Pre-credit sequence. “Kasama”? Did we know that was the Merge name? Did we care? Nah. Probably not. Anyway, the tribe just blindsided Aras. “That was a great move. As a fan of the show, Aras did not see that coming,” Vytas says, putting on a happy face. Vytas hugs everybody. “Vengeance is gonna be mine at some point,” Vytas vows to us, while also telling Tyson that he’ll get him. “I can’t keep my mouth shut,” Tina says, instructing Monica and Tyson that they won the battle, but they have five Jury votes that they’ll never get. Tyson says that he felt pushed out, but Tina snidely tells him that he was never really in an alliance. At this point, hilariously, everybody goes around and says that they were sure they’d been in an alliance with Aras. “Everybody?” Tina says, chastened. Tyson snorts at the idea of Tina lecturing him on the way to play the game. “I’m like, ‘Tina, if everybody played the game the way you do, I’d win the game 100 percent of the time.”
Katie’s Choice. The next morning, Tina has reached the acceptance stage, telling Katie that she needs to go off on her own, that she needs to advance herself in the game if she can. They kiss on the cheek and Katie has to figure out what to do next. “I don’t really know how to say ‘Keep me instead of her,'” says Katie, suddenly rocking thigh-high socks for some reason.
Finally, you have to eat veteran character actor Gary Grubbs. Icky Food Challenge! Icky Food Challenge! And it’s an Immunity Challenge. Already. Our first round involves shot glasses with 40 meal worms apiece, squirming, yummy meal worms. Tyson finishes first, followed by Monica. And, despite a reversal of fortune, Vytas finishes third. The next round features more meal worms. Katie and Laura are eliminated. “They’re just like gummy worms, only grosser,” Tyson says helpfully. Hayden finishes, followed by Gervase and Caleb. Wait. Caleb is still in the game? Weird. I forgot entirely. The next round is pig intestines, three ounces. “How are they prepared?” Tyson asks. “Beautifully,” Jeff Probst replies. There’s a lot of spitting and puking sounds in this competition. Monica advances first! This is the best think she’s done in two “Survivor” seasons. She’s joined in the finals by Gervase. Probst remains Gervase of Season 1 and his failure to get a grub down. And, again, he’s staring down two squirmy grubs. Spraying worm viscera everywhere, Gervase attacks both grubs at once. Monica goes one at a time and gets one down successfully and then the second. Monica wins Immunity, jumping into Probst’s arms. “This has been a dream of mine for a long time,” Monica says of either eating grubs or winning Immunity.
Beware Lysistrata. With Tribal Council looming, the plan is for the guys to vote Vytas and the girls to vote for Katie. Laura masterminded this vote-splitting idea, which amuses Tyson, who knows nobody has an Idol but him. He remains mum. “Which one of us is next?” Vytas asks. “Only time will tell,” Tyson tells him. Hayden tells Vytas the way the votes are falling and Vytas begs him to give him another night. Naturally, Monica is getting antsy. If you leave Monica alone for more than two minutes, she gets antsy, even with Immunity. Vytas argues his case to Tyson, who isn’t exactly buying it, but Tyson realizes something else: There are a lot of women remaining and they could bond together. Suddenly, Tyson wants Katie out, both to get another woman out and to split up another pair. He impresses upon everybody this is how he wants it, but he doesn’t push too hard.
Tribal Council, I. How will Jeff Probst direct this conversation? He starts by getting Tina to flash back to after the last Tribal. Vytas thanks Tina for saying what she did, because he was thinking the same and much, much more. Vytas gets crazy-eyed talking about fighting in his brother’s name. For some reason, Vytas thinks it’s a good idea to mock Monica for her paranoia. Why is this the strategy? “This Monica the Benevolent thing is a little bit old,” Vytas says. Why is he picking a fight with the one person who can’t go home? Vytas says that if he goes out tonight, the women should come together and vote Tyson and Gervase out. It’s a good case.
The Vote, Part I. Monica writes Vytas’ which seems to run against the previously established gender split. She also says, “What up, Brad?” which is differently weird. [We have a commercial break before tallying.] Probst reads: Vytas. Katie. Tyson (or “Thai Sun”). Vytas. Vytas. Vytas. VYTAS. Farewell, Vytas. Kasama returns to camp and Tina engages in a little self-parody. Monica had, indeed, violated the voting order. She’s proud of this and also proud of her “What up, Brad?” Gervase doesn’t understand why Monica decided to rock the boat and vows he has only one more straw.
Pooh & Eeyore on Redemption. On Redemption Island, the brothers are hanging out. Vytas is blaming Aras for everything that went down, saying that his own elimination was just guilt-by-association. “We’re in the [bleeping] game,” Aras says, explaining that were he not in the game, he’d be eating a cheeseburger, criticizing his brother’s negative energy. “The best things don’t come when you’re pessimistic,” Aras tells us, telling Vytas that he’d be happy if his brother made it back into the game instead of him. “I can’t say the same about you,” Vytas grumbles.
Quick Change. I’m very confused on the structure of the episode at this point. Immunity is back up for grabs. So nobody’s going home tonight? We’re just loading up Redemption Island? It’s the task that involves balancing coins on the handle of a sword balanced on a shield. We’ve seen this one before. It’s not a favorite. Monica’s coins topple first, followed by Ciera, Tina, Gervase, Laura and Caleb. It’s down to Hayden, Katie and Tyson. Tyson and Hayden drop out and Katie wins Individual Immunity. Tina is very pleased.
Babysitting Tina. And Katie is pleased. “Winning the Immunity feels like winning the lottery,” Katie says. Tina’s plan is to spend the entire afternoon searching everywhere for Immunity Idol, with everybody else tagging along. As Tina tries to find the Idol, though, Caleb and Hayden and Tyson have to find Tina. Once again, Tyson could save everybody a lot of trouble, but he prefers not to. He likes watching people scurry. It’s very Boston Rob of him. Tina makes a decision: If she keeps searching, they know she doesn’t have it. If she doesn’t bother searching, at least there’s ambiguity. Monica inevitably is getting paranoid, which makes her dangerous. Gervase is, in fact, totally OK with voting Monica out, referring to her as a renegade. And Hayden’s OK with that.
Tribal Council, II. Jeff Probst asks Tina if there’s a target on her. Tina bluffs. Aggressively. Then she redirects attention to Monica, telling her she’s on the bottom. Monica disagrees. Monica breaks down the various alliances: She’s alone, while Tina and Katie are together, Caleb and Hayden are together, Gervaise and Tyson are together and Ciera and Laura are together. There’s more discussion of Monica talking too much and of her always being the last to know each vote. Hayden suggests the value of voting Monica out, but Monica says she’s trustworthy. “To lose Monica tonight would not be that crucial as far as numbers are concerned,” Tina says, again bluffing on her Idol.
The Vote, II. Monica votes for Tina. Katie votes for Monica. Tina has one last bluff in her, but admits she didn’t find the Idol. Why’d she bother to do that? The votes: Monica. Tina. Tyson. Tina. Tina. Tina. TINA. She’s chipper in departure. Katie isn’t chipper. “The bad news is, you lost your mom,” says Probst, who should never be allowed to deliver bad news.
Bottom Line, I. The episode ended with an appeal on behalf of typhoon-ravaged Philippines. Like Jeff Probst, I always endorse RedCross.org.
Bottom Line, II. What a structurally strange episode. We had two Tribal Councils and zero eliminations. I refuse to do any research, but does anybody want to tell me if this has every happened before during a midseason episode? So that meant a lot of frantic drama and scrambling, but no gravity, because nobody went home permanently. It also means no exit interview tomorrow. Since “Amazing Race” was also a Non-Elimination Leg this week, that means zero reality TV interviews from me this weekend. How very perculiar.
Bottom Line, III. It’s hard to quibble with tonight’s votes. Taking Vytas out to join his brother on Redemption Island was the no-brainer of no-brainers, unless you thought there was any chance that the women could have mobilized into an alliance. Tyson and Gervase didn’t think that and they appear to have been correct. So of course you send Vytas to Redemption to guarantee that there’s no chance that the brothers could ever be reunited in the game. And getting rid of Tina? Well, as long as you’re pretending Laura and Ciera are part of your alliance, then splitting up the remaining duo makes sense and Katie had Immunity. I guess you could ask why nobody has talked yet about splitting Gervase and Tyson up when everybody seems to know that they’re a “couple,” but that’s not where the urgency is. And you could also ponder at what point Monica becomes so absurdly annoying that it’s worth wasting a vote not to have her around anymore. I think Monica’s probably playing a good third place game right now I get the feeling she might be OK with that.
Bottom Line, IV. “The X Factor” was bad enough tonight that I regret not watching this episode of “Survivor” live, even though nothing happened.
Bottom Line, V. I’m not Sepinwall, so I don’t have a “no previews” rule. With that in mind, speaking coyly, my appreciation for one contestant could go through the roof if what was hinted at happens.
Thoughts on tonight’s Non-Elimination “Survivor” votes?