The episode begins with Stephen scratching Taj’s back, which we are probably shown for the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” symbolism. And also so we could hear Stephen say, “I’ve never brought such pleasure to a woman before.”
Stephen and Taj look for the hidden immunity idol at the tree mail statue. Taj says that the last clue said something about asking the statue, “Why the sad frown?” The presumed reply the statue would give is “Because there’s an idol stuck in my butt,” which is where Taj pulls it from. Stephen takes possession of the idol because his clothes have pockets and because folks wouldn’t suspect he had it, since he hasn’t been to Exile.
Brendan and Sierra have a chance to talk when they’re alone at camp, and Sierra scolds him for not giving her a heads-up on their super-secret awesome foursome alliance with Taj and Stephen: “Were you going to tell me? Bastard.” Sierra tells the camera “I formed an amazing alliance” (way to take credit for something that was handed to her) and, apparently not understanding that the mighty fall quickly in this game, says, “It’s really quite brilliant; we’re going to take over the world.”
At the reward challenge, a player is spun on a platform and then has to walk on a balance beam. I prefer the spinny challenges on I Survived a Japanese Game Show and Wipeout, but there’s still some amusement from their stumbling, wobbling and, in Erinn’s case, looking like a disheveled post-party disaster. Sydney, on the other hand, looks like she’d be very comfortable walking while drunk, and she wins the third and final round for Jalapao.
The winners go on a trip to the Charmin Cafe (which is what I’m going to call the bathroom at work now), where they get coffee, pastries, access to a toilet, and the surprise of letters from home.
Jalapao chooses Brendan to go to Exile, and Brendan picks Stephen to come along. Back at camp, Tyson tells Coach and Debbie that he’s nervous that Brendan’s forming a strong bond with the other tribe, and he should be the next one voted out. Coach says the breeze just shifted — he means it literally, but I like the double meaning as it pertains to Brendan’s potentially thwarted rise to power. Coach then uses his acute meteorological observations to sagely predict that an approaching storm won’t hit them. After being socked with pouring rain, Erinn says to the camera, “Coach is kind of a jackass.”
Sydney asks Spencer if he has a girlfriend, and he says he’s not attached. He tells the camera that his tribemates don’t know that he’s gay. He doesn’t like hiding it but sees nothing to gain by revealing it, especially if some players (like J.T., he’s thinking) might be more inclined to get rid of him if they knew.
The immunity challenge involves two players launching balls onto a course, and the remaining players trying to catch the balls in their nets. The first tribe to catch five balls wins. It’s an aggressive game, with people diving for the balls and trying to keep their opponents from catching them. Joe hurts his knee and J.T. loses a tooth. He tosses it aside (J.T., that is, with the tooth. Not Joe and his knee. You probably got that.) and is ready to start playing again, but Probst says, “You’re going to want that tooth.” J.T. shakes him off with “It’s only half of it,” but they still pause the game to find the tooth.
J.T. catches four balls for Jalapao, and the tribe takes a 4-2 lead. But then Tyson discovers that Spencer sucks at covering him, and he catches the next three balls for the victory. Probst gives the immunity idol to Timbira, and the remains of a tooth to J.T.
Back at camp, Taj is very upset about the loss, and she goes off on Joe when he says he trusts her. Her argument and her timing make no sense (If I had a guess: PMS. Been there, yelled that.), and the others now consider voting her out. Stephen doesn’t know what to do — allow her to get voted out and leave the idol to him, or let her know that she’s in danger. But the tribe — fiercely competitive J.T. in particular — isn’t happy with how Spencer did at the challenge, so he might be the one to go.
At Tribal Council, Spencer confesses that his performance at the challenge was pathetic. There’s some talk about Taj’s blow-up and about how she might have the immunity idol (Joe says Taj has never said she doesn’t have it, so she goes ahead and says she doesn’t), but Spencer is the one voted out.
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS © 2009 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved