“I love the smell of fresh dirt”: Survivor Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites II April 24 2013 recap

24 Apr

The episode begins with Brenda in tears about lots of different things. Has spending too much time with Dawn led to this? I guess everyone needs a good cry now and then, but I have to say Brenda is the biggest disappointment of the Favorites team this year. She really hasn’t done any of the things that made her entertaining or a formidable player in her first season in Nicaragua. So much so that I do wonder whether her alliance-mate Sash, who I thought was the second banana of their Nicaragua duo, should be getting more credit.

But back to the season at hand. The players find out that the reward challenge will be a food auction. You would think that a group comprised partly of veteran players and partly of avid fans would know exactly what to do in the auction, right? Any fool can see that you should always pass up all of the treats and use all of your money to get an advantage in an immunity challenge. Well, I shouldn’t say any fool can see it, because Jonathan Penner, himself a returning player, didn’t last season and it cost him his spot in the game. OK, I promise that was my last mention of a previous season in this recap. And of course, someone who just cooked himself a delicious dinner (like me) sees this differently than someone who’s truly hungry.

Malcolm tells the camera before going to the auction that he knows there will be a challenge advantage on offer and he plans to win it. However, when the time comes, not only does he not hold out through every food lot, he doesn’t even make it through one! A $20 bid gets him peanuts and beer. Reynold soon uses a bunch of his money on food as well. However, a few lots later, Jeff Probst announces that the next item is some key information, and surprisingly Malcolm has no competition as he bids his remaining $480! He comes up to the podium to have Jeff reveal the info which he’s only allowed to study for 60 seconds. It’s an explanation of the exact location of a hidden immunity idol, buried six inches deep in the ground.

As it turns out, there’s also a challenge advantage on offer later in the auction, and Cochran wins it for $340. It’s not clear if Brenda dropped out of the bidding on the lot, or if the bidding simply passed the amount of money she had left. For her sake I hope the latter.

When everyone returns to camp, Reynold tells the camera that he and his pals Malcolm and Eddie want to get Erik and Sherri to join them to form a 5-4 majority and vote out… Cochran? They have him pegged as the best strategic player on the Favorites, and the fact that only he and Malcolm had a semi-sound strategy for the auction reinforces that. I’m starting to think I made a mistake by putting Cochran on my “no chance to win” list weeks ago…

When darkness falls, Malcolm heads for the idol hiding place spelled out by the clue. But he hasn’t searched around long when Andrea and Cochran stroll over, and Andrea kids “Hmm, I love the smell of fresh dirt.” The two of them simply plop down and take a seat on a stump, and won’t leave! Andrea thinks that if there’s an idol played she’s the one going home, so she has extra motivation. The strategy is brilliant. However, it does beg the question, why doesn’t Malcolm just dig for it anyway, even if they’re watching? He says it’s because they would just start digging near him, and at that point perhaps he figures one of his own trio is fairly certain to win the immunity challenge.

That challenge involves holding up a rope that’s supporting a heavy pole.With each turn the players have to lower their hands, making the weight heavier. Malcolm is surprisingly one of the earlier ones out, and it comes down to Cochran (who by virtue of the advantage he bought at auction, has to support less weight) and Eddie. Cochran outlasts him to win immunity.

At this point Malcolm should have gone back to dig for the idol, even if someone was watching, and at the risk of one of the Favorites finding it. Instead he meets Sherri in a secluded spot and promises “I’ll go to the end with you.” At that point I wrote down, “Could Sherri possibly fall for it?” And meanwhile Erik is promising to go along with both sides. The Favorites do wonder if they can trust Erik, since he mysteriously voted for Phillip at the previous tribal council. Now, Malcolm figures that he doesn’t need Erik and Sherri, only Erik or Sherri, as long as the Favorites think his group has an idol. Because then the Favorites would want to split the votes, and that would make for a 4-3-2 vote, with one of the “splitters” actually voting with Malcolm. The favorites could thwart this by simply not splitting: why would they think the “bros” have another idol, since they didn’t let Malcolm dig for one?

By the way, before everyone goes to tribal council, Sherri tells the camera that she’s the one calling the shots in the game. I’m surprised they didn’t have to interrupt the interview for the cameraman doubling over with laughter.

The players go to tribal council, and jury members Michael and Phillip are introduced (only the first of those two is gay, but you’d never know it given Phillip’s wardrobe choice). The vote ends up being a 3-3-3 tie between Malcolm, Reynold, and Andrea, which means a re-vote in which the people who received votes cannot vote, and nobody can receive a vote but those three. In other words, on the re-vote Eddie is the only one of the “bro” alliance who can vote. Malcolm is voted out, with even Eddie bowing to the inevitable and voting Malcolm.

I had Malcolm at the top of my contender rankings since the start, and I do think he can make a case to be considered one of the all-time best players. His critical error this season was confiding in Dawn about his plan to vote Andrea two episodes ago. Malcolm’s departure certainly makes this a much more wide-open game!

Now then, was it a good move by Sherri and Erik not to flip? I think so. For one thing, either of them would have been a clear #4 in a foursome if they had caught on with the “bros,” whereas the Favorites don’t seem to have an etched-in-stone pecking order. Also, as outsiders Erik or Sherri would have a shot to pick up votes for any bros who end up on the jury, but wouldn’t get votes from Favorites who’d be bitter about being turned on.

The preview for next week showed a couple of interesting things but not what interests me most, which is: when they get back to camp, does anyone race to the area where Andrea and Cochran know the idol has to be, and start digging?

Contender list: 1) Andrea, 2) Reynold, 3) Brenda, 4) Dawn, 5) Sherri, 6) Eddie

No-chance list: Erik, Cochran

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Michael (Reynold), Phillip (Andrea), Malcolm (Reynold)

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