Last week I was really hard on Erik and probably a little too lenient of Corinne. Since I wrote last week’s article I’ve been thinking of possible angles Erik might be working; all of them seem misbegotten. Regardless, I was interested to see how Erik worked his way back into this game.
Here’s the thing: Erik is not really playing Survivor. Sure he likes the competitions, picking bugs out of people’s hair, and saying things like “waves suck.” But he doesn’t want to be bothered with strategy. He is mentally checked out in the game of Survivor and as an ally he is utterly undependable. I think he just enjoys the experience of being on Survivor (Survivor: The Jumping Off Point) and consequently will always make the conservative move to extend his stay on the island, in spite of his long term game.
So, everyone on Corinne’s alliance views her elimination as a victory. Reynold and Eddie see it as a favorite going home, and Malcolm is relieved that nobody knows about his immunity idol now. Not a lot of love for Corinne. Phillip is doling out some love for Sherri though, saying when he first saw her he thought, “Damn, she’s hot!” Phillip subsequently interviews her for a position in Stealth R Us and pronounces her “Tenacity.”
The reward challenge is akin to handball: You have one shooter and one person acting as goalie. The teams were Cochran, Reynold, Eddie, Erik, and Michael vs. Malcolm, Phillip, Dawn, Brenda, and Andrea. Am I the only person interested in the dynamic of these school-yard picks? What stops all of the athletic guys from teaming up? How much strategy is involved? Is Jeff Probst involved in some capacity? Is Cochran pleading his case for why he should be picked over Sherri? Are there no sociology majors in the editing room?
Anyway, I don’t expect to see this challenge pop up again in the future because, as it turns out, the goalies are completely ineffective. The only time a goalie made contact with the ball was on the first shot where Eddie practically passed it to Malcolm. Your success in this competition depends solely on how accurate your shooters are.
Cochran, Reynold, Eddie, Erik, and Michael win the challenge and, whilst picnicking, the fans try to convince Cochran to enact Operation “Bro Down.” “Bro Down,” as you might expect, is an all-male alliance, which obviously would resonate with Cochran because he is just the type of alpha-male meathead who would excel in such a scenario right? Wrong. Cochran isn’t buying any of this “masculine tomfoolery” and dismisses the possibility.
Back at camp, Malcolm tries to make inroads with Sherri and Dawn so that he can control the vote. He knows things are getting precarious for him. Sherri and Dawn play along but immediately tell Andrea about these developments. As Dawn points out, it’s interesting that Malcolm is confiding in her after she exposed Corinne last week. Dawn—or as Andrea refers to her, “MVP”—is really hustling out there, pretending that she’s in on Malcolm’s insurrection. Later on, she gets Malcolm to apprise her about Reynold’s hidden Immunity Idol and then Reynold literally shows it to her. She makes a colossal error in assuming that there is no way Malcolm has an idol, but she is a serious force in this game right now.
Ladies and gentlemen we have a new showmance! Give it up for Andrea and Eddie! They steal away to some steamy lagoon and basically just start pretending they’re in love. Yeah, I imagine the ennui gets fairly oppressive out there. The best part about this showmance: They are both cognizant that it is nonsense although they never say this aloud to each other. “Maybe we’re dating”, ponders Andrea who isn’t savvy about the idiosyncrasies of the showmance.
The immunity challenge is fascinating. It’s a sort of a stamina competition, involving a monkey-bar-esque contraption and the menacing elevation of the tide. I was actually palpably disconcerted watching these people breath in unconventional ways, fighting the rising tide as it began to fill their lungs with water. This also has the best ending to a challenge ever as Jeff Probst announces, “Brenda wins immunity! Somebody let her know.”
Before they head over to Tribal, Andrea and Eddie have an uber-confusing conversation. Here is what I recall from their conversation (starting with Eddie):
“Who are you voting tonight?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Are you voting for me? Are you voting for Reynold?”
“Look, I’m not working with Reynold.”
“Yeah but I am. Oh yeah, he might have the idol now.”
“But you just told me like an hour ago that he didn’t.”
“Yeah, that was bullshit. So is Malcolm safe?”
“Ok, Malcolm’s safe, but that’s all I can say.”
“Can’t you just tell me what’s going on?”
“No. Do I have a bug in my hair? I feel like there is a bug—”
“Hey, do you think I’m hot?”
“What? Of course.”
“Because I think we’re the two hottest people out here. I keep track of these things.”
“Are you keeping track of who Reynold wants out, because it sounds like it’s me.”
“It’s been discussed.”
Andrea becomes convinced she is going home and starts campaigning to switch the vote to Michael. Dawn is upset and ultimately so is the rest of Stealth R Us who think that Andrea is allowing her paranoia to miss an opportunity to oust one of the big players in this game.
At Tribal, after hearing a speech from The Specialist, Malcolm gets spooked about the vote and writes Reynold’s name down. As Jeff is getting prepared to read the vote Reynold stands up about to hand Jeff his Immunity Idol when suddenly Malcolm interjects, “Hold up Reynold.” And then—I can’t believe I’m typing this—Malcolm convinces Reynold to give him his Immunity! It doesn’t take much persuasion either.
This is all for naught, because Andrea succeeded in turning the vote to Michael. Still though, writing down a man’s name and then convincing him to give you his hidden Immunity Idol is cold blooded. Have I mentioned I like Malcolm?
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