Survivor: Caramoan - Episode 10
Zipping Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
By Ben Willoughby
April 18, 2013

With Brandon and us gone, who will people despise now? Oh right, Cochran.

Previously on Survivor, although Stealth R Us seems like a “well-oiled machine,” they are just as dysfunctional as any alliance on this show. Dawn has committed the Survivor sin of being “unable to control her emotions,” which is why Survivor has been running it as the promo for this week. Andrea has been flirting with Eddie and Phillip’s “leadership style” has “worn thin with rivals and allies.”

Brenda won immunity and they agreed to vote out Malcolm. But after Andrea thought she would be targeted, they switched up the plan. There was an epic moment where Malcolm, thinking he would be the voting target, convinced Reynold within five seconds to give him his idol. But he was still wrong and Michael was the one who went home. Ten are left, who will be voted out tonight?

Everyone arrives back at camp and then Phillip calls a very obvious Malcolm-less meaning. “Welcome to the bottom,” Reynold tells Malcolm, and then they and Eddie share high-fives. Malcolm sort of apologizes to Reynold by saying “It was the right call. I don’t feel too bad about it.” Eddie bright-sides how being on the bottom works in their favor because “no one talks behind our backs.” So why is Stealth R Us down the beach having their secret meeting?

In interview, Malcolm admits “just about everything I tried to do went wrong.” He realizes that “Dawn was never with me. Dawn was never gonna be with me.”

Down the beach, Dawn is saying “it was the most hellish day for me”, while Andrea is saying that if the three guys lose immunity there’s no problem. They have no idol, but even if they had one it wouldn’t matter because Stealth R Us are up in numbers and can split the vote. Foreshadowing! Andrea has doomed them all!

The guys all agree that tomorrow they have to get up early and search. “I’d rather be my own man than be a puppet for Phillip,” says Eddie, who after playing for 25 days, still does not get it. Meanwhile, the alliance bonds by putting their hands into the middle of the circle and whispering their corporate motto “S-R-Us... ssssshh!” Cochran makes the “this is loco” gesture.

Day 26, and morning breaks with Cochran undermining Dawn to Phillip, or possibly urging Phillip to take her to the end. “I used to think of Dawn as being a person who would be impossible to beat, but I don’t know if that’s really the case. She’s betrayed a lot of people with information.” Phillip agrees, saying she’s not a threat in any of the challenges, which no one really cares about at the final Tribal Council, except for maybe the people who are good at challenges. This is interrupted by Dawn, who is out in the forest and calling for Brenda. She makes those weird elephant bawls that we heard in the promo. Everyone looks around to see what is happening, and Brenda goes off to look.

When Brenda arrives Dawn is trying to bottle things in. “It’s so embarrassing,” reveals Dawn. She has lost her retainer while swimming. It includes her bottom teeth, so it’s kind of a big deal. “I can’t see, “I don’t want anyone else to know!” This is why she called for Brenda, because we all know Brenda never says anything to anyone! Dawn’s secret is safe, except among the ever-dwindling number of viewers actually watching the show... oh all right, Dawn’s secret is safe.

But Dawn still thinks drastic measures may be called for. “I won’t go to the challenge. I will pull myself from the game. I’m not kidding” she says between sobs. But Brenda goes into the lagoon with snorkel and goggles and with some direction from Dawn quickly comes back up with the retainer. Dawn says tearfully “I love you so much! Thank you so much!” and interviews about how it’s a reminder there’s still “kindness, even when you’re playing a game that’s about one winner.” Nicaragua Brenda would have stomped that retainer into the mud.

And Brenda gets an interview! “My heart went out to her so much. After that incident, I’m not gonna turn my back on her.” You won’t turn your back on Dawn because you did something nice for her? Nicaragua Brenda would have demanded Dawn’s next three votes! There must have been a malfunction in the Brenda cloning machine. Anyway, as you probably guessed, the Dawn-quitting crisis we saw on last week’s Next Time On Survivor has been resolved in the first ten minutes of the show.

Probst sighting! Reward challenge! “Come on in, guys!”

The castaways will be split into two teams of five. One at a time, they will race over an obstacle course, before diving into a muddy pit and searching for bags of balls, and then running with a bag of balls to the end of the course. Once all five team members are there with all five bags (of balls), the team can start throwing the balls (which were in bags) into a basket. If this challenge seems familiar, it’s because we saw it last season. It’s probably the same course.

Anyway, if you remember that, you’ll also remember that Malcolm won for his team by digging up all of the ball bags himself and leaving them for his team to pick up, instead of searching through the mud for the frustrating last bag. Let’s see if that happens this time.

So winners will be taken to a resort where there is a pool, lunch and margaritas. And the teams are purple, with Reynold, Erik, Dawn, Cochran and Phillip, and orange, with Malcolm, Eddie, Sherri, Andrea and Brenda.

Malcolm and Erik go first, across the beam, over the frame and then down the waterslide into the mud. Erik races on while Malcolm starts digging through the mud for the ball bags. Erik focuses on digging a hole through the rice big enough for everyone to fit through, and once he’s done that, he goes to the end of the course. Reynold is in. Malcolm? Still digging.

Anyway, when Reynold gets to the mud, Malcolm is still digging, Reynold’s team are calling out that he should find a couple, so Reynold copies Malcolm. In addition to his other talents, Reynold proves to be an excellent gatherer of ball-bags, and he finds all of his team’s bags before Malcolm is finished. And Malcolm still has that big pile of rice to dig through. So that strategy isn’t working out as well this time. Dawn is on the course, while Malcolm is yet to finish. It’s easy to see how things go from here.

Dawn lands face first in the mud, but somehow manages not to lose her retainer. Andrea is on the course. Cochran is on the course. Sherri is on the course and she “has to move,” according to Probst. She takes a very, very long time on the balance beam. Meanwhile Cochran throws himself face-first into the mud so hard he gets an enthusiastic “that is how you do it!” from Probst. Probst cheering on a weakling in a physical challenge? Now I’ve seen everything in Survivor. No need to watch the show any more, this recap is over! Sherri is still stuck on the beam.

Phillip comes in for purple’s final leg while Sherri is struggling through the rice. Sherri finally makes it, and Brenda races through the course so Eddie can run orange’s final leg, but purple are already shooting hoops. They have seven by the time Eddie’s at the rice, ten when Eddie reaches the mat, Cochran (!) shoots the 11th and Phillip the 12th, and the reward is over. Brenda has the sickest face you will ever see. It’s like, “I already know I’m not winning a million dollars, but losing out on that sandwich just rubs it in my face.”

After the break, Dawn’s retainer looks especially bright as the purple team arrives at the resort. Cochran, as usual, gets the interview because he’s the only one who puts any effort into thinking up what to say in confessionals. He showboats that “Apparently protein is important in one’s diet, and this was the sort of energy I need to go into challenges and continue being the challenge monster that I’ve proven myself to be.” Dawn likes the shower. She interviews that “I’ve been losing my marbles. The hardest thing to process about the game, it makes you feel kind of schizophrenic how quickly your emotions change.”

Phillip is indifferent to the shower. He jumps straight into the pool without washing off the challenge mud or the challenge rice, and he has a big cloud of dirt surrounding him. It looks like Pigpen was kidnapped from the Charlie Brown Christmas special and dumped into an Ethel Merman movie. Erik interviews about Phillip’s poor pool etiquette, but Phillip doesn’t care. He’s already naked. “I’m loving life!” he declares.

There’s no jealousy footage – or even footage of Reynold optimistically trying to shake up the game by bro-ing down with Phillip. Instead, it’s night and everyone’s sleeping on the beach instead of the shelter. They are all snuggled up in a line, except for Dawn, who is out on her own for some reason. She hasn’t been sleeping well and is feeling more and more paranoid.

The next morning, Dawn is worried that Andrea is spending too much time with Malcolm and Eddie, and they could pull Andrea to join them and vote Dawn out? Really? Andrea who has been making all the voting out plans in her alliance and leading Phillip by the nose? Phillip and Cochran try to reassure her. However, in interview, he mocks her. “Daaaaaaaaawwwwn, True Grit,” with sarcastic emphasis “she’s totally a lunatic and she’s losing her composure out here.” Cochran also finds Dawn’s conviction that she will be targeted “baffling” and says it makes him more suspicious of Dawn. But Dawn is almost chewing through her retainer as she and Brenda watch Andrea feed Malcolm and Eddie toasted pieces of coconut.

“It’s so hard on me,” Dawn complains. “I need a break.” Andrea tells Phillip that “she’s losing it” and they both talk about how paranoid Dawn is. But Dawn finally gets the “what’s going on with me” chat that she needs with Cochran. She spills about how unstable she is feeling and how overwhelming it is, and apologizes because she is tougher than this. “I’m so tired of crying,” she says. Cochran really doesn’t have to do anything but listen here, but he interviews that “there’s a possible little hummingbird who is zipping over the cuckoo’s nest.”

But next morning, Dawn has managed to sleep the whole night and is happy again. Another new Dawn! It’s Day 28, which was the day Dawn was voted out in her first season, so no wonder she was over-thinking. About time, because I’m sick of this B-plot and want to get to the fireworks factory.

Phillip calls his alliance over to take a walk. They all agree that they want Reynold gone next. Based on the numbers, “nothing can go wrong tonight,” says Andrea, who insists on dooming them all. They agree to split the vote, four for Reynold, three for Malcolm. They do their embarrassing team empowerment Stealth R Us whisper. Somewhere, there's some idiot CEO thinking “that is so cool!”

Probst sighting! Immunity challenge. Brenda hands back the idol and Probst explains the challenge. This challenge is happening out in the water on and under platforms. It’s a race. The castaways have to dive off the platform, pull themselves along the rope underneath the platform to the other end, climb back up, grab a ring, run to the end they started from and put the ring on a post. Then they have to do it again. There are two groups of five, and the first two from each group go through to the next and final round, where they do the same thing, only five times. Winner gets immunity and exhaustion.

Reynold, Cochran, Dawn, Andrea and Sherri are in the first round. As you’d expect, it is an easy win for Reynold. Andrea and Dawn compete for second place, and Andrea just coming out ahead.

Brenda, Malcolm, Phillip, Eddie and Erik are in the second round, but Phillip – who is hugging Andrea, Dawn, Sherri and Cochran – says he won’t be competing. He starts to explain about a scary experience he had in the water once before he is cut off. The second round starts off much tighter than the first, but Malcolm and Eddie pull ahead on the second lap. It looks to be over until Eddie is over-confident putting his ring on the post, and accidentally spills it into the water. “No! Eddie didn’t get his ring on!” Brenda gets hers on the post, and she makes it through to the final round with Malcolm.

The final round has Malcolm, Reynold, Andrea and Brenda, and predictably Reynold and Malcolm get off to a fast start and Andrea and Brenda are left behind. Malcolm just leads at the first lap, but Reynold overtakes him on lap three and never really looks back. Reynold wins immunity! Malcolm is spent. Reynold has enough energy to swim over to Probst and collect the immunity necklace and his “one in nine shot at winning this game, ha ha yeah right”.

Everyone arrives back at camp, and there isn’t the same bonhomie as we’ve seen the last couple of weeks when Brenda and Cochran won immunity. Reynold says to the group “I have a ton of respect for all of you,” before going to confessional and interviewing, “I have no respect for Phillip.” According to Reynold, “it’s sacrilegious to not even participate in a personal immunity challenge - epecially when you have lions and gorillas tattooed on your body. Come on, man.” Phillip has forsaken his holy vows! He’s an apostate in the eyes of Probst!

Phillip calls Andrea aside and they decide to split the vote with four for Malcolm and three for Eddie. Phillip interviews that he might have a shot not just at final three, but “if these people aren’t bitter, I might just have a shot of winning.” Dawn comes up, and they are all convinced that Malcolm does not have an idol. Meanwhile, Malcolm is interviewing about the idol he does have, and about how he could play it and stay, but he’d rather get through the vote and still have the idol. Anyway, Malcolm, Reynold and Eddie decide their only option is to go looking for the idol that was burned at the last Tribal Council and is now back in play.

Among Stealth R Us, Phillip is starting to tell us all about his traumatic childhood experience involving water, when Andrea decides to go looking for the idol. Dawn too, but I suspect it’s because she doesn’t want to hear Phillip’s story either. Brenda is left behind to be the Phillip-wrangler, and she talks about how tough the challenge is.

All five of them seem to be looking pretty hard for the idol, and they all run into each other. No one gets all “j’accuse!” that someone else is looking for the idol. Malcolm is looking around a rock face, and Dawn is asking him to tell her if it is not there so she can go look somewhere else. However, Malcolm reaches into a hole and finds the idol. “I got it.” Andrea and Dawn are right there, watching. Eddie too.

Anyway, Andrea interviews that flirtation be damned, Eddie is going home tonight. If it’s meant to be with him, they’ll hook up at the reunion. Stealth R Us meets to discuss the new plan – which is the same as before to get rid of Malcolm if he does not play the idol, and get rid of Eddie if there is a re-vote. Eddie interviews that he is “double-screwed” because Reynold has an immunity idol and everyone knows about Malcolm’s secret idol.

Tribal Council. We see our first member of the jury, Michael, who lives up to his stereotype as “the gay” by doing a high double-hand wave and hip-swagger combo as he enters.

Probst’s first question is to Reynold, asking if he, Eddie and Malcolm are still on the outs. Reynold confirms that is the case, and it’s “win immunity or go home” from this point, Eddie agrees and says he is “take all the positive you can from the whole experience.” Probst points out to Andrea that Eddie’s talking like he’s going. Andrea explains that Malcolm found a hidden immunity idol and everyone knows about it. Dawn makes a huge “guess what?” crazy-face at this announcement. Malcolm shows it off.

After confirming with Cochran that Eddie wasn’t anyone’s first choice Probst asks who was, and is gratified when Cochran tells him it was dreamboat Reynold. Cochran lays it on thick, lying that Reynold is so charming and an immunity threat to boot. If Reynold was as charming as Cochran says, how come Cochran wasn’t won over by all that masculine tomfoolery last week?

Probst doesn’t want to let challenge quitters off easily, so he says that “he cannot think of a time someone volunteered to sit out of a challenge for individual immunity” when there was no fantastic bribe like peanut butter. He didn’t even get to see any boobs! Phillip begins to share his shocking and disturbing childhood trauma that scarred him for life, but fortunately my wife entered the room to ask me a question and I didn’t have to pay attention. Do you care either? If you do, I’m pretty sure it was like Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People.

Probst asks Andrea about camp life, and she says there’s a lot of paranoia. Basically, her answer is “I can’t talk with Eddie, Malcolm or Reynold anymore. Thanks, Dawn.”

Malcolm agrees that those three are “on the outs... like we have the plague or something.” He goes on that it’s not very fun, and tonight’s vote is about changing that. He reveals his other immunity idol, that he showboats he has been hanging onto for a while. He gives it to Eddie and Eddie looks about as happy as if he’d found the idol himself. Or if a cute girl told him he was awesome.

On Stealth R Us, only Cochran is smiling. Andrea cannot look up, and Phillip whispers something to Brenda. All of the Stealthers are whispering. Stealthily. Dawn: “What are we going to do?” Brenda passes on the word from Phillip: “Andrea.”

Seating is important here, so from left to right on the screen it is Phillip, Brenda, Dawn, Andrea, Sherri, Cochran and Erik. Obviously Dawn is not going to tell Andrea the vote is for her, and Phillip has no way of getting that message to Sherri, Cochran and Erik at the other end of the bench without standing up and walking over. Cochran and Erik are whispering. Andrea to Dawn: “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know.” Brenda is counting on fingers.

Eddie is pleased and dumb enough to refer to himself, Malcolm and Reynold as “the three amigos” which is not quite as bad as saying “the three musketeers,” but still pretty darn stupid. They could have been the three ninjas, kicking back! Be more original, Eddie. No one else is paying attention because they are all still talking among themselves. Malcolm reiterates “we’re not going home,” that he understands it will be 6-3 tomorrow, and then drops another bombshell. “The three of us are voting for Phillip.”

Malcolm explains “I don’t need to make a list of reasons why. Everyone knows in their heads. This is supposed to be a game, and it’s supposed to be fun.” Brenda is still whispering “Andrea” to Dawn, and Dawn is saying back “How? I can’t get that over there.”

Malcolm goes on “But it’s not fun anymore. Phillip is the fun-sponge. He sucks it all out of the group. This is still a game, but it doesn’t have to be this militaristic thing where we are all in basic training.” Phillip is shocked, shocked to find that there is gambling going on in here. Actually, what he says is “That is not how I play the game” even though it is and he totally learned it from Boston Rob, season 22, Redemption Island. “They are trying to label me as something that I’m not.” Seriously, Phillip’s hurt feelings aside, he doesn’t seem very fun.

Andrea is still very paranoid. To calm her, Probst tells everyone how to spell Phillip, but Andrea still thinks there might be some kind of double-play going on. It sounds like she heard Brenda and Dawn whispering. It’s a good thing for Andrea that she is sitting right in the middle and is preventing everyone from getting on the same page.

Erik raises his hand for teacher. He correctly points out that the bros are all three amigos-ing it, but what if one of them doesn’t play their idol? This seems to calm everyone down. Phillip declares that “we vote the way we said we would when we came in here, and if it means for me to go home, I will go home. But I’d rather they vote me out because they are doing it strategically and trying to malign my character” based on an accurate assessment of things Phillip has said and done. Oh Phillip, haven’t you realized the show’s editor and your behavior are doing that already? I think this really means that Phillip would rather keep his delusions than possibly be voted out by his own alliance.

Probst asks Cochran, resident Survivor nerd, what is happening. He analyzes that “I’m having this real bi-polar reaction” as a fan and a player. “Voting patterns are changing, which is extremely rare in Tribal Council, so this vote’s going to be a gamble,” and he looks across at Dawn. Does that mean something? We all know how Cochran likes gambles. Probst asks Dawn about what if it is a misdirect? She says that it would just take a couple of votes to get rid of someone who is not Phillip.

Probst sums it up. Who are the three amigos voting for? Who are the seven voting for? Will Eddie and Malcolm play their hidden immunity idols? “Whatever happens tonight, this is why I freaking love Survivor after 13 years,” says Cochran, who has still apparently never kissed a girl.

They all go to vote, and none are revealed except Erik’s vote for “fillup”. He takes a long time with the font and the coloring and everything. I’m sure that will teach Phillip a lesson in correct pool etiquette! Malcolm looks especially jaunty as he struts up. Before Probst “tallies” the votes, he asks if anyone will be playing their hidden immunity idol. Eddie basically leaves an Eddie-shaped puff of smoke behind him, and after a pause Malcolm follows. They hand their idols to Probst, then fist-bump. “Bastards. Come on,” says Malcolm, ruing that he couldn’t keep his idol.

The votes are... two for Malcolm, do not count. Four for Eddie, do not count. And then Phillip. Phillip. Phillip. That’s enough, Phillip is gone, briefly forgetting his torch on his way out. Dawn’s eyes are wide like saucers. How paranoid is she feeling now? But her teeth look great! Phillip, the tribe has spoken.

Probst asks the obvious but correct question before sending everyone else back to camp. “One of the craziest tribals ever... did they change the game enough to survive another vote?” Eh, probably not.

So, three episodes with three very good Tribal Councils. Malcolm, Eddie and Reynold were very lucky that the stars aligned for them tonight. Unfortunately for them, I don’t think anyone else will be willing to. Everyone who saw them as immunity monsters at the merge now sees them as a tight threesome of immunity monsters. Anyone joining that alliance would know they are joining at the bottom, and their better option is to solidify and vote out the “three amigos”. Maybe if Malcolm had felt able to keep his idol, it would work out differently, but presumably they’ll both be in play again next week.

Erik’s decision to flip was the weird one, because he was also the one who cooled everything down by asking “what if they don’t play their idol?” After that, everything became settled and Stealth R Us decided to go ahead with their plan, damn the consequences. So then why flip? Did he want to make sure? I suppose I can explain it by Erik not knowing what he was doing.

And for all Phillip’s talk about being “maligned”, he had decided to dump Andrea from the alliance but couldn’t pass the word on to enough people. He only decided on martyrdom when he realized he couldn’t control the vote. Lesson for potential castaways - seating position matters!

Next time on Survivor, we have Reynold making another pitch for a majority – with Sherri, who hates him. And there’s a Survivor auction! Where Cochran is fed food by a girl of the opposite gender! According to Cochran it happens “more often than you’d think.”

Phillip’s farewell words are pretty dull and surprisingly lacking in showmanship. “I felt I played a great game. I am so happy with the way I played. I tried to bring in some things I learned from Boston Rob. I felt often in Season 22 I wasn’t respected, I wasn’t appreciated for the things that I do, so that part hurts. But I know I did a very good job out here. I did my best.”

So, a fitting end to Phillip, but it also means he won't get the even more fitting end of zero votes at the final Tribal Council, and can carry on his delusions. But at least we won't have to suffer watching the most Phillip moments in those 11 days. So long, Phillip. Whatever you learned from Boston Rob, you still played more like Russell Hantz.