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Another Survivor 42 player implodes their own game

Another Survivor 42 player implodes their own game
Swati and Romeo watch as Tori tries to save her game—er, win the reward challenge for their tribe. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

Before Swati was voted out of Survivor 42, she played her shot in the dark: giving up a vote in exchange for a random chance at immunity.

She’s now the third player in four episodes to play their shot in the dark—and the third to be voted out after doing so.

During Survivor 41, when this twist was first introduced, just one shot in the dark was played the entire season.

Is that because its players were better at blindsiding each other? Does the Survivor 42 cast just not care about blindsides? Or are they bad at managing the vote before Tribal Council?

Survivor 42 player Swati Goel's portrait, because CBS had no photos of her actually playing the game at camp
Survivor 42 player Swati Goel’s portrait, because CBS had no photos of her actually playing the game at camp. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

That Swati played her shot in the dark would seem to confirm that she knew her fate was sealed, but she made a valiant effort at shifting the narrative—even if her narrative fell apart as she compared herself, a fourth boot, to Boston Rob in Marquesas, who went home after the merge. (Wild fact: Swati was born the day that the fourth-boot episode of Survivor Marquesas aired.)

Swati’s Tribal Council argument was at least thematically similar to last week’s Tribal Council blame game: accuse someone else of doing what you did.

“I am not going to go home for somebody else’s mistake as somebody else’s move,” Swati said.

“What did I do?” Tori asked, keeping her statements as questions, like any good therapist.

“Try to blindside Drea,” Swati said.

“No,” Tori said, and then did what most therapists wouldn’t and publicly psychoanalyzed Swati: “So, what Swati is really good at is projecting: projecting her own paranoia on other people, projecting moves such as her wanting to blindside Drea.”

As a diagnosis, eh. As a summary of what happened, it was a pretty decent one. The editing, too, did a good job of showing how Swati tanked her own game:

  • Swati suggested to Tori that they partner with Rocksroy to vote out Drea and her extra vote
  • Tori told Roxsroy about Drea’s extra vote
  • In front of Swati, Roxsroy told Drea that Tori told him about her extra vote
  • Swati tried to shift the target to Tori
  • Romeo realized Swati told everyone they were her #1
  • Drea and Tori bonded over how Swati made them paranoid about each other

While the editing has done a much better job this season of focusing on the actual game play, and how relationships unfold at camp, the flashbacks are getting to be a little much, especially when we’re shown something we’ve just seen.

Once in a while, or late in the game? Sure, show a flashback. But constantly just makes me think the producers decided the audience can’t be trusted to remember anything for more than a few seconds. Wait, what show are we talking about?

Swati’s spiral followed an extended segment about Rocksroy bossing everyone around, with Romeo telling us, “In my mind I’m thinking, Shut the hell up! But I can’t do that here. You have to keep your cool.”

I thought for sure he’d be a target, or Drea would because of her extra vote. Plus, no one seems to trust Tori, and now no one trusts Swati. I almost expected them all to vote out Romeo after realizing he was the only one who wasn’t an obvious target.

Speaking of obvious targets: Jonathan is dominating in challenges, not exactly single-handedly winning these two challenges, but basically ensuring that Taku won both challenges.

Yes, both: It was our first reward challenge! And I love a reward challenge. Honestly, though, this one fell a little flat, both because of “another dominating victory,” as Jeff Probst described it, saying they were “unusually fast.”

Hai offered the reason why: “They have Thor.”

Jonathan Young dominates another challenge on Survivor 42
Jonathan Young dominates another challenge on Survivor 42. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

The reward was 10 “decent-sized fish,” so there was some size conversation, because the fish were much bigger than they expected. “Yo, Jeff,” Maryanne said, “you must be eating like a king to think these are decent-size fish. These are amazing.” Definitely more amazing than a pile of wet, limp pizza!

Later, the Survivor gods gave Thor a challenge in which he got to pull a boat, all by himself. That was the immunity challenge, which Taku won easily again.

In this episode’s only character deep-dive, we learned that Jonathan had “a foundation of strength since I was little,” he told us, sharing that his dad would wake him up to make him do pull ups when he was three years old, and also said he and his brother would have to “run up a mountain and race, and whoever lost would have to do it three more times.” I never expected a thematic crossover between Survivor and Peacemaker, but there it was.

Jonathan may be dominating physically, but he’s not perfect. At the reward challenge, when Jeff Probst hosted a talk show segment, Jonathan talked about their tribe, which Omar later summarized like this: “Mr. Dummy Jonathan opens his big mouth about how we’re such a tight family of four.”

Before the challenge, Maryanne gave another really strong attempt at saying her dumb phrase, linking it this time to the cold, rainy night in the shelter.

(Tangent: I recently learned, thanks to a TikTok video by a former player, that Survivor players’ clothing/costumes can’t even include any material that would dry quickly.)

Maryanne was frustrated that no one else was finding idols: “Do better, ya’ll,” she said. I’d say the same to the players, since now we’ve had several self-orchestrated downfalls, but it’s made for some entertaining TV and some pretty typical Survivor episodes, and after last fall’s fiasco, I’m all for it.

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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!


Friday 1st of April 2022

Jonathan is heading towards a very tough position in SURVIVOR: he's a challenge monster, a natural leader, and clearly a good dude. In other words, he's every kind of player that other contestants do NOT want to advance anywhere near the end of the game if they can help it! It is very, very hard to win the Tom Westman-in-Palau way, and Jonathan is going to have to make some smart moves to avoid that fate (not least because, to continue the TW comparison, Jonathan's allies at this point are a hell of a lot stronger in the game than anyone in Palau except Ian--and I just can't see Jonathan being willing to bully Ian out of the game the way Tom was).


Thursday 31st of March 2022

Peacemaker reference FTW!! I really like Jonathan, yes, he's really strong, but he also seems like a nice guy. His statements aren't coming across as bragging just as "this is what I am and why." I do feel everyone is crediting him with more than he deserves.. yes, he HAS pulled some things, but the other tribemates have held up a lot of their end as well.

You are just not going to ever forgive Survivor for the pizza are you? LOL!


Thursday 31st of March 2022

I'm starting to wonder if the shorter time frame is causing the players to overplay their hands. While it makes for entertaining TV, all of the early backstabbing/vote switching/risk taking moves is confusing me as to who is actually being strategic. I'm getting the feeling whoever wins this season will win more out of luck (or being comically under the radar) and not from playing a great strategic game. I hope I'm wrong and that once the merge happens we will see more thoughtful game play.


Thursday 31st of March 2022

Regularly reading post-exit interviews, many blindsides are more edited as such than reality. I also imagine true blindsides are particularly difficult when you are down to 5 people as opposed to 8-13 people.

I do think this season's players are relatively savvy about reading the room and knowing their vote would be useless anyways. It seems given Swati's tribal council points that she already knew the tribe had turned on her.


Thursday 31st of March 2022

Hahaha! Excellent references for the wet, limp pizza and Peacemaker. :)

Side note, since you brought up and HBO Max show, I HIGHLY recommend Our Flag Means Death if you haven't seen it.

I just love Johnathan! He's really fun to watch and seems like a genuinely good dude.

Andy Dehnart

Thursday 31st of March 2022

Thanks for the recommendation—I haven't seen it, so I'll add it to my list!