Whether or not it’s a blessing or a curse is a matter of opinion, however Extinction Island isn’t simply shaking up the sport with its format shift. For the second week going, the season’s massive twist has led to an sudden and largely unprecedented conclusion to the episode. Final week, it was Reem’s journey via a horror film and into the darkish desolation of Extinction. This week, it was a bonafide cliffhanger as Keith anguished over the choice to go away the sport or proceed preventing – whereas Reem contemplated whether or not she might proceed to stay it out on Extinction alone. Your mileage might differ on the strain within the state of affairs, because it looks like it’s virtually a foregone conclusion that younger, keen superfan Keith will finally elect to proceed enjoying, however it’s clear that the Survivor storytellers are taking each alternative to play with our narrative expectations.
It’s solely the second time we’ve seen a cliffhanger on Survivor. The primary was all the best way again within the penultimate episode of Panama as we minimize to black proper earlier than Cirie Fields and Danielle DiLorenzo squared off in a fire-making tie-breaker on the Remaining four in what felt like a contrived means of preserving Cirie as an lively participant come the finale. The unfastened finish of Keith’s selection nonetheless feels drawn out for the only objective of leaving the viewers hanging, however it’s much less of an affordable ploy and extra of an experiment within the context of this uncommon season.
For 38 seasons, the rhythm of a Survivor episode has been a gentle beat. It’s tried and true, and the drama of an elimination at Tribal Council is a dependable climax for the episodic installment. And whereas I wouldn’t essentially advocate for an entire overhaul of that system (always remember Australian Survivor’s deflating determination to actually finish an episode on a random sundown in its first season), I’m excited by the prospect of extra unconventional storytelling. Playful and interesting modifying excites me whether or not it’s an out-of-order Idol discover or a well-executed montage or one thing a lot deeper, and with the complexity that Extinction Island provides to the story resulting from its inherent unpredictability, I’m desperate to see how the editors convey a singular Survivor story.
THEIR TIME TO SHINE
However that’s sufficient concerning the final 30 seconds – there’s an entire episode to dig into! One of many clear and persevering with tales is the precarious dance of the returning participant. With savvier newbies desperate to play their very own video games and keep away from the pitfalls of those that got here earlier than, the 4 returnees discover themselves in a harmful place. The brand new gamers have the suitable concept – in a recreation as inherently unfair as Survivor, any probability to even the enjoying area must be seized. The returnees make for straightforward targets and efficient shields, however greater than any captains season prior to now, it looks like the returnees genuinely are the “momentary gamers” that Christine Shields Markoski as soon as spoke of again in South Pacific.
It’s a disgrace that it’s a problem dealing with returnees I root for, nevertheless it does maintain the sport – and the present’s story – fascinating. Seeing Aubry, famend for her means to strategically manoeuvre the social recreation, foiled by the social dynamics of the Kama tribe was heart-breaking. The montage of her looking for “a dialogue” with Victoria, Julia and Gavin was a perfectly edited sequence of one thing largely innocuous – all of us have phrases that fall into our sample of speech – however it was proof of one thing Kelley Wentworth articulated on Manu; the brand new gamers have the benefit of understanding how the returnees play.
These beginner superfans know Aubry is in a position to attract on social bonds and manipulate them to propel her recreation, they recognise Joe’s bodily belongings and have seen it doom him within the early merge, they perceive that Wentworth is a scrappy, decided and aggressive participant, they know that David is likable and a intelligent strategic drive. Whereas their expertise with the sport may give them a greater basis coming into the sport, the unpredictability of their new rivals – who’re barely hiding their want to make sure a beginner wins out in the long run – diminishes that benefit.
However, the returnees are preventing to combine. Whereas Aubry reluctantly joined in with the kumbaya dance troop of Kama, the Manu tribe had already seen the place the strains had been drawn at their first Tribal. But whereas it had given Kelley and David the ostensible majority, they have been removed from protected. Kelley felt the hazard firsthand as Wendy, remoted after dropping her solely ally Reem, set out on the warpath towards Wentworth. Recognising the hazard of an underdog with nothing to lose, Kelley remained fixated on getting Wendy out of the image. She mobilised the thought of an open Idol hunt to maintain it out of the outsider’s palms and sought to solidify her allegiance with Lauren and Wardog, however the goal nonetheless hovered round her – unshakable. However she stored preventing – and that’s what Wentworth does greatest.
Wendy was scorned and refused to drink Kelley’s kool-aid and sought the allegiance of a unique cordial, recruiting Rick “OH YEAH!” Devens to the notion of turning on the three-time participant. It wasn’t a nasty transfer by any stretch – although voicing the opinion to chop the returnee in entrance of one other skilled participant like David appeared like a riskier pitch. Or at the least, it might have been if David wasn’t so desperate to make the transfer himself. David is in a captivating place this recreation – he’s the one two-timer among the many returnees, and that appears to have helped reduce his menace degree on the outset. It’s allowed him to get in shut with Rick, forging an alliance of belief between two like-minded gamers who wield technique and humour in equal measure. Rick is definitely conscious of David’s menace degree – referring to the weedy TV author as one of many “massive guys” he hoped to buddy as much as – however whether or not he simply makes use of him as a short-term defend or honours his (joking) settlement to betray him on the Remaining 4, it’s a helpful allegiance for each events.
Nevertheless, David isn’t wanting simply to coast alongside, and displayed a receptive strategy to the sport, taking over Wendy’s suggestion to blindside Wentworth as an excellent alternative to remove a menace he couldn’t absolutely belief, however then fortunately rolling with the punches as Wardog turned the vote onto Keith after the problem. He’s prepared – and keen – to make strikes, however he’s not going to be the one within the driver’s seat simply but, and that would assist him immeasurably in a forged of latest gamers all eager to make their voice heard.
And listen to them we did. The Manu tribe was a continuously shifting net of technique within the aftermath of their second Immunity loss – and a compelling showcase for a wealth of competing methods. Talking of gamers reticent to drive the bus, Wardog has been toeing a surprisingly delicate line. He advocated exhausting to vote out Keith initially – pitching him as a problem legal responsibility and somebody who wouldn’t function a priceless ally for him shifting ahead, notably in distinction to the loyal meat defend he perceived in Wentworth. But he was prepared to tone it again and take one other course if the remainder of the tribe needed to go their very own approach, not wishing to be too dictatorial or overtly strategic (even David believed Wardog was averse to technique till the final minute). For the archetype of the extreme East Coast man, it’s a welcome variation to see Wardog play it cool and subdued – although I’m curious to see how lengthy that may final.
In the meantime, this episode marked Chris’ introduction after being largely absent from the premiere. Like Wardog, he needed to see the vote profit him in the long term, however the place the regulation scholar noticed the worth in a Wentworth defend, Chris noticed the chance of a trustworthy ally in Keith. After his dismal efficiency within the problem – struggling once more within the water and botching his makes an attempt to make up for it within the ring toss – Keith apologised to Chris and swore that he would all the time have his again. Seeing the profit in a ride-or-die like Keith, Chris approached Rick about turning the vote on Wentworth, including an sudden voice to the refrain of gamers prepared to make the transfer towards Kelley. Rick and David have been ecstatic that numbers could possibly be of their favour, however finally it appeared like Wardog had his day, managing to influence Chris out of the transfer – and by extension the remainder of the tribe.
Whereas blindsiding Kelley would have been an enormous and thrilling blindside (and would have given us viewers the joys of Reem and Kelley stranded collectively on Extinction), it might have a harmful transfer for a lot of within the Manu tribe. Not solely from the attitude of bodily weakening the already struggling tribe, however it might have uncovered anybody who was in on the transfer as an aggressive participant. Gamers like Rick, Wardog and Chris might have simply been labelled as daring strategic gamers for his or her half within the blindside, and it might have left David uncovered as the one returnee – a attainable goal for a scorned Lauren, or underdogs like Wendy or Keith simply making an attempt to outlive.
Seeing somebody eradicated based mostly on problem efficiency all the time looks like a uncooked deal, however Keith wasn’t capable of make up for it with the promised loyal relationships he preached. In any case, simply final week he jumped ship on a potential ally in Reem when he sensed hazard however was unable to get a foothold with the remainder of his tribe. It’s unlucky, and as evident by his anguish on the crossroad to Extinction, he’s clearly taken the blow to coronary heart. However I hope he finds the braveness to proceed to struggle within the recreation to resolve his unfinished enterprise.
IDOLS FOR WOMEN
Final season marked a turning level in Survivor the place the gender disparity between Idols was acknowledged and emphasised by the present. Angelina’s quest for the Idol within the David vs. Goliath finale might have been iconic, however it felt like an unsatisfying conclusion to the narrative of girls discovering idols established in that season’s premiere given that each different Idol and Benefit that season was discovered by a person. But tonight’s episode made it clear that Survivor isn’t completed with the story of gender politics and Idols.
As the lads of Kama slinked off into the shrubbery, Idol dialog got here to the forefront as Julie, Victoria and Julia mentioned whether or not they need to be out in search of Idols – and why they have been standing round speaking about it as an alternative of simply beginning the hunt. Julie voiced a rationale lengthy bandied about by followers and former gamers alike, attributing the disparity to primal gender roles. It’s a possible issue – however not a line inconceivable to beat.
The scene acted as a prelude as we reduce to Manu seashore as Lauren adopted within the footsteps of her “Survivor Queen” and ally Kelley Wentworth. By probability or by dedication, Lauren discovered the holy grail and her personal Hidden Immunity Idol. Intelligently, she selected to maintain the information to herself, and it positions her properly to have that benefit in her pocket. Whereas I’m not anticipating the stats of the Idol gender imbalance to be miraculously solved in a single day, seeing the present acknowledge and validate the unlucky development and comply with it up with feminine gamers rebelling towards the info to say Idols is a begin. Hopefully, it helps to start out shifting the narrative and encourage a change for the higher.
So we finish the episode on uncertainty – for our returning gamers in dire straits, for Keith and Reem every dealing with a serious choice, for our new gamers hoping to go away their mark on the sport. Hopefully subsequent week’s episode resolves a few of these dangling questions in a satisfying approach and continues to intrigue us as we march deeper into the unknown.