We come back to the Malakal camp on “Survivor,” and the mood is somehow lighter, less tinged by mortal terror. Why is this? Oh, right, Joel’s gone. Erik, shocked by the loss of Joel, interviews that he’s going to try lying and backstabbing now. Congrats, Erik, on finally figuring out that you’re playing a game based on manipulation and deceit. Probably would have been smart of you to figure this out a few weeks ago, but hey, points for effort.

Meanwhile, Tracy doesn’t like not being in control, and thus doesn’t like how Ozzy-focused Malakal is becoming. So she and Ami begin a formal courtship. Ami is more than happy to consider the thought of working with the Fans on Malakal. Seeing as how the Favorites never really liked her anyway.

At Airai, Jonathan worries about his knee, while James worries about Jonathan having to exit the game and “leave him with a bunch of girls.” There’s not a lot of time to dwell on this fretting, though, because it’s time for a reward challenge!

BuildThis week, each tribe has a tunnel and a bunch of obstacles with which to blockade it before the other tribe tries to break through. It’s a bit disjointed, and Airai seems to win because… I don’t know, they just do. It’s what they do, win.

But in victory comes tragedy, or something like that. Jonathan’s knee is just effed up, and “Survivor” Doctor tells him that he has to choose between playing the game or keeping his leg. Realizing that the title of “Survivor” is meant to be more rhetorical than real, Jonathan decides to drop out of the game and get proper medical care. I want to make fun of him, but it’s actually kind of sad. So I’ll let this one go. Meanwhile, Kathy is sobbing and talking about how she only knew Jonathan for a few days, but in those days they loved a lifetime. (I’ll make fun of Kathy a little bit.)

James, his fears about Jonathan now having come true, is concerned about being surrounded by women, whom he does not think he’ll be able to persuade easily. James, sweetheart, women are just as shallow as men. Just keep your shirt off, and the girls (and Jason) will fall in line.

On Exile Island, Jason goes looking for the hidden immunity idol while Chet enjoys a little siesta, claiming that he too has an injured leg. (Given the beating he took last week at Joel’s hands, that’s pretty plausible.) Jason manages to follow the clues pretty easily, discovering the fake immunity idol Ozzy planted last week. So of course the question is: will Jason think that it’s the real idol? And the answer is: yes, hell yes. Even though it’s a stick with some notches in it and no other decoration. Oh, Jason. You are a babe in the woods.

JamesJeff lets us know that Jonathan is doing fine before setting the tribes to immunity challenging. The task involves helping two tribe members cross between two platforms by holding up a pair of stepping poles. James literally carries Airai to victory by balancing Eliza and Parvati on top of the poles and hauling them across one at a time. James? Seriously. Enjoy your tribe. As you are now their king.

Malakal returns to camp, still in shock over Jonathan’s departure (losing challenges, at this point, is not at all a surprise). But Chet feels left out, and points out his own leg injury, which he decides also needs surgery. I’m sure it hurts, Chet, but until “Survivor” Doctor shows up I’m not too impressed.

No matter what I might think, though, Chet says he’s done, and asks the tribe to vote him out that night. He pretty much begs them to do it. Ozzy is all about that, but Erik is not, because Erik thinks it would be a much more noble thing for Chet to stick around, join Erik, Tracy, and Ami in voting off Ozzy, and continue to let the island kick the crap out of him. So Erik pleads with an exhausted Chet: “If you could use your last dying breath to do this for us, it would be the most amazing play in the history of the game.” OK. We might have a problem with misplaced priorities here.

ChetChet tells them that he’ll think about this Ozzy plan, but he flakes before tribal council and is quickly put out of his misery. As a result, Ozzy doesn’t have to reveal his immunity idol and Tracy loses her favorite pawn. I’m rooting for Tracy, but I have to say that I’m glad her plan didn’t work. Her “vote out the strongest and most interesting players” plan has had a lot of success for her, but it is making the show a little dull — and my job harder.

Next week on “Survivor”: Kathy’s ready to crack. But she’s been ready to crack for about two weeks now, so we’ll see how that goes. Also, rain!

— Liz Shannon Miller

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