYER TIER LIST:
OUT OF THE GAME
BOTTOM OF THE TOTEM POLE
13. Xander — Now that Tiffany isn’t looking so useless in challenges, Xander becomes less and less of a necessity for the girls. He also still can’t vote, so yeah.
Even with the behind the scenes scheming happening between the younger members, it speaks volumes to me that in the one intensive Luvu strategic episode so far that they were absent from all those conversations. They both right now feel like numbers for the power players at the merge.
IN AN AMORPHOUS PLACE RIGHT NOW: MAYBE GOOD, MAYBE NOT?
10. Genie — She survived this vote, but unless a tribe swap happens or the Shan-Ricard partnership blows up, she looks like the next to go on Ua. But a lot can happen in two days.
9. Erika — She trusted Deshawn, and Deshawn does not have her back. It’ll be interesting to see how things go down in the future with her and Luvu now that seeds have been planted for her blindside.
IN A GOOD PLACE FOR NOW
8. Tiffany — She overcame that challenge mishap nicely. My worry for her is that she will be a needlessly aggressive strategist, but for now she in a fine spot
7. Liana — Challenge beast?
6. Sydney — Balancing the cocky villain personality with Erika’s observations that she is an explosive and erratic personality right now. I think we’re due for Sydney to pop off on someone in the near future.
5. Danny — His partnership with Deshawn and Sydney seems to hold the power in Luvu
4. Evvie — Yase was quiet this episode, but I think the foundations she laid strategically early on still hold strong
IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
3. Ricard — If anyone in the Ua tribe holds the swing power right now I think it’s him. Does Ricard consider blindsiding known threat Shan with Genie if Ua goes to another tribal, or does he ride it out some more as her right hand man?
2. Deshawn — He led the immunity throw plan, because he was in a social position where Erika trusted him, despite his main alliance being Danny and Sydney. Don’t forget he has an extra vote too from the prisoner’s dilemma he did with Evvie in Episode 2.
I’ve been slacking on my season reviews because of life business, but I have the Millennials vs Gen X review on my radar and should be published soon-ish. Also, if I’m up to it I might do a quick write-up on this current season of The Challenge as it reached the midseason point and is getting quite interesting after these past two episodes.