Survivor Winners at War episode 8: Challenge review

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 Survivor: Winners at War episode featured two crucial challenges including one that brought a castaway back into the game.

Even if you are not a fan of the Edge of Extinction twist, out of all the seasons to have a way to get back into the game, this is the season to do it. I’m sure Survivor fans were picking their brains thinking… or maybe even fantasizing about which former winner could get a second chance. When the Edge of Extinction is home to players we’ve watched and rooted for in past seasons, it adds more weight to the result.

Edge of Extinction Challenge Overview

The setup for this challenge is very similar to that of the first Edge of Extinction challenge in season 38. The eight Edge residents first have to untie three bags of sticks along a rope crawl. Then they will have to untie a rope to advance to the locked door stage. Tyson came out in the lead, followed closely by Boston Rob and the rest of the gang. The next phase involved assembling a pole with sticks and rope to reach a key.

This is where purchasing an advantage paid off. Everyone who had one Fire Token could buy an advantage that allows them to have the rope sitting on their mat instead of having to dig it up. Yul, Parvati and Amber didn’t have a token, and all three wasted a considerable amount of time digging for their rope.

Rob was the first one to reach his key and unlock his door to reach the final stage of maneuvering a ball through a snake-shaped track. Tyson and Natalie were onto the vertical maze not too long after. Yul was next, making up a lot of time despite having to dig. Eventually, everyone was working on this final segment, with Yul, Rob and Tyson in the lead. Yul dropped his ball, leaving Rob and Tyson to duel it out. In an incredibly tight finish, Tyson landed his ball in the hole and won himself a spot back in the game!

Challenge Rankings:

Creativity: 2/5

Difficulty: 3/5

Entertainment Value: 4/5

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Immunity Challenge Overview

There is one challenge that should be mandatory for every returning player season, and that’s the one we saw in the merge episode. Get a Grip is the classic test of endurance that requires the castaways to cling to a pole with narrow footholds. Despite this challenge being around for over fifteen years, only two out of the twelve castaways have taken part in it before. Tyson won it back in Tocantins, while Sarah was in the middle of the pack in Game Changers.

To make this moment more epic, the weather in Fiji was miserable. The constant rain made several of the winners shiver uncontrollably, especially Sophie. It also made the poles slippery, adding another layer to this simple yet painful challenge. The last man and woman remaining on their pole win Individual Immunity and one Fire Token each.

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Immediately Adam was panicking for his life on the pole, scared about the height he was hanging from. Michele began to change her position and slide all the down from the top, landing hard on the ground. Jeff even asked if she wanted medical, but Michele called it off and toughed it out despite the visible discomfort she was in. Adam dropped soon after and helped Michele to the bench.

Sarah wasn’t able to improve on her previous result and became the third one out. Tyson also performed far worse than in his first outing, dropping out next. Wendell stepped off pretty comfortably and casually compared to the first four who were eliminated, and that confidence probably cost him his season. Moments later, Tony couldn’t hang on any longer.

For the women, it came down to Sophie, Kim and Denise. Sophie dropped first but had a solid performance given the fact that she was literally shaking from the rain. It was a tight battle between Kim and Denise, but Spradlin missed a foothold and hit the ground, giving Denise the necklace. Ben dropped down right after, leaving just Jeremy and Nick to fight it out. I loved how Jeremy stared down Nick when he was looking over, and maybe that expression of confidence was enough to weaken Nick’s resolve. Nick hit the ground, giving Jeremy his third career Individual Immunity win.

Challenge Rankings:

Creativity: 1/5

Difficulty: 5/5

Entertainment Value: 4/5

Challenge Takeaways

With Tyson back in the fold, he immediately becomes one of the biggest threats to win immunity. I wonder if his early exit in the pole challenge that he actually won before was a premeditated decision. I could see Tyson deliberately wanting to lower his target level by not performing well in challenges. It worked for Tommy last season and it worked for him in Blood vs. Water.

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It’s hard to decide if Jeremy’s challenge victory helps or hurts his game. It does give him an extra opportunity to use his Safety Without Power advantage, plus he now has two Fire Tokens, which should be enough if Natalie were to find something on the Edge of Extinction. Denise proved that she’s just as capable of winning necklaces as Kim is, and although that does slightly intensify her target, but not to the degree of Jeremy. With that being said, I don’t think there’s a definitive “challenge beast”, and with the potential of certain players masking their skills, I could see the necklace exchanging hands often.