Survivor Recap: #DropYourBuffs!

Survivor Winners at War Season 40 Episode 5

If there’s anything that can topple a player’s well-strategized pre-merge game, it’s Jeff Probst’s pesky tribe swap. That’s right, Survivor fans: It’s time for these winners to drop their buffs!

For players like Rob and Parvati, this swap is probably a good thing. It could help them link up with allies from Dakal, which might raise their social ranking as they inch toward the merge. But for others, like Sandra or Tony, a reshuffling of the deck could lead to a disastrous tribal, should they have an unlucky fireside date with Jeff. There’s no way of predicting how this will shake out, but one thing’s for certain: Swaps always put the players’ adaptability to the test. What will the new tribes look like and who needs to start scrambling? Let’s find out!

We start at Dakal where Yul talks about his friend (and former Survivor: Cook Islands contestant) Jonathan Penner, whose wife is struggling with ALS. “It’s been an absolutely devastating knock-out punch,” he says. Yul says his friend’s illness broke his heart, and it causes him to break down. You know what could help Penner and his wife? If their buddy Yul takes home a $2 million check!

In the very next scene, it’s time to #DropYourBuffs! “This is the part of the game I really don’t like too much,” says Rob, remembering his vote-out after a swap-gone-wrong in Marquesas. Everyone reveals their new buffs… and they’re switching to three tribes! On Sele is Michele, Wendell, Parvati, Yul and Nick. On Dakal is Sandra, Jeremy, Kim, Denise and Tony. On the new tribe, Yara, is Rob, Ben, Adam, Sarah and Sophie (note: this is the only tribe where former Sele members outnumber former Dakal. This could be big trouble for Sarah and Sophie, who just minutes ago were sitting pretty).

NEW DAKAL BEACH | Jeremy is looking for a crack in the original Dakal. He knows he’s on the bottom, so he gets right to work, targeting Kim as the weak link. Kim chats with Denise about working together, saying she hasn’t quite found her people yet. Tony knows that Kim is in the middle of the pairs, so he checks in with her. She tells him she’s staying Dakal strong, but honestly, she’s not sure.

NEW SELE BEACH | There are some interesting combos on this tribe. Wendell and Michele are exes, for starters. Parvati and Yul played on Cooks Islands together (though they never worked together). Nick tells Parvati she was his high school crush. This tribe’s a whole mess of awkwardness and there’s nowhere to hide for any of them! (Insert maniacal laugh here.) Wendell is being dodgy with Michele and Parvati. “Wendell is sending me ‘You up?’ vibes, and I just want to be like, ‘new season, who dis?'” says Michele, who adds that Wendell broke her trust in real life and “burned” her. “I will take him out if necessary,” she says.

YARA BEACH | Sarah feels the pressure of being on the bottom, but she reminds us she still has her steal-a-vote advantage, which could save her and Sophie for one tribal. It doesn’t take long for Sophie and Sarah to sniff out the mistrust from the former Sele members. No one seems to want to work with Rob, but the Robfather has certainly wiggled his way out of trickier scenarios. Knowing their alliances are all a disaster, everyone searches for the hidden immunity idol. Rob talks about how hard it is for him to find idols, and while he’s chatting up the cameras, Sophie finds a split idol in a tree trunk. Like the last few, it’s split in half, so she has to give half away. She chooses Sarah as the lucky recipient. (Reminder: The two halves must be played together in order to have the power of an idol!)

IMMUNITY IS NOW UP FOR GRABS | Players must race through a series of obstacles and use sand bags to knock blocks off a ledge. Then, they must stack four large colored blocks, so that every side has no repeating colors. Yara takes a quick lead, being the first tribe to start the color puzzle. Dakal struggles with their sand bags, but Yara’s lead quickly diminishes as the other two catch up. Sele thinks they have it… and they do! But we’re still looking for one more winner. Sophie and Adam start to panic for Yara. It’s a nail-biting challenge, and Dakal pulls it out! Yara’s heading to tribal council.

Aside: There is only one choice here to make, Yara. I know there are tons of Boston Rob fans, but he is clearly the only option here. Yes, he’s a big target and a shield for many, but if he makes the merge, he’s going to be dangerous.

STRATEGY SESH’ | Over handshakes, Rob, Ben and Adam all agree they won’t write each others’ names down. The men decide Sarah’s their target. Rob then tells the other two they should go back to camp together and not have a single conversation with the women. Rob calls it “the buddy system.” Adam doesn’t love Rob’s bullying tactics, though. As Rob dictated, no one leaves camp all day long. Ben is also tired of Rob controlling the entire game, while Sarah calls Rob’s energy “really negative,” deeming his tactics “the buddy system on steroids.” Sophie asks Sarah for the half-idol back, but she’s still very uneasy putting her faith in a wink from two virtual strangers but “sometimes, you have to trust the wink,” she says.

THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN | Sophie talks about building new relationships that she hopes can be as strong as Day 1 bonds, while Ben gives kudos to how good everyone is. Sarah tells Jeff the guys spoke about seven words to her all day. Sophie co-signs. “The command was down and that was it,” she says. Sophie and Sarah sell new opportunities to the men, but Rob says it’s a numbers game with little room to hide… or negotiate. It’s time to vote and Rob votes Sarah, who returns the favor and writes Rob. WILL SARAH USE HER STEAL-A-VOTE ADVANTAGE!? Jeff reads the votes: Boston Rob becomes the sixth person voted out of Survivor: Winners at War, while the women hold on to both of their advantages. Rob leaves both of his fire tokens in Parvati’s good hands.

How do you feel about Rob’s vote off? Were you Team Sarah/Sophie or Team Boston Rob? Sound off in the comments below!