We’re back at the Dang-ray-ne tribe and it’s already day 23. Time flies by so fast when you’re the one watching people suffer the elements while you’re relaxing on the couch.

Anyway, after tribal council Abi immediately starts barking at Michael for voting for him. She doesn’t believe his insisting that he in fact did not vote to her, until Jonathan tells her himself that he is the one who voted for her. Jonathan is also mad because he had no idea what the “plan B” was and he would have voted for Pete if he had known that’s who everyone is voting for last week.

Malcolm approaches Lisa and assures her that everything that happened at tribal council was purely game play and not personal. Malcolm is the literally exact opposite of Abi, and that’s one of the many reasons why he’s so likable, besides his rugged good looks and his baby-blues, but that’s neither here nor there, I suppose.

Lisa is having doubts about her ability to play the game. She lied and betrayed at the last tribal council, and she isn’t feeling good about herself for doing that. She is not a sociopath like Abi so she actually has feelings, but at this point she may be taking everything, including her own actions, a little too personally for this game.

Jonathan does what he can to relate to Lisa’s struggles by empathizing with her situation as a child actress. Right now Lisa is vulnerable, and she is eating up everything Jonathan says. He thinks this could help get her and Michael on his side so he doesn’t have to go home next.

Reward Challenge

The challenge is for the survivors to be split into teams of four and one at a time they have to crawl through muddy water, over an A-frame and dig a bag of balls out of a mud pit. Then they have to crawl through a rice pit and put the balls on a platform. Once all four members of the team are through, they have to shoot 12 balls into an elevated basket.

The teams are chosen schoolyard style and the red team is Jonathan, Carter, Denise and Malcolm. The yellow team is Artis, Michael, Lisa and Pete. And no one picked Abi. Womp womp. I hope she realizes this happened because nobody likes her, not just because she sucks at challenges.

Michael gets a good lead over Jonathan who both run the first leg. While it seems like it’s taking Jonathan forever to find his bag of balls, he is only taking so long because he is finding ALL of the bags and putting them in the same place for each of his tribe members to just pick up and go instead of digging for them. GENIUS.

After that brilliant strategic move by Jonathan, the red team quickly cleans up on the rest of the challenge. I mean it’s not even close. The red team is almost done shooting their balls when the yellow team finishes the obstacles and they come out with a huge win.

For reward, Jonathan, Carter, Denise and Malcolm go to a local village as Survivor ambassadors to deliver school supplies and toys to the locals. They also join the villagers in a feast prepared for them. Jonathan plays games with the kids and is positively endearing. We learn that before he was a bartender, Malcolm worked as a teacher with kids in Micronesia and we officially learn that he is even more perfect than originally expected. There’s also a little bit of time for them to talk strategy and they express the importance of bringing Michael and Lisa over to their side to get a numbers advantage against the Empire of Evil.

Loser Camp

Pete finally realizes that they have to start being nice to Michael and Lisa if they want to keep them happy as a part of the old Tandang alliance. Abi is just so freaking rude to Lisa, sounding off to her about how gullible and naive she is. Abi’s insolence and disrespect is actually cringe worthy. Girl thinks she’s got it all figured out. Even Pete and Artis are starting to realize the crazy that they are dealing with here.

Immunity Challenge

Jeff Probst is looking sharp as always in a nice crisp black safari shirt. He’s really starting to take some fashion risks here, veering away from his normal khaki or blue safari shirts.

The challenge is for each of the players to hold a over sized paddle and roll six balls into six spots on the board. The first person to balance all six balls on to their paddle wins immunity.

Michael is the first player to get a ball on his paddle followed closely by Pete. Soon both Michael and Pete have three balls and no one else is even in the challenge. Pete loses his balance and two of his balls fall and Michael gets the rest of his on and wins immunity by a mile.

Artis is annoyingly pleased with himself, especially for a person who has accomplished little to nothing in this game, and thinks they can all sit pretty and just vote for Jonathan. Obviously he hasn’t seen any of Jonathan’s previous seasons because he is clueless to what a scrapper Jonathan is.

Denise thinks of the idea to vote Artis to break up the Empire of Evil because Pete and Abi would never give their idol to him. Denise has been playing a quiet game since the merge, but it’s good to see that she’s still making good moves and being a smart player. Team Denise!

Jonathan talks to both Lisa and Michael about switching their votes and Michael seems more eager to switch than Lisa. Jonathan gives Lisa a eloquent speech about America rooting for her, but how they will be upset that she is aligning with the Empire of Evil. It’s true Lisa, listen to the man.

Tribal Council

Of course the first thing Jeff brings up is the insanity of last tribal council. Lisa expresses her internal fallout from last week was way greater than the fallout she experienced from her tribe mates, who she said all treated her with grace… except for Abi, who doesn’t know how to spell “grace.” Abi gives Lisa her best judgmental badger face without getting as mad as she usually would, possibly because she knows she still needs Lisa’s vote tonight.

Meanwhile, the least infamous, but equally jerky, member of the Empire of Evil, Artis, calls Tandang one of the most powerful tribes in Survivor history and that everything is going smoothly as far as old tribal alliances go. Okay honey. You just keep thinking like that.

There is a nice moment where Michael expresses his happiness about finally being able to wear an individual immunity necklace after 12 years of wanting another try at this game. And Denise and Jonathan warn the former Tandang members to not get too comfortable because there is a number shift coming.

Thank goodness they are right. Pete, Abi, Artis and Lisa vote for Jonathan and Jonathan, Malcolm, Michael, Carter and Denise (who called Abi a “selfish mess” in her voting confessional– ha!) vote for Artis. So Artis goes home and the Empire of Evil is one step closer to being eliminated by the rebel forces! And the ewoks rejoice.

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Gina Pusateri

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV