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Survivor 42’s set of spectacularly stupid self-owns

Survivor 42’s set of spectacularly stupid self-owns
This seems like foreshadowing! Daniel Strunk, Chanelle Howell, and Jenny Kim on Survivor 42, before Daniel metaphorically stabbed Jenny in the front. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

“Why, why is this happening?” Daniel asked at the beginning of Survivor 42’s third episode. If he’d asked that at the end of the episode, the answer would have been: because you just screwed up, and so did Chanelle, and gave us two spectacular self-owns.

Daniel was actually referring to losing Mike’s idol in a comedic scene that almost justified spending the first 10 minutes on advantage intrigue.

“I seriously almost stroked right there. Get medical in here—that’s what I was thinking,” Mike said after Daniel asked to read the idol paperwork and then dropped the actual idol on the ground and pretended as if he’d never had the idol in the first place. Mike’s so suspicious of Daniel that he…shows and tells him everything.

That epic fumble turned out to be foreshadowing what happened when Vati went to Tribal Council.

The six tribe members split themselves into two alliances: Hai, Lydia, and Daniel, and Daniel, Chanelle, Jenny, and Mike. Daniel told Mike and Jenny: “they think I’m with them, but I’m with you guys. I wanted to keep up appearances.” However, being with Mike meant being in an alliance that was down a vote, because he lost his vote thanks to the Beware Advantage.

Daniel also told Mike and Jenny that she was being targeted, which was true, though it turned out Daniel would be the one to send Jenny home. Quite the alliance there.

Hai tweeted: “LOL HOW DO YOU BLOW A 4-2 MAJORITY??” Let’s explore.

It all began on the post-challenge summit between Chanelle and Omar.

Before the summit scene, Daniel said, “Chanelle very much is the deciding vote right now,” and Chanelle knew how critical her vote would be at that Tribal Council. She even said that as she and Omar talked about their decision, having been tipped off by their fellow tribe members. Chanelle reaffirmed how important her vote was.

And then Chanelle risked her vote.

And then Chanelle lost her vote.

Both she and Omar cited the kind of go-big-or-go-home game play (“I gotta make big moves to get a big reward”), but are BIG MOVES always the best moves? Nope.

It was interesting to see them rationalize their decisions in light of what they thought the other person would do. Omar thought that Chanelle would not risk her vote, so he was safe to do so. Of course, that’s what Chanelle thought too: that he would not risk his, so she was safe to do so. They’d agreed to play it safe, but ended up in the worst-case scenario.

Hai Giang, Daniel Strunk, Jenny Kim, Mike Turner, Lydia Meredith, and Chanelle Howell during the wild Survivor 42 episode 3 Tribal Council
Hai Giang, Daniel Strunk, Jenny Kim, Mike Turner, Lydia Meredith, and Chanelle Howell during the wild Survivor 42 episode 3 Tribal Council. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

To her credit, Chanelle knew she might not have a vote for that evening’s Tribal Council. To her chagrin, Chanelle then suggested a split-vote plan that immediately made Hai suspicious—and he became even more suspicious at Tribal Council when Chenelle whispered to Daniel “Lydia.” Voting out Lydia was always their plan, so why do that?

“That is the power of my social game,” Chanelle said. “I can direct the votes without even having one.”

Or, you know, not.

At Tribal Council, the outcome of all of this was a tie: two for Jenny, two for Lydia, no votes left, and a lot of confusion, especially from Hai, whose facial expressions very clearly communicated: WTF?

Jeff Probst had them revote, without Lydia or Jenny being allowed to vote, and there was another tie, but with just two votes.

Hai, clearly frustrated, asked, “Where are the votes?” Jeff Probst said, “Let me get to it.” He explained that lost votes would usually be private, but thanks to the producers’ decision to flood the season with lost-vote penalties, they were going to have to scrap that. Oops.

A deadlocked vote, according to Survivor’s rules, means that either those who are voting—in this case, just Hai and Daniel—have to come to a unanimous agreement, or the two people who were targeted become immune and everyone else draws rocks, sending someone out of the game by random chance.

Daniel then did two spectacularly stupid things: He gave up his leverage, insisting he wouldn’t draw rocks, and then tried to blame Chanelle for everything, saying, “I was voting on your behalf.” What did he think he would gain from that?

“I can’t believe Daniel,” Chaelle said. “Snake.” Indeed.

What was impressive was Hai’s game play in that moment. He went from confused and annoyed to making a smart decision. Daniel said he didn’t want to go to a random rock draw; Hai refused to change his vote and said “I’m willing to draw rocks.”

Ultimately, Daniel changed his vote from Lydia to Jenny, and thus Jenny was out. While this really sucks for her, being in an alliance in which two of your members cannot vote is not exactly a strong alliance.

Hai comes out of that Tribal Council with a much stronger Ally in Lydia, and respect for his game play, while Daniel has just alienated his already annoyed alliance.

It was a chaotic Tribal Council, but a good sort of chaos, because it was ultimately fueled by relationships, even if the catalyst were the advantages.

Speaking of chaos, let’s talk about the immunity/reward challenge.

The ocean was angry during the Survivor 42, episode 3 immunity and reward challenge
The ocean was angry during the Survivor 42, episode 3 immunity and reward challenge. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

The Survivor 42 episode three immunity challenge began with the season’s first reading of the idiotic phrase, which Maryanne handled with aplomb.

Maryanne also created some intrigue when she explained that she’s watched all of Survivor except six episodes of Survivor: Tocantins. Why just six episodes of that season? Thankfully, she quickly solved the mystery for us on Twitter.

The challenge itself began in the water, where it was very turbulent and waves kept crashing in.

Jeff Probst, helpful as always, narrated individual waves and explained, in real time, what current is (“You are already fighting water that wants to move you in a direction you may not want to go”; “The water is moving everybody off the course”).

The Taku tribe completed the challenge, thanks to Jonathan swimming the ladder, and then his tribemates in. “I’ve seen a lot of challenges. I’ve rarely seen an individual performance like that,” Jeff Probst told Jonathan later. While it’s not rare for Jeff Probst to heap praise on a white man, he was absolutely right in this case: Jonathan’s performance was impressive.

The other two tribes couldn’t even get their ladders aloft in the waves, and so Probst called them in. “Due to no lack of effort on your part, this is not getting easier. We’re going to retrieve your keys,” he said, declaring “never done this in the history of Survivor.”

Two crew members swam out and retrieved the keys with a pole, and then the challenge resumed from the beach, with the Ika tribe taking the win.

“It is one of the most turbulent days we have ever seen on Survivor,” Probst said, and Tribal Council had not even yet begun.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!


Monday 28th of March 2022

Agree that making the "Big Move" isn't always the best game play. I think the problem is that a subtle game strategy is hard to depict on TV. Screen time will go to the drama people, physical dominants and bigger personalities. And also to players who interview well. So as each season goes on, the new contestants remember the "big moves" and those big move winners. The subtle game winners are often dismissed as not as worthy. Michelle talked about this on the winners season. She took a lot of flak for her win against some pretty big personalities and was put down as not a worthy winner--in part because she didn't get as much screen time. But she did pretty well on winners season and her strategic side showed well on that season as well as on her subsequent appearances on MTVs Challenge.


Friday 25th of March 2022

Jonathan needs to be careful at the merge. He's going to have the proverbial target on his back. This challenge proved just how strong he'll be at individual challenges.


Friday 25th of March 2022

What did Andy do with the money his mom gave him for writing lessons? Jeez this is painful.

Chuck S

Friday 25th of March 2022

It was a great episode in so many ways. From Jonathan's epic performance to the chaotic tribal, it was a really good night of TV. Maryanne really did handle her stupid phrase very well. I forget the rules of the advantage, but for it to take effect, do all 3 have to say their phrase at the SAME challenge or just when all 3 have been said?


Monday 28th of March 2022

@MIKE, nope


Monday 28th of March 2022

@Chuck S, they all 3 have to be repeated at the same tribal counsel. Mike failed to recite his phrase TWICE, thus his Idol will never become active, also this screws the other 2 tribes as they will have to wait until the merge now before theirs become active..

Jim T

Friday 25th of March 2022

@Chuck S, I believe they all need to say it at the same challenge. Maryanne is the only person on this planet capable of saying that nonsense phrase and make it sound plausible.


Thursday 24th of March 2022

Chanelle, Jenny, and Lydia are CRAZY not to have aligned themselves instead of each of them coupling up in this odd way. Jenny and Lydia never should have been the targets in the first place. I know that Lydia sat out this week, but I think she did a fantastic job at the challenge in the last episode and I think all the women add more value than the men on this tribe. The exception being Hai - what an AMAZING showing at Tribal! I am disappointed that Jenny went home, but really there was no other option after the way it was fudged up, and the clear path forward needs to be voting Daniel out. After the way they saw him turn on Chanelle, he's already shown he is willing to do anything and it wasn't even well played. Bonus is that Chanelle knows Mike can't even vote, so why not keep him around?

Crossing my fingers that this season continues to be good!


Friday 25th of March 2022

@Melissa, Thank you for sharing that! I wonder why she kept using the word “confrontation”…? Very interesting.


Thursday 24th of March 2022

@Resha, It sounds like Jenny did try to work with Lydia, but Lydia wasn't interested.