SurvivorSurvivor Caramoan

DECODING THE EDIT: The Turning Point

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The recap started at the immunity challenge where Jeff noted Reynold’s heroics but the Fans lost their 3rd immunity challenge in a row.

For the Favorites, winning wasn’t the problem: The majority alliance was targeting one of their own – Corinne.

And Brandon had a series of emotional outbursts.

The entire tribe was left wondering what he would do next.

At the Fans camp, Shamar was a constant source of conflict and even threatened to quit the game but it was an eye injury that ultimately sealed his fate.

Forced to vote out another tribe mate, losing was taking its toll on the majority alliance.

We heard Eddie saying: “Tonight is the make or break factor for this tribe.”

In the end, Reynold played it safe and the Fans chose to keep strength over loyalty.

(Sherri, Matt and Michael’s votes shown)

Once more, Jeff’s recap calls the Fans’ loss a team loss, not putting blame on any individuals which is another good sign for Sherri.

There was no need for Jeff to remind us that the majority alliance was targeting Corinne since this episode was all about Hantz’s meltdown. It mattered enough to show, though, so we should expect a payoff soon.

The last episode ended with Jeff saying this could be a turning point and we heard Eddie making that point again, so one must expect that it will indeed be the turning point. Even if this was barely an episode of Survivor, the theme to take from this chapter can be titled:

The Turning Point

Gota – Night 10

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We voted out Laura and it was a really hard decision.

The scene opened with Eddie saying: “This is going to be a turning point.”

Matt and Reynold said they felt great about the decision.

Matt asked Sherri how she felt.

Sherri answered: “I’m fine.”

Sherri gave us the first confessional: “We voted out Laura and it was a really hard decision because Laura is special to me. She reminded me of my daughter, a sweet girl and I didn’t want to write her name down but I had to go with the tribe because they were going to vote for her no matter what.”

All this scene was accompanied by an extremely sad guitar. As soon as Matt changed the subject and talked about the idol, percussion instruments were heard, telling us the mood wasn’t as solemn, that we could laugh at this next segment. Survivor is tough and demands tough decisions so that’s the only reason why a sweet girl was voted off. Often, we don’t hear the reaction of the player who lost a close ally which is an indication that the player isn’t important. Here, we heard Sherri’s thoughts and we know she can separate feelings from game decisions. That is the essence of the clinical player so that bodes well for her future chances.

Reynold: “I’m still not trusting anybody fully because tribal one and tribal two, I went in with all these hopes and aspirations (well actually you went in with Hope and Ally!) and believing these people and I got completely duped. This last tribal, I decided hours before that I am playing the idol. This is my free pass, I found it, I earned it, I am going to say exactly how I feel. You guys are worthless in challenges, you need me if you want to win and, if you don’t keep me around you will get maybe juror 1 or 2. It felt so good just to be honest. It’s like Bingo! Here’s my idol, I don’t care that was worth it.”

When someone says that he was confident going into the first two tribal Council, we know this player doesn’t know much about the way the game works. When someone has a free pass good for 1 Tribal Council and there are a dozen or so left, then we have another indication that Reynold doesn’t understand how the jury works. Things were about to turn around for Reynold though.

Matt: “Reynold played his idol and he knew that there are 5 people against Eddie and Reynold so, of course he is going to play his idol. Now, it’s here somewhere on the island for someone else to find.”

Michael: “I still don’t want Reynold to have the idol because he is a dangerous player. He’s a clutch guy. He’s been our clutch man in all the challenges, he’s clutch with getting the fire started. He can pull through so that’s why I don’t want him to have the idol. I don’t want him pulling through and figuring this thing out and getting himself too far at my expense.”

It’s interesting to listen to this confessional now that we know Reynold found the second idol. Just how far will it carry him? We have to take note when one player says that another could pull through, could start figuring this thing out. I get a feeling that Reynold will get far at Michael’s expense or else why include this?

Bikal – Night 10

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“I want him off my camp immediately. He’s loco for sure.”

Brandon’s smaller meltdown started with a confessional saying he missed his wife and kids. He felt selfish.

To the tribe, he said: “Next Tribal Council…I’m volunteering for you to vote me out.”

Malcolm’s confessional was shown: “We are going to lose a member. This has repercussions…Maybe he should have thought of that before he jumped out here with the rest of us.”

Corinne also had an interview: “Brandon’s alternative…was to burn down the shelter and pee in our beans and rice. I want him off my camp immediately. He’s loco for sure.”

The next morning, Brandon had changed his mind and wanted to stay for his family.

This episode showed that Cochran was right on when he said Brandon was unpredictable.

The Challenge

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Dawn had a big reaction when she heard that Laura had been voted out.

Dawn had a big reaction when she heard that Laura had been voted out.

Have the Favorites figured out Gota’s dynamics? Dawn’s reaction, whether real of just spliced in, was meant to tell us that she knew something important happened. That reaction was more than just seeing another weak player eliminated.

I have to ask: If the Fans kept Eddie and Reynold for their muscles, why didn’t one of them hold a net? Matt had been beaten up by Francesca so why ask him to pull his rope?

Erik, Dawn and Andrea sat out after Cochran was heard saying he wanted to shoot.

Phillip and Brandon held on to Anette for Bikal while Michael and Matt were on the ropes for Gota.

Phillip was heard yelling something that distracted Sherri, making her miss badly.

Jeff noted that Reynold and Brenda were on fire while Sherri was “worthless in this challenge.”

Jeff: “Reynold is picking on Brandon and it is working.”

Brandon was the first to drop his net.

Matt was “pummeled by Malcolm” and didn’t last much longer.

“Once again, Phillip is the hero for the Favorites’ tribe” as he outlasted Michael.

Despite being the first to congratulate Phillip, Brandon looked unhappy during the group hug. He wasn’t smiling or even looking at the group.

For the first time, Jeff noted Sherri’s poor challenge performance so we have to take note of it. The way she had been spared up to now was taken as an indication that she could be our winner so how does this change things? Was it mentioned just for this challenge? Does it have long term implications? The Fans’ turn-around seems more important than a lost reward and she wasn’t blamed by her tribe but it’s never good to be singled out negatively by the host.

Gota – Day 11

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“we blew it.”

Eddie: “The frustrating thing is that I thought today was going to be a turn-around for us. I thought this was our chance to win and get the tribe going in the right direction and we blew it.”

Michael and Reynold both said that they needed to try something new while Sherri had an angry look standing behind them.

Sherri (solo): “It is so difficult to keep my mouth shut right now. I went with your plan and I got rid of Laura; we still lost today. Muscles are not paying off. I just hope the alliance realizes this and doesn’t listen to all their crap about ‘we need muscle, we need muscle’ but who knows? Now, the fear is that the idol is back in play. It’s around here somewhere. I got to find it.”

Viewers will listen to this and think that Sherri has some nerve blaming her team when she was portrayed as the reason they lost the challenge. This is also troublesome for her chances.

Sherri, Michael, Matt and Reynold were all shown walking around the jungle trying to find the thing. Julia was even briefly spotted in the jungle, but she could have been looking for a cameraman to record her overdue confessional.

Matt gave us a confessional during the search: “I don’t think it’s a big secret that everyone is searching for the idol. I mean, it was flushed out last night so I know it’s on the island somewhere. It can’t be that hard to find because Reynold found it pretty quick. I want to find that idol and… I am not telling anybody on this tribe.”

We returned to Sherri’s previous confessional: “I went by my instincts of where the idol could be. It’s usually…by something that stands out.”

Michael: “It’s so crazy, you don’t know what is going to happen. We’re down in numbers and people are fidgety and I want to know where it is. If it’s in my pocket, it’s so important. It can take me so much further if I can find it. As long as Reynold doesn’t find it. I don’t want him to find it.”

Just then, we saw Reynold finding it again. After rejoicing, he gave us a confessional: “Might as well just keep playing them if I can keep finding them. I don’t want the majority alliance to know I have the idol because when they found that I had it last time, they started gunning for me and they wanted to flush it out. I don’t want them to flush it; I want to use it at a time where it will make a big difference and I think there’s a big correlation between opening your big fat mouth and the idol having to get played so mouth shut but Eddie’s my boy to the end. I want to tell Eddie. Back in business, baby. This is how you play Survivor.”

The montage of this idol search was much more elaborate than the first so I believe this was to prepare us for an idol that will make a difference. Since Michael expressed twice that he didn’t want Reynold to have it, that it could impact his stay in the game then we figure that Michael is the one that will feel the difference: The foreshadowing tells us that the idol will be played at his expense. One thing’s for sure, Reynold, maybe for the first time, said something smart when he said he had to keep it secret. Is he figuring this game out? This is something to keep in mind because there is a possibility that all that led us to see Reynold as a dumb player were there to show how far he made it on this journey. Is it Reynold’s turning point?

We then saw Reynold joining Eddie in the shelter and telling him he had IT. They made a pact to go all the way.

Eddie had a confessional: “You can’t get luckier than that. You can’t. You get rid of it and, six hours later, you have it again? That’s awesome. The funniest part about this whole thing is that Sherri wanted this idol since day 1. Even today, Sherri is walking around, combing the beach everywhere, combing the woods looking for this idol. It’s just funny to watch!”

I took three important clues from this segment: First: Eddie, the guy that complained about Shamar resting in the shelter, wasn’t shown at all during the search but then he is seen resting in the shelter at the end of it. I think it’s significant and doesn’t bode well at all for Eddie. Next, hearing him say that Reynold was extremely lucky isn’t good either for Reynold because it takes away from his merit. Finally, we heard Eddie making fun of Sherri. Were the editors telling us that Sherri is dumb or were they setting it up for her to have the last laugh at Eddie’s expense?

Bikal – Day 11

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“Brandon simply snapped.”

Andrea had a voice over confessional while we saw Brandon cooking the steaks: “Brandon seemed sullen. There’s something in his eyes; you can tell he is going back and forth in his own mind. I hope that this win brought his spirits up but we have been on a winning streak so I don’t even know if he won a million dollars, if he would ever get right in his head.”

Brandon told us that he was annoyed by Phillip taking ownership of the win: “Phillip, this dumbass spy agent, thinks he won the challenge and it’s really, really, really pissing me off.”

The fight started when Phillip said he didn’t want to modify the shelter, preferring to conserve his energy for the challenges.

Brandon said he was acting like a dictator.

Phillip walked away.

Corinne: “I think we can all agree that Brandon is unstable and unpredictable. What are you supposed to do with that?”

Malcolm: “Brandon simply snapped. Phillip didn’t do anything but he caught Brandon on one of his downward swings and, for me… at some point he’s going to go past the threshold.”

Showing Brandon using a knife at that exact moment was chilling.

Phillip gave us his thoughts: “I’m not going to have this young punk telling me to shut up. I’m a street fighter… I’m trying to avoid that, but if he ever comes at me, he is going to see a different side of me.”

Despite having been advised by the tribe not to go to talk to Phillip so soon, Brandon went to Phillip.

The following segment was inserted in the middle of Phillip’s confessional. It’s very insidious of editing to show Brandon apologizing and then showing Phillip still angry, wanting him out. The viewer is made to blame Phillip at least partly when in fact Brandon has this pattern of saying one thing one minute and the opposite the next.

Phillip told Brandon that he was planning on taking him “above the slot that you ended up last time.”

Brandon heard that as Phillip being the leader but they still shook hands, Brandon apologizing.

The end of Phillip’s confessional was inserted here: “You say I’m sorry, you are not. In my book you are persona non grata.”

Gota – Day 13

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“I’ve been wet for like two days straight.”

What happened to day 12? A whole miserable day was erased making us wonder how much more insufferable Brandon became. Showing that could have made Bikal’s decision to forfeit immunity even more acceptable.

Matt: “I’ve been wet for like two days straight.”

Michael who, to his credit, was shown working, gave us a confessional: “Camp life at Gota camp has been one long string of hell. We’re failing on all levels of Survivor but we have to do something. We cannot just wallow under the palm fronds and hope that things are going to get better cause it’s not.”

Matt’s story just died in that instant when Michael said they couldn’t wallow under the palm fronds while Matt was shown curled in a fetal position. If anyone was still hoping for Matt to win the game well, turn out the lights, the party’s over.

Eddie was seen doing something, trying to save the fire: “It’s been raining for almost 48 hours straight now. I have a definite head cold…Everything I wear is wet. It sucks.”

Matt: “A lot of bad things happen over 13 days. I try to be as strong as possible but there’s times where we are so hungry and so cold, that you go God! I wish something good would happen to our tribe.”

Bikal – Day 13

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“Are you saying you’d throw the challenge?”

Brandon made fire under the shelter and started talking about himself in the third person: “This Phillip and Brandon rivalry is getting to me… Brandon starts the fire. Who is the only guy in this tribe who can start a fire with a piece of flint? Brandon! I won’t let a 54 year-old punk bitch tell me: ‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.’ He doesn’t feed me. I’m a Hantz: I feed me.”

Cochran brought tree mail.

Phillip’s reaction in confessional: “We got to get Brandon out of camp. He’s not sane, he’s not right. He could harm one of us. Sometimes, you might do the unthinkable to make something else possible. I would normally never consider throwing a challenge, I am too much of a competitor, but in this instance, the good outweigh the bad.”

Brandon was shown laughing almost hysterically as if in response to Phillip’s confessional.

Phillip told Andrea that Brandon was going if they lose the challenge. “I want him gone: Put me in the challenge.”

Andrea: “Are you saying you’d throw the challenge?”

Phillip said yes and walked away.

Brandon was immediately shown asking Andrea about that conversation. He said he apologized and said he thought everything was fine.

He asked her if Phillip was throwing the challenge.

Andrea answered that she didn’t think he’d go that far but that a loss would create issues.

Brandon started boiling and asked to talk to Phillip.

He said he thought they had worked things over “yesterday.”

Phillip said he wasn’t happy. “I’m not sure I can trust you.”

Brandon asked Phil to drop the Stealth-R-Us, that it was like playing with a child.

He added that no one liked Phillip.

Phillip simply said: “Then they’ll vote me out.”

Brandon’s response to this was to give everyone a reason to vote him out.

We then had a distasteful display of a kid going mad.

Dawn, after trying to calm Hantz, had a confessional: “Brandon is ready to fist fight…Should we forfeit the challenge? Give immunity away — which you never do in this game.”

Tribal Council

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“Fatigue damages morale.”

Gota had their gift: A reprieve and a chance to watch their favorites in Tribal Council.

Asked about the rain, Reynold said the game was extremely hard and he envied the Favorites’ situation.

Erik was seen shaking his head in disagreement.

Reynold concluded by saying that they were in this together.

Dawn and Brenda agreed.

Cochran said that fatigue damages morale.

Brandon then told Jeff he wasn’t doing too well.

He stepped forward and talked to the other tribe: “You guys are going to have an opportunity to make this a game. You’re going to get a second chance and I’m your second chance. Phillip? Don’t let this guy get to the end of the game.”

Corinne told Jeff that they were forfeiting the challenge so that they could go to tribal.

Reynold, Sherri and Julia were seen expressing the Fans’ shock.

Brandon said that Corinne was full of BS.

Jeff called Brandon over to his spot.

Corinne turned to the Fans and made a face to show them that Hantz was loco.

Brandon told the Fans that Phillip had made this Stealth-R-Us alliance and talked highly of himself when Boston Rob was the one who took him to the end.

His rant continued as everyone listened in silence until Brenda had the most superfluous line of the evening, whispering: “This is a meltdown.”

Brandon concluded: “I took myself out of this game.”

Cochran looked uncomfortable, Dawn was worried, Corinne and Malcolm were dejected, Reynold was loving it.

Jeff got a hold of Brandon, realizing this could get ugly.

Jeff delivered the understatement of the season: “You seem a little hostile.”

Brandon topped him: “Just a tad.”

Brandon explained the difference between this season and his first one: “I vowed not to play the same, not to be the guy that gets walked over episode after episode…That won’t get you anywhere in this game or in life.”

Jeff, noting that Phillip had remained silent, asked for his reaction.

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Phillip started fumbling to find the right words.

Phillip started fumbling to find the right words so Brandon mocked him.

Finally Phillip said Brandon wanted to get in the alliance after voting against Andrea.

Andrea started crying so Jeff interrupted Phil.

She said she had grown close to Brandon so it was hard to see this. “It’s hard to see two people saying cruel things to each other.”

It was time for Phillip to interrupt: “I said nothing to Brandon.”

Brandon interjected: “Phillip Sheppard doesn’t say nothing wrong ever.”

The argument escalated and when Brandon took a step forward he forced Jeff to intervene, ordering him back.

Jeff took hold of Brandon’s shoulder and didn’t let go for the rest of the evening.

Dawn let out a big sigh of relief when Brandon promised not to get physical.

She told Jeff she didn’t want to be there, that it was taking her out of her game.

Brandon said: “I love you Dawn with all my heart, Andrea, I love you but I want to be the Arthur (sic!) of my fate in this game.” He then told the fans that he dumped all the rice and beans.

Sherri, hearing that, turned around in shock to Reynold who was equally surprised.

Corinne told Brandon that the whole tribe didn’t deserve that.

Phillip interrupted her, saying none of them deserved that.

Phillip told Brandon (and the Fans) that he wasn’t in control, that it was a figment of his imagination.

Erik gave the idol to Julia.

Reynold asked Jeff to raise his arms and say they won.

Jeff said he’d do that later but never did.

Brandon walked out, encouraging the Fans to kick the Faves’ ass.

Dawn told Jeff that Brandon was better off, so that meant the tribe was better off.

Jeff made the final count: “Favorites now down to 8 members, Fans at 6. Big momentum shift potentially for you guys…”

Right then the camera showed Sherri, suggesting that the momentum shift will be in her favor.

The Story

Besides the two main participants, this strange tribal council was presented through the eyes of Andrea, Corinne, Dawn, Cochran, Sherri, Reynold and…Julia. I think it’s an indication that the story will revolve around these characters for the next few episodes. As a small prediction, I’d say that most of them could be the core of the new tribe that will go to the next Tribal Council. Corinne, Andrea and Phillip almost have to wind up on the same tribe to explain why the plan to boot Corinne was mentioned in the recap. If there is going to be a second act to the Favorites’ breakdown then the Fans will really have turned the game around.

The Characters

Staying Put: Their stories have remained stalled from the start.

Julia: She has been little more than a face in the crowd from the beginning until the camera went to her for reactions during TC. It could mean nothing but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Julia sitting at the next Tribal Council when Act II of the Favorites’ breakdown occurs.

Brenda and Erik: Almost everyone gave us their impressions of the meltdown, but these two weren’t shown in confessional and didn’t say anything to Jeff during that weird TC. Erik was shown trying to stop “Arthur” when he went on his rampage and then he received a “love ya bro” even if he voted against Hantz. Brenda seemed to hurt her knee but it wasn’t shown. I’d say the lack of airtime is good for them in the short term because they aren’t part of the upcoming carnage but it can’t be good in the long term. We are not encouraged to root for them at all. Even if their strategy requires that they stay quiet, they would still be allowed to talk to us if they mattered.

Malcolm: He did have more screen time than the other 3 but it was plain narration with a lack of compassion for “Arthur.” His personal story is limited to the idol. The fact that his idol wasn’t mentioned is the only good sign for him because it means he won’t be eliminated soon.

Taking a Negative Turn

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“I don’t want him to have the idol.”

Matt: His story was killed as surely as Erik’s in Micronesia or Dietz in Panama. (Erik’s FvF v 1.0 story focused on beating Ozzy, but we were shown Erik’s discouragement when Alexis claimed that Ozzy was the best of the best after a Malakal win. For Terry, it happened at the merge, when he started talking about his exploits as a fighter pilot but the camera pulled away to show Cirie and Danielle laughing about it. The message was clear: Those heroics meant nothing in this game.) A winner would never have a close-up while shivering in the fetal position when someone is saying they have to do something to avoid failing at Survivor. Of course, this dead-man-walking can still last a while and could still impact the story, but he won’t be our winner.

Michael: He predicted that Reynold would outlast him if he found the idol. “I don’t want him to have the idol. I don’t want him…figuring this thing out and getting himself too far at my expense.” Reynold found the idol so we should bet on Michael’s prediction. If foreshadowing is as good as it used to be then I’d say Michael will be bounced out of the game by the idol.

Corinne: Her remark that not everyone deserved Brandon’s wrath showed that she wasn’t thinking in terms of team. The Fans saw that Phillip didn’t like her reply, they noted that “Arthur” said she was full of BS, and they saw her acting as the spokesperson for the tribe in telling Jeff they were forfeiting the challenge. If the Fans are smart they will see that the fracture isn’t only inside the tribe but inside its main alliance.

Phillip: His game was left naked for all to see. It was as ugly as seeing him in his pink undies. His sharp reply to Corinne should have been carefully noted by the Fans and could be used by them in a swap. No one should be surprised to see Phillip vote against Corinne if he winds up in a tribe split 3-3 between Fans and Favorites.

Andrea: I’m not sure if Andrea really took a downturn, but we saw her attachment to Brandon and he exposed her game. She is Phillip’s closest ally and the only other two time member of a “Stealth-R-Us” alliance. The Fans heard that she received votes at Bikal’s first TC and, while this isn’t as bad as knowing that Debb voted against Varner, it tells the Fans to look for who voted with Brandon. Knowing he’s “Arthur’s” ‘Bro’ they should look in Erik’s direction. If he needs to save his game, he could throw her under the bus.

Staying the Course:

Eddie: He had some good moments, especially when he was shown tending the fire, but the bad moments outweighed the good. He wasn’t shown looking for the idol; we saw him resting instead. Gota kept his muscle but he didn’t put them to use in the challenge and they lost again. The best thing for him, though, is that Gota looked united in the first scene of the episode. It tells me that the Fans’ alliance will look to exploit the huge cracks in the Favorites’ tribe instead of throwing Eddie and Reynold under the bus.

Cochran: This episode unfolded as he had foreseen: Brandon was unstable and you couldn’t count on him. Cochran, the observer, got to watch some Survivor drama first hand. He had a very quiet episode but he was the one who set the stage, saying that fatigue was destroying tribe morale. If we assume that Corinne, Andrea and Phillip wind up on one tribe, then that would leave Cochran with Dawn, Malcolm, Brenda and Erik. If any of that is close to how the swap breaks down then Cochran will be faced with his own history: Will he remain loyal? His new tribe will have at least 1, probably 3 players that are either outside his main alliance or on the outskirts of it. Cochran’s make or break episode will come when he has to vote in this new tribe.

Turning it Around:

Dawn: She was heard debating the idea for throwing a challenge which is very good for her. She then said that Brandon’s craziness was preventing her from playing her game. It’s not much, but maybe it signals that the new Dawn will finally make an impact on the story. Let’s wait and see if she emerges now that she can breathe again.

Reynold: He could be figuring out this game. This episode had everything to make him a contender for the win. He was called a hero in the recap, he had Michael saying he was clutch and could go far in the game that he had just started to understand, and he found an idol in a scene that underlined the value of that possession. So, is this the start of Reynold’s winning story arc? Unfortunately for him, we can’t forget that he was shown as a dumb player, so I am still inclined to say that he will fail. To me, he looked like a distraction, someone that, for a while, looks like the possible winner.

Anyway, there was still a lot of arrogance in his confessional where he said: “You guys are worthless in challenges, you need me if you want to win and, if you don’t keep me around you will get maybe juror 1 or 2. It felt so good just to be honest. It’s like Bingo! Here’s my idol, I don’t care that was worth it.” Wouldn’t it be great storytelling if that confessional was aired because Reynold ended up as juror 1 or 2 himself?!!! That’s where I think he’s heading. He’s figured out the tribal part of Survivor (even if he hasn’t figured out that tribal is an adjective, not a noun!) but he probably doesn’t fully understand that hunting season for strong men opens up right at merge time.

Coming Full Circle:

Sherri: The episode started well for Sherri when the recap didn’t point to her challenge problems in the previous episode and when she got to explain how losing Laura affected her game. Note that we weren’t reminded that she was also hurt by losing Shamar, distancing her from the jerk. The episode went bad when Jeff noted that she was worthless in that challenge. The only positive was that Jeff’s comment wasn’t cut to “Sherri is worthless”! Her “We need muscle” confessional wasn’t much better because it skirted the important issue that she lost the challenge and then things got worse when Reynold found the idol that she wanted. Still, after all this, the episode ended on a very positive note when she was the one seen in close-up during Jeff’s final comment: “Big momentum shift potentially for you guys.” Let’s see how she manages the swap before saying for sure that this is her season.

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