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Hell Hath No Fury Like Survivors Scorned

The minority alliance resorts to sabotage to vent their frustrations, a surprising contestant makes a heel turn, and idols get thrown around in new and interesting ways.

Listen All Y'All, It's A Sabotage

After Cydney's coup, Scot and Jason are feeling a little put out, and like the mature adults they are, they decide to convey their feelings by acting out. First order of business: gather up the axe and machete and store them someplace, because nothing says "I'm ready to win a game based on social skills" quite like making everyone miserable and encouraging them to hate you.

Scot, Tai, and Jason are now very much in the minority, and Tai feels especially vulnerable. His best course of action, he thinks, is to donate his idol to the cause of creating Super Idol and hope they're willing to use it in a way that saves him. He doesn't love all the sabotage, but he'll live with it if it'll get him further in the game.

Dude, Where's My Machete?

The fact that Scot and Jason have the world's worst poker faces is not lost on their tribemates, who immediately deduce that this is not unrelated to the fact that the camp's stockpile of sharp objects has been severely depleted. However, Scot and Jason seem to have forgotten to hide the saw in their haste to rid the camp of useful tools, and Cydney makes quick work of a coconut with said saw. Scot's already devastated spirits take yet another hit, which leads him to commit another act of sabotage: this time, he pours out the entire 5-gallon bucket of water onto the fire in broad daylight, in full view of the entire tribe. (At first glance, it looked like he was peeing on it, which would have been far more dramatic, if not entirely appropriate for the 8:00 hour.)

This has exactly the effect he intends: namely, everyone hates him more than they already did. Tai is already regretting his decision to hitch his wagon to this particular star, but this bell seems pretty hard to un-ring at the moment.

At the reward challenge, Aubry reports that "it feels like the Cold War and we're stockpiling missiles." Scot's defense: he does all the work so nobody should benefit from it. Cydney's retort: others are capable of doing this so-called work that Scot's decided to cease doing, so he might as well not even be there.

The challenge itself entails entangling some rope and knocking some blocks off a ledge. Jeff asks the Survivors to pick their own teams; the ninth team member will sit out and select a team to support. Joe immediately volunteers to sit out; Julia volunteers to join up with Scot, Jason, and Tai, whom nobody else wants to speak to.

It's possible that "minor league pitcher" was among Debbie's long list of prior careers, because she almost singlehandedly makes an epic comeback when the women initially falter. Alas, it's not quite enough; the boys plus Julia end up winning the challenge. It may be a net loss for Julia, though, whose opportunism begins to grate on her former allies.

Why, Iota...

Julia, Scot, Jason, Tai, and Tai's pet chicken hunker down and enjoy the reward feast, which is Chinese takeout this time for no apparent reason other than that Cambodian pizza has thus far looked more like a punishment than a reward. Over dumplings and noodles, Julia tells the guys that she likes her chances with them rather than the possibility of being on the bottom of the all-women's alliance. "I feel secure in my alliance," she says, "but I want to keep my options open."

Meanwhile, Julia's alleged secure alliance expresses varying degrees of concern. Debbie doesn't have "one iota" of concern, but Cydney and Aubry think Julia's pretty transparently playing both sides.

The Domino Effect

Night falls, and Tai pours his heart out to his chicken pal, who may be his only real ally out here. He doesn't love Scot and Jason as people, but they're in his alliance, and they've got another idol he could match with his. In order to show them what team he's on, he takes up their mantle of sabotage and douses the fire yet again while the rest of the tribe sleeps. Which mostly just makes everyone mad at Scot and Jason again.

Aubry notes that Scot and Jason's sabotage attempts are transparent stabs at directing votes their way that will then get idoled away. Thus, her alliance's best bet is to turn on one of their own: perhaps Julia, who's gotten awfully chummy with them of late. She brings this plan to Debbie, but Debbie doesn't want to hear it. Eventually, Aubry concedes she'll have to wait to see who wins immunity and then plan accordingly.

On its face, the immunity challenge seems a little boring: stack some blocks, domino-style, and if you knock them over prematurely, you have to start over. But it's actually fairly watchable. There's a pretty great element of schadenfreude every time a Survivor drops their tiles. Michele in particular comes heartbreakingly close to completing the challenge when her blocks fail to knock down the final obstacle. The necklace eventually goes to Julia, which is arguably the most interesting outcome, since it does eliminate her as a target.

It's A Very Super Idol, The Kind You Don't Bring Home To Mother

The ladies (plus honorary lady Joe) try to puzzle out how the vote should go. Debbie suggests splitting the vote between Tai and Scot, forcing a three-way tie that would flush out an idol and spur a re-vote, although she thinks it may be much ado about nothing: "There's no way the three of them have an idol." (No, in fact, the three of them have TWO idols, but whatevs, lady.) Aubry notes that in this scenario, it only takes one person to go rogue and the whole plan's scuttled. Cut to: Julia going rogue and telling Scot and Jason the entire plan.

Aubry, who's had it up to here with Debbie's total lack of logic, appeals to someone with a bit more common sense -- Cydney -- and floats the idea of blindsiding Debbie, whose illogical gameplay is chapping her, and who Scot and Jason don't suspect would be in danger. As long as Aubry's got Joe, and Cydney's got Michele, this plan could have legs.

But DOES Aubry have Joe? Joe doesn't want to vote for Debbie. So there goes that. It's back to Julia, who now holds all the power: she can go with the guys and vote Cydney, or she can go with the ladies (and honorary lady Joe) and vote for Debbie.

At Tribal Council, Scot immediately offers up the news that Tai has an idol, which inspires Jason to whip his out as well. Instead of threatening to combine the idols for Super Idol, Jason's got a different gambit: they're going to Rock Paper Scissors to determine who gets the idols, and that person can be the gatekeeper of both. Much whispering ensues before the voting, and at the crucial idol moment, Jason gets up as if to play his idol, but instead, he gifts it to Tai with more ceremony than most idol plays demand. The message is clear: vote for any of the three of them and Super Idol will rear its head.

In the end, Debbie and Joe vote for Scot anyway, and the three guys vote for Cydney, but everyone else blindsides Debbie rather epically. Jeff points out that no matter how hopeless your situation seems, the unpredictable nature of the game gives everyone a fighting shot. Although I'm sure having access to an overpowered idol can't hurt either.

Verdict

The central puzzle of how Tai manages to pull off a full turn to the dark side and still somehow remain endlessly sweet and lovable is just one of the many delights this episode has to offer. There's scrambling and strategy galore, a cheap-ass reward to make fun of, and the setup to what's looking like a pretty unpredictable endgame. What more could we ask for? Well, balls, I guess. Other than that, though, it's pretty satisfying.

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