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There Are No Holes Balled On Survivor

Idols are found, alliances are formed, and obviously there are a lot of well-handled balls in this week’s installment.

Let's Tai One On

Previously: the Brawn tribe voted out Jenny in a 4-2 vote. Now, as the tribe settles in for the night, Scot confesses to Alecia that the second vote for her came from him. But no hard feelings, right?

Oh, there are plenty of hard feelings. Alecia goes to the one person left on the tribe that she even kinda-sorta likes -- namely, Cydney -- and reports that she'd really like to vote Scot out. Cydney's not exactly sure why Alecia thinks they're in an alliance, but she rolls with it.

The next morning, as the Beauty tribe sits down to breakfast, Tai disappears with a bamboo pole to go take a stab at snagging the key to the hidden immunity idol, and this time he's successful. He celebrates his victory by totally making out with the tree where the key was hidden. And once he's secured the idol, he Frenches that a bit as well.

As he peruses the lengthy instruction sheet that came with the idol, Tai notes that this season, if you pair one idol with a second idol, the two idols combined will form a "Super Idol," which the bearer can play after the votes have been read. No word on what happens if all three idols are combined -- maybe you cancel ALL the votes and everyone gets to go home early. Hey, a girl can dream.

Targets Acquired

The Brains tribe appears to have split into three pairs. The Claire and Andy of the group are Peter and Liz, who've bonded over their good looks and glowing self-confidence. Aubry and Neal are clearly the Brian and Allison -- a little bit awkward, a little bit quirky. Which leaves Joe and Debbie to be, like, the Principal Vernon, I guess.

At least that's how Peter and Liz see things: they've got game, and everyone else is being too weird or uncool to buck the system. All they have to do is decide which pair they'd rather manipulate all the way to the bitter end.

But Debbie's strategy -- shockingly enough, considering her reputation for gabbery in the first two episodes -- has been to kick back, shut up, and observe, and what she's observed is that Peter and Liz think they're running the show. She and Joe talk it out: they'll probably need Peter for challenges, so they'll most likely reach out to Aubry and Neal and target Liz if they have to go to Tribal Council. Peter and Liz continue to not pay attention to the crazy old lady.

The Beauty tribe's decided it's time to kill a chicken, and Tai's beside himself. Caleb respects Tai's sensitive side, but he's also extremely hungry. At the crucial moment, Tai sheds actual tears, and this really brings the mood down for everyone except Nick, who feels like he's kind of above emotions: "You don't need emotions. You just need to seem like you have emotions."

Anna doesn't trust anyone who can react that coldly to a grieving man. Since she's tight with the other two girls on the tribe, she reaches out to Caleb as their fourth and asks if he'd be okay voting out Nick. Since that means the vote wouldn't be on Caleb, he's totally cool with it.

A Team Effort

On Brawn Beach, everyone's looking for the idol -- Alecia because she needs it, and everyone else because they don't want Alecia to have it. And sure enough, Alecia finds the first idol clue, and she summons Cydney to commence the hunt. When Jason spies them digging, Cydney dispatches Alecia to distract him...because SHE'S found the next bit and she needs Alecia to skedaddle. But everyone's in on it eventually, and Scot, using an improvised tool, puts up the assist so that Jason can snag it. Against the backdrop of a little Blair Witch-style camera work, Alecia makes a valiant attempt to wrestle it away from him, but no dice. "At this point, I don't trust anybody on this tribe," she grumbles. Only just at this point? Okay then.

Balls. Also, Holes.

For immunity this week, we've got our usual obstacle course followed by a puzzle. The obstacle course aspect involves a few bags of rice, which the Survivors will have to dig through in order to find balls for the maze which serves as the puzzle aspect. You know, if I were competing on Survivor, and I were compelled to dig through a big pile of rice I wasn't later allowed to eat in service of winning a prize that is not food, I'd probably be way crankier than these people seem to be.

In addition to immunity, the winning tribe can choose between a selection of Pier 1 pillows and blankets or their personal luxury items. Second place gets whatever the winner didn't pick. Third place is you're fired.

Jeff Probst is jazzed about this challenge because it not only involves lots of balls, but also lots of small holes, although it's way less fun since he's basically admitted to spouting his endless double-entendres on purpose. Anyway, Beauty wins again, leaving Brawn and Brains to battle for the silver. It's a tense battle, but Brawn pulls out the victory.

I've Got A Snake In MY Ice Cream Pants, If You Know What I Mean

You'd think the Brains tribe would be a little disappointed to be heading for Tribal Council if they had any...well, Brains, but Liz is actually pretty happy about the opportunity to jettison a threat. She's settled on voting out Neal, and she and Peter will tell Aubry and Neal to vote Joe. For his part, Peter's pretty convinced that the "Brains" label is largely ironic, and that everyone on the Brains tribe is a total idiot except for himself and Liz. Aubry points out that Peter, for all of his intellectual posturing, has pretty much zero emotional intelligence, or he might have picked up on the fact that pretty much everyone is on to him.

At Tribal Council, everyone tries to be a little bit cute about their plans, but eventually, Peter finally says it: "The guy in ice cream pants could be a snake in ice cream pants." Is Neal the target, then? Only one way to find out. Let's vote.

The vote shakes out as a three-way tie: one pair votes Peter, one pair votes Liz, and one pair votes Aubry. On the re-vote, all three votes are for Liz. Peter sadly shakes his head, realizing too late the lesson Jeff's about to impart to them: you can fancy yourself one of the cool kids all you want, but a pretty big part of this game still depends on the ability to pick up social cues.

Verdict

For as tired as this theme is, and as uninspiring as this new idol twist seems, the season so far certainly seems to be bringing some dynamite Tribal Councils. Not to mention the return of fantastic Probst-isms like "maneuver your bag through some very small holes."

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