Recap: 'Survivor: Caramoan' - 'The Beginning of the End'
Two Tribal Councils shake things up
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Pre-credit sequence. I miss Malcolm already. Will the tribe? It's night 30 and... TARSIER! "You and me, Eddie! Nothing's changed since Day 1," Reynold says. Without hesitation, Reynold tells everybody that he's capable of winning five Immunities in a row. Nobody disagrees. Eddie makes no such claims about his potential prowess. "Just keep going. Keeping rolling with the punches. You never know. Anything can happen in this game," Eddie says. Andrea is getting worried about Reynold and his power, but Cochran reassures her that the Fans have no power. He's ready to take out the remaining Fans. "I'll do it without remorse. I'll do it without any reservations," vows Cochran, who says he isn't the "Harvard Nerd" anymore. Tree-Mail says something about balance and it also teases that another Immunity Challenge is coming, immediately. No time for Reward, Dr. Jones! "This game never stops," Erik says. That's not fair, Erik. Has this game really started for you yet?
Teeter-totter. Floating pyramids teeter atop the water as the contestants arrive for Immunity. Cochran surrenders his Idol and Jeff Probst compliments him on his pale shirtlessness. The challenge is simple: The players have to balance on the pyramid, moving closer and closer to the top as they go. They're also playing for Reward, in the form of Information. "I have to win or I'm going home. It's as simple as that," Reynold says. Oh my goodness. I'm well-fed, but I'd jump off a pyramid for those donuts right now. Erik and Eddie jump off for donuts. Way to be competitive, guys. After 15 minutes, everybody moves up. Cochran, saying that his thighs are about to burst, hops into the water in exchange for three hot dogs. After all of the prior praise, Probst mocks Cochran for this decision. Reynold teeters, but recovers. Brenda teeters, but recovers. They're at the top of the pyramids and everybody is wiggling. Dawn becomes the first person to fall without getting food and she's followed by Sherri. Reynold has eight lives, but not nine, as he goes splash. It's down to Andrea and Brenda. Neither is willing to cave. Three hours pass. This is insane. Even the other contestants are getting bored. It's become too easy for Brenda and Andrea, so they agree that they'll each do it on one leg. "This is your rule, not mine," perplexed Probst says. Somewhat disappointingly, the added handicap knocks Brenda out in seconds. Andrea wins Reward and Information. Brenda isn't sad about losing, because she knows either Reynold or Eddie is out next.
Can you DIG IT! Everybody is impressed with Andrea. "It's basically Reynold's eulogy right now," says Reynold, though he suggests now might be the time for a blindside. "Unfortunately, I'm not the conductor," Reynold admits. Andrea promised to share the information with Brenda and now she's feeling regret and, for the first time, she's feeling that Brenda is a regret. Rather than seeming squirrelly, Andrea tells her whole alliance. They go out digging together and Erik soon finds it. True to form, Erik just hands the Idol over to the cute girl. With an Idol in her hands, Andrea has new ideas. "Some blindsides need to happen before it happens to me," Andrea says foreshadowingly. Again, Andrea tells us and also Cochran that Brenda is a threat. "This game is all about timing," says Cochran, who doesn't feel like this is the time. TARSIER! Much whispering is going on and Andrea is leading all of it and leading all of it against Brenda. "It's definitely an option to blindside Brenda," says Dawn, who admits her biggest obstacle has been her mind. No duh.
Tribal Council, I. Let's talk about Malcolm's blow-out haircut, shall we? Did he have a conditioner overdose or something? "I kinda sacrificed some security and self-pride for some donuts," admits Eddie. Probst is confused by Andrea and Brenda standing out there for over three hours. "When do you ever get the opportunity to test yourself like that?" Brenda says. "I could be a great instrument for any moves you want to make," Reynold says. "It's about making a move the second before a move is made against you," Cochran says, repeating his thesis on timing. There's an intriguing discussion of how what spawns "Survivor" paranoia is the awareness that you, yourself, can lie or flip. Eddie just wants to squeeze along and Andrea says that the two remaining Amigos are useable votes.
The Vote, I. Brenda writes Reynold's name down and says things would have been different if he'd been more humble. Nobody plays an Idol. Probst tallies. Erik. Sherri. Reynold. Eddie. Reynold. Eddie. Reynold. REYNOLD. "Good luck, dude," he tells Eddie. "It's been a blast you guys. I can't wait to see what happens." "We are down to one amigo left," Probst observes. "Here I am. Adios. I put my trust in a lot of people that wasn't reciprocated," Reynold says, insisting he had the time of his life.
Adorable A puts a Bulls-eye on B. Again. "It's kinda surreal, isn't it?" Andrea asks. "The gunslingers take out another victim," Cochran says. Sherri bounces up and down like a lunatic and Andrea is wondering what's next. Her realization? It's time for a blindside! Andrea tells Cochran that it has to be Dawn or Brenda. Brenda's a challenge threat, while everybody loves Dawn. "I think maybe... uh... B should go first," Andrea says, reclining thoughtfully and playing Godfather, or at least RobFather. Cochran respects the idea of moves, but... "It's a big move I don't agree with." Dawn is the core of Cochran's alliance and he's worried at seeing her targeted in any way. Over conversation, Cochran decides to tell Brenda and Dawn that Andrea is plotting against them. Brenda, passive for so long, has retractable claws that suddenly come out. Cochran calls Andrea an independent thinker, which he means as an insult in this instance, and says that if Andrea doesn't win Immunity and doesn't play the Idol, she might be going home next.
Erik's Ladder. Immunity is up for grabs. They have to push buoys through a rope obstacle that also goes underwater to a post holding a key. The key opens a chest that contains ladder rungs that are also a puzzle. The first person to build their puzzle-ladder gets immunity. Sherri lags, while Erik leads, with Eddie close behind. Erik is first to open the chest and Andrea, Eddie and Brenda aren't far behind. "I don't know what I'm doing," Andrea yells as suddenly Erik is going rung-crazy. "It is a blowout," an appreciative Jeff says as Erik charges to the top of the platform and clinches his place in the Top 6. Well, I guess it doesn't necessarily matter how long it takes you to start playing the game, provided you start playing before you get sent home. Jeff Probst helpfully reminds Erik that last time he had Immunity, he kinda blew it in epic and hilarious style. "Is there any chance that happens this time?" Probst asks. "I'm way too scared to do that this time," Erik says. Wait. Scared? But not too smart? Hmmm...
Confucius says she who makes light of past blindsides is doomed to future blindsides. TARSIER! "That challenge was right up my alley. I killed it," says Erik, who vows that he's learned from past mistakes and he has a safety blanket and he won't make a big moral choice of things. Wait. I'd like to back up. What was up Erik's alley about that challenge? Is he some sort of expert ladder-builder in his spare time? MONKEY! Thunder rumbles as Andrea makes her play and suggests that Brenda is too much of a threat to keep around. "I wanted Brenda out, I talked to everybody and now she's gone," recounts Andrea matter-of-factly. Then, because Andrea has no sense of dramatic irony, she laughs about getting blindsided her last time around. After all, she has the Idol and she's prepared to play it if necessary, but she's confident that her ducks are in a row. "I have been tricked, fooled and pretty much every adjective," Eddie says after he's let in on the plan to boot Brenda. Eddie isn't so good with parts of speech. Cochran tells Andrea that if they go to the Final Three with Eddie, he'll beat them and he's suddenly realizing why Andrea has been protecting Eddie for 10 days. "I'm worried that I'm going to be supplanted by Eddie," Cochran says, noting that while he admires Andrea, if he isn't part of her plan, she isn't part of his. Strongly played, Cochran. Brenda's taking a leap of faith and writing Andrea's name, but there's a possibility that the non-Andreas may split votes with Andrea and Eddie. The goal is to make either waste the Idol or go home. Cochran finds it scary that he's trusting Erik once again. Erik, for his part, is getting buttered up by Andrea. Will this actually work? Erik seems intrigued. Oh, ERIK.
Tribal Council, Part II. Probst tells Eddie that it'd be easy to get rid of him, but maybe they shouldn't want to. Eddie quotes the wide words of Cochran and says timing is everything and this may be the night for a blindside. Brenda knows that the lies and hurting will come soon. "I definitely believe people are lying to each other... I'm pretty sure I've been lied to," Sherri says. Cochran agrees that he's been lied to and he's probably done a little lying. Andrea giggles. "That makes me nervous," Andrea says, hearing that Cochran has done some lying, though when Probst asks if she's been any different, she giggles and says "Of course not." Andrea admits she as the Idol, which amuses Malcolm to no end. And by "amuses" I mean "kills inside." "My paranoia's pretty high, so I could play it at any time and they could go home," Andrea warns everybody.
The Vote, Take II. Andrea writes Brenda's name and says that it was the balancing over the ocean that let her know Brenda was dangerous. "You're a sneaky, sneaky little girl always ready to blindside someone. But I don't think you're ready for this one," Brenda says, writing Andrea's name. Andrea opts not to play her Idol. Brenda smirks. Cochran smirks. Brenda. Andrea. Eddie. Eddie. [Suddenly Andrea's concerned. She makes "concern" look good.] Andrea. "WHAT?" Andrea yells. [I'm not sure I remember the last time a blindsided contestant became that vocally aware of their blindsiding-in-progress.] Brenda. ANDREA. "Oh you GUYS! That was good," Andrea laughs. "That was really good she tells Jeff. Malcolm and Reynold are giddy on the Jury. Oh, Adorable Andrea. I'll miss you most of all. "I should have learned my lesson the first time," Andrea says. "I will always have this beautiful neckless souvenir that will remind me about trusting people too much," she says.
Bottom Line, Part I. I was watching tonight's episodes on a jumpy Slingbox and not on my normal HD set. Was Reynold sporting an awesome mustache at Tribal council? Or was it just a less-awesome goatee? Sorry. That was important business and I wish I'd been able to tell.
Bottom Line, Part II. Two Tribal Councils in one hour is hardly unprecedented on "Survivor," but it's almost impossible to do a straight-forward double-tribal and generate any real strategic drama. The problem with that is that one of the week's eliminations was a no-brainer. Reynold could have gone home in the first episode and he probably should have gone home in the month. It's amusing that Malcolm and Corinne organized a counter-alliance that ultimately left the two Favorites prematurely snuffed, while Reynold and Eddie outlasted them and outlasted any run either of them should have had. And Eddie is still going. But still, nobody's shocked that Reynold is gone. The reversal that led to Andrea's demise would have been more awesome if it had had more time to develop. It was pretty rushed in that second half-hour. Still, thanks to Andrea's reaction, it was a fun moment. Otherwise, this episode was excellently played by Cochran, reasonably well-played and well-survived by Brenda, who may be sneaking up on us now, and... Look! Erik is alive. I guess that's good? I haven't missed Erik, per se, but he sure has been useless. Honestly, though, because of all of the Immunity Challenges and Tribals, I don't have a sense of strategic interest in this episode. I don't think anybody made any wrong choices, other than Andrea not playing her Idol. And nothing is all that different going forward. So... Yay?
Your thoughts? And do you have any joint questions for Andrea and Reynold? They're gonna be paired for tomorrow's exit interview, which means the best questions will be for both of them. I have tons of questions for them as individuals, but together? Bit harder...