As we saw last week, Jonas is gone. Somehow I missed that he’s the first member of the jury, so the betrayal he just faced could have some impressive consequences down the road. The guys discuss his departure realizing that it was basically luck of the draw: if the random tribe swap a few episodes had gone differently, any other guy could be gone now too. More importantly, Jay and Troyzan realize a girl needs to go home next. While they’re trying to be loyal to their newer Salani tribe, the girls might not be, and the odds are definitely stacked in their favor.
Reward Challenge: We get to the reward challenge pretty early, with the remaining players split into two tribes, playing for a trip to the (enter branding) 7-Up Oasis: burgers, steak, key lime pie, and as much 7-Up as they can drink. The challenge involves a race between the two tribes that starts with a severe water slide, then running out into water where they have to collect large block puzzle pieces. Once all of the pieces are collected the tribe has to work together to assemble the puzzle. The challenge goes back and forth between the two tribes with both making mistakes (Christina leaves her tribemates in the lurch as they carry back the last puzzle piece while she… stands there), but ultimately the team with Lief (giving he little guy his first victory), Christina, Michael, Sabrina, and Kim claims victory and an awesome meal.
As usual, it’s hard to tell what’s editing and what isn’t, but it looks like the girls are the only ones who use the 7-Up Oasis to continue scheming. Poor Mike looks clueless as he eats while the girls plot, with his name being the next to be written down. The challenge losers also do some strategizing. The winners do something we haven’t seen in a while, however: bring some of their reward back for the losers. They may not get steak or burgers, but everyone gets a tasty drink of 7-Up (and yes, the skeptical side of me wonders if the winners did it out of kindness or out of 7-Up sponsoring more brand time by having their cooler taken back to camp).
At camp it’s more of what we saw last week: Tarzan driving everyone nuts. This week the major conflict is between the elder player and Chelsea. He can sense that he irritates her and refuses to let it go. Yet again he shows an utter lack of a social game, but that’s also why he’s going to be permitted to hang around for a while. It’s like Phillip a couple of seasons ago: the more irritating someone like that is the longer you keep them around, because there is no way someone is going to vote for them to win the million dollars.
Immunity Challenge: The challenge sees players having to traverse a narrow step bridge while navigating several bags of puzzle pieces along a rope that is intertwined with the bridge’s spokes. The first four to make it to the other side with their bags move on to the next step. Jay is first, Kim is second, Troyzan comes third after blowing a huge lead, and Alicia comes in fourth (with a heavily blurred exposed breast). The second phase involves assembling the puzzle pieces – 60 pieces into a square shape. Kat shows her depth of intelligence again by taking comfort in losing because, “this is too hard for me.” Yeah, we figured that out. The challenge is particularly difficult because puzzle pieces fit into more than one space, but not every space is right. The different challengers take different approaches, from Jay’s methodical slow approach (“I hate puzzles,” he tells Probst) to Kim speeding through. Jay’s approach winds up paying off, and a man wins immunity. This shouldn’t really be a problem, however, since Jay wasn’t on the chopping block anyway.
As strategy is discussed in preparation for tribal council, it turns out Jay might be the smartest player around (words I didn’t think I would say). He catches that the girls have a bit of an alliance especially after Chelsea asks him about voting out Mike in front of players that aren’t a part of the “new Salani”. She tries to be coy when Jay challenges her about her alliances, but the “bum-puzzled” player catches on to the way she’s answering questions. The dumb part is that Jay gets that there is a girl alliance but tells the camera he’ll have to go along with them so as not to get voted out – Dude! You’re going to get voted out if you keep them in power as well. The entire conflict leaves the girls in disarray however. Do they vote for Michael, strengthening their power as women versus men, or do they vote out Christina and maintain the illusion of the “new Salani” alliance (while getting rid of an annoying player along the way).
Tribal Council: Despite the question of who is going home, Tribal Council winds up being rather boring. Nobody is sitting in fear of going home this night (Probst asks, nobody answers) and there’s a lot of positing about alliances, with Tarzan spouting off some more nonsense about how Jeff Probst is probably being played with the answers he’s getting. Um, no he’s not – he has a comfy bed, a shower, and probably a cold beer when he leaves tribal council, and he doesn’t need to win in order to collect his million dollars. He is, as Charlie Sheen would say, winning. Regardless, Jonas seems entertained as he watches from the jury seats. When it comes time to vote, there is a small curveball thrown in, as two people vote for Tarzan, two people vote for Christina, and…
The tribe has spoken
I’d say that’s a shame, but it’s exactly what we expected. In fact, except for the votes for Tarzan (I forgot to pay attention to the votes at the end so I didn’t see who voted for him) everything played out exactly as expected. More importantly, the women now have firm control over the game. Expect Christina to go home next week now that the women can afford to cut one of their own, but otherwise the men are about to go out week by week.