PREVIOUSLY ON… SURVIVOR!
After receiving Andrew’s vote at the first Tribal Council, Brock was outraged, and Andrew began to realize that being the leader in Survivor may not be all it’s cracked up to be. He tried to backpedal from the amount of responsibility he had taken on, and his efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Best buds Jamie and Marco began to worry about their ability to trust Andrew, who was sent to Exile Island after Saap lost reward to Bandar.
With a tarp in their possession on Bandar, Brett was able to build a fire shelter, but not everyone was won over by his work ethic. Jordyne in particular found him difficult to deal with as she built social bonds with her tribemates. As Gavin and Jordyne bonded, Brett became wary of Jordyne in return, and attempted to warn Gavin of Jordyne’s manipulative ways–but he was rebuffed by the game’s youngest player for his condescending approach.
Saap continued their losing streak when Bandar won immunity. Ryan tried to target Andrew by suggesting he could have found an idol on Exile Island, but her transparent politicking made others, Vanessa in particular, wary to trust her. Vanessa tried to bond with Brock by inviting him to play cards with her and Irene, but things quickly went awry, leading to a heated conflict where Brock crossed a major line. Jamie and Marco found themselves the swing votes, and while they felt Andrew was a threat, Brock’s negativity and nastiness made him too much of a burden to bear, and he was voted out.
Fourteen remain. Who will be voted out tonight?
It’s a new day as the Saap Tribe begins to stir and start moving around camp.
“I’ll get water,” Ryan offers. “Anyone else coming?”
There is silence and lots of eyes connecting back and forth, though nobody speaks. “Uh, um, give me a moment,” Marco eventually replies. “I’m still waking up… uh, you wanna just take the one for now and I’ll get the other in a bit?”
“Yeah, alright. Sure,” Ryan says, taking one of the water jugs. Vanessa watches to make sure she’s safely out of the campsite before she speaks.
“Since when does Ryan ever offer to go get water?” she asks the group.
As Ryan heads off, alone, she turns to the camera. “I’m not surprised nobody wanted to come with, you know? They probably have to talk about voting me out next.”
“So before she gets back,” Andrew says, “we’re all on board with each other? Ryan next?”
“What do you think?” asks Vanessa.
“I’m just making sure,” Andrew says. “I don’t want any funny business. Next tribal council? We all write down R-Y-A-N.”
Down at the well, Ryan begins filling the water jug.
Up at the camp, Marco pus his shoes on and grabs the other water jug. “Are you really going down there?” Vanessa asks. “Make her do it.”
“I said I would and I meant it,” Marco says.
“I’m just saying, she’s going to be doing whatever she thinks will keep her here. Why not just ride the workhorse?”
“Suit yourself, boo,” Vanessa says.
“Marco, I’ll come with,” Jamie offers.
“You catch how quick Captain was up there?” Marco asks Jamie.
“He’s just making me nervous, bro,” Marco continues. “He’s so defensive when he doesn’t need to be that it just makes you think–”
“–That he’s got something to hide,” Jamie finishes.
“Yeah,” Marco agrees. “Exactly, dude. “Like, I think it’s obvious Ryan is next. We don’t need to talk about it so much. Why we gotta talk about it so much unless something else is going down?”
Singing can be heard coming from the Bandar camp. Most of the tribe sits either at the fire on in the shelter. Standing in front of them all is River. She sings an aria, “Vissi d’arte.”
“Beautiful,” whispers Shelby as River sings. Even Rex seems enraptured, for once content not to be the center of attention. Mathieu’s eyes are misty. Brett nods in approval. There is a moment of silence as River finishes singing. Her tribemates applaud.
“Your voice is amazing, River,” compliments Mathieu.
“Seriously,” says Marina. “Thank you so much for singing for us.”
“It’s my pleasure. It brings me peace,” River says.
“What opera was that from?” asks Gavin. “I only think I’ve heard of Carmen.”
“Tosca, by Puccini,” River explains. “It’s a very heavy story. There is a lot of manipulation. All the main characters die.”
“Yikes,” says Rex. “Glad I’m not a main character.”
“What about Carmen?” Gavin again inquires. “Do you know that one?”
“The whole opera? Goodness no. But I’m sure you know it’s most famous aria.”
As Brett uses an axe to split logs for the fire, a montage begins of the Bandar Tribe working around camp. Down at the river, Shelby washes out a cooking pot. Rex uses a makeshift broom to sweep around the camp. Marina pours rice into the cooking pot. Gavin uses a knife to snap a piece of twine. The sounds of their tool use begin to overlap in time. Soon, they begin to come together as the familiar melody of Bizet’s Habanera, as River begins to sing the iconic aria.
As River sings, Jordyne stands and begins swaying her hips to the music, dancing to the seductive tune. She closes her eyes as her arms snake over her head. Gavin’s eyes trail over her bare midriff down to her winding hips. He quickly averts his eyes before she can catch his gaze.
Dancing towards Marina, River extends her hand to pull her friend up from her seat in the shelter. Self-conscious, Marina nevertheless gives in and begins to dance as well, her movements much more stilted and awkward than Jordyne’s.
River completes the aria. Once again, the tribe applauds.
Marina and Jordyne walk together in the jungle.
“There are some flowers here, Jojo,” Marina says.
“Oh, good eye. They’re lovely.”
“There are some good ones here too,” Marina says.
“I’m glad I have you to be my jungle guide,” Jordyne says.
“Oh, like I know any more where to find flowers in a jungle than you do,” Marina says. “Like this is something either of us do in our spare time.”
“So I was thinking,” Jordyne says as she picks flowers, “that we should lock things down, you and me.”
“How so?” Marina asks.
“Like I think we’ve probably both been thinking it so I just wanna say it and make sure we’re on the same page that like, you and me? We’re together in this game, ride or die. We take this to the end.”
“Uh, hell yes? Marina and Jordyne Take India? I’d see that movie.”
“Yesss! Pinky swear though.”
“Oh my god, really? Sure, why not?” Marina says as the two women lock pinky fingers.
“You and I are gonna destroy this bitch, just watch,” Jordyne says. “Plus I want us to be the final two because you know Brett’s head will explode if a woman wins this.”
“Brett’s head will explode if anyone who isn’t him wins, are you kidding me?” Marina says with a laugh.
“Well,” Jordyne says, “I guess Brett’s head will explode then.” The two laugh.
Rex approaches the Tree Mail station and opens the basket, pulling out a booklet of cards along with a scroll. “Well this is a little different, huh?” he says.
“Take this tome and study well
The myths of this land most old;
Learn of devas and asuras
In the stories that are told;
Drink from the waters of knowledge,
Earn the highest score,
And may the waters of your home
reveal the treasures that they store.”
Back up at the camp, Shelby holds the book and flips through. Gavin looks over one shoulder, while Mathieu peers over the other.
“This canon has quite the complexity, doesn’t it,” Shelby marvels.
“I thought I was getting away from having to study,” groans Gavin.
“Which three goddesses constitute the Tridevi?” tests Shelby, looking through the book as she sits across from Gavin at the fire pit.
“Oh gosh. Okay um, Lakshmi? Uh, Sara… Saraswavi?”
“Saraswati,” Shelby corrects.
“I thought Kali was Parvati.”
“Where’s River?” asks Brett as he approaches Shelby and Gavin.
“Haven’t seen her since this morning,” Gavin tells him.
“It’s not right,” Brett says. “Not only is she not studying, but now someone else has to waste their time finding her.”
“Maybe she’s doing something productive. Getting firewood or something?” Shelby suggests.
“Do you think that’s why she disappears into the jungle? To collect firewood? She never comes back with firewood, does she?”
“Maybe she has a secret bunker,” Rex suggest. “or a Treehouse. Where she nurses orphan tiger cubs. She’s training them to kill us all in our sleep, that’s how she’s going to win.”
“Stop joking, Rex,” chastises Shelby. “You’re bad at it.”
“I’ll go find her,” offers Mathieu.
At a secluded part of the shoreline, River kneels in the water, her hands bound in prayer. Around her hands is wrapped her mother’s locket. A crown of vibrant flowers adorns her head.
River finishes praying and raises, only to be startled by Mathieu, waiting behind her. “Oh!” gasps River.
“I did not mean to startle you. I felt it was best not to interrupt.”
“I appreciate that Mathieu. Thank you.”
“You’ve been crying,” notes Mathieu. “Care to talk?”
“My mother has cancer, Mathieu. I’m sorry for keeping it a secret.”
“You owe me no apologies. That information is yours to share and no one else’s. Is it… late stage?”
“Not yet,” River sighs, “but it’s pancreatic. Her projected survival rate is… not good.”
“Oh River,” Mathieu says, genuinely sympathetic. “I’m so sorry to hear that,” Mathieu says, reaching to hug her. In Mathieu’s arms, River once again begins to cry.
The twosome take a seat along the riverbank, dipping their feet in the water.
“When I applied to play Survivor, I was touring in South America,” River says to Mathieu, “but I came home the moment my mom got the diagnosis. I knew I had to be with her. But then they called me to say they wanted me for the show… I didn’t know what to do. And my mom said to me ‘River, you always do what you want, and nobody has ever been able to change that to be otherwise.’ She encouraged me to take a chance. It’s once in a lifetime, an opportunity like this, she said. And I thought about how much the money could help…”
“I think you did the right thing, River. What will mean the most to your mother in this time is if you follow her wishes, and she’s wishing for you to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. I can only imagine how hard it is for you to be away, unsure of how things are… but remember this. Your physical presence at her side is not going to impact her illness either way. What will impact her chances of recovery is her attitude, her outlook. A positive outlook is proven to help, they’ve studied it. And your mother will feel the most positively if she knows that you are staying true to yourself and following your dreams.”
River stares out across the water. A bird skims the surface, snatching a fish.
“Thank you, Mathieu. I can only hope the doctors helping her as a kind as you.”
“Well I am not an oncologist, so I doubt I would be working on your mother’s case,” Matheiu says with a laugh. “But thank you.”
“The Avatars of Vishnu,” Irene begins, seated on a log next to the campfire. She begins to strum a simple tune on her guitar.
“Krishna and Buddha; Rama and Kurma; Par-sh-ra-ma; Nar-a-sim-ha,” Irene sings.
“We better not be asked that,” Vanessa says, continuing to flip through the book of mythology. “Why does one guy have to have all those names?”
“Avatars,” corrects Jamie. “Shiva’s got a thousand names, just be glad we don’t have to know that.”
Vanessa collapses backwards into the shelter. “Ugh! Who came up with this?”
“Hindus, I think,” Marco says.
“Marco if you want to make it home to those baby girls of yours you better shut that smart mouth,” Vanessa threatens jokingly.
Jamie holds the booklet, quizzing Ryan.
“Shiva is the destroyer. He’s married toooo…. Parvati, goddess of love and fertility, their children aaaaree… Kartikeya? The god of war, and Ganesha, the god of beginnings…”
As Ryan practices, Andrew is listening and suddenly gets a glint in his eye.
“You got it,” Jamie tells Ryan with a smile, as he high-fives her. Ryan grins broadly.
The tribe gathers their belongings as they prepare to head off for the challenge. “Make sure you bring anything you’d want at Exile Island,” reminds Andrew to the group. “You know, just in case.”
“Come on in guys!”
Bandar is the first tribe to enter. The challenge arena is smaller than usual. A shrine sits on a small lake in the distance. Two podiums stand before Jeff. Brett carries the flag.
“Bandar, getting your first look at the new Saap Tribe,” Jeff says as Saap makes their entrance. “Brock voted out at the last tribal council.” Marina covers her mouth, shocked. Gavin and Jordyne exchange surprised looks. Andrew places the Saap Tribe flag, and Jeff addresses the castaways.
“Marina, there was a pretty strong reaction to who was voted out.”
“Well absolutely,” Marina says. “We thought Brock was one of their strongest members. I guess it just goes to show you really don’t know what’s going on there, you can only guess.”
“Well, hopefully you won’t be doing a lot of guessing today. Here’s how it works. One at a time, one member from each tribe will step up to the podium and be asked a question about Hindu mythology. You will write your answer on your answer board and reveal at the same time. If you get it right, you score a point for your tribe. I’ll ask ten questions, which means that two members of Bandar and four members of Saap will be going twice. The tribe with the most points at the end of ten rounds wins reward. Wanna know what you’re playing for?”
The castaways answer in the affirmative.
Jeff pulls the cover from the table to reveal a basket loaded with fishing supplies. The applause is almost instantaneous.
“Fishing gear. You’ve got everything you’ll need here. A spear, two fishing poles, line, hooks, tackle, and a net. This should change your lives around camp significantly by bringing in more food. In addition, the winning tribe will send one member of the losing tribe to Exile Island, where they will remain until the next immunity challenge. Worth playing for?”
“Absolutely!” cheers Jamie.
“Alright. I’ll give you a moment to strategize, and we’ll get started.”
“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”
“First up: For Bandar, Shelby. For Saap, Ryan. Ready for your first question?”
Q1- Together, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva form a trinity with what name?
The two women both quickly jot their answers.
“Alright, reveal your answers. Shelby says ‘Trimurti’; Ryan says ‘Trimurti,’ you are both correct. That’s a point for both Saap and Bandar.”
Mathieu and Andrew take their places at the podium.
Q2- Which goddess is the wife of Shiva?
Mathieu writes quickly, though Andrew appears unconcerned to be apparently stumped.
“Reveal your answers. Andrew has ‘Ganesha,’ that is not correct, sorry Andrew. Mathieu, however has ‘Parvati,’ that is correct. Bandar leads, 2-1. Next up, Irene, for Saap, Gavin for Bandar.”
Q3- Of what is Aryani the goddess?
Irene answers with confidence fairly quickly. Gavin takes a moment to think visibly.
“Reveal your answers. Gavin took a bit of time, his answer was ‘forest’; Irene has ‘the forest,’ congratulations, you both score. Bandar keeps the lead with 3-2.”
Next to try their hand are River and Jamie.
Q4- Which deity rides a giant bird called Garuda?
Jamie has his answer almost instantly, a smile on his face. River sighs, and writes something.
“Answers please. River, you put ‘Brishna,’ that is not correct. Jamie has ‘Vishnu,’ and that is correct, meaning we are now tied at 3-3. Next round!”
Marco steps up for Saap; Rex for Bandar.
“I don’t mean to intimidate you, but I was a Hindu god in a past life,” Rex says.
“Uh. Okay,” Marco says, clearly not sure how to respond.
Q5- The Warrior God Indra carries a lightningbolt as his weapon. What is this weapon called?
“Oh, I knew this one,” Marco sighs, taking a moment to think. Rex starts writing rather quickly.
“Reveal your answers,” Jeff commands. “Marco has written ‘Varaha,’ that is not correct. Rex has written… I’m not sure what that says.”
“This is the correct answer in Hindi, Jeff.”
“I’m going to assume that you don’t know the answer then?”
“Maybe I do and this is a part of my plan.”
“Well Rex’s plan may have succeeded, but as for this round, neither of you score. Indra’s weapon is called Vajra. We’re still tied at 3 points each. Brett, Vanessa, you’re up.”
Q6- Vishnu has many forms, called Avatars. What form does the Avatar Kurma take?
Brett and Vanessa both take a moment to think it over before writing their answers.
“Reveal. Brett says ‘turtle,’ Vanessa says ‘half-man, half-fish.’ The correct answer is that Kurma is a tortoise, Brett, I’ll accept your answer, that puts Bandar in the lead with 4 points to Saap’s 3. It’s not over yet. Saap, you’re now starting from the beginning again, so Ryan, you’re up against Marina.”
Q7- The fire god Agni appears simultaneously on earth in three different forms–fire, lightning, and what?
Ryan once again seems to get hers quickly. Marina takes a moment before writing her response.
“Reveal those answers. Marina, you said ‘lava,’ Ryan has ‘the sun.’ One of you is right, and that is Ryan. Good work, that means once again we’re tied up, 4 all.”
Jordyne is the last member of Bandar to take her first turn. She goes up against Andrew.
Q8- Parvati has two sons. Name one.
Both stop to think for a moment before answering.
“Reveal. Once again, we have two different answers. Jordyne says ‘Ganesha,’ Andrew has ‘Narashima.’ Jordyne, this time it’s Bandar that scores. The score is now 5-4.”
Shelby steps up for her second round, followed by Irene from Saap.
Q9- How many faces does Lord Brahma have?
Both women jot their answers almost instantly.
“That was quick, let’s see if you’ve remembered correctly, reveal. Both of you have 4, both of you are correct, both of you score. We are at 6-5. That means Mathieu, if you get this last question correct, Bandar wins, regardless of what answer you have, Jamie. If Jamie gets it right and Mathieu gets it wrong, we’ll go to a tie breaker. Ready for your final question?
Q10- Who is depicted by the Immunity Idol?
Jamie takes a moment to think and he puts his answer. Mathieu seems to write forever.
“Reveal. Jamie, you have ‘Nataraja (Shiva),’ that is correct, which ties the scores, but Mathieu, you have also put ‘Shiva,’ that is correct, congratulations…
“BANDAR! WINS REWARD!”
“Another close challenge, and another victory for Bandar. Congratulations Bandar Tribe,” Jeff says. “Before you get to using this stuff,” he says, patting the basket of fishing gear, “you’ll need to choose one member of Saap to send to Exile.”
“Why ruin a good thing?” Brett says with a grin. “Head on out, Andrew.”
“Alright, Andrew, come on over. Hopefully you’ll still need this map,” Jeff says, handing Andrew a scroll.
“I haven’t learned my way just yet. Give me another week,” Andrew laughs, as he heads off.
“Bandar, great work. Come on up, get your fishing supplies, you can head out.” Jordyne grabs the spear while Mathieu takes the basket.
“Saap? Got nothing for you except a recommendation that whatever is holding you back–figure it out. You guys can head back to camp.”
“Never did I think Exile Island could look so beautiful,” Andrew says to himself as he crosses the rope bridge over the rapids to the island.
Andrew approaches the statue of Ganesha, a smile on his face. “Good to see you, buddy,” he says, taking the awaiting scroll.
“Clue 3,” he reads. “’To find an idol, use the Idol; but aver his holy gaze. When he isn’t watching, from earth below your gift will raise.’ It’s exactly as I thought.” Andrew stands behind the statue of Ganesha, his back to the sculpture.
“One,” be begins counting.
“Ten,” Andrew finishes, standing paces away from the statue. “I guess this is the spot.” He begins digging, and the music swells the deeper he gets.
“Oh man, oh man!” he exclaims. “There’s something down here!” He plucks a package from the ground, a huge smile crossing his face.
“Oh man, this is it! This is the hidden immunity idol!” Andrew exclaims, unwrapping the package. “And it’s mine!”
“Congratulations! You have found the Hidden Immunity Idol,” Andrew reads from the scroll accompanying the bejeweled pendant. “By redeeming this idol to the host of the game after the votes are cast but before they are read you will activate the idol’s powers, granting yourself saftey for three more days. Beware the idol will lose it’s powers at the end of the 36th day.”
The Saap Tribe arrives back at camp after their most recent in a string of challenge losses.
“I want to die, dude,” Marco groans. “I’m sorry, gang. If I had gotten mine right we’d have been able to tie it up.”
“You’re not the only one,” laments Vanessa.
“It could have been any of us. I didn’t know the answer to some of the other questions. It was just the luck of the draw,” Jamie sighs.
“Don’t beat yourself up,” Ryan says to the group, “Neither of you volunteered to answer two questions and then got them wrong on purpose.”
“What are you talking about?” asks Irene.
“The Captain?” Vanessa asks.
“I’m just saying, I can’t be the only one who noticed, you know?” Ryan says.
“You’re not,” says Marco. “I just didn’t want to be the one to say it.”
“Y’all ain’t the only ones,” Jamie chimes in.
“You’re not just saying this to back your boy up, right?” Vanessa ask Jamie, pointing towards Marco.
“I wouldn’t pull your leg, Ness.”
Vanessa puts her face in her hands. “What happened to him being our leader?” she sighs.
“Do you all really think the Captain would do that?” Irene asks. One by one, Jamie, Ryan, Marco and Vanessa all turn to look at her.
“It’s just… why?” Irene asks.
“He wanted to go back to Exile Island,” Ryan says. “I bet you he couldn’t find that idol last time. There’s a new clue each time, so he wanted to go back, get that new clue, and get that idol and he was willing to throw all,” she says, pointing with both fingers at her tribemates, “of us under the bus to get it.”
Jamie says nothing, but just looks at the ground, despondent. Irene goes to make eye contact with Vanessa, but Vanessa turns away.
“Well,” Jamie says, breaking the silence, “as long as we bring our A-Game and win immunity tomorrow, idols and what-not won’t matter none.”
Bandar comes down the path from their camp to the river carrying their newly won fishing supplies.
“There it is!” Exclaims Shelby, pointing to the boat, sitting at the water’s edge.
“Who’s coming out with me to test this puppy out?” Brett says, patting the hull of the boat. “Gavin?”
“I’ll pass for now, thanks,” Gavin says.
“I’m game,” Marina offers.
“I’d like to come,” adds Mathieu.
Brett, Marina and Mathieu head out into the water. Mathieu pumps an oar in the back. “Here. We’ll try this spot,” Brett says, holding a hand out to signal stopping.
The three of them sit in the boat for a while, Marina and Brett each holding a line and a spool while Mathieu mans the oar.
“Oh! That’s something I think,” Marina says, giving the line a tug. She starts reeling it in.
“That’s not how you wanna do that, sweetheart,” says Brett. “Your fixin’ to lose that fish.” He reaches for her line.
“I’ve got it Brett!” Marina cries, continuing to pull.
“Stop distracting her, Brett,” chides Mathieu.
Sure enough, Marina pulls the hook out to reveal a small fish, flopping lamely at the end.
“Hey hey hey!” Mathieu exclaims as Brett reaches to take the fish off the hook.
“Not much meat on this little guy,” Brett says, furrowing his brow.
“Sor-ry. I’ll be sure to put a note next time saying ‘big fish only,” Marina grumbles.
“Don’t take an attitude with me, young lady. I was only making a point.”
“Gosh, never mind, sorry Brett. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“I got another one!” Marina says, smiling broadly. She puts this next fish–significantly larger than the first–into the boat with the four other fish she’s caught so far. Brett sits waiting, clealry bored, his chin resting on his hand as he stares blankly into space, barely reacting to Marina.
“We’re going to eat like kings tonight, Marina,” says Mathieu with a smile.
“And that mean’s immunity is as good as ours tomorrow,” she says, giving Matheiu a high five. Mathieu turns towards the shore and holds his hand up, spreading five wingers widely.
“That’s five!” exclaims Shelby to Gavin from the bank. The two of them sit together in the shallows, watching as the others fish.
“I wish I was out there,” Gavin laments.
“Why didn’t you go?” asks Shelby. “There’s more than enough room in that boat for another person.”
“Yeah, but I can go another time. When Brett’s not going.”
“Gavin, you can’t take him to heart like that. Brett trusts you, I can promise that to you. Please have some patience with him.”
“That’s easy for you to say, Shelby. You’re the only one here he actually shows respect to. He even talks to Rex like he’s talking to a kid, and I’m pretty sure Rex is older than him, not that he’ll ever tell us his real age.”
“He’s trying Gavin, just please, keep that in mind. We’ve got to stay unified.”
“Yeah, I know,” Gavin says with a sigh.
“Come on in guys!”
The two tribes of castaways enter the challenge area. Near them is a wide, open field, pockmarked with trees and lush with tall grass. Huge puzzle boards stick out from the greenery. At the end of the field closets to the castaways stand two tall towers, one in gold and one in green. An empty frame sits at the bottom of each.
“We’ll now bring in Andrew, returning from Exile Island.”
Andrew walks into the clearing, a smile on his face.
“I’m glad to be back,” he says with a smile as his tribe embraces him.
“How was it, Andrew? This was your second time there, make it any easier?”
“Well yeah, the being alone part, you get used to that. But that idol, Jeff? I don’t know where you hid it but that’s
“You guys ready to get to today’s immunity challenge? First things first–Jordyne, give it up.”
“Aw, but we make such a cute couple,” Jordyne says, fake pouting as she hands Jeff the idol.”
“Once again, immunity is back up for grabs.”
“For today’s challenge, one person will be your caller. The other tribe members will be blindfolded. Using only verbal commands, the caller must direct their other tribe members to collect fifteen puzzle pieces scattered in this field. Once you have all your pieces, take off your blindfolds, and and the entire tribe works together to solve the puzzle. First tribe to complete their puzzle wins Immunity. Bandar, you’re sitting two people out. You can’t sit the same people out in back to back challenges. Since last challenge involved the whole tribe, we’ll go to the one before, which means River, you must compete.” River nods.
“We’ll sit this one out,” Marina says, putting her arm around Gavin’s shoulder.
“Marina, Gavin, take a seat on the bench. Everyone else–I’ll give you a moment to strategize, and we’ll get started.”
The castaways stand around the field, blindfolded. “For Saap, the caller is going to be Vanessa. Calling for Bandar we have Brett.”
“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”
“Andrew, start walking forward keep going straight forward, you will hit it. Jamie! To your left!” Vanessa yells.
Brett begins directing his tribe as well. “REX! TO YOUR RIGHT, NOW STOP!” Brett’s voice booms. “PICK THAT UP! IN FRONT OF YOU! YOUR OTHER FRONT!”
“Good job Captain, keep it coming, follow my voice follow my voice follow my voice!” Shouts Vanessa.
“Saap on the board first with their first piece.”
The challenge continues as the blindfolded castaways stumble around the field, collecting piece by piece. The scores soon begin go climb, Saap leading with 8. Brett’s voice rips like a cannon through the atmosphere.
“SHELBY! STOP. 45 DEGREES LEFT! LEFT! LEFFFFFFFTTTTTT!” Shelby trips over the piece that Brett is directing her towards. She seems momentarily dazed, but manages to recover.
“Keep it going guys!” Vanessa encourages. “Marco baby, turn around, you’re going the wrong way!”
“Vanessa, louder, I can’t hear you!” calls Irene.
“I’m talking to Marco, Irene, stay still for now! Everyone not Marco, stop moving!”
“Vanessa trying to regain control of her tribe!” Jeff comments.
“COME. TO THE MAT. YES. FOLLOW MY VOICE. COME,” Brett shouts, as Jordyne drops off another piece.
“Jordyne brings Bandar’s ninth puzzle piece, and that puts them in the lead! They’ve now surpassed Saap.”
“We still got this! IRENE! Reach in front of you, walk slooooow!” calls Vanessa.
Irene trips and falls flat on her face.
“That’s okay girl, you’re good, shake it off, grab that piece, yeah! That’s my girl, follow my voice!” Vanessa calls to Irene, who is hurrying as fast as she can while blindfolded and carrying a large puzzle piece.
“MATHIEU! THREE MORE STEPS TO YOUR LEFT. TURN 45 DEGREES TO YOUR RIGHT! FORWARD! RIVER, STOP, YOU’RE GOING TO–”
The puzzle board River is carrying clocks Mathieu on the head.
“Oh my god, sorry!” River shrieks. She manages to make it out with her puzzle piece.
“Bandar only has two more pieces to go!”
“VANESSA, I CAN’T HEAR YOU! SPEAK UP!” Jamie shouts.
“JAMIE! JAMIE GO TO YOUR RIGHT! SMALL STEPS!”
“WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR SMALL STEPS,” Jamie cries, as he walks face first into a tree.
“Ouch,” comments Gavin from the sidelines.
“It looks like Rex has the final piece for Bandar, if he can get it back.
“COME ON YOU CRAZY OLD MAN! GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!!! HUSTLE! HUSTLE! HUSTLE!”
Rex stumbles as he hits the pile of other pieces.
“Bandar, blindfolds off you can start working! Saap has fallen behind, still with two pieces to go!”
“WE CAN STILL CATCH UP!” Shouts Vanessa. “FASTER RYAN! CAPTAIN STOP! TURN TO YOUR LEFT JUST A LITTLE AND GOOOOO!”
“Ryan brings back the fourteenth piece for Saap!”
“COME ON ANDREW!” shouts Vanessa.
“Bandar has made very little progress on this puzzle so far, Saap can still catch up!”
The Bandar puzzle mat has a few boards in place but they are clearly guesses. “I have no idea what it’s supposed to be,” Brett says, able to see the image best from atop the calling tower.
“Try putting that one here,” Shelby directs Jordyne, gesturing to the piece she’s already carrying.
“COME ON ANDREW! Vanessa calls. Andrew delivers the last piece and Saap tears their blindfolds off.”
“We can do this guys, come on! Jamie encourages.
“Ryan, take that one piece and put it at the bottom,” Vanessa suggests.
“And this matches it, I think,” says Marco.
“Saap is making quick progress, getting themselves back into the game. Bandar is starting to slow down.”
“Shelby, I don’t think that’s right,” Rex says.
“Are you being serious right now Rex? I can never tell!” Shelby snaps
“He’s right Shelby, we have to switch these two,” Jordyne says.
“This guy has too many faces,” Rex groans.
“Irene places another piece for Saap, Ryan right behind! Could this be the day Saap has been hoping for?”
“Oh, I think I get it!” Vanessa cries from atop the tower. “Push evertything up a little, make room at the bottom–”
“For this!” exclaims Ryan, taking the next two pieces and placing them at the bottom as Jamie and Marco frantically remove and replace pieces.
“Brett, can you see theirs?” asks Shelby.
“It’s a guy with four faces, we know that already!” Brett yells.
“Saap, down to their last few pieces!” Jeff announces.
Ryan places the final piece.
“JEFF, IS THIS IT?” she yells.
Jeff runs over to check.
“SAAP! WINS IMMUNITY!”
Vanessa leaps off the tower into Jamie’s outstretched arms as he catches her in a tight hug and twirls her around. Marco and Irene hug tightly and jump up and down. Andrew cheers and pumps his fist. Ryan collapses in relief. The jubilation in the air around the downtrodden green tribe is palpable.
On the gold side of the course, the faces seem bitter, cold, and unhappy. Brett spits in disgust.
“Saap, this is something I’m sure you’ve been more than eager to get a taste of,” Jeff says smiling broadly as he grabs the idol from its rest. “Who wants it?”
Smiling Vanessa steps forward to take it. She pulls it close and kisses it on the head. The other tribe members each put a hand on it.
“For the first time in this game, Saap, you’ve got the night off. You guys can head back to camp.”
The green tribe heads out, leaving Bandar awkwardly standing at the mat.
“Bandar, a different story for you. Tonight, you’ve got your first date with me at Tribal Council. One of you is going home. You have the afternoon to think it over. Grab your stuff, head back to camp. I’ll see you tonight.”
The mood has changed notably in the Bandar camp as the tribe returns from the Immunity Challenge. The unexpected defeat has clearly permeated the mood.
“JoJo, wanna come with me and get firewood?” Marina asks. With a nod from Jordyne, it’s not long before the two of them vanish quickly from the campgrounds.
“Brett?” Marina asks.
“Brett,” Jordyne confirms.
“Ugh, I’m so glad you’re on the same page,” Marina says.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Jordyne says, laughing. “Brett f*cking hates me. I guarantee you he’s voting against me tonight, for sure.”
“Well,” Marina says, “he’ll be throwing his vote away then, because I promise you, you’re not going anywhere.”
“Reens, I hope for my sake you’re right.”
Jordyne and Marina talk with Rex, who is listening as thoughtfully as he can while he scrubs his teeth with a stick.
“We,” Jordyne says, gesturing to herself and Marina, “are voting against Brett tonight. I thought you’d like to know.”
“Knowing is half the battle,” Rex responds. “GI Joe.”
Jordyne stifles an eye roll.
“Would you be interested in joining us?” asks Marina.
“Well young lady, let’s ask the Magic 8 Ball, shall we?” Rex says. He mimes holding a sphere and shakes his empty hands up and down before gazing into the “center.”
“It is decidedly so,” Rex says with a smile. He mimes chucking the ball over his shoulder. “And that’s because… I can’t stand him!”
“Shelby will never go for it,” Marina says.
“Shelby doesn’t have to,” says Jordyne. “but I bet Gavin will. And I haven’t wanted to push the subject with River, but I feel like I’ve started getting a little closer to her lately.”
“You think River will be down?” asks Marina.
“I think River will be down,” Jordyne confirms.
“Finally, Shelby. The Whore of Babylon is going to be out of our hair in just a few more hours,” Brett says as he and Shelby collect firewood.
“Well I can promise you where my vote is going, Brett, but–”
“But what? Your tone isn’t making me feel too comfortable, Shelby.”
“Who have you actually talked to who is going to vote against Jordyne tonight?”
“Mathieu said he will,” Brett said. “River, probably. Old Man Rex, I’d bet. Gavin, of course. Marina… she’s not gonna like it because she’s taken to Jordyne for whatever reason, but she’s a smart girl. She’ll come around when she realizes it’s for the best.”
“Brett,” says Shelby, far more sternly now. She puts her collection of wood down and stares Brett down.
“Open your eyes, Brett! The whole tribe on board to get Jordyne out, are you delusional? Marina will not vote for Jordyne! I don’t think Rex will vote for Jordyne. I don’t even know if we can be certain Gavin will vote for Jordyne.”
“He’s got a little crush on her, so what? If the boy knows what’s good for him he’ll do as he’s told.”
“I don’t know, Shelby,” Gavin says with a sigh as the two walk privately.
“I think your wisest move,” Shelby says, “is to vote Jordyne. I know you’re fond of her, Gavin, but this is a game. You have to use this,” Shelby says, tapping him on his head, “not this,” she says, tapping his chest. “As long as I am here, I promise that you will be safe, Gavin. I can’t make that promise if I don’t have the numbers, and I can’t have the numbers if I don’t have Brett.”
“I mean, I understand your point, I just… ugh. I wish I didn’t.”
“Think it over, Gavin. You have time. Just… please, promise me that you’ll listen to your head, and not your heart, okay? Whatever choice you make, make it because it’s the right choice for you. Don’t make your choice with feelings,” says Shelby.
“Would everyone mind coming over to the fire, since we’ve got everyone here?” River asks as she stands under the canopy, the roaring flame of the campfire dancing in front of her. The tribe gathers around River. Jordyne and Marina shared a confused look.
“I’ve…” River exhales heavily. “I’ve kept a secret from all of you.”
Gavin’s eyes go wide.
“Shes a lizard person,” whispers Rex in awe.
“My mother is… my mother… she has cancer. And, uh, it’s, it’s… she’s going to die. Probably, but it’s really not much of a chance. And uh…” she begins to choke up, tears welling in her eyes, “I’m really sorry for not letting you know sooner, I just didn’t want it to change how you saw me.”
“It’s okay, River,” Shelby assures. “It’s nobody’s business. Thank you for telling us when you were ready.”
“No, it is your business, because you all have been relying on me to be a member of this tribe, and my head has been thousands of miles away,” River says. “My mom told me to come out here, and I did because it’s what she wanted, but… I shouldn’t have. I should have listened to my heart. Not to my head.”
“River, you don’t have to do this,” Mathieu pleads.
“I know. I don’t have to do anything, but I want to. I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon. My time here is done. Vote for me tonight. Please.”
“River,” Jordyne says, now crying as well. “Oh River, please, don’t!”
“It’s a month left, you can do that,” Marina encourages.
“I’ve made up my mind. Thank you for your support. I want to stay, I really do, but I can’t,” cries River. “One day, I can come to see India again. These mountains, these forests, they will always be here. My mother won’t.”
Around the fire, most of the Bandar members are shedding tears. Gavin stands to offer River a warm hug.
At the back of the tent stands Brett, all but glaring.
“River, I’ll need to speak to you briefly,” Brett says to River as she stands at the shelter, packing her things. Brett pulls her briefly to the side of the camp.
“What’s up?” she asks.
“I firstly want to express my sincerest condolences for your situation. I understand the weight this must have had on you over the course of this last week.”
“Thank you, Brett. That means a lot. I’m just thankful that I’m going to be home soon. That way no matter what happens… at least I’m there to know.”
“You sound very certain this is for the best.”
“I wouldn’t have gathered everyone around and voiced my decision if I hadn’t already decided, Brett. Please, don’t try to talk me into staying.”
“That’s not what this is about,” Brett tells her. “Tonight, who will you be voting for?”
“Oh. Uh, you know, I hadn’t really thought of it. I was just kind of going to pick a name once I got there, honestly. Maybe just like, Mathieu? Someone who wouldn’t be at risk anyway. Someone who won’t be hurt by it.”
“Use your vote to punish Mathieu for not being a target? I can’t say I understand that logic.”
“It’s not about punishing anyone, I just have to vote. I don’t know, does it really matter?
“I would say it absolutely does,” Brett tells her, “because tonight you are giving someone else in this game a free pass that they otherwise wouldn’t be receiving, and I think that person should be at the very least given a warning shot so that they understand just how thin of ice they’re on. Would you agree?”
“I… who are you even talking about, Brett?”
“Who do you think I’m talking about? Who is the one person who has a negligible contribution to this tribe?”
“I don’t think anyone has had a ‘negligible’ contribution, Brett. Everyone has something to offer.”
“Jordyne. You will vote for Jordyne tonight. You will let her know that she is on borrowed time. You understand that by leaving tonight, she’s the person who you will save?”
“Brett, I really don’t have any problem with Jordyne, but I’m having a big problem with this conversation. Look, I asked you to vote for me but you’re an individual, do whatever the hell you want. If you want to vote for Jordyne so much you go ahead, Officer.”
With that, River walks off to continue collecting her things.
“The more I think about it, the more it’s clear. It doesn’t matter who River votes for,” Brett says to Shelby.
“Well I don’t see why it would, we’re all going to be voting for her. She could cast her vote for a rock if she wanted.”
“Are we all voting for her?”
“Yes, Brett, we are. She doesn’t want to stay here, Brett, her mother is dying! I don’t blame her. I’d do the same thing in her position.”
“See, though, here’s the thing, Shelby. I’m running the numbers. If us and Gavin and Mathieu all vote for Jordyne, she’s out of here. River will vote for whoever. So even if everyone else votes for River, it will be one vote whoever River votes, three votes River, four votes Jordyne, and her goose is cooked. She’s out of here.”
“You are relentless.”
“That’s how you have to be with criminals. You never give up the chase, you bring justice.”
“What grand language,” Shelby says.
The castaways gather their belongings as they head off into the thick of the woods, steadily marching towards Tribal Council.
Though the temple of Tribal Council has become familiar to the Saap Tribe, for Bandar, it is new. They enter sans torches. Gavin’s eyes widen as he looks up and down the statue of Kali, her sinister grimace peering over the chamber.
“Behind each of you is a torch,” Jeff tells them. “Grab a torch and approach the flame. Dip it in and get fire. This is part of the ritual of tribal council, because in this game, fire represents life. Once your fire is gone, so are you.”
Bandar does as instructed. Jordyne struggles briefly with hers. Their torches in place, the castaways take their seats.
“Well well, Bandar Tribe. Welcome to Tribal Counil. Good to finally see you here,” Jeff says with a smile.
“Thanks for having us,” Jordyne says.
“Well Jordyne, the pleasure is all mine. I think you’ll all come to find that Tribal Council is not a place you want to come if you can avoid it. This is where you answer to your actions in this game. When I call your name, you will head down that hallway,” Jeff says, gesturing, “and write down the name of the person you want to vote against. Say your piece, put your vote in the urn. When I read the votes, they will be final. So before that, we’re going to take a little time to talk things out. This is your final chance to defend yourself and plead your case as to why you deserve to stay in this game. I’ll start with you, Gavin. Surprised to be here tonight?”
“Uh, yes and no,” Gavin says. “I think it would have been really naive of us to just assume we were going to win absolutely everything, like we’d have been here sooner or later, logically I think we all know that… but you know, things were going so well. We were on a roll, and so to have that stop now just kind of blows.”
“Mathieu, what do you think caused that roll to come to a stop?” asks Jeff.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a very experienced outdoorsman in Brett, who has been largely responsible for the creation of our lovely camp,” Mathieu says, clapping Brett on the shoulder. “We’re sleeping well, we’re eating well, it’s not a matter of exhaustion. I think that today, we just did not happen to be the best. It happens. Nobody is perfect or wins all the time.”
“Brett, Mathieu says that losing could just happen to anybody. You were the caller in the challenge today. Does losing ever happen to you?”
“Of course Jeff,” Brett says. “Even the best cops don’t catch the bad guy every time. But today at the challenge? I know I did my part. We had a head start and that was all me. From there is where it fell apart. I don’t think you can point to any one person and say specifically that it was there fault. I agree with Mathieu, we just weren’t our best today.”
“So Jordyne, if you can’t point a finger and say ‘this person is why we’re here?’ What criteria do you use instead to decide who to vote for?”
“Oh, well, normally I think you have to think about who is helping you in this game. And that doesn’t just mean like, who can do really good in a challenge, or who can build a fire the fastest. That might be part of it but you also have to think about who you’re with. Who do I trust? Who am I aligned with? Who’s gunning for me?”
“You said ‘aligned,’” Jeff points out.
“Yeah, of course I did,” Jordyne says. “Alliances are definitely already forming. It’s been nine days, I think at this point people have a pretty good idea of who they trust and want to work with going forward, and who doesn’t benefit them later down the road.”
“Agree, Shelby? Have alliances formed?”
“I can’t speak for anyone else, Jeff, but I haven’t formally looked anyone in the eye and said ‘we are in an alliance with each other.’ I have those who I feel most confident I can trust, but to call those bonds of trust an alliance I believe would be inaccurate. You might want to think you’ve made an alliance, of course, and this is where those bonds are tested. We haven’t had to vote yet, so this is our first chance to test those bonds, and I do not believe I’m the only one nervous about the outcome.”
“So what it sounds like you’re saying, Shelby, is that if there are alliances, they’ll be revealed with this vote?”
“Well, in theory that’s what would happen, but I don’t think that’s going to happen tonight,” Shelby says.
“Yeah, that’s what I was trying to say,” Jordyne interjects.
“River,” Shelby continues, “has asked for the Tribe to vote for her this evening, and to my understanding, we will be honoring her wishes.”
“River, is this true? You gathered the tribe together said, ‘sorry, I can’t hack it, I want out?’”
River laughs softly. “It didn’t go down exactly like that, Jeff. Um, it’s not a question of if I can hack it or not. The conditions are hard, sure, but you adapt to those. I would never walk away from the game because it was too hard,” she insists. “The pain I’m feeling is not that of the hunger, or the cold, or the discomfort of the way the bamboo rests against your back,” she says. “I left my mother to come play Survivor, and she is suffering from pancreatic cancer. She’s in treatment, but the odds of survival are not good. I made a mistake by choosing to come play Survivor. I should have never left home. I’m asking to be voted out tonight so I can return to my family. I thank the Bandar Tribe for being my family out here, but my real family needs me more,” she says, once again being brought to tears. Next to her, Jordyne reaches over and rubs her back. “Trust me, Jeff, this isn’t how I want it to go, but I have to be honest with myself–my heart isn’t in the game. What’s the point in all the suffering if I’m not engaged in the first place? My tribemates all would love to stay. I can’t take take that from them when I don’t want it for myself.”
Jeff nods, pensively. “Mathieu, what’s your take on this?”
“My heart breaks for River,” Mathieu says. “As a doctor, this is a situation that isn’t unfamiliar to me, and it never becomes easy to see. You get better at handling it, but it doesn’t become easy to handle. I can’t hold it against River. I think she is showing her strength by making the choice that is best for her, despite knowing that some people will see her and say that she quit.”
“Rex,” Jeff says, “with all due respect to the gravity of River’s situation, for everyone else on this tribe this news is probably a little bittersweet. Would you agree?”
“Magic 8 Ball says ‘it is certain,’ Jeff,” Rex says with broad grin. “Yeah, it’s a free round for the rest of us. I will admit, despite my youthful charisma and beauty, I’m actually much older than I appear. Could I have gotten myself kicked out of here just for being the ‘old guy?’ Magic 8 Ball says ‘Ask Again Later.’”
“Jeff, it is absolutely a get out of jail free card for one person in particular on this tribe,” Brett says. “Someone was gonna be sent home. The votes were lined up to send that person home. That person was not River. And now that person is getting at least three more days that belong to someone else. So that person should probably be on their knees doing a lot of prayer these next few days.”
“Care to share who that person is?” Jeff asks.
“I don’t think that’s necessary,” Brett says. “I believe they know who they are.”
“Marina,” Jeff asks. “Any idea who Brett means?”
“Oh, for sure he’s talking about Jordyne. Not really a whole lot of love lost between those two. They’re just really different people. But uh, you know what, I don’t think Jordyne should be as, uh, thankful as Brett is implying. I can’t speak for anyone else but I wasn’t planning to vote for her, not at any point today, and nobody talked about doing it with me either.”
“Marina, that’s because we wanted to spare your feelings,” Brett says. “It’s clear you’ve got some sort of fondness for the girl. Why you do? I think that’s one of life’s great mysteries.” Jordyne snorts with laughter.
“Brett and I just don’t get along, and like, whatever. In reality that would be fine, you know he’d just do his thing and I’d do mine. But here, we have no choice because we’re on the same team. And he just refuses to even try, he’s just written me off as totally useless,” Jordyne says.
“If the glove fits,” Brett says.
“So Brett, it sounds like you’re saying you agree with Jordyne, and that you think she’s totally useless.”
“I don’t know why she’s here, Jeff. She can’t do sh*t, pardon my French. She’s a know nothing around camp, she’s worthless in challenges–”
“I’d like to point out that I got my question right at the reward challenge, Jeff,” Jordyne interjects.
“Well so did I, princess,” Brett snips in respond. “What, you think you should get an honorary degree for being able to answer a question?”
“I’m just saying that you said I’m worthless in challenges, but I did get my question right, so you’re wrong. You’re completely and totally wrong.”
“Gavin,” Jeff says, “Jordyne and Brett clearly don’t get along, but yet neither of them are leaving, if what you are all saying is to be trusted. What do you think needs to happen for that relationship to mend, or is it not possible?”
“I think it’s absolutely possible,” Gavin says, “and necessary. I don’t want to lose again. The more unity we have, the better we’ll do. I think that Brett honestly just needs to like, calm down and take some stuff a little less seriously. Loosen up.”
“And what about her?” Brett asks Gavin.
“I dunno, Brett. Look, honestly I think you’re the one pushing whatever issue is here more than Jordyne is.”
“I would agree with that,” Jordyne says with a smirk.
“And I would not agree. Everyone here has been trying their hardest to pull their weight except for Jordyne, and it’s been that way from the get go.”
“So Brett,” Jeff asks, “if Jordyne were to start working harder around camp, would that help to ease tensions?”
“Somewhat,” Brett says, “but truthfully I think it’s too late for her.”
“He’s making it sound like I’ve got some kind of disease,” Jordyne says. “Like I’m going to drop dead tomorrow. No offense,” she finishes, touching River on the shoulder.
“Marina,” Jeff continues, “there is also always the chance that River won’t be voted out tonight.”
“Yeah, I guess that chance is always there. Who knows? Maybe there are people who have their own agenda and they’re more determined to do that then to honor someone else’s request to return to their family, which I think is kind of messed up. But like, who knows? Maybe someone is thinking ‘oh, we can vote someone else out because River will quit anyway,’ and they’re one less person away from that million dollars. I have no idea, but I think it would be really pretty screwed up to not just, you know, do the right thing tonight.”
“Does everyone feel that they know what the right thing is?” Jeff asks.
“Well then, I can’t think of a more perfect way to lead into the vote. Mathieu, you’re up first.”
With all eight votes in, Jeff heads off to collect the urn. Mathieu rubs River on the shoulder. Brett stews in the silence. Jordyne stares into the flames.
“Once the votes are read,”Jeff says, returning with the voting urn, “the decision is final. The person voted out will be asked to leave the Tribal Council area immediately. I’ll read the votes.”
“First vote: Jordyne.”
“Second vote: River. That’s one vote Jordyne, one vote River.”
“Brett. One vote for Brett, Jordyne, and River.”
“River. That’s two votes River, one vote Brett, one vote Jordyne.”
“Brett. That’s two votes for Brett and River.”
“River. Three votes River, two votes Brett, one vote Jordyne.”
“The third person voted out of Survivor: India…”
“River. That’s 4 votes, tonight that’s enough, the remaining vote will remain a mystery. River, I need you to bring me your torch.”
River stands, as does the rest of the Bandar Tribe. One by one, they hug her goodbye. Gavin’s eyes swell with tears, the youngest player very clearly distraught. Brett however, is clearly distracted.
“River, the tribe has spoken,” Jeff says, snuffing her torch. “It’s time for you to go.”
“Thank you all so much for this experience,” River says, turning to address her tribemates a final time. “I wish nothing but the best for you all. Kick some butt for me, okay?”
“Will do,” says Mathieu, grinning.
River turns and proceeds out of the temple, bathed briefly in moonlight before vanishing into the darkness beyond.
“Your tribe opted to grant an emotionally suffering tribemate her wish,” Jeff says, “and yet for such a simple decision, it wasn’t a simple vote. This tribe has some rifts that sorely need fixing if they want to return to their throne as the top dogs in this game. You guys can grab your stuff and head back to camp. Goodnight.”
Thirteen remain. Who will be the next to go?