Pre-credit sequence. Oddly, rather than returning to camp post-vote with White Collar, we kick things off on the Blue Collar beach where the crabs are plentiful. Everybody is enjoying their food. Everybody, that is, other than Dan. Dan returns from the sea after a bit of drama that caused him to lose his underwear. He's made a diaper out of a shirt, with a belt around his waist. And with Dan wearing his shirt as underwear, that means Dan doesn't have a shirt. The ladies suggest he might want to cut up his jeans, but Dan doesn't want to “raw dog” in jeans, which makes sense because you sure don't want to be the first player in “Survivor” history to be medically evacuated with chafed genitals. Lindsey babbles about how this was Dan's strategy because he had nothing else going for him. She just wants to get to Tribal Council to give him the boot in his shirted rump.
More like Max Pixelation, AMIRITE?!? Now we make it over to the So-free White Collar tribe. Monkey! With the help of flint, White Collar is finally getting fire on Day 4. “The fact that we don't work with our hands sets us apart from Bull Collar,” Max says, suggesting that Blue Collar has probably been hooting and hollering and raising havoc. Have they also been jumpin' cricks in the General Lee, Max? But what White Collar has going for them is a beautiful beach. I expect such whimsy from Vince, Max. This is a good time, Max has decided, to tip his hat to “Survivor” greats by going for a naked swim out in the water, like a svelter, beardier Richard Hatch. “I don't know how much of it is a show,” Tyler says, knowing that Max knows the game well and may be hoping to distract people with his blurred groin. Max is using his nakedness to get some privacy to strategize. “It's actually super convenient to be naked a lot of the time,” Shirin says, following in Max's footsteps. Yup. Bottomless dish-washing is now a “Survivor” thing. This whole thing just flummoxes Tyler and isn't entertaining Joaquin either.
Nudity is contagious. Everybody at No Collar is fully dressed. Monkey! Hali and Nina are wandering through the woods. Hali's trying to get to know Nina, which is hard because of her deafness. A montage of misunderstandings ensues. Jenn is incredulous, which upsets Vince, who thinks that a No Collar person is a whole-hearted person. And now? Nakedness ensues here as well. Hot Girls Hali and Jenn go out blurring and Nina is in tears at being excluded from the nakedness. She doesn't feel like she belongs, but she doesn't hide her frustration. Hali and Jenn aren't proud of making a grown woman cry, but they aren't ashamed either. “I guess she's used to people coddling her more,” Jenn grumbles. Will tries to help Nina, though he has no sandwiches to offer.
Just'a good ol' boys, Never meanin' no harm. Monkeys and nakedness everywhere tonight. This is my favorite episode ever. At Blue Collar, Mikey wants to do something productive, but Rodney would rather improve morale with a makeshift basketball game. At some point, the producers even decide this is a great chance for Basketball-Basket-Cam. Woo! Everybody's happy other than Mike. He's questioning the blueness of the collars of those around him. Mike tries ordering people around to get firewood, which is gradually shifting the target away from Dan and his groin-irritating jeans.
Rio Bravado. Wow. No Collar has an almost endless supply of crabs, courtesy of Joe. Monkey! A jealous Vince doesn't like all of the crabs being credited to Joe. Bitter about Joe's “Young Man Bravado,” the Ancient Mariner Vince, at the advanced age of 32, says that his hormones have calmed down. Vince calls a meeting to demand “acknowledgement and verification” that people are listening to him. Joe protests that he's more efficient than Vince. Eventually, Joe plays nice. “I think he's got a lot of issues that he needs to deal with himself,” Joe says, calling Vince “a loose cannon.” Vince doesn't believe he can have a loving embrace with Joe, much less bliss. Due to Vince and Nina's insecurities, now Hali, Jenn and Joe are on the outs. Jenn predicts that Vince's paranoia is doing to lead to him doing something nuts, though Joe credits Vince with intelligence.
Triumph of the Fat Man. Immunity time. This feels a little early in the episode. Either this will be long Immunity, or craziness may ensue. Blue and No Collar check out White Collar without So. The task involves a lot of swimming and buoy collection, followed by tossing those five buoys into a tube. They're also playing for Reward. Wanna know what they're playing for? Fishing gear, a big kit for the winner and line, lures and a spear for second place. Blue Collar sits out Kelly because Dan insists he's going to surprise Jeff. No Collar sits Nina. To his absolute credit, Dan beats both Vince and Tyler in the first heat. “Nice job from Dan,” Jeff Probst says admiringly. The lead doesn't last long, because Hali pushes No Collar into first. Again, White Collar is lagging. Between Hali and Jenn, No Collar is producing a lot of pixelation on this challenge. With Will sucking, No Collar suddenly falls behind, which is bad but at least it gives Hali a chance to fiddle with her bikini. Why are we calling these buoys and denying Jeff Probst the opportunity to say “balls” over and over again? White Collar is first to start shooting buoys and Joaquin builds a lead and leads White Collar to Immunity. Sierra is very impressive and leads Blue Collar to second. No Collar is going to Tribal. “I know it wasn't in your plans,” Probst says to No Collar. Vince predicts that the Cold War with Joe is about to heat up.
No Collar debates asset management. “We didn't get any balls in,” Vince says, back at No Collar camp. Tee-hee. What would Jeff Probst say? Hali calls it a complete group failure, but admits that being No Collar, making decisions isn't one of their strengths. Will is lagging. He hasn't been sleeping and he's still weary from the challenge. Vince sees this as their only chance to take Joe out, but also doesn't want to weaken their tribe. Nina doesn't care about tribal strength and she wants Joe out. Jenn is the first one to suggest voting Vince out, calling him the snake, or the snake's head. Joe, though, prioritizes strength and wants Nina out. Concerned that there's an Idol out there that Nina might find, Joe suggests a vote swap, relying on Will and trust. And trusting Will isn't a good idea, because he runs off to tell Vince. This is hard for Vince, because he desperately wants Joe out, but he sees Joe's physical assets. Jenn is becoming the target, because she's mean to Nina and wants Vince out. “It will be my revenge,” Nina cackles, but she's also worried about Will's health and she tells him that Vince is worried. Now Will is worried. Jenn says she's terrified, but excited. And Will predicts a doozy, though it sure looks like Jenn is doomed unless the editors are messing with us.
Tribal Council. Jeff Probst wants to talk about group dynamics. Nina says that Joe, Jenn and Hali are a unit and they don't include her, which Probst has the temerity to say might be a part of the game. Nina admits to her “emotional breakdown.” Jenn says she has compassion, but this is a game. “I like cohesion. That's the truest nature of myself,” Vince says, calling himself the glue. Jeff Probst explains the numbers to everybody and Joe says that the person who needs to go home is going home. Jenn says that they need to keep the tribe strong and Probst turns to Will. “Water's always been the black man's kryptonite,” Will says. Ummm… Blech. It was being out of shape that was Will's kryptonite, not his race. Vince tells Jeff that he's been trying to go with his gut rather than his brain. Jenn says she could be on the chopping block. “I still feel like I'm watching you on television right now,” Jenn tells Probst. Everything still feels like it's pointing to her.
The Vote. Nina writes Jenn. Hali votes for “Vincelot.” Joe votes for Nina. Probst tallies: Jenn. Vince. Nina. Jenn. Vince. VINCE. Oh, you tricky editors. “Good play,” he tells the tribe. “First vote, first blindside. Not bad,” Probst says. “They're players. They made a good move,” Vince says, rambling about his enjoyment of experiences.
Bottom Line, Part I. Sometimes the editors orchestrate a blindside and you feel frustrated because it came out of nowhere and it felt like a blindside just for the sake of catching the audience off-guard. Yes, this blindside was built into the editing, but at least we saw the different component pieces that could lead to Will making the choice he made. But how does this play back at camp? From what we saw, Will's vote was supposed to go against Nina, for the completely pointless split, followed by votes against Nina after the tie in order to remove the weakest link from the tribe. Nobody in that alliance wanted Vince around, but they were right to figure that Vince, at least on the surface, is more valuable to the tribe than Nina. So was that a total wild card vote by Will? Or did he tell The Divergent Duo & Hali that he wanted to take Vince out and they decided it didn't matter enough to fight him? If it's the former, do the pretty kids just go, “Meh, no biggie and if we lose again we take Nina out easy?” Or do they feel betrayed? And if we accept the editing as it stood, that means Nina blew that one on a potentially game-shifting level. I've been saying that The Divergent Duo of Jenn and Joe have a big advantage if we hit a Shuffle or Merge and if Nina shifted a vote that was supposed to go against one of them by misreading Will's insecurity, that goes down as an all-time blunder, not a Mt. Rushmore blunder, but still a blunder of astounding proportions. Will's ego aside, Nina was still such an easy vote that that may come back to haunt No Collar. There are both physical and communication-driven challenges in which Nina's going to really hurt and she's not helping around the camp in any noticeable way. She's inept and Vince was crazy, but ept.
Bottom Line, Part II. Why do people overthink votes and do pointless splits anyway? Will and Jenn know that they didn't take the Immunity Idol clue and nothing we saw tonight indicated any gumption or self-preservation instinct sending Nina out into the forest to find an Idol. Sometimes you don't have to be paranoid about an Idol and you can just put your votes where you want them without trying unsuccessfully to outsmart the room. How frequently does vote-splitting even serve the purpose it was intended to serve? And how frequently, in contrast, does vote splitting allow somebody added flexibility to flip and screw up the split? I have to believe it's more the latter than the former.
Bottom Line, Part III. I'm not going to miss Vince, but at least his presence helped validate part of the season's arbitrary division. Losing the No Collariest of No Collars makes No Collar much less No Collary because Joe and Jenn are Collar Divergent, Hali has no personality but pretty eyes, Will did a YouTube video but otherwise doesn't seem all that free spirited and Nina's whiney and little else. Vince was the poster boy. And now he's gone.
Bottom Line, Part IV. When you have a three-tribe split, you're going to end up with an imbalance sometimes. In this episode, unless I'm forgetting, White Collar got ONE programming segment, dedicated to Max and Shirin's nakedness and Joaquin and Tyler's discomfort. Carolyn, a target and an Idol finder last week, might as well not have been in this episode. We got two Blue Collar segments, one dedicated to Dan's lack of underwear and the other dedicated to Mike's impatience and basketball.
Bottom Line, Part V. So who excelled in this episode? Dan proved himself with the swimming. Sierra did very well with shooting the buoys. Shirin and Max did very good with making people uncomfortable. And the editors liked cutting to Jenn and Hali adjusting themselves. Who looked bad? Will looked bad physically and we can decide if he looked bad strategically as well. Nina looked weak all-around, but Jenn definitely didn't come across well in not caring enough about Nina's breakdown. Joe sure stunk at buoy-tossing, but that probably doesn't impact much.
Anyway… Decent episode. Your thoughts?