Aaaaaand James can officially pass the dunce cap to Erik.
We begin post Tribal Council, where Amanda is trying to do a little damage control. Cirie tells us that she was “this close” to making it a tie vote, which I totally think is not true, but whatever. Amanda again tells them that she wasn’t lying “at the time” when she said she didn’t have it, which is dumb because you misled them either way, but do your thing, yo. “I guess that’s what she needed to know that she can trust me.” Cirie tells us. So wait, she needed you to almost vote for someone else? How does that make sense?
After the credits, Erik and Natalie talk about how their priority has to be to get rid of Amanda. Well, I’m not sure either of you are in a position to be specifically targeting people, rather than just trying to stay in the game. Erik and Natalie discuss the fact that there’s one TC left in which the idol can be played, and that another one has been hidden, so if someone finds it they’re pretty much immune to Final Four. Erik and Natalie then promise to send each other to Exile Island if either of them wins the reward challenge. Considering that Natalie is a backstabbing skank, I’m not sure this is a viable strategy for Erik. Also, Yau-Man definitely sent himself last time and gave the reward away, and it saved his ass. Why wouldn’t you just do that? The power to send someone to Exile Island is better than any reward, game wise.
Meanwhile, Cirie, Parvati and Amanda discuss the likely possibility that Erik will win the upcoming challenges, and how they’ll deal with him having all the power. Cirie thinks that Amanda can somehow sway him and make him send Parvati to Exile Island. I don’t entirely understand it because Amanda and Erik haven’t exactly been BFF, but they must know something we don’t. Amanda then seeks out Erik and tries to speak with him about all of this. The premise, I believe, is that he think’s she’s the most strategic player in the game (wrong, but just barely) and he is the most physically threatening, so their best option is to team up. Amanda works him into agreeing to send Parvati because she’ll need to be “weaker for the challenges” as if Parvati is some giant challenge monster. The only challenge she won involved remaining stationary for hours, a skill that she perfected by just being her. Erik, of course, agrees because he has no idea what is going on and is clearly out of his league. How does it benefit him to send any of these people, is my question? He has to send himself.
“JEEPERS, quit pointing at me!”
Reward Challenge! Today’s Challenge rules, because it is a quiz about past seasons of Survivor. The first person to score four points wins the reward, which is a getaway to a spa and dinner, and also to send someone to Exile. The challenge begins, as everything in the world apparently must, with a question about Rupert. I refuse to get dragged into your opinion that Rupert is awesome, SHOW. Erik pretty much gets every one right, proving that is he is a “superfan”, in the words of Probst. Yeah, maybe in theory. In practice? Not so much.
Anyway, if you’re interested, Cirie appears to know quite a bit (although one question is actually about her season), Parvati is a complete dumbass and was recruited, if I remember correctly, Amanda knows some, and Natalie knows a little. Oh, and I got every question right. Erik completely trounces all of them and wins the reward, of course, because even challenges designed to level the physical playing field are too much, apparently.
But who will Erik be sending to Exile Island? Why, Parvati, of course! A wise choice, IDIOT. Parvati skips off to Exile, and Probst tells him that he can bring one other person with him. He tells everyone that he promised Amanda beforehand that they would bring each other, and thus he chooses Amanda, hanging Natalie out to dry completely. Nicely done, Amanda! Not only does he do exactly what you want, but he takes you on a reward that you probably would not have taken him on.
Back at camp, Natalie starts bitching about Erik to Cirie, who is clearly only half-listening, as the helicopter containing Amanda and Erik flies directly overhead to ferry the winners to their reward. After they arrive and get massages (Erik: “I’ve never had a massage before.” Yeah, among other things), dinner begins. Erik tells Amanda that he feels as if he’s at the center of everything, since he keeps winning immunities. Well, with only five people left, everyone becomes important. He tells her that he’s not used to this level of responsibility. “I need to be an ice cream man, and not an ice cream boy,” he says. Can you imagine all the hair that people get in their deserts? Gross.
Meanwhile, Parvati is maxing and relaxing over at Exile Island. She looks a little (okay, a lot) hot as she suns herself, telling us that there’s no point in looking for the idol because she has a definite majority, so she has nothing to worry about. And don’t think that just because I think she’s hot, that it doesn’t mean I don’t want her to taste defeat for comments like that.
Erik and Amanda come back from the reward the next morning, looking refreshed. Cirie starts harassing them. “Don’t tell me it wasn’t good, I went on that same reward during my season!” Oh, Crazy Shane’s feminine son, how awesome you were. Natalie, meanwhile, is not having it and is basically ignoring Erik. “Natalie obviously has some resentment” he tells us in the understatement of the year. Anything Natalie can find an excuse to hate!
“I want to slap that campfire like a bitch.”
Erik and Cirie talk a little bit in the shelter about how Natalie has begun ignoring him. Erik turns talk to the game, asking Cirie if she’s worried about Amanda and suggesting a final three composed of the two of them and Parvati, since that gives both of them a better chance of winning. Cirie stays wisely silent during all of this, and the camera pans over to Natalie hiding behind the shelter, overhearing everything. She reiterates her desire to slap him “like a bitch”. Oh, Natalie. Is he supposed to have loyalty to her or something? I don’t understand why she’s mad, except for the fact that she’s always mad. We haven’t really seen them working together at all; Erik got to this point by suckling at the teat of Ozzy and then winning a bunch of immunities. He hasn’t exactly been strategic.
Cirie immediately goes and tattles on Erik to the other girls, because she has a good thing going at this point and is pretty much the only person who doesn’t have to worry about Amanda all that much. The girls express their horror that someone would tell one person one thing and then someone else another in a game in which THAT IS THE POINT, and Amanda is like “When you have a bunch of girls, and you all tell them different things, pretty soon they’re all going to talk. Duh.” Well, when you’re not a dumbass like Erik, it tends to be a little easier. Several people who’ve played this game in the past have done it well. Part of the issue is that he’s a guy, I think. The gender issues at play here are definitely interesting.
Immunity Challenge! Today is one of those “use the coordinates you’re given to dig up puzzle pieces” deals, but with three different places to dig. Each time you unearth a bag of pieces, the puzzle gives you the coordinates to your color-coded bag that’s buried in the next circle. First person to solve the puzzle in the third circle wins immunity.
As you would think, Erik pretty much runs away with it. Amanda and Cirie try to keep up, but they just can’t, and Parvati is never in it. In fact, the best part of the challenge is when Jeff is all “Parvati, not even in it!” like a total asshole, but an awesome one, and she knows she’s right so all she can do is go “Oh, Jeff” all exasperated. Nice comeback! Erik is even the only person that even gets to the third circle, and he finishes before anyone can even attempt to catch up. He finishes the puzzle that says “Guaranteed: Final Four” just as Jeff is like “Guaranteed Final Four to the person who wins!” which was probably a mistake by Jeff. Next time, get a little more involved in burying the puzzle pieces so you don’t ruin things. That Probst, always giving his busy work to the people beneath him.
“JEEPERS, this place sure has a lot of sand!”
So Erik wins immunity. Back at camp, the four girls sit around, frustrated at the fact that he has thwarted them yet again. Natalie is like “It’s me, isn’t it?” to which Cirie replies “Probably, yeah.” in a very succinct way. Cirie throws a ridiculous idea out there, which is that they could maybe, somehow, get Erik to give up his immunity and give it to Natalie. The four of them work together to concoct a story in which Cirie is willing to vote with Natalie (and Erik) to vote out Amanda, but only if Erik proves his trust by giving his individual immunity necklace to Natalie as a gesture. They laugh at themselves, because it’s completely ridiculous. They decide to try it anyway, because Natalie doesn’t really have any other options. “Who the hell would even fall for that?” asks Amanda incredulously. In my favorite moment of the episode (well, besides the end), Parvati, without missing a beat: “Jason.” Ha! Indeed, Parvati. Indeed.
Natalie then tells Erik that she has a “hair brained” idea to run by him. JEEPERS, what is it? He tells her that he “can relate”, which is the dumbest hair joke ever. She then explains to him the “give me the necklace” plan, which he outright refuses to do. She’s like “Just…hear me out” very calmly (to her credit), and she explains that he can ask Cirie about it for backup, if he’d like. He’s like “Why can’t we just vote for Amanda without me giving you the necklace?” which is a question he maybe should have directed TO HIMSELF.
“Hmm…how can I be as dumb as possible here?”
Erik goes to Cirie and asks her why he can’t just keep the necklace and vote Amanda anyway. “I don’t know that you would vote for Amanda,” she tells him, stating that she just can’t trust him otherwise. He calls himself “sketchy”, completely buying into the erroneous theory that he is the only one double-speaking around camp, which is problem number one on the Long List of Reasons Why Erik Is Out Of His League. Cirie is very plainly trying not to laugh in his face as she continues to list all the reasons why she can’t trust him, telling us that she really doesn’t think he’ll give the necklace away, because “he’s a pretty smart guy”. When did he give you that impression? Did he solve a Rubik’s Cube in record time and the footage just hit the cutting room floor?
Cirie then uses her ninja abilities to take the plan an extra step. She tells Amanda that she and Parvati have to completely blast Erik at Tribal, to guilt him into using the necklace. Cirie and Natalie will stay quiet to appear to be on his side. Oh, Cirie, you rule. You can tell that pretty much all the ideas from the female camp are coming directly from Cirie at this point, and I certainly hope that she can translate that into jury votes at the end.
Erik then takes his idiocy an extra step by telling Natalie that he thinks Parvati has given Amanda the hidden immunity idol, so he’d actually prefer to blindside Parvati herself at Tribal Council tonight. Wait, you want to vote for the person who is more likely to have the idol because she actually went to the island, on the off chance that she would smell this ridiculous plan and give it to her friend? Isn’t getting rid of Amanda the whole point of giving the necklace away, to earn the trust of Cirie and eliminate an actual threat, instead of a person that most of the jury hates? If you were this worried about just getting someone else out and not taking out a threat, than why not just keep the frigging necklace and let them get rid of Natalie? I…he astounds me.
Tribal Council! Ozzy is dressed like the prettiest girl at his Native American Prom, because he is a giant poseur douchebag on top of being an elitist prick.
James is no longer toting his IV around, either. When Probst asks Parvati about her trip to Exile Island, she uses the opportunity to begin the predetermined roasting of Erik, stating that she was glad she wasn’t at camp because she heard that Erik was being a big stinky liar. Amanda even mouths Parvati’s exact words to Jeff, so you can totally tell that they practiced this beforehand in anticipation of this question. I gotta say, I love all the thought that’s gone into this plan, down to even this minute detail. Erik responds by telling everyone that he feels like he needed to come here tonight and make some kind of “grand gesture” in order to show that he’s actually a loyal and trustworthy person. Oh, Lord. Amanda drives the knife in further and puts him on the defensive by telling him that while she appreciates the reward, it doesn’t make up for the fact that he’s a disloyal schemer. She totally lays it on in perfect fashion, and it’s clearly acting because: name one other time in which Amanda has made these kinds of outlandish statements. Loving this.
Erik looks almost at the point of tears and starts apologizing to all of them, which: wrong move. Getting all emotional about this is exactly what you should NOT do at anytime. Erik has two correct answers to this. One: “Well, the way it’s looking I’m going to the Final Three anyway by winning immunities, so it doesn’t much matter what you guys think, right?” Two: “I don’t understand why I’m a liar for allegedly ‘going behind peoples backs’ and trying to make multiple alliances when Parvati plainly did the exact same thing to Ozzy, Natalie did the same thing to Jason, Cirie did the same thing to Eliza, and Amanda did the same thing to all of us, just last week.” That would shut them up.
But no, we’re talking about Erik, who is now officially worried that everyone will hate him forever and ever and he’ll be picked last at kickball and won’t be asked to the Homecoming Dance, so what does he do before the vote? HE GIVES HIS FREAKING IMMUNITY TO NATALIE.
Oh. My. GOD. Everyone on the jury completely loses their shit, most of all James, who begins his inevitable “pay attention to me, over here” shit that he does whenever he gets voted out by cracking up and flailing all over the place. Even Jeff himself is sort of flabbergasted, barely finding the words to let everyone know that Natalie is now the immune one. Let me just take a moment to say that I cannot believe that worked. At. All.
The voting begins. Kudos to the editing team, who decide to show each and every vote with accompanying explanations, because they are all phenomenal. Erik votes first, writing Parvati’s name vertically on the parchment and telling us that he hopes it works. Oh, Erik. I love that with your dying breath, you essentially say “JEEPERS, I hope this works!”
Natalie: “I don’t even know what to say, but…thank you.”
Amanda: “You know…(unable to finish sentence).”
Meanwhile, over on the jury, Jason smirks and shakes his head at the idiocy of all of this. Welcome to the only situation in which it is permissible for you to do that.
Cirie: “My mother always told me, you may not be able to beat ‘em with these (gestures to muscles), but you can always beat ‘em with this (gestures to brain). Sorry!” My God, she is a ninja. I fear her.
Parvati: “You are crazy. You will officially go down as the dumbest Survivor ever, in the history of the game. Ever.” She adds another “Ever!” for good measure before throwing her vote into the urn.
Jeff goes to grab the votes, then asks if anyone would like to play the idol. Parvati, predictably, does not have it. The Music of Torch Snuffing starts playing immediately, in another editing masterstroke. Jeff reads the votes to an increasingly uncontrollable room, as everyone pretty much descends into anarchy as the Erik votes mount. It is wonderful to behold. As the final vote for Erik is read, James again breaks the rule that the jury is NOT SUPPOSED TO COMMUNICATE WITH ANYONE by raising his hands and stating, “I’ve lost my reign as dumbest Survivor ever,” clearly proud of the fact that he is now the second dumbest Survivor ever, which is obviously waaaay less embarrassing.
Erik’s torch is fitfully snuffed, and he wholly deserves it. I’m sure he’s a really nice guy, but this whole thing is clearly not in his skill set. While this episode (and the past few) have all been awesome, and I’ve enjoyed each and every one, I have a question for you: Has the latter half of this season been so awesome because the level of the game has been raised, or because the people that have been cast this season as the “fans” have been almost uniformly idiotic and unfit? While this has been awesome entertainment and I’m glad to have watched it, I would have preferred that the casting people had chosen someone who was actually capable of scheming and thinking logically, given them Erik’s (or Jason’s, or Kathy’s, or Chet’s…) spot, and put some people on this show that could actually go up against the likes of Cirie. These blindsides are not the result of people getting smarter; it’s because the people on the receiving end are getting dumber. If they had cast people who could actually handle this as the “superfans”, this season would have been twenty times better as a result. Chet wouldn’t have quit, Kathy wouldn’t have quit, Tracy (as the only person really worthy, I think) would have been able to work with people who can actually think strategically. Think about the clash of the titans we could have seen, a battle we have been promised by All-Star seasons past, on nearly every reality show, that has not been delivered. This was a great premise, one that had promise. But it’s not enough to have seen all the episodes; while that makes you a “superfan” in one sense, that doesn’t mean that you have the capacity to be interesting on this show, or the ability to think critically that is required to win. Frankly, I found Erik and the rest quite boring, the entire time they were present. If you’re going to put Cirie and Yau-Man and Ozzy and Jonathan and Amanda in the same place, please producers, put some worthy people on this show, seriously. Otherwise, it’s just a turkey shoot.
On Sunday: the finale!