Compare and contrast: LJ and Spencer take repeated shots to the testicles in the same reward challenge in which one guy (LJ) wins egg-laying chickens. Pointedly, the Beauty tribe then discusses how hens produce a steady stream of eggs, even in the absence of roosters, and Alexis even says "Why do they even need roosters?" Apparently SEG was concerned about the flood of Survivor babies, and decided to take matters into their own hands. Sorry about the forced sterilization, LJ. The network felt it was for your own good.
Wait a minute: Maybe Alexis's rooster reduncancy realization was a hint that she sees they have three women and two men on the Beauty tribe, and don't need the guys any more, since the shelter is built (and patched). If so, good thing for Jeremiah that he won immunity for them. Maybe...
Eh, screw it. This is what this episode will be remembered for:
There's not much else to say about the reward challenge, but we do have some minor quibbles about the immunity challenge:
1. Is it really fair to have a challenge that fits exactly into a pro athlete's career skill set? We felt the same way about this challenge in Redemption Island, where Grant (a wide receiver in the NFL) got to run around, catching launched balls. Shockingly, thanks almost solely to Grant's efforts, his tribe walked away with that challenge. Yeah, on the one hand it's great that Cliff got the opportunity to save himself and thwart Sarah and Trish's attempts to throw the challenge, just by doing something he was paid to do for 18 seasons. But on the other... come on, if it hadn't been a thrown challenge situation, this would have been a complete blow-out. And it's not like they're going to do a chess challenge.
2. Secondly, what's the point of having two people on the dock and two in the water for the final shooting baskets phase of this challenge? All three tribes picked one person to shoot, and the other person just stood there (okay, Tasha did take an initial shot or two for Luzon). Seems almost as poor challenge design as this Caramoan one in which two people allegedly got to unlock chests and toss sandbags, but only one actually did it, allowing people to "participate" by standing around and clapping.
Spencer or J'Tia? It's important to remember that decisions like this aren't made in a vacuum: whichever path Tasha and Kass chose, production would (probably) respond. A wise decision takes that into account. J'Tia clearly has hurt Luzon in just about every challenge in which she's competed. There is certainly some merit in Tasha and Kass keeping her around as a loyal goat (less so for Kass, who already suspects that Tasha is closer to J'Tia than to her). But if they do keep J'Tia, they're all but guaranteed to be competing as Luzon in the next immunity challenge. Sure, they might both get a free pass in booting J'Tia then (unless Tasha decides Kass should go instead), but they're still at least one more Tribal away from the merge, and face the prospect of getting Ulonged.
Spencer, meanwhile, has been a huge asset in challenges, but clearly knows his way around the strategic game, and is highly unlikely to blindly follow Kass and Tasha to the end as their third (unless he's sure he can beat them, which seems unlikely, when there are at least three--possibly four--better options for beatable alliance-mates on the Beauty tribe alone). Even so, though, there's at least a chance he will take this Tribal as a show of faith, and at least try to keep working with them. Keeping Spencer over J'Tia also makes immediate sense if there's no imminent swap or merge: they might actually win (or not lose) the remainder of the immunity challenges until the merge. Naturally, the preview for the next episode shows us that no good deed goes unpunished, and there's a swap down to two tribes. No matter which option Luzon chose, there were consequences waiting. But the consequences here seem less dire. Neither Kass nor Tasha is likely to be seen as a threat on a new tribe in which they're outnumbered, much like Denise in post-swap Kalabaw. Especially when both the other tribes have existing feuds within them, just itching at the bit for a Tribal Council. So, free pass to the merge? Probably. All in all, keeping Spencer was probably a 50-50 proposition for Tasha, but solidly the better choice for Kass.
Requiem for Luzon
Unlike the fall of Matsing, which packed four episodes full of failure, the Brains had a brief respite in Episode 3, before continuing their freefall this week. They didn't just suck, as Sarah claimed, they earned advanced degrees in sucking. They were so bad, in fact, that you really had to ask if they were trying to be that way (especially since the episode raised the topic of throwing challenges, albeit for the Brawn tribe). Both losses this episode were caused by poor leadership/ choices on Luzon. Was that intentional?
In the RC, they managed to blow a full-item lead, by letting precious minutes tick away as Tasha patiently waited for J'Tia to position, then reposition, the flag in one precise spot, instead of just raising the platform and hoping for the best. This made no apparent sense, unless Tasha (the only one with a view of Aparri's progress) really didn't care whether or not they won. Furthermore, the Brains made some terrible decisions with slot selection and execution. J'Tia should have been the trailing person in the blindfolded tandem, with Spencer leading. This would leave Kass to pull the platform, which by default, she probably would have done better at than J'Tia. While Kass and Lindsey contributed to their teams' collecting activities, Jefra did absolutely nothing on Beauty's, and that's the role J'Tia should have had. Furthermore, Luzon's repeated troubles raising their platform were also a team problem, since nobody on the tribe was calling out to synchronize the rope pulling, as LJ was for Beauty. Again, accidental or intentional?
The Brains ran into similar task-assignment difficulty in the IC. Both of the other tribes had a single person shooting (Jeremiah, Cliff), and another (Morgan, Woo) just standing around, watching that one person shoot. This would have been the perfect slot for J'Tia. Instead, however, the Brains decided that J'Tia, clearly their worst swimmer, was perfect for the critical, swimming-intensive role of rebound retriever. And we all know how that went. It's hard to know who made these decisions (Tasha?), but regardless of who made them, one does wonder if Brains were actually trying to throw both of these challenges.
Either way, though, they lost, and thus close out the three-tribe phase down, 6-5-3. So it's settled, then, right? In the Battle of Brawn, Brains, and Beauty, the athletes of Brawn reigned supreme, followed by the surprisingly adequate Beauty tribe, both trailed (distantly) by the Brains. Stay in school, kids. You could grow up, get your doctorate, then go on to join one of the worst tribes in Survivor history.
Or is it really settled? If Tasha (or Kass, or both) did indeed try to whittle her tribe down to a solid, loyal core (a la Jalapao, or Foa Foa, or Matsing) after the first loss, that's an easily justifiable strategy (as Dom & Colin are wont to say, "Always be throwing").
If not, then yeah, the Brains just sucked. Farewell rarely used, if unfortunately appropriate, Luzon tribe name. At least there were no misspellings on anyone's ballots last night.
Recaps and commentary
Exit Interviews - J'Tia Taylor