PREVIOUSLY ON… SURVIVOR!
After Marco’s exit, his closest ally, Jamie, found himself alone and on the outs. With his elimination impending, the other players started to plan ahead. Despite feeling unsure about her choice to target her one-time ally, Irene forged ahead, as she and Jordyne committed to a final 2 deal. Both women saw the other as someone they could reasonably beat for the title when it came to the end of the game. But Irene was wary of Jordyne’s desire to keep Gavin, given his loyalty to Jordyne.
At the reward challenge, the castaways were shocked with the biggest prize yet–a chance to have a loved one from home spend the night at camp. Mathieu surged ahead of the pack to claim the prize, but was hit with a surprise decision to make. Jeff revealed to him that he could forfeit his visit with his sister and instead head to Exile Island. By doing so, he would allow the other five players to all have their loved ones come to camp instead. Mathieu chose to do what he believed what the most honorable thing, and made the sacrifice.
The other castaways were elated to have the support of their family and friends as they enjoyed a barbecue feast, and Shelby talked with Gavin’s mother, Elise, reassuring her that she would watch out for her son. It was Jamie, however, who walked away as the biggest winner when his boyfriend, Roger, proposed, reinvigorating Jamie’s desire to fight for his survival.
At a grueling immunity challenge, Mathieu and Jamie went head to head, but the volunteer coordinator edged out the doctor to claim the necklace when he needed it the most. With Jamie no longer an option, the other players scrambled to find a backup plan. Shelby and Gavin set their sites on Mathieu as the biggest threat, with Shelby anxious that Mathieu’s big sacrifice would only increase his favor with the jury. Meanwhile, Irene took her father’s advice and went after Gavin, seeking to use the bad blood between him and Jamie to secure Jamie’s vote. Jamie told Jordyne as much, and with the threat of a tiebreaker looming overhead, Jordyne realized that to protect herself, she may have to turn on her biggest supporter in the game.
At Tribal Council, Jordyne begrudgingly wrote Gavin’s name down, but Jamie shocked everyone by voting against Mathieu and forcing a tie. Unwilling to risk the rock-draw tiebreaker, Jordyne and Irene recanted their votes for Gavin, and Mathieu was voted out.
Five remain. Who will be eliminated tonight?
The Congolese flag billows slightly as the nighttime breeze whirls through the campsite.
“Ugh,” groans Irene as she collapses on her front in the shelter. Over by the fire, Shelby adds another log, making sure the blaze once again grows after having been unattended during Tribal Council.
“Don’t think about asking to borrow my sweater tonight,” Gavin hisses at Jordyne as he walks past her, practically throwing his bag down.
“I wasn’t going to,” Jordyne says, rolling her eyes. “I just want to talk, can we do that at least?”
“Talk to someone else,” Gavin says, storming off into the jungle. Jordyne can only sigh as she slides into the shelter alongside Irene.
“Shelby,” Jordyne asks, back up at the camp, “don’t you think you should find Gavin?”
Shelby lets out a long sigh. “Jordyne, you broke his heart tonight. Let him have his peace.”
“I’m just worried about him being away from camp when it’s dark like this,” Jordyne says. “I don’t want him to be tiger bait.”
“He’s dealt with enough predatory behavior already, hasn’t he?” chimes Jamie.
“What the f*ck Jamie?” Jordyne says, whipping around to face him. “Get off your high horse, this is your fault anyway. Like you haven’t lied to anyone.”
“Don’t try to back that bus up over me, Jordyne! How is this my fault?” Jamie asks.
“You told me you were voting for Gavin and you weren’t budging! If you had told me you wanted to vote for Mathieu, I would have done it!” Jordyne snaps.
“That was your choice,” Shelby says. “He didn’t hold a gun to your head, Jordyne. Take some responsibility for your actions!”
“Don’t you dare preach to me, Shelby!” says Jordyne.
“What, Jordyne, have I ever done to you?,” gasps Shelby. “I have shown you nothing but trust, which you have done nothing to earn and even less to keep!”
“Oh, is that so? Is that the f*cking case, Shelby?” asks Jordyne. “You folded your hand the second they threatened you with rocks, and now I do the same thing and I’m the god damn devil?”
“I know what I did, and I will take full accountability for my actions!”
“Well then don’t say you never did nothing to me and then say you’re accountable for yourself!”
“I’m not having this discussion with you right now,” Shelby says, holding her hands up in protest as she walks off.
“Am I out of my mind here?” Jordyne asks Irene. “Please tell me I’m not out of my mind here.”
“No, you’re not,” Irene says. “I don’t even get why she’s angry when she’s the one who got her way.”
Alone in the jungle, Gavin blots at his eyes with his buff. His breathing is labored and angry.
“Gavin?” Shelby calls in the distance as she approaches him. “Gavin!”
Relief washes over Shelby as she finds Gavin safe.
“Leave me alone, Shelby!” yells Gavin.
“We don’t have to talk,” Shelby tells him gently. “We don’t have to talk about it at all. Just please let me sit with you. I don’t like the idea of you being out here alone.”
Gavin says nothing, just leaning into Shelby’s arms for a hug as he continues to cry.
“I just feel so sad and so stupid, Shelby,” Gavin says, his tears starting to dry.
“We all feel stupid sometimes,” Shelby says. “But what you feel? And what is true? Those are often not the same. You aren’t stupid for having a heart.”
The early morning fog settles over the reservoir. A group of egrets scatter as Jamie rows through them on the canoe, accompanied by Irene.
“I guess… I just hope you know that I don’t hold last night against you,” Irene says. “I kind of deserved it, honestly. I’m no saint, I get that.”
“You can say that again,” Jamie agrees.
“I’m no saint, I get that.”
“Oh come on now!” laughs Jamie. “You know what I mean.”
“But we’re on the same page about this? We can call it even?” ask Irene.
“Here’s where I’m at,” Jamie says. “Gavin and Shelby will not turn on each other. Ever. That means if they stay around? Automatic tie at four. And then at three, game over. This is the chance to break up that little… union or whatever it is.”
“Yeah. I think Jordyne realizes that. She has to,” Irene says.
“We can’t let him forgive her,” Jamie says. “We don’t need Jordyne doing something stupid because she feels guilty.”
“Him being Gavin?” Irene asks.
“Mhm,” confirms Jamie.
Up at the camp, Jordyne sits at the fire while Shelby stirs the rice. Gavin enter the campgrounds with a water jug.
“Morning, Gav,” Jordyne says.
“Mhm,” Gavin barely acknowledges.
“I’m actually really glad your back,” she says. “Do you think we can go somewhere and talk for a little?”
Gavin drops the jug down with a loud thud. “No.”
Shelby’s attention piques, her gaze shooting up from the pot to the conversation.
“Alright then,” Jordyne says with a sigh.
Gavin grabs the next water jug and marches right back out of camp. Once he’s out of earshot, Jordyne turns to Shelby.
“We have some shop talk to get to, Mrs. Hu,” Jordyne says.
“I suppose that’s so,” Shelby says, putting the lid on the pot of rice. “Admittedly, I’m not crazy about his reticence to move past this.”
“So does that mean your sorry for coming at me last night?”
Shelby glares at Jordyne. “I was emotional. I apologize.”
“So does that mean you’ll talk to him?”
“Yes, but because it’s what’s best for me. I’m on to you, Jordyne. I’ve gotten to see you perform this same song and dance day after day in this game, and credit where it’s due–you’re remarkably good at it.”
“What song and dance?” asks Jordyne, clearly irritated.
“The one you’re doing right now. You’ve eschewed loyalty in favor of your own personal interest time and time again. Then you’ll play on emotions and worm your way back into safety. You’ve made it very clear that you’re a very capable Survivor player.”
“Thanks, I guess?” Jordyne asks. “Is that a compliment?”
“It’s a warning,” Shelby says. “I want to be as clear as possible: I will help you and Gavin mend fences, but this is not a favor. Our interests happen to overlap, nothing more. Do not make the mistake of thinking I feel guilty for speaking down to you. You have no emotional leverage over me.”
“I would never even being to think I did,” Jordyne says. “I know you better than that, Shelby. And it’s whatever, we don’t have to be friends. This is business for both of us.”
“Of course it is,” mutters Shelby under her breath. “I’ll do my best. But he’s his own man, so I can’t make any guarantees.”
“Yeah, I get that,” snips Jordyne. “But he’s willing to listen to you at the very least, and that’s better than what I’ve got with him right now.”
Suddenly, thunder cracks in the distance.
“Oh god damn it,” groans Jordyne. “It had better not start raining.”
Rain wails down as lighting illuminates the sky. The castaways huddle in the shelter. Shelby stands under the fire shelter, tending the flame. Jamie huddles with Jordyne and Irene each tucked under one of his arms. Gavin sits somewhat isolated.
“Come on in guys!”
The dwindled group of five castaways enter the challenge area, eager to get to their next challenge. The falling rain makes the obstacle course ahead seem even more daunting.
“You guys ready to get to your next reward challenge?” Jeff asks with a smile.
“Please say it’s going to get us out of the rain!” begs Jordyne.
“You’re gonna have to wait and see,” Jeff says. “For today’s challenge, you’ll have the chance to face off in elements of past challenges to win reward. For some of you, this will be a chance to prove you can make it happen again. For others, this will be a shot at redemption. Here’s how it works. You’ll start by using a pair of ropes and a set of coordinates to find a spot in a sand pit, where you will dig up a bag of chakrams. You will then throw the chakrams to knock down targets. Attached to the targets will be bags containing puzzle pieces. When you complete the puzzle, it will reveal a code. To decipher this code, you will need to recall some information from past challenges. You will use this code to unlock a chest containing five wooden bowls, which you will then stack on top of a wobbly metal structure using a long pole. The first person to finish their stack will win reward. Wanna know what you’re playing for?”
“Yes!” cheer the group, enthusiastic.
“Well Jordyne, you wanted to know if you might get out of the rain, and you absolutely will,” Jeff says. “The winner of today’s challenge will leave the jungle and spend the night at the Mysore Palace, one of the most grand structures in all of India. You will be treated treated like royalty. You’ll get to wash up, you’ll be entertained by some authentic local performances, and of course, be treated to a feast. And just in case I was not clear, you will be spending the night, which means you’ll be sleeping in a bed indoors, out of the rain. Lastly, the winner will get to decide who the final person is who will visit Exile Island over the course of this game. Worth playing for?”
The group nods in agreement.
“Alright, we’ll draw for spots, then go ahead and get started.
The castaways stand at the starting line, the rain beating down in sheets. Everyone is intensely focused.
“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”
The castaways rush forward and flip the canvas covers off their coordinates, heading out with their ropes to begin the challenge.
“It is wet out, and that is going to make everything all the more difficult!” Jeff yells as Gavin lines up his ropes. “Jamie, already hustling out the gate!” notes Jeff as Jamie places his second rope and immediately begins digging. “That wet sand won’t be easy to move!”
“Oh my god!” groans Irene as she begins to dig. All five castaways are starting to dig at this point. Jamie’s huge arms swing like shovels, moving sand much more quickly than the others can muster.
“Got it!” Jamie exclaims, the first to unearth his chakrams. As he begins to untie his bag, Gavin starts making some headway.
“Jamie starts throwing!” Jeff calls. Jamie takes aim and tosses his chakram towards the first sugar cane stalk. He misses. “F*ck!” he swears. “This rain!”
“It’s windy out!” Jeff notes. “It’s not going to be easy to make these hits, you have to dig deep and focus!”
As Jamie continues to throw, Gavin finally gets his chakrams up, and joins Jamie in his efforts. Irene follows shortly after, followed by Shelby.
“Jordyne bringing up the rear!” Jeff calls.
“I think I did this wrong,” Jordyne mutters, continuing to dig futilely.
As the women work to untie their bags, Jamie makes his first hit, felling his first of three targets. Gavin quickly connects with his first target after.
“Jamie and Gavin both on the board!” Jeff calls. Irene takes her first chakram and tries to focus. She flings it and it veers far off course.
“That’s a no-sell for Irene,” Jeff points. Shelby tosses her first ring and is elated to make a connection.
“Shelby now on the board!” Jeff calls. At this point, Jordyne squeals in excitement, finally unearthing her bag. Jamie steadies himself and knocks down his second target. Gavin glowers upon seeing this and flings his with force, knocking his second target as well.
“Gavin and Jamie, each with just one target left!” Jeff observes.
Irene tosses and misses again. She takes her glasses off and tries to wipe some of the water from them, to little avail.
“The rain is making this a real challenge, but this is why you came here!” Jeff says. “This is what pushing yourself is all about!”
On that note, Gavin strikes his third target. He leaps up in the air and pumps his fist.
“In your face, Jamie!” boasts Gavin as he runs off to collect his puzzle pieces.
“Gavin hits his final target, he’s now in the lead!” Jeff calls. Jamie, not to be one upped, keeps things even, flinging his chakram to fell his last target as well. He arrives the puzzle station as Gavin has finished untying his bags, and his now digging through his pieces trying to organize them. Behind them, the women continue to toss chakram with varying degrees of success.
“I don’t remember it being so hard last time!” Jordyne moans.
Irene has a look of determination on her face as she throws her next chakram. It hits a target, but doesn’t hit with enough force to fell it.
“Thirty-four days are taking their toll!” Jeff notes. “Irene connects but it’s no good!”
“Oh my god,” Irene says, clearly frustrated as she heads out to collect her chakram again. Over at the puzzle, both men are somewhat struggling.
“Shit, that isn’t right,” mutter Gavin as he works. Meanwhile, Shelby connects, knocking over her next target.
“Shelby getting closer,” Jeff warns. Irene takes a deep breath and throws again. She finally hits her first target. “Irene now on the board!” Jeff calls.
“Slow and steady,” Irene tells herself, readying her next throw. She flings and misses, while Shelby connects and moves on. As she joins the men, Jamie seems to be nearing completion on his puzzle, revealing a set of instructions.
“The code uses the following numbers,” he reads. “1: The number of Vishnu’s avatars minus the number of faces found on Lord Brahma. 2: The number of Ashvins plus the number of Rishis. 3: The number of letters in the name of Vishnu’s mount. 4: The number of Fire Gods minus the number of gods in the Trimurti. Oh holy… alright. Crap.”
“Jamie has his puzzle complete,” Jeff notes, “now he needs to decipher the code.”
“What the hell is a Rishi?” Jamie ponders.
Irene tosses and connects with a second target. Jordyne finally hits her first. Gavin finishes his puzzle and his face plummets as he reads the questions.
“I don’t remember any of this!” he says, panic setting in. “Shelby, help me out here!” he asks.
“I’m working on my puzzle, let me finish!” Shelby says.
“Copy mine,” Gavin insists.
“Not allowed!” Jeff calls, waving his hands in an X formation.
“Well, no point in not trying,” Gavin mumbles.
As Shelby places the final few pieces, Irene returns to her mat having once again recollected her tossed chakram. She inhales slowly and throws.
“Irene gets her third target!” She’s now on the puzzle,” Jeff notes as Irene begins to work. Jamie has now resorted to trying random numbers in his combination lock. Shelby closes her eyes in concentration.
“Brahma has four faces,” she whispers to herself. “The Rishis… the rishis are….”
“Irene is making quick progress on the puzzle,” Jeff says. “The code seems to have everyone struggling, nobody is out of this. Not even you, Jordyne,” he jibes.
“Shut up!” Jordyne wails, tossing a ring lamely.
“Alright,” Irene says, finishing her puzzle as she starts to read over it. Jamie tries another combination of numbers and fails to open his box. He kicks the stand in frustration.
“Ten avatars, four faces,” Irene says quietly to herself, “Is six. Rishi, Rishi, holy men….” she starts humming a tune to herself, writing with her chalk piece along the side of her puzzle.
“I’ll try this,” Shelby says, putting a number into her lock box. She pulls the handle and nothing happens.
“Vishnu rides the garuda, that’s one, two, three, four… Six letters,” Irene says, writing the next number. “Three gods of fire minus… Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, that’s zero.” She enters the numbers into the lock box and pulls the handle out, the lid popping open as the spring releases.
“What the hell?” Jamie says with a gasp as Irene collects her bowls.
“Irene is the first to decode the lock, she’s now on to the final stage!” Jeff calls.
“Are you sure we can’t work together, Jeff?” Gavin asks.
“Positive!” Jeff yells.
“That’s not right either!” groans Shelby. Jordyne knocks over a second target. With steady hands and and confidence in her step, Irene loops her pole through the metal structure and places the first bowl.
Jamie slams his hands down on his puzzle in disappoinment. “You’ve got this, Irene!” he cheers. Irene moves with purpose, placing bowl after bowl. Shelby once again tries her lock, but doesn’t get it.
The castaways can only watch in a mixture of surprise, pride, and disappointment as Irene completes her structure, totally unopposed.
“IRENE! WINS REWARD!”
“Ah! Oh man! This is crazy! I can’t believe this!” Irene laughs.
“You kicked our asses, fair and square,” Jamie says, embracing her.
“I should have known better than to forget everything after that challenge,” Gavin says.
“That was awesome,” congratulates Jordyne. Irene seems totally unsure of how to act in victory, still stunned by the moment as they reclaim their places on the mat.
“Well Irene, congratulations,” Jeff says. “You had a sharp memory and more than earned yourself a night of luxury at Mysore palace. You can bring a friend with you–who’s coming?”
Irene exhales as she looks out over the group. “Jamie, you know we’ve been through a lot together, but you’ve gotten to do a few rewards, so I’m giving someone else a chance. I pick Jordyne.”
“Yeah you do,” Jordyne says with a smile, shimmying playfully as she walks over to join Irene next to Jeff, giving her a massive hug in gratitude.
“So the next part may be more fun or less fun, depending on your perspective,” Jeff says. “Jamie, Gavin, or Shelby is going to Exile Island. Who’s it gonna be?”
Irene looks down as she thinks over her choice. “Uh, I hate to send anyone, but Shelby’s the only one who hasn’t gone… so sorry, Shelby, it’s you.”
“It had to be someone,” Shelby responds vacantly. Gavin puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder, and she gives him a weak smile in response. She heads over to Jeff, who hands her the map.
“Follow this map to get to Exile Island,” Jeff instructs. “You’ll rejoin the tribe at the next immunity challenge.”
“Take care, Shelby!” Jamie calls as she heads off. “Guess it’s just you and me, huh?” he says, turning to Gavin.
“Yeah, I guess,” Gavin says.
“Irene, Jordyne? You’ll be headed on your way to the palace, I hope you have a wonderful time. Gentlemen? For the two of you, I’ve got nothing else. You guys can head back to camp.”
A GMC Sierra tears through the jungle, dust exploding into clouds behind the truck, rain pelting down around it. Inside the truck, Irene and Jordyne watch the windows, clearly enthralled.
Mysore is roaring with life despite the pounding rain. Umbrellas dot the street as vendors shout at passers by. Jordyne’s jaw drops as the palace approaches in the distance.
“That can’t be where we’re headed,” she gasps.
“I think it is,” Irene confirms.
“We’re going to be princesses for a day!” Jordyne squeals. “I hope you know this has been my biggest dream since I was six years old.”
“When I was six I think I wanted to be a vampire,” Irene says.
The truck pulls up in front of the palace gates. A pair of attendants, waiting with umbrellas, greet the women as they emerge from their truck. Jordyne’s jaw drops in awe of the majestic architecture.
Jordyne steps out of her changing room, doing a twirl as she shows off her glittering new wardrobe. “I could get used to this,” she says.
“What do you think?” Irene asks as she steps out in hers.
“Oh my god! Irene, you look hot,” Jordyne praises. “Like, tsssss,” she says as she licks her finger.
“I don’t think ‘hot’ is how I’d ever describe myself,” Irene says, blushing. “This is not the amount of midriff I’d ever show.”
“Oh come on, all the women here wear these, even the big fat ones,” Jordyne says. “You look great. Don’t worry. Live the fantasy, darling. Feel your new look. Give me a swerlk.”
“Swerlk, you know. Swirl, but *werk* it?”
Irene turns around in an awkward circle. “Ta da?”
Jordyne laughs good-naturedly. “We’ll work on it.”
The rain continues to pound down at the landscape, causing the raging waters to roar screaming past Exile Island. Shelby holds the map futilely over her head, attempting to stave off the bombarding rain as she crosses the bridge into her Exile.
Shelby sighs as she makes her way under the treetops, the jungle canopy helping to protect her somewhat from the rain. The statue of Ganesha awaits her in the distance, water trickling down his corpulent form. Shelby takes the scroll from the statue.
Shelby approaches the lean-to, left by the castaways of exile past, and leans her head under the thatched roof. She shrieks in horror and leaps backwards. The camera focuses in on the shelter’s interior, where a very large snake has coiled up, looking for respite from the weather.
“You have got to be kidding me!” Shelby yells. “How do you… ugh!”
Shelby mutters under her breath as she takes the machete to a large tree branch, chopping away slowly at the wood. She snaps the length of the branch, and takes it to the shelter. Hesitantly, she stands as far away as she can manage and moves the branch towards the animal, hoping to dislodge the serpent from the lean-to. As the branch moves slowly towards the snake, the creature sits motionless. Shelby takes a deep breath, and pokes the snake. The animal doesn’t move, seemingly unbothered by the provocation.
“What? Come on, you stupid snake!” Shelby groans. She takes the branch and this time, pushes it against the animal’s body, forcing it to move. With a loud, angry hiss the animal’s body whips out of it’s coils, and with high speed it slithers out of the shelter and back into the underbrush.
“Mother of… Jesus Christ!” She crouches to her knees and holds her face in her hands.
With the snake now displaced, she takes a spot in the shelter, trying to keep herself somewhat dry.
Under the darkness of the night sky, millions of lights blaze to life, cocooning the exterior of the palace in a wreath of warm, glittering light, the glow piercing through the falling rain.
Within the palace, Jordyne and Irene sit side by side in a resplendent chamber, goblets in hand. Gold and green pillars propping the vaulted ceiling high above them. Ornate chandeliers flood the chamber with light, causing the gold trim throughout the room to shimmer vibrantly. Energetic music echoes through the room as the women watch in front of them, where a deftly concentrating musician waves his flute, a cobra all but dancing to the music. The snake’s tongue flickers in and out as it follows the movement of the instrument. Jordyne sips her drink as she watches, almost in a trance herself.
The charmer lifts the lid off of a second basket, and a second snake rises. The music’s tempo rises at the same time.
One of the snakes suddenly strikes, causing Irene to let out an audible gasp. The charmer deftly dodges the fangs.
The snake charmer finishes his performance, and as if on cue, the snakes coil back into their baskets. The charmer bows as the women applaud.
The women sit across from each other at a beautifully garnished table, food spread across almost every corner.
“Cheers,” Jordyne toasts, “To Day 39.”
“To Day 39,” Irene agrees.
“So I guess the big question,” Jordyne says, “is what do we do next?”
“Honestly, I don’t think Jamie is planning at all to stick with Shelvin,” Irene says as she bites into a samosa. “Just because he voted with them last time doesn’t mean anything this time,” she says between bites of food. “I think that was more about him wanting Mathieu out than wanting Gavin in, you know?”
“Yeah, for sure. Like, Gavin just can’t keep his emotions to himself. I don’t know if it’s like, an age thing or if that’s just his personality, but I can bet you they haven’t said three words to each other this whole time.”
“What would they even talk about with each other?” Irene ponders.
“Gavin’s probably trying to quote some comedian,” Jordyne says, “and Jamie is just rolling his eyes lecturing him on how comedy reinforces the hegemony of the other.”
“You sound like him, that’s for sure,” Irene laughs.
“Allyship is the real white man’s burden,” Jordyne drawls in an over-the-top Southern accent.
“Patriarchy is the opiate of the masses,” Irene joins in.
“The justice system is the sword of white supremacy and the gerrymandering is the shield!” Jordyne says.
“The top-bottom dynamic is a heteronormative con-job!” Irene adds, making Jordyne laugh.
“But seriously,” Irene continues, “Jamie knows Gavin and Shelby are iron clad. I’m sure he’d be down to break them up.”
“Yeah, but do we go after Gavin again?” Jordyne asks.
“I mean… why not?”
“Challenges,” Jordyne says. “I don’t think we can risk Jamie winning any more immunities. If it’s something physical, Gavin is the only one who is going to stand a chance.”
“Yeah, that’s a really good point,” Irene agrees.
“I think that it’s Shelby’s time to go, truthfully,” Jordyne says. “Like, are we actually going to let this whole game be dominated by that Oedipus complex weirdness? If we don’t get rid of either Shelby or Gavin next–”
“Then we’re setting up for a tie at the final four,” Irene says. “So you’d rather get vote out Shelby than Gavin?”
“I know what you’re thinking,” Jordyne says, “and like… I don’t know how to make you believe me other than to just promise right now that I don’t think Gavin will want anything to do with me from here on out. I think we need him to beat Jamie.”
“I never realized how tough these choices would get,” Irene says with a frown.
“Well that’s why we’re going to drink more and not stress out,” says Jordyne.
“I think the biggest obstacle in my way right now is Jordyne… and yet, she’s also my biggest asset. I’m doing everything I can to win her trust, but like…. Gavin did a lot to win her trust too and when push came to shove, she shoved. I feel like I have to approach this like a snake charmer–that is to say, with the understanding that even if I’m careful, I still might get bit.”
The monsoon has not let up. Droplets of rain splatter against the Congolese flag across the roof of the shelter. Within the structure, Gavin and Jamie sit side by side, swaddled under a blanket as the rain assaults the earth around them.
As the boys watch the rain, Gavin’s eyes begin to tear up.
“Is everything alright?” Jamie asks.
“No, okay? It’s not,” Gavin says, trying to keep his voice from shaking. Jamie tenses his mouth.
“I don’t blame you for feeling that way,” Jamie says.
“Why do you say that?” Gavin asks.
“I know… I get how it feels, when someone you really care about shows you that they don’t care in return, that’s all,” Jamie says.
“Yeah? What would you know about that?” Gavin asks. “You got proposed to. I got stabbed in the back.”
“I ain’t been proposed to by every guy,” Jamie says. “I had my heart broken a few times, I can promise you that.”
“You don’t get it,” Gavin says. “It’s just different with a guy and a girl.”
“It’s different when it happens in a game,” Jamie says. “You always had that in your mind, didn’t you? That it was all just to get ahead?” Gavin is silent for a while as he thinks.
“Was it really that obvious?” Gavin asks, his eyes blurry. “Did everyone really just think I was a stupid kid getting dragged by the nose by this… this…”
“I can’t speak for no one but me,” Jamie says. “You ain’t stupid, Gavin. You’re human. That’s a beautiful thing.”
“God damn it Jamie,” Gavin says. “You don’t get it, okay? You just don’t know what it’s like. Everyone I’m around, every day, they have it all figured out, they just get it. They know what they want to do with themselves, they know how to be around girls they like…”
“I’m not sure if you know this, Gavin, but I make it my business to understand folk whose life I ain’t lived. And if you think I ain’t been through not understanding women or not knowing where my life is going, you really don’t know anything.”
“I’m not talking about being gay or whatever,” Gavin says.
“Neither am I,” Jamie says. “Yeah, that complicated things, but… you think I thought that my life was all that when I was in the closet? I didn’t want to work for the rest of my life at Pa’s bait shack, that had nothing to do with being gay. Gavin, I don’t mean this in a bad way, but you ain’t special.”
“I don’t think I’m special, Jamie–”
“I don’t mean to say you don’t matter, Gavin. That you don’t have a life ahead of you. But think about it, Gavin. What are you gonna do if Jordyne loved you as much as you love her?”
“I don’t–” Gavin begins, but Jamie cuts him off.
“Let me finish, Gavin,” Jamie says. “What, you think she’s gonna come to Arizona? You gonna go to Chicago? You gonna save her from being on the pole, is that what?”
“I never felt that way about her, okay, I respect that she does what she has to–”
“Gavin. Shut. UP. Let me finish.”
Gavin clenches his jaw. “Okay.”
“I’m not saying anything to try and make you feel like what you’re going through isn’t valid, okay? It don’t matter if it’s unique or not, it’s your experience. It’s real, it counts.”
“I thought you’d say that because I’m a straight, white–”
“NO INTERRUPTING!” Jamie chides. Gavin nods, rebuked.
“You don’t listen, Gavin. I need you to just listen. You can respond but just let me finish everything I want to say first.”
“You’re right, I don’t get what you are going through right this moment. But I know what it feels like when you care about someone so bad and they don’t care back. I know how badly that hurts, how you can feel like you’re pouring yourself into proving to that person that you’d give literally anything for them and they just don’t seem to care. I know what that sting is like, Gavin. A lot of people know what that hurts like, and most of us don’t go through that in a game for a million dollars. In a game where you are living in the jungle, starving to death, pushing your body to it’s limits. I know that your heart hurts in a way that most people will never experience. And it’s not going to go away. There’s no remedy for this but time. And that is going to be the case no matter what happens over these next five days. She used you, Gavin. And that hurts, and I’m sorry it happened. And I’m sorry I didn’t try harder to do something about it.”
“What?” Gavin asks.
“Because,” Jamie says, “I might have gotten her to let you down easy, because it’s not like she didn’t know what she was doing. You falling for her, that was no accident. That was Jordyne’s game, from the very beginning. And I think if I had really hammered home that it wasn’t right, maybe she would have let you down easy. Maybe you wouldn’t have had to find it out by seeing your name on the parchment at Tribal Council. I’m sorry, Gavin. I’m sorry that I didn’t stick up for you,” Jamie says.
“You aren’t stupid. I mean that,” Jamie says. “I know it sucks, but just keep your head screwed on, okay? We’ve got four days. You’ve got this, Gav. You’ve got this.”
Over the reservoir, a bolt of lightning strikes, and thunder shakes the earth below.
Jordyne stands on a balcony at the palace, watching the monsoon from the safety of the indoors.
“Hey Jordyne? Can you help me with this?” Irene asks, coming in, holding her sari confusedly.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Jordyne offers, following Irene back inside. As Jordyne adjusts the sash over Irene, there is a knock at the door.
“Come in?” Irene asks. Jeff Probst enters the room.
“Oh my god! Jeff! Hi!” Irene gasps.
“Hey, Mr. Probst,” chrips Jordyne.
“Good morning Irene, Jordyne. Irene, I’ve got something for you.”
“Oh?” Irene asks.
“Yeah, if you wouldn’t mind just coming with me. Jordyne, you too.”
“Sure,” Jordyne agrees as the two follow Jeff down to the courtyard.
“So Irene, I hope you enjoyed your time here at Mysore Palace,” Jeff says.
“Oh my god, absolutely! How could I not?” Irene gushes. “Of all the rewards I could have won, I don’t think I could have picked anything better.”
“Well,” Jeff continues, “You don’t have to. We’ve taken care of that for you.”
“Yeah. Wait–what?” Irene asks.
“Yesterday, you drove up here in a GMC Sierra. Did you enjoy it?”
“Yeah, sure–why, Jeff, what’s going on?”
“Well,” Jeff says, “I’m happy to tell you, Irene, that that car? Is yours.”
The three of them walk outside into the courtyard where the truck is parked, waiting.
“Shut up,” Irene says, a little bewildered. “This isn’t serious, right?”
“Totally serious,” Jeff says, producing the keys. “This is all yours, coming back with you to the United States.”
Irene stands, slackjawed and surprised. Jordyne grabs Irene in an excited hug.
“Irene, you just won a car!” Jordyne shrieks, still totally shocked.
“I just won a car?” Irene repeats, almost as if she doesn’t believe what she’s saying.
“You just won a car,” Jeff confirms with a warm, fatherly smile.
“Holy sh*t!” Irene laughs. “I… I don’t know what to say. Thank you so much, Jeff!”
“The pleasure’s all mine, Irene. Why don’t you two get out of the rain and take this for a spin?”
“I–yes!” Irene says, grabbing the keys in excitement. She and Jordyne run over and jump inside the vehicle.
“Jordyne, please pinch me,” Irene asks. Jordyne obliges, reaching out to pinch Irene’s shoulder.
“OW! I wasn’t serious, Jordyne!” Irene laughs.
Irene starts the truck up and hesitantly puts it in drive.
“Woah!” she laughs. “Driving feels really weird after all this time not doing it.”
“Hey, if you decide you don’t like it, you can always give it to me,” Jordyne jokes.
“Uh, no. Thanks for the offer, but I’m good,” Irene says.
Irene pulls the truck out into the road, and the women head off back towards the jungle as the palace shrinks in the distance behind them.
“Come on in guys!”
Irene, Jordyne, Gavin and Jamie head into the challenge arena, where they are greeted by a semi-circular table with five seats around it.
“I don’t like the looks of this,” Irene whispers to no one in particular.
“We’ll now bring in Shelby, returning from Exile Island,” Jeff says. Shelby comes down a back pathway, looking cold and miserable. Gavin embraces her as she rejoins the group.
“I’m glad to have you back,” he says.
“Alright, first things first,” Jeff says. “Jamie, I need the necklace back.”
“If you can reach it, you can take it,” Jamie says with a laugh, before reluctantly coming over to Jeff, who reaches up to unclasp the necklace.
“If you want to make me work for this, that’s not a problem,” Jeff quips. “If you want it back you’re gonna need to work for it too.”
“Fair enough,” Jamie says as he rejoins the group.
“Immunity, back up for grabs,” Jeff says, addressing the group. “Alright. After 36 days here in India, I’m sure you’re all beyond the point of hungry.”
“You have no idea,” Gavin confirms.
“Given that, we thought why not let the castaways get a little taste of some more extreme Indian cuisine? Today you’ll compete, round by round, in an eating contest. You must completely clear your plate and show me an empty mouth–the last person to finish each round will be out until only two remain. The winner of that final round will win immunity and is guaranteed to make it to Day 37 with a one-in-four chance of winning this game. As for the rest of you? After 36 days, someone is going to join our jury. Sound good?”
Everyone nods in agreement.
“We’ll draw for spots, go ahead and get started.”
The castaways take their seats at the table, and Jeff passes out a covered plate to each of them.
“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”
“You guys can uncover your first dish,” Jeff announces. Everyone lifts their lid and reacts differently to the plate of pellet-like pupa in front of them.
“Ew, what are these?” Gavin pouts.
“I don’t know and I don’t want to know,” Jordyne says.
“Well you’re going to find out,” Jeff smiles. “These are fried silkworm pupa. You each have fifteen on your plate. On my go, start eating. Last one to finish is out. Surviors ready? Eat!”
Jamie picks up his whole plate, opens his mouth, and dumps the silkworms in. Jordyne grabs one and gingerly bites it, her face contorting in disgust. Shelby shovels them into her mouth by the handful, as does Gavin.
“Ugh!” groans Irene as she chews through them. Jamie frowns, clearly realizing he made a mistake attempting to eat them all at once. His face looks decidedly unhappy as he struggles to swallow.
“Done!” Shelby announces, revealing an clean mouth.
“Shelby’s good!” Jeff confirms.
“Done!” Gavin says.
“I’m good now,” Jamie moans, having finally swallowed. He waggles his tongue at Jeff.
“Jamie is through!”
“Yeah, I can’t do this,” Jordyne says, pushing her plate away as Irene works through the last of her silkworms.
“Ugh. Done,” Irene says, showing Jeff her mouth.
“Irene goes to the next round, that means Jordyne, you are out.”
“Yeah, big surprise,” she says with a shrug. “I think I’ll live.”
“Here are your next dishes,” Jeff says, placing platters in front of the four remaining castaways. They lift the lids. Gavin makes a face as he looks platter in front of him.
“Well this is… pungent,” comments Irene.
“What is this?” Jamie gasps, making a face as the odor hits him.
“This is a dish called Nahkham,” Jeff explains, “Made with dried fish, vegetables, and ash, this curry is noted for it’s strong, rotten smell. I’m sure it tastes better than it smells.”
“Are you really sure?” asks Jamie.
“Not in the slightest,” Jeff says. “Survivors ready? Eat!”
“Oh, gross!” Irene says as he bites into her first mouthful. Shelby attacks the plate with a monastic like focus, but it’s clear the smell is getting to her. Gavin pinches his nose as he forces mouthfuls into his mouth. “Ugh!” he groans as he chews. Jamie holds his nose as well, but he gags and retches as the food sloshes in his mouth.
“This is disgusting,” Jordyne remarks.
“Oh my,” Shelby coughs between bites.
“Finished,” Gavin gasps, showing his open mouth.
“Gavin’s good, he’s moving on!” Jeff proclaims. Gavin spits on the ground next to him and begins washing his mouth out with water.
“Done,” Shelby reveals her mouth.
“Shelby moving on!” Jeff says. “Irene is going slow and steady, Jamie has done some damage but he’s struggling!”
“Blergh!” Jamie spittles, struggling to swallow the rancid dish. He coughs and retches, turning to the side as he vomits.
“Oh my god Jamie, gross!” Jordyne shrieks.
“You aren’t even eating it!” Jamie cries out.
“Done,” Irene says, having finished her plate. Jamie pulls his cap down over his eyes, clearly embarrassed.
“Irene’s moving on, that means Jamie is out.”
“Three people left, next dish,” Jeff says, putting plates in front of Shelby, Gavin and Irene. “Go ahead and see what you’ve got.
“What on?” Gavin ponders allowed as they lift their dish, revealing a bowl of a red, crunchy looking substance.
“This dish,” Jeff explains, “is Chaprah. It is a mixture of red ants, ant eggs, and some very, very hot spices. Bon apetit. Survivors ready? Eat!”
The castaways each heap a spoonful in their mouth. Irene’s eyes go wide with horror as she bites into it.
“Oh my god!” she says through bites of food.
“Urp!” Gavin’s throat makes sounds as he attempts to swallow a half-chewed mouthful of ants. Shelby, once again, seems composed, but is moving slowly.
“Oh my god, it’s so hot,” gasps Irene, as she steadies herself in preparation for her next spoonful.
“Ugh, it’s so gross and so spicy,” Gavin complains as he forces himself another spoonful. The heat is clearly beginning to get to all the competitors, as snot begin bubbling out of Irene’s nostrils.
“Oh my god, I’m going to be sick,” she grouses as she finishes a bite, taking another moment to wipe her nose and prepare herself.
“Ugh, done!” Gavin says, showing Jeff his open mouth.
“Gavin, moving on to the final round!” Jeff says. Gavin begins chugging his water. Irene’s pace has slowed significantly, allowing Shelby to sneak ahead and finish her final bites.
“Shelby’s good!” Jeff announces. “Irene, I’m sorry but that means your out.”
“Yeah,” Irene says lamely.
“Alright Shelby!” Gavin says, offering her a high five.
“Gavin, Shelby, it’s down to the two of you. First person to finish this dish wins immunity. You can go ahead and reveal what you have.”
Both castaways lift the lid on their plates to reveal a grey, heavily textured meat in front of them.
“Well I’m jealous,” Jordyne sasses as she observes Shelby’s plate.
“Is this brain?” Shelby asks.
“Pig brain,” Jeff confirms. “You each have a healthy portion to finish. This is for Immunity. Survivors ready? Eat!”
Gavin shoves a huge chunk into his mouth and squeezes his eyes shut as he chews. Shelby opts for a similar strategy. The table is rapt with attention as the others watch, bite after bite going down the hatch. Gavin coughs somewhat as the taste of the brains hits him.
“How is this a delicacy?” He ponders between bites.
“Neither Gavin or Shelby is showing any signs of slowing down,” Jeff says. “This is going to be a close one…”
And it is. With a final bite, Gavin swallows and shows Jeff his open mouth.
“Gavin’s got it! Which means…
“GAVIN! WINS IMMUNITY!”
“Yeah!” Gavin cheers, pumping both hands in the air. Jordyne smiles warmly as she applauds, while Jamie seems somewhat less pleased. Shelby shrugs her shoulders and offers him a hug.
“I’m glad we got to go against each other like that,” he says.
“I’m glad you were able to win!” She tells him.
The castaways leave the table and head back to the mat.
“Gavin, that was well earned,” Jeff says. “Come on over and try this on.”
Gavin smiles proudly as he saunters over to Jeff, turning around so Jeff can adorn him with the necklace.
“Congratulations Gavin. With this you are safe at tonight’s vote, which means you have officially made it to the finale of Survivor: India. Sadly, after 36 days–Shelby, Irene, Jordyne, Jamie? One of you won’t be joining him. You guys have the afternoon to figure it out. Gather your stuff and head back to camp. I’ll see you tonight.”
The five remaining castaways return to camp, Gavin beaming in the rain as he walks proudly, the immunity necklace hung around his neck.
“Congratulations again, Gavin,” Irene says.
“It was well-earned,” Jamie agrees.
“Thanks guys,” Gavin says with a big smile as he takes the necklace and hangs it on the side of the shelter.
“I’m proud of you,” Shelby says as she hugs Gavin, the two of them alone in the woods.
“Thanks Shelby,” Gavin says. “I’m proud of me too.”
“You should be proud,” Shelby says.
“Yeah. I guess so.”
“So catch me up,” Shelby says, “where are your thoughts right now?”
“Right now? I mean, I could go either way. I think there are good reasons to vote out Jamie obviously, but like… I’m okay with it being Jordyne. I would be really okay with that, if that’s what people want.”
“Well that is wonderful for those people if they want that. Gavin, what do you want?” Shelby asks. I’m not asking what other people think right now, I’m asking you.”
“I think it should be Jamie,” Gavin says. “I feel bad that I spent so much time being angry at him… but he needs to go. None of us stand a chance against him.”
“I would agree with your analysis,” Shelby says, smiling.
“I… don’t get me wrong, Shelby. Jordyne really hurt my feelings, but… well, not having you around these last few days, I’ve tried to think to myself ‘what would Shelby tell me?’ and uh, I though ‘Shelby would tell me to focus on the actions I can take, the things I can do and control. I can’t control other people, I can’t control that Jordyne thinks it’s okay to use people like they’re puppets. That’s her demon, she has to figure that out. I get to choose what to do about it, and I can either waste my vote on her or play the game for myself, just like she’s been playing for herself. And uh, voting her out tonight doesn’t make any sense, not with Jamie here.”
“Gavin,” Shelby asks, her voice cracking softly, “Did you really think of what I’d tell you?”
“Of course, Shelby. You give great advice. Because you’re a really good advice giver. And a really good mom.”
“Oh Gavin,” Shelby says, tearing slightly. She hugs her friend tightly. “Thank you.”
“So I mean… him winning makes this pretty easy, huh?” Irene says to Jordyne as they huddle in the shelter. “Shelby?”
“Are you sure you don’t want to do Jamie?” Jordyne asks, running a forked stick through her hair like a comb.
“Yeah, positive,” Irene says. “I’ve thought about it but like… Shelby and Gavin, together, are more dangerous than Jamie is alone. I’m not letting them stay together a second longer. Every other pair in this game has gotten split up. No reason not to finish.”
“I feel bad but like… not really,” Jordyne says. “It’s just weird because like… it was easier when there were still people I couldn’t f*cking stand, you know? When you like everyone left, it doesn’t feel as good when you vote them out.”
“So you like Shelby now?” Irene asks.
“I mean… I’ve been with her the entire game. I don’t know if it’s that I like her, but like… I don’t not like her… Gavin really does, though.”
“And that’s what you really feel bad about,” Irene surmises.
“Don’t hate me,” Jordyne says.
“Dude, I don’t,” Irene says. “It’s totally fair. I liked Marco, Mathieu, Marina… I’ve voted out people I’ve liked, it’s a game, it’s going to happen. It’s okay if you feel bad about that.”
“It’s just like… look, I know that I strung Gavin along, but like, I’ve been playing the cards that I have, okay? I’m not going to be that person who can win all these challenges, so I saw someone who I knew I could manipulate and I took advantage of that. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about Gavin at all, you know?”
“I get you,” Irene says, nodding. “But I mean, Jordyne, I just want to be clear, you’re just saying that you feel bad about it, not that you won’t do it… right?”
“It’s not that I won’t do it,” Jordyne says, “it’s that I don’t know if that’s the right move. I still kind of think we should vote for Jamie.”
“But we’re guaranteed a tie if we don’t get Shelby now! Gavin could always win immunity again. One of us could even win it, we don’t know what’s coming, Jordyne. The only thing we know for sure is that Shelby and Gavin won’t turn on each other. Don’t let Gavin get in your head. I thought you were the one who got in his head, not the other way around?”
Jamie comes walking over to the shelter, where the women are talking.
“I come in peace,” Jamie jokes as he takes a seat in the shelter. “I’m hoping to hear that y’all are maybe thinking along the same ways as me.”
“If you’re thinking Shelby, then yes,” Irene says.
“Well that’s good to hear,” Jamie says with a smile.
“I just can’t see any good that comes from letting those two stick together,” Jamie says.
“Yeah,” Irene agrees. “Putting it to a tie is so risky. If they won out on the tiebreaker, then whoever is left? Automatic third place.”
“Exactly,” Jamie says. “I don’t know about y’all, but I have spent too many days in this damn rain to settle for third, ‘specially not just so we can let the two of them waltz to the last day.”
“Who would you vote for, between the two of them?” Irene asks.
“Well Gavin has immunity, Irene, so it’s Shelby,” Jamie says, looking at her with visible confusion.
“No, not like, not tonight,” Irene clarifies. “Like okay, let’s say that hypothetically they were the final two, and we’re all on the jury, who do you vote for to be the winner, Gavin or Shelby?”
“Shelby,” Jamie says with little hesitation. “I mean, me and Gavin have patched things up a little, but like, come on. I’m not voting for Gavin to win Survivor.”
“I mean, I don’t know,” Jordyne says. “I really don’t.”
“It’s okay if it’s Gavin, I’m not offended,” Jamie says. “Y’all were close, I’d get if you felt like you had to.”
“I don’t know that I feel like I’d have to… I think I’d want to,” Jordyne says.
“Why’d you ask, Irene?” Jamie asks.
“Oh, just curious,” Irene says.
“Who’d you vote for?” Jamie asks her.
“Oh, I hadn’t really thought about it, that’s why I wanted to hear what you guys thought. I mean, I guess now that I think about it….”
Jordyne and Gavin walk together in the field.
“Thanks for agreeing to talk with me,” Jordyne says.
“I can’t be mad forever,” Gavin says. “It doesn’t do me any good. Like… don’t get me wrong, Jordyne. You really hurt me.”
“I know I did, Gavin, and look, I’m really sorry. I uh… I don’t want to make excuses, you know? You stuck out your neck for me before and I didn’t really appreciate that like I should have.”
“It’s like… I guess it’s like, I would have gone to a rock draw for you, you know? I’d have been willing to take that risk. The night Marina went home, but it was supposed to be you going home? I was never going to vote for you. Even if I didn’t change anyone’s mind, even if they decided it was you no matter what, I wasn’t going to do that to you. But uh, now that I’ve had some time to think about it, like… that’s what I was comfortable risking. But I know that winning is important to you, and I get that you weren’t going to rocks for anyone, not just me…”
“So we’re still friends?” Jordyne asks.
“I… honestly, I have to think about that, Jordyne. But I’m not trying to be petty and I’m not going to vote against you just because you voted against me. In fact, uh… I think we both probably benefit from voting the same way tonight.”
“For Jamie?” Jordyne asks.
“For Jamie,” confirms Gavin. Jordyne looks away. Gavin’s expression becomes worried.
“It’s… I’m not going to lie to you again, Gavin, okay? I can’t vote with you, I’m sorry. I’m voting for Shelby tonight.”
“You–what?” Gavin asks, awestruck. “What? Why would you do that?”
“Gavin, I–look, you know where my loyalty lies, and I know where yours lies, and it’s with her, not me. Push comes to shove, you’ll stick with her. I have to play for myself. And I can do that without being dishonest with someone who I still do consider a friend. I don’t want you being blindsided by this tonight, but she’s gonna be voted out.”
“But… but what about Jamie? You’re just going to leave Jamie around?”
“I have to, Gavin! At least then it’s everyone for themselves, not you and her versus me.”
“But how is that any different from him and Irene? They’re going to be together too, why is it okay for it to be you versus them?”
“I don’t think they’re together, not after Marco,” Jordyne says.
“You don’t think they’re together? Jordyne, they’ve been together the whole damn time, nothing has changed. We kicked their asses in how many challenges? You know in the back of their heads, they’re still thinking about bringing Saap to the end.”
“So why did Irene take Jamie on reward?” Jordyne asks. “Oh right, she didn’t. She took me. I get that you don’t want to lose Shelby but that doesn’t mean Irene and Jamie still have an alliance.”
“You know what though? If I wanted to try and convince everyone I didn’t have an alliance with someone, that’s exactly what I’d do–not take them with me on a reward. Take someone who I wanted to trust me instead.”
Back up at the camp, Jamie packs his belongings into his bag.
“Would anyone be offended if I didn’t pack tonight?” Irene asks him, aloud.
“No way,” Jamie says. “Truth is, even if you didn’t have the idol, I don’t think you’d be getting a single vote tonight.”
“I’d hope so, but you never know,” Irene says.
“Actually, about that…” Jamie says.
“About what? The idol?” Irene asks.
“Yeah. So uh… how much do you trust Jordyne?”
“That’s a good question,” Irene admits. “Honestly, she was totally fine over the last few days and then this afternoon she just got like… weird. I just can’t see what logical reason there is to go with them.”
“Because it’s not a logical reason,” Jamie says. “It’s a whole lot of this,” he says, pointing to his heart, “and not a lot of this,” he says, pointing to his head. “So here’s what I’m thinking–nobody is voting for you, I promise. If you wanna make sure things go our way tonight… why not play the idol on me?”
“That’s…. that’s a really good idea, actually,” Irene says. “I didn’t even think about that… you’re sure nobody is going to try and vote for me, though?”
“Why would I be lying, Irene?” Jamie asks. “What good does it do me to vote you out over Shelby?”
“I mean, I don’t think it does you any good, but I don’t have eyes in the back of my head,” Irene says. “I don’t know everything that goes on here.”
“None of us do. I guess all I can ask is that you trust me,” Jamie says.
As the sun sets, Shelby and Gavin walk up to camp together.
“I’m not surprised I’m a target,” Shelby says with a sigh. “There are so few options, so that is a factor, certainly… I just strongly dislike having to be so dependent on Jordyne.”
“Yeah,” Gavin says, audibly disappointed. “I mean, I’m glad she told me that’s what their plan is… I just don’t know if I convinced her to not go with it.”
“If you didn’t, Gavin… then so be it. I’m not your responsibility. I’ve said my peace to her as well, so please don’t put all of this on your shoulders.”
“I just… I don’t want you to go, Shelby.”
“It’s three more days, Gavin. You’ll be able to make it without me. You made it nineteen years without me.”
“Yeah,” Gavin says. “But it just sucks to get so close to us being the final two and have it not happen, you know what I mean?”
“Yes, I know what you mean,” Shelby says. “And it still could happen. Action has not yet been taken. Until the votes are cast, nothing is set in stone.”
The rain soaks the temple exterior as the final five take their seats within the warmth of the temple, the roaring fire granting it’s life-giving heat to the shivering Satya Yuga Tribe. Jeff Probst awaits them.
“We’ll now bring in the members of our jury,” Jeff says as the jury begins to enter. “Vanessa, Marina, Marco, and Mathieu, voted out at the last Tribal Council.”
Mathieu doesn’t seem to show any particular emotions as he takes his seat, clearly keen to observe the proceedings.
“Well,” Jeff says to the castaways. “Final Five. The playing field has definitely shrunk. Irene, how does that impact the game?”
“Well there’s a huge impact because there’s less room to hide,” Irene says. “I mean, you have four other people you can cast a vote for. Then one of them has immunity,” she says, gesturing to Gavin, “so that’s three other people. And for the others, I’m one of the three choices. So yeah, it’s scary. There’s nowhere to hide.”
“Yeah, but Irene’s not in trouble tonight, Jeff,” Gavin pipes in. “I mean, we all know she has the idol, she showed it the night Marina left. And I had the idol before so I know the rules, tonight’s the last time in can be used. So it wouldn’t make any sense for Irene to not use it. So she’s safe too.”
“I mean… yeah, that’s true,” Irene says with a giggle, somewhat embarrassed. “I think my natural response to being here at Tribal Council is to just be so anxious that even when I’m safe, it’s hard to push past that feeling of being vulnerable,” Irene explains.
“So Jamie, if Irene has the idol and is going to be playing it, that means your options get reduced even further. You can’t vote for Gavin, he has immunity, it’s not allowed. You could vote for Irene, but I imagine you wouldn’t. So your choice is to vote either for Shelby or vote for Jordyne. How do you decide who to vote for?”
“I mean, it doesn’t matter if you have only two people to pick from or ten,” Jamie says. “You still have to weigh out the pros and cons of each individual player.”
“What are the pros and cons for Shelby and Jordyne?” Jeff probes.
“I’d say they’re kind of opposite sides of a coin,” Jamie says. “Good thing about Shelby is that Shelby I think is someone who is predictable, and I don’t mean no offense by that,” he clarifies.
“None taken,” Shelby assures.
“Shelby has been consistent in how she’s voted and how she’s approached the game. I know where her loyalties lie, and the downside is that those loyalties aren’t with me,” he laughs. “Shelby and Gavin are locked up tight with each other. So that means for those of us outside that alliance, that’s a problem. As for Jordyne, the only think predictable about her is that she’s unpredictable! Jordyne hasn’t been afraid this whole time to change her plans if she feels like she needs to. So you can talk with Jordyne for hours about how this is what you think you should do and come to Tribal feeling totally confident y’all are on the same page, and then surprise! The name she writes down is the last one you’d expect.”
“Now wait a second,” Jordyne laughs. “I wouldn’t say I’m unpredictable, Jeff. That makes me sound like, you know, unstable or something, or like my decisions are all emotional and crazy or whatever. I think I’ve been very logical, actually, in how I’ve played this game. Because honestly, all I’ve been trying to do is make my best decision for myself every time. And sometimes, that means the decision I talked about with one person might not be the decision I make, and I have the right to change my mind. You know, for Shelby it might be that her best move means sticking with the same person and really creating that deep trust, and the downside to that is that everyone who is outside of that trust knows it. There are three of us on the outside right now, and only two of them on that inside. So… you know.”
“I think I do know,” Jeff says. “Shelby, that has to make you feel somewhat nervous, because Jordyne does have a point. You and Gavin have not been discreet about sharing a close bond, and since Gavin is immune–”
“I’m in trouble. Absolutely Jeff, I know that it could be me tonight, and that would be as a result of my game decisions. It would be a result of the others finding the friendship between Gavin and myself a high-level threat to their game, and my best argument against that decision is that there are higher level threats that are still options, namely Jamie. Jamie has been a very active player in this game, he does well in challenges, he is well liked. If Jamie wins the last few challenge, alliances don’t matter. He could make it to the final two on physical force alone.”
“See, everyone keeps saying I’m such a challenge threat, but I ain’t done too good in a lot of the challenges,” Jamie says. “Gavin’s got immunity, not me. I didn’t even make it to the final round today, that nasty fish… whatever is was, that odor just did not agree with me. Irene won reward the other day, not me. The challenges ain’t necessarily gonna be about physical strength, so honestly I don’t think I’m any more of a threat than anyone else.”
“Irene, let’s talk about that reward win for a second,” Jeff says, “because I know you were quite surprised that it even happened.”
“Yeah, that’s the understatement of the year, Jeff,” Irene laughs. “I’m obviously not much of an athlete, and I’ve never really been that competitive period. It’s not like I wasn’t on the soccer team because I was doing Mathletes or debate club or something. I mean, I’ve tried my hardest in every challenge and the one the other day just happened to work out in my favor in a really big way. I mean, I won a once in a lifetime trip and I won a car! But you know, if the challenges were switched, if the reward challenge was the one we did today, that whole experience would have been Gavin’s. So a lot of it really was just kind of holding tight until an opportunity came up where I could be in my element. And that’s really what this game is overall, just kind of waiting for opportunity and then taking advantage of the skills that you happen to have. You know, so if that means relying on your muscles and athleticism to win challenges, you do that. If it means relying on your brain, to, you know, come up with strategies and tactics and plans, and convincing other people to along with them, that’s what you have to do. If you’re charming, charm the pants off everyone around you. I think we’re all just trying to take advantage of our own skillsets, and eventually it can’t keep working out for everyone.”
“Oh, that makes me think of something,” Jordyne says. “May I?”
“Yeah, sure,” Irene says.
“I think that Irene is really, really right when she says that everyone is just trying to use the skills they have. And like, you’ve seen me in these challenges, I’m not much to write home about, you know? So for me, this whole time, it’s been like, what can I do? And like, one of the things I have going for me is, you know, looks. Like I don’t mean to be shallow, I’m just trying to be honest. It’s how I got to be a stripper in the first place, being like, okay, I know guys think I’m hot, so why not take advantage of that? And here, in the game, that’s also something I have as an option to take advantage of. So I did, and like… I know that might bug some people, but I can’t just lie down and die, you know? I have to play the cards I have.”
“This is directed at me, Jeff,” Gavin cuts in.
“Care to comment?” Jeff asks.
“Yeah, I do. Because here’s the thing, is that the guy Jordyne wanted to take advantage of was me, and like… I feel stupid because I let her. So I know it’s my own dumb fault, but like, on the other hand… like, nobody else did what she did, you know? Nobody else tried to make it personal like that.”
“Excuse me?” Jamie says, raising an eyebrow. “I think you made it personal with me more than a couple of times, Gavin.”
“Yeah, and I’m sorry about that–” Gavin begins.
“So that makes it okay?” Jamie says. “Jordyne’s sorry and you’re still salty.”
“It’s different, Jamie,” Gavin seethes.
“Look,” Jordyne says. “My only point is that it wasn’t personal at all. It was me trying to use the tools I had available because I want to win. And like, at the end of the day, I can’t make anyone feel or think anything. Anything that Gavin thought or felt about me was on him.”
“Jordyne, are you worried you’re in trouble tonight?” Jeff asks. “We know why Shelby or why Jamie could be voted for. Do you think you could be the target?”
“Jeff, there’s no reason why not. Obviously I’ve made some people mad at me. Obviously people have found my hard to trust. I’ve taken a lot of heat tonight, and some if it’s fair, I accept that. But uh, all I can say is that if you vote for me because your mad that I broke a promise to you, that’s just dumb. Vote for me because you have a reason, not because you want revenge. I think if people are using reason and not revenge, that takes me off the table. The choice tonight is either break up an alliance or get rid of a threat.”
“Shelby, if it’s you tonight,” Jeff asks. “Was 36 days enough?”
“Enough? No, of course not,” Shelby says. “But if it’s all I get… then it’s all I get. I think I’ve worked hard enough to earn Day 37. But it’s not about what I think at this point. They all have to agree with me.”
“How about you, Jamie?” asks Jeff.
“Of course it’s not enough,” Jamie says. “Nothing except for 39 days an a million dollars is going to be enough. But it’s like Shelby said, if it’s me… can’t do anything about it. I imagine getting to gorge on ice cream will make it better, though,” he grins.
“Alright, well for one of you, this is your last night in the game. Gavin, you have immunity as always, it’s your right to pass that along to someone else if you choose.”
“If I could somehow give this to Shelby without putting myself in danger, Jeff, believe me, I’d do it,” Gavin says. “But, uh, I don’t think that’s an option, so I’ll keep it.”
“Fair enough,” Jeff says. “You cannot vote for Gavin, everyone else is fair game. Jamie, you’re up.”
Irene and Shelby vote.
Jordyne stands at the booth, staring at the blank parchment ahead of her. She musses her hair in thought. She begins to write.
J”I’ll go tally the votes,” Jeff announces, heading off after Jordyne returns to her seat. Irene gives her a look, but Jordyne doesn’t reciprocate. She stares off into the distance.
Jeff returns with the votes, and stands at the podium.
“If anyone has a Hidden Immunity Idol and would like to play it, now is the final time to do so.”
Irene nods and stands up, pulling the idol from her pocket. She hands it to Jeff. “Jeff… this… I’m playing this for Jamie.”
Jeff nods, and Shelby’s head hangs in defeat. Gavin clenches his jaws in obvious anger. Jordyne’s mouth hangs open in surprise.
“This is a Hidden Immunity Idol,” Jeff says. “Any votes cast for Jamie will not count. I’ll read the votes.”
“Jamie, does not count.”
“Jamie, does not count.”
“Shelby. That’s one vote Shelby.”
“The twelfth person voted out of Survivor: India and the fifth member of our jury… Shelby. Shelby, tonight, that’s enough, I need you to bring me your torch.”
Shelby and Gavin stand together as the share a final embrace.
“I’m so proud of you,” Shelby whispers. She kisses Gavin on the cheeks. His eyes are red and his face slick with tears.
“I’m proud of you,” Gavin tells her. With a faint smile, Shelby collects her torch.
“It’s been real, Shelby,” Jordyne offers weakly. Shelby doesn’t respond.
Shelby brings her torch to Jeff and places it in front of him, standing firm and proud as she faces her fate.
“Shelby, the tribe has spoken.” Jeff snuffs her torch, and the smoke billows into the midnight sky. “It’s time for you to go.”
Shelby turns to the group. “It’s been a privilege and an honor. I wish you all nothing but the best.”
“Same to you, Shelby,” Irene says.
“Take care,” Jamie offers.
With that, Shelby turns to face her destiny. Bag in hand, she wanders into the night until she’s swallowed in the darkness.
Jeff turns his attention to the remaining castaways.
“Well well. Jordyne, Jamie, Gavin, Irene. You started out as sixteen, now you are four. Congratulations, you have made it to the finale of Survivor: India. Over the next three days, you will face two immunity challenges, two tribal councils, and on Day 39, two of you will face the jury so we can decide our winner. Grab your stuff, and head back to camp. Goodnight.”
Four remain. Who will be the next to go? Who will make it to the final day? And who will be…. the Sole Survivor?