PREVIOUSLY ON… SURVIVOR!
On Day 13, a Tribe Swap shuffled the castaways into two new teams. On Saap, Vanessa quickly found herself entangled with new tribemate Mathieu. While she relished in their genuine chemistry, her blossoming relationship left her original tribemates Irene and Marco wary. Marina took notice too, and revealed to Marco that she’d had no loyalties to Bandar. Besides being finding Mathieu a threat, she was unsure of wildcard Rex, who seemed more focused on creating chaos than playing the game. Marina correctly guessed that Rex had cast a stray vote at a previous tribal council in order to stir up chaos for his own amusement.
At the reward challenge, Saap won letters from home, allowing Marco to hear from his daughters, giving him a chance to open up with his tribe. Gavin was sent to Exile Island, where he found the Hidden Immunity Idol.
The Saap Tribe’s troubles only got worse when they had a close encounter with one of the jungles most dangerous natives: a tiger. Spooked by the incident, the tribe lost out on valuable rest, leaving them depleted going into the immunity challenge. Despite the drawback, Mathieu champed out an incredible performance, single-handedly claiming immunity for his tribe, and sending Bandar back to Tribal Council.
After having turned on her original tribemates to vote out Brett, Jordyne seemed locked in with Jamie and Andrew, but Shelby refused to lie down and die. She wrote a secret letter to persuade Jordyne, and enlisted the help of her closest ally, Gavin, to sway Jordyne’s favor. Gavin offered Shelby his hidden immunity idol, but Shelby refused, not wanting to take Gavin’s rightful advantage.
At Tribal Council, everyone seemed confident that the Shelby’s doom was in the writing on the wall, but Jordyne flipped the vote again, and sent Andrew packing in a surprising ouster.
Ten remain. Who will be voted out tonight?
“Only four of us,” muses Gavin as the Bandar Tribe sets their torches down back at camp. “I can’t believe it. Feels so small compared to the start.”
“We’re not even halfway over,” points out Shelby.
“Thank you, Jordyne,” Shelby says earnestly.
“Yeah, no problem,” Jordyne says. “Just… don’t start thinking it was some sort of personal favor, right? It worked out in my best interests.”
“Of course,” Shelby says. “Regardless of your reasons, you saved me tonight, and for that you have my gratitude.”
“Hey Jordyne, can we chat real quick?” interrupts Jamie.
“Sure,” Jordyne agrees.
“So can you just… walk me through, I guess, what you were thinking when you made your decision tonight?” Jamie asks.
“Yeah, sure, of course,” says Jordyne. “I guess it’s like… look, I need to play putting myself first. I think everyone should be doing that. I’m not saying that like, people should be mean to each other or anything like that, you know? But I need that million dollars real f*cking badly, Jamie, you know that.”
“I think a lot of us could use the money though, is the thing,” Jamie says.
“Well yeah, I mean, I know that. But like, that’s why I get it if other people need to do what they have to do. So for me? What I have to do is is make sure I’m not boxing myself into a corner with no way out. It’s not personal, and like… I just don’t want you to worry, okay? They wanted to vote for you and I told them that wasn’t going to f*cking happen.”
“I appreciate that, I do,” Jamie says. “And I understand. I’d be lying if I said I ain’t done nothing I wasn’t proud of in this game. Money’s got that way about it.”
Mathieu and Vanessa lie in the hammock together.
“Day 19… can you believe we’re almost halfway through?” Vanessa asks.
“.…Yes. I can,” Mathieu answers. “Are you surprised by how quickly it’s gone? Or that you’re here for it?”
“A little of both,” Vanessa admits. “Not that I’m not confident in myself. But starting out, you don’t have any way of knowing what the people will be like–you know, who am I up against? What are their expectations? Can I even meet those expectations? What if I get voted out first, will my family still be proud of me? All that kind of stuff.”
“I would not peg you as such an anxious person,” Mathieu said. “You have always come off to me as extremely confident.”
“It’s not that I’m not confident in myself, though,” Vanessa explains, “I just think you should be humble. Plenty of people in this game are confident, that don’t mean they’re gonna win. Brock, Ryan, Brett? All real confident in themselves, all out of the game. I just think to be smart about this situation is to be realistic about it. If you got sixteen folks who think they’re all the ish, but only one of them can win, fifteen people ‘bout to be wrong.”
“Some people are just too self-centered,” Vanessa continues. “They think the whole world revolves around them, so they don’t even pay any attention to nobody else. They just assume that magically they’ll get their way, like everyone’s gonna bend over backwards to make their dreams come true. And so they just don’t pay no attention to nothing around them.”
“Boo!” says Rex, popping out from behind the tree that the hammock is suspended on. Vanessa yells out, startled.
“How long have you been standing there, Rex?” she demands. “Were you listening in on us?”
“I was not listening in on you, no. Actually, I was cavorting with the dryad who lives inside of this tree,” Rex says.
“I’m going to pretend I understood what you just said,” Vanessa says, clearly annoyed, “and ask you to please mind your damn beeswax.”
“Vanessa, I’d love nothing more than to mind all the waxes, but our dear friend Mr. Probst has other ideas,” Rex says, holding up a sealed bamboo tube. “It says we need the whole gang back together before we open it, so… that’s what I’m doing. Ta daaaa. Bamboo Tuuuube.”
With Vanessa and Mathieu in tow, the six members of Saap all gather around, as Rex opens the tube and reads the message:
Gather your personal items and follow the map to the marked location. The Bandar Tribe awaits you.”
“Oh my God!” exclaims Marina.
“This is it!” Vanessa cheers.
“It has to be!” agrees Marco. The tribe share hugs and high fives in celebration.
Irene makes sure she has all her things. She makes sure to have the Bible in her bag as she grabs her guitar. As she does this, she watches Mathieu and Vanessa remove the Congolese flag from the roof above her.
The two tribes arrive from opposite paths as they come towards a small, walled village at the water’s edge. The green and gold flags of Saap and Bandar wave at the back of the processions. In front of the entrance waits Jeff, along with the Tribal mats.
“Bandar, getting your first look at the new Saap Tribe,” Jeff announces. “Andrew voted out at the last Tribal Council.”
“What?” Whispers a surprised Vanessa to Mathieu.
Mathieu and Jamie place their respective flags, and everyone’s attention turns to Jeff with anticipation.
“Well, congratulations,” Jeff says with a grin. “Saap, Bandar? Your Tribes are no more. From this moment on, the ten of you are all members of one tribe. You may drop your buffs.”
The castaways cheer with excitement as they strip their old buffs.
“Good riddance,” Jamie mutters, tossing his Bandar Buff.
“Go ahead and put these on,” Jeff says, opening a silken bag, passing out new buffs to each of the castaways.
“Purple!” exclaims Jordyne. “To match my swimsuit, how thoughtful Jeff!” Mathieu inhales the scent of fresh, clean fabric. Shelby ties her hair with her new buff.
“Here’s how this is going to work,” Jeff explains. “You are about to head inside this Ashram. Ashrams are hermitages. They are secluded away from the world, and are places where people come as a step on their journey towards a goal. You have a goal here today. You will pick a name for your new Tribe, and you will create a new flag for your tribe. You will also decide which camp you will return to, Saap or Bandar.” Irene nods in understanding.
“Of course, I also want you to celebrate this occasion, and I know how hard it is to make these tough decisions on an empty stomach. Inside the Ashram, you will find a feast awaiting you. You will be able to use the facilities here to bathe, and you will spend the night sleeping here as well. Tomorrow morning, you will head to your new shared home. There will be no reward challenge today, which means that nobody is going to Exile Island.” Everyone is clearly excited by this news as well.
“Alright, you guys can leave your old flags behind, head on in. I’ll see you all later.”
With that, the castaways enter the Ashram.
Awaiting the castaways in the center of the courtyard is a long table, covered in bowls, dishes, plates, and pots. Food of all kinds and sauces in a variety of colors decorate the table. Rex immediately drops his things and runs over to seat himself. Others are more focused on reunions. Jordyne and Marina share an excited hug, while Marco runs and does a flying leap into Jamie’s outstretched arms.
“Get a room you two!” jokes Marina as Jordyne smothers her in pecks on the cheek.
People all take their seats and are quick to start piling food on plates.
“I’d like to make a toast,” proposes Shelby, as the tribe finishes pouring their wine and beer. “We have each had our own unique journey to this point, and I think we all should be incredibly proud of ourselves. I would imagine that each of us has proven to ourselves that we are stronger than we have ever realized in the days we’ve spent here starving, losing sleep, being rained on, and being away from those we love. Cheers to us and to India.”
“To India!” repeats Rex, wildly excited to start drinking. He clinks glasses across the table with Jordyne and immediately downs his beverage.
It doesn’t take long for the drinks to really start flowing as the castaways pour back bottle after bottle. Jordyne giggles as Marina does a body shot off her bellybutton, with Marco cheering her on.
“How about you Shelby, wanna do one?” Jordyne laughs.
“I do!” Rex interjects.
“Is your name Shelby?” Jordyne asks him.
“Maybe it is! you don’t–”
“–know my life,” finishes everyone else in unison.
“You know what? Why not,” says Shelby, laughing.
“What?” gasps Marina.
“No way!” chimes Jamie.
“YES!” cheers Jordyne.
“Why not live a little, right?” Shelby says with a shrug.
Shelby bends down over Jordyne’s navel as Marina pours a little wine on the dancer’s body.
“I just suck?” Shelby asks.
“Like you’re working the docks and the rent. Is. DUE!” Jordyne says. Shelby takes a breath and then leans in to take her drink. Mathieu laughs heartily and applauds.
“I DID IT!” Jordyne says. “I CORRUPTED THE UNCORRUPTABLE!”
“My turn,” Jamie says with a devilish grin.
“You sure you don’t want to take one off Marco?” Jordyne ribs.
“I want you,” Jamie says, poking Jordyne on the nose.
Gavin rolls his eyes as Jamie takes his shot, Jordyne cackling and squealing wildly as Jamie blows raspberries into her belly.
“I would say,” Rex says to Jamie, “that my interests include cheesecake, aerobic instructional videos, parade floats, quaaludes, and reverse mermaids. You know… when it’s a fish head with human legs? ”
“I… I don’t think I do,” Jamie says between sips of wine.
Rex eyes Jamie up and down.
“You’re really tall,” Rex queries. “You’re not really a tree, are you? No judgment. I know a young lady I think you’d get along with quite well.”
As the castaways continue to enjoy their meal, music suddenly begins to play. Everyone’s attention turns to the stone archway at the entrance of the Ashram, where a troupe of musicians have suddenly entered. Dancers in brightly colored saris come streaming in behind them.
“Now we’re talking!” says Vanessa, clearly excited.
Two of the female dancers step forward gesturing for volunteers.
“Oooh, pick me!” Jordyne shouts, clamoring to her feet. Vanessa joins her as well, and they watch as the dancers teach them the steps to the dance moves.
As Jordyne and Vanessa join the dancers, two more step forward to draw up two more castaways. Steadily, they are all pulled up from the table to enjoy the dance and music. Mathieu and Vanessa get closer and closer to each other as they each wind to the music. Irene struggles to get into the rhythm, seeming more focused on observing her surroundings.
Rex stumbles over to the table to open another beer. Confusedly, he pulls at the cap, apparently baffled as to how to open the bottle.
As night falls over the Ashram, torches are lit. While some of the castaways remain outside, continuing to enjoy food and drink, Marina and Jordyne disappear inside the bathhouse, finding fresh baths have been drawn for them.
“Oh my god,” moans Jordyne as she slides into the water, discarding her soiled bikini to the side.
“Oh, this is nice,” Marina admits.
“So what happened to Brett?” Marina asks, closing her eyes as she reclines in the tub.
“I happened to Brett,” Jordyne giggles.
“I knew it was you, you bitch,” laughs Marina. “I’m not mad about it.”
“Like I thought you would be? He wanted it to be us, with Gavin and uh, Shelby. You know, keep Bandar together,” Jordyne explains.
“I think that’s kind of what we all just thought would happen,” Marina says. “From the outside that kind of seemed just like how it would go.”
“I just knew that as soon as he didn’t need me he was going to do everything he could to get rid of me,” Jordyne says. “And like, Jamie is amazing. So like, why am I going to help them keep someone who literally did nothing but scream at me like I was dog sh*t over someone who I actually can f*cking work with, right?”
“I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about Jamie,” Marina says. “They all love him over on Saap. I think Marco missed Jamie almost as much as he misses his kids.”
“Oh right, Jamie told me Marco has kids. Total DILF, right?”
“He’s actually pretty cool,” Marina says. “I’ve talked with him about kind of maybe working out some sort of plan for the future.”
“Oh my god, that’s music to my ears,” Jordyne says.
“So we need six people to stick together,” Jordyne says, counting on her fingers, “and we can have total control this first vote. And I’m thinking that it’s you and me, Jamie and Marco for sure.”
“Yes, yes a hundred percent. And then who else, Gavin and Shelby?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” Jordyne says. “Gavin I trust, but Shelby will absolutely never go for it. What’s Irene like?”
“Irene is super chill, really cool. You’ll get along,” Marina confirms.
“Yeah, I’ve only gotten to talk with her a little so far, but I like her. And then… ugh. I don’t think Gavin would be down for it Shelby isn’t.”
“Well… we’ve got time until the next Tribal Council, so we don’t have to commit just yet. ” Marina says. “And like, if not Gavin, who? Rex?”
“Why not Rex? I love Rex!”
“Remember how someone voted for Brett the night River left? I think Rex did it.”
“Do you know for sure, or is this just a hunch?” Jordyne asks, swirling her fingers in the bathwater.
“Like nothing confirmed, but I’m just thinking it over,” Marina says, “and like, okay. It wasn’t either of us, and it obviously wasn’t Brett. So who between Gavin, Shelby, Mathieu and Rex do you think would be likely to do that?”
“I mean, if Shelby wanted to keep Brett against me, maybe her.”
“Do you really think that? Like, JoJo, seriously. Do you really think that Shelby would do that?”
“I never thought she’d take a body shot,” Jordyne says. “But you’re right. I could see Rex just doing it for shits and giggles.”
“You could just ask him,” Marina suggests.
“Why me? You could have asked him already,” Jordyne counters.
“Because tonight you are smelling absolutely scrumptious, and that old pervert is drunk and pliable.”
“You think I smell scrumptious?” Jordyne swoons.
Rex sits at the water’s edge, holding a bottle of wine cradled in his arm like an infant. His open umbrella is slung over his shoulder, though it is not raining. In the distance, a fire can be seen burning, where most of the other castaways sit, drunken laughter wafting from their location. Jordyne, clad in her swimsuit, approaches him.
“Reginald. Smell my hair,” Jordyne purrs, swinging herself onto his lap.
“How did you know my real name?” gasps Rex as he sniffs Jordyne’s hair. “Is this shampoo… rosewater and cardamom?”
“You have the nose of a bloodhound, Rain-Man,” Jordyne says.
“That’s not the only animal part I have,” Rex responds.
“I know. I’ve seen your tail, Rex.”
“I was talking about–”
“Shhh,” Jordyne says, putting her finger against his lips. “We have some shop talk to cover first,” she tells him.
“Talk to me, JoJo.”
“I’m serious, Rex,” Jordyne says, standing up.
“I am too, Jordyne. Not everything’s a joke to me.”
“You take the weather very seriously,” Jordyne admits.
“Thank you. Meteorology is really hard, okay? And people are so terrible when you don’t get it right! I’m sorry, but Nostradamus is DEAD!”
“Rex, did you vote for Brett the night River left?”
Rex blinks, visibly thinking.
“Because, sugar. I can. And that’s the magic of the human condition, the magic of this game.”
Rex puts the bottle of wine down and tosses his umbrella to the side.
“You want to know Rain-Man’s secret, Jordyne?” Rex whispers. He turns to the camera, aggressively approaching the lense.
“The secret of Rain-Man is that he’s a genius. Not everyone gets Rain-Man, and that’s okay. Rain-Man gets himself. You know what, just turn this into a confessional, okay? Put that little thing at the bottom of the screen that says who I am. Write whatever you want, I don’t care!”
Rex suddenly wheels over the water and begins to throw up.
As the sun rises over the Western Ghats, it illuminates the open windows of the Ashram, shining over the sleeping mats that the castaways have collapsed on. Tiptoeing quietly, Mathieu taps Shelby on the shoulder. He puts his finger to his mouth, motioning to stay quiet as she awakens. They begin to collect the other members of the original Bandar in a similar fashion.
“I thought it was best we took an opportunity to talk as a group while we had the opportunity,” Mathieu explains. “I wanted for us all to have a chance to get on the same page with one another. I imagine anyone denying that we have an advantage we could choose to utilize, and it would be foolish to not discuss and consider it.”
“You’re reading my mind, dude,” Gavin agrees. “If we can all just work together and not get crazy, we could basically take the next twelve days as easy as we want to!”
“I think we’re all on the same wavelength, honestly,” Marina says.
“Then I’ll be the one to put this out there as well,” Gavin says. “Our first vote should be against Jamie. He’s too dangerous.”
“I am in full agreement,” Shelby says. Mathieu nods understandingly. “He works hard around camp, he is a strong performer in challenges. He’s a principled young man, he’s charming. He’s a threat to all of us.”
“I am of a like mind,” Mathieu says, cautiously choosing his words. “He poses the largest threat to our unity as Bandar.”
“So everyone is in agreement on Jamie?” Shelby asks.
“Count me in,” Gavin says. Marina nods affirmatively.
“I love the guy, but it’s the right move to make,” Jordyne sighs.
“Rex?” asks Mathieu. Everyone turns to Rex, who is seated on a rock, half asleep.
“Hwhat? I’m not hung over I swear! You’re hung over!” Rex babbles.
At the same table where the castaways feasted, Irene paints a new flag for the tribe.
As Irene continues to work, Jamie approaches, having just awoken. He takes a seat across from her.
“Flag’s looking good.”
“Thanks,” Irene says meekly.
“I’m glad to see you again,” Jamie says. “Marco, Ness… It’s good to have the band back together.”
“Too bad we’re probably going to be split up again,” Irene sighs.
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” Jamie says, coyly.
“What do you have up your sleeve, Jamison?” Irene asks, taking the bait.
“Bandar is a mess,” Jamie says. “Irene, they couldn’t get on the same page if their lives depended on it. I know I can get Jordyne on our side.”
“And with Jordyne comes Marina,” Irene ponders.
“You’ve gotten pretty close with her, right?”
“I guess. We get along pretty well. I know she and Marco have talked game.”
“Yeah, that’s what he was saying,” Jamie says. “And I’ve heard that Ness has been working on Matty?”
“…Is that how Marco put it?” Irene asks.
“So you don’t think she could get him to vote on our side?”
“I don’t know what to think about that whole situation,” Irene sighs. “She’s been claiming it’s about making connections for the sake of the game, but I don’t buy it. You saw how they are with each other. She’s seriously falling for him, Jamie. I mean, really. Be honest right now, do you think Vanessa is someone who would ever resort to twirling her hair and batting her eyelashes to manipulate a guy?”
“No,” Jamie admits.
“If we can get the numbers we need, Jamie… we have to get Mathieu out, immediately. We need our girl back.”
“We’ll get her back, darling. I promise.”
The newly formed Satya Yuga Tribe enters the old Bandar campsite, returning from their brief respite from the stresses of the game.
“Welcome to our camp,” Shelby says with a grin.
“You’ve got a great set-up here, dude!” Marco says, eyeing their makeshift table.
“Wait until we go down to the water,” Jamie tells him, excitedly. “We’ll go out on the boat!”
“We can play Titanic,” Marco says. “You can hold me at the bow and say you’re the king of the world!”
“How big do you think the boat is?” asks Marina.
“Yeah, have you ever seen a boat?” Jamie mocks.
“Uh, yeah,” Marco replies. “The one in Titanic.”
Marina, Jordyne, Marco and Jamie float in the reservoir aboard the boat. Jamie holds a fishing line in the water, but isn’t paying close attention.
“I’m just gonna put it out there, this seems like a natural group,” Jamie says.
“I’m going to agree,” says Marco.
“You have no f*cking clue how happy that makes me,” Jordyne says. “Jamie, I was so nervous that you were going to hate my guts after last Tribal Council, but–and Reens can back me up on this–I was never going to vote against you. Shelby was pushing for you hard and if she hadn’t budged I wouldn’t have ever considered working with her,” Jordyne insists.
“We’ve talked about this, I believe you, honey bear,” Jamie says with a smile. “Promise. But,” he adds, “if you really want to put your money where your mouth is… you have no problem if the first one out is a Bandar, right?”
“I think we can arrange that,” Jordyne says.
“Have someone in mind?” Marina asks.
“I think we all have someone in mind,” Marco says.
“Mathieu and Vanessa are a big threat if they’re together,” Marina says. “They’ll never turn on each other and and always work together. It’s like two votes for the price of one.”
“Mathieu is the biggest threat in the whole game, period,” agrees Marco. “Plus, like, he’s a doctor. He doesn’t need the money. But Vanessa will never go for it.”
“We’ve got four here,” Marina says, “and Irene makes five. We need one more.”
“Gavin and Shelby,” Jamie says. “Shelby owes you one. And Gavin will do it if you’re the one who asks.”
“I’m just not sure about Shelby,” Jordyne sighs. “And I don’t know if I can get him to do what I want if she’s whispering in his ear.”
“No reason not to try,” Marina encourages. “And like he said, she owes you.”
Jordyne and Gavin sit together at the forest’s edge in the field.
“I mean, I get it. We’re all going to tell each other we’re going Bandar Strong to save face,” Jordyne says, “but use your head, Gav. You’re so smart, you know that’s a temporary solution that doesn’t work long term.”
“How do you mean?” Gavin asks, doodling in the dirt with a twig.
“I mean we can all smile at each other and say we’ll wait until we get to six and go from there, but that’s not something anyone is serious about. We get out Jamie, Marco, and Irene? Do you think Mathieu is really just going to shrug his shoulders and let Vanessa be next?”
“It won’t matter. We’ll have you, me, Shelby, Marina. That’s four. What’s Mathieu going to do, get Rex to go full velociraptor and attack someone?”
“That’s why he’ll make a move before that, Gav. Using all of Vanessa’s old tribemates who will be desperate to survive? And who knows what Rex would do?”
“So what’s your pitch?” Gavin asks.
“We take out Mathieu now. You, me, Marina, Shelby, and the Saap people. And look, even without Mathieu, we’ll still have the numbers on them. I just think we have to think long term here. Jamie is a threat, sure, but he doesn’t have any power right now, he’s helpless. If we aren’t careful with Mathieu, he’s going to take us out one by one, waltz Vanessa to the final two. I don’t know about you but I have bills to pay, I’m not here to foot the cost of their honeymoon.”
“…Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I didn’t think about it that way. You really are something else, Jordyne Saxby.”
“You’re not so bad yourself, Gavin.”
Gavin and Shelby are together collecting firewood.
“I think Jordyne’s right, Shelby. Mathieu just has too much going for him, and if we aren’t smart about this he could totally take over the game.”
“Gavin, dear. I do appreciate the threat posed by Mathieu, but there is a bigger picture here. We are setting precedent for the events to come with the first vote. If the first decision is to break ranks? We will actively create a system that selects against group loyalty. We won’t be able to reform Bandar as a collective if we make that choice.”
“I mean, I don’t think that’s true,” Gavin says. “I bet you that you, me, Jordyne and Marina can stick together after this. Do you think any of them want to go to the end with Jamie? Come on.”
“Jordyne might,” Shelby says. “You’ve witnessed firsthand her reluctance to vote him off. She has developed a powerful attachment to him, Gavin. Perhaps more powerful than her attachment to you.”
“I mean, but that was just one vote,” Gavin says. “She wouldn’t really keep him over me, would she?
“I’ll say nothing, Gavin. I think you already know the answer,” Shelby says.
As the sun begins to penetrate the clouds, Mathieu and Vanessa take a private moment together in the canoe.
“Look,” whispers Mathieu, pointing in the distance. Across the reservoir, elephants gather to drink and feed at the shoreline.
“How magical,” Vanessa whispers. The two sit in comfortable silence, rowing steadily closer to the gigantic animals.
“A baby!” Vanessa squeals in excitement. A calf toddles between the towering legs of its mother, staying close to its’ beloved guardian.
“Elephants are wonderful mothers,” Mathieu says. “A matriarch leads the herd. She keeps the secrets that have been kept by the herd for generations, and bestows them to her children. ”
“What kind of secrets could an elephant possibly have?” Vanessa asks.
“The secrets of survival. Where the food is the most plentiful. Which animals are safe, and which are dangers. How to protect themselves from the sun and heat, how to enjoy themselves in the rains. How to show kindness, and build community. They’re social, empathetic creatures. Perhaps in another lifetime, where fate drew its threads differently, elephants would be the dominant species on earth. They have a self-awareness that few other creatures share.”
“Well aren’t you the expert?” Vanessa says. “I didn’t know you were so well versed in Elephantology.”
“On occasion, we would see them in the Congo. Not in Kinshasa, of course. They are my mother’s favorite animal. They remind me of her, in many ways. Much as the elephants have their matriarch, so does my family.”
“She sounds like an amazing woman whenever you talk about her.”
“She is the strongest person I know. To bring her family across the ocean to a new country after losing her husband, her partner in life. She has given everything she possibly can to me, to my sisters.” He sighs heavily. “You are making me miss her,” he jokingly chastises.
“I’d be honored to meet her one day,” Vanessa tells him.
“I would be honored to introduce you,” Mathieu responds. They’ve moved closer to each other as the conversation has commenced. Their eyes lock, followed by their lips. The kiss is tender and gentle. It is not an explosion of lust or passion, but an exploration of feeling. An elephant trumpets jubilantly in the background.
“Come on in guys!”
The final 10 castaways enter the challenge arena. Now only one mat waits in front of Jeff, deep purple in color. Vanessa carries the Immunity Idol.
“Welcome,” Jeff says, “to your first challenge as individuals. From here on out, there is no escaping Tribal Council. That means Vanessa, I’m going to take the Immunity Idol back.”
“It’s been real, Shiva,” Vanessa says, kissing the statue on the forehead before handing it to Jeff. He places the Idol on the table next to him.
“Now, just because you cannot escape Tribal does not mean you can’t escape the vote,” Jeff further explains. “If you win immunity as an individual, you win this.”
Jeff grabs the top ring surrounding the figure on the Immunity idol. He shimmies it side to side, until an audible click can be heard. He removes the ring from the statuette, revealing it to be a necklace.
“From now on, this is what you covet,” Jeff says. “With this around your neck at Tribal Council, you are safe from the vote. This is your one guarantee, no matter what, to make it through to the next three days. In addition, Immunity is transferable. This means that at Tribal Council, if you possess this and you so choose, you may gift it to another castaway, leaving yourself vulnerable. Everyone clear?”
The castaways nod and murmur in agreement.
“Alright, then let’s get to today’s challenge, it’s a simple one. Each of you will hold on to a pole for as long as you can. When your feet touch the ground, you are out. The last person remaining on their pole wins Individual Immunity. Worth playing for?”
“Absolutely!” cheers Jamie.
“Alright, we’ll draw for spots, then go ahead and get started.”
“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”
“This challenge is on,” Jeff says. The castaways each take their positions on their pole.
“These handholds are not big,” Jeff says. “You will not be able to get the entirety of your feet or your hands on here. This will begin to hurt. If you want to win, it’s simple. Just hold on.”
Mathieu seems tight and comfortable. Jamie’s huge arms cling to the pole, but his massive feet barely fit in the tiny footholds. Jordyne focuses on her breathing. She seems comfortable, given the circumstances.
“Jordyne like a rock,” Jeff notes. “Rex, not so much.” Rex flexes his back, trying to find a comfortable position. Irene swears as she suddenly slides down multiple rungs. She attempts to catch herself, but is unable.
“Irene, first one out of this challenge.”
“Oh, oh mama. Ooooh great lizard queeeen!” Rex groans, his feet completely giving out. He falls and lands gracelessly.
“Rex right behind, second one out,” Jeff says. Rex takes a seat next to Irene on the bench as they watch the rest of the castaways.
“My feet were not built for this!” Jamie cries out. He clutches with his arms harder before swinging up his legs, wrapping around the pole like a monkey.
“Jamie, suddenly looking a lot more comfortable.”
Marina crouches low, trying to find a more comfortable position. Marco stretches higher, trying to do the same.
“That’s as far as I can go,” Marco groans, sliding further down. He jumps off, landing on his feet. Vanessa quickly begins dropping down after him, following him out.
“We’re down to six now,” Jeff says. “Dig deep! Don’t let go of that pole.”
“You’re not the first man to tell me that,” jokes Jordyne.
ELAPSED TIME- 10 MINUTES
“We’re ten minutes in,” Jeff announces. As if cursed by his speech, Gavin suddenly begins to shake. “Aw rats!” he yells out. Resigning himself to having lost his grip, he hops off.
“And just like that, we are halfway through. Jordyne, Jamie, Mathieu, Shelby and Marina, competing for immunity.”
“Oh, that’s it for me,” Shelby cedes, as she begins to slide down. She ends up on the ground, looking disappointed in herself.
“Shelby out, we’re down to four. Mathieu is immovable, like a statue. Jamie holding on tight. Marina, like a rock.”
ELAPSED TIME- 20 MINUTES
Now deep into the challenge, Jamie is sweating hard. His body quakes. With a final grunt of discomfort, he dislodges his legs and swings down, his height making it a much shorter drop.
“After a great effort, Jamie, the biggest guy in the game, drops.” Gavin grins and nudges Shelby in response.
“We’re down to three. Jordyne, Marina, Mathieu. Jordyne, surprised you’ve made it this far?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” laughs Jordyne. “But uh, seriously, I am,” she says, adjusting her position as she moves down, trying to get comfortable. After continuing to struggle for a few more minutes, Jordyne ends up climbing down.
“After 25 minutes, Jordyne is out of the challenge. We’re down to two. Marina, Mathieu, one of you will be the first winner of Individual Immunity.”
ELAPSED TIME- 20 MINUTES
After 30 minutes, both Mathieu and Marina are in clear pain. Marina is practically curled in a ball as she clings tightly to the pole. Mathieu looks steady, but his face is contorted in discomfort.
“You guys are doing amazing!” cheers Vanessa from the stands.
“You’ve got this, Reens!” Jordyne encourages.
“AAAAH!!!” grunts Marina.
“Marina struggling!” Jeff observes.
“I’m not letting go! You’ll have to peel my dead body off of this!”
Mathieu begins to slip, causing him to move down a few rungs before he catches himself again.
“Mathieu with a strong save, will it be enough?”
With a final pained effort, the last castaway falls.
“MATHIEU! WINS IMMUNITY!”
The castaways gather again on the mat, looking drained from their efforts.
“You did amazing,” Marina says, hugging Jordyne.
“You’re my hero,” Jordyne says to her.
“Mathieu, congratulations,” Jeff addresses. “For tonight, this,” he says, holding up the Immunity Necklace, “is yours. Come on over and put this on.”
Mathieu walks over to Jeff and faces his tribe. Jeff approaches him from behind, attaching the ornament around the doctor’s neck.
“Mathieu is safe from the vote tonight. As for the rest of you? One of you will become the first person voted out of your new tribe. You have the afternoon to figure out who that will be. You guys can head out; I’ll see you tonight at Tribal Council.”
The tribe returns to camp, Mathieu proudly wearing the immunity necklace.
“Awesome job, bro!” Marco congratulates.
“Well earned,” agrees Shelby.
Mathieu and Vanessa find a private area to talk in the woods.
“Congratulations, on your victory, Captain Congo,” Vanessa says, kissing him sweetly.
“Thank you,” he says earnestly. “Now we just have to make it through tonight.”
“Why wouldn’t we?” asks Vanessa. “You’re not playing me for a fool, are you? Because if you are, I’ll kill you,” she says, unclear on whether or not she is serious.
“No, no. Of course not, I would never,” Mathieu promises. “I… I have withheld something from you, though.”
“Oh my god, you found the hidden immunity idol, didn’t you?” she exclaims, wide-eyed.
“No, sadly. Believe me, I wish. It’s… Bandar has come to a consensus,” Mathieu says, somberly. “Right now, for our sake, I need the rest of my tribemates to see that I am still with them. Our first move is going to be to vote out one of your tribemates,” he says with a frown. “Jamie is leaving tonight.”
“What? This is just settled? I mean, we talked about this as a possibility, but when did we make this decision?”
“Vanessa, this could not be an us decision,” Mathieu says. “We have been noticed by the others, you are aware of this, right?”
“Don’t be so condescending, doctor,” Vanessa says. “I do not deserve to be spoken to that way.”
“I’m sorry, you’re absolutely right. The stress of the game is getting to me. I want to make sure you are not in danger,” he says. “We both know that the others see how close we have become. We have not been subtle.”
“I shouldn’t have to hide when I like somebody, what the hell Mathieu?”
“That is not my meaning! What should be does not matter. My feelings for you are very, very real Vanessa, they are so real that I cannot hide them, not even if I tried to. And that scares the others. None of them have the bond we have, and that threatens them.”
“Your feelings for me are real?” Vanessa asks.
“Of course they are. Did you doubt that?”
“…No. I didn’t. I’ve always known,” Vanessa says. “I just…Okay, so walk me through exactly what went down here,” Vanessa demands.
“If the tribes had been even,” Mathieu says, “I would have come with you and your tribe. If I voted alongside Saap now, we would only tie the vote, and then the choice is out of our hands. If I work with my original tribemates, I have say over the decisions. I can ensure that you will not be voted against. And if you vote with us tonight,” he continues, “you can show Bandar you’re willing to work with them. You need to build trust with them, and you can do that tonight. If you…”
Down at the field, Jordyne, Marina, Jamie, Irene, Marco, and Gavin have all gathered.
“Let’s keep this quick, just because I don’t want to have anyone feeling suspicious,” Marina says.
“Okay, so obviously Mathieu is not an option,” Jordyne says.
“So then we go for Vanessa instead,” Gavin says.
“Uh, I…” Irene begins.
“Also not an option,” Jordyne says, “Because I am sticking to my damn word, because I want you,” she points to Jamie, Marco, and Irene, “to know that I’m legit here. Vanessa is Saap, she’s not going home. I’m keeping my promise, we’re sending a Bandar home.
“I’m keeping my word as well,” Marina chimes in. “Jeff said it himself, Saap and Bandar are no more. I like you guys better than them, point blank, and I’d rather work with you than Mat and Shelby.”
“I think Shelby’s the choice, honestly,” says Jamie. “She’s a shrewd, tough woman, I’ll tell you that much.”
“No way, I’m not going to do that,” Gavin says, indignant. “Why can’t you just realize you can trust her, Jordyne? She’s never gone after you, she’s not Brett! And besides, you guys promised a Bandar goes home, not me. Sorry Jamie, buddy, but if it’s between her or you, I’ve got Shelby’s back.”
“Yikes tiger, retract them claws,” Jamie says, holding his hands up in protest.
“Rex,” Irene says. “We can just vote out Rex.”
“Aww, but I love Rex!” Jordyne says.
“If you love him so much, why isn’t he here in this conversation?” Irene asks.
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t vote for him, just that I wouldn’t enjoy doing it,” Jordyne explains. “I love him because he entertains me. But I can also entertain myself with a big screen TV when I win a million dollars. And Rex is an absolute head case, so seriously. It’s not the worst move we could make.”
“No, you’re totally right, JoJo,” Gavin says. “Rex I can do. That’s a move I can make. We get Rex now and we can get Mathieu next time.”
“Rex I’m good with. Three letters, easy to spell,” jokes Marco.
Jordyne and Rex walk together in the woods.
“How serious are you about Bandar Strong?” Jordyne asks him.
“How serious am I about anything?” Rex responds.
“Point taken. Because Marina and I want off this ride, and I want you to come with us. We’re going to vote Shelby with the Saap Tribe tonight.”
“Oh, well isn’t that the tantalizing proposition?” he says, clearly intrigued. “Well, Miss Saxby, you’ve got yourself an investor.”
“You don’t want to hear my reasons?” Jordyne asks.
“I don’t need your reasons, I’ve got my own.”
Dark clouds begin to gather as the sun begins to get lower.
“Looks like rain,” notes Shelby to Gavin as he tends the fire.
“Perfect for tonight,” Gavin says. “I feel like it’s gonna be a storm at Tribal Council.”
The flames of the torches blaze high as the castaways enter Tribal Council. Though they each have been there before, it is without question that the mood is notably different this time.
“Well,” Jeff begins, “I can imagine that things have probably changed a little bit for everyone now that you’ve merged into a single tribe. Marina, how’s the group gelling so far?”
“We’re doing pretty good,” Marina answers. “It’s kind of a fresh start for everyone. We started things off with a huge celebration, we got to eat, we got to drink, we got to finally wash some of the funk off of ourselves. So right now, the mood’s pretty high.”
“Think that’s going to last?” Jeff pushes.
“Not a chance,” Marina laughs. “That was sort of the break from the game. Being here tonight, this is reality. This vote is going to knock everyone’s head back into the game, because now instead of being one happy group, there will be a line drawn.”
“Jamie, do you agree that this vote will draw that line?”
“The line’s already been drawn, Jeff. It got drawn twenty one days ago at the start of the game, and it’s what tribe were you on. It’s Saap and Bandar still. Yeah, we’re Satya Yuga, but those divisions are still there.”
“Shelby, is that true?”
“From my vantage point, yes,” Shelby says. “There are six Bandar and four Saap. It’s an advantage in our court, so I think it’s only reasonable that we take it.”
“So are you saying someone from Saap will be voted out tonight?”
“If I can trust my tribemates, then yes.”
“Vanessa, as someone from the Saap Tribe, that can’t feel good to hear.”
“It doesn’t. It is concerning, but I don’t think I’m the first one they’ll be going after.”
“Who do you think they will be going after?”
“Jamie,” Vanessa admits. “Look at him! He’s twice my size. He’s a beast in the challenges, so that makes him a bigger threat than me or any of the others, plain and simple.”
“Jamie, feel like you could be in trouble?”
“Jeff, I swear the seat I’m on is so hot it burned the hair clean off my ass!” Jamie jokes, eliciting laughter from the group. “I’m in big trouble tonight. I fully expect I could be walking right out that door in a little while. And I’m none too happy about it. But let me assure you, I been bustin’ my rear end to try and make sure that’s not what happens.”
“How do you go about doing that when you’re up against a tribe that’s basically saying ‘we’re unified, you’re on the outside, that’s that? You’re going home, so just enjoy these last few days?’”
“Well Jeff, you hope that when they’re saying their unified that they’re lyin’. Yeah, you stick with who you started with, you got the numbers, so it’s a safe choice, but that don’t make it the best choice. You gotta ask, you know, can you trust these people? You gotta ask where you stand with them, you know? Only two people make it to the end, not six, so if that six isn’t your best shot to make it to the final two, what’s the point? If there is anyone who isn’t here to win, maybe for them it’s okay to just ride the numbers and then lose. I can promise you, I didn’t come to settle for sixth place, Jeff, I came to win.”
“Gavin, does that argument convince you? If you’re playing to win, you shouldn’t necessarily go with the choice that seems the safest? Is it worth it to take a risk?”
“No, not really, if I’m being honest,” Gavin says. “I mean, I get it. Jamie’s gonna try to save himself, that’s what anyone would do,” Gavin says. “But he’s acting like if you’re in a bad position with one side, that means you’re automatically in a good position with the other. Like I’ll be straight up, I agree with Vanessa that Jamie is a giant threat, and in fact I think he’s the biggest threat. Like, I came to win too, not to get second place. Why would I decide to work with Jamie to the final two so I could lose?”
“Yeah but if that’s your logic then why do you wanna work with Mathieu?” Marco says, jumping in. “He’s a huge threat too. Everyone keeps talking about how Jamie’s unstoppable in the challenges–who’s the one wearing the Immunity Necklace right now? Not Jamie! Whose the one who managed to last with two hundred and fourty pounds on their shoulders in the last challenge? Not Jamie. And like, Gavin obviously doesn’t like Jamie, but I don’t think anyone has a problem with Mathieu.”
“Yeah, but Mathieu has immunity,” Gavin says. “What kind of argument is that, vote for the guy you can’t vote for?”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” Marco says, getting defensive. “I’m saying that you’re acting like Jamie is the only threat here so that he’s gotta go, but there are other threats. That’s the only point I’m making, buddy.”
“Don’t ‘buddy’ me,” Gavin says. “If you think Mathieu is such a threat, how come you wont’ vote out Vanessa?”
“Wait, wait,” Jeff interjects. “Gavin, I’m out of the loop here, explain that. What does Mathieu being a threat or not have to do with voting for Vanessa?”
“Vanessa and Mathieu have a thing, everyone knows it,” Gavin says. “And that’s just common sense. If two people are basically in a relationship, then you’re pretty much guaranteed that they’ll vote together, and not for each other. So if Marco really thinks Mathieu is such a big threat, he should be voting for Vanessa tonight.”
“Vanessa, Mathieu, either of you want to chime in on this?”
“Absolutely!” says Vanessa. “I’ve connected with Mathieu, absolutely, I’m not going to deny that. There is an attraction there, but an attraction is not ‘basically in a relationship,’ trust to hear that come out of the mouth of the kid whose never had a relationship–”
“I’ve had a relationship, okay? Thank you very much,” Gavin says.
“Sweetie, a relationship is going to have to be mutually acknowledged. Jordyne is not your girlfriend, contrary to what you may believe.”
“I’ve had a girlfriend besides Jordyne!” Gavin says.
“Wait wait wait wait wait. We just need to be clear here,” Jordyne says. “Gavin and I are not dating.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Gavin sighs. “All I was trying to say is that Vanessa implied I was talking about you when I said I’ve had a relationship, and I wasn’t talking about you, I was talking about my ex-girlfriend! And why are you so offended by the concept of being my girlfriend anyway?”
“What? Gavin, that’s not how I meant it, so don’t act like a victim here. I just want everyone to be clear on what the honest, legitimate dynamics are in this group, because I’m not getting myself into trouble because people think that you and me are some kind of unbreakable pair,” Jordyne responds.
“May I finish my point, Jeff?” Vanessa asks.
“Go ahead, Vanessa.”
“As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,” Vanessa continues, “Mathieu and I have bonded, but a lot of people have made bonds. Jamie and Marco have bonded. Gavin and Shelby have bonded. So it’s not like we’re the only people who’ve built a genuine connection.”
“I’m not attracted to Shelby, though,” Gavin says, “it’s completely different, she’s like my mom!”
“I know you’re not attracted to her, you’re attracted to Jordyne, that much is obvious,” Vanessa says.
“Jordyne, can you shed some light on the situation here? This is the second time Vanessa has alluded to some sort of attraction or romantic element between you and Gavin. Do you know what it is that she might be picking up on that could give her that impression?”
“Gavin and I are friends, that’s it,” Jordyne says. “Everyone else is reading into it. Vanessa knows she’s been called out, so she’s trying to throw someone else under the bus,” Jordyne says.
“Jeff, it was brought up right here that people might be thinking about voting me out. Am I not supposed to make a case for myself?” Vanessa asks, seemingly incredulous.
“Still feel like you’re not in trouble, Vanessa?” Jeff asks.
“If they go after me to make some kind of stand against him,” Vanessa says, pointing to Mathieu, “that’s some straight bull.”
“Mathieu, you, on the other hand, are wearing the immunity necklace,” Jeff points out, “so you’re not going anywhere tonight. Nobody is safer than you. Yet now Vanessa’s name is getting brought up, and people are pointing their fingers and saying it’s because of you.”
“My argument is the same as it has been,” Mathieu says. “Jamie is the biggest threat. He’s not wearing the necklace tonight, but I cannot say the same for three days from now. Bandar has the numbers now, we have the opportunity now. This infighting is exactly the opening that someone in Jamie’s position is hoping for, which is why it needs to stop.”
“Thank you, Mathieu,” Shelby says, sighing. “I’m in total agreement with Mathieu. Success is not achieved by those who let opportunity pass them by. We have the opportunity to create a more even playing field for all of us this evening, and to not take that would be just absurd.”
“Rex, you’ve been grinning ear to ear this whole time,” Jeff observes. “You enjoying this?”
“Jeff, this is the greatest show on earth,” Rex says. “Better than the circus. It’s totally chaotic, what could be be more exciting to watch?”
“Well, as a weatherman, I’m sure you’d agree there is a big difference between watching a tornado and being in one,” Jeff says. “Does the chaos worry you at all?”
“A storm chaser would disagree with you,” Rex says. “What better way to study the weather than to be at the eye of the storm? To experience the living, breathing temperament of Mother Nature herself? Survivor is the storm of the human condition, Jeff, and I’ll chase it even if it kills me.”
“Rex, I have no idea what you’re saying,” Jeff admits.
“No one does!” says Marco. Many of the others laugh, Rex included.
“Irene,” Jeff says, “from what everyone has been saying, it sounds like Jamie and Vanessa are the two with the most reason to worry tonight. Would you say that’s accurate?”
Irene pauses, thinking. “No,” she says. “I think that there are people who have reason to worry who haven’t started worrying yet. It doesn’t mean that Jamie or Vanessa don’t have any reason to be nervous, I’m nervous too, I think all four of us from Saap are. But you know, I’m sure that Brett wasn’t worried the night he went home because Bandar had the numbers then, too. And obviously that wasn’t enough to keep him here.” Gavin’s eyes narrow as Irene finishes.
“A very valid point. With that, if everyone is ready, it’s time to vote. Now before we start, Mathieu–you have individual immunity tonight. You can keep it for yourself, but if you feel confident you are safe and think there is a benefit to you giving it away, you can feel free to do so.”
“I think I’d be foolish to consider that offer, Jeff. I’ll keep this,” Mathieu says.
“Mathieu has individual immunity. You cannot vote for Mathieu, everyone else is fair game. Marina, you’re up first.”
“I’ll go tally the votes,” Jeff says. Jamie fiddles with his beard nervously. Gavin’s gaze shifts restlessly. Jordyne passive-aggressively combs her fingers through her hair. Jeff returns.
“Once the votes are read, the decision is final. The person voted out will be asked to leave the Tribal Council area immediately. I’ll read the votes.”
Everyone turns to look at Gavin, who has stood up, his face tight with determination. His fist is clutched tightly.
“Jeff, I have the idol, and I want to play it for Shelby.”
“Gavin!” Shelby gasps. “Absolutely not.”
“That’s not your call to make,” Gavin tells her as he approaches Jeff, handing him the trinket.
“The rules of Survivor state that if the hidden immunity idol is played, any votes cast against that person will not count,” says Jeff. “This is the hidden immunity idol. Any votes cast for Shelby will not count. I’ll read the votes.”
“Shelby, does not count.”
“That’s two votes Jamie. Next vote:”
“Jamie, that’s four.”
“Rex. That’s two votes Rex.”
“Rex. Three votes Rex, four votes Jamie.”
“Rainman. That’s Rex. We’re tied up, four votes each for Rex and for Jamie, one vote left.”
“The seventh person voted out of Survivor: India…
“Rex. Rex, I need you to bring me your torch.”
“But… I don’t wanna go! Bawwww!” Rex ‘sobs.’ He stands up and walks over to Jordyne.
“I want you to have my Magic 8-Ball, kiddo,” he says, miming holding her a spherical object.
“I’ll guard it with my life,” Jordyne says sweetly. Rex grabs his torch and saunters over to Jeff.
“Hit me with it, baby.”
“Rex, the Tribe has spoken.” Jeff snuffs his torch, and Rex smiles warmly. “It’s time for you to go.”
“Rex!” calls Jordyne. “Can you leave the umbrella?”
“Wish I could, baby doll,” Rex says. “But I’m going to need it. It looks like… rain.”
Rex pops open his umbrella and walks out into the night. As he fades into the darkness, lighting illuminates the sky, and the rain begins to fall.
“Well,” Jeff says, addressing the remaining castaways. “I have some good news for the rest of you. After tonight, those who are voted out will not be leaving India. With our next Tribal Council, we will begin the process of forming our jury. That means now, more than ever, you should be aware of exactly who each of your opponents thinks you are. You guys can grab your stuff, and head back to camp. Good night.”
Nine remain. Who will be the next to go?