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''Survivor'': Dreamz and Schemes

On ”Survivor,” Dreamz’s shifting allegiances lead to a tension-filled tribal council; plus, Cassandra proves she’s good at something

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Survivor Fiji: Monty Brinton

”Survivor”: Dreamz and Schemes

It’s been a sucky week. Had to cut my vacation short to deal with a foot of water in my basement, thanks to a nasty rainstorm. All my appliances seem to be on the fritz. And, worst of all, I lost to my son in Yahtzee and had to watch him perform some sort of funky celebration dance. Like I said, sucky. What I really needed to bring me back from the brink was a half-decent episode of Survivor. And did it ever. Finally! Finally we see some strategy! Finally we see some double-crossing! Finally we see a tribal council worth staying awake for! When it was over, I had whiplash from all the back and forth going on. People switching from one alliance to another. People switching their vote from one person to another. I admit I got a little lost along the way, but I’m pretty sure it went something like this:

Cassandra, Boo, and Yau-Man ”brainwashed” (their word) Dreamz into committing to their alliance with Earl. Then Dreamz went back to the Four Horsemen and declared that he was still with them. Then Dreamz went back to Earl and Cassandra and told them Mookie had the hidden immunity idol. Then Dreamz told the Horsemen that the others were going to vote for Alex. Then I polished off my second Milwaukee’s Best. Then the Horsemen decided to vote for Earl. Then Alex convinced Mookie to give him the hidden immunity idol. Then Dreamz told the other alliance (who really should come up with a catchy nickname — one that preferably is not lifted from Big Brother) that Mookie had given Alex the idol, so the alliance in need of a catchy nickname decided to vote off Mookie. Then Edgardo decided they should surprise the alliance in need of a catchy nickname by voting off Cassandra instead of Earl. Then the alliance in need of a catchy nickname worried that Dreamz might be playing them by lying about the idol, so they decided to vote for someone other than Alex or Mookie. After cycling through several options, including Jeff Probst, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Dwight Schrute, Norbit, Sonja Christopher, and every member of the current jury (”Just for the hell of it”), they finally settled on Edgardo.

Confusing? You betcha. But exhilarating as well. And it led to one of the best tribal councils ever, considering we all knew who was going home. How priceless was it watching Alex, Mookie, and Edgardo smugly smiling to one another after using the immunity idol, only to see vote after vote for Cassandra? You knew what was coming. I knew what was coming. But they didn’t. At least not yet. Then Jeff Probst read out Mookie’s name, and the smiling abruptly stopped. Hmmm, that’s odd, they seemed to think. Then Edgardo’s name. Hmmm, odd again. Then Edgardo again. Uh-oh, we’re screwed. It made for brilliant theater, and it was all made possible because of the new rule about having to use the hidden immunity idol before the votes are read. I’m down with that, although I don’t know how down I am with re-hiding the idol for future use. Two hidden immunity idols per game is more than enough; three is simply overkill.

Of course, there was more to this episode then the big flurry at the end. We started things off with a good, old-fashioned ”F— you challenge,” which is what Survivor producers call a challenge in which pecking orders and grudges are laid bare for all to see. This was actually a two-parter: Part one involved a questionnaire in which the contestants let us know that none of them wanted to see Stacy ever again after the show. Part two was when the contestants smashed other tribemates’ towers to kick them out of the game. Cassandra won and showed us she actually has a bit of game after all. Instead of just inviting her best friends on to the yacht, as so many people have done in the past, she brought over the people she needed to secure in her alliance, Dreamz and Boo. Whether Earl told her to do that or not is open to debate, but I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, especially since she answered every single question in the reward challenge correctly.

Speaking of challenges, I’m always a fan of endurance ones, like this latest immunity test, but I do question the fairness of making the tribemates balance their feet on one-quarter-inch footholds. As soon as Probst announced the rules, I said to myself, ”Stacy or Yau-Man — no question,” figuring that they obviously favored someone with smaller feet. I don’t get overly hung up on these things, however; size and strength so often offer an edge that it’s nice to see other tribemates get an advantage once in a while. (Not that Yau-Man needs it. That dude has been kicking ass in the competitions so far.)

After Yau won, the insane strategy shifts began, ultimately leading to Edgardo’s demise. Just how shocked was he? Well, he left without a bag or any possessions, meaning he either didn’t bother bringing them to Tribal Council or he was in such a daze, he forgot to pick them up after Probst invited him to have his torch snuffed. He didn’t kick or scream, but he did have some odd parting words for Cassandra in his final confessional: ”Cassandra, I hope you get voted off next, because I don’t like you very much.” Getting pissed at big personalities in the game like Rocky and Lisi I can understand, but Cassandra? Sure, viewers may hate her for being so ridiculously boring, but as far as living with someone, she seems pretty damn harmless. (Except when she’s sending you to Exile Island — right, Mookie?)

Well, we finally got some sparks this week, but like any great fire, it needs to be tended, lest you lose the flame. Hopefully Survivor: Fiji is just heating up. What do you think? Were Alex, Edgardo, and Mookie being too cocky at tribal council? Did Dreamz pick the right alliance to join? And how do you think Stacy feels about everyone not wanting to see her again?