Survivor: Fiji, Episode 11 "Blackmail or Betrayal" Recap

Originally aired on Thursday, 04/26/2007

Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)

Episode Overview: Alex and Mookie didn't just get burned at last week's tribal council: their alliance was completely incinerated.  Backs against the wall, the two pull out all the stops to try to save themselves on Survivor: Fiji.


Episode Highlights:

  • Alex and Mookie scramble to revamp their strategy after Dreamz's defection to the other alliance leaves them nearly powerless.
  • Desperation drives them to some pretty shady behavior but it doesn't have the desired effect.
  • Yau-Man's hidden immunity idol becomes common knowledge.

Last week, the Four Horsemen got their butts handed to them on Survivor: Fiji.  First of all, they had to accept that they weren't four: Dre "Dreamz" Herd sold them out.  Second, Dreamz sold them out (which they were prepared for) but also caught them in their immunity idol switch, thereby making it useless.  Third, the other alliance made their votes rock solid by locking out Dreamz from the plans and completely blindsiding them with the vote for Edgardo Rivera.  For anyone, like me, who was not particularly fond of the...well, Three Horsemen, it was pretty awesome to watch.

There is a lot of decompression after such an event.  Mookie Lee and Alex Angarita realize they have been owned by the other alliance and that Dreamz made it possible.  Dreamz is a little freaked out that he was left out of the plans for Edgardo's ouster and Earl Cole and the others have to smooth things over to keep him in the alliance. 

Reassured that he is still solid with that alliance, Dreamz tries to make peace with the Two Horsemen, concerned that he may need their vote on the final jury.  How Dreamz thinks he is going to make it to the final two is beyond me, but I guess he got a name like Dreamz by thinking big, right?  He offers up some relatively weak excuses.  The other two aren't buying it but seem to play nice enough, knowing, I guess, that they can' t really afford any more enemies.

Everyone has to come together for the reward challenge though.  They are randomly split up into two teams: Yau-Man Chan, Kenward "Boo" Bernis, Cassandra Franklin and Mookie vs. Stacy Kimball, Earl, Dreamz and Alex.  The game - one team member will launch balls and the others must catch.  Teams can steal each others' balls.  The first team to five wins.

Yau-Man launches for his team, Stacy for hers.  Yau-Man's team starts out ahead, but Stacy's catches up and the teams become tied a few times.  Mookie gets frustrated with Yau's launching, and all game play stops for a moment when Boo suffers yet another boo boo, writhing in the mud thinking he's hurt his ACL.  Luckily after a few minutes, he is able to continue, and I'm glad.  Not that I'm particularly fond of Boo - he's been so under-the-radar, I'm sort of neither here nor there about him - but at this stage in the game, with so few people left, I'd hate to see someone taken out for an injury.

They finish the game and Stacy's team wins.  Their reward: a de-stinking session at a spa.  They all get to bathe and shower and it seems fairly heavenly for all involved.  Alex, the only non-member of the alliance to go on the reward, tried to work some angle, trying to get Earl to tell him who is next.  Earl, of course, declines.  Stacy concedes it was pretty awkward to have Alex along. 

Later, Mookie makes a bold move.  Suspecting that Yau-Man has the idol, he pokes through Yau's things and discovers it.  He and Alex are gleeful, thinking this can change the game.  Yuck.  I am normally on board with most forms of double dealing and playing dirty in a game like Survivor: Fiji, and I always hate it when someone gets sanctimonious about lying, backstabbing or otherwise underhanded behavior.  That is how this game is played.  But going through someone's stuff...I don't know, that to me seems to cross some line.  I guess I think that your property is sort of an extension of yourself.  It's like that old saying about personal freedom: Your right to extend your fist ends where my face begins.  And I think a player's right to play dirty ends where someone else's stuff begins. 

But it happened, and now they know.  They discuss how best to use it.  They think an ambush at tribal council would be the best bet.  How this will help them, I'm not sure.  Sure, people might be put off that Yau-Man kept it a secret, but I'm thinking they'd understand that if he doesn't keep it a secret, he might as well not have it.  Seems like a public admission of going through people's things at camp might actually be a more damning disclosure.

Stacy and Cassandra are seated nearby and they catch snippets, but not all of what Mookie and Alex are discussing.  Mookie and Alex realize they've been heard, but not knowing that Stacy and Cassandra haven't heard the full conversation, they now scramble to figure out how to still use this tidbit to their advantage.  Are these two capable of NOT screwing everything up?  They're not the Two Horsemen, they're the Keystone Cops.

They rush off to meet Yau-Man returning from fishing and breathlessly tell them what they found, threaten him with exposure and triumphantly wait for him to crumble.  Yau-Man is surprised, for sure, but do I even have to say it?  Yau-Man is too cool to lose his cool.  He effectively shrugs, tells them they can do whatever they feel like they need to do.  He says he doesn't think he needs the idol any longer anyway and sort of saunters off.  THE MAN.

Yau-Man fills the others in.  As I suspected, the others are disgusted that the two went through Yau's stuff.  Any chance of sympathy or future alliance for which of the two might survive tonight probably just evaporated.  The two are stewing in their own juices: they don't even need anyone else's help to destroy their chances in Survivor: Fiji.

Dreamz is a little apprehensive about what it means for Yau to have the idol, but this statement, to me, smacks of editors desperately trying to create drama ("Will Dreamz defect?!!?") out of nothing ("Alex or Mookie are HISTORY").  Earl and Yau-Man are understandably bummed that this has come out now but not unduly concerned.

Now it is immunity challenge.  It's a giant multi-player game of Battleship.  Each player privately picks three squares on a hidden grid, then the others guess coordinates, trying to knock others off.  When they have a hit, Jeff Probst hits a button and a flame shoots up on the grid burning away the names.  As always, I am pleased when the challenges involve gratuitous and pointless use of fire.

The players overlap on some squares, so several people are knocked out quickly, and eventually we get down to Yau-Man, Mookie, Alex and Stacy.  Stacy has no hits yet, Yau-Man and Alex have one, and Alex has two.  Wait, three, now he's gone two.  Yau-Man and Alex each get a hit, and unfortunately, they overlap on a squares, so Stacy is able to take them both out simultaneously.  She gets immunity, but it's really more that Alex didn't.  Both he and Mookies head and shoulders sag; they know one of them is dead in the water.

But which?  The others aren't certain either.  Boo, who returned from Exile Island, lets the others know the clue has indicated that the new idol is near camp too.  Concerned that Mookie or Alex might have found it, the alliance decides to split their vote: three for Mookie, three for Alex.  That way, if someone does have the idol, they are covered.  If not, they will then vote for Alex.  Earl's a little uncomfortable about this, but goes along with the plan.

Before tribal, Alex tries to figure out how to stay alive.  He says in interview, "I have one vote; I better make it count."  Oh my: is he going to vote for Mookie?  Is he going to make every single person on the jury absolutely hate him?

In short: yes.  After trying to stir the pot at tribal council by talking about snakes and rats, Alex and Mookie then shoot themselves in the foot (do they even have figurative feet left to shoot anymore?  Now they're like figuratively knee-capping themselves) by admitting they went through Yau's stuff.  Jeff has the exact Jeff reaction: measured surprise with just the right overtones of disgust and a lingering whiff of a cold disapproval.  He's like a maestro of the moral rebuke. 

So it is all for naught, and the votes are cast.  Mookie votes for Boo (?), and Alex, does in fact vote for Mookie.  With the other votes split evenly, it means Mookie is out.  It's a jerky but smart thing to do and shows that he probably deserves to stay over Mookie.  If Mookie couldn't see that the only way he could wisely use his vote was to go for Alex, then he's not really going to outwit anybody else, is he?

All in all, pretty much the outcome one expected, although the little turncoat action by Alex at the end was a nice little surprise for me. 

Now, the big question for next is: is there any thing that Alex can do (besides, obviously, winning immunity or finding the idol) to save his neck?  If not, the other big question will be: how on earth with the editors make a compelling hour out of his march to the inevitable end?  We'll have to see!

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Writer

(Images courtesy CBS)