Survivor
Going For The Oscar

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And now, Denise's husband. He kind of looks like you'd expect a lunch lady's husband to look like, and I don't mean that negatively at all. My favorite part is that the first words out of her mouth after they kiss hello are, "Can I have your socks?" Hee. And: aw. He tells her she can have them, and as they separate, she holds his shirt front in her fist, which is another one of those gestures, like Jonathan had with Stacy, that just has the feel of genuine, real, years-long partnership and affection.

Jeff explains to the loved ones about the challenge, and Courtney's very English dad looks a bit stricken that he is to be participating in something. "I'm sorry, Dad, I didn't know!" she says with a big cringe. I have a funny feeling Courtney had to talk her dad into all this in the first place, and now she's like, "Um." The reward for winning is a boat trip and a big meal, as well as a phone call from home (let's plug Sprint! Spriiiiiiiint! SPRIIIIIINT IS GOOOOD!) (even Jeff Probst looks like he hates himself as he says that Sprint is "also known for speed and communication," which is what he said the challenge would test), so you get even more of your loved ones than just the one who's visiting.

So, time to get started. Wait, someone has blindfolded the camera! Oh, that was just an effect. Whew. Anyway, as soon as the blindfolded folks all get going, it becomes clear that the only way to find your way to your partner is to call out to him or her. With voices very hard to hear, Amanda comes up with an idea that will draw ridicule but is actually pretty smart, which is that she and her sister do goofy birdcall noises at each other. It's very easy to make fun of, but I can completely understand the thinking, which is that you'll be able to pick that person out more easily. I do think Amanda chooses a slightly less dumb-sounding noise -- "brrrrrrrr!" -- than her sister, who goes with "p-cow! p-cow!" Amanda's sister's one moment of fame: yelling "p-cow! p-cow!" on television. Unfortunately for them and other strategizers, however, I think a lot of this turns out to be luck, in that you kind of blunder around in the maze, and either you pick the right directions to walk and you approach the center, or you don't.

The first ones to meet in the middle are Denise and her husband. Amanda and her sister get very close to each other using the birdcall method, but they've got a couple of barriers between them. Peih-Gee and her dad find each other. Courtney's in the middle, but she can't find Dad. "Courtney, still lookin' for her father!" Jeff calls out. "Oh, stop it, Probst," says Courtney. He smiles, but it's interesting, because much like Jonathan, I don't think Courtney sees Jeff Probst as a real authority figure. But in the end, Denise is the first to get her husband through the maze, and they step up on the platform victorious. Bet you didn't see that one coming. Everybody takes blindfolds off. Jeff hands Denise her Sprint phone. Denise now is confronted with probably the hardest decision of its kind all season, because she has to pick two people who get to come with her and bring their family members. Peih-Gee looks at her kind of pleadingly, because you'll recall that Peih-Gee just took Denise on an incredibly awesome reward last week. Denise's first choice is Todd, whom I think she undoubtedly felt obligated to take because of the bad family news, and she's probably not wrong. She says that the second choice is very hard, but she takes Amanda. Again, here's Denise, doing the most conservative, stand-pattiest thing she can do to assure her position as the person who will make it to F4 and be eliminated.

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Survivor

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