I was pretty confident the impromptu Tribal Council with a deranged Brandon being voted out was going to be the most memorable and craziest Tribal Council of Survivor Caramoan. I was extremely wrong. I’m not going to riskbeing incorrect again by declaring tonight’s Council the craziest of Season 26, but I’m pretty sure absolutely nobody who avoided spoilers could have predicted what happened. But first we have an entire episode to recap, and “Zipping Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was a pretty remarkable one.  
Dawn’s Threats to Leave Have No Teeth

After returning from Tribal, Malcolm and his crew discuss how they must scramble to find the idol the next morning in order to survive. Malcolm sticks with the lie that he is without an idol, though it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to reveal his idol after suckering an alliance member into giving up his own.

Meanwhile, “Stealth R Us” gloats about how awesome they are, and how there isn’t any possible way the next vote can go badly for them. Andrea starts mentioning how they should split the vote next time, but Phillip continues to yell how there is no way they could have an idol. Phillip once again showing his strategic genius by believing yelling something over and over makes it reality. The meeting ends with the whole group chanting “Stealth R Us” and Cochran showing how awesome he is by making a “this is loony” face.

You know it will be a wonderful Survivor morning when someone has a breakdown, and Dawn does her best to accommodate that belief. Apparently, Dawn has a meltdown because she lost her retainer in the water. This is what happens when you try to lure fish with your false teeth. Dawn is so upset that she is threatening to drop out of the game if it can’t be found, which seems to show she also lost the killer instinct from last episode. Brenda comes to her rescue and dives in to retrieve the retainer bridge for her. It is a pretty noble act going out and swimming for someone else’s teeth, and Dawn throws herself on Brenda to show appreciation. Brenda decides after this act that she won’t ever betray Dawn and now doesn’t think Dawn will betray her. I’m sensing this may foreshadow a rather nasty blindside in the future.

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Getting Muddy for Reward

It is a reward challenge for an afternoon trip to a resort, and is actually a challenge that doesn’t involve water — a rarity this season. It is two teams, and one at a time they race on an obstacle course, then must dig out a bag from the mud, dig through rice to get under a beam, and throw the bags on the table. Once everyone has finished the course, they take the balls out of the bags and must throw all ten balls into a basket elevated on a pole.

Purple team is Erik, Reynold, Dawn, Cochran, and Phillip, which makes the Orange team Malcolm, Eddie, Brenda, Sherri, and Andrea. Erik and Malcolm start and are right with each other the entire obstacle course. Then at the mud, Malcolm channels Penner from last season and tries to get out all the bags from the mud for his team. Erik completes his race, and Reynold is now digging through the mud while Malcolm is still trying. Reynold actually copies Malcolm, but does it much more quickly.

Andrea finally gets to go for Orange, but she is trailing Dawn who is the third person for Purple. Sherri is next out for Orange, but decides to take the Sunday driver version of completing the course and causes her team to fall even further back. Brenda finally gets to go after Sherri stops for coffee and a doughnut, and she flies through the course but Purple has a massive lead.

Purple is already tossing the balls before Eddie even gets to start for Orange. It turns out to be a blow out as Purple gets in every ball before Orange can even shoot one. Sherri proves why she doesn’t get selected in Reward Challenges often. I’d have been worse, I admit, but part of the fun of being a TV recapper is being critical of things I can’t even do either.

The Meltdown Continues

At the resort, Cochran mentions in a confessional that the protein will give him the energy to continue to be the challenge monster that he has proven to be. I realize this is his usual wit at work, but he has actually been on a challenge role lately. As in, he actually has won things this season. Dawn rants about how a shower will give back her sanity. Phillip proves his sanity is not the only thing gone, when he goes into the pool completely filthy and creating a giant dirt ball in the water. Erik actually speaks, by saying this act is why he wants Phillip out of the game. He must be pissed off to actually warrant TV time.

The shower doesn’t get back Dawn’s sanity. She starts freaking out over Andrea talking to the minority alliance. Somehow she convinces herself that this means Andrea wants to blindside her. This is such a logical conclusion considering Andrea constantly confides in her and has mentioned she wants her in the final four. Dawn rants about her crazy theory to Phillip and Cochran. Dawn succeeds in not only making both think they should blindside her, but Phillip calls her crazy. It might be time to cool down when Phillip starts thinking you’re strange.

There is also some sensible strategy going on too. “Stealth R Us” holds a meeting to decide who gets voted out next. The general consensus is that Reynold is the greatest threat and needs to go.

Diving for Immunity

We’re back in the water for the Immunity Challenge. It will start with two heats, where they run across a deck, dive into the water, swim while pulling themselves along a rope, grab a hoop that they put on a pole, go back in the water, swim along the rope, and then put a second hoop on a pole to win. The first two from each heat move on.

The first heat is Reynold, Cochran the Challenge Monster, Dawn, Andrea, and Sherri. Reynold blows away the rest of his field with a huge lead. Dawn and Andrea are bit closer in the battle for second. It ends up being Reynold and Andrea that move on.

In the second heat, Phillip says he is sitting out because he is afraid of swimming under the deck. Apparently, he was trapped under a deck while swimming as a child. I’d tease Phillip here, except I swim like a drunken badger and would likely get caught under that deck too. It ends up being Malcolm, Eddie, Brenda, and Erik. Malcolm has the early lead, but everyone in this heat is athletic and close together. Near the end it is Malcolm and Eddie fighting for the win. Malcolm gets it first, but Eddie actually fails to get the final hoop on the pole before jumping into the water. This allows Brenda to advance to the finals when she succeeds putting on her hoop. Not sure how Eddie failed to put the hoop on the pole, but he must have just been really excited to show off his dive to Andrea.

The finals are Reynold, Malcolm, Brenda, and Andrea. This time it is five hoops and a real test of endurance. Reynold and Malcolm blow ahead of the girls, and finally, Reynold edges away from Malcolm too. Reynold may not be the best strategic player, but he is amazing in challenges. He wins the Immunity Necklace when his head was on the chopping block.

Time for More Immunity

Reynold is mad Phillip backed out of the Immunity Challenge. He thinks it is pathetic a guy with gorilla and lion tattoos would drop out from competing. But I don’t think those animals swim either, so he was just following what his ink would do.

Phillip gloats in confessional about how he thinks he will win this game if the jury isn’t bitter. I’m pretty sure he confuses “isn’t bitter” with “just had a lobotomy.” Phillip then regales everyone with his trapped under the deck story, while Malcolm tries to talk strategy with his crew. Malcolm realizes he has the idol and is safe, but wants to try to avoid playing it. He goes on an Immunity Idol scavenger hunt with his alliance. Andrea seems to think that is a great way to pass the time, and gets “Stealth R Us” to join in on the fun too.

Malcolm may be down in numbers, but he is also a walking lucky charm, because he finds a second idol. Dawn and Andrea both seemed crushed when witnessing the discovery. Andrea whines in confessional that it is so sad that her little buddy Eddie must now be voted off. Eddie agrees with her in his own confessional, and it looks like he is done. His two partners have immunity, and so he is the only choice for the majority to send to the ranch.

The Big Shocker

At Tribal Council, Reynold says he knew he had to win today because he was the first choice to go. Cochran admits that Eddies wasn’t even the second choice, and it is a bit of a bummer he has to go tonight. Malcolm then shows his idol, but in this case, it makes sense unlike the time Reynold did it. The Tribal Council then talks about paranoia, and Andrea mentions how she had to stop talking to her boy toys since people thought she’d blindside them. Malcolm decides that paranoia needs to elevate, as he reveals his second idol that he gives to Eddie.

This was a pretty shocking move. It causes the entire alliance to flip out, and to start throwing out names from their own alliance. Andrea’s name gets thrown around the most. Cochran is just giddy that something so shocking and cool just happened. Malcolm then reveals they’re playing the idols and voting out Phillip. Phillip looks like he is going to cry as Malcolm says he is a “fun sponge.” It is crazy how many players look like they’re about to faint from the shock. Phillip tries to get some composure, and tells his group to stick to the plan, or essentially, call Malcolm’s bluff in case they don’t play the idols.
The votes are cast, and both guys do play the idols. Everyone seems to stick to the original voting plan of splitting the votes except for Erik. It is now the official end of “Stealth R Us” as Phillip is voted out.

I know almost all the commenters on this site are currently celebrating. I’ve now just lost the wealth of my jokes with the easiest target in the game exiting. It was a bold play by Malcolm. Now, the key is trying to get two people to flip over to take control of the game. Hopefully, he has learned to not approach Dawn this time.

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Chris Spicer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV