Could it be? Could it really be? And would Phillip stamp his foot like Rumpelstiltskin? "The devil has told you that! The devil has told you that," cried the little man, and in his anger he plunged his right foot so deep into the earth that his whole leg went in, and then in rage he pulled at his left leg so hard with both hands that he tore himself in two.” (Brothers Grimm)

But I’m getting ahead of myself ….

Last time on, Survivor: Dawn still couldn’t stop crying at every twist and turn of the game. Andrea played both sides against the middle, with her flirtation with fireman Eddie. Phillip’s insanity began to wear on everyone; he’s the man with the plan, it’s just such a silly, childish plan. Brenda’s immunity win didn’t improve her on-camera face time, and Malcolm seemed to be trying to decide if he’d leave the game as a hero or a villain. Malcolm convinced Reynold to give him his immunity idol, and Michael was voted off the island.

As the survivors straggled back to their beach, the division was clear; no one was going to pretend that Malcolm was still part of Phillip’s Favorite’s camp. Phillip called an emergency pow-wow of his remaining cohorts, pointedly leaving Malcolm, Eddie and Reynold behind. Malcolm finally clued in that weepy Dawn was a double agent who’d stabbed him in the back.

Meanwhile Andrea was in a panic, and determined that Malcolm had to be next to go. Cochran stood on the sidelines, listening and rolling his eyes, but not convinced that “Stealth R Us” had the plans or the goods.

Day 26, another bright, sunny day in Enil Edam, the anti-Paradise. As Cochran and Phillip discuss Dawn’s inadequacies (terrible at challenges, mentally unstable,) they hear Dawn yelling for Brenda from the well. Dawn’s having a melt down because she’s dropped her bottom teeth bridge into the water, and she can’t go on without it. Nor does she want anyone else to know about the teeth. Who you gonna call? Super Brenda, who runs toward her like a Baywatch lifeguard!

Dawn cries that she will pull herself from the game rather than go to the Challenge without her teeth. (The superficial and fully toothed amongst you may think that a tad dramatic, but it’s an understandable feeling for any woman, especially a woman who’s being filmed constantly for the show.) Brenda dives right in, and retrieves the bridge quickly. Crisis averted!

Brenda interviews (finally!) that her heart went out to Dawn, and that she knows that they’ll never turn their backs on each other. I think there was both kindness and strategy in Brenda’s actions, but Brenda’s immediate offer of help tilts the scales towards kindness for me.

On to the Reward Challenge! Jeff welcomes our motley crew, and outlines the challenge. They will be divided into two teams of five. One at a time, one person from each team will race through a series of obstacles, into a muddy pit, where they will search for a bag of balls, and then crawl through a bed of rice, under a bar, and then drop the bag on a table. Once a team has all five bags, they can begin throwing the balls into a basket. First team to get all 12 balls into their basket wins reward.

And it’s a good reward! The winning team will be taken to a luxury resort with a beautiful pool, where they will dine on a sumptuous lunch. This will be a nice break from the game, and the winning team will have the advantage of having eaten well, and being rested. Survivors ready?

Team Purple has Reynold, Dawn, Erik, Cochran, and Phillip. Team Orange has Malcolm, Sherri, Andrea, Brenda and Eddie. And they begin. Malcolm leads off and … hey, he’s going to try and dig out all of the muddy bags of balls out all by himself! Just like the last time he was on Survivor, a few months back, when they played this exact same challenge and Penner opted to be the first into the mud and stay there until he had all five bags for his team. They won that time …

But not this time. Malcolm takes too long in his mud bath, and Purple Team romps to victory while Orange’s Sherri is still negotiating the balance beam. Erik’s strategy was to prepare the rice bed so that the rest of his team could zip through, and he had Reynold, always a shoe-in at any game involving tossing, on his side. How could they lose?

So Reynold, Dawn, Erik, Cochran, and Phillip head off to their luxurious retreat and meal, still covered in mud and rice. Cochran describes the wonderful buffet spread before them, focusing on the protein available, and joking that he’ll stoke up so that he can continue to be the “challenge monster” he’s proven himself to be (Gotta love Cochran!).