Last week’s emotional episode was like a punch to the gut when all was said and done. First, Big Brother alum Caleb Reynolds was medically-evacuated in what was an incredibly scary incident following a challenge. Then, Alecia was finally voted out when the Brawns returned to Tribal Council for the third time already this season. It was a whirlwind episode that left many of us gasping for breath. And while this Wednesday night’s episode of “Survivor: Kaoh Rong,” wasn’t nearly as strenuous, it did require several of the remaining players to dig deep, focus and trust in their gut instincts, as a tribe shake-up threatened to suck the air out of someone’s game. Here’s the full episode recap:
First Blood. Day 12 began with us learning that former FBI agent Joe has a nasty cut on his finger, and it is starting to show some signs of infection. This bodes well for Peter, the tribe doctor, who knows he is all alone in the game and is looking to show his worth to the tribe. “I feel like a neutered dog right now because I have no play,” Peter tells us. After inspecting the finger, Peter tells Joe that it doesn’t look horrible at the moment and he tries to help him drain it a bit with a fish hook. Could this be another bit of medical foreshadowing? Should we be worried about Joe? This season, take no scene for granted when it focuses on any sort of medical situation.
The Front-Runner. Elsewhere at the Brains beach, Neal goes off looking for an Idol, and we know that usually when this is shown, somebody ends up finding one. Boy does Neal make it look easy. Like at the other two tribes, he first finds a clue in a tree, then a locked box buried at the foot of said tree. Neal is quickly shown getting the key from a very tall tree, opening the box, and retrieving the Idol…it definitely seemed much harder for the others to claim theirs! “The King has his Idol,” Neal proclaims. He continues. “One of my philosophies is you make your own luck, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. If someone is betting in Vegas, I’m the front-runner.” Usually this sort of talk is a sign of bad things to come, usually quite quickly, but Neal is definitely feeling good (now Neal, Jason and Tai all have Idols).
#DropYourBuffs. As the tribes gathered, Jeff Probst gave a familiar line, but with a twist: “You’re getting your first look at the Brawn Tribe, Alecia voted out at the last Tribal Council…you’re also getting your last look at the Brawn Tribe.” Don’t worry, even though the Brawns had a momentary “oh s**t!” moment, Probst wasn’t threatening them at all…he was trying to cleverly announce that there was about to be a tribe shake-up. He did follow this up with the customary “Drop your buffs” line, and explained what was about to happen. Probst admitted that Caleb’s unexpected exit did affect the game in more ways than one, because his exit left only 13 players left in the game, an odd number. It was supposed to be a swap that would create two equal tribes of seven players each, but now, this opened the door for a new twist to be introduced. Everybody would draw buffs at random, forming a new yellow (Gondol) and blue (Chan Loh) tribe. But there would also be one red buff, and whomever drew this buff would be sent back to the abandoned Brawn beach ALL ALONE. Basically, Exile Island. The good news though, was this person would be safe through the next Tribal Council, and then would rejoin whichever tribe lost the next Immunity Challenge (got all that?). With that, the players drew their buffs at random…
New Tribes. It was poor Julia who drew the red buff, the youngest person in the game. Her powerful girl alliance was decimated when Anna and Michele also ended up on opposing tribes. With Julia going it alone, the new Blue tribe consisted of Jason, Nick, Deb, Neal, Michele and Cydney (a 2 Brain, 2 Brawn, 2 Beauty split), and the new Yellow tribe was Aubry, Tai, Scot, Joe, Peter and Anna (a 3 Brain, 2 Beauty, 1 Brawn split). Probst was the only one that seemed happy with the divisions, and it was officially a brand new game.
Beauty in the Eyes of the Be-Header. Both tribes considered their new make-up, and concluded that it would be best to get rid of a former Beauty member first, because if their tribe loses, Julia – a Beauty – would join their tribe, so if they didn’t take out a Beauty now, the Beauties would end up having the numbers. This meant that Anna and Tai were targets, as were Nick and Michele on their tribe.
New Dynamics. Peter, once the Brain outcast, now finds himself in the power alliance if only he could stick with Aubry and Joe. Aubry admits she doesn’t trust Peter at all, but seems to know that she needs him at the moment. Over at the Blue camp, Deb doesn’t seem affected by the shake-up. “I’m on the offensive, not the defensive,” she tells us. “Once again I’m the mastermind behind the scenes, and they just don’t see me coming.” Despite this claim, it seems that Jason and Cydney are in the best position at camp…on one side they have Neal and Deb wanting to align and on the other they have Nick and Michele. Over at the Yellow camp, although Scot is all alone, it still seems to be Anna or Tai that people want to get rid of first. Anna tries hard to throw Tai under the bus, but is she trying a bit too hard?
All Alone. We briefly get to see Julia all alone and struggling by herself over at the Brawn beach…aaawwwwww.
Immunity Challenge. Holy Mackerel, it’s a fish challenge and puzzle! Collect big wooden fish from the water, race them to shore, untie them from the net, and ultimately solve a fish puzzle with them. It seemed pretty close until it got to the puzzle phase, but the Blue tribe came out on top. That meant that Aubry, Peter, Joe, Scot, Anna and Tai were headed to Tribal Council.
Big-Time Scrambling. All kinds of scenarios were at work back at camp. Tai worried that he would be voted out with his Idol in his pocket and wondered if he should use it. Instead, he tells Anna and Scot about it, and even shows it to them. His plan? To vote together and use the Idol to blindside Peter. On the other side of the beach, Aubry and Joe discuss getting rid of Tai, but Peter suggests that Anna is the bigger threat. Aubry tells Scot that Anna is the target, and this information sways Scot into some deeper thought. Instead of voting along with Tai and Anna, what if instead he just votes for Anna and gets rid of her? If he aligns with Tai and can then make the merge, he would know where two hidden Idols were located (one with Tai, one with ally Jason), and therefore they would be able to use the “Super Idol,” after combining the two. Scot indeed goes to Tai and is shown encouraging him not to use his Idol at Tribal. Tai struggles mightily with what to do heading into Tribal Council.
Tribal Council. It’s basically Tai or Anna. Both argue for their lives in the game, with Tai offering to show how hard he works at climbing trees for food, and the cuts he has gotten on his inner thighs…as he pulls up his pants to show everyone, Probst tells him, “I believe you.” Joe tells Probst that he is convinced that the twist this season is that there is no twist, and that there are no Idols in the game at all this season (boy is he mistaken). Peter continues to be Peter, and tells everyone, “I’m in the position of power, we can do whatever we want, and we’re going to.”
The Vote. Tai decides NOT to play his Idol, and this causes Anna’s jaw to hit the floor, immediately knowing that this was not a good sign for her game. She was right. The votes were read, and unanimously, 5-1 (she voted for Peter), Anna was voted out of the game. She just was too big a threat and wasn’t able to hide that fact. Anna’s exit will mean that Julia will enter into her place next week, and will find herself in a similar situation, in the minority alliance with three Brains calling the shots.
Analysis. As always, I will post a separate article with my personal thoughts on the game, you can find my Episode 5 analysis here (link will be active once analysis is live and online).
Next Time On…Deb tries out a “new strategy” by flirting with Nick, and Joe goes into full FBI investigation mode on Peter.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for my exclusive one-on-one interviews with Anna, and be sure to follow me,@tomsantilli.
Also, be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.