Warning: This recap for the “I’m A Wild Banshee” episode of Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers contains spoilers.
There are many reasons I would never go on Survivor. I hate camping. I’m a terrible swimmer. I have a vampiric aversion to the sun. And I’m a grown adult who still runs away from wasps. In a lot ways, I can relate to Simone and her plight of having to poop in the ocean and suffer through the struggles of sleeping in a non-air conditioned shelter. But then again, I would never do what Simone did and apply for an island adventure gameshow if my motto in life was “I hate the outdoors,” and that very much is my motto. That would be like a person with acrophobia signing up for skydiving lessons and then refusing to jump because the ground is too far away.
Whether it’s the people or the surroundings, Survivor is all about blending in, at least at the beginning of the game. Ryan said it himself, “the people who blend in the best are the ones who escape.” Last week, it looked like Simone had blended in so well she’d become part of the background scenery as she never spoke a single word on-screen. But as this episode developed we soon learned that wasn’t the case at all…
NOT THE RITZ
Our introduction to Simone comes courtesy of Ryan who brands the Diversity Advocate “weird, ” and that’s coming from the guy who wore a turtleneck to a tropical island. The New York City slicker openly admits she isn’t an “outdoors person” and beams with heroic pride after she accomplishes her first successful dump in the ocean. “I feel like a superhero,” she giddily tells her Hustler tribemates upon returning from her courageous act of aquatic excretion. (That’s got to be one of the lesser known Marvel superheroes or a really rare issue of Aquaman.) While Simone is undoubtedly trying to overcome her jungle hangups — including gutting and cleaning a fish — her constant gripes about the lack of air-con and hatred for all things outdoorsy only serve to paint a target on her back.
Ryan and Devon, who have formed a tight duo, immediately see Simone as someone out of place and not fitting in with the tribe. Ali also perceives Simone as someone on the outside but recognizes the potential to utilize her as a loyal number and mold her “like putty in [her] hands.” Ali has a strong pulse on the tribe dynamics and appears to be central to everyone’s plans, a sign of someone who is genuinely blending in with the group. That puts Ali in a position where she has access to all the data — a term which comes up later on the Heroes tribe — and allows her to weigh up all the options and choose which move benefits her game the most.
THE WILD BANSHEE
Simone isn’t the only one on the Hustlers tribe drawing unnecessary attention towards themselves. Patrick has a problem with crabs and unfortunately not the kind sex-doctor Mike can help with. “I’m scared of crabs,” the red-headed lunatic tells us, as he pokes at a crustacean with a stick and yelps like Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura. His off-the-wall antics garner a few laughs at first, but his personality soon begins to grate as he breaks wind, regales the tribe with his terrible impression of an Australian accent, and incessantly bugs Lauren about whether or not she dances in the shower. “He’s getting on my nerves,” says Lauren, a woman who definitely does not dance in the shower.
Interestingly, Ali once again sits in the middle of all this, having formed an alliance with Patrick last week. In another example of how well the YouTube celebrity assistant is set up socially, she is the one whom Lauren approaches to air her grievances. Ali takes on board Lauren’s valid criticisms of Patrick and his manic behaviour without revealing exactly where she stands on the crab hater. “How am I supposed to work with him?” Ali asks in confessional, understanding that Patrick’s abrasive personality may make it difficult to work with him going forward. The last thing she came to Fiji to do was babysit the red-headed stepchild.
Over at the Heroes camp, the tribemates are dealing with the aftermath of their first tribal council and their own conspicuous castaway. Alan had zero intention of blending in last week when he took it upon himself to cause a scene both at camp and at tribal council accusing Ashley and JP of secretly hoarding an immunity idol. It was a plan intended to throw suspicion on the potential power couple but in doing so drew a massive target towards himself as a loose cannon. Alan’s actions resulted in a fractured tribe and the disintegration of the “core four” alliance. “It’s done,” Ben says, washing his hands of his Day 2 allies.
The fragmented tribe provides an opportunity for Chrissy to work her way into the gaps and up the ranks of the pecking order. Chrissy was on the chopping block last week but survived tribal council without having to play her now expired Super Idol. But even though her idol has no actual power, it still has the illusion of power, like a mall cop or an Assistant to the Regional Manager. As Chrissy rightly points out, she can use the defunct idol as a “decoy” later down the line, which will be especially effective given that it’s an idol manufactured by the actual production team and not a smiley face carved into a stick.
However, Chrissy isn’t just relying on her dead idol; she also wants to form a stable partnership that will hopefully take her far in the game. In a brilliant segment, the Actuary runs through her fellow tribemates, collecting “data” and assessing the potential risk and reward of aligning with each of them. She deems firefighter JP physically strong but not that smart when it comes to strategy “…and things like that.” Ashley is too untrustworthy because of her close relationship with JP. Alan’s previous conduct make him too volatile a candidate to bank on long-term. That leaves ex-Marine Ben, who Chrissy compliments for his social charm and more logical approach to the game. On the beach, the pair cement their newfound coalition and vow to do some damage together this season.
DIGGING AND FLIRTING
Blending in and standing out is also the topic of conversation on the Healers beach. After listening to Desi tell a story about her time as Miss Virginia, Joe jokes that this is actually the Beauty tribe and he and Mike were put here by mistake. Mike agrees that he feels like the odd one out surrounded by all these beautiful and fit youngsters. “At least you’re smart,” Joe quips. While Joe is warming up to Mike’s personality, he is still intent on turning him into public enemy number one because of his idol suspicions, even though he admits not knowing if Mike actually has the idol or not.
When the rest of the tribe are out of sight, Joe takes the chance to confirm his hunch by looking for the idol himself, stumbling across a clue painted onto the side of a tree. I swear soon it will just be a flashing beacon with the words “DIG HERE” imprinted on it. Marked on the tree is a square diagram, the word “ocean,” and an arrow marked “five feet.” The probation officer mistakes the square for the raft and for some reason believes that Cole must have knowledge of it because he’d spent the morning out on the raft fishing and flirting with Jessica. It’s a baffling leap of logic and Cole is equally perplexed when Joe approaches him about it. Having no idea what Joe is talking about, Cole asks to see the clue himself and quickly works out the square represents the water well not the damn raft. If I were Cole, I’d have kept that info to myself and let Joe take the raft out to sea where he’d find nothing but crabs and Simone’s breakfast. Instead, Cole helps Joe find the idol.
With Joe obtaining the idol he gains power —and joins the long lineage of bald-headed Survivor idol finders — but he also becomes an instant target, especially because Cole knows he has it. Information is everything in this game, and Joe is rightfully scared about what Cole could do with that info. As for Cole himself, his budding romance with Jessica is something which could make him stand out from the crowd. We’ve already seen the drama caused on the Heroes beach just by the mere suggestion of a power couple. Suddenly, Dr Mike isn’t looking so much like public enemy number one anymore on the Healers tribe.
SAD BIRTHDAY PARTY
Fortunately for the Heroes and Healers tribes they can put their issues on the backburner for now as they come out victorious in the immunity challenge, sending the Hustlers to tribal council. The edit made it fairly obvious who was losing due to the time dedicated to the Hustlers beforehand which is a common flaw with Survivor. I understand the necessity of focusing on the tribe which will be voting someone out, but when you weight things too much one way before the challenge, it sucks out quite a lot of the tension.
That said, the vote itself was also rather obvious, but the edit made a valiant effort to create a decoy boot in Patrick. The loss of the challenge was placed heavily on Simone’s shoulders because of her struggle with the puzzle. She apologizes to the tribe back at camp and sets about “shaping the narrative,” which involves moving the target away from herself and onto wild card Patrick. Simone takes a walk with Ali and Lauren and hopes to use Patrick’s unpredictability as a reason to boot him out over herself. Lauren is most receptive, her annoyance with Patrick growing by the day. Despite his strength in challenges, Lauren thinks his inability to listen makes him less valuable to the tribe than Simone, even if she is weaker physically.
Patrick and the boys, Ryan and Devon, on the other hand, are seemingly all on the same page to take out Simone. According to Patrick, it should be an easy vote. Usually, when someone shares those sentiments it’s setting up a glorious downfall, but here you really did get the sense that Simone was a dead woman walking. Ali appears to be the swing vote, having a working relationship with both Simone and Patrick. She believes that Patrick trusts her implicitly but wonders if his unpredictable nature will be a problem later down the line and whether it’s worth cutting him loose now. In a conversation with Ryan, she pitches reasons to keep Simone, basically that she is eating out the palm of their hands, and she confirms her commitment to him and Devon.
But at tribal council, a place that Ryan compares to a birthday party nobody wants to be at, Simone’s torch is blown out like candles on a poorly baked birthday cake. In the end, the tribe decided that keeping an unstable yet strong challenge competitor was a better option than dragging along a potentially loyal but weak performer who could drag the tribe down. Simone being so open about her disdain for the outdoors can’t have helped her cause, particularly at the stage of the game when tribe strength is a top priority. If she’d blended in with the tribe more there is a chance that Patrick would have been on his way to Loser’s Lodge instead. At least she can use a toilet that flushes now.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Ali: Once again Ali impressed me on every level — socially, strategically, and her general awareness of the tribe dynamics. Everyone seems to gravitate towards her for her opinion on both personal matters and strategic plans. I do worry edit-wise that Ali might be being set up as the big threat to take out come the merge.
Chrissy: Her ability to go from the bottom with no allies to forming what is possibly the strongest looking alliance on the Heroes tribe is to be commended. Obviously, an alliance of two on a tribe of five does not make a majority, but I sense between then Chrissy and Ben are smart enough to gather the right troops for their army.
Ryan: I considered putting Joe or Cole here for the idol find, but honestly, I think both could have played it better. So Ryan takes the third spot, he continued to develop his relationship with Devon which looks really tight right now. He looked to be in a comfortable spot on the Hustlers tribe and was able to get rid of his intended target in Simone.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.
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