‘Survivor: Worlds Apart’ Review: Pairs Take Center Stage in ‘The Line Will Be Drawn Tonight’

Recap and review of Survivor: Worlds Apart – Episode 7 – The Line Will Be Drawn Tonight:

Survivor: Worlds Apart has been subtly forming into a game centered on pairs. From the vote last week to break up Rodney and Joaquin, to tonight’s scheming to break up two central power pairs, with a third power pair caught in the middle, “The Line Will Be Drawn Tonight” takes the explosive drama of the merge, and adds a layer of precarious gameplay.

Survivor Worlds Apart The tribes merge

Credit: CBS

Part of what was brilliant about this episode was that the overarching narrative seemed to center on how powerful a strong pair can be in this game, but the result ended up subverting that expectation. As the episode begins, Carolyn and Tyler are quick to separate themselves from one another once they merge into the ridiculously named “Merica” tribe (because of course Mike would be stoked about that name). Carolyn and Tyler feel that if they’re too obvious about their partnership, their heads will be next on the chopping block, and it’s an immensely savvy strategy when you consider just how easily the tables turned on Joaquin last week, and on Max the week before. As a result, they’re able to explore their options with the Blue Collars and No Collars as individuals, gathering intel which they can then share with one another in order to help them decide which alliance they’re going to side with for the vote. For all intents and purposes, this strategy should have worked beautifully for them, and it very nearly did, as they ultimately sided with the Blue Collars to vote out Jenn. But what they couldn’t anticipate was that Jenn had a hidden immunity idol, one which she concealed from even HER closest ally in the game, Hali. Jenn and Hali have been one of the stealth power pairs in the game so far, but it speaks volumes of how pairs are perceived in the game that Jenn didn’t tell Hali about the idol until just before tribal council. Jenn couldn’t allow the perception around camp to center on she and Hali as a duo that needed to be split up, and so she kept her secrets to herself until she absolutely needed to. Of course, for all her attempts at subterfuge, she’s still targeted, but she’s smart enough to read the room. Jenn recognizes she and Hali are seen as threats, and she suspects the Blue Collar vote will center on one of them, since Joe has won immunity.

Survivor Worlds Apart Jenn plays her hidden immunity idol

Credit: CBS

And so we come to tribal council, with Carolyn making prophetic speeches about lines being drawn in the sand with an icepick, while Dan adds to the grim specter by saying it’ll be drawn with a chainsaw. But for all their talk, they apparently never considered a vote split. This is because Mike feels he and the Blue Collars have the numbers: not only is he reunited with his other half, Kelly, but Rodney seems to get over the Joaquin vote just long enough to rope in Will and get him to turn on the No Collars. Mike isn’t entirely sold on Will’s loyalty, so he pulls a Tyrion Lannister and tells him that the vote is Hali. Mike feels if he sees Hali’s name written down, he’ll know he can trust Will. But for all his pre-planning, Mike never accounts for the existence of a hidden immunity idol, and so while Will’s vote for Hali proves his loyalty to the Blue Collars, that loyalty doesn’t account for much on this vote since Mike’s plan came apart at the seams anyway. With EIGHT votes in their alliance (the five Blue Collars plus Carolyn, Tyler and Will), it seems insane to me that Mike never thought to have the vote split between Jenn and Hali. This would have resulted in a three-way tie, and Hali could have been bounced on the revote. It’s an oversight that could cost the alliance, since Rodney seems frustrated by Mike’s iffy planning, Will probably feels used after having been given a phony target, and Carolyn and Tyler may have just revealed their power couple status by openly voting together with the Blue Collars.

Survivor Worlds Apart - Episode 7 - The Line Will Be Drawn Tonight

Credit: CBS

Someone savvy might be able to argue that breaking those two up should take priority over getting Jenn or Joe out of the game. In essence, tonight’s episode puts power pairs on a pedestal, and then knocks them off of that pedestal by the end of the episode. Maybe Carolyn and Tyler’s manuevering will matter next week, since they’ve actually positioned themselves extremely well if the Blue Collars stick together (for one, they have the numbers, and secondly, they’ve flushed out one of the hidden immunity idols, meaning Carolyn has the only one left). But that scheming ultimately didn’t matter this week, since it puts them right back at square one: as a potential swing vote between two alliances while tenuously trying to keep either alliance from discovering just how close they are. However, that relationship could implode if Tyler discovers that Carolyn entertained the idea of a final four pairing with Will, Rodney and Kelly this week, but I suppose that’s a moot point now that Kelly has been voted off.

Survivor Worlds Apart Kelly voted out

Credit: CBS

Yes, the No Collars’ four votes for Kelly was enough to overcome the seven for Jenn, since Jenn played her idol. Thus, Mike’s #1 ally in the game is gone, and a potential power pairing has been severed. So for all the talk of how the merge would essentially result in the Blue Collars sticking together at all costs, the cracks are already there in the foundation, especially now that they’re losing numbers. Then again, the situation really isn’t that dire just yet. Hell, they could lose another member and still have the numbers on the No Collars, provided neither Carolyn nor Tyler flip, and assuming that Will doesn’t simply flip back to the No Collars, and also assuming that Rodney doesn’t go into business for himself to get rid of Mike. But those are a LOT of “What ifs?” Far more “what ifs” than anyone should be comfortable with in this game. It’s an exciting prospect to think of how the merge has blown this game wide open, and minimized the value of a power pairing. Yes, Jenn and Hali are still very much a couple that probably needs to be broken up, every bit as much as Carolyn and Tyler, but the focus seems to be shifting to the overall layout of alliances. This was a well-titled episode because the lines were drawn in the sand tonight. It’s the No Collars (well, plus Shirin) vs. The World. Forget about pairs, this is a game of larger numbers and desperate moves. After tonight’s Tribal Council craziness, I’d expect a lot of votes that were previously locked in to suddenly be up for grabs on the next Tribal Council, since nothing is certain in any of these alliances. And that’s an exciting prospect from a pure entertainment standpoint.

Survivor: Worlds Apart suggests that pairs are the ultimate threat in this game, but “The Line Will Be Drawn Tonight” shows that it takes more than just one solid bond to keep an alliance afloat. Otherwise, Kelly wouldn’t have been a target at all. Ultimately, Kelly didn’t do anything wrong. She was just on the wrong side of circumstances. And in a game like Survivor, that makes all the difference.

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

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