The thing about crazy, unbelievable streaks of good luck is they all have to come to an end sometime. Malcolm and the Bro Alliance’s reign of terror over a stronger, bigger alliance was unlikely at best and most definitely doomed from the start. Despite the inevitability of its demise, though, the Bros did the best thing they could on their way down: They made the game damn entertaining.
From the start of this episode the Bros were playing from behind, having played all their idols in the previous Tribal council just to keep the three of them alive to fight another day. At first, it seems like they might find a way to survive another week, as the Stealth alliance giddily loosens up in the absence of Phillip’s domineering presence. In fact, the constant paranoia that the Bros might pull yet another trick out of thin air combined with the lack of food is wearing people down, starting with Brenda. Brenda—suddenly present in the game in a way that almost made me think she was on her way out—is hungry, tired, and just plain worried about all the changes in the game. That Dawn has to be the one to calm her down shows just how far she goes off the edge, and fast.
Hilariously, though, Brenda’s breakdown doesn’t so much foreshadow her demise as much as it foreshadows her disastrous performance at the beloved Survivor food auction. Everyone does fairly well, getting delicious and abundant food (Sherri, Dawn), supplies for the tribe (Andrea, though the poor thing has to give up a spaghetti feast to get it), an advantage in the immunity challenge (Cochran), and information about the game (Malcolm, getting a clue to the immunity idol’s location), but Brenda? Brenda dithers and withers and refuses to bid, then randomly bids $300 without any opposition for a mystery item that turns out to be pig brains. It would be sad if it wasn’t so funny.
The crucial things to come out of the auction were Cochran’s immunity advantage and Malcolm’s idol clue, and both play into the game in completely different ways. Cochran uses his immunity advantage—and it is a true advantage—to win the immunity idol and keep it out of the Bro alliance’s hands. Malcolm, however, doesn’t get to use what he purchased at all, because he can’t find the idol. It’s the ultimate in Survivor nonsense: When he doesn’t have any idea where the idols are, he just sticks his hands in a rock and comes out with an idol. When he pays $480 for a clue, he finds nothing because they actually take the time to hide it well.
But what really complicates Malcolm’s search is Andrea, who figures out what he’s doing and glues herself to his side, refusing to leave him alone to find the idol. Andrea rightly knows the guys are targeting her so it’s the perfect strategy, especially because it obviously frustrates Malcolm so much.
When Cochran wins immunity and the Bros know they have no other shot, they are forced to lean on their people skills, attempting to lure alliance outliers Erik and Sherri over to their side. Malcolm works Sherri, making a deal with her for final two (by telling her he “has no choice,” which might not be the best way to swing someone to your side) while Reynold works Erik. Malcolm and Erik give good, persuasive speeches—and Erik and Sherri recognize their power in their individual confessional sessions—but the editing lays the potential for their switch on so thick it’s fairly obvious it will never work.
Going into the vote, Malcolm does his best to make the other side believe he actually found the idol, and the former Stealth alliance decides to split the votes between Malcolm and Reynold just to be sure. Probst peppers Tribal with questions about potential alliance defecting and even sends pointed questions Sherri and Erik’s way about their status in the alliance, raising small suspicions but never really selling the episode’s attempt to keep their allegiances secret. When the vote comes down as a three-way tie between Andrea, Malcolm, and Reynold it’s obvious to everyone—and especially Malcolm—that he’s the one going home. When the revote comes in that is exactly the case.
Despite the suspense not really being there, this was still a brisk and entertaining episode, full of confessionals from people who rarely talk (Brenda! Erik! Sherri!) and just a general sense of fun now that Phillip's insanity is gone. The reason it was so hard to believe Erik and Sherri would flip—despite the show’s best efforts to convince us—is that they really had no real reason to. They might be on the bottom of their alliance now, but they would inevitably be at the bottom of the Bro alliance as well, except this time they would be on the bottom of an alliance made up of alpha males who could potentially beat them at a physical immunity challenge. Better the devil you know, you know?
The biggest question is this: Now that Bro leader Malcolm is gone, what will happen to Reynold and Eddie? Will they be able to work their way into a different situation, or are we just doomed to two weeks of obvious eliminations before things can get interesting again? As much as I would like to see Reynold and Eddie go down in flames, an unexpected shakeup would be more than welcome.
- The grossest thing to come out of the auction was Eddie’s vat of peanut butter, which turned into some sort of peanut butter porn enthusiast’s wet dream (and Pedro from Real World: San Francisco’s worst nightmare) as everyone smeared it all over themselves and each other and then saved it all in some gross community peanut butter/potentially deadly microorganism bowl back at camp.
- How much does Malcolm wish he had waited for the immunity challenge advantage?
- And how much glee did Cochran take in voting Malcolm out? You can tell Cochran loves beating people who play the game, which is why we love Cochran.
- You can tell the editors loved juxtaposing Eddie’s cocky “Cochran isn’t a threat” confessional with their head-to-head battle for immunity, with Cochran coming out on top. Shut up, Eddie.
- “Cochran, how often does that happen?” “More often than you think.”
- Cochran: “I’ve won half the individual immunity challenges!”