Survivor Winners at War episode 3 recap: The showdown begins

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

The growing divide between Survivor veterans and recent champions set the stage for a potential old school vs. new school battle in episode 3 of Winners at War.

One of the biggest fears that a few legendary Survivor winners had (along with their many fans) was the fact that their target level would be too great no matter who they hit the beach with. That’s actually the reason why Edge of Extinction is back for Winners at War. After three Tribal Councils, the big names including Boston Rob, Parvati, Sandra and Tyson are all still in the game and are proving why they deserve to be called legends.

With all that being said, we could see from last week’s episode that these other savvy winners are starting to put themselves in a position to dethrone the kings and queens. With this power struggle brewing, tonight’s episode held out the prospect of seeing this old school vs. new school battle play out.

A storm is coming

With an epic musical interlude, episode 3 began with the feeling that we’re leading up to an intense Tribal Council. Adam began to feel sick of Boston Rob and the old schoolers ruling the game. He consulted his go-to Denise and they decided that targeting Parvati might be the best option, with the hope that they could still retain Rob and Ethan.

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While that was going on, the editors went back to their new favorite hobby, a series of flashbacks. This time it included a scene that didn’t make last week’s edit: Adam giving Denise the other half of her idol. Once again, Adam playing an excellent social game… but it could get dicey if he lets that get to his head. As smooth as their coup to get out Parvati was going, you always have to know who to tell, and who not tell. After Adam confronted Ethan, his master plan didn’t look as foolproof with Ethan’s loyalty to Parvati

Over at Dakal, Sandra wanted to focus on putting all of her island experience to the test by setting out a fishing net. Meanwhile, Tyson is still trying to adjust to a game without being in control. Considering the huge target Sandra has on her back, Tyson began subtly discussing with others like Yul about voting her out. Similar to Adam and Ethan, that might not have been the best decision, seeing Yul went straight to Sandra to keep her as an ally.

Another golden Tony moment came on the heels of Sandra’s successful fish trap, or should I say shark trap. Tony being Tony grabs the shark nonchalantly only to find out that it still has some bite left. It was a short funny moment where we finally get to see Tony run around in circles for the first time since Game Changers.

Advantage Island

It seems like it’s going to be a constant trend of having an advantage or idol discovered on the Edge of Extinction in every single episode. The three ladies went off together to figure out their latest clue of a tree-drawing, but that didn’t last long upon reaching a combination lock. Pulling a Keith, only way stealthier, Amber went off on her own to look for numbers hidden on stuff at base camp. Eventually, it was actually Natalie who figured it out and getting herself another trade bait for tokens, this time in the form of a Vote Steal advantage.

She interestingly decided to give it Sarah, possibly reasoning that there’s no way she used a token yet. Sarah accepted to the trade of giving up one Fire Token, but it came with a twist. Similar to Vince’s Island of the Idols test last season, Sarah has to sneak into the other tribe’s camp at night to find her advantage inside one of the torches. With a professional camouflaging job done by Tony, Sarah was ready to go. Even though she made a ton of noise, with production crew members in the vicinity and a pitch-black night, Sele didn’t notice a thing. She became the first player ever to find a second Vote Steal advantage.

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Immunity Challenge epicness

The season premiere proved how awesome challenges can be with the top of the line competition. Tonight’s episode cemented that fact. The setup was the typical obstacle course capped off with a puzzle, but it felt like it was on the scale of a Final Five Immunity Challenge, not nine days in. As per usual, Sandra proudly sat out for Dakal. First, the castaways had hop across a series of ramp walls without touching the ground. Once all members are across, the tribe will work together to dig out a massive ladder.

The more physically talented tribe: Dakal, got off to an early lead, unearthing their ladder with ease, and giving Tony a more structurally sound object to climb up to reach a ball. Jeremy’s scaling abilities helped his tribe cut down the lead, but that didn’t last for long. Next up came two wall-like obstacles. The first one required a castaway to land the ball-on-a-string through a target. Wendell lassoed it fairly quickly, while Rob’s challenge woes continued.

That opened the door for Dakal to build up a significant lead, as they climbed the next steep wall and got to the puzzle phase before Sele could land their ball. Finally, Ben connected, and Sele made their way to the vertical fire-shaped puzzle. Sophie and Sarah’s slow start for Dakal allowed Boston Rob and Michele to get back into it. They went back and forth, exchanging piece for piece in a nerve-wracking showdown! Sarah and Sophie got on a roll towards the end and narrowly beat out Rob by one piece. That gave Dakal another immunity win plus a yummy chicken kebob reward.

From anxious standoff to guns-a-blazing

It was chilling to watch these eight winners sitting at camp, staring at each other in complete silence. Everyone was scared to be the first one to walk off, but Jeremy wasn’t going to play that game for long. He got up with the expectation of Ben following him shortly after, and that set off a crazy string of events.

First, the majority seemed locked on targeting Parvati, until Adam tried to out godfather the Robfather. Adam’s attempt to convince Rob that it’s in his best interests to let Parvati go didn’t land very well. That’s when Boston Rob began rallying the troops to take out Adam. As a result, Michele and Jeremy found themselves in a powerful middle position, having the ability to sway the votes.

This emerging duo came off of the Parvati blindside idea and was annoyed by Adam’s overconfident move, but they still wanted to weaken Rob’s hold on the tribe. They considered taking out Rob and Parvati’s righthand man in Ethan, with the hopes that they could still use Parvati and Rob as shields.

Tribal Council wasn’t as chaotic as last week’s idol strip search, but it was still at an all-winners level. Parvati came right out declaring that she has a ginormous target to hide, while Adam tooted Rob’s horn for him. Adam’s initial social success seems to have built up his confidence level too high, as calling out Rob’s statue was an unnecessary comment.

In the end, both Adam and Rob’s old school alliance were duped. Michele and Jeremy were able to bring in Ben and Denise to form a majority to snuff Ethan’s torch. It’s sad to see Ethan go, but when you align with two of the biggest threats, you’re always vulnerable to the crossfire.

A-. This week’s thrilling showdown and interesting power shift might not have been the most surprising, but it’s clear that we’re watching the greatest overall group of castaways compete. The focus on Edge of Extinction slowed the episode down, but the epic challenge and exciting character moments with Tony, Sandra and Sarah made for a <em>Heroes vs. Villains</em>-esque episode.<p><img decoding=. Survivor: Winners at War. . Out for Blood

Key Observations

  • Denise is the only castaway with a full and legitimate Hidden Immunity Idol
  • The focus on the Cops’R’Us alliance is making Tony and Sarah’s duo the most successful alliance between players who have worked together previously
  • Natalie is clearly focused less on who she gets Fire Tokens from, as long as she gets them. Her third Fire Token and strong athletic ability gives her a great shot to make it back in
  • Jeremy and Michele are doing an excellent job of playing that middle ground, controlling a vote without putting the target on themselves
  • Ben’s analogy of bunkers at Tribal Council was a funny but effective one. Maybe it will be this season’s “pilots vs. passengers?”
  • Ethan giving his Fire Token to Parvati supports the fact that he was closer to Parvati than Rob
  • Richard Hatch isn’t the only castaway who can catch a shark!

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The promo for next week still didn’t tease a tribe swap, which likely means we’re going to see more of these two tribes battle it out. Hopefully we can get more of the Dakal tribe next week.