Since the merge, the promotions had been building up to this moment , telling the audience that the game would never be the same.
Now it was time to make the final push before the crucial episode aired.
All week long, the commercials had driven the point:
“When members of Boran and Samburu had to switch tribes, the players were surprised…
When the Outcast Tribe walked into the challenge arena in Pearl Islands, the Survivors were shocked…
There has been many surprising votes, many game-changing blindsides…
BUT we have never seen ANYTHING like this before: The most unexpected change in the game ever will see the Survivors scramble like never before.
Join us on Thursday night and prepare to be shocked along with the Survivors.”
Then, Thursday came along…
Previously on Survivor, the tribe returned to camp after a difficult Tribal Council where the alliance had turned on one of its own.
Jenna was upset at losing Mick, her closest ally and she let everyone know about it.
Sandra was happy that it was someone else that had been voted out.
Todd, Earl, Mike, Aras and Ian talked about the events long into the night, shaken that the game had taken such an ugly turn.
<One of them was heard saying: “We need to trust each other”>
The next morning however they were called for an immunity challenge that would test that trust: The famous Coconut chop challenge.
Allies were forced to eliminate each other in order to win immunity.
In the end, it came down to Ian and Mike. That’s where Ian showed his abilities with riddles and his last two chops eliminated Mike and earned him the immunity necklace.
Resigned, Jenna went to Tribal Council convinced it was her last one before she’d join the jury.
Despite some tension between the alliance of 5, they did stick together and Jenna was voted out, leaving Sandra as the only woman left.
6 are left, who will be voted out next?
What the… ?
The survivors were going about their daily chores; Mike foraging to find some food, Aras and Sandra going on a water run while Todd and Earl tended the fire.
Ian was busy giving a confessional: “I’m terrified of Todd. I think he got a lot of flak for the way he played the game, but voting Mick and Jenna out was brilliant game play on his part. I originally was planning to vote him out this round, but we had a nice long chat about loyalty and how everyone was playing the game, and I think we respect each other enough to not lie to each other about the vote. The final four challenge is going to be up soon though, and I think he’s my biggest competition when it comes to challenges, especially if they’re mental or logic-based.
Sandra, on the other hand, has resorted to playing her “as long as it’s not me” strategy, which has won her this game twice. She’s completely underrated as a social player; while she hasn’t won a challenge yet, she’s very good at looking for cracks in alliances and weaseling her way through them.
If I vote Sandra out, I risk alienating one of my core alliances--Aras. If I vote Todd out, I risk alienating two people--Michael and Earl. This is the reason why I’m still thinking long and hard about this vote. There are strategic repercussions either way, and voting the wrong person out could be disastrous to the game I just built for myself.”
Aras used the time to tell Sandra that he hadn’t been the one pushing for her exit, that Todd had been the one deciding a lot of votes. He had been behind the votes on Doritos, especially the last ones against Becky and Yul and he had managed to get Ian’s ear to decide some votes in Opa.
Sandra was surprised to hear that and said she wanted to get Todd out.
Aras smiled weakly and replied: “Unfortunately, we may be a round or two late. I don’t know if we have the numbers to get rid of the last ex-Dorito.”
I don’t know if they’re up or down
Whether right is left or blue is brown
The words of the game are all different somehow
I’m so dizzy, I’m going cross-eyed now.
You will each have a grid containing many letters.
In there, you will find words and expressions associated with Survivor.
Your job: Find as many Survivor related words, names or expressions as possible and circle them on your grid
You will have 30 minutes to find the words.
I will not accept any word, name or expression shorter than 5 letters.
Hint: There are 20 good answers…at least!
After 30 minutes, Jeff told the Survivors to step back from their boards and he revealed his answer key:
Betrayal - L17-E10
Boston Rob - S23-K15
Hidden Idols: C3-M13
Tribal Council - W15-K3
SoleSurvivor - D3-O14
Blindside: U2 - M10
HeroesTribe - B3-L13
Backstabbing - Y19-N8
Confessional - W8-L19
Samoa - U25-Y21
Delusional - B11-K20
Final Three - V18-M9
PreviousWinner- L23 - Y10
Alliances = A13 - I21
FinalTwo - W2 - P9
VillainsTribe - A3 - M15
SeasonTwenty - W13 and L2
He then asked: “Does anyone have at least 10 good answers?”
Mike had 14 points. After checking her board, Jeff realized that Sandra also had 14 point!
He said: “We have a tie but there’s some players left”
Going over Ian’s board, he declared: “Ian has 17 good answers”
Finally, Jeff came to Earl’s board and was impressed: “That’s 19 valid answers! Earl wins imnmunity!”
The players congratulated Earl, saying that it had been one tough challenge.
Jeff smiled, happy to hear that one of the challenges had caused problems. He knew more problems were in store and Earl’s win was probably the best outcome possible: All the main characters would be exposed to the upcoming twist: All he told the Survivors was: “Earl has a 1 in 5 chance of winning the game. For the others, you may just have reached the end of your journey even if you think you control the votes.”
Aras had a confessional: “The writing was on the wall and even though my social game isn't good enough to win, I didn't want to lay down and roll over! Mike and Todd want Sandra out this time and me next time, so I had a conversation with Sandra and Ian and we'll see where the chips lay. I'd rather go out in a blaze, even risk the purple rock, than be complaisant!”
Ian: “There has been some scrambling going in at camp today, and I really don’t know why. Sandra was supposed to go today, being the last person in the game that wasn’t originally part of the six-way alliance, but Aras somehow wants to vote Todd out instead! Not only that, Mike also came to me wanting to cast a throwaway vote…at ME! That’s really dumb and has no strategic purpose other than getting jury votes. Like I’ll let him get to face the jury while he forces me to take care of business. He must think I’m the stupid one…
I’m pretty sure I know how everyone else is voting. Sandra and Aras are voting for Todd, Earl and Todd are voting for Sandra, and Mike is voting for me as a throwaway. The only person who hasn’t made up his mind and could determine the outcome of the vote is me, and I don’t even know how I’m voting yet!”
Sandra: “I promised Aras I’d be voting against Todd because he’s a real threat -- and I heard it was his idea to get rid of me! If that's true, it's payback time! If not -- sorry. I'm just trying to save myself.”
After her confessional, Sandra went directly to Todd and Mike who were sitting next to the fire and told them that she knew they were gunning for her, that Aras had informed her so that she would be voting with Aras first against Todd and then Mike. Sandra’s comments sent everyone into a frenzy! Word soon made its way back to Aras.
Aras: Of course Sandra with no filter told Mike exactly what she promised me. Surprise, surprise; not! I assume by Todd's comment that she told him too. (Todd told Ian who told me.) Ian told me he’ll have to vote for Sandra because he doesn't want to blow his cover. Now worst case scenario – Todd will still be in it and so am I. I wanted to either be voted out or have him be voted out, lol. I'll have to wait and see if the numbers are in my favor or not, but at least I finally did something instead of letting everyone else decide things!”
Ian: “Mike asked Sandra who she was voting for and Sandra basically spilled the beans on Aras’ plan to eliminate Todd. Mike came to me, I told him I didn't know anything about it even if I was in on it. I asked him to not throw away his vote and vote for Sandra instead. I couldn't possibly risk getting exposed as Aras' co-conspirator.”
Aras: “Sandra is a unique character. I was afraid she was going to share what we talked about with others, I just didn't think Ian would cave. He admitted to me the best thing for his game would be to not let Todd anywhere near the finals. Earl has asked to be voted out next because he doesn't want to face the jury. I know I'm getting voted out at f4 (if not tonight) so then Ian ends up in a minority at F3 and has to win immunity. This has been an interesting exercise and not one I'm enjoying since I am friends with almost everyone in the game. I think it would be easier to be clinical if you don't know them.”
Todd: “I am voting for Sandra. This is a tough vote as I've been talking to Sandra and would have liked to take her further but she wants me out. After talking to Ian, I am taking him at his word that our final three deal with Mike is on. He told me it's Sandra, Earl and then Aras. Hopefully, he's not playing me, but you have to trust someone in this game. And I've decided to trust Ian and Mike. They're probably plotting to vote me out this week.”
Jeff had been waiting for this moment so his smile was wide as he greeted the players: “Take your seat as we greet the members of the jury: Dreamz, Katie, Greg, Mick and Jenna, voted out at the last Tribal Council. I am sure you noticed that the set has changed: The jurors are each in separate booths because we do not want them to talk to each other. Why? Because they will each be allowed to cast a vote to eliminate one of you tonight!”
Jeff paused, letting this new twist sink in…
“What the bleep!” the Survivors said, almost in unisson! The jurors all had their eyes wide open in excitement, realizing payback time was coming early!
Jeff went on: “At this stage of the game, we usually have an alliance completing the elimination of the other side and so we wanted to test you guys: Will you stay loyal to your alliance or will use the additional numbers that the jury represents to completely change your position in the game. The jury usually only gets power over you at the very end but now that there are 5 of them and 6 of you, they could completely change this game. So, for this Tribal Council, I will be asking each of you how you intend to vote, making your case to each juror to vote the way you want them to vote.”
“How fair is that?” asked Todd.
Jeff simply said: “It’s Survivor. You must adapt.”
Jeff pointed to Mike, telling him he’d go first.
Mike said: “The alliance decided to stay true to each other so I will be voting to eliminate Sandra.”
He was followed by Sandra: “I’ve been told that Todd decided most of the votes since even before the merge and that now he wants me out. Hopefully, the jury will save me and eliminate him.
Earl said: “I agree with Mike and I hope the jury will do the same.”
Ian: “I’ll let the jury make up its own mind.”
Todd looked at each juror and said: “I know you guys like seeing big moves, big surprises so I hope you will give a chance to the players making those moves to stay in the game. Sandra is famous for making it to the end on her own but, if she survives only because of your votes, then she hasn’t made it on her own, has she?”
Aras: “Todd, you made me nervous from the beginning - you stayed UTR for the first half of the game but I knew you'd emerge. You are an excellent strategist and you did indeed emerge - to the point of taking MY place in MY alliance. I couldn't just roll over without attempting something proactive first. I thought I only had 3 votes against you but this twist may just give me a few more.”
Jeff had been examining each player’s face and the jury’s reaction to their pleas. He was happy that the twist had created the desired drama. It was time to send them to vote so he said: “I remind everyone that Earl is immune which is probably the most important time to be wearing that necklace so you must vote for one of: Aras, Ian, Mike, Sandra or Todd. The players will vote first and then the jurors will take their turn in the voting booth.
Jeff tallied the votes and soon realized that, despite the crews precautions, the jury had voted in a block. Not only that but their votes actually continued the pagonging! That upset him: Another twist that didn’t go the way it was designed to go… On the other hand, it would certainly cause a deluge of reactions from viewers and that was really all that mattered.
So, he read the votes:
And then, the jury’s ballots:
Todd, you will have to bring me your torch. It’s time for you to go.
This was supposed to be a great moment for Jeff but he felt somewhat let-down. What was he expecting of this twist? He hadn’t really thought of it but he was expecting that the jury would throw out votes on two or three players, causing confusion in the remaining players as to which of them were the real jury threats. Now, all the jury did was eliminate the player they liked the least even if he had played a good game. In the end however, all that mattered to Jeff were the ratings: Give the audience some drama and they will tune in, won’t they? The sanctity of the game? Jeff didn’t believe in that crap.
Putting his vague worries behind him, Jeff addressed the 5 remaining players before sending them back to camp: “Well, this vote certainly shook things up. Todd never expected to be leaving tonight. Some will see this as their opportunity to seize control of the game while others won’t be able to recover. On which side will you be? You have the night to figure things out.”
*Thanks to Foulmouthedleon for the challenge design.