Survivor: two immunity challenges, two Tribal Councils, more than one surprise

Survivor‘s fast-forward episode proved to be surprising, and I’m not just talking about how Erik finally figured out that immunity idols offer protection and safety in the game. Instead, what seemed like a foregone conclusion–getting rid of Reynold and Eddie, one after the other–didn’t quite happen.

Yes, Reynold was voted out, but not before he and Eddie proved themselves incapable of even attempting to keep themselves in the game. Perhaps they thought splitting the vote was effective with an alliance of two, or perhaps they just gave up and didn’t even talk about who they were going to vote for.

Earlier, Eddie was so confident/unaware of what was happening that he immediately fled the immunity challenge for donuts and milk shared with Erik. “I kind of sacrificed some security and self-pride for a few donuts,” he said later, which was perhaps the most insightful thing he’s said all season.

As to Eddie and Reynold, Malcolm said in an exit interview that while “They’re both really good guys,” “I still don’t know what’s going on between their ears.” He added that “Eddie could not get it through his head why you would ever vote off an attractive girl. It doesn’t make sense to him.”

What does make sense, based on that, is why Andrea wanted to protect Eddie: If everyone thinks he’s that dumb, he could be a perfect final-three partner because he wouldn’t have anyone’s respect. Cochran was at least suspicious of that possibility, thinking he might be replaced, prompting him to rally

In Lessons About Survivor from Erik, we learned that “This game never stops” and that the immunity necklace he won in the challenge “is a safety blanket that can get me farther in this game.” Yes, that’s why when you gave it up last time, you were voted out. After being approached by Andrea about going to the final three with her, Erik said, “I think I believe it” and then added, “I’m actually in control of the game, it feels like.” Um, no.

All of his hedging comes across like a lack of confidence and it’s easy to make fun of since most people are just really direct in their interviews, but perhaps he’s actually the smart one here. After all, he comes “from a family of diggers,” and also apparently from a family of people who just give up whatever they found in the dirt immediately to whoever is standing right there and wants to pry it out of their hand.

That did lead to the fun turnaround of Andrea being voted out despite having the hidden immunity idol on her at Tribal Council, which she hilariously said would be a souvenir to remind her about “trusting people too much.” For all her scheming (“you’re a sneaky, sneaky little girl,” Brenda said while voting), Andrea took her surprise exit very well. “What? Oh you guys. That’s good. That’s really good.”

Andrea won an idol clue at the first immunity challenge, which came with the bonus reward of a clue, probably prepackaged with Reynold’s name on it, but alas, he couldn’t survive the 3+ hours that Brenda and Andrea did standing on floating doghouses–a challenge that had the unintended consequence of getting Andrea paranoid about Brenda, which in turn led to the alliance turning on Andrea.

That’s a lot of intrigue for an episode that often just moves the game forward by two predictable spaces. With two episodes left, I have no clue where it’s going next, and that’s the best possible place for Survivor to be.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.