After a two-week spring break hiatus that may as well have been two months, Survivor took to the airwaves once again on Thursday night.
If you’ve been following along, you know by now that I haven’t been a big fan of Season 18 and last night’s episode only furthered my indifference. There just isn’t anyone to rally behind or care about. Last season you had Sugar and Bob to root for. This season…nobody really stands out.
With this in mind, we return to the game to find Timbira up six players to five over Jalapao as the tribes prepare themselves for the inevitable merger.
Stephen and Taj struggled to decide whether or not to let JT know about their immunity idol — all for not when JT found it himself in Taj’s bag. Then it was up to Stephen to assure JT that he and Taj meant to tell him…JT seems to believe anything Stephen tells him which could be his downfall.
On the other side, Timbira have their advantage and swagger back. They also seem fairly united in their feelings towards the enigmatic Coach. In this episode Coach burns the team’s beans which leaves their meal and cooking pot ruined. Some of the team just chalk it up to Coach being Coach, while others, specifically Sierra, voice their displeasure with Coach. Coach is either going home soon, or players will realize he’s a guy nobody will award a million bucks to, so he could be valuable as we get closer to the end and players start thinking about the final three or four.
At the reward challenge the teams go toe-to-toe in a game of toss the ceramic pig, but ultimately Timbira wins, and sensing the cross-tribe friendliness, they send Joe to exile island for the first time. He chooses to take Erinn from Timbira with him to “work his charm on her.”
Joe and Erinn appear to have a successful first encounter on exile and they leave knowing that the hidden immunity idols are back at camp…what they don’t realize is that Taj, Stephen, Sierra and Brendan also have the clues they’ve seen and probably have already found the idols.
Back at camp, Taj and Stephen realize that Joe is coming back looking for the idol so they conspire to build a fake idol and hide it where Joe is sure to find it. Sure enough, Joe finds it in minutes leaving Taj and Stephen to chuckle to themselves – I can’t wait for Joe or one of his co-conspirators to play the fake idol as this is always a tribal council highlight.
Timbira go on to win the immunity challenge when JT stubbornly refuses to let his Jalapao teammates participate in a slingshot challenge. As a result of JT’s efforts, Timbira would go in to the probable merge up six to four.
Back at camp, the editors did everything they could to make us believe Taj was being blindsided, which as has become standard over the last few seasons means she isn’t going home. It’s this predictability of the show format which is also leading to my frustration with Survivor. Each week the flow is exactly the same. So, with that in mind it’s no surprise that Sydney, the weakest outsider on the Jalapao tribe was sent packing.
Next week we get the merge. What this entire season ultimately comes down to is the ability for the cross-tribe alliance of Taj and Stephen from Jalapao and Brendan and Sierra from Timbira to stay in the game and work together following the merge. This could save season 18 and get the game really going. If Timbira holds strong and begin picking off Jalapao, it’s over.