It's the end of the road for Shan Smith, the self-proclaimed "Mafia pastor."
On an emotional Survivor Season 41 Episode 10, we said goodbye to the season's most divisive player.
After Ricard turned on her, Shan was blindsided and left the game with an idol in her pocket.
I've been unapologetically pro-Shan this whole season. Her ebullience and love of the game shone through in her confessionals. She dominated much of the early narrative on Ua, and she formed real relationships, particularly with Liana. She made strategic moves based on razor-sharp intuition.
However, it was her loyalty that ended up being her downfall. Shan was only willing to turn on Deshawn if it meant saving Ricard -- and it was her high regard for Ricard that lost her the game.
Because Shan and Ricard were thrust together by circumstance, there was always a healthy disconnect there that meant they could be truly honest with each other.
It was a very business-like partnership -- more about respect than love,
You're always one relationship away from extending your life in this game or getting your torch snuffed.Shan
I have to admit her "winner's" edit fooled me. Eighth place is not how Shan should have gone out. It's an unsatisfying finish for a player who controlled so much of the game. But she played hard, which put a target on her back, and she trusted the wrong people.
Despite the disappointing final vote, this was a riveting episode of reality television.
Reward challenges are always more fun when the winner has to choose people to go with them. It makes winning rewards a double-edged sword.
Ricard was vocal about justifying his choices -- Shan and Heather had barely eaten the entire time, and Xander had "selflessly" given up several opportunities for rewards.
These kinds of moves can be difficult to navigate, but Ricard handled it all expertly.
It's disappointing they didn't show the end of the night post-pizza. Wouldn't it have been fun to see the four of them all in one big bed together? Then again, it's more likely they each got their own separate beds. That would be the only way to get a good night's sleep!
The best thing you can be in Survivor is emotionally intelligent.
Shan could read her fellow players, but she didn't know how to appease all of them. You can't just listen -- people need to feel heard, and they need their opinions to have value. (For what it's worth, the winner of Survivor: Philippines is the best example of this attribute.)
The gorgeous thing about this episode was that it proved how human these players are. They are not just strategic game-bots. They don't just care about if they win or not -- they care about their path to the end, their friendships, who sits with them, and what a win for them or their allies could mean.
Liana and Shan formed a bond that will likely last a lifetime. Their summit meeting was an emotional highlight of the season that came full circle here.
Beyond this game, I just feel a love in my heart for you.Liana [to Shan]
Liana's honesty may have cost her the game -- and it definitely screwed Shan over because of Shan's loyalty to Ricard -- but that can sometimes be the price of having real friendships in this game. Close, one-on-one partnerships can help take you to the end, but they can be detrimental if you're not careful.
Deshawn and Danny have been together since Day One. That's a heck of a story if they make it to the finals together. It might be hard to differentiate themselves, but Deshawn could swing things in his favor by reminding everyone how much he has put himself out there.
Danny talked a big game about loyalty, but he was quick to turn on Shan and Liana when it came down to it. His gut was to stick with Erika, but he recognizes that Shan would have been a bigger threat.
We're all liars here.Shan
It seems hypocritical to accuse Shan of being two-faced when he and Deshawn readily stabbed Liana in the back with this vote.
If Shan had played her idol, Liana would have gone home! That's hardly the move of a loyal ally.
Erika's strategic play is finally becoming relevant. It may be too little too late, but she saved herself and her buddy, Heather (who would be a great person to sit next to in the finals).
The Shan vote was presented as Ricard's move, though, so unlikely Erika would get credit for it, even though it couldn't have happened without her input.
Erika has simultaneously been an underdog and a wild card this season -- but her edit is so uneven, it's hard to know where her arc will land.
One thing's for sure -- she's the queen of metaphors and similes. Erika and Xander are by far the best at crafting one-liners and evoking the imagery that elevates the Survivor into something more than just reality television -- and they're always on point.
The hardest thing with Shan is she has an idol, and it's almost like giving a baby a machine gun.Erika
There are seven players left in the game. Who amongst them is most likely to win?
Danny: Could be a sleeper winner. Danny's been a consistent presence, but his success always came from being in the dominant tribe. He is a solid strategic player, but he might have trouble separating his achievements from Deshawn.
Deshawn: If Ricard's not in the Final Three, Deshawn will likely win. He has been a likable narrator and a charismatic presence throughout the entire season. He has outplayed many of his allies. Deshawn has played much more aggressively than Danny, and modern juries tend to reward that.
Erika: Unfortunately, she's an outlier for the title, but I'm still rooting for the feisty little Canadian time traveler! We keep hearing about what a sneaky player she is without really getting to see a lot of her moves. She probably won't win, but it would be a shocking thrill if she did.
Liana: She could win in a Final Three with Heather and Erika, which is not outside the realm of possibility. If she goes to the end with Danny and Deshawn, a win is unlikely unless she personally achieves her goal of ousting Xander and gets some more notches on her resume.
Heather: There is no scenario in which Heather wins. But she could easily make Final Three because she's such a non-threat.
Ricard: Odds-on favorite to win at this point. He used his closest ally as a shield and got rid of her at the perfect time. He's overtaken Xander as the challenge beast, so he'll need to keep winning (including the fire-making challenge) to stay safe at tribal council, but if he makes it to Final Three, he's taking the title.
Xander: Don't count out Xander! He was the first to find the "Beware Advantage," and now he's the only one left. He still has his idol, and the threat of it has loomed large since before the merge. Would it be annoying to have another young, straight, white male winner? Yes. But he would have earned it.
For the last couple days, I've been the lone soldier.Xander
Despite the "most likely" to win the game being ousted, this was a nearly-perfect episode. It had two challenges, lots of strategy and clever gameplay, as well as some genuinely emotional moments from players trying to strike balances between their heads and hearts.
Love her or hate her, you have to admit this season would not have been the same without Shan (which is more than can be said about some other players).
What did you think of this episode? Are you happy to see Shan ousted or disappointed she didn't make it to the end?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.
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