He’s not playing like a hero this time around, but Wendell did what he needed to do to make the merge and extend his life in Survivor: Winners at War.
In every Survivor season there always seems to be at least one castaway who gets the “villain” edit. In Winners at War, so far that title belongs to Wendell Holland which is quite a surprise given his reputation from Ghost Island. Although we saw his different approach in pre-game, Wendell went from being portrayed as a chill and likable winner to a manipulative and cocky player. That said, we shouldn’t allow the edit or dynamic personalities to prevent us from picking out smart gameplay.
The way the last few episodes went down, it appeared that Wendell was tight with Nick and Yul, while Michele was on the outs and wasn’t meshing with her ex-boyfriend. The beginning of episode 7 continued that trend as Wendell went at Michele for talking about his controversial comments last Tribal. Despite all of that dysfunction between the two, Michele gave Wendell a Fire Token in exchange for nothing but goodwill!
Some might argue that this decision by Michele was a good one since Wendell decided to keep her over Yul, but when looking at the big picture, this decision shows how much power Wendell has over his ex. When Sele came back to camp after their challenge loss, it seemed like Yul, Nick and Michele were all very much on board to take out Wendell.
Shortly after that plan was established, Wendell had a brief conversation with Michele. He confessed that he wants to work with her, and immediately Michele retracted the idea of voting him out. Instead of rallying against him, Wendell persuaded Michele to not only vote with him, but he even got her to convince Nick as well. With his manipulative social game, he was able to get Michele on his side, her support with swapping the vote and even a Fire Token!
It’s pretty amazing that despite his antics at Tribal Council and his cockiness in challenges, Wendell was still able to get the vote off of his back. He turned a foregone conclusion of his demise into a huge blindside, taking out one of the smartest castaways to play this game. Whether you love Wendell or hate him, the fact that he pulled that off is definitely impressive.
I’m not saying that all the credit for the Yul blindside should go to Wendell, but he benefited the most from that move. With two Fire Tokens in his pocket, and a fairly strong group of connections, Wendell Holland is heading into the merge as a threat, but with the potential to overcome that target and take control.