Mike Drop: As tradition dictates, I must open this recap by reporting how Mike is on the wrong side of the numbers and in desperate need of an alliance yet again – particularly now that he has used his hidden immunity idol. At this point, Mike had three options:
a) inveigle his way into Rodney’s alliance and sow seeds of discord (which he’s tried and failed before)
b) find another hidden immunity idol (unlikely at this stage but not impossible)
c) go on a Terry Deitz-style immunity run all the way to the final three (and actually do it better than Terry Deitz, who fell at the final hurdle)
Presumably the most frustrating thing for Mike was that he did keep finding cracks in Rodney’s alliance, but they always seemed to seal up again after each tribal council – whatever problems people may have had with Rodney, or the other people they’d thrown their sticks in with, clearly they didn’t view siding with Mike as a better option. The waverer of the week on this occasion was Carolyn, who announced in a confessional that she wasn’t planning to flip, per se, she was just aware that now that she was kind of a lone wolf after jettisoning the dead weight of Tyler last week, it might not be a terrible idea to at least listen to whatever offer Mike was willing to make with her – especially if it turned out that she might be next in line for the chop, should Mike win immunity this week. I realise that Carolyn’s edit for this season hasn’t exactly been overwhelmingly positive, but based on scenes like this I feel that some credit is due here: she’s got a smart mind.
Red Letter Day: The reward challenge dawned, and the remaining survivors were required to make their way through an obstacle course, hack through a rope to release a load of bags, open the bags to reveal a load of tiles, find the tiles with letters and rearrange them to form – wait for it – a phrase that Jeff “always says”. This show’s awareness of its own catchphrases is…sketchy sometimes, to say the least, so the reveal that the phrase they were looking for was “A REWARD WITH ALL THE FIXIN’S” (yes, apostrophe included) merited a few raised eyebrows in this house. I mean, I’ve heard Jeff say all of those words, sure, but I don’t think I’ve heard him say them in that specific order, and certainly never on any sort of regular basis. And I doubt anyone else had, either, because none of them seemed to have a damn clue for the longest time. In teams of Mike/Carolyn/Will vs Rodney/Dan/Sierra, they moved tiles around and around with varying degrees of success for over half an hour, including Sierra suggesting the word “fixin’s” but being shot down by Dan because they apparently didn’t have the right letters, and Rodney somehow thinking the phrase might be “a reward that will fix wishin'”. After numerous false starts, Carolyn eventually cracked it and earned her team a helicopter tour of Nicaragua and a surf ‘n’ turf meal, and that was where we got to the thorny point: apparently Carolyn had promised Rodney, the perennial reward loser, that if she won this time she’d switch places with him. Unfortunately, that was before Carolyn had realised that it would be strategically beneficial to spend some alone time with Mike and Will, so she reneged on her agreement and poor, poor Rodney went to bed hungry again. CBS really needed to hire a tiny violinist on retainer for this season. On the reward trip, Mike, Carolyn and Will had a lovely time and Mike proposed a final three alliance, which Carolyn was up for, and Will was gruff, monosyllabic and non-committal about. Back at camp, Rodney was pretty pissed about not getting the reward that Carolyn he’d been promised, huffing about how he thought she had more class than that (although having gone through a remarkably similar scenario last week in which he’d kicked and screamed and still nobody had given him their spot on reward, you might think he’d be used to it by now), and after returning from all the surf ‘n’ turf ‘n’ helicopter, Mike decided to go to work on Sierra, telling her how untrustworthy Dan is (which I’m pretty sure Sierra already knew, having been on his tribe since day one and also from having eyes and ears) and how he’s not the sort of person you want a final deal with. UNLIKE, SAY, MIKE, JUST MENTIONING IT A PROPOS OF NOTHING.
Hooked On A Feeling: The individual immunity (back up for grabs, y’all) challenge involved using a grappling hook to retrieve three bags from the sand, then retrieving a ball from one of the bags and putting it into a table maze, then getting the ball to the centre of the maze without it falling through one of the holes. First of all, Rodney was HILAR in this entire challenge because he could not get to grips with the grappling hook, and the editors just kept cutting back to him lobbing it into the sand just to show us how comically awful he was. Essentially Carolyn, Will and Rodney were all useless here so it quickly came down to a three-horse race – Mike was the first one to start on the maze, with Dan and Sierra not far behind him. Dan’s determination to beat Mike made him sloppy, which counted him out in the end, and while Mike was the first one to the centre of the maze, he spent so long trying to get the ball in the well that Sierra caught up and very nearly bested him, but Mike just pipped her to the post, winning that individual immunity that he so desperately needed. Dan took it well, as you can imagine.
Mama Don’t: With Mike no longer a valid target, Will, Rodney, Dan and Sierra decided that they were going to vote for Carolyn, and that they would tell Carolyn that they were voting for Dan. The chain of communication meant that Carolyn then went to tell Mike that Dan was this week’s target, so Mike went off to offer to work with Dan and save him. Dan, in one of his fits of self-righteous pique, spat back at Mike all “how dare you presume to tell me how to play this game” etc etc – it was a no, basically. While this was happening, Carolyn went off to sound out Sierra about the possibility of voting for Dan, and while Carolyn was working on her, Mike suddenly appeared as if from nowhere and scared the living shit out of Sierra in probably the funniest moment of the entire season. This has been a surprisingly funny episode, actually. Anyway, Mike told Carolyn and Sierra that Dan was definitely gunning for one of them, and they shouldn’t forget that he’s still got an advantage. He also pointed out that Dan and Will were asleep, and people who fear for their position on the island don’t generally go for a sleep right before tribal council, which did seem to put the wind up Carolyn and Sierra a little bit, to the extent that Carolyn debated playing her idol tonight.
Desperate Dan: At tribal council, Jeff asked the contestants who felt safe tonight, and Mike was basically the only one who felt that he didn’t have anything to fear. With Dan’s advantage set to expire after the next tribal council, Jeff asked when he planned to play it and Dan said he didn’t want to blow it by playing it at the wrong moment, and that if he ended up walking out with it in his pocket, it would at least be a cool souvenir. They all went to vote, and once all the votes had been cast, Dan decided to play his advantage. Upon his return, Carolyn played her idol. Jeff read the votes, and it turned out everyone had voted for Carolyn apart from Mike and Carolyn, who both voted for Dan. LOL BYE DAN. What’s fun is that while I’m pretty sure that Carolyn would’ve played her idol in this episode whatever happened, if there had been any doubt in her mind at all, Dan using his advantage definitely swung it for her, so you could argue that he increased the chance of his own elimination by using it. Meanwhile, Dan’s exit speech informed us that he played with integrity and didn’t put a foot wrong, by his own accord. Lol bokay Dan.
Point of interest: Three people have now saved themselves this season with an idol: Jenn, Mike and Carolyn. I do like it when the idols are used properly rather than just sitting there inertly all season.
Next week: the final, and Mike wins because duh.