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Survivor Brains v. Brawn v. Beauty Round 2

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Hey, remember this show? Mea culpa, sorry. Anyway here is part 1 of my Survivor update. We begin the episode with Scot unhappy with both Aubry and Joe for not going along with him. Actually, let me correct that because Aubry did in fact vote the way Scot wanted but only after crossing out an earlier vote for Julia. Not good enough for Scot though, who really needs a lesson on how to be a gracious winner. Meanwhile, at the other camp, Cydney sees a bulge in Neal’s shorts (not that kind of bulge!) and tells Kyle that she thinks Neal has an idol. It’s good timing, because … MERGE! They have 5 minutes to gather what they need and then they’re off to the other camp.

We’re now all one tribe and everyone is feasting and celebrating … but immediately there’s negotiating going on. It’s immediately clear that it’s Brains vs Brawn with Beauty in the middle. Nick is initially thinking of allying with Brains. Scot and Kyle are talking to Nick and it seems like they’re immediately thinking he’s on their side. Scot tells Nick about Tai’s idol (but keeps Kyle’s idol under wraps). This is the dumbest idol reveal … this episode, anyway. Then, we get Debbie with a super-aggressive approach to both Tai and Nick. “We want to ally with you. Done deal!” Um, no. Debbie manages to turn off both Tai and Nick which is very bad news for the rest of the Brains. On the other hand, Michele doesn’t like Brawn very much, so things still seem pretty open.

On to the first individual immunity challenge where we begin with the tribe running down their various infected wounds. Yuck. There’s a lot of them, and I’ll leave it at that for now. The challenge involves balancing on a log while holding a disc where you’re balancing a ball (or multiple balls) on the disc. They add a second and third ball and it comes down to Nick and Tai with Nick winning immunity. For whatever that’s worth.

Back at camp, there’s a lot of scrambling that ends up becoming irrelevant. The key items of interest are that Neal reveals to Aubry that he has an idol, and Nick/Michele decide that the Beauty will ally with Brawn. But now we get Jeff coming in to camp with medical, and immediately it’s clear that someone is going home. They’re going to look at the various infected wounds and I’m pretty sure this whole thing has been engineered for show, based on how the order in which they’re looked at goes from ok to bad to worse to out. Anyway, first up is Tai who has been scraped up along his thighs, but is healing nicely. I’m mostly just hearing this portion because I don’t care to look at people’s scrapes and oozing injuries. Anyway, Tai is fine. Scot is next and he has an infection, but it’s not too bad. No further action at this point for him. Next is Aubry who the doctor is concerned with, but he ultimately prescribes antibiotics for her and she’s still in the game. Finally, we’re left with Neal who has two separate bad infections. The first is on his back and although it’s apparently bad, there isn’t anything significant nearby that the infection can spread to. Geez, this is gross. Worse, though, is the infection in his knee and the concern is that the infection could irrevocably damage the joint and that’s not something the doctor is willing to risk. Neal is out of the game. Neal says goodbye to the tribe, and leaves with his idol in his pocket. Next week (or later today or tomorrow, really), the remains of the Brains tribe is on the outs, but there’s also friction between Cydney and Kyle. Stay tuned!

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Here’s part 2 of my Survivor update. With Neal’s departure, it has become clear that the Brawn and Beauty have teamed together and the Brains are on the outs. Kyle and Scot talk about how the idea is to get rid of the three brains, and then the seven left will fight it out from there. I’m dubious as a top seven alliance is pretty notoriously fragile. Kyle talks about his kids, and his struggles with one of them having autism. It’s a nice moment.

On to the reward challenge where they’re divided into two teams and in the ocean, they have to move one person between two platforms using two poles with a small disk on the end for the person to balance on. Then the whole team has to stand on a small platform. The teams are picked by Julia and Aubry respectively, and Julia’s team wins mainly because of Julia’s ability to balance on the little poles. It’s a complete blowout, and Aubry is tearful over the loss and the difficulties faced by the brains. The winning group gets ice cream.

Now here’s where things start to go off the rails for the Brawn/Beauty alliance. Nick, Scot and Kyle discuss amongst themselves about a possible female alliance, of which there’s been no real discussion previously. As soon as their conversation is done, Nick goes off to discuss with Julia (who indicates there’s no female alliance) and this is all seen by Cydney who takes this as a slight on her. I’m not exactly sure how, but she confronts Kyle and there’s an argument over the whole thing. And now Cydney is contemplating the very thing that the guys were worried about.

On to the immunity challenge which involves an awkward balancing deal while hanging on to a bar above their heads. During the challenge, Jeff offers food if they want to step down and Kyle, Scot, Joe and Michele all bail out, while Julia drops out before he can even get to the offer unfortunately for her. During the challenge, Nick and Tai both make comments about how the Brains are being voted out next. Stupid. It comes down to Tai and Cydney ultimately going over 40 minutes and Tai wins.

Back at camp, the idea is to split votes between Aubry and Debbie. Nick tells Aubry the plan, and that she should vote for Debbie in order to stick around. He’s pretty egotistical about it, and Cydney is annoyed with him and wants him out. Cydney approaches Debbie and Aubry to target Nick, and then she approaches Julia and Michele too. That’s very risky, it seems to me but it doesn’t look like anyone turns on Cydney. And lo, we have the female alliance that the guys were afraid of.

On to tribal council, where Neal is well enough to attend as the first juror. During tribal, out of nowhere, Tai reveals that if you combine two idols, it becomes a super idol that can be played after a vote. Why does he reveal this? I don’t know. From their looks, Kyle and Scot don’t know and are very unhappy. And from their other looks, Julia and Michele didn’t know and are very surprised. Seriously, what is wrong with Tai? He realizes from the reactions that he’s revealed something he shouldn’t have and tries to backpedal, but his excuses make no sense. So, unless you’re an idiot, everyone now knows he has an idol. The rest of tribal is the usual reveals of alliances and shaky ground on which it stands. We vote, and it’s a blow out with 5 votes for Nick, 2 for Aubry, 1 for Debbie and 1 for Kyle. In the preview, we see Scot and Kyle beginning psychological warfare against the women by taking key items from camp. We also see the women start to turn on each other, especially Julia.

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Well. This episode was chock full of game play … but mostly of the variety that doesn’t seem likely to lead to winning the game. Seriously, it was a race to see whose terrible plan would be the worst. We begin with Scot and Kyle very upset that their alliance has fallen apart. Their response? Psychological warfare. Or more accurately, acting like a sucky baby. Early the next morning, they steal the camp’s machete and axe, march out into the brush and leave them there. I’m not entirely sure they could find them again, either. Very quickly, the rest of the camp figures out there is sabotage afoot. Cydney and Michele find another way involving a saw and fire to get into a coconut, and they’re mildly rubbing in that they can get along without the stolen items. This infuriates Scot who takes their water and dumps it on their fire, a double hit to the tribe’s well-being. Putting aside the moral aspect (which is pretty scummy behavior), how does this make any sense as a strategy? Even if they somehow turn things around and end up in the final, you need the jury’s votes to win and you are severely antagonizing those people who’s votes you need. Tai isn’t thrilled with the tactics of his allies … but he’s ultimately on board as he also puts the fire out while everybody else is asleep.

On to the reward challenge where the tribes will divide into two teams of four (with one left out picking a side to back). Jeff, having been made aware of the tension at camp says they can just pick their teams and Julia decides to go with the guys. This automatically raises the alarm with both Cydney and Aubry. Joe unsurprisingly sits out and backs the women. The teams have to unbraid a rope that they’re all clipped into, and then toss bags to knock blocks off a table. The guys (and Julia who is having to be massively blurred) get out to an early lead, and are first to the block-knocking portion. Debbie does a really good job keeping her team in it, but ultimately the guys win. The reward is a meal of Chinese food at camp, but for the guys it’s an opportunity to talk to Julia. At lunch (and for the rest of the episode), Julia reveals all the women’s plans and says she’ll side with the guys, while telling the women she’s still with them. This wins her no support with Cydney or Aubry, who discuss getting rid of Julia instead. Debbie is 100% opposed to this and does not believe Julia would flip.

The immunity challenge is stacking blocks like dominos on a teetering line that is connected to a bunch of squares that the survivors have to step around. If they connect, their blocks fall and they have to start over. It’s fun to watch as many, many people screw up and have to restart. Scot, Kyle, Tai, Debbie, Michele all trip up. Michele, Debbie, Julia and Kyle all have shots to win it but ultimately it’s Julia that comes out on top and wins immunity. Lucky for her, really, as this puts the kibosh on Aubry and Cydney’s plan.

After the challenge, Debbie talks to all the women and says the plan is to split the votes 3-3 between Tai and Scot, and that she’s sure they don’t have an idol. WHAT?!? That is just complete wishful thinking, and ridiculous in light of Tai’s talk of a super idol at the last tribal. How does she think that knowledge came up? Tai just made it up? Julia immediately tells the guys the plan, and says she’ll vote with them against Cydney. Scot says that if Julia goes their way, they win but if not, they have the super idol. More on this idiocy in a moment. Aubry is deeply unhappy with Debbie’s trust in Julia, to the point where she proposes taking her out with Cydney. This is crazy, because although Debbie is acting dumb, she’s still THEIR ALLY. Joe, not surprisingly, refuses to go along with this plan, so who do they turn to? Julia! So, follow me here. They’re going to vote out Debbie because she trusts Julia too much, and they’re going to turn to Julia to accomplish their plan. Um, ok. Julia says she’s on board with getting rid of Debbie.

At tribal, we first get Debbie defending Julia for siding with the guys at the reward challenge, and then things get nuts. The idols come up again, and the guys decide to start showboating. Tai pulls out his idol, and then “the idol has a brother!” and Kyle pulls out his idol. They say Tai is going to play his while Scot and Kyle will play rock, paper, scissors for the other. There’s all kinds of craziness now with private conversations going on everywhere. Aubry keeps saying ‘original plan’ a bunch, but I’m not sure which plan is the original one, and I’m not sure the rest of them do either. Everybody votes. Scot and Kyle play their little game which Scot wins, who then hands the idol to Tai and he sits back down. So, all of this has been a cheesy charade because they’re keeping the super idol in reserve. But the super idol only lets you save one person after the votes are read. So, if the votes are 3-3-3 as was originally planned, they’re only going to be able to save one of the two guys, leaving a 3-3 tie which the remaining guy would lose badly on a re-vote. If that plan had gone ahead, they’d have been better off playing the idols separately and hoping they guess right on which two guys get votes. But none of that matters, because the women have gone ahead with their idiotic ‘target Debbie’ plan instead. Debbie is out. So, the guys are saved from uselessly playing their super idol and now they actually are in control because the other side doesn’t have the votes to properly split against them, since it’s only 5-3 at best.

In next week’s preview, the guys relish their super idol power, while Aubry tries to convince Tai to jump ship with the super idol because Scot and Kyle are “despicable”. That would be an insane decision for Tai but he’s been pretty gullible and I think he does care how he’s perceived so maybe he’ll flip. 8 players left, see you next week!

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Well, this episode turned things on their heads pretty well. The episode begins with Tai hoping to bring the tribe together in harmony. I’m not sure what show Tai thinks he’s part of, but that ship has pretty much sailed. Scot, though, makes an effort to repair relationships, but not exactly in a positive way. He takes Aubry aside and tells her that if she goes along with them to vote out Cydney, then everything will go back to normal. Ah, blackmail. That’ll fix everything! Unsurprisingly, Aubry is not eager to go along.

On to the reward challenge where they have to balance a plank with one foot, and hold up pots on the other end of the plank. Pots fall, you’re out. The interesting piece though, is that they could choose to play for one of three different rewards, and you would only compete against those who chose the same reward as you. That’s a nifty change, and I hope they do that again. The choices were food (self-explanatory), love (i.e. letters from home), and the mystery advantage. Joe and Julia pick love, which guaranteed Julia the win within seconds. Has Joe lasted a minute in any challenge this season? Scot, Jason and Michele are competing for food. As an aside, I’m finally caving and changing Kyle’s name to Jason. Although it’s his last name, it’s the only name by which he’s referred and it’s how I’ve come to think of him too. So, it’s Jason now. Anyway, Scot and Jason fall out of it and Michele wins the food. Finally, it’s Aubry, Tai and Cydney competing for the advantage. Aubry goes a long way, but Tai wins again. The advantage is a second vote at a tribal council for Tai. It’s good, but it has never really been used successfully in the past.

Back at camp, Julia reads her letters and cries, then talks about flushing out Tai’s idol. So, either Tai would be gone, or he plays his idol and Cydney would go, both of which is fine with Julia. Aubry instead wants to work with Tai. She has a discussion with Tai about working together. Tai takes the proposal to Scot and Jason, and it’s pretty obvious Tai wants to do this … but Scot flips it and says they should instead target Aubry. Oof, talk about failing to read the room. Tai goes super quiet while Scot and Jason flesh out their new plan. Tai doesn’t feel like he’s a real part of the group.

On to the immunity where they have to stretch their arms to brace two disks (one on each hand). If a disk falls, they’re out. Guess who’s out first? Yes, it’s Joe. This time, it comes down to Jason and Aubry (who has had a decent run in the challenges lately) with Jason winning. So, Scot and Jason are 100% convinced their plan can’t be stopped. They tell Julia their long-term plan is to get rid of Tai and Julie can be their third player. Julia and Michele think the plan is to vote for Tai, but Aubry, Cydney and Joe are intending to vote for Scot. Aubry is wooing Tai again, saying that his allies are despicable people, which isn’t completely wrong. Right before tribal, Jason gives Scott his idol and boy will he be regretting that move shortly.

At tribal, Jason and Scot are super arrogant and cocky. They are convinced their plan is unstoppable, and are failing to notice that Tai is being much, much quieter than the last tribal. We vote, and Julia is motioning to Tai to play his idol, while Scot is shaking his head. The votes come in and it’s 2 votes apiece for Aubry and Tai, and then four for Scot. Scot apparently hasn’t figured out that one of his votes was from Tai, and he looks over to Tai for his idol so that they can combine and form the SUPERIDOL! Tai isn’t moving, though. Scot keeps looking and hoping, but … nothing. Finally, Tai says ‘Sorry, no.’ Scot is out and he’s taking Jason’s idol with him. Ouch.

On the plus side, Tai has an idol, a second vote, and new allies. On the down side, Jason and Julie are now out for his blood and Tai probably can’t count on Scot’s vote if he makes it to the final. Ultimately, though, it was probably a good move for Tai. If he had saved Scot, there would have been a re-vote between Tai and Aubry, and I’m pretty sure Tai would have lost that vote. Anyway, on to the next episode!
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Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
On with the recap! This episode begins with the tribe returning after Scot’s ouster with Jason’s idol and much of the tribe is super pleased. Except for Jason who lost his closest ally and his idol in one shot. And Julia/Michele aren’t thrilled either because they were kept out of the loop. The three of them talk about how much power Tai now has. Meanwhile, Tai, Aubry and Cydney are congratulating themselves and talking about knocking the rest of their opponents off one by one.

The next day, Tai apologizes to Jason for breaking the alliance, but that he had no choice. Jason says he didn’t like it but he understands. Tai thinks they’re good. Not so much. Jason’s furious but trying not to show it because he knows he’s now on the outs.

On to the reward challenge where pairs have to collect rings and then throw them on to a hook. Jason ends up the odd man out and doesn’t compete. It’s pretty close but the pairing of Cydney and Michele win a helicopter ride and a meal. They get to pick a third person to join them, and Aubry is their choice. At lunch, Michele talks strategy and both she and Cydney agree that Tai can’t get to the final or else he’ll win. Aubry is noticeably quieter on this point, though.

Back at camp, Jason and Julia are trying to line people up against Tai. They talk to Cydney and she sees the value in the plan but she’s not committing to anything openly yet. The immunity challenge involves swimming out to a platform and memorizing symbols and their matching numbers. Then, they swim back in and solve a combination lock puzzle by figuring out which numbers they need to use from the symbols. Julia and Michele both figure it out pretty quickly and then there’s a word puzzle which Michele gets right and wins immunity.

After the challenge, the majority group (which now includes Michele)is talking about Jason or Julia going. Ultimately they decide on Julia. Cydney tells Michele that they’ll say that they’re voting for Tai (which makes Tai very nervous). Michele doesn’t want to vote for Julia. Cydney tells Jason she’s with him, but I am very dubious.

On to tribal where there’s a lot of talk about not feeling safe. So, like every other tribal council, then. There’s more blather about how you need to play the game to win and blah, blah, blah. The most interesting part comes when they’ve voted and Probst is calling for idols. Tai leans down to Aubry and asks her if he should play it. She says that it’s up to him, but she thinks he’s safe. Wow. That’s pretty solid evidence that Aubry doesn’t plan to turn on Tai, or else it’s solid evidence that Aubry isn’t planning more than one step in advance. Tai doesn’t play the idol and Julia is out. In tonight’s preview, the alliance seems to be breaking down into pro- and anti-Tai groups. Which almost certainly means Tai will see the attempted blindside coming and turn it on them. Let’s find out!

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
We’re getting down to the wire here with I assume only two episodes left. My theory is that this will be a 2-person final tribal council, seeing as we’ll be heading into the last episode with only 4 survivors left. The episode begins with the tribe returning from tribal and Jason is scrambling. He’s trying to turn Cydney and Michele against Tai. They agree Tai is a threat, but there’s no real plan coming out of this discussion. On the other side, Tai is telling Aubry and Joe that they should be locked in to the end. He says he’ll use his extra vote at the next tribal and the immunity at the tribal after that. If Aubry were going to turn on Tai, this would be important information. But there’s little sign that’s going to happen.

The majority’s plan was originally to target Jason, but Tai thinks Michele should be next because she’s a bigger threat and a better player. Jason’s not making any progress in making any new plans. He whines to Joe that nobody is playing the game. Of course what he really means is that nobody is playing the game with him, which is not the same thing.

On to the reward challenge where two teams of 3 will swim one at a time through obstacles to a floating platform where the three of them will rock the platform to maneuver balls through a maze set up on the platform. I like the challenge … but one the teams will have the 70-year old guy, so they’re doomed. And it’s Tai, Jason and Michele winning the challenge and getting to go to an animal retreat. Jason likes it a lot, he thinks his daughter will be pretty thrilled that he got to spend time with monkeys. Meanwhile, back at camp, Joe is becoming the crotchety old guy and riding Cydney’s last nerve. Aubry tries to keep the peace. Tai still wants to get Michele out, and Michele wants Jason out so there’s no strategy discussion on the reward.

The immunity challenge is pretty cool as each survivor is holding a rope to balance a platform and they have to walk back and forth between the platform and a table holding blocks, and they have to stack the blocks one at a time on their platform. Oh, and the blocks have to spell out ‘immunity’. This was a cool challenge. As a note, on the table the blocks are laid out in the right order, so it’s pretty easy to grab the right blocks. Joe is actually out to an early lead and has 5 of his 8 blocks placed … and then he drops the platform. This puts him right out of the challenge because he repeatedly fails to grab the correct block to spell out the word. It’s a little tricky because you’re grabbing them in backwards order so that the word is spelled from top to bottom, but still. He fails repeatedly on the very first block. Anyway, there is a ton of back and forth as everybody is moving quickly and then dropping and starting over. From the very beginning, Cydney was in last place but she never drops once, and slowly but surely she ends up leading. Albeit very, very slowly. This was a real tortoise/hare moment as it comes down to Cydney vs Jason (who was way faster but dropped multiple times). They’re both on their last block, but Cydney pulls it out and wins.

Back at camp, Michele thinks it’s a done deal that Jason is out. Except as soon as she’s not around, Tai is targeting her forcefully. He’s pulling the same stunt that he hated with Scot and Jason where he’s not listening to anyone else’s argument. Tai tells Jason to vote for Michele, but Jason doesn’t trust Tai (not surprisingly). And Cydney tells Michele about Tai’s plan, and they intend to continue to vote for Jason. Cydney confronts Aubry asking her which way she’ll vote. We don’t find out. On to Tribal, which ends up being very uncomfortable for Tai. Cydney accuses Tai of being a dictator, which Tai tries to pass off as there not being enough time to discuss. Aubry says ‘no, there was plenty of time.’ Ouch. Then, Michele accuses Tai of turning on his alliance. Tai responds with the claim that Michele isn’t really in the alliance. Michele is flabbergasted, as she says that she was in the alliance before he was. Tai is unmoved (and as previously mentioned, uncomfortable). Tai is looking very bad here. We vote. Tai uses his advantage to vote twice for Michele, which is completely irrelevant as Jason gets the other four votes in the alliance and he’s out.

Going into tonight’s episode, Tai has some issues with his alliance, but he’s also definitely going to play his idol, so he’ll be safe. I suspect Michele is doomed unless the Aubry/Cydney alliance somehow disintegrates. Aubry & Cydney have to be considered the front-runners at this point, because Joe is useless and Tai has burned a lot of bridges with everyone.

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Well, there ended up not being much to this episode, so I might as well get it out of the way. The episode begins with Tai unhappy that he was left out of the loop with his alliance, and he’s mostly upset with Aubry, because he thought they were close. Aubry tries to explain that people were upset that he was dictating what he wanted to happen, but Tai genuinely doesn’t seem to understand. There’s also a point where Tai tries to explain to Michele that she’s not in the alliance, where she again points out that she was in the alliance before he was. Tai is confusing and needy. A winning combination.

On to the reward challenge which was a weird one. Survivors race into the jungle to retrieve three bags holding sandbags, which they then have to toss into 5 targets. You run, get a bag, toss the sandbags at your targets, then go and get the second bag, toss again and then get the third bag and toss those. The kicker is that once you’ve used up all your sandbags from the three bags, you can’t retrieve your missed tosses until everybody has finished all their tosses. Early leads are taken by Aubry and Cydney … but then they run out of bags. So, they have to stand there and wait while Tai and then Michele run out as well. Joe is just finishing the tosses from his second bag when everyone else is done, so everybody has to stand around while Joe slowly makes his way to retrieve his third bag, then come back. It’s funny in a kind of ridiculous way. He’s tossing his final bags and it comes down to Joe having two bags left with two targets left to hit. And he connects with both of them! Joe finally wins something, which he will later come to regret. The reward is an overnight trip to a spa, with lots of food. Joe picks Aubry and Cydney to go with him.

On the reward, Joe pigs out on Beef shish-kabobs, while Cydney prophetically interviews that this is not a good idea. Back at camp, Tai and Michele see they’re on the bottom and discuss potentially working together, but without anything particularly concrete other than maybe swaying Cydney to their side. After the reward, Aubry talks to Tai about how he’s a better person to take than Cydney to the final which pleases him. And then the episode derails as Joe has made himself unwell from a gastrointestinal perspective because of the monstrous beef intake. We get two separate doctor visits, and during the second visit, Joe is pulled from the game. I believe this is a first where winning a reward has directly led to a person’s medical evacuation. Crazy season. Joe’s exit removes Tai’s idol as a factor as it could only be played up to the final five.

Finale next week, and with only 4 survivors and a two hour episode, it pretty much has to be a 2-person final. Joe was the person least likely to win and things are very much up in the air now. I think Aubry would win a vote, but I no longer think she’ll make it to the end. Michele-Cydney seem like a tighter unit than Aubry-Tai, and Tai could easily be swayed against her. Cydney probably wins against Michele or Tai, and I have no idea who would win if it’s Michele v Tai. Should be interesting!

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Well, that’s the season. I’m not really sure the best person won, but I can see the case for the winner, so fine, then. We begin the episode with the usual recap of the season which I’m not going to cover, as usual. It’s early morning and Mark the chicken is squawking at dawn. Tai takes him down to the beach so that he doesn’t annoy the rest of the tribe. It’s pretty crazy that a chicken is going to survive the full 39 days when these people are so hungry. There’s discussion between Tai and Aubry that Michele needs to go since she hasn’t made anyone on the jury mad. Although she did turn on her ally Julia, so there’s some potential there (more on that later).

On to the first reward challenge where the reward is a good meal to fuel them for the next immunity challenge. It’s an obstacle course where they end up with a bunch of tiles where all but three are paired pictures on one side. The numbers on the three unpaired tiles make up a combination to release a flag and win the challenge. Aubry gets out to a large lead, but she screws up the pair sorting, allowing everybody else to catch up. Ultimately, she figures it out and wins the reward. Aubry is given the option to eat alone or share it with someone, and she chooses Cydney. Over the meal, they agree it’s imperative that they win immunity over Michele. Meanwhile, Michele and Tai are tentatively talking about turning on Aubry which Tai barely agrees to. It is overwhelmingly clear that this is not a deal he intends to honor.

On to immunity, where they are racing back and forth from a multi-level platform on the beach out to retrieve keys in the water and return to unlock the next level on the platform. Aubry is way out in front, followed by Cydney with Tai and Michele well back. At the top of the platform is a three-level puzzle where you have to set up six columns of the same height on each level. Aubry’s a brain and gets there first, so you’d think she’d have this in the bag. Sadly for me, she and Cydney both completely fall apart on the puzzle and can’t come even close to figuring out the first level. Both Tai and Michele catch up and it’s down to them for immunity, where Michele wins. (This right here, is the key moment I think where Aubry has lost).

Aubry and Tai talk about how they need to stick together and get rid of Cydney, while Cydney and Michele are targeting Aubry since she’s the stronger threat at the final tribal. Michele is convinced she can bring in Tai with them. Cydney asks whether she should practice fire-making just in case (YES! YES YOU SHOULD!), but Michele says no. This is a bad decision. At tribal, Aubry is pleading her case that her strengths could easily be weaknesses. We vote, and it’s a 2-2 tie between Cydney and Aubry so we’ve got the fire-making competition! Nothing is ever going to match the Sundra-Becky disaster from eons ago, but this is pretty entertaining. Aubry gets fire first (and only as it turns out), but her blaze is burning at an angle where it isn’t really reaching the rope she needs to burn through. Her fire ‘structure’ burns down so that she’s reduced to embers. Meanwhile, Cydney is getting nowhere. Aubry gets a second fire going from the embers of the first and this time it’s perfect. She burns through the rope and wins. Cydney is out! Michele thinks Tai’s decision to back Aubry is stupid, but Tai is clearly theorizing as I did, that it’s going to be a final 2 so I think his decision makes sense.

Back at camp, Tai is talking about how Jeff didn’t say it was the final three and that there could be another elimination, but Michele and Aubry both think he’s wrong. Which is odd because there’s a whole extra day left so what do they think is going to happen? As it turns out, Tai and I are both wrong, it is the final three as Jeff says when they get to the last challenge. This challenge is a reward, where the reward is … to eliminate a jury member from the jury. That’s pretty cool.

They have to balance on a beam and stack balls on little stands 6 high. They topple pretty easily, and it takes multiple efforts, but it ends up coming down to Aubry and Michele where Aubry drops her stack while Michele wins.

Michele talks to both Tai and Aubry about who they think she should get rid of from the jury. Tai thinks either Joe or Neal, while Aubry thinks Scot. None of these are surprising picks. We get to tribal where the jury is surprised to find out they’re on the chopping block, sort of. Ultimately, Michele clearly makes the right call and takes out Neal. We know it’s the right call because he savages Michele as he’s leaving, comparing her to a little puppy that has no chance. (FYI, he is very wrong).

Next we get the usual last-day stuff: feast, mirror & scale, talk about who will vote for whom. Skipping past all that as irrelevant, and moving on to the final tribal council where Tai has brought Mark the chicken (who could end up getting more votes than Tai, as it turns out). We begin with Nick asking no questions, but instead offering advice. Michele needs to show intelligence, Tai needs to show … strategy, I think? Aubry needs to show confidence. This felt like a vote for Michele. Debbie thinks Tai is nuts (she would know!) for his flip-flopping. Tai tries to paint it as one needed flip against Scot. Debbie then gets Aubry to apologize to her, and Debbie seems pretty solid for Aubry. Julia starts out sounding like she’s tearing Michele down for coasting through the first half of the game, but then turning it on by voting Julia out. It’s nice … but all Michele did was go along with the rest of the alliance. Not really a big move at all. Anyway, Julia does a good job of painting Michele as a solid second-half player, and contrasting that to Tai and Julia who had strong first halves, but weaker second halves. Especially Tai.

Joe is clearly on Aubry’s side, and he completes the destruction of any chance Tai has. Aubry gets to point out that Tai was on the wrong side of several votes, showing he was nowhere near in control even with all his advantages. Jason says his vote is open, and he gets Michele to talk about how it was skill that got her from being on the outs to being in the majority alliance. Fair point. He also gets Tai to explain why he flipped on the guys. It was because they talk about ‘men stuff’, and he was afraid. Ok. You’re done, Tai. Cydney asks Aubry if she always planned to vote her out at the final 4, and Aubry says no, it was always Michele until she won immunity. Which is definitely true (at least after Joe left, anyway). Cydney is pleased with Michele for sticking with her and giving her the chance to make fire … which she blew. This looks for a solid Michele vote too. Scot comes in to continue burying Tai by pointing out that he failed to use his advantages in any way that made sense. He then gets Aubry to talk about her style of play and congratulates Michele for getting strong at the end. Ok, I guess. He’s applauding her, so he’s clearly a Michele vote, and she’s pretty much got this in the bag. We get closing statements where both Tai and Michele cry, and I don’t care. We vote, and back in real life we find out that Michele has won 5-2.

I didn’t watch the reunion, but apparently next year will be Millenials vs Gen X-ers which seems like an excuse not to have anyone too old. Although, I’m gen X and I’m now over 40, so ugh. I’m not generally a fan of dividing tribes by age, but these gimmicks usually only last a couple of episodes, so whatever. That wraps up this season, see you next time!
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