‘Survivor: Worlds Apart’ Review: Mike Isn’t the Only One ‘Holding On For Dear Life’

Recap and review of Survivor: Worlds Apart – Episode 12 – Holding On For Dear Life:

Normally, it seems like common sense that if you’re going to make a big move, you do it at an odd-numbered vote. But Survivor: Worlds Apart introduced a scenario where taking the middle path might be smarter than the two extremes of either making a huge move or staying the course. “Holding On For Dear Life” illustrates that the game is far more complicated than that.

What I mean is that playing smart didn’t have to mean choosing between voting against Dan (to eliminate his extra vote advantage) and voting against Mike (on the hopes he wouldn’t play his idol). In this instance, the smarter choice was the middle of the road option: voting out Tyler. Out of all the remaining finalists, Carolyn has been playing the best game, albeit not the flashiest game. She’s been mostly under-the-radar, keeping her alliance with Tyler a secret, and guarding knowledge of her hidden immunity idol even more carefully. She’s won immunities, she’s won rewards, and she’s earned the loyalty of several allies, each of whom thinks she’s taking them to the end. Nobody in this game is in a better position than Carolyn. So why dump Tyler, her closest ally and the person who has been her most dependable voting colleague so far?

Well, before going into why this was the right move, let’s first look at why this might have been a bad idea:

Survivor Worlds Apart - Episode 12 - Recap and Review - Holding On For Dear Life

Credit: CBS

In light of the extra vote advantage, it seems especially foolish to vote out Tyler over Dan. Had Dan flipped back to working with Mike tonight, and had they been able to rope Sierra into their plan (since she’s previously said she’d work with Mike if he could secure enough votes to convince her his plans would work), and then Dan used his advantage, then the best Mike could hope for was a 4-4 tie, unless the rival alliance split their votes. If Mike thought he had Sierra and Dan on his side with the extra vote, there’s a very real possibility that he might not have played his idol, and would have gone home on the revote. No harm, no foul. But now? With six people left in the game, that extra vote could destroy Carolyn’s alliance, since Mike only needs Dan and one other person (let’s just keep using Sierra as an example). With the extra vote, that would give Mike’s alliance four votes to Carolyn’s three. In short order, Carolyn would find herself short another ally, meaning she’d basically need to win her way to the end with immunities. Basically, the time to get Dan out was before that vote advantage would become useful. And at six, Dan can pretty much use the extra vote to dictate who leaves. It was madness for Carolyn to leave Dan in the game while voting out Tyler, since she’d never have to worry about Tyler ever working with Mike, whereas I don’t think the same can be said for Dan. He strikes me as the kind of person who’d bail on an alliance if he was given sufficient cause. And if Dan decides to use his advantage against Carolyn, then…well…it’s bad news for her allies.

And yet, here’s why what Carolyn did was smart…

Survivor Worlds Apart - Recap and Review - Episode 12 - Holding On For Dear Life

Credit: CBS

For one, everything I typed above was supposition. Every last word was an attempt at coming up with a hypothetical scenario in which Dan would flip and use his vote advantage to eliminate one of Mama C’s allies. But here’s the thing: that scenario would make no sense for Dan. By voting against Tyler, Carolyn has essentially proven to Dan that she had no intention of betraying him, and that she has every intention of keeping him around, even over her top ally. Carolyn essentially puts herself in a position where she could potentially get Dan to use the extra vote in her favor. In addition, by hitching her wagon to Dan instead of Tyler, she puts herself in a position to sit at the end with someone who’s unlikely to get a single vote from the jury. Dan is also a nonexistent threat in challenges, meaning Mama C will likely be able to continue her challenge run long past the point where her idol becomes useless. And, oh yeah, the idol. By axing Tyler, she not only eliminates the one other person in the game who knows she has one, she also arranges it so that one of her allies is placed on the jury. She now has AT LEAST one vote, if she makes it to the end, and she might not even catch hell for letting Tyler go home if she can convincingly sell that she wasn’t one of the three people who voted for Tyler. It’s savvy gameplay that positions Carolyn to get to the end, provided Mike doesn’t keep winning immunity. But even if he does, Dan has to realize that it makes no sense for him to ever hitch his wagon back to Mike: if he could goes to the end with Carolyn, he’d at least have maybe a 10% shot at the million. But against Mike? I’d be shocked if the odds went above 2% for him there.

'Survivor Worlds Apart' Review Mike Isn't the Only One 'Holding On For Dear Life'

Credit: CBS

In short, Mike isn’t the only one holding on for dear life here, as Dan is recalculating his moves to get his head off the chopping block. Similarly, Rodney is trying to play even harder, taking his bitterness over not getting to go on a reward for his birthday, and using it to make it seem like he’s on the outs with his alliance. I can appreciate the attempt, I guess, but he really overplayed his hand. There was no way Mike was going to fall for it and not play his idol. And Rodney was crazy to think it’d ever work, and he’s just as crazy to think that pouting about not getting to go on a reward would do anything but alienate him from his allies. If he gets to the end, I don’t know how he gets any votes, from how he’s behaved. In fact, if he didn’t make such a valuable “goat” for the final tribal council, I’d say he’d probably find himself holding on for dear life too. But right now? I think he’s in every bit as good a position to get to the end as Carolyn. But, unlike her, I don’t think he has any realistic chance of winning.

But what did you think of “Holding On For Dear Life”? Who’s coming out ahead on Survivor: Worlds Apart? And what do you think of the crazy new twist for Season 32? Sound off in the comments!

If you missed the episode, check it out on CBS All-Access!

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