“I Was Born Afraid of Dying” Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X Season Premiere Recap

24 Sep

The scene is Fiji, and the season puts contestants ages 18-31 against another group ages 33-52. In case anyone doesn’t grasp the concept of the season, much time at the beginning of the episode is spent discussing the differences between the generations.

It’s time for the tribes to grab supplies to take back to camp, and at various stations they are presented with a choice of which item to take: for example, they can grab some chickens or some fishing gear, but not both. In the chaos an envelope falls on the ground and Jessica (a district attorney from New York) of the Gen-X tribe grabs it.

Before Jeff Probst sends the tribes on their way, he warns the tribes that it is cyclone season in Fiji, so they would be well-served to hurry up and get their shelters built.

As the Millennials get started, we hear from Zeke, a financial analyst from Brooklyn. He says to the camera that he may be young, but he’s an 80-year-old man at heart and “I’m on a tribe with children.” No Survivor season premiere is complete without a young woman telling us that she can manipulate men, and this year that person is Figgy, a bartender from Nashville. She quickly allies with Jay, a “dudebro” type, and Taylor who was obviously cast as the designated hunk of the season. Seemingly also with them is Michelle, a pretty hippie type much in the mold of all-time Survivor great Parvati. Hannah, at first glance somewhat of a clone of last season’s Aubry, quickly sees she doesn’t fit in with “the beautiful faces of Kappa Kappa Survivor.”

As Gen-X gets organized, Ken, a model from Denver, tells the group he has lived in the jungles of Maui (huh?) for years and has a lot of survival skills. Soon thereafter Jessica slips away to open the envelope she picked up and finds it is a “Legacy Advantage” that can be used on Day 36 of the game. The note also says that if she has to leave the game she is to will the advantage to another player. Then we meet Rachel, a recruiting director from Los Angeles whose contribution is to make gratuitously obnoxious comments. Then there’s David, a TV writer also from Southern California. He tells us he likes Survivor for the gameplay and doesn’t like bugs or sleeping outside. Nothing unusual there, but we see him recoiling and plugging his ears just because someone near him is chopping bamboo. That is unusual! He volunteers to help red-haired trial lawyer Chris and Boston cop Bret build a shelter, but no sooner does he spot Ken and Paul (a greybeard who is the oldest player) walk around carrying something than he immediately says they obviously have an idol and need to be confronted. Chris and Bret point out that those two would hardly be openly carrying an idol around if they had one. To which hyper David says “I don’t mean to be, like, the paranoid guy.” Too late for that. By the way, he later sums up all of his fears as “I was born afraid of dying.”

We cut back to the Millennials to see their shelter, and it’s pathetic and nowhere close to done. But they’ve had enough labor for now and decide to have a beach party even though the sky is full of very dark clouds! Much too late, they try and do more before bedtime but don’t get far. “Dude, this is gonna be so bad,” one of them says.

In the morning, both tribes get a tarpaulin in tree mail which is said to be on loan. We find out Gen-X had a very rough night too even though they had a better shelter. The tarps worry the players more than anything, since they have seen prior seasons with really bad weather and nobody getting a tarp for free. That must mean this night is going to be historically rough. Soon after, the Millennials actually get a visit from Probst, who says the weather report says the storm will turn into a full-blown cyclone, and for the first time ever they will have to evacuate a tribe from their beach! He goes to give Gen-X the same message afterward, and by that time the wind is so strong everyone has to cover their faces as they get pelted by sand as they walk to the boat.

Some cameras remain at the camp to get footage to show us, and it is so bad even bats are taking cover (bats are shown at least four or five times in the course of the episode).

Probst said on camera everyone was being taken to “a safe place.” Where were they, the Hilton? We viewers are not told. The storm may have abated but David’s paranoia hasn’t, and he decides to start looking for a hidden immunity idol. It is quite obvious, and the rest of the tribe is quite annoyed since he does it while everyone else is trying to get the shelter rebuilt!

The Millennials have to regroup as well, and of all people, Zeke from Brooklyn leads them in building their shelter and also makes fire without a flint.

Time for the first challenge of the season. The twist is that two optional shortcuts are built in, the catch being that if you use a shortcut you get a larger puzzle to solve at the end, and the puzzle gets even larger if you use both shortcuts. The first part involves untying some clubs bearing the tribe colors from a net. Chris has the brilliant idea to let the others untie clubs while he just hinders two of the Millennials from untying clubs of their own, which he can do because two of them are very close together.

The Millennials may have taking shortcuts in life as their credo, but when it comes to the challenge they only use one of the two while Gen-X uses both. The tribes get to the final puzzle at roughly the same time. David and Rachel are the puzzle-solvers for Gen-X, and soon David tells his tribemates “if you guys see anything let me know.” Not what you want to hear from the guy who’s supposedly the puzzle ace. Two others substitute in but it’s too late.

So the Millennials take the first immunity challenge. Since the youngsters won’t be seen again this episode, I should cover the four I haven’t yet mentioned: Adam, a homeless shelter manager; Mari, a professional video gamer who is the oldest of her group at 31 and seems like quite a smart cookie; Will, just 18 and the first person ever to play Survivor while still in high school (and one of the more mature people on his tribe); and Michaela who is from Fort Worth and does vacation club sales.

Gen-X has to vote someone out, and most seem to agree fairly quickly that that person should be Rachel. It seems everyone knows about the plan except for Rachel, CeCe (an insurance adjuster from California), and Ken. Well, and David who thinks it is going to be him. Will he annoy everyone so much that they really do end up deciding to vote him out instead? By the way, Jessica has a fairly clever little strategy. After David swears on a stack of bibles that he doesn’t have an idol, Jessica says she was going to offer him a deal but it was contingent on him having an idol! (I could see that strategy actually flushing an idol out if the player were desperate enough).

The Gen-Xers I haven’t not mentioned are Lucy, a dietitian from California who I’m pretty sure does not speak one single time in the hour-long show, and Sunday, a female youth pastor from Minnesota who might not have spoken once either, but whose worried facial expression is shown many times in the course of the episode.

Most of the tribal council is about David, and the very first vote read is one for him, but the majority of the votes are for Rachel, with three going toward CeCe who was Rachel’s friend. Sunday got a vote from either Rachel or CeCe as well.

Early favorite: Based on one episode, I will go with Chris.


Survivor Kaoh Rong Final Thoughts

3 Jul

This season did not have anywhere near the hype of “Survivor: Second Chance” but it was almost as good. The prior season had complicated alliances that shifted week-to-week, but there’s something to be said for alliances that last the whole game (or at least as long as the respective players stick around). And this seems crazy to say since Second Chance was an all-star season but: I think Kaoh Rong actually had better characters! I think Second Chance had a more deserving winner, however.

The thing that strikes me as a re-read my recaps for the season: Tai made a blunder almost every single week! For the most part it led to some entertaining situations, however.

Good things about this season:

  • Debbie. What a casting find she was. It even looked for a while like she would turn into a great player, but then she self-destructed. Still TV gold.
  • Aubry and her maturation throughout the season. She went from almost quitting on the first episode to almost winning! And I am still shocked that she didn’t win, in fact.
  • The moment when Tai decided not to hand over his idol to form the super-idol, perhaps the biggest blindside of all time. And to top it off, it meant Scot went home with Jason’s idol in his pocket!
  • At the time, it seemed like anyone in the final four (Aubry, Michele, Cydney, and Tai) had a chance to win, and that rarely happens.

Bad things about this season:

  • The three evacuations (Caleb, Neal, and Joe) had a strong bearing on the strategy and result of the game.
  • The first episode was the most boring one in recent memory.
  • Some mean-spirited players in bullies Jason and Scot and arrogant Peter and Liz. All of them did get their comeuppance, however.
  • While the super-idol’s not being used made for a super-dramatic moment, I think it’s too powerful and should not be brought back.

Sorry, nobody cracked my best players of all time list, or my best alliances of all time list. And Jennifer’s tribal council blunder wasn’t bad enough to qualify her for the the worst of all time.

You can check out my full rankings of the seasons here.

“Alliance out the door now.” Survivor Kaoh Rong season finale recap

22 May

The final four examine where they stand after Joe’s evacuation.

Aubry says Michele is a threat because she’s the only one who hasn’t crossed anyone else. Meanwhile, Cydney tells Michele that the three girls should be the final three.

The next challenge is for the reward of a meal. Aubry wins and picks Cydney (for the second week in a row) to join her.

By the way, I just realized there has been no “loved ones” challenge this season. I really hope they have gotten rid of those for good, though I doubt that’s the case. Also, what a likeable final four this is! And the same is true for the final five for that matter.

While the two women are gone, Michele campaigns with Tai once again, and Tai pays lip service to her idea of taking Aubry out. I am not buying it for one second, though.

The immunity challenge ends with a puzzle that’s quite interesting: the players need to make columns by stacking cylindrical pieces of many different lengths. Each column must be the same height so a platform can rest on it, then another set of columns must be started and so on. This seems to be the kind of puzzle that you either get your head around or don’t, and alas Aubry doesn’t. Aubry has a good lead, but it comes down to Michele and Tai, and Michele wins. In celebration, she kicks her own column down.

Aubry and Tai hold hands on their way to get water. Aubry wants to take Cydney out, but knows Michele won’t be so inclined. So the best they could do is force a tie. But Aubry is by no means sure she has Tai’s collaboration in the bag: “Tai and I have been like a zipper that doesn’t quite zip for the whole game.”

Michele and Tai are talking too, and they both think Aubry would get the most votes, since Tai is not much of an orator and probably wouldn’t be able to sway the jury.

As Mark the chicken chases a crab around, Michele tells Tai that she’s going to vote Aubry.

At Tribal Council, Tai tells Probst “alliance out the door now.” Aubry’s face is very tense, as it has been during much of the episode. The votes are cast, and there are two votes for Cydney, two votes for Aubry. Probst asks if there is any possibility either Michele or Tai will decide to change their vote. They both say no. The question I’m asking at this point is, why did Tai not vote for Aubry?

Since no votes are changed, the tie will be resolved by a fire-making challenge. Aubry gets out to a lead pretty quickly, and before you know it there’s a high stack of wood that’s about to burn through the rope. But as she tries one minor adjustment the whole thing collapses and she has to start almost from scratch. We see a number of jury reactions during the challenge, and every one of them seems to be cheering for Aubry. If you needed any proof that Tai made a huge mistake sticking with Aubry, you have it right here. Cydney gets a few embers going a few times, but never anything beyond that, and Aubry rebuilds her fire and wins the challenge.

Rather than immediately ushering Cydney out, Probst first asks for a reaction. She said she is sad mainly for her mother who has a hard time affording even basic necessities. She would have liked to win the money for her.

As Cydney exits the game, we cut to the live studio audience, and Probst feels the need to interview Cydney’s mother who just found out seconds ago that she would not be getting a life-changing amount of money. Quite understandably, it’s all the poor woman can do to say a few words. Pretty sorry, Probst.

As we come back from commercial, we see a shot of an absolutely huge scorpion as the remaining three players go back to camp. “I think you just handed Aubry a million dollars,” says Michele to Tai, as I nod in agreement watching at home. Surprisingly, Michele and Aubry take it for granted that the three of them are going to the final tribal council. But Tai points out that Probst said no such thing. “There’s not another challenge,” Aubry asserts definitively. But soon they are in fact summoned to one.

Confusingly, when they get to the challenge Probst tells them that all three are in fact going to the finals. But they are playing a challenge anyway, and the winner gets to remove one of the jury members from the game! This is a Survivor first.

The challenge is a “leftover” from earlier in the season when there was an option to choose between multiple challenges. This is the one no one chose. It’s a dexterity challenge and the winner is Michele.

She goes back to camp and thinks about which jury member she wants to vote out and comes up with the obvious choice: Joe. Makes sense: he was Aubry’s closest ally and it seems inconceivable that he would vote for anyone but her to win the game. However Tai says: what about Neal? He’s presumably almost as pro-Aubry as Joe, and he’s more likely to campaign for Aubry and win over others to his cause. Oddly, Michele even asks for Aubry’s feedback on which jury member it would make sense to vote out.

At tribal council, the unsuspecting jury is confused to see no one wearing an immunity necklace. Michele is tasked with reading the explanation to the jury. Then Probst wants to talk it through … endlessly. They really want to milk this twist for every bit of drama they can.

Finally, Michele casts her vote in the voting booth and Probst reads it out: Neal! Obviously Michele agreed with Tai’s line of thinking. Neal walks past Michele on the way out and says something to the effect of, “You think you’re a badass bitch but you’re a little puppy. You don’t stand a chance.” Wow, this is coming from Neal who was one of my favorite players of the season. And I do mean was … what a jerk! Obviously, this was something he had written to use at the final tribal council and felt it was too good to go unused. And by the way, now Aubry has been robbed of Neal’s assistance twice in the same season.

Nothing else of interest happens before the final tribal council. And frankly, not that much interesting stuff happens during the final tribal council. Nick, who starts the questioning off, takes an interesting tack as he forgoes questioning in favor of giving each contestant advice on what they can do to win over the jury. Another unusual moment comes when Michele is answering a softball question: Aubry interrupts to ask Michele if she knew that Aubry and Tai were voting against Cydney.

When it’s time to vote, the only votes we see are that Julia votes for Michele and Joe votes for Aubry, both of which were pretty much locks. We also see that Jason seems very torn about what to write, but not which name he finally chooses.

The whole time, Tai had been holding onto Mark the chicken, who amusingly even began to flap his wings restlessly when Tai was asked a tough question. Now before we finish up, Probst tells Tai it’s time to let the chicken loose, which he does.

Now we go to the live studio show. We see the final three and the one inescapable fact is that Michele is smoking hot. She looked very good even after 39 days on the island, but real life is something else altogether.

The votes are read, and the winner of Survivor: Kaoh Rong is … Michele? Wow, I did not see that coming at all. I was so certain Aubry was going to win that I was only half paying attention when the votes were read. Not that I thought Michele had no shot — you’ll notice that I had ranked her as the #2 favorite — but I didn’t think she could win if Aubry were one of the other finalists. Aubry did so much more in the game. But Michele didn’t really have any “blood on her hands,” and sometimes that’s enough.

Also, I guess congratulations are due to the producers: Michele was barely seen or heard from until the sixth episode of a fourteen-episode show. They resisted the temptation to feature her in favor of showing the more interesting things that were going on.

At the reunion show, we don’t find out much more information to help us understand what happened. For instance, when Probst brings up Aubry, he’s mostly interested in comparing her to previous winner Cochran than asking her any questions about the season. Then all of a sudden a crazy woman wearing a hat with hair or fabric hanging down that obscures her face takes the stage to start talking about Tai. She looks like something out of a Comic-Con-goer’s nightmare, but it turns out she is a pop star named Sia. This goes on for a far too long, and then we get to see Probst talking to Drew Carey about a recent appearance of reality stars on “The Price is Right.” Groan.

Also, we get to see a preview of Season 33. It will take place in Fiji. Probst calls it one of his all-time favorite locations and says there will be lots of great underwater shots. And the theme of the season is — I kid you not — millennials versus Generation X.

I’ll be back before long with final thoughts on the Kaoh Rong season.



“Not something you can tough out”: Survivor Kaoh Rong May 11 2016 recap

19 May

Tai and Michele continue their discussion from Tribal Council as they get back to camp. Trying to be nice, Tai says “You’re part of the group and I’m always confused where you fit.” And Michele hasn’t stopped ripping Tai.

The reward challenge involves tossing bean bags after fetching them by running a course. Four of the five contestants have tossed all of their bags and failed to complete the challenge. While Joe goes back to get more bags the others have nothing to do but stand around.

Joe comes back with his five bags, but the first three throws all miss. His only chance to seal the victory would be to hit both of the last two, and these are long distance throws. The 71-year-old … hits both of the last two! He gets the spa and food reward, choosing Aubry to go with him. Jeff Probst says Joe can choose one more person, and Joe lets Aubry decide on Cydney.

On the reward, the three discuss who has the best chance to win. As they munch on the food, Aubry suddenly realizes that Cydney is a threat and that she’d be better off going to the finals with Tai. By the way, Joe is eating the beef like there’s no tomorrow. Cydney the bodybuilder tells the camera that eating like that can come back to haunt you.

While those three are gone, Tai and Michele have plenty of time to talk. And he even gives her a nice massage, part of which involves standing on her! (He probably only weighs  140 pounds or so). They discuss whether they could sway Cydney to get Aubry out.

Meanwhile, Aubry tells the camera that her best case scenario would be to go to the final three with Tai and Joe (I agree).

Aubry goes with Tai to get water, and Tai is so moved by what she says that he drops everything, starts crying and hugs her. When those two come back, Cydney is alarmed. Their body language looks too comfortable.

Suddenly Joe’s stomach is really bothering him. He can’t urinate and something is clearly wrong. Aubry is very worried by this indeed. She has already lost her closest ally once to a health scare, surely it won’t happen again? The doctor comes out and gives Joe some medicine, but it doesn’t help much. Waiting on the beach, Joe hugs everyone and they are all crying, including Cydney.

When the doctor comes back, he says “this is not something you can tough out.” Probst asks if this means he’s pulling Joe from the game, and he says yes.

This is now the third medical evacuation, the most ever in a Survivor season! And what an unlikely final four we have.

Also, since I’ve been doing these rankings I think it’s the only time we’ve gone to the final episode with nobody on my “no chance to win” list.

Favorites: 1. Aubry, 2. Michele, 3. Cydney, 4. Tai

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Neal (Aubry), Nick (Aubry), Debbie (Aubry), Scot (Michele), Julia (Michele), Jason (Aubry), Joe (Aubry)

“Why do we have an extra person?” Survivor Kaoh Rong May 4 2016 recap

4 May

Jason’s ability to plead his case is attracting some attention. He says that this serves him well in his job as a bounty hunter: “I make mothers rat their sons out.” Charming. Right now he’s pointing out to Michele and Cydney that Tai and Aubry will be hard to beat. Better to take him to the final three than them, he says.

Tai tells Aubry and Joe that his advantage is an extra vote, something he hadn’t shared with anyone up to now. He says he’s going to use it this week and use his idol next week.

At camp, Tai finds a huge grub (i.e. a larva). He puts it in front of the chicken, who does not pause one second before eating it.

Jason is bummed that nobody wants to strategize with him. So the only thing he can think to do is to avoid helping with anything around camp. Maybe then everyone will hate him more and think everyone else hates him, leading them to take him to the finals!

Some very “Star Wars”-like music plays as everyone goes to the reward challenge. It’s an interesting one: balls have to be guided through a huge floating maze that the players walk on. It’s basically an enlarged version of a challenge that’s usually done tabletop-style. Tai, Michele, and Jason win and get to go to see some wildlife. Meanwhile, Aubry, Cydney, and Joe have to go back to camp, and all are very cranky with one another.

The immunity challenge involves holding up a wobbly table at the end of a rope while going back and forth to stack blocks on it. Haven’t we done this already this year? Or maybe it was at the end of last season. Anyway, each of the six players is in the lead at least once, but the stacks of blocks keep crashing down. Finally, Cydney who went the slowest by far, but also never lost all her blocks, wins.

Tai has decided that Michele is the bigger threat than Jason, and he tells Aubry, Cydney, and Joe that Michele needs to go. Aubry actually agrees, but didn’t care for the way Tai made the decision for them (hmm, isn’t this kind of behavior that annoyed Tai when Scot and Jason were doing it?).  Tai even tells Jason what he wants to do, though Jason wants to vote Joe for reasons unknown. Joe has been featured very prominently this episode, which tends to happen to the person who’s getting voted out. Meanwhile, Cydney and Joe both think Jason should go. And Cydney tells Michele that Tai is gunning for her. Then Cydney asks Aubry: if push comes to shove, is Aubry going to vote with Cydney or Tai? Aubry can’t decide.

At tribal council, Cydney bashes Tai a bit, and Michele points out that Tai seems to be gunning for her when she thought they were allies. Michele also says Tai has turned on every alliance he has made. Tai is not the smoothest tribal council orator. He tells Michele “there’s a smaller group within the big group” and then alludes to his main alliance being with Aubry and Joe, saying “I say (sic) why do we have an extra person?” And you’d better believe that Jeff Probst can’t fan the flames hard enough.

Finally Probst says he’ll tally the votes, and Tai says he wants to use his advantage and explains what it is. He actually goes to the booth to cast a second vote against Michele, and helpfully writes number 2 on the card. Should Tai be using his idol instead?

The answer turns out to be no. All of the votes are for Jason except for the two for Michele (both by Tai) and one for Joe (Jason).

The previews for next week make it clear that it isn’t the finale, even though five people are left. That tells me that this season there will be a final two rather than a final three.

In my rankings, I have moved Tai from the top spot to the bottom. He is considered such a jury threat, but I don’t think he’s anyone’s first choice to win the game.

I think Aubry will win if she gets to the finals, but I also think everyone except Joe wants to make sure she doesn’t get to the finals. Joe would be the one everyone wants to take to the end, because he hasn’t made any moves. Joe’s best move would be to take Tai to the end, as Tai has double-crossed the most people.

Favorites: 1. Aubry, 2. Michele, 3. Cydney, 4. Tai

No chance: Joe

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Neal (Aubry), Nick (Aubry), Debbie (Aubry), Scot (Michele), Julia (Michele), Jason (Aubry)

“Should I play my idol?” Survivor Kaoh Rong April 29 2016 recap

4 May

Julia and Michele are frustrated that they weren’t part of the plan to vote out Scot, and Julia is quite the sore loser. When morning comes, Tai looks up Jason and explains that Scot and Jason were very tight and he, Tai, was worried that they would cut him loose down the line.

The reward challenge has randomly chosen pairs competing, and the random draw means Jason has to sit out. Cydney and Michele win. They get to choose someone to go with them and after two seconds of consultation they pick Aubry, for the stated reason that she hasn’t eaten on prior rewards. At the reward, Cydney tells Aubry “We can’t go to no final three with no damn Tai.”

While they’re enjoying the reward, Jason and Julia talk at camp. They see getting Tai out of the game as their only chance. Julia thinks she can get Michele to join them. They need a fourth and can’t see working with Aubry and Joe, so they discuss it with Cydney, who is intrigued by the idea.

Julia is still grumpy and tells Jason they should eat the chicken Tai loves as soon as Tai is voted out. There’s a funny shot of Julia gazing hungrily at the chicken.

The challenge involves wading out to a platform that has a bunch of symbols with numbers next to them. The players need to try to memorize these, then wade back (crossing obstacles as well) and solve a puzzle that involves translating the symbols to numbers, opening up another puzzle. This is designed such that the players will have to make the trip multiple times, becoming more and more exhausted.

Surprisingly, both Michele and Julia solve the first puzzle on their first try, while Joe is so exhausted from the first trip that he quits. On the second puzzle, Michele is quicker to figure out that the scrambled word is “blindsided” and she wins immunity.

So who to vote out? Aubry thinks Jason is “a ticking time bomb,” but is he the best vote? Aubry doesn’t think Jason can win. But Julia, on the other hand, doesn’t have any blood on her hands. The whole group is for voting Julia, to Michele’s distress. Cydney tells Michele that if anyone asks she should say they’re voting for Tai. Tai is alarmed to hear his name.

The jury files in. Scot is wearing a polo shirt with the top button buttoned, looking like quite the Utah nerd.

Julia and Jason say you can’t trust Tai. But the problem is, the others don’t really need to trust him, at least not for this vote. It’s a boring tribal council, everyone just states the obvious.

After the vote, Tai, who is sitting on Aubry’s right, bends around her to whisper in her left ear “Should I play my idol?” Aubry answers “I think you’re fine, but it’s your gut.”

The votes are read, and only two are for Tai, the rest for Julia. Michele cries as Julia leaves the game.

Favorites: 1. Tai, 2. Aubry, 3. Cydney, 4. Michele

No chance: Jason, Joe

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Neal (Aubry), Nick (Aubry), Debbie (Aubry), Scot (Jason), Julia (Michele)

“You’re not doing it?” Survivor Kaoh Rong April 20 2016 recap

21 Apr

Most shocking blindside in Survivor history? I can’t think of what has ever topped this. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The episode begins with Tai giving Jason his idol back after Tribal Council, and suggesting that maybe the three men can reconcile with the rest of the tribe. Scot says he didn’t want to be a Russell Hantz type throwing water on the fire (that behavior sounds more like Brandon Hantz,  but let’s not go down that road).

Scot takes Aubry aside and in friendly fashion says that he, Jason, and Tai want Cydney gone since she betrayed them. Aubry tells the camera there is “not a shot in hell” she will ally with them.

The reward challenge has an interesting twist in that each player can choose the reward he or she is going for, and then will only be competing against the others who choose that same reward. The rewards are: 1) letters from home, chosen by Joe and Julia and won by Julia; 2) a big meal, chosen by Scot, Jason, and Michele and won by Michele; 3) an advantage in the game, chosen by Cydney, Tai, and Aubry. It comes down to the latter two, and finally Tai wins.

Tai doesn’t unwrap his advantage until later, but when he does he finds it’s an extra vote at Tribal Council! Could this guy and his alliance have it any better?

Julia presents an idea to Michele and Aubry: if they all vote Tai and an idol isn’t played, Tai is gone. If an idol is played, the guys will have voted for Cydney so the other women are still OK. Aubry later comments on Julia: “She’s super-shady and people like Michele don’t see through it.”

Then Aubry has a talk with Tai and says “certain girls want to push the votes to try and get idols out.” Uh-oh. Aubry strongly hints that she wants to work with Tai, but Tai interprets this as her wanting to work with him and Scot and Jason. He briefs Scot and Jason on the conversation and Scot immediately says they need to take Aubry out! Tai feels like he has no say in the group. Aubry having that talk seems like a big mistake, this is the second week in a row that she’s made some questionable strategic choices.

The immunity challenge involves pressing outward on two discs to hold up some fragile ceramic pots. The discs are just far enough that one can’t put one’s palms on them, only the fingertips that quickly go numb. Two players hang in there much longer than anyone else: Jason and Aubry. They both seem to be in incredible pain and both seem on the brink. Finally Aubry drops.

So Jason has immunity, his group has two idols that can be combined to make a super-idol, and Tai also has a vote advantage on top of that! As Jason notes, “From here on out we’re unstoppable.”

Back at camp Julia tells Scot and Jason that everyone’s going to be voting Tai. Why is she revealing her own plan? The boys tell Julia that she should stick with them, because eventually they’re going to blindside Tai. Julia loves the idea of going to the end with these two since they have ruined so many relationships.

Cydney tells Aubry they should vote Scott out of the game, “And Julia’s traitor ass can go over there with Jason.” Aubry is still banking on Tai wanting to be “true to himself” and breaking with the two bullies. Good luck with that. He even expresses the same sentiments to the camera that Julia did: Scot and Jason have P.O.’ed a lot of people.

At tribal council Jason and Scot announce that anyone who doesn’t get on their bandwagon is sealing his own fate. Jeff Probst says “Tai, you seem less talkative.” Tai just says he has to do anything to advance his game.

The votes are cast. Probst says if you have an immunity idol, this would be the time to play it. “Play it!” Julia whispers to Tai. Scot whispers not to. Julia repeats her comment.

Since no idol is played, Probst reads out the votes. There are two votes for Tai, two for Aubry, and three for Scot, with one vote left. The last vote is also for Scot, making four.

But of course it’s meaningless for the possessor of the super-idol that can be played after the votes. Scot just grins. He looks at Tai so Tai can hand him the second idol. Tai looks the other way, at Jason. Jason makes a “go ahead” motion. Scot raises his eyebrow. Tai shakes his head!

“You’re not doing it?” Scot asks.

“No. Sorry.” says Tai.

“Wow,” Scot says, as does all of America! Aubry looks about to cry she’s so happy. Scot shakes hands with Jason, then has his torch snuffed.

Wow indeed! I can’t think of a bigger blindside ever than the one just pulled off by Aubry, Cydney, Joe, and Tai. There almost couldn’t be a bigger one because nobody has ever felt as safe as Scot just felt. Boy, does this change the game!

Actually it changes the game more than we realize as we go to commercial, because as the credits roll, Scot reveals that he still has Jason’s idol in his pocket! So Jason now has nothing, while Tai has both an idol and an advantage.

Favorites: 1. Tai, 2. Aubry, 3. Cydney, 4. Michele, 5. Julia

No chance: Jason, Joe

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Neal (Aubry), Nick (Aubry), Debbie (Joe), Scot (Jason)