Paranoia ran rampant through the tribe on Survivor: Winners at War. After the immunity challenge, it was like a spark went off and everyone kicked into overdrive trying to switch the target. It was so chaotic that it was like two live Tribal Council phases: before Tribal and during. All of this could’ve been avoided had one player stayed in the background and let a bigger threat be knocked out. This round goes to show that one conversation can steamroll into a huge and disastrous gameplay move and it was captivating to watch!
Before everything kicked off, the drama started with the post-Tribal Council reaction from Nick. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to feel upset and confused after being blindsided. After all, he did lose an ally and his alliances lied to him. However, he should’ve never openly shown his frustrations to the other tribemates. It made Nick look irritated and angry, like someone who was out for revenge and would never trust them again. Michele played it right. She was upset, but she kept it cool, calm and collected. No one looked at her as a liability to keep around and she avoided any major drama. Meanwhile, all eyes stayed on Nick because he was hurt.
Sarah’s ploy to get Nick to trust again was never going to work. His “eyes were opened” and he was going to stick to his feelings regardless. All Sarah did was put a huge target on her back. Now everyone is looking at her as someone playing social and tactical games to win over jury votes. She nearly became the target a few times, with the vote flipped on her in many instances before it settled between Adam vs. Nick. Sarah’s best move should’ve been to never give up the reward challenge. Nick’s birthday was what it was and she didn’t need to make a big show about it.
Both of the challenges were fun and typical Survivor staples. The best of the round is the immunity challenge. Standing on a balancing block on the ocean sound simple enough, but the movement of the waves made it one of the toughest endurance challenges ever. It’s so unpredictable how the waves and Mother Nature reacted and you could see players like Adam struggle to find balance because the water kept moving too fast. A great core is essential for this challenge.
Now, let’s get into the meat of “War is Not Pretty.” Nick seemed like the most obvious target for much of the early round; his name kept being thrown out and the others wanted to keep the movement going after Wendell’s elimination. Once the players thought of shifting the votes to Sarah, Adam, Tyson, or Michele, that’s when the tribe erupted into chaos. Part of that was due to Adam’s gameplay. If he had just played an “anyone-but-me” strategy, he would still be around and the tribe would’ve voted out Nick. The push to get Sarah eliminated caused the others to strategize and view him as an easy social threat to eliminate. He got thrown into the mix because people were talking.
The same tension extended right into Tribal Council. Adam’s paranoia and drive to stay put a huge target on his back. Part of the reason they turned the vote on him was to eliminate a social threat, but to also eliminate a paranoid gameplayer who would do whatever it took to stick around. His awkward confrontation with Ben summed up the entire experience of that Tribal Council: heated, uncomfortable, and chaos as the world moved around them. We should give Adam some kudos here because he fought right to the bitter end! He knew his name was on the chopping block and he didn’t give up until his torch got snuffed. It was a train wreck, but he fought his hardest to stay.
As an aside, there is no doubt that a hidden immunity idol will one day be at Tribal Council. Regardless of what Jeff Probst and the producers say at the moment, this twist will be one that will come in the future. Either the next season or a future Ghost Island sequel. The producers will thank Adam one day for inspiring this iconic gameplay.
Over at Edge of Extinction, I’m not a big fan of the Immunity Coin twist. The challenge to find the power was fun and a great callback to Survivor: Edge of Extinction, but these twists have become redundant and boring. How many powers need to be floating around in a season? Survivor is becoming a bit too much like a video game or board game. Strategy and the occasionally hidden immunity idol should be how someone gets the boot. As much as I love Big Brother and its twists, Survivor is doing too much.
“War is Not Pretty” showcased the rise and fall of Survivor paranoia. Adam’s game came to a heated climax in one of the most heated and tense Tribal Councils in all of Survivor history. Adam was never going to win Survivor: Winners at War, but he lost out on an easy GOAT final Tribal Council spot. If only he calmed down and let the others take each other out first.