Survivor: Winners at War Recap: A Fire Token Economy Revamps the Game

Survivor Winners at War Ethan Zohn

If last week’s idol-hunting, fire token-swapping, Edge of Extinction-twisting Survivor premiere didn’t leave your head spinning, this one might just knock it off entirely.

Winners at War may be the most complex season of Survivor yet… and frankly, we’re here for it. The 20 champions certainly have a long road ahead of them if they want to get close to that $2 million prize. What other twists and advantages lie waiting to be discovered, and which all-star will join Natalie and Amber on the Edge? Let’s find out.

A SURVIVOR ECONOMY | We start on the Edge where Amber reflects on being ousted from the game. She’s bummed to have gotten the axe, but excited to still be in the running. Plus, she knows she can help Rob from the Edge, so hope is still alive for the Marianos. When Rob gets Amber’s fire token, he gets emotional. He doesn’t know for sure if it’s Amber, but he has a feeling. He wonders if the token could be from Sandra; conversely, if Sandra voted Amber out, this means war for Rob.

IDOL HUNTERS | With Ben’s help, Denise finds an idol, but she must give half of it to someone else by sundown. The idol can only be used when played together. Denise tells Adam about the idol, but Ben knowing about it is bad news to Adam. Playing with the veteran makes him nervous because Ben’s a wild card. Ben bumbles his way up the beach asking, “Big happy family?” Sure, Jan Ben.

Kim isn’t used to playing from the bottom, so idol-hunting she goes, and an immunity idol she finds. Like Denise’s, she has to give half of it away. She decides to give half of it to Sophie, but Sophie says Kim shouldn’t be telling “the devil.” Information is always power in Survivor, and Kim might’ve just armed Sophie with the power to take her out. (I think it’s safe to say that Kim’s competition here is sliiightly more aggressive than her One World crew.)

Meanwhile, Sarah and Tony try distancing themselves from each other, but in actuality, they reform their Cops Are Us alliance from Cagayan. Tony voted Sarah out during that season, so it’ll be interesting to see how far these two can go together.

KEEPIN’ IT EDGY | Amber and Nat get another clue, but it leaves both of them scratching their heads. The women scour the island, but once Amber calls it quits, Natalie goes for water and finds the advantage. It allows a player to leave tribal council and return to camp before the votes are cast, essentially giving them immunity from the vote.  Natalie sends the advantage to Jeremy, and he takes the deal, thankful that Natalie has his back, even from the Edge. “This Fire Token economy could change everything,” he says.

IMMUNITY IS NOW UP FOR GRABS | Rob gets his first look at an Amber-free Dakal tribe and he. is. not. happy. “It’s tough, it’s a game, I get it,” he says. But it doesn’t look like he gets it. For the challenge, the tribes must race through a course with a cart to collect three chests that contain puzzle pieces. The winning tribe gets immunity and the classic Survivor spice kit. Dakal is the first to get all of their pieces to the end, giving Sandra and Sophie a huge head-start on the puzzle. Denise and Rob make quick work out of the first section of the puzzle and spend way too much time organizing their pieces. Dakal wins immunity, sending Sele back to tribal.

STRATEGY SESSION | Rob knows he blew it, but Ethan tells him he “sucked today” anyways. Regardless, Rob feels secure in the relationships he’s made thus far and eyes Ben or Jeremy for the vote-off. While Rob, Parv and Ethan strategize, Danni feels on the outs of the “old school” alliance. While venting to Ethan, Danni lets the “old school” agreement slip right in front of Ben! She then goes to Rob with a plan to vote out Parvati, who is Rob’s number one. (What is this woman thinking!?) Ben makes people nervous, Danni is being… Danni, and Adam, Michele and Jeremy discuss targeting Parvati. But is it the right time to take that risk?

THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN | At tribal, Rob talks about how this season is more complex than the show has ever been, while Michele talks about how “reading people” is always difficult in this game. The tribe discusses how some castaways, like Ethan and Danni, have zero experience with idols and advantages. The conversation quickly turns when Ben calls out Danni’s error and then accuses Parv, Rob and Ethan of being far too paranoid. As Ben talks himself into a corner, dancing around some sort of point, Rob, Jeremy and Parvati start whispering. Rob then asks everyone to empty their bags so they can see who has the idol, but he’s too busy ruffling Ben’s feathers to notice Denise slyly hiding her idol… like a boss. After the tribe votes, Jeff tallies ’em up and Danni is sent packing to the Edge. She bequeaths her fire token to Denise on her way out.

Danni certainly made a few critical errors there. Who did you think should’ve been voted off? Sound off in the comments below!