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Survivor 41's JD Robinson Has No Defense For 'Sloppy' Gameplay

screenshot jd robinson
(Image credit: CBS)

Warning: Spoilers from the Oct. 13 episode of Survivor 41 below!

The early edit for JD Robinson on Survivor 41 was tugging on the heartstrings. He explained that watching Survivor his whole life inevitably gave him strength and inspiration in moments of hardship. As a superfan, he idolized Malcolm Freberg and Ozzy Lusth and wanted to make his mark on this season as they did on theirs. Unfortunately, though, Robinson made his mark with “sloppy” gameplay, and he has no defense for how it looks.

It was JD Robinson's fellow Ua tribemate Shan Smith who first criticized his gameplay as “sloppy” on the show. Robinson not only revealed his extra vote advantage, thanks to a wardrobe malfunction, but also handed over said advantage to Smith twice. (To be fair, Brad Keese fell for the same trap last week.) When asked about the perception of his overall Survivor strategy, Robinson told Entertainment Weekly:

Sloppy? Absolutely. I agree that it was sloppy, and the problem was, I was making mistakes, and then I would try to correct those mistakes and make another mistake. But while I was in the game, I was kinda thinking, ‘Hey, I keep making these mistakes. Maybe it's kind of good for my game if everybody else sees JD's a fricking buffoon out here.’ I wanted to be underestimated. The problem was, I was doing worse than I actually thought! I thought that would actually end up helping my game, but it still got me voted out. So that sucks.

JD Robinson isn't in bad company, though. Even Survivor legends make horribly dumb calls. Remember when JT Thomas gave Russell Hantz a free idol? Or when James Clement was voted out with two idols in his pocket? Sometimes when you shake the proverbial tree, it doesn’t always pan out.

Yet JD Robinson's game decisions weren't without at least some logic, as it turns out. He revealed that CBS cut down his full conversation with Genie Chen before tribal council. Apparently, he tried to sway Chen to go with him and his extra vote to blindside Ricard Foyé. But Chen evidently wasn't biting, which is why he had to “go for broke” with Shan Smith.

What wasn't readily as apparent to JD Robinson at the time was that sweet, innocent Shan Smith is a certified Survivor villain. (Finagling someone to hand over an advantage is good strategy but voting them out after they do so is also deliciously evil.) She even has given herself a villain’s trademark in the form of a maniacal hum when scheming. As was seen when she convinced Robinson to give her the advantage because she was “worried” about being voted out herself, she’s playing them all – big time. On Smith, Robinson reflected,

I'm going to give a little kudos to Shan here. That was not the first time she did that. Almost every Tribal Council, she would freak out. And I thought it was real. I thought, ‘This chick is paranoid.’ And so if that was the first time she freaked out at me, then that would have been a red flag, but it wasn't the first time.

Despite the excessive twists overcomplicating a lot of matters this season, it's clear the show still has dramatic storytelling power. Villainess Shan Smith took out superfan JD Robinson this week. But how much longer can the Ua tribe survive with only three people left? Maybe a swap is on horizon. Find out on the next episode of Survivor on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on CBS!

Lauren Vanderveen

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.