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Survivor Takes A Walk On The Blind Side

Chief among the life lessons learned this week: you can be the most entertaining person on the show by just hanging out in the background looking bored.

Sandcastles In The Sand

Debbie crows about the fact that her move to eliminate Ozzy worked like a charm. The sixsome of Debbie, Sarah, Sierra, Troyzan, Brad, and Tai will now proceed to steamroll over the rest of the Survivors, she says, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. "It's not a line drawn in the sand," she says. "It's a line drawn in concrete."

Meanwhile, Andrea voted for Zeke, and she wants to make sure that (a) he knows it, and (b) he knows why: he's "shady." He still doesn't explain why he cast an errant vote for Aubry, but his next move will be to join up with the majority alliance. He reaches out to Sarah, who is all too happy to welcome him into her fold. Sarah's keeping her options open. The trouble with lines drawn in the sand, she says, is that sooner or later the tide comes in, erasing said line. I think maybe Jesus' footprints are also involved somehow; she kind of gets a little lost in the metaphor.

Drowning In Encouragement

The reward challenge splits the Survivors into two teams of five to compete for a picnic. The teams are decided by a schoolyard pick; the last kid picked won't have a chance to compete. Culpepper, Debbie, Sierra, Andrea, and Aubry make up one team; Zeke, Sarah, Troyzan, Tai, and Cirie are the other, leaving Michaela out of the running. She doesn't care, she says, because everyone else is stupid for picking their alliance-mates over someone who's actually pretty good at challenges.

Jeff takes some extra time to heckle Michaela for not being chosen, but honestly, this might be the best-case scenario, because Michaela's facial expressions as she lounges around on the loser bench giving zero fucks are pretty priceless. The camera pans down meaningfully to a "SECRET ADVANTAGE" resting underneath the bench, inches from Michaela's feet. She's apparently too busy showing us how over it she is to check around for advantages.

The challenge itself is a bit of a yawner, especially since Brad's team utterly destroys its opponents. Cirie has been notoriously not-great at challenges, but she's extra not-great at this one, holding up her team so badly that they don't even make it to the final round of competition. She's still flailing around in the water as the challenge concludes, and the rest of her teammates take the opportunity to force her into an inspirational moment. So not only does she lose the challenge for her team; she still can't get out of the water until she finishes it or she'll ruin the moment. So after a struggle, she perseveres while her teammates shout encouragement. I guess to a certain type of person, that sort of thing IS inspirational; in the moment, I'm not entirely sure it is to Cirie, especially after Jeff gently tells her he's called for a boat to come get them so that she doesn't have to swim back to shore.

As the boat comes in to collect the losing team, Sarah spots the SECRET ADVANTAGE Michaela didn't and somehow manages to collect it without anyone's noticing.

Do You Want To Know A Secret (Advantage)

Cirie reflects on her experience at the challenge, and how Survivor has taught her valuable lessons about herself, and now I feel slightly bad about calling her teammates out for being patronizing back at the challenge, but on the other hand, this is Survivor, not Tuesdays With Morrie, so I'm kind of over this.

Sarah's SECRET ADVANTAGE turns out to be the ability to steal a vote from someone at Tribal Council -- an advantage, she points out, which has historically not been played correctly.

At the reward, Andrea continues to talk smack about Zeke, and in confessional, Sierra chortles about the fact that the five who are not in her alliance are too busy turning on each other to make a move. Back at camp, Cirie (who's not in Sierra's alliance) talks to Sarah (who IS) about making a move.

Blocking Their Shot At Immunity

For immunity, the Survivors have to stack letter blocks on a wobbly platform to spell "IMMUNITY." It's one of those challenges that is probably pretty fun to compete in, but watching it is about as exciting as watching someone else do a crossword puzzle. Tai -- who bore witness to several creative spellings of "IMMUNITY" the last time he had to compete in this challenge -- spends a lot of time checking and double-checking the order of his blocks before he stacks a single one, but he's maybe a little too careful, because Troyzan is the one who ends up running away with this...or, I guess, slowly but carefully tiptoeing away with this. Now that immunity's locked up, says Sierra, it's time to choose their target, and she thinks it ought to be Andrea.

Wanner's Not A Winner

The show takes some time to bash Michaela some more before returning to the plan Sierra mentioned before the break: Andrea will be the vote. The alliance convenes and locks it down, apparently without really consulting Sarah, who realizes that if she's not valued enough, she's probably not in anyone's long-term plans.

Unfortunately, most moves hinge on Andrea and Zeke being willing to set aside their differences and work together. And then Sierra suggests to Sarah that she, Sarah, and Debbie should be the final three. Sarah takes this bait for about five seconds until word gets back to her that Debbie might be gunning for her. So Sarah's the swing vote, and the outcome will hinge on her. Which worked out great for her last time.

Actually, though, once we get to Tribal, all this talk of flipping turns out not to be misdirection for once. After Probst pays enough lip service to the idea of a dominant six running the show, and those not in the alliance ask everyone to consider making a big move, Sarah actually does it: she jumps ship and votes for Debbie. (I would be remiss here if I did not mention Michaela's ongoing commitment to background theatrics; this time, she's brought some coconut to Tribal Council to nonchalantly munch like popcorn while all of this is going down. Blindside be damned -- this is the most entertaining part of the segment.)

Verdict

In a season that's brought us several genuinely crazy Tribal Councils, what might normally feel like a watershed moment lands a little softly. It's pretty solid Survivor from beginning to end, and you could probably do worse, but nothing in this episode is screaming for you to bust out your coconut-popcorn.

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