Pre-credit sequence. The Fans return to camp after booting Allie. Eddie is confused. Matt is very proud at himself for choosing his side. “We are not friends. But we need each other to win,” Reynold tells Matt and Sherri. Shamar is feeling gloat-y with Eddie and Reynold and also introducing certain viewers at home to the phrase “ace boon coon,” which you probably don’t want to start using with your friends if you weren’t using it already. “The camp is totally in chaos,” laments Laura, who wishes Shamar would chill. But Shamar isn’t just ranting at the people who tried voting him out. He’s also going off on Matt, whose vote helped save him and yelling at Julia, who was 100 percent invisible last week. “The part of Shamar that was fun has completely gone,” Laura says.
Fast Food Nation. The next morning, Eddie is still shaking his head at having the Abercrombie Alliance crushed in what he calls “Revenge of the Nerds.” “Congrats to them. They got us,” Reynold mutters, though Eddie’s saying that the target’s on him first, unless they can deflect things back onto Shamar. “Shamar’s going to step on too many toes on his own,” Eddie predicts. Sherri has been tasks with the job of Shamar management, warning him that Eddie and Reynold want nothing more than to try to get his dander up. “These are childish immature games,” Shamar says. “In my life, I’ve come across people with that attitude,” says Sherri, who owns fast food franchises. Shamar has decided he’s the black sheep and he isn’t sure if this is worth it anymore. He’s questioning how much he wants to be in this game.
Phillip believes he can fly. Transitioning from one unpleasant craziness to another, Phillip is overseeing his domain. He’s 54 and he’s having the time of his life. He’s working out by doing pushups and curls with rocks and tree-trunks (exercise that looked much better the way Brenda was doing it). Phillip is Old School and that extends to his successful off-the-island pursuits playing pick-up basketball. Thank you Shamar and Brandon, for making Phillip’s crazy lovable. Corinne and Malcolm have bonded and they go off into the wilderness in search of an Idol. She likes that he’s smart and good-looking and their alliance pays off when he sticks his hand in a hole in a tree and finds the Idol. Sigh. No more Hidden Immunity Idols. Please. This has become way too silly. “I got the Idol, nah nah nah nah nah nah,” Malcolm sings. He’s not overjoyed that Corinne is with him, but he trusts her. For now. They pinky-swear.
Brandon also believes he can fly and that he’s Napoleon. Phillip is balancing the lid of the rice container on his head. Everybody finds him, but he’s got an explanation related to shade and cooling. “When you’re playing this game, every single day is like Wednesday night at 8,” Cochran says. “This is great. I don’t know why in the rest of the world, people don’t do this,” says Cochran, who is also enjoying being surrounded by beautiful women in their underwear. Corrine and Malcolm are talking together and this gives Adorable Andrea the chance to curl up with Cochran and attempt to stir up anti-Corinne sentiment. Andrea suggests that Brandon would be as loyal an alliance-mate as Corinne, so there’s no point in not getting her out before she turns on them. Phillip agrees with Andrea and Brandon is game as well. “I’m not playing the same game I used to,” Brandon says. Part of Brandon wants to believe, but part of Brandon distrusts anything a pretty girl tells him and he vows to pee in the rice or burn the shelter to the ground if he’s being lied to. “There’s gonna be hell to pay in camp,” he swears.
Now I’m gonna want to use my exit interview to ask Shamar how many people he killed. “My happiness is not worth a million, so I’m not gonna be the Angry Black Man on ‘Survivor,'” Shamar tells his tribe. “Is not quitting worth not being happy?” he muses. Laura tries convincing Shamar to stay, which makes him laugh. He explains that he was an alcoholic and had anger issues after he returned from Iraq, that people were scared to be around him. Shamar has struggled with what he saw and did in Iraq. Sherri, who doesn’t know how many people Shamar may have killed, thinks he’s is going to regret it if he quit, plus she doesn’t want the Fans to have to drop two players if he leaves and then they lose Immunity, which helps convince Shamar to stick around for the good of the team. This frustrates Reynold, who turns Shamar not quitting into a condemnation of Shamar refusing to do the noble thing and quit. “That’s no heroic move in my book,” Reynold grumbles.
Caged heat. Brandon shows up at Immunity holding the Idol over his head and whooping like a lunatic. Immunity is back up for grabs. Tribes have to race into the water and climb over a cage to collect a heavy chest. They have to create a track and push the chest across the track. And? Really? No puzzle? They’re playing for comfort, in the form of a tarp, chairs, a pillow and a blanket. The Favorites get an early advantage, because Laura has swimming issues. The Fans catch up in liberating their chest and the teams are neck-and-neck at the beach. The two tribes are tied at the last section of track. Brandon hooks the last section of track and the Favorites win Immunity and Reward!
Purple Monkey Dishwasher. The Fans return in defeat and nobody wants to view it as an honorary loss. Reynold seems to be trying to somewhat make-nice with Shamar, but Shamar is pissed off about something that happened during the challenge with his contacts and the desire for goggles, a moment that was briefly featured, but which I didn’t take as such a serious insult in the moment. “That was disrespectful. I think you’re disgusting,” Shamar tells Reynold. “He is less mature than my nephew Grayson and my nephew is three,” Reynold says. Laura, meanwhile, knows how weak she was at the challenge. “Frankly, it was pathetic and I know it was,” Laura admits, noting that the tribe has no choice but to keep Eddie and Reynold and therefore target Hope, who hasn’t said anything since the premiere anyway. Laura proposes splitting the vote between Hope and Eddie in case the Idol is given out and they’re dividing their votes by gender. Sherri has to explain everything to Shamar, but even the basic strategy is too hard for him. Hope lives! She knows she’s on the chopping block and chats Shamar who, speaking with honesty, tells Hope that he isn’t voting for her. Shamar suggests Hope could swing the vote a different way, though he doesn’t just come right out and say “Vote Eddie!” In a weird game of telephone, Hope goes to Julia and tells her an incorrect version of what Shamar told her. Julia goes to Sherri and says Shamar told Hope the entire plan, which he didn’t. “I think he doesn’t care about the game,” Julia says. This leads everybody to think that Shamar isn’t voting with them. Why is nobody sending Sherri to talk to Shamar? In this process, Laura begins to stress that if Shamar is a wild card, she might be doomed and she goes to Reynold and offers her vote. “This could be an epic, epic Tribal council,” says a giddy Reynold.
Tribal Council. Probst begins by asking about fallout from the last Tribal and this lets Reynold talk about Shamar’s temper. “My name comes up in everything. I’m like the scapegoat for everybody,” Shamar says, accusing Reynold of lying and eventually calling him evil. Hope repeats either the lie or the misunderstanding of what Shamar told her on the beach. I really don’t know which it is. Shamar smiles, shakes his head and says “It is what it is.” Julia tells the story about Shamar yelling at her after Tribal and calling her weak and “a weak personality,” which was a part of the Shamar Shouts At Everybody rant that we didn’t see. Shamar suggests this was embellishment, if nothing else. Sherri psychoanalyzes Shamar and he acknowledges that she did a good job. Hope knows there’s a target on her, but moves the target to Shamar. I don’t have a clue how Shamar is going to get saved here. I also don’t know if I have any interest in him being saved. This can’t go on forever.
The vote. Eddie again thanks Shamar for serving and writes his name down. Shamar writes Eddie’s name. Reynold’s Idol goes unplayed. Probst tallies: Shamar. Hope. Shamar. Hope. Shamar. Hope. Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. Wow. The Non-Abercrombies held together. That means that we revote. We haven’t had a tie and a revote for a long time, have we? The retally: Shamar. Hope. Hope. Hope. HOPE. Farewell to Hope. I have zero clue how Laura and Julia were convinced to stick with the original plan. “I’m really, really disappointed. I definitely think that I should have stayed out here longer,” Hope says.
Bottom Line. That was a strangely edited episode. There were too many things that we either weren’t shown or that we were only half-shown. I’ve rewatched the scene with Shamar and Hope at the beach and the subsequent scene with Hope and Julia. I still can’t figure out what Hope thought she was doing with Julia. Was she misinterpreting what Shamar told her? Was she half-interpreting what Shamar told her in order to make Shamar seem blabby and she got lucky that Julia misinterpreted or over-interpreted what she said? Was there more that she told Julia? Did Julia’s paranoia toward Shamar relate to the pre-credit shouting match that we only saw a snippet of? And then what happened from there? After Laura went to Reynold and told him that she and Julia were willing to write Shamar’s name, what happened after that? Who reconsolidated the six-person ruling alliance? I need more information and the intentional exclusion of details drained the fun and comprehensibility from one of those rare “Survivor” voting plans that actually worked exactly the way it was drawn up. It wasn’t enough that it worked the way it was drawn up, though, because I needed to understand how it held together against all odd. Beyond that confusion, there’s the problem that while I really dislike Reynold — he’s a James Bond villain who hasn’t proved he actually has the intelligence to take over the world — and I really, really dislike Eddie — he’s a self-satisfied frat boy — I’m equally displeased with the monotony that Shamar’s presence seems to mandate. He yells at people erratically. Sherri calms him down. He yells at people erratically. Maybe Laura calms him down. Then he yells at somebody else erratically. That’s not great TV and I find myself feeling sorry for people I otherwise don’t like. The misconstrued conversation at the beach with Hope proved that Shamar is kinda capable of a different sort of interaction with some people, but he was so awkward that it blew up in his face. I do feel sorry for Shamar, but I also don’t want him to destroy this season of “Survivor.” Also, Hope’s cute and I’m going to miss her. She barely had a chance.
Bottom Line, Part II. With the Favorites, once again, we accentuated craziness over “Survivor.” Yes, Malcolm found another of those poorly hidden Idols and that was cool because we all like Malcolm. And yes, Adorable Andrea did a little scheming, which she doesn’t do especially well, but I applaud the effort. But we spent at least as much time on Phillip’s basketball prowess and hat and then on Brandon’s rant about pissing in the rice. And yet Brandon had the episode-title quote of the week for the second straight episode with a line that had nothing to do with anything. I need for some actual “Survivor” to kick in eventually this season and so far, we’ve been denied that for three straight weeks.