‘Survivor: Worlds Apart’ Review: ‘Survivor Russian Roulette’ Features Amazing Tribal Council

Recap and review of Survivor: Worlds Apart – Episode 11 – Survivor Russian Roulette:

Well, that was certainly an interesting tribal council. In fact, it was downright amazing, when you consider the implications it has for the game, going forward. Survivor: Worlds Apart has been a game of missed opportunities, and while “Survivor Russian Roulette” provides one of the biggest missed opportunities of all, it didn’t actually represent bad gameplay.

The title for the episode comes from the bold tribal council move that Mike pulls: with Shirin on the chopping block, he whips out his hidden immunity idol and declares he’s going to play it for Shirin. Since he already has immunity (having won the male necklace, while Carolyn won the female necklace in a challenge that the producers probably designed to keep both Mike and Shirin in the game), Rodney and the Collective would have to cannibalize themselves early. That would create a real division in the alliance in the future once other people in the alliance start getting votes and come to the realization that they’re not as high up on the ladder as they probably thought they were. But it goes a bit farther than that. No only does Mike announce he’s going to play the idol for Shirin, he also reveals that Shirin is going to cast a vote against Tyler, while Mike himself will cast a vote against one random other person in the opposing alliance. If anyone in that alliance wants to feel safe, they’ll need to vote Tyler to be certain it won’t be them going home once the idol gets played. It’s an absolutely ingenious move, except for one fatal flaw: there are just enough people in that six-person alliance to formulate a contingency plan in the event Mike’s move is a bluff (which, of course, it is). The alliance was still able to put two votes on Dan, but four on Shirin. The two votes for Tyler, at this point, become negligible, as Shirin becomes the fourth member of the jury. But Shirin takes it in good spirit, making the excellent point that it would have been stupid for Mike to play his idol for her, even if it would have been great to put one over on the jerk squad.

Survivor Worlds Apart - Episode 11 - Recap and Review - Survivor Russian Roulette

Credit: CBS

In fact, Shirin makes a lot of excellent points this week. In attempting to scramble to save her own hide, she tells both Dan and Sierra that they absolutely cannot win if they’re sitting there at the end with Tyler. And every vote they let him survive is another chance for him to win immunity or find an idol, and go deeper in this game as a result. She makes the same case at tribal council, noting how monumentally stupid it’d be for them to vote her out when there’s a general agreement among everyone at camp that she has no chance of actually winning the million dollars, whereas Tyler does. If it really is true that no one on the island likes Shirin, then her argument is right on the money, because Tyler is the kind of under-the-radar threat that people have a hard time feeling bad about voting to give the million. His hands aren’t bloodless, but every single vote seems part of a larger group effort. In short, none of the moves Tyler makes against someone seem like moves Tyler is actively making himself. He takes none of the heat for the moves he makes, and while you could probably argue that this also means he gets none of the glory, Tyler seems articulate enough to make an argument for this being his strategy from the get-go. By letting others take the fall, he gets to the end without anyone suspecting just how big a threat he’d be. But now, that strategy is essentially null and void, as Sierra picks up on the threat Tyler presents long before Shirin approaches her about it. Hell, Sierra even tries to get Rodney in on a potential blindside, but he somehow feels Shirin is a bigger priority, once again illustrating the faulty reasoning of this alliance.

Survivor Worlds Apart - Episode 11 - Survivor Russian Roulette

Credit: CBS

There’s an inertia here that’s preventing strategic maneuvers from being played. For as much as Tyler accuses Dan of only thinking as far ahead as Top 6, he’s just as blind to the reality that his game is far too transitory to be truly effective. Yes, his loyalty is part of what’s got him this far, but he’ll have to turn on the alliance eventually. And he’ll have to find an artful way to do it. Sure, it might make sense to get rid of Shirin now, in lieu of Mike, but I don’t think it makes all that much sense for Tyler not to, say, get rid of Dan before he can use his extra vote advantage against him. Or get rid of Sierra before her subtle scheming actually pays off (then again, Sierra is such a flip-tease that I doubt she’ll ever make any significant move in this game other than the ones she’s told to make. Although, to be fair to her, it makes a whole hell of a lot more sense to try to sit at the end with Rodney and Will than it would to be there with a potentially sympathetic underdog like Shirin). Basically, this episode was a glorious mess of desperation, from Tyler going through Dan’s bag to discover what advantage he got at the auction last week, to Mike’s wonderful bluff that the Collective were, unfortunately, able to see right through. Maybe Mike should have played the idol for Shirin just to shake up the game, but then he really WOULD need to win immunity at the next challenge, and it’d really only delay the inevitable for, at most, one or two more votes. I don’t think forcing the alliance to cannibalize themselves in that fashion would have had the effect Mike wanted it to, since the people who turned on the alliance could simply argue they wrote down a random name out of fear. Then again, Mike’s move here pretty much generated the same result, with two members of the Collective getting votes, exposing to Dan just how low he is on the list of priorities. So Mike may have accomplished his goal anyhow, with the added bonus of still having an idol in his pocket.

Recap and review of Survivor Worlds Apart - Episode 11 - Survivor Russian Roulette

Credit: CBS

However, the questions now become, “How long can Mike realistically last in this shark tank? And will the two votes against Dan smarten him up to his position in the game?” Those are hard to parse out, since each of the remaining castaways seem to have solid reasons for keeping with the rank-and-file (again, who would you rather sit against at the end? Mike and Shirin or Rodney and Will?). But it’ll be interesting to see how these alliances fall to pieces and reshuffle in the weeks to come, considering we’re getting down to the wire, and the inter-alliance cannibalization might have to start sooner rather than later, if some of these outsiders (like Dan and Sierra) want to have any sort of realistic chance at winning this game. Either way, these sorts of scrambling episodes result in some truly fun television, and “Survivor Russian Roulette” delivered perhaps the best tribal council of Survivor: Worlds Apart so far. So…not too shabby, even if the result was a foregone conclusion.

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

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