Welcome to "Survivor," which for the first few minutes is seriously concerned with the survival of Gravedigger James’s infected finger. "Surivor" Doctor warns him right after Tribal Council that the infection is close to the joint, and if it’s not better soon he stands a chance of permanently disabling the finger. Meanwhile, Alexis face-planted while walking around that morning, and is now nursing a leg injury. Knowing that injury might remove two obstacles in her path to victory, Cirie is as jazzed as someone can be without coming off like a horrible human being. But only just barely.
This week’s reward challenge: Survivor "Family Feud"/"Trivial Pursuit," where everyone’s quizzed about everyone else. What are they gonna win? Loved ones! Well, not new and exciting loved ones, presumably, but visits from family members. Erik is positively gleeful over his brother Kurt, showing off his beard ("Sweet beard," Kurt agrees) and his proximity to Jeff Probst ("Look, that’s Jeff Probst, he’s just standing there!"). Jeff tells Erik that he’s a freak. Don’t talk that way about Erik, Jeff.
I was gonna give Kurt the award of Hottest Family Member, but do you know who is good looking? Cirie’s husband H.B. He even gives Cirie a flower!
Trivia challenge doesn’t reveal too much we didn’t already know, except that everyone is pretty sick of Parvati’s talk-talkin’. And James, who targets Parvati relentlessly during the elimination portion of the challenge, is clearly still holding a grudge. Alexis wins, and decides to take Cirie and Natalie, along with all relations, to swim in a lake full of jellyfish. Allegedly the jellyfish are stingless. Still not my idea of a reward, though. Pretty to look at, but only through glass.
Hey, you know what sucks double? Losing a reward challenge and then getting pulled out of the game by "Survivor" Doctor. Jesus, is this season just three episodes shorter than usual? James is the third person to leave because of medical issues (or being an idiot). And, hey, poor James! He wasn’t going to make it much longer, anyways, but this is still super-sad. But my boy Erik is the last man standing. So that’s something to be glad about.
Alexis chooses an all-too-willing Amanda to go to Exile Island, where much digging and searching reveals the final clue to the now back-in-play hidden immunity idol, which is buried back at camp. I’m sure it’s a little disappointing not to have it in your hands, but it still puts Amanda one over everyone else. Which is good, because Alexis, Natalie, and Parvati are discussing who to get rid of, and Natalie and Alexis both think that Amanda is a threat. Parvati says she could never vote against Amanda, her "Survivor" BFF. We’ll see how long that point-of-view lasts.
Today’s immunity challenge: shooting a gun at sake bottles. First to destroy three takes it. What does this represent about Micronesian culture? Japanese fighter planes and World War II? "Survivor" confuses me. Either way, Erik’s possible past as a hardcore gamer comes in handy and he takes immunity.
Amanda, meanwhile, is a genius (well, a genius who says "oh my god" a lot). Right after the challenge, she empties her bag in front of everyone so that they know she doesn’t have the hidden idol, and tells a story about how she couldn’t find the first clue. Which is a pretty small lie in the grand scheme of things. But she confesses the truth to Parvati, saying she needs her help to dig it up. Looks like their BFF-ery is intact after all.
Erik and Alexis, meanwhile, believe Amanda’s story about not finding the hidden idol and decide to target her. Amanda confronts Erik, asking him to tell her whether or not he’s going to vote for her. He says yes — and Cirie also confirms that she’s going along with that plan, since, with six people left, if Cirie voted with Parvati and Amanda then it’d be a tie that’d result in a random selection. So, while Parvati distracts the others, Amanda starts digging — which is when we dissolve into night and Tribal Council…
During the Oprah part of Council, Amanda does a great job of playing the pissed-off victim, calling Erik out for not protecting her when she protected him and hugging Parvati with the utmost of woe… Until, of course, all the votes are cast and Jeff asks for any hidden immunity idols that might be around. Amanda grins BIG. Snapadoodle! So the person going home tonight is the person Amanda and Parvati agreed to vote out, who is… Alexis! Alexis limps away into the night. I continue to struggle to remember who she is.
Next week: Erik is discovering the drawbacks of being the only man in a world of women. One of which includes Natalie wanting to bitch slap you. (Her words.)
– Liz Shannon Miller