Survivor: Winners at War – “Another Layer Of Duplicity”

What happens when you throw two Survivor legends on the Edge? You’d have to see to believe it. Week 7 came and went, we’ve got villains, strategists, and without fail, heartbreaks.

With a double Tribal Council twist sending both Sandra and Parvati to the Edge of Extinction last week, a new test led to two very different decisions that have changed the game in a big way. But meanwhile in the game, the tribes are all level and looking at who’s threatening and who’s a liability before the impending vote. It was a huge week in Survivor: Winners at War, let’s break it down.

EPISODE 7 RECAP

Parvati and Sandra arrive on the Edge of Extinction much to the shock of everyone that had been voted out prior. They explain what went down, including Sandra revealing Denise’s devious plan and her own mistake, which led to some criticism from some of the departed players. Talk then begins on what life is actually like on the Edge, and within a couple of hours of staying, Sandra says goodbye, it’s not for her. The (currently) only two-time winner and four-time player has officially retired from the game, citing a miserable stay on the Edge of Extinction, clear inability to win any re-entry challenge, and fulfilled journey with Survivor as reasons to her early departure. It’s an unfortunate yer understandable moment. One I’ll talk about in the Review. But in the end, Sandra raises the flag on the Edge, hops on a boat, and officially leaves the season, falling in a definitive 20th place.

Still reeling from losing Parvati, Yul expresses some discomfort with Wendell’s comments at Tribal and openly trying to negotiate with her for fire tokens and possibly putting Yul at risk. To combat this, he decides to have an open conversation with Wendell about his strategy, which is well received by Wendell because of the honesty and integrity to bring forward his concerns and attempt to align on the same page. In the morning however, when Michele and Wendell speak about similar comments, Wendell’s attitude changes. As Michele compares their approach to the game, Wendell feels he’s being ‘schooled’ on how to play Survivor, and takes some offence because he, in his own right and approach, won the game too, just like her. This leads Yul to talk with Michele about Wendell and their conversation, both agreeing he’s dangerous and disagreeing with the tone in which he was talking in. Michele now seriously considers how she moves forward with her ex in the game, especially after giving him one of the three fire tokens Parvati sent her.

Tyson, Rob, Parvati and Ethan all talk together while standing on the beach of the Edge of Extinction.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

Back at the Edge, Ethan expresses concerns with her health while living on the punishing island to Parvati, who says he should think more positively as he progresses. Comfortable with Parvati as a friend, any doubts he had about continuing in the game are settled, for now. He then picks up a note from the flag and each of the seven Edge players learn a scavenger hunt is on to find four fire tokens scattered across the island. Rob’s the first to really get out there, but Tyson, knowing Rob would burn out, finds the first fire token, which everyone soon becomes aware of. Everyone now asks Tyson what to find and the remaining three are still out there, but no one can find any. They even strip and frisk to see if anyone’s lying, and nobody is. Or so they think. Rob, who instigated strip searching has secretly got the remaining three tokens hidden in his shorts pocket, proving he’s still firmly in the game and is here to play. The editing on this one was clever and enjoyable.

On Dakal, Tony expresses gratitude to Denise for making a big move and thus become more prevalent as a threat, possibly overshadowing him, even if it meant a close ally of his in Sandra was the sacrifice for it. But that’s not necessarily the case for Jeremy, who still sees Tony as a massive threat to his game, and probably in trouble if Dakal happens to attend yet another Tribal Council. Meanwhile, the plan discussed two episodes ago for Kim to jump ship to the Sele two is brought up again, with Kim expressing desire to work with Jeremy and Denise, even though she has a connection to Tony. She reaffirms her loyalty to Denise, who wisely accepts and makes Kim feel comfortable, despite only just being voted out by her the Tribal prior. Denise has to be open to it because it’s all she’s got. And now Jeremy and Denise might be in the power position just by taking out Sandra days before.

On Yara, the tribe enjoys leftover peanut butter and jelly from the former reward win, but while Sophie and Sarah remain tight, tension is building between Adam and Ben. Ben asserts that Adam will be the next to go while Adam theorises that he or Sarah have the Yara idol. He even brings this up with Sophie, who does have the idol, feeling confident that he’s being fooled and one of them have it. Sophie shares this with Sarah and Ben, leading Sarah to defend herself to Adam and offer to empty her bags for proof. Adam still doesn’t buy it and is now left to do damage control as the other three swear to him they would tell him if they found the idol. If Yara faces Tribal, Adam’s the sitting duck, no doubt.

Dakal, Yara and Sele compete in the Immunity Challenge to prevent them from voting out another tribe member, and a resulting numbers loss to 3.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

At the Immunity Challenge, the tribes must transport a large saucer, filling it with water, as they navigate across obstacles to pour it into a well. Filling the well drops a bag of puzzle pieces, as two then begin to work on a classic Survivor puzzle. Yara chooses to take a slow and steady approach, while Dakal and Sele (equipped with backtalk from Wendell) try to move much faster. Both Dakal and Sele can’t drop their puzzle pieces with their one trip, but Yara’s slow approach puts them in the lead with Sophie and Ben working on the puzzle. Dakal and Sele aren’t too far behind, as they begin to work on their puzzle as well. Denise and Jeremy work for Dakal, and Michele and Wendell for Sele. The early lead for Yara launches them into a first place victory, with Dakal and Sele trading leads, going back and forth with remaining puzzle pieces right until the end. Wendell grabs Probst’s attention, and suddenly Dakal places the last piece in a mere second before Sele. Perhaps Wendell’s talk to Probst may have been detrimental to their victory after all.

Sele returns to camp with eyes staring at Wendell for his performance in the challenge and straightforward comments over the past few days. Nick is furious with Sele’s loss, and specifically, Wendell’s showboating. He and Yul agree to vote Wendell, and telling him they’re voting Michele. But Wendell and Michele agree to vote Yul believing he will try to put the two of them against each other. Even though their relationship is strained, Wendell needs Michele, and Nick, to survive. Yul and Nick talk to Michele about blindsiding Wendell, but the fire token dilemma is also pivotal to navigate around. To gain Wendell’s fire tokens on their side, Yul comes up with a plan but wants one token in exchange. This strategy then sounds off alarm bells to Nick who is weary of working with such a strategic force in Yul. Using Wendell or abiding by Yul’s strategic leadership is the theme for the vote, with Nick and Michele struggling to come to the right but difficult decision.

At Tribal Council, the near-close victory is discussed, as well as the decimation of old school players, with Yul the last one left to carry the torch. Jeff theorises whether the game is too fast for those players now, but while Yul acknowledges that it is different, he clearly understands the plethora of strategies surrounding the fire tokens and working through the new game. Michele and Wendell’s former relationship is again brought up, with Wendell once again coming under fire for his individual comments and not openly discussing his care for Michele or his alliance. Nick wholeheartedly believes this was his ideal final four, openly admitting he’d work with them if he was voted out but came back from the Edge. Wendell says it would sting, and he’d make an effort but acknowledges the lies. Yul says he would be bitter, but it’s the only option he might have if he comes back. The tribe then votes, and in a 3-1 vote, Yul becomes the last old school player voted out of the game, sent to the Edge of Extinction. He chooses to gift his two fire tokens separately to Sophie and Sarah.

Yul, the last player remaining representing the first ten years of the show, is voted out and sent to the Edge of Extinction, as Jeff snuffs his torch.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

REVIEW

Not another old schooler! This is a fantastic season, but damn, all the best faces that we’ve wanted to see battle it out for years just went out systematically! That’s insane! Eight of them, voted out, one by one. Who could have predicted such a decimation? The merge and first re-entry is next week, which means there’s a 7 of 8 chance one comes back. But damn, if they turn around and go home I’ll be pissed. Let the old schoolers live! PLEASE!

YUL BE SCREAMING AT THE OLD SCHOOL WIPEOUT

Our last hope. The one we wanted to carry us into the merge. Gone. I understand why. Michele and Nick realised Wendell, despite his shortcomings, was loyal and a worthy ally to them. He’s a straight shooter but that means he’s likely going to stick to his word for a while. Yul would just as easily jump onto the ship of Sophie and Sarah when push comes to shove. He’s also incredibly strategic, a great thinker, and wanted a fire token in exchange one Wendell gave his to Michele (presuming he did so). That was clearly going to be too much for Nick and Michele, so where did Yul go wrong? Already, Yul was a giant strategic threat. His legacy was huge, and it was around for a while. Escaping the knowledge that he was an analytical thinker was always going to be a tough ask. But, at least what we’re shown from the edit, Yul’s strategy to gain Wendell’s fire tokens was too much. It put a huge target on him. I don’t think he quite expected to be the target either. He trusted Nick and Michele, he didn’t see that those two were running the vote and the decision that was going to be made. Props to Nick and Michele for that. But damn, I wish Yul realised and kept a back seat on his ideas. It may have bought him those extra few days. I was also pretty confident Yul was going to go just from the first scene from Sele beginning with Yul and the edit that began to unfold. It never looked good, and I see the value in keeping Wendell. Now, there’s eight old schoolers all out of the game, with seven vying for a chance to get back in. But how long their stay will be, it’s hard to tell. I certainly think Yul has a real chance to get back in edit and challenge prowess wise, so maybe it’s only a short stay on the island and Yul can make it back in. If he does, there’s half a chance he gets turned around and sent back there. But out of all the people living on the Edge, I think Yul has a real shot to make his time back in the game count and stay for at least a few more days than just going at the merged Tribal. I’ll touch on everyone else in the Edge paragraph. But I’m disappointed another old schooler left the game and given that it’s the legend Yul, it hurts even more. He’s such a great and kind guy, all my love goes out to him and what he’s doing with his life, including awareness of ALS and raising donations for Penner and his wife Stacy. That’s just incredible. And Yul’s a truly memorable man and Survivor player.

SANDRA SAYS GOODBYE

Calling this season her retirement for playing Survivor, Sandra’s elimination from Survivor: Winners at War and stay on the Edge of Extinction was short lived. Not even choosing to stay two hours, Sandra decided that raising the flag and calling time on her run this season was the best decision, simply knowing the miserable nature of living on the island was not going to be worth it for two re-entry competitions that she had no chance of winning. I’m very much in two heads about it, on the one hand, I totally understand where Sandra is coming from, because she certainly had no chance to ever win those challenges. But watching Sandra play four times, win twice, and never serve on a jury; not having her say amongst everyone else in who will ultimately win the game and without even spending one night, it just sucks. And it’s a little bit entitled to say that, but it would have been awesome watching the two-time winner help pass the crown to someone else. But in comparison, someone like Reem, who was first voted out and wasn’t the physical beast like Joe, Chris or Rick in the original Edge of Extinction season, she toughed it out and survived all those days to never get back in. You may ask and ponder that given they’re similar, Reem is better for being able to survive through it all? But Sandra didn’t have the same goals as Reem, she didn’t need to prove to herself she could tough it out. She won her $2 million, she goes home. She has nothing to prove to anyone and fighting it out for so long, she didn’t have to do it. Even as I write this, I accept Sandra leaving the Edge and think it was the right move. It just sucks. It sucks she didn’t want to stick it out, she didn’t want to go through it with everyone else, didn’t want to be on the jury, and didn’t want to be a part of this season the whole run. But I sympathise with her making that decision because it made sense for her personally. But now we look at her legacy. And there’s a lot of debate over whether it ruins her legacy or not. I think it’s neither black nor white. Her legacy would be amazing as solely a two-time winner. That’s a 100% perfect success rate. But if she had only played thrice (not including her time on Game Changers), with a win, win, then voted out Day 16 and leaving the Edge – I think that wouldn’t tarnish her legacy either. She wins twice, comes back for an all-winners season, and lost and left. I get that. What hurts Sandra is that third appearance which wasn’t necessary. Now it goes win, win, pre-merge boot, pre-merge boot and leaves without a second chance. It just drops a little. It’s no longer ‘perfect’ in the sense of what it once was. Sandra staying would have kept it alive a little bit longer. The note she’s finished on doesn’t sit well with me and I can’t look at Sandra as one of the best players to ever play, instead she’s up there but not right near the top as she once was for me. Sandra, a great player who’s legacy and threat level was higher than the player she actually is. Sandra’s reign as a two-time winner is exactly what bit her twice afterwards. She was never even a threat in Heroes vs Villains, when she was just a one-time winner. Her legacy surpassed her. But what can be said most of all, is that Sandra is the only two-time winner who’s achieved it without the guarantee of there being a second winner. No matter who wins this current season, there will be a two-time winner. It’s written in stone. Sandra achieved that without this guarantee, and it’s for that reason her legacy, while it may not be as it once was, remains within Survivor folklore. Does it suck she left early? Yes. Was it the right decision? For her, yes. Is her legacy over? Never. Long live Sandra, the queen. And may her Survivor career live on throughout the show’s run.

THE YARA TRIBE

Adam was SCREWED on this tribe if they didn’t win Immunity. The faction of Ben, Sarah and Sophie was just too strong and they really didn’t cut Adam any slack for it. He’s just getting beaten around at this point and it sucks for the guy. I get that he’s not the most loyal of players but damn, Ben just kicked him to the curb. Adam was nearly on the money too, he was wrong about Sophie having the idol and believing Sarah or Ben had it, but I equally think Adam isn’t convinced Sophie is firmly part of the trio. I think he believes his ‘in’ is with Sophie, so that blinded him from seeing that she herself has the idol. Instead, he assumed the faction against him has the idol, and for that, he is right. Because Sophie is firmly a part of that faction. But damn Ben and Adam’s relationship is problematic and not getting any better. At the merge, we see them already having words and targeting each other potentially. Adam’s goose might be cooked at the merge because he’s in a world of trouble, quite honestly. Can he scramble to get numbers? It’s possible but I’m unsure. I think the merge will focus on Adam because of his edit and his position amongst both the original Sele tribe and the swapped Yara tribe. I would no be surprised if he’s the merge boot, and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter is for these four and watching them self destruct, because they most certainly will.

THE DAKAL TRIBE

After a week off, Kim’s storyline of options and being able to flip to Jeremy and Denise is back. I wondered where it went. It seems like filler for Dakal when they aren’t going to Tribal, it’s a recurring theme they need to create suspense where possible. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Kim did jump ship, but for now, maybe this four will stay together at the merge. Even with Denise getting all their votes, she’s got Kim and Jeremy pretty locked up now and only Tony would join them, unless he flipped to Sophie and Sarah, which is probably more plausible. But damn, I’m still so impressed with how analytical Denise plays this game. She’s amazing at the strategy and really was underrated coming into this season. I forgot how good she is. She’s crunching numbers and staying calm throughout her time in the game. She’s not letting the three that voted her feel uncomfortable that she stayed by playing the idol, and her calming and endearing tone with Kim to assure her that she wants to work with her is just social genius. Denise is my favourite player right now, because she’s truly got a handle of how the game should be played and understands what is required of her moving forward from being on the bottom and in a vulnerable position. Tony is still a present and current key player in the game, still. That makes me think he is gearing towards a long run in the game or a big downfall. But his edit is still relatively negative, and he is 0 for 3 in trying to get his way with boots. That’s what makes me doubt him. Kim on the other hand has had a good underdog claiming her options storyline, but she hasn’t been consistent for it to make too much of a convincing impact on me. That’s worrisome for Kim and her ability to win just on the edit alone. But her game seems to have come full circle from being on the bottom. Let’s hope it stays that way at the merge. For Jeremy, I like him a lot. He’s got a great energy to the game and we didn’t get too much from him this week to really have much say on his chances on the game. But he’s a strong player who has made the merge again. Jeremy might have another deep run, very deep, for that matter.

Jeff hands the Dakal tribe Immunity after a super close victory against Sele.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

THE SELE TRIBE

Damn Nick and Michele had a tough decision to make and I do think, as much as it hurts, Yul was the better vote option. Wendell is a shield for his commentary and being such a big player, so if they do land in the minority at the merge, Wendell might bury himself enough to be the target. Equally, Wendell will have limited options to work with and trust, whereas Yul would always have people to choose from and people that would be open to working with him, because he’s such a strategic player that people could approach. Michele and Nick have Wendell in their grasp, and they’ll make a move on him before they ever need to worry about him making a move on them. He owes them now too. He’s got the negative edit but someone has to get it right? I do believe the comparisons and conclusions that Michele is “still in love with him” are just entirely inaccurate and going too far. Can a woman not make a decision for herself without it being brought around to her attention seeking for a man? You guys are getting a few minutes of several days out there! Don’t believe everything you see or make assumptions of it. Michele and Nick made a strategic decision, and Michele’s prior relationship with Wendell, despite how rocky it may have been, has some value to her and to him that assists with them working in the game. Yul is still an unknown entity, and his legacy as a great strategic winner only adds to the mistrust Michele and Nick already had in him from earlier in the day. I think these three are going to stick together come merge, it’s unlikely Wendell will waver but Nick and Michele are seemingly tight and indebted to Wendell as well, which presents them as a strong block of three that will be advantageous to others who need them. Michele’s arc is really strong, and I’m enjoying what she’s giving us and how she’s navigating through situations. She broke up the ‘tight’ alliance from the original Dakal, so she’s doing very well when she has to bring it. That’s super important going into the merge. It’ll be interesting to see how long these three will hold up, and who will turn on who, first.

HE’S STILL GOT IT

The Edge segment really offered up a lot to us, Parvati’s arrival still hurts, so hopefully she’ll manage to make some use of her stay there and maybe re-enter the game. I don’t like her odds though. Tyson’s ability to grab a fire token and keeping us laughing, again, speaks to hoe amazing of a character he is. Everyone was looking at him as the threat to beat for the tokens, but Rob is no doubt the one to watch there. He picked up at three and kept them all hidden from everyone else, instigating the search and frisk to ensure they weren’t all found and keep suspicion off of him. He’s a forward thinker, excellent finder and is just strong at many values of the game. I can see Rob buying all three advantages and working his way back in, that would be fun, although I worry he’ll just turn around and come back to the Edge. Somehow, I don’t think he’ll win, and my money is on either Tyson or Ethan to come back. Ethan’s reprisal of his story and talk of defeat seemed to be just situated at the right place and right time. He’s got one fire token, so he can buy an advantage, and edit wise Ethan has stayed around for a while and the reminder of his story seemed just too convenient before the re-entry challenge to make me think maybe Ethan is the surprise return to the game. I’ll lock in Ethan as first, Tyson in second, Yul in third, Rob fourth, Natalie fifth, and everyone else to flail on after. That’s the edit and fire token count talking for me. Natalie’s appearance has just wiped out completely since she stopped finding advantages. So I think she was only around when she was needed. The boys seem to fair better in the challenge just based on stats alone, with Rick and Chris winning them in season 38. It’ll be absolutely exciting to see who will return, and I bloody want them all to come back but an old schooler would just be awesome to keep the flag up (sorry Natalie!). Who do you think will return from the Edge? Let me know in the comments before the big episode hits this week.

THE TOP FIVE

The players in the Top Five this week include:
Kim Spradlin-Wolfe, Tony Vlachos, Michele Fitzgerald, Sophie Clarke, and Denise Stapley.
IMAGES: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

KIM SPRADLIN-WOLFE: She’s got options! Kim really managed to stand up and out of her bottom pole position and stay in between two alliances at the swap. Plus, she’s got an idol! She’s in the merge pretty set, hopefully.

TONY VLACHOS: He’s in trouble but the king made the merge! Tony has a really good opportunity to capitalise from this position. I trust he’s going to be a pivotal player in the upcoming votes.

MICHELE FITZGERALD: Integrating herself within the Dakal three, Michele held all the cards this week and seemingly decided how she wanted her future game to turn out to be. I like the fire, let it burn!

SOPHIE CLARKE: I laugh at how good Sophie is socially, preventing Adam for suspecting she has the idol and yet still being firmly on the side with Sarah and Ben. Sophie is a threat, but nobody quite knows it yet.

DENISE STAPLEY: The greatest analytical thinker we may have ever seen. Denise is such a masterful player in this game and thankfully her legacy isn’t so threatening for her to get taken out for it. She’s a LEGEND!

Honourable mentions go to Adam and Jeremy. Sarah comes in next, with Wendell, Nick and Ben all trailing. To the Edge players, Parvati, Yul, Rob, Natalie, Tyson, Ethan and Amber are all, still, amazing! Danni comes in towards the back, but we should see more from her, if we can!

What are your thoughts about the latest Survivor: Winners at War episode? Will the old schoolers have any real chance at winning the game again? Let me know in the comments below or on the various social media links.

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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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