Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Episode Recap
Episode 9 - It's Psychological Warfare
By Jim Van Nest
April 19, 2016

One of her many professions.

Hello, good people, and thank you for joining me for another thrilling episode of Survivor: Kaoh Rong. Last time we hung out, alliances were still up in the air and all over the place. Tai had a great first half of the episode and a terrible second half. Of course, Nick had the worst episode of all as he fell victim to his own arrogance and over-confidence. But let's talk Tai for a second, shall we? First off, he had an incredible Immunity Challenge win, making him safe from the vote. But then, at Tribal, he lets slip confirmation of the Super Idol - which most of the cast had NO idea about. And then to finish off his episode meltdown, he was the one and only person to vote for Kyle Jason. Most votes went to Nick...some went to the originally planned boots - Aubry and Debbie. But then there was one rogue vote for Kyle. That is NOT gonna go over well and could spell the end of Tai's game.

The previews for this week suggest that Kyle and Scot go full Hantz and start hiding things like the ax and the machete. They're looking to #Sabotage the camp. There's also a hint that Julia is going to continue her good relationship with Scot Pollard, which will put her on the outs with everyone else on the tribe. So, will the women's alliance hold? Will anyone find the machete? Will Joe ever do anything useful this season? I guess now is as good a time as any to peek in and see how it's going.

We begin this week's episode at camp right after Tribal, and the guys are pissed. And by guys, I mean Scot and Kyle. And what do you do when you get pissed in Survivor? How about sabotage the camp? Sounds good to me! Let's hide the ax and the machete and stop providing food. That'll show 'em. Tai, oddly enough, actually joins in on the plan and agrees to stop getting food. I should mention that they also finally come clean all the way around that they have two idols - which means the Super Idol is in play. So, as day 23 dawns, Scot makes his move and makes the ax and machete disappear. The plan is, apparently, to make camp life as miserable as possible for everyone else and see if they can find or force a crack somewhere. And hey, it's WAY easier than just kissing Cydney's ass and getting her back on board with the Brawn alliance.

We come back from the first break and Debbie is patting herself on the back for her amazing play last night. She can't stand the poor sportsmanship on display. Also, they finally realize that the tools are missing. So, they roast some coconuts and then use the hand saw to open them up. And voila, breakfast. That's strike one for the sabotage strategy.

Pissed off that his big plan isn't working, Scot decides to "end the speculation" and gets up, grabs the full water jug and pours all five gallons of water onto the fire - while everyone is in camp watching! Dumbass! You know, sabotage is actually a viable strategy under a couple conditions. One, that they don't know it's you. Two, that you're actually withholding something that they can't get on their own. Example, all the way back in Borneo, Richard Hatch got votes and decided to stop catching fish. But he only told the camera about it, not the rest of the tribe. And, oh by the way, no one else could catch fish on that tribe. But when you let everyone know that it's you AND they can still get food anyway - all you've done is ensure that you'll never win the game. You are now Russell Hantz. Congratulations. And just like Russell, you'll never win this game. But, who cares about that? You sure showed all them braggarts, didn't you?

You know, I've been enjoying this season quite a bit actually. I just can't stand horrible strategy and that's what we're seeing right here. I'm not even appalled that he put out the fire. So what? They'll just start another one. It's that the idea is so mind-numbingly bad, I can't stand it.

And here we are for our first Probst sighting! He asks how things are going at camp and Aubry and Debbie proceed to explain what's been going on. He asks Scot about the fire. Scot says that he's the one who always gets the water. They have mangoes because he lifts Tai into the trees to pick them. He wants them to understand what they're doing when they go against the guys. Um, okay. Another solution could be a little more subtle - stop doing those things.

Anyway, today's reward challenge will require the tribe to be split into two four-person teams. They'll all be tied to ropes that are braided together. They'll have to work as a team to unbraid the ropes. Once unbraided, they'll have to use a bunch of sandbags to knock blocks off a platform. The winning team will get a super duper feast of Chinese food back at camp. Really? That's what we've sunk to? Chinese food? The one food on the planet that lasts LESS time in the stomach than the shit they're already eating? Oh well, they think it's worth playing for, so let's pick teams.

Uh oh, wait a minute. No one wants to have the guys on their team. So first, Joe decides to sit out. None of the five girls want to join the guys until Julia finally says she'll do it. This sets off huge red flags for Cydney. Julia tells us that she's fine with working with the guys. It gives her another option. Joe is allowed to pick a team to win - if they win, he'll feast. If not, he won't. He chooses the girls, of course. Okay, with that nonsense out of the way, let's start the challenge.

Actually, it's a pretty boring challenge. The guys and Julia plow through the braided rope and are throwing sandbags and the girls aren't really even close. I think there's a bit of surprise that Julia didn't just sit down and refuse to play, costing the guys the reward. But she busts her ass and they are dominating this challenge. Kyle and Scot have a huge lead on the blocks, but Debbie starts throwing and actually catching up. Maybe one of her former jobs was as a pitcher. Either way, the lead was just too big for the guys and they hold on to win the challenge and the Chinese food. As we head to break, Aubry tells us that she sees through Julia. She knows Julia's trying to get in good with the guys. She's not falling for it.

We come back from camp and the winning team heads off to grab their reward. Kyle's feeling good about Julia joining up with them. They all seem to feel like she can help them stay in the game. Julia tells them that she'd be dumb to get rid of them. She's at the bottom of the other alliance, so she agrees to keep them in the loop about what's going on.

The rest of the tribe is super concerned about Julia flipping to the guys. Well, everyone except Debbie. She is positive that Julia is with them and will not flip. Probably because Debbie told her who she was in an alliance with and that has to stick, right? I honestly can't tell if Debbie is for real or not. She makes shit up in her own head and then believes it so much that she tries to convince other people it's real. Debbie tells her that they'll wait to see who wins immunity and then decide who to vote for. Cydney, however, isn't falling for any of this. She takes Aubry aside and the two ACTUAL brains of the show decide that Julia has to go. At best, she's playing both sides. At worst, she's already flipped to the guys. Aubry tells us that Julia is playing both sides, and sometimes the guy in the middle of the road gets run over.

We come back from break on night 23. Joe and Tai are the only ones up in the middle of the night. Tai tells us that he didn't like when Scot put out the fire. But, he realizes that if they're going to make the other side uncomfortable, he needs to help. So, he pours water on the fire after Joe goes to sleep. The next morning, the rest of the tribe is upset to find the fire out again. Once again, Aubry has her finger on the pulse of the game. She doesn't see this as a temper tantrum. She sees it as guys who want to get votes. And why would they want to get votes? Because they have idols. Even more of a reason, she feels, to vote for Julia.

Debbie, however, wants Scot gone. She doesn't believe Aubry about the idols, or doesn't care. Oh yeah, and her impeccable read on the situation says Julia is with them. As they talk more, Debbie finally just says, "I'm not voting for Julia." And that, Debbie, is why you're not a good player. And this whole situation shows why Aubry is, by far, the best player out there right now. You can't make a move emotionally at this stage of the game. Use your head and do the smart thing. And right now, the smart thing is to get rid of Julia.

And with that, it's a Probst sighting! Today's immunity challenge is a simple one. Set up a row of blocks like dominoes, push them over and ring a gong. On yeah, these blocks are set on a movable beam attached to some obstacles. Bump the obstacle and all the blocks fall and you start over. This challenge actually takes some time. People jump out to leads and them bump them and knock them all down. After a considerable amount of time, Michele, Julia and Debbie are out to massive leads. Michele is the first one to knock her dominoes down. They get about halfway and then fall off the side and don’t hit the gong. Debbie is next to try and hers is worse than Michele's. Kyle is close, but wants to restack them a bit. Once he does, they go almost to the end, but not quite. Debbie tries again and falls short again. Julia finally gets everything lined up and takes her first shot. Disco - Julia wins immunity. And just like that, the streak of Aubry not being able to make her plans happen continues.

Back from commercial and I have no idea who might be going home now. Sure, Debbie wants one of the guys, but they have two idols between them. She lays it out for everyone. She wants to split the vote between Scot and Tai. Of course, she says this in front of Julia. Naturally, Julia goes right to the guys and tells them the plan. They decide that their target is Cydney. Scot lays it out, if Julia is with them, Cydney goes home. If not, they have idols and Cydney goes home. The next thing we see is Cydney talking to Aubry about Debbie doing all that talking in front of Julia. Aubry suggests that maybe they should cut Debbie loose. Cydney says, "You know what? I'm not against it." They decide to get Michele and Joe on board for this vote. Michele is down. She's ready for Debbie to go, too. Joe, on the other hand, wants no part of it. Joe doesn't like to switch votes. He flat out refuses to vote for Debbie. Cydney decides that they should stick with this plan and try to get Julia on board. Aubry is freaking out about this idea.

Michele and Cydney take Julia aside and fill her in on the plan to vote for Debbie. Once they confirm that Aubry is in, Julia agrees to go with the girls. Julia tells us that she likes being in a place where she can either go with the guys and dump a huge threat in Cydney or she can stick with the girls and dump a wildcard pain in the ass in Debbie.

Tribal Council is pretty much run of the mill for the beginning part. Debbie complaining about missing tools. Jeff asks Julia what the reaction was when she joined the guys for the reward. She says they were fine with it, and Debbie agrees. Again, finger NOT on the pulse of the game. It's pretty standard stuff until Jeff asks about idols. Scot and Kyle break it all down. They show Tai's idol. They also show Kyle's idol. At this point, on the jury, Neal leans in to tell Nick they can join the two idols. What's so great about this entire moment is that Scot is SO excited to be telling all of this stuff that he doesn't seem to notice that the only one not protected IS HIM!!! So, they lay it out. Tai will be playing his idol. And Kyle and Scot will rock, paper, scissors for the other idol. Winner gets the idol. At this point, they don't know where to vote as it's all up in the air. Meanwhile, Aubry wants everyone to go with the "original plan." Screw it, let's vote.

We see no votes cast as everyone files through with a smile on their face. When Jeff asks about playing an idol, Kyle and Scot stand up and play their game. Scot wins - paper covers rock and all. But Kyle doesn't give the idol to Scot, he gives it to Tai. They never intended to play both idols separately. They planned to use the Super Idol, but they had to get both idols in the hands of the same player. What shocks the rest of the group is when Tai takes the second idol and then sits down, refusing to play either one. Wha, huh??

And with that, let's read the votes. First vote: Scot. Cydney. Scot. Cydney. Cydney. Debbie. Debbie. Debbie. And like that, everyone starts to realize that something is afoot. And the eighth person voted out and third member of the jury is Debbie. What's interesting here is that Julia, while flirting with the guys for days, actually doesn't vote with them. But, they're so happy to still be in the game AND to still have two idols; they're all laughs and smiles. Julia managed to pick the side that likely won't hold a grudge against her. The guys look like they'll welcome her right back, or she can stay with the girls. Gotta hand it to our little 18-year-old - she's making some bold moves and everything's coming up Julia right now. I still feel like Aubry's the brains of the outfit, but Julia is the one with choices to be made and she keeps making the right one.

Next time on Survivor: Kyle, Scot and Tai have a Super Idol and they're feeling invincible now. But, as she has been for episodes now, Aubry's out to shake things up and she's going to make a play for Tai. And she's going to do it based on Kyle and Scot not being nice people. This is exactly the play to make and exactly the time to do it. More and more, Aubry is getting the famed "winner's edit." She's basically the main storyteller right now and she's the one doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to strategy. Given that the guys are feeling SO superior right now, I have to think one of them is getting ready to get his comeuppance. Either way, next week promises to be another crazy episode of Survivor. I sure hope you come back and spend it with me. 'Til next time, take care.