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I really don’t know why the show thought to cram a double-elimination boot into the game so late in the season. I’m guessing the wise folks over at CBS thought we would get a 1-2 Reynold/Eddie elimination, but nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Yes, one of the two remaining Three Amigos was sent packing tonight (Reynold), but the other boot was a total blindside. Let it be said that it was a blindside I saw coming, just not this early into the endgame.
We start off with the announcement that there will be a combined reward/immunity challenge. The winner gets the immunity necklace as well as the hidden immunity idol clue, which seems to just be piling on. What good is the hidden immunity idol at this point in the game with the scales so tipped against Eddie and Reynold? The challenge clearly favors petite women as well, as it is a classic Survivor balancing challenge, this time set on a dog house on the ocean, to paraphrase Andrea, who eventually wins the whole thing after three plus hours of standing there. The show tries to make Reynold look like the underdog here, but he was never realistically going to last on a balance board that long against someone basically half his size.
The editors try and throw us off the scent of an obvious Reynold boot, but it is pretty clear what’s coming in the first tribal council. There is some nonsense talk about a possible Brenda blindside, but again I never once thought she was in any actual danger. Andrea’s paranoia just continued to eat away at her, and the editors used it to fill in some gaps of suspense. Reynold is sent packing and gives a graceful exit, congratulating the remaining castaways and wishing them luck. Truth be told, Reynold played a pretty terrible game. He trusted the wrong people, continually voted on the wrong side of alliances, and lost way more challenges than he won (to be fair though, he continually kept his team in challenges all the way to the end). His legacy will be as yet another alpha male physical threat. I would like to see Reynold come back and play again, as he seems to me to be the type of guy who would get it right on the second chance.
In the latter half of the episode, we get another immunity challenge. This time it’s a rope maze leading to a ladder that must be built and then climbed. First person through the maze to assemble and climb their ladder wins immunity (had Reynold survived the last tribal, he’d have won this). For quite some time, it seems Andrea, Erik, and Brenda are fairly neck-and-neck. Erik is eventually able to pull off the victory, and he gives a small speech about not giving up immunity this time. This time, some real Survivor scheming goes on before the second tribal council. Andrea wants to blindside Brenda, who she sees as a dark horse for victory (though Brenda’s edit this season says otherwise). Brenda wants to blindside the paranoid and power-hungry Andrea. Things get complicated when Andrea uses her clue to find the hidden immunity idol.
At tribal council, Cochran makes a very telling statement saying he is close to Dawn, but has also considered a variety of end-game options and lied to people. Andrea opts not to use her immunity idol, much to the obvious delight of the alliance formerly known as Stealth R’ Us. When the votes are cast, Andrea is shocked, shouting “WHAT?” in the midst of the vote reading, to discover she has been blindsided and sent home with an idol in her pocket (which will hopefully not come back into play). The grins on the faces of Malcolm and Reynold, now sitting on the jury, are palpable and wonderful. Andrea exits gracefully, getting played as she had in her first season.
Next time, on Survivor: The dreaded family visit… Oh god, these are always death.