Usually there is a calm before a storm, restored once it blows on by and continues on its path. But there is nothing calm about Survivor, before, during, or after a violent, uncontrollable force - let's call it Hurricane Brandon - passes through. On Wednesday night, the proverbial clouds began to dissipate and the sun began to shine, making way for a new day on the Caramoan Islands and in the game of Survivor after Brandon's departure last week.
But although Brandon may be gone, it was still a long way from blue skies. In fact, there was a severe shift in weather patterns that was about to provide a ray of sunshine for some, and for others, it was about to rain on their parade. Let's dig in:
Aftermath. The Favorites tribe returned and began to discuss Brandon and his incredulous exit from the game. They fear that he instilled in the Fans a sense of hope, where they had been all but defeated mentally and physically. Malcolm mentioned that Brandon "just wanted to go down in flames," while Phillip says, "It was all in his head." Man, when Phillip is calling you crazy, you know you're crazy. "I feel sorry for Brandon," Phillip said. "Even The Specialist couldn't tell you what was going on with him." Perhaps Corinne put it the most elegant, when, in terms of craziness, she says, "Brandon is right up there with Mel Gibson." "It was a certified asylum with Brandon here," Cochran added in.
Operation Thunder Dome. After they discuss Brandon for hopefully the last time, Phillip unveils to us his latest project for his Stealth-R-Us alliance. He calls it "Operation Thunder Dome," and its sole purpose is to get rid of Corinne. But would he get the chance?
Drop Your Buffs! Reynold is just waiting for a shift in the game, and when both tribes are called in for a supposed challenge, Probst gives him his wish: It's a tribal shake-up. Paint-filled eggs are randomly handed out and when smashed, they would contain that person's new tribe (Orange or Purple). So eggs went-a-smashin' and here was the end result: The new Orange (Gota) Tribe was Eddie, Reynold, Malcolm, Andrea, Sherri, Erik and Brenda. That left for the Purple (Bikal) Tribe, Corinne, Phillip, Michael, Matt, Julia, Cochran and Dawn. "The game just started anew," Cochran proclaimed. Brenda points out that her new tribes seems to have quite the physical advantage. Probst announces that both tribes get new flint and a new bag of rice and then sends them back to their new (for some) homes.
Splinter Sell. Reynold and Eddie's alliance of two remained intact and they couldn't be happier. With new tribe mates Malcolm and Erik present, they immediately begin to throw Sherri under the bus. Erik listens but secretly begins to believe that Reynold is not a real trustworthy guy. Elsewhere, Brenda and Andrea hear from Sherri that the two guys need to be kept in line as well. "Eddie is a wonderful guy," Sherri tells them. "When he's not with Reynold." She tells them that Reynold also has already used one Idol and that she fears he is looking for another.
Planting Seeds. The incredible sound bites continued to flow over at the new Bikal Tribe. Corinne started it off with, "I like gays," when talking about Michael now being on her tribe. Phillip tries to plant some seeds with Julia, telling her, "Most people underestimate me because of my pink underwear." Andrea then admits to Malcolm that she had a dream about him, where he found the Idol, to which he denies before giving the best line of the night. "Luckily, I'm an accomplished liar when it comes to women." How can Malcolm say lines like that and remain loved and adored by millions? Because he's Malcolm, that's why.
Immunity Challenge. Phillip and Corinne are still butting heads a bit when Phillip tells Corinne that he's approached Julia to align with them. Corinne shares the intel with Dawn, but before they have a chance to discuss too much, it was off to Immunity Challenge. In pairs, tribes would have to race out to retrieve incredibly heavy blocks, then use them to build a puzzle staircase. As Brenda predicted, her more physical tribe absolutely dominated...it wasn't even close. Probst at one point even had this zinger: "Bikal appears to be on some sort of medication, they're moving so slow!" That meant that the Purple (Bikal) Tribe was off to Tribal Council.
Superior Man. Phillip quotes a passage about how superior men stand their ground and wait for the proper moment to strike...precisely his plan in getting out Corinne. He realizes that he needs her in the alliance for the time being, and vice versa. Phillip's speech back at camp about their challenge loss goes over like a fart in church, but when he is approached separately by both Matt and Michael, things get interesting. Phillip tells them about the Stealth-R-Us alliance and gives them a test to recruit them in. Basically, he tells them to vote for Julia as a show of loyalty. Matt claimed it was hard to keep a straight face, but acknowledged that "Phillip might be my ticket." Matt and Michael agree to vote along with Phillip to get rid of Julia.
From One Power Couple To Another. Matt and Michael agree with Julia to vote for Dawn although they have no intention of that. In an effort to show honesty, Matt tells Cochran flat out that he does not have a hidden Idol. The Stealth-R-Us alliance is worried about an Idol, because it could compromise their current 4-3 majority over the Fans on their tribe. In a short pow-wow, the alliance looks to be voting out Julia, until Cochran (and his seeming partner-in-crime Dawn) raises the idea that instead of voting for Julia, perhaps they should break up the "power couple" of Matt and Michael. They feel confident Matt doesn't have the Idol so he'd be the one to gun for. Corinne throws in one last, "God save the gay" and then insults Julia by saying, "she doesn't contribute anything but a nasally voice," before heading off to Tribal.
Tribal Council. It appears that it will 100% be a Fan getting the boot. As Corinne answers a question from Jeff, she talks openly about how much she likes the Fans and how she's, "Always wanted to play with a gay." She then makes a shocking statement that seemed to slip by, but could cause damage later: "There's at least three people I'd replace in my own alliance," she says.
The Vote. When no Idol is played, Phillip, Corinne, Cochran and Dawn give each other a look and a sigh of relief. The votes are read: Two for Julia (Matt and Michael, staying true to their arrangement with Phillip), one for Dawn (Julia, staying true to her word with Matt and Michael) and then four votes for poor Matt. With that, Matt was ousted from the game. Too soon!
Analysis. The game of Survivor is rarely fair and Matt definitely fell victim to crappy luck and circumstances. With much more to say on tonight's episode, be sure to check out my bonus analysis at this link, at TheTVKing.com.
Next Time On...Phillip is shown "talking the talk," but not "walking the walk." Quite literally, as he is shown pooping out during a water challenge. Then we see Malcolm wheeling and dealing with Reynold as Probst tells us that his game "is just getting started."
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What are your thoughts on tonight's episode? How will the shake-up effect the game? Post your thoughts below! See you after the show!