Previously on, Survivor: The tribes were shuffled, but the Favorites still outnumbered the Fans. Gota wound up the weaker tribe, with most of the younger, fitter players now on Bikal. Gota romped all over Bikal at the Immunity Challenge, and at Tribal Council, Matt was voted out of the tribe.
Michael was devastated that his ally was gone, but decided he’d make himself indispensible to his new tribe. Corinne was already on his side, and determined that she’d be his protector. Phillip was very suspicious of the closeness between Michael and Corinne. He told Cochran that he wanted Corinne gone as soon as possible – certainly before the Merge. He doesn’t trust Corinne and her new ‘gay friend.’
Day 17’s treemail invited the teams to a Reward Challenge where the “strong will carry the weak.” Cochran jokes that there are so many weak people on Bikal that they should easily win if weakness is an advantage. Phillip assures his tribe that his upper body strength is awesome, so they needn’t worry. He gives Cochran a quick arm wrestling lesson to prove his prowess.
“My asset is my will of a lion, and the determination of a gorilla. I may be old but I still have game.” Oh really, Phillip?
At the Challenge, Jeff Probst explains that they’ll each be wearing a belt, which is clipped to a rope that binds the whole tribe together. They will also each be carrying a 20 pound sandbag. They will race against each other over an oval course outlined in the water. If tired, a player can give his/her weight to someone else. First tribe to catch the other wins a trip to an Island coffee bar, for cookies, croissants, and brownies. Brenda will sit out this challenge, but act as a most enthusiastic cheerleader. Survivors ready?
Phillip assures his team that his superior strength and speed make him the best person to lead their race. Probst finds it interesting that Bikal’s oldest player is in lead position. Erik leads Gota. Both teams plod through the race, occasionally breaking into a sprint. Phillip’s clearly tired before anyone on either team, and Dawn soon opts out of the challenge, passing her bag of sand to Corinne. Gota keeps coming on strong, as Bikal plods along. When Phillip falls into the water, Gota surges forward and wins!
Gota is thrilled, especially those players for whom this is their first reward. Andrea’s happy to share good times with the Fans, her strategy being that they’ll vote for her in the end, despite being voted out earlier in the game. Reynold luxuriates in the food, drink and experience, feeling that the reward will solidify the bonds within the tribe. Erik actually falls asleep, with a smile on his face, and a cookie still in his hand. And Malcolm couldn’t be happier to be in this new, improved tribe.
But Malcolm also knows that he’s got a target on his back, as one of the Faves. He’s keeping a smile on, but getting ready to take control of the game.
Back at bitter Bikal, Phillip’s full of excuses for Gota’s victory; they had better legs, and they had youth. And he’s confused as to whether or not they just did a Reward or Immunity Challenge. Dawn’s claiming to be happy to have lost the sugary sweet reward. “They’re gonna get sick. It’s not a big deal. That’s a diarrhea fest.” Corinne seethes, blaming Phillip entirely for their loss. “You tubby lunchbox! I’ve yet to see an ab on you… he’s 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound sack.”