Another reason why I did not want to skip this recap, albeit late, is the fact that Survivor hit it's highest viewer rating ever! It's the closest the viewing rating has gotten to American Idol, which speaks a lot to the longevity of the season and how its fan base has remained solid throughout the years. But with a sweet victory comes bittersweet memories as the majority alliance at the Enil Edam tribe, plus Sherri, finally voted off the game's biggest threat - Malcolm.
The episode started off with the remainder of Phillip's Stealth R' Us alliance making sense of what just happened at tribal. Most of them were giving congratulatory speeches to their nemesis, which I thought was kinda awkward. But Malcolm does this little speech about convincing one or two people to "come over to the dark side", so to speak because he believes he needed to escape one or two votes in order to regain control of this game.
Then comes the classic Survivor auction! This is usually a fun segment in the game wherein the castaways get to unwind and enjoy some food without competing for it in a challenge. But I have to note that there were a few misjudgments along the way. First off, I got quite the scare when Malcolm bid on the beer and nuts at the first chance Jeff revealed the item! Just when he delivered this confessional about keeping his money, even when he might be tempted for some food, in order to get an advantage or information. Thankfully, the other castaways, namely Andrea and Brenda (who had all their $500 at that point) weren't smart enough to outbid him at $480 for the immunity idol clue.
Dawn and Sherri both bid all of their money on food items, then wept annoyingly when they found out that all they needed was $20 in order to get letters from home. Seriously?! 26 seasons in and you still could not have seen that coming! At least for once, though, we get to see a valid reason for Dawn's tears. Ugh.
When Malcolm used up all his money on the idol clue, to which Jeff tried so hard to make it sound enigmatic by claiming "information in the game", it was Cochran who won the bid for the immunity challenge advantage. And he did not even have to spend his full $500 for it! What was Eddie doing? He was clearly on the minority and it did not even cross his mind to outbid Cochran for the advantage! During Malcolm's exit interview, he clearly pointed out how difficult it was to talk strategy with people, er allies, who don't know how to play the game (more insight on this later). But he jokingly said during his interview with Rob Cesternino on his podcast, "with allies like these, who needs enemies?". Well said!
The standoff continues between the three amigos and the remaining six from Stealth R' Us. It started with Malcolm digging for the hidden immunity idol, which ironically he had the most difficult time finding even with a clue whereas the previous two he found without a single clue. To make matters worse, Andrea tried to stave off any attempt for Malcolm to dig and look for the idol. Many fans claim this was a fatal flaw in Malcolm's game but I was also partly torn as I felt he did not want to give away the exact location of the idol based on the clue he read, particularly since Andrea has caught up to the possibility that it could be somewhere near the well.
Erik, on the other hand, was being brought up by the remaining favorites as the most likely to switch. Cochran pointed out his vote for Phillip during last tribal and Andrea raised his previous season, which might make him skeptical about working with women.
During tribal council, however, it was clear that the two they were banking on (Erik and Sherri) were never really with them. Hence, it was a guessing game at that point as to whether or not Malcolm had in fact found the idol. When the votes were cast and Malcolm didn't play the idol, the remaining favorites gave out a relieved grin. Cochran, in his voting confessional, was relishing the possibility of voting out Malcolm. When they split the votes between Malcolm and Reynold, I knew at that point that Malcolm was done. I could not paint Reynold's face at this point - he was screwed many times over, it has proven to be a tough stretch for him!
During the re-vote, the vote unanimously went Malcolm's way. Even Eddie voted for his amigo. For the sake of those who are left in the game, it was the smartest move to make. With the previous tribal council idol fiasco that was spearheaded by Malcolm and him putting all of his money on the idol clue, he exposed himself as the savvier player than Reynold (and Eddie, duh). If they let him stay after this vote, who knew what he could've done! Plus, it'll only give him the opportunity to continue his dig for the idol. And they can't take that chance, especially if they wanted to keep the numbers and improve their chances at making the finals. But it's going to be a tight race - those 6 are going to turn on each other soon! Not sure if neither Reynold nor Eddie has the gusto to break up that clique, so taking out Malcolm was their best bet.
With the remaining players, here's a quick power ranking:
8. Eddie - Need I explain? The only way I believe for Eddie to survive the next vote is if, and only if, Reynold does not win immunity because the latter will be targeted first by the majority alliance. We're also too deep into the game for flirting to work his way. Sorry bud.
7. Reynold - Only because he is savvier than Eddie. Plus, he is also more competitive in challenges and is more likely to wear that immunity necklace again to save him another round.
6. Andrea - Even though Phillip took on the role of the leader to the Stealth R' Us alliance, Andrea was the secret ring leader. She also played an aggressive game from Day 1. But she's been targeted by her own alliance in the past, with Dawn wanting to vote her off because she felt like she was being too close with Reynold, Eddie and Malcolm. Unless she can win an immunity necklace soon, she might be next in the assembly line.
5. Erik - It's tough to rank Erik because we haven't heard about his strategy and what he plans on doing when it came down to just the six that makes up the majority alliance. His name has been brought up and the majority alliance might get suspicious of him, depending on how the tides turn in the next episode. But if he can prove them that he's worth their trust, he could be a key part of this alliance. The one thing that might work against his game, though, is that he might be perceived as a challenge treat. The majority might vote him off as soon as he doesn't win immunity.
4. Dawn - The crybaby. The only thing that's keeping her in this game is the fact that she has worked with Cochran in making strategic decision and they're part of the majority alliance. To be fair, she has played a better and more strategic game than last time. But she's like a ticking time bomb that's waiting to explode.
3. Sherri - I place her a bit higher in the ranking because she won't be perceived as a threat in the finals. She will be one of those that other castaways will be tagging along to get an easy pass for the mill. Plus, I also see Sherri being smart enough to exploit that. And since she's proven to be good at ass-kissing, she's in a good spot right now.
2. Brenda - If there is one thing I can use to describe Brenda's game, it would be patient. We know she's a power player in her previous season. But since being on the wrong side of the numbers, she's done an excellent job of playing under the radar. She also is likable enough for people to want to have her stick around. But while being invisible meant that she wasn't going home, it also indicated that she won't win as the editing did not build up her strategic game that would merit a win.
1. Cochran - At this stage in the game, I don't think anyone could beat Cochran in any Final 3 scenario. He has played a great strategic game wherein he pulled the strings together while making it seem that others were taking control. Also, he was sociable and lovable enough to be liked by his fellow tribemates. He also surprised many, including himself, at how well he's done with the challenges, managing to win a couple to date.
How would you rate this episode?