Previously on Survivor the Vesi tribe finally started to turn things around with a dominating win in the reward challenge. Sick of seeing Coco win, they opted to use their reward to steal from them, setting off their downfall. At the immunity challenge Vesi continued their streak and then helped Baka solve their puzzle, sending Coco to their first tribal council. That set off a chain of events where paranoia got the best of Lindsay as she spiralled and despite the target being between Cassidy and Geo, the tribe opted for calm and booted her from the game. Thankfully earning her a place in Second Chances due to her iconic flame out.
Back at camp the tribe rallied together as Cassidy reflected on how Lindsay’s nerves alone caused her downfall. That being said, she was super disappointed to have received one vote and requested that whoever did it talk to her to explain their process. And while mastermind Ryan wanted to smooth things over, Geo owned up and went for a walk and straight up made the entire situation worse, accusing her of voting against him – despite Lindsay clearly being the one to do it – and showing no remorse. After debriefing with Karla however, the girls were galvanised and once again ready to take out Ryan or Geo.
The next day Elie and Jeanine were busy hunting for the Baka hidden immunity idol, finally finding it, covered in ants. Jeanine threw caution to the wind and grabbed the Beware Advantage, learning that she now had to go through the bead saga. While filling in Elie though, they were caught by Owen, their second option for third place in their alliance. As such, they filled him in and while he considered holding on to his bead to screw her out of her vote and take control with Gabler, he ultimately handed it over to build trust. Elie then took the information straight to Sami, pointing out that he is actually the one they trust over Owen. Sami meanwhile was feeling safe with his place in the tribe, though he was concerned for Gabler, who had no idea what was going on.
Oh and despite Gabler wanting to hang on to his special bead, he ultimately gave it over to Jeanine and powered her idol. Thankfully, Sami woke up and chose chaos this morning, pulling Gabler aside and pointing out that he just powered Jeanine’s idol and um, is Sami actually a savvy player that is going to win this?
The tribes reconnected with Jeffrey for the next immunity challenge where they would be tethered together to run through a series of obstacles carrying buckets of water to release a gate. And then, instead of the usual puzzle, they would roll three balls up a ramp and land them on a platform. Oh and the victors would get a tarp each. While Coco got out to an early, massive lead, they struggled to roll the balls, leaving Vesi and Baka plenty of time to close the gap. As the three tribes faced off, Dwight and Sami quickly got their eye in, overtaking Ryan – who knocked off his two balls – and secured immunity for Vesi, followed by Baka. Kinda proving Vesi’s strategy to weaken Coco was a good idea, given they would now be down two people by the end of the episode. Before heading out, Vesi was given the power to send people on this week’s journey, opting for Geo, Jeanine and Jesse.
Oh and we then learnt that Ryan threw the challenge to get rid of Cassidy. Back at camp however, he pretended to be disappointed in himself while locking in the vote against Cassidy with James and Karla. Sadly for him, James took that information straight back to Cassidy and assured her that they can load their votes on Geo with Karla and get rid of him without Ryan noticing. Cassidy approached him to talk things through, with each pretending that Ryan would be the next one out, with neither of them deviating from their supposed scripts. And while Ryan thought he was playing it all expertly, it was looking more and more like the group would be targeting him and Geo, just in case he gets an advantage on the journey.
Speaking of which, we caught up with Jesse, Jeanine and Geo where they discovered they had to row a boat through very rough seas until they reached an island to get their risk options. Geo used the very long row to talk about how close he was to being voted out the night before to garner sympathy and while Jeanine didn’t buy his story, the fact that Geo was confirmed to be risking his vote, makes it dangerous for them to play. Sadly for Geo, neither of his fellow journey-ers cared about him and ended up taking the risk. But turns out, he did get lucky, given he was the one that jagged the Knowledge Is Power advantage on his return to camp.
While Jesse and Jeanine sadly discovered they were now without votes at the next tribal council, Jesse reading his note in public while Jeanine learned the news in private. And then admitted what happened to the rest of the tribe, though pretended it was her first time reading it. Which annoyed Sami, given they all knew she already risked her vote the day before to secure an idol and now they know just how hard she is willing to play.
We ventured back to Coco where Geo filled the tribe in on the journey, lying to them and explaining he didn’t risk his vote. Before pulling each of his allies aside to share the truth, showing them his Knowledge Is Power advantage and while he thought it would build trust, it made Karla and James nervous enough to turn their attention to him, rather than Ryan, who had somehow become the actual target. While filling in Cassidy, she then started to get nervous about her doing a Lindsay and starting to spiral, which made them actually consider voting out one of their allies. Again.
At tribal council Cassidy spoke about the fact that while their momentum has waned, she believes they can swing it back. Ryan spoke about synergy – corporate buzzwords for the win, I guess – before opening up (in lie form) about feeling like he is the target tonight, given he bombed the challenge. Which Cassidy pointed out was noble, but kind of hard to believe. As he continued to play the aw shucks role, Karla admitted that easy votes are always tempting and given he offered himself up, it could make things good for the rest of them. Geo spoke about feeling uneasy given he missed so much potential scrambling time though was hopeful he had done enough, while James praised him for being so honest after the journey.
Probst then made Geo nervous about how to vote, while Karla – after a brief mental blank – slyly told him that he should trust in his alliance rather than being nervous. Oh and then Ryan asked everyone to say what they liked best about him as they voted, while Cassidy was just looking forward to having another chance for the tribe to prove trust by doing what they planned. With that the tribe voted before Ryan and Geo were shocked as the latter was booted from the game, with an advantage barely in his pocket.
While Geo was both surprised and disappointed to find himself booted from the game, he is such a delight that he took it all in his stride. I pulled him in for a massive hug as soon as he arrived at Loser Lodge, assuring him that he played a strong game and while I love the three tribe format, it truly is the hardest one to navigate given there is no room to hide. So between that and his personal story, I was thrilled to be able to toast his success with a big fat bowl of Geo Bustamantea Soaked Chicken.
I am normally a basic girl that lives for a good old honey chicken or something of that ilk when it comes to Chinese take away, but this little number has that trumped. Complex, spicy and sweet, it is the perfect comforting dish to eat through your feelings or finish out the week.
Geo Bustamantea Soaked Chicken
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp minced ginger
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
2 star anise
3 tbsp coriander seeds
4 cups water
2 cups soy sauce
¼ cup kosher salt
8 black tea bags
1kg chicken breast or thighs, diced
2 shallots, sliced, to garnish
Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Once shimmering, add the ginger, garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the peppercorns, star anise and coriander seeds and stir until fragrant, before stirring in the water, soy and salt. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and add the tea to steep for ten minutes or so. Remove the tea bags and the brine to cool completely. Pop the chicken in the large bowl and pour over the chilled brine. Cover and pop in the fridge to marinate overnight.
When you’re ready to cook, drain the chicken and heat the remaining oil in a wok over high heat. In batches stir fry the chicken until cooked through and repeat the process. Serve piping hot with a garnish of shallots and devour, regally.
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