Ever since last summer, when CBS aired a promo for Survivor 41 that didn’t mention the show but did mention a monster, we’ve been wondering just what or who the monster is.
Tonight, Survivor 42 gave us what I will take as definitive confirmation: the monster is Jeff Probst.
He all but admitted it. Introducing the pre-immunity challenge rice negotiation—another chance for Probst to steer the game in the direction he’d like; he literally said “I’m going to try to get six players to sit out,” which is a screwed-up thing for the host of a game show to say—Probst looked into the camera and said,
“I’ll tell you the truth, I’ll settle again at four if they push hard enough. But lest you future players think I’m an easy negotiator, just remember: history is merely an indicator of what might happen in the future. Next season, the monster may have a much, much bigger appetite.”
To recap: Probst said he’d negotiate down to four players sitting out of the challenge, but warned that in the future, he wouldn’t necessarily settle for that same number, but he (“the monster”) would likely demand more people (its “appetite”) sit out.
Earlier, Probst broke the fourth wall to babble on about how disappointed he was that the players did not pick up his script—er, advantage—last season.
While I genuinely appreciate that expression of disappointment, I’m still not clear about why “new” Survivor is so intent on meddling with the game.
While Survivor 42 has, so far, corrected where Survivor 41 went wrong, and been a lot more entertaining as a result, this was a disappointing episode for multiple reasons.
First, it spent more time than previous episodes on nonsense such as:
- The return of a ludicrously powerful advantage that came with a punishment for grabbing it
- Jeff Probst talking to viewers at the reward challenge to express his disappointment that no one found a hidden advantage last season, and then talking to future players
- Jeff Probst talking to viewers at the immunity challenge about the negotiation
- Jeff Probst introducing a metaphor that took over the entirety of Tribal Council and yet offered precisely zero insight
The new Beware Advantage is the same one Liana found and hilariously fumbled last season. It gives Drea the power to steal an idol.
The directions she found at the challenge told her the location of the advantage, and said she could get “caught red handed,” a reference she figured out only after reaching into a container of red paint to retrieve the advantage.
I completely understand why Survivor 42 is reusing everything from Survivor 41, from the Tribal Council set to these twists. That doesn’t make me like them any better, though.
Also disappointing: Chanelle’s exit, only because 1) I don’t understand this alliance’s strategy, and 2) she joined the jury before Tori.
I begrudgingly respect Tori’s two individual immunity wins, and her ability to quickly figure out that Drea had found some kind of advantage, though the red paint all over Drea’s arm might have been a hint.
Even in the moments that gave us a bit of character development or strategy, the episode didn’t do a great job.
Mike and Omar bonded, and Mike said he learned that “we all ain’t that different” in an hour-long conversation with Omar about religion; Omar said Mike “truly embraces” learning about differences, “and I think that’s so admirable.”
Yet we just saw the two talking about this; we didn’t actually see them talking to each other. Obviously, the editing can’t show us an hour-long conversation! But people summarizing what’s happening is far less-interesting than watching it happen.
Likewise, Maryanne confessed that being on the outside of the large alliance was hurtful and reminded her of earlier times in her life. “I suck, there’s something wrong with me, and that’s why people don’t want to work with me,” she said.
Maybe I missed something, but I’m unclear why Maryanne, Chanelle, and Romeo are the alliance’s first targets. Tori, the editing has explained that. Maryanne, perhaps.
Paranoia or pragmatism?
Treemail—yes, Treemail returned!—said the reward would remind the players of home, and Jonathan asking if the reward would be “18 eggs” was perfect. He later says he consumes 4,000 to 5000 calories a day. I assume that’s not in Twix and Pepsi like my average day.
The reward challenge actually offered PB&J sandwiches, which made me long for the days of Applebee’s.
Upon hearing how lame the reward was, Drea swapped with Maryanne on the sit-out bench, which gave Drea a chance to get the new advantage, and she now has so many advantages they’re literally visible through her pants.
When Jeff Probst sent Drea to the sit-out bench, he said, “Drea, take a spot on the bench” with a tone that communicated LOOK VERY CAREFULLY ALL AROUND YOU YOU NEVER KNOW DANGER DANGER MONSTER!!!
At the end of the reward challenge, Omar almost became the new Jonathan, but then Jonathan led his group to a “massive come-from-behind victory,” as Probst shouted.
Later, after Tori’s win at the immunity challenge, there was back-at-camp scrambling, mostly from Romeo. Drea told us “Romeo was my closest ally” but now he’s “one of the most paranoid players.”
Omar said, “Romeo is so paranoid” and thus “has now inserted himself as a target, and he’s going to play himself out of the game.”
Hai told Mike and Drea “Romeo is creating chaos,” while Mike said, “Paranoia is a crazy thing.”
And what was he so “paranoid” about? His alliance talking without him, and then choosing him as the pawn vote without letting him know. I’d say that’s not paranoia, that’s accurate.
Did he handle it well? Obviously not. But he was not wrong.
As an aside: Romeo’s misspelled vote for “Hye” instead of “Hai” was a coincidental nod to Survivor: Redemption Island’s Ralph, who died Wednesday; on his season, he memorably voted for “Phile.”
Romeo ended up being quite safe, as the alliance kept Chanelle as its target. “I was playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers,” she told us at the beginning of the episode, and the only part of that metaphor I’m sure about is that now that she’s on the jury, she’s definitely playing a different game.