Survivor Winners at War episode 10 recap: Fun for the whole family

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

With entire families out here in celebration, the events captured in our Survivor: Winners at War episode 10 recap followed a game kicked into high gear.

I remember re-watching the original Survivor: All-Stars season before Winners at War began to reflect upon the ways that the players were treated in comparison over the years. That game was much tougher on its castaways than we see here, as they had meager supplies at camps, no food for the first few days, and even had to go without water at first.

It’s a stark contrast to the way these winners are treated for this 20th anniversary season, especially considering how the red carpet is rolled out for the Loved Ones’ visit.

Say hello to your wife, and child, and…

No time to dwell on the fallout of the crazy Adam Klein Tribal Council, as we pick up straight into Jeff Probst introducing Kim Spradlin et al. reuniting with their families.

Kim’ embraced a big hug with her husband and three kids, Ben had a hearty surprise to see his wife and two kids, Sophie had her arms wide open to embrace her fiance, Sarah likened her partner and son to her whole world, Denise was dwarfed in her loving embrace with her towering husband and daughter, and Nick reaffirmed his growing love for his fianceé.

Families Loved Ones Survivor Winners at War episode 10
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Additionally, Tony’s fantasy came true when he saw his wife and two kids again, Michele got to reconnect the strong bond she has with her sister, Tyson finally got to enjoy the visit with his wife and one of his daughters, and the whole Collins clan (all five of them) came out for the big group hug.

All told, there were 24 loved ones who flew out to Fiji to meet their competing players fighting for $2 million in Survivor: Winners at War. Thanks, Fiji Airways, in what is an authentically emotional moment for all involved. Best yet for the players, the redneck game that Elaine won as an Immunity Challenge last season was a diversion; everyone gets to spend time with their families this time around. It pays to have been paid a million dollars to have won in the past!

Island(s) love

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“Today was a full-on celebration,” Ben remarked in a confessional, reflecting on the guards dropped by the players in a full celebration and relaxation. Dads could be dads, moms could be moms, husbands could be husbands, and wives could be wives; the entire premise of gameplay had been abandoned, and nobody was going to deviate from that plan.

The love didn’t end there, though, as the people on the Edge of Extinction got to enjoy the rewards experienced by those still in the game. More player reunions such as John Fincher and Nadiya Anderson led the pack of families heading to the Edge, bringing an ounce of excitement and ease to players who have gone through so much hardship in their time here.

I’m not going to lie to you and pretend that I had completely dry tears during Survivor: Winners at War episode 10, and these winners have provided so much entertainment for the fans over the years. However, when I checked the timer to note that it was 27 minutes into an hour and we saw not one moment of gameplay, I had to make sure what show I was watching. This would have been a fine indulgence in a two-hour episode, but not here!


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

Patience, balance, and speed were the key components to the Immunity Challenge, seeing players balance tiles spelling “IMMUNITY” on a paddle balanced on a rope. Many players got down to the “UNITY” part in reverse order in quick succession, but once Jeremy Collins started getting risky by picking up speed, everybody started to slow down.

Both Kim and Tyson had leads lost while going slowly, and everyone but Tony and Ben made a mistake in their races to winning individual immunity. Tony seemed like he was going to lose it all reaching for his eighth and final letter all the way on the other side of his barrel, though he was able to tap his hand out, grab the piece, and place it on his podium.

All Tony needed to do was go slowly enough while still holding the lead over Ben, who had to rush to make up lost time. As everyone else experienced in this challenge, rushing was Ben’s downfall, and Tony, for the first time in his life, won an individual Immunity Challenge! The two (not one) fire tokens were the cherries on top of the ice cream, and this immunity win will pair nicely with his pizza reward win back in Cagayan.

Oh yeah, we’re competing for millions.

The nitty-gritty period is starting to dwell on the castaways, as pairs and partners are the targets at this crucial vote. Tony feels the power coming to him just as the players are, with Jeremy going after Kim and Sarah going after Kim. Tony is right in the middle of everything, trying to keep his bonds strong and not going after one another.

With Jeremy, Kim, and Tyson effectively on the outs of most groups, we saw rushed groups form to try to create some semblance of a voting bloc in a pivotal vote. Just like that, all the powers and who held them came out in the open, with Jeremy feeling conflicted about his Safety Without Power, Sophie wanting Sarah to steal a vote to split up a potential vote tie, and Sophie potentially being blindsided with her idol. Kim even came to Denise in trying to form a five with her, those outsider boys, and Michele, saying she might use her idol on somebody else.

This is the problem with spending zero time on gameplay discussions or content; we’re left trying to pick up the pieces of the players’ intentions without getting any context for them. What happened to the lions going after the hyenas? What happened to Nick and Michele being on the outs? Our story of the episode lasted roughly 15 minutes of live time (not even episode time), and it wasn’t nearly formed coherently.

Ben Driebergen Loved Ones Survivor Winners at War episode 10
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Sweet nothings (and everythings)

Within seconds of Tribal Council, immediately after Nick reflected that the war is finally on, the whispers started pouring out from every which way, even though the players had entered Tribal Council running through all the scenarios themselves. Jeremy even likened Winners at War to a season even more insane than Second Chances, and that was a season with the craziest Final Six ever.

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We honestly got so little talk from the players throughout the episode, and that was best illustrated by the moment Jeff asked the players three minutes into Tribal Council (at least the TV-edited version) if it’s time to vote. Both Jeremy and Sarah wanted to play their advantages, but neither wanted to go first. Jeremy eventually relented, using his Safety Without Power advantage to abandon ship and leave the nine at tribal to scramble. Sarah followed by stealing Denise’s vote.

Though we could have had whispers all the live-long day, Sophie made the bold choice to cut through the BS and tell her five to step aside and come to a decision. It was the most visceral representation of the line in the sand, with Tyson, Kim, Michele, and Denise trying to come up with a plan to play Kim’s idol and potentially dodge a bullet.

Kim played her idol on Denise, who did ultimately receive two votes. However, Sophie received the other two, as Tyson received the rest and was sent back to the Edge of Extinction. Why Tyson, other than Tony saying his name as a throwaway? It seems as though there wasn’t enough of a narrative to explain it this time around.

D+. A barrage of family members and the players’ enjoyment of the luxuries of home would make for a strong half-hour in a 90-minute episode. However, “The Full Circle” suffers greatly from a lack of narrative, drastically shortened gameplay, and an overreliance of advantages to drive the (incoherent) story.. Survivor: Winners at War. . The Full Circle

Stray Observations

  • Thankfully, we had young kids appear in this Loved Ones’ visit, usurping a record previously held by a player in Island of the Idols that was later removed from the game for inappropriate touching.
  • Some of my all-time favorite players were on the Edge of Extinction, but I cannot fathom why they should have been in touch with their loved ones. They lost the game, and in ~35 seasons, they would be already at Ponderosa. Getting another legitimate shot at winning $2 million is a big enough reward as it is.
  • I thought it was just Michele, but it appears as though Tyson never had a Loved Ones’ visit until Winners at War, either.
  • Tony Vlachos won individual immunity. Miracles do happen!
  • The jury gave Jeff Probst a hug after Tribal Council in thanks for bringing out their Loved Ones. Thankfully, they waited until after the show had ended, as these winners are less rowdy despite the crowd compared to the Edge of Extinction jury.
  • Ben, Michele, Jeremy, and TONY VLACHOS all haven’t received a vote this season.

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Next week’s Survivor preview promised full-bore Tony Vlachos insanity. Let’s hope that’s indicative of an endgame, not his quick end.