Pre-credit sequence. Nobody went home last week because Julie quit. I repressed that. Maybe that's why we're starting with a montage of moving skies, since there was no trip to Tribal to return from. At Huyopa, Missy is pissed off at Julie, though she thinks she's mad at Julie because the quitting delayed voting Josh out. We all know that's not true, though. Jon is worried that they may be being deceitful, sharing his worries with Jaclyn. They're both feeling smug about everybody needing to want to work with them. That's not the same as wanting to need to work with them. They've decided to take out Jeremy, the leader of one pack, even if it means following a different leader in Josh. “My best path right now does not include Jeremy,” Jon repeats.
Temple of Dumb. Reward time. Two teams will load puzzle pieces onto a cart and then they'll use those pieces to build a temple. Then they have to hoist a statue of some sort. Want to know what they're playing for? A “Survivor” Taco Bar and beer. We miss the schoolyard pick that leaves us with Jon, Alec, Baylor, Josh and Jaclyn against… the other people. Nobody picked Missy. Poor Missy. The yellow team, Reed, Natalie, Wes, Keith and Jeremy, is winning early. And they're continuing to win as they complete their pyramid. Yellow wins. That was not exciting. They're also sending somebody to Exile Island. They feel guilty about sending Missy, so they send Jon. Well… OK. “Enjoy the meal. Think about me when you're tasting it,” Jon says. Nobody says, “Ummm… No thanks, dude. Ick.”
Run for the border. Yum. I want tacos. They look like yummy soft tacos with all the fixings. Reed notes that because the winning team was made up of a random assortment of people from both alliances, they have nothing to talk about and they just need to maintain “homeostasis.” Kudos, Reed. Kudos. Nobody has strategy to talk about, but Keith instead starts lying about the strategy for his alliance, which pisses Jeremy off. But enough of strategy, let's get down to intestinal disorder. Fearful he'll never eat again, Wes rams food and booze down his throat at a prodigious rate. Keith is warning Wes that he's going to be sick and, indeed, he's correct. “Wes is a good kid. He ain't been in jail yet,” is Keith charitable assessment. Wes, meanwhile, is a gross belching mess.
Son of a Preacher Man. The losers are back at camp noshing on snails. But Josh is happy with the people he's spending time with. He views this as a chance to get Baylor's support and he actually whips out the, “You owe me at least one vote” guilt card. Oh, that's BS, man. Nobody owes anybody post-Merge for a vote pre-Merge. Baylor thinks Josh doesn't sound like a guy from a Christian family with a pastor for a dad. She's vaguely correct, or at least as correct as Baylor can be about things. Josh senses his plea was for naught and he's fed up with Baylor, a growing animus he shares with Jaclyn, who reassures him.
The Climb. On Exile Island, Jon is lonely and missing Jaclyn, but he figures Jaclyn is building relationships. On Exile, he gets a clue for an Idol on the beach with him. He's pretty smart about reading the clue, or at least he seems to be. The clue sends him scurrying up a peninsular promontory of some sort. And there he finds the Idol. There was actually some effort that went into scaling the rock tower, so I won't quibble. Well done, Jon. He figures this Idol is a game-changer. He may be correct…
Lysistrata. “That reward was definitely not worth it for me,” says Wes, still regretting his tacos. Alec is also disgusting and Jeremy is a bit offended by the rampant rudeness from the “Survivor” men. Alec is icky enough that he's getting Baylor to throw away his food-related garbage. Baylor continues to think this is a sibling relationship, but Missy reassures her that Alec is rude to her, too. Keith is unimpressed with Baylor's effort, telling her that she'd have been whooped seven times if she were his daughter. This is really fairly repulsive. Jaclyn is being mistreated as well, especially in Jon's absence, and she's decided it may be time to wield some feminine power. Another challenge is coming and Keith and Alec are counting on Jon and his ability to wrangle Jaclyn. It's amazing that Alec is every bit as clueless as his brother.
Cubism. Jon returns in time for Immunity. Keith surrenders the Immunity Idol he never really got to use. It's the familiar memory challenge with the series of symbols and the cubes. Out first is the Exile Island-weary Jon, followed by Reed, who has no such excuse. Wes and Alec are out next. A new set of symbols begins with Natalie's elimination. The editors showed us Baylor's memory process, but it was a tease and she's gone next, followed by Jaclyn. Keith and Missy go out, leaving Josh and Jeremy in a rather important showdown. The winner? JEREMY. Excellent. Now things can get fun, or at least get slightly interesting.
Jackie? Oh! What the heck is that tree creature? Back at camp, Jon whispers in Jaclyn's ear that he's got an Idol. Jeremy is pleased that he won Immunity so that he can turn on Josh and his goons. Without Jeremy as an option, Josh targets Baylor, figuring that Jon & Jaclyn are, as ever, the keys to everything. Josh knows if “J&J” aren't with him, he's done. “I don't like the guys anymore at all,” Jaclyn tells Jon, suggesting that the guys didn't talk to her in his absence and that the guys will be harder to beat for Immunities. Jon repeats the narrative that Jeremy wouldn't be beatable at Final 3. Reed explains that Baylor is annoying, so she's the next vote. “Jon's thinking really far ahead, which is stupidly,” Jaclyn says plainly. Monkey! Missy is trying to sway Keith, but Keith remains critical of Baylor's effort. Missy shoots back that Keith is also protecting his child. “It doesn't feel good ever to have your child picked on,” Missy says, warning Baylor that she's being targeted. Missy tells Jon that Josh is the vote and Jon makes sure everybody knows. Jaclyn likes Missy and Jeremy, but Jon isn't having it.
Tribal Council. Jeremy knew he needed Immunity to stick around. Josh agrees that he also could have used it. Everybody explains exactly what we've known for a while. Probst is incredulous that we're heading toward yet another vote being swayed by Jon & Jaclyn. Natalie makes an “Original Hunahpu” plea and also pokes at Jaclyn's insecurities. “Me and Jon talk. We make decisions together,” Jaclyn says, while Missy jokes about the “frat house” atmosphere. Keith protests that Wes hasn't farted lately, but Keith himself has had gas. “Perception is reality to the perceiver,” Probst says meaninglessly. Jon says that their position is positive, but scary.
The vote. Alec says something idiotic and votes for Baylor. Baylor is more respectful and writes Josh's name. “I'm so nervous,” Natalie says. No Idol is played, so Probst tallies: Baylor. Josh. Baylor. Josh. Baylor. Josh. Baylor. Josh. Baylor. Josh. JOSH. “I'll eat a cheeseburger for everybody,” Josh says.
Bottom Line, Part I. Actually, I feel a bit bad for Josh, who was at least putting in some effort and definitely had the brains to play a better game down the road. I think Josh got caught up in the “Couples uber alles” agenda because he correctly recognized Jeremy as *a* key rival and he got a bit blinded to the people he was aligning with. Alec is an idiot and Wes is a stooge and when those people are keys to your alliance, you've got problems. Josh admitted in his post-elimination interview that he never fully trusted his alliance and how could he? Then again, Josh had it in his power to actually treat Jaclyn like a person and he did not. He could so easily have gone to Jaclyn and said, “Look, Wes and Alec are tools, but they're tools-to-an-end and after we get rid of Baylor and Jeremy, we'll have numbers and we can trim some of our deadwood. I want to make sure you and Jon are with me and Reed. None of the rest of it matters.” I have to believe that Jaclyn could have been placated that easily. “You're valued. Let's keep the numbers and we'll get rid of the boors in six days.” But Josh and Reed misplayed Jaclyn and overestimated Jon's control in that relationship. Ooops.
Bottom Line, Part II. I sense that Josh's alliance will flounder when decapitated just as Jeremy's alliance would fall apart without him. But three straight votes hinging on Jon & Jaclyn is a bit intolerable and is part of why this Blood & Water season has been a disappointment. It never would happen, but I wish there were some strategic world in which Jeremy and Josh could have parlayed on neutral ground, agreed to put aside their alliances for a week and unified to split Jon & Jaclyn up. Flip a coin on which one goes. Doesn't matter. I know there's the “Jeremy is a firefighter and couldn't lose in the Final 3,” but how badly would Jon or Jaclyn have to blow things to not be able to stand up at Final Tribal — Should either or both of them make the Final 3, of course — and say, “Yo. Jeremy's played great and he's a fireman, but at the central pivot of this game NOBODY was making decisions on eliminations other than us.” For duller or for worse, this is their “Survivor.”
Bottom Line, Part III. Did Jon & Jaclyn make the right decision? Yeah. They did. Like Probst says, they chose between an alliance of five and an alliance of four. If they'd sided with Josh, mathematically they wouldn't have been necessary next week. Josh would have had his five-against-three and, at best, Jon & Jaclyn could have forced a tie next week, but why bother? Now, it's 4-4 and next week's vote will, again, be Jon & Jaclyn's to control unless something big happens. And without something big, the following week will be 4-3 in one direction or the other and, should they want to, Jon & Jaclyn could flip the numbers and control things again. If nobody has the guts to shake things up and either shuffle the alliances or turn on Jon & Jaclyn outright, which nobody seems to believe they can do, there's no reason Jon & Jaclyn shouldn't cruise for a long while.
Bottom Line, Part IV. Last week's episode was so horrible that this week's episode looks like a masterpiece in comparison. It wasn't. As I just finished saying, this was yet another episode in the episode built to the exact same question: Which way will Jon & Jaclyn go? At least Jaclyn got to show some individual moxie, making her a lot more likable. But there was still too much time in the episode on Wes being one kind of pig and Alec being another. Josh's look of desperation for most of the episode said it all.
Are you glad with how this episode turned out?