The reward challenge at the beginning of the episode will be played by just two members of each tribe. Green understandably picks all-time great challenge competitor Ozzy, and also Troyzan. The blue tribe sends J.T. and Malcolm, and red goes with Tai and Brad. Blue finishes first, and red overtakes green for second thanks to an incredible display of throwing by Brad Culpepper who throws like he’s Daunte Culpepper!
Ozzy thinks losing was OK — with no food reward, his tribe needs his fishing skills. We see some incredible underwater shots of him fishing, and he soon brings back a huge ray for the tribe to eat.
On the blue tribe, Sandra tells us she’s running the show, blah blah blah, and J.T. suggests to Malcolm that they get rid of Sandra.
The challenge is the one we see some form of every season, with blindfolded players being led by a caller who tells them what to do. Before the start, Jeff Probst drops the bombshell that two tribes will be going to tribal council.
In the final phase following the blindfolded part, Jeff Varner’s blue team has a huge lead but he still has to navigate a ball through one of those very tricky mazes. Andrea from the green tribe is gaining on him. Jeff is inches away, but then the ball drops through a hole in the maze, and Andrea soon hits paydirt.
Afterwards Probst has yet another bombshell: the blue and red tribes will be going to Tribal Council together, with a joint vote to send home one person!
The blue team feels pretty good about this twist since they have six people and red only has five. But will J.T. vote with the other tribe? He says no. Sandra says they should target Sierra, the strongest woman. And J.T. and Malcolm think Brad will get the troops on the red team to target Sandra.
The red team has the same questions about Hali that blue has about J.T. It seems J.T. will be the deciding factor.
Tai goes looking for an idol and finds a clue, but unlike Troyzan who really had to sweat last episode, Tai simply needs to find a certain spot (that’s not all that close to camp) and dig there. Once he has the idol, he tells his tribemates (except for Hali) about it.
Time for Tribal Council. Hali is talking, and Sandra whispers to her group that it sounds like Hali wants Brad out. Both groups then do a lot of whispering amongst themselves, but both resolve to stick with their original plans. Sierra hears something that makes her fret that she’s the target.
J.T. asks Malcolm if he should talk to Brad. Then J.T. gets up and walks over to whisper in Brad’s ear! J.T. says “I love you brother, but they’re voting Sierra out.” Then Hali walks all the way over to Sandra and whispers,”You have to do Brad. It’s better for us, I promise.” Now J.T. and Brad are meeting a couple of steps back from the rest of the group. “You swear?” Brad asks? J.T. says yes. Then suddenly there are too many whispered conversations to keep track of, and Probst is loving every second of it.
Finally Probst, as always, says it’s time to vote, and he tells Hali she’s up. She replies, “I didn’t consent.” So there’s still more discussion as Probst wears a huge smile.
The votes are read and Probst says it’s time to play an idol. Tai does play his, on Sierra. Probst reads the votes, and the first six votes are all for Sierra. Then comes the next vote … Malcolm! And before you know it, Malcolm is out of the game!
As exciting as the tribal council was, this is a disastrous turn of events, as now the two most entertaining characters, Tony and Malcolm, are out of the game after just four votes. The producers must be aghast.
As the blue team walks out, Michaela whispers that J.T. must have set them up. And in Malcolm’s final confessional he tells us “J.T.’s not getting a Christmas card.” So it’s fair to assume everyone else on the blue tribe is mad at J.T. But I doubt the orange tribe loves the guy either. What the heck was he doing? I didn’t see the Tocantins season when J.T. played a “perfect game,” so all I can judge him on is the disastrous moves he made both in Heroes vs. Villains and in this season so far.
Time for my first rankings of the year, and they won’t include Malcolm who was my early favorite to win it all. Right now I don’t know that I can rule anyone out, except for J.T. (see above) and Tai. I think Tai is just too wishy-washy to win this season or any other. And while Brad and Sandra have been probably the most prominent characters so far, I am betting for now on some who are staying under the radar a bit more.
contenders: 1. Zeke, 2. Cirie, 3. Aubry, 4. Andrea, 5. Brad, 6. Ozzy, 7. Sierra, 8. Sandra
not sure: Hali, Sarah, Troyzan, Varner, Debbie, Michaela
no chance: Tai, J.T.