Survivor ramps up the gameplay in a jampacked double episode

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Previously on Survivor, the majority alliance was running the game, but a few cracks were forming, and at Tribal Mike played weird and big and wasted his idol while Cole was voted out.

Two people lost this time on Survivor, the first was JP, who lost for a very simple reason. He was a challenge threat to Lauren and her new sub-alliance, and for that reason, as opposed to any game play mistakes, he was an easy vote out. Ryan had an idol, which meant targeting him was a risk, and Chrissy is smart.

The first hour had a lot of interesting moments. Doctor Mike attempted to justify his moves to himself, to us, to Joe, and to the others, and it was not successful. Except maybe on himself. Seeing Mike and Joe act now as two peas in a pod, joking terribly and annoying other people is entertaining. Interesting to see how it turned around from them being antagonists in the start of the season.

It was also delightful to see the juxtaposition of Ryan saying that he and Chrissy are playing hard strategy compared to the others and then Lauren informing us it was actually all a plan. And then the interesting maybe-hubris of Devon saying Lauren is almost as good as him. Contrasted again with Ashley realizing the cool idea and Ben enjoying the idea of acting a part.

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The episode did try to setup a little “mission” for him, and it didn’t entirely work. The first emotional moments with his letter was effective, like seeing his kid’s illegibly adorable letter or hearing him acknowledge that his wife saved his life. This helped lead to his idol discovery, and it was fascinating watching Ben jump up in glee and then instantly calm himself.

The final moments of the episode with the mission completed hashtag felt a bit off, but I suppose it is a clever idea. Whether or not it was Devon, Lauren, or both with the idea, I can’t recall another time of this level of lying and people buying into it. This was a two Tribal plan, and it completely worked. They voted out Joe and got Ryan’s idol out.

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So why did Joe lose? He played hard but annoyed people, and he was in the minority alliance. As intense and interesting as he was, he was clumsy and difficult to be around. It’s no surprise that he was voted out; Mike was weird at the last Tribal council, but not to the point where he seemed more of a threat. And yet Mike came in second twice this episode! Impressive.

I like how everyone is actually trying to play, even if they aren’t always playing that well. Ryan is managing some things well, like not being a jerk like Chrissy after the blindside, yet he hasn’t figured out why his betrayal distanced Devon. He and Chrissy were quite arrogant and condescending and certainly that’s not a great look for them.

To me, Ben was mostly pretty good with his acting, and only a few times a bit too much. Clearly not enough for the people he was fooling. The episode felt full of drama and interesting game play, with everyone trying something. Even Ashley realized she had to play harder.

Each challenge was fun and tense, and the Tribal Councils fun in that extra level of realizing all of the layers of deception. I prefer in seasons of Survivor when I think that there are many deserving players to win; right now, that’s only a bit shaky for Ashley. Everyone else has just enough of a spark to be deserving of that prize.

Next time, it’s a loved ones visit but Ben’s making a fake immunity necklace and more cracks appear.

Catch up with this week’s eliminated players at the Survivor Ponderosa.

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Survivor airs Wednesday at 8:00 PM on CBS.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us what you think!


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