Survivor: Winners at War – “New Season Who ‘Dis?”

Tribe swap time! And you better believe did it create even more drama and awkward encounters than before! There was a lot to fit in this week but Winners at War remained as a super success story.

This week, no Edge of Extinction scene. Instead, we needed to really get to know the three new tribes and decipher the dynamic that was building across them, the game didn’t slow down, and neither did my continued excitement.

EPISODE 5 RECAP

On the morning of Day 12, Nick comments on being relieved after sending Tyson home, and how Dakal is a close and cohesive unit. Nick also has a change of heart about Tyson after being gifted his fire token, and wonders if it can turn a new leaf if Tyson manages to re-enter the game. Elsewhere, Yul talks with Sarah and Wendell about his Cook Islands tribe mate Jonathan Penner, and how his wife Stacy has now been diagnosed with ALS, losing control of most of her body, only able to move her eyes. This story is heartbreaking for fans and Yul, with Yul using it as the fuel to win the game in honour of them and helping them and their family. Something bigger than himself, as awareness and aid for ALS is a bigger battle worldwide.

Dakal and Sele walk onto the beach for an expected tribe swap, but the 15 remaining players are separated into tribes of five. The new tribe is yet another green auxiliary tribe (as every auxiliary tribe has been since season 33), Yara. The new tribe breakdown is as such:
New Sele: Michele, Parvati, Wendell, Nick, and Yul.
New Dakal: Tony, Sandra, Kim, Jeremy, and Denise.
New Yara: Sophie, Sarah, Rob, Adam, and Ben.
New relationships and old foes are back together again, and this season is forever changing, with so many different dynamics running across all three tribes both in an out of this particular season.

The new Dakal tribe, with tribe members consisting of three former Dakal (Tony, Sandra & Kim), and two former Sele (Jeremy & Denise).
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

On the new Dakal, Jeremy marvels at the excellent shelter built by Wendell, but perhaps is even more concerned about the minority split of old Sele and Dakal, with him and Denise needing a third to join them. In a conversation with Kim, he learns that she is open to swinging over after being on the outs, but Denise gets a better understanding when she and Kim find some common social ground between each other. Kim sounds on board to shake something up with her new tribe members. Elsewhere, Tony and Sandra discuss being big threats yet holding a 3-2 majority on the tribe. They agree Kim is a major player that can act as a shield, but with Kim in the middle, Tony must schmooze her as much as possible to keep Dakal strong. Kim tells us that while she is considering it, she isn’t sure it is the best option for her because she doesn’t trust Tony or Sandra, at all. Being in the middle, it’s not an envious position for her.

On the new Sele, Nick enjoys having his closest allies on his new tribe, as well as the numbers majority over Michele and Parvati. The girls are desperate for an opening though, even if Parvati has to mingle with old foe Yul, who tells her that his wife’s favourite player is her. She also bonds with Nick over his high school crush over her, with her infectious and iconic laugh returning to my TV screen. But the most awkward encounter, it’s Michele and Wendell’s former relationship that didn’t end on the best note. They discuss whether the situation will be awkward, with Wendell telling us they were just kicking it, but Michele noting it was an actual relationship. Michele and Parvati discuss on the beach, with Michele describing that Wendell kept his distance, much like in their relationship. They know the three are seemingly tight, and if Michele has to separate the game and relationships, she will. No matter what.

On the brand new Yara, the five are not shocked to learn there’s nothing at camp, starting from scratch. The most dysfunctional trio from Sele are together – Ben, Adam and Rob. Sarah and Sophie quickly learn that these three have some bad blood, and with Sarah’s steal a vote advantage, there are opportunities other than relying on the cracks between the three. Sarah and Sophie quickly have conversations with the boys gaining all the information and discussing a blindside within the Sele faction. An idol hunt is soon on with all five vastly searching on their new beach. Rob is new to this style of play, and his little experience isn’t unnoticed when Sophie manages to find the idol and keep it secured in her pocket. Much like the half she got from Kim (and returned to her), Sophie must give a half to someone else before sundown, selecting Sarah because she can only trust her on Yara.

At the Immunity Challenge, all five tribe members must compete throw some obstacles, then throw some sandbags to knock down four large coloured cubes, and then use those cubes to assemble a pattern with no repeating colours. The first two to finish, win Immunity. Yara gets out to an early lead, with Dakal out behind early. Yara quickly knocks down their cubes, with Sophie and Adam working on the puzzle. Sele are next to start the puzzle, with Parvati and Wendell working on the final stage. Dakal then gets to the final stage with Denise and Sandra working on the puzzle, quickly trying to work from behind their time advantage. Wendell and Parvati gain some momentum, and are the first to win Immunity. Not much later, Yara begins to self destruct as Dakal claims Immunity as well.

After their first loss as a new tribe, the three Sele boys head off to the well to discuss the vote, and agree to vote Sarah. But Rob’s wanting to solidify that no one gets a chance to work against someone else, and employs the buddy system, where all three guys stick together at the shelter, so neither Sarah or Sophie can discuss with either of them what the vote should be. It’s long, boring, and tiresome. But that’s Boston Rob’s dictatorship. He rules it all and even if Adam and Ben aren’t happy about it. No one speaks out against the godfather. Sarah and Sophie talk about voting out Rob, simply because of his dictatorship, and hope they can swing Ben and Adam over, otherwise they are willing to lose their arsenal of advantages if they feel uncomfortable at Tribal.

At Tribal Council, Sophie talks about the varying alliances that are present on this tribe than her previous season. Sophie and Sarah discuss the game at camp and the buddy system that was implemented preventing them from even trying to squeeze through a crack, or opportunity, that might otherwise benefit some or all of a vote. When the tribe votes, Sarah and Sophie both choose to not play either advantage, relying on the blindside discussed briefly before Tribal. While Rob votes for Sarah, everyone blindsides Rob 4-1, leaving him annoyed, and awaiting a reunion with his wife, Amber, on the Edge of Extinction. Thanks to Amber, he now has two fire tokens to gift, and chooses to boost Parvati’s total count to four.

Rob is voted out despite an extensive effort to survive all season, as Jeff snuffs his torch at Tribal Council.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

REVIEW

Okay so now I’m convinced I need to start wishing my favourites go to see someone lower on my personal list get the boot. I really like the tribe swap, it is a great opportunity for new friends and while I’m usually opposed to going into three, I like it for this season. Jeff is right, it does have little wiggle room for everyone, and Rob was on the worst possible situation for him. We’ll discuss that first.

THE ROBFATHER LOSES THE BATTLE

Despite weeks of the Sele tribe looking to target those around him, finally, the trigger is pulled and aiming right for Rob Mariano himself. Look, as much as I wanted Rob to stay, this episode really was spiralling into a downfall and eventual defeat that I saw coming. It was the first boot I completely expected this season, and Rob really got screwed by circumstance. Firstly, the two people he was least connected with or barely had a chance to keep close were Adam and Ben. He and Adam have gone at it before. And he and Ben were surrounded in mistrust. That was the raw deal. Then on that, Sarah has a vote steal to take his vote anyway, and Sophie had the idol which was half a chance to keep them safe. Granted, they never used them. But if Ben and Adam weren’t as tight as they appeared to the plan, then it’s likely Sarah at least plays her advantage. Rob’s buddy system strategy was never gonna hold up with winners either. They still got the better of him, and it only added to Adam and Ben’s motivation to cut him loose. I think Rob screwed himself by employing this strategy, but in an already screwed situation that likely would have had the same result. I can’t wait to see how he holds up on the Edge, and I think he’s got a fair shot at getting back into the game, quite honestly. I am excited to see the reunion with Amber, and while he may be out, Rob’s sage certainly won’t be finished. Hopefully he can funnel all advantages possible to Parvati. For old times sake.

THE YARA TRIBE

I think it can be heavily debated if keeping Rob or cutting him was a good move for Adam and Ben. I think it was a good one. Rob most certainly flips and does whatever he can to keep himself and only himself safe. Take the Lex situation in Survivor: All-Stars for example. Ben and Adam were aware of just how powerful Rob can be after spending so many days with him already, and then when he’s literally dictating them to stay at the shelter, they had to take the shot while they could. Too much could go wrong if they didn’t do it right away. And now they have a bond with Sophie and Sarah that may carry through to the merge and possibly the end. That’s so much better than relying on Sarah’s advantage to get the job done, and then go back to camp with a pissed off Sarah. You gotta take your shots while you have the opportunity. And do I think this will be the final four? Hell no. But it’s a step in the right direction. Then there’s Sarah and Sophie and damn these girls did so well despite being in the minority. Sophie is incredibly analytical and really impressed me by finding an idol and staying off the hit list. For Adam to throw Sarah’s name as the target for the Sele three, it shows he feels very connected to Sophie over Sarah. Sarah also has a pretty impressive resume in my opinion. She’s also a lot more likeable this time and isn’t so cutthroat like she was in Game Changers. I really like this pair going forward, it’s unlikely, but exciting. Well done to all four this week. Colour me impressed. Also just on a side note, since the auxilary tribes began in Second Chance, there have been seven times the twist has been used. And six (the last six) of those seven, they have all been green. It’s bad enough when the same colour scheme is used often like Orange and Purple. But damn why can’t we have an auxiliary yellow tribe again or something? Something else! Damn. But then again, when the worst thing about this season is a green tribe, you know it’s pretty good.

THE SELE TRIBE

Damn this Michele and Wendell relationship is really something, huh? I thought maybe the storyline would be them turning over a new leaf and working as a strong power duo, but lol, maybe not. Yes, it’s still possible. But another half of me suspects that it’s the beginning of Wendell’s demise with Michele ready to snuff him ASAP. How her and Parvati achieve that in their current setting, I’m not sure. But it’s certainly exciting to watch. I also love the contrast from how Wendell and Michele both describe their former relationship. From we dated and it was ugly to, “we kicked it”. It’s bloody hilarious! Wendell’s a good laugh. And Michele is on fire. They’re both great players, I’m loving them this season. Parvati was really the Parvati I know and love this week. From her hilarious confessional describing Michele and Wendell’s past to her flirtatious yet subtle chat with Nick about his former crush on her. She’s just great television and I really hope she’s around for a few more episodes. The double Tribal twist scares me, but her iconic partnership with Michele is awesome and I’ll take what I can get for now. I love Parvati. Hopefully her now four fire tokens won’t go to waste and she can buy something that solidifies her placement as one of the best (I’ll call her the best, but I get that it’s subjective) to play ever. Parvati must be protected at all costs! I also really liked what we saw from Nick this week. He’s a good thinker but I also think a little regimented to what he knows, staying loyal to that through and through. This gives me little hope he’ll jump ship for Parv and Michele. Whether that would be a smart move or not, I’m not sure. But I doubt it’ll be Nick that becomes the swing. We’ll see. Yul is so precious. Seeing him get really emotional over Penner and Stacy’s battle of her ALS diagnosis really hit that the disease is absolutely terrible and for Yul to be supportive of that and drive his win towards that, it’s inspiring. He’s an incredible human and a fantastic friend. Much love to Yul this episode, and spoiler alert, there’s a top five spot for the precious moment.

The tribe of past relationships, the new Sele tribe is connected variously in and out of Survivor, as three former Dakal (Nick, Yul & Wendell) join two former Sele (Parvati & Michele) on the new tribe.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

THE DAKAL TRIBE

Yesssss! Kim’s got some damn power on this tribe and we love to see it! I definitely think her and Denise is a good pairing socially and strategically. I don’t know if her and Jeremy would be as strong, but considering she doesn’t trust Tony or Sandra, I actually think it’s wise for Kim to jump ship and form new connections with the Sele folks if she can. Tony is scary and unpredictable, and Sandra is sneaky and willing to cut anyone at any point. Kim’s got a lot of power here, and I hope she uses to her best advantage. jump ship Kim! JUMP SHIP! Also loving Denise and Jeremy, and Jeremy’s always fun in confessionals which I appreciate and love. I hope they can work their way out of this one, because I do like both of them. Tony’s also one of the best characters ever. And even more so than ever, quite honestly. This whole tribe is great, and I love all five. But when I’m looking at Sandra as the one I would want to cut most out of all five, it’s saying something. That’s just how good this cast (and tribe) is! I love all five. Oh my god. I don’t want anyone gone!

NO EDGE, SO NOW WHAT?

I’ve got no Edge segment to discuss. Cue sad face. While I get why it was cut and am glad it was considering how much content we just got this episode, it does suck we miss out on seeing Tyson integrate himself on the dynamics with the other four. We need longer episodes, screw CBS for not providing that for us. It’s a shame. There’s been a lot of speculation over whether next week is a double Tribal or combined Tribal. Many are going either which way. Truthfully, I don’t think we can really be accurate based on Jeff’s teaser. He says that both tribes will go to Tribal and vote someone out. That’s very open to interpretation. Logically, I would guess and suggest it should be two Tribals, and two boots. But given that the episode is only an hour, and the recent run of two tribes visiting Tribal has been combined, I’ll bet that it’s only one boot. If it WAS a double, this is what would need to be crammed into the 40 minutes of run time:
Rob entering the Edge of Extinction and reuniting with Amber.
The Edge of Extinction scene, which we know is appearing.
Yara before the challenge.
Dakal before the challenge.
Sele before the challenge.
The Immunity Challenge.
Tribe A after the challenge.
Tribe B after the challenge.
Tribe A at Tribal Council and voting someone out.
Tribe B at Tribal Council and voting someone out.
Already it seems too jam packed without one extra Tribal, but the schedule shows it’s only an hour-long episode so yeah, I’ll go with what is one Tribal Council for $1000 thanks Alex. But, we won’t know until we see it. Either way, both situations put my favourites doubly at risk and it’ll make for compelling TV. I’ll get my candles lit and ready for Parvati and here’s hoping Rob Cesternino’s declaration about Rob and Amber in Survivor: All-Stars doesn’t come true this season. (If you know… you know!).

While the result was predictable once Yara lost and Rob put up his buddy strategy, I still really enjoyed this week’s showing and waiting until next week is just a fate I hate reliving every week. We can get through it together!

THE TOP FIVE

The players in the Top Five this week include:
Sophie Clarke, Yul Kwon, Michele Fitzgerald, Parvati Shallow, and Sarah Lacina.
IMAGES: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

SOPHIE CLARKE: She claimed an idol, she built trust with Sarah, she kept her name off the target list thanks to her bond with Adam so far, and she added Rob to her Survivor career hit list. This was Sophie’s episode.

YUL KWON: Like many, I was so excited to see Yul finally return to the game for the winners edition, and not only is he playing exceptionally well, he’s got an amazing story he’s fighting for. It’s amazing.

MICHELE FITZGERALD: New season who ‘dis? GOLD! Michele has really upped her game to the max this season and she’s a fantastic social and strategic player. Michele was just fun television this week, so she’s in the top five.

PARVATI SHALLOW: Either you love her or hate her, and Parvati is firmly up high on the list for the love category for me. She’s dealing with awkward situations on Sele, and laughing all the way through. She ain’t leaving this spot.

SARAH LACINA: I’m just really enjoying what Sarah is putting out there this time. She’s such an incredible strategist and thinker, even though I doubted her preseason, it wouldn’t surprise me if she won yet again.

Honourable mentions this week are designated for Tony, Kim, and Jeremy. Closely followed are Adam, Denise, Ben, and Wendell. Nick and Sandra nevertheless, are great to watch as well. And while we didn’t see them, Natalie, Amber, Tyson, and Ethan are still my favourites. Gone too soon.

What are your thoughts about Survivor: Winners at War so far? Did you see Rob’s exit coming? And what do you think next week’s boot will be, a double or combined Tribal? Let me know in the comments below or on the various social media links.

As the world starts to really crack down on COVID-19, I wish you all good health and ask you to stay safe. Hopefully, like it is for me, Survivor is a well needed distraction from the current affairs around the world. See you next week!

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The next episode of Survivor: Winners at War airs Thursday, 7:30pm on 9Go! in Australia, 8:00pm Wednesday on CBS in the US, otherwise check your local TV guide!


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