Say what? That was the reaction in my household during Survivor on Wednesday night, following a beautifully complicated Tribal Council. The show has been ramping up the strategic drama these past few weeks as we start to see a few contestants emerging as this season’s power players.
This week’s episode was like playing with a mangled-up Rubix Cube, as we watched the different members of the merged Enil Edam tribe twist and turn in every possible direction as we tried to make sense of it all on the fly. But take a step back and all will soon be made clear. Let’s begin at the top of tonight’s Episode 9:
Snake-Eyes. It’s Day 23 in the game and the tribe adjusts to Corinne’s absence. Malcolm plans on rebounding nicely, despite losing his closest ally in the game. “They thought they cut off the head of the snake,” he says about Corinne being voted out. “They don’t know they missed yet.”
A New Member. Phillip – the self-proclaimed leader and founder of the Stealth-R-Us “organization,” targets Michael as the next obvious target. Phillip is shown getting a bit close with Sherri and he even inducts her as the newest member of his group, giving her the special code-name, “Tenacity.” He then tells her that to be a member in good standing, she has to remember one thing: Loyalty and trust. Yes, for those that counted, that was really two things. Speaking of two, Sherri tells the camera that she only needs about two more Tribal Councils before she will be “calling the shots.” She even goes so far as to say, “Phillip is my Shamar on this tribe.” Could this be a bit of fore-shadowing? A seed planted, showing Sherri’s eventual rise to power and manipulation of Phillip? Phillip must have forgotten the Old Testament of the BR handbook, where Boston Rob ultimately lost to a girl, his future wife Amber, who hid under Rob’s big personality and bold moves. Could Sherri be Phillip’s Achilles Heel?
Reward Challenge. For reward, a picnic lunch would be had, but not before a wondrous repel down a waterfall. The tribe was split into two teams and played a bit of Survivor handball, where a player would have to jump into the water while throwing a ball into a net passed a defender. The winning five-some of Erik, Eddie, Michael, Cochran and Reynold would find themselves victorious.
Masculine Tomfoolery. Ah, the sound-bites from Cochran continue to pour forth like a waterfall themselves. “I rarely leave my apartment, I rarely leave Twitter,” Cochran says about his waterfall repel. As the manly men (and Cochran) feast, they belch, feast and even make rude comments (like Reynold, who mentions that Hope was the only person out there worth…well, you fill it in, as it was bleeped out on TV). Then they try to form a manly alliance with, of all people, Cochran. “I don’t want to engage in any kind of masculine tomfoolery with any one of these numbskulls,” he tells the camera. Still, he goes along with it to appease their caveman natures.
Stirring the Pot. While the men are away feasting, Malcolm decides to use the opportunity to begin plotting his next big move. He tries to reel in Sherri and then goes to Dawn, observing that they are probably at the bottom of the pecking order (a miscalculation, as Dawn seems to be at the center of power thus far). Dawn immediately throws up a red flag with Malcolm and decides to target him next. Sherri wasn’t biting either, and when Sherri, Andrea and Dawn get together, they come up with a plot to blindside Malcolm at the next given opportunity. They plan to tell them that the eight – Sherri, Andrea, Dawn, Cochran, Phillip, Erik, Brenda and Malcolm – will split votes 4-4 to flush out a possible Idol between Reynold and Eddie. But in actuality, all of them plan to vote out Malcolm.
An Indirect Hit. A brief segment shows Andrea and Eddie forming what looks to be a potential “more-than-friends” sort of relationship, as they flirt heavily with one another. Both though, are also very focused on using the relationship to further their games. “I just need to be dragged along for two or three more votes before I can start punching people,” Eddie says to the camera. “I am indirectly hitting on you,” he tells Andrea. This budding relationship would come to be a major development later in the episode.
Immunity Challenge. It’s all about stamina and the ability to remain calm at this week’s challenge. With a rising tide coming in, each player was placed in the water beneath a steel fence, barely above water. With the water level rising, they would run out of room beneath it and possibly panic as they feel like they are about to drown. Brenda always seems so cool and confident during water challenges, and she easily won Immunity, with Andrea as her last remaining competition. But good for Brenda, if she hadn’t won this challenge, it may have been another episode where we barely saw or heard from her.
The Turning Point. “This next vote has got to be the turning point,” Malcolm says. Malcolm returns to try to pull in Dawn and he targets Andrea. His plan initially is to blindside Andrea with votes from himself, Reynold, Eddie, Michael and possibly Dawn and Sherri. Dawn goes along with it, but is shocked to see Malcolm still trusting her, after it was Dawn who ratted out Corinne and was ultimately responsible for her demise. She says that he just isn’t “dialed in” to still be trusting her. To win them over, Malcolm talks Reynold into showing Dawn his Idol, which he does. Reynold adds “don’t screw me,” when talking to Dawn, and she isn’t too enthusiastic about being intimidated.
Eddie and Andrea. The most important conversation of the night happened between Eddie and Andrea. Eddie becomes concerned when Andrea won’t tell him who she is voting for, as she doesn’t want Eddie to know about the Malcolm blindside. But Eddie continues to try to find out what he should do and what is going on. Eddie eventually shares intel that Andrea’s name has come up as a target. This turns Andrea’s face white, as she realizes the following: If the Favorites try to blindside Malcolm and he were to use an Idol (or use Reynold’s Idol), Andrea could then go home. Further, if they split votes for Reynold and Eddie like discussed, Malcolm, Eddie, Reynold and Michael would only need one additional person to flip in order to oust Andrea. She immediately realizes that she could be in trouble and comes up with a counter-plan.
The Safe Vote. Knowing she could be in trouble, Andrea decides to try to talk her alliance into voting out the “safer choice,” Michael. Everybody knows Michael doesn’t have an Idol and it is also unlikely Reynold would use his Idol on Michael (nobody knows of Malcolm’s Idol). So if she can convince the Favorites to unanimously vote for Michael, she will save herself of the possibilities of her going home. Cochran admits he is “turned off” by Andrea’s decision to back down on the Malcolm blindside. Dawn takes it a little harder, disappointed in Andrea because she had put in a lot of work to pull of the Malcolm blindside. As they head into Tribal Council, it was unclear as to which direction they were leaning in.
Tribal Council. Erik – showing his deep focus in the game – begins Tribal by picking a bug out of Andrea’s hair. Phillip tells Jeff all about Stealth-R-Us and Sherri points out that the other three Fans voted for her last Tribal, so, “Payback is a bitch.” As Tribal ended though, Phillip went on a bit of a rant about players with Idols and when the proper time to play it might be. This perked Malcolm’s ears up, leading to the most intensely confusing Tribal Vote of the season.
The Vote. Malcolm was shown casting a vote for…Reynold? He explained it was a throw-away vote and was worried that Phillip may have targeted him with that last speech. After Probst tallies the votes, he asks if any Immunity Idols will be played. Reynold stands up to play his, but before he can even utter a word, Malcolm jumps up and tells Reynold that Phillip just spilled the beans and that they have all voted for Malcolm, so Reynold should instead give his Idol to Malcolm in order to save his alliance-mate. Reynold ponders this for a second before agreeing. He gives Malcolm his Idol, who then plays it immediately in front of a shocked group of contestants. As the votes are read, nobody in fact casts their vote for Malcolm. In a 6-3-1 vote, the “safe” choice Michael is sent out of the game, becoming the first member of the jury. Wow. (The six for Michael were Phillip, Dawn, Cochran, Andrea, Erik and Brenda, the three for Andrea were Michael, Reynold and Eddie, with the one lone vote for Reynold being cast by Malcolm).
Analysis. I will break-down tonight’s episode in great detail, making sense of all of the Tribal Council shenanigans, at my weekly column on TheTVKing.com. Please click over and read!
Next Time On…No after-math involving Malcolm’s move is hinted at in the preview, instead focusing on Dawn, in what appears to be herself on the verge of a pretty major mental break-down.
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