Welcome back for another week from the wilds of Africa. I hope all of you tuned in for the vice presidential debate before the Survivor: Gabon this evening. Setting aside other concerns to see who is going to be voted out of Africa for an evening is fun, even important, but the other vote that was discussed tonight is vital. My apologies for getting serious, but the economy’s pissing me off.

Quote “Team of Idiots” unquote. Fang is busy passing out congratulations after voting out another of their weakest mates. If they don’t buck up, there will be a lot of reasons to congratulate forthcoming. Whether you like the lack of tribal balance in Survivor or hate it, it’s pretty clear that one tribe is dominating at the outset.

You can’t strip me from this pole. Rice is running low at Fang, and Randy steps forward with the idea of rationing. GC bristles under his suggestion, and accuses Randy of trying to pick up the reins of leadership. It’s pretty sad when someone with as many rough edges as Randy is the unifying force on that tribe. I’d slow your roll, GC, or you’ll be rolling your way out of there.

Kota, with few other concerns to occupy themselves, set to firming up their alliances. Ace is the dividing factor here, but unfortunately for him, Sugar is the only one falling firmly on his side of the divide.

At the challenge, the tribes must drag members of the opposite tribe off of a post and across a boundary line. First to two wins comfort items. Ace and Dan take their positions on the posts and Ace hangs on while Dan is dragged out. GC, in addition to being a malcontent, cadillacs his way through the challenge. Paloma is quickly dragged off by Crystal and Randy. Ace and Dan take the pole positions once again, after a very close battle, Fang’s muscle proves to be the deciding factor as they win their first challenge and reward. Sugar is chosen to go to Exile Island, and Fang takes home blankets, pillows and mats.

What a difference a win/loss makes. Fang celebrates their first win back at camp, and they look like a whole different tribe. Kota starts out reassuring themselves, but they quickly find a pint-sized scapegoat for the loss in Paloma. Friction between Paloma and Ace is fast developing, and they are the early favorites for elimination should Kota go to tribal.

At Exile, Sugar wisely chooses clue over comfort, and searches for the idol. After stumbling through the jungle and channeling Kate Capshaw’s reaction to the bugs in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, she finds the sandy crater of lore. Sugar makes short work of finding the next clue in the crater, and quickly finds her way to the third one hidden in a tree. Her success emboldens her and gives her confidence, and leads her to what proves to be the final clue. Sugar’s near-constant babbling gives me Jessicakiper_survivorgabonearthsl_2
the feeling that Sugar is the kind of person that talks to themselves quite a bit, but she manages to do it in a way that’s not annoying.  Yet.

After fording a swamp, she finds the valuable idol.  She credits both herself and her father for her significant discovery. Should Kota go to tribal this episode, the idol and her allegiance to Ace may well provide a significant swing after the sun goes down.

The tide turns. Back at Kota, Ace is working on Bob and hunting down Paloma. Bob’s not convinced, and believes that Sugar should be on the block. Corinne extends Bob an invite into her alliance with Charlie, Marcus and Jackie.

Tree mail heralds the onset of this week’s immunity challenge and the tribes meet on an open field for battle. Players must launch themselves down a slip and slide and into a pond to recover tiles that can be assembled to form a math puzzle (you ready Bob?) The puzzle’s solution will provide the combination to a chest which holds a hatchet which can be used to chop a rope and raise a flag in victory. Crystal provides an early lead for Fang, but it quickly evaporates. Surprisingly, the physics teacher is unable to work out the solution to the math problem, and Ken overcomes Kota’s lead to win the challenge for his tribe. Alright, I understand the physics and mathematics aren’t the same subject, but come on.  I mean, ya know? Honestly, people…

Jeff, meet the Kota tribe.
Sugar is bubbling over with pride, and confides her discovery of the idol with Ace. He is smelling Paloma’s departure already, and she starts scrambling to keep herself alive, working on Corinne. Corinne appears to be the correct person to be talking to, as she has little love for Ace, going so far as to doubt his accent is genuine. She communicates her mistrust to her alliance. Charlie is doubtful at first, but seems to favor getting rid of the threat of Ace. And what’s this from Corinne? She "hates so many people on this damn tribe," she says? So much for the hunky-dory Kota lifestyle…

At tribal, Sugar gets choked up thinking about her dad again. I don’t actually doubt the veracity of her feelings, but people might start thinking she’s angling for a pity vote. She needs to be careful. Paloma and Kelly take shots at Ace, Paloma jumping hard on him with both feet while Ace remains fairly coy. Is Palomasotocastillo_survivorgabone_2
it me, or is Corinne right? Does Ace seem to lose his accent at times? If he is faking it, why? No doubt we’ll find out one way or another soon enough.

No immunity idol is played, and Jeff reads the votes. Ace and Paloma rack up the votes, but Paloma comes out with the short end of the stick, and her torch is snuffed. It seems that the Corinne-Charlie-Marcus-Jackie alliance is content to suffer the threat of Ace for now.

So much for Kota’s dominance! As we’ve seen before, a strong tribe takes a loss and starts to fracture along the lines of its alliances. The field is open a lot wider than it was at this time last week. Will next week bring a new period of dominance from Fang, or can Kota rally to take back the ground they’ve lost? See you in six days and 23 hours to find out!!

Posted by:Andrew Stubinski