Recap: 'Survivor: Caramoan' - 'Operation Thunder Dome'
A shift changes the course of the game, but Phillip is still annoying
Pre-credit sequence. The Favorites return and it's daytime and they're united in their relief at having jettisoned Brandon. However, there's some question of whether Brandon's departure might have buoyed the Fans. "I don't see how anybody could respect one ounce of what he did," Phillip maintains. Andrea and Phillip still worry that he did damage to their images. "Correct me if I'm wrong. I don't think I ever had any cross words with him," Phillip maintains. Nobody corrects him, nor does anybody agree. Corinne hopes Brandon never gets to play again, because he's a quitter and a crazy person. As she puts it, he's "up there with Mel Gibson and any other crazy person." "It's comforting to know that Brandon was successfully able to fly out of the cuckoo's nest and now we're just left with Phillip," Cochran says. Phillip is ready to return to action and Corinne is his next target.
Boy oh boy, Reynold sure could use a shift in the game. We start at the Fans camp. Tree-Mail! It's cryptic. Reynold knows that he and Eddie can't do anything socially, so he's hoping to just stick around long enough for something to shift in the game. "Because nothing's shifting in this game," he says. FORESHADOWING ALERT!
A shift in the game. The tribes arrive for some sort of challenge. Michael says that it was nice for the Fans to have felt something good at last week's chaotic Immunity, while Matt says they were aided by the discovery that the Favorites weren't one big happy family. Matt is supportive of Phillip and says Brandon's behavior was "true craziness." They're 14 days into the game. Tribe Switch! They've picking eggs and doing chest-smashing. The tribes are now Orange and Purple. The new Gota tribe, covered in orange goo, is Eddie, Reynold, Adorable Andrea, Sherri, Malcolm, Erik and Brenda. Ummm... How do you get THAT tribe by chance? Holy cow. On the surface, that's a physical all-star team. The Purple Bikal tribe is Phillip, Corinne, Michael, Matt, Cochran, Dawn and that girl who was in one episode and may or may not be Julia. WOW. All the quirky oddballs on one tribe and all the Alphas on the other. "The game just started anew," Cochran says. "I actually like all these players," Matt says. "It's definitely an adjustment," Corinne says. "We're strong," Brenda assesses. Both tribes get another bag of rice. Does that mean that Gota also has to start from scratch or do they have bonus rice? "I could not be happier about this new tribe," Reynold says. Both tribes have a 4-to-3 Favorites advantage internally, but we'll see how long that lasts!
Kings. Damn Hell Ass Kings. Gota gets to be happy first. "This is alright with me," Eddie says. "As far as challenges are concerned, I don't see them beating us at anything," Reynold gloats. Brenda does a happy dance. Andrea does a happy dance. Somebody compares them to The Gods. Oy. "We are a young, good-looking tribe," says Eddie, who continues to put an absurd emphasis on looking good. Because Eddie and Reynold are classy, they blame Sherri for everything bad at their own camp and let the Erik and Malcolm know it's totally cool with them if they vote her out. Erik isn't impressed with this sign of loyalty, comparing Reynold to a used car salesman. Good for Erik. Meanwhile, Sherri is spilling with the girls, who are getting all cleaned-up. Sherri also compares Reynold to a salesman and says Eddie is OK when Reynold isn't around. Andrea is still thinking Favorites first, but she's glad to have the information and we're glad to see her scrubbed clean.
Firecrotch. Bikal arrives. Corinne is especially happy to have Michael around, because she has a special place in her heart for "a gay." "If I was a moron and hadn't played this game before, I would turn on my alliance just to align with the gay. That's how much I like gays," Corinne says, but she trusts her alliance too much. Phillip has new people to listen to his rambling, starting with Julia, who he sees as a young vessel who might trust him. Julia is wary, but knows it's important to be on Phillip's good side. I'm very uncomfortable with the proximity of the flint and the potential flames to Phillip's pink-clad crotch. But anywho...
I dreamed a dream. Malcolm and Adorable Andrea are strategizing. Malcolm is very excited by how dysfunctional the new additions are. He's also amused that Andrea has had a dream that Malcolm has an Idol, which he does, but he denies. "She's a smart girl, but I'm an accomplished liar when it comes to women," Malcolm boasts.
I prefer my shut-the-hell-up in a frosty mug. There are lots of spiders over at Bikal, where Julia and Michael are... MONKEYS. Wait. Anyway, Phillip tells Corinne about his talk with Julia. Corinne doesn't understand why Phillip would be trying to get somebody to flip when they have numbers already. She questions his federal agent acumen and ponders, "Is that the reason our country's in such a mess?" Dawn's eyes pop out when Corinne says what Phillip did. "He needs a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up," Corinne says, admitting she's considered flipping on Phillip.
The crate and powerful. Immunity is up for grabs. Time to see how The Gods perform in a challenge. Players have to run out in pairs to collect crates. Those crates have to be used to create a puzzle-type staircase. Will this be a rout? Why, yes. Gota gets out to a big lead from the beginning. Every Gota pairing has a strong mail and a reasonably strong female. The same cannot be said for Bikal. For some reason, Bikal is making Phillip do double and then triple duty. Will Gota get slowed down on the intellectual part of the task with the spelling of "Fans vs. Favorites"? "Bikal appears to be on some sort of medication they're moving so slow," Jeff Probst opines. It's no competition at all. Gota wins Immunity. "That was pathetic," Probst says, pulling no punches. Dawn cries. Because absolutely everything makes Dawn cry these days. Phillip blames Corinne and then rambles for a while.
What's grosser than gross? Bikal returns in defeat. Phillip has something he wants to say. "Some days the better team wins," is Phillip's pep talk. Corinne says that people think Phillip is the ringleader because he's loud. "On a scale of 1 to On An Airplane Next To A Baby annoying, he's On An Airplane Next To A Baby and the baby has diarrhea. It is the most annoying situation you can be in," she says colorfully. She's annoyed, but she figures Phillip is going to be loyal. Matt asks Phillip what he's thinking and the Special Agent says that a girl is going home. Julia is the target, because "she got flustered." "I still operate Stealth R Us," Phillip tells Matt. "Right," Matt responds patiently. Phillip tells Matt and Michael that their test is to stick with him. "It made me want to bust out laughing," Matt says of Phillip. The former Fans meet to discuss strategy, with Julia hoping that the Favorites might just want to turn on one of their own. Julia proposes they all vote for Dawn. Monkey! In the woods, Corinne and Cochran try to make sure Matt and Michael are with them. Cochran smartly wonders if Matt and Michael might be "a power couple" and suggests splitting them might be smart. Cochran proposes the couple-splitting, with Matt as the target and Dawn agrees, but Corinne and Phillip both want Julia out. Corinne's just happy her gay is getting saved. Corinne wants Julia out because she's boring, plus she likes Matt. And we head off to Tribal in a state of semi-mystery.
Tribal Council. "I was super-stoked," Matt says of getting to play with the Favorites. "There's still a bit of a divide," Julia admits of the Fan-Favorites split, while Michael agrees that a Fan is certainly going home. Blah blah blah. More about Corinne's loving for playing with "a gay" and say says that there are at least three people she'd replace in her own alliance with the new folks. Phillip is looking at loyalty and strength. Corinne is paranoid about the Hidden Immunity Idol. Matt keeps insisting he doesn't have an Idol and he swears he doesn't think his fellow Fans have it. Cochran worries that the more they keep losing, the more The Bold and the Beautiful tribe will bond and he doesn't think he can crack that group.
The vote. Julia writes Dawn's name. Matt writes Julia's name, as does Michael. And we don't see any of the votes from the Favorites, because that would be telling. Nobody plays an Immunity Idol, because nobody has one. Probst tallies: Julia. Julia. Dawn. Matt. [And that's it.] Matt. Matt. MATT. Michael looks bereft with his better half departing. "I played to win. I put all of the cards on the table and I got voted out," says Matt, who is proud of leaving the game liked by everybody.
Bottom Line. I feel like this was, in some ways, a worst case scenario in terms of a tribal swap. For one thing, we were just finally arriving at the point in the game when we'd jettisoned both Shamar and Brandon, so it was plausible the game of "Survivor" could really begin and although the Favorites seemed to have an advantage, there were still some possibilities for drama. Instead, they shuffled the tribes and we ended up with what is, at least on the surface, a horribly disproportionate divide. Not only to The Gods have likely the four strongest males, but I think you could probably say they also have the three strongest females. And while I guess you could try to make the case that there are some smart players on the new Bikal, there are also some really dumb players, while Gota isn't without intelligence. Plus, this season has already put much too heavy an emphasis on brawn over brains. Plus, within these disproportionate tribes, they both somehow ended up with the same Favorites-Fans split, which didn't necessarily need to happen in a split at 8-6. There could have been a Fan-majority tribe that would have at least kept that original dynamic in play. Heck, The Gods even ended up with both available Immunity Idols in their camp, which puts the producers in a bind.
Bottom Line, II. The tribes needed to get separated so that we could see some new personalities. I know some people have been lamenting the disappearance of quote-machine Corinne. Well, are you happy she's back? Personally, I thought this episode had WAY too much Corinne, but so it goes. We also still had too much Phillip. In a perfect world, there would have been some mobilization to vote Phillip out and then the entire season could have started fresh. Instead, we're hanging under the gloom of Stealth R Us with no end in sight. Feh. On the other hand, people who have been missing quote-machine Malcolm will clearly be happy both with the way this episode went and the way the scenes from next week suggest that we're going. On a side note, I totally don't get Eddie and Reynold's cockiness in their new camp. They went from a tribe where keeping them around was the only way to maintain strength to a tribe where Gota could get rid of either one of them and not blink. But I guess all it takes would be clever deployment of Reynold's Idol and things could be flipped over there in a hurry.
Bottom Line, III. Kudos to Cochran for the correct assessment of the threat caused by Michael and Matt as an alliance, though I think a little more consideration maybe could have been given to keeping Matt over Michael due to relative strength. But I guess if you're Bikal, you can correctly read a situation and see that the strength disparity is barely impacted at all by voting out Julia instead of Matt. They're weaker now, but they aren't MUCH weaker. Once you're going down in flames, it's better to split a two-person swing. Probably.
What do you think? Would you have booted Julia? Are you happy or unhappy with the gap between the randomly shuffled tribes?