In the last three Tribal Councils (two of which were held in last night’s episode), arguably the three best players in Survivor history were voted out: Boston Rob, Parvati, and Sandra. Boston Rob and Parvati hold the record for most days on the island; Sandra is the only two-time winner (although, Parvati deserved her second win); and Boston Rob has one win but also one huge assist, helping his future wife, Ambah, win.
That’s the nature of the game right now, and why recent seasons feel like they reward mediocrity. The biggest threats — socially, strategically, physically — are voted off first, leaving the least threatening players to compete amongst themselves for the final spots. It’s how we end up with people like Nick winning seasons (and sticking around on Winners at War for much longer than he should).
That said, while Rob, Sandra, and Parvati had huge targets on their back, Rob and Sandra helped to invite their own ousters. Rob was in a very precarious position last week after the tribe swap and put on a tribe where he was immediately the odd man out, but he played it poorly: Instead of trying to ingratiate himself, he tried to lock Ben and Adam (the true worst) down to keep them from strategizing with the other Yara tribemates. It backfired, and Rob was voted off.
Parvati, however, didn’t really have much of a shot, mostly because Yul’s style of play works better in 2020 Survivor. Yul may be one of the best players ever, but he’s not showy about it. He doesn’t draw attention to himself. He makes friends with other players, and those connections are genuine and not necessarily game-play (that scene last week in which Yul talked about Jonathan Penner and his wife, who has ALS, was heart-wrenching). Amazingly, Yul’s personability has not yet made him a huge target. Likewise, Kim plays a similar game, and after the tribe swap, she successfully fell back under the radar, which is where she most likes to be.
In any respect, there were two tribal councils last night, and honestly, Parvati didn’t have a chance, despite what editing might like us to believe. Wendall, Adam, and Yul had appropriately aligned against her, and while Michele didn’t want to vote against Parvati (so she could get her fire tokens), she didn’t really put up much of a fight on Parvati’s behalf. The writing was on the wall for Parvati the moment she stepped on the beach (and it’s why Survivor had to pay the players this season more just to show up).
Sandra, though? Holy sh*t. The only two-time winner in Survivor history brought that ouster on herself. She has no one else to blame. Sandra had an immunity idol (good for that night) that she could have used, but she was so sure that she wasn’t going to be voted out that she traded it to Denise for two fire tokens, one of which didn’t need to be paid until after Tribal Council. Denise will never have to pony up, because Denise — who received all four of the other votes — used her vote to cast out Sandra, who sold her only protection to Denise. Denise used an immunity idol she already possessed on herself, and the one she got from Sandra on Jeremy, which — if anything — further bonds Jeremy and Denise.
Sandra got outplayed. Badly.
Denise just pulled one of the best moves I have seen in survivor. How can Sandra be that dumb at this point #survivor— Nick (@nyekimchuk14) March 19, 2020
It was a huge move, but damn: It hurts to lose three of the most popular players in Survivor history before the merge.
Wow. Parvati and Sandra in one episode. I am gobsmacked. #Survivor— daniebergs (@onlydaddybirds) March 19, 2020
Yul and Kim are still the two players I’m most hopeful about, but I gotta say: Ben is quickly moving up on that list. He won his season despite being a bad social player. He’s made himself a good social player this season, which makes him a genuine threat, but he’s just goofy enough not to come off as one. He could go far.
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