Pre-credit sequence. Farewell, Uncle Cliffy. Solana returns to camp and Trish has a speech to make, but Lindsey isn't interested in hearing. “You guys just screwed up majorly,” she tells nobody in particular, admitting that she doesn't have any alliances anymore. “I will respect you, because this is a team moving forward, but I don't like you,” Trish smirks. Of course, Trish just threw away a big numbers advantage in order to break up what she's calling a two-person alliance of Lindsey and Cliff. “You disgust me. Everything about you is annoying. Your laugh. Your teeth. Your face,” Lindsey tells Trish, calling her “the most horrific person” she's met. Trish doesn't care. “I can leave here and never think of you again,” Lindsey insists, calling Trish a bully. Lindsey doesn't want to play with Trish anymore, so she goes off wandering. Nobody knows where Lindsey is, other than the cameraman and everybody's favorite interloper, Jeff Probst. “I can't have somebody antagonizing me right now,” Lindsey says, worrying she might go nuts. Lindsey also lists being cold, wet and hungry as factors and she knows that she's going to regret quitting, but she sounds like she's done. Probst tells Lindsey that nobody has ever quit because of something they might do. Lindsey is determined to exit and Probst wants to strategize on how she should leave. The possibility of explaining herself to the tribe is raised, but Lindsey prefers to “do a little curtsey” on the beach, leaving it up to Probst to explain Lindsey's absence Suddenly Trish is feigning concern. “I do feel bad, because I kinda came down on her,” Trish says with no sincerity. Tony doesn't bother feeling pretend-bad. “It was a beautiful thing, two for the price of one,” Tony says. LJ compares it to a zit. Woo claims enthusiasm at a fresh start, but he knows he could go next. Well. That was weird.
Slap Bet. There's a Reward Challenge the next day and Aparri is stunned at what unfolded. Sarah is disgustingly giddy. Ick. Alexis is smugly pleased that all of the Beauties survived. Spencer's pleased to ditch two people without getting his hands dirty. The challenge is a two-person slap fight, with players going one-on-one trying to whack an Idol from the other's hand. It's here I suggest Solana might wish it had the guy with the 7'0″ wingspan. But I'm sure Trish knows better. They're playing for Reward: The winning tribe gets to raid the losing tribe. Alexis and Kass sit out. We begin with Spencer against Woo, a duel won by Spencer who understands that, more than anything, gravity is your friend in this challenge. Trish, called “a little gnat” by Probst, wins a lucky Duel against Tasha. Sarah gives her tribe a 2-1 win with an easy victory over Jefra. In “a showdown of bearded mountain men,” LJ beats Jeremiah. Tony has an easy win over Morgan. Woo gets revenge and beats Spencer to give Solana a much-needed Reward. Woo and Tony get to go raiding. “We're less in numbers, but we're high in morale,” Tony announces.
Planting the seed of discord. Aparri returns, accompanied by the two outsiders. Tony and Woo have a note with their instructions. This isn't some random, willy-nilly raid. They can take two of Aparri's previous luxuries from Comfort, Tarp & Rope and Fishing. They also get a clue to an Idol back at their camp, but Tony, who definitely has a bit of Russell Hantz about him, suggests that they lie about the content of the note, claim it says they can choose somebody to look at the clue with them and attempt to make Jeremiah a target. Woo is amused. They take the Comfort and Fishing Kit and they pull Jeremiah aside, which instantly makes Tasha think bad thoughts. Jeremiah recognizes the clue from back at the old Beauty camp. Because we were all wondering why Jeremiah doesn't just show his tribe mates the clue, Tony goes to take it back.
Works on Contingency. No money down. A note on the beach, written in sand, reads, “Shame on you! Lindsie.” It seems like a note from Lindsey, but why did she misspell her name? I'm confused. Ever-so-confused. Tony and Woo return with their comfort and their seasoning. Tony giddily tells his tribe mates about the Idol thing. “He's lying, stealing and cheating and I'm just glad he's on our side,” Jefra says. But Tony's a changed man! He confesses to everybody that he's a policeman. Trish is impressed. LJ doesn't see how admitting to lying makes Tony trustworthy. LJ is now realizing that that he has to watch out for Tony. Trish also has something to admit. “I'm really a man,” she guffaws. Oy.
Honesty is the most confusing policy. Distrust is brewing at Aparri. Alexis sees this as an opportunity and tells Spencer that Jeremiah shouldn't be trusted. “I think Alexis is a little smarter than she lets on,” Spencer says. “I like girls who own how smart they are and what they can do,” Spencer adds, no longer trusting Alexis. But Jeremiah isn't quite as stupid as Alexis thinks. Not only does he tell them what the clue was, but he makes a good point: If Aparri lost, why would they be given access to a clue? This stumps Alexis and Spencer, but they don't care. “Jeremiah's story is tough to buy,” Spencer says. “He's not fooling anyone,” Spencer says, somehow reverse-fooled. Not so brainy, Spencer.
Number 5 is Alive! Immunity time! They have to build a staircase with poles, go through a variety of obstacles to get a machete to release puzzle pieces and then you know the rest. After a lot of futzing about, Aparri has a reasonable lead at the puzzle, but it's not prohibitive. The puzzle forms numbers and there's some question as to whether any of these people can count. Suddenly Solana comes from behind and rushes to a lead. Solana wins Immunity. “Top 5, baby!” Tony crows. Sarah's feeling left out. “I guess I'm moving on and I'll make a new alliance,” she pouts.
You impersonate a person better than a zombie should. So now what for Aparri? “Today was a bummer,” Alexis says aptly. There's bitterness about Tony's “Top 5” claim, proving that all previous evidence to the contrary, they actually know their numbers. But knowing Aparri has the advantage now makes Alexis suspect Tony is saying they have somebody from Aparri in the bag. She doesn't suspect Sarah, for some reason, and immediately points at Jeremiah. Sarah's willing to go against Jeremiah and Spencer figures the Brains get to choose between Jeremiah and Alexis. “Everyone knows we're three tight people and we're going to vote as a block,” Kass says, full of hubris. “We just needed people to boss around. The brain needed a body. We found our zombies, now we're in,” Kass says, delivering the most confusing analogy ever utters. We're staring down a heck of a Tribal Council based on time.
Tribal Council. Fire represents life, which Sarah didn't know. Probst assuming Brains will stick together and Beauty will stick together, though Morgan isn't all that sold on Jeremiah. “You think the pretty people were living a beautiful life and you learn it wasn't so beautiful over there,” Kass says. Spencer says they need to fix the fractures and become unified. Sarah's feeling alone, which either makes her an asset or a threat. Alexis brings up the Jeremiah/raid mystery. “I seen right through that, so I hope they believe me,” Jeremiah slurs. “I don't know if he understands what's happening,” Alexis says. “Anything that's gonna take it off of me right now, I'm good with,” Sarah says. Spencer knows that if they make the wrong move, they're going to be Jury-bound.
The Vote. Alexis says Jeremiah lied 100 times and lost her trust. “You're the one that's gonna flip,” Jeremiah says with a shrug and writes Alexis' name down. Nobody plays an Idol, so Probst tallies. Jeremiah. Alexis. Alexis. Alexis. [Her eyes go wide.] ALEXIS. Jeremiah whistles. Morgan grins. And Alexis exits crying. “I'm one of the biggest fans and so it really breaks my heart that I can't even make it to the Merge,” says a very sad Alexis.
Bottom Line, I. If the only two choices for eviction were Alexis and Jeremiah, Aparri made the right move, even with Spencer totally snowed by Tony's Idol ruse. The process of post-Merge recruitment with LJ and Jefra wooing Alexis would have gone, “So Alexis, you wanna…” “Sure.” What possible incentive would Alexis have had not to flip? I think Jeremiah also would have been somewhat willing to flip, but not with the same predictability. Alexis was the sure-thing. Jeremiah was the wild-card. It's definitely safer to get rid of the vote you know you were gonna lose and then hope you keep Jeremiah somehow, which would be easier if you believed him about Tony and the Idol, but at least he's still in play. But it's astounding how quick the power went from Aparri to Solana despite the numbers. Last week it was a best-case scenario for the Brains, but now there's nothing but uncertainty. Yes, it's 6-5 Aparri, but nobody on Solana seems flippable. They've got three closely aligned Brawns and two closely aligned Beauties. Maybe Woo has some wiggle room, but it's hard to know why he'd want to other than avoiding elimination by offering to throw a surprise vote against somebody. Meanwhile, Jeremiah's probably only weakly aligned with Aparri and Sarah would have been a lock to flip if Tony hadn't briefly alienated her. But Tony has warped Sarah's mind before and she's alone and insecure now, which will make her extra-susceptible. Given the existing and acknowledged fracturing in the Beauty contingent, it seems to be like even going into a Merge with five of them shouldn't have seemed like a threat, compared to the greater threat of going into a Merge with four Brawn. And yet we saw no discussion of planning ahead and voting Sarah out. I'm not saying that would have been the right play, but I sure would have wanted to discuss it. Instead, Lindsey's self-elimination means an earlier-than-expected Merge and Sarah as a swing vote. Or maybe Morgan and Jeremiah put aside hurt feelings and it becomes easy for the Bullies and the Babes to target the Nerds. Last week, I liked the position Tasha, Kass and Spencer were in. This week, Kass was making dumb zombie analogies and next week could be a mess. [The possibility that LJ and Jefra could be worried enough about Tony to offer their votes to get him out might be intelligent, but it would also be strategically messy.]
Bottom Line, II. Last week I felt like Trish and Tony made the dumbest move imaginable in giving up numbers and pre-Merge strength to get rid of Cliff. I don't want to admit that Tony might be really smart, but whatever losing Cliff cost them in strength, they seemingly made up for in getting rid of Lindsey. After trying to throw a challenge in their old Tribe, they practically threw two challenges to shed Cliff and Lindsey, but there's no sign that they were weaker as a result and ample sign that they're stronger and certainly more cohesive. I just don't want to admit that Trish did anything right, even by luck. And I don't know what to say about Lindsey. Who would want to spend extra days with Trish? Nobody. But what did Lindsey think she might do to Trish? And why was that fear greater than her desire for the million dollars she had zero chance of winning? There's nothing to be said for quitting at “Survivor” and I'm not going to say it's ever especially admirable. But depending on Lindsey's intellect, she reasonable could have looked at the position she was in and envision every imaginable swing of the game and know that no variation or permutation could possibly have led to her winning. So you can suffer for a few more days, run the risk of killing Trish in her sleep and then finish sixth or seventh, or you can bail? I hate the precedent of bailing, but eying anywhere from three to 25 more days in the game with no reasonable expectation of winning? That's depressing. But still… don't quit, kids. It's bad.
Bottom Line, III. This was a tough episode after the fun and twistiness of last week. The Lindsey departure was unpleasant. Everything involving Trish is unpleasant. Seeing how clueless Spencer is was unpleasant. Seeing Kass' zombie confusion was unpleasant. I feel like the only way this episode was enjoyable is if you're a fan of Tony's mixture of bombast, smugness and manipulation. Did he pare his tribe into the shape he wanted? Yup. Full credit. Did he create dissent in the other tribe where there was no reason for dissent to exist? Yup. I can't give him full credit for that, since it required stupidity from Alexis and Spencer to take root, but it only happened because of Tony. And because he's been working from a position of strength, he's avoided any Russell-esque enemy-making. If Sarah folds next week and Solana is able to recapture numbers, Tony will deserve most of the credit and he's still sitting on an Idol. With just a little finesse, he could cruise from here. Help us, LJ! You may be our only hope.