This episode, unlike most, starts the morning after Tribal Council. Seeing that, one might assume that there was so much going on that the producers had to cut out the usual nighttime scenes of everyone talking over the prior vote. And that assumption would be right!
So the very first thing we see is Rodney telling Carolyn, Tyler, and Will that the four of them should band together to vote Mike out. Everyone seems in favor of that, but Tyler tells Rodney to “pause it” until the time is right in the game. Well, guess what, Mike eavesdropped and overheard the whole thing.
Food auction time! And there is no lead-up to it, another sign that we have a lot of content to get to. The first item is a mystery item, won by Will. It’s a note that says “You just bought yourself out of this auction. Pick up your personal items and head to camp.” He does. At some point Probst cuts to the chase and asks who is holding out to try and win the advantage in the game that’s always one of the auction lots. Dan, Carolyn, and Mike raise their hands. Mike explains his thinking to the viewer: “Some, if not all of my alliance have flipped on me.”
The food rewards are shown very briefly, then Probst announces it’s time for the advantage. But first he has letters from home to auction off. Shirin quickly announces that in past seasons, Probst let everyone buy letters for whatever the high bid was on the first letter. The others take note, of this and the only bid is $20. Sure enough, Probst says anyone can have one for $20. Carolyn proposes that everyone pay the $20, that way the three who all had their $500 will all still have $480 and still be tied in vying for the advantage.
Everyone walks up to pay. Dan wants to go last, but Mike insists he go ahead, and assures him he wouldn’t pull any sort of trick. So Dan pays his $20 … and Mike just walks back to his seat. He’s welching on the deal! Everyone is in shock, even Probst. Finally Mike says he just can’t do it and hands over the $20. But the damage is done. To resolve the tie for the advantage, rocks are drawn from a bag. Dan wins.
Will gets back to camp only to find a clue waiting for him … well not so much a clue as a map to an exact spot. He heads over there and the spot is even marked with a flag in the ground! He digs down and finds a chest full of goodies, including something that looks like Tang powder. He immediately decides to take the rations back to the main camp and share them with everyone, despite the fact that some of them just won food in the auction!
When everyone else returns, Will shows them the food. Mike, meanwhile, decides to announce that Rodney and the other three have formed an alliance. A shouting match with Rodney ensues, partly because the Bostonian just wants to read his letter from home and not get into the topic. Everyone else is similarly eager.
When Dan opens his advantage, he founds he has not gotten a challenge advantage, but an extra Tribal Council vote! The rules say he has to announce he’s using it in advance, and must do so at the time Probst says he’s tallying the votes.
Well, congratulations to the Survivor producers. The annual food auction had grown very predictable over the last couple of seasons, and these twists have freshened it up again!
We see Mike speculate that maybe Will didn’t share all of the food he got. If he didn’t keep some, what happened to the box it was in? But Jenn immediately takes this as fact and repeats it, with Shirin looking on and grinning. Tyler soon tells Will about the talk, and Will takes Rodney to go get the box and lug it to camp. Will is incensed that after being so generous he is called into question. When he gets back to camp he immediately yells at Shirin. “Miss greedy ass, all you been doing is runnin’ your damn mouth.” It seems Mike and Jenn weren’t there at that moment so it is all focused on her, though actually what was shown was Jenn talking about it and Shirin just grinning.
Will segues from that to a general tirade against Shirin that gets very personal. Mike tries to calm him down, and finally just escorts Shirin away. “Go on with your little bitch,” Will shouts, referring to Mike as the bitch.
Shirin has a good cry with Mike and Jenn comforting her. Jenn says she wants to stay in the game just to ruin it for someone else (we already knew that). And Mike says “Me, Shirin, and Jenn, we only have each other.” Gosh, what happened to Sierra and Dan?
Time for the immunity challenge. But first, Will asks Probst, if he voluntarily passes up participating in the challenge, can he have a letter from home? Now, I don’t believe Will has come anywhere close to winning any challenge yet, so this isn’t really that big a deal. But Probst says he would go for that, but for the integrity of the tribe, every single other person would have to agree to it. If one objects, no go. Does anyone do so? Shirin raises her hand. As annoying as Shirin is, I still say: good for her.
The immunity challenge involves picking up one ball after another with some long tongs and walking over some seesaws with them. It’s much harder than it sounds… or looks. And Mike is the winner. Only Jenn and Shirin are shown to congratulate him.
And those two are also the ones on the chopping block. Carolyn tells her group that they have the vote in the bag. The six of them (Carolyn, Tyler, Will, Rodney, Sierra, and Dan) want to split the votes between Jenn and Shirin.
Mike says Sierra won’t even look him in the eye anymore, so his only chance is Dan. Jenn tells the camera, “It’s up to Dan who is dumb as a box of rocks.” Mike makes a strong case to Dan, and says his “final three” promise (for those two and Sierra) is still in effect. Carolyn is nervous and considers using her idol.
When Dan gets back from his chat with Mike, Tyler tells him everyone has been questioning if Dan is really with them. Dan has had it: “That’s enough. I’ve had enough of the playing the games (sic). If I go with them that’s my choice. I make my own destiny. Nobody dictates my future but me. My choice. My choice, not yours, not yours, and not theirs.” It’s a great speech.
Of course, Tyler, Carolyn and company could avoid being nervous about Dan by simply not splitting the vote, and they would be guaranteed to win at least 5-4. But that doesn’t come up.
The tribal council has a rehash/repeat of the Will-Shirin argument, and a repeat of Mike’s announcement that Rodney has flipped to form his own alliance.
Meanwhile, Dan says that an important part of the vote is who gets put “over there,” meaning on the jury.
The result: Jenn is voted out and Shirin gets the second-most votes. Oddly enough there is only one vote for Carolyn! We later see that Mike and Shirin both voted for Jenn, which I don’t quite understand.
So Mike is definitely in trouble, but it is mostly his own fault. His move at the auction was just a horrible blunder, and it made him look untrustworthy.
Now, was Dan’s choice not to go with Mike the right one? I’m not sure. It definitely made sense for him not to go to the Finals with Mike, as everyone would just say the two made all the same moves but Mike made them better. But this might have been too early to make that move.
My updated rankings are below. You might be surprised to see Will among the favorites. That’s not so much because I think he has anything going for him. More because he hasn’t ruled himself out as others have. Or did his very personal rant this week rule him out? I actually think not, since he went off on Shirin, and most of the others probably wished they could have gone off on Shirin themselves!
On the no-chance list: Dan, Rodney and Shirin are obvious because all of them are hated by multiple people in the game. Sierra isn’t, but she has not done a darn thing all season except be offended by things. How could she win? The one I might regret putting on this list is Carolyn, especially because she still has an idol. The reason I put her on the list is that I thought she was too abrasive. I actually still do think that.
Favorites to win: 1) Tyler, 2) Mike, 3) Will
No chance: Carolyn, Dan, Rodney, Shirin, Sierra
Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Hali (Mike), Joe (Mike), Jenn (Shirin)