Five Episodes Into “Winners at War”

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Survivor: Winners at War finally had its first tribe swap of the season, and it was one of the most enjoyable episodes of an already enjoyable season. I actually wish they had done a tribe swap earlier and then again tonight, as I’m one of the people who thinks frequent tribe swaps make for an exciting and fluid merge.

The new Sele tribe – consisting of Michele Fitzgerald (Kaôh Rōng), Nick Wilson (David v. Goliath), Parvati Shallow (Micronesia), Wendell Holland (Ghost Island) and Yul Kwon (Cook Islands) – was the tribe with the most dynamics, owing to a relationship-turned-sour between Michele & Wendell, while also reuniting Yul with Parvati, who first rose to Survivor prominence on Cook Islands, as well as a brief scene of Nick Wilson confessing to Parvati that she was his high school crush.

The new Dakal tribe saw original members Kim Spradlin (One World), Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl IslandsHeroes v. Villains) and Tony Vlachos (Cagayan) joined by newcomers Denise Stapley (Philippines) and Jeremy Collins (Cambodia). Though Sandra and Tony were still aligned, and Denise and Jeremy found it necessary to work together, it was Kim who found herself as the swing vote between the two voting blocs.

The Yara tribe was the newly-created tribe, and its inhabitants were former Dakal members Sophie Clarke (South Pacific) and Sarah Lacina (Game Changers), who were notably joined by Adam Klein (Millennials v. Gen X), Ben Driebergen (Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers) and Rob Mariano (Redemption Island). This was most notable because Adam, Ben and Rob were notably all at odds in their previous tribe, and now had the majority.

It was that dynamic that became present after Yara lost immunity and would have to vote somebody out. Rob Mariano tried to implement his “buddy system” from Redemption Island to keep Ben and Adam in line to send out Sarah. Sarah, unbeknownst to them, had her Steal-A-Vote advantage, and Sophie found the tribe’s hidden immunity idol in this episode as well. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Rob was leaving in some manner, but it ultimately became a straight-forward vote with Ben and Adam siding with the girls to vote him out unanimously.

It’ll be interesting going forward to see the effect Rob’s vote-out has on Adam & Ben. While it’s true none of the three men were working together, they still squandered a definite majority, and one of them will discover they aren’t as close with Sophie & Sarah as the other.

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