In my recap of episode 1 of this season, I pointed out that I found it odd that Jeff Probst made a point of talking about heat stroke and infection as part of the potential challenges the castaways would face this season. Well, this episode we get to see how the castaways cope with at least one of these obstacles and (spoiler alert) not all of them will make it.
When the Brains tribe arrives back at their camp from the trip to tribal council, Peter has to face the reality that he is not leading the tribe strategically. In fact, it’s Debbie who considers herself the strategic mastermind of the tribe. She says that Peters ego has been damaged by the events at tribal council. Peter feels like with the elimination of his closest ally the tribe has been both physically and mentally weakened, but he’s happy was able to remain in the game. He’s hoping he can stay in the game long enough to get revenge on his tribe and vote them all out.
The next day is the first Rewards Challenge. This challenge will not be for immunity but the tribes definitely don’t have an easy task ahead of them. To complete this challenge, they have to race to a series of obstacles then dig three bags of balls out a sandy pit. The balls will be used in the final phase of the challenge that requires them to roll them into a carnival-style game. The first team that finishes the challenge will win a kitchen set, as well as spices and coffee. The second team will win and oil and spices while the team that finishes in last place will win nothing. When the challenge starts Beauty and Brawn makes their way across the hot sand very quickly with the Brains tribe not too far behind. Brawn leads the tribes to the sand pits where each tribe must locate three bags of balls before moving on to the final stage of the challenge. The tribes all start off digging feverishly through the piles of sand slowly locating the bags but after a while start to get worn out from the heat. After 45 minutes of digging through the sand in the blazing Cambodian heat, all of the castaways physically exhausted. The Brains tribe is the first tribe to find all of their balls. Aubry, Debbie, and Peter lead their tribe in the carnival game portion of the challenge while the other two tribes are still digging in the hot sun. The Brains tribe wins by a landslide leaving the battle for second place between the Brawn and the Beauty tribe. I understand a competitive spirit but there is no way I would still be digging in the hot sun for an hour for salt, pepper and cooking oil. At some point, I probably would’ve conceded that the prize probably wasn’t worth the effort. But that’s exactly why I’m sitting at home on the couch writing about Survivor instead of playing Survivor.
The Brawn and the Beauty tribes are pretty much physically spent but they keep digging until ultimately the Beauty tribe finds their last two bags. Caleb leads the Beauty tribe in the easiest part of the challenge, rolling the balls on the carnival game. Probst narrates Caleb’s attempts to secure second place for the Beauty tribe until Joe of the Brains tribe gets his attention. Joe tells Probst that he should call the medic. Debbie is now laying on the ground suffering from what she thinks is a heat stroke. The medical staff rushes over to her side and does their best to comfort her. While the medical staff works on cooling Debbie’s overheated body with water and shade, the Brawn tribe continues to dig in the sun. Alecia’s personality already doesn’t mesh with the men on the Brawn tribe and the heat is not making it any better. She tries to keep the tribe motivated but an hour into the challenge and in last place, they aren’t in the best mood. The tribe bickers amongst themselves with the Beauty tribe getting closer to a second place finish. Nick on the Beauty tribe gives Caleb another chance to finish the challenge when the Brawn tribe FINALLY finds their third bag of balls. Caleb really starts feeling the heat (no pun intended) as the Brawn tribe catches up but eventually the Beauty tribe’s lead is too much to overcome. When Jeff announces that Caleb has completed the challenge for the Beauty tribe, Probst heads back over to Debbie to check on her recovery. Debbie is feeling much better and the medical staff agrees that she should be fine to head back to camp. This is very good news considering at this exact moment, Caleb has collapsed from heat exhaustion as well. The castaways try to fan and cool Caleb who is in pretty bad shape until the medical staff can make it over to him. They cover Caleb in cold water to try to bring down his body temperature when not too far away Cydney falls to the ground as well. In 31 seasons of Survivor, there has never been a challenge that ended with this many individuals on the brink of being removed from the game. Debbie is slowly recovering while Cydney and Caleb seem to be in much worse shape. The rest of the castaways watch helplessly as the medical tribe does their best to try to make sure Caleb’s condition doesn’t worsen. Eventually, the medical staff calls for a helicopter and some stretchers. Cydney starts feeling a little better once they get her temperature down to normal and Probst tells her that she will not be medically evacuated from the game. The Beauty tribe is overwhelmed by the sight of Caleb in that condition and they are devastated when the helicopter comes to remove him from the game. He has to be sent to the hospital to get better treatment from his dehydration and heat exhaustion. Crazy! After its all said and done, Probst sends the three tribes back to their respective camps. Tai tells us that Caleb being pulled from the game gives him one less ally in the game and he could easily be targeted by the three women of the tribe. He plans on using the hidden immunity idol if the Beauty tribe has to go to tribal council because he doesn’t want to be eliminated with the idol in his possession.
At the Brains tribe beach, Debbie reflects on the bond new found bond she feels with the rest of the tribe after they were all there for her in her moment at the Reward Challenge. Things are not so harmonious over at the Brawn tribe camp. Alecia decides to confront Scott about the way he was speaking to her in the challenge. She takes offense to Scot saying that she is only good enough to be a cheerleader. I’ll admit that I don’t like the way Scot and Jason talk to Alecia a lot of times but I do feel like she definitely blew this moment out of proportion. She’s confronting people on her tribe about teamwork and cohesiveness when she should probably be trying to integrate herself into the tribe so that she can make it to a possible swap or merge. I think starting more conflict will most likely increase the target on her head, but Alecia has already made up her mind that she wants to address the issue of teamwork. I think what she’s looking for is an apology but and she’s hell-bent on getting it. Cydney wants to recoup but she can’t because Alecia and Scot are still arguing. Alecia even blurts out that she can’t wait until the swap so that she doesn’t have to work with the Brawn men any longer which is the complete opposite of what she should be saying. Her emotions are getting the best of her and Jason tells us that he can’t wait until he gets the chance to vote Alecia out of the game.
Tribal on the Beach
On Day 11 the tribe arrives at their 4th immunity challenge. Before the challenge start, Probst makes sure the tribes have been taking care of themselves since the craziness at the reward challenge. The tribes agree that they are ready to compete so they start on their next obstacle course. The obstacle course requires the tribes to run into the forest to retrieve puzzle pieces then swim into the ocean and bring back two more pieces. Going into the swim the Brawn tribe had a pretty big lead but the Beauty tribe was able to pass them in the swim. The Beauty tribe’s lead quickly disappears as both the Brawn and Brains tribe catch up to them at the puzzle. Peter and Neal make quick work of their puzzle and finish first for the Brains tribe while Cydney and Alecia continue to struggle on their puzzle for Brawn. Eventually, Nick steps up for the Beauty tribe and secures immunity for his tribe as well, leaving the Brawn tribe to face tribal council as well. After the challenge, the Brawn tribe instantly goes back to bickering. Probst sends the other two tribes back to their camps, but he stays with the Brawn tribe a little longer. He asks Alecia what are the odds that she will be going home at tribal council and both Scot and Jason tell Probst that there is pretty much nothing Alecia can do to prevent herself from going home. They even offer to vote her off right there on the beach without even going to tribal council. Probst gives the tribe the option to hold tribal council on the beach at that moment but Alecia refuses. She says that going through tribal council without going back to camp and not making an attempt to stay in the game would be giving up. I have to hand it to her, in her situation, I would’ve probably just went ahead and got voted out right then and there rather than wait until tribal council with and spend the day on the beach with two people I strongly dislike.
If Alecia did any scrambling after the Immunity Challenge it must not have been much because we aren’t even shown what happened when the tribe went back to camp. For Alecia, the writing is on the wall; even Probst knows she’s going home. After a few questions at tribal council, the tribe votes and Probst quickly tallies three votes for Alecia making her the 5th person eliminated from this season.