And then there were two …
In the red corner, you have the shrewd former-Kota photographer fancying himself a master manipulator. In the yellow corner, you have the earnest former-Fang attorney needy for an alliance. But in a twist-laden immunity challenge, both Ace Gordon, 27, and Dan Kay, 32, found themselves on the outs in a double-elimination episode of Survivor: Gabon. Here’s how both guys made their exit:
Pre-Reward Chatter: The Fang tribe learns if really can cry over split rice … as supplies dwindle, Crystal accidentally bumps into the rice chest, reducing the team’s rations by two days. Crystal says she sees it in Ace’s and Matty’s faces that they are disappointed and later says she doesn’t want to eat because she doesn’t want to take away from their portion of food. Ace and Matty want Crystal to eat in order to get ready for challenges but she refuses. Kenny complains that everyone is acting in their own interests and it’s clear that it’s Ace and Matty against Crystal and he doesn’t like that. Meanwhile, Ace says, “Crystal did me a favor. She will be the next lamb to the slaughter.” At Kota, Dan declared that he is a really sensitive person and he doesn’t like being left out. He revealed this to Charlie, Corinne and Marcus, the ‘Onion Alliance’ (remember that from earlier in the season? Does Marcus even call his alliance that any more?) Corinne psychoanalyzes Dan as perhaps a bullied child still needing approval; Marcus says, “There’s nothing I can do to save him from himself.”
Reward Challenge: In a game of Keep Away, three members of a tribe pass a fragile ball to one another while an opposing tribe member tries to swat the ball down or force it to the ground. The first team to successfully smash the other team’s ball three times is the winner, getting a helicopter ride to a scenic picnic replete with bread, cheeses, meats, and various small goods. Corinne and Charlie sit out the challenge for Kota.
Randy sets the tone in the first round when he aggressively goes after Fang and scares Kenny into throwing the ball at an unprepared-for-the-catch Crystal. In the second round, Fang is doing a good job at keeping the ball away from Bob, but Sugar, the swatter at the other ring, is doing nothing to intimidate Kota whatsoever. Eventually, Bob is successful and gives Kota its second point. Finally, Sugar goofs again in the third round when she drops the ball and Kota wins the reward and proceeds with the standard ‘send Sugar to Exile’ ploy. Jeff Probst makes a big deal that no one has been sent to Exile five times in a row.
Living on the Edge: On the reward trip, Bob loves his front-row seat in the helicopter, looking out at the varying terrain of Gabon. When they come over a rock crater, he declares the sight has made his trip to Africa. The Kota tribe happily settles and enjoys their picnic with Randy gloating at the misery of his old Fang tribe. They are surprised yet again when a stranger comes along to pass on parcels to the tribe. (It would have been great if they’d all yell out, ‘TYRA MAILLL!’) Kota receives letters from home and Bob gets really emotional. Randy watches while the rest of Kota reads and cries. No letters for the Randmeister? Over at Fang, Matty asks Ace to go on a boat ride with him and proceeds to vent his frustration with Sugar. Ace argues against voting her out. Crystal and Kenny see the two talking and Crystal tells Kenny she knows they are talking about taking her out of the game. At Exile, Sugar carves her time in Gabon on a ledge of the ‘Sugar Shack’ and continues to eat.
Double the Risk, Double the Reward: Jeff tells both tribes that they are going to tribal council tonight but that each tribe will have a shot of winning individual immunity, too. The challenge? Ah, the logroll! In the first round, Ace, Charlie, Marcus, Randy, Sugar and Bob advance, with Bob revealing that he was a college logrolling champion. Yet that pedigree doesn’t help Bob in the second round, where Sugar edges him out. In the final round, Sugar, Ace and Marcus are on the log at the same time, and in an exciting competition, Marcus stays on long enough to claim individual immunity at Kota’s tribal council. For a last twist, Jeff gives Marcus the ability to bestow individual immunity on a Fang person. Marcus chooses to give it to Sugar. His logic? He’s hoping she keeps the immunity idol she may already have for later and takes this chance to knock out what he considers Fang’s power players … Ace, Matty or Crystal. (But not Kenny? Hmm.)
Tribal Council No. 1: Fang: Kenny is trying to sway Sugar into voting “her snake” Ace out of the game. Crystal is realistic about Sugar and says she will believe it only when she sees Ace’s name on her ballot. After Ace asks Sugar to hand back the idol, Sugar plays it coy with him. In an interview, Sugar says, “Ace definitely knows how to finagle .” Finally at tribal council, the whole rice-spilling incident is replayed for Jeff’s edification. Sugar’s eyes go wide and she shrugs, saying her team is holding “stupid petty things against each other.” With Sugar holding on to her Marcus-bestowed immunity, and with her own individual immunity in her possession and not Ace’s, Sugar provides the swing vote and in the end, Fang blindsides Ace. “Thanks, Sugar,” Ace says upon leaving. Jeff adds, “twenty-one days in, Fang is finally starting to play this game.”
Tribal Council No. 2: Kota: Like Dan, Randy is positioning himself with the Onion Alliance but seems to be far more convincing. They alliance thinks either Dan or Susie would be easy picks. Susie blunders and tells Corinne she was going to vote her out; an affronted Corinne wants to “stab her in the face” and starts to tell the group to change their vote to Susie. Cooler heads prevail and warn Corinne that for all they know, Dan has the immunity idol from his time on Exile so strategically it be good to flush out the idol first. At tribal council, Jeff tells Susie she is weak, pretty much, but she counters she has better upper-body strength than Corinne, who tries to disagree tactfully. In the end, though, strategy won over emotion and Kota picks off Dan. –Cynthia Wang
Tell us: Should Kota have kicked off Susie instead of Dan? Is Ace’s departure good or bad for the show?