Survivor Edge of Extinction episode 3 recap: Quagga

Extinction Island takes another and returnees are openly (accidentally) targeted in Survivor: Edge of Extinction episode 3 as “us vs. them” continues.

I said it last week, and I’ll say it again; turning a player’s Survivor: Edge of Extinction choice into a cliffhanger delegitimizes the season’s theme. When you spend the entirety of an episode trashing on the player’s standing in the game, including a hit job during the Immunity Challenge, and then you dangle his inevitable fate as if he is going to quit for no reason, you show a lack of faith in the show.

Of course, the first thing we see in Survivor: Edge of Extinction episode 3 is Keith Sowell taking his spot on Extinction Island, arriving in the warm embrace of Reem who’s glad to have someone else to talk to. Now Reem feels indebted to stay on the island to take care of Keith, as the two arrive on the beach to uncover maps hidden in a glass.

“Mast, wreck, steps.” That and a map of the island were the clues that brought Keith and Reem to the top of Extinction Island, expending a ton of calories in order to earn a small amount of rice. That will be their daily tradition on Extinction Island, as they will have to earn their right to get back into the game.

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We didn’t even get to see any of the fallout from Tribal Council before heading into the Reward Challenge; the first of Survivor: Edge of Extinction. Tribes needed to create a wheelbarrow, cart it to a bunch of sandbags, bring them all to the end platform, turn the wheelbarrow into a slingshot and hit four targets.

This challenge required both coordination, dexterity, and endurance, as that wheelbarrow is heavy. Kama’s Joe and Eric helped bring the tribe to an early lead, but it seems like the ending part of every modern Survivor challenge is the most important part. Even as Jeff Probst that nothing goes right for Manu, slowly they clawed back, assembling the slingshot and seeing Chris sling those bags like it was his job, leading Manu to their first victory of the season.

Of course, even as Manu wins, they ultimately lose, as Wendy Diaz hurt herself quite mightily when disassembling the wheelbarrow. She required being carried to the beach, causing her raw emotional state to pour out, helping set up her Devilish Diaz plan; to throw her game away so that she can release the chickens into the wild.

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Rick is aghast in Wendy’s utter lack of foresight, seeing how she’s just willing to throw her game away for a shortsighted attempt at … what, earning the Sia Award? He just stuck his neck out, alongside David, in trying to save her and take out Kelley Wentworth, so now he’s taken aback by these events.

Kama comes back to camp not ready to deal with their first loss, as Victoria starts playing the game right away. Unfortunately, she talks about how Joe and Aubry are a team … right in front of Joe, who’s right with them on the beach. Clearly, the calorie deficiency is starting to work away at what’s under Victoria’s beanie, as she explains her alliance of six (everyone but the returnees and Aurora) needs to take someone out.

Aubry’s Survivor story has been muddled after an impressive Kaoh Rong game was undercut by her underedited Game Changers run, but we were reminded why she is a fan favorite. She immediately goes on an idol hunt, showing just how it’s the one thing besides winning that she hasn’t been able to accomplish. With an emotional idol find, Aubry reversed any negativity facing her way from her dialogue-heavy social game.

Wardog starts to prepare the block button in real life as soon as Wendy starts openly talking about not eating the chickens. I’m on Wardog’s side; if Wendy is eating chickens at home but can’t do it for actual survival purposes, it’s a bit hypocritical. This leads Kelley, Wardog, Chris and Lauren to go off and complain at the beach, planting the seeds for a potential four-person alliance.

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The Immunity Challenge started in media res with Wendy’s bum foot clearly in sight. However, seeing how this was a swimming challenge, with her and three other members of her tribe towing a boat with three players to a platform as each of the boat players walking to a beam and jumping for a key. Wendy’s swimming helped the Manu tribe get the early lead leading to the swim back to the puzzle platform.

The players in the boat then arrived at the final platform, requiring one player to open up a chest that holds parts of a steering wheel. Aubry’s experience with this competition has proven as useful as it did the last episode, as David and Kelley had no idea how to get the spokes together for the first portion of the wheel. Once again, the final portion of the challenge was the most crucial, as Kama worked as a team in solving the puzzle and winning immunity for the third time in a row.

As soon as Manu headed back to camp, Wendy began to dig her own by stealing the tribe’s flint to prevent them from eating the chickens. Of course, that allowed David and Rick the perfect smokescreen for them to operate their Wentworth blindside, but nothing is ever simple in Survivor.

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David and Rick talk to Wendy about the flint but use that opportunity to pitch the Kelley blindside. Wendy’s obviously open for anything that doesn’t see her name on the chopping block, and that’s something that surprisingly ended up being a possibility. That’s because Chris, once again, tried to have it all by going in on the Kelley blindside but trying to tell Wardog, who David warned about talking to, the plan.

Once Chris talks to Wardog, it’s clear that Chris doesn’t want to make his closer allies mad, pitching Kelley to be voted out so that Wardog isn’t on the outs. Ironically, this put Chris on the outs with Wardog, as he saw this as an attack on his ally, throwing Wendy completely out of the window and focusing the vote on a big threat like Chris.

Wardog comes to Rick saying that the target is now on Chris, not Wendy, both allowing Rick to have cover and for David to explore his options. He’s already balked at the plan to vote out a player Wardog doesn’t want to vote out; will he do it again

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As Tribal Council came around, Jeff Probst looked almost gleeful about the opportunity to talk about Manu’s many hardships early on. The conversation about the flint, bad challenge performers and loyalty gave David Wright the opportunity to talk about getting out a social threat, which set of alarms for Wentworth and Wardog.

Still, the suspense was for naught, as Chris stuck out his neck only to be chopped off. That’s right; Wendy, who has one good leg and is an eight-day vegetarian while competing on the hardest reality show on network television, got zero votes. We don’t even technically know who voted for whom, although we can assume her and Chris voted for Wentworth.

Chris goes to Extinction Island almost immediately, and it’s such a bummer how he was voted out. I can’t remember a time when a third boot, one who is a handsome challenge performer in the majority alliance, was given such a reduced character arc in Survivor history. It seems like the gimmick of Extinction Island, in removing the post-tribal chats, has removed a core value that helps tell the show’s story.

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Next week, Wendy will set the chickens free, and the tribes will swap from two to three. That gives us a bevy of opportunities for the vs. returnees theme to explore!