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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Survivor: “Havoc To Wreak”

"Welp." "Yep." "Woo!"
"Welp." "Yep." "Woo!"
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That wasn’t a bad episode, but it sure was unpleasant. We’ve been mostly lucky this season so far in that department; aside from an ugly incident with Trish and Lindsey early on, this has been an incredibly genial cast, with most of the conflict coming from strategy rather than trivial pettiness. Thanks to Chaos Kass, however, that fun-loving dynamic shifts a bit in this episode, and the result is not very fun to watch.

It almost feels inevitable that Kass would be the one to upset the vibe at camp, especially after being in the dark for Tony’s blindsides two episodes in a row. That’s two eliminations where Kass has no control—two eliminations for it to become increasingly clear that she isn’t in a very good spot in the game. And Kass with no control or no power is not a happy Kass, as Sarah learned firsthand. Instead of this manifesting as a strategic wake-up call for Kass, instead it manifests mostly as a petty bickering war between her and Tony. After she mistakenly becomes convinced he called her “bitch” behind her back their dynamic becomes an intensely nasty little affair, as she insists he was talking about her and he insists he wasn’t, while everyone else in camp sits back and just lets them pick at each other. It’s basically the pits. (The funny thing is that Tony did say something about Kass; he poked fun at her for staying in bed all day. She heard her name and misheard everything else.)


The funny thing is, Kass’ weird temper tantrum actually does incite some decent strategy on her and Spencer’s part, as they use a reward challenge as an opportunity to attempt to woo Woo over to their cause. Their strategy is sound—split votes between Tony and Trish to flush the idol, sending one of them home for sure—but it relies on Tony’s biggest ally to switch sides in order for it to have a chance to succeed. Woo initially seems willing to go along, even agreeing to it enough to lie to Tony when they return to camp, but Tony quickly figures out Woo’s story about what happened at the reward doesn’t quite make sense. Kass’ sudden Tony hatred also gets him to feel insecure enough to outright admit he has the special idol, even if he doesn’t show it to them or explain what its specific powers are.

This is where I think the strategy talk started to change, even if the show kept this hidden in order to tell a decent story within the episode. If Tony definitely has an idol, and maybe a special one that would negate all his work switching alliances, how would it benefit for Woo to defect now? For Kass, how would it help her to again be on the outs with her alliance, especially after spending the entire time alienating the most powerful person in that alliance? Every week, flipping on Tony seems like a great idea until the strategy shakes out to reveal it is definitely not a great idea and he lives on. Part of this is sound gameplay on his part—notice how quickly he realizes something is going on with Woo after the reward challenge, and that something is going on with Tasha after she appears to feel safe despite losing the immunity challenge—but part of it, again, is the power of those darn idols. If this season wasn’t so full of great personalities, those idols would be a fairly unforgivable obstacle. But it’s hard to fault a season that’s ticking along so well in spite of a fairly significant strategic roadblock like the idols, no matter how much they’re affecting the game. In the end, everyone made the right move getting out Tasha; she would have likely been an unstoppable force in the finals, with many jury votes on her side.


The best thing about this episode, though (and by best I mean most hilarious) is that it’s very obvious Kass is convinced she can win this game. As of now I can’t imagine any jury votes going her way, no matter how much she tries to poison her fellow castmates against Tony by crowning him the “next Russell Hantz.” She might have a better shot against Tony than, say, Spencer, but she can’t get enough votes to win this game. Can she?

Please say she can’t.

Stray observations:

  • Tony still has both his idols. Can he use them next week?
  • These community outreach reward challenges always leave me so torn. The kids are adorable but there’s something a bit boastful and exploitative about the whole thing. At least Woo was there to put on that amazing martial arts show for them so they got something fun out of the deal.
  • Of course Kass thinks mutual hatred and enemies are the best way to bond with people, because she is a miserable person.
  • Props to the cameraman who got that hilarious shot of Tony eating a coconut in the most paranoid way possible.
  • Jeff yelling right in Trish’s face during the Immunity Challenge that she can “barely move” and has “no muscle left on her body” was uncalled for and kind of gross. Shove off, Probst.
  • Speaking of Probst, he inserted himself into the game a bit too much at Tribal this week for my taste, calling out Tony for having two idols and practically telling everyone else they needed to flush one. Cool it, buddy!
  • Kass: “Anyone who crosses Tony gets their cement shoes and gets put in the pond.”
  • Spencer: “It was really overwhelming having all of these monsters swarming me.” 

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