Survivor Recap: Idol Mania Runs Rampant, as an Upper Hand Gets Overplayed

Wednesday’s episode of Survivor was one for the record books for a multitude of reasons. Most importantly: Yanu didn’t go to Tribal Council!

Yes, I’ve hopped over about 40 minutes of footage here — and no offense to Q, Kenzie or Tiffany — but I’m tired of seeing their faces sitting in those Tribal Council stumps! Let someone else spend some quality time with Jeff already! Rude.

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Jokes aside, Episode 5 felt like a fresh start. A brand new chapter of Season 46, if you will. Let’s dive in.

With Bhanu gone, Kenzie, Q and Tiffany reflect on being “the worst tribe in Survivor history.” While I would probably argue otherwise (Ulong says hi), Yanu still doesn’t have fire going into Day 10, so… there’s that. But the constant struggling reduces Kenzie to tears, which I guess makes me a bit empathetic to their plight. That said, it was heartwarming to see their smiling faces after their clearly much needed W. (More on that below.)

Over at SIGA, it’s time for another song contest! Ben’s rocking hard with KISS, while Charlie predictably chooses Taylor Swift again. (Is there any corner of this universe where the soft sounds of T. Swizzle don’t permeate?) While the guys’ smiles and laughter are contagious, their camaraderie starts to worry the women. Maria and Moriah think one of the guys might have the idol, slowly playing into Jem’s web of lies. (Manaical laugh!) And hey, if that’s what it takes to keep the target off of Jem and onto one of the guys, I love that gameplay. Despite the idol trickery, it’s nice to see a tribe both playing hard and having fun with each other. Let the salsa lessons commence!

Survivor 46 Charlie
Survivor 46 Charlie

Tim knows someone moved the Beware Advantage, and he asks Jem about it point blank. He also says he knows she’s the leader of the women’s alliance. (Is he simply baiting her? Fishing? Probably.) Jem lies, lies, lies her face off, and seems to do a good job of it. But I guess we won’t really know how good a liar she is until Siga has goes to Tribal Council. (Spoiler alert: Siga goes to Tribal tonight.)

Idol mania isn’t just hitting Siga. Over at NAMI, everyone’s on the hunt for a safety net. Well, except for Liz, that is, who says she can barely find her shoes, let alone an idol hidden in a vast jungle. Okay. (Can’t she just buy new shoes with her dozens of successful businesses and heaps of cash? I digress.) Venus sticks to Hunter like (insert some simile here), which is smart. But she gives up too soon. Once she skedaddles, Hunter finds what he’s looking for: the Beware Advantage. He wonders if his tribe is ever gonna lose, considering the other tribes’ performances. Cocky, but fair.

IMMUNITY IS BACK UP FOR GRABS | You’re not going to believe this, but the challenge has an obstacle course! Locks and keys! Sandbags! Shockingly enough, no puzzles though. This time, tribes must knock targets down via slingshot. And not only will winning the challenge earn them safety, but there’s also pastries and fruit at stake! For people who haven’t eaten a bite in 10 days, that’s a huge deal.

Nami smokes their competition coming in first place, but it’s a total showdown between Siga and Yanu. With one target left each, Q reloads his slingshot and the show immediately kicks into slo-mo! The second this happens we know exactly what’s coming: Yanu wins its first immunity challenge! They get safety, food and most importantly: FLINT. As for Siga? They’re the “vibe tribe,” no more.

Survivor 46 Tevin
Survivor 46 Tevin

JOURNEY | Hunter, Tim and Q are the lucky three chosen. When they arrive, they identity themselves as the biggest physical threats in the game. Q suggests that once they make the merge, they each pick a ride-or-die from their tribe, then come together as an alliance of six. It’s a great idea… in theory. Let’s be real. This is Survivor. Does anything ever go according to plan? (Unless your name is Tom Westman or Kim Spradlin-Wolfe, that is.)

The journey is a Survivor knowledge test and the trio must decide who will compete. The chosen guy is Hunter, who must arrange a set of 20 season logos in chronological order before time runs out. (PUT ME IN, COACH! Easy peasy!) He botches the assignment and loses his vote for his next Tribal Council.

STRATEGY | Now that her tribe has lost, Jem gets to work. She returns to the idol box location and learns that she must measure items on the beach with the machete and enter those dimensions into a formula. Then, that number will direct her to a location where the box key is hidden. She does all of this without anyone noticing and earns herself an idol.

When the women meet up again, Maria says she’s willing to use her extra vote in order to ensure that Tim or Ben goes home. Jem lets the ladies continue to think that Tim has the idol. Why not let Maria flush her extra vote, right? Meanwhile, Jem approaches Tim and Ben about voting with them, but Ben wants to vote Jem out. Too bad he doesn’t have a vote! But with Maria and Charlie playing the middle, will they opt to cut Jem, who’s clearly playing (too) hard, or chop one of the guys?

THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN | Siga tells Jeff about how they’re more or less attached at the hip, which Jeff takes as: There’s going to be a huge blindside tonight. While Jem pretends she has no idea who she’s voting for (sure, Jan), Maria says they’re all lying to themselves by saying they don’t know what to do. Charlie hopes the tribe can face a loss and still be the “vibe tribe.”

Whether they’ll be able to separate emotions from gameplay remains to be seen, but when Jeff calls for advantages, nothing is played. Not even a Shot in the Dark. He reads the votes and four pieces of parchment make Jem the first Siga player voted out. (Read our Q&A with Jem here.)

And yet another idol is flushed right out of Survivor 46.

Were you surprised by Jem’s vote-off? Was this the season’s best episode so far? You know what to do: Go full tilt boogie in the comments!

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