Tribal council is theater. – Zeke

I’m in awe that this television show can still deliver on all fronts. The entertainment, the strategy… everything that makes Survivor great. This episode literally had all of that and then some! I mean, how many times are we going to see a crazy woman go off a ledge in the span of one hour for NO APPARENT REASON? How many times will we see people luring in their prey with an amazing acting job AT TRIBAL COUNCIL? How many times are we going to see the Queen of Survivor herself make the face that says, “LOL, YEA I DID THAT!”

I really think we’re hitting a new era of Survivor where the strategy is so well meshed with the entertainment. Am I sad to see JT go? OF COURSE! He’s one of my all-time favorites. But damn if I’m not thoroughly entertained by him leaving at the hands of the cocky duo. I couldn’t get enough of it. I could watch the episode over and over and still find it all entertaining as hell. Let’s relive it all.

Alright, so we start the episode off at the new Nuku camp. JT knows he done messed up, but it’s his word over a dead guy’s! And he’s taking his word to the grave. Sandra, on the other hand, knows JT slipped and has her sights set on the only other winner left in the game. It’s a Sandra vs JT showdown. The thing is, JT knows he’s in trouble and goes idol hunting once more. This time, though, it pays off. JT finds the Nuku idol (in a similar placing of Mana’s idol… are these idols all over the place? Are producers running around placing idol clues and replacing them after challenges? Odd.).

We get to the reward challenge and get our first look at the Tavua tribe getting their first look at the new Mana and Nuku tribes, and they’re stunned. I could only imagine thinking you’ll be seeing two people gone to finding out only one left. That’s what I call… a GAME CHANGER (pardon my terrible play on words).

Reward this time around is some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or something like that, I didn’t pay much attention because I was taken aback at how excited Aubry was for it all! She hasn’t been very present this season, but I was glad we got a little bit of the food-monster herself especially since we last saw her excitement over some cole slaw. Anyway, the challenge itself is alright; there’s digging, grappling, balancing, and puzzling.

The real focal point, though, was Miss Debbie. And holy shit was she glorious. Here’s how things went down…

Brad: Okay so who wants to do what?
Debbie: Well, I’m an excellent balancer, so I’d like to balance.
Brad: Okay, Debbie, you can do the balancing.

We run the challenge where new Mana is completely blown out of the water because Debbie couldn’t do the one job she volunteered for.


I mean… you cannot make this shit up. We even got a rare segment where the editors played back exactly what happened while Debbie was venting in her confessional. It was hilariously captivating. Who knew Debbie could snap at the drop of a hat? Actually, she did say she would play with the tenacity of a giant squid… so maybe she warned us? All I know is that Debbie is loony.

And it doesn’t stop there.

We go back to new Mana camp where Debbie throws the biggest temper tantrum that I’ve ever seen. You could’ve told me she was a 6-year old and I would’ve believed you! She pouted, she yelled, she stomped all over the beach, and nobody could help. And the weirdest part of it all was when she yelled at Brad, “you crushed my heart” and then maniacally laughed. Debbie has solidified herself a spot on Heroes vs Villains 2. Oh, or maybe they do a South Pacific/Redemption Island season with her and Brandon Hantz being tribe captains? That has the tenacity of a giant squid and will go down in a ball of flames.

Meanwhile, Tai is growing afraid of Debbie’s meltdown, so he goes on the search for an idol. He knows since he used it last tribal, that a new one is bound to be in play. And goddamnit that little guy finds his second clue of the game (which, by the way, is an actual clue where he has to throw water on boards to find where to dig… ALL THESE CLUES ARE DIFFERENT EVERY IDOL IS DIFFERENT I’M SO CONFUSED BY IT ALL). Tai is terrible at Survivor, but he’s really good at finding Tai-dols… okay, okay, that’s thanks to Scoofy.

We head over to the Tavua camp (because who knew they still existed) to get some insight from Sarah and Troyzan. Apparently the two have formed a bit of a bond, even though it seemed like Sarah was cornering Troyzan and basically said, “If you tell people about this, you die. I also die, but more importantly YOU DIE.” To each their own I guess? Troyzan accepts the offer of help and now he may not need to use his idol just yet.

The new Nuku tribe is also giving us some golden entertainment with Sandra getting back to her old ways. She sees JT getting frustrated that Michaela likes the sugar so much (which is stupid because obviously she wants the sugar… there’s nothing else to eat) and Sandra decides to stir up trouble.

She eats the rest of the sugar so JT will blame Michaela. And what happens when JT sees the empty sugar bowl? HE BLAMES MICHAELA. It’s perfect. Hook, line, and sinker, JT walks right into the trap. And so begins Michaela vs JT.

Time for immunity. The challenge itself felt like the producers picked up some scraps from previous challenges they had lying around and threw together this one larger challenge. There’s the giant wall, the keys on a spring, carry bean bags across a beam, and the slingshot. Nothing overly special with the challenge setup, but something extra special with a certain challenge player. DEBBIE. (I need a name for Debbie, similar to BRAD FUCKING CULPEPPER. Maybe DAMN DEBBIE? Or DEMONIC DEBBIE? I’ll think on this.)

Debbie starts off by asking to be on the balance beam. Tai says he would also like to be on the balance beam. SO, naturally, Debbie throws a fit and decides to NOT do the balance beam, even though she was a gymnast for 10 years. The tribes begin the challenge and hop over the first large wall. Debbie is down first and makes sure her tribe knows… by shouting, “FIRST ONE DOWN” as if she’s 6-years old. The tribes go through the block and key-on-a-spring easily, but still have time for Debbie to tell Brad, “DID YOU SEE I WAS THE FIRST ONE DOWN. DID YOU SEE, BRAD?” They head to the balance beam where Tai isn’t doing so well, so of course Debbie has to let her tribe mates know by saying, “YEA DON’T LET ME DO THE BALANCE BEAM.”

It’s all just so unbelievable to watch. I couldn’t get enough, so I rewound that challenge multiple times. Debbie has earned her new job title, Crazy Person.

Mana ends up winning thanks to BRAD FUCKING CULPEPPER (and literally not thanks to Debbie). The end showdown is between Ozzy and JT, with Ozzy taking down the previous winner. I’m not sure if the editing made it seem like it was closer than it was, but JT nearly had the win by mere inches and by mere seconds. It’s a shame too. I would’ve liked to see a Tavua tribal council.

The new Nuku tribe comes back defeated and with a plan. Michaela leaves for a second and JT makes the announcement that they should target her. Everyone is seemingly on board. No questions asked. We even get a hilarious shot of Sandra looking at the empty sugar bowl while JT bitches a bit more about how empty it is, and Sandra’s face is that of Jim Halpert from The Office. I can’t not put it in the recap, right?

Sandra Face
I’m going to use this whenever possible.

Sandra, though, has other ideas. She still wants revenge for JT spilling the beans at the previous tribal council. Plus, he’s the only other winner here so why not solidify your #Queen status? Sandra pulls in Michaela, saying they should boot JT and get Varner on board. She gets Varner (who is laughing through the whole sugar debacle, since he knows it was Sandra) and fills him in on the plan to boot JT. Which puts Varner in the hot seat this week; does he go with sandra and Michaela or Aubry and JT?

We get to tribal council and it was alive with acting. You could smell it off Sandra and Michaela and I’m sitting in the comfort of my living room. Those two SOLD it to JT that Michaela was going home. JT even got some digs in about that damned sugar! And when Jeff asks for any hidden immunity idols, JT stands firm, confident that Michaela will be sent home in a majority vote.

As the votes get read, JT finds he misread everything, and he’s sent home by a 3-2 vote. Michaela is literally sipping tea during the reading of the votes because she’s television gold. It took a little bit of the sting out of losing JT. Not all of the sting (the poor guy looked defeated as hell), but it was at least funny watching Michaela and Sandra giggle at their perfectly planned tribal council show. It’s all theater now.

But enough from me, let me hear your thoughts! Is Debbie actually a bit insane? Was Brad a dictator or part of the democracy? How in the hell is Sandra still playing this season?! Let me know in the comments below!