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I Scheme, You Scheme, We All Scheme On Survivor

Though the Survivors have merged, things still seem divided along tribal lines. Can an ice cream social and a couple of well-timed fishing trips shake things up?

Things Clique Into Place

With Neal gone, everyone's bummed out -- particularly the three former members of the Brains tribe, who are down yet one more number, while Beauty and Brawn are now fairly locked into forming a united front. In fact, they're so locked in that they don't even bother trying to hide it from the Brains, much to Aubry's irritation.

"This is totally like high school," she says. "You have the tough guys...the girls who are kind of pretty and get along really well with them, and the people who are shyer and a little bit nerdy on the outside." She is undaunted by being in the nerdy cohort, she says; the cool kids will turn on each other eventually, and she'll be there to swoop in and find the crack.

I Can't Believe I Sucked At The Pole Thing

Sad piano music plays as Jason shares with the group that his daughter is autistic, and that everything he does in life is for her. His family lives humbly, he says, so that he can provide her with all the best therapy. (So, you know, a million dollars would probably come in real handy in a situation like that. But no pressure, guys.) Cydney realizes that now that Jason's revealed this softer side of himself, he may not be the star she wants to hitch her wagon to long-term.

For the reward challenge, teams are divided into two teams of five, and they'll have to work together to convey a team member across an expanse of water via two poles. The winning team will have ice cream delivered to camp, where they'll get to eat it in full view of the losers, which I have to imagine is half the reward on its own.

When she's selected captain, Aubry proves to be singularly terrible at not only choosing teams (she goes with Jason, Joe, Cydney, and Michele) but also at staying balanced on the poles. Her team hasn't even gotten five feet from the starting point when Scot, Nick, Debbie, Julia, and Tai complete the challenge. It's especially tough to take on the heels of losing Neal, she sniffles at the camera.

Have Some Cone-sideration

The winning team enjoys their ice cream, but they're cognizant of the fact that the losers are being forced to sit ten feet away and watch them eat it, so they're trying to keep their inside voices on. When Jason sour-grapes at them that they don't have to tone it down on his account, Julia and Michele note that he's pretty cocky, and they aren't fans.

Since the random assortment of Survivors gathered around the ice cream can't really talk strategy on account of Debbie's presence, they talk about what's going on back home, and Scot brings a sob story of his own to the table: his ailing mother's in assisted living and he cares for his entire family with his NBA money. (So, you know, a million dollars would probably come in real handy in a situation like that. But no pressure, guys.) (Wonder where he got that idea.)

While Cydney, Julia, and Michele are off fishing, Scot, Nick, and Jason start to wonder idly whether the girls are starting to bond based on their common interests of shopping and makeup, and thus, whether they might be forming an all-female alliance. When they return, Nick makes a beeline for Julia to find out, which Cydney finds highly suspect. She immediately calls Jason out on this behavior, noting that if he's going to send someone to check up on her, he should probably pick someone with a bit more of a poker face. Robots are notoriously bad at hiding their intentions, after all.

If At First You Don't Succeed, Tai Again

For most post-merge immunity competitions, Survivors are made to stand in some sort of Geneva Convention-violating pose until all but one of them drop, and this week's is no exception -- with their hands, they hold onto handles behind their heads, and with their feet, they'll grip a tiny perch. Five minutes in, Jeff gets kind of bored, so he decides to speed things up by tempting people off their perches with some leftovers from craft services. Scot, Jason, Michele, and Joe take the bait, and they commence to chowing down on the congealed pizzas, melted brownies, and lukewarm hot dogs on offer -- which, frankly, is almost as gross as the festival of open sores we got at last week's immunity challenge.

Tai and Nick remain on the perch, noting that they want to be sure a Brain doesn't win; as does Cydney, who neither moves nor speaks throughout the entire challenge -- not to acknowledge the food, not to respond to Tai's taunts when it comes down to the two of them, not even to react when Tai starts chanting to Buddha for strength. But eventually even she drops, and Tai (with help from Buddha, apparently) wins the necklace.

Nickbot 3000 Powers Down

It's nice that they've held off on killing at least one of the chickens so that Tai has a special friend to chat with when he has good news to share.

Nick reaches out to Aubry and straight-up tells her the plan, since he figures nobody else is reaching out to her. But he's not entirely correct about that: Cydney has some plans for Aubry as well. Cydney points out that with five women and five men, it's a good time to make a big move and take out Nick, and Aubry agrees. As bummed as Debbie is about the prospect of losing her eye candy, she's on board as well. Michele and Julia aren't as sure, though, since getting rid of Nick will not only take out one of THEIR allies, it'll get Scot and Jason gunning for them.

At Tribal Council, Tai spills the details about the Super Idol, which was information previously available only to those who'd found idols or spoken to those who had. Jeff asks around if people expect to get votes tonight (Aubry does) and whether they believe the vote tonight will go as expected (Scot, who's planning on voting for Aubry, does).

While votes do go to Aubry, Debbie, and (inexplicably) Jason, Nick is the unlucky recipient of the remaining votes, winding up on the wrong end of a #blindside.

Verdict

While most of this episode is fairly rote -- challenge! scheming! challenge! more scheming! -- a moderately satisfying blindside indicates that the rest of the season may not end up being a grim, joyless march to a predictable winner. And hey, the relative lack of pus is already a pretty huge improvement over last week.

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