Survivor Edge of Extinction episode 5 recap: Bucardo

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Two more eliminations, two more people on Extinction Island and a new twist highlight our Survivor: Edge of Extinction episode 5 recap.

Normally, the first double-length episode of a Survivor season comes either at the premiere to rush through two player’s eliminations, at the merge to tell a more complex story featuring the remaining players or near the Final 10 / Final 9 to prepare the final stretch of the game. I cannot recall a double episode quite like Survivor: Edge of Extinction episodes 5 and 6; right in the middle of no man’s land.

Speaking of, that was Rick Devens’ state as he reached the Edge of Extinction last week, having been involved in the elimination of each player there. Instead of arriving in the episode at night, we’re thrown right into Day 12, showing how hard it is out on the island. It was a bit brief of a visit, but considering we’ve seen so much of the island, it’s starting to get dull.

Why did Wardog flip? Is David Wright worried about being on the bottom of the Lesu tribe? Who the f— cares, it’s the first of four challenges in this two-hour episode; the last thing we need to see. Tribes fought for PB&J by collecting bolos across a series of obstacles and throwing three at an obstacle at the end.

Once Lesu struggled to hold David up as he tried to reach high for the first set of bolos, it would become clear that we’re set up for another embarrassing challenge performance. Despite David getting the blame from Wentworth, saying he was “acting like a female” in the challenge, Lauren got tossed around by Wardog, and she called him out multiple times during the challenge.

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Kama winning the Reward Challenge first and the new-look Manu coming in second was rather by the numbers, as it seems like the show is more interested in painting Lesu as the new Malolo. However, we returned from the challenge to hear from Julia (!!!) about how it’s the right time to get out Joe.

Joe is aware of the threat level he possesses, so he does what a challenge beast/provider does best; continue to provide food for his tribe. This makes Ron a bit more wary about voting out Joe, as a Ron-led tribe will struggle to survive, catch food or do any basic camp necessities. That doesn’t stop Julie and Julia from wanting to get him out now, as that helps build each remaining player’s Survivor Resume™.

I can’t believe we’re still talking about the chickens on Manu, but here we are on Day 12, talking about the chickens. It served as a backdrop for the developing scenario; all the players are too stagnant to take out an obvious threat like Wendy but want to make big moves first. That led to Victoria letting Eric and Gavin in on a plan to gather a “women’s alliance” to convince Aubry not to use an idol if she had one (she does), continuing the anti-returnee sentiment of this season.

David Wright is a writer for comedies, yet he knows how to wrap up a story in dramatic fashion. The way he twisted the Edge of Extinction theme and worked it into a confessional was downright beautiful, especially as he used it to transition to his idol search. It looked like he needed it, as Lauren and Wentworth wanted to vote him out. However, Wardog also went on the Warpath, bringing Kelley aside to vote out Lauren now en route to his path to victory. It seems crazy to Kelley, but she does value his loyalty.

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On Day 13, a new twist changed up the Edge of Extinction. Chris found a box that contained a map for each of the players, where Rick found out that folding the map made the stars align to point out two trees on the island. Everyone agreed to go searching at the same time together, but teenager Keith did a dumb teenager thing and searched immediately.

Even Reem seemed disappointed (dude) about his betrayal, which made the chase for the advantage that much sweeter when Chris beat Keith out to find “practice” for a challenge that will become important for his chance back in the game. Rick went to the other tree, getting an Extra Vote to send to any player ahead of the next Tribal Council.

The first Immunity Challenge of the night saw tribes swim out to collect a series of buoys throughout a number of obstacles (including diving underwater). They would then complete the puzzle at the end platform to create a 3D pyramid. With Keith out of the game, each tribe had an equal opportunity to complete this challenge and stay safe.

Once again, things looked dire for Lesu, as Wentworth and Lauren (and Wardog, and David) all struggled to release their buoys after diving underwater. Kama and Manu, however, could not get anywhere on the puzzle portion, proving once again that the only thing that matters in Survivor challenges is how quickly you can solve the puzzle.

Lauren was the star of Lesu once again, summoning the strength of a champion to release the final set of buoys when nobody else could. Despite Kama solving the puzzle early and feeding Manu directions to solve it, Lesu found it within themselves to provide one of the most compelling come-from-behind … second-place finishes in Survivor history, avoiding Tribal Council for the first time.

This meant that Manu was facing Tribal Council for the first time, although Wendy remained an option. However, Victoria opted to continue her plan to get Aubry out at this pivotal stage of the game, making sure not to tip her hand at camp. Aubry felt convinced by Victoria’s pitch the previous day, but Wendy seemed completely unaccepting to play along, which makes no sense when she would be the vote otherwise!

Aubry had so many options to explore, completely unaware that she was the vote target from Gavin, Eric and Victoria. It would seem like receiving the Extra Vote advantage from Rick, which extends to the Final Seven, would have given Aubry peace, but instead, it put her in an unknown position to her; one of complete power. Was she overthinking things, or would she manage to stay safe and suss things out?

Tribal Council was interesting because everyone but Wendy was tiptoeing around blindsides … except there are way too many levels for this not to be interesting. Everyone seemed to be praising Aubry as both a player and as a person, valuing their interest in forging their bond with fire. Even Aubry noted that she may be overthinking things and that sometimes the game is simpler than it seems to be.

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Of course, the game isn’t that simple. Aubry was completely blindsided in a 4-1 vote, leaving the game to shocked praise for this group of newbies. A funny thing happened when she saw the sign for Edge of Extinction, as she called it a no-brainer and an easy decision. She’s determined to fight for her chance to return in this game, and even shades Keith without knowing it in the process!

No reaction from Rick Devens after just giving Aubry a power. Nothing from Manu after arriving back at camp. We’re straight into the third challenge of the night, where tribes hustle over a series of obstacles, untie some knots to pull a lever full of sandbags, toss them to a bin and later toss them at a series of targets.

Each of the three tribes had almost equal footing in this challenge, with Kama only pulling ahead in the tossing portion. Joey Amazing continued Kama’s two-week vacation by earning the most coffee and biscuits, while Manu came in second to earn a smaller reward. Lesu left with nothing but sour apples, as Lauren continued to yell out at Wardog during the challenge, which seems to be the theme of this two-hour Survivor block.

Kama relished in their reward, but Aubry’s elimination brought a certain realness to Joe. He knew that his time in the game was an Immunity Challenge loss away, but he was not willing to be passive in his possible demise. He approached Julia and brought her aside in an attempt to garner favor, giving Julia her second (!!) confessional in as many hours, finally introducing her to the show as someone who believes she’s a threat because … Joe told her so. Interesting development.

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It’s getting a bit uncomfortable watching Lesu in a post-challenge loss scenario, but it is the most repeated circumstance. The Wardog did his Wardog thing by trying to be proactive in getting Lauren voted out, but in doing so did something completely surprising; it brought David and Kelley together to embrace potentially voting out Wardog.

Once again, we found ourselves back on the Edge of Extinction, where yet another twist entered the island of forgotten twists. Players now had a map with a bunch of holes in it, leading to an untold advantage in the game. Rick was smart once again in figuring out how to solve the puzzle, but he was off by a hair due to not being out on the island that long.

It was Reem who knew to look in the water by the rocks, saying “What’s that?” before KEITH, OF ALL PEOPLE, picking up the advantage to slow down a player during the redemption challenge. Chris and Rick were astounded that Reem gave it away, but Chris verbalized it, setting Reem off into a hurricane of curses and yelling, showing Aubry just how razzled these players are out here.

The Immunity Challenge saw tribes run through another series of netted and object-throwing obstacles, ending in a slide puzzle. However, instead of one tribe going to Tribal Council, Jeff teased that two would be headed that night! That’s a lot of eliminations this early into the season.

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With Kama’s challenge dominance this season, it was no surprise that they jumped out to an early lead. However, the continued shading of Wardog and Lesu at large was a bit more hilarious this time, as Wardog’s continued confusion about the rules meant letting the tribe struggle on the bolo toss to knock down the bamboo bridge. This gave David less wiggle room to catch up on the slide puzzle, as Joe and Julia deepened their bond in securing Kama’s safety.

Whereas we thought three players were going home tonight, we learned that Jeff Probst was bringing back the worst part of Game Changers; a joint Tribal Council. Of course, both Manu and Lesu don’t have the opportunity to share the same beach and explore strategic options, as that would produce compelling character exploration.

Instead, we started with Manu, as Eric and Victoria led a discussion on the power of going to rocks and Kelley and David’s wishes to avoid tarnishing their legacy by being rocked out of the game. I hate how meta Survivor has come to the point of talking about brand and legacies, especially when three former players were name-dropped tonight, but it is a convincing strategy.

Victoria, however, was not as willing to go to rocks in the end, teasing a bit of a villainous side. She’s willing to do whatever it takes, telling her tribe via confessional that she cannot be trusted and is willing to sabotage her tribe to get ahead. That’s certainly something crazy to show in an episode where she otherwise showed a glow up and is something to note going forward.

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Lesu seemed to embrace the inevitability of having to stay strong and vote as a group, but Wardog’s insistence on doing nothing had the tribe worried. His search for the idol got everybody searching, and even as Wardog had an idol within inches from his face at eye level, it was Lauren who pulled it from the tree. Lauren immediately revealed that she had an idol when Kelley told her she had one, which might come back to bite her in the long-term game.

As we got to Tribal Council, it seemed like Manu was the unstoppable force while Lesu was the unmovable object. Both sides were going on about how they’re willing to go to rocks, but Eric and Victoria were calling Lesu’s bluff. The legacy discussion was brought up again as Lesu started to whisper, but it seemed like it would all hinge on Wendy as part of the OG Manu group.

Of course, when the votes were tied at 4-4 for Wendy and Lauren, that’s when the Game Changers-esque whisper circle started, as premeditated by David and Wendy’s side conversation before the first vote. Eric was crossing over to pitch voting for Wendy, as it seemed like everyone voted for Wendy on the revote. Of course, we’ll never know because we saw nothing about the vote tallies.

Big Wendy had an oddly Sandra or Cirie-like exit, as both tribes clapped as she went about her platinum extra ways in asking Jeff to call her Big Wendy, hugged him and wouldn’t let go. She even shaded Keith by reading the “leave” script for Extinction Island and seemed adamant about another chance to get back into the game.

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Next week is the merge, which is absolutely mind-boggling. We will have 13 players active at the merge in an 18-person season; something I think is a Survivor merge. Will the pre-merge players stay at Extinction Island if they don’t win their way back into the game? Will we see a Manu majority at the end of the game deciding the fate of players they mostly don’t know? Let’s find out starting next week!