This article contains spoilers about Season 41 of “Survivor."
Survivor 41’s third episode opens with a truly tragic scene. Liana of the constantly losing Yase tribe is crying on the beach. You might be thinking, “Oh no — does she miss her family? Is living in the wilderness getting to her? Does she miss handsome neurosurgeon Voce who was just voted out?” The answer to all of these questions is no.
“I just want to make big moves,” Liana says in her confessional and promptly bursts into tears.
Whereas in other seasons we’ve seen contestants crying over the health of their family members back home, having to go off their depression medication for the show, being sexually harassed or feeling guilty about sending their friends and allies home, this season’s tears are for the lack of “big moves.” This is a Survivor pandemic. Ever since Ciera showed up in Survivor: Blood vs. Water and voted out her mom, Jeff Probst has not shut up about making big moves. Now, contestants are convinced that if they don’t make big moves, they’re failures.
Don’t worry, Liana, if anyone’s a failure in this season, it’s the production team. This episode was genuinely one of the most boring Survivor episodes I’ve ever seen. I’m usually fine with a boring episode here and there – almost every season has a few – but I find this snoozefest unforgivable simply because of how much Probst and the production team tried to hype it up.
Half of the episode is centered around a secret twist. There is a new advantage and players who find it are invited to get on a boat in the middle of the night and meet players from the other tribes. Then, they have to decide to either try to get an extra vote or make a play for a tarp for their own tribe’s shelter. The lucky players who get to be a part of this twist are Sydney from the Luvu tribe, Tiff from the Yase tribe and Brad from the Ua tribe.
Sydney is annoying. In her tribe, she’s the head of the main alliance and seems to decide at random everyday if she’s going to hate or love Naseer, one of the sweetest, most hardworking people to ever play the game. But when Sydney is next to Tiff, she’s suddenly my favorite. I really can’t stand Tiff. And then there’s Brad, who acts like he just walked out of an 80s sitcom onto the beaches of Fiji. He’s always in a silly, goofy mood and constantly has a big smile on his face like he’s already won the game. He is extremely confident in himself and figures that confidence pays off when he’s the only one to come out of this twist with an extra vote. As a viewer, the whole thing seems very anticlimactic, and for the first thirty minutes of the show all I could think was: “Please just get to the challenge already.”
At least the challenge is entertaining. Watching Tiff, whose balance was what costed Yase the last challenge, struggling to cross the rope bridge provides suspense. Watching JD from Ua tribe, the self-proclaimed “next Ozzy of Survivor,” miss every target on the sandbag throwing portion of the challenge provides humor. The Yase tribe finally winning immunity adds some heartfelt happiness (for everyone except the Ua tribe, who is sent to tribal council).
The obvious vote-out, at least according to Brad, is JD. He fumbled the challenge and was caught lying to his allies about getting a secret advantage in the first episode. Brad thinks he’s got this game in the bag, sitting pretty with his extra vote and now a hidden immunity idol as well. Because of the twist, he can’t vote until all the idols are activated, but still. As far as he knows, his allies are solid, and now they’ve seen how valuable he can be.
Think again, Brad. Getting all of those advantages actually makes him a huge target, and he gets voted out. I really don’t care that much (I was never rooting for Brad) but wow. The whole episode, which was almost entirely centered on Brad and his advantages, now has zero impact on the game. For any Survivor fans who might’ve missed this episode, consider yourselves lucky. I wasted an hour of my life that I can’t get back.