On Survivor, contestants are constantly taking major risks that can either help them advance or cost them the game. In certain cases, this involves a person being incredibly sneaky and hoping no one calls them out on something they pull.
That’s exactly what took place in a recent episode. But the resulting scene was nothing short of baffling and hilarious, as a player messed with the rules of the game, but somehow, no one noticed.
1. During the Tribal Council segment, Jeff Probst reads everyone’s votes
First, some background on how Survivor works. Episodes end with what’s known as Tribal Council, a segment in which contestants vote on who is to be eliminated. This starts off with players arguing among themselves and sometimes advocating for why they should remain in the game.
Contestants then privately write down who they want to be voted off the island. They walk up to an urn, write their vote on a piece of parchment, and place the parchment inside. Then, Jeff Probst reads out who everyone voted for, tallying the votes along the way. When someone has enough votes to be eliminated, he stops reading, and that person says goodbye.
This is an important point to emphasize: Jeff does not always read all of the votes. He only keeps reading until someone reaches the number of votes necessary to eliminate them. The only times he reads all the votes is if there is a tie.
Next: Players can pick up these secret advantages.
2. Players can pick up secret advantages during the game
As another piece of background, players in Survivor can pick up secret scrolls that give them advantages in the game. These scrolls are often hidden discreetly so that someone can find one and keep it to themselves. However, players sometimes choose to tell others about it.
These secret advantages can dramatically affect the way that Tribal Council works. For example, earlier this season, a player found an advantage which would allow them to block another player from voting at Tribal Council. Sometimes, players can hold on to the advantages and use them whenever they want. But other times, there’s a requirement that they use them by the next Tribal Council.
Next: Did you see this player pick up a secret weapon for a future Tribal Council?
3. Lauren picked up an advantage that allowed her to skip voting
In the eighth episode of Survivor Season 35, Lauren Rimmer found a secret advantage. She grabbed it and stuck it in her pocket, making sure nobody else saw.
This advantage allowed Lauren to secretly not vote at the next Tribal Council. Instead, she could save that vote for a future Tribal Council. So Lauren would be able to avoid voting at this episode’s Tribal Council, and then, at a future Tribal Council, she would have two votes at her disposal.
The secret advantage gave her very specific instructions about how to proceed. During Tribal Council, she was to place the scroll she found inside the voting earn instead of her voting parchment. Then, she was to take the blank voting parchment back with her. Lauren noted that it was going to be tough to make the switch because if anyone noticed her doing so, it would blow up the whole game. She did end up telling Ben about the advantage, but the other players didn’t know about it.
Next: Did you catch this little detail in Tribal Council?
4. Only 10 votes were counted in Tribal Council, even though there were 11 people
At the end of the episode, Tribal Council came, and Lauren decided she was going to make use of her advantage. The crucial moment came when Lauren was to make the switch.
She walked up to the table, pulling the advantage scroll out of her shirt, putting it in the urn, and putting the blank scroll in her shirt. Even she seemed unsure about whether this was going to be successful, whispering to the camera, “I hope this works for me, somehow, someway.”
Because the contestants are positioned away from everyone else when they vote, it’s definitely possible that nobody noticed that she made a swap. But what happened next was pretty mindblowing.
Next: The worst thing happened for Lauren’s secret plan.
5. Because there was a tie, Jeff read out all of the votes
Lauren’s entire plan hinged on Jeff not needing to read all of the votes. After all, if he read each one, everyone would obviously realize that someone didn’t vote since there would be one vote missing. But if someone was eliminated before Jeff finished reading, Lauren could get away with not voting without anyone realizing it. They’d just assume the 11th vote didn’t get read.
So Jeff began reading the votes, but the majority of the contestants were split between Desi and Joe. As a result, Jeff read out every vote and declared that there was a tie. Naturally, we assume at this point that the jig is up for Lauren.
Next: Apparently, everybody was asleep at the wheel.
6. Nobody noticed that one vote was missing
But what was so unbelievable here was that absolutely nobody noticed that a vote was missing. All it would have taken was any one of the contestants to have been counting along in their head and observing that Jeff read 10 votes when there are 11 contestants in the game.
Yet nobody did so. There was no acknowledgment at all of the fact that a vote was missing. Jeff doesn’t count out what number corresponds to what vote. But at one point in this segment, he did say, “That’s four votes Desi, three votes Joe, one vote Ben, one vote Lauren. One vote left.” It doesn’t take a genius to add that all up and notice that it brings the total to 10, but apparently, nobody did the math.
This is especially hilarious because this season’s cast features one person, Chrissy, who is supposed to be a math expert.
Next: Lauren had to vote a second time.
7. Lauren had to fake vote a second time, and again no one called her out
Here’s where it gets even crazier. In the case of a tie, everyone revotes between the top two people. Lauren obviously didn’t vote the first time, but she had to pretend she was voting again in order to not be caught.
You’ll recall that she placed her advantage scroll inside the urn last time, so this time, she had nothing to swap with. So she walks up to the voting table and literally just slides one of the pieces of parchment off onto the ground. This move was not graceful at all and you’d think someone might have seen it, but nope. Once again, nobody had anything to say about this.
Afterwards, Jeff reads the votes again. Luckily for Lauren, this time, Jeff only had to read six votes before it became clear that Desi was being voted out. So contestants were not given another chance to catch on to there being only 10 votes.
Next: They were hoping someone would catch the missing vote.
8. Jeff says they were hoping someone would pick up on the missing vote
— SURVIVOR (@survivorcbs) November 16, 2017
So what’s the explanation for no one noticing something so blatantly obvious as a missing vote? Some viewers speculated that this had been cut out in editing. Others speculated that maybe nobody noticed at first, but they realized the discrepancy after Tribal Council. But Jeff debunked both of those theories in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, confirming that no one pointed out the missing vote when they filmed and that they were hoping someone would.
“Cut out of editing? Are you nuts? We were HOPING someone would notice and have it cause an issue back at camp,” Probst said. “That was the risk Lauren was taking. But as you’ll see next episode, barely a word was spoken.”
In the actual episode, we never get an interview with Lauren where she talks about having gotten away with this. But she does in the preview for the next episode. Now, she has an extra vote for a future Tribal Council, which is a major advantage.
Even if Lauren doesn’t make it on Survivor much longer, though, she can rest easy knowing that she was involved in one of the most hilarious and bizarre moments in the show’s recent history.
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