Last week on Survivor, there was a tribal switch, but it wasn’t enough to stop the massacre of the Fans. The world wept as Matt and his epic beard was shaved off Bikal. The merge is now looming, and the remaining Fans are clinging on to stick around until then. This week it is still Bikal vs. Gota in the greatest titled episode ever, “Tubby Lunchbox.”

Phillip, the World’s Strongest Secret Agent

Julia returns from tribal council to let everyone know she almost peed herself. For someone that has been invisible for most of season 26, you’d think she’d have more profound things to say when she actually opens her mouth. Corinne is someone that never struggles with opening her mouth, and she spends her time assuring Michael that he isn’t in trouble and shouldn’t be bitter. She also once again declares her life goal of voting out Phillip and being able to play a long time with her new best buddy, Michael.

Phillip notices the Corinne and Michael bonding moments, and uses that as a reason to rant about how Corinne needs to go. It definitely looks like we’ll be getting a Phillip vs. Corinne vote-off soon, and I know there is a lot of hate for the pink underwear-sporting agent but I must confess I’m rooting for him.

Why would I do such a thing? Because we get gems like Phillip ranting about his super strength and how he is the strongest in the entire game. Obviously, a flabby 50-year-old is always stronger than a well conditioned 20-year-old. To prove his super strength, he challenges the scrawniest and nerdiest person on the island, Cochran, to an arm wrestling match. Phillip wins. But if I want to prove I’m really fast, I don’t challenge my 15-month-old son to a sprint. 

Reward Challenge

It is a classic Survivor challenge, where the tribe is attached together while each member has a sandbag strapped to themselves. Then the tribe tries to tag the other tribe to win the contest, but the catch is a member can bow out and pass a sandbag to another member.

Phillip reminds everyone on his tribe of his super strength, because he did just out arm wrestle the powerhouse known as Cochran, and explains this is why he should be the lead person.

At the start of the challenge, Phillip refuses to run. His argument is that he needs to conserve his strength, because everyone will be giving him their sandbags soon. It isn’t too long before half of his own tribe is pulling him along, but this obviously must be some amazing secret agent strategy. Dawn, Julia and Cochran eventually opt out, and Corinne ends up with their sandbags. Phillip continues to tell his tribe to walk, which allows Gota to gain on them quickly. Phillip then reveals his big strategy when he falls in the water and allows Gota to catch Bikal. This was a slaughter. Malcolm and Reynold congratulate themselves on their brilliant strategy, which I assume was “send subliminal messages to Bikal so they listen to Phillip.”

Malcolm’s Big Move

Gota gets to hang out on a private island and munch away on baked goods. Andrea mentions in a confessional that she wants to bond with all the Fans so that they’ll love her even after she votes them off. Sharing a biscuit may not be enough for someone to get over losing a chance at a million dollars.

Malcolm proves he is always thinking in Survivor and realizes the athletic guys are likely going to be targets at the merge. Malcolm pitches an alliance to Reynold who obviously jumps all over that crumb. Reynold proves he has been figuring this game out by saying in a confessional he isn’t totally trusting Malcolm at this point. Obviously Reynold can’t learn too much in one day and blows it all by revealing to Malcolm he has an Idol. What happened to keeping that a super secret that no one will know about? This revelation has made Malcolm one of the strongest in the game since he essentially has two alliances and knows where all the Idols are. Hopefully, he just doesn’t get too cocky this time around.

Julia Not Destined to Be a Secret Agent

The Corinne and Phillip show continues over at Bikal. Corinne rightfully puts the blame of losing on Phillip. She pitches to Cochran that it is time to get rid of him, which is really jumping things since they just lost a reward challenge. Cochran says in a confessional it makes more sense to continue picking off the Fans until the merge and votes to get rid of Julia since she is vanilla. He then actually apologizes to vanilla.

Phillip appears to love vanilla since he is buddying up to Julia. He even gives Julia the honor of being a double agent. It seems a little early to bestow such a title, since the only other Fan at the moment is Michael. Phillip isn’t really playing unless he gives people titles. Julia seems to be confused on her role of the double agent and actually tells all her “top secret” info to Dawn.  Right after Dawn promises to never tell anyone, she rats out Julia to Phillip. This likely officially ends Julia ever being able to get an official “Stealth R Us” nickname.

Immunity Challenge

The immunity challenge is yet another foray into the water. Three members go out on a boat, then dive to retrieve a statue, paddle back to shore with the statue, put the statue on a tower, retrieve keys via a grappling hook, use keys to unlock the tower, and then pull the statue to the top. 

Gota immediately blazes ahead with the team of Erik, Brenda and Eddie. Bikal’s Corinne, Michael and Dawn remain steady, and actually get a lead when Gota paddles way off course. The Gota tribe has the stronger divers, and they quickly get the lead again by retrieving the statue first. Gota arrives on the shore first, but Bikal stays close to them. Reynold ends up being the one tossing the grappling hooks, which makes sense since he has been the World Champion Tosser this season. Reynold retrieves every key but one, while Phillip struggles. Then Phillip digs deep into his secret agent soul and starts to make an impressive comeback. It isn’t enough, and Gota wins yet again.

The Great Michael Debate

Phillip pulls Cochran aside to reveal that he lost the challenge on purpose. This makes so much sense, since Bikal was in such desperate need to lose a member. Cochran believes Phillip as much as I do, and has a huge grin on his face while Phillip rants about lion cubs or something. 

The Favorites start debating over who they should vote out. The general consensus is they should split the vote on the Fans, but Corinne doesn’t want any votes tossed at her beloved Michael. She is afraid that votes against him will make him not trust them in the future. Um Corinne, the guy will be on the outs and really isn’t in a place to be bitter. He’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive.

Phillip isn’t impressed with Corinne’s declaration of Michael love. Out of spite, he says he now just wants to vote Michal out. Then we get something totally new with Corinne and Phillip arguing. Phillip really isn’t happy unless he has a grudge match with somebody in this game, it would appear.

Tribal Council

At Tribal Council, Jeff Probst quickly digs up that there is tension over who should be voted out among the Fans. Dawn confesses that Phillip and Corinne won’t likely be starting up a clubhouse together. Phillip now has changed his tune from throwing the challenge to losing all his strength from carrying the statue all by himself. I’m surprised he also didn’t mention using up his strength to defeat a gorilla in an arm wrestling match before the challenge. Michael and Julia both throw out the pleas to be kept around. Cochran mentions that the Michael and Corinne union is scary. Corinne then throws out one more plea for her BFF.

The first vote ends up being a tie between Julia and Michael. It should be noted the two Fans voted against each other. The second round of voting is a clean sweep, and Corinne gets to keep her precious Michael. Survivor will be so different now that Julia is gone.

The Fans continue to get picked off. They do now have a bit of hope, because we have a merge next week. It will be interesting to see if the Malcolm and Reynold alliance or the Corinne and Michael alliance end up meaning anything going forward.

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Chris Spicer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV