last week showed us Dawn crying hysterically and breaking down (hey, what's new?)... I expected it to arise after a confrontation between Malcolm and Reynold to which she gave her word to after they showed her the idol. But apparently, it was only because of a lost retainer. How anticlimactic, right? Brenda ended up saving the day, or else she would've pulled herself from the game. Don't think the latter would be a very bad idea, even Dawn admits she cries more than a baby does. But then again, we get to hear Brenda give out a confessional (albeit a brief one) after a long time. And in her words, she proclaimed that she will never turn her back on Dawn. Hmmm, foreshadowing? That one might have significance in the coming episode, so it'll be a puzzle how that will come into play.
The editing trick here has practically made viewers suspicious if this is setting up to be a Dawn boot, especially as the episode opens with Cochran and Phillip talking about her volatility in terms of the emotional state, with Cochran going as far as comparing it to the instability of Brandon. The paranoia is clearly starting to set into Dawn and it is only a matter of time until that erupts (or will it?). In my case, the significant amount of confessionals sure did make me wonder. But for someone like Phillip calling Dawn crazy, that's got to be serious!
This week's reward challenge is reminiscent of the Episode 9 reward challenge from Survivor Philippines dubbed Muddy Waters. With slight modifications to the obstacle course that castaways had to overcome, it was the same concept wherein they had to dig through a bag in a mud pit and then shoot the balls into a narrow basket. The castaways were split into two teams of five with Malcolm's team looking to have an upper hand. However, even when Malcolm used Penner's strategy of pulling out all of the bags, it didn't produce the results like last time. The winning team went on a resort getaway with a fabulous view and lots of food! As they gorge on the feast, Phillip manages to spoil it with his lack of etiquette as he jumps straight into the pool without taking a shower. How old is he again?
The pivotal point in the game was during the immunity challenge, which by the way is a favorite of mine because it is a re-do of the classic immunity challenge from Pearl Islands. But Phillip decides to sit this one out pointing to an incident during his childhood years that made him uncomfortable about the whole challenge setup. It boiled down to a competition between Malcolm and Reynold, but the latter ended up winning as Malcolm eventually got worn out after five rounds of swimming. This spoiled the plans of the Stealth R' Us alliance because Reynold's idol was played last time, putting him as their number one choice to vote off. With this win, it screws up the plan although their fall back choice was clearly Malcolm.
The three amigos went looking for an idol in the jungle as soon as they got back to camp. Malcolm still has his immunity idol from the former Bikal camp, of which only Corinne knew about. However, he points out that he wanted to preserve that idol for as long as possible, so if he can get through this vote without having to use it, then it's to his advantage. Soon enough, Andrea and Dawn decided to go looking for the idol, too. But it clearly wasn't that easy without clue that Dawn points out it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Dawn joked around with Malcolm about yelling out should he find the idol but there is no need for that as they were right there in front of him as he took it out from one of the rocks. Andrea and Dawn couldn't believe what they just saw so they went rushing to their allies to confide this new information, then quickly concoct a plan for the upcoming tribal council.
I thought for sure that was the crazy part of the episode, but suspense continued to build up as Jeff was probing the Stealth R' Us alliance about the status of their alliance and that of the three guys clearly on the outs, namely Malcolm, Eddie, and Reynold. Eddie was certain that it could be him going home in that tribal council noting how Malcolm found the hidden immunity idol and that Reynold was wearing the immunity necklace. However, Malcolm pulled out another trick off of his bag citing that there was some tension at camp as the other seven were clearly trying to distance themselves in fear of being associated with the minority. But to everyone's surprise, he pulled out his original immunity idol that he found with Corinne and handed it to Eddie. Eddie's face was golden as he registered a goofy yet clearly elated look. On the flip side, most of the people in the front row could only burrow their faces into their palms in disbelief. Of everyone, Andrea seemed to show the surest look of concern. Jeff also pitched the idea that Malcolm declaring their vote for Phillip could be an attempt to double play them as they could blindside any one of the remaining six.
When Cochran cast his vote, he confessed this is the reason why he still loves Survivor after 13 years. I couldn't agree more! I held my breathe as Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play their idol. Eddie stood up first and everybody else was looking at Malcolm to see if he would follow Eddie's lead. Eventually, he gave up his idol, too, and we saw Phillip go home. The Specialist, as he self-proclaimed, is gone - thankfully and finally!
To see just how crazy this tribal was, re-live it here:
I've heard a lot of opinions from fans about the success of this move, with some claiming that Malcolm was unable to maximize the moves to his advantage. Personally, I thought revealing the second idol at tribal council was a brilliant move because he kept the Stealth R' Us alliance from devising a fall back plan. I think Malcolm has learned his lesson in the past two tribal councils that they could sneak back to their alliance mates and reveal their plans. By not letting that happen, the majority alliance was caught off-guard, even to a point on insisting on their original plan which got Phillip voted off. The key change here that might've benefited Malcolm's alliance was the fact that Phillip is gone. He was the one commanding the other six and lining them up like ducks. Without him, it would be easier to infiltrate into that alliance, especially with one or two people on the perimeters of that alliance. In fact, we saw Erik vote for Phillip at this tribal council!
The preview for the next episode wasn't as intriguing but things are going to shift soon. For weeks, I was hoping for things to change and with Phillip gone, I think one or two people are going to feel threatened about their security within the majority alliance. What did you think of this episode? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
Image credit: CBS and Survivor Seasons