Pre-credit sequence. The Fans have lost hope. Wait. Sorry. The Fans have lost Hope. “Where do you think we’re going to go from here?” Eddie whines to Sherri. “It’s mind-boggling that we got rid of Hope tonight because she was the prettiest one here and she was a threat to everybody because of that,” says Eddie. Really, Eddie? Really? Ugh. Reynold tells Laura that she made him look like an idiot. Matt protests that this is part of the game, but Reynold says that he doesn’t want to be associated with any of them and he has no respect for them. Eddie’s all “Good luck winning after you vote me and Reynold off,” to which somebody correctly notes that they haven’t been winning with them either. I dislike Eddie a lot. And Reynold tells me Eddie could be next to go. I’m fine with that.
Serenity and The Conqueror. Over at the Favorites camp, The Specialist is relaxing and comparing himself to Napoleon. It turns out that Napoleon also liked to give people names, so Phillip decides to induct Brandon into Stealth R Us, just to placate him. Brandon is now The Conqueror. Brandon announces to use that he’s been lying to Phillip. So… Everybody’s lying. Also getting a nickname is Erik, who is now The Silent One. This makes Adorable Andrea jealous, because she doesn’t think people who aren’t truly in Stealth R Us should be getting names. “So what? Are we going to give Brenda a name?” Andrea asks incredulously. And guess what? We are! Brenda is now Serenity, which she gigglingly accepts.
Whatchoo talking ’bout, Shamar? The hashtag says this is just a #RewardChallenge. The task involves teams getting players from one platform to another and to another and then everybody getting onto a third, much smaller, platform. Want to know what they’re playing for? A local bushman will come in with a housewarming gift and will teach them how to live off the land. The Fans are transporting Julia and Laura, while the Favorites are transporting Brenda and Andrea. The Favorites have the lead going to the final platform. Will they get the whole tribe balanced first? The Fans get an interesting strategy, with everybody climbing on top of Shamar. The Favorites still win, but Shamar thinks his tribe won. “That’s what I’m talking about,” Shamar bellows. Sigh. Alas, that was not what he was talking about. Reynold sees this as further proof of Laura’s weakness.
Welcome to the Peach Pit. The bushman paddles to join the Favorites. They’re psyched to see him. “Nothing could have prepared us for this little guy,” Malcolm says of Tata. Joe E. Tata? No. Alas. But close! Tata instantly begins a series of demonstration, starting with a new way of cooking rice using bamboo. “He’s like a Filipino Gollum,” Malcolm observes, awesomely. “The way he functions is basically saying enigmatic things that no one understands,” Cochran observes. So actually, Tata is more like a Filipino Yoda. I’m not sure what they learned from him, but he cooks them a very nice feast. “It was kinda dinner and a show,” Cochran says. After dinner, Tata tears down their shelter and rebuilds it. For his trouble, Tata gets to dance around with Brenda and Adorable Andrea, which makes Cochran jealous enough to imply Tata was just storing up memories for his spank bank.
Eye Alone. The Fans return. Shamar is still celebrating his not-victory. Michael is bitter about how well-off the Favorites are. And Shamar needs a nap. “He doesn’t do anything. It’s just pure laziness,” Eddie says. “Can you imagine being my size and how I feel?” Shamar asks, before telling everybody else that if they want him to stay, they’re going to bring him rice once a day. He’s kinda like the dragon who has to be fed or else he’ll torch their village. Nobody knows if he’s kidding. “I’m just thinking, ‘How much longer can this go on?'” Reynold says. Even Laura has run out of sympathy for the man she calls “a big baby,” but Sherri brings him the rice. Then… somehow… Shamar scratches his eyeball. Eddie is unimpressed. This has turned everybody against Shamar. THIS? Constantly awfulness? Tolerable. An irritated eye? Well, that’s a bridge too far.
Eye am what eye am. We’re sticking with the Fans, who are huddled up against a storm. And in come the rats. Thunder. Lightning. Rats. It’s not a good night. The next morning, everything is black-and-white. “We believe that Shamar is going to quit,” Michael says. Shamar is rocking back and forth in misery. Everybody’s contemptuous of Shamar’s eye. “I’m not thinking about the game. I just kinda want my eye fixed a little bit,” Shamar says. In comes the boat, medical and Jeff Probst. Somehow, “Survivor” is resisting giving us a close-up on Shamar’s eye. Ooops. Spoke too soon. It’s red. The doc puts in an orange dye to try to diagnose. The doctor says there’s a divot in his cornea next to his pupil. The doctor weighs in and says she’d like to pull him. Shamar cries as Jeff Probst explains the ramifications, but says his vision is more important. The rest of the tribe comes over. “I know that you really care about my well-being,” Shamar tells them, even though there’s barely an iota of genuine sincerity to be sense. “The people who know me know that I’m a strong guy,” Shamar says as he headed off. Reynold gives an amazingly circular farewell. He acknowledges that maybe he underestimated how hurt Shamar’s eye was, BUT “he’s disrespectful, lazy and I’m just happy that he’s gone.” Reynold still knows he and Eddie will be targeted if they lose.
Attack the block. Immunity time and the Favorites are shocked to see the Shamar-free Fans, now down to seven. The task asks players to retrieve five keys from a water platform, use those keys to open a chest and use sandbags to knock blocks from a platform. Or something. The key retrieval isn’t easy, but Erik and Brandon get the Favorites out to an early lead. The Favorites have all five keys ahead of the Fans and unlock their chest in first. Phillip is sandbag-tossing on his own, but can Reynold come from behind? It’s an impressive comeback and Phillip is stymied by a sideways block. It doesn’t matter. Favorites win Immunity! And it’s another setback for the Fans, who are about to be three players down.
Reynold quotes “Annie Hall.” The Fans congratulate Reynold for how close he came to actually winning. That’s how far they’ve fallen. Eddie and Reynold know they’re going to be targeted next, with Reynold assuming there will be an attempt to blindside him and take out the Idol. But Matt has other ideas. He goes to Michael and tells his chum that they need to win challenges and they can’t do that if they take out Reynold or Eddie next. “I’m like ‘There goes the alliance,'” Michael tells us. Michael worries about losing Laura, who he trusts, and keeping Mr. Awesome with the… TARSIER! I’ve missed the tarsier! Matt tells Reynold about the new plan. “Well, la di da. He’s bald-faced lied to me on more occasions than I can count,” an unimpressed Reynold says. So now Reynold doesn’t have a clue if he wants to risk playing the Idol for nothing, or if he wants to trust Matt. Laura knows her name is being thrown around and that her tribe has lost confidence in her. Matt tells Sherri he’s voting Laura. “When Laura’s name got brought up, I was not on-board with it at all,” says Sherri, who worries the guys may turn on the women. Is Michael suddenly the swing-vote? “There’s no way to know what the right or wrong answer is gonna be,” Michael says.
Tribal Council. Jeff Probst talks about Shamar. “Now that Shamar is gone, I think there’s less tension around camp,” Matt says, admitting Shamar helped in challenges. Sherri says she misses having Shamar in her alliance. Reynold tells everybody that they won’t win challenges without him and Probst agrees this is a strong point. Laura says the vote is about physical strength or loyalty. “They’re all about trust to each other, but we’re losing, losing, losing,” Reynold says. “We’re still losing. Even with them,” Sherri says. Eddie says Laura is the weakest player and Sherri is also weak. Laura suggests a jumble could come at any moment and loyalty would play a big role there. “I think tonight is the make-or-break factor for this tribe,” Eddie says.
The vote. Eddie says “It’s kill or be killed” and votes for Laura. [This ends Brandon’s two-episode streak of naming episodes with out-of-context crazy-quotes.] Laura speaks of the Idol and writes Reynold’s name. With little hesitation, Reynold plays his Idol. Probst tallies. Laura. Laura. Irrelevant Reynold. Laura. LAURA. Farewell, Laura. Tee-hee. Remember a month ago when I talked about how I’d never be able to tell Allie, Hope and Laura apart? Guess that isn’t so important anymore. “As a view from the couch, you really only get to see one side,” Laura says, suggesting it’s hard to feel the difficulty of the game from my couch. [And, in the end, everybody voted for Laura, even Sherri and Julia.]
Bottom Line, Part I. That was probably a valuable episode, getting rid of Shamar. It was too bad that Shamar had to go out in the first episode in which we saw some of his potential physical prowess in that Reward challenge, but we also saw his lazy and spoiled side and there was no indication it was going to get any better. Laura got scapegoated for logical reasons in that Immunity Challenge — If you’re too weak to open locks, that’s an issue — but the Fans fell behind after the physical part of the task that she had nothing to do with. [I think one could make the argument that as good as Reynold was with sandbag tossing, he might have been more valuable keeping the Fans from getting lapped at the beginning.] They’re just not going to be stronger than the Favorites and a tribal shuffle of some sort makes good dramatic sense, doesn’t it? If I were the “Survivor” producers, I’d give the tribes one more elimination, get down to 14 players and shuffle. But that’s just me. And in that case, keeping Laura and voting Eddie out has strategic value. Eddie and Reynold become threats either after a shuffle or after a Merge, so they’ve got less strategic value than a weak, unassuming pawn might. If you’re going down 9-6 against a powerhouse tribe, you might as well be a cohesive six, right? Or am I figuring wrong? Guess what? Even if I’m figuring wrong, I’m glad that “Survivor” strategy has returned to the game after a few weeks away. Progress!
Bottom Line, Part II. Again, the editors struggled to find any way to handle the Favorites. For the episode, we got TWO segments with the Favorites. One was Phillip being Phillip, which served only to showcase Andrea’s jealousy and to let Brenda do something for the first time in weeks. And the other was with Tata the Bushman. Tata the Bushman was awesome and he gave quote-machines Malcolm and Cochran the chance to be quote-machines. Ultimately, though, if there’s an iota of strategy or realigning going on with the Favorites, we haven’t seen it. We watched some alliances form in the first episode, then we watched those episodes fall apart, but there have been six or seven days in which the editors want us to believe that nothing has happened other than Phillip being crazy and Brandon being crazy. And as for the Scenes From Next Week… Ugh.
What’d you think of tonight’s episode?