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

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

Survivor: Winners at War’s fifth episode continued the hot streak of great winners sent to Edge of Extinction. Read on for insight into this blindside.

Before we dissect the rationale behind the vote from Survivor: Winners at War episode 5, it should be mentioned that this was a no-brainer to the audience. When the two tribes were divided into three, and Boston Rob found himself losing on Yara without a sturdy alliance, his time had come.

He had run from fate successfully in the early episodes of the game, but this outcome was more of a “when?” question than a “will?” question. So, the term “blindside” might only apply to Rob himself (and as a vocal Boston Rob fan, perhaps Jeff Probst as well). To everyone else on Yara, this was a logical, unanimous vote without much conflict.

Boston Rob was kind of screwed from the get-go this episode (and, let’s be honest, probably from the minute he stepped foot on the beach in episode one). His legacy precedes him, and he is playing with highly capable students of the game. To his credit, he recognizes this. He knows that the other winners are dangerous to him. “I have to establish trust with some people in this game,” he says after the tribe swap. This won’t be a cakewalk, and fortunately, he realizes this early on.

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Unfortunately, his efforts to prevent any surprises backfires on him. Adam and Ben, Rob’s two Sele tribemates, agree not to vote for him at Tribal Council. However, Adam says, “There is no trust between the three of us.” So when Rob suggests that “nobody goes off and has conversations with anyone else” in order to control the plan and “go from now all the way until tribal without getting sketched out with each other,” it feels like dictation from the Godfather rather than a collaborative plan.

We are shown a somewhat-funny-somewhat-sad montage of Yara sitting around the campfire, doing and saying nothing of significance. “It’s just boring!” Adam says in a confessional. Ben feels similarly, complaining that Rob wants to control “every aspect of the game.”

The men’s genuine frustration in their confessionals was a sure sign of Rob’s impending torch snuff. It would only take one of them to flip and vote Rob out; we end up seeing both do this. Rob’s vote-off was unanimous among his tribemates. In an effort to control them, he had lost them.

These players did not come to be subordinated to another Survivor winner; they came to win. While it was impressive that Rob’s suggestion worked at all (they all did avoid talking strategy all day, as he commanded), it was only a matter of time before his tribe-mates would unite against him. “This is the buddy system on steroids,” Sarah says in a confessional.

None of the Yara players discuss strategy with each other, but in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, we see a silent signal from Ben indicating his intended vote: Rob. “Sometimes, you gotta trust the wink,” says Sophie. This episode, subtle assurance was all she had. The men on Yara may have been under a strategic NDA with their tribe-mates, but the Yara women weren’t hopeless.

Rob’s fate is even more certain after Sophie finds the Yara immunity idol, and we are reminded that Sarah has the Steal-A-Vote advantage. Two things would have to happen for Rob to survive this minefield: one, he would need Adam and Ben to vote with him; two, he would need Sarah and Sophie to not use their special tricks. The first of these two conditions is not met in the episode, so it’s bye-bye Boston Rob.

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“Rob, the tribe has spoken.”