Pre-credit sequence. Let's see… It was Jeremiah who went home last? Sure. Sounds right. The Final 7 returns home. Jefra is exhausted, but she's feeling good about the decision she made to stay with Tony and that alliance. Kass is feeling smug about Spencer's Idol, which she claims she knew he had. [She did, indeed, voice those suspicions last week.] She's also feeling smug about knowing Spencer wouldn't give the Idol up, saying that a college-aged human male is “the most selfish beast on the planet.” “I used my Idol and I used it wrong,” Spencer laments. “Tonight we lost the battle, we have not lost the war,” he insists of his dwindling alliance with Tasha. The next morning, Tree-Mail arrives and it includes billets of money. “Survivor” Auction! Trish is hungry and looking forward to eating. “FOOOOOD!” she howls. Tony, of course, knows that the auction will also include an Immunity Challenge advantage and he's determined to get it. “This is our life right now,” Spencer says of the auction. He's not referring to bidding for peanut butter.
Woo wants his babyback babyback babyback. Auction Time! They each have $500. You know the rules and the caveat that the auction will end without warning. Popcorn, candy and a soda is up first. Trish buys it for $80, which is almost exactly what you'd pay for the same haul at your local chain movie theater. She's very happy with her gummy. Up next is a covered dish. Jefra gets it for $100 and it turns out to be… Quesadilla, some guacamole and a margarita. Jefra is very pleased with her purchase. Another covered dish goes to Kass for a bargain price of $20, but Probst offers her a trade for another covered dish. She sticks with her original meal, which is a steak sandwich and iced tea. Good deal. Tony is beginning to fall apart looking at all the food. But he remains strong. The other dish goes to Trish for $60, which earned her water and rice. Three ribs and a beer get Woo's attention and he gets it for only $40. “This auction was a buyer's market,” Spencer admits. As porn music plays, Woo tears into his delicious ribs. Tony, Spencer and Tasha all agree they're just waiting on the advantage. If more than one person bids $500, they have to draw rocks to get the advantage. Spencer and Tony both bid, but Tasha inexplicably sits out. The black rock wins. Tony gets it. Probst lets Spencer keep his losing white rock. Tasha, it turns out, was waiting for a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol. Instead, the Auction ends. That was rough.
Catch-22 states that agents enforcing Catch-22 need not prove that Catch-22 actually contains whatever provision the accused violator is accused of violating. Spencer is still lamenting the prices at the auction and Tony tries making him feel better by saying that his advantage is a Catch-22 because he took it over food, leaving somebody well-fed to potentially win. In recent seasons, that has not been the case and the advantage has been a gamechanger. “It was devastating,” Spencer says. “I have a new title, I'm the greatest loser at the auction in 'Survivor' history,” Spencer says. Kass is giddy at Spencer's dejected look. “I felt kinda disgusted,” Tony says of his alliance and their complaints about being over-full. It turns out that what Tony got wasn't a challenge advantage, but a clue to yet another Idol. Just what Tony needed! He's out searching, but he's still within sight of Tasha, as she begins wading with the other three remaining women, hoping this will spark Tony's paranoia. And, naturally, it works. Tony sees what's happening and Spencer helps by telling him about Tasha's strong social game and reminding Tony of how close Jefra came to flipping. Spencer works hard and embellishes on Jefra's previous uncertainty. “Tony's willing to play hard, but not always well,” Spencer notes, as he keeps spinning his yarn. Tony is wary, but Spencer's story makes enough sense that he bites. “I'll take matters into my own hands, like I usually do,” Tony promises.
Or as Jameis Winston calls it, “Free dinner.” The women are still in the water when we return. They've reached the “Spencer is too skinny” part of their conversation. Ew. They have a crab that they'd been keeping to eat, but now it's dead. Are they going to eat it still? Or is Tony just going to return to his Idol search? The latter. He finds the described Big White Tree and, in no time, he has yet another Idol. It's his third Idol of the season and combined with The Tyler Perry Special Idol, it makes him mighty powerful. Without hesitation, he puts the Idol around his neck and tells everybody, promising they can have it if they need it, but admitting that he's really just telling them not to vote for him. Wait. Did they eat the crab? I need closure on that.
Balls of fury. Immunity is back up for grabs. Players have to collect bags hidden in the sand, take balls out of the bags and navigate five balls through a maze. Yes, it's another challenge designed only because Jeff Probst loves saying “Balls” over and over again. The first to the maze is Tasha, winner of two Immunities already. She also is the first to land two balls before Spencer and Tony and Woo get to the maze. “Tony goes crazy and knocks his balls all over the place,” Probst says, apropos of nothing. Woo catches up and ties Tasha with three balls and then with four. Tasha lands her fifth ball and wins Immunity once again! She's very grateful to Jesus for his assistance in rolling balls. Is Spencer doomed now?
Do you believe in miracles? YES! Shark! Fishies! Tasha! “For the third time in a row, Tasha has Immunity,” Tasha smiles. She's hoping to keep building suspicion against the girls, in the hopes of protecting Spencer as well. “Spencer goes tonight and she'll go next,” Woo says, unworried. Everybody agrees. For Tony, this is the worst-case scenario, because he doesn't want to go down 4-2, gender-wise. So with Jefra having considered turning on him, Tony now considers turning on Jefra. “You want to pull a fast one tonight?” Tony tells Woo, explaining the play. Amusingly, Tony isn't convinced Woo understands his motive and asks if he understands, but Woo proves his mettle by counting to four. Since he naturally can't bring Kass and Trish in on this vote, Tony goes to Spencer and says that he's willing to be a hero and work with him for this vote, putting it on Spencer to convince Tasha. With a big smile and a fist-bump, Tasha's game to join in what Spencer calls a second “Survivor” miracle.. “If this plan fails, I'm out of the game,” Spencer knows. Insecure, he starts seeking the Tyler Perry Idol. Now in Tony's brain, Spencer was just supposed to relax and let Tony carry him and he wasn't supposed to try to protect himself. And now Tony's reconsidering. “I would say I'm driving myself crazy, but I don't think it's me driving myself crazy, I think it's the game driving me crazy,” he says, predicting chaos.
Tribal Council. “One would think that I'm in trouble based on this information,” Spencer says. Tony, being Tony, announces that Spencer tried to convince him that Jefra tried to flip on him and he brings out his Immunity Idol for theater. Because why would Tony ever just be quite and sit back and vote out Jefra without the heightened drama? Jefra acknowledges that she was upset about the LJ vote. Tony says that they're just trying to hold together to Top 5. “Chaos can only help me,” Spencer says. “There could be a mistake made tonight,” Kass says and Jefra nods in agreement. “I think I played well and I think I played hard. I can go home happy with that,” Spencer says. But he adds, “The most common reason people lose this game is not making the move that they should've when they could've because they got too comfortable.” Now you know! And knowing is half the battle. Thanks. College-Aged Petr Korda!
The vote. Kass writes Spencer's name. Spencer writes Jefra's name and says, “The moral of the story: Actually play the game, before you get played.” Tony doesn't use his Idol. Because why would he? Probst tallies: Spencer. Jefra. Spencer. Jefra. Spencer. Jefra. [Confusion sets in.] JEFRA. “Good job, guys,” she says. Spencer smirks. Jefra leaves with a smile. “They fooled me. Wish I would have jumped ship at Tribal sooner when I had the chance,” Jefra says.
Bottom Line, I. Jefra wasn't much of a “Survivor” player, but I'll miss her Tribal Council expressiveness. Her emotional arc at Tribal during the Sarah blindside was one of my favorite moments of the season and her descent from confident to crestfallen tonight was also fun. With hindsight, Jefra now knows that thanks to the Tyler Perry Idol, even if she had stuck with Tasha, Jeremiah and Spencer and they had targeted Tony, he wouldn't have gone home anyway, so whatever move she needed to have made, she needed to make it a while back. Do we find any significance in the four consecutive eliminations from the Beauty Tribe? Or from the Beauty Tribe being the first of the three original tribes to get entirely wiped out? My feeling from the beginning was that whatever advantage “beauty” had as a game attribute, it was negated by initial segregation by looks. If a Morgan or an Alexis had been on a heterogenous tribe to start with, they might have been able to flirt their way into a secure alliance that could have carried them to the end. Instead, you had Jeremiah and LJ butting heads and Morgan and Alexis becoming polarized and by the time the Beauty leftovers made it into integrated groups, the alliance lines were drawn. Jefra's the only of the beauties who found herself in a more traditional “Survivor” alliance, drafting along a sturdy Alpha Male, and that's very likely why she was the last to go. But she didn't have nearly enough game to make it any further.
Bottom Line, II. So we're at six now. And Tony is guaranteed a place in the Final Four, right? Unless there's a slightly earlier time limit on one of those Idols? I'm really not sure. But regardless of how things progress, say you're at Top 4 and you aren't Tony and you win Immunity, do you take Tony to Top 3 hoping that Sarah, LJ and Jefra make for a bitter Jury? Or do you jettison Tony the first chance you get, even if that somehow means going to Final 3 with either Spencer or Tasha?
Bottom Line, III. I continue to root for Tasha and Spencer, but in the previous scenario, I can't see *allowing* either of them to get to the Final 3. If they win out and earn their place there? Not much you can do and I think either one of them would be almost impossible to beat with this particular Jury. The only person I'd be determined to take with me to the Final 3 if I were anybody out there is Woo, because he gets zero votes regardless of what happens over the next episodes. He's an easy goat to drag along. Kass, Trish, Tony, Spencer and Tasha can all make arguments that they earned the million, that they shaped the game as it has developed. That's been the case for a while, though, hasn't it? Jeremiah and Jefra could have been goats, but they never could have won. LJ could have won if he'd sat with a couple villains and he could just smile and look pretty.
Bottom Line, IV. It was, once again, an episode that was as entertaining as you find Tony's paranoia and Idol-finding propensities to be. At this point, if you don't like Tony, you should be rooting HARD for him to win, because if he doesn't win, “Survivor” will make sure he's in every single season in perpetuity. Russell Hantz did 19, 20 and 22, which is the tightest bunching of “Survivor” appearances ever, but I'm betting they get Tony out there for both 29 and then 30 if this season goes pear-shaped for him in traumatic fashion. It'll be “Survivor: Tony vs. Russell vs. Coach” (or something) and then he'll be back for whatever “Survivor 30: All-Stars of All-Stars” happens to be. You'll never see the end of Tony on “Survivor.” If he wins, he'll still be in “Survivor 30” somehow, but we'll be spared his appearance next fall. So choose your rooting accordingly.