Devon Pinto (Screen Grab/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • At the top of the episode the show lays out that both Mike and Ryan have secret idols and Lauren has a secret voting advantage. These facts and the competing agendas that go along with them are a lot to keep track of.
  • Production brought out the big camera guns for the reward challenge and it pays off with some truly stunning underwater photography.
  • Joe shamelessly looking for an idol is amusing because he truly has nothing to lose. Who cares if you’re openly playing the game if everyone is against you?
  • Ryan is sitting very pretty with his secret idol and the trust of a good portion of his tribe, right up until he decides to tell Ben he has an idol despite promising Devon—his supposed number one ally—that he would keep it just between them. Whether or not Devon’s trust is as broken as he makes it seem here is yet to be seen.
  • “What if a balancing competition, but with fire?!” Some challenge producer who immediately got promoted so they could invent even more slightly new balancing challenges, probably.
  • Ashley’s frustration that they are voting for Cole and Mike, leaving Joe into the game to eventually sneak his way into the end, turns into her leading the cause to essentially remove Ben from the de facto leadership position in their alliance.
  • “People are starting to feel a little bit steamrolled by you.” “No, no they’re not.” Read the room, Ben!
  • With the alliance potentiality secretly turning against Ben to vote out Joe, and Mike hinting that he’s willing to play his idol for Joe to shake things up, for once Tribal almost seems like a toss-up.
  • Once Tribal begins, and Mike accuses everyone of not having high moral character because they hate Joe but refuse to vote him out, that’s when Mike’s desire to be a wild card loses me. What?
  • In the end, Mike plays his idol (but for himself, and it’s ultimately unnecessary), Ben’s alliance doesn’t turn against him after all, and Cole goes home as was the plan all along.
  • Like many episodes this season, it’s entertaining at the time but all the internal storytelling ultimately turns to dust the second you examine it. What is the story Survivor is telling this season? And if there is no narrative through line, does it matter? I can’t help but continue to be frustrated that so many players are playing the game this season, yet it still seems like a lot of wheel spinning.

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