With the number of players being whittled down, we saw the split of the single-challenge format this week. Survivor: Kaoh Rong opened with a reward challenge to get a set of kitchen tools and spices. It broke Scot Pollard's Brawn tribe.
The challenge was grueling for this early in the game. The tribe needed to navigate a series of obstacles, dig up three bags of balls and use them to play skee ball and hit eight different targets. It sounds simple enough, but the digging almost broke all three tribes and it shattered Brawn. Despite jumping out to an early lead, Pollard's tribe failed immensely when it came time to dig. Finding two bags early, they spent almost a full hour trying to find final sack in the sand. They started to bicker.
We've established that Pollard's tribe might be one of the worst of all time, but let's put this challenge in perspective: They jumped out to a huge lead, dominated the other two tribes by finding two bags in minutes, then spent an hour searching for the last bag and getting beaten by the other two tribes. They can't even dig right.
There have been players in the past who struggled with heat or exhaustion. At times you wonder how legit their concerns really are, and how much is drama. This time things were different. Shortly after finishing the challenge, Debbie had to be tended to, then Caleb collapsed, before long Cydney went down retching. The beach turned into a triage unit with the entire crew rushing to assist the medical team in cooling down multiple people in trouble. It broke the fourth wall in a way Survivor rarely does.
Debbie and Cydney managed to recover, but Caleb was doing poorly. He passed out after an oxygen mask was placed on his face and had to be pulled from the island by helicopter. It was a surreal turn of events.
The Tai minute
While we continue to monitor Scot Pollard's progress on the island we also need to pay attention to Tai. The best 'Survivor' contestant of all time.
We've had a lot of fun with Tai in the past, but this is a somber Tai Minute. Since day one he's formed an unlikely bond with Caleb on the beauty tribe and their friendship has been one of the coolest things to see form. Tai gets upset when animals are hurt. He pleaded with his tribe not to kill wasps. It was only natural that Tai was heartbroken when Caleb got pulled from Survivor.
Beauty is quickly becoming my favorite tribe. They legitimately seem to care about each other. Most tribes would be amped to see one of its strongest players leave, but they were all crushed to see him pulled from the game.
Back in Scot's world ...
Pollard has been a really good Survivor competitor so far, but during he challenge he was a total dick to Alecia. It's been well established that nobody on Brawn likes Alecia, but midway through the challenge Scot was taking a breather and Alecia asked him to help dig. His response was, "Keep being a cheerleader, it's all you're good at." It was totally unfair, and she rightfully called Scot out on it back at camp, then tried to compare the situation to an NBA game. Scot was not impressed with this analogy.
Scot claims he meant it sincerely and that the phrase wasn't meant to put Alecia down, but that's a preeeeetty hard pill to swallow.
The immunity challenge involved the tribes retrieving nine pieces of a rope puzzle that looks like a snake and assembling it. Puzzles are not what Brawn does well. They managed to do well in the physical portions, but Cydney and Alecia struggled with the puzzle. It resulted in Alecia standing around asking if Scot or Jason wanted to try instead of solving it.
This was a nine-piece puzzle. It shouldn't have been this difficult.
Brawn has been telling Alecia she was the next to go for a week. This was not a difficult vote. Scot had jokes.
After the vote we learned during next week's preview that the tribes would be shaken up. It could the the merge, or a simple reshuffle. Brawn is down to three members, so we now wait to see how Scot can dig his way out of this one. Hopefully better than Brawn did with its balls.