This article contains spoilers about Season 41 of “Survivor.”
Episode four of Survivor 41 left me impressed and eager for more Shan content. She pulled off an amazing and humiliating blindside at Ua’s last tribal council when she sent JD home after convincing him to give her his advantage. Finally, there’s a real strategist to root for, or, if you’re the kind of Survivor fan who appreciates loyalty and honesty (ew), then there’s finally a villain to root against. Thankfully, episode five absolutely delivered on giving us more Shan.
Of course, with Shan comes her number one ally: Ricard. As a duo, they’re like the evil, villainous counterparts to the friendly duos of past seasons, like Stephen and JT from Tocantins or Malcolm and Denise from Philippines. Ricard fondly describes the remaining Ua tribe members as himself, Shan and the spare tire. The spare tire, of course, being Genie.
Don’t despair just yet, Genie stans, because I have some great news. Genie finds a hidden immunity idol within the first ten minutes of the episode. Great work, Genie. But, wait, what is she doing? She’s bringing the idol to Shan and Ricard. Let me just say that again. She’s bringing the idol she found to Shan and Ricard, who blindsided JD to get ahold of his advantage and before that blindsided Brad, Genie’s closest ally. It seems like maybe Shan and Ricard aren’t people Genie should trust. Well, she does, and it goes about as well as anyone else would expect it to go. After the three Ua members decide it’s too risky to open the idol in the chance that it doesn’t get activated and someone loses their vote, Genie goes for a relaxing swim and Shan and Ricard immediately go back on their word. Shan opens the idol for herself.
All hope is not lost for Genie at this point. For the idols to be activated, the person from each tribe who has their tribe’s idol must say a secret phrase at the immunity challenge. Until all three phrases are said at a challenge, the players who have the idols are not allowed to vote at tribal council. Once the tribes get to the challenge, Xander says his secret phrase for the fourth time in a row, probably causing the other players to think he’s lost his mind. Shan also says her secret phrase, obviously. A pause. Maybe things will go well for Genie after all.
But then, Naseer speaks up. For context, Naseer is the king of the Luvu tribe – not because of his strategic or social skills, but because he genuinely loves the game of Survivor so much that it’s infectious. The beginning of the season has been a roller coaster for Naseer fans. First, people want to keep him because of his survival skills. Then, Sydney randomly wants to target him. Last episode, Naseer was an absolute beast at a challenge where the other guys on his team were putting in no effort. Plus, he’s entertaining.
At this challenge, even as Naseer starts to say, “Jeff…” I’m not totally convinced he has the third hidden immunity idol. We haven’t seen any footage of Naseer finding the idol and Naseer has been a little socially unaware before (like not noticing who’s missing from each tribe after tribal council). But then, Naseer says it. The secret phrase is, “I’m as confused as a goat on astroturf,” and I’m 90% sure that Naseer doesn’t even know what astroturf is, but he delivers it like a godsend for the Shan fans.
As a Shan fan, you still hope that Ua doesn’t go to tribal council again, but if another tribe went, we would be stuck getting confessionals from Tiff on Yase (blah) or Sydney on Luvu (eh). So, it’s with half joy and half dismay that I watched Ua lose again.
It seems like this should be a very obvious vote based on the tribe dynamics at this point, but tension has started brewing in the power alliance. Before the challenge, Shan gave Ricard the advantage she swiped from JD in case the idols didn’t get activated at the challenge and Shan was left without her vote, which would make the advantage useless. When they get back from the challenge, Shan has her vote intact and a working hidden immunity idol, but that’s not enough for her. She wants her advantage back. That raises some eyebrows from the audience. We all just saw her take that exact same advantage from JD last episode and then ruthlessly sabotage him. Ricard is a little too smart for that. He holds onto the advantage as insurance Shan won’t blindside him, and even though Shan is pissed, she honors her alliance and the two of them vote out Genie.
Production promises a merge is coming soon, so I can’t wait to see what will happen with that. I’d love another scene where Sydney is forced to interact with Tiff, and I’m dying to know if Shan can keep up with her two-faced schemes. Hopefully whatever happens, Naseer stays on top of the game. He deserves it.
*Thumbnail by Hope Thompson