Survivor 42: How Omar Zaheer Impressed Fans in Episodes 6 & 7

In the latest Survivor 42 episode, Omar Zaheer won the approval of many viewers, and it's time to explain why. Previously part of the near-invincible Taku tribe, alongside Jonathan Young, Maryanne Oketch, and Lindsay Dolashewich, Omar didn’t have much need for strategic gameplay earlier in the season. However, in back-to-back episodes 6 and 7, fans finally saw his sociability and strategy take effect.

The two-hour-long Survivor episode found contestants at the merge, sort of. Like season 41, the three tribes split into two groups to earn their spots in the merged tribe via a reward challenge. The winners became part of the merged tribe (and safe at tribal council), while the others were left tribeless and vulnerable, along with Rocksroy Bailey, who was sent to Exile Island. On Exile, Rocksroy was given the same advantage introduced in season 41: the Hourglass Twist. With this twist, Rocksroy had the choice to reverse the outcome of the reward challenge, making the losers safe at tribal (including himself) and putting the winners at risk instead. He chose to be safe at tribal council.

Related: Survivor 42 Episode 6 & 7 Recap: What Exactly Is A Quesadilla Burger?

Jonathan, Maryanne, and Lindsay were safe from the vote after the challenge, and they'd formed a strong alliance within the newly merged tribe. Thanks to Rocksroy’s decision, though, all three original Taku members were then on the chopping block, with only Omar immune. After Tori Meehan won the individual immunity challenge, the consensus at camp was to vote out either Jonathan or Maryanne. To further complicate things, they had both resolved to vote the other out. Unhappy with this turn of events, Omar took matters into his own hands.

Knowing he wasn’t at risk of being voted out, Omar had the confidence to make bold moves on behalf of his former tribemates. Using new school Survivor tactics, Omar convinced the majority alliance that voting for Maryanne was too much of a risk because of her advantages. He also took the heat off of Jonathan by insisting that he was crucial to the alliance. Omar then put the target on Lydia and twisted some hesitancy that she expressed into indecision about the alliance. His biggest challenge was convincing Lydia’s former tribe mates Mike Turner and Hai Giang to vote for her, even though they claimed to be a tight trio. In the end, Omar’s social prowess (and Mike’s instant bond with Jonathan) allowed him to convince Lydia’s alliance to turn on her.

Despite having no vote at tribal council, Omar single-handedly decided who went home. The focus on the players and their relationships in these episodes was a huge improvement from Survivor season 41. Watching Omar influence the vote so effectively impressed viewers. With more twists sure to come on Survivor 42, it’s hard to say whether Omar’s efforts will save him in the long run, but fans will certainly be keeping an eye on him.

Related: Survivor 42: 'Shameless' Omar Zaheer's Veterinarian Career Explained

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