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Tony is unpredictable. Tony is not to be trusted. Tony is playing a scorched earth game. But Tony, unlike Russell Hantz in previous seasons, has not played a hateful game of Survivor, at least not until tonight. His move tonight greatly resembles a classic Hantz blunder, and I feel it could cost Tony not only the trust of his remaining alliance members, but also ultimately the game itself. As the episode opens, we are treated to Tony thanking Spencer for the “compliment” of voting for him at the previous week’s Tribal Council. Though Tony wants people to think that he’s flattered by being a threat in the game, he is actually quite paranoid that he will be voted out. This sets the stage for the rest of the episode, and it’s not particularly comfortable to watch unfold.
After Tony’s post-TC tirade, he plans to set in motion a secret L.J. ouster. He sees L.J. as a huge threat, rightfully so, in the game. Tony feels like making L.J. the main target will take some heat off of his own back. Again, he’s right about this, but Tony also doesn’t factor in that L.J. is in his own alliance, L.J. is 100% trustworthy, and L.J. has absolutely no reason to backstab Tony at this point in the game. Tony is playing too hard, and he reasons that planting the idea of a Woo blindside in L.J.’s head counts as L.J. backstabbing the alliance. Thus, Tony will now be able to vote L.J. out of the game without feeling guilty about it. It’s a messed up logic, but Tony’s a messed up player. I can’t tell whether he’s a genius or just utterly insane.
At the Reward Challenge, teams are divided into groups of three. The groups will face off against each other in another puzzle/maze hybrid. The winning team will receive a day of luxury including a shower, massage, and chicken wrap meal. The winning team ends up being Tony, Jeremiah, and Spencer. Tony uses the time with the two men in order to plant the seed of an L.J. blindside in their heads, hoping that allying with them now will reap rewards for his game in the future. Spencer, meanwhile, points out in a confessional that Tony is not to be trusted. Spencer, Jeremiah, and Tasha don’t really have anything to lose, however.
Speaking of Tasha, back at the beach she attempts to pull L.J. aside and talk strategy with him. He doesn’t want to, however, noting that a side conversation with Tasha will only continue to fuel Tony’s paranoia. Tony spends a considerable amount of time shoring up his secret vote plan against L.J. by lying to Woo and trying to get Trish on his side. Trish is no dummy, however, and feels that splitting up the alliance of six would be a bad idea for them at this point. Tony seems to relent a bit but still can’t get the idea of an L.J. blindside out of his head.
The Reward Challenge is a classic game of Survivor memory, where host Jeff Probst picks a series of colors, and the tribe members must individually recall the colors in order. The battle comes down to a showdown between Tasha and L.J., with Tasha pulling off the victory. This all but seals L.J.’s fate, even if he doesn’t realize it yet. At Tribal Council, he reiterates to Jeff the importance of the alliance of six, and even though the women stick to their word, Tony and Woo flip and vote L.J. out of the game, much to soon as well. I will miss his handsome horse trainer-ness. In the process, Tony becomes a huge villain in the game, and it appears as if this needless blindside might be the difference between him winning or losing the game.