Challenge beach. Casaya sees that La Mina bumped Misty. Jeff explains that, in today's challenge, one tribe member at a time will swim to a bunch of floating puzzle pieces, unhook one, and drag it inside a frame. Now, these are big, heavy things, so the dragging and moving is no small task. Once all six of your puzzle pieces are in the frame, you solve the puzzle, which requires you to arrange the pieces so that the sides match up. And what are you playing for? Well, this is the bathroom reward, so you get towels, loofah, Charmin, sink and toilet, shower, and five gallons of fresh water. I love the idea that you will have a bathroom, despite the fact that you have absolutely no food to speak of. There will be all the comforts of home, except for the part where you are too weak to stand.
Ready...go! Sally and President Beefcake swim out first. They return with their puzzle pieces, and she's a little quicker than he is at muscling it into the frame, so Dan gets to go just before Bruce. Ruth Marie and Chiclets go next, then Nick and Shane, and we're pretty much tied at this point. Then Austin and Courtney, and Austin loses a bit of time when he doesn't quite get the piece all the way into the frame on the first try. Terry and Aras go last, and they get back at close to the same time, so both groups start solving. For reasons that are sort of hard to discern and may involve luck as much as anything, Casaya moves faster in getting the puzzle solved, so Casaya winds up winning the reward. I wish I had more to say about this challenge, but I was so fulfilled on a spiritual level by last week's wrestling matches that it will be a long time before a challenge makes me feel whole again.
Now, Casaya is faced with deciding who goes to Exile Island. Following the "we take your leader" strategy last invoked by La Mina with Bruce, they decide to send Terry. Now, do you see why this is so stupid? I mean, it will be obvious by the end of the show why it's stupid, but you can tell it's stupid now, and if they had a brain in their heads, they'd know it's stupid. Let's review: you know that Misty didn't find the immunity idol. It's possible that Bruce found it, but if he didn't, then it's still there. And if it's still there, you know that the clues are going to get easier and easier, because this is Survivor, and they don't tend to present really difficult brainteasers, and they're going to want someone to find the idol so that it will be in play. Should you consistently send the strongest person on the other tribe to Exile Island, that's who's eventually going to find the idol. Should he find the idol, then if he makes it three or four more tribal councils to a merge, you are suddenly in a very bad position. Because now, you want to start by cutting off the strongest person in the other group, and if you take your shot at him and he has the idol, guess who's going to have the second-largest number of votes? That's right: someone on your team. Even if Terry didn't otherwise survive until the merge, it's still stupid, because now, you're giving him a far greater chance of doing so. And you don't really want to give the strongest opposing force to you a boost in making it to the merge. In short, absent a truly desperate team you honestly believe you can cause to crumble without leadership -- which I think is what was believed about Bruce last week -- the strategic significance of who goes to Exile Island at this point lies almost entirely in access to the idol, and there is no reason -- none -- why you would give a strong player access to the idol instead of a weak player. It's ridiculous. Not that I would expect the likes of Shane to notice. Anyway, Terry gets on the boat that will take him to Exile Island.