Spoilers for Season 42 of Survivor below!
The May 4 episode of Survivor 42 was initially looking as if it would conclude on a pretty cut-and-dry note, as competition beast Jonathan Young fell out of the immunity challenge, with his fate appearing sealed for elimination. Ultimately, though, it was strategist Hai Giang (who you’ll remember almost went to rocks before to get what he wanted from the game) who got the axe in a major blindside maneauver. Now, fans are crediting one player in particular for the shocking turn of events, and are marking them as the frontrunner to win the season.
The majority of the cast was technically in on the vote to excise Hai Giang – except of course for Hai Giang himself (and poor Romeo). Giang’s huge reaction at tribal proved as much, implying how hush-hush the secret was kept. Yet, viewers are largely hyping contestant Omar Zaheer, an Ontario veterinarian with a lot of cow anatomy stories to tell, as the sole orchestrator behind the ouster. And with Giang out, there’s apparently a new sheriff in charge with only a week left in the game. As this Survivor 42 fan put it:
Hai: I am in the driver’s seat and positioned well to go far in this game. Omar: #Survivor #Survivor42 pic.twitter.com/zEXkT5CP6yMay 5, 2022
From the outside looking in, Omar Zaheer indeed looked like he controlled not just this vote but many votes prior. However, it was his “good lie” to Mike Turner in the latest episode — that Hai Giang saw him as a “puppet” — that really showed off his strategic abilities to the audience. In fact, another fan wrote on Twitter that they had “no choice but to stan” at this point.
Omar lying to Mike to turn him against Hai wow this man isn’t just an effective rat he’s a MASTERMIND. No choice but to stan. #Survivor42May 5, 2022
It’s a good bet, but as we can see from Hai Giang’s blindside, the perceived bigger threats aren’t so much the physical ones (like Jonathan Young) anymore but the social ones. Survivor 42 fans, though, seem to think that Omar Zaheer isn’t in too much trouble, due to how he’s disguised his level of influence from the other players. One Twitter user in fact deemed him “the best social player we’ve seen on this show in years.” Another wrote that his strategy is a “masterclass” in “being led while leading,” while also elaborating in a different post that it’s very much giving Boston Rob vibes. Specifically, that fan said:
Every week I'm enthralled by Omar's game. Separating allies with lies, bonding with people over grievances for plans they don't know HE CREATED. The stealth puppet master, the super fan dream game, the Rob C game. It's immaculate. He should be so proud #Survivor #Survivor42May 5, 2022
A familiar face who seconded all the online reactions to Omar Zaheer was none other than Season 41 winner Erika Casupanan. She’s been watching the new season closely and has had some interesting takes about the increased Shot in the Dark twist usage this go-around, too. And she indicated on her official Twitter account that the now-popular Zaheer has all the makings of a bonafide Sole Survivor, much like herself. Check out her post below:
Part of what makes Omar so strong strategically here is his strong social ability. He’s able to identify everyone’s individual motivations and use this info to manipulate #survivor #survivor42May 5, 2022
Now, not to toot my own horn, but I kind of predicted this would happen. Going off Erika Casupanan’s “lion in lamb’s clothing” winning strategy, I guessed pre-game that Omar Zaheer’s pigeon-in-predator’s-clothing early commentary hinted that we should look out for him to potentially take home the $1 million. Admittedly, I guessed the same about Jenny Kim and Chanelle Howard, and look where they ended up: gone like the wind.
Suffice to say, I am side by side with everyone else rooting for Omar Zaheer to take his game all the way to the bank. But it has to be said as well that many of us had the same high hopes for Xander Hastings in Season 41, which ultimately didn’t pan out for him on finale night.
Knock on wood in hopes that the Survivor 42 jury can actually recognize real for being real this time. Tune into the last remaining episodes on CBS on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST or streaming next day with a Paramount+ subscription!
Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.
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