Survivor Winners at War episode 2 recap: Lining up troops

Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

With two players still in the game losing their allies, Survivor: Winners at War episode 2 prepared for an ensuing battle by rounding up the troops.

The premiere of Survivor: Winners at War was everything you could ask for. You had legends of the game somehow avoiding being targeted, you saw newbies flounder (and thrive) under pressure, and you even saw the show acknowledge pre-game alliances instead of ignoring them. I may have even contributed to the game by writing up about the poker alliance that Yul apparently read about from Surviving Tribal!

Now that the pace of play has been established, Survivor: Winners at War episode 2 was about ramping it up.

Cut to the Chase

Modern Survivor is about ditching the recaps and going straight for the cold open, as Amber Mariano reflected about keeping her head in the game and striving to further both herself and Boston Rob. He expected as such once he was bequeathed a fire token (no, “bequeath” isn’t going away), and he prepared to go to war with Sandra Diaz-Twine if he found out she was behind it.

Must Read. Survivor: Ranking the best Survivor seasons ever. light

The editing bay has a lot to cover with the Edge of Extinction in play, as we have idols, players, tribal dynamics, and 20 players all season. Ben’s ability to find idols has rubbed off on others, as his expert tips guided Denise’s ability to find two halves of one Hidden Immunity Idol, with Ben smartly letting Denise talk to Adam to solidify a trio.

Adam has been one of the more tuned-in players on Sele, and he seemed to know exactly how to operate the trust of sharing an idol. Sure, it meant giving himself the other half, but he genuinely looked after her by telling her not to share the idol with Parvati, a player who’s in opposition to her game.

Kim went on her own Hidden Immunity Idol chase, but since she was on the outs, her reasoning with who to share the idol half with was bad logic. She entrusted Sophie, not Tyson, with half of her idol, with her idol partner remarking how she is still such a huge threat despite sharing a personal secret between one another.

I’m on the Edge of (overwhelming number of advantages)

“It’s Like a Survivor Economy” got name-dropped with a new letter placed onto the Edge of Extinction, hinting at something Amber and Natalie overlooked during their time on the island. Whatever the message said in totality didn’t matter, as the first letter of each line spelled out the location of the advantage: “W-A-T-E-R-W-E-L-L.”

Safety Without Power makes its return and marks the first time someone gets to do something with it. Janet Carbin from Island of the Idols made the smart move in not risking her game for a one-time belaying of elimination, and the lack of risk associated with its second appearance makes it a more enticing get for Natalie Anderson to sell it to her favorite ally.

I’m glad we brought up this earlier last week, but the advantages of going to Edge of Extinction early are numerous, especially if you can sell powers to your ally. Jeremy benefits once again from Natalie going out first by being gifted a fire token in the last episode and using it now to buy the Safety Without Power advantage, allowing himself to leave Tribal Council without a vote or the option of being voted out.

Interesting to note is that the paper says it can only be played up until ten players remain in the game, but he didn’t read that part of the paper out. It does continue to confirm, however, how important fire tokens are to the Survivor economy this season, as it’s almost an advantage to have a natural ally voted out first if they can continue to help you win from beyond the grave.

Is it fair? We’ll have to see if checks and balances emerge down the line.

Finally, something that’s not an advantage or power

It took the second quarter of the episode before we had something Survivor-related that wasn’t about an advantage, idol, or hunt for one or the other. Tony Vlachos has put himself on a self-imposed time out for his tribe, but now it’s his time to break out in a big, fun way; he’s made a big, dumb ladder to climb up and grab the breadfruit that Yul was simply grabbing with tools he efficiently made to keep himself safe.

Pretty much everyone on the tribe helps Tony take the ladder over to grab the fruit, which shows just how much everyone else looks at Tony as the little engine that could. It’s with snapped rungs and shocked faces that he managed to pull down the fruit and become the tribe’s hero, which tells you just about how Tony could win his second time around.

The return of Cops-R-Us is an amazing glow-up for both Sarah and Tony, as so much of this episode is about lining up troops and preparing for a coming war. The fact that they’re one of the only duos that’s actually hidden despite their history playing for the third time together is nothing short of miraculous.

Immunity Challenge, Cagayan-style

The Immunity Challenge was a send-up to Survivor: Cagayan and the Brains tribe is sure glad they aren’t playing it again this season. Tribes needed to retrieve three sets of keys while carting around a series of obstacles to unlock three chests. Once all chests are retrieved, they needed to move their cart through a barricade and re-assemble it on the other side, take it through a sandpit, unlock the chests and use the puzzle pieces to solve a 3D dragon puzzle ring.

Both tribes were even until it came to assembling and re-assembling their carts, as Dakal really came together as a group. Every player seemed to know their role and shut their mouth until it came to their turn, as the great equalizer truly was the puzzle. Sandra and Sophie worked together for Dakal, while Sele had Boston Rob and Denise on catching up.

It seems as though some gamesmanship was crucial to the puzzle, just as much as it was Boston Rob being obsessed with revenge. Dakal and Sele seemed to be not too far apart after the first chest of puzzle pieces, but once Tony had encouraged Dakal to ramp each other up, Boston Rob focused on lining up puzzle pieces first before placing anything. His strategy didn’t work, however, as Sandra and Sophie quietly plugged away at a puzzle, taking the momentum and the win back to their tribe.

Old school vs. New School

Boston Rob seemed to think he was in a power position despite throwing away immunity for Sele. He seemed to put the position the voting between Ben and Jeremy, yet the fact that Parvati, Ethan, and Boston Rob seemed to be keeping Danni out of the main conversations that got a usually calm player starting to make plans out from underneath the radar.

Danni came into this pre-tribal scramble without a clear cut game plan, as she was targeting Parvati to both Ethan and Ben while also leaking the idea of an old school vs. new school voting dynamic. It didn’t take long for Boston Rob to hear the same thing, pitching to be Rob’s new Parvati. The problem was, however, that Boston Rob already had a Parvati second-in-command,

Jeremy and Michele, it turns out, were the wild cards themselves, as they pitched to Adam in actually targeting the big guns. However, he rightly pointed out the fact that you do not piss off the Godfather in Boston Rob if it can come back to bite you, although he did reflect he couldn’t win the game if he didn’t make big movez. The results may or may not reflect his chances to win down the line or, perhaps, may predict what’s in store for later, as well.

Tribal Council

I can’t recall a time when a player had problems getting their torch into its nesting home at Tribal Council, but that bit of messiness would become a precursor for a wild night. While the idea of different schools of Survivor players being on the same side (or not) was broached, it was Ben who pushed the idea when it was discussed, taking it further by expanding on the topic of paranoia.

What ensued was a lengthy discussion about who’s paranoid, with Ben interjecting about how the “olds” being paranoid affected how the new-school players were paranoid, then the old-school players commented how everyone’s playing hard, which lead to everyone eventually agreeing paranoia had set in after Boston Rob told everyone to dump their bags to show who had a Hidden Immunity Idol before everyone just listened to him.

Honestly, it was such a chaotic mess once the whispers came out that it seemed to contradict just how linearly the vote ended up being. Danni Boatwright was unanimously voted out in 18th place, gifted her fire token to Denise, of all people, then headed to the Edge of Extinction in a move that delayed the inevitable war kicking off.

B. This was a very power-heavy follow-up to the premiere, as <em>Survivor: Winners at War</em> episode 2 flavored relationships in the view of powers. It was still an entertaining chaotic energy swirling through, and we did get those smaller character moments, but it felt more like the editors came out on top to sell what could have been a gamebot-centric episode as something more enlightened.. Survivor: Winners at War. . It's Like a Survivor Economy

Key Observations

  • Man, it really took SEVENTEEN MINUTES before we talked about the 18 current players in the game without talking about advantages, powers, or the Edge of Extinction.
  • Kim Spradlin continues to not have a good read of who to trust and how to interact with the fellow winners doesn’t help the (potentially misguided) suggestion she can’t play with a cast that isn’t outright incompetent.
  • Nobody knows about Cops-R-Us, Sarah? Wasn’t it one of the defining pre-merge storylines of Survivor: Cagayan, alongside, “Top five, baby!”?
  • Sele has the most prolific trio of players, yet the tribe seems to be crumbling around their leadership. There is no “we” game being played by a tribe of iconic, self-interested winners.
  • Dakal continues to be keeping things light, which might be just a benefit of not going to Tribal Council and needing entertaining content to fill in the gaps.
  • “Next time on … Survivor” didn’t hint at a tribe swap, which is amazing considering the pre-game alliances currently in effect. The show typically likes to split the tribes to break things up.

Next. Survivor winners: Ranking the best Sole Survivors by season. dark

It seems like we’re still getting into skirmish battles in Survivor: Winners at War. Wonder when we’ll see an outright war take place?