The recap started with the same scene with a tarsier that we had seen in the premiere, the one where the primate jumps on a branch to catch an insect. Then we heard Jeff say: “After the merge the power alliance had a 6 to 3 advantage over Malcolm, Reynold and Eddie but they weren’t the only ones struggling to survive. Brenda was heard asking: “How can we live on just water? Lack of food and injuries…Stuff like that scares me.” At tree mail, the Survivors found much needed gifts.
At the auction, most of the tribe focused on their stomachs…
(Dawn was heard jumping on an item “Five hundred”, we heard Erik’s surprise: “Oh! my gosh!” and then we saw Dawn gulping down her chicken, Sherri enjoying her pizza and Eddie diving into the peanut butter.)
…while Cochran focused on the game buying an advantage at the next immunity challenge…
(Eddie’s expression of surprise was inserted here)
…and it was worth every penny.
Cochran was heard boasting: “I am the greatest challenge competitor in Survivor Caramoan and I am ready to take over.”
Back at camp, Sherri and Erik were the swing votes, being wooed by two alliances…
(Erik: “For me, I have to continue playing both sides.”)
…and the 3 Amigos.
(Sherri: “As of this moment right now, I am torn as to who I am going with.”)
At Tribal Council, Reynold and Eddie saw another chance to change the game slip through their fingers.
Jeff is making our task too easy: Cochran and Erik were the only two players to receive positive moments and we know that Erik can only be misdirection. He was used to show us that Dawn wasn’t focused on the game any more than Eddie and Sherri, Brenda is shown barely surviving and Andrea mattered as much in this recap as she will after this episode. Cochran was presented as the only one still totally focused on the game. Staying in focus would prove important in the first immunity challenge but this episode told us what was really needed:
We had a night image of a tarsier as the tribe, led by Andrea, came back to camp. They were happy to be in the Final 8.
Reynold in confessional: “It’s not the 3 Amigos anymore, Malcolm is gone, but the game is not over…I’m going to keep fighting.”
Eddie also had a confessional: “Since day 2, I have been playing with my back against the wall with Reynold and we know we’re on the chopping block every Tribal Council. However, we are still here so…keep going with the punches…Anything can happen in this game.”
Andrea then talked to Cochran, saying that they couldn’t let Reynold make it to the end. Cochran said it wasn’t going to happen.
Cochran’s confessional: “The Fans are desperate, they are cornered, they have no power. The power rests with the Favorites right now and I want to take away as much power and suck it up for myself as possible. I want to take control of the game and I will do it without remorse, I will do it without any reservations. I’m scared that I am saying that. I feel that I am turning into something that would scare my mother if she saw me. I am not the little Harvard nerd who was trembling in the bushes last time.”
Again, we see a lot of confidence displayed from Cochran. In the early years, this would have been a sign that he was about to be knocked out but ever since Hantz, the editors aren’t afraid to show arrogance as a way to demonstrate control of the game. It’s not a very subtle way to tell a story but subtlety went out the window a long time ago, when Burnett stopped taking care of his own product.
Andrea and Cochran brought tree mail which told the tribe about the upcoming immunity challenge.
Erik had the confessional to explain the general feeling: “Tree mail shocked me this morning. This game never stops. We woke up this morning thinking there would be some cool reward today. No! Immunity. So now we have to beat Reynold and then go to Tribal and vote him off because Reynold is a threat.”
Erik would soon show us what were his real priorities.
As Jeff took the necklace from Cochran, he remarked: “Cochran now even shirtless! It’s a complete transformation from the guy who was afraid to take his shirt off just a couple of years ago.”
Yes Jeff; a complete transformation goes hand in hand with this season’s theme of correcting previous mistakes.
After explaining the challenge, Jeff told them there would also be a reward; information for the game.
Reynold then gave us a confessional: “I am number one on the hit list, no doubt about it. I have to win or I am going home.”
As soon as the challenge started, Jeff brought out some doughnuts which Eddie and Erik found too tempting.
Erik told Eddie: “If you don’t take them I’m going to do it.”
Eddie said they should both take them and Erik agreed so Eddie turned to Reynold and apologized for leaving him alone. Reynold said it was OK.
Dawn applauded when one of the Amigos stepped off.
This was very damning for both guys. Eddie was opening the door for Reynold to outlast him while Erik said he had to beat Reynold and simply caved in. Maybe some will defend Erik by saying he forced Eddie’s hand but really, he was jumping in no matter what Eddie would have done.
After 15 minutes, the remaining players went up on the second perch and Jeff brought out 3 hot dogs. That got Cochran’s attention so he turned to everyone saying that he couldn’t last any longer anyway. Jeff noted that he got no love from anyone, no one’s approval but he still jumped in.
Cochran was heard in confessional: “It might have been a big mistake, stepping out of the game (Dawn and Andrea didn’t look happy at all) but I couldn’t last that much longer. As long as one of us wins immunity, it’s fine. The goal is to keep it out of the hands of Reynold.”
This could be another damaging event for Cochran but the editors don’t really care to show these moments of weakness. We’ve had Jenna, Todd and JT who all went for these temptations so the important thing is to give them an occasion to explain themselves through a well placed confessional.
Soon Jeff noted that Reynold was unstable and that Dawn was like a shark watching its prey. Another 15 minutes went by so they went to the top of the platform. Dawn and Sherri were the first to drop out without a temptation. Reynold made some huge recoveries, Jeff noting that he was not going to go down easily. Jeff told them to stay focused but the challenge soon proved once again that balance wasn’t for men. We saw Sherri jumping up to celebrate when he fell.
A smiling Brenda turned to Andrea, asking if she wanted to stay.
Andrea said she did want it and added: “I’ll share the clue with you if you jump off.”
Brenda answered: “If you beat me, I’ll be happy for you but I rather you beat me than me jump off.”
Andrea agreed that she wanted that also so they stayed up for 3 hours when Andrea proposed doing it on one foot. Brenda agreed. It may have been historic like Jeff said but it didn’t work out too well for Brenda who fell in almost immediately.
Brenda had the confessional: “It’s exciting because Reynold and Eddie didn’t win the challenge so we can split the votes; we’re good. One of them is going home.”
This confessional spot is usually reserved for the “overconfident player that will soon get his comeuppance” so it was a nice try by the editors but did anyone really think that Brenda was going home?
Coming back to camp, we heard Dawn congratulating Andrea and Brenda while Cochran showed the winner where to hang the necklace.
In confessional, Reynold gave us his “eulogy” but he thought it could be time to blindside someone.
Andrea had a confessional: “I thought that, as soon as Reynold dropped out, I would say “Brenda, you won the last immunity can I just have this one?” but she stood on that perch for hours. She really proved that she is a big threat to me. There was a huge part of me that regretted promising to share the note with Brenda. When we found out it was the clue to the immunity idol, at that point I don’t want to look suspicious so I told my whole alliance. The most important thing about today is that the idol is not in Reynold or Eddie’s hands.”
Cochran read the clue once more while Erik and Andrea started digging. Brenda stood back much like she did in Nicaragua, letting the others get the idol. Erik soon found it and held it up towards Andrea who reached out and took it.
Did Andrea steal the idol from Erik? She did take it out of his hands but he had extended his hand in her direction and he let go immediately. The smile and the fist bump showed he was OK with letting Andrea have the idol and there really wasn’t anything else he could do…even if Cochran thought otherwise:
Cochran in confessional: “Erik finds the idol and I’m thinking “Fantastic!” I can probably tell him what to do with the idol and he’ll do it and before I have a chance to start celebrating, he’s already handing the idol over to Andrea. Does he learn nothing?”
Maybe it was his tone of voice but Cochran’s words reminded me of Todd in China after Zhan Hu won the immunity challenge they were supposed to throw. He already had a genius plan but it was foiled by someone else’s stupidity and now he’d have to deal with an opponent that had an idol just like Todd’s plan to have James used the idol against Jaime failed when Fei Long went to Tribal Council.
Andrea also had a confessional: “I really want to get Reynold out but I’m still contemplating if we can throw a blindside in there, it would be a game changer and more of an end game move to get a strategic threat now while they don’t see it coming. Some blindsides need to happen before it happens to me.”
More than just the irony, look at how Andrea describes the next blindside: A game changer and an end game move. Nice way to set it up for the player that will pull off that blindside.
Bathing in the cove, Andrea talked to Cochran and Sherri, asking who should be first to go in their group. She answered her own question by saying that Brenda showed she was dangerous.
Cochran’s confessional was inserted here while Andrea went on, saying that Dawn could be on board and that it would be exciting to vote someone else besides Reynold.
Cochran’s thoughts: “I think today’s immunity challenge and the fight demonstrated by players like Andrea and Brenda, marked possibly the beginning of the end for the alliance of six. There are still two easy votes in Reynold and Eddie. We can split the votes between the two of them and one will be sent packing and yet, we are seeing the self-interested desires bubbling to the surface and people are playing for the end game to secure their own victory instead of a group victory. Andrea is a smart player and Andrea, like me, is thinking well beyond the six. It’s Andrea’s opinion that the right big move to make is to blindside Brenda. She could go on an immunity streak, she’s one of the more capable challenge competitor in this game but this game is all about timing.”
When Cochran mentioned self-interested desires, the camera showed us Andrea in her best imitation of “Outback-Jerri-laughing-at-
As for Sherri, the one that controls this game, she wasn’t even given a chance to speak in that whole discussion. Did she say anything? Probably but it sure wasn’t important for us to hear it. Dawn’s fans will note that Cochran talked about a group victory in this individual game. Is Cochran setting it up so that Dawn wins? That will be the last doubt put on his road to victory.
Andrea then went to Dawn about Brenda. Dawn was seemingly going along but she also said that Reynold had to go.
Dawn’s confessional: “This is the longest I’ve been in the game. To be this close makes me feel like these decisions are going to be the really critical ones for me. The best thing for the alliance would probably be for Eddie or Reynold go next but it’s definitely an option to blindside Brenda. The biggest obstacle for me is not having an opponent out here, the biggest obstacle for me has been my mind.”
Dawn was the one that introduced the theme that “A Winner Makes Decisions” so it’s quite telling that she tells us that these are the critical decisions. It’s also quite interesting that she contemplated, in confessional, the idea of turning on Brenda, the one that swore loyalty to her and expected loyalty in return. We have seen Dawn’s mind playing tricks on her already so we can expect that it will act up again at Final TC.
Eddie didn’t impress the jury when he said he sacrificed security and pride for doughnuts.
Jeff pretty much brushed over Cochran’s decision to go for food, only mentioning his name along with Dawn and Sherri. He was interested to know why Brenda and Andrea stayed an extra 2 or 3 hours after Reynold fell out. Was there really a tight bond between them?
Brenda said it was an opportunity to test herself and she repeated that she preferred being beaten than jumping off. Andrea was in agreement but Jeff thought it opened the door for the guys.
Reynold repeated that he could help someone who wanted to make a move.
Cochran explained that the game was a question of timing.
Dawn told Jeff that she was aware that it could be her turn because she “plays both sides of something” making it harder for her “to trust people at all.” She candidly added: “I know I’m not trustworthy at times.”
Jeff called Dawn’s comment one of the most honest he had heard and asked Andrea if she also felt that paranoia comes from knowing you aren’t trustworthy.
Andrea was also quite candid: “When you know what you are capable of and you know you can lie and deceive people, you know the people you are playing with can do the same thing to you.”
Brenda had a big reaction to that.
Eddie said that the six were “major players” (!!) He thought it could help him squeeze forward.
Andrea told Jeff that Reynold and Eddie could help take out “a Dawn, a Cochran, an Erik or a Brenda.”
Jeff chimed in “…or an Andrea.”
Andrea had to agree but added: “Not tonight but…”
Now isn’t that nice foreshadowing?! It made Erik, Dawn and Brenda smile.
One guy voted for Erik, the other for Sherri. It was probably to send them a message but the message we got was that they lacked a basic understanding of this game The alliance’s vote was split but 4 votes went to Reynold so we didn’t have to endure another re-vote.
Reynold left with a lot of class but we had heard Brenda’s voting confessional where she said that his fault was his lack of humility. The reminder of his arrogance was probably inserted there just in case some viewers saw him as a Victim.
Dawn looked truly relieved to see Reynold go.
Befitting her upcoming exit, Andrea had the first confessional of the second half: “Finally Reynold is gone which is a huge relief and now we are at Final 7. We didn’t make the big move tonight but now I am thinking of what’s next and the obvious is: Why don’t we blindside somebody when they don’t see it coming? It’s going to come down to who we decide is the bigger threat.”
Dawn talked to Cochran saying it was a game for a million so “if we don’t do it, they are going to do it to us. It has to be Dawn or Brenda.”
After Corinne, Malcolm and Reynold, Andrea is the latest to show us that the players out there have no idea of the close bond between Cochran and Dawn. His confessional would show us how close they really are.
Cochran (in a morning confessional): “I’m all about making big moves and Andrea, to her credit, is willing to make a big move but it’s a big move I don’t agree with. Once again, she is talking about taking out Brenda but also Dawn who is probably my closest ally in this game.”
Cochran talked to Brenda and Dawn. The two women were talking about eliminating Eddie but Cochran told them what he knew about Andrea: “The problem is, she’s not gonna want to vote off Eddie. She’s debating between both of you right now.”
That got a reaction from Brenda who quickly found a camera to give us her thoughts: “Cochran told me that Andrea wants to blindside me or Dawn and that show just how much untrustworthy she is. Now, I want Andrea out of the game because she wants me out of the game.”
Cochran had another confessional while the camera showed us Andrea scratching Eddie’s back, the implication obvious. “Andrea, I think, is one of the few remaining independent thinkers and that’s a dangerous thing. The time to make a big move is rapidly approaching. So, if Andrea doesn’t win the next immunity challenge and she doesn’t play the idol, she might be going home.”
It’s interesting that Cochran’s first confessional was actually recorded the next morning while the second one had been recorded earlier, during the night. One can assume that the editors felt it was important to explain Cochran’s motives first, showing that he was protecting his closest ally, before presenting his personal reason for going after the farm girl.
Erik, finally, led after each stage of the challenge and easily won it. The only interesting comment came when Jeff singled out Andrea: “Andrea would like to win immunity again; you want to be safe tonight, you cannot risk it, there are only 7 people left.”
Tell me after this that Jeff’s comments aren’t carefully chosen!
Jeff had to remind Erik about the last time he won immunity! He asked him if there was a chance he’d give it up again. Erik said he was too scared to do it this time.
Erik’s confessional: “The challenge was right up my alley and I killed it and I won immunity. This time around, I have learned from mistakes I made in the past. This is not any kind of moral decision for me to make, whether or not to give it to someone else or keep it. This is a safety blanket that can get me farther in this game.”
Right then, we saw him reacting in surprise to the sound of thunder! Maybe it was a sign that Erik shouldn’t feel too comfortable!
Andrea was still pushing her agenda by telling Cochran and Dawn that Brenda should be next to go since she didn’t piss anybody and she is fierce in challenges.
Andrea’s confessional: “Brenda made my job tonight pretty easy by being a challenge threat. So, I want Brenda out and I talked to everybody and now she is going. I feel bad for the kid because, going back to my first season, I felt completely comfortable and then Bam! I was blindsided.” (The camera gave us a close-up of Cochran just then) Andrea went on: “I know what it’s like to be lied to. I have an immunity idol, I am going to bring it to Tribal Council and, if all of a sudden, I feel paranoid, I would play it but right now it does seem like my ducks are in a row and it’s going to work out.”
After learning from Andrea that it was Brenda going home, Eddie had a confessional: “I have been tricked, fooled and pretty much every other adjective before every other tribal Council but I feel a little bit differently tonight. Andrea told me that everyone is going to blindside Brenda and there’s really absolutely no reason to lie to me. They know I don’t have an immunity idol so, for the first time in 33 days, I think I am going to tribal Council and I think I have an idea on who we are actually voting for.”
So Eddie, how does it feel to be playing Reynold’s role?
Andrea brought up the scenario of being in the Final three with Eddie to Cochran who quickly rejected the idea by saying: “Well, we’d lose.” Andrea reacted dubitatively, saying: “It would be close but it would be better if he snuck in there than Brenda or Dawn I think.”
Cochran told us about Andrea’s latest mistake: “I haven’t been able to mention Eddie’s name for the past 10 days without Andrea saying: “No! Eddie is harmless. I control his vote, he’s fantastic, he is great.” Now it all makes sense: She wants to go to the final three with him. Whether it’s personal, whether it’s strategic, I don’t know but the fact of the matter is Eddie is moving up on Andrea’s priority list so I’m worried that I am going to be replaced by Eddie. I admire Andrea for having a game plan but that plan doesn’t include me. I want to be a part of everybody’s plan and if I’m not a part of your plan, Andrea…you are not going to be a part of mine.”
There it is: After the earlier back scratching scene and now the girlish giggle shown during Cochran’s confessional, the editors implied that, once more, Andrea flirted her way right out of the game.
Cochran wanted to be cautious by splitting the votes in case Andrea played the idol.
Brenda reacted in confessional: “I know Andrea wants to blindside me so this is a very tricky vote. It’s like a leap of faith: I am writing down Andrea and I hope that I don’t go home. So, I am in huge danger but the plan has already been enacted I just have to let it ride.”
Cochran told Erik they were voting against Andrea, telling him she had to feel completely safe.
Cochran (solo): “Once again I have to trust Erik, the ice cream scooper who gave up his idol and was promptly voted out and that’s scary.”
Andrea also talked to Erik, telling him it was Brenda and adding that she would love to go to the end with him.
Erik’s confessional: “Andrea came up to me and pretty much told me she wanted to take me all the way to the end and I think I believe it. I mean, I helped her get that immunity idol so I have an in with both alliances at this point. Both alliances think I am on their side but Cochran hasn’t promised me final three so, if they split the vote, I can totally shake things up. I feel so much calmer today. The first time I played the game, I was pretty much at the mercy of what everybody else wanted to do. This time around is actually pretty different: I am actually in control of the game it feels like and I am going to do whatever is best for me.”
Another great example of the fogs of war where a participant really can’t have an overview of what is going on around him. Erik must have thought, at that point, that his story was the most interesting one of all the castaways yet it was barely presented to us.
Eddie agreed with Jeff that tonight would be the perfect night for a blindside.
Brenda had a difficult time telling Jeff what would happen if they didn’t make a big move. She finally said people would start lying.
Sherri told Jeff that there were lies already.
Cochran agreed, adding: “Multiple people told me that they intend to go to the end with me when they probably don’t…and I am sure I made similar promises that were similarly dishonest.”
Andrea laughed at that and told Jeff it made her nervous, dealing with people who had several final three aliances and she wasn’t different. She proceeded to tell Jeff that she had the hidden immunity idol and that everyone knew it.
That got a big reaction from Malcolm.
Cochran told Jeff the idol was almost as big a deal as Erik’s necklace and that there weren’t many occasions left to play it.
Andrea told Jeff she could play the idol if she felt paranoid.
Dawn seemed to have trouble catching her breath when Jeff asked if the idol would be played. When Andrea remained seated we saw Brenda’s big smile and Cochran amused look.
Expecting a 6-1 vote between Brenda and Eddie, Andrea’s look changed immediately when Jeff showed the first vote against her. She looked puzzled when Jeff turned over two “Eddie” votes and she finally caught on when her name appeared for the second time, unable to hold back a surprised: “What?” The final vote showed Andrea that she had been lied to but she took it in stride, telling the “guys” that they were good.
Reynold and Malcolm enjoyed that a lot! Only Phillip didn’t look pleased but who knows what goes on in that head.
When Jeff noted that they finally made a big move, the camera, once more, showed Brenda’s smile and Cochran’s pleased expression. Jeff tried to do some instant promotion by asking: “Now what?” but every viewer could answer him that it was Eddie’s turn next.
It’s becoming quite evident why Jeff likes this season. The openness and the candor displayed during tribal Council is turning it into the anti-Guatemala, a season he detested. In Central America, we had the very confrontational (to put it politely) Judd who proclaimed: “I have not lied in this damn game, man! OK, I lied once but I am no damn liar, man!” and the very secretive Rafe and Danni who never gave anything away. In South East Asia, we have people openly admitting to lying and having multiple Final three deals in place. It makes Jeff’s job easier and he is enjoying it but no one can say we’ve had better blindsides than during season 11. I liked Guatemala and find this season quite ordinary but then I really like seeing “pretty-boy” Probst getting slammed in the wall even if it’s only figuratively and thought Judd was hilarious. There is a similarity though between this season and Guatemala: No one has figured out the key alliance between Cochran and Dawn just like no one saw the one between Rafe and Danni. I’m thinking another reason why Jeff likes this season and hated Guatemala is because crowning a smart returning player represents a better story than recounting how a dumb returning player lost.
Brenda: Not only did we see her breakdown being used during the recap, we saw a repetition of her Nicaraguan mistake: She was in danger but never scrambled as witnessed by her own confessional: “I know Andrea wants to blindside me so this is a very tricky vote. It’s like a leap of faith: I am writing down Andrea and I hope that I don’t go home. So, I am in huge danger but the plan has already been enacted I just have to let it ride.” A leap of faith and letting it ride showed that Brenda took no actions to counter Andrea, she just let her alliance do the work and we were shown that Cochran was the one that pulled it out for her. Maybe her fumbled answer to Jeff told us what is Brenda’s weakness in this game: She has a huge tell when she lies so she only talks to her allies, relying on them to do the work.
Eddie: Now that he is shown as the delusional optimist, he may as well take on Reynold’s biggest role, that of dead-man-walking. It isn’t a good sign when a player is on the block and still gets blindsided by someone else’s elimination! They had no reason to lie to him, he thought but who were “they”? Eddie didn’t even have enough awareness to know that “they” amounted only to Andrea. Ok, it’s certainly possible, even likely, that someone else like Cochran or Dawn corroborated what Andrea told him simply because that would be the thing to do but “character-Eddie” looked so naïve when he told us that he finally knew what was going down at Tribal Council that it makes it funnier to simply go with the story that he relied only on Andrea and convinced himself that Brenda was going.
Sherri: For her, it was particularly damning that the recap showed her saying she was torn by the choice when we could have heard her repeating that neither side realized that it was her game. That’s because it isn’t her game and we had another clear indication of that when we didn’t hear her thoughts despite being present during the conversation when Andrea first brought up Brenda’s name. Sherri wasn’t given a chance to say much during either TC so it’s doubtful she will have anything important to say if she makes the last one.
Dawn: The best thing for Dawn in this episode was that Cochran talked about a team victory. It could set her up to pull out the win in the end but we heard her say that her mind is her biggest obstacle out there and the Final TC will require some quick thinking. We also heard Andrea saying that Dawn could turn on anyone in an instant so that feeling could be generalized to the whole jury. Players that are seen as disloyal have had trouble winning jury votes ever since the “rats and snakes” speech! Can Dawn win? Of course. All these hints about a meltdown in front of the jury could be shown to make us forget that mother-of-6-Dawn should get sympathy from the jurors but we are reading the story so we have to go with what we hear. (Should have done that last season when first Swann then Malcolm and later Abi told us Denise wins!)
Erik: He had an up and down episode: The recap generously portrayed him as a focused player deciding for himself but then the confessional before the first challenge set him up to look dumb when he accepted Jeff’s first temptation. His image didn’t improve when Cochran pointed out he had given away immunity to a woman again. The second immunity challenge was right up his alley and he once more looked like a viable candidate especially when he talked about choosing to his advantage. However, he told us he believed Andrea’s Final 3 offer but didn’t get one from Cochran. So, when Cochran admitted making several false Final 3 offers, the viewers should have expected Erik to take the hint that he doesn’t even figure in Cochran’s fake plans!! Voting out the girl he helped find the idol looked like a dumb move for Erik and nothing in the edit mitigated that impression. Even if Erik is emerging as the late-season threat to win, we’ve never fallen for that trick and won’t start now with the ice cream scooper. It’s the editors’ way to direct unfocused viewers away from the winner.
Cochran: Now that the decisions are critical, we see Cochran making them and it was all about timing as he said. When Andrea first brought up Brenda’s name he knew he could get her to wait because Reynold had to go but when Andrea talked about eliminating both Brenda and Dawn, Cochran reacted quickly, selling her out to the two women. Cochran has his Final 3 plan and it includes Dawn so he wasn’t going to let Andrea have her way. By saying that she was one of the few independent thinkers out there, Cochran told us he was one also. What I found most fascinating was that Jeff and the players found more reasons to criticize the choice of staying on the perch than Cochran’s decision to jump off! Wanting to compete was an indication of disloyalty but the one taking over control of the game is still presented as a loyal player. I’d be curious to know how much of his loyalty to Dawn is personal and how much comes from seeing her as being beatable in the end? Is he right? That is the only question left.