What I enjoy sometimes about the nonfiction format is that it puts my own life in perspective. For example: maybe I’m single this Valentine’s Day, but at least I’m not playing to the cameras with a cheap and meaningless reality show affair.  Thanks for the reality check, "Survivor"!

The Favorites return to camp Night 3 down one Fairplay, but up one fish, which Ozzy has apparently caught with his bare hands in the dark.  OK.  Maybe I can get over the David Faustino resemblance. But only because I like sushi, and I like men who can provide me sushi even more.

The next morning, we hang out with the Fans, who are trying to establish some order in their chaotic camp – mainly by shouting a whole bunch. Finally, they start focusing on building a fire.

Fire
For fans of a show that emphasizes basic survival skills, these guys are absolutely useless at starting a fire. How do you sign up for this show without considering the possibility that knowing how to build a fire might be important? There are 9-year-old Girl Scouts who are better prepared.

"Why is everyone talking all the time and not working?" says Joel the firefighter (while the irony of being a firefighter who can’t make fire flies right over his head). Meanwhile, Mikey B the aspiring writer cackles with glee over how much drama the Fans are able to generate out of these simple tasks. "We haven’t even had to go to tribal council yet, and there’s all this drama!" Shut up, Dramarama.

Eventually, the firestarters give up on the flint and start focusing on what Kathy has been moaning about all morning – making a decent shelter. Their solution though, is to call dibs on the caves where Kathy, Tracy and Chet were planning to sleep – and then telling Kathy et al that they’re not welcome in CaveTown.

This quickly establishes the new lines of the tribe, setting up Tracy, Kathy, and Chet as outcasts. Kathy reacts by immediately comparing the other, productive members of the tribe to "those mean girls in high school," an argument that will sound familiar to anyone who’s spent time on Internet message boards, while Tracy and Chet devise a separate shelter. Meanwhile, the cool kids all stand around and laugh about how cool they are not to be like the outcasts. This show is a feat of subtlety.

However, Kathy, Tracy and Chet’s shelter ends up being totally rad, thanks to Tracy’s mad skills, and the cool kids deign to admit that they belong to the same tribe. Especially after Tracy helps them build a another shelter. They make fire! Everyone eats clam! Peace and prosperity reign! Except, of course, that Mikey and Mary the real estate agent are flirting bunches, annoying Joel. And Joel?  Not the sort of guy you want to annoy.

That night at the Favorites camp, the Hookup Kids from last week are making out right in front of the rest of the tribe, offending many delicate sensibilities. Hard to imagine that veteran "Survivor’ contestants would have boundary issues, but there you go. Fed up with the exhibitionists, Cirie gets off the sidelines and joins up with the Bitter Spinster alliance, and oh my God, there’s been like 20 minutes of this crap. Can we please get to a physical challenge?

Challenge_2
Jeff Probst says yes, yes we can. This week’s game is swimming to a platform to release keys that a Keymaster (insert your own "Ghostbusters" joke here) uses to unlock a box containing puzzle pieces that the Puzzlemasters assemble. It is a complicated series of tasks requiring eight people filling a number of different roles. The Fans sit out Kathy, and the action begins!

The Favorites obliterate the challenge (Jeff likes to say "obliterate" a lot), while Chet fails to find his key, costing the Fans victory and dooming them to Tribal Council. The Favorites get to choose someone from the Fans team to send to Exile Island, and they choose Kathy because they are also mean girls like the ones in high school.  But Jeff slams down a surprise – the Favorites also have to send someone from their tribe to Exile Island! Shocking! They choose Cirie. Not so shocking.

As someone who stopped watching "Survivor" in 2001, Exile Island is a bit confusing to me, but according to Jeff it’s a chance for one tribe member to get a short vacation away from their tribe – while the rest of their tribe schemes against them.

Kathy
Kathy (left) and Cirie spend their intimate little getaway together walking back and forth across the ocean, looking for an immunity idol. It is the most exhausting and frustrating first date I can imagine, and I have been on some bad ones.

At the Fans camp, Mikey wants to target Chet, and is overanalyzing the way voting might break down as only a true fan can. Joel is confused and annoyed – both by Mikey’s nerding out and the way in which he’s trying to take control of the tribe. So Joel, knowing that Mikey is the biggest threat, decides to target… Mary, not Mikey. Because the Mikey/Mary alliance needs to be destroyed and "they’ll need Mikey for some of the challenges." I can’t figure out if Joel is sexist or jealous, but hey, who says I have to pick one?

Joel’s scheming works, with five people voting to eliminate Mary. He grins as she walks out. It’s an important message for Valentine’s Day: no one likes a happy couple.

Next week: The teams play Tackle Water Capture the Flag or something. Joel: "If someone comes and invades my home I’m going to kill them." I believe him.

- Liz Shannon Miller

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