Three episodes of Survivor:Gabon have passed in this season, and we begin the fourth with Fang in a similar position — at the bottom. We’ve seen these losing streaks in this game before, seen them turned around, and seen the tribe consumed by the losses. Is Fang going to nut up?  Or will Kota eat their lunch?

Return from the Sugar Shack. Sugar joins the Fang tribe after coming back from exile, and sees that Jacquie has been eliminated. Her attempts to deflect suspicion about her possession of the hidden immunity idol are not successful on Crystal. Convinced that Sugar has the idol, Crystal vows to bring her down next. The way this tribe has been playing, she’s likely to get her chance.

Fang loses again, absolutely shocking. The fishing equipment won last episode is being put to good use at camp Kota. Interestingly, one among their catch is an electric fish. I have to wonder how that one will taste. I certainly think I would get a charge out of eating it. It has to be more interesting than anything that’s currently on Kota’s menu. Oh. Just trying to think of some more…ah…puns. I’ve got nothing. Anyway, Randy is enjoying his time with his new tribe, his gruff exterior falling away a bit. He genuinely hopes that he will be accepted by Kota.

At Fang, Matty stumbles over a family of elephants, and the tribe gathers to witness the majesty of the massive beast. Much time is devoted to admiring the elephant, Ace and Matty even daring to get close to it in the boat. Alas, this elephant seems to be water-shy, and it chooses to eat no survivors.

At the reward challenge, the tribes are given the opportunity to win an herb garden to spice up their diets. During the competition, tribe members must toss fruit through hoops guarded by members of the opposite tribe who are equipped with bats. The tribe who can toss the most fruit by weight after a predetermined time wins. After a lively tossing session, Kota beats Fang by two pounds. Again, Sugar is chosen again to head to Exile Island. Dan reveals the strategy behind sending Sugar.  He thinks that she is the member of Fang most likely to need an idol to stay in the game.  He hopes by making it likely that she finds the idol, and uses it; the idol will be back in circulation in the future. Not a bad plan, all in all, but Dan is partially counting on the belief that there is only one idol, which he has no reason to think might be the case.

Fang spirals. Kota is again flying high with the addition of herbs to their arsenal. Dan begins making gestures towards the former Fang members in favor of overall Kota unity. Marcus is suspicious of Dan’s grand gestures, and for the inverse reason, he is suspicious of Susie for being quiet. Randy is proud of his performance in the challenge, and Dan’s words must be music to his ears.

Sugar enjoys more comfort while in exile, eating a quantity and quality of food that is noticeably absent at Fang. Crystal and GC get into an argument while eating their meager portions of rice. Once again, GC takes umbrage at people telling him what to do. Ace is quite happy to see their alliance crumbling, crumbling to the point where GC appears to be talking about quitting the game.

Balls bounce, as might GC. Tree mail bears news of a ball related challenge for immunity.  But before Fang can even head out for the contest, GC takes off in the tribe’s boat. Matty, Ken and Kelly search frantically for GC, while Crystal and Ace don’t seem that bothered. GC returns before the tribe leaves, but says that he would have been cool with being left behind. GC is clearly making himself a target for elimination.

At the challenge, throwers for each tribe must roll large wicker balls past blindfolded defenders from the opposite tribe.  The defenders are directed by callers to block the rolling balls. Balls that get through score points based on which nets they hit.  Tribe with the most points after five throws wins immunity. Fang is unable to block any balls, and despite blocking one of their own, Kota wins the challenge. Randy is especially devious, calling out directions to Ace designed to prevent him from blocking any balls. I gotta tell you readers, I’m liking Randy more and more.  Not only is he exceeding himself in the physical portion of the challenges, he is proving himself crafty as well.

GC, thy wish is granted. Fang returns to camp in defeat — AGAIN. GC starts working on Matty, not to get someone else out, but himself. Anyone who’s been paying attention could have seen this coming, and Fang would be well rid of him. Ace and Sugar are happy to see the old Fang falling apart. While Ace and Sugar cavort, Crystal searches Sugar’s backpack and finds the idol. CC to Sugar: IF YOU HAVE THE IDOL, DON’T LEAVE IT SOMEWHERE YOUR TRIBE WILL FIND IT. You are about to learn that lesson the hard way. Idiot. Crystal, Matty, Ken and Kelly recognize the danger the idol represents and turn their focus from GC to flushing out Sugar’s idol.

At tribal, GC’s willingness to quit the game is outed. Claiming that he has suffered all his life, he doesn’t feel the need to suffer in Africa. Sugar’s frequent trips to Exile are discussed next. Sugar continues to play coy, but she does mention people going through people’s bags; although she does so without calling out that Crystal has, in fact, been through her bag. Votes are tallied, and Sugar does not play her idol. VERY interestingly, the tribe chooses to eliminate GC.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what happened, because I think Sugar has done something brilliant (or Ace has told her to do something brilliant.) At first glance, the tribe appears to have ignored the fact that Sugar has the idol, and voted GC out. What I think actually happened was that Sugar placed just enough doubt in Crystal, Matty, Kelly and Ken’s minds as to whether or not she knew that they were planning to flush out the idol. Thinking that Sugar might play the idol, Crystal, Matty, Kelly and Ken voted for GC to ensure that their votes against Sugar would not be nullified in the event that she plays the idol. Had they voted for Sugar, and had Sugar played the idol, whomever Ace and Sugar voted for would have been the survivor to go home that night. Sugar scared them with her comments about her bag being searched, and escaped elimination without ever having to play the idol. Guys, as I said, Ace might be behind this move, but personally, I would love for Sugar to have masterminded that herself. Wicked strategy in a seemingly guileless package – that’s Survivor gold.

By now, Ace and Sugar must be aware that Fang has sniffed that idol out, and are in a position to manipulate the next vote that Fang faces. It will be as interesting to see if Crystal and company can recover from their strategic loss, and what Machiavellian ploys Sugar and Ace have incubating. Oh, look at me, I’m already assuming that Fang is going to tribal again next episode. Silly me.

Posted by:Andrew Stubinski