Warning: Spoilers from Survivor 41’s December 8 episode below!
Survivor 41 competitor Deshawn Radden came into the latest tribal council like a freight train. The vote was very clearly going to land on either Radden or his last ally Danny McCray. But unbeknownst to everyone else, Radden wasn’t willing to go down without a fight, which meant calling out the other contestants’ gameplays in a major way right before the vote. He was throwing out “truth bombs,” but what that really entailed was throwing people under the bus. Yet the question remains: was the 26-year-old medical student’s big tribal move smart strategy or plain old desperation?
First, we have to differentiate what makes throwing people under the bus at tribal council a smart game move versus a desperate one. And what it essentially comes down to is timing (will sharing this information right now make a difference to the current vote?), delivery (does it sound like the truth or a ploy?) and finally, longevity (will sharing this help their game in the long-term?). If we think back to Survivor history, it can really go either way with those factors. In Game Changers, Jeff Varner thoughtlessly scrambling and outing Zeke Smith as transgender ended up getting him still voted out, whereas Russell Hantz’s seasons of tribal “truth bombs” got him to the end – twice.
In the case of Deshawn Radden, his big speech at tribal council unfortunately falls moreso into the desperate category. He outed Erika Casupanan for scheming on her own ally Heather Aldret and called out everyone else for failing to get Ricard “Big Threat” Foye out last week. Pointing those things out seems not only irrelevant to the task at hand but also like a loser’s pettiness (rather than genuine desire to change the fate of his or Danny McCray’s game). He even rolled his eyes when the vote came to a tie, forcing a revote. Clearly, Radden was only hoping to cause a little drama out the door, and it was simply a surprise to both him (and viewers) when he didn’t end up getting his torch snuffed out by Jeff Probst.
Oddly enough, though Deshawn Radden’s move didn’t have the clear intent of strategic wisdom, it can still benefit him going forward now that he’s still in the running. By blowing up people’s games, he more than likely painted himself as Undesirable #1 to the remaining tribe, as well as to the jury. As a result, more people will probably be willing to take him to the end. Unlikable personas usually mean very few votes on finale night. (As Russell Hantz can attest – twice.)
It’s regrettable because Deshawn Radden has been building a sincere resume on Survivor 41. He took out the one, the only Shan Smith. He casually dropped it in at tribal council a few weeks ago that Evvie Jagoda had finked on Xander Hastings’ advantages. (Making her game spiral out from there.) If only this latest move had been more intentional and more thought out…
So, in essence, Deshawn Radden’s tribal “truth bombs” were desperate in this particular moment but could prove fruitful in the long-term. Still, it’s most likely that either Xander Hastings or Ricard Foye will win Survivor 41. Time will tell. Catch the next episodes on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS!
Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.