When the Council returns, Greg announces, "We decided to take the ponies." The reaction is one of quiet shock, three seconds from open rebellion. "...and throw them out the window, 'cause you guys got the letters," Greg finishes. Everyone has a joyous freakout, and runs up one by one to get their letters from the Council. Taylor is jumping up and down on the spot, starting to look nervous and excited instead of just excited. Greg says that he has one more letter, and asks who didn't get one. Shot of Taylor, looking too tense and drawn even to bother with the crocodile tears she'd normally bust out in this situation. Jonathan calls Taylor up, and they make her look at them all hangdog for a long moment until Michael extracts a promise from her that she'll "continue to work up to that reputation that [she] recently set for [herself]." Taylor says that she will, and gets her letter. They all hug her, and Greg gives her encouragements as she rejoins the group. He interviews that once they found out what the reward was, threat or no, withholding a letter from home from a ten-year-old girl is more hardcore than they care to go. And I'm no Taylor fan, but I have to agree. That is not a meltdown I would want to see.
The Showdown must have been late in the day, because at full dark, everyone's tucked into their bunkhouses with their letters, still wearing their showdown clothes -- and the pie that covers them, as well as their hair and faces. Taylor interviews that Randi's going to regret leaving, and that she herself has decided to stay. Again. Laurel's letter from home makes a big deal about how surprising it is that her brother misses her. Olivia and Zach are both tearful, and Zach shares an excerpt from his dad: "It's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get up." Hunter shows us a primitive drawing and caption from his little brother, which reminds me of a story. It looks a lot like the childish, crayon-drawn picture-letters that my wife used to send to her brother when he was in the army. And I would help her draw them, because we were married by then. They were to her younger brother, you see. He'd have to open them in front of the whole platoon, and his CO was like, "Are they retarded?" Finally my brother-in-law called and asked us to stop sending them. Supporting the troops is hard sometimes. Speaking of which, Greg is the only one who seems to have gotten actual news from home; a cousin got shipped out to Iraq, and he won't be seeing him for a while. He calls it "disappointing," and tells the camera, "If you're watching this, Neil, I love you." Aw. What? I'm not made of stone.