Pre-credit sequence. The Men did the crazy thing last episode, but we’re starting with the Women, who are cuddled up in a ball against the elements. For some reason, Troyzan comes to visit and also gives up Colton as the power player behind the brilliant Let’s Vote Ourselves Out plot. “I’m not gonna question their nonsense over there,” laughs Sabrina, vowing that the seven Women are going to stick together. “We don’t know what the guys are thinking. That’s crazy-stuff that’s happening over there,” Christina diagnoses. “The guys messed up big-time,” Alicia says before the tribes head to their next challenge. She adds, “They are so dumb. They handed us a million dollars.”
Clash of the Titans [New nickname for Alicia’s cleavage]. Jeff Probst greets the two sides for Reward Challenge. But before the challenge… “Drop your buffs. We’re switching tribes,” Probst says. It will be a switch based on the same random egg-quashing that assigned Ozzy and Coach last season. The blue eggs will be the new Salanis, while the orange eggs are the new Manono. Does this mean I’m going to have to learn the tribe names? Ugh. Everybody integrates and hugs. New Blue/Salani: Mike, Sabrina, Kat, Kim, Chelsea and Troyzan. New Orange/Manono: Muscular Mark Twain, Colton, Christina, Alicia, Monica, Jonas and Leif. “They have all the muscle,” Colton says. That’s an understatement. If you had split the tribes as Weak vs Strong, this is almost exactly how the split would have gone (Kat and Monica probably should be swapped). The challenge: Teams have to fill a leaky bucket with water, transporting it to a different container without losing water. Want to know what they’re playing for? Peanut butter and jelly and coffee. Plus, the winning tribe gets to stay on the One World beach, while the losing tribe gets sent to a new beach to start from scratch. Yeah. *That* is worth playing for. Manono comes close, but Salani wins. “Look at them and look at us. It’s like Greek Gods versus peasants,” Colton grumbles.
Nattering nabobs of negativity. Oh, they’re happy at the new Salani. Sabrina is giddy that her new tribe contains four members of her alliance. Meanwhile, Colton is miserable as Manono arrives at camp. “Not only did I get on a tribe with people I don’t want to be on a tribe with, I got on a tribe of people who suck. We’re not gonna be able to compete with them at anything,” Colton says. “We are going to be the laughingstock,” chuckles Alicia. Naturally, the two Debbies Downer come together as the new prince and princess of Manono. Colton decides to put on the charm offensive and takes Alicia and Christina aside and reminds them that he’s wanted to be with the Girls since Day One and they, in turn, promise him he’s safe. He pinky-promises Monica that he’ll vote with the Girls. “I’m hope you’re not the puppet-master master manipulator,” Monica says of Colton, realizing that she’s the strongest available woman if Colton is playing them.
The Gods align. Over at the Camp of the Greek Gods, they’ve got peanut butter and jelly and they also have crabs, thanks to Chelsea and Mike. Hmmm. That sounds bad. As if that’s not enough, remember those chickens? They’re off in the brush and Salani works as a team to corner the poultry and capture a bird, thanks to Troyzan’s old football skills. Jay is convinced that it’s no longer Men vs. Women, which is what he has to think, lest he be staring down the barrel of some negative numbers. Jay thinks he can trust the women and he decides to get to know them, starting with Kim, who is pretending to be amenable. “I’m trying to keep my options open,” says Kim, who’s having a great time playing both sides.
Colton targets another minority contestant. Alica and Colton are braiding rope together and, in no time, they discover common ground: They both distrust Christina. Colton targets Christina first, but Alicia doesn’t want to lose her female numbers. “I don’t consider Colton as a guy, so I feel like we have four women against three guys, but Colton’s crazy,” Alicia acknowledges. Jonas sees Colton off to the side conspiring with Alicia and he gets an immediate sense of deja vu. “How does he get away with this? I never thought to play that game, but it’s brilliant,” Jonas says. And that, sir, is how he gets away with it. Colton reassures Jonas that he’s voting with the Men and they agree that Christina’s going first. “It’s kinda like Colton’s running the show on both sides, with the Women and the Men, but it’d be ridiculous for me not to think that he’s aligning with the women right now,” Jonas says, as we cut over to Alicia’s butt, which practically ought to have its own Tribal Council vote at this point.
“Idol in my Crotch” is a great name for a Christian Rock band. Kim gets up and decides to go find an Immunity Idol. As we’ve learned in recent years, clues are irrelevant. The only thing you have to do to find an Idol is to actually look. Oh and pray. Kim asks for God’s help and God provides. Pathetic. In an absolutely classic moment, Kim walks back to camp and announces to Chelsea, “I just found the Hidden Immunity Idol and it’s in my crotch.” They’re a pair, but they agree that they can’t be seen as a pair. “This is awesome,” Kim says.
Colton remembers he hates people with friends more than minorities. There’s a ray of light for Manono. Or at least there’s a chicken. Monica catches the chicken and Alicia runs over and they do a happy, “We’re getting fed” dance. Until the chicken escapes and runs off into the forest. Like a complacent, in-bred, louche liege lord, Colton relaxes against the shelter and hisses contemptuously. “These people suck at ‘Survivor.’ Let’s just be honest,” Colton says, predicting many challenge losses. Colton may be evil and ignorant, but he’s not stupid. He’s come to recognize that everybody likes Monica, but Christina has no friends, meaning that Monica would be an issue if they reach a Merge, while Christina would not. Colton goes out into the water and proposes voting Monica out and then Christina. “You’re asking me to trust a whole other tribe,” Alicia says. “No. I’m just asking you to trust me,” Colton replies. That’s enough for Alicia. Colton sees this as just getting rid of another head of the snake.
Lob City. Immunity is now up for grabs. It’s a no-holds-barred game of water basketball, or something to that effect. Salani gets out to a quick 1-0 lead. Jeff Probst is very amused by how short Leif is, but eventually comes to respect Leif’s tenacity, not that it matters as Salani takes a 2-0 lead. Monica makes it 2-1. In an unexpected twist, Colton actually makes a lot of effort and he runs and screams and rumbles, but it doesn’t matter as Salani scores again and wins, sending Manono off to Tribal Council.
Rumors of his eviction are greatly exaggerated. Defeated, Muscular Mark Twain rests. Colton and Alicia hug. Monica cheers that at least Manono scored a point. And then the awkwardness begins. Alicia predicts an Oscar calibre performance in attempting to convince Monica that she’s not going home. “If following Colton means voting out somebody else and getting me one step closer to the million? Awesome. I could be Colton’s bitch. I’ll be whatever you want me to be,” Jonas says. Christina’s convinced that “wounded hippo” Muscular Mark Twain needs to go next and she’s equally convinced that Alicia, Jonas and Colton are with her. “The guys have lost sight on the numbers game,” Monica says, perfectly willing to send any man home. But Colton instructs Leif and Muscular Mark Twain on the plan. “So tell me who Monica is again,” MMT says with a touch of endearing senility. Or… maybe not so endearing. MMT has a hard time remembering anything and Colton has to tell him “Monica Lewinsky.” Colton’s displeased. “It’s really hard being the leader of a bunch of idiots,” Colton laments.
Tribal Council. “The odds were not stacked in our favor,” Jonas says of his sucky new tribe. Not everyone is gloomy. “Our beach is better. Our food is plentiful. And we’re playing like a team,” Monica says. “We need Monica,” Colton tells Jeff, praising her cheery demeanor. Alicia agrees that Monica is a awesome person and “an amazing super-mom,” but that she can be seen as a threat. “It’s more like I’m trying to help the team,” Monica protests. Leif praises Monica as “one of the most hardest working women I’ve ever seen.” Muscular Mark Twain is crazy. “I love this. It’s kinda a game,” Jeff says, trying to parse Muscular Mark Twain’s words, just as American literary scholars have been doing for his less muscular equivalent for decades. Just for fun, Muscular Mark Twain teaches Jeff Probst the meaning of “neologism.” “Awesome,” Probst guffaws. We then spend a couple minutes reciting things we know about Muscular Mark Twain, including his “nominal aphasia,” or difficulty remembering names. Wow. That was the least substantive Tribal Council in “Survivor” history. It was like the complete opposite of last week’s Tribal Council.
The vote. Probst tallies: Musical Mark Twain. Muscular Mark Twain. Monica. Monica. Monica. Monica. And that’s it for Monica. “Wow,” Monica says. “What the…” Christina says. “You admit the other tribe is stronger and then you vote out arguably your strongest member because she was too big a threat,” Probst ponders.
Bottom Line. Gosh. The shuffling of the tribes was possibly the worst thing that could have happened in a season that already hanging in a very tenuous, Colton-determined balance. We really ended up with one team of Alphas and another team of Clowns. You’d think it was short-sighted that Manono booted their strongest member, but I can think of no challenge in which Monica’s presence was somehow going to elevate the tribe above “pathetic.” Plus, how much of an asset could Monica be if even after Troyzan opened the episode by telling the Women that Colton was the puppet-master, she still was blindsided that easily? Manono is so dismal that Colton’s best bet is to liquidate nearly everybody around him and then pray that, thanks to his Idol, he can realign with Kat and the Women after a Merge. As long as he keeps that Idol, he retains at least the possibility of power going forward and who on Manono is going to be able to conspire against him to at least flush the Idol? Nobody. I have nothing interesting to say about this episode. The abandoning of both pieces of the One World structure wasn’t surprising, but it was a mistake and I don’t foresee much strategic excitement, if any at all, until we get to a Merge. Last week’s episode was unpleasant, but still thrilling. This week’s episode was disheartening and dull.
What’d you think? Am I somehow forgetting about this week’s thrilling details?