Quitting Survivor: now with praise from Jeff Probst

“Shame on you, Lindsie,” someone in the sand after Lindsey quit Survivor Cagayan. That misspelled criticism was the only real judgment of her decision to bail on the game shortly after her alliance was torn apart by a blindside at Tribal Council. The remaining cast members were all thrilled (either that she was gone and/or that there was one less player) and Probst had kind things to say to her.

Wait, what? Yes, our host, who chewed out the show’s last quitter, sat on the ground next to Lindsey and calmly talked to her, and never even challenged her decision. Instead, he just framed this as another Survivor First™: “No one has ever quit because they were afraid they were gonna do something they regretted, so they took a moment and said my best move is to just move on,” he told her. Probst later told EW:

“As difficult as it is to lose someone from the game in this manner, I was really impressed with the way Lindsey handled it. She was so upset with Trish that she was genuinely concerned she might get physical with her if she stayed in the game. She wanted to show her daughter a good example of how to handle a situation like that — remove yourself from the situation. As for whether there were other contributing factors such as fatigue and regret, only Lindsey knows for sure.”

There must have been, because based on what we saw, Lindsey’s exit didn’t make much sense. Sure, she fought with Trish, saying mean things about Trish’s laugh and teeth and face, and perhaps regretted those. But isn’t apologizing both a better example for her daughter and a better strategy in the game?

As it turns out, Lindsey actually thought she would physically harm Trish: “I was going to kick the shit out of her,” she told Gordon Holmes. That’s unexpected, because as he previously pointed out, Lindsey’s bio explained that her “Inspiration in Life” is “Martin Luther King Jr., in a time of struggle he pushed through without violence. A positive movement and true leader.” Lindsey also wrote in her bio, “My brain works better under pressure, I’m athletic, a fighter and ‘cut the fat’ in every situation.”

Whether she’s a fighter or a pacifist, those don’t seem like the words of a person who’d actually hurt another person, but apparently she thought she would. When she quit, Lindsey told Probst, “I don’t know what else to do.” (Probst told EW producers on the beach radioed to him “about an hour after Tribal Council ended.”) Even if she did think she was going to assault Trish, it also seemed like she realized she was screwed, both in terms of her alliance and her outburst, and bailed–i.e., she was out of options and really didn’t know what to do. And it’s surprising Probst wouldn’t call her on that.

The effect of her exit was, as Tony put it, “a beautiful thing: Two for the price of one.” Also a beautiful thing last night came out of the reward challenge, a game of slap that gave the winners the chance to raid the losers’ camp. Raiders Tony and Woo got instructions for the raid and a hidden immunity idol clue for themselves, but decided to give it to Jeremiah. The reason, Tony told his tribe later, was to “put a big illuminated target on his back.”

There’s some evil brilliance in that, especially because it played off an expectation that the rules he invented came from producers–i.e., Jeremiah had to go in private to read the clue, and he had to give it back to Tony. The whole plan actually worked: While Jeremiah knew he’d been played and told his tribemates, Spencer said, “He’s not foolin’ anyone.”

There was less brilliance in Tony using the high from his plan to confess to his tribe that he’d lied about his profession. LJ summed that up perfectly: “To solidify that he is trustworthy, Tony exposed that he lied. Different.”

The immunity was like a epic best-of challenge, with multiple stages of previous challenges, from building a staircase to moving a key through a maze to solving a puzzle. Each led to another thing, like a key unlocking a machete to chop through wood to release puzzle pieces that revealed a combination which opened the ninth gate of hell, or something like that. Probst’s explanation was so long it’ll be continued next week.

Despite getting off to a slow start, Solana won immunity and became immediately cocky, chanting that they’re now the top five. Even weirder: Aparri actually seemed to buy that, because their strategizing focused around imagining that they were going to be picked off one by one after a merge.

The ever-so-subtle preview revealed that happens next week. And while a Pagonging is certainly possible, they seemed to just be giving up. Then again, the tribe did manage to unite and decide together to dump Alexis, so perhaps there’s more unity than there appears.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.