“I’m a meat collector.” Survivor San Juan Del Sur October 29 2014 recap

29 Oct

Missy is Baylor’s mother. Missy is Baylor’s mother. Missy is Baylor’s mother. Is it annoying that I keep repeating that? Well, I’m just trying to simulate what watching the episode was like. Not only is this mentioned at every opportunity, Baylor can’t even scratch her nose without the producers cutting to Missy for a reaction shot.

Last episode I thought Missy was overly dramatic talking about people who want to hurt her daughter, but actually Dale goes just as far, saying that on Survivor “You see complete strangers slaughter your daughter.” That doesn’t mean Dale is giving up though. Back in the first or second episode, he had gone to the well near camp and found an interesting symbol on the lid which he broke off and held onto. Lo and behold, that seemingly extraneous moment comes into play — Dale shows that piece to Jon and says it’s an immunity idol, and Jon believes it!

Now it’s time for Jeff Probst to arrive at the blue team’s camp with a big sack of rice. You’ll recall that they had signaled their willingness to trade something for the food. He notes with some disdain that this is only the second time this has happened and the first was Survivor: The Australian Outback (the second season, we’re now on season 29), and he’s quick to add that the Australian group had other additional hardships they were dealing with.

After much buildup, Probst reveals his demands: he wants to take back every comfort item the tribe has won to date. All they get to keep are a machete, a pot, and a flint. After he says this, there is no deliberation, the tribe simply gets up and starts breaking their shelter down. Probst stuffs everything in the hammock and drags it away. Roll the credits.

When both tribes have filed into the arena, Probst announces that since there are no new possible “blood” matchups (the only ones on opposite tribes are Keith and Wes, who have dueled already), each tribe can just pick its strongest competitor for the duel. So Reed from the blue team will face Baylor for Orange. The challenge involves navigating an obstacle course blindfolded, then examining a tribal mask by feel, and then assembling an identical mask from a selection of pieces, only some of which fit.

Reed wins, but note that the reward they were playing for was food. So whoever Reed picks to go to Exile Island with Baylor won’t get any of that food.  He picks Julie, but Natalie raises her hand to volunteer and Reed doesn’t stand in her way. This is the moment where I realized Natalie is a contender to win this game! She saw the chance to exchange information with Baylor (her presumed ally, since Natalie allied with Missy) as more valuable than some food. Bravo! Of course a look at Natalie tells you she is not exactly wasting away.

As Blue digs into their reward of shish kebabs (“I’m a meat collector,” Alec exclaims), Jeremy, who didn’t like the rice-for-a-tarp deal when the tribe made it, is now even madder. If they’d only held out for one more day they would have food and their tarp and other gear. Jeremy’s other problem is that Julie acts like she’s about to quit during a night of hard rain. She makes it through the night and pats herself on the back for doing so. But as Alec notes, “This is Survivor. You sign up for this s**t.”

In the challenge Orange gets out to a decent lead, but Jon has trouble putting the pieces of a flag together and Josh and Reed catch up to him and pass him, winning yet another challenge for Blue. I find myself cheering for Blue, who do seem to be a more likable bunch overall.

Everyone just wants to make it to the merge. Dale offers Jon a deal: if I’m not voted out tonight, as soon as the person’s torch is snuffed I will give you my idol. A smart move, since he’s not giving anything up, as noted above, the idol is fake (though Jon doesn’t know that). Dale wants to team with Jon and Jaclyn to vote Missy out. Alas, Jon immediately tells this to Missy and Baylor, and they point out that they could just send three votes Dale’s way (Keith being the other vote) and have two people vote Keith, then Keith is gone if Dale does play an idol.

Alas, that’s exactly what they end up doing, and Dale is out of the game.

Of course, what Jon and friends didn’t consider is that Keith might have an idol, but he does — a real one at that. He gets to save it for another day.

Contenders: 1) Wes, 2) Josh, 3) Jon, 4) Natalie, 5) Reed, 6) Jeremy, 7) Baylor, 8) Jaclyn, 9) Julie, 10) Keith

No chance: Missy, Alec

“She can be a bit of a diva.” Survivor San Juan Del Sur October 22 2014 recap

24 Oct

At the last tribal council Jon was the only one to cast his vote for Keith, and he realizes as everyone heads back to camp that he’s somewhat isolated. Jeremy jokes to the camera about Jon’s “apology tour.” As for himself, Jeremy says “I’m in a beautiful spot right now.”

This being Survivor, anytime we see someone talking about how pretty they’re sitting and how they have the game in the palm of their hand, we know that person is about to experience a setback. And Jeremy does, when everyone goes to the arena to find out that the tribes are being shaken up. The new tribes are as follows:

ORANGE: Kelly/Dale, Jon/Jaclyn, Missy/Baylor, Keith

BLUE: Alec, Jeremy, Wes, Julie, Natalie, Josh/Reed

Of course, Jeff Probst immediately seizes upon the fact that one tribe is almost all couples while the other is almost all solo players (and never stops mentioning it for the rest of the episode). The reactions are predictable: couples are glad to be reunited, Jeremy has his nice situation shaken up, and Jon has gotten himself out of trouble.

There is no duel and no Exile Island trip … are we done with this for the season after just four times?

When the new blue tribe gets back to camp, the newcomers are shocked to find out how little rice is left. Orange was rationing appropriately while blue wasn’t rationing at all (which certainly could be a big reason why blue won every challenge except the one thrown by Drew). Who is to blame for this carelessness? Well, we see Missy cooking huge portions of rice, so she’d have to be a prime suspect. And she gets huffy when Dale points out her wastefulness. Dale’s daughter Kelly observes, “Missy plays that sweet mom role but she can be a bit of a diva, and my dad is a small-town, hard-working farm man, and he doesn’t deal with that kind of stuff.”

There’s a challenge which is pretty standard stuff involving tossing bean bags, but it gets added entertainment value from being in the mud. It’s pretty funny to be able to recognize all of the players by their silhouettes since that’s basically all you see. The blue team wins the challenge, so orange is sent back to camp. But before Probst can dismiss the blue team, Reed speaks up: “Jeff, when you get a sec we’d like to talk to you please.” When he gets a sec? Hosting Survivor is his job, where else would he have to be? Anyway, Reed asks if they can trade something to get more rice, they only have a scoop left. Jeff says since they have enough to make it to the next day, he’ll think about it and look them up.

On the orange tribe, things are pretty clear-cut: there are seven players, so if two of the couples team up, they will have a majority. Since Missy and Baylor have it in for Dale, that means Jon and Jaclyn are the swing votes. They talk to everyone and consider all options. Baylor has gone against Jaclyn once before, on the other hand they think Kelly and Dale are “sneaky.” So they end up teaming with Missy and Baylor, and Kelly is voted out.

Time to start figuring out who has a chance to win.

Contenders: 1) Wes, 2) Josh, 3) Jon, 4) Julie

Not sure yet: Jacyln, Baylor, Keith, Jeremy, Natalie, Reed

No chance: Dale, Missy, Alec

Recapping the first four episodes of Survivor San Juan Del Sur: Blood vs. Water

20 Oct

Here is a quick recap of the first four episodes of the show.

Episode 1

A different intro than any previous season I can recall, with each pair of players being introduced before any of them meet. It was pretty boring.

We find out one pair of sisters was on The Amazing Race previously, and one player is a former baseball pro, John Rocker. A huge, athletic-looking guy.

Exile island is back.

As soon as the tribes come together there’s a challenge pitting husband Jeremy against wife Val. Jeremy is in tears, however we, the viewers can’t get emotional, as we have just met them.

Dale the oldest guy breaks his glasses in two to try and start a fire with the combined lenses. He is in danger of being voted out and gets a few votes, and Baylor gets one vote, but the other votes go to Nadiya, whom other players had seen play on The Amazing Race. Apparently she did her share of “backstabbing” there.

I noted down Josh as an early favorite.

Episode 2

Now the rules changes become apparent. On the previous Blood vs. Water there was a duel at the start of each episode to see who went to Redemption island and who was out of the game for good. That seems to be gone, as is Nadiya. Instead it looks like each episode will have a loved-ones challenge like the one Jeremy and Val participated in.

John Rocker loses and his girlfriend chooses Jeremy to go with him to Exile Island (alas it means the two most entertaining characters are away from the action). As in the last show, each gets a clue and one of the two clues is blank. Val didn’t share her clue last week, but Jeremy does share his. Also they each promise to do their best to protect the other’s woman.

After the two left, the remaining blue tribe members ask Jeff Probst if they can swap their newly won beans for a flint (Jon having lost theirs). He ridicules the offer, to the point of being a jerk, but finally lets them swap the whole reward (fishing gear and beans) for flint.

The challenge involves duels on a floating platform (this has been done before and always seems to entertain). Among other things, we find out that Wes is what you might call country strong. Maybe he’s a contender.

Back at camp, Rocker tells Val he wants to protect her, and she makes up a lie. Now, it’s nothing new for a player to bluff about having an idol, but she tells John that she found two of them! Meanwhile Rocker uses his clue and finds an idol for real.

There’s talk of splitting the vote 3-3 between Val or Baylor, so Rocker, continuing his protector role, tells Val about it and that she should play her idol (sound advice, if you believe her story that she has two). Val figures if that’s the plan she just needs to vote for Baylor and have one other additional person do so, and Baylor will be out. It becomes apparent that Val does not have a good social game, she is just too pugnacious.

The vote (intended by the others to flush out Val’s idol) is a 4-4 tie, but of course she has no idol to play. So on the revote everyone votes Val (except she herself of course). Rocker already realizes that though Val lied (about having idols) Jeremy will think Rocker is the one who lied about protecting her!

Episode 3

John Rocker is definitely the focus of the episode. At the start when both tribes enter the arena he tries to explain to Jeremy that he did all he could to save Val. However, Rocker’s own tribe is understandably shocked to find out the two men had a deal.

For the rest of the episode the blue tribe yells at the orange tribe at every opportunity, telling them they should vote John out. You would think if your enemy wants you to do something you should probably do the opposite, right? Josh leads a secret plan to vote John out, mainly to make sure his closer ally Baylor isn’t the one. Why others go along with it really isn’t so clear. But voted out he is. “Well played,” he compliments the group.

Episode 4

We hadn’t seen much of Drew and his younger brother Alec before this episode, but they are pretty good characters. Drew gets sent to Exile Island along with Jaclyn from the orange tribe, and he tells her he’s thinking of throwing the next immunity challenge. Blue has not lost a challenge yet, but “There’s snakes on our team that have to go.” He does indeed manage to throw the challenge single-handedly.

When Blur gets back to camp, there are many ideas on whom to vote out. Jon sees Julie, who is somewhat ostracized anyway, as an easy choice. Jeremy wants to vote out Keith for the sin of speculating that Jeremy has an idol. Drew, however, wants Kelly out … he considers her to be a schemer since she has seen every Survivor episode. I’m not sure if she really has seen ‘em all, but if so she would know that throwing a challenge never pays off and always, without exception, comes back to haunt whoever does it… are you reading this, Drew? Meanwhile Drew is becoming so annoying that he becomes a candidate to be voted out also. He doesn’t help his cause by talking about voting out certain people with the respective person standing within earshot! So Drew is indeed the one sent home, though three others get votes, as follows:

voted for Julie: Reed, Keith

voted for Drew: Kelly, Natalie, Jeremy, Julie, Missy

voted for Kelly: Drew

voted for Keith: Jon

Interesting here is the fact that neither Jeremy nor Jon voted for the person they were campaigning for!

Final thoughts about Survivor: Cagayan Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty

15 Oct

Obviously a new season has since begun, and we will join that one in progress, but first for bookkeeping purposes it’s time to wrap up the prior season.

Good things about this season:

- A very likable cast.

- All-new players.

- Everyone was playing hard.

- The best player won.

- There was much excitement revolving around immunity idols, starting with Garrett and Morgan in the very first episode.

- Camera time was much more evenly distributed than in other seasons.

Bad things about this season:

- What sealed the win for Tony was a foolish blunder by Woo. While Tony was the best player, he made his share of mistakes.

- The “Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty” gimmick was dissolved early on in the season. Though you’d have to say the victory went to Brawn, with Tony and Woo as the final two.

Does anyone from this season make my all-time top ten players list? No, because Tony made too many mistakes (as did Spencer).

Where does this Survivor rank all-time? I guess you’ll have to look at my updated rankings.

“I’d be the stupidest Survivor player”: Survivor Cagayan May 21 2014 Season Finale recap

7 Jun

As the episode begins, Tony justifies his surprising vote against Trish: “She hasn’t hurt nobody … and you can’t take somebody like that to the end.” Tony goes on to tell Woo, Kass, and Spencer that his special idol can be used for this upcoming vote as well, unlike all other idols which can only be used until the vote from 5 people to 4 (all of this is a lie). Apparently this is what Tony was somehow trying to say at the last tribal council too. At any rate, the others aren’t sure whether to believe him. Kass thinks Tony made a mistake voting for Trish, because “in reality almost everyone dislikes Trish.”

We now see a boat heading for the camp, with an unfamiliar man on board. Tony, no doubt using his policeman’s intuition, tells Kass “that’s your husband!” And it is. Also on board are Spencer’s younger sister, Woo’s cousin, and Tony’s best friend. However, Tony cries — he is crushed that the best friend came to the Philippines rather than his wife. I can’t recall the “loved ones visit” ever happening as late as the final four before. And yes, there is a challenge but this time the loved ones do not participate (which is only fair — this late in the season these challenges should be decided solely on the merits of the players, not based on the skills of another person whom we haven’t seen before and won’t see again).

The challenge begins with the players perched atop a 20-foot-high pole in the water. They are very high up and it’s very windy, and Kass is freaking out about both of those things. The players have to keep filling a container of water to release a key, then swim to shore and solve a puzzle. Kass is by far the last to get her key, yet manages to come from way behind and win the challenge. Spencer the puzzle ace somehow just can’t get the hang of this one, and of course Woo and Tony have not been great at puzzles all year (we find out that Tony has not won an immunity challenge all season). So congratulations to Kass for winning this, but really it’s irrelevant for her! Since she’s not well-liked, any of the other three players would certainly have taken her to the final three anyway. No, the main effect of this is to hurt Spencer whom nobody in their right mind would want to take to the finals. So he’s the obvious choice to be voted out.

However Spencer isn’t done giving it his best shot. He gets Tony alone and tells him that as a Survivor fan it is obvious to him that this season there will be a final two rather than a final three. His proof is that after the last challenge Probst didn’t say the line he often says: “This gives you the opportunity to plead your case for a million dollars” (or whatever the phrasing is). Spencer’s pitch is that since there must be one more vote to come after this one, he should keep Spencer because this gives him a 2 in 3 chance to make the final two rather than a 1 in 3 chance. Wait, what? Trust me, this made some sense the way Spencer said it, though it makes none to me now, and surely Tony isn’t dumb enough to keep Spencer around?

At tribal council, Spencer tells the jury that if he makes it to the final three he swears to take Tony to the final two. However it’s not enough, and Spencer is voted out. By the way, one of the best things about Spencer is his unfiltered expressions of annoyance, which we have seen many times throughout the season!

All of this is interspersed with periodic shots of Jeff Probst and the live studio audience, as well as a couple of peeks backstage. Sorry but I don’t like this innovation by CBS, or at least the part where they showed all of the players in the green room watching the episode. It’s too jarring to see everyone in street clothes (and back at their normal weights) and then be transported back to the game. Speaking of CBS, at this moment I can’t help but think: now that Spencer is out, how crestfallen will the network be if the final two is Kass and Woo?

Speaking of those two, they agree that Tony cannot be allowed to win the final challenge.  Woo says, “We got no shot against Tony … I’d be the stupidest Survivor player taking Tony to the end. Most ridiculous.”

(The love of my life, watching with me, had the following comment on Woo and his California duuuude way of speaking: “He’s totally smoking weed while he’s on the show.”)

We see the final immunity challenge and it’s an absolutely huge maze. If this were in a movie everyone would assume that it were a CGI special effect. The challenge is to search through this maze to find cogs for a wheel, then arrange them correctly so the wheel turns. Tony and Woo end up going through the maze more or less together while Kass strikes out on her own. It comes down to putting together the cogs … remember that Tony is terrible at puzzles! Woo beats Kass by just half a second to win the final immunity.

This means Tony is toast, right? Well, he does have a spiel ready for Woo, basically saying that Woo as a martial arts man lives by integrity and honor and he knows he’ll do the right thing and take Tony to the end. Tony to the camera: “Is he buying it? I wouldn’t buy it.”

At tribal council, Kass makes clear that if she’s on the jury she is voting for Tony to win. Now, you’ll recall that when the show does a final two, only one vote is cast at final three: the vote of the person who has immunity. Since the other two could only vote for each other, there is no point in their casting a vote. So the ballot is in and Woo votes out … Kass! Wow, in a season of shockers, this has to rank with the best of them.

So we are down to two, and the boys celebrate (I find it kind of funny that when Woo cheers he yells his own name). It is time for the final feast. But suddenly, Tony sees a  little piece of paper and slips it in his pocket! Is there yet another surprise twist left in the game? No, just a note saying that a mirror and a scale have been left near camp so the guys can see how they look and how much weight they have lost.

As for the final tribal council, let me just hit the high points as frankly most of the jury questions are the usual self-serving nonsense.

- Morgan basically uses her time questioning Woo and Tony to simply rip into Kass. I guess that was the “A” material she had prepared, and even Kass not making the final two wasn’t enough reason to abandon it.

- Usually a player’s appearance worsens during the game, and then when he is on the jury and he’s freshened up, wearing clean clothes etc., he looks better. Not so with L.J. who was on the “beauty” tribe in the game, but kind of looks like a scary drifter now that he’s on the jury.

- Spencer, incredulous that Woo didn’t take Kass to the end, calls Kass “one of the biggest goats in Survivor history.” He also gives a speech to the jury plugging Tony.

In front of the studio audience, the votes are revealed, and Tony wins. Only Tasha voted for Woo. At the finals, Woo is gracious and a complete gentleman, Tony gets to do the entertaining “llama talk” he performed during the season, and also Probst asks the jury how they would have voted if the finale had been Woo vs. Kass. It looks like 7 people say they would have given Woo the million dollars.

You know Probst would have loved to interview Tony’s wife and ask “What is it like being married to this guy?” But alas, Mrs. Tony is pregnant again and can’t be there.

We also find out that the next season will be Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water. (No Roman numeral II seems to be involved.)

Back to Woo: just think if he had lost the final cogs-in-the-wheel challenge which he just barely won over Kass. Kass certainly would have taken Woo to the finals over Tony, and according to the straw poll mentioned above, Woo would have won in that scenario. So in effect, winning the challenge cost him a million dollars!

I certainly hope we will see more final twos. Granted, in this case the vote was not close, but with Kass added to the mix it still would have been a runaway for Tony.

I’ll be back soon with final thoughts on the season.

 

“One of his options for a goat”: Survivor Cagayan May 14 2014 recap

14 May

You’ll recall that last episode, Woo came back from the reward trip to tell Tony that Spencer and Kass had pressed him to help them vote Tasha out. Of course what really happened is that they wanted Woo to join them against Tony. At the start of this episode, Woo tells Tony what really happened. As soon as Tony’s alone, we hear that his plan is to blindside Woo. Why would he want to take Woo to the finals over Trish, who would have a much better chance of getting votes?

The reward challenge involves rolling in mud and transporting the mud on one’s body over to a bucket. Two things that are supposed to be dramatic did not happen. There is supposed to be a climactic weighing of the buckets to see who wins, but Tony’s bucket is not just full, but overflowing (!) while nobody else’s seems much more than half full. So even Probst just declares it a Tony victory. Then, the winner of the reward (having pizza delivered to camp) gets to choose one person to join him, which is supposed to drive a wedge between that person and his friends. But Tony chooses Trish, who is emaciated, and it’s just not that controversial.

Probst puts such a weird emphasis on the pizza as something extra-special that I expected a loved one from home to be the one delivering it, as a “surprise” twist. But thankfully that did not happen.

As Tony and Trish eat pizza, he tells her that he has two idols. And he also says that the special idol he has can be used a round later, in the cutdown from four to three (which isn’t true). Saying this is a genius idea — Tony’s the only one who knows what the rules are regarding the special idol, so why not take advantage of that?

Tony is a busy guy this episode. He takes Kass aside and tells her that he wants to go to the end with her and Trish. He swears on his wife and his child. He also says that Woo spilled the beans about the conversation at the prior reward trip. Kass heads back to camp and immediately asks Woo if he spilled the beans to Tony. Woo says no way. Then as soon as Tony arrives, Kass says in a loud voice that Woo says he didn’t tell Tony about their reward discussion. Annoying, and Tony certainly is annoyed. “You just sealed your fate, congratulations,” he tells her. This seems awfully soon after swearing on his family to go to the end with Kass, something Kass is quick to point out. She harps on the point because she wants Woo to have as many doubts as possible about Tony.

Kass then proposes to Spencer that they vote Trish out, to “take out one of his options for a goat” (and by goat they means someone who is easy to beat at the finals). Trish overhears this and is clearly seething.

The immunity challenge involves building a ladder, then building a staircase, then solving one of those sliding puzzles where there’s only a single open space in a grid and you have to do a lot of maneuvering to get the pieces into place. Tony gets a big lead in the early part of the challenge, but when it comes to the puzzle he just frenetically pushes pieces around hoping for something good to happen. Spencer catches up to him and solves the puzzle pretty quickly. (If there’s an established trick to solving such puzzles, I don’t know it either).

Back at camp, Trish congratulates Spencer, then says “I just have a quick question for Kass, do you think I’m stupid? Or do you think I’m deaf?” She then proceeds to absolutely unload on Kass, and she makes some good points along the way. For one, she points out that Kass is quick to portray herself as the victim in most any situation. Trish does look a bit scary while delivering this rant, particularly in her thin state. Kass comments, “She looked like friggin’ Skeletor.”

Tony, Woo, and Trish go off to talk. Tony admits that he swore to Kass on his life and child (turns out he never made any final three promise to Woo). Tony swears on the same family members to Woo, and also swears on his dead father. Woo is mistrustful now and he tells Kass he wants to get rid of Trish. Tony eavesdrops on this, or tries to. Woo asks Spencer: will he promise Woo the final three if he votes out Trish? Spencer immediately says yes. Well of course! There are only five people left, so the only promise Spencer is making is that he’ll vote off Tony if he can. Duh!

At tribal council, the jury files in. We see Jeremiah clean-shaven for the first time, and now he does have that male-model look about him. This also quintuples his camera time. There is more talk about Kass and Trish, and Tony notes that Kass always has the same little smile on her face, no matter what her mood: “happy, sad, cryin’, whatever.” Also, Tony announces he has the special idol and hangs it around his neck. Jeff collects the urn of votes and says now is the time to play an idol. I thought for sure Tony would give his regular idol to Trish, then use the special idol on himself if need be, since this is the last time he can use either. That way he and Trish are both safe, right? But no! He hands the regular idol to Probst… to use on himself! And Trish is voted out by the other four players, including Tony!

This was a big surprise when it happened, but when I think it through it makes sense. Trish had a chance to win the game, much more so than Kass whom nobody likes. Plus, Trish as a juror would probably vote for Tony, while Kass definitely wouldn’t. So this was really a good move.

One episode left. The last two years at this time I broke down every possible combination of final three to plot out every permutation on who should take whom to the finals. But this season it’s far simpler. Tony, Kass, and Woo all should want to take each other to the final three, and eliminate Spencer. And Spencer obviously would want to eliminate Tony and go to the end with Kass and Woo.

Favorites to win, in order: Spencer, Tony

No chance: Kass, Woo

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Sarah (Tony), Morgan (Spencer), L.J. (Tony), Jeremiah (Spencer), Jefra (Spencer), Tasha (Spencer), Trish (Tony)

Counting crabs: Survivor Cagayan May 7 2014 recap

7 May

Just six players are left in the game to begin this episode!

The morning after everyone gets back from Tribal Council, Tony, Spencer and Woo are up before the other three. Tony is answering questions about being a cop, so obviously he has finally dropped his “construction worker” cover story as far as Spencer and Tasha are concerned. He wonders aloud why Kass, usually an early riser, is in bed, and voices the thought that perhaps she’s not feeling well.

Kass, though lying down some distance away, is not asleep, and hears her name. And she thinks she hears Tony calling her “a bitch.” And confronts him about it when he comes over. Now, Tony said no such thing, and Spencer and Woo know it (perhaps others too). But they are not about to speak up, since Tony being a target of criticism means everyone else can stay low-key, which they are very happy to do. We see much more bickering between Kass and Tony, and finally Tony blurts out that he has the immunity idol that has with special powers. However, he won’t show it around.

Tony’s need for attention has hurt him throughout this game, and it’s never good to blurt things out, but announcing that he has the special idol is perhaps not a bad move in itself, since that knowledge would tend to prevent people from voting for you! By the way, I assume that nobody but Tony and us viewers knows just what the special powers are, namely that the idol can be used after the votes have been revealed.

By the way: the opening credits for this show simply call it Survivor: Cagayan now, with no mention of the “Brawns vs. Brains vs. Beauty” subtitle.

The reward challenge is won by Spencer, Kass, and Woo, who get to take presents to Filipino school kids. Woo entertains them with a little martial arts show as well. Afterward, the three have time to strategize. Kass and Spencer want to flush Tony’s idol (they know he has a regular idol, and didn’t believe him when he said he had a special idol). Spencer goes so far as to promise the other two that he’ll take them to the final three. But then, why wouldn’t he? As my rankings below would indicate, everyone probably wants to take Kass and Woo with them to the final three. Kass has a few double-crosses on her record, she’s not the warmest individual in the world, and she would seem to be financially well off, too. As for Woo, anyone up against him could say Woo was just Tony’s stooge and didn’t make any moves of his own. As for Spencer’s plan, Kass immediately says she’s fine with it, then just before they get back to camp, Woo says he’s in too.

While those three are gone, Tony frets about Spencer and Kass trying to recruit Woo, which is exactly what happened. But when Woo returns to camp and Tony grills him about this, Woo says the strategy talk was all about how to take out Tasha. And he says Spencer never even mentioned the concept that Tony might have an idol. However, all of this is too implausible for Tony, who starts wondering how much he can really trust Woo.

Time for the immunity challenge. Jeff Probst begins by taking the immunity necklace back from Tasha, and notes that her three immunity wins in a row put her just one short of the record held by … Kelly Wigglesworth! That’s right, it was set by a player in Season 1, and we are on Season 28!

The challenge is one that’s been done before. The players need to solve a combination lock, and each number in the combination is the number of a certain item that they have to count. The items are anything from pieces of bamboo to a bunch of crabs — living crabs that move around while you try to count them, mind you. Each time the players run back to the locks, they can only try one new combination before racing back out again. None of the players get their counts right on any of their early attempts, but finally Spencer ends up winning.

So back at camp, the three who were on the reward reaffirm their earlier plan: Spencer and Woo will vote for Tony, and Kass and Tasha will vote for Trish, ensuring either Trish or Tony will go home (not really, since Tony has two idols, but the others don’t believe that to be the case). So to allay suspicion, Tasha puts on a fake “resigned herself to her fate” persona. However, when Tony sees that Tasha isn’t scrambling, he gets suspicious that something is up.

Then Tasha and Kass vent to each other when they’re alone on the beach about what a jerk Tony is and how unlikable he is. But that gets Kass to thinking. Nobody likes Tony, right? So that being the case, people won’t vote for him to win, just as they didn’t vote for Russell Hantz in Survivor: Samoa. If that’s correct, Kass muses, Tony would be the ideal person to take to the end. So Kass soon heads over to Woo and suggests that instead of voting for Trish and Tony respectively, they both vote for Tasha. Woo’s eyes bulge out.

At Tribal Council, when the players are almost ready to vote, Kass announces that she expects a blindside. Tasha says she is hoping for a blindside (by which she means a blindside of Tony). When Jeff gets the votes, he asks about idols, and though Tony fingers his bag, he does not play his “regular” idol. The votes are read, and Tasha is sent home by a vote of 4-1-1, with only Tasha voting Trish and only Spencer voting Tony.

And really, all four of the people who voted for Tasha have improved their chances to win by doing so. Even Spencer probably hasn’t hurt his chance to win in front of the jury, but of course this did hurt his chance to get to the finals. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Spencer will definitely win if he makes the finals. He would be well served to win immunity next week though!

In my rankings, I finally moved Woo onto my “no chance list,” which I probably should have done a few weeks ago. I’ve had Tasha as my favorite to win all season, and of course that’s no longer possible.

Favorites to win, in order: Spencer, Trish, Tony

No chance: Kass, Woo

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Sarah (Trish), Morgan (Spencer), L.J. (Tony), Jeremiah (Spencer), Jefra (Trish), Tasha (Spencer)

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