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Welcome back to Gabon. Last week, Ace’s oh-so-smart plan to purposely lose the reward challenge to save themselves for the immunity challenge failed when Kota lost immunity as well. The tribe decided to oust wee Ace-enemy Paloma, while an emotional Sugar found the hidden immunity idol. Will Ace’s increasing popularity surface this week? Will someone finally get trampled by one of those elephants the cameramen keep showing us? Don’t hold your breath for either one. Not content to let things play out a little longer, this week Jeff is going to turn the game on its head.

Randy the Oncologist

Rejoining the action at Kota after the tribal vote, Kelly’s feeling exposed, as Paloma’s only ally. She doesn’t like Ace. Ace says tribal council was right up there with his wisdom teeth being pulled in terms of enjoyment. He knows Kelly voted for him, and she’ll be “the next lamb for slaughter.”

The next day, at Fang, Randy’s still worried about the low level of rice. He wants them to eat one meal a day, while Ken and GC say no worries, they’ve got enough. “We’re going to be hungry,” Randy says. “That’s why it’s called Survivor.” He makes a speech, but says he knows Crystal and GC aren’t with him. The others aren’t his allies but they’re his friends.

So a group of them go to pick fruit, and Crystal notices that it’s just her, GC and Ken back at camp. The other four are indeed talking strategy, and discussing how they don’t trust the other three. “We have a cancer, and this cancer’s name is GC, and at the right time this cancer is going to have to be cut out,” Randy says. Matty feels this is now a solid four. They all shake hands on it.

Why Not Make a Slambook Too?

Soon it’s reward challenge time, and they arrive on the beach to find a bunch of platforms, like stair steps. Jeff says they know each other pretty well by now, and so they’re going to rank their tribe from top to bottom, in terms of importance within the tribe. At least they get a secret ballot. I’ll say this for the CBS challenge-planners – they know how to get tribe pissed off at each other.

In Kota, the rankings from top to bottom are: Marcus, Ace, Bob, Charlie, Jacquie, Corrine, Sugar, and Kelly.

Marcus worries it’ll make him a target. Kelly says it’s “interesting. I’ve never been the last picked, ever.” Ace thinks she’s devastated, and that she can’t understand why no one likes her. He says it’s because she’s “a whiny little cow, and you don’t do anything.” Tell us how you really feel, Ace.

The Fang rankings are: Matty, Dan, Randy, Crystal, Ken, GC, and Susie.

Crystal is mad. “I’m out there busting my butt and they’re going to rank me number four??... I was very insulted when I saw that,” she says. GC is surprised Kenny was ranked above him.

And why did they do this? For insight, as they PICK NEW TRIBES. Well, that was quick. Dammit, Probst, I was just starting to figure out who these people are! Matty’s not happy, he’d just solidified his group. “That was just such a buzzkill,” he says.

Marcus and Matty, as the most important people, will remain on their tribes, and will start picking their new tribes. Marcus takes Dan, Matty takes Ace. Dan takes Charlie, who “is thrilled to be with Marcus.” His biggest fear in the game is they’ll be separated.

Ace takes Crystal. Charlie takes Randy. Crystal takes Jacquie. Poor Bob’s been passed over. Randy takes Corrine. Jacquie takes Ken. Corrine is told quickly by Randy that GC is slacking and is playing his own game. She takes Susie instead, claiming she doesn’t want to be the only girl.

“It’s cool. It doesn’t feel good,” GC says. He acknowledges he may have rubbed people the wrong way.

Ken is told not to take Kelly. Jeff points out Bob has been ignored, and Bob says yes, he’s a diamond in the rough. Ken takes Kelly. “I want to get to know her. And she’s hot,” he says, proving once again that video-gaming does not teach one anything about social interaction. Ace makes a small face. Susie takes Bob, so that leaves GC for Kelly.

Sugar, as the last one, goes to Exile. She’ll stay there until next Tribal council, and she’ll join the tribe that loses a member, to even them up.

Kenny Clearly Would Have Picked All the Blonde Girls if He Could

So the new Kota goes back to camp, where people have left clothes and everything. Dan says if Matty were there, it would be the perfect tribe. Randy recognizes it’s three to four, and thinks old Kota will pick them off. “If it’s not me, I’ll go along with it,” he says. “If it is me, I’ll burn the camp down.” Presumably he means figuratively.

Susie says the old Kota functions well, and Bob’s the worker, so she’s trying to work too so they’ll think she’s worth keeping.

Back at Exile, Sugar chooses comfort, since she already has the clue. “It was like Christmas morning,” she says, chomping on fruit. She relaxes a while, and swims, and wonders which team she’ll be on. She hopes, of course, she’ll be with Ace, and she thinks they’ll vote off Kelly.

At Fang, GC thinks the tribe switch is great for him. Jacquie says she thinks everyone was close, but Kelly says it was her and Paloma, and no one else invited them in. She’s pretty open about it, and it surprises Crystal. She goes to Ken and whispers that Kelly does not like Jacquie and Ace. Kelly tells GC the others are fake. She’d rather go with Fang, because Kota never gave her a chance. She also tells them Ace is tight with Sugar and Jacquie, and they – Crystal, Ken, GC and Kelly – decide to stick together. Ken says he knew he could sway her to his side. And also she’s hot. Way hotter than poor Kenny. Earth to Kenny – this is Survivor, hotness isn’t really the lone quality you’re looking for in allies.

It Helps If You Actually Paddle

At Kota, tree mail arrives in the form of a lacrosse stick and a ball. Susie says this game takes a toll on a 47-year-old woman like her. Marcus says he’s not sure Randy and Susie can pull their weight in challenges. If Randy does poorly at the challenge, since Susie is helpful at camp, he might prefer to keep Susie.

The challenge is indeed a water polo/lacrosse thing. They’re all in little inner tube rafts, passing the ball with their sticks till someone scores a goal. First to three wins.

They paddle out to get the ball, as Jeff warns the boats aren’t easy to control. Jacquie gets to it first, loses it, and Marcus steals it. They’re all being fairly useless, Jeff notes, and Randy scores. Kelly is useless, as others yell at her to go get the ball. Marcus passes to Randy, who easily scores with no goalie.

Kenny is “virtually useless in this challenge” Jeff says. Ace paddles along with his hands. But Randy has another shot at the goal. He misses that one, but retrieves it and scores the third goal. Kota wins immunity.

It was “without question, one of the worst performances I’ve seen at a challenge,” Jeff says of Fang.

"Headless Chickens" Would Be More Apt

Back at camp, on day 12 by now, Fang is not happy. Ace says the challenge was fun. “It was like we were legless chickens, racing against sleek weasels,” he says, in a rather tortured metaphor. “And losing badly along the way.”

GC laughingly (perhaps) calls out Kenny for being useless. Jacquie says it was hard to play defense in that game. Kelly announces she’s “over it.” GC tells us Kelly’s poor performance makes her the target tonight. He goes off with Crystal and Ken to talk. They want to keep Ace because he’s strong. But, GC says, Kelly has a bad attitude. But the danger is, if Sugar has immunity, she might give it to Ace or Jacquie, and she’d never protect Kelly. Voting off Kelly, then, is a risk. Matty comes up to talk to them, and he assumes it’s Kelly. They explain their reasoning for going another direction.

Matty’s on board, he claims, but he goes to Jacquie to talk. He says they’re worried she’s aligned with Ace. She feels on the outs, and tells Matty they must convince the others that Kelly sucks. Jacquie goes to Ken, who obviously can’t resist a pretty face, because he immediately says they’re just scared and don’t trust her. They think Kelly was the outsider. Jacquie tells him she wants to be with them. She knows Ace and Sugar won’t bring her to the end. Ken’s in a knot, he says this decision matters. But he also tells her he has no power and he can do no more than try. Wimp. He at least advises her to talk to Crystal, which she does.

Jacquie tells Crystal she worked her ass off in the challenge and wants to be there. And then she starts crying, which pulls on Crystal’s heart strings. Crystal says she needs someone on her team who’s going to fight and work hard.

Heads, It’s a Blonde. Tails, It’s … a Blonde

GC says that tribal is getting old, and says losing anyone weakens the tribe. Matty agrees, saying today’s performance was embarrassing. Jeff asks Ken about the tribe switch – can he trust the new members? Ken says within three days it’s hard, trust is something you build. Asked about Ace, Matty says he’s not sure he trusts him, but he wants Ace on his side, he’s a powerful contributor.

Ace says they’re right, you have to prove trust. Jeff says this tribe is like there’s something in the water, they just dissolve. Jacquie says she’s surprised they didn’t have the teamwork to win.

Asked whether she’s worried tonight, Kelly says yes, but that other Fang members were weak in the challenge, and she calls out Ken and Crystal. Wrong move, honey. “This is one challenge. I’m not weaker than her,” Crystal says. “I didn’t just sit and watch, I tried to move that rowboat.” She’s got a head shake going on, and is clearly irritated.

Ace is nervous, Jacquie is nervous, she notes their old tribe is in the minority. Ken says Kelly and Jacquie have to be worried, because they need physical players. Wow, he has no poker face, does he?

And the vote goes to …. Jacquie. I guess the waterworks didn’t help so much after all. Afterwards she says she is “so upset.” She thinks if she’d made it one more round, she could have made it all the way.

Next week:

An elephant tramples around too close to camp for comfort. And GC goes missing right before a challenge. For some reason this is considered a loss.