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Survivor 41’s latest twist sends two major characters and players to the jury

Survivor 41’s latest twist sends two major characters and players to the jury
Jeff Probst has Danny McCray, Xander Hastings, and Naseer Muttalif draw rocks to create two smaller tribes for a double-elimination on Survivor 41, episode 9. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

Survivor 41 lost two of its biggest, most-interesting characters in two major blindsides, thanks to a twist that divided the merged tribe back into two smaller tribes and sent them to Tribal Council separately.

Both Evvie and Naseer ended up on the jury, blindsided by their new, temporary, five-person tribes.

Basically, the producers gave the cast an opportunity to Make a Big Move™, not content to wait around and see if someone would Make a Big Move™ on their own.

Why won’t the producers just let Survivor play out? Probably because they’re trying to create moments like the two shocking blindsides that eventually happened. That strategy worked, I guess!

What’s disappointing about that is that it seems like something was happening: besides the fractures that we’ve seen between, like between Deshawn and Shan (who were annoyed with each other after Tribal Council, but had an adult conversation the next day, both apologizing), there was a move afoot among players outside of the power alliance.

Instead of waiting to see if those outside the power alliance would do something about it, they tribe was split in half, increasing the likelihood that the power alliance would be shattered (it wasn’t) or the players would make unexpected moves (they did).

Before the tribes split, we had some character moments and a few moments of strategizing that led into the second half, like Evvie and Deshawn bonding and promising they’d never vote for each other, hours before he helped vote her out.

There was a scene about Ricard’s hearing loss, which he said “made me scared coming into the game,” and have to rely on “reading body language and reading lips”; the editing illustrated this for us, dropping the audio volume and making it sound muffled. (After that scene aired, Ricard tweeted, “The scene about my hearing is one of the most special scenes I could have asked for. Thank you Survivor for that.”)

We haven’t seen much of Heather this season, but I don’t know why, considering how efficiently and entertainingly she was able to dig herself into a hole.

Naseer confronted her about trying to get him voted out, which was both unnecessary and, as it turns out, wrong: Xander cast the vote for Naseer. (That Xander knows what he’s doing!)

But during that conversation, Heather tried to defend herself by suggesting that she did not float Naseer’s name during the Tribal Council whisper-fest, which of course she did. This was the amazing exchange that followed:

Heather: “Ask Evvie who she was told vote for—here, Evvie, can I ask you a question? When I asked you on your shoulder, knocked on your shoulder, I said who are you…”

Evvie: “At Tribal, you said vote for Naseer.”

LOL. To Heather’s credit, she did say in an interview that her attempt “totally backfired.” And she was just an episode too early in trying to blindside Naseer.

Producers split the tribe for a double-elimination

Naseer Muttalif, Jeff Probst, Liana Wallace, Ricard Foye and Shan Smith on Survivor 41 episode 9
Naseer Muttalif, Jeff Probst, Liana Wallace, Ricard Foye and Shan Smith on Survivor 41 episode 9. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

Before the immunity challenge and the tribes split up for the day, there was a fascinating scene that could have led somewhere, before the twist basically short-circuited it.

On the beach, Danny, Deshawn, Erika, Liana, Shan, and Xander were talking, when Shan suggested the four of them—the power alliance—talk privately. What?! Why? That alliance of four is not yet a majority, and that’s just such a bad move.

Xander and Erika sat separately on the beach, providing a great visual of the separation, and some epic possibility: Xander asked, “Should we start talks with the other five?” suggesting that either Shan or Ricard would be great targets.

Would Heather, Naseer, Evvie, and/or Ricard have joined Erika and Xander and taken out one of the people who’s so comfortable that they just openly separate themselves to strategize? Perhaps not! But I wanted to see what would have happened.

Naseer Muttalif on Survivor 41, episode 5
Naseer Muttalif on Survivor 41, episode 5 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

Instead, Jeff Probst and his bag of rocks showed up, separating the tribes before the immunity challenge, and forming two smaller tribes.

The immunity challenge was a return of the one from Survivor: David vs. Goliath—which is now on Netflix!—that lasted for 5.5 hours and featured a lot of entertainment.

This version lasted only 30 minutes. Why the difference? A player from DvG, Gabby Pascuzzi, tweeted, “the reason our season’s version of that challenge lasted so long is they forgot to tell us we had to keep our backs on the plank. it resulted in GOLD and will never happen again.”

During the challenge, as Xander struggled, the editors showed us Liana saying, “Look at his face. I hate his face. I could die.” I guess she really isn’t over being humiliated with the fake idol? Or else there’s something we’re not seeing.

At the end, it was Deshawn vs Xander, and Erika vs Naseer, and both Erika and Xander won immunity on their new temporary tribes.

So yes, the two people who were ostracized were now immune and on separate tribes. Wow!

“This is a huge opportunity for me to take out the big dogs on the top—exactly what I’ve wanted,” Xander said before a burp sound effect illustrated the stew reward he got for being the last person standing in the challenge. “Still digesting that stew,” he laughed.

If anyone thinks Jeff Probst is doing his best to keep Xander in the game, Xander’s this is “exactly what I’ve wanted” line is going to dump some gasoline on that conspiracy theory. Like most every twist on Survivor, this was probably pre-planned, and makes sense for the episode in which 10 players remain. I don’t believe there’s granular manipulation—like a producer radioing Jeff Probst and being like, Well, Xander needs our help today!—but as we’ve previously discussed, I wish the producers would have planned fewer twists.

On the new tribes, there was some surprisingly blunt strategy talk:

  • Liana asked Xander to give him his idol. He said “You would do that?” she asked, and he replied, “Well, not to you.” Oof.
  • Naseer told Heather, “I really apologize that you have to go home today.” Erika then asked if he’d play the idol for Heather, and he said, “No way. I have to take care of myself.” Oof.

On the Ricard, Shan, Erika, Naseer, and Heather tribe, Heather seemed like the safe vote, but Ricard realized that there was an opportunity to get rid of a major player who was holding an idol. Yes! Take advantage of those opportunities!

“If we make him feel really safe, he’s gone,” Ricard told Heather and Erika, the only two people he needed to vote with him.

While that seemed simple, the play was more complicated. Shan ended up playing/burning her extra vote, because they split the vote between Naseer and Heather just in case Naseer played his idol. I suppose that’s the kind of insurance you want when a tie vote could lead to a rock draw and there are so few players.

It was ultimately unnecessary, since Naseer didn’t play his idol, and was voted out on the revote, finally flushing out one of the game’s idols.

Heather did some hilarious acting, pretending she was sad about going home, and even joked that she hoped an idol would fall out of the sky, which this season is very likely. “Cue the idol!” she said, and the editors cut to a huge beetle landing on sole juror Tiffany.

Evvie Jagoda on Survivor 41 episode 4
Evvie Jagoda on Survivor 41 episode 4 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

At one point during all of this, Jeff Probst asked why people knew about advantages: “Why does everybody know what everybody has?” I just don’t know, Jeff Probst, I just don’t know. Could it be that every time you give an advantage to someone you have the Fiji military do a flyover and then skywrite “ADVANTAGE TIME”?

The Tribal Council that followed was less-dramatic—perhaps the most-dramatic moment was the second group seeing that the first group voted out Naseer, who just walked over and joined Tiffany on the jury bench.

Evvie was the second person voted out; while Xander wasn’t ultimately persuaded to vote for Evvie, he also didn’t play anything for Evvie, like his extra vote. Was that a missed opportunity? It could have forced a tie and then even forced a rock draw between the other players, which would have sent one of the power alliance members to the jury.

But the alliance of four remains intact after these two Tribal Councils, and Survivor 41 has lost two of its most dynamic and interesting characters and players.

The way the exited was indicative of why I’ve really enjoyed both of them as players, characters, and people: Naseer was super-cheerful, and almost excited about being blindsided, while Evvie looked into the camera and said, “Any queer kids out there: Be yourself, you’re amazing, love yourself.”

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Happy discussing!


Friday 19th of November 2021

I get why Xander kept his idol because that's ultimately another round of safety for him, but why not at least use the extra vote (which doesn't guarantee safety and had NEVER been played correctly/effectively until Shan's play this season)? That very well could be the fatal flaw in his game that comes back to haunt him. If he used the extra vote and Xander/Evvie voted for Liana, it would've created a scenario where Xander/Evvie/Liana were all safe from a rock draw (meaning one of DeShawn or Danny go home). This would have caused flipping to ensue at what would have been a chaotic revote. Such a shame it would have been great gameplay and TV!!!


Thursday 18th of November 2021

I'm disappointed Naseer didn't play his idol. :(

Thanks for explaining why Shan used her extra vote to split the vote, because that made no sense to me!

This is the third episode in a row where a challenge is feet focused, and that's quite enough.


Thursday 18th of November 2021

@Kurt, Hahaha!


Thursday 18th of November 2021

@Melissa, Maybe Quentin Tarantino is a Survivor fan, and dropped Jeff a note like Tyler Perry did once upon a time.


Thursday 18th of November 2021

I was very disappointed that Xander didn't play his idol for Evvie. I understand the need to keep yourself safe long term often outweighs temporary advantage, but I still think it would have been a long term better move. Now he's in a 5-3 minority, and the most visible target amongst that three. Had he played the idol and gotten Liana out (or even Danny), that would have even the majority alliance at 4-4 with the remaining players, which he and Evvie would have been by far the more prominent players, setting him up for the end. Obviously, he'll be fine for one more tribal, but after that, he's in trouble barring further immunity wins (or idol findings). Would have made better TV, too. Oh well.

Last night's episode did feel more like old school Survivor than most of this season has, which was nice. It felt more voting based and less advantage based, although that still had significant impact.