Pre-credit sequence. I already miss Jenn. Sigh. No matter what Mike tried to say at Tribal, Dan doesn't believe he's at the bottom of his alliance, insisting once again that beneath his seemingly passive game lurk schemes. Still waters, as we say, run Dan. Taking a break from brow-beating her about her stupidity, Dan is feigning sympathy toward Shirin, who feels like she was verbally assaulted by Will in the previous episode. She says she isn't a crier, but she has a Pavlov's Dog response to men attacking her, a thought that makes Shirin cry again. “All this drama makes Will an excellent person to take to the end,” Shirin also laments to us. Putting on the hangdog of hangdoggiest expressions, Dan tells Shirin that he's sorry about what went down at Tribal. Do we believe a word out of Dan's mouth? Well, let's see what he tells the camera. “Shirin is a drama queen. She is a two-faced liar. She loves to play the victim,” he says, basically telling us that while he's sorry for her in some tiny way, it was karma. That is to say, “She deserved it.” Bleep you, Dan. Bleep you!
Less fun than a barrel of monkeys. Reward time. They're going to be divided into teams of four. They have to use barrels, planks and a piece of rope, they have to transport the players across three segments and something-or-other. Wanna know what they're playing for? An afternoon of sailing and hamburgers, cheese and bacon. Somewhere, Jenn is breathing a sigh of relief. After a schoolyard pick: It's Mike, Shirin, Sierra and Rodney against Tyler, Dan, Carolyn and Will. It's an interesting challenge, one that's both conceptual and physical. I can't describe the different systems, but… Trust me. It's not bad. There's an exchange that goes “Love you, Dan” “I love cheeseburgers,” but otherwise, I just couldn't do this justice, other than that Mike's team makes a blunder and falls behind, which is followed by a hilarious, desperate attempt at a synchronized four-way barrel roll. It's too late. Team Dan wins Rewards. Dan expresses pity for Rewardless Rodney and Jeff Probst offers him the chance to give his Reward to Rodney. He does not.
Do you believe in Rodney Magic? Yikes! Tarantula! With everybody else way eating hamburgers, it's time to eat the last chicken. I really don't get the chicken-eating rules. Mike is feeling like nobody else helped during the Reward, but it doesn't much matter if they hate him. Rodney is [bleeping] pissed. He's hungry. His nails are nasty. He has an itchy beard. “Everybody's had a break, but I've just been locked in my cell 24-7,” he says. Suddenly interested in strategy, Sierra announces that Tyler would beat all of them at Final Tribal, an announcement that goes against everything we've seen on TV. Rodney tries to make it clear that he's ready to take Tyler out at Top 6, but Sierra wants to use Shirin to get Tyler out now. Sierra, in fact, wants to take Shirin a long way, because nobody will vote for her. Sierra doesn't, apparently, have a clue who's on the Jury or who's likely to be on the Jury. Because if you ask me? Shirin's got all 3 current Jury votes guaranteed. Rodney doesn't care, because he's running the game and he just has to remain “cool, calm and collective.” He promises us that Top 6 is when “Rodney works his magic.”
Iiiiiiit's Bacon! “There's no Mike in team,” Dan gloats on the catamaran with his winning quartet. This is a perfect grouping for Dan, or so Dan figures. The bacon cheeseburgers really do look very good, as do the milkshakes. Dan remains blissfully clueless that Mike was absolutely correct that he flipped only when he started being targeted by the other alliance. Actually, that's just one of many things Dan is blissfully clueless about. Tyler, however, wants to keep Dan focused on his confusion. “All he can see is Top 6 and that's a perfect place for his mind to stop,” Tyler says, in his smarted talking head of the entire season.
Take a load off, Rodney. Immunity is back up for grabs. They're holding onto rope handles attached to 25 percent of their body weight. The weight is attached to a bucket and when they let go, they get splashed. Because this really isn't a wholly fair challenge, the “Survivor” Gods have come up with a second Individual Immunity, one for each gender. Probst notes that they're holding 25 percent of their Day 1 body weight, which is tough for the people who have lost the most weight. Out first? Sierra. That means Carolyn and Shirin are on their own for the ladies. Tyler and Will go out. Dan splashes out. And Shirin goes out, giving Carolyn Immunity. So it's Rodney against Mike, with Dan trying to keep Rodney's head in the game. Rodney's body language stinks, but Mike is sweating up a storm and taking to himself. Rodney can't do it. And Mike wins Immunity again. Sigh. I hate everybody else so much that I'm rooting for Mike as well. Shirin wishes she could have won along with Mike, but now she's prepared to scramble.
Ty Spy. Rodney thinks he came close to winning. He did not. But it's cute he thinks he did. Carolyn thinks this will be an easy vote against Shirin, figuring it'll be an easy vote all against Shirin. “I think you're all incredibly stupid to vote me out,” Shirin tells Dan, trying to put a target on Tyler. “If you had any power in this game… If you were truly strategic,” she teases Dan. Shirin goes to Sierra next and makes the same argument and the same promise and the same target on Tyler. “I'm not dumb. I'm not blind,” Sierra says, immediately after saying that Shirin won't get votes at Final Tribal, an assessment that proves she's dumb and blind. Tyler is neither dumb nor blind and he remembers that Dan won an advantage at the Auction and since it didn't come into play immediately, Tyler wants to know what that advantage is. Tyler grabs Dan's bag, empties it and discovers that Dan has “a vote multiplier.” Tyler knows that if Dan and Sierra split, they could target the main alliance. Mike's safe, but he's still trying to change his position, making the anti-Tyler argument to Dan. Mike simultaneously misses the trust that he once had from Dan, but he also sees what Dan truly is now. And Mike has that extra Idol. Don't forget. He could give it to Shirin and see what happens.
Tribal Council. Probst begins by forcing Shirin to relive her misery from the last Tribal Council. “Trust is very hard to come by in my life,” Shirin says. “I don't want to take anything away from Shirin, but I'm an adopted child,” Dan says, spewing male bovine excrement everywhere. “So you had domestic violence in your upbringing,” Probst says, shooting him down. Shirin returns, again, to accusations of verbal assault against Will, who hasn't said a word this episode. “Notice that none of them are saying that what he did was wrong,” Shirin says. “Why not apologize?” Probst asks, incredulous. “If I'm going to apologize, I want it to be sincere,” Will says. Shirin announces that she's going home and that it'll be the dumbest thing. Shirin makes a very good point that taking Tyler out is the smart movie. Good play, Shirin. “At the end of the day, my alliance knows that I stand with them,” Tyler says. Sierra agrees, but says she's only one vote. “Timing and moves in this game are critical,” Carolyn warns. Mike swears he's been Blue Strong and he asks the other Blues to write Tyler's name. “And they're listening to you because your loyalty has been spot-on in the past week?” Tyler responds. Tyler says that the smart play is putting blinders on to the Top 6. Probst wants a big move and tries poking. Dan continues his wrong-minded ranting about Mike's flipping. Shirin rolls her eyes. Probst is so desperate to make something happen that he asks the desperate people to make statements and… Mike pulls out his extra Hidden Immunity Idol. “We're gonna see where this six is divided,” Mike says. He announces that Shirin is voting for Tyler and he's voting for somebody else and we'll see what happens. “This really is 'Survivor' Russian Roulette,” Probst says.
The vote. Shirin skips happily to the voting area and votes for Tyler. “Oh boy, I hope this works,” Tyler says. Mike stands up and… DOESN'T play the Idol for Shirin. Probst tallies: Tyler. Shirin. Dan. Tyler. Shirin. Dan. Shirin. SHIRIN. Ick. The Smug Moron Alliance claps smugly. “I'm so excited for this. In my own way,” Shirin says awaiting her snuffing. “I don't know if I've ever been this confused after a vote,” Probst says. Well… It'll be fun to see how those votes played out, eh? Shirin says she has no hard feelings towards Mike. She's looking forward to seeing Dan's hurt feelings.
The specific votes: Mike: Tyler, Shirin: Tyler, Tyler: Dan, Will: Dan, Sierra: Shirin, Carolyn: Shirin, Rodney: Shirin, Dan: Shirin.
Bottom Line, Part I. Because I'm enthusiastically rooting for nobody this season, every week I have to modify my appreciation for people based on the relative amounts that I hate everybody else. And every week, the person I modified myself to root for is sent home. So Mike, that means you're out next. And then because Tyler's the person I'll have to pretend to root for after Mike goes out, Tyler will have to go out. And then I'll just stop caring. This is not the way that I like watching “Survivor,” folks. I like to cheer for smart people or talented people or likable people or hot-and-innocuous people. I don't like rooting based only on wanting to see awful people lose. I really can't wait for this season to end.
Bottom Line, Part II. Poor Shirin. She was picked on almost from the beginning. She had a friend for a while in Max, a friend who happened to make her more annoying and a bigger target, which isn't the best kind of friend to have in “Survivor.” And then with Max out, she was at least able to have a strangely unfolding minority-number alliance and I think a lot of people grew to appreciate her. She was picked on an insulted by awful bullies and I'll root against Will and Dan and Rodney through to the end. [Rodney didn't bully Shirin as much. I don't care. Bully's a bully.] BUT!!!! Just because everybody was doing it for the wrong reason, in a season of polarizing and awful people… Shirin very possibly wins, doesn't she? Like if you take her to the end as a goat — an assumption that Mike goes out earlier — who beats her? She's a lock to get Hali, Joe, Jenn and Mike's votes. All that means is she has to find one person who respects her unkillable cockroach story and votes for her and given the number of potentially awful people she could have gone to the end with and what would have had to happen for her to go to the end with those people? She doesn't beat Tyler. But if Tyler goes out, who's to say he doesn't vote for her out of White Collar pride? Who's to say a Dan or a Rodney wouldn't be so bitter at whoever blindsided them that they wouldn't go to her? There's a trio of votes that were going to Shirin that are now free and Shirin is probably going with those votes. And for now, Mike has them. And if Mike doesn't have them, Tyler has them, plus Mike. But that's a viable reason why voting Shirin out was accidentally smart. Kinda. I guess.
Bottom Line, Part III. This was Tyler's most proactive episode yet, which moved him up to second in my People I Hate Least rankings. I also hadn't realized before Jenn mentioned it in her exit interview that he was a former punter and placekicker for Cal and that he did NFL preseason camp time. His being a former talent agent's assistant never struck me as truly White Collar, but learning that he was a PUNTER? Perhaps he was categorized correctly after all. He's obviously not stupid. And I think there have been aspects to his game that mostly haven't been featured this season because he hasn't been a horrible person. I can easily imagine myself hating him less eventually.
Bottom Line, Part IV. Mike playing his Immunity Idol for Shirin would have been only a Pyrrhic victory. Once he actually voted for Tyler, we would have been left with a 2-2 split and it would have been one interesting division in the alliance, but it wouldn't have lasted long and he still would have gone out the first time he didn't win Immunity. Even his bluff was a Pyrrhic victory, since now he can't use the Immunity Idol to swing a surprise. He will, however, be able to use it to force a splint the next time he doesn't win an Immunity and he doesn't even need to work for it, because with the Idol already out, the split will happen and he can just kick back.
Bottom Line, Part V. So: Do you hate Dan or Will more this week? Jeff Probst practically tried to shame Will into apologizing this week and he refused and I assume Will won't feel bad about what he says until he watches the tape and realizes Shirin barely said anything about him at all. Dan, on the other hand, DID apologize, but that's because the big ol' slimeball is convinced that women love empty apologies and then he insulted Shirin nearly as bad behind her bad. Dan's strategic obliviousness to everything in the game is interesting, because it makes him an awful “Survivor” player, but it may temper how hatable he is. Do Will was awful last week for being wrong about one thing, but Dan is awful and wrong about many things. Anyway, nobody wins here.
Bottom Line, Part VI. Overall, qualitatively, yup… That was another episode of “Survivor.” Also, it's a cheat whenever Jeff Probst gives the episode title quote.