Written by Mike Mueller
THINKING ON, AND WITH, YOUR FEET
After a “previously on” recap (a rarity for Survivor), Survivor 41 Episode 7 begins with all the tribe mates coming in to watch, or participate in, the first individual immunity challenge. Before the challenge begins, Jeff brings Erika back from Exile Island. Erika reveals the advantage she received on Exile, which was the ability to “turn back time” and totally reverse the results of the challenge that happened in the previous episode, meaning the half of the tribe that thought they were safe is now competing in today’s challenge, and the half of the tribe that lost the challenge is now safe.
Deshawn is surprised but seems to roll with the new twist. Danny stays silent in the moment, but later reveals he’s pretty upset with the shake-up, and who can blame him? He is literally being punished for winning a challenge. Regardless of people’s feelings, the game must go on.
The challenge is a survivor classic. Using only their feet, Survivors must untie a knot to release a bundle of blocks. Once the blocks are released, the players must then stack the blocks in a three-tier circle and plant a flag in the center. Evvie, Ricard, and Sydney all get out to fast starts, with Evvie slightly in front of the other two. She gets her three tiers built first and goes to plant the flag, but makes the critical error of knocking over part of her circle when attempting to get the flag in. This opens the door for Ricard, who looks like a yoga studio come to life, to maneuver around the blocks and plant his flag first. This means the five people eligible for elimination are Naseer, Sydney, Deshawn, Danny, and Evvie.
TRIBAL BONDS RUN DEEP…FOR SOME
As they return to camp, groups start breaking off immediately and making plans. As four of the five eligible contestants for elimination are from Luvu, most people come to the conclusion that Evvie is the obvious “plan A” for this tribal council. However, Survivor 41 has a lot of advantages and idols out there. Xander, who is safe from elimination tonight thanks to Erika turning back time, tells Evvie he will absolutely use his immunity idol on her tonight. Evvie is understandably brought to tears. Xander, Evvie, and Tiff went through a lot on the Yase tribe and have formed a very tight bond.
Meanwhile, Liana, who is also an original Yase member, has broken away from that group and has aligned herself with Shan, Deshawn, and Danny. Liana also currently possesses the “knowledge is power” advantage, which allows her to ask one person if they have an idol or advantage in their possession. If they do, they must hand it over to Liana on the spot. Liana plans to steal Xander’s idol at tribal so he will be unable to play it for Evvie, who will surely go home if this happens.
THEY DON’T KNOW THAT WE KNOW THEY KNOW WE KNOW
But wait, there’s more! A few days prior, Shan asked Liana about the advantage she received directly in front of Tiff. Tiff shares this knowledge with Xander and Evvie and, all of the sudden, a psychological chess match starts amongst the contestants. Xander tells Danny and Sydney he is playing the idol for Evvie tonight, and also informs them of Liana’s advantage, knowing it will cause paranoia amongst everybody and cast doubt over what is going to happen tonight.
It is a risky move because it reveals that the Yase Three are aware of the vulnerability of Xander’s idol, and they know they have to be tricky with it. Evvie tells Liana that she’s confident Xander is playing the idol for her tonight, and they’re going to vote out Deshawn. Liana relays the information to Deshawn who naturally freaks out and suggests they just vote out Sydney instead because she’d be a safe alternative. As they get ready to head to tribal council, uncertainty and paranoia are at an all-time high. The whole scenario is reminiscent of the classic Friends scene where Phoebe declares, “they don’t know that we know they know we know.”
EVERYONE’S TRUE COLORS ARE REVEALED
As Tribal Council gets underway, the bluffing game begins. Early on, players are very coy and make sure they say the right things to keep up with their initial stories. Tiff stresses the bond people make with their original tribemates, Shan brings up the bonds people make on journeys and excursions, and things seem pretty amicable until Evvie pretty much directly states that Xander is using the immunity idol on her tonight. Xander displays his “idol” and confirms that’s exactly what is going to happen.
The bond between these two is out in the open, and Evvie reveals that she knew Xander didn’t have a vote for a long time and chose to keep him safe, at which point Deshawn speaks up and reveals that Evvie told him about Xander’s idol before Deshawn ever met the guy. Embarrassing! This is not a good look for Evvie. Maybe Xander will rethink his strategy for this vote.
Liana sees this as her moment to shine. She reveals her “knowledge is power” advantage and the Yase Three do a great job of acting like their world just got shattered. Liana confidently asks Xander if he has an idol. Xander looks her in the eye and says “No, but you can have this fake.” BOOM! Everybody’s head starts spinning and suddenly we have a “live” tribal. People break out into groups and start thinking about alternative strategies.
Sydney and Deshawn quickly become the major focal point, with some still pitching the idea of voting for Evvie in case an idol doesn’t get played on her. Naseer is torn between two groups, and Heather continues to sit there with nobody talking to her. With so many idols and advantages, everybody goes to vote, unsure of who to trust and how the votes will shake out.
A GAME OF CHICKEN AND A MISFIRED SHOT
Before Jeff reads the votes, Sydney reveals that she is the first person to attempt a “Shot in the Dark” and that she sacrificed her vote for a one-in-six shot at immunity. She unties her scroll and reveals that she did not get immunity. Sydney is still vulnerable. At this point, Tiffany is prepared to play the immunity idol for Evvie. Xander stops her because he is very confident that they did not vote for Evvie due to the fear of her having the idol. Evvie pleads with Tiffany to use it, but she follows Xander’s advice since it was ultimately his idol to use. As the votes are revealed, we come to a three-way tie, with four votes being cast for Evvie, Deshawn, and Sydney. With the last vote revealed, Sydney is sent home and Xander’s major risk pays off. The Yase Three survive the vote with the immunity idol still intact.
Overall Thoughts on Survivor 41 Episode 7:
-With so many advantages used at this tribal council, next week’s episode will likely reintroduce a few of them into the game, or perhaps new advantages altogether.
-While they survived the vote, the Yase Three still seem like they are the prime targets for future episodes. If they don’t lock in a larger alliance soon, they are extremely vulnerable.
-Xander was the star of this episode and has cemented himself as one of the best players of the season, which nobody saw coming early on.
-This vote was the most likely time for the Shan/Deshawn/Liana/Danny alliance to be broken up. As a tight, and somewhat discrete, four-person alliance, they only need to survive a few more votes before they can run the game all the way down to the final four. If one of them is not voted out in the next episode, that will likely be the way the rest of the season plays out.
Survivor 41 Episode 7 is now streaming on Paramount Plus.