A smashed hourglass turned back time, but it didn’t reverse the chaos unleashed by the many Survivor 41 twists. “There’s Gonna Be Blood” and “Betraydar” ushered in the second half of the Survivor season and kicked off the individual phase. After the awkward transition of starting the merge, the castaways jumped in headfirst to play the game. These two episodes served as great parallels to how Survivor 41 has been played: one that focused on the unpredictability of the powers, and the other that played with strategy and alliance lines. Together, they balanced each other out for all the shenanigans the game has brought on.
We all knew Erika would smash the hourglass and trigger the power. Come on, breaking the hourglass gifted her immunity! She would’ve made a wrong move not accepting the deal. Erika ended up in the perfect position because her dilemma involved a power that every member of her tribe would’ve taken; no one could hold it against her unless they wanted to burn a bridge. She played it smart by flying under the radar once she got back to camp—all the attention got placed on the players who could be voted out. Still, she needs to start playing Survivor 41 more aggressively. This move got handed to her, but she hasn’t done much to prove why she should win. Erika needs to rally her troops and be more cutthroat.
Liana, on the other hand, faltered in the worst possible way. The “Knowledge Is Power” advantage should only be used on a person with the least number of alliances and someone you’re willing to eliminate with minimal consequences. Using that power to betray her original tribe would’ve only burned the bridges from the people she had the strongest and longest connections. Was she that confident her new alliance would protect her to the end? She barely knew Shan, Deshawn, and Danny in the grand scheme of things. Liana should’ve used that power to steal the immunity idol from Naseer since she didn’t have much of a connection with him. Instead, it’ll be a miracle if Evvie, Xander, and Tiffany vote for her in the end.
The Tribal Council during “There’s Gonna Be Blood” could best be described as messy. “Live Tribal Councils” are fun when the possibilities could go anywhere; the players scramble to make a decision that doesn’t get them eliminated. The problem, however, is that they’re hard to follow narratively (we’ll get into this later). For this Tribal Council, there wasn’t a clear answer until the votes were read. Kudos to Xander, Evvie, and Tiffany for creating the fake idol and fooling Liana. Without that deception, one of them would’ve gotten the boot—it’s moves like these that build strong Survivor resumes and get them to the end. This move was how you play the game: outwit your enemies, flush out powers, and work their strategies against them. A spectacular deception!
Sydney getting the chop was more an error on her part instead of the others blindsiding her. All Sydney had to do was vote Evvie out of the game, and she would’ve survived—a tied vote would have led to a revote in her favor. This blunder shows that the twists hurt the players instead of helping them when they don’t know how to use the power. She knew the vote was tight, and the odds were better to vote with her allies. This twist only works best when a castaway knows the votes aren’t there to save them. Sydney became a casualty of her lousy move.
During “Betraydar,” Xander should’ve looked all over his bench for a potential clue or power. If there’s ever an opportunity where one person is forced to sit out, that’s a clear sign there is an opportunity to win power. It just recently happened to Erika, and it has happened in the past to other Survivor players. Xander barely checked around and underneath his bench for power; if he only looked under, he would’ve found something. Hopefully, this moment doesn’t come back to haunt him. With the original Yase tribe turning on each other, he needs any powers he can find.
And him being in the minority alliance won’t help his case. The majority alliance made the right call by floating around different target possibilities during the camp phase. Hearing several names heightens the paranoia and makes your enemies unsure what move they should make at Tribal Council. Tiffany and Xander had no idea who the real target was; that’s the level of uncertainty you want your target to have before heading into the votes.
The trick with this move is making sure alliance members are on the same page. The blindside worked in this case, but the strategy doesn’t have strength for future rounds. Based on the tension within the Core Four, it’s only a matter of time before they break up. Liana, Shan, Deshawn, and Danny don’t have the long-lasting foundation to keep them strong into the later phase. It’s a miracle they didn’t break up after the tension that rose before the vote. Their voting bloc will help them secure some safety for a time, but some of them will most likely turn on each other soon. The group should start planning its secondary alliances.
When it came to the Tribal Council on “Betraydar,” it was another chaotic mess of strategizing moments before voting. However, the process felt less messy than the previous round. The thrill of live Tribal Councils fade away when there are so many of them during a season; it has almost become standard at this point for players on Survivor to do this tactic. Survivor 41 was no exception. Following the narrative becomes exhausting, so it’s easier to wait until Jeff tells them to stop and the group votes. You can follow along in bits to see which names are floating around, but it’s hard to lock it down.
Tiffany getting the boot was retaliation for the failed vote on “There’s Gonna Be Blood.” After failing to get someone from Yase out, it was expected that someone from the minority trio would be eliminated next. The majority alliance is too strong at this point to get them to shift away. Unless Xander used his idol on Tiffany, someone from their group would be eliminated. We could see the next eliminations follow the same pattern unless something happens to break them apart. Let’s cross our fingers for distrust and paranoia to rip the game apart.
“There’s Gonna Be Blood” and “Betraydar” showed the height of live Tribal Councils on Survivor 41. Two rounds in a row where players scrambled to make sense of what was going on. Though, amid the drama, we as viewers were treated to solid gameplay and big moves we hadn’t seen in the past, including some bad moves that future players will remember to come. These are transition rounds into the next phase of the game, so hopefully the strategic drama picks up from here on out.
Survivor airs new episodes Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.