A wise man once said, “Tomorrow, we make our apologies. Tonight, we make our move.” Survivor: Winners at War episode 12 focused on the former after the latter.
When you move mountains to get what you want done in an underhanded, stealthy way, there’s a right way and a wrong way to act around those you betrayed in Survivor. There’s the boastful “who do you think you are? I am” approach, and then there’s the way Tony Vlachos approached Sarah in Winners at War episode 12 by providing information, secrets, and planning together in response.
“We were fine!”
Most players know that exploding on others after being blindsided is a surefire way to get targeted next. However, since Tony was intending to work closely with Sarah after blindsiding one of her allies, her turning the heat back on him proved to be an interesting dynamic. She was clearly in the right to be pissed off, and Tony felt compelled to give more information than he might have wanted to hold onto that relationship.
“You don’t need them, I’m with you,” was a sticking line from Tony in his spat with Sarah, and it seemed like Sarah knew that Tony had to make amends, as well. What made it seem as though Tony was giving up too much information was that he let both Sarah and Ben know that he was making that move to target Sophie and that he had a Hidden Immunity Idol, as well.
If there’s someone who couldn’t get over the betrayal, it was Ben Driebergen. He still has a hangup with Jeremy Collins ever since he removed himself from Tribal Council via Safety Without Power, and the way he refuses to talk to Jeremy and maintain a wish to target him showcases the lack of social game he had when he played double agent in Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers.
Just hanging out
We were promised to see an evolution of Tony Vlachos this season, and we’re clearly starting to see it form through his shenanigans. Just like how Sarah played like a cop, then a criminal, and now like a fashion director, Tony’s spy shack has evolved from its failed spy bunker to a spy nest, allowing him (with Sarah’s help) to gather intel on the players in the game.
The problem with Tony making a spy nest near the well is that Kim seems to be strategizing at camp while Tony is away. She made a hard pitch to go after Tony to players like Denise, Nick, Michele, and Ben, with each of them feeling out one another about how much control he has in the game.
Were it not for the fact that nobody else in the game has close to as strong an edit as Tony, it would have seemed as though the Cagayan winner’s days are numbered. However, that’s the mess you make when you dedicate as much time to coronating a player like Tony, especially when he’s the one driving the entertainment value in Winners at War.
Edging out one another
Remember when we had an emotional journey to see the players on the Edge of Extinction gather logs up and down the island, bringing them closer together? Now we have an exact same challenge, gathering 20 coconuts from one side of the island’s shore back to camp. The catch only the first six players can earn those two fire tokens each.
Natalie and Sophie were the ones that got out to a successful lead and only surpassed Boston Rob after he sustained a brutal elbow injury. Yul wasn’t too far behind in third place, both Tyson and Parvati tied in fourth place, and Wendell and Danni were racing for the sixth spot, with the former closing it out over Danni.
Honestly, though, it felt like an opportunity to get us remembering these players as personalities just as they inch closer to one of them coming back into the game. It also does a better job of getting these jury members competing with one another, as former activities bonded them together.
The best part about seeing a season filled with winners is that even they know when they’re the ones on the outs. Despite the slings and arrows pointed every which way, Denise, Nick, and Michele discussed being the trio to go forward as a group, potentially leveraging their relationship with Kim as a fourth. It’s only capable winners who can assess their threat level and work to come out on top of it like this in Survivor.
While it looked like Sarah and Tony were isolated and on the outs, they were just as part of the entire tribe’s dynamics on Day 29 by searching for the Hidden Immunity Idol. Even Ben and Tony were off looking for the idol on their own while discussing the means of which players were going after Tony, as Ben looked to pocket the idol he had just found without letting Tony know.
It was a very bad look for Tony to have caught him, but just like with other groups of players who found an idol together, that was a pivotal moment that bonded Ben and Tony and would go on to shape the events of the rest of the episode. This is Ben’s first idol of this season, but second that he helped find if you count Denise’s initial find. He even carried Tony off in excitement!
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The Immunity Challenges this season have all been classics, and the one in Survivor: Winners at War even gave us a history lesson. It was the standard “keep your arm raised to avoid getting dumped by water” challenge, with Jeff letting players know its changes from adding a perch through the hardest part of now, not letting players brace themselves with the other arm.
With an immunity necklace going to the longest-lasting man and women this season, it wasn’t until Jeremy, Ben, and Sarah dropped out and at the 15-minute mark for peanut butter, cookies, and milk to be offered by Jeff as a temptation to drop out. While Nick and Tony were jostling for immunity with a fire token here and there, it wasn’t until Kim and Michele dropped out (giving Denise immunity) that Nick requested one fire token from Tony to win immunity.
Once that agreement went through, Nick dropped out to give Tony his third-straight immunity win as three players gave up the opportunity to swipe at the king in order to go through a heaping bowl of sugary, non-nutritious calories (minus the peanut butter). All that pretense of going after the biggest threat went out the window, just like that.
Zoinks, foiled again!
All of the front-burner plans were sent to the back-burner, as everyone but Tony, Sarah, and Jeremy sat together and planned to go after the firefighter. However, one thing that hasn’t worked out well all season for Kim is her taking the lead in controlling the fate of others, as she was quickly ratted out by Ben directly to Tony that he was the plan in the first place.
Once Tony tested Nick’s allegiance by asking if anybody was throwing out his name, Nick fumbled on his words, especially when he heard from Tony that Ben spilled the beans. Now with Nick, Kim, Ben, and Tony all being on the same level of information, Tony tried to get back with Ben for a last-second plea to try and shift the target back to Kim. He made the argument that she’s wrestling control of the lesser threat players like Nick, Michele, and Denise to walk their way to the end.
All while Tony tried to move the vote around for Jeremy’s benefit, a third element came out of nowhere like a viper pouncing out of the grass. Michele really had a difficult time letting a close ally like Jeremy go home like that, so she offered him his 50/50 coin just in case he felt uncomfortable. I really wish we saw anything of this relationship in the past nine episodes, as Michele gave up four fire tokens just to use that power herself.
That galvanized Jeremy to do something unthinkable; sit down with Ben and discuss possibly making amends once more and getting back to *fingers crossed* close by going after Kim. Honestly, it felt like Jeremy had no choice but to use his advantage heading into Tribal Council, as it finally dawned on the viewers that his social game might not benefit him any further.
Honestly, I’m getting so frustrated with the number of times players have whispered at Tribal Council. It made sense when Jeremy played the Safety Without Power advantage, as the majority five needed to come to a new consensus on who to vote out. However, tonight’s Tribal Council was, once again, fluff for the cameras and the jury.
I’m glad we got a lot more subtitles and moments where we could see what players were saying, as Tony kicked the whisper-fest off by asking if he’s voting for Kim. Ben was listening, and Kim was prescient to the idea that Tony was going after her thanks to Ben’s loose lips at camp all day. Effectively, the whispers did nothing more but to show the paranoia level of these winners.
In the end, somehow, nobody played an idol or an advantage, as Kim received five votes, and Jeremy received three. Kim effectively gave up two million dollars for the chance to eat the calories she will hopefully use and store for the Edge of Extinction Challenge on Day 35. She also gave Michele, Denise, and Sarah one fire token each.
- I’m still upset that Tony is 0 for 2 in his spying attempts to gather information this season.
- Who would figure that the youngest, smallest player on the Edge of Extinction would get smoked by much older, bigger players in an endurance running challenge? Adam wasn’t going to beat Natalie or Tyson, but dead last?
- Nick said, “This stupid hole. It’s gonna have an idol one day,” looking at a specific tree. That’s got to be foreshadowing, no?
- Tony wins his third-straight Immunity Challenge, and even on a hot day, he didn’t want to get drenched in water.
- Let’s not forget this is Denise’s second immunity win of the season, both of which came being the last woman standing.
- As Jeff Pitman of True Dork Times pointed out (his stray observation), all of this happened to take place on Day 29? So Kim and Sophie are voted out in two-straight days, yet we’re jumping five days for the next two players?
Next week will be a two-hour episode, bringing us down to a Final Five before the Survivor: Winners at War finale and virtual reunion will air over three hours on Wednesday, May 13.