“Survivor: Winners at War” Episode 13 Recap – Dance Like the Jury Is Watching

“Survivor: Winners at War” (CBS)

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Last Week: Ben’s idol finding technique left Tony bitter, Nick handed immunity to Tony for some peanut butter, and Kim’s very good at “Survivor” but Tony may be better.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor Blog

Alright, let’s take a look at the tribe as it currently stands.

The Koru Tribe (wearing black)

  • Ben, 36 – “Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers”
  • Denise, 48 – “Philippines”
  • Jeremy, 41 – “Second Chance”
  • Michele, 29 – “Kaôh Rōng”
  • Nick, 28 – “David vs. Goliath”
  • Sarah, 34 – “Game Changers”
  • Tony, 45 – “Cagayan”

We kick things off with Michele being kinda bummed that her loyalty to Jeremy and her 50/50 advantage were outted at Tribal. I get the first part, but everyone knowing you have the 50/50 isn’t that bad if you can only use it for one more Tribal. If anything, it might cause them to spare you for fear of the coin landing on “Safe.”

Also, Denise clarifies what she meant when she shut down Jeremy at Tribal Council. She’s not done with the game, she’s just done letting it drive her crazy. She turns this into the mantra, “Endure and Let Go.”

Later on, Sarah points out that Cops R Us has been six years in the making. Jeez, with all of this pandemic going on, it feels like that Cagayan was 100 years ago.

Another point of  discussion is that our buddy cops want to work with Ben and Jeremy, but they hate each other. I wish they’d done a better job explaining the feud between those two.

Anywho, Sarah needs to go to work getting Ben to target Nick. But, since Ben’s resume is so weak, she needs to make Ben think that it’s his idea.

And it seems to work as later Ben approaches Tony about getting rid of Nick. Well done, Sarah.

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will throw a ball into a chute, then run though a short obstacle course while the ball rolls down. Once they’re through, they’ll need to catch the ball. They’ll then dig under a beam and complete a slide puzzle. The first person to finish the puzzle will win immunity and two fire tokens.

Result: Nick wins immunity. Poor Michele wasn’t even able to advance past the first segment.

Pre-Tribal Politicking

Denise starts off as an easy first target, but Ben wants to keep her around because she’s his friend. Wait, is she? I feel like we’re not seeing a ton of these social dynamics.

Anyhow, Ben decides to stir things up between Michele and Jeremy by telling Jeremy to get Michele’s 50/50 and warning Michele that Jeremy was going to come for her advantage.

This immediately backfires as soon as Michele and Jeremy have a single conversation.

They decide their best course of action is to partner with Nick and Tony to go after Ben.

Tony and Nick agree to this move…to Jeremy’s face. The new plan has Tony, Nick, Ben, Sarah, and Denise splitting their votes between Jeremy and Michele with Jeremy getting the majority of the votes.

To add an extra wrinkle, Sarah is worried that Nick could flip and get rid of Ben.

Tribal Time

Hmm…this Tribal was nice and tame. A welcome departure from all of the recent whisperfests.

The downside of that is all of the answers were very vague. However, there was a really interesting conversation about how “Survivor” affects you outside the game with Michele, Ben, and Jeremy talking about the trust issues they had once they returned home.

That’s an aspect of the game I never really thought about until Parvati Shallow and I visited the Tribal Council set for “Worlds Apart.” Her attitude completely changed. The memories of distrust she had in those locations came rushing back. It really sticks with you.

Voting Time: Denise votes for Michele, Jeremy votes for Ben, Tony votes for Jeremy, and the rest of the votes are lost to the magic of editing

JPro tallies and returns. He asks if anyone wants to play an idol and…Michele does. She flips her coin and it comes up “Safe.” We’re then treated to an adorable Michele victory dance.

OK, we’ve got two votes for Michele, one vote for Ben, one vote for Jeremy, one vote for Ben, one vote for Jeremy, and the fifteenth person voted out of “Survivor: Winners at War” is…Jeremy.

Tony confesses to making the move, to which Jeremy responds, “Bad move, dude.”

Fire Token Bequeath’n: Jeremy leaves both of his tokens to Michele.

And Then There Were Six

Ben and Tony have a bro-down hug over at the water-well to celebrate their victory. They also discuss who should go next between Michele and Nick. Tony thinks Michele is a goat, but he doesn’t want to take a goat to the end of such a big season. Bold. So, their hope is to take her out next.

Later on, Michele reads Nick the riot act because she doesn’t know what their path to the end is anymore. She specifically points out that Denise will never flip on Ben. Wait, what? Did I miss all of that?

It ends up with Michele telling us that if she’s going to go out, she’s going to go out swinging. The first part of her plan is to convince Sarah that she can’t beat Tony at the final three. Whether that’s true or not, Sarah knows Michele is just trying to rile her up.

Edge of Extinction

Wow…it feels like there are thirty legends just hanging out on a beach.

A clue arrives that prompts the contestants to find a “throne of stone.” Everybody scrambles, but Natalie, the person who’s been there the longest and knows the island the best, manages to locate the advantage.

What she finds is the ability for someone in the game to put someone else at a disadvantage in the next immunity challenge. The victim of the disadvantage will not be told who put them in that position.

It’s unclear who she’s going to offer it to, but it’s clear she wants as many fire tokens as possible.

CUT TO: Nick and his six fire tokens receiving the advantage.

However, Natalie has requested eight fire tokens. Nick asks Michele if she’ll cover the difference, and she enthusiastically agrees.

Eight fire tokens for that lame advantage? It’s like fire tokens have the same value as skee-ball tickets.

Sandra’s one-token immunity idol was a bargain.

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will stack blocks on a wobbly beam, then knock them over domino-style to ring a gong. The first player to ring the gong wins immunity and two fire tokens.

Also, this is the last challenge where tokens can be won and tonight is the last time tokens can be used.

Disadvantage: Ben will have to stack 30% more blocks. As you’d imagine, he is not pleased by this development. He even points out that nobody has bequeathed him any fire tokens. Wow…that’s interesting. Who knew likable Ben would have such trouble getting along with everyone?

Result: Ben came close to overcoming the disadvantage, but it wasn’t meant to be. Michele won immunity and treated us to another victory dance.

Pre-Tribal Politicking

Denise kicks things off with an interesting move, telling everyone that she doesn’t want to go to the Edge of Extinction hungry, so if they cook all the rice, she’ll use her fire tokens to buy a new bag.

This isn’t to say that Denise is agreeing to be the boot, it’s just sending the signal to her alliance that she can be the fake vote so they can target Nick.

Uh oh…now we’ve got Nick talking about how he helped Michele win by hindering Ben and now he’s in the best position he’s been in all game.


Nick tries to plant some seeds in Tony’s head that Ben will easily win a fire-making challenge. Which …is actually an interesting point.

From there, Tony decides to spend some time in his Spy Nest™. And this time it works fabulously as he catches Denise pitching getting rid of Tony to Sarah and Ben. Amazing.

™”Spy Nest” is a registered trademark of Vlachos Industries.

Anywho, now Tony is talking to Nick and Michele about getting rid of Denise.

Tribal Time

Michele puts in a solid bid for line of the season when she points out that she needed the immunity necklace the same way Probst needs a blue button-down and khakis. Whoa…in his defense…sometimes it’s green.

She has another nice moment when she tells everyone how much it means to her and how much of a pick-me-up it is when someone bequeaths her their fire tokens. That’s why you can’t count her out. She has a lot of friends on the jury that she was loyal to.

Denise also gets a chance to explain her new attitude. Adam vocally wonders if this is a ploy on her part.

Voting Time: Nick votes for Denise and the rest of the votes are sooper secret.

JPro tallies and returns. He asks if anyone wants to play an idol and…nobody does. We’ve got one vote for Nick, two votes for Denise, two votes for Nick, and the sixteenth person voted out of “Survivor: Winners at War” is…Nick.

Redemption from Extinction

Oh boy, this episode isn’t over yet! The Extinctioners are greeted by their invitation to the return challenge. So, everyone has to figure out how to spend those tokens they’ve been accruing.

It looks like we’ve got…

  • “Boston” Rob – He still has the idol he purchased before the first challenge.
  • Natalie – Will purchase three challenge advantages and she still has the idol she purchased before the first challenge. She also treated herself to some peanut butter.
  • Wendell – Will purchase one challenge advantage.
  • Yul – Will purchase one challenge advantage.
  • Parvati – Will purchase one challenge advantage.
  • Ethan – No advantage, he’s broke.
  • Tyson – In a weird moment, Natalie purchases an idol for Tyson. Kinda cool. If she wins the challenge, that’ll probably earn her Tyson’s jury vote. If she loses the challenge, it won’t matter to her anyways.

OK…THREE ADVANTAGES IN ONE CHALLENGE? I’m not saying Natalie wasn’t great out there, but that seems excessive.

We don’t hear about the other players’ plans. That’s probably not a good sign for them.

Verdict: Alright, we’re heading into the endgame with the possibility of a great winner and some very decent ones. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

That being said, I don’t want the returnee to win the season. I’ll never want that. (Sorry, Jeff.)

  • Sarah – Getting Ben to make the move you want while thinking it’s his idea? (Chef’s kiss.) And her social game is better than ever. If she bests Tony in the finals, we’re going to think of that fashion show as big time foreshadowing.
  • Tony – He should be everybody’s target and he’s still managing to coast along without winning immunities or giving up his idol. Amazing.
  • Michele – There are a lot of jurors that are really going to respect the way Michele has been playing on the bottom all season long. And she’s got the challenge skills to make it to that final Tribal without any help.
  • Ben – I just can’t imagine a scenario where you win this game.
  • Denise – You know I love me some Denise, but “Queen Slayer” isn’t going to be enough to seal the deal. You need more second half accomplishments.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @GordonHolmes