Blair, Blair, Blair, Blair, Blair, Blair, Blair. You are doing it all wrong. Yes, you might have cleaned house on Facts of Life all those years ago, but if you stumble toward the end of Survivor it will be the biggest accident of the game since Michael Skupin fell into a fire and burned his hands off. You've lasted this long mostly because your team has yet to lose a challenge and didn't have to send anyone home (Probst says this is the first time this has ever happened and I believe him). But, man, your game sucks. You found a hidden immunity idol, but you can't even keep it.
After the tribes merge (we all knew that was happening from last week's promo, right?), my girl Blair decided, for some strange Christian reason that neither God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit knows, to hang everyone's clothes up to dry on some sort of makeshift clothes line that looked more like the bondage rig in the basement of a gay leather bar than, you know, something you would actually hang clothes on. So, Blair is all going through super hunk Malcolm's bag, looking for his energy (sorry, Blair, but we all know that Malcolm keeps his big ball of energy in his shorts) but she finds something else. No, she did not find that she is in love with Malcolm and can think of nothing but him and his stringy blond hair, perfectly formed torso, lightly hairy nipples, and rippling juicy arms that will one day hopefully wrap around my body and hold me, hold me still through the long, cool night, as he professes his love and lightly nibbles on my ear. No, that is what I found in my fantasies. She finds his hidden immunity idol.
This really has no bearing on the game, other than that Malcolm and Denise see that she found it, and now Malcolm either has to confront her about it or worry that she's going to tell the group, a group that he has fit himself into seamlessly, considering every human who has ever laid eyes on him (including everyone on Team Lesbian) wants to possess him romantically. So, yeah, Malcolm doesn't want the status quo messed up. He leads Blair down the primrose path and before he can even say anything, she says, "I didn't mean to find it," with a disarming smile. OK, maybe Blair is playing this game right, because that was the perfect way to play it. She comes off as honest, because she knows he knows she knows, so why try to pretend she doesn't, and as disarming because it's not like she was looking for it, she just stumbled upon it in his bag the same way your mother stumbled upon the pornography under your bed while dusting one fine afternoon while you were in high school. Malcolm says, "Hallelujah, the church lady found it," thinking she'll have a conscience about it.
So, now Malcolm has to let Blair into his alliance with him and Denise, but Blair is all like, "Well, he had to say that," just like when you told your mom that the porn wasn't yours, that it was your friend Johnny's and you were just holding it and you didn't even look at it, you don't even like that stuff. No, no, that didn't mean you were gay and didn't like it, just, you know, you're waiting for the right girl. Blair has been through this song and dance before and knows. So she's going to keep Malcolm's secret, but at least she's smart enough not to fall into the alliance head first.
Speaking of secrets, Penner is keeping Blair's secret about being on the Facts of Life, the Facts of Life (it's so hard to say it just once). He, of course, recognizes her right away and they both laugh that everyone else there is too young to recognize her. Blair, in one of those unscripted moments where the pathos of real life transcends reality TV says, "But it has been nice making friendships where people just like me for me." My little heart almost broke. Remember how hard she had it making friends when she first got there? She's probably used to her fame doing a lot of the work, now she has to rely on, you know, personality and hard work and sense of humor and all those other plebeian morals, and she loved it. She had finally shunned the spotlight and is no longer a faded teen star, but just some old lady they keep around until it's time to vote her off. If only for that, I'm glad that everyone isn't telling the kids that there is a bona fide sitcom star in their mist. Penner respects it too and keeps her secret.
So, yes, everyone is merged and even before the challenge there is a lot of scheming going on. Skupin and RC (which is a cola, not a real person) know that they're on the outs with their tribe and try to realign with Penner and the rest of Team Lesbian, and that would make them six strong and they would run the game. Skupin is really keen on staying in the game. He announces to everyone, "We're on day 17, the day I fell into the fire. From here on, I'm a new man, I made it this time," and he flexed his arm as if to show that he was the picture of health, but there was a giant scar running up his arm. On his shoulder, there is a giant lesion that looks something like a rug burn, but can't possibly be, unless you can get a rug burn from a tarp. On his face, there are multiple scabs and abrasions. On his left forearm there is something that looks sort of like a slug, but is probably just an infected cut. He also has a case of dropsy and ringworm on his left butt cheek, but you couldn't see those. Yes, Skupin made it this far, but he looks like a jalopy that just survived a Demolition Derby. This man is just not safe.
As good as Skupin and Penner's plan is, Jeff, the baseball playing genius, has another idea. Why don't he, Carter, and Denise get with Team Blair, minus RC and Skupin and start over? That sounds kinds of stupid, but whatever. It's especially stupid because you only want an alliance that is big enough by one to give you the majority. Otherwise you have too far to go once only the alliance is left. It's better to be at the bottom of six than at the bottom of eight, because you're two people closer to a win. Anyway, Jeff talks to the guys from Team Blair and they are intent on getting out either Penner or RC, because Jeff tells them Penner has the idol. Now all they have to do is keep them from winning immunity. Usually on Survivor that means they will both surely win if it was mentioned, but that is not the case (spoiler alert).
OK, everyone goes to the challenge and it's a new one but a good one. There is a bucked suspended from the ground with a quarter of everyone's body weight in the bucket, survivors have to keep it in the air using a crank. The last man and last woman to keep it in the air win immunity. Challenge, challenge, challenge; boring, boring, boring, Denise and Carter both win immunity. The lesbians finally get their revenge!
Back at camp, Jeff and Carter figure out that they are the swing votes, they can either go with Skupin, RC, and Penner or they can defect to Team Blair. Jeff asks Carter what to do. "I don't know," he says. OK, I'm starting to worry about Carter. He has the intellect of a four-legged starfish. He looks like a literal mouth breather. I don't know if this is how he always is or if the environment is getting to him, but he seems incapable of doing any sort of thinking or decision making on his own. He did win a challenge though, so good for him. Anyway, the two of them are the crux of the decision-making. As Penner tells them and Jeff confirms, it's smart to stick with Penner because they have some history with him and he might taken them further than another group that only has their self-interest at heart. But Jeff has an irrational fear that Penner is going to beat him in the game. What is that about? Is it because he was on the same tribe with him and doesn't want to kick himself for not getting him out? Is it because he played again? Is it because Jeff thinks he's a better person and player than Penner and needs to prove it? And if Penner was such a threat, why did he chicken out on evicting him last week when he could have blindsided him and kept Katie, who would have been loyal to him to the end?
They get to tribal council and Jeff and Carter and Co. decide to side with Team Blair. They split the vote four between Pennner, four for RC and Penner and RC vote for Pete. Penner plays his idol, so RC goes home. The most shocking thing is that Skupin goes back on his own idea and votes for Penner, to try to stay with Team Blair just a little bit longer. As RC pointed out, Team Blair is not a happy family. There are a million fissures and fractions, and as Skupin pointed out Abi, Pete, and Artis all seem too crazy/scheming/hot headed to keep it together forever (Abi's grudge against RC was so inexplicable, exhausting, and extreme that she is like a Real Housewife of the Philippines). And Penner is in the game without anyone. Next week should be a good one, guys. This is how you play Survivor, Blair. Time to get in the game.
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[Photo Credit: CBS]