Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Episode Recap
Episode 11 - It's a Me Game, Not a We Game
By Jim Van Nest
May 4, 2016

We're sure we'll see her again on All-Stars.

Hello, good people, and thanks so much for coming back for another thrilling Survivor: Kaoh Rong episode recap. So far, despite no fanfare at all, this 32nd season of Survivor has turned out to be pretty damn good. Everything we've seen until now culminated last week with Tai's epic blindside of Scot Pollard. Despite having all the pieces in play to make the first Super Idol and continue their hold on the game - Tai decided to go against his alliance, hold onto HIS idol, vote for Scot and send the season 32 villain home - with Kyle's idol in his pocket! An awesome move for TV. An awesome move for Aubry and Cydney. A horrible move for Tai - and we're seeing it in the previews. Kyle wants revenge and everyone else wants the idol AND the advantage gone. We can start this episode playing, "It's Anybody But Tai."

What I really like about this season right now is that we have seven people left and I think there's a scenario where six of the seven can win. I don't think Joe has done enough to warrant a victory, even if he was sitting with Russell and Brandon Hantz at the end. Again, tonight's episode seems to be very Tai-centric as everyone is looking at the little man with the huge play. Will this be his week, or will he be able to rekindle things with Kyle and keep on trucking? I don't know, but if the first 10 episodes have shown us anything, it's that you just can't predict this season. Let's get to it.

I've been looking forward to this all week - the episode begins as everyone gets back to camp after Tribal. Tai breaks down the Tribal vote and tells us that Scot and Kyle always talked over him and he was tired of it. He wanted to take control of his own game. Aubry and Joe are thrilled at how it turned out. And with one sentence, Aubry sums up why I think she's playing the best game out there. She looks at Tai and says, "I'm so happy for you." Tai comes back with, "I'm happy for us." And right there is the nuanced social game that most players don't have. Tai saved her ass tonight. He kept her in the game AND gave her the power of the numbers. And she comes back to camp, looks at Tai and tells him she's so happy for him. She knows what Tai needs to hear and keeps giving it to him. That's how she got him to make the move and that's how she'll keep him in lock step for as long as she wants. Really, really nice play.

We check in with the rest, still after Tribal, and Jason says, "You'll never get rid of him now." He tells them that there's almost no way to get rid of Tai now. He loves the play from a fan perspective. He tells us that the only thing that could possibly go wrong at Tribal went wrong. He tells us that without his partner and his idol, he's got nothing left to do but scramble. He tells Cydney that he's an island out there and if she wants to do something nuts, he's very nutty. She says that she'll keep it in mind. We join the "alliance" of five around the fire and Joe is asking Julia if she's okay. She tells them that she and Michele would have liked to have been told about the plan. Julia is pissed about how things went. Tai wants to explain why he voted Scot and she doesn't want to hear it. I actually find her anger a bit annoying. YOU VOTED FOR TAI!!! Why should he owe YOU anything? Julia and Michele end up in the shelter with Kyle as they lament being on the wrong side of the numbers moving forward.

Aubry, Tai and Cydney take a minute to congratulate themselves on the Final Four. Tai tells them that Kyle no longer has an idol, so there should be no blindsides the rest of the way. They have the numbers and Kyle is the next to go. Aubry is so totally stoked to be this close to the end-game. For her sake, I hope she doesn't get too excited and remembers that Survivor is very fluid. No alliance is guaranteed. If she forgets this, she could be the next one out.

We come back from break the next day and Tai is reflecting and he has decided he really wants to talk to Kyle, because he's never lied so blatantly to anyone before. He tells Kyle that he was worried that he and Scot were going to cut him loose (they were) and that he felt that he needed to move first (he did) and that he hated doing it. Kyle tells him that he totally understands the move. Kyle accepts his apology and tells us that he accepted the half-assed apology and that right now, he's trying to keep hidden how angry he really is. He definitely wants revenge, but he has to find a way to get in. Also, he's not too thrilled with Tai and his *air quotes* big heart and how he's so quick to flip flop and screw people over. Kyle mulls his options as we head to our first...

Probst sighting!! Today's reward challenge is a team challenge. The teams will have to complete an obstacle course collecting rings along the way. Once they have all three rings, they have to toss them onto a swinging hook. First team to land all three rings wins reward. Today's reward is a helicopter ride over the island they've been living on, culminating in a feast of fried chicken, corn on the cob, apple pie and soft drinks and wine. Michele's in for the wine. There will be three pairs, which means one person doesn't get to play. Kyle ends up out of the challenge. The teams are Joe and Tai, Julia and Aubry and Cydney and Michele. Everyone stays pretty close for a minute and then Cydney and Michele start to pull away a little. Everyone gets their three rings in about the same amount of time and are all tossing rings at the same time.

Cydney strikes first and hooks a ring. Then Big Joe starts tossing. He lands one ring. Then he lands a second ring, as does Cydney. Julia and Aubry never actually hook a ring. And Cydney and Joe each come down to a final toss. Joe's misses, Cydney's catches and Michele and Cydney win reward! Jeff gives them the option to take someone with them and they very quickly choose Aubry, since she has not won any food reward at all. The chopper comes in and Jeff gets a little tingly because he got to say "chopper." As they head off on reward, Michele is thrilled to have a chance to hang with Cydney and Aubry and try to get herself back in a good place. As the rest head back to camp, Kyle tells us how bleak everything looks right now, but he's not giving up and he'll do his best to find a crack.

We come back from break to join the ladies on their helicopter ride. It really does make everything look so majestic. They are all so excited about this reward - the helicopter, the fried chicken and the chance to talk game. Michele tells us that she has been relying on her social skills in this game and that she might have to separate herself from Julia in Aubry and Cydney's eyes. Aubry tells us that Michele has always stayed with them and that she has proven herself. When she steps away for a minute, Aubry and Cydney compare notes. They agree that Michele is someone they can probably work with. Cydney says that they cannot go to the end with Tai, so either Joe or Michele would be good people to take. Right now, though, they need Tai to help take out Kyle and Julia. Cydney really wants to get Tai out of the game, but she's nervous about when to do it. Aubry seems to be on the same page, so they could have a solid little two-person alliance going here.

Next, we finally get to check in on those who didn't go on reward. We visit Julia and Kyle first. Julia seems to be pinning all of her hopes on winning immunity, while Kyle is still trying to find a crack to exploit and work his way back into the game. This is the difference between an older guy and an 18-year-old. She sees no solution other than the necklace; he knows that if he is able to wait long enough, another opportunity will present itself. He breaks it down that Tai has to be the vote. They have three, with Michele, but he doesn't know where that fourth vote will come from. After discussing it, they decide that Cydney may be their only chance at getting someone else to flip. Kyle had a relationship with her in the past; maybe they can rekindle their old Brawn colors and continue on in the game together.

They finally get alone time with Cydney and Kyle lays out the plan. They're voting Tai; the others will vote for one of them. If Cydney comes with them, either Tai plays his idol and one of Julia or Kyle goes home or Tai doesn't play an idol, HE goes home and takes the last idol with him. Cydney agrees it's something to think about and tells us that she likes having options. This is a "me game" and she is going to do what's best for Cydney. Kyle and Julia are now just hanging to see what Cydney's going to do. Cydney is just hanging out waiting to decide which vote is best for her, Tai or Kyle. As we head to break, Julia confirms that as soon as Tai is gone, Mark the chicken will be the next to go.

And we come back from the commercial to another Probst sighting! Today's immunity challenge will test the players’ physical strength as well as their mental strength. They will have to run/swim out into the ocean, climb over a log wall, then run/swim some more to a dock. On the dock is a wheel with symbols and numbers all over it. They have to memorize which number goes with which picture and then run/swim back to shore (over the obstacle again) and then use what they memorized to work a combination lock. Once solved, they will untie the key associated with the space. If that key opens their lock, they'll get some puzzle blocks that spell out a Survivor word. First to spell the word wins immunity. If their key doesn't open the lock, they need to head back out in the water and back to the circle. This is going to be pretty grueling and it will be interesting to see if anyone can actually remember anything after some 26 days of Survivor.

And they're off. Kyle bolts out to a huge lead and has plenty of time alone to study the wheel. As people catch up, everyone is taking their time studying. Kyle, Julia and Michele are the first ones to head back to shore to try their lock. As they start working the combination lock puzzle, Michele grabs some sand to put in the spaces, and writes the numbers with her fingers. Naturally, Jeff sees it and mentions it, so others start to do the same thing. Damn, Jeff. Shut up and let someone have their own strategy.

Kyle is moving through this and is the first one to untie a key. He tries it, doesn't work. Keeps trying, still doesn't work. So he has to head back out in the water to check some numbers. Julia and Michele are both close to their key. Michele gets hers out first followed right behind by Julia. Both of their keys work and they start working on the puzzle. Neither one of them is making any headway, but then the lightbulb goes off for Michele and a couple seconds later, her blocks spell out "Blindsided" and just like that, Michele wins immunity. The rest of the players and Probst are stunned at how quickly she completed this challenge. He asks her how many of the symbols she memorized. She says, "All of them." And that is that. Another challenge everyone expected to be super hard, and one of the players grabbed it and made it look easy! As we head to break, Kyle can only hope that Cydney and Michele come on board to dump Tai.

And we're back to play a new game, "It's anyone but Kyle Jason!" As everyone congratulates Michele, Aubry breaks down the numbers and tells us that Kyle is definitely the easiest vote, but she's not sure it's the best idea. Cydney is all over the vote for Kyle, but Aubry is warning everyone about how much of a threat Julia is. She tells us that she thinks Kyle might be a good guy to take to the end. She feels like Julia is a much bigger threat to win the game.

Now, Julia is Michele's bestie and she's not too thrilled about this turn of events. Michele asks the group what she's supposed to tell Julia. Cydney tells her to just tell Julia that "we're going with the Tai thing." That really piques Tai's interest. He says that he is prepared to play his idol tonight, because he won't go home with it in his pocket. Michele and Julia talk a little strategy, and Michele really wants to stick with her to get rid of Tai, but it all depends on what Cydney wants to do. If they can't get Cyd, there's no point in her flipping. The next conversation we see is Kyle and Cydney. It's plenty easy to anyone watching the show that Cydney isn't any part of this plan. But Kyle, he buys it hook, line and sinker. Cydney breaks down her choice to us and then goes off to see what Michele wants to do. Julia gives the good news to Kyle that it seems like the plan is to get rid of Tai and that they could both be in a great place. As they head to Tribal, Michele is really struggling with her decision tonight as she doesn't want to vote out her best friend in the game.

Jeff starts Tribal, asking Julia where we are in the game. She says it's a crucial point, and every conversation could make or break you. Kyle chimes in talking about how everyone needs to weigh their options because someone in the alliance of five has to be #5. Julia says she thinks Michele and Cydney are the bottom of that alliance. Tai admits to feeling very nervous tonight because of his idol and his advantage. He wants them to remember the plan and to keep moving forward as a group. Aubry talks about how important trust is in tonight's vote.

Kyle jumps in to say that he trusted his alliance, and look how that turned out. He says that Tai has flipped on his alliance twice in this game already. What's to stop him from doing it a third time? Michele and Cydney talk about how they want the jury to respect their play, but you have to have some moves on your resume. Kyle keep pounding on the fact that he and Julia are right there ready to do something crazy. All they need is someone to do it with them. Tai tells Jeff that after all this, he doesn't feel comfortable at all. Let's get to the vote.

We see Aubry's vote for Julia, saying that she's not crossing it out this time. We also see Kyle voting for Tai. And with that, Jeff will go tally the votes. Anyone have a hidden immunity idol they'd like to play? Tai whispers in Aubry's ear, asking whether he should play it. She tells him she thinks he's good. So, when Jeff asks, Tai sits on the idol. Let's read the votes. First vote, Tai. Julia. Tai. Julia. Julia. Tenth person voted out and the fifth member of our jury, Julia. Aw, bummer. As an 18-year-old player, Julia was very much in the mix and had a really good game in her. Unfortunately, she was too transparent and it finally caught up with her and she paid the ultimate price. But once again, Kyle squeaks through another vote. He's getting closer and closer to being the goat everyone wants to take to the end. Can't wait to see how this plays out.

Next time on Survivor: Kyle is down and out and can't get anyone to play with him. And it looks like Cydney is getting ready to make a move. The question is, will Aubry make the move with her, or will Aubry turn out to BE the move that Cydney makes? Stay tuned for the Week 12 Power Rankings and then later in the week, the Episode 12 recap. Thanks for hanging, kids. See ya next time.