The Every Man for Himself strategy continued on this week's Survivor.
After last week's blindside elimination of Corinne, the remaining players were left to ponder their own positions in the game. For Reynold, that meant bragging about his "iron-clad" alliance with Eddie and Malcolm. "We're unwaveringly trustful to each other," he said. Malcolm, meanwhile, noted his advantage of having the other immunity idol — one that, now that Corinne's gone, no one else knows about. "They thought they cut off the head of the snake," Malcolm said. "They don't know they missed yet."
Now 23 days in, sexual frustration may also be getting to the contestants, with Reynold hitting on Andrea, Phillip commenting on Shari's hotness, and Eddie and Andrea "island dating." (-Oh wait, that's just strategy). Phillip also assigned a bemused/exasperated Sherri a Stealth R Us nickname: Tenacity. "Besides even the game of Survivor, I have another game to play," Sherri said afterwards. "I have to play the Specialist game. ... It's all crazy. They're all crazy out here." But, taking a cue from her prior alliance with Shamar, Sherri said her plan was to indulge Phillip's craziness until she had him in her pocket.
For the reward challenge, the players divided into teams (Sherri sat out) to compete for a picnic lunch after rappelling a waterfall. (Personally, I'd opt to skip the rappelling part and just start eating, but that's just me.) The team of Eric, Eddie, Cochran, Reynold and Michael won and — look at that! —I'm not the only one intimidated by one aspect of this "reward." Cochran was on my same page. "I rarely leave my apartment. I rarely leave Twitter," he admitted. "And the fact that I'm gonna be flung down some waterfall on a rope ... I have no idea what's going on." I feel you, Cochran. But he tentatively tiptoed down and enjoyed the feast nonetheless.
Reynold, for one, was thrilled with the "locker room guys' mentality" at the picnic — and he and Michael decided to turn the camaraderie into an all-guys alliance. "Let's bro down," he pitched Cochran. "Let's get these scheming, crazy girls that keep flirting with all of us out of here." Cochran's response? "Reynold, Eddie and Michael must not know me that well if they think that emphasizing the testosterone unity between us ... we're men, we're men and we hate women, and we're gonna, you know, slap each other with towels in the locker room and chug beers. That doesn't work with me. That doesn't appeal to me at all. I don't want to be engaging in any sort of masculine tomfoolery with these numbskulls." This just in: I'm officially rooting for Cochran. Also, in terms of pull quotes, Cochran is the new Corinne.
While the other team lamented their loss, Malcolm approached underdogs Sherri and Dawn to be his new allies. Recognizing that Malcolm was going to be "a problem," Dawn (sticking to her tattletale strategy) told Andrea of the plan. They decided to play along with Malcolm, telling him they would split the vote between Reynold and Eddie, but in actuality would vote for him. Andrea also played up her "romance" with Eddie to find out his strategy, though he lied to her about Reynold having an immunity idol. (Is there an acting award for reality shows? Because Andrea should win for her fake flirting.)
Brenda won the immunity challenge, a psychological contest in which the players had to compete against a rising tide while trapped under a metal grate for more than an hour. And afterwards, Malcolm plotted his "big move" — bring Dawn on board to vote with him and the other guys for Andrea. "This next vote has to be the turning point in the game that I've been waiting for," Malcolm said.
For her part, Dawn was just baffled by Malcolm's strategy after he assured Reynold everything was a go as long as Reynold showed Dawn his immunity idol. "It's nuts," she said. "The fact that I'm coming back after Corinne's vote and Malcolm is still trusting me when I'm the person that gave the information on Corinne tells me that he's not dialed in." "Dawn's really working it," Andrea admitted. "Dawn is like the MVP of this season. ... She's good at this."
Reynold, however, was less trusting than Malcolm and, after showing Dawn the idol, told her "don't screw me" and warned that he would play the idol for himself if he had reason to doubt her. That didn't sit well with the newly-christened MVP. "I can't stand people that intimidate other people, and I think Reynold is used to being in control and getting what he wants," Dawn said. "I feel like, 'Shame on you. Shouldn't have shown me your idol. Shame on you, Malcolm. You shouldn't have brought me in.'"
But the Favorites' plan was foiled when Eddie, ignoring Reynold's advice to not get too close to Andrea, made the mistake of telling her that she might be targeted at Tribal Council — and hinted that Reynold had the idol. "I'm going home tonight," Andrea realized, and told the Favorites to go with the "safe vote" of Michael rather than Malcolm. Cochran and Dawn were hesitant, and 10 minutes before Tribal Council, Dawn begged Andrea to stick with the original plan of voting for Malcolm. "I promise you, Malcolm doesn't have the idol," she said. (Oops.)
The best moment at Tribal Council? Jeff Probst's bug-eyed reaction as Phillip outlined his Stealth R Us strategy. But Phillip's diatribe on alliances and big moves also had another consequence: Reynold went to play his immunity idol after the group voted and Malcolm (who both has an idol of his own and voted for Reynold!) stopped him. "Hold up, man," Malcolm said. "They all voted for me. You can tell. That's what [Phillip's] whole story was about. Give it to me." With that, Reynold tossed the idol to Malcolm, who handed it to Probst. So much for that iron-clad alliance!
When the votes were read, it became clear that the Favorites had gone with Andrea's Plan B and it was Michael who was voted off. "You turkeys," he said, flipping the group off half-heartedly after his torch was extinguished.
What did you think of Malcolm's big move? Will all the backstabbing in this episode come back to haunt some of the players? And who would you say is the game's front-runner at this point? Weigh in below!
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