Jason’s world blew up big-time last week on “Survivor: Kaoh Rong,” when Tai decided not to use his hidden Idol to save Scot. Scot left the game with Jason’s Idol in his possession, and per Survivor rules, that means that it’s gone. Having just been seated atop the world, Jason found himself without an Idol, without his closest ally and without what he once thought was a powerhouse alliance. But in the game of Survivor, things never seem to stay the same for long. Just as quickly as Jason lost power, could he find a crack and work his way back into the game? That was the over-riding theme of this week’s episode, and here’s the full recap:
Aftermath. “The littlest guy took out the biggest guy in the game,” Tai said upon returning from the Scot Tribal Council, and that just about summed up what had happened. Joe and Aubry were extremely happy to see Scot go, as there newly-formed alliance with Tai and Cydney – with only seven left in the game – now seem to have complete power, if they stick together. Tai knows he has power in the game, still with a second-vote advantage and a hidden Idol in his pocket, and Jason pretty much sums it up to the rest of the players. “You’ll never get rid of Tai now,” he tells them. Jason congratulates his former ally Cydney on the big move and admits to us that he never saw Tai’s move coming. “The one and only thing that could go wrong, went wrong,” Jason says. He is also reeling, knowing that he lost his Idol in the process after he handed it to Scot. Down but far from out, Jason is not about to give up. He approaches Cydney and tells her, “If you want to do something nuts, you know I’m nutty.” Julia meanwhile, is in absolute shock. She has been playing both sides and it finally caught up to her, as she was not in on the Scot vote. Michele wasn’t either, but remained cool and collected compared to the clear frustration that was being shown by Julia. Aubry “can’t stop smiling,” but Tai makes a preposterous prediction when he says, “From now on there won’t be a blindside.” Ha!
Reparation. Tai is a good man, by his nature. We all know and can see that. But man, is his game-play flip-floppy. The morning after betraying Scot, it is not sitting well with him that he did wrong by Jason. He approaches Jason, asks to talk, and proceeds to tell him his reasoning as to why he did what he did. Jason shows an impressive display of composure by hearing him out, secretly bottling up the anger inside of him. Jason wants revenge on Tai badly, but isn’t about to show that to anyone. It’s a smart game-move. All the while, Jason is contemplating just what can be done to “get back in” with the power alliance, to flip the script on Tai.
Reward Challenge. For reward of a helicopter ride and a private beach picnic, the contestants were paired up and had to navigate an obstacle course, collect three rings, and then toss the rings onto a hanging hook. By random draw, Jason did not get to compete as he was the odd-man-out (when it rains it pours). Joe and Tai, Aubry and Julia and Michele and Cydney were the pairs, with Michele and Cydney winning the challenge. They got to choose one person to accompany them on reward, and they chose Aubry, stating that she had not had any food rewards yet in the game.
Dinner and a Motive. After a high-flying helicopter ride, a Beauty (Michele), a Brain (Aubry) and a Brawn (Cydney) ate and drank to their hearts’ content. Michele ceased the opportunity to make a pitch for herself, to re-establish herself with those currently holding all the cards (Aubry and Cydney). Michele feels successful that she was able to warm up to the other girls. With Michele away, Cydney and Aubry had a meaningful chat about strategy, even discussing their end-games. Aubry – always on-point with focusing on what’s in front of her – warns Cydney of thinking too far ahead. They mention that they need Tai to get rid of Julia and Jason, but they also mention that Tai needs to go, and cannot be allowed to reach the end.
“Sell, Sell, Sell.” Back at camp, Julia and Jason continue to analyze all angles as to how they can get back into the game. They want Tai gone badly, and they know that they need two other votes in order to flip things. Joe is Aubry’s “puppy dog” according to Jason and is immovable, but Julia figures she can count on her long-time ally Michele for at least one vote. By process of elimination, they determine that Cydney is the one they need to work on. They pitch their plan to blindside Tai to Cydney, and she shows them that she is open to it, but tells the camera, “It’s a me game, not a we game.” In other words, Cydney is going to do what’s best for Cydney.
Immunity Challenge. The Survivor Classic “Memory Race,” where the contestants had to swim out, memorize a series of symbols and numbers, and then swim back to shore to solve a puzzle based on the items they were able to memorize. Michele and Julia dominated, only having to swim out one time, but it was Michele who solved the puzzle with the correct word: Blindsided. Michele wins Immunity! And Jason knows that he’s in trouble.
Big Decisions. It’s scramble time back at camp. As the alliance of five – Aubry, Cydney, Joe, Tai and Michele – discuss their options, Aubry realizes that Julia is a much bigger threat than Jason, who might have polarized a large portion of jury members at this point. Julia doesn’t have a lot of blood on her hands, but has been shrewd and strong throughout. They all agree to vote out Julia. The only problem with that? Michele. She was on board totally when the plan was to vote out Jason, but now they are asking her to vote for her Day One ally, Julia. In front of her alliance, she agrees to do this, and they discuss what their story should be with Jason and Julia. “We’re going with the Tai thing,” Cydney tells Michele, but she does so in front of Tai! Bad move? Tai is suddenly a bit paranoid and is probably wondering just what the heck “the Tai thing” even is. Michele goes into the water to have a conversation with Julia, and she seems genuinely torn. But she agrees with Julia to vote for Tai. Their fate lies in the hands of Cydney though, and Michele doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of that, since Cydney would basically be the swing vote and could decide who goes. So will Cydney and Michele vote along with Julia and Jason to blindside Tai? Will Tai use his Idol? Or will Julia or Jason go home? Nothing was clear once again this week heading into Tribal.
Tribal Council. They talk about how this is a crucial point in the game, and about Tai’s game advantage and Idol. Aubry mentions that you just have to trust your alliance, but Jason rips into that theory, pointing out that Tai has twice now shat all over his alliance at different points in the game. Michele knows that big moves win you the game, saying, “You sit at the end and you have to have something to say.” Jason reminds Cydney one last time that he and Julia are “two islands looking for a home,” and that he “enjoys doing crazy stuff.” Tai is not at all comfortable, but it was time to vote…
The Vote. Jason is shown voting for Tai, and Aubry is shown voting for Julia, adding, “I’m not crossing it out this time,” referencing her earlier-season vote. Suddenly there were more whispers at Tribal when Tai leaned over and asked Aubry, “Should I play my Idol?” Aubry tells him, “I think you’re fine, but it’s your gut.” Ultimately – after a few tense seconds and some impending music – Tai decides NOT to play his Idol. A mistake? We were about to see as the votes were read: Tai – Julia – Tai – Julia – Julia – Julia – Julia. In a 5-2 vote, Julia became the fifth member of the Kaoh Rong jury (Julia and Jason voted for Tai, everyone else voted for Julia, including Michele, who was left in tears as Julia walked away). Probst summed up what he saw: “For maybe the first time this game, nobody came into Tribal confident. Fear has entered the game. When fear is in control, anything can happen.”
Analysis. As always, I will post a separate article with my personal thoughts on the game, you can find my Episode 11 analysis here (link will be active once analysis is live and online).
Next Time On…Jason is down and out, as nobody will strategize with him…that is, until the majority alliance begins to “crumble from within.”
Be sure to check back tomorrow for my exclusive one-on-one interviews with Julia, and be sure to follow me,@tomsantilli.
Also, be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.