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The Immunity Idol hasn’t been this overpowered since Yul Kwon won the game way back in Survivor: Cook Islands (something like 15 seasons ago – I’m not going to check on the math on that, by the way). Under the old rules, the idol would be played after the votes are read, meaning anyone who had it could use it upon a blindside. It was overpowered and mucked with the strategy so much that the show’s producers changed the rules to better accommodate idol play. After the overpowered Cook Islands idol, the rules changed so that the idol must now be played before Tribal Council votes are read. Every season since Cook Islands (including the pre-merge half of Cagayan) has been played with these modified idol rules.
The new, post-merge Cagayan idol, however, reverts back to the Cook Islands rules. The new idol is almost all-powerful, and only superb vote-splitting and absolute trust in your alliance will eliminate the all-powerful idol from the game. It is nuts, and I hate it. I fear it will break the game, and I’ve greatly enjoyed Cagayan thus far. Though tonight’s episode is something of a stinker, Cagayan has provided some fantastic characters (Tony, Woo), interesting strategic movies (Kass and Tasha keeping Spencer, Kass flipping her vote), and even a woman (Trish) whose very presence caused a player to quit (Lindsey). But this new idol threatens to wreck the game completely. Luckily, the over-powered idol merely looms over the season. It hasn’t appeared just yet.
Let’s start where the episode begins, however. Morgan and Spencer are pissed at Kass, and reasonably so. Last week, Kass flipped on her alliance, voting with Tony’s crew and helping to eliminate Sarah from the game. Spencer calls her out, and Morgan refuses to get out of the shelter and go get water, opting instead to argue with Kass. To her credit, Kass seems to shake off their criticisms, and then Spencer even later apologizes to Kass for his choice in words. I don’t particularly care for Kass’ gameplay, and I think her flip was dumb and unnecessary, but I also get uncomfortable when players treat each other the way people were treating Kass.
At the Reward Challenge, the tribes are divided into two teams and must face off in an obstacle course/maze/puzzle race that is so typically Survivor. Though L.J.’s team falls behind to the one-two combination of Tony and Woo, they pull off an upset win when L.J. and Spencer are easily able to complete the puzzle. Their reward is a trip to a makeshift Outback Steakhouse, a corporate sponsor that hasn’t appeared on the show since Heroes vs. Villains. At the reward, Spencer happens to find a clue to a Hidden Immunity Idol (but not *that* hidden immunity idol) in his napkin. He is able to keep it hidden, but back at the beach, all hell is about to break loose…
After a quick rainfall, Spencer treks off into the jungle to find the idol. Woo immediately suspects he is up to something, and uses his “steal ninja skills” to track Spencer, and then spy on him. When Spencer realizes he is caught, he backs off. But, he leaves his pants behind (he had taken them off to be in his bathing suit and get in the water). Woo notices this, and finds the clue accidentally among Spencer’s belongings. Woo then shares the clue with everyone, and they all dash off to find the idol. After all this trouble, Spencer is the one who ends up finding it anyway, avoiding letting Kass see him with it as well. This was a whole lot of chaos for a predictable result. It’s fun to watch, but also a bit anti-climactic.
The Immunity Challenge is a balance/endurance test, much like last week. The tribe must stand on an elevated platform and keep a block of wood balanced on top of their head so it won’t fall away. After an hour and a half of battling, L.J. drops out, losing his block. Tasha and Spencer remain, and Probst notes their prowess in this particular challenge. Though it appears Spencer runs out of juice, it is actually Tasha who falters, and Spencer wins the Immunity Challenge. This means he gets both the idol and individual immunity in the same episode, a huge boon to anyone who plays Survivor fantasy!
At Tribal Council, it appears as if Kass may flip once again. This is going to be Monica Culpepper all over again, I guess. Spencer points out that Kass can rejoin her alliance and still gain potential jury votes, but it never really feels in doubt that Morgan is the one who will go home. Tony receives four votes, but Morgan’s five send her packing, where she will become the second member of the jury. Morgan had great potential to be a new Parvati or maybe even a Brenda (who is like a second-tier Parvati), but her laziness and generally negative disposition towards anyone and everyone (as well as her spoiled, entitled attitude) made her one of my least favorite Survivors in quite some time. I can’t say I’ll miss her.