Throwing challenges is never a good idea on Survivor, but the Luvu tribe was onto something. “They Hate Me ‘Cause They Ain’t Me” continued their dominance on Survivor 41, which painted even bigger targets on their backs. We’ve seen in past seasons, like Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, how dominant tribes in the early phase get picked off one by one after the tribe swap and tribe merge. Luvu still holding onto their original 6-member line-up will come back to haunt them when the other players have the opportunity to target them. It’s very rare for a dominant tribe to keep that power until the finals, and yet “They Hate Me ‘Cause They Ain’t Me” was an anomaly for their continued success, even when they tried to not make it happen.
Danny and Deshawn weren’t trying hard enough to throw the immunity challenge. They had a complete obstacle course to find opportunities and they still couldn’t hinder their group to lose. Even with slowing down, how did Naseer and Erika pick up the slack so fast? Throwing a challenge should be easy, and if they really wanted to blindside Erika to keep Sydney in, they should’ve pushed harder to make it happen. If they get eliminated in the coming weeks, this will be one of the reasons why.
Sydney’s luck is strangely high in comparison to her poor gameplay. Typically, lashing out in a tribe and rubbing people the wrong way would be a valid reason to vote someone out. However, everyone wants to work with her and spill their secrets to her. Part of this could be due to the relationships she’s built while the rest could be due to her being an easy win against. We have to give her kudos for the work she’s put in so far—her telling Danny and Deshawn about Naseer’s campaigning built some strong bridges with them. Unless a tribe swap happens soon, she’ll keep riding that wave to take out Erika and Naseer while Luvu is still at the top.
“They Hate Me ‘Cause They Ain’t Me” was the first time Survivor included a reward challenge in a long while. It’s nice having the balance of two separate challenges, especially since it takes away from the time used for pointless advantages and powers. Reward challenges should still be kept as an uncommon occurrence. They’re fun to have around when they appear and can cause good conflict, but they’re also pointless when the rewards are very minor (like milk and cookies).
When it came to the tribes, Ua provided the most drama out of everyone during “They Hate Me ‘Cause They Ain’t Me.” This was the perfect case of paranoia, chaos, and the survival elements coming together to tear the tribe apart. Specifically, Shan and JD could become a reference example for future players of how to handle paranoia and come out with the upper hand. If Shan were competing against stronger players, she shouldn’t have walked away from the round in a much stronger position.
Seriously, she was exposed for her lies and omission about her secrets! Genie was furious leaving the Tribal Council (and rightfully so), but when Shan got exposed for knowing Brad’s steal-a-vote power, that should’ve been a bomb in the Ua tribe for her threat level. And the mess caused between JD and Shan fighting over the extra twist would’ve sealed her fate. JD gave up too easily; once Shan was exposed to Brad’s secret, that should’ve been the warning sign that she couldn’t be trusted. He had every justification to not give her the advantage—Shan had to prove her trust to him. Kudos to her and her gameplay for manipulating him into getting the power! As of now, Shan might be a great new villain for Survivor.
JD’s elimination was a long time coming. His poor performances during the immunity challenges would’ve been enough for his tribe to get him out, especially when they needed the capabilities to avoid Tribal Councils. But, him knowingly giving away that he had a secret power sealed his fate weeks ago. Having an advantage over his fellow players made him too much of a threat to keep around. Ricard and Shan used him for as long as they could, but the power was too dangerous as the numbers dwindled. JD handing the power over to Shan removed any value he gave to his alliances, so by giving away the one leverage that made him a huge target, he pushed himself out of the game. JD should’ve reined in his conversations to take control before it got out of hand.
“They Hate Me ‘Cause They Ain’t Me” brought Survivor 41 back to its roots with a round filled with strategy, manipulation, and chaos. Advantages played a minor part in the game, and instead, the focus was on relationships and strategy. These elements are what make Survivor fun and the game it is. Survivor 41 needs to follow these steps. Hopefully, the show takes notice of what works and sticks with this momentum instead of relying on powers.
Survivor airs new episodes Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.