Pre-credit sequence. So. Tired. Of. Team Formerly Russell. This has been four straight eliminations, including the man who gave the tribe his name. It’s only Malcolm and Denise now. “I thought this might happen on Day 39,” says a lonely Malcolm. He doesn’t know what’s coming next, though Denise suggests they may be split up and sent to opposite tribes. “Everyone loves an underdog,” Malcolm predicts, suggesting we’d be wise not to count them out. Sorry, man. I’m kinda counting you out and hoping for a Merge or Shuffle or some other Game Event I can pointlessly capitalize.
Like flies to wanton boys are we to the god. Back to Matsing. Again. It’s raining. Again. The flies have descended on Malcolm and Denise like so much carrion. “We don’t have a tarp. We haven’t won anything. So it was just us in a fetal position waiting for the sun to come out,” Malcolm says. Tree-Mail, though, brings hope of either a reward or of absorption into a different tribe. Facing the possibility of losing their camp, Malcolm and Denise go scurrying and looking for the Immunity Idol. They fail. And fail. And fail. And then… by dumb luck! They tilt the rice basket and the lid falls off and they discover the Idol. [EDIT: I’m told Malcolm pried the lid off with a machete. Not so dumb luck, I guess.] Malcom is giddy like a schoolgirl.
Slapbet. The tribes arrive for… Something. Blair Warner says you can either look at Matsing as a decimated tribe, or two people who have prevailed. And… That’s it for Matsing. Malcolm spits on his buff and throws it on the ground. Malcolm and Denise are being split up. Malcolm goes to Team Skupin and Denise goes to Team Jeff Kent. “It’s like we’re starting over in a sense,” Jeff Probst says. But in another sense, it’s like one tribe go routed and it was too awkward to keep playing with them. Reward is up for grabs. Want to know what they’re playing for? Pastries and coffee. The challenge has players going one-on-one, each holding Idols on a platform and slapfighting to knock the other player’s Idol off. To begin with, Jeff Kent beats Malcolm. Artis easily beats Dana. Katie beats Blair Warner. Skupin tops Penner. It’s all tied. Denise takes out RC. Pete beats The Guy Who Looks Like Dana. Abi beats Dawson, even after Dawson goes for her hair. “Play like the men. Don’t play like a bitch,” Abi tells her. Malcolm beats Jeff Kent in the climactic battle and… Malcolm WINS SOMETHING! “I’m gonna have some sugar tonight!” Malcolm says. “I’ve got a new family,” Denise says when Probst points out this is her fifth straight loss. “I like this lady, but I sure would have preferred to have Malcolm on my team,” Penner carps.
Sugar… Oh, honey honey. Malcolm and Team Skupin return to camp and Malcolm’s just loving his new home. “I feel like I got my swag back,” he says. He’s happy with his Idol and his cookies and his sugar high, but he’s wary that he’s going to be the man on the outside. “Malcolm’s brought wonderful energy to our tribe,” Blair Warner gushes, raving about his attitude and his looks and his absence of negative energy. But RC isn’t so pleased. RC sees that Malcolm is immediately bonding with Peter and finding a clique. “I was bullied in school,” says RC, suddenly feeling like an outsider. “I’m going to fight,” she vows, suggesting that she needs time to flirt with Malcolm and make an ally. She begins by giving Malcolm a big “Thanks for the fire” hug. Pete doesn’t have the power of hugs, but he does have an Idol and he lures Malcolm by telling him that his alliance has the power. “Thanks to you, I can get rid of Mike and not worry about strength,” Pete tells Malcolm, who compares himself to “the stud football player from the rival school.”
Colton Dixon, Redux. Minus the hate, I mean. Will Denise also be the stud football player? Well, she leads Team Penner back to camp proudly and they welcome her as best they can. She’s anxious to prove her value. The arrival of a new player without a penis makes Katie gleeful. “We have a better chance of getting Denise on our side than we do of getting Malcolm,” Katie says, hoping the Distaff Alliance can come together strong. Meanwhile, though, everybody is feeling weak and miserable, especially Dana, who’s sporting the sunken eyes and pale skin of a Matsing loser. “I am dizzy, nauseous, completely dehydrated and I started getting this sharp pain in my stomach,” Dana says. She’s bolting out of the shelter and puking, lamenting that at home she’s tough, but “You’re only as tough as your body will let you be.” Poor Dana. “I’m a big fat guy. It doesn’t really effect me that much,” Penner says of the cold, acknowledging that smaller people like Dana could just be shutting down. He urges her to get naked and volunteers the whole tribe to warm her up. And it doesn’t even sound indecent when he says it. Poor Dana. Medical attention arrives via motorboat, with Jeff Probst at the vanguard. Dana can’t even tell Probst how she’s doing. Before you can say “Colton,” the medics start poking around with Dana’s belly. Joe the Medic diagnoses “an irritated tummy.” Joe wants to give Dana another 12 hours before pulling her from the game and Probst makes it clear that Dana’s live is not in danger. “Now, it’s on you…” Probst tells her.
Do you want to leave the game or do you want Jeff Probst to respect you? Back to Dana on her back. “Is this something you’re ready to give up on?” Probst asks. But Dana can’t do anymore. “Let’s finish this adventure on your terms,” Probst says, bringing the tribe around her. “I tried to hang,” she cries. Probst speaks on her behalf. “Penner, you know what this is like. You went through this,” Probst says. Penner is kinda and gracious. That’s what comes from being in a tribe that hasn’t eliminated anybody. They actually seem to like each other. It’s with great regret that they say farewell to Dana, who hops on the power boat. “Dana leaving the game screws up everything,” says Katie, watching her penis-free alliance going from majority to even in a matter of seconds.
The Jeff Probst Misogyny Variety Hour. Immunity is up for grabs as the teams arrive at the episode’s second challenge. “Dana felt she was too sick to continue. She pulled herself from the game,” Probst tells Team Skupin. Way to make it clear whose choice it was, Probstie. It’s a big obstacle course culminating in a word puzzle. Abi gets sat out and Jeff Probst mocks her for having been sat out in all but two challenges. Team Jeff Kent falls behind early and Probst leaves no doubt who’s at fault. “Katie really slowing them down,” Probst crows, impressively finding a way to belittle a third female contestant in only five minutes of show-time. Even when Team Jeff Kent catches up a little, Probst reminds the players that Katie’s failings caused their deficit. Team Skupin has a lead at the puzzle, a fairly big lead. Darn you, Katie! Wow. A THIRD reference to Katie’s suckitude. That’s astounding, Jeff. Or should I say “ass-tounding.” “Everybody’s in on this challenge, except for Abi, who’s sitting out once again,” Probst says as things get closer. Yup. Because we briefly forgot that you don’t respect her either. Both tribes know the answer, but who will spell it out first. It’s… Team Skupin. Editing suggests that RC played a big role in solving the puzzle. Probst gives her no credit. And Team Jeff Kent will be going to Tribal Council, a two-player swing in a single episode.
Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park… Football is played on a gridiron. MONKEY! Anyway, Team Jeff Kent is defeated. “Sorry, guys. I feel like an a***hole,” Katie says, calling it “embarrassing.” “I screwed up. There’s nothing more I can say. A really crappy performance,” Katie says, admitting she’d vote herself out. “Katie sucked in this challenge today. She was no good,” Dawson agrees, but Dawson isn’t prepared to vote Katie out. Unfortunately, this puts a target on Denise. “I don’t know if they’re going to vote loyalty or vote logic,” Denise says. At the well, Jeff Kent offers Denise the chance to join his alliance of three, figuring she’s stronger than the other women. Penner’s also impressed with Denise’s effort, which means either Dawson or Katie will get his vote. Man-Dana suggests that Katie looks checked out. But Jeff Kent thinks Dawson’s performance on the puzzle was a bigger mistake and Jonathan says Dawson has generally been the weakest person in the tribe. “Maybe I should date an athlete,” Dawson says in the shelter, figuring she can flush out Jeff Kent’s secret identity, or at least make him uncomfortable. “It’s a lot of fun to make him squirm,” she says, calling Jeff Kent a mouse. “Football is better than baseball,” Dawson says, raising Jeff’s hackles and causing him to repeat his feeling that voting her out might be good.
Tribal Council. In this game, fire represents your life, Probst has to explain to everybody other than Denise. “Dana leaving hit us harder than the rain ever could,” Dawson says. After celebrating Dana, we turn and target Katie for a while. And then we mock Dawson a bit. “I try to keep the spirit of the camp up,” Dawson says, calling herself “optimistic and empowering.” Kent lists a bunch of things that they’re going to base the vote on. That was easily the lamest Tribal Council of the season.
The Vote. Jeff Probst tallies the votes. Nobody plays an Idol. Denise. Dawson. Dawson. Dawson. [Jeff Kent smirks. Denise looks relieved.] Dawson. And that’s it for Dawson. “Wow,” she says. Come on, Dawson! Leave by throwing a grenade at Jeff Kent! Nope. She leaves by giving Jeff Probst a hug and a kiss on the cheek. BOO. “If he wins, he owes me SO much,” Dawson says of not blowing up Jeff Kent’s game. She says that if he wins, she wants a motorcycle and a helmet and a pink gun.
Bottom Line. I liked Dana, a little. Or I liked Dana as much as it’s possible to like anybody on the non-Matsing tribes who we barely saw for a second in a month of episodes. She was scrappy and periodically funny in the limited time we saw her. She was also the glue that held together a potentially interesting alliance. It was appropriate that in this season of redemption for medical bootees that somebody would be taken out by the docs. At least we still have Man-Dana. As for Dawson, well, I liked her a little as well. She occasionally seemed funny and energetic and, as the only person to recognize Jeff Kent, she was holding a piece of information that could have been used for drama or comedy down the road. I wonder if there’s any chance somebody on Team Skupin has recognized Jeff Kent and it just hasn’t come up? Because that seems like a really important piece of information to go unrevealed on “Survivor” this season. Ultimately, it was kinda satisfying to see Malcolm go to a new tribe and have success and Denise go to a new tribe and at least be appreciated. If Malcolm and Denise can get in good on their current tribes, it increases the chance they might be able to reunite and take over as a duo after the Merge and if that happened, it would really make me happy. As for the vote? I guess it makes sense that it was a coin flip between Dawson and Katie and… whatever.
Bottom Line, II. Jeff Probst was a clown in this episode. His challenge performance was like somebody doing a Mad Magazine parody of Jeff Probst and his contempt for women. Good gracious. I assume he’ll write something for EW about how little he respects Dana for leaving the game when it wasn’t an absolutely certainty that she was going to die. And then he basically punted on the Tribal Council.
What’d you think of this episode? Are you gonna miss Dana and Dawson or are you all “Who?”?