'Survivor: Winners At War' premieres with Natalie Anderson and Amber Mariano voted out at separate Tribal Councils
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/13/2020
Survivor: Winners At War premiered with Natalie Anderson and Amber Mariano getting voted out of their tribes, Sele and Dakal respectively, at Season 40's first two Tribal Council sessions and settling in at the Edge of Extinction during Wednesday night's special two-hour episode on CBS.
Natalie, the winner ofSurvivor: San Juan del Sur, was voted out of her Sele tribe on Night 2 of the game instead of Survivor: Philippines winner Denise Stapley and Survivor: Millennials vs. Generation X winner Adam Klein.
Of the votesSurvivor host Jeff Probst read aloud, Denise received two votes and Adam earned himself one.
"I don't think it's hit me yet that I just got voted off first," Natalie said following her ouster.
"It's truly weird holding my own torch. I've never picked up a torch at Tribal Council and I've never got voted out. But after so much expectations for myself, I'm here on the Edge of Extinction. I thought I would be crying, but I'm just mad."
Amber, who won Survivor: All-Stars and also appeared on Survivor: The Australian Outback, was then voted out on Night 3 of the game instead of Survivor: David vs. Goliath winner Nick Wilson and Survivor: One World winner Kim Spradlin.
Jeff announced Kim had received three votes, while one person had written down Nick's name.
"I knew coming into this game that I had a huge target on my back. I just put my trust in people hoping for the best, and it wasn't the best," Amber said before heading to the Edge of Extinction, where Natalie was waiting for her.
The Survivor: Winners At War broadcast began with 20 former winners arriving at a beach in Fiji to begin their 39-day game, competing against the best of the best.
Survivor: Pearl Islands and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains winner Sandra Diaz-Twine, who also appeared on Survivor: Game Changers, admitted she felt betrayed by Survivor: Redemption Island winner and Survivor: All-Stars runner-up Rob Mariano, who also appeared on Survivor: Marquesas andSurvivor: Heroes vs. Villains, because they had mentored castaways together on Survivor: Island of the Idols yet Rob had allegedly never informed her that he'd be competing on this season.
Jeff greeted the returning castaways with a champagne toast to celebrate the start of an epic 40th season, but then the game was afoot and Ben predicted people would come out with guns blazing.
The 20 former winners picked buffs that had their names on them to determine which of the two tribes they'd be joining.
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Jeff revealed Sele's Tribal Council would take place the following night, however, leaving plenty of time for twists and turns to happen. Producers apparently wanted to give the former winners enough time to strategize and earn their spots in the game.
Adam admitted losing the first Immunity Challenge of the season was his greatest fear because everyone is a huge target on the show and someone has to go.
Yul was a little overwhelmed since it had been so long since he last played.
Nick then pointed out the winner of Season 40 will probably be whoever uses the Fire Tokens correctly since that's the next evolution of Survivor.
Later on, on Day 1, Tyson cried about how Survivor had allowed him to stay home with his daughters and help them get ready every single day. He was grateful to the show for his lifestyle.
And Sandra bragged about being "The Queen" of Survivor considering she's the only castaway who had won twice. She was also responsible for taking out Tony on a previous season, and she had also played with Sarah.
Although Sandra and Tony had beef in their past, they hugged it out and decided it was just "water under the bridge."
Meanwhile, it had been 10 years since Parvati played last, and she said she couldn't play "The Flirt" this time since she's a married mother. She left her 10-month-old baby at home with her husband in order to play Survivor this time around.
Ethan admitted life after cancer got tough because he feared death and relapsing, so he felt playing Survivor again was living to the fullest. He wanted to resurrect that young, innocent 24-year-old player he once was, and so he was glad to be a part of Season 40.
Denise was a member of a losing tribe when she played before, so she worried history was going to repeat herself. However, she had a strong alliance with Malcom Freberg in the past and so she buddied up with Adam this time around when the pair went looking for the water well.
Jeremy noticed Adam and Denise had taken off together, however, which he called a rookie move. People were looking for someone or something to latch on to this early in the game, and Jeremy said when a person rocks the boat, he or she sometimes falls out.
Meanwhile, it took everything in Tony not to run off and look for a hidden Immunity Idol. Tony joked with Nick he was on house arrest because he didn't want to put an immediate target on his back.
As for Amber, she felt she had a big target on her back since she and Rob -- a married couple with four children -- were both out there, so she went off looking for an idol while everyone else was building the shelter.
Amber was worried about being a target and also potentially having to vote her husband out down the road because she's his biggest fan. Amber therefore insisted their joint appearance on Survivor was more of a disadvantage than an advantage.
Yul and Sophie then appeared to bond, but Yul felt very disconnected considering many of the castaways on Season 40 had already played together.
Yul also knew several castaways became good friends outside of the game and that Tyson had once played in a televised poker game with Rob, Kim, and Jeremy.
Yul remembered watching a video clip in which Tyson announced during that poker game they'd be a power alliance if they ever played Survivor again. Sophie therefore felt like a free agent with Yul, Nick and Wendell, and she believed the three of them were playing the middle.
Sophie said Sandra, Tony and Sarah were the "gritty" group and then Kim, Tyson and Amber were the cool alliance and in-crowd.
Sophie felt Yul was her "nerd" shield because he's so smart, but the No. 1 thing on her mind wasn't whom she wanted to work with -- it was whom she wanted out.
Over at the Sele camp, Rob asked Parvati to work together this season.
Although the veterans had "a checkered past," according to Parvati, she considered joining forces. Parvati liked Rob and felt like she could trust him. She also acknowledged Rob probably didn't have many players whom he trusted out there.
Danni was then shown talking to Ethan, Ben, and Adam about how they should target Rob right away because he's a social player who knows the game so well. She seemed to consider him the biggest threat.
But Rob managed to pull information out of Ben and discover Danni had thrown out his name. Ben admitted he was "starstruck" and told Rob everything at his request. Ben felt victimized by Rob's "magic."
Rob then confronted Danni about what he had heard, but Danni insisted everyone was a target in her mind because she had no connections going into the game.
Rob actually respected Danni for telling him the truth, and so he decided they could work together, and Danni claimed to be onboard with the idea.
Rob therefore put together an "old-school alliance" with Ethan, Parvati, Danni and himself, and he thought it would be mutually beneficial to work with each other and "show the new kids the ropes."
Before Tribal Council, the Sele tribe was paranoid and scurrying around. Jeremy and Natalie had trusted each other on their previous season, so they were very close. Natalie went as far as to say it almost felt like blood between them.
Names were being thrown out here or there, especially Denise and Adam, but Ben wanted to keep Adam safe since Adam knows the game well and he figured they could work together.
Adam insisted the tribe should be way more worried about Rob and Amber's marriage and Natalie and Jeremy's close relationship than his Day 1 discussion with Denise.
Adam was annoyed and frustrated the tribe would worry about Denise and himself when they just went looking for the water well and happened to have a strategic conversation along the way, just like anyone else would.
Adam then got the ball rolling on a split vote between Jeremy and Natalie, and he appeared to get Denise, Ethan, Rob and Parvati onboard.
Rob told Parvati and Ethan he wanted to work with them until the end, and he said he didn't mind breaking up Natalie and Jeremy, who appeared to be "thick as thieves."
But Natalie, Jeremy, Ben, Parvati and Danni discussed voting out Adam or Denise.
Parvati noticed, however, the group didn't actually choose between Adam and Denise, so a part of her wondered if she was actually the target.
"Do you think everyone is just dumb or just really scared?" Parvati asked Rob in a private conversation.
"I don't know. I don't know. Because you want to know how stupid this feels? You and I are probably the two biggest targets and I don't really feel too worried," Rob said with a laugh.
"What's wrong with that?!... Usually when you feel that way, it's you... The two of us are playing for 10 people," Parvati joked.
People were apparently terrified to say a name, but time was ticking and Parvati complained there wasn't a fully baked plan heading into Tribal Council.
On Night 2, the Sele tribe arrived at Tribal Council.
Ethan revealed the pace of the game was shocking to him because things had progressed at a glacial speed when he first played. Rob felt that way as well, saying the game had evolved and it was moving at "a lightning fast" speed.
Denise called herself "a dummy" for walking off with Adam and getting lost, even though they had a map to follow. Denise insisted their interaction was totally innocent, but she acknowledged it was a mistake either way.
Adam then yelled out it was crazy for people to worry about his relationship with Denise -- whom he had met one day earlier -- when some people playing Survivor had known each other for years.
Rob said there was a good reason to vote off every single person competing for the $2 million.
Natalie's twin sister Nadiya Anderson got voted out first on Survivor: San Juan Del Sur -- Blood vs. Water, so she was afraid the same thing might happen to her.
Parvati then announced everyone had a gun behind their back and "no one should feel comfortable" and "probably a lot of people do feel comfortable."
Jeremy didn't like what Parvati had to say because he felt Tribal was the place where people could figure out whom they could count on later in the game.
Michele subsequently told Jeff she felt her head was on a spinner and she was just trying to hold on and keep up, and then suddenly, as Ethan was explaining how he felt anxious to Jeff, Jeremy was shown whispering to Ben, "Do you think Rob and Parvati set something up?"
"I'm starting to, right?" Ben asked. "Starting to."
It then became time to vote, and no one played a hidden Immunity Idol.
Once votes were cast, Jeff read them aloud in the following order: Denise, Adam, Denise, Natalie, Natalie, Natalie, Natalie, and Natalie.
Michele and Jeremy both appeared shocked and confused by the vote, and then Natalie had her torch snuffed -- and she didn't say a word on her way out.
"Who was it?" Jeremy asked Ben after Natalie left the scene.
"We'll talk," Ben whispered.
But Rob and Parvati were all smiles.
Once Natalie left Tribal Council, a note on a table read, "Bequeath your Fire Tokens to any player still in the game. Grab your torch and head to extinction."
Every player had a mini chest on the table with his or her name on it, and Natalie put her Fire Token inside Jeremy's chest.
On Night 2, Natalie headed to the Edge of Extinction in a boat.
Once Natalie arrived on the desolate island in the dark, she saw a note that revealed she'd have to work hard for everything and if fear or loneliness set in, she'd have to find the resolve to overcome.
"If you are industrious, you can find Fire Tokens to help you get back in the game," Natalie read.
All Natalie had to do to end her adventure, however, was raise a sail in order to have a boat come pick her up. But Natalie was just happy she still had a chance to resume playing.
On Day 3 at Dakal's camp, Yul tried to work with Sandra and Sarah. Sandra told the cameras she's not the type of person to take something so personally but Rob had told her on Island of the Idols he'd never play Survivor again, and so she felt lied to for 36 days.
Sandra was trying not to play with her emotions, but seeing Amber every day reminded her of Rob's betrayal. Sandra therefore didn't mind getting rid of Amber first, or at least as soon as possible.
Yul and Sandra were both onboard with taking out the players who had enjoyed a poker game in the real world. Yul felt tight with Wendell, Nick and Sophie, and he believed they had all the leverage.
Wendell wanted to see Amber and Rob get to the Edge of Extinction as soon as possible, and they'd have the numbers with Sarah and Sandra onboard as well. In fact, Yul was convinced their majority alliance would control the game.
On Day 3 at Sele's camp, Michele noted Tribal Council couldn't have gone any worse. She came into Survivor this season thinking she had a lot to prove since the other finalists on her first season, such as Aubry Bracco, had played flashier games.
Ben told Michele that Rob was pulling the wool over their eyes, and Michele noted Rob was running the show while trying to make everyone think he wasn't in control.
Ben also found Rob intimidating, so he decided to work against the legend with Michele, Adam and Jeremy on his side.
After Jeremy was shown finding the Fire Token Natalie had willed to him, Natalie was shown on the Edge reading about how the Fire Tokens worked.
In addition to luxury items that were one token each -- such as pizza or a jar of peanut butter -- a castaway on the Edge of Extinction could use one token for an advantage in the return challenge or three tokens to receive an idol with full power that could be used once the person gets back into the game.
Natalie had to give up the one Token she had on her way out of Tribal Council, so she wondered how she could find more Fire Tokens. Natalie then found a message in a bottle and was instructed to go to the place where she could see the sunset.
Natalie therefore climbed to the top of a huge hill where she thought she could watch the sunset, and her legs were burning once she finally made it to the top.
Natalie certainly had to work for it, but she ended up finding a letter at the top of the hill that gave her a hidden Immunity Idol good for the next three Tribal Councils. The idol, however, had no value on Extinction.
"But you can sell it to any player from the losing tribe for one Fire Token. If they do not pay for it by sundown, they cannot keep it," the letter read.
If someone bought Natalie's Immunity Idol, she'd have the castaway's Fire Token in return.
On Day 3, both tribes met Jeff again for the second Immunity Challenge of Survivor: Winners At War.
The challenge required each tribe to paddle out to retrieve a bag of numbered tiles, race back through a series of obstacles, and then use those tiles to solve a combination lock that would release three rings. A player must then attempt to land those three rings on three paddles.
Dakal had a nice lead in the challenge because Sekel struggled to steer their boat to the bag of tiles.
Jeff said Rob had been "a workhorse" in the challenge, because at one point, he tried to help Jeremy up and over an obstacle by letting Jeremy get up on his shoulders.
Meanwhile, Yul worked on the combination for Dakal. While Wendell tossed rings, Adam tried to unlock his own tribe's set of rings.
Adam got the job done quickly and then Jeremy decided to toss rings for Sele. When Wendell only had one ring locked on a paddle, Jeremy nailed three attempts in a row -- winning the challenge for his Sele tribe.
Sele was thrilled and jumped all over each other and cheered. It was quite the comeback, and they definitely had a reason to celebrate since they'd be safe at the next Tribal Council.
Rob was happy about winning the challenge, but he was worried about his wife back on Dakal because she had a target on her back because of him and he couldn't do anything to help her.
And Rob was right -- Amber was in trouble. Nick immediately suggested Amber's name to Sandra once they returned back at camp following the challenge.
However, the rest of the tribe was pitching Sandra or Nick.
Tyson, Wendell, Amber, and Kim all seemed to like that idea, but when Wendell mentioned that "might start a war," Tyson threw out Tony's name instead.
"Tony or Sandra. We've got to decide," Tyson noted.
Wendell was shown telling Nick and Yul he wanted to work with them, and Amber admitted she was a little bit lost and not used to this style of gameplay.
There was a lot of scrambling, and many plans were being made and shifting.
"Everybody is so out for blood. I think some people think it's a Reward to go to Tribal because they get to vote somebody out," Sophie told the cameras.
Kim wondered if her group was making a mistake in not voting out Sandra first, and in the meantime, Sandra told Nick that Kim and Amber were after him because they thought he was "shady" and happened to be the most recent Survivor winner.
Sandra had every intention of spreading truth, lies and rumors, mainly because she had found a hidden Immunity Idol in her bag.
Sandra was told she could keep the idol for three Tribal Councils, but only if she was willing to give up her one Fire Token in the game.
Sandra absolutely took advantage of the offer and realized the extreme importance of Fire Tokens in that moment.
Sandra then told Tony that Tyson wanted to vote him out right before Tribal Council, so Tony told Sandra, Sophie, Sarah and Yule to vote for Tyson but to tell everyone they were voting for Amber.
"He will get so blindsided. Tyson is very powerful and he's dangerous," Tony said in a confessional.
"He's a very funny guy. People love him. We've got to break up the poker alliance -- Tyson, Amber and Kim... Amber is not running around doing anything."
Tony also pointed out keeping Rob and Amber around for a while made sense because the married couple would serve as shields for him later in the game.
But Yul warned Tyson that everyone was scared of the poker alliance, so Tyson stopped taking charge and instead went into survival mode. Tyson decided to forfeit one battle in order to hopefully win the war.
Kim suddenly got a bad vibe from everyone at camp as well. When she walked up to a group of people, they'd immediately stop talking. Kim admitted this was the first time she felt like she was on the outs when playing Survivor.
Kim could sense Tyson, Amber or herself was going home, and she felt completely hopeless.
At Tribal Council on Night 3, Amber admitted she had to keep up with the fast-paced game or else she'd be left behind.
Tony pointed out he was willing to vote out anyone as long as he wasn't the target, and then Amber noted Tony -- who thought he was taking things slow -- was playing really hard by talking strategy with everyone. Tony argued that's what everyone was doing.
Kim admitted her name had been brought up and the headline of the "long story" was "Poker Player Alliance," which she claimed didn't exist.
Tyson acknowledged his name had also been thrown out there as a result but he wanted to prove his loyalty to the people he was working with.
"The 'Poker Player Alliance' is not a thing. It's not a thing. And if it is, I'm not in it," Kim insisted.
Wendell, however, said the tribe still had to take that history into consideration. But Kim argued $2 million was on the line and everyone would probably be willing to backstab anyone to win it.
"If a friend is lost here along the way, then I think it's a price every single person out here would be willing to pay," Sandra told Jeff.