There’s a fine line between overplaying and underplaying on Survivor 42. Do too much and you get exposed as a big threat, but if you do too little, the game passes you by. Or in some cases, the tribe feels you’re not pulling your weight. “Vibe of the Tribe” and “I’m Survivor Rich” highlighted both sides of the spectrum, showing how delicate it is to play Survivor. Sure, there were other factors at play during these stressful votes, but all the pieces painted a pretty serious picture.
Much of “Vibe of the Tribe” focused on the Ika tribe’s implosion with strategy. This round was on the side where a castaway had been overplaying their hand. I liked how the edit easily showed how Swati made grave errors that tanked her game. In most seasons, trying to play the middle can be successful and guarantee someone to survive, but even then, it requires finesse and balancing moves. The edit made it clear how Swati’s gameplay was crumbling under her. Even though it telegraphed who was going home, the edit tied the story together.
Swati’s demise was bound to happen eventually. It was so sloppy how Drea, Tori, and Romeo could put the pieces together to see how she had been leading them all on. We talked before about how Swati’s quick jump to get Drea out was a bad move on her part, but this strategy was her worst yet. Never tell everyone the same phrase during campaigning! “Vibe of the Tribe” proved how easily people can connect the dots. Plus, if someone is the clear target, why shift the gears to mess it up? Was Swati truly going to risk her game to save Tori? Absolutely not. A lot of unnecessary playing ruined her chances.
Before we head into “I’m Survivor Rich,” that storyline carried over from the trouble at the Vati tribe. Jenny’s elimination at Tribal Council was the kind of the mess that couldn’t help itself from spilling over into everything else going on. Daniel’s game was tainted. Chanelle’s game was tainted. Both were rightfully called out for the mess; even if Chanelle didn’t push Daniel to blindside Lydia, she did have the conversation to maybe switch votes. It’s interesting on Survivor how other players react to the chaos happening around them, like Hai, Lydia, and Mike wouldn’t have started a three-person alliance had Chanelle and Daniel’s issue started. A domino effect was inadvertently created that came back to bite them in the butt.
“I’m Survivor Rich” was the sum of those parts. If the Vati tribe were to lose the immunity challenge (which they did), the vote would obviously come down to Chanelle or Daniel (which it did). Daniel’s biggest mistake was constantly reminding his tribemates how little value he added to the tribe. Why didn’t he make more of an effort in challenges? Why didn’t he help out around camp or showcase his strength? Granted, he did dislocate his shoulder early on, but that’s not a reason to not try. When your entire tribe is working hard to survive, the last thing you want to do is make yourself a burden. In Daniel’s case, he was just too confusing with his physical level, like with the fishing and the challenges. I would’ve voted him out.
The other obvious move was not risking a vote during the summit. Lydia and Rocksroy were too coy and secretive about everything; if there’s no information to be gained, there’s not enough foundation to make a calculated decision. They made the right move to protect their votes. We’ve seen how risking your vote can blow up in someone’s face, so protecting it now made a huge difference.
The same goes for Mike activating his hidden immunity idol during the challenge. Could you imagine if both Mike and Lydia lost their votes in Tribal Council? The Tribal Council would’ve been another messy night of the Vati tribe not having enough votes to make any decision. The biggest power any player has in the game is their vote. While I can understand the decision of not saying the phrase, I stand on the side that having the vote is too important to give up. Mike needed to keep his vote, especially after he just lost his biggest ally (Jenny).
“Vibe of the Tribe” and “I’m Survivor Rich” were tribe-heavy episodes that showcased the camp politics between the players. Some players thrived in unity while others crumbled under the gameplay. Even the Taku tribe fell victim to the pressure and bickering, and they didn’t have to see a Tribal Council for the last two rounds. The castaways need to make sure they’re making the right moves because one wrong slip can ruin an entire season’s worth of gameplay. Just ask Swati and Daniel how bad one decision can turn out!
Survivor airs new episodes Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.