By Jeff Probst
Updated May 08, 2009 at 08:39 AM EDT

Jeff: Debbie, how will tonight’s vote change this game?

Debbie: It will change how this tribe behaves, and I do think it will be a surprise:

Well, you were right about that. It was definitely a surprise…

…to Debbie. That was about the only thing Debbie had right last night.

Wow. Timbira, you guys blew it. Brendan, Tyson, Sierra and now Debbie. Incredible. You guys absolutely blew it.

Debbie: “Now’s the time to make a move. I’m playing the game big time.” What?! Debbie, you were about…oh three weeks behind! The game has been playing you and the rest of the Timbira group for weeks now.

You knew it was bad when Debbie went so far as to approach J.T. and Stephen and say “I want to be with you guys.” I guess Debbie just didn’t realize that she had nothing of value to offer J.T. and Stephen. Nothing. Debbie is right, you do have to make a big move to win the game, Debbie just made her big move way too late.

The decimation of the Timbira tribe is one of the reasons this game continues to work. No matter how tight your alliance, there is ALWAYS somebody who is on the bottom of the totem pole and that person is dangerous because they are looking to move up by moving over to the other side. When Erinn turned, so did the game.

At the merge, what odds would you have given that the Jalapao three would even be in the game let alone in a position to be in charge? Granted there are still many things that can happen but Stephen, J.T. and Taj still in this game was something nobody would have predicted.

Crazy. And the best part is that there is no strategy to prevent these things from happening. It’s impossible. If I am the 5th person in a 5 person alliance and by joining 3 others I can become the 4th person, I’ve just moved up one full spot. Of course, I’m gonna make that move. I have nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain. The longer you’re in the game the better chance you have at winning. Pretty basic.

PERSONAL SHARING: The Survivor Auction: Okay, let me preface this by giving my usual “if you don’t love love, then skip onto the next section.” For those of you new to these blogs, you should know this about me – for all of my ranting and raving – most of that is just for fun. I love love more than anything else in the world. I am always fighting to do a loved one challenge because I think it is good television and I love the Survivors getting an infusion of the one thing that can inspire them after 30 some days in the middle of nowhere.

It was so fun to be a part of Taj’s reaction at the Auction. We always wonder how things like the message from home will go – will we get the drama we hope for? Will we get big reactions? Will there be tears? With Taj we got it all and then some!

INSIGHT: After the auction was over, there was a bit of a celebration amongst the crew. We had carefully laid out how to play the loved one portion of the auction. The line “see you back at camp” was just subtle enough so as to not completely call attention to itself, but it was strong enough that the longer it lingered the more clear it became: “See-you-back-at-camp. SEE-YOU-BACK-AT-CAMP!” It shouldn’t even be something that the audience notices, but you guys like insight, so this is insight. We work hard to make sure we get the details just right – and when it pays off it’s an incentive for us to continue working hard. This one paid off.

Seeing Taj and her husband Eddie George on Exile Island was a great story. Here’s a guy who makes his living getting beat up playing pro football and yet even he is impressed with his wife and everything she has gone through. By the way, did anybody else notice how easily Eddie made fire? Hmm. Eddie George for season 19?

The other thing I liked about this episode is we had enough time to show you a bit of each Survivor’s relationship with their loved one. It reminds you that they are real people with real lives.

Talk about insight:

J.T.’s sister letting J.T. know that everybody wishes he was back home with the cows.

Erinn’s dad seeing his “girly girl” daughter surviving out in the wild.

Eddie George admitting “something about the wild is a bit of a turn on.”

Come on, this is good stuff. And then before you know it, the loved ones are gone and it’s …

… back to the game.

Debbie, Debbie, Debbie. Sitting around the campfire dictating to J.T., Stephen and Erinn how things need to go – man oh man. I give her credit for trying to strike a deal with an imaginary idol that she doesn’t have promising to give it to J.T. and Stephen if she ever ends up with it. No matter how much you like someone, there is NO WAY you can believe that promise. It just doesn’t happen, not with one million dollars within reach.
NO CHANCE she holds true on that promise. No chance.

INSIGHT: The Immunity Challenge – let me be clear about something. What Stephen did was jaw dropping amazing. We rehearsed that challenge several times. Our smartest guys practiced that challenge. Nobody came close to memorizing the numbers in one pass. Stephen was so far behind, much further than we even had time to show, that I wasn’t even paying attention to him. I thought J.T. had it in the bag. Stephen finally returns and like a mad scientist starts scribbling numbers down as fast as he can. I was checking my cheat sheet, I couldn’t believe he had it right. You can even see me double checking it again after he said he had it. I had to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Our crew was talking about that for a couple of days. Very impressive.

FINAL WORDS: I did something this blog and I hope you all appreciate it. Can you guess what it is that I did?