Survivor 42 seems to be getting a better reception from the fans than the offbeat 41 did, at least so far. The jam-packed first episode saw the evacuation of Jackson Fox and the odd unanimous ouster of Zach Wurtenberger, so what’s to come? Overall, the second episode was a calmer affair while still regularly reminding us that we’re in a new era and chaos is usually around every corner.

Over at Ika, which had just attended tribal council, the fractures were most obvious. While the tribe was united, Romeo now felt isolated and Tori was paranoid. This led Tori and Swati to propose an all-women alliance with Drea, leaving Romeo and Rocksroy out in the cold. The problem is, this lasted about five minutes as Drea’s previous alliance with the older guys gave her pause and the two younger women immediately started talking about whether Drea should go. With Drea having two advantages already and seeming to be the most active gamer in Survivor 42 at this point, she seems poised to be a main character of the season.

And speaking of main characters, Vati didn’t really disappoint for drama either. First, Vietnamese immigrant and vegan Hai faced a critical test of faith – with no rice for the tribe, he had to decide whether to eat crab or potentially sacrifice his game. It was a more nuanced take on the vegan castaway than we’ve previously seen, with clownshows like Kimmi or Wendy having breakdowns over the tribe winning meat-based rewards.

And then there was retired firefighter Mike, who seemed to have the best edit last week. This week, maybe not so much. He found a Beware idol – with the same rules as last season – opened it, and proceeded to tell Daniel about it to try to cement their trust. The problem was, he briefly misplaced it and had to scrounge around for it while a confused Daniel followed him. He did eventually locate it, but Daniel wasted no time telling Chanelle about it and scheming for how to keep Mike without a vote and a sitting duck. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to think badly of Mike, Daniel, or both, but this messiness isn’t unusual for potential winners on Survivor – just look at Tony.

If any tribe seemed to be calm this week, it was Taku. After Jackson’s historic Survivor medivac on day two, the five remaining castaways had bonded. Omar opened up to his tribe about his Muslim faith, which led to a genuine – and hilarious – conversation about religion with Christian Jonathan and Jewish Lindsay. While these three seemed to be a firm trio, the two outsiders seemed to be well liked by the tribe. However, Marya was struggling to feel like she was contributing enough to tribe and Maryanne’s hyperactive nature was wearing a bit thin on people.

The challenge was an old favorite, as one tribe member blindfolded the rest of the tribe to collect puzzle bags and avoid obstacles, followed by solving a puzzle. Vati struggled during the whole first part – and then proceeded to tear through the puzzle challenge, winning a fishing kit and immunity while the other two battled to survive. In the end, it was Ika who eked out a win by a hair, sending Taku to tribal council.

With no idols in play and a firm three-person alliance in control, this episode of Survivor 42 became a battle between two contestants to survive. Maryanne’s frantic gameplay ramped up as she clumsily searched for an idol, while Marya opened up about losing her nurse brother to Covid-19 in 2020. It was clear we were being given a reason to invest in her emotionally – and it also pretty clearly set her up to go, now that we knew her motivation after a UTR first episode.

And sure enough, after another failed Shot in the Dark play, she became the second contestant to leave the game on a 5-0 vote. She deserved better, but Jackson’s evacuation really limited the options for players on Taku once the three more athletic players got together.

So looking ahead, the tribe dynamics are more complicated than ever. Who’s on top heading into week three of Survivor 42?

Taku:

  1. Jonathan – It’s hard to differentiate the top three right now, but he’s definitely taking on the leader role.
  2. Omar – His bond with Jonathan seems closer than anyone else’s, so he’s likely to be the safer of the three.
  3. Lindsay – I don’t see any reason she should be in danger right now, unless something wild happens with idols.
  4. Maryanne – Look, everyone loves her, but unless she pulls a miracle she’s a goner if her tribe loses again.

Ika:

  1. Drea – Between the advantages in her pocket and her alliance with everyone in the tribe, I doubt she’s going anywhere right now.
  2. Rocksroy – He may have alienated people a little week one, but it does feel like his strength is needed right now.
  3. Tori – I kind of think she’s too non-threatening to go right now? She’s a useful informant for anyone aligned with her.
  4. Swati – If Drea turns on the girls’ alliance, she could easily just get caught in the crossfire.
  5. Romeo – With no clear allies besides Rocksroy, he could easily become a consensus boot.

Vati:

  1. Hai – This young, athletic contestant has an advantage in his pocket and seems to be well-liked by everyone. I see him as being key to whatever the ultimate decision at tribal council is.
  2. Chanelle – Daniel’s closest ally, she’s in on all his schemes – and that gives her a key opportunity to hit eject if he overplays.
  3. Mike – He’s fallen a bit from last week by giving away too much information, but he seems to be well-liked and I think the tribe needs his strength and leadership.
  4. Lydia – She seems to be likable, but doesn’t bring too much to the tribe in challenges or survival skills. If schemes fall through and they need a default boot, she could fit the bill.
  5. Jenny – She’s been quiet so far, but she’s shown some real puzzle skills. But as Mike’s closest ally, she could easily be collateral damage in Daniel’s schemes.
  6. Daniel – The most likely collateral damage, though, is likely to be Daniel himself. The superfan has been overeager and overplaying, and he could find himself joining Zach soon enough.
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