Pre-credit sequence. When last we left our castaways, Corinne had just been unceremoniously blindsided. Now what? Monkey! Monkeys everywhere! It’s like they’ve been waiting for Corinne to leave. Did Corinne eat monkeys? That would explain so much! “I look at last night as a victory,” says Reynold, basically figuring even if his alliance fell flat, any time somebody other than him goes home, it’s a win. Eddie and Reynold are beginning to recognize that they’re female kryptonite, noting that any time a girl aligns with them, she goes home. Uh-oh. Stop cutting to Adorable Andrea. I don’t like what you’re implying, editors. “I am iron-clad with my guys, with Eddie and Malcolm,” says Reynold, who decides that the time has come to flirt with Andrea. “I still have the only Idol that nobody else knows about,” observes Malcolm. “They thought they cut off the head of the snake. They thought they killed the rebel leader, I guess. They don’t know they missed yet,” Malcolm says. I hope that’s not foreshadowing. But I’m sure that between Andrea getting next to Poison Reynold and Malcolm’s cockiness, something is sure to be foreshadowed.
Backwards on a pig, baby money. Snake in the grass. And… Baby Monkey! Watch out for the snake, baby monkey! Ugh. Phillip is attempting to flirt with Sherri. Ew. I need that to stop. Phillip thinks Mike is going out next, because the Fans have to be taught that people who go against him get voted out. And then Phillip gives Sherri her Stealth R Us nickname, “Tenacity.” She pledges her troth and shakes Phillip’s hand. “They’re all crazy out here,” Sherri says, embracing both her identity and her grasp on big personalities, comparing Phillip to Shamar.
Stop! Stop chasing waterfalls. Weren’t the rivers and the lakes enough? GEEZ. Reward is up for grabs. They split into teams of five. Each team gets a goalie, who stands on a platform in front of a net and the other players try throwing balls past them. First team to four goals wins. Want to know what they’re playing for? A trip to a waterfall, with a picnic lunch at the bottom. After a schoolyard pick, it’s Erik, Eddie, Reynold and Cochran shooting for purple, with Dawn, Phillip, Andrea and Brenda shooting for orange. Malcolm is defending for orange, with Mike defending for purple. Nobody picked Sherri. Poor Sherri. Brenda, with a green bandana around her still-mysteriously injured knee, scores first, but Erik quickly equals. Andrea scores for orange, but Cochran equals for purple. “Cochran, on a tear in challenges lately,” Jeff Probst observes. Phillip scores for orange and Eddie equalizes. After a happy dance, Brenda misses and Erik scores. Purple wins. “I’m on a winning team!” cheers Mike, who did nothing at all.
Ziggy Zaggy Ziggy Zaggy Oi Oi Oi. The winning team arrives at the waterfall. In order to get to the picnic, they have to rappel down the rock wall. This puts Cochran out of his element. “I rarely leave my apartment. I rarely leave Twitter,” Cochran says, speaking my language. But he goes down gamely. Good for Cochran. They have sandwiches and beverages. They toast to men. Manly men! “It’s simple and it’s pure,” Reynold says of the Boys’ Club. Over lunch, the Alphas propose that Cochran join them in the “bro down,” saying that after the first “Fan vs Favorites” season was dominated by women, it’s time for the men to dominate. “That doesn’t appeal to me at all,” Cochran says. “I don’t want to be engaged in any masculine tomfoolery with these numbskulls,” Cochran declares.
Over-playing. The losers return. Malcolm is philosophical. He wanted food, but he wants numbers more and so he targets Sherri and Dawn as potential votes he might sway. Malcolm proposes to Sherri that they’re at the bottom of an eight-person alliance. Then he goes to Dawn and makes the exact same pitch. He’s rounding up an alliance of six to try to shake up the game. “I’m thinking, ‘He’s gonna be a problem,'” Dawn tells us, suddenly targeting Malcolm. Nobody keeps secrets anymore and Sherri and Dawn immediately go to Adorable Andrea and inform on Malcolm’s plot. Phillip is offended that Malcolm is trying to play him and he tells Malcolm that it’s going to be an Eddie/Reynold split, when the vote is really going against Malcolm. Uh-oh!
Temptation Island. Eddie and Andrea float lazily in a lagoon. Andrea, whose standards disappoint me, says that Eddie is really hot and wonders if their flirtations constitute “island dating.” At the very least, she hopes to get information and a vote from Eddie, who tells her that he’ll do anything to stay around. “Promise? You’ll vote the way I say?” Andrea coos. “I don’t think Andrea wants to vote me out,” Eddie says, hoping to get dragged along until he can stand alone. Andrea promises to keep Eddie around if he provides details about a Idol. Andrea figures she’s playing Eddie, but she isn’t sure if Eddie is playing her. They giggle together.
Drown your sorrows. Immunity will test their ability to remain calm. We’ve seen this challenge. Players get in cages and wait for the tide to come in, giving them less and less breathing room until people start freaking out. This challenge is like watching paint dry, at least for a long while. Then eventually, they’re starting to get water-boarded. Naturally, it’s Former Federal Agent Phillip who bails first, followed by Sherri and then Erik. Dawn, whose strategy was weird, goes out next. Lots of hand-snorkeling. Malcolm bails, then Mike goes out. Eddie, Cochran and Reynold go out, leaving Brenda and Andrea to fight for Immunity. This is such a strange challenge. Andrea bails and, for the first time this season, Brenda does something! Go Brenda. But now what?
Gleneddie Glen Andrea. Everybody’s happy for Brenda. “This next vote has to be the turning point in the game that I’ve been waiting for,” Malcolm says, determined to make the Favorites think he’s worth them. “Malcolm’s a good liar,” an appreciative Andrea says, but she’s even more impressed with Dawn’s lying. It seems, though, that Malcolm is convinced that Andrea is the one running the show, so she has to go next. Dawn keeps reassuring Malcolm that she’s down with his plan, though she thinks it’s strange that Malcolm is trusting her after she was responsible for blindsiding Corinne last week. Of course, Malcolm presumably can’t know that, so that would be why he’s willing to trust her. Also, as we learned last season, Malcolm loves to trust a woman-of-a-certain-age. Dawn’s price for joining Malcolm’s alliance is seeing Reynold’s Idol. Monkey! True to his word, Reynold slides over and shows Dawn the goods. “If you don’t follow through, I go home tonight, so don’t screw me,” Reynold tells Dawn, warning her that if he senses he’s going to get screwed, he’ll play the Idol. “Shame on you. Shouldn’t have showed me your Idol. Shame on you, Malcolm, shouldn’t have brought me in,” Dawn says. Tarsier! Andrea tells Eddie that he’s not going home, but won’t tell him who the vote is going against. A splendid “Survivor” David Mamet dialogue ensues between Andrea and Eddie, a jibber-jabber of names and numbers and mentions of Idols. “I’m going home tonight” is Andrea’s takeaway from the conversation. I’m not sure what gave it away, but… she’s not wrong. Terrified, Andrea goes to Cochran and calls an audible, saying the safer move would be voting Michael out. Cochran is unimpressed. He may not like displays of testosterone from man-folks, but he wants to see some balls from Adorable Andrea. Dawn is also displeased with Andrea’s timidity and she promises Andrea that Malcolm doesn’t have an Idol and they need to vote him out now. Dawn’s really worried that all of her acting will be wasted, which is pretty much the way Adrien Brody must feel about every movie he’s made since “The Pianist.”
Tribal Council. Michael begins by saying that a Favorite going home last Tribal gave him a glimmer of hope. Why is Erik literally picking bugs from Andrea’s hair? Phillip explains Stealth R Us to Jeff Probst, as everybody chuckles and makes stone-faces. “Payback’s a bitch,” Sherri says of the Fans who betrayed her last week. Eddie calls Sherri a puppet. Probst tells the players that an Idol could change the game. Thanks, Jeff! Mike points out that Stealth R Us is already breaking down, though Phillip swears there’s solidarity. “If you have a sense that you’re on the bottom, this is an opportunity to flip,” Andrea says, but Phillip tells everybody that this isn’t the right time. Malcolm starts stroking his chin. Did something just expose the plot to him?
The vote. Malcolm, confusingly, is the first vote we see and it’s against Reynold. That’s the only vote we see, but we get several cutbacks to Malcolm looking nervous. Will anybody play an Idol? Reynold stands to play his Idol, but Malcolm stops him. WOW. “Hold up, man. They all voted for me. You can tell. That’s what that whole story was about. Give it to me and we’re in good shape,” Malcolm pleas. “Yeah,” Reynold says. Holy COW. Macolm plays Reynold’s Idol. The vote: Andrea. Andrea. Andrea. Reynold. Michael. Michael. Michael. Michael. Michael. MICHAEL. “You turkeys,” Michael says, before flipping the Top 10 off. “Well, there are 10 very savvy players left,” Probst says, apparently ignoring what just happened at Tribal Council. “The Favorites are great players. They really are tight,” Mike says.
Bottom Line. A second straight really good episode since the Merge, as this “Survivor” season begins getting more intriguing as the craziness is de-emphasized. Sure, Phillip flirted with Sherri and gave her a nickname and explained Stealth R Us at Tribal Council, but in the balance, he was hardly a factor at all. And who would have guessed that Adorable Andrea would out play Malcolm? I mean… she did, didn’t she? She babbled at Eddie until she got the hint that she might be in trouble and then she reversed course and went with the easy elimination, flushed out the only Idol she knew about in the game and got to smirk as Malcolm looked silly. And boy oh boy, Malcolm went from looking brilliant to looking silly in no time flat. If Andrea hadn’t changed the plan and the votes had been headed for Malcolm, that move on Malcolm’s part would be an all-time great “Survivor” move, saving himself without having to play his own Idol. I would have been sad to see Andrea go, but I’d have made peace with it in exchange for the brilliant Malcolm move. But instead, Malcolm ended up triply weakening his alliance, because he flushed out his own disloyalty, he flushed out a game-changing Idol from within his alliance and his alliance ended up losing a member, albeit a weak one. Malcolm still has his own Idol, which is obviously nice, but he doesn’t have numbers to work with and, depending on how Reynold chooses to interpret Malcolm’s mis-read, he may also have lost intellectual clout. I do feel a bit sad for Dawn, who may have squandered the last of her fortitude on tonight’s lies. Still, though, that was fun.
Your thoughts? Did I read the Malcolm/Andrea winner/loser situation correctly? I’m sleepy. I might have missed something…