'Survivor: Winners At War' recap: Rob Mariano blindsided and voted out after tribal swap and new three-tribe division
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/12/2020
Survivor: Winners At War featured a tribal swap and then Rob "Boston Rob" Mariano getting blindsided and voted out of his new tribe at Season 40's sixth Tribal Council session during Wednesday night's episode on CBS.
The Survivor: Redemption Island winner and Survivor: All-Stars runner-up was voted out of his new Yara tribe on Night 14 of the game instead of Survivor: Game Changers winner Sarah Lacina, who also previously appeared on Survivor: Cagayan.
The Survivorbroadcast began at Dakal's camp on Day 12.
Nick felt like his tribe was finally "a cohesive unit" after Tyson's vote off, and he was excited to have received Tyson's Fire Token.
Nick said he didn't take the gesture lightly and would maybe like to work with Tyson down the road.
Yul revealed he's still good friends with Jonathan Penner from his previous season and his wife is sadly battling ALS. Yul said Jonathan's wife cannot breathe or swallow on her own and they're really struggling financially.
Yul cried from a broken heart and told the cameras no one deserved to live like that. Yul hoped to help them, saying he was playing for something bigger than himself and hoped to raise awareness for ALS.
The castaways swap into three new tribes
The two tribes then met Jeff on the challenge beach, and Jeff revealed it was time for a tribal swap. Everyone dropped their buffs and selected new ones.
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Rob admitted he didn't like this part of the game because on Survivor: Marquesas, he had complete control over his tribe, only to be stuck on the bottom after the swap and get eliminated. He hoped the cards would fall in his favor this time around.
Once the tribes swapped into three new tribes, Michele revealed she was on a tribe with her ex-boyfriend, Wendell, which was definitely awkward considering they apparently didn't end on the best of terms.
The new Sele tribe was comprised of Parvati, Nick, Yul, Michele, and Wendell. There were two former Sele members and three original Dakal members.
The new Dakal tribe featured two former Sele members -- Jeremy and Denise -- as well as three former Dakal members in Tony, Sandra and Kim.
The brand new tribe, Yara, would have to start over and build a brand new shelter on a different beach. There were three former Sele members in Rob, Ben and Adam as well as two original Dakal members in Sarah and Sophie.
"I should be ecstatic by this swap, but I'm not, because this is a really fractured trio of Ben, Rob and myself. We burned a lot of bridges with each other, and that could be catastrophic to my game," Adam said in a confessional.
On Day 12 at new Dakal, Jeremy was blown away by the shelter, joking that he and Denise were "moving on up." But being a former Sele member, Jeremy set out to determine who was on the outs so he could potentially work with that person and bring him or her in with Denise.
Kim admitted to Jeremy she didn't really trust Sandra and Tony, and so Jeremy dubbed her "the weak link" he had been looking for.
Kim and Denise discussed moving forward as a team because they felt very comfortable with each other, and Denise was glad to see she wasn't super tight with Sandra and Tony.
Denise, who felt safe because she had a hidden Immunity Idol, wanted to align with Kim whether that meant Kim joining them or leaving Tony and Sandra.
But Tony wanted to stay Dakal strong and really worked on grabbing the middle man, Kim, for his team. Kim wasn't sure sticking with the majority was her best move at the time, however, because she had no trust in Tony and Sandra.
Over at Sele, Nick was thrilled to be back with Yul and Wendell, saying he had won the lottery by being with his two must trusted allies. They also had the numbers.
But Michele definitely felt otherwise considering her past with Wendell. And Parvati was desperate to find an opportunity for Michele and herself to work their way in to the majority.
Parvati had played with Yul before on Cook Islands and learned Yul's wife loved her, so she thought that was a little bit of an in. In addition, Nick shared with Parvati that she was his high school crush, so she thought she could use that her advantage as well.
Parvati told the cameras she was "cringing" for Michele, who was on a tiny tribe with her ex-boyfriend, who apparently broke her heart.
Michele acknowledged Wendell was keeping his distance from her on the beach.
"Honestly, I'm not very surprised he's playing this game like that because that's how our relationship was in the first place," Michele joked.
"It's really hard to have Wendell here and not have bad blood. Because I want to be like, 'You've broken my trust in real life and you hurt me because of it!'"
Michele said Wendell thought he was "hot stuff" and she didn't want to get burned by him like he had allegedly burned her in the past. She absolutely planned to separate her past with Wendell from playing the game and was ready to take him out if necessary.
Over at the Yara beach, Ben admitted it wasn't the prettiest beach -- and his supposed alliance with Rob and Adam wasn't pretty either.
Ben said both Rob and Adam had blown up his game and kept secrets from each other.
Sarah didn't feel like she was in a good place, but she did have the steal-a-vote advantage. Sarah knew she could save Sophie and move forward together, but she was worried to use her advantage too soon because then she'd have nothing.
But Sarah and Sophie quickly realized there was "tension" and major cracks between the three boys. Sarah recognized the guys might have been three free agents for the girls to pick up.
Ben shared how Rob had attempted to vote out Adam and was "dictating the whole beach," and it was clear Rob and Adam were at odds.
Sophie therefore tried to pull Adam in with Sarah and herself.
Suddenly, the whole Yara tribe parted ways and went off looking for a hidden Immunity Idol. Rob didn't really know what to look for since he had only found idols in the past with a series of clues, and so Sophie ended up finding the idol.
"It's a tough season, a tough game. Tough players, good players -- they're smart! I underestimated them at first but won't make that mistake again," Rob told the cameras.
Sophie, however, had to give half of her idol to another player before sundown, and the idol could only be used once whole. Sophie predictably offered half her idol to Sarah, and she was convinced the girls could work together going forward.
On Day 14, the three tribes gathered to meet Jeff for the season's next Immunity Challenge.
The tribes were required to race through a series of obstacles and then use sandbags to knock huge blocks off a ledge. The four blocks then needed to be stacked so there would be no repeating colors on either side.
The first two tribes to finish would receive immunity and be safe from the vote at the next Tribal Council, while the losing tribe would send the sixth person in the game to the Edge of Extinction.
Yara got off to an early lead but then Sophie and Adam struggled to line up the blocks correctly.
In the end, Sele pulled out a victory and Dakal finished in second place, sending Yara to Tribal Council.
"It's never good to lose immunity on Survivor. I hate to lose! But in retrospect, it's not that big of a deal because we've got expendable members here. We've got people we can get rid of to preserve our overall numbers. We just have to decide which of them is going to go home," Rob said after the challenge.
Sophie felt her game potentially slipping through her fingers once Yara returned to their beach, but she and Sarah also felt good with Adam and Ben on their side.
Sarah hoped they didn't need to play their idol, but Ben, Adam and Rob were shown promising each other they wouldn't write a man's name down.
Even though Rob didn't trust Ben or Adam, he said he needed to establish trust with him. Rob therefore told the guys what they needed to hear, and they agreed to vote out Sarah.
Rob wondered how they could make it all the way to Tribal Council without "getting sketched out by each other," so he suggested they implement "The Buddy System," which meant the guys must stick together at camp at all times and not go off to have conversations with anybody else.
Adam and Ben agreed to the plan, but only to apparently save face with Rob. They were frustrated, bored and wanted to talk strategy and game with the girls.
Rob believed he was bringing the game back in his direction, but Adam insisted to the cameras there was absolutely no trust amongst the men.
"Nobody can leave, nobody can talk. That doesn't allow us an opportunity to play and maneuver!" Adam complained.
"Rob this entire game has just wanted to control everything and every aspect of the game," Ben vented in a confessional.
"I have a decision to make... I could keep my mouth shut and listen to the Godfather or I could go with the women. Either way, I have to trust my gut here."
Sarah noted Rob's energy at camp was "really negative" and she wished she could have legitimate conversation with Ben and Adam.
"This is the buddy system on steroids. It's basically babysitter Rob putting all of the kids in the playpen. I'm sorry, but you ain't putting me in a playpen," Sarah told the cameras. "So I'm hoping we'll vote Rob out tonight!"
Sarah and Sophie were ready to play an advantage or idol if they needed to, but Sophie was dreaming of "a glorious blindside" that night -- even though there was a chance Adam or Ben may come down with a case of cold feet.
Sophie said her game depended on two total strangers, but she had faith her plan could work out.
At Tribal Council that night, Ben announced everyone knew not to "poke the bear" and try to control everything.
Jeff asked whether there were cracks a player could wedge him or herself into, and Sophie admitted the guys seemed tight and she could barely even get one of them alone.
"I do have an issue a little bit with the word 'crack,'" Sophie shared.
"I feel like the word implies Sarah and I are these invaders trying to find weaknesses, like, 'Where can I find a crack to wedge my way in and mess you all up?' But I see this just as an opportunity to build real alliances. I want an alliance; I want to be with you guys!"
Sarah added she'd love to stay in the game and if anyone was willing to work with Sophie and herself, she would love it and be grateful.
Rob pointed out he had blindsided Adam and Ben had blindsided him, but he believed they were still going to be three against two. Rob said with only five people in a tribe, there was little room to hide and also negotiate.
"Sometimes, less is more," Rob said.
Sophie said Rob was trying to keep people together under the same mindset, but Rob argued, "People together, working together works -- and people go far that way."
When Jeff tallied the votes, Sarah and Sophie grabbed hands, but neither of them played their advantage or hidden Immunity Idol.
Jeff then read the votes in the following order: Sarah, Rob, Rob, and Rob.
On Rob's way out of the game, he bequeathed his Fire Token to Parvati, telling her to "make a run at it."