Jeffrey Neira / CBS

Survivor Tries To Get Your Goat

When the tribes split from two into three, a few Survivors have to scramble to stay alive in the game, and a few goats have to scramble to stay alive in...you know, life.

It's Not Easy Being Green

Jeff calls everyone onto their respective mats and asks them if they know what's about to happen, and to their credit, nobody blurts out "reward challenge" or "free hugs" or "sudden pivot to Hunger Games-style melee." A few murmur "swap," and they're correct, but you can tell who hasn't been keeping up with the show, because the fact that the tribes are going from two to three knocks more than a few of them for a loop.

The new Orange Tribe consists of Caleb, Hali, Brad, Tai, Sierra, and Debbie. Blue Tribe is now JT, Sandra, Michaela, Malcolm, Aubry, and Varner. The new third tribe is officially called "Tavua" -- but which we could just call them "Green Tribe" or "Raw Deal" -- is Troyzan, Zeke, Ozzy, Sarah, Andrea, and Cirie. They'll be sent to a new beach with nothing.

Ballsy Moves

Malcolm, Varner, and the rest of the ex-Orange-now-Blue folks are pretty jazzed about all the amenities at their new camp. The trees here are even decorated with ornamental balls. JT, as the only original Blue Tribe member, realizes that his OWN ornamental balls are on the line if he doesn't find an idol. So he gathers everyone onto the raft, ostensibly to show them all the best fishing spots, and paddles them out into the middle of nowhere. It takes Malcolm all of five minutes to bust the spear, which provides JT with the perfect cover to head back to camp and look for idols. He dives off the raft and swims back to shore, which seems a little suspect to his new tribemates, but apparently none of them knows how to paddle, because they don't bother to chase him down right away; they just sort of talk about how they should be doing that.

At Orange Tribe, Brad -- who professes a love for antiquing -- strolls up the beach with his arms full of more ornamental balls to decorate this camp, and I kind of don't want to know. In danger in this group: Hali and Caleb, the only two original Orangies. Hali hopes that Tai and Caleb will band together and work out a new plan. The first part of that is happening pretty quickly: Tai and Caleb were like peas and carrots back in Kaoh Rong, and that hasn't changed. Unfortunately for Hali, the second part is not so much happening yet.

Green Tribe bonds over the crappy hand they've collectively been dealt in terms of having to start over on their new tribe. Cirie's still trying to make nice with Ozzy. Troyzan's in the same position JT is over on Blue Tribe, and his approach is exactly the same minus stranding everyone in the middle of the ocean. Good news: unlike JT, his hunt turns something up. Bad news: it's not an idol, just a clue to one. As in Survivor: Second Chance, the idol will be hidden under a table in the next immunity challenge.

Blue Tribe's Just Kidding Around

Blue Tribe's population of adorable frolicking goats has given Sandra a pretty intense craving for goat stew. JT seizes upon an opportunity to ingratiate himself by taking a stab at catching one. Almost immediately, he is successful, which pretty much nobody was expecting, least of all JT. Worse yet, it's the cutest baby goat this side of an Animal Planet special. In short order, Malcolm also catches a goat -- albeit a slightly older, less cute one -- and the group quickly realizes the only reason that one was so easy to catch was that it's the mother of the baby goat, and all that frantic bleating is maternal in nature. So then there's an awkward, upsetting conversation about which goat they'd kill if indeed they're going to kill one, and over the course of it, everyone (excepting Sandra) realizes how terrible it will look if they murder and consume a cute baby animal or its mother on national television.

Michaela finally points out the other thing we're all thinking, namely, there are chickens available which are neither adorable babies nor nursing mothers and which, if we're being honest, are going to be both easier to prepare and tastier to eat. Thus, the goats get a temporary reprieve and live to frolic another day.

Ready, Willing, And Table

Immunity this week -- are you sitting down? -- is an obstacle course followed by a puzzle. (To be specific, it's the same one Missy broke her ankle on in Survivor: San Juan Del Sur.) The camera lovingly lingers on Troyzan's idol, hidden away underneath the puzzle-solving table. Unfortunately, Troyzan has been chosen to sit out the challenge, so he is unable to do anything but stare impotently at the table while his tribemates complete the obstacle course and then work the puzzle. If they win, he'll potentially have a split second to grab it.

Actually, this injects quite a lot of tension that this challenge might not otherwise have. Blue Tribe wins First Immunity (including a tarp and some pillows), and Green Tribe gets Second Immunity. Troyzan pretends to collapse in relief across the table, with the idol just inches from his hands, and for what feels like twenty minutes you can't tell if he actually knows it's right there or not. Finally, he manages to grab it and stuff it down the front of his pants, and, I'd wager, he IS happy to see it.

Which leaves Orange Tribe, who've got a date with Tribal Council.

Beast Mode Cow-bye

Caleb realizes that it's Day 9, which is the same day he was medevaced out of the game last time around, so really, if he makes it past today, he can call it a victory over his previous performance.

That's a big "if," though. There are four original Blue Tribe members and two original Orange Tribe members, so clearly, it's going to be either Caleb or Hali going home. Compelling arguments exist for both, but Brad's not so sure he likes the fact that 50% of his current tribe has played together before, so he's kind of leaning Caleb. The trick will be convincing Caleb's BFF Tai to go along with that. Sierra, who played with Hali in Survivor: Worlds Apart, takes great pains to point out, at several different times, that she and Hali have no such prior connections; thus, she could either vote her out or vote to break up the potentially stronger pair of Tai and Caleb.

Tribal Council is mostly just Caleb and Hali pleading their separate cases and trash-talking each other. Caleb thinks Hali is "easier to manipulate," Hali says she's less of a threat in the long run. Brad praises Hali's budding attorney skills, which must have impressed others as well, because Caleb and his stupid "BMC" belt buckle are eliminated at pretty much the same point at which he was voted out by nature his last time around. He counts it as a net win, though, because at least this time he didn't almost die.

Verdict

Tribe swaps are always a fun chance to watch some new dynamics, even if we barely had time to get used to the original dynamics. Add in baby animals not dying and a boot that doesn’t match the usual early-boot demographics and you've got an hour that’s mostly worth watching.

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