Elizabeth Beisel on Survivor, Episode 7: Women’s Alliances Rising

Three-time U.S. Olympian Elizabeth Beisel is part of the cast of the 39th season of CBS’s reality TV show ‘Survivor.’ We’ll be recapping her game weekly… as long as she survives. ‘Survivor‘ is, of course, an edited, pared-down television program that condenses roughly three full days of on-island time into a one-hour program. There’s always more context to what we see, but our commentary is merely to have fun with what we’re shown, not to drag on any specific contestants. 

Episode link here

Previous recaps:

Opening Segment: Dual Women’s Alliances Forming

Last week, Beisel’s foursome of herself, air force vet Missy, factory worker Elaine and gym owner Aaron pulled off a huge move, leveraging Elaine’s block-a-vote advantage and keeping Aaron from flipping to break a 4-4 stalemate with the opposing alliance. They’re celebrating a victory, but also doing damage control with nanny Lauren, who is in tears after her ally Jason was blindsided out of the game.

Meanwhile at the other tribe, the majority is also crumbling. Admissions counselor Jamal is irritating two of his allies: entrepreneur/loose cannon Noura and MBA student Kellee. Noura, in particular, is trying to put together a women’s alliance. That would be great news for Beisel, who is already part of a women’s alliance within her tribe, but whose original tribe is also way down in overall numbers.

Island of the Idols: Predicting a Woman Winner?

Lifeguard instructor Janet is sent to the Island of the Idols to meet with Survivor legends Boston Rob and Sandra for advice and a chance at an advantage. Janet is sort of swimming-adjacent (she actually held her own against Beisel in a swimming challenge earlier in the season), and she makes the exact opposite decision Beisel did on day 1. Janet chooses not to gamble her vote – the first time someone has passed up the opportunity for an advantage this season.

Janet gets a glowing review from Rob and Sandra. Sandra also notably predicts that a woman will be the winner of this season. That’s pretty good foreshadowing, especially coming right after all the talk on both tribes about women’s alliances. Beisel and Janet are two of the 8 women left in the game, compared to 6 men.

A Creepy Talent Agent & A Whole Lot of Under-The-Bus-Throwing

It’s an odd reflection of major current events. Dan is a Los Angeles talent agent. Dan is also creepy. Like, beyond creepy. He’s already been in trouble for it on his original tribe, and now we get a night-vision camera shot of Dan really awkwardly cuddling up to one of his younger female tribemates – the tribe’s discussion the next day implies it was either Beisel or Missy, or maybe both.

Dan, Lauren and elementary school teacher Tommy are now in the minority on the tribe, and Lauren and Tommy are doing everything they can to throw Dan under the bus to survive another day. Come to think of it, Dan is doing a pretty good job of that himself by just being creepy.

Tommy and Lauren are very active players, bordering on overly-aggressive. They go on a full-on advertising campaign trying to paint Dan as an untrustworthy player. But Missy and Beisel, who appear to be calling the shots in their alliance, aren’t buying it. They make tentative plans to vote out Tommy as a social threat, fearing his tight bond with Lauren. Good on Beisel and Missy for not falling for the Lauren/Tommy propaganda campaign.

Challenge Time

The tribes are shooting coconuts into a basket to unlock puzzle pieces, then putting together a big, heavy puzzle. The coconuts themselves are pretty heavy, and there’s a real learning curve to tossing them. Beisel’s tribe has been the physical powerhouse, and they lead early, with Beisel hitting the final shot to unlock the pieces.

They actually assemble their puzzle first, but it’s wrong. It takes some quick maneuvering (and some apparently-inspiring outright screaming from Tommy), but they correct it just in time. Tommy’s shrieks seem to act just like that one coach who is at every meet doing the loudest whistle in human history – it’s a magic skill that spurs on a team.

Beisel and her crew are safe for another week. Now it’s up to the opposing tribe to see if they’ll stick to original tribe lines (and leave Beisel’s group down 8-5) or if they’ll flip, too and leave things 7-6 with a merge looming.

Kellee’s Master Plan

As things stand now, the original Vokai tribe is down 3-4 on the new purple tribe, but up 5-2 on the new orange tribe.

Back on the new orange tribe, Jamal makes the fatal mistake of talking about how comfortable he feels in the game. That’s the biggest Survivor no-no there is. Jamal is targeting tech salesman Dean, one of the two original Lairo tribe members in the minority here.

But there’s a counterattack in the works. Kellee from the majority has an immunity idol, but it’s only good through tonight’s vote. With the idol almost literally burning a hole through her pocket, Kellee starts pondering a bold, risky plan: giving her idol to Dean to take out one of the power players in her own alliance: Jamal or grad student Jack.

Kellee has a big and fairly convoluted master plan. She brings in Dean and plans to use Noura as an insurance vote. It’s bold, and maybe a little too early to pull something this big… but it’s also a great move for her resume, and above all, if it works, it’s great news for Beisel, so we’re all in favor. Go Kellee.

Dean appears to blow things up at Tribal. He drops the bombshell that Noura has been targeting her own alliance. Noura talks way, way too much in general, and she gets herself into trouble several times by giving out too much information.

More important though: the conversation at Tribal Council takes a pretty interesting turn into gender. The theme of women has been front and center in this season, more so than any other season in Survivor history. From a game perspective, that suggests we may have a very women-centric endgame. From a broader perspective, it’s pretty cool to see seven people (four women and three men) from vastly different walks of life comparing their own perspectives on gender and how it affects group dynamics. It’s reminiscent of last week’s race discussion between Jack and Jamal, and it’s been a really, really high point of this season. It’s also neat that one of Olympic swimming’s more iconic female swimmers is getting to play a role in this story.

Back to the game. It’s a weirdly abrupt shift from that broad social discussion into the cutthroat strategy. But Dean plays Kellee‘s idol. Kellee pretty convincingly sells that she had no idea where he got the idol. Good for Kellee. But then Jamal, a little freaked by the idol play, plays his own immunity idol, one we mostly forgot he had. (Feels like half the cast has advantages at this point).

However, Jamal plays the idol for his tribemate Noura. That allows Kellee’s plan to go off without a hitch – five votes for Dean are canceled, and two votes (one from Dean and one from Noura) send Jack packing. Kellee is now in a very high-stakes lie, trying to hide the fact that she masterminded Jack’s boot, while acting completely shocked. That’s a serious gamble, but says a lot for Kellee’s guts in the game. Noura is also in an odd spot, having flipped her vote to Jack while still claiming loyalty to Jamal, who wasted an idol on her as she stabbed him in the back. There are going to be some real secrets in the wind next week.

Next Time on Survivor

It is merge time. The alliances look pretty dynamic at this point, and the preview points to just what you’d hope for: lots of plans being floated with lots of potential alliances and boots. Look for a major player to go out next week, as is often the case at the merge episode.

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3 years ago


3 years ago

Beisel certainly hasn’t done anything wrong so far this game. Think she still is in contention to win but it all really depends on how she is edited after the merge. Also I think we may well see a very powerful girls alliance form because the women have a 3 person advantage over the men.

3 years ago

Also a swimswam interview of Janet would be cool. She clearly has a competitive swimming background and it would be fun to hear about it. Just a suggestion!!!

Reply to  Sccoach
3 years ago

She shows up in the USLA nationals results. No usms results tho. She was legit in that swim against Biesel a couple of episodes ago.

3 years ago

another good episode. Gender discrimination on survivor is a real thing and that conversation needed to be had, but it was also funny that the whole discussion was started by Jamal bringing up a women’s alliance when there was actual talk of a women’s alliance.

Reply to  Sccoach
3 years ago

Its a game. Its not fair to the contestants to try to deal with real social issues in the context of playing a game on a tv show for money. Myself I would say just about anything for a legit chance at a million bucks.

Reply to  Taa
3 years ago

I’m confused by your opinion, the contestants are the ones bringing up the social issues and discussing them. They aren’t being forced to do it

Reply to  Sccoach
3 years ago

Wellllllllllllllll they’re not being FORCED to do it. But they’re maybe being PRODUCED to do it. It’s “a game.” It’s also “a show.” Nothing happens, or is shown, on accident or outside of the control of the producers.

Reply to  Sociallyinept
3 years ago

The whole point of reality shows are that they are social experiments.

Reply to  Sccoach
3 years ago

yes they are bringing them up and everything they say is just an attempt to manipulate the game for their advantage. The women have an alliance and then act insulted when accused of such alliance by the guys. You don’t think that is what is going on here?

3 years ago

The fact that they are women has nothing to do with their success – stop making everything about social justice and “empowering women.” Maybe a woman is predicted to win because she has skills, not because she has two x chromosomes.

Reply to  Who
3 years ago

I didn’t watch the episode, but I’m sure you didn’t read anything in this write-up implying that “the fact that they are women has [anything] to do with their success.”

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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