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A Survivor 42 player became ‘a real competitor in this game, not a goat to be herded’

A Survivor 42 player became ‘a real competitor in this game, not a goat to be herded’
Maryanne Oketch intensely focuses on her options on Survivor 42 episode 11. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

Somehow I didn’t realize we were already at the penultimate episode of Survivor 42. Then again, I recently confused 2020 and 2021, so I don’t have any concept of time.

But next week is the Survivor 42 finale, and five players remain: Maryanne, Lindsay, Mike, Romeo, and Jonathan.

One of them just rocketed to the top: Maryanne. She did that by (almost) single-handedly taking out the person with the best chance to win: Omar.

Maryanne gave the episode its title, saying Omar went from a “caterpillar to a butterfly” in the last Tribal Council, but it was actually she who transformed this episode as a player, by ignoring those who were ignoring her, and using her advantage to get what she wanted.

Omar Zaheer runs comfortably during the Survivor 42 episode 11 immunity challenge, before Maryanne sent him to the jury
Omar Zaheer runs comfortably during the Survivor 42 episode 11 immunity challenge, before Maryanne sent him to the jury. (Photo by

The episode opened with Omar planning to go after Mike, who he said now “sees me as his savior … swipe! Mike or Jonathan, out.”

But Mike had similar thoughts, and realized Omar was targeting him. “I wouldn’t want to take me to the end,” he said. “I would try to cut me loose too.”

“Omar’s gonna take me out,” Mike told Maryanne, and she was initially reluctant. “Omar and I have been close since day one,” she said.

While no one explicitly mentioned Drea calling out Omar at Tribal Council as the source of the idol leak, Maryanne acknowledged Omar’s role to us: “Boom, he’s the reason why Drea was gone.”

And that’s when Maryanne seemed to lock in on her strategy: “If you know they can beat you, you have to do something.” As she said later, she wanted to be “a real competitor in this game, not a goat to be herded.”

But first, we had to listen to Jeff Probst scream the obvious at two challenges.

Survivor 42's final six: Maryanne Oketch, Lindsay Dolashewich, Romeo Escobar, Mike Turner, Omar Zaheer, and Jonathon Young
Survivor 42’s final six: Maryanne Oketch, Lindsay Dolashewich, Romeo Escobar, Mike Turner, Omar Zaheer, and Jonathon Young. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

The reward challenge had the contestants wear spools of rope and unspool themselves, getting dizzy before they had to cross a balance beam and assemble a puzzle.

(There were GoPro cameras attached to each of the spools, and I didn’t catch any of that footage being used, but I’d love to see a cut of the challenge just from that perspective.)

Maryanne literally spun off course—but that was not a metaphor for her actual game play.

Omar won reward, which was a choice between chicken and vegetables, with two guests, and cake and cookies, with three guests. The food seems like an obvious choice; empty stomachs might not love a pile of sugar.

But the real catch was in who would be chosen and who would be sent back to camp alone, so Omar chose sugar and three people Romeo, Maryanne, and Mike to join him in devouring an actual cake, and sent his ally Lindsay back to camp with Jonathan.

The most remarkable part of the challenge for me was when Jeff Probst said/yelled all of this:

“You’re building a compass rose piece by piece, and you’re studying as you go, making sure it’s right. If you’re right, it’s just a matter of time before disappointment smacks you in the face. Sometimes it’s fun to just listen to the sounds of the challenge.”

Dear reader, when he realized that and actually stopped talking, I stood up and cheered. And then I tweeted a GIF.

I could complain about the weird music the editors played at that moment, but I was just so happy to not have a stream of useless words salad.

And then, at the immunity challenge—well, Probst forgot all about all that “sounds of the challenge” nonsense. “First you have to get the pieces, then you have to solve the puzzle,” he said. “This is where the challenge will be won or lost: right here.” You don’t say! Sigh.

Lindsay won her second individual immunity challenge, tying both Jonathan and Tori at two wins each.

With Lindsay safe, she now had an extra card to play: an immunity idol that expired at this Tribal Council. The obvious play was to protect Omar with that idol, and get rid of Jonathan.

But Lindsay was concerned that the idol would re-enter the game, even though her idol was the amulet idol, turned into individual immunity as a result of Drea’s exit.

It wasn’t found at a tribe camp, and those are the only ones that traditionally are re-hidden. Yet she was reluctant to play it, and also confident anyway that they could just vote out Jonathan.

“Our plan is foolproof,” Omar said.

Narrator: It wasn’t.

Lindsay and Omar weren’t the only ones who stumbled.

Maryanne had told Mike that she had an extra vote, and he told her that Lindsay had an idol she has to play at this Tribal Council.

Mike promised Maryanne to play his idol for her at the next Tribal, but was worried Lindsay would play her idol for Omar, and thus they should just go for the easy vote and send Romeo to the jury.

Nevertheless, Maryanne persisted. She pitched her plan again to Mike and Jonathan. “This is a risk we have to take,” she told them. They were dismissive.

“Jonathan and Mike are underestimating me,” Maryanne said, super-frustrated. “I’ve got to make moves for me to get to the end.” I worried in that moment that she could be overplaying, rocking the boat unnecessarily, but clearly she’s a better player than I would be.

Ignored by other players, Maryanne decided to do what she wanted: go after a major threat (Omar) rather than vote out a goat (Jonathan, Romeo).

Along with Romeo, she voted for Omar, and then used her extra vote for a second Omar vote.

My memory of 41 seasons is not good enough to recall another similar scenario when a single person controlled the vote that way. Of course, people have used idols to nullify other votes, and thus swing a vote their way.

What is certain is that it’s the first time in Survivor history an extra vote has actually done more than force a tie vote. (Extra votes were first introduced as an advantage in Survivor: Worlds Apart in 2015.)

The best moment at Tribal Council came as Jeff Probst was about to read the last vote for Omar, and Omar turned to Maryanne and said, “You did it?”

“I did,” she said. 🔥🔥🔥

Adding to the streak of joyful exits, Omar said, “Good job,” and then, with a smile on his face, before his torch was snuffed, said “I was Survivor confident.”

I was pretty Survivor confident that Maryanne was a wonderful character but not necessarily someone with a chance to win this season. I was convinced Omar had this season locked down.

Now Maryanne has emerged as a strategist to be taken seriously. She still has an advocate on the jury, a hidden immunity idol, and two Tribal Councils left before the end.

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  • 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!

Chuck

Friday 20th of May 2022

Yes, Maryanne can be annoying because she talks non-stop, but, to me, she's still a loveable character and she is definitely a fan of the game. My problem is that I think she just painted a target on her back. I really do like most of the booted players are still cordial about it and enjoyed playing the game.

Queue

Friday 20th of May 2022

Man, I thought Omar was getting a winners' edit in a lot of ways, and now he's on the Final Jury. The "problem" here is that this has been presented as a truly great group of people so there are no fairly obvious no-chance-of-winning players (some would say Jonathan can't win, but I don't think he's quite there, though he's the closest in the F5 because his social game is not terrific--but players have won that kind of game in the past with the right opponents and the respect for sheer performance, like Mike Holloway). One thing that's interesting is that a Maryanne win would mark 2 straight deserving victories by Canadian female POC. That would be frankly awesome!

Melissa

Friday 20th of May 2022

@Queue, I think Romeo is the fairly obvious no chance of winning player this season.

Robert Karp

Thursday 19th of May 2022

I'm not as thrilled with this episode as I guess everybody else is. Eliminating someone with an extra vote shows how far we have come from the original concept. Now it's about amassing advantages upon advantages rather than really playing a social game. I wouldn't criticize Jonathan so much if he just lays back and waits for the idols and advantages to play out and then makes a move.

My only other advice to any cast member is NEVER TELL ANYONE THAT YOU HAVE AN IDOL OR ADVANTAGE. This is like asking a teenager in a horror movie, haven't you ever watched one of these slasher movies? Don't go into the basement for God's sake.

Melissa

Thursday 19th of May 2022

I applauded to my living room when Probst said let's listen to the sounds of the challenge. :)

I haven't been rooting for Maryanne, but that was an awesome play she made.

HardyWeinberg

Thursday 19th of May 2022

Colossal error on Lindsay's part (presuming she really didn't want Omar out like the edit suggests). What is the rationale that a played idol would be recirculated but an expired idol wouldn't? Never mind the weirdo evolving 3-part 'idol'. I guess Lindsay is a victim of a game with, at best, the rulebook hidden from the players.

That said, I am really glad for Maryanne. I hope she goes all the way.