Jeff reminded us that, although Stealth-R-Us have been in control of the game, they are far from a well-oiled machine. Dawn has struggled to control her emotions, Andrea has been courting the enemy and Phillip’s leadership style has worn thin amongst his rivals and allies. We heard Sherri saying it was all crazy.
At the immunity challenge, Brenda held on for the win and SRUs saw a chance to take out Malcolm, a former ally who was trying to destroy their alliance. After Andrea caught wind that she could be in trouble, she tried to convince her whole alliance to play it safe by voting out Michael.
At Tribal Council, Malcolm felt the heat and convinced Reynold to give up his immunity idol but he was wrong and Michael was sent home.
Jeff criticized the alliance and he wasn’t only aiming at Phillip’s idiosyncrasies. It gives the impression that it’s preferable to be distanced from that alliance. The only one that received some distance was Sherri. Still, the alliance did get their way and fooled Malcolm. Jeff presented Malcolm’s move very factually. He didn’t use any superlatives to support the “genius” aspect of the move and flatly said that Malcolm was wrong.
Panic was a theme that started during the last episode and it continued in this one. I would have titled it:
A World of Total Paranoia.
Camp – Night 25
As soon as the players returned to camp, they divided into two groups to talk about the events.
Reynold, Eddie and Malcolm, forced to stay behind, made the best of it. “Welcome to the bottom.”
Eddie: “We have nothing to be afraid of. Nobody talks behind our back because we are at the bottom.”
Malcolm (solo): “Just about everything I tried to do went wrong. I tried to bring the person who I thought was on the bottom which I thought was Dawn but Dawn wasn’t with me, Dawn was never going to be with me. If there is a silver lining, I still have an idol, I still got some power. Just a little bit. It’s not a lot but I am not going down without some fireworks.”
While Andrea and Phillip were telling everyone that the guys had no more idols, these same guys were planning on going hunting for idols in the morning. The SRUs meeting ended with everyone in a circle, holding out their hand to encourage each other. As they walked away, we had a shot of Cochran staying behind, signaling that he thought he whole thing was crazy.
By showing this, the editors now distanced Cochran from the alliance’s craziness much in the same way that Sophie was distanced from Upolu’s religious zeal.
Cochran was talking to Phillip in the woods: “I used to think of Dawn as being a person that would be impossible to beat. That isn’t necessarily the case anymore because she’s betrayed a lot of people.”
Just as Phillip was agreeing, we heard Dawn off in the distance yelling for Brenda who ran to her. We saw Dawn crying by the pier. She explained that she lost her retainer in the pond.
Dawn: “I think they are right there but I can’t see. I won’t go to the challenge, I am not kidding. I will pull myself from the game.”
Brenda dove in and quickly found the retainer. Dawn was ecstatic: “I love you so much.” The two women hugged.
Brenda finally had a confessional., well part of one: “My heart went out to her so much and, after that incident, I am not going to turn my back on her and vice-versa.”
Cochran was finally heard talking about end game strategy. It seems his game will rest on this question: Is Dawn beatable? The fact that the editors showed Dawn’s meltdown is an indication that she is. Not only was that display of weakness shown but it was used to promote this episode and for what? It wasn’t because Malcolm and Reynold gave her a hard time for the betrayal, it was only for a retainer! The best thing to come out of that scene was that Brenda has recovered from her knee injury. She ran without a limp.
Orange team had: Malcolm, Andrea, Sherri, Brenda and Eddie.
Purple team: Erik, Reynold, Dawn, Cochran and Phillip.
Malcolm had a good idea of looking for all the bags at once but he had problems finding them. Reynold, the second runner for Purple, caught up to him in the pit, used the same strategy and eventually passed him. Orange never caught up and Jeff pointed out that Sherri was extremely slow. Jeff also noted Cochran’s “big dive into the mud. That is how you do it!”
Purple got all their balls in the thing before Orange started shooting.
The camera lingered on Brenda’s disappointed expression.
Cochran once more had the first confessional: “Reynold, Erik, Dawn, Phillip and I walked into our reward resort…There was more food than we could possibly eat… This is the energy I need to go into challenges and continue to be the challenge monster I think I have proven myself to be.”
Dawn: :”I realized I hadn’t turned a shower head on in 26 days. Just the smell of the soap was overpowering. I needed it, I was losing my marbles. The thing that is hard to process about the game is that it makes you schizophrenic.”
Erik: “Phillip’s etiquette isn’t the best. There is a shower…but Phillip dives in the pool and gets all this mud and rice and all his horrible dirtiness into the pool. That’s pretty much what Phillip has done this whole season: He just jumps in without care for anybody else and just does things on his own. I’m really sick of Phillip being around.”
There’s not much to make from this scene except that it was a nice resort and Phillip stinks.
When we got back to camp, the sun had set and everyone was back.
That’s an indication that the players that lost reward weren’t important to show.
Dawn was unable to sleep. She gave a confessional: “I’m exhausted. I think I probably slept 2 to 4 hours in the last 3 days. My brain has not rested. I’m getting nervous how the next stage of the game is going to play out. I’m paranoid about being blindsided. Where am I in the seven and are the people I am aligned with are they really with me.” The camera showed Andrea stretching at that moment. The morning came and we saw Andrea on a chair with Malcolm close by and Dawn’s confessional continued: “Andrea has been spending most of her time with Malcolm and with Eddie. She is so assimilated with them. If Malcolm, Eddie and Reynold were able to pull someone from our 7 over they could blindside me.”
Dawn talked with Phillip and Cochran, saying that Andrea could flip and take her out. “She’s going to do it.”
Phillip told Dawn that Andrea knew better.
Phillip in confessional: “I’m saying to them that Andrea wouldn’t be the first target but I might be looking at somebody else right now: Daaaaawn! True Grit. Because she is totally a lunatic and she is losing her composure out here.”
Cochran also had a confessional: “Dawn is convinced that Andrea is going to flip and vote her, Dawn, out. How Dawn is so confident that she is the first that will be at the receiving end of this vote is baffling to me and it’s making me suspicious of Dawn quite frankly.”
Dawn flipped out again when she saw Andrea eating a coconut with Eddie and Malcolm. Dawn looked puzzled so she went to Phillip: “She’s losing it.” Phillip reassured Andrea, saying: “You didn’t do anything. She’s living in a world of total paranoia.”
Dawn talked to Cochran, saying she felt unstable. Cochran explained that it was overwhelming. Dawn started crying again.
Cochran, in confessional: “We had one who flew over the cuckoo’s nest in this game, Brandon Hantz. He’s gone. But suddenly there’s another possible hummingbird that’s zipping over the cuckoo’s nest and her name is Dawn.”
Coming right after the reward scene where Dawn looked to have calmed down, this return to camp showed that she was really unstable. It was a lot like Brandon: Sane one minute, crazy the next. We have to realize that the decisions will only get tougher from here on out to say that Dawn’s not out of the woods yet.
Dawn woke up, happy to have slept. She gave a confessional: “Today is day 28, the day I went home last time. After…my meltdown…I woke up today feeling like myself…The game isn’t overwhelming me and I wasn’t in control but today… I feel good about our alliance.”
Phillip called a quick meeting which led to a confessional by Cochran: “Now that Dawn has settled down, we are on the eve of another tribal council, SRUs, being led by Phillip, decided it would be good to get our ducks in a row: Who are we voting off tonight?” They agreed it should be Reynold because of his challenge strength. Cochran’s confessional continued: “We have seven people against their three. We are going to split the vote throwing 4 votes at Reynold and, just in case he does play an idol or something goofy happens, we are going to throw the other three votes to Malcolm and flush out any possible idols. I don’t mean to get too confident but my alliance has the numbers and I couldn’t be happier.”
By his tone and hand gestures, we could tell that Cochran was joking when he said that Phillip was the leader. It separates him a little more from the craziness and we see that he is using the numbers of the alliance for now. He wasn’t quite prepared for all the goofiness that would soon unfold but it really didn’t affect his game or his position.
The underwater race was run in two heats.
1st heat: Reynold had “no competition”, and easily distanced Andrea who also qualified. Dawn, Cochran and Sherri also ran.
Before the 2nd heat started, we saw Phillip deciding to sit out because of an incident he had in the water.
Malcolm won the heat and Brenda qualified when Eddie, using too much mustard, failed to get his second ring on the pole. Note that Erik failed miserably in an event that should have been right up his alley.
In the finals, Reynold had a bit more competition but still won easily over the exhausted Malcolm, Andrea and Brenda. While it seemed that Brenda stopped after two rings Jeff said “everyone gave everything they had.”
(We see Brenda pausing a long time after placing her secong ring, we don’t see her racing after but we see her head at the jump-in point when Reynold runs by with his last ring)
The next scene started with the image of a whale shark. (For animal imagery, a poster, Estee, suggested it was Phillip: Huge mouth, tiny brain! That’s perfect)
Reynold (solo): “All these people are cut-throat. They want me out because I am a huge threat but I have the immunity necklace so I am going to do whatever I want. I have no respect for Phillip. When it boils down to it, he’s all talk, he’s no action. I think it’s sacrilegious to not even participate in a personal immunity challenge especially if you have lions and gorillas tattooed on your body. Come on, man!”
I didn’t know that Lions and Gorillas were known to be good swimmers and when did Survivor challenges become sacred? Phillip wasn’t going to win so why should he even bother with Jeff’s little games? The episode made it seem like Karma was involved again. That was the whole point of including that part of Reynold’s confessional. Packing the island with idols is what ended Phillip’s game, not sitting out a challenge.
Talking to Andrea, Phillip said they were still splitting the vote. It led to his confessional: “I am finally in a leadership position. I feel like I just might have a shot of getting to the Final 3 and, if these people aren’t actually bitter, I might have a shot of winning.” Phillip went on to say that they had the number to split the votes and that, with no idol, Malcolm was going bye-bye.
Was it coincidence that the camera showed Dawn approaching Phillip when he mentioned jury bitterness? I took it as a hint that Dawn will feel jury bitterness. As for Phillip, this was the obligatory “pride cometh before the fall” confessional. At least the editors waited for the last segment of the episode to tell us who was going home.
Malcolm wasn’t sitting down, ready to die; he was idol-hunting. We heard his confessional: “My head’s on the guillotine right now. The idea is; I have the idol so, no matter what, I play that thing I am not going home. But the idea is to get through this vote and still have the idol. The possibility still exists that there is another idol out there. I have a few hours and nothing else to do, no one’s ass to kiss so maybe this dream will come through.”
Andrea finally realized that they could also look for the idol.
Dawn (solo): :After the challenge, Andrea said: “Let’s go look for the idol.” I said: Absolutely because it is time to work! I don’t know why people sit around so much at camp? There’s a million dollars!”
Phillip was the one shown sitting down, listening to Brenda saying the challenge wasn’t fun when she said that. Of course, Dawn was sitting down herself while delivering the confessional!
Everyone started looking in a very small area for the idol.
(They don’t bury idol these days and they don’t even give them a whole jungle to search.)
Andrea (solo): “All of a sudden, Malcolm reaches into a rock; finds the hidden immunity idol right in front of us. Malcolm was supposed to go home but he found the immunity idol exactly when he needed to find it. So, Eddie has to go now.”
Andrea told her alliance that nothing had changed and they were still splitting the votes.
As they left for TC, Eddie was feeling the heat: “Reynold is protected tonight because he won immunity and now Malcolm found the immunity idol so now I’m doubly screwed. My only chance to stay another day was if they decided to vote off Malcolm instead of me but now the entire camp knows he has the immunity idol. I’m going home.”
Sherri was shown smiling and Dawn winking when, as first juror, Michael entered the council area.
Reynold told Jeff he needed to win that immunity.
Eddie agreed that one of them would have to win it every time but he had to stay positive.
Andrea told Jeff that everyone was looking at Eddie because Malcolm had the immunity idol.
Malcolm just took it out of his pocket and showed it to everyone.
Cochran told Jeff that Eddie wasn’t their first choice, that Reynold was. “Everybody views Reynold as a huge threat.”
Jeff told Phillip he was the first to sit out an individual immunity challenge when there were no incentives to do so.
Phillip explained his decision.
Asked about camp life, Andrea said there was “a lot of paranoia to the point where we don’t talk to Eddie, Reynold and Malcolm. I was on Gota with them and I enjoyed their company but it made a lot of people paranoid about me. I think I was even a target at one point.”
Right then, we saw Brenda looking over, doubt in her eyes.
Malcolm said it was like they had the plague or something. He added: “This is supposed to be a game so we figured we’d do something about it so tonight we are going to try to. This is the other idol that I have been hanging on to and I’m giving it to Eddie.”
Dawn was shown genuinely shocked while Jeff acted as if he was (He still didn’t quite have the famous Phil-eyebrow look though.)
That’s when panic really set in!
Cochran looked like he had been given a differential equation to solve, Andrea tried to find a hole in which to hide, Dawn seemed to have trouble breathing while Eddie was beaming! Michael, representing the viewers, was loving it. Sherri got a sudden migraine.
Next, Cochran, having apparently solved his equation, started grinning and he turned to Erik. Phillip leaned over to Brenda.
Jeff commented on those looks: “Andrea can’t even look up. This is rare when Tribal gets this crazy. Are you aware that Brenda and Dawn are talking? Cochran and Erik are whispering. Andrea’s got her hand in her face. What a shift.”
Brenda was telling Dawn that they should vote against Andrea.
Eddie told Jeff that the names of the 3 Amigos weren’t mentioned for once.
Malcolm said that for one vote, they had control.
Dawn said she was like a fainting sheep in this game: “Every day, the game changes for me.”
Malcolm then said: “Tomorrow, we will still be down 6 to 3 but we are throwing it out that the 3 of us are voting Phillip…This is supposed to be a game and it is supposed to be fun but it’s not fun anymore. Phillip is the fun sponge.”
Phillip reacted: “That is not how I play the game. He is trying to label me as something that I am not.”
Brenda was still telling Dawn to vote Andrea but Dawn replied that, with Andrea sitting right in the middle, she couldn’t “get that over there.”
Andrea said: “Even if they say they are voting for Phillip, I am still paranoid.” She was very scared of a possible double play.
Erik asked to speak: “The 3 Amigos are saying they are playing the idols but there is some bonus in keeping one idol.”
Phillip ended the paranoia by saying: “We should vote the way we said we were going to vote when we came in here. If it means for me to go home, I will go home but I rather they say they are voting me out strategically and quit trying to malign my character.”
Cochran said he was having a bipolar reaction: “The Survivor fan in me sitting at home is going; what just happened? This is the most exciting freaking Tribal Council I have ever seen. People are whispering, voting plans are changing which is extraordinarily rare at Tribal Council so this vote is going to be a gamble.”
Dawn said it would just take a few of them to vote somebody in the alliance that isn’t Phillip.
Explaining the variables facing the players, Jeff sent them to vote.
We only heard Cochran’s comment: “Whatever happens tonight, this is why I love Survivor after 13 years.”
We saw Erik voting for Fillup!
When Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play an idol, Eddie was the first to stand and the camera made it look like Malcolm would remain seated. It was a nice editing trick added for drama: We saw Eddie take quite a few steps towards Jeff even if he was sitting right next to Malcolm. We saw Malcolm’s head turning to his left, towards Jeff as if following Eddie and the music played on, creating a long pause. Only then did Malcolm supposedly stand up. In reality, we saw Eddie’s shadow on Malcolm’s right shoulder when he stood and the two walked almost side by side towards Jeff. There was no pause, not even an hesitation from Malcolm about keeping his idol.
As he sat down, Malcolm uttered the word bastards.
Everyone but Erik voted as they said and Michael enjoyed seeing Phillip’s torch get snuffed but I am not sure he will enjoy the next three days at Ponderosa!
Jeff asked if the three guys had changed the game enough to survive another vote. The camera showed us Cochran at that moment, suggesting he held the answer.
Starting with Getchen’s and Jerri’s final episodes, every season has featured a “shocking Tribal Council”. However, it’s rare that the episode preceding it is built around paranoia. Usually, we have one confident side and another that is resigned before they go to TC. This time, from Dawn’s meltdown all the way to the wild scrambling during TC, the episode tried to make us feel the same level of paranoia that the players faced. Similarly, an episode that featured paranoia and a shocking TC was Judd’s final episode in Guatemala. Maybe it was because we knew that Dawn’s paranoia was unfounded, that Malcolm had an idol or simply because it’s tough to take anything featuring Phillip seriously but the drama remained superficial. In Guatemala, we cared about what would happen to Danni while Judd was a real villain and it was amusing to see Stephenie throwing her game down the drain so we got much more involved in the outcome. Here? While the process was freakingly amusing, the result was more like a damp squib. We didn’t care about Eddie and he didn’t do a thing to save himself. Phillip is more like a buffoon than a villain while Malcolm had nothing to lose compared to Steph. We had a big move and a crazy Tribal Council but we already have the answer to Jeff’s question: The game hasn’t really changed.
Some had Fun Agitating:
Reynold: From the start, we had seen Reynold as an optimist that had the arrogance to think things had to go his way because they always do. He was proven wrong at each turn so it gave us a lot of laughs at his expense. We expected that he’d get angry once he learned that Malcolm had been holding on to his own idol but, unless it was completely edited out of the montage, Reynold didn’t have a negative reaction when he saw the second idol. He was simply happy that things were turning his way for once. We have to agree with Michael’s assessment: Reynold is a generous guy who simply had it rough out there. He is still at the bottom and his obvious challenge skills make him enemy number one. He’s the one that has to win out or continue finding idols to have a chance.
Eddie: He is Reynold’s mirror image: The same but reversed: He doesn’t do a thing but the events usually turn in his favor. However, he isn’t yet the subject of a story like Eliza’s in Vanuatu. She was always targeted but survived to Final 4 and the ones wanting her out ended up paying the price. No one really targets Eddie, he just happens to be there, ready to be killed but escaping somehow. It means that he is wrong when he says that the 3 Amigos have to win out to the end because, like Cochran said, he isn’t their first choice. The last immunity challenge was a good example: For once, Eddie was doing well but he found a way to mess up. No one is afraid that he will go on a prolonged winning streak so as long as there is another exposed Amigo, Eddie will be able to keep on smiling.
Malcolm: He pulled off a really nice surprise at Tribal Council but did he really win this round? Yes, he got rid of Phillip but, like he said even BEFORE finding the second idol: “The idea is to get through this vote and still have the idol.” Both idols had to be used so Malcolm didn’t have his dream outcome. Could he have reasonably kept one like Erik suggested? Not with the way things played out but much of that was in Malcolm’s own hands. He was the one that ended the wild scrambling at Tribal Council when he announced they were voting for Phillip. The seven would have felt much more pressure without that comment and maybe then Malcolm would have been able to take the risk of keeping the idol as a bonus. Phillip forced his hand by saying he accepted his fate and the seven should vote as they had planned. The best move was for the 3 Amigos to split their votes between 3 different players and announcing it, putting stress on those three players. Malcolm had to see that move and maybe he would have if he had talked to his allies instead of improvising during TC. It’s possible that Eddie’s confessional shown during the walk to TC occurred earlier and Malcolm did talk to them to set the table but it is unlikely. Malcolm’s decision seemed improvised and it wasn’t the best move available, the one that could have turned the game. The 3 Amigos voted against a member of the alliance so the alliance didn’t eat one of its own. It should still make it an “us versus them” mentality.
Some were Agitated:
Dawn: Many still say that Jenna didn’t deserve to win Survivor Amazon because she wanted to quit, that she wanted to go home, giving her necklace to Heidi only to irritate Rob. Not many give her credit for insuring Christy’s elimination by doing so. How could viewers be satisfied if Dawn wins when she was ready to pull herself from the game after losing her retainer? Vanity has no place in Survivor. The editors usually show a winner’s moment of weakness (Tom’s drunken night, Yul’s nerdy comment about elephant feet) to humanize them to the viewers, to add dimensions to their character, but this would be going overboard. That moment of weakness would have been cut, certainly not used to promote an episode that wasn’t lacking in drama. Dawn also almost made the 3 Amigos’ day when she said they could vote together to eliminate someone that wasn’t Phillip. If the alliance had openly agreed to do that, then Malcolm and Eddie would have been able to keep the 2 immunity idols. Like Cochran said, many “used to think of Dawn as being a person that would be impossible to beat. That isn’t necessarily the case anymore…” Unless we are victims of a double-play by the editors!
Brenda: It was interesting that the dynamics between Brenda, Dawn and Andrea were finally revealed. We had assumed that Brenda was close to Andrea but she is with Dawn instead, even talking about voting against Andrea. That was a premature reaction though; Brenda acting too quickly to a new situation. Turning too early on Sash is what got Brenda eliminated the first time so maybe she repeated the same mistake here. However, Brenda has given us so few confessionals that when she said she will not turn her back on Dawn and expected the same, I think we heard that for a reason. Dawn is playing a cut-throat game when she isn’t crying so maybe she will turn on Brenda who could be another bitter juror. Of course, the other way to look at it is that the scene was included to explain why Brenda votes for Dawn in the end.
Andrea: She received the focus as Stealth-R-Us’ decision maker at the wrong time because we were told that the alliance wasn’t a well-oiled machine. The right decision was to gain some distance from Phillip’s organization, not be seen as its power broker. It put her in Malcolm’s sights and could have cost her the game but then Malcolm changed target. Still, Andrea’s flirt with the other side, being happy in the company of Eddie, Malcolm and Reynold didn’t escape notice from her own alliance and she is now on their list. The game will get dicey for Andrea, especially now that her closest ally is gone. Like Jeff said, she was so agitated by Malcolm’s move that she couldn’t look up. She has no clear road to the end.
Erik: His agitation came earlier than everyone else. We can say that only one person, Phillip, was able to agitate Erik during these 28 days. Now that he got rid of Phillip some will say that Erik will join the 3 Amigos but it was clear that Erik was part of the alliance despite Phillip’s presence. Erik didn’t like the Federal agent and that was his story since episode 1. With Phillip gone, Erik should feel even more comfortable with the others, Cochran especially since, for once, he discussed the vote with the guy sitting next to him at TC. With his aversion to strategy, it’s evident that Erik is playing to win his way to the end, emulating Ozzy still. His path to victory is easier if the other challenge monsters are gone. However, judging by his performance in the water race, he may have trouble winning anything.
Sherri: Some will argue that she wasn’t agitated because she said nothing during the scramble and they will add that Sherri’s smile at Michael when he entered the Council area connects the two. I can’t agree because she would need to have a pulse to be agitated. Her character has become meaningless since the swap and we did see that Malcolm’s move gave her a headache. With the alliance facing the elimination of one of its own, Sherri would have been the obvious choice. Her name wasn’t even mentioned so that leads us to two possible conclusions: No one actually spoke about eliminating her or the editors didn’t show them talking about it. Neither is particularly good for her winning chances. The editors love underdog stories so it seems that they would have jumped on the occasion to cast doubt on her chances but if no one talked about eliminating her it can only mean that she has become everyone’s Shamar! How ironic that would be: She was looking for her Phillip in Shamar, then she looked at Phillip as her new Shamar but she’d wind up being the Final 3 goat herself!
Cochran: Like everyone else in the alliance, Cochran showed some agitation. First when he was baffled by Dawn’s meltdown and paranoia and then when he faced the voting dilemma. In both occasions, he was shown doing what he does best: Listening and observing. We saw him taking the time to listen to Dawn’s problem, concluding rightly that Dawn was simply being crazy and not dangerous. At TC, he listened and we never heard him scrambling. We only saw him whispering to Erik and, judging by their respective votes, he was probably explaining that the best play was to stay with the original plan. With Erik voting against Phillip, Brenda and Dawn targeting Andrea and the farm girl spending so much time with the three guys, Cochran is the most loyal player left in that alliance. Quite a change!