Fire in the Form of Print: Survivor 41 Eps. 1 & 2
October 3, 2021
Survivor 41 is here! We are only two weeks into the season, and already we’ve seen some of the most distinct personalities and unique strategies in the show’s history.
And that, dear reader, is where I come in.
Every week, after an episode airs, I will be here to break it all down; I will provide insight into each tribe, each contestant, each vote. My hope is that, combined with simply watching the episodes, these articles will make the season easier to process.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch the premiere episode until long after it aired, so this week I will be combining the first two episodes into one article. With that being said, let’s begin!
EPISODE 1: “A New Era”
There was definitely a palpable excitement throughout the premiere, both from the contestants and from Jeff Probst himself. Everyone just seemed relieved to be able to play Survivor, which gave the episode a sense of novelty and excitement the likes of which I haven’t seen in years.
Right out of the gate, Jeff announced multiple changes to this new season, the most drastic being that none of the tribes would be given any resources to start. Anything they need, they are going to have to earn, including pots for boiling water, machetes for chopping open coconuts, and magnesium flints for starting fires. Indeed, any time a tribe loses a challenge, Jeff will confiscate their flint until they earn it back.
Later in the episode, we were also presented with a new twist to the format: The Summit. Every episode, a number of contestants will be sent to a separate island, where they must get to know one another and make a trek from one side to another. Afterwards, they are presented with a Prisoner’s Dilemma-style choice: Risk Your Vote or Save Your Vote.
- If everyone at the summit saves their vote, nothing changes.
- If everyone risks their vote, they all lose their vote at the next Tribal Council.
- If some people save and some people risk, the people who risked their vote will receive an extra vote to do with as they see fit, while the people who saved will face no consequences.
Yet another twist was introduced at the first immunity challenge of the season: the Shot in the Dark Die. Every contestant receives a single die, which they can choose to play at Tribal Council. In doing so, they forfeit the right to vote, but are given a ⅙ chance of earning themselves safety.
If all of this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry: the contestants are just as confused as you are! Throughout the first two episodes, there were multiple instances of the castaways having to remind each other how these twists and powers worked. Despite the “New Era” promised by Probst, it would appear the undercooked advantages are here to stay.
With all of that out of the way, let’s meet our tribes!
The Luvu Tribe was definitely the one we saw the least between the first two episodes, largely as a consequence of never having gone to Tribal Council. However, the seeds of conflict were brewing from the moment they stepped onto their beach together.
After losing the first challenge, Luvu had to engage in a challenge to earn supplies; immediately, Danny McCray and Deshawn Radden volunteered for the challenge, which required them to lug buckets of seawater in order to fill up two barrels. During this time, they decided to scour the beach for Hidden Immunity Idols. Unfortunately, Naseer Muttalif caught them slacking and reported them to the other members of the tribe. It’s unclear exactly how this conflict will resolve, but it will almost certainly come up the first time they have to cut one of their own.
Danny McCray is definitely the focal point of the Luvu Tribe in the premiere, with 8 confessionals to himself; he definitely received a boost as a result of having traveled to the very first summit. Deshawn Radden had 4, largely as a result of being lumped with Danny. Sydney Segal received 3 confessionals, since she decided to side with Danny and Deshawn. Naseer Muttalif and Erika Casupanan got 2 confessionals apiece, but Naseer definitely had more characterization as a part of his conflict with the other men. Heather Aldret, between both episodes, only received 1 confessional, and remains largely invisible on the show.
The Ua Tribe is chock-full of strong personalities, including the definite star of the premiere, JD Robinson. Between his journey to the very first summit and his lightning-fast strategic play at Ua’s very first visit to Tribal Council, JD has proven himself a force to reckoned with, and is definitely somebody to keep an eye on in the weeks to come.
Ua won the first challenge, earning them supplies and allowing them to relax for most of the first day. However, they found themselves on the losing end of the very first Immunity Challenge, forcing them to oust one of their members on Day 2. Quickly, the entire tribe began to scramble: Sara Wilson worried about her challenge performance, so she tried to pull Ricard Foyé in on a plan to vote out JD; Ricard eventually got Genie Chen to agree to this plan as well.
Brad Reese, however, wanted to keep JD safe for the sake of his physical ability in challenges. Eventually, when Ricard confronted Brad and demanded to know who he wanted to target, Brad told Sara Wilson and Shantel Smith that he would like to see one of them voted out. Naturally, they took offense to this, and Shan began to worry that her name was being thrown out as a potential target. Brad also took this time to tell JD that the others were throwing him under the bus.
At Tribal Council, what started as a standard affair of Jeff’s usual Q&A quickly devolved, as various tribe members began whispering in each other’s ears, trying to change plans at the last minute. Ricard and Sara try to pull Shan their way, Shan and Ricard suddenly decide to target Brad for no real reason at all, Ricard tells JD to vote for Brad, and JD whispers to Shan that targeting Brad makes no sense. Eventually, JD tells Shan that he will do whatever she wants him to do.
Finally, the tribe commences voting, and:
- Genie has voted for Ricard
- Sara has voted for Brad
- Ricard has voted for Sara
- Brad has voted for Sara
- JD has voted for Sara
- Shan has voted for Sara
By a vote of 4-1-1, Sara Wilson is voted out of the Ua Tribe.
Between the strong personalities and the scrambling at Tribal Council, the Ua Tribe has already proven itself to have an incredibly unique dynamic, and I look forward to seeing it change further as the season progresses.
In the premiere, JD Robinson was far and away the most represented castaway not just of Ua, but of the whole cast, with a total of 11 confessionals to his name. Shantel Smith, Sara Wilson, and Ricard Foyé were the next highest, with four apiece, but Shantel definitely received more airtime for her willfully villainous and manipulative gameplay. Genie Chen and Brad Reese only had segments dedicated to their home lives, with Genie receiving 2 confessionals and Brad receiving just one.
Already, the Yase Tribe has proven to be one of the most dysfunctional, ill-fated tribes in Survivor history. Far and away the most represented tribe in the edit, they found themselves completely failing at every challenge they attempted, ending up at Tribal Council two episodes in a row.
Having lost the first challenge, Yase chose to participate in the same seawater-hauling challenge as Luvu; however, they came much closer to failing the challenge than Luvu did. Quickly, divisions became clear in the tribe: Eric Abraham threw Tiffany Seely under the bus, viewing her as a liability in challenges; Evvie Jagoda and Liana Wallace bonded out of fear of David Voce and Xander Hastings potentially aligning; Tiffany Seely quickly fell into a paranoid spiral.
Unsurprisingly, Yase also lost the first Immunity Challenge and was forced to attend Tribal Council. Immediately, Tiffany and Abraham target one another, attempting to swing the votes their way. Evvie ends up telling them both what they want to hear, but both she and Voce are on the fence. Evvie makes it clear she would like to go deep into the game with Tiffany, since she views her as unthreatening. Tiffany also searches for an Immunity Idol, and ends up inches away from finding a clue, only to come up empty handed.
Yase’s Tribal Council was not nearly as hectic as Ua’s. Abraham reiterates his point about keeping the tribe strong for challenges, Tiffany claims that Abraham isn’t social, and Evvie says she’s worried about tribe strength, both physical and social.
Then, we get to the vote:
- Abraham has voted for Tiffany
- Tiffany has voted for Abraham
- Xander has voted for Abraham
- Evvie has voted for Abraham
- Voce has voted for Abraham
- Liana has voted for Abraham
By a vote of 5-1, Eric Abraham is voted out of the Yase Tribe.
In voting out one of their strongest physical competitors, Yase has all but sealed their fate in the coming weeks. It seems rather unlikely that the tribe will manage to pull off even a single challenge victory, and between Tiffany’s constant paranoia and Evvie’s insistence on taking Tiffany far, the tribe’s chances look grim.
Evvie Jagoda was undoubtedly the focus of the Yase Tribe, receiving 9 confessionals. Xander Hastings got 5 confessionals, largely because of his visit to the Summit. Tiffany and Voce each received 4 apiece, but where Voce’s confessionals focused on his home life, Tiffany’s were much more focused on her gameplay (or lack thereof). Liana received 3, and remains largely an insignificant player. Abraham, despite receiving the axe at the end of the premiere, only received 2 confessionals.
PHEW! I know that was a lot to process. The premiere is always going to have the most work to do, largely because so many of these castaways needed to be established. Rest assured, however, that the other recaps won’t be nearly as wordy.
Speaking of which…
EPISODE 2: “Juggling Chainsaws”
Very quickly, about a third of the cast has all but disappeared from the edit. Heather, Erika, and Genie all receive zero confessionals this episode, which isn’t all that surprising considering their track record. However, Danny and JD, who received 8 and 11 confessionals in the premiere respectively, also receive zero in Episode 2. While this may seem surprising at first, the reason will become clear very quickly.
The Luvu Tribe was practically invisible this episode. The only member of the tribe who received any sort of focus was Deshawn Radden, and that was only because he volunteered to visit the summit after the Immunity Challenge. Naseer and Sydney each received one confessional, but only because of a short segment about Naseer’s impeccable work ethic.
Aside from a short segment at the start of the episode, Ua was also largely invisible. Brad Reese was the star of this segment, receiving 3 confessionals while spying on Ricard and JD. Ricard Foyé and Shan Smith received 1 confessional apiece, and JD Robinson and Genie Chen were completely shafted.
I hesitate to call Yase the stars of the pre-merge, mostly because the word “star” has a positive connotation. Watching the Yase Tribe is like watching the world’s slowest highway pileup: you keep watching, hoping that eventually things will stop getting worse, but it just gets sadder and sadder. The other tribes have become invisible because, simply put, the implosion of Yase is too exciting for the show to focus on anything else.
At the start of the episode, Xander Hastings found a Beware Advantage: if he took it, he had to do what it said, but if he left it behind he’d never know what was in it. Xander, of course, opened the note, which told him that he had found a piece of an Immunity Idol. However, in order to activate the Idol, he and two members of the other two tribes would have to recite specific code phrases at the next Immunity Challenge. Until the idol is activated, Xander is not allowed to vote at Tribal Council. Immediately, Xander decided to tell Evvie Jagoda and David Voce about this, and Evvie, being the double-dealer that they are, immediately told Tiffany Seely and Liana Wallace about this.
Yase, yet again, lost a challenge primarily because of Tiffany Seely’s inability to be at all competitive; Evvie was also chosen by the Luvu Tribe to attend a summit with Deshawn. Back at camp, Voce and Xander decide they ought to vote Tiffany out in order to have a chance in competitions; they tell Liana about this plan, and she, in turn, tells Tiffany.
When Evvie returns to camp, she, Liana, and Tiffany agree that Xander has to be the one to go. However, only a short while later, Tiffany becomes paranoid that Xander’s idol may have been activated at the challenge; she then tries to convince Evvie and Liana to vote Voce, just to be safe. Despite Evvie’s best efforts to convince Tiffany that Xander is still a sitting duck, Tiffany won’t budge; Evvie begins to reconsider if working with Tiffany is the best plan going forward.
Tribal Council is largely uneventful, with Jeff mostly asking the contestants about their pasts; Voce tells a sob story, Xander describes how the conditions have been hard on all of them, etc.
Finally, the votes are in:
- Xander has no vote
- Voce has voted for Tiffany
- Tiffany has voted for Voce
- Evvie has voted for Voce
- Liana has voted for Voce
By a vote of 3-1, David Voce is voted out of the Yase Tribe.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t completely dumbfounded at this result. Not two hours before Tribal Council, Voce appeared to be totally safe; all it took was yet another paranoid spiral from Tiffany, and suddenly he was voted out unanimously. If Yase doesn’t wake up and take Tiffany out of this game, I really don’t see how they have any hope of making it far.
Evvie Jagoda was the most represented contestant of the entire cast this week, with 10 confessionals to their name. Xander received 4 confessionals, mostly related to the Beware Advantage. Tiffany received 3, largely due to her pre-Tribal paranoia. Finally, Liana and Voce both received 2 confessionals apiece, with Liana in particular remaining a largely tangential figure in the Yase Tribe.
And with that, the recap is complete! I promise that going forward, these recaps won’t be nearly as lengthy. Hope to catch you all next week for the recap of Episode 3, “My Million Dollar Mistake”.