It’s been two weeks, "Survivor" fans, and so I actually feel compelled to watch the Previously Ons. Adorably, the Previously Ons choose to characterize the Ozzy/Erik dynamic as father/son. Which is… cute. Incest-y. But cute.

After Tracy gets voted out, Erik is freaking about his chances of making it any further. This is probably because his BFF Ozzy "doesn’t think of [him]self as a leader."  Ozzy says he’s just a guy with a lot of survival know-how. Ozzy, in this crowd that MAKES you a leader. But it also makes you a target. His therapy session with Ami, who tells him that NO, of COURSE she was never going to vote him off, doesn’t do a lot to ease his pain.

Over on the Airai side, things are sad enough that they’re eating a rat Jason caught. But not so sad that Parvati can’t talking-head about how pathetic Jason is for trying to keep them fed. Parvati, it appears, is in a Mood, and gets schemey. Since the general consensus is that Ozzy and James will not be long for this world after the merge, she decides to plan on an all-lady final four of her, Natalie, Alexis (Alexis? I don’t even know who Alexis is), and Amanda — which Natalie thinks will be "hot."  Oh, Natalie. Just because you’re on reality TV like Paris Hilton doesn’t mean you should talk like Paris Hilton.

I like that Parvati counts on Amanda (who’s over on Malakal right now) still being her BFF after the merge. It’s like when you and your best friend swear that you’ll be friends forever on the last day of 6th grade, and then you both go off to summer camp and you discover how much you like computers and she discovers how much she likes being popular. And then she blanks you on the first day of junior high and you spend the rest of the year eating your lunch in the library. Not that that happened to me.

Anyway, this is usually the part of the recap where I bitch about how we’ve been talk-talk-talking for 20 minutes without a reward challenge. Turns out, though, that this week there’s a reason! The kids on Airai go check out the tree mail, and discover a most curious note, instructing them to pick a member of the Malakal tribe to go off to Exile Island right before the day’s immunity challenge. Whomever they pick will be returned to their tribe just in time for that night’s tribal council… at which they will have immunity. Malakal gets the same note. This blows their minds, especially since they didn’t even think they were going to have an immunity challenge that day. I suppose when you’re on an island with no TV, the littlest surprise will shake you to your core.

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We come together before Jeff, where it’s revealed that Airai picked Ozzy and Malakal picked Alexis (who?), based on clues that the challenge was going to be about balance. And it is! Well, it’s an obstacle course across balance beams — first team to bring five flags back from the end of the course wins. The teams are playing for immunity and pizza and beer. It is the fight of their lives.

This is exactly the sort of crazy "American Gladiators"-esque challenge I enjoy watching, but it would be a lot more fun to watch if the previews for this episode hadn’t constantly shown Erik chest-slamming into a platform. Fortunately, while the boy is hurt, it’s not a mortal wound. Except, of course, in the world of the game. Airai wins, what, their fifth immunity challenge in a row? (For underdogs with a crappy camp, they have an impressive winning streak.)  And as Ami puts it, there’s no way out for Erik tonight.

Normally I don’t put a lot of effort into telling y’all about the teams enjoying their reward, but damn, Airai’s pizza looks good. Also — James can open beer bottles with his TEETH. Now that is a good skill for a man to have. Especially a man with quality dental insurance.

On Exile Island, Ozzy leads Alexis (huh?) on a search for the immunity idol — mainly to find out if someone has taken his fake. He is full of glee when he discovers that it is gone.

Back in Malakal, Erik is telling the cutest stories about Ami’s past and present scheming. Everyone knows that he’s just talking smack to try and save his ass, but for Cirie and Amanda, Erik’s tales do have the ring of truth. Sensing the danger, Ami initiates some girl bonding that leaves her feeling more secure with the tribe, and thanks Erik for inspiring her to do that. She thanks him while also casually pointing a machete in his direction.  Ami’s a little scary when she has a really big knife and a really big smile on her face.

Fortunately for Erik, Papa Bear comes home from Exile Island just at the right time, and Erik does a really nice job of trying to sway Ozzy over to the vote-Ami-out place, mainly by saying that Ami wanted to vote Ozzy out a few weeks. Ozzy and Amanda have their first real couple’s squabble when they can’t agree on whom they trust less: Erik or Ami. They’re not the first couple to fight over each other’s friends, I suppose. Never underestimate the power of girl talk, or male bonding. But before Ozzy and Amanda can get to the make-up sex — tribal council!

96610_d10443_3 I thought the challenge would be the hardest thing to watch today, but that turns out not to be true. The hardest thing to watch is Ami break down in tears because she just wants to be a part of the tribe. It actually seems like it could be either Erik or Ami who goes… And it’s Ami, thanks to Ozzy and Amanda’s votes. I guess we know who wears the board shorts in that relationship. Bye Ami. I did enjoy your blue dress.

Next week: Time to merge! Hugs for everyone! Parvati is jealous of Alexis! (Who?) And Jason’s dumbassery is revealed! Good wholesome fun for all.

- Liz Shannon Miller

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