Pre-credit sequence. The Women are back at camp and Alicia is trying to restore Kat’s self-worth. Chelsea, kinda acknowledging that maybe keeping Kat wasn’t the best of all possible moves, figures that all they need is something positive to happen so that they can gain confidence. A storm is brewing and the men are feeling charitable, inviting the women to come to their shelter. Or at least Colton makes that invitation, but I guess we assume Colton isn’t acting as a complete free agent.. The women are determined to remain autonomous, but the rain starts falling and it starts getting colder and the women have no tarp and a pretty much no roof.
Let me stand next to your fire. Dawn breaks, but the rain continues. “We got zero sleep last night,” Chelsea laments. The women have no shelter, no fire and no food in their bellies. Chelsea asks Troyzan and Colton if they can come stand by their fire. Thankfully, Tarzan is kind and says “Sure.” The women are shivering and bedraggled. “It’s uncomfortable mooching off of them,” Kim says, as Sabrina shows off her pruned fingers. Matt returns to camp after crabbing and he’s not pleased that the women are on his turf.
You must remember this. Last week, Probst skipped the Reward Challenge, but they got him in the rain for a memory test. The goal is to memorize and recreate a tableau of objects — skulls, bottles, other random stuff — in the proper order. Want to know what they’re playing for? A fishing supply kit and a canoe. The women don’t look all that enthusiastic as to whether or not it’s worth playing for. The first to five successfully completed memory sequences wins. Sabrina draws first blood, beating Matt. Soon, it’s a 3-0 lead for the Women and Probst, always a frontrunner, starts calling the Men pathetic. A low-intellect showdown between Troyzan and Kat requires seven attempts for each contestant before Kat wins. Christina seals the deal and the Women actually win something! “The Women now know they can beat you at something,” Probst mocks the Men.
Log Cabin Republican. This is the most bat-filled environment “Survivor” has ever visited, or else the “Survivor” second-unit photographer just has a bat fetish. Do people have bat fetishes? Anyway, the Women return victorious and they’re overjoyed to see their new boat, which does nothing, however, to relieve their lack of fire and their shoddy shelter. The Women can’t even get fire going with their flint, coming over to beg an ember from the Men. The Men are a bit grumpy and say they may want to take the boat out someday, but they also suggest that if they’re going to keep quidding, eventually the women are going to have to pro quo a little bit more. It’s predictable that Matt is leading the charge for reparations, but it’s more surprising (if you didn’t want the teaser for this week’s episode) to see Colton turning on his former besties. “I’m a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I do not believe in handouts.”
The Zombie Survival Guide. More bats. The embers may not have worked. The women are suffering. Chelsea’s hands are practically embalmed they’re so wrinkled and bloated. The Men haven’t stopped their deliberations. Jonas, who compares them to zombies, only wants to help if it’s life-or-death. Alicia and Chelsea stand shivering over the fire and yet Alicia still has the gumption to tell the Men that their request of boat time is unjust. Even the amiable Bill is getting pissed off. “I don’t understand what they’re thinking,” says Colton, who’s suddenly of a like-mind with his manly cohorts. Chelsea is breaking and she starts to cry, even suggesting that in exchange for one night’s sleep the Men can take all of their fishing stuff.
The tip of the spear. The sun comes up the next morning and three of the Women go out and prove that they’re capable of catching very small fish with their speak. “It’s gonna change the way that we feel. The way the guys feel. We need to win again,” says a suddenly cautious Tarzan.
I Don’t Know. It’s time for an Immunity Challenge. It’s a blindfolded task, with a caller leading pairs through an obstacle course in order to accumulate puzzle pieces for a puzzle that the caller then has to solve. Bill and Sabrina are the callers. I like that the puzzle pieces are in buckets of blue and orange colored water. It’s like “You Can’t Do That on Television.” It’s a comedy of errors, especially as far as the women are concerned. I don’t know that Bill’s instructions are good, but Sabrina keeps forgetting people and people keep bumping into things. Bill has a big lead as he starts solving the puzzle. Probst gets frustrating and starts shouting for the Women to move. How the Probst has turned. Sabrina handles the puzzle well, tying the puzzle challenge. Both callers are on their last pieces. Sabrina finishes! The Women win their second consecutive challenge. “I think I just aged 10 years,” an incredibly relieved Sabrina says. “I’ve spent eight days out here kinda creating some power and I want to use it,” says Matt, who’s disturbingly giddy, yet dispassionate about taking somebody out.
Ghetto Fabulous. The Women are happy, especially that they won a challenge based on communication. “Now they’re probably just running around like chickens with their heads cut off,” Chelsea says. Most of the men are supportive of Bill and try to reassure him he did the best he could. To Hell with that. Colton thinks Bill blew the challenge and he’s also irked the Bill keeps calling everybody “bro.” Colton sagely observes, “Shut up. Go kill yourself.” But that’s not all. Of Bill, Colton says, “You’re ghetto trash. That’s all you are.” Wait. In what way is the standup comedy hipster from Venice Beach “ghetto trash”? So Colton calls together his Misfits alliance and tells them that Bill is out first. But Muscular Mark Twain thinks Matt needs to leave, what with him being the ringleader of a hypothetically powerful alliance and all. Jay doesn’t like people chatting with him and he approaches the Misfits and expresses willingness to vote with them against Bill. Matt also peeks in on the strategy meeting, gets the temperature of the room and decides that Troyzan is the head of the Average Joes alliance and pulls him aside and proposes an alliance of roosters with Troyzan and Jay. “It ain’t ‘Survivor’ unless you’re lying,” says Troyzan after nodding to Matt’s face and then exposing his new plot behind his back. This leaves true power-player Colton with a choice: Vote out Bill, because Colton’s an easily annoyed twit, or vote out Matt, because he’s the most dangerous player in the game. “Either one makes me perfectly happy,” says Colton.
Tribal Council. This is weird. Is Colton even going to need to use his Idol? Right now, it doesn’t feel that way. The Men all agree that there are fractions in the tribe, though Muscular Mark Twain says that he feels comfortable with his alliance of five. Colton feels more than comfortable. He smiles smugly, tells Jeff he knows he isn’t going home and tells everybody who didn’t already know it that he has an Idol. Colton adds that he’s ready to play his Idol so that he doesn’t become another James. At Mike’s instigation, Colton gloats about how close he’s become with the Women, which renders Probst nearly speechless, as Colton seems not to care that just because he’s only friends with women in the Real World doesn’t mean he should only be hobnobbing with them in a game for a million bucks. Colton says it’s “Duh” that he’d be hanging out with the Women and Probst, earning that Emmy, says, “It’s more like a reverse-‘Duh,’ double-dare on you.” The Men are very pleased with Probst, who just decides to beat up on Colton for a while. Muscular Mark Twain insists that Colton is invaluable and necessary, both for his knowledge of the game and his alliances with the Women. Matt’s pissed off at Muscular Mark Twain and Probst notes Matt’s annoyance. “This is intense, man. This is emotion, right here!” says Bill, who describes himself as “so jacked-up.” Colton rolls his eyes aggressively, as we all get a sense of why he wants Bill out so badly.
The Vote. “You pissed off the wrong queen,” Colton whispers, but we don’t see his vote. Colton chooses not to play his Idol, which is the most ballsy thing he’s done so far. I like it. Probst reads the votes: Colton. Bill. Matt. Matt. Matt. Matt. Matt. And that’s it for Matt. Colton smiles smugly. Interesting. Jeff tells the Men to leave and Muscular Mark Twain asks to see the last two votes. Probst declines the request and Colton hisses, “Save those questions for me.” Matt isn’t happy.
Bottom Line: Colton’s transition from Annoying Victim to Malevolent Villain may be the fastest and more unexpected/intriguing in “Survivor” history. And I get the impression that Colton, the proverbial “student of the game” has savored this as an intentional twist. Part of me thinks he revealed that he was Kaiser Soze a little early, but he also was smart enough to suppress his hatred for Bill to make the right vote and to bluff his way into not needing to play his Idol. Colton even got nearly everybody in Matt’s alliance to either vote against Matt or at least not to write his name down. It remains to be seen if that was really “brilliant” or if the Men are just very stupid and malleable. I suspect the latter. Meanwhile, Matt wasn’t the first castaway to think he was running the show and be the first person voted out of his tribe and he won’t be the last, but he may be the most sullen. Has anybody ever seemed to be having less fun taking on the mantle of “Survivor” leader? I’m looking forward to my interview with Matt tomorrow because I really don’t have a clue what he thought was happening when he said he’d been building up his power base for eight days. Was he referring to his alliance of four people in a nine-person tribe? His math skills need work.
Bottom Line, Part II. Do we make anything at all of the Women and their sudden resurgence? Have they genuinely gotten their act together? Or does it just happen that, as mentioned above, the Men are stupid and malleable and the Women gained momentum by winning a memory challenge and then a puzzle challenge? Certainly nobody was more confused by the turn of events than Jeff Probst, who’s probably going to make it his life mission to goad Colton into acts of deeper and deeper depravity.
How are you feeling about Colton this week? Do you admire him? Or are you just waiting for him to get his comeuppance? And are the women really back in the game or was this week an aberration?