Survivor: Cagayan Episode 7 Recap- “Head of the Snake”
Previously on… SURVIVOR!
In the wake of Cliff’s blindside, Trish and Lindsey’s mutual disdain for one another finally bubbled to the surface in an explosive fight that resulted in Lindsey storming off and quitting the game, leaving Solana suddenly down two members to Aparri’s seven. Despite the numbers disadvantage, Solana stayed strong, both unifying as a solid alliance and by winning the right to raid Aparri’s camp in the reward challenge. While at Aparri’s beach to collect their reward, Tony decided to stir the pot by giving the clue to the Solana idol to Jeremiah–in front of Jeremiah’s whole tribe. While Jeremiah saw Tony’s plan as a means of targeting him, Jeremiah’s original Beauty tribemate Alexis saw it as a move to recruit him. Solana followed it up with an immunity win, but Tony’s excessive celebrating alienated Sarah, his onetime ally from the days of the Brawn Tribe. Sarah swore her allegiance to the New Aparri Tribe, leaving the three Brains in the drivers seat when deciding who was the biggest risk to flip at the merge–and who they should vote out. Despite Alexis attempting to turn the vote against onetime ally Jeremiah, her connections with L.J. and Jefra caused her to be seen as the future flipper, and she was unanimously ousted. 11 remain… who will be voted out tonight?
Aparri returns to their camp after blindsiding Alexis, Spencer shouting “Top Six!” in a clear mockery of Tony in the previous immunity challenge. The tribe’s mood on the whole seems to be good, and Spencer further elaborates on the reality behind his joke: “If we merge tomorrow, that’s the best news possible for this tribe, because right now, we control the game. They have six, we have five.”
Before everyone tucks into bed, however, they decide to choose their target in the event that the merge comes early the next morning. The group throws out both Trish and Jefra’s names before for the millionth time confirming with each other that everyone is clear with the plan–they have six, Solana has five, they need to just hold together and they’ll have the top six in the bag. This is making it really start to feel like that won’t happen. Sure enough, Kass is feeling the same way–“This group is allegedly a solid six. If we can all stay strong a core, we can run the show and take out a less obvious target like Trish or Jefra.” Apparently, some people watching the episode never really understood why Aparri was thinking Trish or Jefra, even though the episode explains it pretty well, but the idea is that if an idol is present within the other alliance and they are knowingly down numbers, they’ll pass the idol to the most obvious target in order to knock out a member of Aparri and have a fighting chance at stealing the lead. Because of this, the best move for the Aparri is to target the weakest member of the opposition for the first vote, as there is low risk of an idol being played to protect them, and a high risk of an idol being blown on the wrong person. “It sounds so simple,” Kass continues, “but the best laid plans often end up sprawled out on a murder scene floor.” Oh Kass. Ever the poet. And foreteller.
The next morning sees Kass and Sarah taking an early morning walk together to talk strategy. Kass takes this opportunity to admit to Sarah that the only people in the alliance that worry her potentially are Jeremiah…. and Sarah. Kass is being honest and observant–Jeremiah and Sarah are the only members of the alliance with positive relationships on the other side–but regardless of her intent, Sarah immediately takes offense. “For her to accuse me of not being true to my word hit a chord with me… people don’t like to be called a liar, and pretty much I got called a liar… without being called a liar.” The conversation seems to go on and on in circles with both only getting more and more annoyed with each other. Sarah feels that her loyalty being questioned shows her that her allies don’t have faith in her, and that it doesn’t make her want to stay with that alliance. Kass says “in my line of work, we go with the hard evidence… just because you vote with us once doesn’t mean I believe you’re true. You did what you have to do, in my opinion. That doesn’t speak of loyalty, that speaks of desperation and a wise move. You haven’t proven anything to me, except that you’re saving yourself. Show me blood on your hands of a former tribemate–then we’ll talk.” The whole confessional of course takes place around a fire, with a great shot of it flickering in Sarah’s glasses as if she is literally seething with rage when she looks at Kass.
As if to drive home the point that things are going to get fucked up for Aparri this episode, our morning at Casa Solana is totally different. Everyone is perky and alive. The music swells as Jefra emerges from her slumber within the mosquito net like a baby marsupial sticking out of its mother’s pouch. Woo feeds Malnutrisha a chunk of freshly sliced coconut while she adjusts her tuckjob. He then heads off with Tony so they can goof around to the nth degree at tree mail. It’s all fun and games for Tribe Tony and Friends ™. And while Tony’s enjoying it, he’s bored with the game. “There’s no scrambling going on, there’s no trickery going on, there’s no spying… and, that’s fun for me, you know?” Gosh, I wish there was a way to write Tony’s voice. It’s like starting a statement with “Good News Everyone!” to get the reader to read the rest of the statement in Dr. Farnsworth’s voice. I need something that does that for Tony. And Trish, while we’re at it.
Anyway, the Tree Mail reveals a merge! Solana has to pack up their stuff and make their way to Camp Aparri. The fivesome rejoice at having made the merge, and, much like Aparri, have a group reminder session to remember the good times and keep their five strong. Leon Joseph (yes, now that I know his real name I will call him that) says that it’s exciting to make the merge, but nerve wracking because they’re going into it down numbers. Fortunately for L.J., he has a hidden immunity idol, which he excitedly unearths from its hiding spot during the packing scramble. In some other corner of the woods, Tony does exactly the same with his own idol. “I feel like it’s an extra person in my alliance,” says Tony of the idol. “If anyone of my Solana Tribe need it, I’ll help them out. So I think we’re in pretty good shape.” This is a new side to Tony–the cartoon villain has really just given way to an over the top player who is having fun with the game, and while making a lot of unnecessary moves that I believe will end up being his undoing, Tony isn’t exactly playing a bad game. A lot of people down numbers hold onto their idols in hopes it will somehow become more useful to protect them specifically later, instead of using them to grab numbers at a crucial point. I’ve seen more truly impressive moves done with gifted idols than with ones kept to themselves.
On Aparri, Morlax awakens to read the Aparri the Tree Mail–why they picked her to read I’ll never know, since in classic Morgan fashion she reads it with all the enthusiasm of a drag queen in a sports bar. “You’ll be having guests from the Solana Tribe shortly, and some of them may be staying here for the next 22 days.” “It says they’re gonna be here for the next 22 days… next three days for one, next six days, for another…” Spencer jokes. Don’t tempt fate, Spencer. That’s the shit editors love to use to set someone up. Let’s just hope for your sake someone tempts even harder. (Spoiler: They do.)
A boat carrying the Solana Tribe and a waiting feast comes towards the Aparri shores. The music is tense but the initial meeting is joyful. Everyone is excited and friendly as the Aparri folk help the Solana Tribe (and the food, and most importantly, the booze) off the boat. Sarah likens it to seeing old friends from high school for the first time in a while (I guess six days out there really feels like forever). Those who haven’t yet met make their introductions while others reunite with former tribemates. Jefra is dismayed when she realizes the one former tribemate she was hoping to see–Alexis–isn’t there. She tells us that her line of thinking was pretty much in line with Aparri’s–that Alexis was her tightest ally and a clear option for her to try and flip to Solana’s side. “Oh snap, what do we do now?” she frets. Worry not, small blonde one–the merge has only just begun.
Morgan once again is elected town crier to read the ~official~ note accompanying the feast, confirming the fact that yes, the two tribes are now one. This was expected as much. However, there is another piece of information in the note that is of much more interest to everyone–there is now another idol hidden at the Merged Tribe’s camp, and unlike the others in the game, this one has “different powers.” There is no further indication in the note of what these “different powers” specifically are, which of course only leaves our castaways on edge, only able to guess what they’re up against. “Different powers…” Spencer muses. “The one that sends you home,” jokes L.J. in response. Whatever it does, Tony speculates that the only person who will know for sure will be the person who finds it. For the time being though, nobody is interested in idol hunting. Morgan opens a box to reveal the new black colored buffs for the Tribe, and Spencer suggests that they discuss the new Tribe name over the food they’ve all been waiting for. It’s revealed eventually that they decided on Solarrion–a fusion of the three original Tribe names (Solana, Aparri, and Luzon). The feast is truly decadent–cold cuts, cheeses, crackers, cookies, bread, wine, rum… it’s enough that even watching on a full stomach makes you hungry. For Spencer, the excitement is not only that he’s finally eating, but that he even made the merge in the first place. “I was on a Tribe that was one of the worst Tribes in Survivor history! And somehow, I’m here at the merge, and I have new life… I’m tight with Sarah, I’m tight with Jeremiah, I’m tight with this group of six that could possibly run the game after the merge.”
The conversation turns to the Alexis vote, which is brushed past by Jeremiah with a simplistic explanation that “she turned on me.” Regardless of why, Tony echos Jefra’s sentiments–Alexis leaving isn’t particularly good news for Solana. “Six against five is pretty tough, so the only hope that I have, personally, is Sarah.” Tony seems hopeful that he can call back to the Cops-R-Us alliance, but he’s fearful that if she doesn’t flip, Solana is out of options.
Later in the day, Trish–a pilates instructor by profession–leads some of the women in a freebie pilates class. (In one of the unaired confessionals from this episode, we get to hear her talk about her job and her love of teaching and it’s actually quite sweet on her part, though she recognizes the strategic usefulness of it as well.) “You’re pretty flexible, huh Tash?” Trish asks as Tasha lowers her position and gives the editors their weekly reminder of why they don’t ever do Survivor in cold locations.
Up at the campfire, the former Solana men–Tony, Woo, and Leon Joseph–try to determine their gameplan for making up the numbers deficit. “Who do you think is the head of the snake right now?” Tony asks the guys, and L.J. is pretty sure that the power is being kept pretty evenly amongst the Brains as a collective. Tony believes the best move is to use the downtime they have at the moment to finally pull Sarah aside and figure out where her head is at.
Sarah admits to Tony that her vote is still up in the air and Tony does his best to convince her that if she comes with Solana, the four Brawns will stick together and be the final four, disposing of Jefra and L.J. once they’ve outlived their usefulness. Tony says in a confessional he’s willing to tell Sarah whatever he has to in order to regain her trust, and hopes that she’ll honor and believe in his (false) promise of two cops sitting in the top two together. Tony pushes Sarah to swear on her badge, and Sarah tells him that she’s not ready to make that commitment just yet. In a confessional, Sarah reveals exactly why she wants to think it over. “I’m in the best spot you can be at in this game… because five,” she shows on one hand, “and five,” on the other, “and guess what? I’m in the middle! It’s a Sarah sandwich. It’s perfect!” she gushes. Oh Sarah, don’t you know? Sandwiches get eaten. Sarah asks Tony who he wants to target and he tells her it doesn’t matter. “Whichever side I go, I will decide the fate of this game,” Sarah says, continuing her gloating confessional. This is starting to get painful.
Sarah later helps Jeremiah and Kass collect firewood on the beach, offering to clue them in on the information she supposedly gleaned from Tony. “L.J. does not have an idol, so if he does not win immunity, he’s going home… as he should be. Because that should be our vote. Correct?” Sarah isn’t so much sharing–she’s practically commanding. I don’t quite get how she’s so certain Golden Boy is idol-less, and neither are Jeremiah or Kass. Jeremiah is confident that someone from the Beauty Tribe has found the idol from their beach, and L.J. seems to be the most likely candidate. And logically, it makes sense even without the viewer’s knowledge that Jeremiah is right. Jeremiah and Kass are both of the same mind–pick a target that isn’t obvious for the first vote to ensure the numbers–a target like Jefra. The moment that Jeremiah suggests her, however, Sarah becomes indignant. “It’s either L.J. or Woo! We’ve got to get a strong guy out.” Again, Kass and Jeremiah express their hesitance, and again, Sarah is adamant. She demands that if it’s not L.J., then it’s Woo, and when Kass asks what happens if Woo wins immunity, Sarah says they can vote out Tony. Kass suggests Trish, and Sarah barks at her that it’s a “terrible idea.” “It’s completely idiotic to pick a fight with me,” she says in a confessional. “I’m not saying let me be the princess and walk on eggshells around me, but the last thing you want to do is piss me off… I can do whatever I want! You want to pick a fight with me? I’ll flip over to those other guys, so don’t test me. I will put you in your place and send you packing.” The argument goes in circles–as seems to be a recurring theme every time Kass and Sarah interact–and Kass is clearly becoming more and more frustrated. Kass sees Sarah’s total refusal to vote against Trish or Jefra as a sign that Sarah’s not so much in the six as she is in the one. Poor Zoolander tries his hardest to diffuse the tension, but Sarah whines that she doesn’t want to be “bullied” and then flatly states that Tony promised her any target she wants if she sides with Solana. For Kass, this is the last straw. “In my view, no one in this game should have that much power… I can’t even look at her, I just want to punch her sometimes!” Uh oh.
Now, for 95% of this argument I’m totally on Kass’s side. Sarah is trying waaay too hard to leverage her power in order to get her way and it’s not doing her any favors to earn the trust of her supposed allies. And if she keeps playing both sides until she gets what she wants, well…
Let’s just say that history could repeat itself. Besides Sarah overplaying her hand mightily, every single one of her assumptions is completely wrong–L.J. does have an idol, Trish does have an alliance with L.J., and, as we learned from Stacy Kimball in Survivor: Fiji, when the group down in numbers has the idol, you hit them from the left and vote Edgardo.
But near the end, Kass stops coming from a place of logic and starts coming from a place of rage. If only Kass had Uncle Cliffy in her alliance to remind her not to play emotionally.
The next day, L.J. and Tony start the morning with some spearfishing and nature identification (“Is that a kookaburra?” Tony asks when L.J. emerges with a starfish on the end of his spear), while the women tend fire up at camp. Apparently, Morlax has lumbered off to graze or mock an ugly person or something, so Trish has the shelter all to herself as Tasha cooks the rice and listens to Sarah bitch. “I’m tired of people only talking to me because they want my vote,” Sarah grumps from atop her throne. “I’ll stop talking to you,” Kass helpfully (not) snips in response, and like the cougar she is, Trish’s ears perk up in the shelter. The hunter has found her prey. Sarah and Kass, for the zillionth time in this episode, commence squabbling, only this time with Tribe Leader Tasha as witness as opposed to the stereotypically dim-but-pretty model, Jeremiah. Tasha marches the girls off to get to the bottom of the conflict, but Trish has already more than taken note. “I wake up this morning… yeeeeeeeeeeeow is what I heard, all of a sudden, a couple of girls going at it… the fight made me happy because it made me realize they weren’t as strong of a six as we thought they were.”
Tasha sits Kass and Sarah down on a log at the edge of the lake to figure out what’s happening. “When I heard about Kass and Sarah’s exchange, I didn’t care who was right and who was wrong,” Tasha tells us in a confessional. “My main concern was getting those two back on the same page.” Tasha is masterfully diplomatic–“I see both sides,” she tells them both, “I just don’t want us to get fractured over some B.S.” She works overtime stroking Sarah’s continually growing ego, telling Sarah she respects how much pressure she’s under as the swing vote. Boo hoo, Sarah. Despite the fact that Tasha is obviously placating the beast before it can be angered, Kass is already too blinded by red. “Tasha took Sarah’s side in the argument, what the heck? Someone in the alliance treats someone else poorly, everyone panders to the bully? I felt like saying it to Tasha, what about me, how come you’re not being nice to me? What am I, chopped liver? Oh, wait–you’re done with me. I’ve got it.” Zooooooom, right over Kass’s head. It’s funny, because all of an episode ago, Kass herself said that the turmoil the Brains of Luzon went through together was instrumental in bonding them–it should be apparent to her that Tasha is simply doing what needs to be done to keep Sarah happy and therefore keep her vote, because Tasha already trusts in Kass. Regardless, it appears Kass has made up her mind–Sarah is clearly against her and so is Tasha.
The Solarrion Tribe arrives out on the water for the first individual challenge of the game. Jeff Probst retires the Tribal Idol and reveals a glittering golden Immunity Necklace, up for the taking for whoever can claim it. Today’s game is Bermuda Triangles, a recently introduced challenge from Survivor: Caramoan, and it’s simple. Each castaway stands with their legs straddling either side of a triangular platform with narrow footholds along the sides. Every fifteen minutes, the castaways move up from one level to the next, pulling their legs closer together and therefore making it harder to balance on the floating platform. Fall off and you’re out. The last player standing wins. Based purely on their backgrounds, it seems like a challenge that Woo or Trish is most likely to win.
As far as endurance challenges go, this ends up being one of the shorter ones. Everyone survives the first two stages with relative ease, but the final stage–balancing directly on top of the platform–proves to be the hardest. Spencer is the first to fall almost immediately after the transition, and it seems to set off a chain reaction. In a matter of moments after Spencer drops, Kass, L.J., Sarah, Jefra, Tasha, Trish and Jeremiah plummet in quick succession, leaving a three way challenge between Tony, Morgan, and Woo. Morgan is quickly taken out by a gust of wind, and the showdown between Tony and Woo doesn’t last long after that. “Good luck Woo!” shouts Tony as he falls, leaving Woo to backflip off in excitement, the winner of the first individual immunity challenge. For the Solana Tribe as a whole, it’s a good result–it’s one option off the table for Aparri, which means if needed, it should be easier to send an idol wherever it needs to go.
Upon returning to camp, Princess Sarah seems to have finally settled on her decision. The former Solana Tribe has more of the stronger competitors, which makes them the more dangerous alliance in the long run, and so Sarah had decided to stick with Aparri. Though she has chosen, she still seems intent on waving her shiny, golden swing vote in her allies’ faces in order to pick whoever she wants as the target. “I get to choose. I’m the president right now.”
The numbers are obvious, so there’s no need for subtlety or discretion as Tasha leads the troops down to the water so they can, finally, as a six, nail down their vote. Spencer and Tasha both echo the sentiments Jeremiah and Kass put forth earlier in the episode–vote Jefra or Trish–and like a broken record, Sarah once again pipes up to demand that L.J. or Tony be voted out for being huge threats. “I don’t think any of those guys have an idol,” Sarah says. I’m really interested to know who she does think has the idols, particularly the one from the Brawn camp, since at the very least she has to realize that if she doesn’t have it, that means banking on the chance that either Cliff or Lindsey left the game with it in hand or that it was never found in the first place. “I can guarantee Tony doesn’t have it,” Sarah assures the group as they all agree Tony is the vote. That’s yet another fact wrong for Sarah in this episode. Kass is not happy with how things are turning out at all. “She thinks she’s running the show,” Kass says incredulously via confessional. “Does nobody else see this? Am I the only one? She’s about to destroy the game, and if she’s about to destroy the game, I want the preemptive strike, I want to destroy it!” Kass may have had the right idea originally, but all logic has left the building and she’s now running purely on emotion. At this point, it doesn’t even seem like she’s mad specifically at Sarah anymore. Rather, it comes off like a child having a temper tantrum when their sibling gets more attention than them.
From the shore, the Solana group watches intently, Trish warning Tony that there is no way he has Sarah’s vote. Tony thinks he still has a shot with her, but nobody else seems to have faith in the power of Cops-R-Us. Trish brings up the fight she witnessed between Sarah and Kass the other day and suggests that she could approach Kass and try and swing her against Sarah. Tony insists on one more crack at Sarah, and tells Trish he thinks Kass is likely to play her. When Tony gets Sarah alone at the well, he promises her one more time that she is guaranteed final three with him and Trish, and points out that if she votes with Aparri, they’ll have a big enough numbers advantage that they could get rid of Sarah next and not sacrifice any power at all. “Listen stupid,I know this! I’m not an idiot !” Sarah mocks in a confessional. She tells Tony she’ll decide at Tribal–her “nice” way of saying no. “Tony is the biggest threat in this game. He observes everything, he’s sneaky… he’s just like me, and I’d get rid of me if I could.” Fate, consider yourself tempted.
Having finally given up on Sarah, Tony decides he’ll play the idol if need be, but it might not be necessary. Trish whispers to Kass in the shelter about how it appears Kass has fallen in the ranks, and Kass doesn’t even play coy–“I’ve been replaced,” she says straight up to Trish. Trish prods a bit to see if Kass will flip, but Kass is hesitant until Trish finds the right question. “Well, if you had your choice to get anybody out on that team, who would you go for?” After a brief pause, Kass gives the answer we all knew was coming: Sarah. Trish lets Kass know that, coincidentally enough, that’s what the Solana fivesome is planning as well. Kass admits in a confessional that maybe the Solana group is smarter than she thought. “Maybe they’re smarter than my five if they think that Sarah is the bad seed.”
After playing it super smooth with Kass, Trish comes barking down the trail to the lake to deliver the news to her alliance. “She’s out! We’re voting for her tonight, I’m telling you,” Trish says as she recounts the conversation to Tony and L.J. It’s amazing how things come full circle–earlier in the episode, Kass was outraged when Sarah weaponized her swing vote, threatening to go with the alliance that let her get her way. Now moments before Tribal, it seems that was the same promise Kass wanted herself. “I love that Sarah thinks she’s running the show. New Aparri is voting for Tony, at bequest of Queen Sarah,” Kass says. “Solana is voting for Sarah. I truly believe I’m the one in the middle. I think I have usurped Sarah’s throne tonight, and once again, Chaos Kass will show up at Tribal.”
Solarrion arrives in the dark of night at Tribal Council and what we’re about to see is unlike anything ever before on this show. Per usual, Jeff starts things off by ferreting out the obvious assumptions everyone has on the table going in–Solana is outnumbered, the threats are in trouble, etc etc etc. Things don’t really get interesting until Jeff asks L.J. about idols, and L.J., playing it coy, says that no idols have appeared–for all any of them know, there might not even be any idols. At that point, Tony steals the floor. “There’s idols, cause I got one,” Tony reveals. Spencer calls his bluff and jaws drop–particularly Sarah’s–as Tony pulls the idol from his bag and hangs it proudly around his neck. “And this doesn’t mean I’m going to use it for me… I could give it to L.J., I could give it to Jefra, I could give it to Trish, it’s a community idol!” At this point, Tasha and Spencer share a quick whisper and Tasha, in her military leader fashion, turns to each of the Aparri members to confirm the switch in targets. “The other one,” she says, not specifically mentioning anyone by name, addressing each of her allies. “They can switch whatever they want!” Tony says, once again overcome with joy at the chaos he has created. The rest of Solana appears to be just as tickled as he is, and Jeff asks if they should end the suspense and get to the vote–it’s probably the only thing that all eleven players can agree on.
We see nobody cast their vote, and when Jeff returns with the urn, Tony steps up to play his idol, and makes good on his promise to use it for his tribe by giving it to L.J. Nobody on Aparri seems to react that badly to this news. Tony takes his seat… but we’re not done yet. Jeff goes to start reading the votes, but is interrupted by L.J., who pulls his own idol out as a gift for Tony.
It’s interesting to see it happen–a few episodes ago, both Tony and L.J. were talking about the fact that they didn’t have full trust in one another. Now here we are watching them swap idols, a trust test on par with sharing needles. It’s not a bad way for Solana to have used their idols. If Aparri switched their votes from Tony to L.J. upon seeing Tony’s idol, then L.J. is protected. If they called Tony’s bluff and voted him anyway, Tony is protected. It looks like it might not matter at all if Kass flipped… by pushing for them to target a strong threat, Sarah has sealed her own fate. She’s about to be idoled out. Jeff confirms that both idols are legit, that no votes for Tony or L.J. will count, and begins to count the ballots.
The first vote: Jefra.
The tears are almost immediate for the blonde beauty queen as the faces of her tribemates fall, having gone from elation to devastation in a matter of seconds. Damn, that is some high-speed Survivor chess. The votes begin to stack up–Jefra, Sarah, Jefra, Sarah–until we’re at an expected five-five tie. Jeff reveals the final vote… and in a 6-5 decision, Sarah becomes the 7th person voted out of Survivor: Cagayan and the first member of the jury. Stunned, the good cop turned bad grabs her torch while Solana applauds wildly like fans at a sports game watching their team score. Sarah’s torch is snuffed and she vanishes into the jungle, while the Aparri alliance can only try and decipher who could have possibly flipped on them.
“Thank you,” Jefra whispers to Kass, tears still in her eyes. “Kass, zero percent chance of winning the game,” snarks Spencer–no tears here, just aggravation. “It’s a long way to go,” Kass responds to him. After what may have truly been one of the best Tribal Councils of all time, Jeff bids Solarrion a good evening and sends the ten surviving castaways back to their camp, where the shit is sure to hit the fan.
Next time on… SURIVIOR!
Kass turning on Aparri seems to have the same effect as the PokeFlute, causing Morlax to arise from her slumber in a grumpy rage. Except this Pokemon isn’t armed with Body Slam and Brick Break–she’s armed with the slicing, dicing words that only an experienced mean girl cheerleader has in her arsenal. And while Morgan weaponizes words, the rest of Solarrion scrambles to find a different weapon in the form of the mysterious Super Idol.