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Survivor’s monster revealed in a disappointing episode of Survivor 42

Survivor’s monster revealed in a disappointing episode of Survivor 42
Jeff Probst on Survivor 42, episode 8 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

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?

Romeo Escobar on day 15 of Survivor 42
Romeo Escobar on day 15 of Survivor 42. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

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.

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About the author

  • 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!

BadMitten

Friday 22nd of April 2022

We aren't going to give any credit to Survivor for trying to normalize Islam/Muslims by showing Omar praying? I understand much of the criticism for this episode, but this was an absolute high mark of inclusivity on Survivor and you didn't touch on it all apart to say that Mike and Omar bonded over "religion" and that "Omar said Mike 'truly embraces' learning about differences" Hmmmm what were those differences Andy..? Very big miss in your analysis there.

Also... "Maybe I missed something, but I’m unclear why Maryanne, Chanelle, and Romeo are the alliance’s first targets." - I don't know how you missed why Chanelle was a target. She was on the outs because of that initial vote where her and Daniel targeted Lydia (but Jenny ended up going home). They also continued to hit us over the head about how Mike was upset about Chanelle voting for him on the round that they took Daniel out. I'd say they've laid the seeds very well on Maryanne, granted they haven't necessarily been game related, but pretty much everyone on her tribe (except maybe Omar) has said they find her personality grating (particularly Jonathan and Lindsay). As for Romeo, that's the only one that surprised me, as he seemed to be a pretty firm 3 with Rocks and Drea heading into the merge.

BadMitten

Monday 25th of April 2022

@Andy Dehnart, Believe episode 2 was him more him telling them that he does pray and Maryanne offered to weave a mat for him to pray on (which he appeared to be using in this most recent episode)

Andy Dehnart

Sunday 24th of April 2022

Re: Omar. That's very fair, and I'm glad they showed it and also didn't make a huge deal of it, which is perhaps why it didn't stand out to me. Also, he did talk about it back in episode 2, though I don't recall if they actually showed him praying then or just talking about it.

PK

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Been watching since S1E1 aired. I completely disagree that Jeff is "babbling" when he breaks the 4th wall. I'm glad that after 20+ years, there's a little more on-screen acknowledgement that this is a *show* and its only purpose is our entertainment. It took the real world interference of a pandemic to make that happen, but it's about time. I love seeing the real Jeff address us separately from the players. Brilliant change.

Joel

Thursday 21st of April 2022

I really hope they get rid of Probst breaking the fourth wall. I cringe every time it happens. Remember when Probst was a good host, those were the days.

Melissa

Thursday 21st of April 2022

I noticed something really small, but really cool, and it's why I continue to watch Survivor, despite some of the stupid things they do. After the reward challenge, when they were going to commercial, they showed Johnathan swimming beneath the water, and I thought, he looks like a dolphin. Then after the commercial break, they showed some dolphins frolicking in the ocean and I don't think that was a coincidence. Brilliant and beautiful editing in my opinion. :)

Melissa

Thursday 21st of April 2022

@Andy Dehnart, Yes, that too! Although I could really do without seeing any snakes. But I do appreciate how they'll cut to a shot of a snake when someone is being sneaky.

Andy Dehnart

Thursday 21st of April 2022

I didn't notice that connection! But I really do appreciate Survivor's outstanding production values. I wrote down—but didn't include in my recap—the amazing aerial (drone?) view of fish swarming, and dolphins swimming, and then another surface-level shot of those sharks with the fish jumping in the air. Incredible nature photography!