Pre-credit sequence. "Another tough vote," Tyson says as Kasama returns to camp. Ciera is, once again, apologizing for playing the game and all that. She is, however, hopeful that Redemption Island will bring an alliance-mate back into the game. It could hardly not. "My best shot is going to be with Monica and Gervase," Tyson says, explaining that he may have to use the Immunity Idol to keep Monica in line. Tyson offers her the Idol and tells her that she can either use it or take it home to her kids. She doesn't take it, but Tyson says he'll send it to her. Monica has a plan. "If the guys really do think I'm their lapdog, fine. But I'm not going to be manipulated by Tyson and Gervase," Monica says, noting that whoever comes back from Redemption will give her two choices at the Final 3. This is gonna be a big Monica episode, I sense.
Jeff Probst or Tyson are the only people who deserve to win this season. Hayden gets to Redemption Island. "Shoot a monkey," Tina says, in apparently disappointment. "Getting voted out sucks," says Hayden, who reminds us that he's played two competitions and this is his first time getting voted out. Tina and Laura are mighty pleased at Ciera's challenge win. "If it's Tyson, Gervase and Monica at the end, I'm gonna vote for Jeff," Hayden says. I made that same joke on Twitter last week. Hayden is ready for a duel that pits him against two grandmas. Tree-mail tells them that the Duel is do-or-die. "If I come out of Redemption Island with one ounce of energy in me, I did something wrong," Tina says. Laura plans on being the cavalry riding in to help Ciera. 
Ace of Vase. Let's Duel! Tina, Laura and Hayden arrive at the Arena. The task is simple and dull: You have to place one foot at the end of a teeter-totter. On the other end is a vase. You move to much, the vase falls and breaks. "There is no second place today. One winner. Two losers," Jeff Probst explains. Laura has won five out of six Duels, Probst reminds us. You can't win "Survivor" based on that, but it's not unimpressive. After 15 minutes, nothing has happened, but people are starting to sweat. Laura's struggling most of all. Her vase is wobbling. "Dig, woman!" Probst yells. Laura digs and her vase steads. Hayden slips and down goes his vase. "Tina, let me have it please," Laura says. "No way sister," Tina says. Laura seems a much more viable candidate to return to the game as Queenmaker. Tina will be returning to leave, probably. After a half-hour, both women are in trouble, but Laura vase drops first. Tina wins and will rejoin the game. "When you're out here, you begin to appreciate what you have back home," Hayden says, excited to give Kat a big kiss. He burns his buff. Laura cries and tells Jeff that she didn't finish strong, prompting Jeff to give Laura a lecture on parenting. Shut up, Jeff. "What good is winning six, seven challenges if you can't finish it," Laura says. "You showed me out here how to be a better friend, how to be a better woman and how to be a better mom," Ciera tells Laura. "How can you walk away saying you lost after that?" Laura says. And Tina's back to continue a game in which, thus far, she's done absolutely nothing.
Good Cop, Tina Cop. Tina's back, knowing what she's working against. She's determined to either find The Idol that Isn't There or to start a Three Moms alliance with Ciera and Monica. Anything could happen, I suppose. Tina's first step is finding The Idol That Isn't There. "Tina is a freak," Ciera says, watching Tina crawl around trees. "She acts like she's my age," Ciera says, eventually getting around to telling Tina her suspicions that Tyson already has the Idol. Without an Idol, Tina makes her pitch to Monica. "The Jury will be ugly. I promise you that," Tina tells Monica, saying that people on the Jury are going to be mad at her for being disloyal. Ciera doesn't like Tina's approach and plays Good Cop, telling Monica that she has a strong physical case to make to the Jury and that this could give put a big strategic move on her resume. "I've got a lot of sorting out to do," Monica says, calling it "a brutal game."
Balance of power. Immunity is, as you'd imagine, back up for grabs. It's another balancing task. There's an unbalanced table. You have to hold the table flat, while also stacking 10 tiles. When did this become "Survivor: Balancing Edition"? This challenge is actually much more complicated than the Duel, but coming so soon after the Duel, it's frustratingly familiar. People getting close and then their tiles all fall. Methodically, Tyson is just one tile away. Working practically in slow-motion, with a patience we never knew he had, Tyson wins Immunity, his first challenge win of the season. Good timing on his end. "Can I kneel like I'm being knighted?" Tyson asks, as Probst places Immunity around his neck. "I'm not gonna celebrate, because it's not done," Tyson says, eying the next vote.
Handling Monica. Everybody pretends to be happy for Tyson as they return to camp. They're not, unless they're Gervase. Tyson wants to keep the Hidden Idol to give Rachel as a present, but some of that will relate to who they vote out tonight. Tyson and Monica and Gervase sit on the beach and discuss the next vote. Gervase very correctly observes that they have a better chance to beat Tina, because Ciera made a big move. Monica, however, says that she'd keep Ciera, because Tina has no enemies on the Jury. She's not wrong about that, but it's also not especially relevant. Monica feels that she's been bullied by Tina. I don't know what this stems from, but it leads to a fight between Gervase and Monica. Monica is really, really convinced she's been bullied all game. Gervase correctly tries arguing that Tina's already won and they won't give her another million. Gervase, however, makes his points to Monica much too loudly and she feels bullied by them. Good gracious. Gervase pretty much ruins everything when he talks. Monica, feeling scorned and bullied, suggests voting Gervase out, which Tina and Ciera love. "Tonight's Tribal Council, I'm gonna own it," Monica says. Ugh. This is awful. I wish Monica didn't keep talking about being bullied, when she hasn't been, about the perception that she's a lapdog, a perception only voiced by people trying to manipulate her. It doesn't make Monica seem very impressive.
Tribal Council, No. 1. As Jeff Probst notes, Monica's in the middle again. She agrees, comparing herself to a first round draft pick. Why are Gervase and Tyson having to defend themselves against charges of being villains? Ugh. Ciera returns to the exact same things she was telling Monica last week. "I've never used the term lapdog EVER," Tyson says. "You come away feeling like, 'I just want to die inside,'" Monica cries. Ugh. "Tonight is my strategic move," she repeats. "My heart just dropped out of my chest," Gervase says.
The Vote, No. 1. "Tonight, it's about me," Monica says. WE GET IT. So. Annoying. We sell products and then return for the vote. Tyson gives Gervase his Hidden Immunity Idol! Zing! The votes: Gervase. Gervase. Ciera. CIERA. And that's that. Wait. So do we not even see the last vote? I get that Ciera's gone for sure, but don't we deserve to know if Monica flipped? And if Tyson made a good move? "I had plans I put into motion, but it didn't work out," Ciera says. "I'm leaving with just so much confidence and strength," Ciera adds. We did, indeed, see Monica's vote. She voted for Ciera, sticking with her alliance.
[This recap is going to be ridiculously long. The second half of this recap, including the result and my Bottom Lines is on Page 2.]
A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.