Survivor: Winners at War – “Everybody Paranoid”

Only one hour for this week’s Survivor: Winners at War episode? We’ll take what we can get, because this season is huge and it’s not slowing down now.

As the biggest season of Survivor kicked off with two massive eliminations of Natalie Anderson and Amber Mariano, the introduction of a new twist dubbed the ‘fire tokens’, and an island with nothing in the Edge of Extinction; the fallout of the premiere was finally here for all to enjoy. And yes, it certainly delivered.

EPISODE 2 RECAP

As the most recent visitor to the Edge of Extinction, Amber is thankful the second chance to win is in play, giving her a reason to fight to get back into the game. Meanwhile, on Sele, Rob presumes Amber was indeed voted out when he receives his fire token in the morning. He relays this to Parvati, but notes that it isn’t confirmed she was eliminated, both considering that it may have come from Sandra (who was a major player in Amber’s exit). As they ponder what it means, Ben and Denise go idol hunting because Ben is known as a strong idol finder. It’s a title he’s trying to shake this time around, wanting to play more socially and teaching others how to find the little safety gems. It turns out that his advice isn’t unnoticed when Denise manages to find the hidden immunity idol in front of him. It’s got a twist to it, as the idol is in two, with Denise forced to give one half to someone else before sundown. Close with Adam, she discusses with him who she should give the half to, and considers Parvati – which is immediately shot down by Adam. He manages to gain the half from Denise, solidifying their bond and alliance, even if Adam is nervous about Ben.

On Dakal, food is proving a challenge with breadfruit the primary source of nutrition, as Yul manages to grab one, although small in size. Kim, who is trying to get into the majority, wants to avoid gaining any target but also wants to claim an idol for good measure, of which she is successful in. Like Denise’s, it is in two halves, and Kim is almost caught by Tony and Nick for having the idol, although seems to go unnoticed. She also elects to give the half to Sophie, hoping to gain some trust with the move, seeing her as a good player that she can work with. While Sophie is shocked at Kim’s decision, she accepts, and firmly keeps Kim in her sights as a potential threat citing that she should have given the idol to Tyson, someone Kim can likely trust.

Some members of Dakal chat while wading in the shallow water at their beach.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

At the Edge of Extinction, Natalie and Amber are given a vague riddle for the two to decipher, and while Natalie plays dumb in front of Amber, she understands that there may be an item she can exchange for a fire token. Searching the entire island together, Amber and Natalie don;t have much luck, especially Amber who never played with any idols back when she won. While Amber sits at camp, Natalie gets water at the well and successfully finds an advantage inside. It’s a new one, granting a player an opportunity to leave Tribal Council, staying immune but unable to cast a vote. She decides to offer it to Jeremy, who buys it for one fire token, effectively giving Natalie back the token she bequeathed to him. Jeremy also takes pride in knowing the secrets of the fire token system, something everyone else is unaware of.

Back on Dakal, Tony is trying to stay occupied so he doesn’t go idol searching crazy. He constructs a flimsy and unstable ladder, which is mocked by Wendell, Sophie, and Tyson. Tony, who is confident in his designing capability, begins to climb the ladder which breaks and snaps. But he does drop some breadfruit down to his tribe, proving he was truly successful. Sarah wants to avoid Tony so she and he aren’t seen as a pair, but behind closed doors they reignite their alliance from Cagayan, Cops R Us, both hoping to stick to the pact this season.

At the Immunity Challenge, Sele (and Rob) find out that Amber was voted out. And although looks can kill, Rob asserts that it was expected and a part of the game. For the challenge, carting through three chests across a course, two tribe members will assemble a puzzle from the pieces inside the chests. Also up for reward, a Survivor spice kit. Dakal and Sele are pretty neck and neck for much of the challenge, but Dakal gains a slight lead when they reassemble their cart and get to the puzzle stage. Sandra and Sophie have a large lead on the puzzle over Denise and Rob, and when Rob comes up with a strategy to separate the pieces, they fall out completely out of it cruising Dakal to victory.

Sele and Dakal compete in the Immunity Challenge, with Dakal holding a slight lead.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

With Tribal Council looming for Sele, Rob accepts responsibility for losing the challenge, yet is confident he won’t be voted out. Rob has a meeting with allies Parvati and Ethan, with the options of Jeremy and Ben as targets. Danni, who is otherwise in the old school alliance of four, begins to feel on the bottom after believing she is being ignored, especially by Parvati who she originally was quite close to. While talking with Ethan and Ben, Danni lets slip there’s an old school alliance in front of Ben, truly spilling the beans. Ben is concerned about this alliance and is fully targeting that alliance. As Ben confirms with others to target Danni, she talks with Rob about possibly voting out Parvati, who agrees, albeit lying and now targeting Danni. Adam, who has been privy to all of these conversations, would personally like to see Parvati gone, yet realises the risk in going against Rob might be too great when the opportunity to eliminate Danni is still there. Ben is also up as a target when Rob feels uneasy about how he is playing, and even Jeremy and Michele consider flipping the script to gain control by voting Parvati. The new schoolers are in charge, but is the risk worth the reward?

At Tribal Council, Adam struggles to get his torch into a hole, with Jeff ushering Ben to help him do so. Relationships are discussed and how genuine they are in a game like Survivor, as well as the impact of old and new school gameplay. Danni asserts her position on the bottom by being left out of group discussions, and when Parvati details this and mentions an ‘old school alliance’, Ben pounces on it by commenting that Ethan and Danni earlier denied any old school alliance. He talks about paranoia, like, a lot. And the three old school alliance members shut it down as Ben jumbles his words and struggles to collect his thoughts. Rob then prompts the entire tribe to empty their bags to reveal who has the idol, with many just complying and a massive Tribal clean out happens, with Adam calling it out as ridiculous, and Denise clutching her idol through her bag so no one notices. Despite the crazy Tribal Council, a unanimous 8-1 vote on Danni sends her to the Edge of Extinction, but not before she bequeaths her fire token to Denise.

Danni’s torch is snuffed after she is unanimously voted out of her tribe at Tribal Council.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

REVIEW

If Week 1 was anything to go by, we all knew Week 2 was gonna impress considering the high calibre of players that we have this season. There are so many monumental moments jammed into such a short time frame, yet I am still dropping my jaw to the floor at every moment.

DANNI’S DONE… BUT NOT OUT

This was a huge upset for Danni, and it’s unfortunate to see her go so early (but again, I reiterate, I’m disappointed if ANYONE goes). Danni was such a lowkey player back in Guatemala, so to see this side of her that is scrambling hard was unexpected. There’s a few unanswered questions that have seemed to pop up since her boot, but what we know (or saw) from the episode, Danni got paranoid. She fell victim to exactly what Ben mentioned at Tribal Council. She managed to turn her comment against Rob into an alliance with him, but that just quickly unravelled this episode. She felt on the outs, and got paranoid. I’m not going to put ALL the blame on Danni, it is entirely possible she was slightly shunned by the other old schoolers. But Parvati and Rob are extremely savvy legends of the game, they know how to maintain social relationships. I’m thinking Danni expected more, something out of reach in this era of playing over her original run. Ethan, Parvati, and Rob all seemed shocked/surprised to learn Danni was feeling on the outer, and to target Parvati from it. For me, Danni was a worthy sacrifice to keep Parv in the game because she’s a beast that needs to be protected at all costs. Although I wouldn’t be upset if Danni returns to the game, it’ll be interesting to see how she handles it. But damn, in retrospect, why did the new schoolers once again go with the majority. They really, easily, could have taken out Parvati. Rob would be powerless without her, and he’s going to play just as hard and cunning in power or not. I do believe it may have been a rookie mistake, unless they saw Danni as a loose cannon. Was it risky? Yes. Is this all winners? Yes! Parvati SHOULD have gone, but I’m not complaining at all that she didn’t. Here’s hoping she survives another week!

In a massive Tribal first, Rob convinces everyone to empty their bags to discover who might be hiding the hidden immunity idol.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

THE SELE TRIBE

I touched on it just before, but it truly seems like the new schoolers are brewing something huge next Tribal, if they go. It IS the time to strike. And I think we’ve got two factions of three, Rob/Parvati/Ethan and Denise/Adam/Ben, with Michele and Jeremy looking in. I think it is smarter to side with the new schoolers simply because giving Rob an inch will only make him take a mile. And I actually think Rob’s the bigger threat, bias aside, because of Amber potentially feeding him help from the Edge. Take him out, it removes the problem. And I mean, he got them all to empty their damn bags! That’s insane! He’s just amazing to watch sometimes. And I think I actually enjoy this stint of his gameplay than any other. He’s great to watch, and is playing phenomenally! I think Ethan is clearly the safest one of the three, and he seems to be keeping pace enough anyway. He’s present at conversations, and is actually extremely smart for aligning with the two biggest threats of the game. Parvati is clearly the link between them as well, so that’s good for her, for now. Adam is also constantly present in conversations, and has done much of the hard yards for his alliance. He stopped Denise from making a mistake, and although he didn’t make the move to get out Parvati, he showed a lot of strategic thinking about the future of the game and is really taking some control of Sele, hopefully he isn’t caught. Ben? Wow. A bit of a loose cannon. I love it! I love Ben, but I’m not gonna lie and say if I could choose who goes next it’s him. He’s playing wildly and I can see the target growing on him, and even a feud with Rob. Awesome. Also, go Denise for finding the idol instead of him! I love her as well, this tribe is awesome!

THE DAKAL TRIBE

Tony is a legendary character to this show. He’s just a great person to watch and the ladder scene was just hilarious television that made me jump and down with excitement. He’s got such an enthusiasm, such a resilience to playing. He’s so fun. I want him to go far this time. I really wanna see him make an impact and I think he can. He’s just incredible to watch and even more an incredible player. Conjuring Cops R Us again? I kinda wanna see him backstab Sarah again, lol. It’d just be funny. For old times sake. I love Tyson! His commentary is hilarious and he’s a stand out player to me. Also hoping he goes far. Very far. And OMG Kim finding the damn idol, amazing! Love her for that and it’s so awesome to see her attempt to get out of this underdog position and really make some waves if she can. But damn. It sucks Sophie doesn’t trust her. And while I recognise Sophie as a good player for it, why can’t y’all just love my favs! I’m hoping she doesn’t blow up Kim’s game by doing something sneaky with the idol. She certainly holds a lot of power. So I’m still worried for Kim, but I’ll take a small victory for now. Don’t ruin this Sophie. Please.

ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT

Who else got ‘water well’ almost straight away? It’s my go to word puzzle solver, the first letter of each line. Loving Amber, she’s a gem. Once again, so thankful for the Edge to keep these legends in the game for as long as possible. I love seeing their faces. And that goes for the future: Tyson, Tony, Rob, Parvati – having them all on the Edge sucks but it’s better than remembering a minimal amount of episodes of them. Even more than Amber though, how good is Natalie? She snatched that advantage and is still playing wise by not letting on that she’s as perceptive as she is. Sure, she didn’t get water well, but she let us know she’s keeping her game secret from Amber and not giving her any ammo. She’s got two tokens now, incredible for only two episodes on the Edge. This twist is so critically panned, and I get it, even the incorporation of fire tokens is risky with people out of the game but it makes it fun, compelling, and so worth it. Once again, I don’t want Edge every season. But it’s worth it for milestones like this. Maybe if Blood vs Water happens again, bring it back. Then it’s Amber and Rob multiplied by ten, but not a regular newbie season. Something important, special, and great like this cast. Which, I have decided, beats Heroes vs Villains. This season is taking the crown, just wait. I can feel it.

Natalie and Amber sit, cold and alone in front of the fire, at the Edge of Extinction.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

THE TOP FIVE

Each episode, I will pick a top five for the week, based on what we’ve seen currently and previously. I will however leave out those on the Edge of Extinction, and reserve it for those still in the main game.

The players in the Top Five this week include:
Tony Vlachos, Parvati Shallow, Rob Mariano, Adam Klein, and Tyson Apostol.
IMAGES: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

TONY VLACHOS: I’m here for the Tony Winners at War run. And I think he can go all the way. I think people ARE underestimating him and seeing him as a loose cannon and not some incredible strategist. That’s frightening, but so good for Tony!

PARVATI SHALLOW: She got a vote, but she ain’t done yet. This was a quieter episode for Parvati, but every Tribal she survives is a miracle. I love watching Parvati play and she has a lot to be thankful for after that Tribal, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t great to watch.

ROB MARIANO: Name anybody who can easily convince a tribe to empty their bags. Just try. Rob has a cloud over this game that is so unrecognisable yet so blatant. He is one of the biggest faces of the game for a reason, and damn, this is my favourite Rob ever.

ADAM KLEIN: The guy is probably the best new schooler out, I think his level of thinking is off the charts and it’s something I wish we saw more of just in his original season! Adam is ready to fire, he’s locked and loaded, I expect him to return to the top five next week.

TYSON APOSTOL: This was the hardest spot, and although Tyson was a side character to this week’s showing, he never ceases to amaze me and I think he is managing to get back in with those in power better than Kim. I had no negatives, he stays at the top, just.

Huge honourable mentions go to Jeremy, Kim, Denise, Ethan and Yul! They’re all great, but I also had a reason not to include them. I wish Natalie could go up here, but I’m sticking to no Edge players, she’s great though! So is Amber.

I am SO excited for episode three and I really wanna get as much of this season as possible. I’m thoroughly impressed with this cast, they’re all fun to watch, with nothing to lose, and are stunning the hell out of me! If you’re sleeping on this season, wake up! It’s incredible. Even the advantage moments include some touching moments representing good basic gameplay and emotional thoughts. It was lost on a few viewers this week, but I was thoroughly entertained throughout. This. Season. Rocks.

Be sure to check out some other great content across the blog,including what I thought of the winners pre-season, my premiere Review, the Reviews of Australian Survivor and Married At First Sight! And join the conversation with me on Twitter and Instagram!

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The next episode of Survivor: Winners at War airs Thursday, 7:30pm on 9Go! in Australia, otherwise check your local TV guide!


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