EPISODE FOUR: Traitor McGee and the Lone Ranger

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PREVIOUSLY ON…. SURVIVOR!

At the Yenisei Tribe’s first Tribal Council, Huang lost his closest ally, Adele, so he turned to Gunnar in her absence. The two agreed to work together, but not on much else. Huang wanted to side with the majority of the tribe against Mandy and Olivia, who had been on the outs for much of the game. Gunnar wanted to work with Mandy and Olivia to target Zeke and his allies, particularly Charlotte.

Huang and Gunnar’s disagreement, however, seemed minor compared to other conflicts on the tribe. A progressively more and more disgruntled Mandy eventually lost her cool with Charlotte, and the divide in the tribe grew deeper as a result.

By comparison, Koryok was much more harmonious, though divisions were forming beneath the surface. Maurice decided to reinforce his alliance with Tallulah Mae by telling her about Exile Island and the immunity idols, while Naomi worked her connection to Nick in hopes of saving herself. When Nick asked his closest ally, Sheena, if they could include Naomi in their alliance, Sheena quickly rebuffed him, seeing Naomi as too difficult to trust. Sheena was right–when Nick spilled the beans about the alliance between himself, Sheena, Maurice and Tallulah, Naomi saw an opportunity to sell Nick out and improve her own position.

At a very meaty immunity challenge, Koryok once again claimed victory, sending Yenisei to another Tribal Council. Zeke, Vince, Charlotte, Huang and Gunnar hatched a plan to split the votes between Olivia and Mandy in case Olivia found the idol while exiled, but Gunnar had designs on betraying the group to vote Charlotte out with Mandy and Olivia. When Huang decided he wasn’t going to flip, Gunnar decided to proceed with targeting Charlotte anyway, hoping to take advantage of the vote split to oust her.

At a heated Tribal Council, Gunnar’s plan almost worked, but Charlotte, sensing something off, switched her vote from Olivia to Mandy at the last second, allowing Charlotte to save herself by forcing a tie between herself and Mandy. With the support of her alliance, the re-vote sent Mandy home, leaving Olivia without her closest ally and Gunnar with a lot of explaining to do.

Thirteen remain. Who will be the next to go?

 

Yenisei Night 9

 

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Wolves can be heard howling deep in the forest as the Yenisei Tribe returns to their camp, only furthering the tension in the air.

 

Zeke- Yenisei Tribe
“Tribal Council is the worst place on the planet. I hate it. Nothing good ever happens there,” he laughs. “Voting people out, it wears on you. I don’t want anyone to have to go. I’m a very community oriented person, and this environment in this game of Survivor, it’s crazy, man, because you’re trying to build a community but you’re also tearing it apart. I would have loved to sit down with Mandy and Charlotte and just, you know, try and sort of facilitate them through some of their differences, but Mandy’s gone now, so that ain’t gonna happen. And…” he laughs to himself, shaking his head, “the worst part is, I don’t even know how it happened! Mandy wasn’t supposed to go tonight.”

 

“So can anyone maybe explain what just went down?” Zeke asks, “because I’m so confused, y’all.”

“Me too!” Vince says. “The plan was supposed to be three votes for Olivia, two for Mandy, right? So why was there a tie between Mandy and between Charlotte?”

“Because Gunnar can’t be trusted,” Huang says, pointedly.

“So we can’t talk about this privately, Huang?” Gunnar says. “You’re just going to throw things out in front of everyone?”

“Why not?” Huang says. “You’re the liar, Gunnar, not Zeke, not Charlotte, not Uncle Vinnie, not Olivia.”

“I’m still a little lost,” Vince says.

“What happened,” Charlotte says, “is that Gunnar played sly tonight. He voted for me with the girls. The tie vote meant it would have been two for each of the girls and three for me and I’d be gone.”

 

 

Charlotte- Yenisei Tribe
“During Tribal Council, I just… something felt off, in some of the ways people were acting. Mandy was being pretty transparent in her attempts to sway Huang–and I understand, if you think your torch is on the line, you have to convince people to vote with you and not against you. But then Gunnar also said something… I don’t know. I can’t quite explain why, I just had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. But I didn’t know what to do. After thinking it over as best I could, I felt my best choice to try and save myself was to switch my vote from Olivia to Mandy, and it ended up being the right choice, because it saved me.”

 

 

“If you want, I can explain,” Gunnar offers.

“What is there to explain, G?” Huang asks. “Seriously, do you think the rest of us are stupid? You told me that I could trust you, you promised me and you went and broke that promise at the first opportunity.”

“I didn’t break it for the sake of breaking it though,” Gunnar sighs. “This is an individual game! I have to make the moves that are best for me, and it’s what I thought would put me in the best position.”

“Yeah, put you in the best position,” Huang says, “but it was supposed to be us. If you want to play this as an individual game, then don’t come to me asking to be with you as part of a team.”

 

Huang- Yenisei Tribe
“I don’t know if Gunnar understands that being aligned with someone means that you don’t lie to them and make moves behind their back. For such a smart guy, he sure is playing dumb. It just proves that my instincts were right the whole time about sticking with the people I can trust.”

 

 

“Why does this have to be so drastic?” Gunnar asks. “Mandy’s gone, isn’t that what everyone wanted?”

“It’s not just about who left!” Huang says, obviously aggravated. “That’s not how it was supposed to go down, and you know it! Don’t try and suddenly pull some dumb pretty-boy act, dude. Nobody is going to buy it.”

“I just don’t get why you’re yelling!” Gunnar snaps. “Be a grown-up! If you can’t handle having a rational conversation right now, maybe you should go off in a corner on your own and talk to me when you can have a mature conversation.”

“Deflecting. Deflecting. That’s all your doing, trying to deflect,” Huang says, his speech getting faster and louder. “I’m not having it, Gunnar, I’m not! You are a liar! YOU LIED! You don’t just get to act like you f*cking didn’t!”

“LANGUAGE!” Charlotte yells. “Please, can we all just stop and take a deep breath?”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to say!” Gunnar freaks.

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“I’m in hot water right now. Not just hot, boiling. If things had gone according to plan, Charlotte would have gone home, and yeah, Huang would still probably be furious with me for betraying his trust, but he’d also be in a position where he’d have no choice but to stick with me, unless he’d be willing to go to rocks for Vince or Zeke, which like, let’s be real, if he did that, he’d go down in history as the stupidest player on the season. But uh, Charlotte turned out to be way craftier than I suspected, and she blew everything up in my face. Golf claps for you, Charlotte,” he says, gently and softly applauding. “You saved yourself.”

 

“I’d like to ask something,” says Olivia, piping up for the first time since getting back to camp. Everyone turns to face her. “Was it supposed to be me tonight? Was that your plan?”

The group is silent in response, for the first time since returning to camp. An owl hoots in the distance.

“Thought so,” says Olivia, sighing.

“Olivia, it’s nothing personal,” Charlotte says. “It’s a game, you have to understand.”

“Did I say I didn’t understand?” Olivia asks. “I just wanted an answer, and I think I got it, so… excuse me, but I just don’t feel like being here right now,” she says, clearly starting to cry as she heads off towards the meadow.

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“My biggest hope right now is Olivia. She’s still here, and I am just crossing my fingers that the tribe still sees her as the next to go. She didn’t play an idol at Tribal Council, and I’m hoping it’s because she doesn’t have one to play. I just need to give everything some time for this… this sh*tstorm to blow over, and hope that when everyone is calm and settled, order returns to normal and Olivia goes back to being public enemy number one. I need to buy myself time, I’m confident I can fix this if I just have the time to do it.”

 

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In the meadow alone, Olivia breaks down, crying. One of the goats comes up to her, it’s huge eyes staring at her. She reaches out and pets it on the forehead. The goat nuzzles up against her, the bell around it’s neck clinking and jangling.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“Ugh. My heart is pounding, I feel sick. I want to throw up, I want to… I don’t know what I want,” she cries. “Mandy’s gone. Mandy’s gone! How the hell am I supposed to do this without her?” She wipes her eyes. “I have to find the idol. It’s my only hope. And that’s easier said than done. It’s like a needle in a haystack, where do I even think to start looking?”

 

Olivia reaches into her pocket and fishes the clue out again, looking it over and over.

 “’They often say life is in shades of gray, not in black or white… perhaps they would say otherwise with an idol in their sight,’” she reads. “Ugh,” she cries, tossing the clue in frustration. One of the goats moves over to it and begins to nibble at the corners.

“Go ahead,” Olivia says, sighing. “I’ve read it a million times, I know it by heart.”

The goat bleats.

“You and me both, sister,” Olivia sighs.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“I don’t fit in on Yenisei, I just don’t. And it’s miserable. I thought I was, you know, pretty good at getting along with new people. I know I’m not this big personality like Vince, or maternal like Charlotte, but I don’t think I’m a bad person. I don’t want to be self-pitying, but like… why me? Did I do something to deserve this?”

 

Dry of tears, Olivia stands up, patting the goat on the head as she prepares to head back to camp. Most of the other Yeniseis have crawled into the shelter at this point.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“Mandy told me not to let them win, and I’m not going to. I just have to figure out how. I think back to the first few crime scenes I was ever at–some of them were really, really horrible, and when I got home at night, I just stared at the ceiling and cried. To think that one person could murder another so viciously, it’s… hard to come to terms with that, seeing the reality up close. But the more I did it, the more used to it I became. And I think Survivor is the same. If I did it once, I can do it again out here. It’s just going to take some time. But we’ve had crimes before that have seemed like a lost cause, and in the end we found the right evidence to solve the case. So I’m not giving up. I refuse.”

 

 

 

Yenisei Day 10

 

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The morning sun peaks ever so faintly over the crest of the mountains. Cool air blows softly, causing pine needles to sway. In the shelter, the Yenisei Tribe snoozes. Vince snores softly, while Charlotte and Zeke huddle. Olivia sits upright at the edge of the shelter, awake.

With soft steps, she emerges from the shelter. She looks back, straining her eyes in low light to make sure that none of her tribemates are stirring. She gently reaches into her bag, retrieving her microscope kit. She takes a deep breath and begins to creep slowly out of camp, heading out into the meadow.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“I got it. Last night, I spent the whole night, lying awake, wheels turning, gears spinning,” she says, rotating her pointer fingers around each other to indicate a rolling movement. “I think there are a few different ways I can look at this clue. The whole time, I thought it was a metaphor, something saying that the idol was under my nose and it was obvious. And I mean… if I’m right, that might be true, but it’s not what the clue meant.”

 

The goats are huddled together under a lone tree in the meadow, peacefully sleeping as Olivia approaches with quiet steps, the light from her microscope guiding her way in the dark. One goat stirs, blinking lazily as it notices her coming. Unbothered by the presence of a human, the goat lays back down to sleep.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“’They often say life is in shades of gray, that nothing is black and white. Perhaps they would say otherwise with an idol in their sight,’” she recites. “Black and white is the clue. There is a goat with black and white spots, it’s the only black and white thing in the whole camp. So I’m just hoping with every fiber of my being that my hunch is right.”

 

Olivia crouches down next to the white goat with the large, black patches, feeling along the rope on it’s neck towards it’s bell.

“What does this say?” Olivia whispers to herself, shining the light on it’s bell. “This is in Russian,” she sighs. “It’s like… a backwards ‘N’. A weird ‘A.’ An ‘O’. and this… it’s like the Pi symbol, almost. But this loop…” She looks at the bell of another goat, this one all brown. “This bell says… something different,” she notes. “They all say something different. The other ones all end in a lowercase ‘a’… are these names?”

She sit and ponders, the morning air eerily silent, save for Vince’s snoring. She looks again at the bell on the black and white goat.

“Four letters… the others are all longer. The third letter, that’s ‘O’… could this be… ‘I,’” she says, pointing to the backwards N, “D, O, L?” She guesses, moving through the letters. “Is this it?”

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“I knew if I was fiddling too much with the bell, it would start ringing, and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. So I reached inside to hold on to the little ringer, and I could feel that, deep up inside the bell, there was a piece of paper. Just wedged up in there.”

 

Tensely, Olivia pulls the paper out, trying her best not to make any sound. She unfolds the paper excitedly, hoping for good news.

“Congratulations,” she reads in a hushed whisper. “You have found the Hidden Immunity Idol! Oh my god. Oh my god, this is it! The stupid bell, it’s been here the whole time!” With trembling fingers, she finds the knot on the rope and loosens it. Gently, she tugs the untied rope from the goat’s neck, holding the bell gently in her hands like an archaeologist who has just found a precious treasure.

Yenisei Immunity Idol

“I can’t believe this,” she whispers. “I found it! I found the idol!” She returns to the instructions, continuing to read through them. “’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, nullifying any and all votes against you, granting yourself safety for three more days. Beware–the idol will lose it’s powers at the end of the 36th day.’ Holy sh*t. I found it,” she says, still clearly in disbelief.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
She holds the idol up to the camera. “It’s mine. The hidden immunity idol. This… this is my saving grace in this game. If I think I’m in trouble, I just pop this bad boy out, fork it over to Jeff, and voila! All the votes against me just… disappear!” she says, wiggling her fingers to indicate magic. “This couldn’t have come at a better time, because it couldn’t be more blatant that my tribe has it out for me. And that sucks, because once I play it, I lose it. If I can hold onto this until Day 36, it becomes a guaranteed pass to the final four. So it kind of sucks that I basically have no choice but to play it at the next Tribal Council. But it’s whatever. I can’t get to Day 36 if I don’t make it past Day 12. Right now, I’m just taking the game day by day, and this idol? It has me feeling very, very confident I’m going to have a lot more days to take in this game.”

 

 

 

Koryok Day 10

 

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Smoke from the fire drifts in the breeze as Teddy adjusts a log in the fire. The log collapses, sending sparkling embers rocketing into the air. Teddy covers his eyes and recoils. He peeks over his arm to realize nobody noticed. The only other people in camp, Tallulah, Maurice, and Sheena, are all over in the shelter, gathered around Tallulah’s luxury item, a Scrabble board.

 

Tallulah- Koryok Tribe
“I have five children–six, if you count my husband–and bringing up a family that big, you have to make some sacrifices. Vacations were rare for us, so I took my adventures with my imagination, with books. I read to the kids every night. We read everything, from Lord of the Flies to Lord of the Rings. I love stories, and I love words, and therefore, I love Scrabble.”

 

Maurice clicks some tiles into place.

“Cat,” he says. “Five points.”

“That’s your word?” Sheena asks, annoyed. “Sure you don’t have anything to put like… here?” she says, pointing at the space above the letter “C.”

“Why, so you can get that triple word score next turn?” Maurice laughs.

“Among other things, yes!” says Sheena.

“Cat is my word and I’m sticking with it.”

“Fine,” Sheena sighs, staring at the board while Maurice picks more tiles.

 

Tallulah- Koryok Tribe
“I find I’ve learned a lot about my tribe just by playing Scrabble with them, seeing how they approach the game. Maurice plays simple. He sees a word, he plays it. As long as your putting down tiles, you’re getting points, and something is better than nothing. Sheena, though? She plays to win. She looks at the whole board, seeking out those bonus spaces. She’ll find any opportunity to boost her score and put herself in the lead.”

 

“Aha!” Sheena exclaims, finally placing her tiles. “A-P-P-R-A-I-S-E. Appraise. Twelve points but that double makes it twenty-four!”

 

Tallulah- Koryok Tribe
“Nick likes to show off that he’s different, just like always. He won’t put the easy word, he’ll wait out for something a little more obscure, just to show you he can. That he knows a word you don’t.”

 

Now Tallulah plays with Nick and Hannah. Nick smiles as he puts his word in.

“Yonic,” Nick says, placing his letters.

“Alright, I’m not the best speller in the world,” Hannah says, “but I don’t think that’s how you spell unique.”

“Well good thing that’s not the word I’m trying to spell,” Nick says. “Yonic. It is to the feminine what phallic is to the masculine.”

Hannah thinks it over, visibly. “Like the little foxes with the big ears?”

“What?” Nick and Tallulah ask simultaneously.

“Phallic. You know, those cute little foxes, with the big ears. Phallic foxes.”

“Fennec foxes?” Teddy offers from over by the fire.

“Yeah, those!” Hannah says. “Liselle from RHOPitt has one named Kisses Galore.”

“Was that English?” Nick asks.

“RHOPitt,” Hannah repeats. “Real Housewives of Pittsburgh. Oh!” she exclaims. She grabs her tiles and uses the “O” from Nick’s “Yonic” to spell out “RHOPITT.”

“You can’t do that!” Nick exclaims. “That’s an abbreviation of a title, not a word!”

“I’ll allow it,” Tallulah says.

“But it’s not a word!” Nick whines.

“We’re playing a game, Nicky, so I just want everyone to enjoy themselves.”

 

Tallulah- Koryok Tribe
“Hannah, bless her heart, language is not her strong suit. But when you bend the rules to account for her knowledge base, you start to see her flourish.”

 

“Hasslehoff,” Hannah says putting down her last pieces with a smile, filling in between a number of other words. “That’s… uh, 22 points! With a triple letter score on F for 30,” she smiles.

Nick breathes heavily in and out, his eyes looking like they are going to pop out of his head as he clenches his teeth.

“Heheehehe!” Hannah giggles. “You know, I guess learning can be fun sometimes!”

 

Tallulah- Koryok Tribe
“Teddy… might have dropped a mirror or something before he came out here, because the boy tries his best, but just seems to have the worst luck!”

 

Tallulah now sits on a log, facing away from the fire. Teddy and Naomi sit in two of the folding chairs, the board on a stump in the middle of them. Teddy frowns, looking at his letters.

“How many Q’s are there in the game again?” He asks, frustrated.

“Only one,” Tallulah confirms.

“Well, okay then, because I have three?”

“What?” Tallulah says. “That’s impossible.”

Teddy puts down his word: “N*QQA.” All three players bust into laughter.

“Where did those extra Q’s come from, that’s what I want to know!” laughs Tallulah.

“They’ve been painted on,” Naomi observes. “Who would have done such a thing?”

At that moment, Nick and Sheena both take this time to get out of the shelter and scamper off into the woods.

“Well, we can worry about that later. It’s my turn, I have a word to play,” says Naomi.

 

Tallulah- Koryok Tribe
“And then we have Naomi. Naomi Campbell the supermodel of the world. She’s got… a style of words she prefers to stick to.”

 

“T-U-R-M-O-I-L. Turmoil,” Naomi plays.

“A-N-G-U-I-S-H. Anguish,” she spells on her next turn.

“V-A-M-P-I-R-E!” she places.

“Dead. D-E-A-D.”

 

Tallulah- Koryok Tribe
“I have a very strong suspicion that when Naomi was in high school? She was one of the kids wearing a lot of black eye make up. She’s all glamour-puss now, but she has a definite taste for dark things that seeps through. Like a taste for Greek boys with green hair and tattoos.”

 

“Psst,” Nick ‘whispers,’ intentionally quite loudly as he approaches the group. “You guys almost done this game?” He asks.

“We just finished, actually,” Tallulah says.

“Oh, cool cool, good. Groovy,” Nick says. “Because, uh, Nay. I was wondering if you might help me with a little something.”

“Naomi,” Tallulah says, putting her hand on the younger woman’s knee, “just remember if he asks you to touch his serpent’s staff, you just slap him across the face.”

Nick and Naomi both laugh earnestly.

“No, no, nothing like that at all,” Nick says. “What do you take me for, TM, some kind of Harvey Weinstein?”

“I’m amazed you know who that is!” Teddy gasps. Nick shrugs. “The Me Too movement is quite relevant in the art world.”

“All I’m saying,” Tallulah continues, “is I raised three boys and I seen how you two look at each other.” She gives a smile to indicate that she’s just giving them a hard time as she stands up and begins to put the letter tiles back in the bag.

“Well, Naomi,” Nick continues, “I was actually wondering if you wouldn’t mind modelling for me.”

“For a drawing?” she asks.

“Something like that,” Nick says.

“I’d be honored,” Naomi smiles, standing up from the game as well.

 

Nick- Koryok Tribe
“I’m going a little insane out here, being away from my studio. The hunger, the cold, the lack of sleep, I’m adjusting pretty decently to all of that, but not having the same opportunities to create, that’s… to me, that’s heart-wrenching. So I’ve been spending the last few days trying to figure out how to make my own little studio here. I’ve tried different woods in the fire to make my own charcoal, I’ve been finding berries and clay I can get pigment from… I’ve been keeping all of our tree mails so I can draw on the backs,” he says, reaching into his bag and pulling them out. “Any scrap of paper, I’ve been saving it. Challenge instructions, stuff from the rewards… I should ask Maurice for his clue from Exile Island,” he laughs. “Be like ‘I swear it’s just for art!’ How about that for a way to get a hold of the idol?”

 

Nick and Naomi head off into the woods together as Tallulah collects the game tiles, watching.

 

Tallulah- Koryok Tribe
“Naomi is more than a pretty face. I think she’s playing harder than she lets on, and I don’t think her interest in Nick is all just based on her hormones. She’s not out here for a baby daddy, she wants that million dollars just like the rest of us do. Nick is a smart boy, so I hope he’s being smart in his dealings with her.”

 

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At the cliffside, Naomi sits on a large rock, her legs bent gracefully, head leaned back. The midday sun makes her skin appear as if it glitters. Nick sits opposite her, using a piece of charcoal to sketch her. He seems to be in a trance, his tool marking the paper thoughtfully every time, his eyes searching across the image in his sight, dissecting the shapes he sees.

 

Nick- Koryok Tribe
“My parents would,” he laughs to himself, “ uh, they’d rather I not be an artist, professionally. As a hobby, I guess they’re fine with it, but they want me to have, you know. A ‘real’ job. They’re just very traditional people, and I’m, well, very not. That’s one of the reasons I really want to win the game. If I could put a million dollars in my bank account, my parents would worry less about me, I think. It would be easier to just focus on creating the art that moves me, the art that I want to make, instead of… you know, having to consider if it’s going to sell, if it’s going to be a piece that will help me put food on the table. ”

 

“Do you want me to take my clothes off?” Naomi asks. “I don’t mind posing nude. I’ve done it before.”

Nick bites his lip in thought. “If you’re comfortable, go for it. No pressure though.”

“Nude modelling for art classes was a way I would make steady money between bigger jobs,” she says as she turns away from Nick, sliding the collar of her jumpsuit down past her shoulders. “I don’t think it’s shameful. The human body is a beautiful thing.”

“I completely agree,” Nick says. “I think our society has a real problem with always making the body a sexual thing.”

Nick continues to sketch.

 

Naomi- Koryok Tribe
“As an exhibit designer, a huge portion of my work is done at zoos and aquariums. In the wild, it is very common to see creatures that have evolved camouflage, with the intention to protect themselves by blending into their environment. But sometimes, animals will advertise, they will have an adaptation that makes them stand out. They will have bright, shocking colors that are meant to serve as a warning. It means ‘stay away!’” The camera focuses in on Nick’s arm, where there is a tattoo of an man being struck by a bolt of lightning, his skeleton flashing through his skin. “It means ‘you don’t want to mess with me.’ Like the poison dart frog. It secretes toxins from it’s skin, fatal to the touch. I think Nick uses his bright colors in the same way, to keep others from getting close.”

 

“Have you talked to Sheena yet today?” Naomi asks. “About the game, I mean.”

“Not yet,” Nick sighs, looking frustrated at his drawing. He puts it down and stands up, staring at the image, looking back and forth between the picture and Naomi. “Have you talked with her?” he asks.

“No,” says Naomi, sighing. “I’ve been trying with her Nick, I really have. But I’m relying on you as my in here.”

“I get that, I do Naomi, but like… there’s only so much I can do, you know?” Nick says, continuing to sketch. “I can try all I want to convince her that you’re trustworthy, but if she doesn’t want to align with you, I can’t force her.”

“Have you ever felt that…” Naomi says, collecting her thoughts, “that Sheena maybe doesn’t take your opinions with the consideration they deserve?”

Nick pauses his drawing, looking somewhat stunned. “Uh… I mean, sometimes?” he says. “She’s a strong personality, you know? And I like that, don’t get me wrong, but…”

“She’s a bulldozer,” Naomi says. “She’s the one calling the shots, and you know it. Do you think she’ll take you to the end, Nick?”

“Yeah, actually, I do,” Nick says, somewhat defensive. “We got together on the first day, Naomi. I trust that. You’d have stuck with Everett, right?”

“If it had been advantageous,” Naomi says, “which clearly it wasn’t. That’s the point I’m making, Nick–don’t let loyalty stand in the way of your success here.”

“Well good thing I’m not doing that, then,” Nick grumbles.

“Hear me out, please?” Naomi asks. “Just listen to my idea.”

“Of course,” Nick says, going back to his drawing, looking frustrated. The lines are no longer flowing like he wants them too.

“Sheena is a force of nature, Nick. She’s not someone who either of us can control. Even if she does stay loyal to you until the bitter end, she’s going to be a very tough opponent to beat out in the end. And honestly, the same is true for Maurice. He’s a hard worker and a gentle soul. Staying in an alliance with them is working against your interests. I think it would be wise for you to consider, perhaps, aligning yourself with some less threatening prospects.”

“Please don’t tell me you mean–” Nick begins.

“–Hannah, yes,” Naomi says. “And Teddy. The two of us and the two of them. That’s four, Nick. We don’t have to vote Sheena out right away, if you’re not comfortable with that. We can do Tallulah first, if you’d feel better about that.”

“I don’t think I would,” Nick says, scrunching his nose. “Like, honestly Naomi, I’ve been playing basically since Everett left under the assumption that the next time we lose, it’ll be Hannah.”

“I know you don’t like her,” Naomi says, “but that’s because no one likes her. She’s annoying and she’s lazy.”

 

Nick- Koryok Tribe
“I feel like I’m in bizarro world. First Sheena and now Naomi are both saying they actually want to keep Hannah in the game. Not in spite of her being annoying and stupid, but because she’s annoying and stupid. Where else in life do those qualities work in someone’s advantage? I’ve never in my life seen someone get ahead by being unqualified to get ahead.”

 

“Just think about it, please?” Naomi asks. “For your own sake. It would be such a shame, Nick, for you to lose this game because you trusted in the wrong person.”

“Yeah,” Nick sighs.

 

Nick- Koryok Tribe
“Believe it or not, Shawne and I have been talking about having kids for a while now. We’re getting to that age where if we don’t commit to it soon, it might be too late, you know? I know I’m not the guy who looks like the paternal type, but I think I’d be a great dad. I love my parents, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t really get me and they don’t always make an effort to get me. I would love to raise my own kids in an environment where they are free to explore, to create, to just… be themselves and not have to follow anyone else’s script. Winning Survivor would really let us focus on that next step. But… I don’t want to win playing someone else’s game. I just can’t live that way, doing things a certain way just because that’s how other people do them. I’m going to try and protect Naomi for the time being, but I can’t turn my back on Sheena. She’s become like a sister to me.”

 

“What do you think?” Nick says, showing Naomi his finished drawing.

“Nick!” she exclaims. “It’s beautiful, Nick.”

 

Naomi- Koryok Tribe
“The poison dart frog does not secrete it’s toxins naturally. It absorbs them from the ants they consume. In captivity, they are fed a toxin-free diet, and so they lose the source of their venom and are rendered harmless. I’ve been trying to gorge Nick on the right ants so I can get past his defenses, but it’s not really working. So I think now is the point where I have to cut my losses and try a different approach.”

 

“We should probably head back,” Naomi says. “We probably have tree mail by now.”

“Yeah, I bet so,” Nick agrees. The two of them head back down the slopes of the hill, towards the forest.

 

Naomi- Koryok Tribe
“Though he hasn’t done anything to help bring me into an alliance, Nick has leaked some information to me, and I can use that for leverage. I’m sure that Sheena, Maurice, and Tallulah will be deeply upset to hear that Nick has been loose-lipped about their alliance. If I can crack that alliance and maybe blow up a few people’s spots, I might be able to claim a little more power for myself. But timing is key. I have one shot to create as much of an impact as possible, so I can’t do it thoughtlessly.”

 

 

Reward Challenge Day 10

 

Slave to the Grind

E4 Reward

 

“Come on in guys!”

Koryok enters first, coming in excited for the challenge. Maurice places the flag, while Sheena peers off into the distance, shielding her eyes from the sun with her hand, anxious to see who is missing from Yenisei. The blue flag appears over the horizon as the tribe marches in.

“Koryok getting your first look at the new Yenisei Tribe,” Jeff announces. “Mandy voted out at the last Tribal Council.”

“Woah,” says Teddy, a little surprised.

“I’m surprised they kept Vince,” says Naomi to Sheena. Sheena nods in agreement. Yenisei meanwhile takes their places at the mat.

“You guys ready to get to today’s reward challenge?” Jeff ask the castaways.

“You know it!” cheers Hannah.

“You better have something good for us today, Jeff!” says Vince.

“If my suspicions are right,” Jeff says, “you’ll all be very pleased with what you could win today. But first, let’s talk about the challenge. Each tribe will have to make it over a climbing net to a puzzle station. There, one member of the tribe will solve a sliding puzzle, releasing a key. You will then run to the next station, where a different tribe member will use a machete to cut through a series of logs and ropes, releasing a chest. You will use the key to unlock the chest, which contains four handles. The remaining four tribe members will then run to the top of a platform, and use the handles to turn a wheel. That wheel will pull a cart up from the bottom to the top of the platform. When your cart is up and locked in place, all four tribe members will get in the cart and cut the rope, sending the cart racing back down the hill to the climbing net and past the finish line. The first tribe to cross the finish line wins reward. Wanna know what you’re playing for?”

The players ethusiastically agree. Jeff pulls the cover off the table next to him, revealing a basket loaded with various spices and herbs. There are teabags as well as a tea kettle and a set of teacups. A jar of honey glistens like liquid gold in the sun.

“Tea,” Olivia sighs, clearly excited.

“Look at those spices, Charlotte,” Vince says, rubbing her shoulders. “We’re getting them for you, Mama. I promise.”

“Oh, I want them,” Charlotte whispers.

“Siberia is at the crossroads between the east and the west,” Jeff explains, “which put it along the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road. The goods you will take back with you today are some of the same teas, spices, and goods that have been traded in through this region for thousands of years. I’ve tasted that buckwheat porridge that you are living on, and it’s not a particularly tasty dish, I think these will be just what the doctor ordered to give you food around camp some flavor. You’ll also leave with a good that the Russians are famous for trading in return.” He reaches behind the table, and picks up a large, glass bottle filled with clear liquid. “Vodka.”

“Ahhhhh!” Hannah screams in excitement. There are cheers and whoops from many of the castaways. Nick bounces up and down like he is about to wet himself.

“In addition, the winning tribe will select one member of the losing tribe to go to Exile Island, where they’ll remain until the next immunity challenge. Worth playing for?”

“You promised me right, Jeff,” laughs Vince. The other castaways murmur in agreement.

“Koryok, you have one extra member, who will sit this out?”

The tribe huddles together, whispering as they come to a decision.

“I guess it’s meee,” Hannah says, waving.

“Alright, Hannah, you can go take a seat on the bench,” Jeff says. “The rest of you will have a moment to strategize, then we’ll go ahead and get started.

The tribes each take their place at the starting line.

“You’ve got this Koryok!” cheers Hannah.

 

“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”

 

With Jeff’s word, the tribes are off. Huang is the first to start climbing up, moving with ease to the top of Yenisei’s frame, moving with the agility of a monkey. He swings one leg over the top of the A-frame, preparing to start helping up the others  as Gunnar heads up alongside him. For Koryok, Sheena is the first up. Maurice stays at the bottom, giving Tallulah a boost. As she works her hardest to keep climbing, Sheena reaches down to grab her hand and assist her.

“I’ve got you Tallulah!” Sheena says, helping the tribe’s eldest castaway. Huang does the same for Vince, who is struggling to make headway on his own. Gunnar assists Charlotte.

“Naomi is over the net for Koryok,” Jeff notes, “the first one over for either tribe. Yenisei is working to make sure everyone makes it over together!”

Tallulah is finally able to pull herself up and over. She tumbles on her side, rolling almost like a log down the other side of the net. Naomi reaches out to brace her, helping her up as Tallulah thuds somewhat gracelessly on the ground.

“Tallulah takes a tumble!” Jeff announces. “It doesn’t look like that felt good.”

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Tallulah says, quickly righting herself. Nick and Teddy are both making it over the net at this point as well. With only Maurice left, Sheena nimbly makes her way down the back net.

Meanwhile, Yenisei has gotten both Vince and Charlotte over. Zeke runs up the net and makes his way over quickly as Huang and Gunnar both head down the back side.

“Yenisei has everyone over,” Jeff calls. Maurice backs up and runs at the net, leaping high into the air. He’s able to grab the net high up, quickly reaching the top and closing the distance.

“Yenisei now first at the puzzle station, it’s Charlotte on the puzzle for Yenisei! Tallulah now getting up to the puzzle for Koryok,” Jeff notes.

“Oh great,” Gunnar mutters, “it’s the puzzle master, of course.”

“Nobody say anything,” Tallulah practically roars, focusing in hard on the puzzle. She stares at it for a moment, as if she’s moving the pieces in her mind. At the other station, Charlotte is rapidly sliding pieces across the puzzle. At the base of each square puzzle board is a slot for one piece to slide out. The matching piece within the puzzle is open, like a box, with the key inside.

“Okay,” Tallulah says, starting to move pieces.

“Oh, that’s not right,” mutters Charlotte.

“Try moving the uh, that piece,” Vince says, pointing. “No, the other one!” he says to Charlotte, as she touches the wrong piece.

“Let her focus, dude!” Huang reprimands.

“Tallulah is making fast progress of this,” Jeff observes, as Tallulah methodically slides the pieces into place. The sound of sliding tiles clicking across the board fills the air. Sheena is practically holding her own lips shut to keep herself form interrupting. With a final move, Tallulah slides the open piece into the bottom right corner, and slides the piece down through the slot and out of the board. She removes the key and the Koryok Tribe starts jogging up the hill further towards the next station.

“They’re ahead now, great,” Vince grouses.

“I’ve almost got it,” Charlotte says, clearly trying not to fret.

All six members of Koryok cross the border marker into the second station. Maurice tosses his hat to the side as he grabs the machete.

“Maurice now going to get to work on those logs!” Jeff calls.

Maurice lifts the machete and makes his first blow, cleaving into the wood. He gives it a firm tug, dislodging the blade so he can strike again.

“That wood isn’t going to be easy to chop through!” Jeff says. “Yenisei still has time to catch up!”

“Don’t panic, Charlotte,” Zeke encourages. “You’re doing amazing, don’t pay them no mind, none at all.”

Meanwhile, Maurice has been able to use steady blows to sever the first of the three logs, the rope underneath slicing easily under the force of the machete. He gets to work on the second.

“Yeah Maurice! You show those logs!” Hannah cheers, jumping and clapping from the bench.

“I got it,” Charlotte sighs, pulling the final piece into position and out of the puzzle. It sticks a little, so she has to push it back and wiggle it through.

“Yenisei now through with the puzzle,” Jeff says. “There is still time to catch up!”

Maurice grunts and heaves with each swing of his blade. A sharp cracking can be heard as he splits through the second wooden beam.

“Maurice with only one log left for Koryok,” Jeff notes. “Yenisei now at the second station!”

Huang grabs the machete with an iron grip. He lets out a vicious war cry, raising his arm high in the air. With amazing force, he brings the blade down on the first log, pulling it out as if there is no effort. He wails with a furious intensity, sending huge chunks of wooden scrap flying through the air with each blow.”

“Huang like an animal on those logs!” Jeff observes.

“Mo, dude, you gotta pick the pace up,” Nick warns.

“Oh come on,” Maurice grumbles, the machete sticking in the wood. He eases the blade out and keeps working.

Meanwhile, Huang’s incredible effort has allowed him to quickly fell the first log, and he wastes no time attacking the second.

“Atta boy Huang!” Vince claps.

“You got this!” Zeke cheers.

For Koryok, Maurice lets out a final grunt as he swings the machete down one final time. The blade moves through the last piece of the third log, snapping the rope beneath. The chest drops from where it is suspended above. Maurice drops the blade and rests with his hands on his knees, his breathing heavy from the exertion.

“Maurice is done! Now Tallulah has to open it!” Jeff calls as Tallulah takes the key and pops the top of the chest. Teddy, Sheena, Nick and Naomi each reach in to grab a handle, and they all sprint up further along the hill, jogging mostly in unision. Tallulah stands with Maurice, patting him on the back. Their jobs are done.

“Huang now through that second log for Yenisei,” Jeff says. “He has made up a lot of time!”

Huang continues to pummel away at the third log. Meanwhile, Sheena is the first castaway to reach the top of the staircase, heading over to the white colored wheel, where she secures her handle. Nick, Naomi and Teddy are quick to follow.

“Ready?” Sheena asks.

“Let’s do it,” Teddy agrees, and the four of them start to push.

“Koryok is now onto the final stage of this challenge!” Jeff calls.

“Oh my god, this weighs way more than I thought it would,” Nick says as he pushes. The wheel takes much more manpower to move than they have anticipated. As it cranks slowly, the rope pulls the white cart at the bottom of the track closer towards the castaways.

As the Koryok tribe settles into their rhythm, Huang takes a final hit and brings down the treasure chest. Charlotte runs to open it.

“Let’s go,” Zeke encourages as he takes his handle. He, Gunnar, and Olivia start to jog up the hill. Vince lags behind.

“Oh crap,” Huang mutters, breathing hard. “Come on, Vinnie.”

“Have faith,” Charlotte encourages.

“That’s a way to work as a team, Koryok!” Tallulah cheers from the mid-course. Teddy’s teeth grind as he pushes with all his might. Naomi has her arms extended out far in front of her, pushing with all her might.

“No quitting, okay?” Zeke says, jogging backwards as he cheers his team on. “You got this, Uncle Vinnie. You got this!”

“Whoo, this ain’t so bad!” Vince says, jogging as fast as he can go–which isn’t very. Gunnar sprints up the stairs first and gets his handle in position, Olivia quick to follow. They turn to see where their other tribemates are, and see that Zeke has gone back to jog alongside Vince.

“Why is he doing that?” Gunnar sighs.

“It doesn’t matter, we can’t get started until he’s here anyway,” says Olivia, clearly looking nervous.

“Vince is slowing Yenisei down!” notes Jeff. “Zeke going back to help him along!”

At this point, Koryok has gotten their cart a little over halfway up. Zeke and Vince have finally reached the steps, and they make their way up, slowly but surely, and start pushing.

“This is ridiculous,” grunt Gunnar, straining to move the wheel.

“Both tribes now on the final stage of the challenge! This is it!” Jeff yells. “Nobody better give up now!”

“Arrgh!” grunts Sheena as she continues to push, sweat dripping down her forehead.

“Should I have been up there?” Maurice wonders aloud.

“No, they’ve got this,” Tallulah assures him.

Yenisei has gotten their cart on the move, but it’s not moving quickly enough. Koryok’s cart is almost at the top.

“Just a little more!” Teddy yells.

With everyone giving everything they have, the wheel finally clicks to a stop.

“Go, go go!” Nick yells, practically leaping into the cart. He reaches his hand out to Naomi, who takes it and gets in alongside him, followed by Teddy. Sheena comes in last, knife in hand, which she uses to cut the rope.

“Damn it!” Huang yells, clearly upset.

“Hold on tight!” Sheena says, grabbing the handhold of the cart with her free hand. She cuts the final portion of the rope and drops the knife as the cart begins to roll back down.

“WOOOOO HOOOOOO!” cheers Teddy, holding his arms up in the air as the cart rolls, picking up speed. The cart shoots down the hill, past the tracks, rolling faster and faster. Maurice sweeps Tallulah up in a huge hug. Hannah jumps up and down on the sideline, screaming with sheer joy.

At the bottom of the hill, the white cart goes screaming past the finish line, rolling into a pile of dirt to stop the simple vehicle. Soil showers into the air with the collision.

 

“KORYOK! WINS REWARD!”

 

The castaways from the winning team tumble out of the cart, giggling in elation. Maurice jogs over to greet them. Up on her feet, Sheena gives Maurice a high five. Standing atop the tower, Gunnar puts his hands on his hips while his head drops. Vince covers his face.

With the challenge concluded, the two tribes return to their mats.

“Koryok, once again, you’ve demonstrated excellent teamwork, and you’ll be rewarded for it. But first, there is one more order of business,” Jeff says. “Who from Yenisei is going to Exile Island?”

“Uh, so…” Sheena begins, “I know it’s probably not what this person wants to hear, because going there twice can’t be fun, but we’re all in agreement it’s going to be Olivia.”

“Okay,” Olivia nods, accepting the choice. She doesn’t seem terribly bothered.

“Olivia,” Jeff says turning to the blue mat, “come on over, I’ve got a map for you. The destination is a familiar one, I’m afraid.”

“It’s fine, really,” Olivia says, taking the map. “I’ll see you later, guys,” she says, turning to her tribe and waving.

“Good luck out there! We’re praying for you!” Zeke tells her as she heads off.

“Alright, Koryok, the spices, tea, and vodka are all yours, fair and square. Come grab your reward and head on out.”

Tallulah and Naomi walk up, grabbing the baskets of goods, which they bring back to the mat. Charlotte looks heartbroken. Nick grabs the bottle of vodka, while Teddy collects the tea set. They march off into the distance, the white flag bobbing behind them.

“As for you, Yenisei,” Jeff says, “I’ve got nothing for you. You guy can grab your stuff and head back to camp.”

 

Maurice- Koryok Tribe
 “Olivia and I are the only players to have been to Exile Island. Maybe she told someone else the truth about what’s out there, but we have no way of knowing that. I really want to keep that information as under wraps as possible, so sending Olivia back to Exile is the smartest plan.”

 

 

Yenisei Day 11

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Zeke and Vince are down by the river, the water peacefully flowing by as the two men work. In the shallows of the river, the two of them dig up huge handfuls of mud. Zeke drops the mud into a mold, while Vince mixes handfuls of long grass in.

“See, we’re getting the hang of it, easy-peasy!” Vince laughs. “People have been doing this for centuries, if they could do it back then, ain’t no reason we can’t do it now.”

“And you know this because you were there, right old timer?” Zeke jests. Vince lets out a hearty bark-laugh in response.

“Hey hey hey! You better watch it with the sass, Rev! What happened to respecting your elders?” Vince jokes.

 

Vince- Yenisei Tribe
“Today on the agenda, I wanted to make some bricks! So we’re doing an adobe, that’s where you take the mud and you mix it with fibers to bind it. I’ve been clipping and drying the grasses so we can make em nice and strong. I’m thinking if we get enough of these we can make ourselves a nice oven. We ain’t been doing so hot in the challenges, so we’re gonna eat one of the chickens tonight, get ourselves nice and well fed so we go in tomorrow right and ready. So I want an oven to cook it in. Or maybe I’ll use ‘em for an outhouse, I don’t know. I ain’t decided yet.”

 

“We ain’t gonna be able to get these back up to camp until they’re dried, so we need to leave ‘em for the day,” Vince says, wiping his hands off in the fresh flowing water.

“Uncle Vinnie, I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think you’re gonna be able to finish this project by tonight,” Zeke says.

“Then we don’t finish tonight, no big deal,” Vince says with a shrug. “We finish when we finish. The world ain’t gonna collapse. The important thing, Zeke… look what you managed to make.”

The two of them look over the rows of drying mud bricks, and Zeke can only smile, satisfied. “Yeah, you ain’t wrong, Vinnie. Feels good, getting in a hard day’s work like that.”

“And you said you wasn’t good with your hands!” Vince says, slapping Zeke on the shoulder. “Let me tell you, Zeke, if there’s one thing I’ve learned at my age, it’s that you always can surprise yourself. You might think you know what your strengths and weaknesses is, but you will always find opportunities to surprise yourself. I mean, look at me, you think I’d ever be out here, doing this sh*t?”

 

Vince- Yenisei Tribe
“Who am I supposed to be over here, Mr. Camping? When me and Cece took the kids on the vacations, we didn’t do none of this camping, great outdoors type of sh*t, heavens no! If I’m taking time off of work, it ain’t to sit in the dirt, it’s to be floating in a heated pool at the Ramada. I think when my kids and my grandkids see this, they’re gonna be just tickled pink and purple that Gramps wasn’t the first one voted out. I’m 57 years old, I’ve had a little bit of time to get to know myself, and I sure as hell know if there’s one thing I ain’t, it’s perfect. I’m a loud bastard, I ain’t always good at shutting my trap and keeping my opinions to myself. And I’m not the MVP with the, uh, with the athletics. But I’m one hell of a loyal motherf*cker, I’ll tell you that. My loyalty, to the Rev, to Charlotte, Huang? They know they can take my word to the bank,” he says, waving a finger for emphasis. “That’s what I’m proving, the value of your word can take you far if you’re willing to stick to it.”

 

“Alright,” Vince says, dusting off his hands, “that’s good for today. Whattya say we leave these here to dry and head back up to camp?”

“You’re calling the shots, brother,” Zeke says. “This is your neck of the woods, I’mma follow your lead.”

“Well let’s get back going then. Get some melon going and fatten you up a bit.”

 

Zeke- Yenisei Tribe
“My dad walked out on us when I was a kid, so most of my life, I was turning to men in my church for that guidance, for that father figure in my life. Mama made sure that even though daddy didn’t stick around that me and my sisters never felt a lack of love. But it just ain’t the same thing, it can’t be and that ain’t no ones’ fault. I never had someone saying, ‘hey, come on Zeke. Let’s go build something with our hands, you can do it.’ If stuff broke around the house, Mama had to be the one to fix it, and I always did feel a little guilty that there wasn’t more I could do to help. Uncle Vinnie, he always gets me involved with his, uh, his inventions and his creations around the camp. He’s a different kind of father figure for me, and I’m so grateful to have met him. I really do thank God for bringing the Yenisei Tribe into my life. There’s something I’ve been able to learn from everyone.”

 

As they walk through the forest back to camp, they talk.

“I remember being maybe 11 or 12,” Zeke recounts, “and there was a big story in the news about another incident of child abuse at the hands of a church official. And this wasn’t the first time I heard of it, because you hear these stories all the time.”

“Sad, ain’t it?” says Vince, shaking his head.

“You’re telling me,” Zeke says. “After that, I had asked my minister at our church, you know, what would go down if that were to happen here, in our community. And I ain’t never gonna forget his reaction, because he just looked at me so confused, like I had been speaking in another language, and said ‘things of that nature don’t happen here.’”

“And you know, that’s the exact thing they was probably saying every time some kid got diddled by a priest,” Vince says. “No one wants to believe it happened there to them. People like to think bad things only happen far away, to other people,” Vince says.

“That’s exactly how I feel, Vinnie, exactly how I feel,” Zeke says. “And so I had asked him, but Father, how you know? How you know that ain’t happen here? You’re a human, just like all of us, just as tempted by sin as anyone else. Like, I wasn’t molested or nothing, but… like, my dad left, you know? He was supposed to be there for us, and he wasn’t. So I already had seen an adult doing what they wasn’t supposed to be. Why you think the clergy gonna be any less likely to break your trust, you know? So when he said that, that was one of the first times I really questioned things, being like… no, don’t tell me that just don’t happen, I wanna know how you gonna make sure it don’t happen.”

 

Zeke- Yenisei Tribe
“I can be open with Uncle Vinnie, I can be real with him. When you’re um, when you’re in a position of authority, or looked at as a leader in your community–which, as a pastor, I am–you can’t always be your most vulnerable self. Sometimes you have to know when to hold yourself back because at that time, that place, that moment? Someone else is leaning on you, and so you gotta be ready to show them that support, because that’s the position you chose yourself to be in. And in a way, that’s kind of prepared me to be out here, where you can’t trust everyone. So having those genuine people you can share your truth with? That’s something you can’t win as a prize in a challenge.”

 

mqvek3

 

The men come back up into camp, where the others are all resting in the shelter. Vince takes a seat next to Charlotte.

“Vince, you wanna do the chicken soon?” Charlotte ask.

“Eh, give me a moment,” Vince says, lying down with his jacket as a pillow. “Me and the Rev have been making mud bricks.”

“Mud bricks?” asks Huang. “What for?”

“Eh, who knows?” Vince laughs. “Better to have them now then to need ‘em and not have ‘em.”

Gunnar lies on the opposite side of ring shaped shelter. Out of view, he rolls his eyes.

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“Vince has just been f*cking around all day, basically. Just wasting his time and energy on things that no one asked him to do. The chapel? Zeke straight up told him, ‘no, don’t bother doing that, I don’t want it and I don’t need it,’ and Vince did it anyway. Yeah, the stuff he makes is cool, but is it necessary? Quite frankly, I don’t think it is. It’s his party trick. It’s cool the first few times he shows it off, but then you realize he only knows that one trick, he brings nothing else to the conversation. But hey, it’s a good trick. It helps him create the illusion he’s contributing something to the tribe.”

 

“You know what?” Gunnar says, piping up. “Let me do it. I’ll kill the chicken.”

“What?” Vince asks.

“Really?” asks Charlotte at the same time.

“Yeah, really,” Gunnar says, sitting up so that he can see his tribemates. “You know, I’m out here challenging myself so… why not? Why not see if I can do something totally out of my comfort zone?”

“You sure about this, bud?” Vince asks. “Don’t feel like you gotta earn some kind of man card from no one by doing this, okay?”

“I feel no such way,” Gunnar assures. “The only man I want to prove anything to is myself.”

“Well, have at it, takes a chore off my plate,” Vince says with a hearty chuckle. “You need a hand, you need anything at all, you just say the word, though.”

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“I volunteered to kill the chicken because it’s obvious my tribe mates take the amount contributed around camp strongly into consideration. And quite frankly, I have to do some course-correction for my narrative to these people. Olivia being at Exile Island is the worst outcome possible for this last challenge. That means she gets another clue for the idol and another chance to look for it, so it’s very likely that Olivia will come back with an idol in her pocket. And since I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar, I think I’m probably going to be target #2. So I need to show them that Mr. Country Club is willing to do whatever Uncle Vinnie is willing to do, especially when he’s not really benefiting us as a tribe. This is about showing my tribe that there is someone who brings less to the table than me.”

 

Gunnar opens the roof to the chicken coop. Vince stands, now watching anxiously. Charlotte and Huang sit up to observe as well.

“Oh dear f*cking Christ,” he mutters to himself as he cautiously reaches in.

“Reach down under the front of it’s body, not the back!” Vince directs. “Get it between it’s crotch with ya middle finger!”

“Oh-okay!” Gunnar calls, nervously doing as told. “Got it!” He lifts the chicken out of the coop cautiously. The bird begins clucking and flailing. Gunnar pauses to give it a moment to calm down, and then keeps removing it.”

“There we go,” he whispers to himself. “We got it out.”

“Do you want someone to hold it?” Huang asks, “while, you like… you know… cut it’s head off?”

“I’m just gonna…” Gunnar says, nervously, “do it like I saw on the internet.” Gunnar flips the bird over, once again giving it a chance to calm down as he grips the bird’s head in the palm of his left hand, his forefinger and thumb at the base of the bird’s skull.

“Sorry about this,” Gunnar whispers. He squeezes his eyes shut and yanks down hard. From the shelter, an audible pop can be heard, followed by thrashing and then silence. Gunnar drops the now dead animal and then runs into the bushes, where puking can be heard.

“Oh, goodness gracious,” Charlotte says with a sigh, getting up from the shelter. “Gunnar? Are you okay?”

“Y-yeah, I’m good,” Gunnar says from behind a tree. Charlotte heads off to find him, while Vince grabs the chicken off the ground. Huang and Zeke share a concerned look.

 

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Down at the water, among the scattered, drying mud bricks, Gunnar scrubs his hands in the flowing water. His eyes are red, making it obvious he’s been crying. Charlotte approaches him from behind.

“Gunnar?” Charlotte asks. “Gunnar, are you alright?”

“Uh… I mean, I will be,” Gunnar says. “I’m just a little… shocked, that’s all.”

“That’s an okay way to feel,” she says, crouching down next to him, rubbing his back. “I brought you your water. I don’t want you drinking straight from the river, but maybe having a little would be good right now.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Gunnar says with a nod, wiping his eyes. He takes the canteen and begins to drink. “Thanks, Charlotte,” he says as he pulls the vessel away from his lips.

“You’re very welcome,” Charlotte says. “Do… do you want hug?”

“No,” Gunnar says. He pauses. “Yes.” Charlotte gives him a tight hug, and Gunnar starts to cry again.

 

Charlotte- Yenisei Tribe
“When Gunnar ran off, it was so unlike him! That maternal instinct just kicked in, you know? I could tell that he realized killing a chicken, even though it’s an animal, it’s still taking a life. You feel guilty about it, it’s hard not to. I know the first time I ever went hunting, I felt that way. And you don’t really stop feeling that way, it just… you learn how to handle that feeling. It’s just a part of the circle of life, predator eats prey. It’s a lot like Survivor, actually,” she laughs. “Each time you vote someone out, you learn to handle it a little easier.”

 

“Shh, it’s okay,” Charlotte whispers. “Hey,” she says, pulling away from the hug and putting both hands on his shoulders. “You just did something that you never thought you could do. Be proud of yourself. I don’t blame you for feeling emotional. That’s normal. But you pushed yourself, Gunnar, and it means so much to all of us that you did that for the Tribe.”

“Thanks,” Gunnar says with a smile. “I’m already feeling a little better.”

 

4rykw2

 

Around the “kitchen” table, Charlotte places the cooked chicken. She proceeds to slice it into pieces, which the others in the tribe grab hungrily. Vince ravenously tears into a drumstick, while Zeke sucks the meat off one of the wings.

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“I’m pretty embarrassed that I broke down crying after killing the chicken. I mean, I studied how to do it before I came out, you know… in case I had to. I thought it would be… not fun, but, you know, easy. Like I’d be so hungry I wouldn’t care. And I am hungry, and I’m glad I did it, but… Whew! I just don’t think I anticipated the emotional toll it would take. I’ve never had to kill my own food, and it’s something that I do take for granted, being able to just go into a store and buy the meat already carved up. Already been killed.”

 

“Charlotte, this is delicious,” Huang says. “Thank you so much for cooking it.”

“Don’t just thank me,” Charlotte says. “Thank Gunnar for helping.”

“Yo, Gunnar, seriously?” Huang says. “That was crazy. Mad props to you for doing that, man,” Huang says, offering a  fist. Gunnar bumps his fist against Huang’s. Charlotte smiles as she watches the interaction.

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
 “I think it speaks a lot to Charlotte’s character that she came to, you know, check on me and cheer me up. I think she’s a very maternal woman, so part of it is just, you know, second nature for her. But at the same time, I was just this close to getting her voted out of the game by betraying her trust. If I were in her position, I don’t know that I’d be able to be that gracious. I’m hoping this is a sign that Charlotte, you know, might be willing to move past… well, the past! If killing the chicken was worth any goodwill, it was worth it. I can pay for therapy with my prize money when the game is done,” he laughs.

 

 

Exile Island Day 12

 

 

wmzkw1

 

As the morning sun comes up, Olivia walks across the steppes, heading towards a trickling creek. She sits with her microscope kit, making a slide of a water sample.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“Ever since I arrived here on Exile Island a second time, I’ve been thinking about that locked box. The one with the Koryok buff in it. I barely slept the other night, because I’m just bouncing back and forth, in my mind, between all the reasons I should do it and all the reasons I shouldn’t.”

 

Olivia places the slide and focuses the microscope as she looks through it.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“I’m on the bottom at Yenisei. That’s a fact. I was the real target at Tribal Council, not Mandy. I can’t see any reason I wouldn’t be the target again. My one hope is the idol, which, don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful to have found, but… that’s one round of safety. What happens three days from now if I have to play it to save myself tonight? I just go home on Day Fifteen instead of Day Twelve. So there is a really big incentive to jump ship now, when I have the chance. You wouldn’t stay on a sinking ship if a helicopter came by that could pull you off, right?”

 

 

 

She adjusts the knobs on the microscope as she observes the slide underneath.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“At the same time, it’s totally a situation of the devil you know versus the devil you don’t. I know where everyone stands on Yenisei, and maybe I could figure out a way to use that knowledge and use the idol and change my entire situation. I know pretty much nothing about what’s happening on Koryok. It could just be a ‘grass is always greener’ situation. I could jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Or I could end up with someone who’s been waiting for an extra number to make a move. There’s no way to know.”

 

As the sun begins to come higher and higher in the sky, Olivia packs her things. With her bag slung over her shoulder, she returns to the Ovoo. A note awaits her.

“Tree mail,” she sighs, opening the scroll.

“To avoid the vote, you’ll need to fight,
And carry another’s weight;
Unbind your hands the fastest,
And avoid a most unpleasant fate.”

“I guess I’m leaving Exile Island soon…” Olivia says to no one in particular as she rolls the scroll back up. With a sigh, she opens the awaiting box, looking at the white buff within. She breathes out, hard.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“There are good reasons to stay and good reasons to go, and no matter what choice I make, I’m taking a huge risk by making it. Jumping ship could be a million dollar mistake, it could be a game winning move. I don’t have the data to make the most informed decision possible, and that just makes it so hard for me to commit. Our brains are amazing pieces of evolution but they’re also notoriously unreliable. There’s a reason that concrete evidence is preferred over witness testimony. ”

 

The camera focuses close on Olivia’s hand as she closes the box, the contents not visible.

 

Olivia- Yenisei Tribe
“I don’t like being in positions like this, where I have to make a decision without all the information. Having to take a leap of faith has never been easy for me. But Survivor isn’t an easy game, and I knew that coming in. I have no one to blame but myself for being in this position, so I am going to grit my teeth and make a decision. And once it’s made, I have no choice but to keep moving forward. I can’t afford to look back.”

 

Eyes focused firmly on the path ahead of her, Olivia crosses the steppes, heading back towards the sea of trees that yawns out before her.

 

 

 

Immunity Challenge Day 12

 

Sacrificial Lamb

E4 Immunity

 

“Come on in, guys!”

Yenisei and Koryok anxiously make their way into the challenge arena. Zeke and Teddy place their respective tribe flags. Jeff smiles at the players.

“We’ll now welcome back Olivia, returning from Exile Island.”

“Here we go,” sighs Gunnar.

From the edge of the forest, Olivia comes into view. She has a determined expression on her face, as she comes in, not making eye contact with anyone on Yenisei. Around her head, she wears a white buff.

“What in the world?” gasps Charlotte.

“Is that… our buff?” whispers Teddy.

“I think so,” Sheena says, totally thrown.

She flipped tribes!” Maurice whispers to Tallulah. Olivia takes a place on the Koryok mat.

“Hey, new Tribe. What’s up?” Olivia says with awkward chuckle. Vince’s jaw hangs open, awestruck.

“So, Olivia,” Jeff says, clearly intrigued, “You are now a member of the Koryok Tribe. What happened?”

“Well,” Olivia says, “On Exile Island, I was presented with the option to switch tribes if I decided to, and, well, I decided to!,” she says, giggling somewhat uncomfortably.

“What lead you to that decision?” Jeff asks.

“Well, I’m just going to be blunt and say it,” Olivia begins. “I would have been an idiot to stay with Yenisei. I was supposed to go home three days ago, but by some freak accident I ended up surviving by the skin of my teeth. And quite honestly, when you gave us our tribes in the first place, I was a little bummed out, seeing who I could have potentially been with. Plus they’ve won the last what, four challenges? It was kind of a no-brainer.”

“Wow,” mouths Huang, clearly looking offended.

“Yenisei, does hearing this from Olivia surprise any of you?”

“Not at all,” Zeke says. “Not at all. Everyone could see that there has been, sort of, uh, you know, a gap between Olivia and everyone else in the team. I’m just surprised right now because, like, I didn’t even know that was something that could happen, with her switching and all, I mean.”

“I didn’t know either,” Charlotte says.

“I mean, if it makes you feel any better,” Sheena says from the other mat, “no one over here knew either.”

“Except him, probably,” Vince responds, pointing at Maurice. “Cowboy over there.”

“Woah, woah!” Maurice says, “Don’t drag me into y’all’s drama.”

“I’m just saying!” Vince cries, defensively. “It ain’t personal, I’m just saying. There’s only two folks who been out to Exile Island, and that’s Traitor McGee and the Lone Ranger,” he says with a plain shrug.

“Traitor,” mutters Olivia. “Of course.”

“Koryok, on the other hand, you now have unexpectedly gained a new member. Does anyone have any reactions?” Jeff asks. Nick raises his hand.

“I think it gives us a lot of information about what’s going on over on Yenisei,” Nick says. “Maurice decided not to do it, and Olivia did. So I think that tells us a lot about how we’re coming together as a group versus them.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity to make a new friend,” Sheena says, putting an arm around Olivia’s shoulder. She smiles at the Yenisei Tribe. “If you guys don’t want her, we’re more than happy to take her.”

Huang rolls his eyes. Vince opens his mouth to say something, but Charlotte covers it.

“I just want to get to the challenge, Jeff,” Olivia says. “I’m ready to show my Tribe what I’m capable of. Oh, and uh, one more thing,” she says, turning to her former tribe. She throws her arms up in the air. “I’m gay, bitches!”

“WOO-HOO!” Nick cheers. Everyone on Koryok claps and cheers for Olivia. Nick gives her a big hug. “That’s fine with us, Olivia. That is more than fine with us.” Tallulah goes to hug her as well. Charlotte looks down, somewhat uncomfortable. Zeke nods, his facial expression indicating that the news isn’t particularly surprising to him.

“Anyone else have anything to get off their chest?” Jeff asks once the chaos has died down. When no one says anything he continues. “Alright, then what do you say we get to today’s challenge?”

Everyone nods and affirms, and Jeff continues.

“First things first,” Jeff says. “Koryok, I need immunity back.”

Teddy nods knowingly and heads to Jeff, passing the idol off.

Tribal Immunity Idol

 

“Immunity once again back up for grabs,” Jeff says. “For today’s challenge, one member of each tribe will have their hands bound with a long rope passing through their arms. That rope will wind down the course around obstacles. The rest of the tribe will need to maneuver that person along the rope, which means you will need to make sure the rope has slack and you will need to pick them up. The first tribe to cross the finish line with all five people wins immunity and three more days in the game–losers, same deal as always, I’ll see you at Tribal Council where one of you will become the fourth person voted out of the game. Koryok, with the addition of Olivia, you now have three extra people. You cannot sit out the same people in back to back challenges, so since Hannah sat out this time, she must play this time.”

The tribe huddles before coming to a conclusion.

“I’m going to sit out,” Naomi announces, “along with Tallulah and Olivia.”

“Alright, ladies,” Jeff says, “the three of you can take a seat on the bench. As for the rest of you, I’ll give you a moment to strategize, then we’ll go ahead and get started.”

The tribes stand at the staring line in their respective positions.

“For Yenisei, the person tied up is going to be Charlotte,” Jeff announces. “For Koryok, we have Hannah.”

 

“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”

 

The castaways head off, arriving at the first obstacle, a barrier with three rungs, the rope winding around them each. Both tribes arrive at roughly the same time. Hannah and Charlotte both duck down, needing to go over the bottom rung first.

On Koryok, Maurice and Teddy both make their way around to the other side of the barrier to help Hannah through, pulling on the other knots of the rope to release slack. Hannah tumbles over, flat on her back on the other side of the barrier.

“Pull her back through!” Maurice directs to Nick and Sheena, each grabbing her under and arm to pull her.

On Yenisei, Vince has been relegated to working the rope as Gunnar and Zeke help pull Charlotte. Huang heads around the back of the barrier and starts climbing up, preparing to help get Charlotte over the upper rails.

“Ow, please be careful!” Charlotte says as she is dragged by the boys through the dirt.

“Sorry!” Zeke apologizes.

“Both women now over the first rail,” Jeff calls, “but that’s the easy part!”

“Tuck your arms over,” Maurice directs to Hannah as she bends over the middle rail, hands bound along the rope. Sheena and Nick both grab her feet and start to lift her over, Maurice and Teddy catching her on the other side.

Over on Yenisei, Charlotte begins to do the same.

“Maybe you should be over here, Huang,” Gunnar suggests. Huang hops down from the barrier, leaving Vince to support Charlotte on the other side. The game’s eldest man is clearly struggling to support Charlotte’s weight on his own.

“One of you’s needs to get over here, pronto!” Vince barks. Gunnar heads over to help.

“Yenisei, trying to figure out the best way to position themselves,” Jeff notes. “Koryok is having a much smoother time figuring this out,” he continues, with Sheena and Nick now hoisting up Hannah to climb over the top of the obstacle. Teddy climbs up along the opposite side and pulls the rope to create slack. From the top, Maurice grabs Hannah and pulls her over.

“Koryok through the first obstacle!” Jeff calls. Teddy jumps down and takes Hannah’s waist as Maurice lowers her arms, allowing her to safely get both feet on the ground.

“That’s it guys!” cheers Naomi from the sideline.

“Way to work as a team, Koryok!” calls Tallulah.

“Yenisei starting to figure it out,” Jeff observes. Now at the front side of the barrier, Huang boosts Charlotte up and over the top, her feet on his shoulders. Zeke works his best to create slack.

“I need you lower, Huang!” Zeke says. Huang obeys, and brings Charlotte down a little so Zeke can work more effectively. Huang then lifts her again, hoisting her up and over the obstacle, Gunnar, Zeke and Vince waiting on the other side to recieve her.

“Huang gets Charlotte up and over, that’s some serious strength,” Jeff says.

Meanwhile, Koryok has gotten to work on the second obstacle, a series of hitching posts, organized end to end in a Z formation. The rope coils around the posts. Sheena begins to to hoist Hannah over, while Maurice catches her from the other side. They don’t have quite enough slack, and she gets stuck.

“Aiieee!” Hannah yelps, her feet flailing helplessly.

“Don’t kick like that!” Sheena reprimands. Teddy and Nick manage to get enough slack, allowing Maurice to pull Hannah through. Nick begins to pull at the rope around the vertical part of the post, allowing Hannah to start ducking through.

On the Yenisei side of the track, they are encoutering similar obstacles as Zeke works rapidly to free Charlotte.

“Hannah making quick progress getting through those loops!” calls Jeff.

“one, two, three, LIFT!” calls Maurice, as Sheena and Nick hoist Hannah up and over to Maurice, Teddy moving ahead to unwind the rope.

“This shouldn’t be this hard,” Gunnar says, “why are they so far ahead?”

“Don’t pay them any mind,” says Zeke as they continue to work.

By now, Hannah has been moved along to the end of the hitching post. Teddy loosens the final loop and Maurice pulls her through, putting her on her feet so they can progress.

“Koryok now through the second obstacle!” calls Jeff. “Yenisei is still struggling!”

“Catch her, CATCH HER!” yells Huang as Charlotte flops aimlessly over the rope. Vince tries his best to catch her, but is having trouble holding Charlotte up, leaving her almost dangling from the underside of the hitching post.

“Oh, ouch!” Charlotte yelps.

Zeke grabs Charlotte’s upper body and lifts her up, getting her over the near end of the second obstacle. Now she has only a few more loops until she’s free.

The third obstacle is an A-frame with a bar going through the center, where the rope connects. Sheena crawls under the frame, preparing to catch Hannah as Maurice all but throws her straight over the first log. Sheena catches her while Nick climbs up to the top, Teddy continuing to work on loosening the ropes. With Hannah practically upside down in Sheena’s arms, Maurice grabs her around the waist and lifts her, Nick grabbing her ankles as he yanks her up and over the top of the obstacle.

“Koryok now really picking up the pace,” Jeff calls. Like a well oiled machine, Sheena pulls Hannah from Nick, passes her back to Maurice, who hoists her up and over. As they near completion the third obstacle, Charlotte finally has emerged from the second. She scrambles forward but trips, and without her hands to brace herself, she falls flat on her face in the dirt. Olivia chuckles from the sideline.

“Are you okay?” Huang asks as he helps her up.

“Yes, let’s go!” Charlotte says, continuing to run the moment she’s back on her feet. They reach the A-frame and she lunges forward over the first bar, but there isn’t enough slack for her to make it much further, leaving her hanging from her midsection as her tribemates work to pull her over.

Koryok has arrived at the fourth section. The rope is looped twice around a long that lies flat on the ground.

“Koryok now has to get digging!” Jeff calls while the white tribe gets to work, Maurice dropping to his knees to dig, moving aside huge sections of dirt. Hannah sits down in the pit he is forming, and Nick, once again, grabs her by the feet to start pulling her under the log. Teddy digs frantically around her from the other side.

“She’s not gonna fit,” Sheena says, “Stop pulling Nick, we need to DIG!”

With a sigh, Nick drops Hannah, leaving her half sticking out of the ground with her feet waggling in the air as the tribe digs around her.

With some loose rope finally untangled, Charlotte is now moving more easily over the Yenisei obstacle. Vince, at this point, appears winded, as he lets the three younger men do most of the heavy lifting.

“Just get the rope untangled, Vince,” Huang barks.

“Got it,” Vince sighs.

Huang lifts Charlotte up and over the final portion of the obstacle, but by this point, the Koryoks have loosed enough dirt to allow Hannah through. They’ve arrived at the last obstacle, but this one is obviously the most complex. A single pole rises out of the ground, with holes all throughout it, the rope weaved and knotted through. Teddy begins pulling the rope at the base, loosening a hole for Hannah to start being moved through. Maurice all but has her tucked under his arm, forcing her.

Charlotte, meanwhile, has gotten stuck under the log on th fourth stage. Unlike Hannah, her tribe has attempted to move her through on her stomach. Huang is now pulling uselessly on the back of her legs as the other men work to free her.

“Charlotte is stuck!” Jeff calls, “Yenisei, you need to pick it up!

Koryok has now gotten Hannah through a fair number of the loops. Maurice hoists her up on his shoulders through another one, as Nick yanks the rope to make it wide enough for Hannah to fit through.

“Grab the pole on the top, Han!” Maurice tells her.

“Got it,” Hannah says, allowing Maurice some much needed stability. Sheena and Teddy push to get her legs up and through.

“Don’t give up!” Zeke commands, digging furiously. Huang tugs Charlotte, pulling her through. Zeke helps her up as they start moving towards the final obstacle, but it’s clear they have a lot of work to do.

Maurice once again goes to lift Hannah through another loop on the pole It’s the second to the top.

“Get her get her GET HER!” Maurice yells, as Nick grabs onto the rope to pull it further, making sure that Sheena can get Hannah’s shoulders. Maurice pushes at her feet, toppling her into Hannah’s arms like a baby being cradled by it’s mother.

“You’re almost there!” screams Naomi.

Charlotte is now almost being carried by Huang while Vince tugs on the ropes. As Huang pushes her, one of Charlotte’s feet catches on rope. Gunnar pulls it loose.

“Yenisei is trying desperately to make up some ground,” Jeff says, “but it might be too late,” he observes, turning his attention to Koryok.

Hannah has once again grabbed the top of the pole, lifting herself as best as she can as Teddy and Sheena furiously pull at the rope. With enough loosened space and slack, Maurice hoists her up and through, Nick grabbing her under her arms as Teddy and Sheena support her midsection. Nick places her on her feet, and together, Koryok runs to the end of the rope, which is looped around a hook. With a triumphant cry of joy, Teddy pulls the rope off the hook, and Maurice yanks it, causing it to slide through Hannah’s bindings, freeing her.

 

“KORYOK! WINS IMMUNITY!”

 

On the side bench, the waiting women erupt in explosive cheering. Olivia hugs with Hannah and Naomi, a huge bright smile on her face. Maurice and Sheena share a high five. Charlotte, still bound, looks dejected. Vince appears winded. Gunnar looks like he wants to cry.

The tribes return to their mats, Charlotte and Hannah with their hands once again freed.

“Koryok, you guys are on fire,” Jeff says. “Once again, Immunity is yours. Who wants this?” he asks, holding up the idol.

“It’s yours, babe,” Sheena says, rubbing Hannah’s back.

“You let yourself get so scruffed up for us,” says Maurice.

Hannah smiles as she heads forward to Jeff, gleefully accepting the idol.

“Koryok,” Jeff continues. “Enjoy your night off, you can use that time to get to know the new member of your tribe,” he says, gesturing to Olivia. “You guys can head back to camp.”

“I’m so happy,” Olivia says to Tallulah as the two of them head off.

“We’re happy to have you,” Tallulah responds.

Jeff turns his attention to Yenisei.

“Yenisei, this is becoming a bad habit on your part,” Jeff says, turning the losing tribe. “All I have for you is a date with me tonight at Tribal Council, where one of you will become the fourth person voted out of the game. I’ll give you the afternoon to decide who it will be. Grab your stuff, head back to camp. I’ll see you tonight.”

Charlotte is clearly trying to hold back tears as they head off. All Zeke can do is give her a comforting hug. Huang all but drags the flag from it’s spot as the defeated blue tribe makes their way home.

 

Koryok Day 12

 

1rojgo

 

Spirits are high as Koryok returns to camp.

 

Teddy- Koryok Tribe
“Today was a big, crazy day. Really important. We won immunity, again. It’s our fifth challenge win in a row, which is amazing. But maybe even better than that is that Olivia ended up flipping off the other tribe and joining us. It was a huge shock to everyone, I think, but honestly, I think it’s a great turn of events.”

 

“Thank you guys for being so welcoming,” Olivia says, putting her bag down.

“Thank you for joining us!” laughs Hannah, going in for a hug. “What’s better than new friends?”

 

Teddy- Koryok Tribe
“It’s a big blow to Yenisei, because now they’re losing two people today, and we’re gaining one. There’s gonna be four against eight! And it sounded like Olivia was probably gonna get voted out tonight if she didn’t do this. So it sucks for whichever of them is going home tonight, because whoever you are, it was not supposed to be you. Sorry. I just… I feel for the girl, because it sounds like she was just really the black sheep over there, and like it’s kind of a weird place, honestly.”

 

“Yeah, no,” Olivia says, shrugging. “It really was just… like, my only option. I mean… are you all, like, religious as a tribe?” Olivia asks. “Like, there isn’t any group prayer, right?”

“What? No, of course not,” laughs Nick, raising an eyebrow. “That’s crazy.”

“Yeah,” Maurice shrugs. “Those of us that do happen to be religious, we just kind of do our own thing. Nobody really cares what you do or don’t believe in.”

“Holy sh*t,” Olivia sighs, laughing in relief. “You do not know how good it is to hear that! It’s like a cult over there.”

“Really?” asks Sheena curiously. “Let me guess, it’s the Reverend! He’s in charge, right?”

“Bingo,” Olivia says, “oh my god I was losing my mind.

 

Olivia- Koryok Tribe
“When I got to the challenge from Exile Island, in that moment when everyone saw I had switched tribes, I knew that I had to come and make a very clear statement to show them that I’m with them, that I’m severing ties with Yenisei, so I just kind of put everything out there. Including being a lesbian,” she laughs. “and being so… just kind of out there with everything, that’s very antithetical to how I usually am. But I know that I’m new on this tribe, I’m still an easy target, so I need them to see that I’m with them, one hundred percent. I have no designs on playing double-agent. And once that floodgate opened, it’s like… I really don’t have much choice other than to keep the information coming. I’m committing myself to Koryok.”

 

“Well,” Sheena says, a naughty grin crossing her face, “I think we should all sit down by the fire, you can tell us all about it, we can get to know you, and you can get to know us. And, uh, if nobody objects, I think this would be a perfect opportunity to break out that bottle of vod-ka we wonnnnnn,” she says in a sing-song voice.

“Oh-Em-Gee, YES!” Hannah says, jumping and clapping in excitement. “Getting drunk is one of my biggest talents!”

“A stiff drink,” Olivia says, “would be extremely welcome.”

“Alright!” Hannah cheers. “We poppin’ bottles to-night!

“Well let’s show you around first, then,” Tallulah suggests, “before everyone around here starts getting irresponsible.” She gives Nick a pointed look.

“Wha-ha-hat is that look for?” Nick asks, laughing. “TM, do you think I’m some kind of… some sort of scoundrel?” he gasps sarcastically.

“Boy, I know you are some kind of scoundrel,” Tallulah jests.

 

Olivia- Koryok Tribe
“And I’m okay with the choice I made. I thought I’d feel a lot of anxiety over like, ‘oh no, did I just make a stupid decision?’ That kind of feeling. But the vibe when I got over here on Koryok was amazing. Like night and day from where I was. I feel like I can breathe easy for the first time in days. Everyone is so welcoming, they’re joking around, they just seem like a very easy going group, and it just… it feels more like these are people who I can click with. So I’m really happy with the choice I made. It’s given me a second wind.”

 

“A tour would be great,” Olivia says with a smile. “Uh, can I put my stuff down first?”

“Yeah, absolutely, right over here,” Sheena offers, showing her a space in the shelter.

 

Sheena- Koryok Tribe
“You know the saying ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer?’ That’s exactly what I’m doing. I was so surprised when I saw Olivia in a white buff, but you gotta get your wits about you quick, so that’s what I did. I mean, it’s not hard, because she does genuinely seem cool, but at the same time, it’s like… you just flipped on your tribe! She doesn’t have the same big presence that some of these other personalities have, but to do what she did takes ovaries of steel. Olivia is someone who isn’t afraid to make a big, bold move, and if she’s willing to do it to her tribe that she’s been with for almost two weeks, she could be easily willing to do that to any individual player in this game.”

 

“Thank you,” Olivia says, taking her bag off. Sheena takes a sip over her water bottle, but she’s watching Olivia’s bag carefully.

 

 

Sheena- Koryok Tribe
“On top of all that, Olivia has been to Exile Island twice. She’s had a lot of opportunity to look for the idol, and I think there’s a good chance she has it. So I was definitely trying to see if I could catch a glimpse in her bag,” she laughs. “It’s important to know, though! If we do end up losing immunity at some point, Olivia’s name is obviously coming up, just because she’s new in the group, she hasn’t been here building the bonds with the same bonds as the rest of us. And if we voted for her and she played the idol, that could do a lot of damage. I’m hoping that the closer I can get to her, the more information I can get from her.”

 

“I’m just so glad to be around new people,” Olivia says. “My spirits have been at an all-time low.”

“I can’t wait to hear about it,” Sheena says waggling her eyebrows.

 

Sheena- Koryok Tribe
“For all I know, she’s a double-agent. They could all be putting on a big act to have someone infiltrate our tribe. Not that I think that’s likely… but you can never know for sure in this game. A million dollars is a big incentive to lie, and I’m a sharp, calculating player. If you want to be successful as a martial artist, you have to be quick on your feet, you have to be aware of everything your opponent is doing so you can react before they do. I’m not taking any chances with Olivia. I don’t trust her.”

 

 

Yenisei Day 12

 

 

oyzkxn

 

With the challenge over, Yenisei returns to camp. The weight of the defeat almost appears as if is literally weighing the group down. Sitting in the shelter, Zeke’s eyes are closed, his lips move quietly in a barely-whispered prayer. Huang stands with his arms crossed, staring into the fire, sunglasses pulled tight on his expressionless face. Gunnar looks almost a sickly green.

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“Well f*ck. Pardon my language, but just… just f*ck this sh*t,” he laughs. “Today’s outcome was literally the worst thing that could have happened for my game. Not only did we lose, but f*cking Olivia just up and left! Walked right off the tribe. And then we still went and lost immunity. I was relying on her to be a bigger target than me, and now she’s gone, and now I’m a sitting duck. So for me, I’m petrified. I’m absolutely petrified.”

 

“This is horrible,” Charlotte sighs, sitting down in the shelter.

“You’re telling me,” Vince agrees. “I can’t believe it. I just… I had such a good feeling about today. Can’t tell you why, I just did.”

“So did I, Uncle Vinnie,” says Zeke. “So did I.”

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“For most of the game, it’s seemed, on the surface, like Zeke was running things, because the tribe turns to him for so many of our team decisions, why wouldn’t people be turning to him to find out how to vote too? But as much as I think Zeke is a good leader, I think Charlotte is a much better player when it comes to the real game of Survivor. I had been trying to think of ways to convince Zeke that Uncle Vinnie should be voted out tonight, but uh, now I’m not so sure that’s the best way to go about things. She and I have actually kind of bonded these last few days, and I think she’s someone I could actually strategize with, whereas I don’t know that Zeke is going to be as receptive to that kind of discussion. So right now, my game plan is to just talk to Charlotte and see what kind of damage I can do.”

 

“Well,” Gunnar says, standing up from the shelter, “as much as I’m wiped out after the challenge, firewood won’t get itself. Charlotte, would you mind giving me a hand?”

“Of course not,” Charlotte says. “I’d be happy to.”

As Charlotte and Gunnar head off into the forest, Vince and Zeke share a look. When both are gone, Huang walks over from the fire to join them in the shelter. “He’s planning something,” Huang says to the other guys.

“Of course he’s planning something,” Vince says. “The kid knows he made a stupid mistake, and he knows that he’s paying for it tonight.”

“So we’re all in agreement it’s him, then?” Huang asks.

“Yes,” Vince says, looking at Huang as though he just sprouted a third eye. “Of course it’s him. I don’t trust him worth sh*t, sorry Rev.”

“You don’t need to apologize to me for cussing, how many times I gotta tell you?” Zeke chuckles. “But uh, yeah. No, yeah. I agree with y’all. Actions and consequences, you know?”

“I agree completely, Rev,” Vince nods. “I agree completely.”

 

Vince- Yenisei Tribe
“Here’s the deal here. Gunnar, he’s a slick kid, he ain’t no dummy, I can tell you that. He came up with his whole scheme or whatever you wanna call it to vote out Charlotte at the last time we were at the, uh, the Tribal Council. Now he didn’t tell us that’s what he was going to do. He’s willing to play that type of lying, backstabbing type of game. What’s there to keep him from trying another stunt like that again down the road? He’s outta here, he’s just too damn dangerous to keep.”

 

“I just can’t trust him,” Huang says, shaking his head. “He made all these promises to me that the two of us could stick together, that I had no reason not to trust him, and like… none of it was true!”

“Absolutely,” Vince says. “Absolutely. It’s like with your kids. If you let them get away with bad behavior, they think it’s okay and they do it again. If we keep him around, he’s gonna be the same way. He’s gonna think it’s okay, and he’s gonna do it again.”

“What do you think he’s talking to Charlotte about?” Zeke wonders.

“He’s probably trying to convince her not to vote for him,” Huang says. “I’m sure he’s going to come to all of us to plead his case. Everyone just has to remember that no matter what he says, no matter how good it sounds or how honest he seems, you can’t trust him.”

 

Huang- Sunglasses
“Gunnar really hurt my feelings, I’m just gonna say it. I know it sounds like kind of a crybaby thing to say, but it’s the truth! I trusted him and he stabbed me in the back, and when someone betrays you it feels totally awful. And it feels like he picked me because he knew without Addy, I was going to be looking for someone to trust in. I was vulnerable with him, and he exploited that. So tonight, this vote isn’t just strategy, it’s personal too.”

 

qynonk

 

In the woods, Gunnar and Charlotte collect firewood together.

“Look, I know there isn’t a lot of time, so I’m just going to cut to the chase,” Gunnar says, “I don’t want to go home tonight, Charlotte. And please, please don’t try telling me that I’m not. I know that I really messed things up with everyone, I can read the writing on the wall.”

“Well, I don’t blame you for not wanting to go home,” Charlotte says. “Nobody wants to go home. And I don’t blame you for being worried that it’s you.”

“I would like to be a lot less worried it’s me, and that’s why I wanted to talk to you,” Gunnar says. “Because I feel like, weirdly enough, even though I voted for you, I feel like you and I have actually formed kind of a connection these last couple of days, so I figured out of everyone, you’re the person who I should come to. And uh, I think that you and Zeke need to consider if keeping Uncle Vinnie in the game is your best move.”

Charlotte says nothing, she just nods before bending down to grab another branch.

“I mean, we’re going to be down to four people, Charlotte. I know that’s crossed your mind.”

“Absolutely,” Charlotte says.

“If Yenisei doesn’t start winning soon, when it comes to the merge, Koryok will just be able to pick us off, one at a time. And I don’t think I’m being, like, a braggart when I say that I think I’m a much, much bigger asset in challenges than Vince.”

“I love the man like a brother, I really do,” Charlotte sighs, “but believe me, the thought has crossed my mind before.”

“Really?” Gunnar asks.

“Of course,” Charlotte says. “Just because you think something doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to do it, though. At least, that’s what I thought a couple of days ago.”

 

Charlotte- Yenisei Tribe
“We haven’t won a challenge since we won the goats, and at the rate we’ve been going, the goats are going to outnumber the people on this tribe soon. I absolutely trust Vince, I really, genuinely do, but I also really, really want to start winning. And for as much as Vince works so, so incredibly hard to make our home comfortable and beautiful, he’s just not cut out for so many of these challenges. Gunnar is absolutely correct in that he will be better for us in the challenges. And while he has acted in ways that are… well, not preferential, to say the least, at this point options are limited.”

 

“The thing is,” Gunnar continues, “I’m really worried that Huang is just so pissed off at me that he’s going to vote for me no matter what. So it would have to be you, me, and the good pastor. I just don’t know how to go about approaching Zeke about something like this, how do you think he’d take it? Would he be receptive?”

“Hmm,” Charlotte says, thinking. “I think he would be. Zeke doesn’t like doing something just for the sake of doing it. He thinks things through.”

“Would you be willing to talk to him?” Gunnar asks. “At least just see if he’s even receptive to considering it?”

“Yes, I can,” Charlotte says. “I’m not making any promises about what he’ll say, or about what will happen tonight, but I’ll talk to him.”

“Thank you so much, Charlotte. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this means to me.”

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“Luckily, Charlotte was willing to pitch the Vince vote to Zeke, and that would be three. That’s all I would need. And uh, it’s pretty funny, because out of our whole group, I’m definitely the least religious. Like, I’m an Easter and Christmas church goer, if that? Truth be told, I don’t know how much I really believe any of it… but let me tell you, if I get the miracle I need tonight, I’m coming back to camp I will sit at that wacky little chapel and praise Jesus until the sun comes up. Hallelujah and all that jazz.”

 

vpjw3o

 

Charlotte and Zeke talk together at the far end of the meadow.

“So… Gunnar suggested to me,” Charlotte begins, “that perhaps voting him out isn’t what would be best for Yenisei. That we need to think about who will perform the best in the challenges, and that we should vote Vincent out tonight, instead of him.”

“Mkay,” Zeke says, processing. “What did you tell him?”

“I told him I couldn’t promise anything but I’d talk to you. And that’s what I’m doing now, talking to you about it.”

“And what do you think about it?” Zeke asks.

“I think that as much as I hate it, it’s not an invalid argument,” Charlotte says, looking remorseful.

“Yeah,” Zeke says. “That’s the sad part, ain’t it?”

One of the goats comes trotting over. Zeke smiles as the animal approaches.

“Hey pretty girl,” he says sweetly, reaching out to the goat. He strokes the animal’s face gently.

“I really don’t want to do it,” Charlotte says. “Vote out Vince, I mean. But I also really don’t want to lose another challenge.”

“You want to pray on it?” Zeke asks.

Charlotte swallows a lump in her throat. “Yes,” she squeaks. Zeke stands up and takes her hands as they both close their eyes.

“Loving Heavenly Father, our Lord God,” Zeke begins. “Today, we most humbly ask you for your guidance…”

 

Zeke- Yenisei Tribe
“This is a dire situation right now, for the Yenisei Tribe. I think that some people, being this down, it would challenge their faith, but it strengthens mine. Because God does not promise ease in this life. The hard times in my life, those times was when I turned to God the most. And in comparison to some of those hard times, Survivor is a cakewalk. Whoever get voted out tonight, they ain’t gonna be dead, they just gonna lose a game. It ain’t that deep, and I know that. But there ain’t no other game when you are living in that game, relying on the people you are playing against to put food in your belly and a roof over your head. Everything about Survivor is designed to make these decisions hard decisions. I have so much love in my heart for Vince, and uh, that makes this one of the hardest decisions I’ve had so far, personally.”

 

“We still got some time until we have got to leave,” Zeke says. “Do you wanna talk it over, or you just wanna think it through and then you and me reconverge and make our choice?”

“I need some time to think,” Charlotte says.

“I understand,” Zeke tells her, giving her a comforting hug.

 

 

Charlotte- Yenisei Tribe
“At every Tribal Council we’ve been to so far, I’ve gotten votes against me, and I think tonight is the first time that won’t happen. So you would think that means I’m not worried, but that’s not the case. This is probably the most worried I’ve been going into a Tribal Council, because there is a big decision on my shoulders, and it’s weight is enormous. I don’t think there’s any way I come back to camp tonight feeling good about my vote. So I think the big deciding factor for me will be which decision I can be at peace with.”

 

 

glnnzr

 

As the sun begins to set, Gunnar packs his things at the shelter. Vince stands at the fire, dropping a large log onto the flame. A shower of embers erupts when the log lands.

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“Vince is building up the fire so it won’t go out while we’re at Tribal Council… and if things go my way tonight, he won’t be coming back to use it. What are the chances things go my way? That’s still a mystery to me. You can talk as much as you want, try your hardest, but when it comes down to that moment, you can’t make anyone vote in any one way. I just have to hope that I made the right arguments to the right people. That’s all you can do.”

 

With the fire blazing high, the Yenisei Tribe heads out towards the steppes, where Tribal Council awaits.

 

 

Tribal Council Night 12

 

 

 

With lit torches in hand, the Yenisei Tribe once again take their seats among the forgotten chapel that houses Tribal Council. Jeff stands waiting for the tribe, sensing the grim vibe of the group.

“Welcome back, Yenisei,” Jeff greets. “Or perhaps it isn’t so welcome,” he corrects.

“Got that right,” Vince says.

“I’m just going to cut to the chase–Huang, this tribe has lost now five challenges in a row. This is your third visit to Tribal Council, and there have only been four Tribal Councils. What is holding Yenisei back?”

“Whew, you know, Jeff, I wish I had an easy answer to that question,” Huang says. “We have a really amazing camp that, uh, Vince mostly has done a great job of building for all of us,” he says, patting Vince on the shoulder, “so it’s not like we’re dying out here. Considering the conditions, we’re eating, we’re sleeping okay, I think we have a strong, well rounded team…”

“So would you say it’s just dumb luck?” Jeff asks.

“I mean, I don’t want to blame luck,” Huang laughs. “But luck is a part of it, sure. We don’t get to choose what the challenges are going to be, you know? If there was a car racing challenge, bring it on, I know I could crush that one. We have won challenges before, so I feel like a lot of it is just waiting for the right challenge for this group of people we have.”

“I don’t know that I can agree with that,” says Gunnar. “If we had a car racing challenge tomorrow, I think that Huang would do well at that part, sure, but the challenges aren’t always dependent on one person doing one thing well. A lot of them are tests to see if multiple members of the Tribe can do multiple things well, you have to run, climb, carry, solve a puzzle… So yeah, Huang is a professional driver, he’d crush a racing challenge, but the rest of us? Maybe not so much.”

“I’ll ask you the same question, then, Gunnar,” Jeff says. “What do you think this Tribe is missing?”

“I think we’re missing some power on our side, honestly,” Gunnar says. “I think we could have been voting smarter than we have been. We’ve been voting out some good competitors, and we’re paying the price for those decisions now.”

“Is there a particular vote that you personally wish you had done differently?” probes Jeff.

“Oh, most definitely!” laughs Gunnar. “I screwed up big time at our last Tribal Council, that’s no secret. I got chewed big time for that when we got back to camp. I voted for Charlotte, and it was a really self-centered, short-sighted choice on my part. I tried to make a big shift and it blew up in my face, completely. And I don’t just regret it because of the personal repercussions. Now not only does my tribe not trust me, but we ended up losing a strong competitor in Mandy, and Olivia, who I was supposed to vote for, ended up running off on us anyway, so what good was keeping her?”

“So based on what you’re saying,” Jeff asks, “would it be correct of me to assume that you’re concerned for your safety tonight?”

“Yeah, it would be correct,” Gunnar agrees, “because I got caught in a lie. There’s no two ways around it, I got caught in a lie. And in a game where trust is such an important quality, having something like that on your permanent record can be a death sentence. I’d have to blind, deaf, and stupid not to realize that there is a huge chance I’m going home tonight.”

“Zeke, is Gunnar correct in his assessment? Or is he just getting a little paranoid?”

“No, no, he, uh… He got it right. The five of us who are here agreed on a plan together. Three of us put down exactly the name we had said we was gonna put down. And of the two who didn’t, one of them only changed her vote because she did what she had to do to save her own self,” Zeke says.

“That would be Charlotte, I’m assuming,” Jeff says.

“Yes sir,” confirms Zeke. “And the other one did it to try and take advantage of what the situation was going to be; and what his motivations for doing so were, I can’t speak to that. That’s something in Gunnar that he has to answer for.”

“Gunnar, do you have an answer?” Jeff asks.

“Yeah,” Gunnar says. “Uh… it honestly, it was a strategic choice,” he shrugs. “Charlotte has really close relationships with a lot of people, she’s someone I don’t see a lot of people turning against easily. I thought I could take advantage of the opportunity to take out a threat and give myself a little more control in the game.”

Huang clearly looks annoyed as Gunnar talks.

“Huang, what’s going through your mind as Gunnar explains himself?” Jeff asks. “You seem to be having a pretty strong reaction.”

“I guess I did, huh?” Huang says. “Yeah, I’m pissed off at Gunnar. He made more promises to me than to everyone else, and it just makes me feel like he’s someone who is willing to use people. And I feel like it’s obvious that right now, he’s playing up this prodigal son role, this… like, if he’s honest now, it means he’s learned his lesson, and if we keep him, we can trust him. And um, for me it’s like, how do you put your trust in someone who has already broken it once in a major way? I honestly think that keeping Gunnar, it would be like staying with a cheating girlfriend. It’s just a recipe to f*ck ourselves over.”

“That can’t feel good to hear, Gunnar,” Jeff says.

“No, actually it feels great Jeff,” Gunnar laughs. “Of course it sucks. It’s nice to be able to think of yourself as a gracious person who is willing to grant someone a second chance, because we’d all love a second chance for ourselves if we were the ones to screw up. But the reality is that it’s really hard to do that, so I don’t blame Huang for how he feels, but I do hate that it’s how he feels. Because what else am I supposed to do, just give up and go home?”

Jeff nods before turning to Vince. “Vince, does a part of you respect where Gunnar is coming from, that even though he made a mistake, he’s trying to make amends?”

“Well, you know what I think, I think that it shows a positive side to his character, he’s someone who doesn’t give up, and uh, that’s to be commended, certainly. You know, Zeke is always telling us that God gives us all our own gifts, and that fighting spirit Gunnar has, that ain’t a gift everybody gets.”

“What gifts do you bring to the tribe, Vince?” Jeff asks.

“Jeff, I think for me, it would be the life experiences that I’ve had,” Vince begins. “I’ve been on a lot of crazy adventures in my day, let me tell you!” he laughs. “I’ve been an engineer for decades. I know how to build stuff, I know how to be resourceful with the stuff we got available, and look, I ain’t tryin’ to brag or nothing, but our camp? A lot of the things we use in that camp every day is things that I built for the tribe, or that we built together based on my ideas. You know, I figured out how to build our shelter, how to make our fire, I taught everyone how to milk the goats, what to do with the chickens, keep our food safe… I think facts are facts, Jeff, and the facts are I contribute a damn lot to the Tribe.”

“I agree that Vince has really done a lot for the us all,” Gunnar says, “but I think a lot of those things Vince brings to the Tribe are things that we would have been able to figure out anyway. We would have figured out how to make a fire, how to build our shelter–”

“You mean like how you figured out how to kill the chicken?” Vince asks, “because I would have done it without throwing up, just saying.”

“What happened, Vince?” Jeff asks.

“We decided we were gonna eat one of the chickens, get a little protein in our bellies to help us in the challenge. Gunnar insisted he would do it, and I think it was a little too much for him, because he had to run away and throw up after. That’s where the life experience comes in, Jeff, I would have known how to deal with it better.”

“Yeah, okay, I wasn’t perfect at it my first time,” Gunnar says. “But I did it. And that’s my point. A lot of the stuff we need to do is stuff that we can figure out how to do without Vince. The shelter is already built. And frankly, he’s a liability in challenges, and that’s what we need to be thinking about.”

“Well I don’t think I’m a liability!” Vince says, clearly upset. “I’m not delusional, I know that I’m older and fatter than these other boys, but I’m not a liability.”

“Okay, fine,” Gunnar says, “maybe liability isn’t the right word. But still, being older and more out of shape than everyone else, maybe that doesn’t make him a liability but it does mean that when we’re thinking about what we need to do to win challenges, it means we have to consider who our weakest member is, overall. And I think that, maybe with the exception of puzzles, I can outperform Vince in any challenge.”

“So Charlotte,” Jeff says, “Gunnar’s argument seems to be ‘hey, don’t vote me out, I can help you win challenges.’ Is that an argument that has any weight to it, and if so, does it have an impact on how you vote?”

“It’s an argument that at the very least is worth consideration,” Charlotte says. “I love Vincent, dearly, and he knows that, but I’m also a competitive person, and I want to start winning some freaking challenges! When I was still competing in pageants, I won. I won a lot. So believe me, more than anyone, I want for us to turn things around in challenges. And while I’d love to share Huang’s optimism that it’s just a matter of waiting for our time to come, we can’t just hope that things will change for us, we have to make smart choices that will put our tribe in the best position to take advantage of those lucky breaks.”

“Charlotte, are you voting for me tonight?” Vince asks, looking at her, somewhat shocked.

“No, that’s not what I’m saying at all,” Charlotte says. “Because there’s more to winning challenges than just strength, it’s also about teamwork, and I think that a group that has more trust with each other will work better as a team than a group that’s fractured and has trust issues. And I absolutely trust you, Vince.”

“There’s that word again: trust,” Jeff notes. “Zeke, what is it about Survivor that makes trust so valuable?”

“It’s the same things that make trust valuable in every day life,” Zeke says. “You gonna have a hard time getting to where you want to be in life if you try and do it all on your own. I know that personally, for the accomplishments I’ve achieved in my own life, I couldn’t have done any of those things alone. But I also know that along the way to those successes, there were wolves in sheeps clothing, there was folks who tried to make it out like they was down with me, but they was only really down for theyself, and once they had what they needed, it was peace out for them. And in Survivor, if someone turns their back on you, that can leave you vulnerable. So trust is major.”

Jeff nods in understanding. “I want to go back to something Gunnar brought up earlier, which is Olivia, and her decision to defect and join Koryok. What kind of impact does that have, Charlotte?”

“It’s had an enormous impact,” Charlotte responds. “Olivia is another one who is a strong competitor, and it also puts us down an extra person. We’re going to be outnumbered two to one by the end of tonight. Her choice to do that, for me, it was a big wake-up call. It was no secret that Olivia felt like an outsider with us, and based on some of the things about herself she revealed at the challenge today… I wouldn’t have wanted her to feel like she wasn’t welcome on the Tribe. This is a game, and I think we all recognize that, so if she did it as a game move, I can respect that she felt like she had to do what she felt like she had to do. I just hope that decision was made from her thinking about the game, and not from her feeling like she wouldn’t be accepted on this Tribe. So for me it was a big reminder on just how important it is to have good relationships, because maybe if Olivia felt like she had better relationships, she would still be here with us. And what I hate about the position I’m in now is that I feel like I have a good relationship with each of these men. With the other votes, it was different. Addy was injured, Mandy is someone I knew would never work with me. Those were easy choices. Tonight, there isn’t an easy choice.”

“That’s a matter of perspective, though,” Gunnar says, “and granted, maybe I just think this because I know for a fact my name is getting written down tonight, but I think the choice is really easy. Make the choice that will help you win.”

“Win just challenges?” asks Huang. “Or win the game? Because you don’t win the game by winning the most challenges, you win the game by making it to Day 39 and getting the jury to vote for you. And making it that far, that requires loyal allies, not just challenge wins. And besides, I really don’t think we’re that much better off with Gunnar in the challenges. You guys have Donkey Huang, remember that. I am so, so positive, Jeff, that once I get my shot, we’re gonna be crushing these challenges.”

“Zeke,” Jeff asks, “ultimately, is that what tonight’s vote comes down to? Is it a question of loyalty and trust versus ability in challenges, and weighing out which one is more important?”

“Yeah, basically,” Zeke says. “And I’ve prayed on that decision a lot today. And the thing is, about prayer? It’s not like God comes down and whisper in your ear, na’mean? You can’t ask God for an answer, because that’s not for him to give you. God gave us free will, and that’s not how He would have made man if it was just all about us doing whatever He wanted,” he laughs. “When I pray, I’m asking God to help me find the strength, the wisdom, and the confidence in myself to make the best choices I can. Because no one, not even God, can make you do anything. At the end of the day, we all responsible for ourselves.”

Jeff nods. “I think that’s a wise perspective, Zeke. So with that being said, do all of you feel ready to make a hard decision?”

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” Charlotte says.

“Alright,” Jeff says. “Then we will get to the vote. Zeke, you’re up.”

Zeke nods and stands, heading down the corridor to the voting booth.

Zeke casts his vote.

Charlotte casts her vote.

 

Huang's Vote- Gunnar

Huang- Yenisei Tribe
“I can’t trust you. Point blank.”

 

Vince casts his vote.

 

Gunnar's Vote- Vince

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“Please, please, please, please don’t let it be me tonight.”

 

Gunnar returns to his seat.

“I’ll go tally the votes,” announces Jeff, heading to retrieve the urn. Gunnar impatiently drums his fingers on his knee, waiting for the host to return. With the votes in hand, Jeff returns before the castaways, and places it on its stand.

“If anyone has a hidden immunity idol they would like to play, now would be the time to do so,” Jeff says. With no response, he gives a curt nod to the players before resuming. “Once the votes are read, the decision is final. The person voted out will be asked to leave the Tribal Council area immediately. I’ll read the votes.”

Charlotte takes Zeke’s hand in her left and Vince’s in her right, preparing for the result.

 

“First vote…”

 

 

 

Huang's Vote- Gunnar

“Gunnar.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gunnar's Vote- Vince

“Uncle Vinnie. That’s one for Vince, one for Gunnar.”

 

 

 

 

 

Vince's Vote- Gunnar

“Gunnar, that’s two votes Gunnar, one vote Vince.”

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte's Vote- Gunnar

“The fourth person voted out of Survivor: Siberia, Gunnar. That’s three, tonight, that’s enough. Gunnar, I need you to bring me your torch.”

“Eh, what can you do?” Gunnar says with a weak smile. “No hard feelings gang,” he says as he stands and collects his torch. “It’s just a game.”

Gunnar places his torch before Jeff with a sigh.

“Gunnar, the tribe has spoken,” Jeff says. He snuffs Gunnar’s torch. “It’s time for you to go.”

“Bye Gunnar!” Charlotte says with a wave.

“Best of luck, man!” Zeke says.

Gunnar gives a friendly wave back. He slings his golf club over his shoulder and makes his way out of Tribal Council and out of the game.

“Well,” Jeff says, turning his attention back to the remaining players, “In a decision between trust and strength, it seems like you were a unified front in going with trust. There are only four of you now, so I hope you all made the right decision. That’s it. You guys can grab your stuff and head back to camp. Goodnight.”

The remnants of the tribe take a moment for a group hug before collecting their torches. They leave Tribal Council, four torches illuminating the dark.

Twelve remain. Who will be the next to go?


NEXT TIME ON… SURVIVOR!

The ramifications of Olivia’s tribe shift echo across the game. On Yenisei, the castaways band together to make it through a dire situation, while on Koryok, new blood raises suspicion and disrupts plans in the making. And one Tribe wins a cultural experience like no other at the reward challenge.

 

Gunnar- Yenisei Tribe
“Well, I got voted out,” he laughs, “but I knew it was coming, at least. And I did it to myself, I started playing the individual game way too soon, I didn’t invest as much in the relationships with my tribemates that I needed to, and it cost me. It sucks, but I learned a lot out here. And when I came out, I didn’t think that would matter to me, but I feel really proud of myself, and so excited to share all the amazing stories and experiences I’ve had with my family back home. This experience really helped me gain a fresh perspective on truly, just how lucky I am for everything I have, not just materially, but in terms of the incredible people I have in my life, and I can’t wait to see them. This has been an adventure beyond my wildest dreams, and mostly? I’m just bummed out that it’s over. I’d do it again tomorrow.”

 

Episode 4 Voting Chart