Jeffrey Neira / CBS

It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time On Survivor

The lowest-stakes reward challenge of all time leads to a surprising excess of hurt feelings.

Buried Idols; Not-So-Buried Resentment

Previously: Orange Tribe and Blue Tribe collectively attended Tribal Council, and thanks to some insider info from JT and a well-placed hidden immunity idol, Orange Tribe was able to come out on top.

Had JT's evening gone according to plan, Orange Tribe would have voted for Sandra and subsequently idoled her out of the game. Unfortunately, Orange Tribe decided that JT's best buddy Malcolm was the bigger threat on account of his challenge prowess and devastating good looks, so it's a long, lonely walk back to camp for JT -- who, to recap, has just sold out his entire tribe and also failed to get rid of the tribe's actual biggest threat, who's now got a gigantic axe to grind against him (and who also happens to be the game's only two-time winner and one of the greatest players ever).

The only thing that can save JT now is an idol; naturally, that's exactly what he finds. Somehow, the rest of the tribe is conveniently absent from the beach for long enough for him to dig it up.

Beaming With Pride

Survivor's reward budget seems to have taken a hit this season: this week's challenge winners will enjoy a large plate of peanut butter sandwiches and cookies, with a slightly smaller plate going to the second-place team. Remember when rewards used to involve grilling steaks on a yacht? Oh, well. Rewards also sometimes used to be something other than an obstacle course followed by a puzzle.

What then follows is not an immediate smash-cut to the competition, but an extended shot of each tribe strategizing. The only reason to show this footage is foreshadowing; someone's obviously going to insist they're good at balancing, digging, or puzzling and then totally blow it for their team. Indeed, Debbie insists she's a great balancer and then manages to fall off the balance beam about twenty times in a row. In the end, Green Tribe wins the large plate of PBJs and Blue Tribe comes from behind to overtake Debbie and win the smaller plate.

A Fair And Balanced Viewpoint

Green Tribe has done nothing but win since the day it rose from the ashes of the tribe swap, meaning there is really no point to showing us anything that's going on over there right now. Still, someday these people are going to wind up at Tribal Council -- either they'll have to start going after the merge or they'll lose Ozzy to a freak accident -- so Survivor feels duty-bound to show you some shots of them strategizing just so you won't forget who they are when that day arrives.

The situation over at Orange Tribe is far more likely to have some impact on game dynamics sometime soon, and indeed, it's far more compelling television. Before the break, we saw Debbie fail at the balance beam. However, according to Debbie, what actually happened was that Hali was far too careful while performing her part of the challenge, leaving less time for Debbie and forcing her to rush across the beam. She feels that her greatest skills -- namely her steady hands and grace under pressure -- are grossly undervalued. The logical conclusion, at least according to Debbie, is that (a) everyone hates her and wants her out; (b) Princess Hali's good looks and charm are somehow preventing Debbie from shining in challenges; and (c) Brad's a domineering jerk who never lets her contribute because he hates strong women. (Brad doesn't actually say a word at any point during this scene.)

A tantrum of epic proportions ensues; the highlight is probably Debbie screaming "I'M PISSED!" directly into the camera right before she insists that she isn't a person who ever explodes in anger.

The Sweet Taste Of Victory

Blue Tribe won some coffee and refreshments in last week's reward challenge, and they're still nursing the dregs of it three days later. JT and Michaela get into some sort of skimrish over the remaining sugar, which Michaela apparently likes to eat straight from the jar like some sort of starving person. Sandra takes it upon herself to resolve the situation by eating all of the sugar herself and then sitting back to watch the fireworks, which, I will grant, is classic Sandra, although the JT/Michaela confrontation that ensues feels a little subdued.

At Orange Tribe, everyone sits around in awkward, strained silence. Tai decides to go looking for clues, and since there are only so many weird-looking trees out there, he hits pay dirt almost immediately.

Immunity is another convoluted obstacle course, and Divine Providence has blessed us with yet another set of balance beams. Again, we watch Orange Tribe strategize beforehand; again, Debbie insists she is a balancing prodigy, but this time, instead of insisting that she be allowed to compete on the balance beam, she bleats a little bit about how nobody appreciates her skills before literally turning her back on the rest of the tribe and sticking out her lower lip. Early on in the challenge, she gets over an obstacle a few seconds before Brad does and then spends the remainder of the challenge reminding him of this fact. Despite all this, Brad manages to secure an immunity win for Orange Tribe, and since Green Tribe's got Ozzy and a giant black hole where its dramatic tension should be, naturally, they're not going anywhere either.

TTFN, JT

The entire Blue Tribe minus Michaela talks some shit about Michaela, and JT suggests that she should be voted out as comeuppance for her sugar-stealing ways. For a moment it appears like voting out JT is actually something one would have to actually work toward, and Sandra makes sure she's tight with Michaela and Varner to ensure a majority vote. Only Aubry seems to be arguing in favor of keeping JT, but she's never shown actually interacting with the guy, so it's hard to tell how serious she is.

Will it be JT or Michaela? At Tribal Council, the sugar fight is invoked, and everyone continues to pile onto Michaela as though it's a foregone conclusion that she's going to be voted out, and apparently they give a convincing enough performance that she picks up Aubry's vote as well, but Sandra, Varner, and Michaela all cast their votes for JT in a move that will surprise nobody who caught last week's episode or even the first five minutes of this one. As he's getting his torch snuffed, Michaela reminds everyone once again that it's his fault Malcolm is gone, thus bringing us full circle again and rendering the past forty-three minutes a total waste. Although Sandra does cop to eating all the sugar once JT is out of earshot, and everyone has a good laugh.

Amid all the misdirection and talk about fighting over sugar, I somehow forgot JT had an idol; apparently, so did he.

Verdict

Survivor's editors have done their best to cobble together a story out of a fairly predictable boot and some lackluster challenges, but really, there's no logical resolution to last week's story that doesn't include JT going home this week, and ultimately, nobody pretends otherwise.

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