Type keyword(s) to search

Quick Hits

Who's in the Driver's Seat as Survivor 42 Hits the Jury Phase?

After a fairly predictable boot, the endgame is starting to take shape.
  • Hai Giang, Mike Turner and Maryanne Oketch (Photos: Robert Robert Voets/CBS)
    Hai Giang, Mike Turner and Maryanne Oketch (Photos: Robert Robert Voets/CBS)

    SPOILERS for the outcome of Wednesday night's episode of Survivor ahead.

    There isn't a whole lot to say about this week's Survivor elimination. The writing was on the wall for Chanelle ever since she and Daniel blew it in the tribal council that sent Jenny home, and since part of that failure involved Chanelle foolishly risking her vote at that tribal council, it's hard not to say that she did this to herself. Once Tori won her second immunity challenge in a row — making her the first person to win the first two individual immunities of the season since Joe Anglim did it in seasons 30 and 31 — the writing was on the wall for one of the outsider players, and it looks like Mike's vendetta against Chanelle prevailed over Hai and Drea's newfound wariness over Romeo's (fairly justified, as it turns out) paranoia.

    The question for this week isn't how did Chanelle end up getting voted out but rather who's going to win this season? To indulge in a metaphor that Jeff Probst seemed incredibly proud of during this week's tribal council: who's in the driver's seat as we head into the jury phase? We are down to the top ten, and with the caveat that after Erika's triumph last season, anything is truly possible, I would say we have six players with a realistic shot at winning based on where they're situated in the game and how the show has edited them so far. I'll be happy to eat crow if either Lindsay, Tori, Rocksroy, or Romeo wins this season, but the odds are looking pretty long at this point.

    As for the other six…


    Hai is increasingly being edited as a protagonist, as we've been privy to every single strategic thought that's passed through his head since the Jenny vote. He appears to be in whatever inner circle is making decisions on this merged tribe, and (almost) all the major players appear to be at the very least consulting him on big strategic decisions. That said, it's worth noting that this is now two weeks in a row where Hai has seemingly lost out in an intra-alliance showdown over who should be voted out. Last week it was Omar whose preferences prevailed, this week it was Mike.


    You've gotta wonder if the Survivor 42 players might end up looking back at these first two post-merge votes — where Tori was able to miraculously win immunity — as a missed opportunity to get rid of Jonathan while they had a chance. There is every likelihood that Jonathan could embark on an immunity run that takes him directly to the finale, and that could start as soon as next week. He's also made some key strategic friendships — with Lindsay, Omar, Mike, and Hai, from what we've seen — which could translate to jury votes, though we've also seen him turn irritable, something to watch out for.


    After sitting out the reward challenge, finding the Beware Advantage underneath the sit-out bench, and plunging her hand into a jar of red paint to grab her reward, Drea is now in possession of the Knowledge Is Power advantage (that's the one where if you ask someone if they have an idol, they have to give it to you). This, in addition to her one (1) immunity idol, one (1) extra vote, and one (1) Advantage Amulet makes her the wealthiest person on the island. The Bank of Drea is open for business, now she just has to make sure that she doesn't end up getting voted out with a whole buncha loot in her pockets. Figuring out when and how to play these advantages to get her to the end is going to take some finesse, and it doesn't help that people like Tori are already onto her.


    Omar is getting a fantastic edit, one which is equal parts strategic and personal. This week he explained how he's both ensconced in the majority alliance while also maintaining relationships with all the basement-dwellers in the tribe, so he's getting all the dish. We also got a segment where he and Mike bonded over the latter's curiosity over Omar's Muslim faith. This is the stuff that endgame storylines are made of. Omar is likable, both on the island and on TV, and he doesn't seem to be on anybody's radar as a threat. His biggest hurdle might be making it to the end and convincing a jury that his quiet strategic game was better than some of the other, louder strategic games, but that's a task I imagine he'd happily take on.


    The only person getting a better edit than Omar at the moment is Mike, who feels like one of those classic Survivor players we'd get in the early years: a coarse, blue-collar type who's rough around the edges but is also surprisingly willing to open up and connect with people who aren't like him and forge close bonds through the end of the game. The question for Mike is who his endgame counterpart will be, because at this point he's got close bonds with Jonathan, Omar, Hai, and maybe Maryanne. It's getting to the point soon where he's going to have to choose.


    Could Maryanne win Survivor? Honestly, yeah! The edit is absolutely in love with her, giving her plenty of storyline even in an episode like this one where she didn't really have much to do with the outcome. The producers seem to be all in on an underdog narrative for Maryanne as the loveable weirdo who the other players just don't quite understand. As narratives go, it's been applied a bit thickly, but she remains likable. Strategically she's the least well-situated of these six contenders, and if you wanted to argue that Lindsay is in a much better strategic position, I wouldn't counter. But there's a reason why Maryanne has been a main character all season, and if she gets to the end, and all these allied players have turned on each other, she might be able to ride that misunderstood and underestimated narrative all the way to the million.

    As for the rest of this week's happenings…

    Player of the Week: Mike. Given what we saw, the tide was turning towards voting out Romeo, and in most situations on this show, the tribe will go with whatever tide isn't sweeping them out to sea. But Mike seemingly dug his heels in and pushed for Chanelle's ouster. She's the one he didn't trust. She's the one who cast a vote against him (as he did against her, but whatever). Mike planted a flag, and he got the alliance to go along with him. That's a point in his favor.

    Honorable Mention(s): Tori is now in the Survivor record books alongside the likes of Boston Rob, Tom Westman, and Tysol Apostol as players to win the first two individual immunity challenges of the season. Is that worth as much as having an alliance right now? No. But it'll be nice for her once she's the fourth or fifth jury member.

    Sketchy Strategy: Honestly, Romeo was in a tough spot. Everybody acted like he was being unnecessarily paranoid when he was actually being pretty observant about how he's now on the outs of this tribe. But responding to those vibes by leaning into jittery paranoia only made things worse.

    Alliance Report: The central power hub remains: Jonathan, Mike, Hai, and Drea, with Lindsay and Omar as chief consultants, and Rocksroy and Maryanne as junior partners. Tori and Romeo remain in the crosshairs.

    Advantage Report:

    • Drea has one immunity idol, one Advantage Amulet, one extra vote, and one Knowledge Is Power advantage.
    • Mike has an immunity idol.
    • Maryanne has an immunity idol, plus an extra vote.
    • Hai has an Advantage Amulet.
    • Lindsay has an Advantage Amulet.

    Coming Next Week: Mike, Jonathan, and Rocksroy propose a Big Strong Boys alliance, which we all rightly hope will fail.

    People are talking about this week's Survivor in our forums. Join the conversation.

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Survivor, CBS, Jeff Probst