Survivor Edge of Extinction episode 2 recap: The Dodo

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Reem is on her own, Wendy Diaz makes her case and returnee women are targeted in our Survivor: Edge of Extinction episode 2 recap.

Normally, when you’re starting out in Survivor, all you want to do is keep your head down and not make too much noise. It’s a skill the returnees of Edge of Extinction know all too well, as last week showed that they have a strong footing early. It seems like some know to search for cobras lying in wait, but those that make the most noise have been the distraction early.

Reem was the first one voted out of Survivor: Edge of Extinction, and we start out with her coming to grips with her isolation, wrapped up in a tarp left over on the island. We also learned that any player can quit at any time if they raise the sail, with Reem determined not to quit as she picked herself up and set up her life for the rest of the game (until further notice).

Over at Manu, Wendy has given away any pretense of working with the majority, openly calling out Kelley in trying to get her voted out. This led to the majority keeping open tabs on Wendy and presenting the idea of an open idol search, which I am a big fan of. Anything that leads to the chaos of the idol hunt makes for amazing television, especially if it harkens to Cagayan-esque clashes.

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Kama has too few problems early on for Aubry’s liking. She remarks about how she likes to go to Tribal Council first so she knows where the lines are drawn in the sand; something that is hard to find out where Ron Clark is leading kumbaya antics. The amount of downtime proved to be a bit too detrimental for Aubry, as Julia and Victoria compared notes on just how Aubry says the exact same things to “create a dialogue.” She’s clearly Kama’s target early on.

While everyone on Mana is going on their merry idol hunt, Rick and David get to talking about orchestrating a blindside. They know that Wendy is desperate, loyal and willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the game and David knows that Kelley is way too smart to allow David to stay in the game for long.

This helped solidify David’s relationship with Rick where it seems like David is the newbie and Rick is the player he looked up to on television. It’s an interesting role reversal compared to how the rest of the returnees treat the new players and one that will hopefully establish a deep, long-standing relationship between the two as the season progresses.

Eric and Gavin have established themselves as an early pair, so it only makes sense they work as a team as they searched for a Hidden Immunity Idol. This led to Julie, Julia and Victoria bringing up gender dynamics in idol searches (albeit with a clumsy metaphor), setting the stage for the second season in a row where we get a more female-positive portrayal of tribal dynamics.

It also set up Lauren’s Hidden Immunity Idol find fairly well, as she mentioned looking up to her hero, Kelley Wentworth, in awe of her position as a strong woman in Survivor lore and her ability to find idols. It seemed like she’s keeping her preseason promise not to tell anybody about her idol, though, as her inch-deep burying spot on the ocean floor seems to be the worst spot to hide it.

The Immunity Challenge revisited the “carry a huge-ass waterlogged snake to the beach so you can toss rings at stations to spell out “I-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y” challenge; one that saw Aubry Bracco lose in Game Changers’ premiere episode. The first portion saw Keith struggle in the water very mightily, which led to Kama getting a big lead early on in the challenge.

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Eric’ firefighter skills gave him the strength and knowledge of lugging things over his shoulder helped to get the snake up and over the cage, allowing Kama to carry the tribe up to the beach and onto the cradle before Manu got their snake to the first obstacle. Just like the Malcolm archetype before him, Joe got out to an early lead on the ring toss before the opposing tribe caught up at 1-1.

If there was an obvious theme of this Immunity Challenge, it was that Keith is a liability to Manu. Whether he needed Chris to help him swim at the beginning, was a non-factor in lugging the snake over the cage or floundering on the ring toss, it’s like the Survivor gods were screaming, “Look at who Manu’s going to send to the Edge of Extinction tonight!” Kama won immunity and chose a fishing kit over utensils and food luxury, which makes sense.

Wardog saw just how much Keith was a liability during the challenge, which led to him being adamant about targeting him over Wendy, which pissed off Kelley. That also threw a wrench into David’s plan of whipping a majority vote for getting Kelley out, but these returning players know that the game can change at the last second.

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Chris introduced himself to the game by trying to be best for his alliance. In talking with Rick, Chris agreed that it might not be best to target Keith early for the hidden reason that Keith pledged allegiance for the rest of the game. Despite a person on the bottom being able to promise anything for safety, Chris bit into it, allowing Rick to pitch a Kelley blindside and get the majority back.

However, just as David teased earlier about not letting everybody in on a plan until the time is right, Chris proved to be the pair of ears that should be been told the plan at the last second. He spilled the beans to Wardog who argued to Chris that it’s worth keeping a strategic threat like Kelley in the game as a shield. Once again, the chaos of returnees and an ever-changing plan meant anything could happen at a moment’s notice.

At Tribal Council, Kelley established that she knows her name is being thrown out there, but she’s a proven winner that will be a bigger target when everyone else is trying to figure out who to get rid of. Keith also deflected Jeff Probst’s criticism that his Immunity Challenge performance was a “disaster” well, stating that while strength is important, loyalty is crucial in the votes going forward.

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It looked like everyone was dancing around a blindside way too much at Tribal Council to make things compelling, as it wouldn’t be a true blindside of Kelley Wentworth if everyone’s openly talking about it. She’s a returning player for a reason; this isn’t her first rodeo.

That took away the “surprise” of Keith being voted out of Survivor: Edge of Extinction as the second boot, as a 6-1-1 decision meant he was the second person to be prompted with a question; do you stay or do you go?

And this is where I lost all faith in Survivor handling this new twist seriously; we didn’t get an answer on Keith’s fate. He prayed to God for answers about whether he should quit or continue the adventure, only for us to go immediately to the ending credits. We got treated to a cliffhanger, turning the season’s theme into a weaponized gimmick, cheapening its legitimacy.

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When even the post-Next-Time-On-Survivor credits show Reem wondering if she’ll quit if nobody else shows up and doubles down on turning Edge of Extinction into a ratings gimmick, you know you have to force drama wherever you can. This was a poorly-implemented stinger that undercuts what interesting editing we had seen up until this point.