One of the major themes this season on “Survivor: Kaoh Rong” – has been Tai’s struggle within himself. In fact, his journey is one of the underlying themes of the entire show since Season 1: Are you willing to do what it takes to win a million dollars, and if so, how far are you willing to bend or even break your morals and standards along the way? On Wednesday night, Tai was a major factor in the game, which led to one of the biggest blindsides of the season at Tribal Council. Here is the full recap of tonight’s big episode:
Psychological Warfare. “That was beautiful,” says Scot, returning from the Tribal that saw Deb voted out. Despite being down in numbers, Jason, Scot and Tai put on quite the show at Tribal, flaunting their Idols for all to see, and it worked masterfully. This, coming after a few days of sabotage around camp meant to create chaos. “All we did was hide a machete and an axe, and put a fire out, and they couldn’t handle it,” Jason tells us. Tai, who is internally struggling to come to terms with being allied with the bullies, gives Jason back his Idol immediately upon returning to camp, after Jason had given it to him dramatically at Tribal.
Something Stinks. The next morning, Tai thinks it’s time to bring the tribe back together and to start being friendly, and while Scot agrees, he has a different method of how to go about doing that. He pulls Aubry aside and tells her, “We want a happy camp,” and that basically camp life will return back to normal as long as Scot gets what he wants. Aubry agrees politely and tells him, “I smell what you’re stepping in.” She is weary of Scot and wants nothing to do with him, but calls the idea of getting rid of him “a big scary move.”
Reward Challenge. Keeping a balanced beam balanced with only one leg, the contestants had to keep a pot steady…if they teeter the totter in the least, the pot would fall and they would be out. The twist of the challenge is that they would get to choose their reward between food (a bacon cheeseburger, fries, beer and a chocolate chip cookie), a letter from a loved one back home and a “game advantage.” They would only be competing against others who chose the same reward. As it shook out, Tai, Cydney and Aubry would play for the game advantage, Scot, Jason and Michele played for the food, and Julia went head-to-head with Joe for the love letter. Michele would win the food challenge, Julia won the letter, and after an intense, hard fought challenge, it was Tai who beat out Aubry to win the game advantage. What was the advantage? It was a huge one: Tai gets to cast a second vote at a Tribal Council, up until there are five people left in the game. That’s huge!
Playing Both Sides. Julia reads her letter from home and gets a second wind of inspiration to keep fighting in the game. She pitches the idea to have the other girls vote for Tai, because in doing so they can flush his Idol, and the boys would likely vote out Cydney, whom Julia sees as disposable. Michele seems on board fully, but Aubry is skeptical, fearing that Julia is playing too good of a game to simply allow her to get all the way to the end. Aubry relays this plan to Tai, and Tai continues to struggle with his own code of ethics. His heart tells him that Aubry is a good person and someone he should align with, but his head is telling him to stick with the guys. When Tai goes and tells Jason and Scot about this overheard plan, Scot pushes that they need to target Aubry. Tai finds that he has no real say in the matter. “I’m feeling like an outsider,” he tells us. Scot just hopes that Aubry doesn’t win Immunity.
Immunity Challenge. A matter of concentration, endurance and strength, with outstretched arms, each player just had to keep discs pressed firmly against some beams on both sides of them. The discs had pots attached to them, and if the discs/pots fell, they were out. Each person’s discs were spread just far enough where they could only push with their fingertips on the discs. Joe was out quickly, and after about 25 minutes, Scot was out as well. After about 45 minutes, it was just Cydney, Jason and Aubry remaining, but Cydney then fell out. It was an intense battle between Jason and Aubry, but Aubry finally let her discs go about 1 hour and 15 minutes into the challenge, leaving Jason as the winner of the Immunity Necklace. “From here on out, we’re unstoppable,” Jason tells us, which is either incredibly accurate or a bit of foreshadowing as to what was to come…we all know that to boast on Survivor is akin to having a death wish.
No Turning Back. The boys give Aubry props for her fight in the game and in the last couple challenges, but agree that that is part of the reason why she must go next. Julia tells Scot and Jason that the plan is for the girls to vote out Tai, which is what Julia is wanting to happen, hoping he will either play his Idol and flush it, or he will be sent home. Jason and Scot acknowledge that they will need to blindside Tai at some point, so they pull Julia in with a Final Three promise. Elsewhere, Cydney is wanting to blindside Scot, and Aubry sees Tai as a key to their strategy. “Tai’s natural state is not with Jason and Scot,” Aubry says. Tai seems unsure whether to go along with the boys or not. The boys plan to get rid of Aubry, but they rest comfortably knowing that their fall-back plan is the “Super Idol,” which would consist of both Jason and Tai agreeing to use their Idols AFTER the votes are read to save the person that was voted out. But Jason, who has Immunity around his neck, inexplicably decides to give his half of the Super Idol to Scot (more on this later in my analysis article, link below) before they head of to Tribal. Still debating what to do, Tai tells us, “There’s no turning back.”
Tribal Council. They discuss the trash-talking that went on at the last Tribal, and the guys talk a little more smack, with supreme confidence that they are running the game. “It’s either they decide, or we decide,” says Jason. Probst picks up on Tai’s uncomfortableness and quietness, and asks him about it. Once again the boys give Aubry props for how good of a competitor she has been this season. With that, it was time to vote, and it wasn’t clear which way things were going to play out.
The Vote. Julia was shown voting for Tai, Jason was shown voting for Aubry, and Aubry was shown voting for Scot. No Idol was played to begin the vote, but Tai literally had the devil and angel on each shoulder telling him what he should do. “Play it, play it,” Julia whispered to Tai. “Don’t play it, don’t play it,” Scot whispered to him. Ultimately Tai did not play the Idol and the votes were read: Tai – Aubry – Scot – Tai – Aubry – Scot – Scot – Scot. In a 4-2-2 vote, Scot had the most votes and was voted out, but surely he was about to get saved by the “Super Idol.” But in order for the Super Idol to work, both Idols needed to be played. Remember that Jason gave his Idol to Scot, so of course Scot was on board, but after an awkward moment of “will he or won’t he?”, Tai – #WOW! – decided NOT to play his Idol! Dammmmn! This means that Scot would not only leave the game, but he would leave with Jason’s Idol in his pocket. It was perhaps the biggest “non-move” the game has ever seen, and it dealt a devastating death blow to the power alliance. Minutes ago, you had Jason (with Immunity), Scot and Tai, in possession of two Idols and an extra vote to cast at an upcoming Tribal, and now Scot and an Idol were both gone. Jason gasped in disbelief, and a speechless Scot walked into the darkness towards Ponderosa and his spot on the jury.
Analysis. As always, I will post a separate article with my personal thoughts on the game, you can find my Episode 10 analysis here (link will be active once analysis is live and online).
Next Time On…After betraying Scot, Tai is on top of the world, but Jason and Julia are out for blood. Julia threatens to – gasp! – eat Mark the Chicken once Tai is voted out. Why, Julia, why bring Mark the Chicken into this?!?!?
Be sure to check back tomorrow for my exclusive one-on-one interviews with Scot, and be sure to follow me,@tomsantilli.
Also, be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.