Survivor: Gabon, Week 10: Operation Fake Idol II

After last episode’s hilarious/sad/unnecessary trick of making Randy think he had a real immunity idol, Bob lets the tribe know he’s irritated with how much they took gleeful pleasure in needlessly belittling Randy. Sugar tells Bob she’s really sorry, but she tells the camera that she’s not sorry at all, because Randy dug his own get-duped-by-a-fake-idol grave.

Corinne and Sugar then argue about how they treat people — Sugar had previously given Corinne advice on how it’s not nice to talk behind people’s backs, so Corinne’s point to Sugar is now “and you’re the one giving lessons to me?” Sugar accuses Corinne of acting all sweet toward people but then being secretly nasty, and Corinne says that telling people what she really thinks of them wouldn’t be a smart way to play the game. I reluctantly score one for Corinne here — if anything, Corinne should have reserved her nasty side just for one-on-ones with the camera, so only millions of people would know.

Corinne says to the camera that she is nice to people she likes, but “I am now in a camp of mutants, none of whom I like. So it’s very difficult for me to pretend to be nice to them.” See? Like that. Just show the camera that devil inside, Corinne.

Before the reward challenge, Jeff Probst gets everyone emotional by saying “31 days is a long time to be without love,” hinting that the Survivors may have visitors from home, or, I’m thinking, be given puppies. Neither humans nor happily licking puppies come sprinting out from behind the trees, but each contestant does get to watch a video message from a loved one or two. Most everyone cries as the messages are watched, and even my eyes get watery when Sugar’s sister mentions their late father. The winner of the challenge gets to enjoy the entire video message while eating pizza, beer and brownies.

The reward challenge involves two teams of three — Susie and Crystal draw rocks to become team captains, and after the picking is over, Corinne is the odd woman out, so she can’t win the challenge. I feel sorry for her for a brief moment, but then remember everything the woman has said on the show, and I feel self-righteous again.

The challenge involves the teams racing through a swamp and collecting seven sprocket-shaped puzzle pieces, which they then assemble in such a way so that the pieces interlock and move together. The members of the first team to finish advance to the final round.

Tethered together, the participants trudge through a swamp that causes people to fall, Matty’s voice to rise an octave, and a blur to appear over Sugar’s boobs. Bob and his superior sprocket-positioning wizardry leads his team to the final round, where Bob quickly solves a slide puzzle and wins more time with his video wife.

On the reward, Bob sits on a couch, sipping some beer and wiping away tears as he watches the video of his wife, Peggy. She says, “There’s something that I wanted to show you — hang on,” and while Bob’s waiting for her to reappear on the video, she sneaks up on him in person. Awwww. He jumps up, they hug and cry, and she tells the camera that Bob smelled good — like a campfire.

Bob and his wife go to the Nobag camp, where she says, “Nobag? Seriously? Who thought of that name?”

No. I wish. Instead, everyone’s all interested in hugging Peggy, until Bob summons the other Survivors’ loved ones, and everyone abandons Peggy and runs to their beloveds. Here’s who came for whom:

* Crystal: Boyfriend.
* Corinne: Brother. Corinne says it was cool to see someone who understands her and how mean she is.
* Kenny: Sister. He tells her that he took out five powerhouses, and if he makes the Final 3, he’ll win this game.
* Sugar: Sister, who brought some of their father’s ashes, which they toss into the water.
* Matty: Girlfriend. Wait, no — his fiancee, following an emotional proposal and the presentation of an engagement necklace he’d made for her.
* Susie: Husband. They don’t get a lot of face time, so Susie’s apparently safe from the vote this episode.

The immunity challenge involves answering questions about Gabon, with each correct answer earning a chance to throw a ball toward a target. Bob has three very good tosses, including the ball that lands closest to the center, and he wins immunity.

The fivesome (Matty, Crystal, Kenny, Sugar and Susie) would have preferred voting out Bob, but since he won immunity, they plan to vote for Corinne, and they discuss how to spell her name. But Bob and Corinne start hatching a plan to blindside Matty: Make two members of the fivesome believe that Marcus kept the immunity idol that was supposedly thrown in the ocean during the beach feast, and that Bob now has that idol and will give it to Corinne.

Corinne tells Kenny the story about the idol, and then brings Bob over to talk strategy. For all of Corinne’s faults, she does know how to read people — she appeals to Kenny’s delusions of brilliance by telling him, “You’re just as smart as we are; we really need your input,” as if he’s contributing to the plan. Corinne then tells the camera that Kenny’s willingness to believe her tale “just shows you the level of incompetence we’re playing with.” She’s mean, but she’s got a point.

Then Bob makes another fabulous fake idol, all decorated with beads and pieces he “collected.” Collected at a Gabonese Michaels craft store, I’m thinking.

Bob asks Crystal if she’ll join with them; she agrees and they shake on it, and it looks like Operation Fake Idol II might actually work. But Crystal and Kenny decide to have Kenny vote for Corinne and Crystal for Matty — if Corinne’s lying, she’ll get voted out, and if Corinne does have an idol, the idol gets flushed out and Matty’s gone. Win-win. Kenny and Crystal are giddy.

But Crystal is wrestling with the thought that perhaps she should vote for Matty — this might indeed be a good chance to get rid of him. She says, “The mental part of this game is kicking my ass.” Just the mental part, huh?

After the vote, Probst asks if anyone would like to play an immunity idol, and Corinne just shakes her head slightly. Kenny looks sad. Matty looks sad. He’s looked melancholy for much of the episode, actually.

But Crystal stuck with the plan and voted for Corinne, so Matty gets a reprieve. In her final words, Corinne says she hopes that everyone except for Bob and Kenny have miserable lives. But seeing as they no longer have to live with a woman who passionately hates them, I’d think their lives can only improve.