So it's Natalie vs. the girls for control of Erik. Both sides think they win when Erik promises to send Natalie to Exile Island if he wins the reward and she promises him the same if she does. Then Amanda manages to convince him to send Parvati to Exile if he wins and take her with him on the reward, and even though Erik claims to be mad at her for ripping into him during tribal council, that's what he does when he wins the challenge, a Survivor knowledge quiz. Erik and Amanda go off for some food, massages, and a real bed while Parvati lies around Exile and we don't see if she gets the idol or not. Natalie and Cirie return to camp, where Cirie screws with Natalie's head for the fun of it. Then Erik and Amanda return looking well-rested and refreshed, and Natalie is clearly pissed at Erik and he starts worrying about jury votes. Then he talks to Cirie about voting out either Amanda or Natalie at tribal, since Parvati will most likely have the idol and Natalie and Amanda are big jury threats. Natalie's standing right behind him and hears the whole thing, and then all the girls (sans Parvati) talk and realize that Erik's been promising them all the same thing, and they inform him that they can no longer trust him. Parvati returns for the immunity challenge, which is easily won by Erik, and it seems inevitable that Natalie will be going home tonight. Pretty normal, average show so far, right? But then Cirie jokingly suggests that Natalie get Erik to give her his necklace, and she says that's the stupidest thing she's ever heard in her life, but it's not like she has any other choice. So she talks to Erik and tells him that giving her immunity would show her and Cirie that they could trust him and then they'd all vote for Amanda. Erik's only concern is that Parvati will give the idol to Amanda, so he wants them to vote for Parvati. And here's where you start to think that Erik might just be stupid enough to go for this insane scheme, but then you shake your head and say, "nah! No one's that dumb!" The tribe reports to tribal council, where the girls lay it on thick that Erik has no chance to get jury votes now that he's screwed them over and the only way he can redeem himself is through actions and not words. And with that, he gives the immunity necklace to Natalie. That's right. HE GAVE THE IMMUNITY NECKLACE AWAY. Erik, who won the Survivor trivia quiz so you know he's watched several seasons of this show, GAVE THE IMMUNITY NECKLACE, HIS GUARANTEE TO GO TO THE FINAL FOUR, AWAY. It is a moment so epically and profoundly stupid that the jury breaks its silence and laughs out loud. Eliza's facial expressions went mad. The players remaining in the game can't believe it, and openly smile, laugh, and whisper to each other. Natalie tentatively touches the necklace around her neck as if not sure it's even there. Even Probst seems thrown. No doubt, the crew is behind the cameras staring at each other and trying to keep from laughing. We go to the vote, and Erik crosses his fingers and votes for Parvati, WHO MOST LIKELY HAS THE IMMUNITY IDOL AND THIS IS HER LAST CHANCE TO USE IT. DOUBLE MORON! And then, in an unprecedented (as far as the episodes I've seen, anyway) move, we see every single person's vote, because the comments these women make are just too priceless to cut. I think my favorite was Amanda, who just said "you know … " and then couldn't find any more words. In the end, Parvati does not play the idol, so either she didn't find it on Exile or she just knew there was no need to use it once Erik gave the necklace away. Probst reads the votes and sends Erik home, leaving four ladies with huge grins on their faces and an especially joyful James, who cheers that he is no longer the stupidest Survivor ever. Probst calls this a "life lesson," although if that's a lesson you need for your life I'm not sure how much longer you're going to be living it. Putting pants on in the morning has to be quite the brainteaser.
I don't mind admitting that I felt the pressure writing this recap. I mean, not only does it have to be done two days early in order for me to concentrate on the THREE HOUR finale that airs just three days after this episode (Three hours? Really? Cirie had better get some significant camera time for this to be worth it), but I don't think I've ever recapped television history before. And the last 15 or so minutes of this episode are exactly that. Maybe not one of those landmark TV moments our country can be proud of, like the debut of I Love Lucy or the moon landing or that episode of Walker, Texas Ranger when Walker told Haley Joel Osment that he had AIDS, but still: television history. Here goes!
The Final Five arrive back at Dabu, and Amanda is quick to tell everyone that she never lied when she told them she didn't have the immunity idol, as she didn't have it until right before tribal council. Why does she think that matters? Does she think Natalie's going to give her a jury vote now just because Amanda never lied? Amanda screwed Natalie over by getting rid of Alexis; the fact that she was honest about it doesn't mean Natalie's going to automatically be cool with it. Also Amanda rubbed it in everyone's faces when she strutted her way over to Probst with that idol. Cirie tells us that tribal council is getting dangerous, full of floating immunity idols that do and do not get used. And here I was thinking that tribal council was always dangerous. Maybe it isn't if you're Cirie and capable of controlling other people's minds. Cirie congratulates Amanda's skillful negotiating, saying she was "at the brink" of voting for Alexis and forcing a tie. And now because of that, Amanda thinks she can trust Cirie and their alliance is sound. Um, yeah ... as long as there is an odd number of players. The minute there's the possibility of a tie, Cirie is voting your ass out because while she can control minds, she cannot control rocks.
Day 34 arrives, and Erik and Natalie discuss how screwed they are. Erik's hoping that Parvati and Cirie will turn against Amanda when they realize that she'd win the hell out of any jury vote. It seems obvious to him that Amanda needs to go, and he wants her gone. He tells us that Amanda made him "feel like a fool" at tribal council, as if he didn't feel like a fool in all those other tribal councils when the person he was so sure was going that night, didn't. Also, if he thinks he looked like a fool in the last tribal council, well, there's another one coming up that's going to change the definition of that word to a picture of Erik's face. Erik really wants the immunity idol now, since next tribal council is the last chance to use it. He and Natalie decide that, come reward challenge, whoever wins will send the other one to Exile Island; Erik says he doesn't want to go there, but he knows it's necessary. They seem to have a deal worked out, but then Erik tells us that he's thinking of going along with Natalie, but "nothing's set in stone."