The contestants must balance the pain of balancing on their feet with their desire for immunity as two players are sent out of the game
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Survivor Fan Vs Favorites Recap
Credit: Greg Gayne/CBS
S26 E12

I take it all back. That time where I took Reynold to task for him saying Allie was the perfect person to be in an alliance with because she was not the best looking one out there? REDACTED! That dis where I mocked Reynold for acting like a preppy ’80s movie villain because he described his less attractive and less athletic opponents as “Revenge of The Nerds”? RESCINDED! And that point a few paragraphs down in this column where I will go on to question Reynold’s judgment for boasting to the rest of his tribe that, “Truthfully, in my mind, I think I’m capable of winning five immunity challenges in a row”? UNQUESTIONED!

Why the sudden love for the modesty-free frat boy? Because anyone that busts out a mustache at Tribal Council gets an automatic free pass! Hell, he could walk over and take a dump in the voting urn for all I care and I still can’t hate on my boy after he decided to transform his entire look into that of Snidely Whiplash or your basic run-of-the-mill telenovela villain. The ‘stache was positively hypnotizing. I almost missed Andrea getting blindsided because I was lost in a sea of whiskers. The decision to not shave off all his facial hair and instead leave the patch between his lips and his nose may actually qualify as the best move Reynold made all game. And the only thing that would have made it even better would have been had he started twirling it while muttering evil genius laughter under his breath.

So, to Reynold (or Rollie Fingers, or whatever your name is), I say — all is forgiven. Unless you shave the ‘stache by the next Tribal Council, in which case, watch out! And you better watch out because it’s time to recap this week’s special double elimination episode of Survivor: Caramoan! Twice the immunity challenges! Twice the Tribal Councils! Twice the fun!

The episode begins after Malcolm has been voted out at Tribal Council — stop crying, ladies — yet instead of trying to blend into the background and hoping others forget about him, Reynold decides it would be a great idea to remind everyone what a threat he is and exactly why he needs to be voted out immediately. “Truthfully, in my mind, I think I’m capable of winning five immunity challenges in a row.” (I told you I would be questioning this.)

But the Favorites are already looking ahead to when the alliance will need to turn on each other. Cochran seems to relish the opportunity. “The power rests with the Favorites right now and I want to take away as much power and suck it up for myself as possible,” he says. “I want to take control of the game. And I’ll do it without remorse. I’ll do it without any reservation. And it’s scary that I’m saying that. I feel like I’ve turned into something that would scare my mother if she saw me. But I’m not the little Harvard nerd that was trembling in the bushes last time.”

That he is not. The man has tossed off his shirt as well as the insecurities that plagued him last time on the island. I was at the first Tribal Council for South Pacific and have to say that John Cochran gave one of the worst Tribal Council performances I have ever seen. He was not the target. Semhar was. But his neurotic rambling went on for sooooo long (most of which never made it on to air) that I seriously wondered if the tribe members would change their mind and vote him out on the spot because he kept digging his own grave with his words. It’s amazing to see how far he has come.

NEXT: Shirt? Cochran don’t need no stinkin’ shirt!

And now the shirtless Cochran gets to compete in another immunity challenge, even if it is one he stands no chance at all of winning. I say that because it seems practically impossible for any man to win a Survivor challenge that involves perching your feet on narrow footholds. Obviously smaller women have smaller feet, so they have an inherent advantage. In recent seasons contestants have not carried the same weight in strength challenges — due to the inherent advantage that gives stronger males — but rather the same percentage of their body weight, meaning everyone has an equal shot. In the interest of complete fairness then, shouldn’t the challenge producers have the size of the footholds depend on the size of each contestant’s feet? Judging by the fact that — SPOILER ALERT! — the two smallest women would go on to last hours longer than anyone else in this one would seem to lend credence to that suggestion. Anyway, I asked Jeff Probst about this very topic and you can read his response in our weekly Q&A.

So the contestants must balance out in the water with bare feet perched on the aforementioned narrow footholds, moving them up to higher footholds at regular intervals. The winner not only gets immunity, but also gets reward “in the form of information in this game,” according to Probst. (Translation from producers: Please find the hidden immunity idol we were all praying Malcolm would uncover yesterday.)

After a gratuitous camera angle straight up Reynold’s bathing suit (Translation from producers: Malcolm may be gone, ladies, but look closely and you may catch a glimpse of “Little Reynold!”), we are off and another immunity challenge has begun. This one is really crucial for Eddie because if he doesn’t win he could be…wait, where’s Eddie? I don’t see him balancing on his weird birdhouse-like structure. Hold on, what is he doing over on that dock eating donuts? The challenge just began for crissakes!

Considering that Eddie does not have a strategic bone in his entire body, you would figure that now would be the time where I would blast him for giving up that soon for breakfast sweets. But as I said, I didn’t really believe any of the guys stood a chance in this one. Not saying I would have quit. But if you’re going to quit, it may as well be in something you can’t possibly win. But I will do something rather unique for this season: I will give credit to Erik. He knew the only two people who absolutely could not win the idol were Reynold and Eddie, so he basically sacrificed himself by peer pressuring Eddie to join him for the donuts and milk.

15 minutes later, and Cochran jumps down for hot dogs and soda, exclaiming “My thighs are about to burst.” (The less I know about Cochran’s bursting thighs the better.) His alliance members don’t seem too thrilled with the move, but again, is he really going to win this thing? It’s one thing to be tempted by food. It’s another to hold on just long enough to get something before falling off. Later, the remaining players move to the top of the platform, being instructed by Probst “No hands, no butt,” which also sounds vaguely like the name of a Sir Mix-a-Lot song, but perhaps I am mistaken. Sherri and Dawn soon fall, leaving Reynold to do various one-legged gymnastics until he too drops off.

NEXT: Andrea and Brenda don’t break the rules; they make the rules

Surprise! Surprise! The two smallest women — with the smallest feet — remain. And remain they do for three full hours. Why, they are there for so long that Jeff Probst resorts to drastic measures — unrolling his sleeves to protect his arms from the island breeze. I was actually seriously thrown by this for a second when I first noticed his sleeves. It just felt off. I like my Probst sleeveless, thank you very much. And yes, I realize how tremendously creepy that just sounded.

Andrea and Brenda attempt to strike a deal, but both want to win, so they finally impose their own fourth stage of the competition where they both decide to lift one leg to settle the victor sooner rather than later. This is pretty cool, kinda like when Skupin and Penner struck their own deal for the food reward and rice last season. I dig watching contestants bargain and come up with new rules. My only question is, how far can you take it? If Andrea and Brenda agreed that whomever could swim over and kick Jeff Probst in the crotch the hardest wins, does he have to sit there and take it? If they decide that the person who performs the best Ralph Malph impression wins it all, does Donny Most have to be flown in as a celebrity guest judge? And if they conclude that whoever can make Dawn cry first wins, do they have a tiebreaker plan in place…in case Dawn is already crying?!?

So many questions! But for now we’re stuck with the one-leg-in-the-air thing. Brenda falls in and Andrea wins both immunity and the clue to the immunity idol. Because Andrea promised to share the clue with Brenda, she wisely decides it would not be smart to keep it from the rest of her alliance, so she has them all join in the search. Unfortunately for her, Erik finds it, and there is no way after he handed over immunity last time and was promptly voted out that he will make that same mistake a second… STOP! WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING?!? ERIK JUST GAVE AWAY IMMUNITY FOR A SECOND TIME! HAS THIS MAN LEARNED NOTHING?!? I hereby take all my Reynold disses and dismisses and put them all on Erik instead. Good God, man!

Yes, Erik hands Andrea the idol because evidently that’s what ice cream scoopers do. Now that she has double immunity — which is kind of like double indemnity except with significantly less Fred MacMurray — Andrea is getting itchy to make a big move. While getting rid of Reynold is by far the smartest play at this point because he has no immunity, Andrea still would like to blindside someone because “I think that would be so much more exciting.” (Be careful what you wish for!) She tries to sell Dawn on getting rid of Brenda, which of course puts the woman on the edge of tears.

Dawn’s fragile state continues into Tribal Council when she openly acknowledges playing both sides. Probst calls it “one of the most honest things anybody has ever said at Tribal.” I call it “Someone who has probably gotten yelled at one too many times by Probst for dodging his questions and feels like she needs to give him something he can use for TV.” And I have no doubt my Dawn-loving friend Janae would agree with me.

NEXT: Andrea overplays her hand

Eventually the players must walk by Phillip and his ridiculous looking necklace to go cast their votes for Reynold, who is finally ousted. I gave him some well deserved guff for some of his comments, but Reynold made it pretty damn far for a guy who was on the outs from day number 2. He found multiple idols, and performed well in challenges. And I dig the way he went out with a big grin on his face. I have a feeling we have not seen the last of Reynold on Survivor — especially if he keeps that dope-looking mustache!

“The gunslingers take out another victim,” brags John Cochran back at camp, momentarily scaring the bejesus out of me that a painful new alliance name has just been coined. But Andrea is still dying to blindside someone, telling Cochran that “It needs to be Dawn or Brenda.” Big mistake. Why? Because Dawn is Cochran’s biggest ally. Andrea’s error here was laying too many cards on the table. Instead of willingly telling Cochran the name of two people she wants to get rid of, she should have fished for information instead. Information is power in this game. You hold back as much as possible while trying to obtain it from others. Unlike Christmas, this is the time when it is better to receive than to give. Instead of telling Cochran whom she wanted gone — a huge risk if he is closely aligned with either of them — she should have asked him if there were any Favorites he would want to get rid of. And this is the mistake that would come back to get her.

So JC does his best Dawn Meehan impersonation by immediately going to Brenda and Dawn and reporting on his private conversation with Andrea. Now Brenda wants to get of Andrea who still has the idol Erik gave her. Well, this should be interesting.

But first we have our second immunity challenge to get through. The players are instructed to push a buoy through a series of obstacles in the water to a post holding a key. They then use the key to unlock a chest containing ladder rungs which must be used to make a ladder that will be climbed so that a flag can be raised and a winner can be named. It’s a fine challenge — not one of the best of the season, but not a dog either. Erik completely smokes the competition in it to take the victory. Probst points out that the last time he won immunity, he gave it away and was voted out and asks if Erik will do the same here. “I’m way too scared,” replies The Silent One.

One person who doesn’t seem scared is Andrea, who continues on her “Brenda Must Go” campaign with Dawn and Cochran. “I wanted Brenda out,” Andrea tells us. “I talked to everybody, and now she’s going.” OVERCONFIDENCE ALERT! OVERCONFIDENCE ALERT! Whenever you see someone practically giddy over pulling off a huge move in the game, there’s a good bet that person is about to be blindsided herself. Both Andrea and Cochran go to pull Erik over to their side, but who knows what Erik is thinking. Seriously, he could be busy mulling over exciting new ice cream flavors as far as we know. (“Hmmm, Cookies & Cream is good, but Cookies & Cream of Wheat is even better!”)

However, Andrea promises to bring Erik to the final three while Cochran does not. Will that affect his vote? Let’s head to Tribal Council to find out. And here comes the Jury, or, as I like to call them, Parade of Dudes! Michael, Phillip, Malcolm, Reynold — all dudes, all the time! Dudes with hair (Malcolm), dudes with flair (Michael), dudes with bright pink underwear (Phillip). And a dude with the most killer mustache this side of Magnum P.I.

NEXT: Andrea finally gets her ‘exciting’ blindside

The Tribal is an odd one as everyone basically admits to lying to everyone else and making final three deals they do not intend on honoring. It again sniffs of a cast on orders from Probst to start squawking or get walking because I don’t know why they would otherwise admit to such strategic shenanigans. The big question is whether it will be Andrea or Brenda going home. “You’re a sneaky, sneaky little girl always ready to blindside someone,” says Brenda while voting for the former. “But I don’t think you’re ready for this one.”

And ready she is not. Andrea does not play the idol, and after seeing her name come up for the second time, blurts out “WHAT?!” at the top of her lungs. It was at this point when I audibly started squealing like a schoolgirl and clapping my hands together in rapid motion. Andrea’s complete shock and dismay was intoxicating. It was like a drug and I was taking the biggest hit possible. However, Andrea did not go the Bitter Betty route. Instead, she complimented her peers for skillfully engineering her ouster. “Oh, you guys. That’s good. That’s really good.” She was right.

There’s no doubt about it: Andrea played a much better game than she did last time. She was aggressive — too aggressive at times — as opposed to the last go round when she and everyone else on her tribe were basically just a turnstile for Boston Rob to walk through. I give her a lot of credit for upping her game and doing well in endurance challenges. Make no mistake: She was someone who was brought back because she was a blonde in a bikini. But she proved she was a lot more than that in her second outing. She came to play this time. It didn’t work out for her, and she was both too antsy and too forthcoming with information at times. But as a viewer, I appreciate the effort.

Wow. We are officially in the home stretch, people. Just two episodes left! Which means next week I have to place Survivor: Caramoan in my updated season-by-season rankings. Where will it fall? The pre-merge was pretty disappointing, but post-merge has been a delight. It really has been a tale of two seasons. We’ll have to see where it averages out.

But why get ahead of ourselves? First you need to check out my weekly Q&A with Jeff Probst, as well as our exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode in the video player below. You can also hear former Survivor champ Jenna Morasca and I interview both Reynold and Andrea on SiriusXM’s Stars channel (#107) at 10:45am on Thursday. (We’ll also make the interview available later on the InsideTV Podcast.) And for more Survivor scoop, you can follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Now it’s your turn. Were you Team Brenda or Team Andrea? Shocked that cow’s d— eating Eddie is still around? And were you digging Reynold’s personal whisker wars as much as I was? Hit the message boards to let us know, and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!

Episode Recaps

SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
Survivor

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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seasons
  • 41
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  • CBS
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