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'Survivor: Cagayan', Episode 4 recap: Functioning brains

"Episode 4."
Monty Brinton/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Expectations can be scary. If someone calls you a brain, the onus suddenly feels like it is on you to prove your intelligence. If someone places you on a tribe full of beautiful people, every detail of your physique becomes magnified and scrutinized. And if you're a former NBA star, you better beat a untrained, skinny white kid at a game of hoops. Yes, the "Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty" twist this season has amplified these characteristics for all of this year's contestants, and in Wednesday night's episode of "Survivor: Cagayan," all three tribes found themselves needing to prove they've been categorized correctly. And all three ultimately rose to the challenge.

Onwards with the recap, but first, remember to follow me @tomsantilli for all of my weekly Survivor coverage, including episode previews, recaps, exclusive interviews with castaways, celebrity interviews and movie reviews.

Aftermath. The episode began with the Beauty Tribe returning from Tribal Council after having just voted out Brice. "Let's try not to do that again," someone said as they arrived back at camp. Morgan now feels all alone, without an ally in the game after Jeremiah decided to stay true to his "first alliance" with LJ, Alexis and Jefra. Morgan did confront him about his decision and also tells Alexis her opinion on Jeremiah of being a bit untrustworthy. Morgan tells Alexis that Jeremiah had just told Morgan a few days ago that he wanted to get LJ out (true or not), and although Alexis knows better, she admits that Morgan's story sound believable.

Reward Challenge. Receiving tree mail at camp, the Brains try practicing the upcoming challenge. Would their practice pay off? It's a safe bet that, probably not, if you've been watching this tribe's implosion since Day One. The challenge was the famous Survivor blindfold challenge, where two blindfolded members had to locate five items in an obstacle course, with a fellow team member yelling out directions to them. The twist this time was that once retrieved, the items had to be raised by a pulley - still blindfolded - to the caller. Per norm, the Beauty Tribe worked well together and they easily won the challenge, which rewarded them with three hens and a rooster. OK, perhaps LJ wouldn't agree with the assessment that it was won "easily," as he ran into several different wooden posts that got him right in the...where you don't want a wooded post to hit you. For the second prize of one dozen eggs, the Brains were well ahead of the Brawns, but J'Tia seemed to be struggling mightily - again - as one of the pulley operators, her only task in the challenge. It was a major come-from-behind second-place finish for the Brawn tribe, but they "pulley-ed" it out.

The Chicken and the Egg Debate, Debunked. As the Beauties arrived back at camp with their newly acquired livestock, Jeremiah publicly discovers and reads a clue to the hidden Idol, the one that LJ has already found. Then, it started. "Does, like, the rooster have to get it on with one of the hens to make eggs?" Alexis asks the others. Upon some grumbled explanation from the others, her follow-up question was even better. "So, the eggs just keep happening?" LJ, to the camera, reiterated something that we already have heard and already know: "We have the stereotypical beauty tribe." Pointing out the obvious may not impress anybody, but LJ was about to go on to debunk and finally solve one of the greatest mysteries known to mankind: What came first, the chicken or the egg? "Dinosaurs had eggs, and they were before the chickens." Boom! Take that, philosophers of the modern world! Meanwhile, the not-so-sharp drawer full of knives was still at it once Jeremiah killed one of the chickens by snapping its head off, causing the body to run away. "So chickens don't need a brain to function?" Asked Alexis. Just in the same way as humans, Alexis.

Throwing a Challenge? At the Brawns tribe, we get a (thus far) rare glance at Lindsey, who seems to be super-close with Cliff. Working off of the lie told to her by Tony, Sarah is gunning to get rid of Cliff next. She approaches Woo - who had also been shown as being close with Cliff - and gets his opinion on ousting Cliff. Much to our surprise, Woo is totally down. "We're young," Woo tells her. "It's our time to shine." He admits he has mad respect for Cliff, but that the former NBA player does "got fat bankroll." Tony sees Sarah and Woo whispering and gets a bit paranoid, but Sarah lets him know that Woo is in with their alliance. Along with Trish, they now seem to have a majority of four with Cliff and Lindsey on the outside. After swearing on his badge that he is tight with Sarah, Tony then gives the best line of the night to the camera, in case we've forgotten: "I'm here to lie, cheat and steal. I'm here to drag people's dreams through the mud so I can pursue mine." Sarah seems to have convinced her alliance to throw the challenge in order to get Cliff out.

Immunity Challenge. When everybody heard the whole "Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty" twist this season, many were worried that the challenges would too heavily favor one tribe over another. But never did I expect there to be such a blatant advantage given to one tribe! I mean, you might as well whip out the Medallion of Power again! Of course, I'm talking about tonight's Immunity Challenge, which featured a basketball portion. Not exactly fair, when one of the tribes has an NBA player on their team! The challenge took place in the water, where they had to swim down to release five different buoys, which would then be thrown into a floating basket. Once again, the Beauty tribe dominated and finished first. But despite trying desperately to throw the challenge and lose on purpose, the end of the challenge had Cliff of the Brawn tribe squared up against Spencer of the Brain tribe, in a one-on-one shoot-out. Had Cliff lost to Spencer at hoops and then gotten voted out of the game, that may have been the absolute most gut-wrenching and embarrassing exit in Survivor history. But don't try to show up Uncle Cliffy. As expected - and thanks once again to J'Tia's struggles during the challenge - Cliff was able to sink the game-winning shot, sending the Brains back to Tribal for the third time out of four.

Sucking Less. It appears that Sarah had forgotten to account for just how terrible the Brains tribe is. "We tried so hard to blow that challenge," Sarah said. "That team sucks, they deserve to lose after that. That's all I can say."

Hanging in There. You can just sense the frustration with Spencer, who feels "jipped" thus far in the game. He feels like he is personally performing well, but things just aren't working out. J'Tia on the other hand, feels like that cat in the poster, who says "Hang in there!" She knows she is on borrowed time, after the rice incident and her consistently poor challenge performances. All of the power lies in what Tasha and Kass choose to do and at first they decide to keep Spencer (duh, right?) because he is just a better overall asset to their tribe. They then decide not to tell Spencer or J'Tia, to make them both squirm and to avoid another J'Tia meltdown. But not so fast, this is the Brains tribe we're dealing with. Moments later, Tasha has second-thoughts and confronts Kass with the idea of keeping the more loyal J'Tia. Kass seems to want to just do whatever, comparing Tasha's swings to that of a pendulum. "Just make a decision and live with it," Kass says. So would it be Spencer or J'Tia? Is there anyone in America not thinking that it's J'Tia who will go home?

Tribal Council. One of the most dysfunctional tribes in Survivor history, the Brains tribe is met with the perfect greeting by Jeff Probst, as he throws his hands in the air and then just shakes his head at them, in silence, almost as if to say, "where do I even begin with you idiots?" He decides to start with J'Tia's poor challenge performances. Kass eventually admits that, "Tonight, I might make a really bad decision." As Spencer and J'Tia try to defend themselves, Tasha whispers to Kass, "What do you want to do?" The moment is not lost on Probst, who calls them out and proceeds to get so excited that his eyes nearly pop out of his head. "It's happening right now!" he squeals, referring to the true Survivor rarity these days: A voting decision actually being made right at Tribal Council. Spencer and J'Tia plead their cases and Spencer admits, "As a viewer, I think I would love this, but right here, it's pretty scary." Kass obviously wants to avoid making a stupid decision, but asks the rhetorical question: "What is stupid?" The answer would be coming up shortly, as it was time to vote.

The Vote. So what did Kass and Tasha decide to do? In a 3-1 vote, J'Tia was finally sent home, giving Spencer a moment to breathe a ginormous sigh of relief. "Good luck you guys," were J'Tia's final words before having her torch snuffed. Spencer leaned in and told Tasha, "I'm going to show you that you made the right decision. I'm with you a hundred percent." Tasha confidently replied, "I know."

Analysis. For all of my thoughts and opinions on what went down on tonight's episode, be sure to read my analysis article at

Next Time On...With only three members left, the Brains tribe is "near extinction" Probst tells us. But all is about to change. Next week's episode will feature a major twist! Probst tells them: "Drop your buffs. Brains, Brawn and Beauty is no more." Holy crap!

What are your thoughts on the episode? How will next week's twist affect the game? Did Kass and Tasha make the right decision to keep Spencer in the game? Post your comments below!

Be sure to subscribe to this column (above by my name) to receive email alerts of new postings, as you will not want to miss my exclusive one-on-one interview with J'Tia tomorrow!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @tomsantilli, and at as well!

Also, make sure you check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, Survivor Fever.

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