Night 9 on Tika gets off to a somber start. Sarah is gone, following Carolyn’s decision to join forces with the tribe’s new member, Josh, at tribal council. Yam Yam is left scrambling—and confused. “I’m happy that I survived the moment, but I’m not happy that I didn’t know how it was going to go,” he says.
“It’s like there were two people that were just kind of telling me what to do,” Carolyn tells Yam Yam of her decision to stop being the “third turd” and betray him and Sarah.
Yam Yam now sees Carolyn as the most dangerous player in the game. Meanwhile, Josh, previously a Soka, is glad he stuck around by trusting his intuition, using his idol on himself at tribal and believing in Carolyn.
Day 10 brings us to Ratu, where barbershop owner Matthew is in pain—and tears. The discomfort he feels from the dislocated shoulder he suffered eight days earlier while climbing a rock formation has only grown worse. “I’ve literally been training to be here for years, so it’s … more than just the pain,” he explains to Carson, who is new to the tribe after his recent move from Tika.
Soka, meanwhile, continues its beachside morning meditation ritual, feeling the love and energy—much to the delight of new tribemate, yogi Jaime. “I really feel like I was meant to be on the Soka tribe and, if I had my choice, this is the tribe I would have picked,” the former Ratu player gushes. “Not only because they’re strong, but because it’s the high-vibe tribe, everybody here meditates.”
Back on Tika, Yam Yam is the new odd-man out and tries to smooth things over and make amends with Josh, who he just attempted to vote off the island. Josh isn’t feeling it: “I just don’t trust you,” he tells Yam Yam.
Josh is concerned he might get played if Yam Yam and Carolyn decide to rejoin forces. As insurance, he makes up a lie and tells Yam Yam he has another idol in his possession that he retrieved from Soka’s birdcage. Yam Yam knows Josh doesn’t trust him and if Tika ends up back at tribal council, he fears he’ll be the next to go.
But the two appear to turn a corner and bond after they get into a conversation about how they each came out of the closet. Josh indicates he wants Yam Yam to feel comfortable with him, and they make a pact to get Carolyn out next. “I hope he’s telling the truth, because Josh has all the control,” Yam Yam says.
Behind the Eight Ball
On Day 11, Ratu and Soka get their first look at the decimated, three-member, Sarah-free Tika tribe.
Jeff Probst then gets right to the day’s immunity challenge. On his go, three tied-together Survivors from each tribe will race through a series of obstacles to a bucket. The teams must fill that bucket with water and carry it over a hinged platform, transporting the water until there’s enough to lower a gate. At the finish, two members from each tribe will work together to maneuver a ball through a table maze. The first two tribes to land all three balls win immunity.
The first-place tribe also gains the power to decide which player from each of the three teams will go on a special journey. “There is a lot at stake in the challenge,” Jeff says.
He’s not wrong, as the last special journey ended with Carson, Jaime and Josh each scoring an immunity idol and getting switched to new tribes.
The last tribe to finish will head to tribal council, where they must decide who will be the sixth person voted off the game.
Ratu sits out Lauren and injured Matthew. Soka chooses Jaime and Frannie to pass. All of Tika’s three remaining players must compete.
As the tribes start moving through the obstacles, Jeff notes all are doing a nice job and no clear frontrunner emerges. Ratu, Soka and Tika reach the maze at the end of the course nearly simultaneously and all must choose which two players will attempt the final portion of the challenge. Ratu’s Carson and Brandon are the first to begin trying to wend their first ball through the wooden maze. Danny and Matt from Soka are next, followed by Tika’s Yam Yam and Josh. “We’re about as even as you can be in this challenge,” Jeff shouts.
Soka and Ratu quickly land its first ball, while Tika struggles. Tika then gets its first, but Ratu and Soka roar ahead and each get its second ball in the slots. Ratu snatches victory from Soka, winning immunity and the power to send players on the special journey. Soka lands its final ball seconds later, leaving Tika in the dust and on its way to tribal council for the fourth time this season.
“What power do I have? I have nothing,” Yam Yam complains of the result. “I don’t want to work with Josh or Carolyn, but it’s like, hello, we cannot vote a coconut or palm tree out, you know!”
Ratu now has an important decision to make: which survivor from each tribe will be sent away on a special journey. The tribe decides Brandon will go for Ratu, Danny for Soka and Carolyn for Tika. The three immediately leave.
Jeff tells Ratu’s Matthew to stick around so medical can take a look at his arm and give him an update. Matthew admits he’s in pain and his arm has been weak. “I feel like gravity’s going to pull it out of the socket,” he tells Jeff and the medic, who determines Matthew has likely torn a muscle in his shoulder.
Back on Tika, Josh continues to try to convince Yam Yam he truly has another idol while Carolyn is away on her special journey. Yam Yam fights to turn Josh against Carolyn. “She is not as unawares as she looks she is,” he warns his new tribemate. Josh agrees, telling Yam Yam Carolyn is a “ticking time bomb.”
Carolyn, Danny and Brandon are on the special journey and ready to find out their fate. A sign on the beach fills them in: “Today, there is no game to play. No vote to risk.” Instead, the players will enjoy a snack together and take a break from the heat, the message reads. “In a game in which information is powerful, what will you tell your tribemates about your journey?”
Danny, Soka’s firefighter, and Brandon, the security specialist from Ratu, immediately form a tight bro-bond, leaving Carolyn to watch as the two boast about their physical prowess and make plans to team up if they make the merge. “They don’t even care; it’s like I’m not even there,” she says. “So they’re bro-ing, meanwhile, I’m just here.”
Feeling underestimated, Carolyn can’t believe everyone thinks she’s “just goofing around” in the jungle. “But I’m playing: I found an immunity idol; planted a fake immunity idol; I’ve planned a successful blindside,” she says. “So, they better watch out for me at the merge, because I will make the merge.”
Back to Reality
Once Carolyn returns to Tika, she tries to convince Yam Yam behind Josh’s back that she’s with him. Yam Yam is thrilled: “I’m like, ‘This is the Carolyn I know. She came back! Hey Carolyn. How’re you doing? I’ve been missing you.’”
Josh, sensing he’s on the outs, tells Carolyn the lie he has a second idol and he’s playing it at tribal council. “So, he takes out the exact same note that he showed me two days ago that he used on the last tribal,” Carolyn says. “What does he not think that I read it the last time. I’m not stupid!”
And, unfortunately for Josh, when he shows Yam Yam and Carolyn his “idol” bracelet, Yam Yam immediately notices it contains beads from treemail.
Yam Yam, now certain Josh’s idol is a fake, deems him “sketchy.” “Does that mean that I’m working with Carolyn? I don’t know. Does that mean that I’m working with Josh? I don’t know,” Yam Yam says. “I still have to figure it out.”
As Tika gets ready to head to tribal council, Jeff suddenly shows up on their beach with some big news: Matthew from Ratu is no longer in the game due to his shoulder injury.
“So, Matthew’s bad news is your good fortune,” Jeff tells Yam Yam, Carolyn and Josh. “That means there is no tribal council.”
“I know that Matt wanted to be in the game,” a thrilled Josh says, noting the Ratu player going home allows him to remain safe. “This is everyone’s dream come true.”
Jeff tells Tika what happened to switch everything up is “a great example of the absolutely unpredictable nature of Survivor” and the turn of events “could completely change the direction of the game.”
But, he adds, “The question is, what will happen instead?”