PREVIOUSLY ON… SURVIVOR!
After twelve days in the jungles of India, the Saap Tribe was finding themselves consistently on the losing end of the game. They had been to three of the four Tribal Councils, and in their most recent, Andrew played his Hidden Immunity Idol, saving himself from elimination. After returning to camp, tensions exploded between Jamie and Andrew when the normally even-keeled country boy lost his temper with the wishy-washy Captain.
However, Saap’s luck changed when the tribes were reshuffled, forming two new competing teams. The New Saap Tribe won the next reward, sending chickens to their camp. With the numbers split between three members of the original Saap with three new members from the Bandar Tribe, the pressure was on the new tribe to win each other over, leading to Vanessa and Mathieu to start forming a very immediate and intense connection. While Vanessa maintained she was just playing the game, Irene saw otherwise, worried that her closest ally was being charmed over by the handsome and competent doctor.
On the new Bandar Tribe, Jamie and Andrew, following their fight, found themselves outnumbered. Their only hope was that tensions among the other tribemates could keep them safe, and those tensions were more than present as Brett and Jordyne continued to clash. Jamie was able to bond with Jordyne, while Brett and Andrew’s rivalry continued to escalate.
Before the immunity challenge, Jordyne suggested throwing immunity to protect their allies on the other tribe, particularly her closest ally, Marina. This suggestion infuriated Brett, but ultimately his best efforts couldn’t keep Saap from winning immunity and sending the New Bandar Tribe to Tribal Council. Unsure if Andrew had an idol or not, Brett targeted Jamie, while Jordyne and Gavin conspired to split the votes to target Andrew. However, Brett was still angry with Jordyne for suggesting throwing the challenge, and considered taking her out instead.
At Tribal Council, Jordyne wrote her final love letter to Brett when she flipped on Gavin and Shelby, and joined Jamie and Andrew in sending Brett packing.
Eleven remain. Who will be voted out tonight?
Down at the riverbank, Jordyne washes out the cooking pots. Jamie approaches from behind and takes a seat next to each other. He wraps an arm around her shoulder and kisses her on the cheek.
“Have I told you today that I love you?”
“Have you told me in the last ten minutes?” Jordyne asks. “No. Today? Yes. Will I stop you? Never.” The two laugh.
“But it’s like I’ve been saying,” she continues. “I didn’t just do it for you and for Andrew. I did it for myself. Getting Brett out was my best move. Don’t worry about it.”
“Have you talked to Gavin yet today?” Jamie asks, doodling absentmindedly in the silt.
“No. I’m nervous about it!” Jordyne says. “I’m sure he’s gotta be upset. Shelby too, but whatever, I don’t really care if she’s pissed or not.”
“That kid’s in love with you, you know that?”
“Yeah. I know.”
“What are you gonna do about it?”
“I dunno. Why did you have to come along and make me develop a conscience?”
“Because boys are fragile at that age. I know, I was one once.”
“Boys are fragile at every age,” Jordyne says.
“…you’re not wrong,” admits Jamie.
“I know you just said you don’t really care what Shelby thinks,” Jamie continues, “but maybe it would be worth it to talk to her. I think he really looks up to her. I mean, if you’re just trying to make sure you’ve smoothed things over with him, what could it hurt? He looks up to her. If she’s okay, he’ll probably get past it too. ”
“Yeah, but why would Shelby be okay with it? We just threw her game in the sh*tter and hit flush,” Jordyne says. “She’s gotta know she’s next.
“She is, huh?”
“Who else would it be?” Jordyne asks.
“No one, we just hadn’t said it yet to each other, I don’t think.”
Up at the camp, Gavin and Shelby both sit at the campfire. Shelby combs through her hair with a stick, while Gavin pokes at his small serving of lentils.
“Shelby, can I ask you something?” Gavin queries.
“You just did,” Shelby says. Gavin huffs, annoyed. Shelby smiles at him. “Go ahead.”
“How… how did you know your husband was the one?” Gavin asks.
“I didn’t. I don’t believe in ‘the one.’ That is someone you choose,” Shelby explains. “You choose to make it work with this person because they’re worth the sacrifice. If someone snores? You get earplugs. They love a band you don’t? You compromise. Grit your teeth and listen to a little more Steely Dan because it puts a smile on his face. He grows a horrible goatee that reminds you of your Uncle Lim? You close your eyes when you kiss until he realizes the 90’s are dead and gone and that he’ll never become one of the Backstreet Boys.”
“That’s not oddly specific at all,” Gavin says. “But like… how do you know which person to choose? Like what’s worth putting up with and what isn’t?”
“That’s a line that each person has to decide for themselves,” Shelby continues. “Suppose you’re cheated on. People will have different responses if you ask them how they’d react. For some, it’s zero-tolerance. It doesn’t matter. If you cheat, they walk, plain and simple. Others may say that it’s situational. They can’t decide how they’d respond without any context. They want to understand the specifics of the scenario, because maybe there is something worth fighting for. The former says ‘How could you? I thought you were the one? The latter says ‘you wronged me, but you are still the one.’ The choice is up to each individual.”
“How do you know where your line is, though?” Gavin asks.
“Trial and error,” Shelby says. “You meet someone and you push each other’s limits until the structure either collapses or hardens into something unbreakable.”
Jordyne and Jamie come walking back into camp with the cleaned pots.
“Hey Gavin, can we talk?” Jordyne asks.
Gavin and Jordyne walk together in another part of the woods.
“I wanted to give you a little space last night, you know? Just like… a chance to process what happened. I’m sorry I didn’t come to you sooner,” Jordyne says.
“That’s the thing, I wish you had come to me sooner,” Gavin says. “I wish you had come to me before. I would have voted out Brett if you really wanted to. You didn’t even ask me.”
“I didn’t want to have to put you in the position of choosing between me and Shelby,” Jordyne says. “I know she wouldn’t have gone for it.”
“Maybe she would have,” Gavin says. “You didn’t give either of us a chance. Shelby wasn’t as crazy about Brett as you think she was, you know? He wasn’t always that respectful to her either. ”
“That’s fair,” Jordyne admits. “Look, I just wanted to make sure that you and I got a chance to talk now, because like… I can’t go back and do it different, okay? But like, I want you to know that me voting for Brett doesn’t mean anything about you and me. I didn’t write your name down and I’m not going to, not ever. I just don’t want you thinking this means I’m turning my back on you, because I’m not.”
“What about Shelby, though? Are you turning your back on her?”
“I think turning my back on Shelby implies that we had each other’s backs to begin with,” Jordyne says after a long pause.
“…okay,” Gavin says, looking despondent.
“I haven’t made any decisions yet, that’s all,” Jordyne says. “Who knows, we might win all the immunity challenges from here on out, and it won’t even be an issue.”
Marina comes into the camp with some extra firewood. She drops it with the rest of the pile. At the fire, Irene thumbs through the bible while rice boils in a pot. Marco sits across from her, staring into space.
The camera pans out to show that at the other end of camp, Marco is watching Vanessa and Mathieu at the chicken coop. Vanessa cradles one of the chickens, softly clucking at it. Mathieu watches her adoringly.
Over at the chicken coop, Vanessa continues to stroke the chicken lovingly.
“I think you’re the best chicken in the whole world, Dame Judi,” she whispers.
“Don not get too attached,” Mathieu warns. “Dame Judi is going to be dinner eventually.”
“No she’s not!” Vanessa counters. “She could be lunch.”
Mathieu laughs in response. “You’re funny.”
“Aren’t I?” says Vanessa.
“I think the appropriate response is ‘thank you.’”
“Thank you,” Vanessa whispers sweetly.
“You’re welcome,” Mathieu whispers back.
Marina, having fished tending the fire, sits down next to Marco, also watching Vanessa and Mathieu.
“Can we just talk about this?” Marina whispers to Marco.
“Please,” Marco says, “because it’s a lot to talk about.”
Marco and Marina stand in the woods, away from the rest of the action.
“I mean… I don’t know about you,” Marina says, “but I didn’t think I had signed up for The Bachelor when I came out here.”
“I just can’t believe they don’t even like, realize how obvious they’re being,” Marco says, shaking his head. “If I’m honest with you now, I can trust you not to bring it to Matty, right?”
“Absolutely,” Marina says. “Look, he’s a really good guy. But he was on good terms with everyone on Bandar. I don’t have any idea where he stands. I don’t necessarily trust that he’d have my back, so like… why should I have his, you know?”
“Okay, cool, cool. Good. Because like, here’s the thing. Vanessa has been saying to me and Irene that she’s just trying to play the game, you know? Get someone on our side. I think that she thinks that Rex will be the one we’re gonna target, if it comes to that. I think she sees it like, what does anyone have to lose getting rid of Rex? Whose plans is he really a part of, you know? Not Mathieu’s, I can tell you that much.”
“Yeah,” Marina says, nodding as she processes. “Honestly? Back on Bandar, Jordyne and I kind of had a plan about how we wanted the votes to go if we could get people to get on board,” she says. “And like, at first we really thought we could count on Rex to be with us as a part of that. Like I think we both kind of thought that he was just sort of playing up being the crazy, old man, but that when it came time to be serious he’d sort of get it together and do what we needed, right? And now it’s like… the longer I’m around Rex, the more I think he really is just a crazy, old man. Like, I don’t know if I can trust him. I think he threw his vote away at our last Tribal Council.”
“What do you mean?” Marco asks. “Not like, what do you mean, but like, what happened?”
“Okay, so remember how we were all saying that River asked to go home?”
“Yeah, ’cause her mom was sick?”
“Right. So like, it’s a total freebie round for everyone else. Nobody had to worry about like, ‘oh man, I hope this person doesn’t take it personally that I voted for them,’ that kind of thing. It should have been seven votes for River across the board, but it wasn’t. Someone voted for Brett instead of River and I think it was Rex who did it.”
“Did he say something?” asks Marco, intrigued.
“I just have a feeling,” Marina says. “Jordyne and Brett don’t like each other at all but I trust her to tell me the truth and she swears to me she didn’t cast that vote, and I believe her. I can’t think of who else it could have been.”
“So I don’t want to jump the gun here, so like, if you don’t want to commit to anything, no pressure–but would you vote for Rex?” Marco asks.
“I’d vote for him or Mathieu if the situation arose, if I can be real with you. I’m not attached to either one, promise.”
“Come on in guys!”
The Saap Tribe is the first to enter, anxious looks upon their faces. The arena features four rings in the sand, each ring surrounded by tiny poles marked with symbols of various Indian animals. As the gold tip of Bandar’s flag appears in the distance, Marco cranes his neck, hoping to get a glimpse at who has gone.
“Saap, getting your first look at the new Bandar Tribe. Brett voted out at the last Tribal Council.” Mathieu’s eyes go wide as he turns to Marina. Marco grins widely with joy, clapping as Jamie places the Bandar flag.
“Pretty big reaction from Saap over the elimination,” Jeff notes. “Marco, what makes this such a big moment?”
“I mean, sh*t man,” Marco laughs. “I thought for sure it would be either Jamie or the Captian, you know, just because of the numbers. So I’m just glad to see my boy Jamison alive and kicking.”
“Jamie. On one hand, has to feel good to know that someone’s happy to see you.”
“That it does Jeff. I’m happy to be here, so the feeling’s mutual.”
“On the other hand, it’s a bold proclamation to make, putting it out in the open that you have a strong bond,” Jeff continues.
“Well Jeff, I don’t think Marco and I are the only ones here who’re friends,” Jamie says. “We’ve been out here for over two weeks now with next to nothing. I mean, so little food, water is such a pain in the ass to get–unless it’s raining, then you’re getting more water than you could ever hope for. You turn to each other to make it through the hard times.” Jordyne nods in agreement.
“Well, Jamie, I think that’s a perfect lead in today’s challenge, because you are playing for reward today, so hopefully it will make those conditions a little easier. For today’s challenge, you will race out with a set of coordinates. Using the coordinates, you will cross two ropes. Where the ropes intersect, you will dig down to find a cube. Printed on the cube will be your next set of coordinates, which will be used by the next person to find the next cube. Once you’ve collected all four cubes, the fifth person will stack the cubes so that there are no repeating colors on any side. The first tribe to complete their stack wins reward. Wanna know what you’re playing for?”
Jeff pulls away the cover to reveal twelve envelopes, each labeled with a castaway’s name.
“These envelopes contain letters and pictures from your loved ones at home. Your closest friends and family members, sending you their love and encouragement. This is a resource you can’t find out in the jungle, and I’m sure it’s something that everyone is deeply missing.” Shelby nods, excitedly. Andrew’s eyes are already beginning to tear up. “Worth playing for?” Jeff asks. Marco cheers wildly. Vanessa applauds with excitement.
“Saap, you’ve got one extra member. Who’s sitting out?”
“I’ll let them handle this,” Vanessa says, raising her hand.
“All right. Vanessa, take a seat on the bench. Everyone else, I’ll give you a moment to strategize, then we’ll go ahead and get started.”
Marco and Jordyne take their places at the starting line. In front of each of them is a covered board.
“The first board will give you your first set of coordinates. Here we go, for letters from home.”
“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”
Marco and Jordyne flip their covers, revealing the first set of coordinates. The two of them then quickly run out into the sand, finding their waiting ropes. Marco stretches his across quickly, Jordyne taking her time to make sure she has the coordinates right.
“Lizard, peacock; beetle, deer,” Jordyne repeats to herself.
At the cross point, Marco drops to his knees and furiously begins digging with both hands. Jordyne is quick to follow.
“Marco is scrambling in that sand like a wild animal!” Jeff calls. “Jordyne, not giving up.”
“Come on Marco!” calls Irene, waiting at the puzzle station. “I know you want to hear from your girls!”
Sand is flying from the pit as Marco burrows furiously. “Yes!” he exclaims, leaping up as he sees his block begin to emerge.
“Marco’s found his first block,” Jeff notes as Marco scrambles to unearth the object.
“Don’t give up Jordyne!” cheers Gavin.
“I wasn’t planning on it,” Jordyne snarks back. Marco meanwhile has removed his cube, which he excitedly runs back to the mat. He passes it to Rex, who reads the coordinates.
“Marco back with his block, Rex now out for Saap! Jordyne still struggling in that sand.”
“I see it!” Jordyne exclaims. “Finally!” with a last final effort, she obtains her cube. Rex has already placed his coordinates and has begun to dig.
“Rex, actually trying!” Jeff shouts.
“Not trying,” Rex corrects, “succeeding!”
“Jamie now out for Bandar, looking to make up some time!” Jeff calls, Jordyne having finally returned to her mat. Jamie hustles out to the sand pit, whipping the ropes quickly as he races to find his coordinates. The area marked, he begins to put his huge hands to work, clawing through the sand in huge clumps.
“Jamie is fighting to put Bandar in the lead!”
“He’s not gonna get it!” Rex says, popping his cube out from the ground like a ripe turnip. He stumbles slightly as he gets back to his feet, before running back to the mat. He hands the cube to Marina.
“I see it!” Jamie calls to his tribe. “Just a little more!”
“Marina now out on the course for Saap,” Jeff notes. “She’s wasting no time, trying to extend that lead!” With as much speed as she can muster, she observes the symbols surrounding the pit of sand, looking to ensure she has the right coordinates. With her ropes crossed, she begins to dig. Hands together, she pulls the sand with all her might, grimacing with effort.
“A huge effort from Jamie!” Jeff says as Jamie finally unearths the next cube for Bandar. He sprints back to the mat, tagging in Gavin.
“Gavin now out for Bandar, behind, but it’s not over!”
“AAARGH!” grunts Marina, as she pulls on the revealed edge of her cube. It doesn’t budge. Frustrated, she resigns herself to digging more.
“Take your time, Marina!” encourages Irene. “He hasn’t even got his coordinates yet!”
As if on cue, Gavin places his second rope and rushes to the cross point, where he begins to dig. Sand flies as he wails on the loosely textured earth.
“Gavin giving everything he has, trying to catch up!”
With a final cry of effort, Marina releases her buried cube, and makes her way back to the mat. As Mathieu heads out for the final cube, Gavin is still digging, his hole becoming bigger and bigger.
“I can’t find it!” Gavin cries out, panic in his voice.
“Keep digging!” Shelby responds.
“How much deeper do I have to go?”
“I don’t know!”
“Mathieu now starting to dig,” notes Jeff. Mathieu’s body glitters with sweat, the sand sticking as he aggressively tunnels.
On the Bandar mat, Jamie once again observes the coordinates Gavin is working on, glancing out to see where Gavin is digging.
“GAVIN!” yells Jamie. “YOU’RE IN THE WRONG SPOT!”
“What!?” Gavin exclaims.
“You mixed up your coordinates! You’re in the wrong spot, that’s why you can’t find it!”
“WHAT!?” Gavin again yells.
“TIGER, BEETLE! PARROT, BULL!” Jamie yells. “NOT TIGER, BULL! SWITCH THE ROPES!”
“Oh my god,” Gavin mutters, his face turning beet red. He struggles to collect his rope.
“Gavin has to start again, he was digging in the wrong spot! This could cost Bandar big time,” Jeff notes. Sure enough, as he finally begins to see the surface of his cube, Mathieu has already removed his, and is bringing it hastily back to the start.
“Mathieu has the final cube for Saap, now it’s all on Irene to solve that puzzle!”
“You’ve got plenty of time,” Mathieu assures, handing Irene the block. Determined, Irene works quickly, placing the blocks in the spinning tower structure.
“Irene getting started on that puzzle. Each side needs to have red, green, yellow, blue. If a color is repeating, you’ve got it wrong.”
“That block has mostly blue, Irene,” notes Marco, watching from the mat.
“You’ve got a lot of reds on that side,” offers Marina.
“Irene getting a lot of help on that puzzle.”
Meanwhile, an exhausted Gavin finally returns with his cube.
“Gavin finally back, Andrew now out, looking for that final cube for Bandar! There’s still a puzzle left, Bandar, you’re not out of this yet!”
As Andrew digs, Irene continues to turn and adjust her cubes.
“Try switching the second from the bottom and the one on the top, so you can flip that lower one around,” suggests Marco.
“That might be it,” Irene confirms.
Andrew looks up from his digging site, watching Irene solve the puzzle.
“KEEP IT GOING ANDREW!” shouts Shelby.
“Jeff!” Irene exclaims. “Jeff, I have it!”
Jeff approaches the puzzle tower and observes the cubes.
“Blue, green, yellow red; green, blue, yellow, red; green, yellow, red, blue; blue, green, yellow, red!”
“SAAP! WINS REWARD!”
Irene’s tribemates run forward and bombard her in a group hug. From the bench, Vanessa jumps up and down, cheering wildly.
The tribes stand back at their mats.
“Good work,” Marco says, hugging Irene. He kisses her on top of her head.
“Saap, great job today. I know you guys are excited to read these letters, but first, one more piece of business. Someone from Bandar is headed to Exile Island, who’s it gonna be?”
The tribe huddles together, discussing what to do.
“We will be sending Gavin,” Mathieu finally reveals. “My apologies, friend.”
“Whatever,” shrugs a despondent Gavin. Jeff hands him the map.
“Gavin, take this, find your way to Exile Island. You’ll rejoin your tribe at the next Immunity Challenge.”
“Good luck Gavin!” Shelby calls as the youngest castaway heads off.
“Alright Saap, come grab your reward, you guys can head on out.”
The six castaways in green come forward, each taking the envelope with their name on it. Marco clutches his to his chest.
“Bandar? Got nothing for you. You guys can head back to camp.”
Alone, Gavin arrives at Exile Island for the first time. The landscape of the island amongst the rapids appears to overwhelm him as he approaches the statue of Ganesha.
Gavin unfurls the scroll and begins to read the clue.
“Heavenwards in clouds of green,
Where forest dwellers reign supreme;
In the hornbill’s holey hideaway,
A treasure could extend your stay.”
“Hornbills are birds,” Gavin says to himself, reading over the clue. “I think it’s talking about a tree. That’s where hornbills build nests, in trees. So that’s probably where the idol is.”
Gavin wanders Exile Island, closely examining each of the trees. He climbs up higher in one, looking up in the branches. “Drat,” he mutters as he climbs down from yet another tree.
Gavin backtracks through the trees, feeling along the sides. He stops on one when he notices a small hole.
“This isn’t bark,” he says, excitedly. He looks around for an object, settling on a rock, which he takes and begins bashing against the tiny hole in the tree. Sure enough, the clay surrounding it shatters away, revealing a hollow burrow in the trunk.
“Jackpot!” laughs Gavin. “Oh man, holy sh*t!”
Gavin reaches into the tree and pulls out the idol.
The Saap Tribe sits around the shelter and in the fire, everyone excitedly opening their envelopes to pour over the letters inside.
“It’s from my daddy!” exclaims Marina, her eyes slick with tears. Irene reads through one of her letters, removing her glasses so she can wipe her eyes. Mathieu smiles and laughs at something that has been written to him. Near the fire, Marco cries so hard his body shakes with every sob. In his hands he holds a child’s drawing of two dogs.
Marina and Vanessa sit on either side of Marco as he shows them a photo of his daughters and the drawings that they sent him.
“Morgan’s on the left,” Marco says, “and Maria’s on the right.”
“Maria’s the one who drew your dogs?” Marina asks, as she takes a look at the drawing. “She’s really good, especially for eight years old.”
“Nine,” Marco says, corrects, exhaling. “They’re gonna be ten real soon. I’m gonna miss their birthday out here.”
“I’m sure their mom is going to give them a great party,” Vanessa reassures.
“I know she will,” Marco says, tearing up again. “It just sucks not being there.”
“Yeah, but you’re here for them,” Vanessa says.
“How about you, Rex?” Marina asks, turning towards the shelter where Rex is reading his letters. “Any good news from the mothership?”
“Rrrrrrr-ghghghghgh!” Rex says, growling like Chewbacca. He turns a piece of paper to show the others. On it is nothing but unintelligible paw prints from some sort of animal.
“Who is that from?” asks a perplexed Irene.
“My cat,” replies Rex, as if it’s supposed to be obvious. “And they sent pictures of my ex-wives too.”
“Those look like trading cards with giant Japanese movie monsters,” points out Marina.
“You don’t know my life!” cries Rex, defensively.
“You’re quite the lady killer, aren’t you Rex?” laughs Irene as she sorts through the “photos” of Rex’s “ex-wives.” “Gorgolath has beautiful compound eyes.” Vanessa can only roll her eyes.
Jordyne, Andrew, and Jamie sit around the fire, Andrew absentmindedly poking the embers with a stick. Shelby lies in the shelter, staring up at the ceiling.
“I’ve never seen her like this,” whispers Jordyne to the others.
“Neither have I,” whispers Jamie. “I’m guessin’ this ain’t normal for her?”
Jordyne shakes her head back and forth. “She’s such a workhorse, I can’t believe she’s this down about a couple of letters.”
“It’s hard to understand when you’re not a parent,” Andrew says. “I get it. I wish more than anything I could have gotten those letters too.”
“Letters…” Shelby whispers to herself in the shelter. She slowly perks up and rummages through her bag, pulling out her notebook and pen.
Shelby sits in the shelter, writing her words out carefully. At the fire, the guys and Jordyne continue to chatter, blissfully unaware.
Shelby gently tears the sheet of paper from her notebook, her fingers moving carefully and delicately so as not to attract attention.
Jordyne is digging through her bag when she sees the folded piece of paper. She quietly takes it and tucks it in her bikini.
“I’m gonna use the little ladies’ room,” she announces to the others before heading off into the jungle.
Alone in the forest, Jordyne unfolds the paper and begins to read.
“’Please excuse the unorthodox nature of this communication,” she reads. “Time is of the utmost importance and privacy is scarce. This is for your eyes only–I am trusting in you. This is my appeal to your sense of logic. I respect your intelligence, woman to woman, and wouldn’t deign to make an emotional approach. There are no hard feelings on my behalf regarding your decision to vote Brett from the game. If I were in your position, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same. To advance towards victory, one must position themselves alongside allies who treat them with respect and dignity. These are kindnesses that Brett could not will himself to show you, and for that he has nobody to blame but himself.’ She’s not wrong,” Jordyne laughs, as she continues to read.
“Keep in mind Marco’s reaction to Jamie’s survival,” Jordyne continues to read. “Jamie has allies lying in wait. You will not be his top priority when he is reunited with them. You will be mine. Gavin trusts in you, and I trust in Gavin. Therefore, Jordyne, my trust is in you as well. Take all the time you need to think through your choices. I trust that you are bright and ambitious enough to understand the opportunity before you.’ Well,” Jordyne finishes, folding the paper, “that’s something to think about.”
With the clouds hanging heavy in the sky, the only light in the Saap camp comes from the blaze of the fire. While light is low, the tribe is big on noise, boisterous laughter coming from the group around the campfire.
“So,” Irene says, “we’re hanging out in my friend’s basement, and it’s her last day before she goes back to school, so she tweets out ‘hey, I’m going back to school, if you want to hang out, you know, just come over, down to see whoever!’ Like, obviously not thinking anyone who she hasn’t really seen in a while is going to take her up on it, right? And who shows up but this girl–”
“Is this the same one with the pet snake?” asks Vanessa.
“YES! Yes! Same one. Snake Girl. And like, okay, I work at Hot Topic, I’m around some weird looking people. But Snake Girl is just like, a total try hard. Anything she thinks will draw attention to her, she’ll do it.”
“So she’s Rex?” says Mathieu, prompting everyone to laugh, no one as hard as Rex.
“…and we all turn around, and she’s smacking her lips, and the dirty water is all gone.”
“She drank it?” Marina asks, incredulous.
“I’m going to throw. Up. Oh my GOD!” laughs Vanessa. “That’s the nastiest thing I ever heard!”
“Oh yeah, she drank it!” laughs Irene. “and she’s like, ‘What you guys? Bong water is soooo yummy!”
“What the actual f*ck!” laughs Marco.
“SHHHH!” Mathieu interrupts, suddenly.
“What?” asks Marco. “What’s wrong?”
“Shhh.” Mathieu says again, holding a finger to his lips. His eyes are wide. The mood hastily begins to drop.
“Do you hear that?” whispers Mathieu. There is no silence in the jungle as the fire crackles softly. Bugs chirp and whistle. A sharp sound repeats over and over, a staccato snorting and puffing sound. A low moan follows.
“Stay near the fire,” whispers Mathieu, as he slowly stands, moving towards the other side of the camp where the machete lies.
“Please tell me that’s not what I think it is,” whispers Marina to Marco.
“Please tell me that’s not my ex-wife,” whispers Rex to no one in particular.
“How can you joke at a time like this?” Vanessa hisses.
“SHH!” Irene commands. The sound in the forest continues.
“Where is it coming from?” Marco wonders.
“Let’s hope we don’t find out,” whispers Irene.
In the dark of the forest, the beast groans loudly. The nervous castaways sit gathered in a ring, backs to one another, arms locked. Mathieu scans the surroundings, blade at the ready.
“There,” whispers Marco, almost breathless. He raises a finger ever so slowly to point off in the dark. For but a brief moment, like two jewels, the eyes of the tiger glitter in the light of the fire. The telltale stripes of its pelt are barely visible as the creature slinks back into the darkness.
“I can’t stop shaking,” says Irene, stumbling back upon her seat.
“We have to keep watch,” says Matheiu. “We do not know if it will return.”
The sun rises over the Saap Tribe, but it doesn’t awaken the castaways–none of them are asleep. Vanessa lies, wide eyed, her head on Mathieu’s chest. Rex stares into the fire.
“I feel like I’m in a dream,” says Irene to Marco. “Like it was so surreal, I can’t believe it happened.”
“They’ve been out here this whole time,” Marco says. “It was just a matter of time before one came wandering around over near us.”
Mathieu and Vanessa come walking back into camp, treemail in hand.
“What’s on the agenda for today?” asks Irene, perking up.
Vanessa opens the treemail and begins to read.
“It isn’t a test of agility;
Wits aren’t needed either;
To keep your flame for three more days,
Simply have desire.”
“It sounds like it might be some sort of test of willpower,” suggests Irene.
“Well, that should make our strategy simple,” Mathieu says. “Just don’t give up.”
“Come on in guys!”
Saap and Bandar enter the arena, ready to play.
“First, let’s bring in Gavin, now returning from Exile Island.”
Gavin walks in, looking much more sprightly than when he left. Shelby wraps him in a warm hug as he takes his spot on the mat.
“Welcome back, Gavin. I’m also going to be welcoming back the Immunity Idol. Hand it over, Rex.”
“What happened to saying please?” Rex mopes.
“Immunity, back up for grabs. For today’s challenge, three members of each tribe will have a pole across their shoulders. Each round, weight will be added to that pole. The decision about which tribe member gets the weight will be made by two members of the other tribe. When the weight becomes too much, you’ll drop the pole, you’re out of the challenge. Last person left standing wins immunity for their tribe. Only rule–you must put up at least one man and one woman as your weight bearers. Saap, you have one extra member, can’t sit out the same person in back to back challenges. Vanessa sat out last time, who will sit out today?”
“I will,” says Irene, raising her hand.
“Irene, take a seat on the bench. Everyone else, I’ll give you a moment to strategize, then we’ll get started.”
The castaways get in position for the challenge.
“Alright! As the weight bearers for Bandar, we have Jamie, Andrew, and Shelby. Bearing the weight for Saap, it’s gonna be Marco, Marina, and Mathieu.”
“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”
“Bandar, who from Saap is getting your first twenty pounds?”
Jordyne and Gavin confer. “Mathieu,” Gavin says.
“Jamie,” Vanessa says. “Sorry boo.”
“Don’t apologize to me,” Jamie says with a grin. “Apologize to your tribe when I whoop y’all.”
Rex and Vanessa each grab a weighted bag and approach Matheiu. Jordyne and Gavin do the same for Jamie.
“Your weights will be distributed by the other tribe,” Jeff explains, “but to make sure the weight is placed evenly, members of your own tribe will place it. Three, two, one, place your weights.”
“Ain’t nothing,” Jamie says as the weights are placed.
“I could do this all day,” Mathieu taunts back.
“Who’s next, Bandar?” Jeff asks.
“We’ll do Marco,” Gavin confirms.
“Let’s share the love with my girl Shelby,” Rex says, blowing Shelby a kiss.
Round by round, the castaways continue to place weights on the shoulders of the competitors.
“I thought you were supposed to lose weight out here,” jokes Marco as more weight is placed on his bar.
“Here’s where we stand,” Jeff announces. “Shelby and Marina, both holding strong at 80 pounds. Andrew is at 120, Marco at 140, Mathieu holding at 160, and Jamie, bearing the most weight of all, 180 pounds. Who is next, Saap?”
“Jamie,” says Rex.
“Gonna be Mathieu,” says Jordyne.
“This will put Jamie at 200 pounds,” says Jeff. Jamie braces himself as the extra weight is added.
“You’ve got this, Jamie!” Jordyne encourages.
Marco suddenly yelps. Out of nowhere, he stumbles backwards.
“F*ck me gently with a chainsaw!” he says, dropping his pole.
“And just like that, at 140 pounds, Marco, first one out of this challenge,” Jeff says. “Back to distributing the weight, guys. Saap?”
“Jamie,” says Vanessa.
“Love you, Reens,” Jordyne says.
“Marina goes up to 100 pounds, Jamie holding more than double at 220,” Jeff says.
“This is nothing, Jamie!” encourages Gavin. “You got this!”
“Bandar, your move.”
“Sorry Matty,” says Gavin.
Rex and Vanessa whisper. “Jamie,” Rex decides.
“Mathieu now up to 180, Jamie at a whopping 240 pounds!”
Jamie is now breathing heavily. He grits his teeth as Rex and Vanessa place the weight.
“AAAAAGH!” he roars.
“Don’t give up, we know you have this in you!” Cheers Irene from the sideline.
“Jamie doing an incredible job at 240. Make your next move. Saap?”
“Jamie,” Vanessa picks.
“Marina,” says Gavin.
No sooner than Jordyne and Gavin drop their weight does Jamie buckle under the pressure. With a guttural roar, he drops the pole.
“Jamie goes out after an incredible 240 pounds!” Jeff exclaims. “We’re tied up at two per tribe!”
“You did amazing, dude!” exclaims Marco.
“Cheer for your own team, won’t you?” Vanessa chides.
The next round sees Shelby and Marina each adding weight. This puts Marina at 120, which proves to be too much. The bar slides down her back and she drops it.
“Good work Marina, you did awesome!” cheers Vanessa.
“Just like that, Marina is out at 120 pounds, leaving Mathieu as the last man standing for Saap at 180 pounds. The fate of his tribe literally rests on his shoulders,” Jeff says. “Shelby, now holding strong at 100,” he comments as the weight is added.
“This ain’t no thing, Shelbs!” Gavin encourages. “You popped out two babies, you got this!”
“I had them through c-section!” Shelby moans.
Saap gives their next set of weights to Andrew, putting him at 140.
“With this,” Jeff notes, “Mathieu is now at 200 pounds.” Mathieu grimaces hard under the pressure of the weight. He breathes slowly in and out.
“Focus baby, you got this!” cheers Vanessa. “You’re superman!”
“Oh, Jesus,” mutters Andrew, one side of his pole beginning to slip.
“Andrew starting to struggle,” Jeff notes. “Bandar, you can add more weight to Mathieu. Saap, who is next?”
“Andrew,” says Rex with no hesitation.
“This will bring Mathieu to 220 pounds. Jamie fell out at 240. This could be it for Saap,” Jeff warns.
“Ahh!” cries Mathieu, straining under the immense pressure.
“Don’t you dare drop that pole,” Rex warns.
“Andrew now at 160,” Jeff says.
“His knees are wobbling,” notes Marina. With that Andrew thrusts his bar off his shoulders.
“And just like that, we are down to the last person per tribe! It’s Shelby versus Mathieu! It’s an unlikely match up, but this next round will put Mathieu at 240 pounds,” Jeff says. “Go ahead, add your next weights.”
Mathieu is now breathing extremely heavily. His knees appear to be shaking.
“Shelby now at one hundred and forty pounds, Mathieu at two-hundred and forty pounds!” cheers Jeff.
“Oh, oh, oh no!” Shelby groans
“Come on Shelb, he can’t hold out much longer, just hold on!” Gavin pleads.
“Math-ieu! Math-ieu!” cheers Irene.
“ARGH!” With a resounding thud, the last of the weights drops. The challenge is over.
Dejected, Shelby can only look down at her fallen pole.
“SAAP! WINS IMMUNITY!”
Relief washes over Mathieu’s face as he drops his pole to the ground and stumbles backwards. Marco and Vanessa rush to catch him. Vanessa giddily kisses him on the cheek. Irene and Marina hug and jump up and down in elation.
“You are superhuman, bro!” Marco says.
The tribes return to their mats. An exhausted Mathieu remains seated.
“I’ll bring this to you, Mathieu. Well earned,” Jeff says, approaching him with the Immunity Idol.
“Am I ever glad to see you,” Mathieu says, taking the idol happily.
“Well Saap, congratulations. Tonight is yours to do with what you will, you guys are all safe. You can head back to camp,” Jeff dismisses. His attention turns to Bandar.
“Andrew, Shelby, Jamie, Jordyne, Gavin? After 18 days, one of you is going home. You have the rest of the day to figure out who that will be. Grab your stuff, head back to camp.”
As the Bandar Tribe filters back into camp, Shelby clearly looks tense.
As Shelby puts her bag down, Gavin comes up beside her.
“We need a moment to talk alone,” he whispers in her ear.
“Well, the fire won’t keep itself burning,” Shelby says. “Gavin, help me with firewood?”
“Yeah, sure,” Gavin says. Andrew makes a face.
Once Gavin and Shelby are gone from camp, Andrew signals to Jamie and Jordyne.
“Shelby?” Andrew asks.
“Shelby,” confirms Jamie.
“That’s it then,” Jordyne says. “And we take it easy until Tribal Council.”
Away from camp, Gavin looks around to ensure he wasn’t being followed.
“Shelby, I got it!” he whispers, elated.
“You got what?”
“It! The Hidden Immunity Idol! I found it in a freakin’ hole in a tree!” Gavin reaches into his pocket and pulls out the glittering red and gold pendant.
“Oh my goodness,” gasps Shelby, taking it in her hand, examining it carefully.
“This is how you stay tonight, Shelbs,” Gavin says with a broad smile. Shelby’s grin turns into a frown.
“Gavin, don’t. This is yours, you found it. I’m not comfortable taking this from you,” Shelby says.
“What? What the heck are you talking about, Shelby? This is our get-out of jail free card!”
“It’s your get-out of jail free card,” Shelby corrects. “I don’t want you to use that on me tonight and find yourself wishing you had it later on,” she says. “The offer is very much appreciated, please don’t misunderstand me. But Gavin, I wouldn’t want to take this from you, only for you to end up needing it at some point in the future. You’re not out here for me.”
“Maybe that’s not why I came here, Shelby, but we’re in this together, okay? I’m in this for you now that I know you. No matter what has happened you’ve stuck with me.”
Shelby pauses, taking a moment to collect her thoughts and think out her response.
“This should be our last resort, understood?” she finally asks. “I’ve made a pitch to Jordyne while you were gone. As long as she understands where her loyalty should lie, and why it should lie there… then young man, I think you’ll be able to hold onto this bauble for a lot longer.”
Gavin nods. “Do you want me to talk to her?”
“We both should,” Shelby says, “but it will look less suspicious if you’re the one to draw her out of camp.”
“Shelby told me she wrote you a letter,” Gavin says to Jordyne as the two of them walk towards the well.
“She did, in fact, do that,” confirms Jordyne. “She had some really good points in it.”
“What were they?” ask Gavin. “She didn’t really go into details, she just told me she wrote you the letter.”
“She had a few points. You know, keep Bandar’s numbers up, mostly. Jamie’s got friends on the other tribe, you can’t trust him… honestly it’s kind of everything you’d expect to hear from someone scrambling to save themselves,” Jordyne says. “But doesn’t mean they’re bad points, just, you know–I’ve got to consider all my options. You can read it, if you want. I still have it.” Jordyne reaches into her bag, looking for the letter.
“Yeah, yeah. No, yeah. No, I totally get it,” Gavin says. “I’d be doing the same thing, but like, okay. So, uh. Alright.” He takes the letter from Jordyne and scans through it. “How much do you trust Jamie?” Gavin asks.
“If I’m being straight up with you? A lot. Shelby has a good point, I know he’s got other friends on the other side, but that could be good for us, Gav,” Jordyne says. “Think about it–Jamie is our in with Marco, with Vanessa, with Irene? We could be positioning ourselves in the middle of everything, you and me. We could be the strongest players in the game.”
“Whew,” sighs Gavin. “I hadn’t thought of it that way,” he admits.
“I mean, okay, let’s say that everyone from Saap wants to stay together,” Jordyne says, thinking aloud. “What happens when they get down to just them? They don’t all get to go to the end together and win. Like, there’s a pecking order in there somewhere, for sure. You, me, Marina? That’s when we could strike.”
Gavin just nods, processing.
“So the thing is, Jordyne really does not want to vote Jamie out,” Gavin tells Shelby. “She’s like, obsessed with him for some reason.”
“It doesn’t have to be Jamie,” Shelby says. “We could always vote for Andrew.”
“I mean, true. I guess,” Gavin says with a sigh. “I just don’t know what to do, Shelby. Are you sure you don’t want the idol?”
“How about we make a deal, Gavin. You hold onto it. If you feel it’s necessary, play it for me. Whenever you think it’s appropriate. This is your decision to make.”
“If you say so,” Gavin says. “It’s your funeral, though.”
“I’m not done fighting for my spot,” Shelby says. “I need to meet with the lady of the hour myself.”
“As I’m sure you can imagine, Jordyne, begging is not exactly my area of expertise.”
“Is that a dig, Shelby?” asks Jordyne.
“No, no. Not at all,” Shelby replies, shaking her head vigorously. “It’s my desperate truth. I want to stay. All I can admit is that I’m asking you this knowing there is an imbalance of power here. You have the upper hand. I’m at your mercy.”
“Gotcha. So you’re begging, is basically what you mean.”
“Yes. I’m begging you, Jordyne. I can’t do anything more than grovel.”
Jordyne’s brow furrows as she thinks.
“Look. I know we probably don’t see eye to eye on a lot, but I know we’ve got something in common,” Jordyne says.
“Gavin,” affirms Shelby.
“If you can trust in Gavin, then I need to know you trust in me, Shelby. I need to know you’re on board the Jordyne Train.”
“I’m on board whatever train,” Shelby says. “If being on the Jordyne train means you never have to work around camp again and I’ll do all the more work, so be it.”
“That’s a pretty tempting offer,” laughs Jordyne. “Not what I was asking for, but I might take you up on that.”
“Oh goodness. Of course you will,” Shelby says.
The ominous fires of Tribal Council glow as the castaways of the Bandar Tribe take their seats.
“It hasn’t been too long since our last time together,” Jeff begins. “Jamie, what was the outcome of your last visit here?”
“Well Jeff,” Jamie begins, “the outcome is that I’m still here, and that Andrew’s still here. Being the new people on the tribe, it definitely felt like we came in at the bottom of the barrel. I mean, if I had my choice, we wouldn’t have come here at all, but that wasn’t an option. So outside of that, coming back to camp with my torch still lit? That’s the only outcome I cared about, and I’m just still a little gobsmacked that it happened.”
“How about you, Gavin? Are you also ‘gobsmacked’ at the last vote?”
“Not anymore, but I definitely was,” Gavin admits. “It just seemed like the obvious thing to do, stick together Bandar Strong. But Jordyne had other plans, I guess,” he says with a grin.
“I can illuminate you to the best of my ability,” Jordyne offers. “Brett obviously had zero respect for me at all, you could see that for yourself, I’m sure, Jeff. From my perspective, he might as well not have been my tribemate at all. So as much as we want to sit around and pretend it’s kumbaya, everyone loves each other, one big happy Bandar family, that wasn’t the case. I was with Brett for two whole weeks and I couldn’t trust him any more than I could trust people I had been with for three days.”
“Fair enough. Shelby, Jordyne says Brett was basically not even really her tribemate, but that could just be her perspective. You and Jordyne were on Bandar together from the start as well. Did you feel betrayed?”
“Yes. I did. But I’m an adult, so I got over it. Unfortunately, forgiveness alone can’t reverse my fate in this game.”
“What exactly do you mean by that?” Jeff asks.
“Well, when Jordyne made the decision that she made, that put her in a power position with Andrew and Jamie. They are now the dominant force in this tribe. And Jordyne and Gavin have a certain fondness for one another. Jordyne and I, however, share no such bond.”
“So you feel like you’re on the bottom?” Jeff asks.
“Absolutely,” Shelby confirms. “My expectation is that you’ll be putting my torch out shortly.”
“Andrew, Shelby put you, Jamie, and Jordyne in a group together. Is that the case, are you a group? And if so, does that mean Shelby’s correct, she’s in danger?”
“I… wow. You know, it’s like Jamie said. We came over here outnumbered, just hoping to somehow scrape through. And we’re both still here tonight. Jordyne made that happen, there’s no way around that. I feel a sense of indebtedness, I’d say. And quite frankly, I think the smartest move for us is to stick together.”
“Jamie, you agree with that?” Jeff asks.
“So Gavin,” Jeff continues. “You’re not included in this three person group either. Do you feel like you might be at risk tonight?”
“Oh, sure,” Gavin says. “I mean you never know what people are really talking about when you aren’t there to hear it. But honestly, based on everything that’s been happening, I don’t think it’s very likely. I mean every conversation I’ve had with the others has like, just kind of pointed toward the same outcome, which is that Shelby’s gonna be out. And I mean, who knows. That means I could be next after her.”
“Shelby, if I can come back to you for a moment. You seem pretty certain that you’re in trouble, and the rest of the tribe seems to be sort of pointing towards that conclusion as well. When you know the target is on your back, what do you do to try and save yourself?
“Talk with people,” Shelby answers. “You bring up any and every possible reason that you are of value to their game, and likewise any and every possible reason that the others aren’t that good for them. You hit every angle, unrelentingly. If I go down, I know I went down clawing and fighting against it.”
“Any examples of some of those angles you hit?”
“Yes, of course,” Shelby says. “As was stated earlier, we have only had Andrew and Jamie on this tribe for a very small amount of time. I know Jordyne feels she can trust them, but Jamie and Andrew both said it themselves–they came into this tribe with no options at all. I could just as easily have gone to them and we could have voted out Jordyne last time. So I hope Jordyne realizes that trust in these two is short term. They’ll be as trustworthy as they need to be to protect themselves.
“Well I mean, I wouldn’t say that exactly,” Andrew balks.
“Andrew, not a fan of what Shelby has said. Care to elaborate?’
“Yeah, absolutely,” Andrew says. “She’s basically saying that Jamie and I are going to dump Jordyne as soon as we don’t need her, but if that was the case, how come Shelby didn’t come to me, or come to Jamie and say hey, let’s get rid of Jordyne, why don’t we? It’s because Shelby knows that isn’t gonna happen, and that’s because Jordyne can trust us.”
“Actually, may I speak for myself, Jeff?” Jordyne asks.
“Of course, go ahead.”
“For me in this game, trust is about a couple of different things. It’s about our general vibe and our relationship with each other, it’s about what you’ve done in the past. Maybe I can’t trust Jamie or Andrew, but they haven’t shown me that yet. Shelby, on the other hand, I know I can’t trust.”
“What have I done, Jordyne, to make so certain you can’t trust me?” asks Shelby.
“You were always up Brett’s butt, that’s why,” Jordyne says bluntly. “If he said jump, you jumped. And I don’t need him targeting me from beyond the grave here, you know? This isn’t Zombie Survival, it’s Survivor.”
“What exactly do you mean by that?” asks a perplexed Jeff.
“What I mean is that Shelby is saying oh, the guys are only going to work with me as long as they feel like they can use me and that they’ll kick me to the curb when they’re done, but that’s exactly the same thing Brett and Shelby were gonna do, use my vote until they didn’t need me anymore and then bam, get rid of me. So like, why am I gonna turn on Jamie, who has been nothing but respectful and friendly and trustworthy to me over the last six days?
“Friendship isn’t loyalty,” Shelby counters. “For example, I spent a long time working in the corporate world. I was put in situations where I could have given promotions or raises to people who I liked, but that wasn’t my job. Those benefits went to the employees who proved their worth to the company.”
“Right,” Jordyne says, “and Jamie has proved his worth to me by being my friend, because this isn’t the corporate world, Shelby.”
“Gavin, does Jordyne have a point? Are trust and friendship the same thing?”
“Uh, kind of, I think,” Gavin says. “Like high school wasn’t that long ago for me, and this just kind of brings me back sometimes, honestly. Like you’d hear stories all the time from people who would act like friends in person and then they’d be texting people behind each other’s back about how much they hated each other. But like, the kids who openly hated you to your face weren’t texting people behind your back about how they secretly thought you were super cool. Does that make sense?”
“Sure,” Jeff says. “You agree with that, Jamie?”
“I mean, I guess if I was talking about Jordyne behind her back in a negative light, why would I bring that up here?” Jamie laughs. “Yeah, you could make the argument that me and Andrew are ‘using’ Jordyne, but you could make the argument she used us to get rid of Brett. You could make the argument everyone in this whole darn game is just trying to use each other to some effect, the question is how successful are you at doing it without getting caught? Jordyne could decide she’s done with me tonight, and I could be going home.”
“With all due respect, Jamie–is that something you’re really worried about happening?”
Jamie pauses and thinks for a long time. “No,” he finally says.
“Well, I think now would be a perfect time, Jamie, to find out if you’re right about that. It’s time to vote. Gavin, you’re up.”
Gavin, Andrew, Shelby, Jamie, and Jordyne all vote.
Jeff heads off to collect the urn.
“Once the votes are read,” Jeff begins, “the person voted out will be asked to leave the Tribal Council area immediately.”
Gavin looks at Shelby, tears in his eyes, and then looks away. Shelby clasps his hand. “It’s okay,” she whispers.
“I’ll read the votes,” says. “First vote…
“Shelby. That’s two votes Andrew, one vote Shelby.”
“Shelby. We’re tied, two votes Shelby, two votes Andrew, one vote left.”
“The sixth person voted out of Survivor: India…
“Andrew. Andrew, I need you to bring me your torch.”
Gavin whoops in elation. Shelby covers her mouth in shock. Andrew and Jamie both turn to stare at Jordyne, who only stares straight ahead into the fire.
“Hey, you know what? No hard feelings,” Andrew says, standing and grabbing his things. He brings his torch to Jeff. For the first time in days, he seems at peace.
“Andrew, the Tribe has spoken,” Jeff says, snuffing his torch. “It’s time for you to go.” The Captain nods and makes his way out of the temple and out of the game.
“You’ve got some explaining to do, young lady,” Jamie says, his arms crossed in disapproval.
“This game challenges your ability to trust others. Sometimes, the people you think you can count on are plotting behind your back. Perhaps others, the people you least expect will fight for your life. That’s why no matter how down and out things may seem, you should never, ever stop fighting. Grab your torches, head back to camp. Goodnight.”
Ten remain. Who will be the next to go?