After a chaotic premiere episode, week two of Survivor 42 was almost laid back. Fewer powers-related twists, not all that much tribe conflict (aside from Mike finding and losing an idol), and an almost laid-back tribal council where Taku sorrowfully voted off tribe mom Marya. Was this a kinder, gentler Survivor?

Not a chance, because week three of Survivor 42 was one of the craziest episodes the show has seen in many years.

From the start, it was clear this episode was going to be all about Vati. Last week, Mike had found an idol and proceeded to share it with Daniel. Of course, he spent several minutes looking for where he hid it, which sent Daniel’s paranoia into overdrive. He shared all Mike had told him with his ally Chanelle, and the two quickly started scheming to neutralize Mike and his idol. This week, one one of the most bizarrely funny Survivor segments since Tony’s spy shack, things got crazier.

Daniel became increasingly paranoid about the bylaws of the idol (remember when idols didn’t need an instruction manual?) and demanded to read the parchment for himself. He then somehow managed to lose part of the idol, stuff another part in his pants, and thoroughly confuse and anger Mike only minutes into the episode. With Vati firmly divided between three pairs, it was clear anything that happened on this tribe was going to be chaotic.

Taku, meanwhile, seemed to be unified by last week’s tribal council. They all get along, and even their idol hunt was sort of a collective effort. Maryanne was the one who ultimately found it and got to happily freak out – followed by an unhappy freak-out as soon as she realized she wouldn’t be able to vote until all three were activated. But overall, there seemed to be very few rifts in this tribe.

As for Ika…well, it’s hard to say. They got virtually no screentime this episode, in a Survivor rarity. They were almost completely ignored, which largely gave away the game that they would not be going to tribal council.

It was clear something was up when the immunity challenge began just over ten minutes into the episode – and we were not disappointed. It was a tough water challenge followed by a sandbag-tossing game, but once the challenge began it was obvious the biggest challenge would be the elements. Powerful riptides kept sweeping teams away as they tried to climb on a ladder to retrieve bags. Taku, thanks to Jonathan’s long legs and massive reach, breezed through the challenge and secured the win for them while the other two were still floundering in the water. And then, in a Survivor first, Jeff Probst called off the water challenge and sent both tribes to shore. With both incapable of completing the challenge, they would face off in the sandbag leg for second place. And ultimately, by a hair, it was Ika that pulled it off, sending Vati to their first tribal council.

And from there, all hell broke loose. The tribe was split between Mike/Jenny, Daniel/Chanelle, and Hai/Lydia. But after the challenge, Chanelle and Omar wound up being sent to a summit where they had to choose whether to risk or protect their vote. After much talk about playing it safe, Chanelle risked her vote – and so did Omar, meaning they both lost their votes. Vati’s voting pool was down to four.

What followed was one of the best Survivor tribal councils in history, as the vote came out two-two between Jenny and Lydia, leading a very confused Hai to wonder where the hell the votes were. A revote narrowed it down to one-one, with only Hai and Daniel voting. The only chance to avoid going to rocks was a negotiation, and with Mike and Chanelle unable to vote in the tiebreaker, it turned into a battle of wills between Hai and Daniel – one that ended decisively. Daniel made clear early he was not willing to go to rocks, putting all the leverage in Hai’s hands. While Hai turned into a master, ruthless negotiator (even if the context of his deep loyalty to Lydia is mostly unexplained), Daniel proceeded to fumble around, throw Chanelle under the bus, anger Mike further, and burn all his bridges on the way to voting out Jenny and making her the next person voted out.

What’s odd is that out of Zach, Marya, and Jenny, it’s hard to pinpoint anything any of them did wrong. They were either on the wrong tribe, blamed for things they didn’t do, or used as pawns in a larger scheme. Sometimes, that’s just how Survivor goes.

But the game marches on, as we approach the merge. Below, the power rankings for week four of Survivor 42.

Taku:

  1. Jonathan – This is his tribe now. He’s the best challenge powerhouse in years and is in no danger until the merge.
  2. Lindsday – She’s quietly playing well, and as the only other player with a vote, she’s in a power position.
  3. Omar – He loses a spot just due to losing his vote this week – that makes him more vulnerable.
  4. Maryanne – Bless her, but that three-person alliance isn’t breaking and she’s vote-less for now.

Ika:

  1. Drea – She’s still basically in the middle of every alliance and has too many advantages to get blindsided easily right now.
  2. Tori – For some reason, Drea seems to like and trust her, which gives her a major leg up.
  3. Swati – She’s right in the middle at the moment, but seems to be a strong challenge performer and hasn’t made any waves.
  4. Romeo – Has he made any real connections since Zach left? I’m not sure.
  5. Rocksroy – Yes, he is the tribe’s main challenge performer, but he seems to have few allies and this trainwreck gang may just decide they don’t care.

Vati:

  1. Hai – This tribe was rather rudderless at the start, but Hai’s savvy gameplay puts him in the catbird seat. He’s in no danger.
  2. Mike – With his idol largely public knowledge and the tribe needing his strength, I think he’s likely to survive the next vote.
  3. Chanelle – Her stock has dropped a lot, but she has her vote back and is a major swing vote for Mike.
  4. Lydia – She survived this week due to twist craziness, but she’s outnumbered if she becomes a challenge liability.
  5. Daniel – Lol. At this point I’m not sure the tribe doesn’t throw the challenge this week to get rid of him.
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