To make the big move or not to make the big move? That is the question on Survivor 41. By any other name, the outcome would be so sweet for viewers (and for their Survivor resumes). “Who’s Who in the Zoo” and “Baby With a Machine Gun” toyed with the same narrative of the castaways deciding if they should make cutthroat moves.
Ultimately, one episode took the opportunity while the other played it safe. Based on the two, the round where the move happened (“Baby With a Machine Gun”) was far and above more interesting and one of the best episodes of Survivor 41. Let’s call this poetic justice for future castaways to take the hint.
“Who’s Who in the Zoo” fell victim to the same trap that has plagued Survivor throughout its 21-year history. Specifically, those players outside of the power alliance are scared to team up and overthrow the big alliance. We’ve seen this work in some past seasons, like Survivor: Marquesas and Survivor: Samoa, but the trend sticks to the outside players standing back trying to break into the power group. Deshawn, Shan, Danny, Liana, and Ricard were in a powerful position; there was no reason for them to turn on each other by Episode 9. The outside players of Xander, Evvie, Naseer, Erika, and Heather would’ve stood a better chance had they banded together to fight against the power. Survivor 41 could’ve turned into a bloodbath had “Baby With a Machine Gun” not happened.
Plus, the double-elimination twist gave the outsiders the perfect opportunity to break apart the main alliance. For starters, Naseer, Heather, and Erika should’ve banded together to vote within their mini-group to take out Ricard or Shan. Even if Shan used her extra vote, Naseer’s idol play would’ve canceled out any votes on him. And if Shan used her idol too, the trio could’ve revoted to eliminate Ricard. The power was on their side to chip away one member of the five.
For the second group, Xander should’ve used his hidden immunity idol to save Evvie. Since he already won individual immunity, the idol would’ve protected his ally and canceled out the only other target where Danny, Deshawn, and Liana could’ve placed their votes. Xander and Evvie would’ve had all the power to eliminate someone from the group. Instead, they handed the trio the final decision–it was so obvious that Evvie was getting voted out! Going into the Final 8, the outsiders could’ve been on better footing to compete against a trio instead of a quintet. Instead, they fumbled the ball so hard that it hurt them in the long run; their resumes and reputation needed this victory.
Naseer’s and Evvie’s eliminations were pretty much set in stone once the outsiders decided not to team up. Everyone knew about Naseer’s hidden immunity idol, so when given the chance, the others took the opportunity to flush out that power. Why wouldn’t they try to get rid of an idol floating around camp? Evvie, on the other hand, was the only option against a strong alliance. Danny, Deshawn, and Liana weren’t breaking away from each other for the vote, so Evvie naturally ended up with all the votes. The outcomes were obvious and uneventful.
“Baby With a Machine Gun” was where the fun really started. This round was a masterclass of Survivor strategy, blindsides, and turning the tides against a powerful player. It would’ve been easy for everyone to go after Ricard or one of the outside players, but the energy that was missing from “Who’s Who in the Zoo” came back in a roaring force here. One idea turned into a conversation. A conversation turned into a deal. A deal turned into a voting bloc. And all of this could’ve been avoided had Shan not told Ricard that Danny, Deshawn, and Liana wanted to blindside him at the next Tribal Council. It’s a domino effect she didn’t see coming, and it was her messiest move to date.
I don’t fault Ricard for turning against his closest ally, Shan. He admitted they were allies based on survival, and eventually Shan would turn against him once the numbers worked out in her favor. Ricard’s best shot would be to fracture the big alliance and place himself in a bigger position. Granted, he would’ve been better off taking out one of Danny, Deshawn, or Liana first since they didn’t have that emotional connection to him. Hopefully, his going after Shan will unite him with the outsiders and pull him closer to people who need his vote in the post-Shan world.
Erika surprised me the most. If Ricard was the one who threw out the idea, Erika was the player who fostered the deal and set up the voting bloc. She and Heather pulled on the strings to get Deshawn and Danny onto their side; they knew exactly what needed to be said. Though, Erika’s strategic prowess stood as the best skill during “Baby With a Machine Gun.” Her words tipped Deshawn over to her position. She might be one of the best strategists playing in the background on Survivor 41.
Shan’s elimination was a combination of errors on her part. For much of Survivor 41, she stood out as one of the best players. Shan got many powers, she still had a hidden immunity idol, and she liked to make deals/moves. Shan would’ve won Survivor 41 had she reached the finals. The problem, however, was that her strategizing evolved into orders and need-to-dos instead of working with her team to make the best optimal decision. If everyone is feeling stifled, they’ll do anything to take out the one player who they think is running the game. Plus, some of her tact and gameplay had been messy; revealing to Ricard the truth so early on was a messy move, especially since she didn’t trust him completely. I would love to see how Shan would play in a future season after some time learning from her mistakes.
“Who’s Who in the Zoo” and “Baby With a Machine Gun” sped up the game with several eliminations; some of the votes were more thrilling than others. Episode 10 made up for the lackluster vibe of Episode 9, but the drama could be ramping up from here. The castaways need to start thinking about their endgames because the end is coming quickly and not everyone has a case to win. Looking at you, Heather!
Survivor airs new episodes Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.