Survivor: Cagayan, Episode 8 Recap- Mad Treasure Hunt
Sorry for the major delay… I was out of town for most of last week, but am here once again to talk about our latest adventures in the Philippines.
Previously on… SURVIVOR!
As the Spice Girls once sang, “tonight is the night where two become one,” with Solana and Aparri merging into the Solarrion Tribe. The presence of an idol with “different powers” was revealed to the castaways, but it quickly took a backseat to something more demanding of the Tribe’s attention–Sarah. The only member of her original tribe to have been on Aparri in the wake of the tribe shuffle, Sarah found herself in a swing position, with her original ally Tony and his Solana alliance on one side and the Brains and Beauties of Aparri on the other. Woo won the first individual immunity, and swing vote Sarah became power hungry, trying to use her position to bully both alliances into doing things her way, pissing off Kass in particular. Trish pounced on the opportunity, offering Kass the opportunity to vote out Sarah with the Solana alliance. At one of the wildest Tribal Councils of all time, Tony revealed his idol, causing a last minute switch up before Tony and L.J. played their idols–on each other. The plan was foiled when Aparri smartly targeted Jefra instead, but just when the beauty queen thought she was out, Trish came through, successfully swaying #ChaosKass to send Sarah to the jury. 10 remain–who will be voted out tonight?
Solarrion returns to camp after their first Tribal Council as one tribe, the results of Kass’s flip still ringing in the air. Spencer tries to be polite about it as possible, telling Tony that it was “pretty cool” and Kass that he’s “not personally mad… [he] just think[s] it was a bad move.” In his confessionals, he’s far less gracious. He points out that had Kass stayed true to Aparri, they would have sent Jefra home along with two wasted idols. “Kass will fly in the face of strategy just because of how she feels,” he says. “She’ll go basically wherever her estrogen takes her, not where her brain takes her.” Ouch. Spencer, I want to like you so badly, but you sometimes make it so hard.
To briefly clarify on why this comment is so problematic, it’s not because Spencer is pointing out that Kass voted more based on her emotions than on logic–I think most people in the audience could see that from a mile a way. But when he attributes it to the female horomone estrogen, the implication isn’t that Kass made an emotional choice because Kass is an emotional player–the implication is that Kass made an emotional choice because she’s a woman. He could have easily worded his statement in a different way without making it offensive. To Spencer’s credit, he’s issued a really well worded apology, and has never struck me as a hard boiled misogynist. Still, watching it, the comment grates.
After Spencer’s take, Kass gives us her own version of the story. From her perspective, her alliance let her sink to the bottom. “The first rule of Survivor isn’t cater to the person on top, it’s worry about the person on the bottom,” she says. I’m still really curious as to what made Kass feel she was suddenly the bottom rung of her alliance, and how she came to the conclusion that Sarah had any long term power, but I digress. The diplomacy goes out the window as Kass blatantly accuses the Aparri Tribe of bringing her flip on themselves. “What did we do? We didn’t do anything!” exclaims an incredulous Morlax, already back in her spot in the shelter. “Morgan, you’ve never even talked to me,” Kass tells her, and Tony defends Kass–“Sarah tried to get rid of Kass, what don’t you guys understand?” Incredulous, a flabbergasted Spencer denies the accusation, and Kass simply tells him that you’re going to have to make moves that make people mad–it’s part of the game. Spencer covers his face with his shirt and laughs, begging Kass to stop talking strategy. “It’s embarassing,” he tells her. Kass is still adamant that she’s “out-strategized” him. “It’s kind of like I pulled off a hat trick,” she gloats in a confessional. “I got rid of the girl I wanted to get rid of, and two big lugs played their idols, unnecessarily. Triple win, right?” She goes on to say that the people she betrayed will “get over it” and that the people she sided with now have trust in her. “I am a free agent,” she declares. It’s clear from Kass’s perspective, she’s running the show. But as many a past castaway has learned, being in charge and being in a position to win aren’t necessarily one in the same. Kass may have gotten her triple win at Tribal Council, but I’m dubious that she’ll get the big win that counts at the end.
Day 20 breaks over Solarrion and despite the tense night before, work still needs to get done if people want to be voted out of the game rather than evacuated by the medical team when they starve to death or shrivel up and die. As most of the castaways go about their chores, those closest to the camp try and delegate the ones that remain. When Tony asks if anyone’s gotten water yet, Kass smugly nominates Morgan. Ugh. Kass, like Spencer, is someone who I want to like, but she doesn’t always make it easy. It’s pretty apparent that she’s still riding the high of the power she grabbed in the previous vote, and is now setting out to lord it over the heads of the people she doesn’t like. Kass points out that Morgan is in “her usual spot” in the shelter. “Morgan, no good on the water?” asks Tony. “I can get water,” Morgan replies, “but I don’t see how her saying it in a rude way, wants me to go get her water.” “Everything I’m going to say to you is going to be in a rude way because you’ve been rude to me,” Kass tells her. Morgan denies it and flips Kass off when Kass is out of eyesight. With Sarah gone, it seems that now Kass has turned her attention to a new unfavorite in Morgan–though, much as with Sarah, her reasoning isn’t really that inaccurate. “Morgan is in a constant state of center of the universe. She’s like an old dog… you’re just keeping it alive because you love it. You don’t mind that it pees on the floor and you have to go feed it, but all it really does is just sit there. That’s Morgan.” Morgan has some less-than-choice words of her own in a response confessional: “I don’t think I’m being mean to her. I’m ignoring her, maybe that’s mean, but I think she’s been ignored and made fun of all her life, so she should be used to this… she’s just a bitter, ugly old lady,” Ouch. Shots fired. Morgan adds that while it sounds really conceited (and at least she’s aware of it?) she thinks that Kass has always disliked Morgan because Morgan is “cuter than her.” If you’re planning on following Sexile Island, I want you to hold on to this quote for dear life, because it is super-applicable.
With a good ol’ “come on in, guys,” Probst calls the castaways in for Solarrion’s first reward challenge, Rise and Shrine, which is new. Like many post-merge reward challenges, this one will have the castaways divide randomly into teams–in this case, we end up with the four original Beauties (Morlax, Jefra, Jeremiah, and Leon Joseph) joined by Spencer on the orange team. The other five (Kass, Tony, Tasha, Woo and Trish) are the purple team. After crossing a number of aquatic balancing obstacles to reach the shore, the team must carry a treasure chest to the base of a tower with an incline. Once the whole team is atop the tower, they’ll use a rope to drag the chest up the incline, and then use the pieces inside the chest to assemble a puzzle. And the prize for assembling the puzzle first is a doozy–all the product placement you could ask for!
That’s right! It’s the return of the beloved Survivor Outback Steakhouse(TM)! Nobody can be upset with a meal from the restaurant that’s so great, it was endorsed by Survivor’s only two time winner, right? It’s the best product-placement award this side of 7-Up, Sprint Mobile, and Jack and Jill starring Adam Sandler in both lead roles!
Orange gets the lead because Woo of all people somehow struggles on the balance beams, but it’s not by a huge margin and the teams stay pretty even for the rest of the challenge. Woo and Kass are first to start the puzzle for purple, but L.J. and Spencer aren’t far behind. Orange overtakes purple and L.J. places the final piece on the tower, meaning the Beauties and Friend are going to the Outback Steakhouse. The Purple team will just go back to camp, where, while they will still be starving, they at least can reliably be safe from unsubtle advertising.
Okay, time’s up! If you guessed “a clue to the hidden immunity idol,” then you are correct! Yay you. Mark a space on your Survivor Bingo board. This is good news for Spencer, and he knows it. “I need a game changer right now, and this could be it.” You can say that again, Spencer. Even though Kass is a “free agent,” if she were to vote alongside the Aparri gang, she would do little more than tie the vote, which puts everyone at risk of drawing rocks. An idol could be Aparri’s saving grace. Of course, a clue isn’t an idol, so there is still plenty of time for things to go wrong. But I mean, what are the chances of that happening?
If you guessed “pretty good,” then you get another spot on your Bingo board. The Orange Team returns to Casa Solarrion just in time for a bout of heavy rain, which corrals everyone into the shelter as they wait it out. Spencer’s thoughts can only go to Tribal Council, however, and he ~stealthily~ sneaks out through the back of the shelter, which nobody notices. At least, no normal human does. But Woo Hwang is no normal human. He’s actually a hedgehog.
Spencer reads the high poetry of the Survivor clue writers and learns that the treasure he seeks is most likely buried among a “mesh of roots, rocks and dirt.” While he searches in the jungle, the rest of the tribe, save for Morgan of course, emerges from the shelter as the rain has let up. Someone finally notices that Spencer mysteriously vanished, and Woo is on the case. “I’m a big fan of Survivor, and I know that when there’s a reward like the Outback Shack, there’s usually a clue to the immunity idol.” The editors wipe away their tears of joy as we’re given both exposition and more plugging, and Woo is, of course, dead on the money. In fact, the last time Survivor did the Outback Steakhouse reward, the clue to the idol was, much as it was this time, hidden in a napkin. Putting two and two together, Woo decides to trail Spencer, and then narrates the entire thing in a wacky fisheye lense confessional.
Really there are some things you just have to see for yourself. Woo goes into #NinjaStealthMode and spies on Spencer inconspicuously laying his pants in a very neat fashion by the bank of a stream before digging around in the wall on the other side. As Spencer walks away, Woo appears and startles him. Spencer clearly wants to stay away from the scene of the crime, so he makes up a lame excuse and bolts, but forgets his Chekov’s Pants that he folded oh so neatly by the stream. Woo picks them up and calls out to Spencer, and the precious clue comes fluttering out. By the time Spencer realizes his pants are clue-less, it’s too late. Woo is sprinting back to camp and Spencer is left with no choice but to follow.
What ensues is one of the most ridiculous search scenes Survivor could ever hope for. Woo gathers his fellow Solana soldiers and reads the clue, which fortunately for Spencer has been damaged slightly by the rain. With no other choice, Spencer finds his own allies and comes clean about the clue he found, and fills them in on its contents. Within a matter of minutes, almost all the castaways are darting around the Solarrion Campgrounds, scrambling to find the idol first. “It’s a mad treasure hunt for this idol,” Tony laughs. “You know it’s bad when Morgan–the girl that you can’t tell if she’s a pillow or a person, cause she doesn’t do anything–you know it’s serious when she’s up off her ass and she’s looking for this idol.” I’m glad that Tony clarified that the pillow comparison was based on her laziness, and not her… well, you know. Her pillows.
As the frantic scrambling gets more and more primal, Spencer gets more and more frustrated. “Whoever finds it is most likely going to find it in front of everyone,” he says, throwing a rock in frustration. Still not giving up, Spencer returns to the creek where it all started, and Woo leaves Kass with babysitting duty. Alone in the water as they search amongst the roots and dirt for the idol, Spencer can only turn to Kass and sigh. “Funny how our game has devolved into this, isn’t it?” “I love it!” Kass replies. And, in classic Kass style (Klassic?), she can’t help herself but to get a dig in. “I’m not necessarily down with what Woo did, but I think it’s karma for your behavior last night.” “I apologize for that. I was out of line,” Spencer admits. Kass’s inability to not be snarky ends up working in Spencer’s favor. As most of the other castaways have sulked away, empty handed and defeated, Spencer has actually found the idol lodged in the roots of a tree, with Kass as his only obstacle. Spencer keeps playing like he hasn’t found it and keeps Kass distracted with the small talk and apologies, grabbing the idol the moment she looks away. Once he’s off in private, Spencer is barely able to conceal his excitement. “Kass is so blind that I found the idol right in front of her face and she didn’t even see!” he laughs. Did her estrogen block her vision, Spencer? All snarking aside, Spencer reads the accompanying Hidden Immunity Idol Owner’s Manual, and realizes that his bounty, while still useful, is not the Mystery Mega Idol that we’ve been hearing so much about. “Today was complete euphoria. I’m still shocked that I found it. It could not have worked out better. My position in the game is just on the brink of ecstasy and devastation all the time, but it’s a whole new game as far as I’m concerned and I bought myself a lot of time, potentially.” Potentially is the operative word here, Spencer. What rings true for Kass rings true for us all, including our towheaded economics student–a victory now doesn’t necessarily mean victory later. For Spencer specifically, I think it really is going to be a matter of how he uses his new toy.
This week’s immunity challenge is called Keep On Your Toes, and is also new. Well, as new as any endurance based challenge can be, at least. Each castaway will be positioned in a frame, holding a block between the top of the frame and the top of their head. In order to keep it wedged there, they’ll have to stand on the tips of their toes–tire out for long enough for your block to drop, and you’re out of the challenge. Last blockhead standing wins.
Within seconds of starting, Kass channels her inner Crystal Cox (of Survivor: Gabon) and drops her block. Jeremiah, Trish, and Tony are not far behind, and soon we’re at 25 minutes in. Morgan and Woo both drop at this point, leaving the last four–Jefra, L.J., Tasha, and Spencer–standing for a solid hour. Jefra finally drops and the pain nearly seems to knock her over, and L.J. goes down after, leaving the battle of the blockheads as a battle of the Brains. Tasha has been almost entirely still for the entire challenge, while Spencer has had numerous risky moments, close saves, and awkward faces that are, in all likelihood, the closest we’ll ever get to seeing someone’s O-Face on Survivor. Whatever he was doing, though, it worked. Out of nowhere, Tasha’s block drops an hour and a half in, and Spencer wins immunity.
Back at camp, it’s pre-Tribal scramble time. Last week, Aparri had an ultra-obvious talk in the water, so it’s Solana’s turn this week. “Do you think any of them have a hidden immunity idol?” Tony asks Kass as she joins the rest of the alliance. Kass doesn’t think that any of them managed to find it, but everyone is well aware that just because they haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. Trish wants to take out Tasha, who is solid in challenges, well liked by everyone, and a sharp observer, but L.J. and Tony both go for Morgan. “My Plan A would be Morgan,” Tony says, and shows that he learned a thing or two from the previous Tribal Council. As Kass so deftly puts it, “Morgan sucks,” and Tony reasons that if an idol was found, Morgan, by virtue of being the least threatening player, is the least likely to have it played on her. On top of that, voting out Morlax means more room for everyone else in the shelter. “Look at her. Please, everybody, just Look. At. Her,” Tony begs, as the camera focuses on Morgan, barely conscious in the shelter. “She’s dead weight,” Trish groans. In a confessional, Tony bluntly says that “Morgan does not deserve to be here. People that work hard, that bust their ass around camp deserve to be here.” It echoes something I’ve been saying for weeks, which is that Morgan just doesn’t seem to care enough to even bother with trying. Regardless of whether or not she’s “deserving,” Tony knows that they aren’t out of the woods just yet. There are two possible wrenches that could be thrown in the works: a hidden immunity idol, and #ChaosKass.
The Aparri foursome knows this as well. Morgan is ready to throw four votes Kass’s way as a fuck you since “our votes aren’t going to count anyway,” but Spencer points out that Kass is the only person who would even consider flipping, and suggest Tony instead. Spencer is banking on Tony doing something Tony-ish at Tribal Council (and by that I mean overplaying his hand, saying something stupid, making a scene for some reason, etc), and that capricious Kass might change her mind about siding with him. “It’s kind of ridiculous, but… the person who just screwed us over is the one person who might be crazy enough to help us,” Spencer narrates as he seeks out Kass on the beach. He believes the only way he can use the idol this round is if he can a pair of loose lips that will leak the Solana alliance’s vote. He’s found the idol, he won immunity, and now Spencer is ready to press his luck with Kass.
Spencer does his best to keep his pitch from sounding, well, like a pitch, telling Kass in a roundabout way that as of right now, she won’t get a jury vote from a single person in his alliance, and that she could still fix things for herself if she comes back on board. Again, Kass’s selective listening kicks in. “I knew this would happen. The human in you wants to forgive someone and be friends again, so I was banking on that when I made my move–that the five people I allegedly betrayed would get over it. Because there will be many more betrayals.” I like how she says “allegedly,” as if there haven’t been numerous instances caught on camera where we’ve seen Kass promise her loyalty to Tasha, Spencer, Sarah, and the Aparri Tribe as a whole. I also think it’s pretty clear Spencer isn’t coming back so they can be buddies again and keep hanging out on the playground. To Kass’s credit, I don’t think she really cares why, she just cares that she has options going forward. She basically tells Spencer as such, telling him (and reminding us yet again) that she’s a free agent, she’s not making promises to anyone, and she’s going to keep her options open. For Kass, voting against Tony is one of those options. She admits Spencer has some good arguments, namely that Tony, being such a charming goofball, is a threat. Morgan, on the other hand is “annoying” and “a bitch, but she’s going to stay that way.” She tells Spencer she’s playing to make the final three, and I can’t help but shake my head. No, no, no. You should be playing to win.
As Solarrion grabs their torches, Kass is once again riding the high of being the decision maker. “I do trial by ambush,” the attorney says, which doesn’t make me feel much confidence in her ability as an attorney. “It’s not a recommended strategy by any legal authority, and it’s probably not a recommended strategy by Survivor authority. But I love the ambush. I love the blindside.”
Given that roughly half of the cast didn’t have a single confessional this episode, there’s not a whole ton of suspense going into this Tribal Council. Sarah takes her seat as the first juror, and Jeff gets to chewing the fat. “The wind changed directions,” Tony tells Jeff, referring to the shift in votes at the last Tribal Council, and Kass seems all but infected with the blabbermouth giddiness that is usually reserved for Tony. “Jeff, obviously, I was the wind that blew through,” she says with a big old cheeser grin. She can barely contain herself as she bemoans the mistreatment she suffered at the hands of her onetime allies over the past few days, and Sarah’s eyes are sadly limited by how far back in her head they can roll. Spencer admits he got out of hand with Kass because he was upset, and says that while having the Immunity Necklace is nice, it’s only a temporary safety net. “I’m play the game to win the game. I’d rather risk going out now for a shot at winning than extend my stay in the game,” he tells Jeff. This lets our host segue the discussion to a good old game of who isn’t a threat and who isn’t, and he starts in on Morlax, who falls in the “not a threat” category. Since Morgan couldn’t give two shits, she has no problem owning the fact that she’s bad in challenges and disliked by most of the tribe. “Jury votes aren’t going to go to me, so…” she trails off. Trish has no problem picking up where Morgan left off–“She left out that she doesn’t really help out around camp, and if you want to add to that list, of why you’d want to take her along, I can do that.” Morgan says she was spoiled by the men doing all the work at the original Solana camp, but Jeff isn’t biting. “Let’s talk candidly,” he tells her, leaning in so they can talk real good. You know what I mean. He asks Morgan if, outside the game, she’s used to not having to work hard to get what she wants (and when I say “asks,” I mean “accuses”). “Absolutely,” says Morgan with a shameless grin. “If any person in the world could decide to be ugly or cute, most would pick cute.” Jeff thinks it’s one of the greatest quotes he’s ever heard on Survivor, and Morgan half-heartedly apologizes and promises that she’ll do more work around camp from now on.
And now, back to Kass. Jefra denies Jeff’s assertion that Kass is automatically on the bottom of the alliance, albeit she doesn’t do a very good job, going for the good ol’ “everyone in the alliance is equal” defense. Probst calls her out and she attempts to deflect, causing Tony to swoop in for an attempted save. He says that the difference between Aparri and Solana is that Aparri’s alliance was put together by default after swapping tribes. Spencer cuts him off to ask how Solana is any different, and Tony claims they “chose” each other. It’s clumsily worded, but you can gather that his intention is to stay that Solana didn’t stay together out of convenience, but because of the genuine bond they all have. Still, the damage is done, and there is a giant, gaping reminder that an alliance of six is good for the time being, but eventually, that alliance will have to decide who’s not moving forward. Tony takes it upon himself to speak for Kass, saying she’s in a comfortable spot–Jeff counters that Kass is unpredictable, which earns a proud smile from Kass. Trish agrees, and says that for the moment, all they can do is continue to include Kass in the group and treat her just as they would anyone else in their tribe. It’s here that Kass, for the first time that we see of it, openly states she isn’t in anyone’s alliance, and rightly points out that nobody in the Solana Alliance gave her any guarantees or promises. “When I go to Vegas, and I sit down at the table with a friend… I don’t mind beating them.” In short–Solana can be as nice to her as they want, but she doesn’t want inclusion, she wants a deal.
We see nobody vote, and the moment of truth comes as Jeff returns with the urn. There is a long pause, and… nothing. Spencer holds on, and Jeff reads the votes. It’s four for Tony first, and then the votes for “Queen” Morgan begin popping up, one after the other. In a 6-4 decision, Morgan becomes the 8th person voted out of Survivor: Cagayan and the second member of the jury.
The winds of Hurricane Kass may be blowing full speed, but for tonight, there was a calm, as instead of blowing over the game, she opted to take that old dog to the vet and have it put down. I guess it’s for the best. Morgan will have a bed to sleep in, the ability to glam herself up, and a presence on the jury for the rest of the season; the place on Survivor where bitchface is used best. I don’t blame Kass for not flipping back, given that it would only lead to rocks at a point when it’s totally unnecessary to do so. The person who really blew it tonight, as far as I’m concerned, is Spencer. I’m assuming if he had some sense of certainty that they were putting their votes on Morgan, he’d have given it to her, and with the alliances evened out, Kass’s vote would have been easier to court. On the plus side for him, the idol he found could very well keep him safe until its expiration date… but as Spencer himself said, it’s better to risk it all on a winning move than to take the safe road to the next three days.
Also, as an aside–with Morgan’s departure, we’re exactly at the halfway point, and despite their early floundering, each of the three starting tribes each have three members a piece. It’s still up in the air as to if it’s Brains, Beauty, or Brawn that will come out on top.
Next Time on… SURVIVOR!
All good things must come to an end, and the Solana alliance might be one of those things. With a solid lead in the numbers, the alpha males of Solana are starting to look less at Aparri, and more at each other. Tony wants to take out Woo, Woo wants to take out Tony, and all of this means there is a crack that a savvy player might be able to squeeze themselves through.