Survivor: Winners at War Recap Season 40, Episode 2: Boston Rob’s’ Dangerous Game

The battle between the old-school and new-school players appears to be getting more intense as every day goes by on “Survivor: Winners at War.” Is there any chance for people like Boston Rob, Parvati, Sandra, Ethan, Yul or Danni or will the newer players just bowl them over?

That’s what makes this season so compelling, as these newer winners find themselves face-to-face with their “Survivor” legends and some of the best to ever play the game. And already they’re doing all the things that made them such larger than life characters in their first time (or second or third or fourth) out there.

After screwing up big time last week and playing like a fresh-faced newbie to the game, fanboying so hard over Rob that he spilled everything, Ben really pulled himself together impressively this week. He was a showboater in his original season when his back was against the wall in those final episodes and he put on a show again this week.

This week also saw the moment that Rob learned Sandra and the other tribe had voted Amber out of the game, sending her to the Edge of Extinction with Natalie. Sure, they’re still technically a part of the game, but only tangentially. Still, he got her fire token and that could prove valuable.

Immunity Idols In Play

Once again, it was Natalie who discovered the prize to sell to a player in the game and she had no problem convincing Jeremy to give back the fire token she’d bequeathed him in exchange for “safety without immunity.” With it, he simply walks out of Tribal Council and goes back to camp before the vote, becoming safe but also losing his vote.

That puts Natalie ahead with three fire tokens (the most of anyone in the game). It remains to be seen how valuable they’ll be for her in fighting her way back into the game, but at least there’s something going on at the Edge.

This week also saw the discovery of hidden immunity idols on both beaches (found by women, hell yeah!). Both were half-idols, which means they had to give the other half to someone else. Interestingly, Denise solidified an ally by giving half of hers to Adam, while Kim actually made herself a target by sharing hers with Sophie.

Sophie went so far as to refer to herself as the “devil” and say that she may just have to vote Kim out for this. That’s an interesting response to an early shot at some control. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

Rob’s Big Blunder

Wow was that a disastrous showing by Sele at the Immunity Challenge, and we can lay a huge part of that on Rob’s terrible puzzle strategy. He and Denise had completely closed the gap with Dakal’s puzzle solvers, Sandra and Sophie. And then he decided to separate pieces instead of simply moving on to the next section.

By the time Sandra and Sophie had finished, it looked like as if Rob and Denise had not gotten a single other piece into their puzzle. Now, the entire tribe had kind of blown the early portion, giving Dakal a strong lead heading into the puzzle, but it was the fact they caught up and then blew it that made his blunder so remarkable.

Rob is one of the smartest players out there, but we’re not sure puzzles are his strong suit. He must have not had faith in his physicality no that he’s older, but he needs to not expose himself so glaringly if he wants to last long in this game. He’s already a huge target just because of who he is.

Danni’s Bigger Blunder

Information is key in “Survivor,” and it’s imperative that you are always careful with who you share it with. So it was absolutely stunning to see Danni — a former winner of this game — make the rookie mistake of talking openly to Ethan about “Old School Strong” with Ben standing right there.

She tried to talk her way out of it, but Ben knows a thing or three million about being on the outside of alliances. For his season, he spent the last several tribal councils surviving only by the power of hidden immunity idols as everyone wanted him gone. So he wasn’t buying it for an instant, and then everyone knew (if they chose to believe him).

Tribal Council Showtime

We say that and then Rob goes and puts on a huge show at Tribal Council, asking everyone to dump their bags and reveal if anyone has a Hidden Immunity Idol. Adam actually stood up to him over this move, all the while concealing the fact that he does have one. Denise was even better at hiding her half, quietly keeping it tucked in her bag amidst the chaos.

It was more a power move and a deflection that had no impact on the vote, as the tribe was unanimous in their decision this week. And it wasn’t the only flashy move, as Ben was up to his old tricks again, calling out the old-school/new-school divide, thanks to Danni’s big mouth. Everyone denied it, with Rob and Sandra able to almost completely deflate his argument, but we’d argue the old-schoolers are not in a great spot after this night.

Player Report Cards

We spent very little time with the Dakal tribe this week and nothing that happened over there impacted our rankings of those players. So we’re going to separate them out and simply offer a quick reminder of where they were at after we break down Sele following this week’s action.

Denise Stapley (Philippines-2012) is playing an incredibly intelligent game, and surrounding herself with very loud, very big targets all around her in Adam and Ben. Both are capable of rubbing people the wrong way, so it’s been impressive watching her handle them and her game. The way she hid her half of the immunity idol proved that she’s playing very smart. The louder personalities are going to take one another out, and Denise could slid right into the merge and beyond. Grade: A

Jeremy Collins (Second Chances-2015) is sitting in a pretty good spot, thanks to Natalie giving him the “safety without immunity” power. Watching him sit back quietly and observe the chaos going around him was watching a master of this game simply gathering intel for use later. His biggest problem is that people know how good he is and doesn’t appear to be in a strong alliance just yet. Grade: B

Ethan Zohn (Afrida-2001) may be an old-school player, but he’s playing a very kind game that is making him no enemies just yet. His biggest problem is that he’s now perceived as being in the old-school alliance (which he totally was) and they just don’t have the numbers yet to do anything. But he’s the smallest target of them, so that gives him time. Grade: B

Adam Klein (Millennials vs. Gen-X-2016) is playing a very big and very loud game very early on. He’s got the new-school players on his side for the time being, but just as Jeremy said he doesn’t like being a follower, neither do many other players. He may quickly find himself on the outs with the mid-schooler or even new-schoolers, as they don’t have the loyalty of older players. Grade: B-

Rob Mariano (Redemption Island-2011) is playing the game he plays and it is incredible to watch him do it, but it seems impossible to fathom that his “Godfather” schtick could work again. He got everyone to dump their bags, but those kind of big plays tend to create targets in modern “Survivor,” and Rob was already the biggest in the game. And yet, he was on the right side of the votes, with Adam wary of when to make the move against the legends like him and Parvati. If he waits too long, Rob might emerge victorious. Grade: B-

Ben Driebergen (Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers-2017) is playing a big, flashy game but he’s got all the old-schoolers worried about him. And nobody seems to quite know where his head is at. Strategy and social politics were never his forte in his season — he won alone basically — so this is new territory. But the big plays at Tribal Council can be off-putting. It got people gunning for him his season, and it may happen again. Grade: C+

Parvati Shallow (Fans vs. Favorites-2008) is falling victim to her own legacy as one of the greatest to ever play this game. And she absolutely was. And based on what we’ve seen, she may yet still be, even as her approach has changed. Her mind is one of the sharpest in the game, but the newbies are gunning for her hard, even more than Rob because they still revere and fear him more than her. She’s got to scramble at this point to survive much longer, as she’s on the wrong side of the numbers and too famous to fly under the radar. Grade: C

Danni Boatwright (Guatemala-2005) sowed the seeds of her own destruction when she blurted out that there was an old/new divide in the camp and then turned around and tried to convince Rob to vote out Parvati. She got the newbies considering that big move, but they weren’t ready. And so she was unanimously sent to join Natalie and Amber on Edge of Extinction (three women out first — boo!) Grade: F

We’ve no idea why the new-school was afraid to make the bold move and take out Parvati, but this happens all the time with returning players (both she and Rob won their seasons because of it). This season, they’re all returning players, so it’s the legends of the game who are getting that special status where people are so wary to turn against them even when they hold all the cards. It’s crazy.

Dakal/Edge of Extinction Summary

  • Yul Kwon (Cook Island-2006) Grade: A+
  • Wendell Holland (Ghost Island-2018) Grade: A
  • Sarah Lacina (Game Changers-2017) Grade: A
  • Sophie Georgina Clarke (South Pacific-2011) Grade: B+
  • Nick Wilson (David vs. Goliath-2018) Grade: B+
  • Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands-2003 & Heroes vs. Villains-2010) Grade: B
  • Tyson Apostol (Blood vs. Water-2013) Grade: C
  • Tony Vlachos (Cagayan-2014) Grade: C-
  • Natalie Anderson (San Juan del Sur-2014) Grade: D+ (only change because she’s hustling out there)
  • Kim Spradlin-Wolfe (One World-2012) Grade: D
  • Amber Mariano (All-Stars-2004) Grade: F

Island Chatter

“If she voted my wife out, then it’s war.” –Rob (about Sandra)

“How do you feel about giving it to Parvati?” –Denise (about her two-halves immunity idol)

“My god, I think that’s a terrible idea.” –Adam

“I was in shock. Kim should be telling Tyson about her idol. I am the last person she should be telling.” –Sophie (recipient of Kim’s two-halves idol)

“Taking on projects is fun, it keeps my mind occupied, ’cause if I don’t occupy my mind I’m gonna start doing crazy things like searching for idols in front of everybody and just getting myself in trouble.” –Tony

“I know we signed waivers before we came out here, but I don’t know if there was a ladder clause in the contract.” –Tyson (wary of Tony’s collapsing ladder)

“Tony, you don’t want to be the first medivac!” –Yul (as Tony climbs his ladder)

“The other day, [Rob] said he wanted to stay old-school strong, but it was a short conversation.” –Danni (to Ethan and Ben)

“You know he’s not–” –Ethan

“You know I’m not an old-schooler, right?” –Ben

“You know who this is?” –Ethan (pointing to Ben)

“It’s been six days.” — Jeff (after asking Ben to help Adam put his torch in the right place)

“I don’t know, it looked like a hole.” –Adam (where was he trying to put his torch?)

“Why should everybody get to know who has the idol? Why is that a thing?” –Adam (after Rob asked everyone to empty their bags)

“Do you have the idol?” –Rob (he does, but he’s not going to tell you!)

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