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survivor winners at war sophie clake cbs

Spoilers ahead for the April 1 episode of Survivor: Winners At War on CBS.

Survivor is eight episodes into its Winners at War season, but I somehow hadn't picked a favorite competitor until the April 1 installment. In a season packed with champions, I had an easier time picking least favorites than actual favorites. Now, thanks to the episode that brought one eliminated competitor back from Edge of Extinction, the tribes merged, and one person emerged from the pack to become my favorite: Sophie Clarke.

I've always liked Sophie well enough in Survivor: Winners at War, especially since she was key to getting Boston Rob Mariano voted out and sent to the Edge of Extinction and finally making me interested in the season. Still, it was her moves in the April 1 episode that really won me over. Sophie definitely took notice when Denise Stapley proudly regaled the rest of the merged tribe (including Tyson Apostol, who'd won the right to return from the Edge) with the story of how she'd ousted Sandra Diaz-Twine.

Sophie made her big move later, when she connected the dots that the biggest players were coming together and needed to be dealt a blow. Without Sophie stepping in, Adam Klein likely would have been ousted. Instead, Sophie quietly set the stage for Wendell Holland to be eliminated. Adam is safe for another week, Wendell is at the Edge of Extinction, and Sophie showed some serious mettle.

Of course, Survivor: Winners at War is packed with competitors who have some serious mettle to show off. If these people didn't know how to play the game and win, they wouldn't have made it into this jam-packed season which didn't even include the original Survivor champ himself. The twist that really won me over to Team Sophie technically wasn't confirmed, and it didn't actually occur to me until toward the end of the episode. It happened in the immunity challenge.

The immunity battle this week was for the remaining competitors to tackle an endurance challenge: players had to hang on to a pole for as long as possible. This challenge is never easy, and Winners at War made it even more difficult due to a rainstorm.

Everybody was miserable, but Sophie's whole body was shaking and shivering, to the point that I -- innocent, naive viewer as I was -- was half hoping that Jeff Probst would call the medical team in to warm her up before she became hypothermic. While some of the competitors had the heart to try and share some of their body heat, others became confident that Sophie would be quick to fall from her pole.

And yet Sophie hung on. In fact, she came in second to only Denise in winning the women's immunity challenge. Now, is it possible that Sophie really was so cold that she was shivering that hard and just found the strength to hang on? Sure. But if she wasn't at least exaggerating her cold to make her competitors overconfident, then finding the strength was all but superhuman. Personally, I like the idea that Sophie was faking it, and I'm sticking with it until/unless I'm proved otherwise.

What's next for Sophie Clarke and the rest of the Survivor: Winners at War contestants still in the game? Find out with new episodes airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Winners at War had finished filming by the time the coronavirus pandemic started forcing production halts throughout showbiz, so fans can at least count on the season airing in full. As for next season, we can only wait and see when it will be safe for production to resume.

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