Survivor Winners at War: Never Give Up

With each week, I’m thinking there is no way for this episode to be better than the last. Once again, I am proven wrong and this 40th season continues to serve up some of the most exciting and heart-warming moments in reality-competition television. Let’s light this torch and review all of the ups and downs, shall we?

Sele returns to camp after the painful ouster of Ethan. I’m still stunned that the two-faced human weasel remains in the game. The one redeeming factor in it all is that Adam is distinctly aware that he was castrated in front of everyone. He still has the audacity to frame it as Rob betraying him more than him betraying everyone, but he at least admits he fell victim to hubris.

Sophie has flashbacks of a “Scared Straight” prison trip as she gazes at the Edge of Extinction from the shore of Dakal. We’re transported by her thoughts to face a new day on EoE and a new clue. Everyone has the opportunity to earn a fire token and all it will take is a hike end to end of the island…20 times before sundown. I’m not sure if this challenge was devised by production to thwart Natalie’s dominance and give everyone a chance at earning bank, but they aren’t just handing it to them.

In what became one of the most moving parts of the episode, we witness the mental, emotional, and physical toll it takes from every EoE resident…especially Ethan. After his 16th log is transported he collapses against the rocks and a medic shows up on the scene to take his temperature and blood pressure. His blood pressure is low and he’s on the verge of fainting. After resting up, medical clears him to continue, as long as he takes breaks as needed.

After Natalie, Amber, and Danni all complete their tasks, emotions are high and they are all inspired by Ethan’s lack of quit. They all decide to make a 21st trek to join Ethan on his trip for his last log. Who says reality TV can’t awe and inspire us all?

Skipping over the tribal small talk and breath smelling, I’m hitting fast-forward on the blog and stopping on the Reward/Immunity challenge. The reward for the competition is four egg-laying chickens, and to get them the teams are going to have to divide up in groups of four and three with the four tasked to transport the three in a boat to a platform. At the platform, the three will need to climb a tower and retrieve three keys on buoys as they jump off. The keys are used to unlock puzzle pieces to be assembled for the win.

Anyone care to guess who’s the first to volunteer to sit out? Let me give you a hint:

Take a seat, “queen.”

Shocking, I know. She doesn’t even get upset when Parv suggests they rename the sit-out bench in Sandra’s honor. Adam isn’t the only one bathing in hubris, apparently. Tony decides to join her on the bench and the game is on. It’s very close as they get to the platform portion…and then the wheels fell off the bus. Dakal gets their keys with only one miss, but Sele experiences miss after miss from Denise, Parvati, and Adam. While Dakal begins the final puzzle section of the challenge, Adam has two of the three keys and, be it by the magic of editing or the way it really played out, becomes the only one we see making multiple attempts at the third.

He finally is able to retrieve the third key, but Dakal already has a huge advantage and it’s looking like it’s going to be a blowout. Nick and Sarah are on the puzzle–the same one that Nick solved on David vs. Goliath. All signs and omens are saying that it’s a done deal, but Rob and Michelle have redemption in their sights. They arrive at the platform and unlock their pieces and even Jeff is completely astonished as they not only close the gap, but pull ahead of Dakal. Dakal’s response is to tear down everything they’ve done and start over. The second seemingly impossible outcome in this episode now comes to fruition. SELE WINS! If this was a goosebump-inducing moment for you, you’re not alone.

The typical whisk-like scramble we’ve come to expect before tribal comes off like a delicate fold-in at Dakal. Everyone seems to be on the same page, as Tyson looks to send young grasshopper Nick to the Edge of Extinction. He makes a solid case and Tony and Sarah both seem swayed by his logic. Without Sandra’s vote, they can’t make it happen, however. We’ll have to see if revenge is more important to the queen (with a small “q”) than reasoning.

At tribal, Yul reveals that the biggest dilemma is to be able to avoid revealing the groups within the group. Tyson had pointed out earlier to Sandra that the unconnected players were allies, and Sandra called it shady and a lie. Shows how much she knows. It’s alive and well and they’ve sucked her into voting their interests instead of her own. With one vote for Nick, one for Kim (in case Tyson has an immunity idol) the rest are cast for Tyson, who knew it was too easy and too good to be true.

Tyson has to decide to whom he should bequeath his fire token. After a brief back and forth with himself about swallowing it instead, the master passes it on to the grasshopper who snatched the game from his hand.

Next week, we’re in for a buff drop as the tribes change members. The only pairing that’s certain thanks to the preview is that Michelle and Wendell, who used to date, are going to be on the same tribe. Hope to see you all then!

For a recap in our own voices, be sure to check out this week’s podcast:

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