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Elimination (And The Lack Thereof) Is Crucial On Survivor

Survivor contestants have always battled the brutality of the elements and the duplicity of their teammates, but this week, the most frightening enemy is bodily functions.

Hands Are Tai'ed

Joe (wait, there's a Joe this season? Spoiler alert: welllll...) consoles Tai, who felt betrayed by the rest of the group when they left him out of the vote. He'd have happily voted for Jason, he tells them, if only they'd kept him informed. Now he doesn't know what his options are, or if there's anyone left he can trust.

Tai's flipped on an alliance three times, Michele is quick to remind him, and furthermore, what's her incentive to work with him when he wrote her name down not once but twice? Aubry explains to him that people didn't go along with his plan because people don't like being strongarmed into a vote, but privately, she informs us that excluding Tai was mostly done because he's had so much control over the game up to now and she needed to take some control back.

Grandpa's Got A Brand-New Beanbag

Reward this week involves retrieving sacks of beanbags for the purposes of tossing them at a series of targets. The winner gets an overnight trip to the Survivor Spa, which is most likely the backyard of some real resort somewhere, because an actual Survivor spa would probably involve, like, sitting in stagnant water scrubbing your face with sand. Anyway, there'll be food and baths and massages and actual beds to sleep in, which sounds like a pretty great reward all around.

There's a fantastic transitional shot of multicolored beanbags flying through the air, which must have been a lot of fun to shoot, and then they're off. It turns out that once you've launched all of your bags, you have to wait for everyone else to run out of bags before you can go again, and pretty much everyone but resident oldster slowpoke Joe tosses away all of their bags in short order. So there's a lot of standing around while everyone waits for Joe to retrieve and toss the rest of his bags before they can start again. "Joe doesn't need to race. He can take his time," Jeff explains, as though this is not what Joe has been doing already.

Because we're seeing the entirety of Joe's labored trek through the jungle and subsequent beanbag toss in all its slo-mo glory, it's not hard to predict that he manages to win the challenge, because no editor who wasn't forced to tell this story would compel a viewer to sit through this. Still, you've got to hand it to Joe: a seventy-one-year-old dude just bested a bunch of people less than half his age, and that's pretty amazing.

Joe's allowed to bring two companions with him, and he chooses Aubry and Cydney (well, he chooses Aubry, and then he lets Aubry make the next move, which also succinctly describes Joe's entire game plan up to this point).

So We Meat Again

Oh, yes, the actual Survivor spa is pretty swanky, and so is the spread, room-temperature meat skewers notwithstanding. As he straight-up murders approximately a hundred of said meat skewers, Joe facilitates some strategy talk. Over the course of the conversation, Aubry realizes that Cydney is a real threat to win the game, and she begins to reconsider her final three plans.

Back at Loser Beach, Tai and Michele have a good stagnant-water-soak and sand-scrub, but they also mend fences, despite Tai's strange apology style of "I still remember all the things you said last night, and it stings" and "you and I, we just don't have chemistry." But it'd be a long day if they weren't able to find some common ground, so Michele takes what she can get. They decide to do their own spa day, with Tai administering a "Tai massage," and lo and behold, by the end of the day, they're chatting strategy like old friends as Mark the chicken clucks approval.

I Guess He Wasn't Meant To Pee

As the reward winners return to beach, Aubry decides to put her new plan into action: her ideal final three, she says, is Tai and Joe, and since Joe will do whatever, her next step is to get back into Tai's good graces. It's a surprisingly emotional moment for both of them, and their newfound closeness is not lost on Cydney when the pair rejoins the group.

The nine tons of beef Joe ingested at the spa are starting to take their toll, he reports. He's having some problems peeing, and things are getting painful -- something about the prostate and the urethra and, look, unless your love for urology outpaces your love for reality television, you really don't want to know. Naturally, Aubry's a little freaked out at the prospect of losing her loyal foot soldier...and probably also concerned about the fact that her closest ally is in a large amount of pain. Probably.

Survivor's medical team drops by to deliver some drugs designed to get Joe's plumbing functional again, but also to deliver the worst-case scenario: should he not improve quickly, he could be facing permanent kidney damage. Basically, if it turns out he can't go, he's gonna have to, well, go.

Survivor Medical Doesn't Kidney Around

Joe informs the tribe that if he can't pee, he's out of the game, and sadly, it's looking like the stream has dried up. The tribe tearfully hugs Joe as they watch one final sunset together, and once night falls, Survivor Medical reappears, with Jeff in tow (which is never good), to finally put Joe's Survivor experience out of its misery.

Jeff is quick to point out that with three medical evacuations, this season has officially become the toughest one physically, and he encourages the final four to hang in there: "Now, more than ever, you'll have to outwit and outplay if you are to outlast." But nobody's having a tougher time than Aubry, who was shafted pretty hard by two-thirds of those medical evacuations, and who now has no idea what the hell is going to happen next.

Verdict

The back half of this episode is basically an extended tour of the geriatric excretory system (as well as a cautionary tale about what happens if you eat too much meat in one sitting), and it culminates in history's most anticlimactic ouster of the season's most invisible player. The one bright spot: losing Joe means that there are no tight pairs left, so it really could be anybody's game come finale time next week.

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