The following contains spoilers for Episode 10 of Survivor Season 41.As this season of Survivor gets closer and closer to the finale, the episodes start to feel more and more like classic Survivor, and less like the advantage-fest that plagued the first half of the season. It seems that this season is going to finish strong after a fairly mediocre beginning, and this episode in particular proves that the show is at its best when it focuses on the players and their relationships with each other. Episode 10 has it all: complicated strategy, blindsides, and moral dilemmas that all come to a head during a very tense Tribal Council.


The theme of this episode really seems to be how these players interact with each other and navigate the bonds they've built over their time in the game while still wanting to further their individual chances of winning a million dollars. The hour is filled with various interactions between players trying to decide which alliances best suit their needs and which other players they see as expendable. This episode was a great example of the complicated social game that makes up most of Survivor, and it's some of the most interesting TV to watch from the show, certainly much more so than copious idol and advantage hunts.

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This episode begins with a sequence that really reads as heavy foreshadowing once you've seen the whole episode. Erika points out how much of a threat she thinks Shan is and seems to be one of the first people to recognize how truly dangerous Shan is in this game and be intent on getting her out. Erika brings this up with Deshawn, who seems to agree. Their conversation makes Shan nervous, as she seems to instantly clock that Erika might be trying to break up Shan's alliance.

The next day, Shan and Deshawn have a heart-to-heart about the conflict that both of them are feeling. They made a plan along with Danny and Liana to have a strong alliance of four that they would go to the end with, creating this sort of historic, all-Black alliance. Shan and Deshawn discuss the difficulty in wanting to play with Black players but also do what's right for their individual games (which might differ from the needs of the group) at the same time. Some viewers might roll their eyes at the race talk this season and claim it's "too political", but this is the kind of story that Survivor has always been about.

survivor season 41 episode 10

Classic Survivor is all about players struggling with their conscience vs gameplay and how they're going to be perceived. This is simply a slightly different context for that, but the show has always been about the drive to win by any means necessary coming up against the desire to be a good person and players feeling guilty about lies and betrayal. Survivor has always been marketed as a microcosm of the real world, where real-world issues can affect the way that people play the game, and it's always been something that's interesting to watch the players navigate. It's also not like Survivor is brand new to discussions of race either (though it seems to be a real focal point this season especially for the Black players, which is a good trend in the current climate); there was an entire season (Season 13: Cook Islands) where the players were initially divided into tribes based on race alone.

Speaking of Survivor and interpersonal relationships, this episode shows more of the Shan and Ricard dynamic, and proves them to be one of the more fascinating Survivor duos in recent memory. They seem to have each other's back one hundred percent for most of this game, but also don't fully trust each other. They have a sort of family dynamic, where they fight and are at odds a lot but still have a lot of love for each other and always come back to that alliance in the end. They talk a little bit of strategy at the reward that Ricard won and chose to take Shan on (along with Heather and Xander), but it's clear they're both conflicted.

Shan even starts humming her "villain song", which causes Heather to ask what she's singing in a moment that almost feels like breaking the fourth wall. Up until this point, Shan's sneaky song is something that the audience has known about because the editors have made sure to include it multiple times, even composing it into a bit of the show's score that plays over Shan's actions sometimes. All of that led to this moment on the reward where the audience is able to get the joke of why Shan humming this tune in front of others is a big deal, and it's a beautiful payoff.

Back at camp, Danny has recognized that Ricard is smart and a definite threat to win the game. He and Deshawn then formulate a plan to vote Ricard out at the next Tribal Council without telling Shan because she's so close to him. Liana doesn't want to lie to Shan about the plan, so she tells her, and Shan, in turn, informs Ricard. Unfortunately for Danny and Deshawn, this piece of information seems to be just the boost Ricard needs to win individual Immunity at the challenge, which sets all of them back to square one.

survivor season 41 episode 10

In a surprising twist, Ricard reveals that he thinks it's time to vote Shan out, despite their alliance, because of how much of a threat she is. He even manages to get some of Shan's alliance (mainly Deshawn) on board with the blindside plan. This whole sequence proved that Ricard is a really good player who's been flying under the radar a little bit this whole season, but who now might be emerging as a real threat to win. Erika suggests that they split the vote in case Shan has an idol, and this gets Danny worried that perhaps Erika is the real strategic threat that they need to be voting out.

In the end, the plan works and at Tribal Council there is a split vote between Shan and Liana. As the players go to revote, Shan seems aware of what's happening and knows that she's the one that's about to be voted out. As Jeff reads the final votes and all of them say "Shan", dramatic inspirational music swells over the scene, creating a very fitting goodbye for a player who's been such a huge part of this season. This move was not only a great blindside, but a good thing for Ricard to add to his Survivor resume as something he can bring up if he makes it to Final Tribal (as well as Erika, who should take credit for her 3-3-2 split vote idea). In the end, this episode was full of what makes Survivor fantastic: complicated interpersonal relationships, complicated intrapersonal dilemmas, and perfectly executed blindsides.

NEXT: Survivor: Season 41 Episode 9 Review

Our Rating:

4 out of 5 (Excellent)
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