Last week on Survivor Caramoan, Brandon’s brain exploded. It is much easier to play this game with a working brain, so Brandon had to be voted off. The Favorites are just happy that Brandon didn’t do a Jason Voorhees impersonation and send another tribemate off the island in a body bag. “Operation Thunder Dome” isn’t as chaotic, but there is still a major shakeup this week.

Life After Brandon

The Favorites return to swap “Brandon is Insane” stories. Phillip and Corinne try to make themselves victims from Brandon’s attack, but it wasn’t like he was handing out cookies to the rest of the tribe during his meltdown. Phillip mentions in his confessional that even a specialist can’t figure out what is wrong with Brandon, and Phillip has one thing right, he is definitely special.

Corinne, on the other hand, throws bitter accusations at Dawn, because she didn’t jump to her rescue when Brandon was defaming her. I remember Brandon making one comment to Corinne, and unless they edited it out, Corinne really wasn’t much of a victim. In the end, the tribe thinks life is wonderful without Brandon.

Phillip believes it will be even more marvelous when his newest archenemy, Corinne, is sent home. Since everything in Phillip’s world must have nicknames, his plan to rid the tribe of Corinne is called “Operation Thunder Dome”. Hey, I liked Mad Max too. 

Poor Underdog Reynold

The Fans celebrate not actually having to go to a tribal council. You know you’re a struggling tribe when a forfeit makes you want to pop the champagne cork … well, if they had such things. In a confessional I don’t quite understand, Reynold moans about how he is on the outs of his tribe and must do whatever it takes to survive. He got his way by taking out Laura, and to me, it appeared he had a nice little alliance with the other men. He also has an Idol. Sorry Reynold, not ready to cheer you on as an underdog quite yet.

Tribal Switch

Even though Jeff Probst tries to make it seem like a challenge, you know something is up when he spends the first five minutes asking everyone questions. Once everyone agrees they love their current tribes, Jeff gleefully reveals it is egg smashing time. The smashed egg will splatter the color of the tribe that person must join. The tribal switch will hopefully end the massacre of the Fans, but then again, they end up being the minority members in each tribe.

The new tribes end up like this.

Gota now has Eddie, Reynold, Sherri, Brenda, Andrea, Erik and Malcolm. Cochran also refers to them as the Bold and Beautiful tribe.  Why is it that every tribal swap seems to stack one team?

Bikal is now the weaker tribe with Cochran, Phillip, Corinne, Dawn, Matt (and his epic beard), Michael and Julia. I’m pretty sure Matt whispers to Michael, “Who is the new girl?” Reynold loves his new tribe, because after all this time, he still doesn’t understand you don’t want a minority alliance.

Let the Backstabbing Begin

Gota brags about how they’re all so beautiful and strong. They predict they’ll never go to tribal council. I’d get pissed off about their gloating, except they’re likely right. The tribes are incredibly uneven when it comes to strength in challenges.

Reynold and Eddie don’t even wait for Erik to fully step into camp before they start tossing Sherri under the bus. They play their little sad song about being picked on at the other tribe, and how Sherri has made their lives horrible. Erik proves he has learned a few things in this game by pegging Reynold as a used cars salesman. It seems Erik can only be totally suckered by pretty women, thus proving he was never a dumb player but just a typical heterosexual guy.

The Fans scrambling continues with Sherri disparaging Reynold and talks about him once having the Idol. Reynold may want to change his line of work, as she also calls him a used car salesman. It doesn’t seem like her blabbering helped her cause any more than the guys. Andrea just takes the info and rats it out to Malcolm. In a funny moment, Andrea talks about dreaming that Malcolm has the Idol, but Malcolm says in a confessional it might not be a dream since it is kept above her head at night.

Don’t Underestimate Pink Underwear

Corinne laments that she wishes she was always on Michael’s tribe, because she likes playing with gays so much. She lays it on so thick, I get a feeling she is trying to become a spokesperson. She then realizes she can’t flip over to Michael’s side because she knows no one from the Favorites will ever flip. Those appear to be perfect famous last words, or a signal of her impending doom.

Phillip does something almost no one else has been able to do this season. He notices and talks to Julia. Phillip shares all his wisdom, which takes a few seconds, and then blabbers on for hours and hours. Julia realizes Phillip is her key to survival at this point, and lets him talk her to sleep. Phillip also warns Julia that he shouldn’t be underestimated just because he wears pink underwear. No Phillip, you should be underestimated because your top strategy is making up nicknames.

Corinne finds out Phillip has been trying to get Julia to flip to the Favorite side. This causes Corinne to scream on and on about Phillip’s insanity. Corinne tells Dawn about Phillip’s plan, and they both agree he may need a babysitter. It does seem silly to waste time trying to get a minority member to flip, but I actually see Phillip’s strategy.  He wants to send Corinne packing, and so Julia would be her replacement.

A One-Sided Challenge

It looks like we’re getting last week’s challenge. Two members need to run out and push a giant crate across a finish line. Then another two run out, and this repeats until all crates are over the finish line. The object is to lift the crates up a set of stairs and arrange the crates to spell Fans vs. Favorites.

Remember how I said the tribes look mismatched? I’m not proven wrong. The second pair from Gota is almost done before the first Bikal pair gets a crate across. Gota just blows through the crate pushing, and Bikal is noticeably winded. Then Gota works together to arrange the crates, and Bikal just sort of heavily breathes in each other’s faces. In a slaughter, Gota wins immunity. One of the biggest blowouts yet, and Bikal may be in trouble.

Matt and Michael, the New Power Couple?

Phillip admits he still wants to knock out Corinne. That would put them tied with the Fans on his tribe, so not really a sound strategy. Then again he spent all that time coming up with “Operation Thunder Dome,” so I see how he feels he needs to stick to it.

Phillip goes to Matt and Michael and promises them a chance to join “Stealth R Us.” He entices them with the promise of nicknames. Matt and Michael struggle not to burst out laughing. He tells them they have a few tasks to accomplish and then they can be in his elite group. A group so elite it will have eight people if they join. I wonder when he’ll induct Jeff Probst.

Matt and Michael come out of the riveting conversation believing Julia is heading home. When Julia comes asking who they’re voting, they do a great impression of a deer stuck in headlights. But Julia proves her master Survivor skills by deciding Dawn would be the best person to vote against. How is Dawn the best choice for voting someone out, when it is clear she is one of the more liked among the Favorites?

Julia’s fate changes when Cochran is scared of the Matt and Michael power couple. Even though they’re the minority, Cochran fears the two are stronger together. Plus if you count Matt’s beard as a player (which due to its awesomeness you should), they’re actually even in players. The Favorites end up torn on either voting out Julia or Matt. At least, Phillip is smart enough to realize he needs to keep Corinne around for a bit longer.

Idol Paranoia

The theme of the tribal council is Idol paranoia. Corinne and Phillip both claim they’re scared a Fan may have an Idol. The problem is they don’t have enough numbers to split the vote, and if they choose a person playing an Idol, the Fans get to send someone home. The Fans confess they know one of them is going home. Matt doesn’t seem to understand the paranoia, and swears he doesn’t have an Idol. No, no, no Matt, you want them to think you have an Idol, because they’re voting out the person who doesn’t have it.

Matt and Michael seem confident they’re safe, and they vote Julia. Poor clueless Julia throws out the useless vote towards Dawn. Luckily for her, Cochran’s power couple plea convinces the Favorites, and Matt along with his epic beard are done in this game. As good as this season may continue to be, it will never have such amazing facial hair again.

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Chris Spicer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV