'Survivor: Winners At War' recap: Parvati Shallow and Sandra Diaz-Twine voted out back-to-back as Denise Stapley pulls off epic blindside
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/19/2020
Survivor: Winners At War featured Parvati Shallow and Sandra Diaz-Twine getting voted out at back-to-back Tribal Council sessions as well as a jaw-dropping move from Denise Stapley during Season 40's Wednesday night episode on CBS.
Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs. Favorites winner and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains runner-up Parvati, who also appeared on Survivor: Cook Islands, was voted out of her new Sele tribe on Night 16 at the season's seventh Tribal Council session instead of Survivor: Ghost Island winner Wendell Holland.
Parvati received three votes, while Wendell earned himself two votes.
And then at the season's eighth Tribal Council session later that night for the new Dakal tribe, Denise, the winner of Survivor: Philippines, orchestrated a huge move by blindsiding and voting out Survivor: Pearl Islands andSurvivor: Heroes vs. Villains winner Sandra Diaz-Twine all by herself.
Denise played two hidden Immunity Idols -- one of which Sandra had given her in a negotiation for Fire Tokens -- to save herself and fellow outsider Survivor: Cambodia winner Jeremy Collins, who also appeared on Survivor: San Juan del Sur.
Although Denise received four votes, Sandra, who also competed on Survivor: Game Changers, was therefore sent packing with only one vote from Denise.
"That's what it came down to, a lack of respect. And for that, I couldn't live with him anymore," Ben told the cameras, adding that he was growing closer to Sarah and Sophie.
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Adam gushed about how "the Wicked Witch" is dead and the tribe finally had freedom, but he worried his tribemates had a stronger connection with each other than they had with him.
Adam therefore wasn't celebrating. In fact, he felt "a little bit more cornered" on this tribe than he did before Boston Rob went home.
Edge of Extinction
Meanwhile on the Edge of Extinction, Tyson Apostol found a log with a letter on it.
Tyson read, "There is something hidden on the Edge. The more stones you turn, the more chances for success. Then again, sometimes you're just in the right place at the right time."
If a castaway was able to find this hidden item, he or she would receive one Fire Token.
While Rob scoured the island and joked about turning over millions of rocks, Tyson zeroed in on the phrase "right place at the right time" and explained that the only thing that had time on that island was the tide.
Tyson therefore went searching amongst the rocks near the shore, and suddenly, he caught a glimpse of it. Since Rob was looking at Tyson, Tyson turned around and pretended to "tinkle."
Tyson then snagged the package and put it in the waistband of his underwear.
Once people trickled out to keep looking, Tyson opened the package and read he had found an "Idol Nullifier," which, when played correctly, blocks the power of a hidden Immunity Idol at Tribal Council.
The idol had no value on the Edge of Extinction, but he was able to sell it to one person in the game in exchange for one Fire Token. Tyson gifted Parvati the "Idol Nullifier" in the game, and she absolutely agreed to buy it.
Instead of saving the Fire Token and trying to gain more in order to buy an idol or something, Tyson chose to use his token right away to purchase a large jar of peanut butter. Tyson figured this would boost his spirits and give him extra calories for strength in the eventual comeback challenge.
On Day 16, the three tribes gathered to meet Jeff for the season's next Immunity Challenge.
Parvati and Michele were previously on Sele, while Nick, Wendell and Yul were former Dakal members.
The new Dakal tribe featured two former Sele members -- Denise and Jeremy -- as well as three former Dakal members in Sandra; Survivor: Cagayan winner Tony Vlachos, who also appeared on Survivor: Game Changers; and Survivor: One World winner Kim Spradlin.
For the challenge, each tribe was required to swim out to a boat and retrieve three bags of rice, work together to get those bags through a hole at the shore, tear the bags open and find three balls inside.
Each tribe must then maneuver those three balls through a maze. The first tribe to finish would win immunity, but the two losing tribes would attend Tribal Council separately and each vote somebody out of the game.
In addition, the tribes were playing for Reward in the form of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for only the first-place tribe.
Dakal sat out Sandra for the challenge since they had an extra member, and Sele chose to sit out Michele.
Sele began working on the maze in first place, but it was a close call as the other two tribes fought to catch up.
In the end, Sophie dropped the third ball in for Yara and they won immunity. Adam said it was like winning two Immunity Challenges back to back because they were about to go from 14 people in the game to only 12 players.
Parvati scrambles to save herself
After the challenge, Parvati figured the guys on Sele were coming after her because they perceived her as a threat, and she felt very alone at the camp, other than having Michele.
Parvati did just receive the "Idol Nullifier," but what she really needed was the numbers.
Wendell, Nick and Yul discussed taking out Parvati next, which kind of disappointed Nick because he wanted to work with her since she had been his "Survivor crush" when he was in high school.
Parvati and Michele were hoping for a fracture in the boys, and Michele thought their only option was Nick. However, Michele acknowledged the guys were tight and she wasn't sure she could save her pal Parvati.
"If she's already going home, all I can do is see if there is someway it can benefit my game," Michele told the cameras.
Michele suggested to Wendell they should try to obtain Parvati's Fire Tokens by allowing Parvati to think Michele had attempted to save her. Wendell, however, didn't like that idea because he knew he'd receive two votes in that case, with Parvati being one of them.
Wendell couldn't believe Michele was about to write his name down, but considering she was going for Parvati's Fire Token, Wendell said in a confessional he was impressed by how Michele was playing the game.
Michele realized Wendell didn't trust her, even though she had offered to betray Parvati, and she said she was pissed. Michele felt she kept giving in that relationship while Wendell kept taking.
Parvati then suggested to Wendell they vote out Nick or Yul, and he agreed, but both people felt they were getting played. As a result, Wendell was hoping he and Parvati could come to an understanding.
"Would you barter Fire Tokens for something? Like, you tell me anybody to vote for and you give me two Fire Tokens," Wendell told Parvati.
Wendell demanded them before Tribal Council, but Parvati declined. She was annoyed Wendell was acting so confident, like he was running the show.
But that move was all Parvati needed to try to switch things up and turn the heat onto Wendell. Parvati snitched Wendell's plan to Nick, who admitted to the cameras he and Wendell had discussed going to the end together.
However, Nick wasn't sure whether Wendell was going to stay true to his word.
Michele also tried to pull Nick in, saying she trusted Parvati more than she trusted Wendell.
Nick knew he had a huge decision to make because Parvati was an obvious threat but Wendell was a "hidden threat," meaning he was quietly playing the game but happened to be just as dangerous.
Nick knew his decision that night was going to have huge consequences.
Denise plays possum as Tony breaks out his spy bunker
Meanwhile, at Dakal's camp on Day 16, Tony believed he was in the majority of the numbers, but he wasn't sure if Jeremy or Denise had an idol. He also questioned whether one of his allies, like Sandra for instance, might flip on him.
Tony therefore hid in a "spy bunker" near camp, and Sandra assumed he was off looking for an idol.
While Tony was nearby listening in some brush and leaves, Sandra confessed to Jeremy she had plans to stay original Dakal strong, and obviously Jeremy was not a former Dakal member.
Jeremy knew he and Denise were on the outs, but he had a "Safety Without Power" advantage, which would allow him to leave Tribal Council and be safe from the vote. However, the advantage would take away his vote.
Denise felt "extremely uneasy" going into Tribal, even more so after Sandra admitted to Denise in front of Kim that she was going to stick with Tony and the numbers.
Denise could tell Sandra felt in charge of the game since she had been so "direct and honest" with her. Denise knew her only option was to plead her case over Jeremy, and she promised the girls she would vote Jeremy if it meant her survival.
At this point, Tony was still missing, and Sandra wondered whether he was hiding in a spy shack somewhere. Kim laughed about how Tony seemed to have split personalities and became a different person ahead of Tribal Council.
Once Tony popped out of his bunker all "stressed out," Kim and Sandra assured Tony they were together. But Kim acknowledged in that moment she was working with a guy who freaked out and "couldn't stay level-headed" after a challenge, which really concerned her.
Jeremy then talked with Sandra, Kim and Tony about targeting Denise. Jeremy said he had no problem writing Denise's name down if it meant he could live another day.
Sandra wasn't sure whether to go after Denise or Jeremy.
Jeremy and Tony had been drilling in her head the biggest targets needed to stick together, but she said Tony was the only person who would benefit from Jeremy sticking around since she had a lot of potential allies on the other side.
Sandra had a hidden Immunity Idol that was good for only one more Tribal Council session, and so she offered Denise the idol in exchange for her two Fire Tokens.
Denise was blown away by the offer, even more so after Sandra revealed everyone was writing Denise's name down.
"You decide which of the two boys goes," Sandra told Denise.
Sandra said working with Tony for the time being was fine but he was a "very paranoid" player who would take her out at any time if necessary. Sandra wanted to be the first one to take a shot out of the two of them.
Denise wondered what was in this for Sandra, and Denise noted Sandra must want her to stay in the game while maintaining clean hands. Denise already had an idol in her bag, so she didn't even need Sandra's idol.
"But if [Sandra's idol] is real, it serves another purpose. I could make a move that literally for the first time in my Survivor career feels like it could be game-changing," Denise said in a confessional.
Denise made a deal with Sandra to give her one Fire Token upfront and one Fire Token after Tribal after discovering whether the idol is even real.
"If the votes are coming the way that Sandra is telling me they are coming and everybody is voting for me, I can pick any one of those people and send them home. I've never had power like this in the game -- ever!" Denise gushed to the cameras.
Parvati is voted out by the Sele tribe
At Tribal Council on Night 16, the Sele tribe was up first.
Michele called Wendell out for being capable of stabbing people both in the front and the back to win the money. Parvati said she didn't want to work with someone who was going to backstab and lie constantly.
Wendell argued he was playing a loyal game but just "being real with everyone" at camp and open about what he'd be "willing to do" to get ahead. Wendell thought everyone would appreciate his honesty.
Michele admitted Wendell treated her differently at camp, and Parvati acknowledged Wendell didn't seem very receptive to her either.
Parvati also announced Wendell had tried to negotiate with her for Fire Tokens, and he confirmed that offer was still live and current. As a result, Parvati asked Wendell if they wanted to do something together.
"What do you want to do?" Wendell asked her.
"Are you going to say a name?" Parvati asked.
"No," Wendell replied.
"You're going to wait for me to say a name?" Parvati asked with a laugh.
"Yes," Wendell noted.
The two players clearly didn't trust each other, which is why Parvati said she hadn't agreed to work with him earlier.
Michele admitted she was in emotional distress and "hanging on by a thread." Michele said she felt caught between people she loved and didn't want to hurt anybody, but Nick noted that's whatSurvivor: Winners At War is all about.
"Grow some backbone or not -- because somebody is going to get backstabbed and screwed over," Nick declared.
Sandra voted for Denise but told the cameras "it was all for show" and she was certain Denise wasn't going home that night.
Before tallying the votes, Denise played one of her hidden Immunity Idols, saying she had stumbled across it earlier that day. Jeff confirmed the idol was real, and Denise kept her cool as to not appear too excited.
Jeremy appeared completely defeated in that moment, but suddenly, Denise played a second hidden idol for Jeremy. Tony then appeared worried.
Jeff read the votes in the following order: Denise, Denise, Denise, Denise, and Sandra.
Sandra looked totally shocked and Kim said, "Oh my God!"
"How is that possible, man?" Tony asked.
Sandra said on her way out, "Day 16 got me again!"
"I want to throw up," Denise said, before Kim looked at Denise and shared, "I am so impressed."
Jeff suggested Denise had become "a high-profile player" at that Tribal Council.
Sandra chose to bequeath her Fire Token to Yul before heading to the Edge of Extinction.