One of the many new twists introduced on Survivor 41 was the Shot in the Dark. True to its name, players could secretly sacrifice their vote at any tribal council for a 1-in-6 shot at safety. The Hail Mary pass was only chanced once by Sydney Segal last year, and the odds were not in her favor then. Yet, increasingly more people are trying out the move in the new season, particularly in the very early stages of the game. As it turns out, Survivor 41 winner Erika Casupanan is wondering the same things I am about this trend in Season 42.
Out of the past four tribal councils, in fact, the Shot in the Dark was used at three of them. Zach Wurtenberger, Marya Sherron, and lately, Swati Goel all tried for the high risk/high reward – and they really did need to because they were voted out shortly thereafter. In Erika Casupanan’s mind, the growing use of the twist in Survivor 42 leads to a question: Were the ousted players savvy enough to feel it coming or did the majority alliances just fail to prep the lambs for slaughter? Casupanan reacted to last night’s episode on Twitter, saying,
Damn these castaways love the shot in the dark. Is it because the targets have had a good read on their tribemates? Or because people aren’t good at making the targets feel comfortable? #survivor #survivor42March 31, 2022
Let’s unpack this, shall we? First, with the tribes still divided pre-merge, there isn’t much room to hide in terms of targets. When it comes down to five or six people, players usually know when they’re on the bottom, as was the case with Wurtenberger and Sherron. However, the surprising flip vote in the latest episode of Survivor 42 to Swati Goel – someone who was once in the majority alliance – is making me start to consider that the Shot in the Dark isn’t being fully appreciated for its power by those in the majority.
In other words, key Survivor 42 players seem to be assuming that targets won’t gamble their vote. Simultaneously, they also don’t appear to be diligently assuaging fears of said-targets. Which doesn’t make good strategic sense – if you’re not doing the latter, then it’s no wonder the former actually materializes.
You could see Swati Goel’s Shot in the Dark play last night sent a tremor through everyone who had clearly voted for her. Obviously, it didn’t end up in her favor either, but to Erika Casupanan’s point, what if it had? Then Tori Meehan would’ve been out of a job, so to speak, on Survivor 42. Hopefully, the remaining players learn a major lesson with what’s going on of late: don’t underestimate the power of new advantages or the power of gently tying the noose of elimination around someone’s neck.
Nevertheless, it’s altogether possible that the shortened time frame and chaotic circumstances (including early medical removals and history-making challenge troubles) are pushing players into a difficult strategic mindset. But I would argue that there is not one Shan Smith-level player in their midsts to push back against the tide. We’ll see how it all plays out in upcoming episodes on CBS, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST, on the 2022 TV schedule!
Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.
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