Survivor Winners at War episode 11 recap: Edged out

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Survivor: Winners at War is picking up the pace as the post-merge game continues to heat up with the Final Nine contestants going full tilt.

Two advantages and one Hidden Immunity Idol came out like fireworks in last week’s live Tribal Council. Even though a five-person majority seemed to form after the vote, in a game with smart, shifty winners, we shouldn’t expect alliances to last too long in this unique Survivor season. That was reinforced by the fact that the promo for this week teased Tony returning to his old self. It certainly felt like tonight’s episode would maintain the momentum and keep the pedal to the metal.

No more meat for a shield

To begin episode 11, the editors took us slightly back in time to when Jeremy first got back to camp. He explained that with all of the lies and confusion going around, he didn’t want to take any chances. Jeremy wisely decided to use his Safety Without Power advantage at the last Tribal it was eligible for. When the remaining castaways returned to camp, Jeremy was not happy with the outcome. With one of his closest allies in Tyson out of the picture, Jeremy is more on the outs than ever before.

When Jeremy was looking for a story, nobody wanted to say anything to him. There was a reason for the bitterness: Jeremy was the majority alliance’s target, which explains all the paranoia after he left the scene. As a way to try and gain some ground, Jeremy was trying to convince Ben that voting out Tyson wasn’t smart because now they were more exposed targets. Ben disagreed, thinking that Jeremy was the biggest loser from the Tyson vote. Michele also felt lost even though she randomly voted for Tyson last week.

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The real Tony Vlachos

There’s no doubting how effective Tony has been in improving from his last Survivor outing. Instead of freaking out and running around the island, Tony has been taking it easy this season. That changed this episode. After that long and tiring Tribal, he decided it was the perfect moment to get up early and search for an idol. Nick, the verified lurker caught up with Tony and started searching with him. Eventually, Tony was able to ward Nick away with a reasonable search plan.

That gave Tony the breathing space he needed to go hunting, and boy did he go hunting! Under a rock and behind a large tree, he uncovered a Hidden Immunity Idol with no strings attached. That gave him a real energy boost and the Tony theatrics began. Last week’s action hinted at Tony and Sarah not gelling as well as they typically do. That pattern continued tonight as Tony wanted no part in her fashion show idea, which Sarah was using as a way to build on her social game.

As Sarah, Kim and Michele were waltzing down their island runway in Fijian style, Tony was the only castaway who was outwardly objecting to this activity and thought Sarah’s idea was a waste of time and energy. Wanting to do more damage, Tony decided to go undercover. He pretended to be loyal to Jeremy’s minority alliance in order to extract any info he could. Jeremy actually seemed to buy it, while Kim and Denise were quick to sniff it out.

Edge of criminals

On the Edge of Extinction, the mood was somber as usual, except with Natalie and Parvati. As they were walking along the beach, Natalie found a bottle with a clue stashed in it. The two women read it together, trying to decipher it. They quickly figured out that there was something hidden under the bamboo bed at camp. At a rare moment when everyone finally left the camp, Natalie crawled under and grabbed the advantage Cambodia style.

It turned out to be an extortion advantage, that forces someone in the game to give up a custom amount Fire Tokens to avoid the penalty of not participating in the next Immunity Challenge and losing their vote at Tribal Council. Parvati thought it made the most sense to ask for a ton of tokens, (in this case it was six) and give it someone who they knew wouldn’t be afraid to hustle for tokens. That’s you Tony! It was absolutely hilarious to watch Tony get so excited when he first saw something in his bag, reading the word “Extortion”.

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Once he realized that it was being played against him, Tony was disgruntled, but he quickly went to work. He already had three in his possession, so he needed three more to prevent the overly harsh penalties coming upon him before the upcoming Immunity Challenge. First, he went to his “fake alliance” and convinced Jeremy to give him one so he could vote with his group. Then he went back to his “real alliance” and easily got Nick and Ben to lend him a token each. Just like that, the extortion was complete and Tony could return to the real game.

Immunity Challenge: Pole justice

The nine castaways are tasked with holding up a statue with a very long pole while standing on a narrow beam. Kim somehow dropped her statue with minimal movement. Everyone else was solid, which prompted Jeff to move the group back to a farther distance along the beam. Due to the fact that the transition is live, Denise and Michele weren’t able to survive it, with Sarah dropping soon after. Nick and Sophie were the next ones out leaving Tony, Ben, and Jeremy to fight it out.

The three men battled it out for over 32 minutes, which is a challenge record according to Probst. All of a sudden both Ben and Jeremy lost their balance dramatically, giving Tony his second straight victory and much-needed Fire Tokens to repay his debts. Since he received a pretty unfair disadvantage from the Edge of Extinction, it was nice to see Tony get the win. Those six Fire Tokens were already worth it!

A shift in power

Understanding that they were in the minority, Denise and Kim were quick to jump ship. Since they both felt that Tony wasn’t legit about joining their alliance, they decided it was best to rekindle their relationship with the majority. Following some discussion, Sarah came to the consensus that they would put most of their votes on Jeremy while throwing two on Michele in case of an idol.

It turns out the Tony isn’t the only person playing two sides. Kim and Denise floated back to Jeremy and Michele as if nothing ever happened. They agreed to write down Ben’s name, with Jeremy assuring the rest of his alliance that Tony is definitely with them. What seemed like a straight forward Tribal Council changed thanks to the man of the episode.

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Feeling the power of being immune once again, Tony wanted to take matters into his own hands. He still wants to keep the threats around as shields, so instead of going after Jeremy, he rather take out the brains of the majority alliance: Sophie. Tony wanted to play it perfectly, not revealing his plan too early to prevent it from leaking out. As the sun was going down, he went into action by first selling the idea to Nick, which didn’t seem too difficult.

Next up was Jeremy, which was a lot tougher sell. In Jeremy’s eyes, he thought the plan to vote out Ben was solid, so he was surprised to learn last minute from Tony that Kim and Denise were actually voting for him, not with him. That set the stage for what could be a shocking blindside or an even more shocking idol play.

At Tribal Council, Jeremy was irritated by everyone saying half-truths and being difficult to read. Nick got onto the typical topic of building a balanced Survivor resume, while Sophie added an interesting spin to this cliche analogy by stating that no one likes a resume that is too long. The concluding comments centered around Sarah talking about the pride and satisfaction a successful blindside brings, which was the editors’ way of getting us farther off of our seats in eager anticipation. When Jeff came back with the votes, Sophie didn’t play her idol. Jeremy received three votes, Michele received two, and the final four votes went towards Sophie, capping off an impressive blindside.

. This is Extortion. A. Once again, the Edge of Extinction weighed down the episode, but Tony was able to single-handedly boost it back up. This episode took its time in showing us where nearly everyone’s head was at coming into Tribal Council, which made for an exciting vote. Cushioned with several hilarious character moments, this was certainly among the best episodes of <em>Winners at War.</em><p><img decoding=. Survivor: Winners at War

Stray Observations

  • Watching Michele trying to lie to Tony about how she wasted her four Fire Tokens was both funny and painful to watch
  • It felt like Jeff was so enthralled with everyone’s analogies that he attempted his own at Tribal Council. Let’s just say the castaways are more creative
  • It always feels like people only get into serious arguments with Ben. First it was Boston Rob, Adam was next and now its Jeremy’s turn
  • Parvati is amassing quite a stack of Fire Tokens. Wouldn’t it be amazing if she made it out from the Edge!
  • Tony was edged out of his self-quarantine and gave us the jaw-dropping performance we were all waiting for
  • Sophie gave up her two tokens to Kim and Sarah

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Next week’s Survivor preview teased Sarah’s displeasure for Tony’s move, and a new iteration of the infamous spy shack… or should I say, spy nest! This is slowly feeling more and more like a Heroes vs. Villains caliber of season.