Pre-credit sequence. Shirin is gone, but thanks to Mike, last week's Tribal had some amusement and it's time to see what the ripples are. Everybody's trying to figure out who voted for who, with Mike cackling all the way. The Six go off into the jungle to scramble, which Mike loves, even if he wasn't invited. He knows he's safe with his Idol, so The Six will have to cannibalize. Dan is ranting and raving about knowing it was a bluff, while Tyler is trying to lecture Dan on basic strategy. "It's fine," Dan says, putting his hand on Tyler's chest in a threatening manner. Clueless Will is trying to explain to Dan why he voted for him and Dan also reassures him, in a Low-Rent Godfather kinda way. "I don't have too many lifelines remaining," Tyler says, vowing to vote for Dan again if he needs to.

It's Rodney's Birthday and he'll beg if he wants to. Mike is sleeping on the beach alone again. It's Day 30 and Rodney is hoping for his first Reward as a birthday present. Tree-Mail teases "an opportunity to nourish your soul" and Dan makes it clear that he needs this. Rodney figures that both Carolyn and Will would either give up their Reward or invite him on Reward. He's so full of faith and confidence that 99.9 percent of the "Survivor" audience is now just praying that the fates conspire to screw Rodney out of another reward, preferably in dramatic fashion.

Like his idol Tom Brady, Rodney has ball trouble. Reward time. In teams of three, people have to go through various steps to collect balls. The balls then have to be catapulted into five targets. Wanna know what they're playing for? A truck arrives. The winners will be "Survivor" ambassadors, delivering supplies to children at a local orphanage, including school supplies, clothing and other stuff. They'll also give the kids a BBQ. They're doing a schoolyard pick and somebody won't even be competing. Dan, Tyler and Rodney are going against Sierra, Mike and Carolyn. Will is sitting out, which makes me laugh both because I'm not rooting for Will and also because it hoses Rodney out of a potential Reward-giver. Now Rodney will be counting on either winning or on Carolyn giving up her place. Mike's team gets out to an early lead, but we all know tasks like this come down to how many times Jeff Probst can say "balls." Not only does Rodney screw things up for his team, but he screws up by leaving balls behind, which gives Jeff Probst bonus opportunities to say "balls." Mike squanders a big lead and reminds us of his chauvinistic past by refusing to let Sierra near the balls, but he catches up and... gives his team Reward. Mike thanks Jesus for encouraging him to be chauvinistic. "Rodney, you continue to be shut out of these Rewards," Jeff says, prompting Rodney to complain that this has gone from the best birthday ever to the worst. "My heart goes out to him," Mike says, but opts for food for his own belly. Carolyn says this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and she's keeping it. Rodney feels like some people went back on their word. "It's my damn birthday," Rodney grumbles. "They just turned me into the psychotic person I am," Rodney says.

Not all orphans are like that girl from "Orphan." The winners descend on the orphanage with their truck o' awesomeness. The kids are mighty happy and Big Kid Mike is mighty happy. Sierra loves horses and children love horses, so children seem to like Sierra. Carolyn? Less demonstratively moved, though she says that this special reward was worth whatever abuse Rodney heaps on her. "When you think about it, this is not a horrible birthday. You're on 'Survivor' for God's sake," Carolyn rationalizes. Carolyn's also liking the chance to spend quality time with Mike and contemplating her options.

Deflated. Wasps! Wasps are not as much fun as monkeys. And spending your birthday washing dishes by the beach isn't as much fun as celebrating your birthday with a Reward. Rodney's grumbling and mumbling about "scumbags" and turning on Caroline and Sierra. It's amusing that Rodney thinks he's had nothing to do with losing five straight Rewards. The other losers just stand back and let Rodney stew, even when he comes back ranting about Carolyn and his birthday. "Even in my opinion, that was a bit much," Dan says of Rodney's ravings, which include a so-so Carolyn impression and an elaborate blindside plan that starts with him pretending that he's going to quit the game to lure Mike into not playing his Idol and then taking Mike out. "I do not believe for a second that it's gonna work," Dan says, hoping that Rodney's going to meander himself onto the chopping block. "Mike's going home! Mike's going home!" Rodney fumes, much to Tyler's chagrin. Tyler knows that if Mike doesn't buy Rodney's story, he'd probably go home by accident.

Feliz Chump-leaños. Rain. Thunder. Lightning. Rodney going on and on about his birthday. Rodney puts his plan into work complaining about "fake-ass people" and fake mother Mama C. Mike tries inserting sanity into the discussion, but this is neither the time nor the place. "Just cuz I talk slow don't mean I think slow," Mike says. Tyler and Carolyn go aside and make the first mention in weeks of Carolyn's Idol, which Tyler is now calling "The White Collar Idol." "I actually do feel like I'm the one in charge right now," Carolyn announces hubristically. 

Anybody know when Rodney's birthday was? Immunity is back up for grabs. They're balancing from a perch leaning back increasingly far over the water with a rope. Rodney lays it on thick, conversing with Jeff about "The worst birthday of my life." "It's my own fat ass," Dan says, explaining his own struggles. But Will goes out first, though Dan is close behind. Sierra and Rodney go out next, leaving Carolyn, Tyler and Mike. Guaranteeing an Idol play, Mike goes out. Tyler goes out and Carolyn wins her second Individual Immunity, effectively guaranteeing herself a place through to the Top 5, probably.

Why does nobody think it'd be fun to vote Rodney out on the day after his birthday? Not for strategy. Just for fun? Carolyn raises the roof to celebrate her second straight Immunity. Dan's worried, figure that he, Mike and Tyler are the most logical targets and Mike's safe. "Guys vote Mike, Girls vote Tyler," Carolyn says for public consumption, but is she really eying Dan? Monkey! Will and Tyler both figure Dan's the target, even with his advantage. Tyler's hoping to knock out Mike's Idol and Dan's advantage at the same time. Mike's voting for Tyler and tries to get Carolyn with him, but Carolyn sees the point in taking out Dan's advantage, too. "Game on, boys and girls," Carolyn says as we head to...

Tribal Council. Mike affirms that he has his Immunity Idol and that Dan and Tyler should be worried. "I've got the firework outs, some popcorn, Pepsi," Mike says, eager to watch the action. Rodney wants Pepsi. Because it was his birthday. Mike is concerned. There's babble about Dan's advantage, with people pretending they don't know what he has and Dan admitting even if they don't know what the advantage is, it puts a target on him. Sierra thinks that a big and shocking move is coming. Tyler says he'll be surprised if it's him going home.

The vote. Dan writes Mike's name and claims it breaks his heart. Mike writes Tyler's name, complete with a doodle, and says he's been trying to get him out for a long time. Mike bounces up and plays his Idol. "I'm playing it for me, Jeff," he adds. Probst tallies: Mike. Mike. Mike. Mike. Tyler. TYLER. Tyler says his strategy was right, but that other people just didn't go along, that it's hard to win if you're not winning challenges.

Bottom Line, Part I. So long, Tyler. I wish we'd seen just a bit more out of him, because it was obvious that everybody viewed him as a threat, but it was only the past couple weeks that gave any indication of the strategic player he may theoretically have been. He was most just kinda there, sometimes saying smart things and very occasionally looking like a challenge threat but for a former borderline professional athlete, he never really seemed like a candidate to go on a long Immunity run. So he was a threat because in a season of objectionable people, he was a less objectionable option and I guess you can look at the field and probably Tyler beats anybody other than Mike in a Final Jury situation with ease. So by that standard, sure. I see what you take him out at this point and leave Dan and his advantage out there, because as much of a threat as that advantage makes Dan, the number of people Dan beats at Final Tribal is... Ummm... 

Bottom Line, Part II. I noted last week that with Shirin gone, Mike was the person I was pretending to like for purposes of not just hate-watching this season of "Survivor." Fortunately, he couldn't go out this week, though I said that Tyler was probably my second choice for People I Hate Least. So if Tyler is gone and Mike is, once again, Idol-less and vulnerable, I need to look for an alternative and... This isn't good. With her couple Immunity wins and the spontaneously found Idol and the visible strategic game, I guess I'd have to turn to Carolyn as my new backup. I don't like her, but that hasn't been relevant for a while. If Mike gets to Final Tribal, he has a good argument to win. And if Carolyn gets to Final Tribal, no matter how I feel about her personally, her argument to win is a valid one. So if the ship sailed on "People I can root for" a long time ago, I'll settle for "People who wouldn't be disgraceful winners." Will, Rodney, Dan and Sierra would rank among the worst winners in the show's history. So... Go Mike! Go Carolyn! I guess. 

Bottom Line, Part III. If you like watching 20-something guys from Boston complain about insufficient celebration of their birthdays, this was a great episode of "Survivor." If that's not your cup of tea and if you're not feeling any warmth today toward people prone to comparing themselves to Tom Brady? This was another flat episode of "Survivor: Worlds Apart." 

Bottom Line, Part IV. Only two more episodes left this season. I don't love the fuzzy voting procedure on the "Last Chance" season that's coming up next, nor do I like or remember at least half of the candidates to return, but there are at least eight or nine people there who could make for interesting TV. [I'm writing a bit more about the "Last Chance" ballot and I'll post that later tonight.]

Thought's on tonight's episode?

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.