Survivor Logs Another Unpredictable Episode

The season’s still trying to find its footing, but unlikely bromances and last-minute Tribal Council flips are helping to keep everyone on their toes.

Finding Idols Is An Uphill Climb

The members of the Brawn tribe returns to their beach after Tribal Council. Alecia's grateful to have been saved, but she's not sure exactly how grateful she should be, considering how much of Tribal Council was given over to trashing her contributions (or lack thereof) around camp. Not only that, but she's pretty sure she saw some whispers exchanged about changing the vote at the last minute. Bottom line: she's not going to get too comfortable with these clowns. Jason affirms that she's driving them all nuts with her dumbness and her blondeness; she's next for sure.

On the Beauty tribe, Tai's dying to look for the idol, but he's worried he'll draw suspicion from the tribe. Eventually, he's like, screw it, and this particular jaunt is indeed fruitful. But there's no idol yet: the producers are going to make him work for it. He finds several clues, but the next one's hidden at the top of a pretty tall tree. After sacrificing untold minutes and a whole lot of skin to the tree, he reluctantly leaves it for another day.

Bromance Blooms; Debbie's A Downer

Mostly, this segment is a rehash of, and expansion on, ideas we saw in the previous episode. At Brains Beach, the tribe tries out the kerosene they won in the immunity challenge. Joe's not sure how much to use, so he errs on the side of "massive fireball." Nobody's hurt; in fact, the general reaction, at least initially, is one of a bunch of drunk dudes gleefully burning stuff on a camping trip.

The real friction occurs slightly later, when tribemates are divided on the issue of whether or not it's prudent to boil water before you drink it. Debbie, in fact, thinks that anyone who'd bother with boiling the water is a total idiot. She cites her background as a chemist, but then again, she's cited her background as many things so far, and we're only two episodes in: to name a few, she's been in the military, a personal trainer, a caretaker to nuns, and a server at Red Lobster. Basically, Debbie talks a lot, and her favorite subject is Debbie, and it's starting to wear thin with the rest of the tribe.

The token weirdo over on Beauty is Tai, who hopes his charm will help him connect with his tribemates. And strangely enough, it seems to be working. The most charmed of all is Tai's crush object Caleb, who must have learned a thing or two about tolerance during his summer in the Big Brother House. He's so okay with it, in fact, that he welcomes Tai's invitations to cuddle in the shelter at night, and even finds it hilarious when Tai goes in for a kiss. They only seem to be at odds on one issue: namely, whether things can or should be killed purely for shits and giggles. Caleb, who's fixated on a random bee that's bumbled into camp, is very much pro-sport-killing; Tai, not so much.

Adding More Fuel To The Fire

The Brains kerosene is running low already. (Incidentally, "Brains Kerosene" is a great name for a metal band.) Neal blames Joe, who initially put too much of it on the fire and then stored it on its side. But the Brains tribe's fire troubles haven't stopped there: their matches have also gotten wet, meaning they're totally out of fire. Joe gives everyone his best disappointed-dad lecture, despite the fact that it's looking like all of these things are probably his fault.

Joe -- and also the elements, but mostly Joe -- has gotten to Liz, who decides to go off by herself for awhile and get a good cry out of her system without anyone else around to see it.

The Brawn tribe has had a spot of bad fire luck too. (Worth noting: the Brawn beach is the same Fail Beach where the Angkor tribe was in Season 31, which should at least partially explain why they all look so over it on Day 5.) Scot spends a fair amount of time trying to build a fire before declaring himself exhausted and retiring to the shelter. No fire means no water means no way to prepare any food, so they're pretty much hosed. (And in fire-adjacent issues, Jason's so sunburned that his shoulders are covered in blisters.)

Since the rest of the tribe barely remembers her name and there's nothing better to do, Alecia decides to amuse herself by trying to get the fire going herself. It takes her five hours, and the rest of the tribe spends most of this time making fun of her for daring to do something, but eventually she gets it going. The tribe actually even remembers her name for a hot second, so thrilled are they by this development. Tonight's dinner: rice, with a side of crow.

It's Big, It's Heavy, It's Wood

Survivor's pulled out all the stops for this particular immunity challenge: instead of your typical obstacle course followed by a puzzle, THIS challenge has an obstacle course followed by a slingshot-and-target scenario. See? Totally different from your usual fare. Oh, and also, the Survivors will have to carry a giant log through the obstacle course portion.

The one interesting wrinkle to this challenge is the fact that there's only one ball to shoot at the target, rather than several. Unfortunately, this means Jeff Probst doesn't get to talk about everyone's balls in an all-too-knowing fashion, but the fact that this ball is actually tethered to the slingshot itself affords many opportunities for the contestants to tangle the ball up past the point of being able to shoot it. This appears to be at least part of the problem for the Brawn tribe, which winds up losing its second challenge in a row.

Flipping The Script...Or Not

Sad music welcomes the members of Brawn back to their beach, where they momentarily pretend to ponder their target. Scot says there's no question: there's a strong four of himself, Jason, Cydney, and Jennifer, and then there's poor, useless Alecia, whose contributions in the fire department have evidently been forgotten already. Jason compares her to an ostrich: what good is a giant bird who can't fly, anyway? (He should ask Johnny Cash how useless an ostrich is.)

Jason's grandstanding is starting to piss Jennifer off a little bit, which makes her wonder if she should ponder mounting a counteroffensive. She approaches Alecia, who's halfheartedly looking for an idol, and tries to steer her toward the notion of a girls' alliance. "What's the best thing you can do in this game?" Jen asks. After a couple of false starts ("win a challenge?"), Alecia actually arrives at the conclusion Jen is looking for, and even demonstrates a credible knowledge of the game in the process. They approach Cydney, and Cyd's fine with it, too.

The only thing that could get in the way of Jen's plan at this point is Jen herself, and indeed, after a while she starts to have second thoughts. She likes Scot, she says in a confessional, and she doesn't want to lose his trust by taking out one of his allies.

Enormous Changes At The Last Minute

Jen's wishy-washiness continues all the way to Tribal Council, where she actually tells Jeff that the game's very much up in the air and that she has no idea what to do. Naturally, this comes as a surprise to Scot and Jason, who are immediately outraged.

Jen realizes she's pretty screwed at this point. She makes one final stab at trying to get back in her alliance's good graces, but the fact that she stands up on her stump and throws her arms out like she's about to recite Walt Whitman for Robin Williams mostly just makes her look unhinged.

Jason and Scot exchange some pointed looks as everyone gets up to vote, although given that Jason switches his vote, while Scot does not, it's difficult to tell whether an actual exchange of ideas takes place here. Jen's ultimately voted out 3-2 (Jason/Cydney/Alecia to Scot/Jen). Jeff proclaims that he's never seen a Tribal Council quite like this one, and for once I actually can't disagree.


The front half of this episode's packed with filler, but a fairly amazing Tribal Council more than makes up for a little bit of aimless character development. If the rest of the season is half as unpredictable, we should be in for a fun few weeks.

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