Last week the women finally found some form of victory, winning both a reward and an immunity challenge. We also got rid of that jerk Matt, which I’m still giddy over. Meanwhile, advertising has promoted this week’s episode as having a game changing movie – specifically, a move that will change the game forever. I find that hard to believe, but we’ll see as the episode unfolds.
We begin with the men conspiring following their first visit to tribal council. Matt’s supporters (aka the “roosters”) feel the vote is a move that will be the downfall of the men’s team, mostly because getting rid of the stronger men will keep the team from being competitive. They might have a good point. At the same time, I’ve found almost no sympathy or interest in any of the male competitors this season, so if they slowly crumble apart, I’m not exactly going to lose interest in the show.
The leveraging from last episode continues, this time with the men trying again to get to use the women’s net. On one hand, the women are justified to play the elitist type and hold onto their reward. On the other hand, they’re eating snails. Troyzan doesn’t see he intelligence in the girls’ response and frankly neither do I. The men were offering half of their catch in return for using the net, which is a lot better of a deal than the women made when they came begging to warm themselves or borrow embers.
Reward Challenge Time: It’s reward challenge time, solidifying our return to the two-challenge format for the season. The reward is a winner’s choice: pillows and blankets, a tarp, or a nice meal of doughnuts and coffee. The last one gets the big reaction, but I’d think it’s silly to pick that over the other options. In order to win, the team has to use a large slingshot to knock out wooden targets with coconuts: the team that knocks five connected targets, either vertically or horizontally, wins. Both tribes have some issues hitting targets but the women manage to take an early lead. At first they have two sets of two sequential targets, then they manage to get a sequence of four in a row. The men then get four, but it’s too late. The women knock out a fifth one, taking their third victory in a row. They choose… the tarp. Smart move, ladies. Doughnuts may be delicious, but they’re the last thing anyone needs in the middle of a game like Survivor.
In the wake of the loss, we do get a game-changing move, although we’ll have to wait to see if it’s the advertised one. Some of the guys get to talking and Bill finds out his name was on the chopping block at the previous council. That news comes courtesy of Leif. Unfortunately, Colton isn’t happy that Leif is revealing strategy and he calls over the little man (who he refers to as a “muchkin’ – good to see someone has taken over Matt’s jerky, closed-minded behavior). Leif attempts to talk his way out of trouble, but he’s not very good at it and Colton flat-out tells him that he’ll be going home soon. What happened to the subtle days of Survivor? Even Boston Rob (who Colton seems like he’s trying to emulate) and Russell Hantz knew when to play their cards close to their chest.
Tree-mail brings a warning about the pending immunity challenge. We see the women pondering what the message means, deducing they’re going to have to work together to solve puzzles. Sabrina, Alicia and Kat wind up squabbling as Kat’s admission that she sucks at puzzles is interpreted as an attack on the intelligence of the other girls. It’s a very strange argument that the show tries to make out to be a much bigger moment, especially a moment undermined by the subsequent challenge.
Immunity Challenge Time: As promised, the immunity idol requires the players work in teams as pairs are chained together to go through an obstacle course and solve a puzzle. After the conflict it’s interesting to see that not only are Kat and Alicia working together, but that the girls send them off first. Yes, the puzzles get more difficult as they go, but starting so weak is an equally bad move. The men get a huge lead, which the women solve by cheating off of the men. Their unfair tactics don’t pay off and the men completely blow the women away, winning immunity.
Even though the women are the ones headed for council, the bigger drama is on the men’s side. Bill tries to talk to Colton but the would-be-leader doesn’t want to hear him out. Maybe it’s the editing, but Colton is really being painted out as the villain and Bill seems completely reasonable. It completely sets Colton off and we see the potential game-changing move: Colton suggests giving the women their immunity idol and heading to Tribal Council to vote Bill out. Before discussions end, however, the men have changed it to voting Leif out, with Tarzan specifically gunning for the former ally due to his betrayal. The men hand over the idol and head to council, with Colton swearing to the camera that he’s in charge and Bill will go home. The discussion also provides the episode’s title, with Jay’s announcement that he’s “bum-puzzled” at what’s going on.
Tribal Council: The men’s move definitely confuses the heck out of Probst, who points out that this might be one of the most interesting or most foolish moves in the history of the show – an announcement the guys are more than aware about. The discussion definitely brings out the conflict between Colton and Bill, which gets absolutely ridiculous. Colton’s biggest problem with Bill is that his job is as a struggling stand-up comedian. This leads to a discussion between Bill and Colton’s different socio-economic backgrounds, which has absolutely no relevance on the bearing of this game. Add in Tarzan bitching about how everything comes back to race and how he’s tired of race being such a pivotal difference, and this becomes one of the strangest and most irrelevant tribal councils ever. Coming here we knew Colton was pushing for Bill’s name to be written down, but many people wanted Lief out. Unfortunately, there’s no reason to believe the plan will backfire on Colton. The votes are cast and…
The tribe has spoken
I have no idea where this game is going, but I hope we get to see another Survivor first and watch as someone finally slaps Colton’s smug face. I have no idea how someone who put himself as an outcast from the get-go has managed to become the leader of the men’s tribe, but they’re clearly in his egotistical hands now. Thanks to Colton, they’ve also voted out two of the stronger players they had and have lost the advantage of numbers. The fact that Jay is the only one who seems to see how backward this is is really a bad sign.
My biggest problem with the move this week is that it’s completely ludicrous in the scope of the game. I can understand getting rid of Matt last week – he was plotting against the other alliance and he was being kind of a jerk. His social game in the confines of the game was poor and he paid the price for it. Bill, on the other hand, was essentially voted out because a pompous, elitist, prick just didn’t like his choice of a day job. Bill’s only big mistake in game was allying with Matt – a choice he paid the price for by being on the lower end of the tribe’s order. To uproot the game simply to get him out sooner rather than later just makes no sense. To quote Jay, “I’m bum-puzzled.”