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Survivor NZ: Thailand — “Paper Towel Swans”

Logan Saunders recaps episode 14 of Survivor NZ: Thailand ahead of episode 15.

SURVIVOR NZ: THAILAND Episode 14: “Paper Towel Swans”

Previously on Survivor NZ: The biggest blindside this season put a friendship in danger. But after taking out the reward challenge, Tess made a peace offering. The tight twosome was soon plotting away to the Final Three. Knowing the numbers were against them, Tess fought hard in a very very brief immunity challenge but the scramble continued for Adam’s survival. At Tribal Council, Adam exposed Lisa as the mastermind of the jury’s downfall. But he failed to break Lisa’s alliance.

Just four remain. Tonight one final player leaves the game but it’s what’s happening off the island that blows everything clear as the Final Three face their last Tribal Council.




Tess mourns the loss of Adam. Sala wonders if they made the right decision tonight. Dave is congratulated on being the last man standing with a bunch o’ women.

Remember when the first four people voted out were women?

Lisa doesn’t know if tonight’s TC has helped or hurt her game. Tara assumed Lisa was going to win the season but doesn’t know if tonight’s TC will award her a jury vote.

Tess hopes Adam will campaign for her on the jury and guarantee her a victory entering day 39.

Man. So many things heading into the final round of this game.

Intro time.





Oddly enough, nobody talks about Tara’s chances of winning this game.

A 63 minute episode dedicated to a Final Four elimination that lasts only two days. This could drag a wee bit much.



DAY 37

Dave has caught some fish. Are they going to gut the fish now? Yes, they will. For the first time, something is gutted that isn’t a person because of how a vote went down at Tribal Council.

Dave says Adam threw a lot of shade at Lisa.

DAVE: I’m not going to take everything Adam said to heart.

LISA (confessional): If I was anyone else I would have serious doubts about trusting me. . .I’m surprised everyone isn’t more weary of me.

Tess’ only game plan is to win immunity. Her plan B is to sway Tara to vote against Lisa. Or sway Dave.

Stick with Plan A, Tess. Stick with Plan A.

Tara tells us she has never strategized once with Tess.

TARA: Lisa has been a little more ruthless than I thought. . .do I come up with a plan on voting her out possibly?

Oh boy. If Lisa goes home regardless of Tess winning immunity would be such a big upset heading into day 39. I mean, it guarantees Tess’ victory, but still.



DAY 37

Lisa wants to do anything to prevent Tess from winning a reward, and hopes the reward directly ties into immunity.

Chisholm asks Tara what it’s like to never win reward and if she’ll finally earn one.

For today’s challenge, they’ll use planks to cross a rope bridge collecting pieces to a maze. Once across, they’ll assemble a maze and use a ball to complete the maze. That’s it. First person to finish wins reward.

CHISHOLM: We’re going out with a bang!


Nah, just a luxury night in a hotel. Air conditioned room, double bed, bathroom, swimming pool, and sunset dinner.

Tara is allowed another confessional talking about the reward.

We rip into it!

Tess is not doing well with transporting the planks on the rope bridge. Dave is speeding through it quickly. Tara has two pieces down. Lisa and Tess only have their first.

Tara drops her third! She’s in the lead! Dave has his third. Tess has her third. Lisa has three too.

Tara completes the rope bridge first but is super slow down the ladder. Dave simply jumps off the small ladder and skips ahead.

Tess is right behind them. Lisa probably just 20-30 seconds behind. NZ’s budget has dwindled over the past several weeks. The cost of booking a luxury hotel room.

Lisa is quickly catching up n the puzzle. Dave and Tess doing well with it too. Tara sadly falls to last place.

Lisa is stumped by the puzzle as Dave is pretty much done.

CHISHOLM: He’s looking sharp now!

Matt Sharp.

Dave finishes putting the maze together! Wait, no. He swaps two pieces.

CHISHOLM: He reckons he’s got it!

Dave starts tilting the ball through the maze. He skips over the holes. It’s over.

Dave wins final reward!

Of course, Dave can take one person on reward. He takes Tara since she’s never won one while Dave earns his. . .fourth or fifth? Tara tears up. Lisa is definitely losing her control on Tara.

Dave opts to take Tara with her as a secret strategic ploy.



DAY 37

Tess and Lisa say they are happy for Tara to her face.

TESS: We’ll be sleeping in a hotel in a few days anyway.

Indeed. Just two days away.

Dave wanted to separate Tara from Tess.

Lisa says to Dave’s face that he and Tara have the best chance of beating Tess at immunity.

DAVE: I’ve put in a couple of contingency plans. . .

LISA: It won’t happen.

DAVE: It won’t happen, yeah.

Only a 25% chance. Especially when neither Tara nor Tess have ever won an individual challenge all game. Unless you count Lisa’s Outpost against Dave.

Dave sits down with Tess to make a deal. He wants to eliminate Tara tomorrow. Tess fears the deal will be null and void if she loses immunity.

DAVE (confessional): I’m not working with Tess. I am keen to make sure -I- don’t go home.

TESS (confessional): I think he wants me as a safety net more than he wants me to stay in the game. . .it’s a clever ploy to make sure he is in the Final Three.

Yeah, it really is a transparent play to make. The F3 alliance is pretty dang clear. Although Tara sure loves to be erratic when we least expect it.



DAY 37

Dave and Tara cross the same bridge that they crossed back on day one. The hotel is RIDICULOUSLY nice. I bet it costs only ten bucks a night since it’s Thai prices.

There are paper towel swans! Adam is groaning over the comfort of the huge bed.

Tara and Dave hop into the pool. It is much like the final reward Barb, Avi, and Tom went on in Survivor NZ. It’s a tradition now.

Dave and Tara talk about Tess’ attempt at planting seeds.

TARA: If the jury is a popularity contest, then I think Tess is gonna win.

That’s. . .that’s exactly what every jury vote is, Tess.

Tara says Tess makes alliances with every single player in the game.

Tara is very confident in her alliance with Dave and Lisa. Ain’t nobody flipping.



DAY 38

Tara gives the others a vivid description about the reward.

DAVE (confessional): It was an awesome reward, but I’ll admit I barely swept at all last night. I kept thinking about the immunity challenge.

At least he got to think and think and think and stress and stress in a comfortable fluffy bed!

All three are eager to vote out Tess. It’s all about the immunity challenge.



DAVE (confessional): If Tess wins immunity, which is a pretty big possibility. . .we’re kinda screwed.

Let’s see if anyone faints from lack of circulation today.

For today’s final immunity challenge, they’ll hang upside-down with their arms and legs wrapped around a pole. Last person on the pole wins immunity.

Back-to-back individual immunity challenges involving poles: One was vertical and one was horizontal.

This is the same immunity challenge that debuted at the beginning of the merge in Survivor: Exile Island.

We cling onto it!


Lisa is in pain. Dave is wriggling and drops his hands completely. He is fully vertical. Only his legs are wrapped.

Lisa is struggling with her arms.

CHISHOLM: Remember if you are struggling with your arms then let your legs go first.

No, it’d be funnier if somebody tops Tom by neckplanting and being quadriplegic.


Lisa spontaneously drops.

Moments later, Dave is being stung by some sort of bee.


Tara casually drops. No sign of stress or exhaustion beforehand. Huh.

Dave keeps freeing his arms before going back up to hold on.


Dave frees his fingers and hands again. Tess hasn’t shuffled much at all.

CHISHOLM: Who do you want to take this, Tara?

TARA: I shook Dave’s hand and that’s a binding contract we’ve seen each other to the end.

CHISHOLM: A handshake doesn’t matter much for others.

TARA: It does to me.

It’s like Frank Garrison–never break the honour of a handshake.

Lisa is openly nervous about her fate in someone else’s hands and legs.

Dave feels sore and Tess feels determined.

TESS: Especially after hearing they want me gone.

TARA: It’s not that we want you gone Tess, keep fighting. It’s just we made an agreement and somebody has to go.

TESS: Yeah, I don’t care.


Tara is totally someone who could work with Tess.

Tess is shaking quite a bit. Dave is shuffling. Tess is near the end.


Dave collapses onto his back. Tess is bent over in tears. Tara runs over and gives her a hug. Dave hasn’t moved a muscle.

CHISHOLM: That was actually epic.

Not as epic as Tom fainting because he wanted the worldwide immunity wins record.

Tess is awarded the talisman after a brief discussion.

CHISHOLM: Before I asked about your body–now I want to ask about your mind.

Matt Chisholm: Asking women about their body before asking about their mind.

Lisa pats Tess on the back.

CHISHOLM: Don’t. Stop. Fighting.

That’s right. Dave. Tara. Lisa. Fight. To. The. End.



DAY 38

Tess tears up in her confessional. She is in the Final Three.

NOTE: Tess doesn’t know that Survivor has had a Final Two.

TESS: The alliance of one is celebrating our win.

Wow, Tess really is isolated in this game.

All four are casual around camp.

Tess pulls Tara aside for a chat.

TESS: It comes down to who you wanna be in the final with. Lisa is stronger than Dave. I think Dave is stronger than both Tara and Lisa. So it’d come down to voting Dave for me.

Last Chani is about to go down.

TESS (to TARA): If Dave is in the final he could take the whole thing out.

Tess is gonna be in for a surprise at FTC.

TESS: Whose name could you write down tonight?

TARA: . . .I don’t know. Have to write down Lisa, I guess.

TESS: . . .OK.

Tess has a confessional being shocked that Tara would vote out her day one ally rather than Dave.

TESS (confessional): It’s absolutely shocking because. . .No. This can’t happen.

Tess continues her pitch of not wanting Dave in the final because they can’t beat him.

Dave and Lisa are talking. Dave is upset he couldn’t hold out longer in the challenge. Both assume Tess will be voting against them.

DAVE: This is the first time I don’t know the vote heading into a Tribal.

Dave pulls Tess aside. Tess accuses Dave of wanting her as a safety net.

DAVE: You weren’t my Plan B. You were one of the conversations I did have. . .at the moment it’s up to you. You do what’cha wanna do.

TESS: Who were you thinking of voting for?

DAVE: I said to you I’d vote for one of the girls.

Well. . .that’s not a decision, Dave. Who was the other option? Tess’ lizard from two episodes ago?

Tess tells him she hasn’t made her decision.

DAVE: Do you even know who you’re voting for tonight? Are you voting against me? . . .???

TESS: We’ll chat again before Tribal.

DAVE: If you want Lisa out, then let me know so I can vote for Lisa.

Clearly Dave and Lisa are going to vote against each other.

Lisa and Tess have a chat. Lisa is instantly on board with eliminating Dave, but admits she is worried Tess will vote against her.

LISA: Tara said she won’t vote for Dave. So she can only vote for me. Everyone knows there’s already one vote against me.

And it doesn’t help when the biggest goat is the one voting against you, and Tess has immunity. Dave ain’t voting Tara. Lisa’s biggest hope is a 2-2 tie.

TARA (confessional): I had an epiphany. I need to make sure the two most deserving players are sitting there in the Final Three. People desperately wanting the Sole Survivor title.

She waves Dave over.

TARA: We’ve switched plans. I’m going to convince Tess that I’m going to vote you, and Lisa’s going to vote you.

Then she waves Lisa over as Dave retreats.

Tara tells Lisa they’ll vote Dave.

We head to Tribal Council. Lisa really wants to stay in badly. It seems like she’s doomed as Tara refuses to vote against Dave. Is Tess going to bother with forcing a tie?







A couple jurors gasp when they see Tess wearing the talisman. Adam is beaming.

Chisholm asks Lisa if the jurors will respect her after learning how many of them she outwitted.

Dave wants to be at the end with strong players but the alliances are shifting too fast for him. He wants to play his own game blah blah blah anything can happen.

After a bit more dialogue, Chisholm asks Tess to pick one person to go to the Final Three and two to face off in a fire challenge–HAHAHAHA. Just kidding. They wouldn’t do something that dumb.

CHISHOLM: You said Dave was worthy of the Final Three. So either you or Lisa should go home tonight.

TARA: Maybe.

CHISHOLM: You’re the only two options.

TARA: That is correct.

Chisholm really wants to draw information away from Tara.

Lisa and Tara both say they are worried.

TARA: I’m not throwing the white towel in.

CHISHOLM: Are you fighting to the end?

TARA: Yeah.

CHISHOLM: So do you have anything to say to the people beside you?

TARA: No. I’ve said I everything I needed to say.

Tess is gonna keep the talisman.

It’s time to vote.

Lisa goes to vote.

Tess votes DAVE. She doesn’t want him at FTC.

Tara votes LISA silently.

Chisholm counts the votes and reads ’em.



One vote Dave. One vote Lisa.






??????!!!!!! A 2-1-1 vote?!







Tara is voted out. Dafuq?! The biggest goat has been voted out in the first ever F4 split vote. 2-1-1. Jesus.

Tara apologizes to Tess then expresses her happiness for Lisa.

TARA: I got what I wanted from this game. . .Lisa giving her a spot in the F3. Taking it away I wouldn’t have felt right when it’s her dream. And Dave? I felt he scraped from the bottom.

Man. She’s gonna be pissed when she finds out how easy Dave had it thanks to the secret friendship with Matt.

TESS: You guys just keep blindsiding me.

Yes, that’s right. The person who won F4 immunity couldn’t vote in the majority in a 2-1-1 vote.

Thanks to Michael Harmstone for pointing out that Tess has only voted in majority ONCE since the merge. Even Eddie Fox has a better track record.




TESS (confessional): They got me again! They’ve left me out of all of their votes!

Tess jokes in front of Dave and Lisa that they haven’t stopped blindsiding her for three weeks.

Dave says Tara went to him and Lisa prior to TC to sacrifice herself.

LISA (confessional): Tara was a far better friend to me than I was to her. . .it makes me feel bad about the times I wasn’t honest with her.

DAVE (confessional): Just gonna explain my game like I’ve always said since day one.

Minus Matt. That part will be conveniently left out.

Dave asks Lisa how a jury usually works. Wow. Dave is a recruit too.

This reminds me: Tess has never seen Survivor. She’ll have no idea how to plead her case to a jury either. She could freeze up or make the same mistakes we see over and over and let the game fall through her fingers.


DAY 39

It’s the day 39 breakfast. Yes, there is some watermelon amongst the fruit and pastries.

Dave smothers bread in an abundance of nutella.

Lisa reflects on her superfandom and how it didn’t match what she assumed how it would be going into it.

We are treated to a highlight reel of Lisa. The beginning of the game followed by all of the blindsides.

LISA: If they like Dave because of going through Chani, I could lose. If they like Tess because she’d be fun to go out for a drink, I could lose.

Her odds are about to drastically improve.

Tess’ highlight reel leads into an additional Lisa highlight reel.

We now get Dave’s highlight reel where he brags about never having to play his idol.

DAVE: I’m not going to mention my relationship with Matt tonight. It’s going to be detrimental to my game. We said if we were both in F3 together then we wouldn’t say anything, and if one of us was in the jury then we’d let the other decide. But not one time I have mentioned that and I know he hasn’t mentioned that. . .just by the way he looks at me in Tribal.



DAY 38

We get the replayed Jury Villa footage of Matt telling Adam about the secret friendship with Dave.

We hear quick one sentence quips from the jurors on audio as the bombshell is dropped.

NOTE: The big announcement comes when Tara is at the Jury Villa. She is NOT impressed either.






Such short names.

Next Time: Brad brings up the secret friendship. Renee grills Dave. Eve grills Dave. Arun grills Tess about not knowing Survivor.


Tara didn’t plan on leaving the game this way. She didn’t want to take it away from Lisa and Dave. We see the voting confessionals.

DAVE: You’re an absolute legend Mama T.

Is she?


So we get the first ever 2-1-1 vote at F4. Unless there is some obscure foreign version that I am not privy to, then I back off of my claim.

I NEVER thought Tara would be voted out at Final Four. There was absolutely no sign of her quitting nor any hint that she thought she was the goat being carried to FTC.

If Tara sacrificed herself because she thought she couldn’t win no matter what, that’s one thing. I’ve seen that before.

But Tara genuinely felt fulfilled by the time she reached the afternoon of day 38. These are the kinds of situations I love seeing on Survivor. Take a group of diverse people and see them approach the experience from eighteen different angles. It provides moments like Ian jumping off of a pole twelve hours into an immunity challenge or JT quitting just so Eve can go a little bit further or Jonny Fairplay trolling everyone whenever he could just for the hell of it.

The old school nature of personal moral lines in the sand is what I miss most in contemporary Survivor.

It’s not just bland #Idols and #Blindsides. It’s what makes the American product beyond stale by this point in time. Great characters and a big budget but producers have no idea what the hell to do with it because strategy is now 99% of the airtime and how they force people to look at the game.

NZ has shown a major human element this year. Thankfully they did so in fifteen episodes rather than twenty-five or whatever the hell it was with just sixteen contestants and Redemption Island last year.

Hell, editors didn’t even say a word about Dave’s idol in the previous round of play. They only spent a minute on Adam’s futile idol seeking efforts. If it was the American version, I’d put money down that an additional idol would have been planted at the water well to shake things up. They’d justify it because Matt was blindsided with one in his pocket in the previous round.


So who is gonna win? Lisa or Tess?

I think Dave and Matt’s friendship is going to dictate the ending of this game.

Yes, Matt revealing the secret guarantees Dave will be shutout at Final Tribal Council (or close to it).

However, I think it will also influence who wins between Lisa and Tess. Jurors are going to be very impressed that Lisa was able to break up the unbreakable bond that had two idols between them and were on a roll in challenges. Before Lisa was just the sneaky schemer–now she’s gonna be viewed as somebody who could turn water into Kiwi flavoured wine.

If it wasn’t for the big secret, Tess being likable and “honest” would have been enough to give her a narrow margin of victory or more. However, the breaking news of Dave and Matt will shake FTC up and Lisa is going to take full advantage of it.

Furthermore I can’t help but feel Tess won’t have much of a refined gameplan heading into FTC. Good news is she’ll be her authentic self, but FTC is when tough jury questions arise, and Tess ain’t gonna be prepared for it. After 39 days and being constantly out of the loop could lead to pure exhaustion for Tess. Lisa is going to have every angle prepared.

I love that we’re having the showdown between the savvy superfan over the past eighteen years versus the likable recruit who needed to ask the savvy superfan about the basics of Survivor on the very first day. One controlled the entire game and the other hasn’t been in the majority since ARUN was voted out. Six TCs in a row without being in majority. Eddie Fox be like “daaaaaamn, gurl”.

I can’t wait to see how this jury vote goes down.

The subsequent reunion special should be fun to see how everyone responds to the ethical lines that Matt and Dave faced regarding their friendship in the game. Should Matt have ratted Dave out less than 36 hours prior to Final Tribal Council? Why did he still keep secrets from Dave anyway? Should Dave have fessed up to the secret friendship after Matt was voted out? Should they have disclosed it to producers prior to the beginning of the game?

And of course, we get to hear from the People’s Champion–Liam.

It has also been a fun to contrast this season with the current South African season and how drastically this cast behaves compared to the other. Good luck finding the equivalent of Tom, PK, Palesa, Toni, Hair Changer Chane, and Clue Eater Werner.

This season has been a fun epic from start to finish.

P.S. Sala is rethinking whether it was the right thing to vote out Tara. So conflicted. :/

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