Survivor Winners at War: Why ____ was sent to Edge of Extinction fourth

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

What went on behind the scenes of the third episode of Survivor: Winners at War to send a fan-favorite winner to Edge of Extinction fourth?

At the start of episode 3 of Survivor: Winners at War, the plans are laid. The show gives us two possibilities: either Adam will successfully get a stab in at the Godfather, or his efforts will backfire, and he will be the next person voted out. Then neither of those things happen. But it’s complicated. And, in a way, both those outcomes become half-real by the end of the episode.

From the outset, it’s almost certain that Sele will be heading back to Tribal Council. The episode begins with Adam focusing his sights on Rob and Parvati, and soon afterward, the sights are focused right back on him. In an effort to play both sides, Adam tells everyone except Parvati that Parvati is the target. His poor read on Ethan and Rob is the root of this play. Both men are much closer to Parvati than Adam, and of course, were not on board with this plan.

Despite being the three-to-five minority on Sele, the old-schoolers had hope here. Everyone (including Denise) has a what-the-heck moment in reaction to Adam’s loose lips. This is just what Rob and Parvati needed: an alternative option for the tribe. And what better alternative than someone who nobody entirely trusts?

Rob approaches Jeremy and Michele with the proposal of blindsiding Adam. He says he’s privy to the Parvati blindside plan, and Jeremy responds, “Parv is not going anywhere.” Whether that was true at the moment is unclear, but it appears that Jeremy and Michele may have already been weighing the option of an Adam blindside at this point.

We see this budding duo discuss their options more privately. “The benefit of going Ethan…” Michele says to Jeremy. “Ethan will be weakening Rob,” Jeremy finishes. This is the only sign that Ethan was ever in danger, and it’s gone almost as soon as it begins.

“Right now, it seems absolutely essential that we break up the trio of Rob, Ethan, and Parvati, because they’re running the show,” Michele says in the very next confessional. However, she could “absolutely take out Adam tonight” for being untrustworthy. Just before Tribal Council, we see Michele meet with Denise and Ben individually, revealing that Adam told Rob the plan to vote for Parvati. At this point, an Adam blindside hits its peak plausibility. An Ethan blindside, in contrast, doesn’t seem possible at all.

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At Tribal Council, Ben creates a bunker analogy to describe the tribe dynamics: “It’s like a circle, and everybody’s in their own little bunker, right? And people are jumping up out of their bunker and talking. But everybody’s still pointed at each other.” Ethan says he doesn’t “know much about bunkers” and that he “can’t think too far ahead if [he’s] not in the game anymore” (on a second watch, it’s shocking that this foreshadowing went unnoticed).

Jeff reads the votes: Parvati; Adam; Adam; Adam; Ethan; Ethan; Ethan; Ethan.

A true blindside. In hindsight, we can follow a sequence of events that would have made this vote possible:

  • First, the new-schoolers planned to blindside the Godfather (Rob) or his right-hand woman, Parvati (Poverty, if you’re Ben).
  • Adam revealed to Ethan and Rob that he wanted Parvati out.
  • Rob revealed to Jeremy and Michele that he knew about the Parvati blindside plot, and proposed blindsiding Adam instead.
  • Michele and Jeremy pulled in Ben and Denise to vote for Ethan, leaving Adam to believe they were still voting for Parvati.
  • By a 4-3-1 vote, Ethan was sent to Edge of Extinction.

Ethan’s elimination may have surprised us, but it made sense for the new school players to take him out if only to further weaken the old school alliance.

The new question for us to answer is: “If the four-person voting bloc wanted to blindside the Godfather, why didn’t they just take out the Godfather himself, or his ally Parvati?” Perhaps the next episode will shed some light on this, but it’s a safe bet that Jeremy wanted to keep the biggest meat shield around as long as said meat shield was weakened.

This blindside paints Michele and Jeremy in a brilliant light, as they were able to flip the script on both the old-school powerhouses as well as the shiftiest of the new-schoolers (Adam). The fact that Denise kept Adam in the dark on this vote bodes poorly for his relationship with her, but the four other new-school winners are in a better spot than ever.

For now, we are left with an unforgettable blindside of one of the most popular winners on this cast. And for the second week in a row, some viewers have lost one of their pre-season winner draft picks. But are they bitter? No, why would they be?

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“Ethan, the tribe has spoken.”