Eric voted Corinne out! That bears reiteration: Eric voted Corinne out! We knew Eric had certain difficulties in the game of Survivor. Much like Reynold’s one weakness of not being able to eat gross stuff, Eric has great difficulties making strategic decisions. Actually no, that is a gross understatement. Eric consistently hamstrings himself with his complete lack of strategic acumen.

Let’s back up a bit. Bikal returns from tribal after voting out—what was that girl’s name again? Who cares? Anyway, Corinne is predictably wired about ensuring Michael’s safety. “I made sure I got the gay,” she says. Phillip then calls a group meeting of Stealth R Us and tells Corinne and Dawn what he told Cochran last week: He threw the challenge. He tells them he would have apprised them before the competition but he didn’t actually make the decision until he was in the moment.

Yeah they’re not buying this either.

Well, Eric spots some “cool dudes” in a boat and Gota is ferried to the Bikal camp for a merge. The new tribe name: Enil Edam. Malcolm reveals to the cameramen that he just wanted to honor his mother so he spelled her name, Madeline, backwards. Everyone pretends like they’re all a happy family for a few minutes and then people start splintering off and plotting. Phillip reunites with high level Stealth R Us agent, Andrea. They talk about how Corinne may turn on them in the near future. Phillip also offers Andrea a nugget of advice: “When you’re laying (sic) in bed tonight, pretend you’re Boston Rob, ‘cause that’s what I do.” This doesn’t surprise me at all.

Meanwhile, Corinne and Malcolm have gravitated towards each other and they are marshaling their troops making them six people strong (Malcolm, Eric, Eddie, Reynold, Corinne, and Michael.) It’s looking like tribal council is going to be intense.

The immunity challenge is a food eating competition. Today’s specialties: beetle larva, ship worms, duck embryo, and pig brain. This is a vintage Survivor challenge but it’s one that doesn’t translate well to TV: it comes across like some kind of psych-out contest rather than a battle for immunity. This forced dramatization works better than that knot untying contest that Abi won last season but that’s not saying much. Even so, it sure is swell to see Cochran exceed at a challenge. He defeats Malcolm by a fraction of a second in the final round and starts shadowboxing. Cochran wins immunity for his first time ever and everybody seems happy for him. I am too.

Back at camp, Phillip and Corinne discuss options for tonight. Phillip contends that they should split votes between Eddie and Reynold to flush the idol. Corinne disagrees. She thinks they shouldn’t ruffle any feathers and just vote Sherri out. This is a strong move from Corinne. Keeping in Eddie and Reynold puts her in a sweet position for the following weeks to come. She even manages to seemingly win over Dawn, Andrea, and Cochran with this vote. And then she tells Dawn that next week they can look at blindsiding Phillip. You pushed it too far, Corinne.

I knew Corinne’s relationship with Phillip was strained but I had no idea the severity of this fracture. “I want to throat punch him like every day. I want Phillip gone.” This woman is clearly not looking for friend applications. Apropos of nothing, as they start the sequence of walking to tribal council, we hear a voice-over of Eric who is experiencing some serious misgivings concerning his vote. He sounds like a nervous child lost in the supermarket. I cannot believe this! Where is the conflict for him? He has to know that he is low man on the totem-pole over on Phillip’s squad. He has to see this Corinne/Malcolm alliance is his best entrée to the final 3. He has to!

Corinne quotes Mike Tyson at tribal. You can’t make this stuff up. “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.” It is at this moment that I am certain that she is getting voted out. And even as a card-carrying member of team Phillip, part of me is really disappointed to see Corinne leave, because this episode doesn’t feel like Corinne’s fatal mistake. It feels like Eric’s.              

This episode was entirely about redemption. It was about what you learn from your previous experiences, what you learn from your failures. Dawn started having flashbacks to when Cochran burned her in South Pacific and vows to not duped like that again. She tells Phillip that Corinne is plotting to overthrow him after they vote out Sherri. Andrea talks about how her paranoia is drastically ratcheted up from last year. She knows that things can turn on a dime at any moment. Even Phillip continues to impress me this year as he accurately pegs Corinne’s ensuing betrayal. This is the second time Phillip has, thanks to his alliance, ferreted out that he was the target and turned the tables. Both times—the first being with Francesca—the evicted party looks dismayed and Phillip smiles satisfied. Special Agent Phillip Sheppard 2, the opposition 0.

Eric clearly hasn’t learned from his past errors. I don’t know if he ever will.