I knew when casting was revealed that Brandon is going to bring in drama with him in one form or another. But I never expected it to be this chaotic. Given what he did, I just gained a whole new level of respect for how Russell played this game. Brandon's is just characterized by delirium and bipolarity. Clearly, there is some internal conflict brewing in there.. but more on that later.
During the first part of the episode, we then get another shot of the Fans tribe as they head back to camp from Tribal Council. It was a completely different mood than last time. Eddie and Reynold were all about kissing the others' behind, saying that they are going to rampage the Favorites from here on out. Hey, I love the unity and all, but Reynold is here to play this game. I don't see him being all nice to the other fans who screwed him over one too many times. Hopefully, the decision to get rid of Laura would not turn out for naught.
Also, I am against the idea of re-playing an idol once it was used during tribal council. I would probably only agree to do that in the instance that the person with the idol got blindsided. But since he already used it, why put out another idol? I understand that it does add another layer of complexity into the game but you have to allow the game to take its natural course. With Reynold finding the idol, this will give him enough leverage coming into the next episode as there might be a tribal shuffle coming our way. That is, if he is wittier than the last time when it comes to managing the idol. But since Laura is gone, he doesn't have to worry about anybody else checking out his bulges anymore.
Reward Challenge: Nut Bucket
It was a close fight, once again, with Brandon letting go of the rope first. However, all of the Favorites designated to shoot the coconuts had an equally good performance amongst themselves. Thus, it wasn't long after Brandon let go that Matt followed, too. Sherri was horrible at shooting the coconuts and was easily distracted by Phillip's antics. Nonetheless, Phillip was again the hero for the Favorites as he outlasted Mike.
Sherri was fuming mad about how the reward challenge turned out. She contemplates on whether voting off Laura was indeed the right move for them because they did not pull through with the reward even when they decided to keep the muscles.
The Big Meltdown
last week's episode promised a historic moment, not just for the season but for the game in general. We all should've seen the Brandon Hantz meltdown coming. But nobody would've been able to predict its magnitude. The first half of the episode set up the instability of Brandon's character, something of which is no secret to those that had been watching this season and that of his previous season. He went on this grand stand about possibly volunteering to exit should they go to their next tribal council after feeling remorse towards the idea of leaving his family behind. Sure, I buy that he truly cares for his family, but as Malcolm points out, that is something he should've given more forethought into before agreeing to return and play this game.
The morning after, in typical Brandon Hantz style, he snapped out of it and realized that he will want to continue playing the game because he's doing it for his family. Weh. There's a lot of foreshadowing going on here. First, he confesses about planning to burn down the camp and peeing in the rice, to which Corinne responded (via confessional) that if he had these thoughts, then she wants him out of the camp immediately because there is no telling what he'd do next. Plus, it is only a matter of time when something does happen!
The feud between Brandon and Phillip has always been there since the start. It started off when Brandon fell on the wrong side of the numbers that led to Francesca's ouster and him being outdone by the Stealth 'R Us that Phillip had started at the Favorites' camp during the first week. Then, Phillip told him that he is still at mid level management and not officially part of the Stealth 'R Us alliance just yet. Just when things were cool between them (Phillip even named him "The Conqueror") and Brandon initiated the apology, he catches word about Phillip's plan to throw the immunity challenge just so they can get rid of him. And from there, it basically was a domino effect. And when you have someone who is as unstable, unpredictable, and has "demons" (as Andrea would claim here), they're bound to snap eventually. Which is exactly what happened to Brandon!
To be fair, Brandon raised some valid points during his argument with Phillip. It was true that Phillip's Stealth 'R Us alliance is not just childish, but delusional to some extent. None of his tribemates liked their name but they just played along with it. Also, it was true that he made it to the finale during the Redemption Island season because Boston Rob carried him there, not out of his own merit or doing. But still, the ends does not always justify the means.
The Favorites forfeited the immunity challenge so that the Fans can get a free pass and they can get rid of the team's poison - Brandon. The tirade was as intense as we've seen on Survivor. I think Jeff Probst did a marvelous job of keeping things in order because Brandon was so close to getting physical (even he admitted it). Dawn probably said it best that "Brandon wasn't best for the tribe".
Brandon's meltdown this episode should be a lesson for the show's producers - he never should've been invited back to play the game. EVER. He was clearly unstable, mentally speaking. He is no Russell Hantz. He did not even exhibit the makings of a good player, to begin with, for him to merit an invite for another shot, except for the fact that he is a Hantz. The odd thing about this whole tirade is how Brandon repeatedly would claim that he wants to be the author of his own fate. Well, didn't do a good job there, buddy. If dumping rice and beans in a game of Survivor isn't stupid enough, he dug his own grave by claiming that he voted himself off the first time by giving away his immunity necklace as if it were a badge of honor.
With Brandon gone, the other Favorites can heave a sigh of relief knowing that there won't be anyone to sabotage them anymore. But the real question is: will this break their momentum or can this fuel them to fight even harder?