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Survivor Doubles Down On Strategic Plays

Three days! Two eliminations! One Survivor (episode)!

Lega-see You Later

Aubry proclaims the most recent Tribal Council "one of the weirdest Tribal Councils I've ever seen." Of particular interest is the fact that Sarah -- who was well aware that Sierra was getting voted out -- looked positively gobsmacked as the votes were read.

Sarah later explains that she threw this look at Sierra in the hope that Sierra would leave her the Legacy Advantage on the way out, and in fact, this is exactly how it played out. Sarah tucks the Legacy Advantage away next to her other advantage, which gives her the ability to steal a vote. If she collects enough of these things, she might well be the only one casting votes one of these nights, and she says she's ready to pile all eleventy-nine of her special secret advantage votes onto Andrea.

Is Their Couple Name "Cochbry"?

Once again, immunity is back up for grabs. (Incidentally, can we talk about the fact that this phrase is redundant? Probst could say "once again, immunity is up for grabs," or he could say "immunity is back up for grabs," and he'd be saying the same exact thing. There's no need to include both modifiers. This has bothered me for about fifteen years. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.)

This one is "a classic," according to Probst. Each Survivor will have to build a house of cards, one-handed, on a platform that they'll have to keep steady with their other hand. Probst notes that the last person to win the challenge was none other than Survivor: Caramoan winner, sitcom writer, and Survivor: Game Changers cameo-appearance-maker John Cochran, who is also the current record-holder at 17 minutes. "My boyfriend," murmurs Aubry sardonically. Jeff takes a moment before the challenge starts to needle her about her crush, but he notes that if she can win and break his record, Cochran might sit up and take notice.

Aubry's steady hands win her immunity, and, possibly, the heart of Cochran, as long as he's not threatened by the fact that Aubry positively obliterated his record by finishing the challenge in six minutes. Aubry leaps into Probst's arms when she realizes she's won, and I suspect in that moment they are each pretending the other is Cochran.

Fish You Were Here

Aubry's ready to get rid of Culpepper, and Michaela could be down with that, although Michaela would like it if he caught some fish first. "I suggest you go fishing," she tells him. Brad looks up at her quizzically like she's maybe giving him some sort of cryptic hidden idol clue, but no, she literally means he should fish, because she's hungry: "Like, go fish. And bring back fish." Brad takes this as a blackmail attempt -- in other words, his continued presence in the game seems dependent on whether or not he'll feed his tribe.

Back where the schemers and plotters are hanging out, Andrea is ready to target Sarah, a move which Cirie isn't totally on board with, mostly because Cirie is pondering making a move against Andrea.

We're moving at lightning speed now -- all the better to get to two eliminations in one episode. (And also because it's pretty evident by midway through Tribal that Andrea's on the chopping block.) In order to inject some suspense into the proceedings, we cut to commercial right before Jeff reads the votes.

Holey Buckets

Back from commercials, Andrea becomes the sixth member of the jury, and evidently only Andrea and Aubry weren't in on the plan.

Back at camp, Cirie notes that there are still a lot of players in the game who need to get voted out: there's Aubry, for one; there's also Tai, who rushed to comfort Aubry in the aftermath of this vote, which means they're basically married in Survivor terms.

At the immunity challenge, Probst takes the necklace back from Aubry, asking her to "spin and grin," which was the same thing he said to Troyzan under the same circumstances last week, and, as far as I can tell, pretty much never before that. Look, Probst, you're seventeen years into this gig, and your catchphrases are pretty well set. Stop trying to make "fetch" happen.

For the challenge itself, Survivors have to pour water out of a hole-filled bucket to get a key to float up to where they can reach it, and then they'll have to do a puzzle. Michaela thinks she's got the puzzle solved, but it's one of those tricky ones where you can get it all put together and still have something wrong, so in the end, it's Brad who actually ends up winning.

From A Whisper To A Scream

Tai feels like he needs to make a big move in order to impress a jury, and he thinks targeting Sarah is the best plan. Aubry thinks that getting rid of Tai might be her move, but when word of this gets back to Sarah, she has to scramble to convince Cirie not to vote out Tai, whom she thinks of as a close ally. She gives Cirie her vote-steal as a gesture of good faith.

Naturally, Cirie decides she'll just go ahead and use the vote-steal to get rid of Tai, as long as she can make Tai feel comfortable enough not to play an idol.

Cirie stops everyone before the voting begins and announces that she's got an advantage she'd like to use, and she'd like to use it to steal Sarah's vote. Sarah protests: that's not her advantage to use. "I'm just letting Cirie hold onto it," she says. "It's nontransferable." Indeed, Cirie apparently neglected to read the fine print: the vote-steal may, indeed, only be used by the person who found it.

This is naturally a little embarrassing for Cirie, and Probst is here for it. He asks what she thinks about this information, but just as she opens her mouth to respond, Sarah gets up and whispers in Tai's ear. Troyzan wants in on the whispering, but Michaela shuts that down. Brad whispers in Tai's ear. Tai and Michaela whisper in Sarah's ear. Cirie whispers in Michaela's ear. Sarah whispers in Michaela's ear. Aubry pulls her buff over her face and sits there neither whispering nor being whispered to. Finally, Sarah announces that she's going to use the advantage, and she'll use it to steal Tai's vote.

Which would seem to suggest that Tai is doomed, or at least that he should be playing one of those two idols he's sitting on, but he doesn't budge when prompted for idols, and indeed, it would have been a waste. Cirie votes for Aubry; Michaela and Aubry vote for Tai; Troyzan, Brad, Sarah, and Sarah again vote for Michaela, whose name was never brought up at any point throughout this episode.

Michaela speaks for everyone with her parting words: "I don't see how that makes sense, Sarah, but do you, boo."

Verdict

It seems like a smart call to compress Andrea’s ouster in particular; separately, each of these votes would have consisted of two interminable hours of television, but with everything zipping along at a good clip, it’s a real challenge to parse the strategy involved. The Tribal Council at the end is a perfect capper to the insanity, not to mention an excellent warm-up act for next week's finale.

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