After the predictable reactions to tribal council, everyone settles in to deal with the torrential rains.
We see Keith’s feet and they look scarily awful, literally as bad as a corpse’s feet … or worse!
Jeff Probst breaks from tradition by saying what the reward is before even describing the challenge. Once the contestants hear that it involves shelter, they’re all for it. The challenge is the “basketball with tackling” one we’ve seen played in prior seasons.
Everyone who goes on the reward wants Stephen to be voted out, or claims to, while everyone who’s not on the reward says they want Joe out.
Stephen tells the camera he’s in a good position, then notes that on Survivor you should never say you’re in a good position. Soon thereafter we see him shivering at the shelter and grimacing with stomach pain. Through tears, he tells the camera that quitting is not an option. The weather does look absolutely miserable.
Before the immunity challenge Probst gives everyone one black and one white rock. He says there is a construction crew at camp ready to build a solid shelter, but only if at least five of the ten players choose (by showing a white rock) that they will give up participating in the immunity challenge to get the shelter. Everyone reveals their choices, and all show a white rock except for Joe and Keith.
The challenge involves standing on a block pressing a ball against another block, using what looks like a rolling pin. Joe is the winner, it’s his fourth immunity in a row. Afterwards Spencer points out that — assuming Keith is safe — someone who sacrificed immunity to get shelter is going to be voted out.
Stephen targets Ciera, as he thinks he could sooner work with Kelley or even Abi. Joe wants Stephen out, to the delight of Ciera who suggested this at the reward. Tasha takes Spencer aside and says, “If we go with the girls, it’s the Ciera show,” i.e. if it works, Ciera will have the “big move” on her resume. Spencer is more inclined to get Stephen out. Jeremy doesn’t like the Stephen idea. By the way, is it really possible that Stephen doesn’t suspect a blindside?
At tribal council, everyone who showed a white rock acts more than a little sanctimonious about their decision. But Joe clarifies: “If I put out that white rock, I go home tonight. No question asked.” And everyone knows he’s right.
The votes are cast, and Probst asks if anyone wants to play an idol. Jeremy says, “Yeah, Jeff …” and we go to commercial (this is a double episode tonight, mind you).
After the ads, Jeremy hands over his idol (or as we viewers know, one of his idols) and says he is playing it for Stephen. As Probst shows one vote after another that were for Stephen, Mr. Fischbach whispers to Jeremy “I’m with you… all the way.” And shortly Jeremy whispers to Spencer.,”I would do the same thing for you.”
So Ciera is the one voted out, having received three votes (Stephen, Kimmi, and Jeremy) to two for Kimmi (the other alliance did split the vote in case Stephen had an idol but didn’t reckon with Jeremy’s switch).
All in all it’s a great moment, and Jeremy is blushing a bit at the whole thing.
The next day Stephen tells Jeremy that at tribal council he knew he was done. So why didn’t he play his advantage? Probably because he figured the other side’s numbers were so overwhelming, there was no point in adding just one more vote to his.
The reward challenge is one that’s been done before — Probst tells a long story about the host country, and then the players have to run around and make choices based on remembering parts of the story correctly. This one might even date all the way back to the first season. But there’s an inspired twist: it’s done at night, by torchlight. This does add to the drama!
Also, before the challenge starts, the camera shows us one of the packages the players will have to unwrap. Special effects unfurl the string around it to show us there’s an idol clue. Pretty much through sheer chance, Kelley is the one to pick up that particular package. She sees the clue and discreetly tucks it away.
Stephen wins the reward, a spa trip. Predictably he can take someone along, and he announces “I have a lot of damage control to do,” and picks Tasha. He gets one more choice and it’s Jeremy. Spencer is miffed and begins to plot against Jeremy and Stephen, realizing those two are tighter with each other than they will ever be with him.
On the reward, we are reminded that Tasha and Stephen were allies early on in the game. To build trust, Stephen tells her and Jeremy what his advantage is.
Back at camp, everyone except Kimmi and the three who were on the reward get together and decide that Stephen is the one to go, unless he wins immunity, in which case it’s Tasha.
In the meantime Kelley has unwrapped her idol clue and now knows that the idol is tied beneath the raised floor of the shelter (which is maybe 3 feet off the ground). Now seems a great opportunity to try to grab it, since several people are off on their reward and then the remaining guys go fishing. There’s only one problem: Abi keeps puttering around and won’t leave. Finally Abi heads for a nearby hammock and Kelley scoots under the shelter, but the idol is tied down pretty securely and takes a while to loosen, and she hears the guys coming back from their trip. Just in time, she gets it loose and puts it away.
The immunity challenge is one that has been done before, involving stacking blocks using only one’s feet. Spencer edges out Joe to win.
That means Stephen sees his big chance to get Joe out. For whatever reason, Stephen wants to convince Joe that he’s voting for Abi, which seems implausible. Meanwhile, Abi sees Joe talking to Stephen and decides that Joe is “shady.” She tells Kelley that she doesn’t trust Joe.
Stephen boasts that since he has his vote-stealing advantage, he has the numbers to “split the vote reliably.” Stephen tells Spencer he’s using his advantage (and what it is). Stephen asks Spencer to vote for Abi rather than Joe. So obviously Stephen thinks Spencer is still his firm ally … is he, though?
At tribal council, when Jeff Probst announces it’s time to vote, Stephen says he’s using his advantage, and that the vote he’s going to steal is Joe’s. He goes to the voting booth to cast his two votes … but only casts one of them for Joe and the other for Abi. What the heck?
The votes are read, and the person getting the most is … Stephen, who is out of the game. The breakdown is four votes for Stephen (Spencer, Kelley, Keith, and Abi), three votes for Abi and two for Joe. So if Stephen and his friends had simply put all their votes on Joe, Joe would be going home.
This was a colossal blunder on Stephen’s part and a classic case of outsmarting himself. He was more worried about Joe having an immunity idol than worried that Spencer might not be his best friend. Horrible decision. And why didn’t Jeremy figure this out and alert him?
Favorites: Spencer, Jeremy, Joe, Tasha, Kelley Wentworth
No chance: Abi, Kimmi, Keith
Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Kass (Spencer), Andrew (Joe), Kelly (Joe), Ciera (Kelley), Stephen (Jeremy)