If there has been one consistent occurrence during this unpredictable season of Survivor: Caramoan, it has been that every time Reynold thinks he is in control, then it all falls apart. He tried to run his tribe with the Cool Table, and he quickly saw his two girls packing for home. He joined with Malcolm during the merge, and it looked like they’d shake things up but instead, he just saw his alliance get picked off. Sure, there was the one shining moment with Malcolm’s shocking double idol play, but he then got knocked to the Ponderosa right after. If there is one thing Reynold must know by now, he is never in control and it may be “The Beginning of the End.”

Introducing the New Cochran

Reynold and Eddie lick their wounds after Tribal, but seem confident they’ll stick around. Reynold thinks he can win five challenges in a row. The new bad ass Cochran is not only confident this won’t happen, but he talks smack about the fans. Sure, he does it behind their backs and in confessional, but Cochran has become a player with attitude and a killer instinct. This season he is closer to the player that I think he dreamed about being his first season. 

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Why Wait for the Immunity Challenge

Speaking of Immunity Challenges, the tribe is a bit bummed to find out they won’t be competing for delicious food, but jumping right into a challenge for the Immunity Necklace. Erik looks like his parents just sent his puppy to the farm after finding out he can’t win a hamburger today.

The Immunity Challenge is balancing on a pyramid in the water, where after intervals, they move their feet to a higher notch. Probst reveals it is for both immunity and some information (which always means a clue to another idol). Before the challenge, Cochran gives up his necklace, and Jeff Probst points out the new Cochran who doesn’t wear a shirt now. Though it isn’t like he looks good topless.

There is the added challenge of Probst baiting the players with food. Donuts entice both Eddie and Erik to jump off right away. At least Erik got the food he wanted so badly. I’m shocked Eddie bailed out so soon. He must be confident that Reynold is the only target — which he appears to be, but he is assuming Reynold won’t win.

Cochran jumps off for hot dogs. He tried to get an endorsement for his decision, but no one seems to approve or care. Well, except for Reynold who is ecstatic that one more challenger is gone.

The players then move up on the top of the pyramid. A gust of wind blows off Dawn, and she doesn’t even get a hot dog. Sherri quickly follows as the wind is teaming up with Reynold. Brenda proves why I am cheering for her in this game as she looks cute and adorable while trying to stay perched on the pyramid. In a shocker to me, Reynold actually falls off. Since they start the show with an Immunity Challenge, I really thought he was going to win.

Brenda and Andrea negotiate who should jump off since Reynold is gone. Neither wants to take the plunge, and end up being on the water pyramids for over 3 hours. To make things interesting, they both agree to lift up their left legs while balancing. It ends up being Brenda’s downfall as she soon falls off. Andrea wins the Immunity Necklace and information to the Immunity Idol. Brenda is ecstatic that Andrea won, and it is now an easy vote, which also usually means that isn’t how it will turn out.

Dreaming of a Blindside

Reynold is holding out hope that someone will want to do a blindside and use him to switch things up. Andrea is apparently now seeing Brenda as a threat since she wouldn’t roll over in the challenge. Despite seeing her as a threat, she shows Brenda the clue to the Immunity Idol. It then turns into a giant idol searching party with the entire majority alliance. Erik then finds the idol and continues to show his inability to handle immunity around girls and hands it right over to Andrea.

Reynold’s dream of a blindside seems to become reality. Andrea is paranoid of being blindsided and wants to do it first. She starts planting ideas in Cochran’s head that Brenda is a giant threat since she is likable and wins challenges. Dawn and Cochran both seem to want to get rid of Reynold, but are also smitten by the idea of doing a big move.

The Shocking Non-Shocker

At tribal council, Probst immediately digs into the issue of why Brenda and Andrea fought so hard in the challenge if they’re so tight. Brenda tries to just say it is about challenging herself but Probst continues to try to stir things. Reynold joins in on the stirring by letting everyone know he is ready to help throw a vote in any direction. Andrea reveals her paranoia by saying she is constantly panicking she might be blindsided, and then several other players admit they’re lying to each other. I’m pretty sure everyone is getting an ulcer from their constant freak outs, but it keeps things entertaining for me.

Votes are all over the place at first with Sherri, Erik, Eddie, and Reynold coming up. But then it becomes a little more consistent, and for Reynold, there won’t be any blindside to save him. The Cool Table is officially chucked in the fire and I’m losing people to root against.

Blindside Fever

Andrea is still stoked about a blindside and now that Reynold is out of the way, Andrea wants either Dawn or Brenda. She pitches to Cochran that Brenda is a strong challenge player and Dawn could betray anyone. Cochran loves Andrea’s decision to do a big move, but he doesn’t like his buddy Dawn being targeted. Cochran pulls a Dawn, and rats out Andrea to her targets. Now, Andrea’s fear of being blindsided may become reality as the three talk about taking her out next. Eddie is very lucky this tribe jumps all over with their strategic moves, and he is being completely ignored.

Stairway to Immunity

The Immunity Challenge consists of jumping into the water, pushing a buoy on a rope through a series of poles, then untying a key from a post, using the key to unlock a chest, and then building a ladder to climb to the victory. Everyone is pretty close, except Sherri who is baffled by the science of buoy pushing. Erik gets to the pole first, but everyone not called “Sherri” is fighting for it. . Andrea and Brenda repeat the last challenge by pulling ahead, but Cochran is close behind. Andrea gets stumped by the ladder pieces, and Erik begins to pull away. Erik is a master ladder builder and gets a pretty easy Immunity win in the final stretch.

Probst brings up what happened the last time Erik had an Immunity Necklace. Erik claims he is too nervous to give it up to a pretty girl this time. I’m sure that would change if Brenda keeps smiling and winking at him.

The Battle for the Blindside

Andrea continues her “send Brenda home” campaign with Dawn and Cochran. Andrea mentions in confessional how it sucks being blindsided and feels bad for Brenda. The cocky talk tells me she doesn’t feel that bad. Brenda, meanwhile, is trying to gain her own group for a blindside. Eddie is just happy that for the first time in tribal council he doesn’t seem to have to worry about being voted off, and is ready to vote off Brenda. After all that has happened, should anyone ever want to be on the side that Eddie is voting?

Cochran has figured out that Andrea doesn’t want Eddie to go home, since he is her goat for the final three. Cochran doesn’t like being replaced by a beefcake. It now looks like the majority alliance is tiring of Andrea.

Cochran needs numbers, and is nervous to put his faith in Erik. He tries to convince Erik to knock out Andrea. Erik is then lured by Andrea who promises a final three if he votes with her. Erik brags about controlling the game since he is the swing vote. History shows that a guy who gets too cocky about having swing vote power usually becomes the vote eventually.

Operation Blindside Commences

In the tribal council, Eddie jumps on how blindsiding is a great thing to do, since he is no threat on the bottom. Of course, that is usually the most threatening person, since you forget about them. The tribe talks about lying again, and everyone basically admits they know they’re being lied to. It is awesome to see people aren’t jumping on the dull integrity and morality train this season. They seem to know this is a game about deception. Andrea adds she doesn’t care about the deception or lies, since she has the idol.

Andrea seems to think her plan is rock solid, because she opts to not play the idol. Then Andrea’s name pops up in the vote and her paranoid version returns. Andrea’s name comes up again and she screams a “What!” Andrea gets the blindside she was eager for, except it happens to her. Andrea gets sent home with the idol in her pocket. She at least handles it with a smile.

Cochran now looks like the strongest player in the game. But this season isn’t easy to predict, since no one is afraid to instantly flip. According to the preview, it looks like Cochran may finally become a target. 

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Chris Spicer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV