Survivor Fiji: Episode 10

  • I don’t want to dissuade you from reading our recap, but this episode was so good — chock full of hubris, chaos, strategy, con-artistry, and comeuppance — I highly recommend that even the most casual Survivor fan go to the CBS website and watch the episode in its entirety, first. Look for the "Watch Full Episodes Free" link on the left side of the CBS homepage.

It’s hard to believe that one of the best strategic episodes in Survivor history hinged almost entirely upon the actions of previous non-factors Cassandra, Dreamz, and Stacy.

Michelle’s ouster at the last Tribal Council ruined all of Earl’s plans. With nine players left in the game, he was now faced with securing the loyalty of at least one or two other players to augment the alliance he had with Cassandra and Yau-Man. The perfect opportunity arose when Cassandra won the Reward Challenge.

The challenge was one of those delightfully evil Survivor quizzes in which each player fills out a questionnaire about the other contestants (e.g., "Which contestant would you not invite to your parents’ home for dinner?"). After the questionnaires are turned in, the Survivors try to guess what the consensus answers were among the group. The most famous of those quizzes occurred during Survivor: Exile Island, when fire-dancer Courtney learned, to her surprise, that her fellow castaways thought she was a total poser.

This time, Stacy was the tribe’s whipping girl. Not only was she the first one eliminated from the challenge, but she learned that her tribemates felt she’d wasted her opportunities on Survivor, and that she was the one contestant nobody wanted to see once the game is over.

Alex also took a beating. The others let him know he had a sense of entitlement, and that he was the answer to the question, "Who mistakenly believes they are in control of this game?" (Remember that.)

Cassandra answered every question right and won the chance to spend a night on a luxury yacht with three friends. One of those friends was not Mookie, whom she immediately sent to Exile Island. Mookie later vowed that sending him to Exile Island would be "the worst mistake of her life."

Seizing upon the opportunity to win people over to her alliance, Cassandra picked free agents Dreamz and Boo to join her on the yacht. The third spot went to her comrade, Yau-Man. Boo agreed to Cassandra’s alliance as soon as he received his first margarita.

Yau-Man’s method for assuring Dreamz’s loyalty was a little more methodical than friendly persuasion: "Feed him. Get him away from everybody. Just brainwash him, basically."

But even as Dreamz agreed to target Alex in the next vote, Cassandra could tell from the look in Dreamz’s eyes that he was still waffling. The morning after they returned to camp, Earl caught Dreamz having a strategy session with Alex.

Cassandra and Earl talked with Dreamz about the doubts they still had about him, and in an attempt to appease them, Dreamz blurted out that Mookie possessed one of the show’s two Hidden Immunity Idols. Rather than reassuring Earl, the confession proved that Dreamz was a loose cannon — one who might be useful, but was ultimately unreliable.

Before any more strategy sessions could take place, it was time for the Immunity Challenge. It was strictly an individual challenge, with none of the temporary teams of last week. Contestants had to hold themselves steady inside a structure that resembled a door frame, standing on two small wooden strips. Once your feet hit the ground, you were out.

Every thirty minutes, contestants had to move down to an even smaller set of wooden strips. The challenge was designed for someone small and light, and there’s no one on the island smaller and lighter than Yau-Man. He won yet another Immunity Challenge, giving his alliance reason to hope.

After the challenge, the self-proclaimed "Four Horsemen" (Alex, Edgardo, Mookie, and Dreamz) figured that Earl had found the other Hidden Immunity Idol, because he’d been to Exile Island more than anyone else, and had thus received the most clues about the idol’s whereabouts. (In truth, Yau-Man had the Idol, though he might share it with Earl, if necessary.)

They decided to vote Earl out immediately, hoping to surprise him before he had a chance to play the Immunity Idol. Alex was sure that Stacy would join them, giving them the five votes needed for a majority.

But, at the same time, Yau-Man was alone at camp with Stacy, who wasn’t so keen on being the honorary Fifth Horseman. Yau-Man hinted that if she agreed to vote for "anybody but Earl," he would make sure that Stacy received no votes, herself. He then said that if she voted for Alex, she would not be alone. She agreed to vote for Alex "to save myself."

When Alex got around to filling Stacy in on their plan to vote for Earl, she’d feigned heat sickness as a way to avoid giving her consent. Being unable to decrypt such an obvious sign himself, Alex talked to Edgardo, who said, "That means that she’s not in, dude."

It was time for Plan B. Edgardo got Dreamz to admit that the other side was planning on voting for Alex. The Horsemen decided that, if Alex had Mookie’s Hidden Immunity Idol, he would play it at Tribal Council. That would make Alex safe, even should he receive five votes. And the person with the second-most votes — Earl — would be sent home.

Mookie reluctantly agreed to give up the idol, and he covertly passed it to Alex. Not so covertly, however, that Dreamz didn’t see it.

Eager to please absolutely everyone on the island, Dreamz ran right back to Earl’s group and told them that Alex had the Idol. The group decided that they could catch the Four Horsemen off guard if they all voted for Mookie, instead.

Dreamz agreed, but it wasn’t long before he was approached by the other three Horsemen, who had a new plan. They’d decided to vote for Cassandra instead of Earl, just in case Earl played his own Idol.

There was no way that Dreamz would vote for his pal Cassandra, but he played along anyway. He kept a straight face as he assured the Horsemen that the other side didn’t know about the Idol and would still be voting for Alex. He managed not to laugh as Alex — still incorrectly thinking he was in control of the game, even after the Reward Challenge — bragged, "This is brilliant!"

But the truly brilliant move belonged to Stacy. She, Yau-Man, Earl, Cassandra, and Boo were also discussing strategy, in the tribe’s cave. There was some uncertainty regarding whether Dreamz would (accidentally or not) reveal their latest plan to vote out Mookie.

Stacy made the issue moot when she suggested, "If they think we’re voting between Mookie and Alex, why don’t we vote off Edgardo?"

Boo agreed, "That’d come out of nowhere."

To ensure their surprise strategy’s success, there was only one thing they needed to do: not tell Dreamz.

At Tribal Council, Mookie, Alex, and Edgardo went ahead and voted for Cassandra, and Dreamz voted for Mookie. Once all of the votes were cast, Jeff Probst asked if anyone had an Immunity Idol they’d like to use.

Alex calmly stood up and handed the Idol to Jeff. He sat down with a smug expression, as Earl and Yau-Man faked impressed looks, as if to say, "Well played, old chap."

Alex, Earl, and Edgardo grinned as the first three votes were read: Cassandra, Cassandra, Cassandra.

Mookie managed a curious, if not worried, expression as Jeff displayed the fourth vote: "Mookie." Dreamz was confident that the remaining votes would read "Mookie" as well, while the other Horsemen were certain the rest of the votes were for Alex.

If you’ve ever imagined what the faces of the Mudville fans looked like when the mighty Casey struck out in the poem "Casey at the Bat," they looked exactly like Edgardo, Alex, and Mookie as Jeff displayed the next five votes — all for Edgardo.

The Horsemen’s brilliant plan had been crushed, and they’d lost their lone bargaining chip in the process. On top of that, Dreamz was clearly no longer on their side. In one flawless move, Earl’s alliance had reduced the Four Horsemen to Two.

Edgardo, in his post-elimination video, was disappointed, and blamed his ouster primarily on Dreamz. But he smiled and shrugged as he announced a farewell wish for one of the castaways: "Cassandra, I hope that you get voted off next, because I don’t like you very much."

Next time, Mookie and Alex take Dreamz to task for flipping on the them. But when they root through Yau-Man’s belongings and find the hidden Immunity Idol, Mookie and Alex develop a new plan that is absolutely foolproof. Seriously, this one is. There’s nothing that could go wrong. I swear. Idiots.