You know it’s going to be good when tribal council starts halfway through the episode.
On Survivor Season 41 Episode 11, another (some might say excessive) twist threatened to end someone’s “life” in the game.
There was much talk about who should or would go, but it almost felt like for one shining moment, Survivor had risen above the vote-out.
In general, the twists provided by the game have been fun. They’ve been a good way to keep the cast on their toes and keep the game fresh, exciting, and unpredictable.
I like that this season kinda throws out all the expectations we have of Survivor.
The best moments of Survivor have always been the ones that focus on the interpersonal dynamics and the players’ relationships. The most engaging part of the show is how they navigate alliances and make their way to the end while still securing votes.
The “Do Or Die” twist, luckily, didn’t change anything. It just added a tiny bit of extra suspense to the immunity challenge.
Wow, that drama was over quick. Not even three seconds.
What did you expect, Jeff? There’s always someone out in the first few seconds of an immunity challenge! It paid off as well as it could have at tribal council, even though it felt almost like an afterthought at that point. When Deshawn went up to Jeff and all he had to do was pick a box, it was intense as anything — but only for a few seconds.
It was a best-case scenario for Deshawn — he beat the odds and picked the correct box out of a possible three. So for the amount of airtime the whole ordeal got, it was an okay little twist, but it made zero impact on the game, so what was the point?
We’d be crying foul if Deshawn had actually lost because of this, since he has a decent shot of winning if he gets to Final Tribal Council.
(Speaking of lackluster twists, the shot-in-the-dark sure went out with a whimper. Well, it was worth a … shot.)
Liana was absolutely right to call out Deshawn and Danny after the Shan vote-out. With just the three of them left, they cemented their place on the bottom, thinking Ricard would stay with them without Shan.
We cannibalized ourselves, y’all.
Deshawn and Danny have no one to blame but themselves. They were only thinking one step ahead, and now with the Liana vote-out, they seem to be the next two most likely targets.
Xander, Erika, Heather, and Ricard are a tight four. Will they stay tight, or now that it’s the final six, is it every person for themselves? There are always immunity challenges to win, though Ricard and Xander have proven to be fierce competitors.
And XANDER STILL HAS AN IDOL.
Xander’s timing is incredible. In Survivor, it’s not just about who you align with, but when you do. Xander has been playing by himself for a while, but he’s always had the threat of the idol as leverage, and he’s used it for all it’s worth. He rode it long enough to find a solid final four he can get to the end with.
That’s an impressive feat that cannot be discounted.
For most of the season, Liana has made no secret of her disdain for Xander. It’s almost been a running joke.
Liana and Xander both started on Yase and ended up being the last two of their tribe. Liana has been trying to get Xander out forever, but she never could. She never had enough control to make the vote go the way she wanted. She misplayed the Knowledge Is Power advantage after Xander guessed that she was no longer loyal.
So, how did this arc end? With Xander and his alliance successfully voting out Liana and Liana having never cast a vote for Xander in the entire game.
The only way this could get more poetic was if Liana cast a vote for Xander to win a million dollars. We’ll see what happens! Xander has a clearer road to Final Tribal than just about anyone, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
Despite her strategic missteps, Liana had a deep understanding of the game — she just never found her footing, except with Shan.
However, it was at tribal council that Liana cemented her legacy in one of the most moving tribal councils of all time — and it didn’t even have anything to do with gameplay.
When Deshawn broke down at tribal council trying to justify his confrontational attitude to Ricard, Liana gave an articulate, impassioned speech about the experience of black people in the USA and how that translated to the all-black alliance in Survivor.
I’m black wherever I go. That’s just it.
What followed was a conversation about representation, privilege, and allyship. Danny’s grace towards Xander’s earnestness was just a beautiful thing to witness, as was his declaration of the faith he has in his future castaways to continue their own education and to help others like them.
The one thing that disappointed me was that Liana felt the need to apologize. No one should ever have to apologize for having these conversations, Liana! Shout while you have a platform because so many people are watching that need to hear these truths.
Danny’s journey on this episode was magnificent from start to finish and shaped him as a fully fleshed-out character in a way we haven’t really seen until now.
With the anniversary of his father’s death, we saw his vulnerable, sensitive side. He went on to win his first immunity. At tribal council, he spoke with integrity and heart. He has as much chance to win now as anyone if he makes it to the finals.
But it’s unlikely Erika will allow that to happen. Yes, Erika has the power in the game, again — and this time, it’s not because of some weird and wacky twist! It’s due to the work she’s putting in with strategy and alliances. The fact that Heather’s been with her this whole time hasn’t hurt either.
It looks like everyone was right to try and target her early on. How fitting that she and Xander are now working together — they were the ones everyone kept talking about getting out and never did!
Where does this leave Ricard?
Ricard still isn’t out of the woods yet. It’s possible the Erika-Xander-Heather combo will turn on him, but unlikely. There are not enough players left at this point to work on big-game strategy.
It bears repeating — Ricard absolutely cut out Shan at the right time. It might not play out in his favor, but it’s hard to argue how it could have worked out any better for him. There are a few ways he could make it to Final Three — most of them involve immunity, though, as he seems to be the one to beat. He’s got his work cut out for him.
He’s also right about Deshawn. Deshawn needs to own his game because it’s actually been solid. He cut people when he needed to, he formed friendships and alliances, he took risks, and up until now, he’s been in the dominant alliance. It’s a worthy resume, but it will all hinge on how he frames it — that is, if Deshawn makes it to Final Three.
The gameplay and morals intersected and it was hard.
With the Final Four Firemaking Challenge looming, Xander’s idol, other potential idols, two more immunity challenges left, and who knows what other shocking twists and advantages Jeff has in store, so much of the game is out of the players’ hands. It’s almost impossible to predict who will end up in the Final Three.
Maybe one of the final twists will be that there is no more Final Four Firemaking Challenge! Or maybe it will be a Final Two this season!
We’re solidly in the endgame now, and with only six players and two episodes left, it promises to be an exciting finish.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.