Survivors Unscramble, Then Scramble

On the heels of another big blindside, contestants’ alliances reshuffle and everyone ponders executing yet another one.

Heavyweight Impoliteness And Grin

Meaningful stock footage of a snake punctuates the tribe's return to camp after Sarah flipped and voted out Debbie. Sarah flat-out admits to everyone that she was the one who flipped: "It's Game Changers," she says. "Hopefully if I make it to the end, the jury will reward the fact that I was a game changer enough to make this move."

But just because six people voted together at the last vote doesn't mean those six people should now just cruise to the end together, notes Cirie. There's a lot of game left, and it's not likely that the current alliances will hold together for long, especially since Andrea still seems a little salty at Zeke's betrayal of two weeks ago.

Savagely Intertwining, Hope I Meshed

Survivor's challenge designers are banking on the fact that we'll stop noticing every challenge is an obstacle course followed by a puzzle if they keep making the obstacle courses more and more elaborate. In this one, the team has to use a series of pulleys to convey one team member up and down as he or she retrieves numbered puzzle pieces. As with many of the more elaborate Survivor challenges, this looks like it would be a lot of fun to participate in, but it's slightly less compelling to watch, especially once they get to the "unscramble a word" portion of the puzzle and people start talking possible eleven-letter words. After about half an hour, Probst starts throwing out clues, because Probst is far too busy and important to sit through more than a few minutes of this nonsense.

The phrase they're looking for is "REINVENTING HOW THIS GAME IS PLAYED," and the fact that I spent most of this segment playing with an online anagrammer to see if these letters spelled out anything more interesting should give you some idea of how much fun it was to watch.

Thanks mostly to Zeke's mad unscramblin' skills, Culpepper, Zeke, Andrea, Aubry, and Sarah win the reward. Culpepper observes that his reward companions -- basically, nearly all of the people who voted on the right side of the numbers last time, where he himself did not -- are exactly the people he needs to be speaking to right now.

Yep, Wholehearted Misgivings At Inn

For once, the spread at this reward isn't totally repellent, but you know what is? Culpepper's transparent attempts to bond with his reward-mates by randomly throwing out references to things he knows they like. "Boy, I wish I were watching college football right now, especially the team that hails from the state you are from, Zeke" is not his exact phrasing, but it's about that forced. As Andrea points out, though, Zeke seems to be taking the bait pretty hard, and he really should know better.

In fact, everyone's still boggling about the Zeke/Brad bonding by the time the winners roll back into camp the next morning. In light of this burgeoning friendship, Andrea and Cirie suggest blindsiding Zeke, but in order to do that, they'll need the support of "Officer Sarah," who's pretty close to Zeke and may be hard to convince.

Overwhelming Antipathy Is Seeding

"The game has been broken open," says Zeke, "and I'm finally getting to use my Survivor skillset, which is the running around and the scheming and the plotting and the voting people out." Zeke's got his next move already set in stone, he says, and to execute the next move after that, he'll need Troyzan and Culpepper, so he goes ahead and starts working on that.

Another classic immunity challenge awaits: the good old "build a domino stack" challenge we've seen before, although Probst notes that the domino course has a built-in "trip obstacle." He says "trip obstacle" repeatedly, like this is an actual phrase in the actual vernacular. Maybe he's just bummed out that there are no balls, poles, or holes this week.

A lot of Survivors come close, but Andrea snags immunity. Zeke does what most of the rest of us would do in this situation and knocks over his domino stack because if you're going to invest all that time setting up your dominoes and not win immunity, you should at least get something out of it.

Interviewing Gal, Sympathies Honed

Now that Andrea's safe from Zeke's potential wrath, it definitely feels to her like it's time to target him before he has a chance to target her. In short order, she gets Cirie and Aubry on board, and appears to be making a pretty good sales pitch to Sierra as well. Sarah and Michaela are not really sold on it, but they also know better than to stick their necks out too far for someone else at this stage of the game, so they resolve to avoid making a decision about their vote until they've figured out exactly which way the wind is blowing.

Tribal Council dances around the issue of whether it will be Sierra or Zeke on the chopping block. Sierra's accent renders "Jeff" as "Chef," which is kind of fun.

After all this talk about whether it's going to be Sierra or Zeke, Sierra's then shown casting a vote for Tai, which seems to point to the fact that any plans to vote out Zeke got scuttled. Except the votes then shake out two votes Sierra, three votes Tai, and the remaining five for a very shocked Zeke, who exits the game in relatively good spirits, since he's the kind of player who can't ever be too mad at a really well-executed plan.


The challenges feel a little slow, and there’s an awful lot of water-treading in the moments leading up to the scheming-and-plotting portion of the program, but the utter seamlessness of Andrea and Cirie's plan is kind of a joy to watch.

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