Survivor
The Tides Are Turning

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Mr. Sleeze

A zippy around-the-island shot brings us to Peachy, strutting down a giant staircase. He welcomes the S5 to the challenge and reclaims the immunity necklace from Ted, who hates giving it up. Peachy explains that each competitor will start the challenge at the base of their very own ten-step staircase. The steps are unfinished, however, and ten unique, missing pieces are spread out in the field. The S5 are to gather the missing pieces one by one and build the steps -- also one at a time -- from the bottom to the top. It's very Trading Spaces. In any case, the first person to ascend their staircase with correctly placed steps wins immunity and a guaranteed spot in the Final Four.

The S5 all assume runner's start stances at the beginning of the challenge, which cracks me up, particularly because none of them moves at more than a casual jog on Peachy's go. The S5 quickly realize that the better method is to collect several pieces before trying to construct the staircase, and Clay takes an early lead with one correct step, followed by Jan. Brian, meanwhile, has collected all his pieces, and it's pretty much his challenge from this point onward. Clay follows closely behind for a little while, but as Brian approaches his tenth step, Clay has fallen behind and has only seven. I'm not sure if Ted's even gotten one at this point. Brian picks up his last piece, and cockily struts up the staircase in a "nice leisurely walk" to the top. Helen is the only member of the tribe who seems earnestly excited for him, and the others congratulate him much less enthusiastically. Peachy tells Brian to "take a moment to enjoy it up here," and Brian takes a big breath and dramatically extends his arms outward as if toward his people.

Back at camp on Day 36, it's time for more swarming ants. I hate the swarming ants. They make me feel itchy. A wave washes up on the shore while a dirty Ted does yoga and voice-overs that, at this point in the game, everyone could be playing everyone else, and it's only natural for them to watch each other while wondering who's going to be next. We see shots of the pensive S5, including a Gollum-esque Jan, who sits hunched and mumbling on a log. Ted tells us that he's a logical target because he's won both an immunity and a reward, so he could be perceived as both physically and mentally strong. We see a snake slithering over a branch, and Ted earnestly asks said snake to be straight with him, "brother to brother," about who's next. The camera pans away to reveal that he's not talking to the snake after all, but to Brian. And my guess is that after watching these episodes, Brian's opponents -- or "sheep" as the case may be -- will not see much of a difference between the two. Brian looks Ted in the eye, and says that he doesn't think he's the next target, but he can't speak for Jan and Clay; he offers to let Ted know if something changes. Ted tries to appeal to Brian's conscience by claiming that Brian is the only one who would give him a straight answer, but it doesn't work. Brian again defers to not knowing what's up with the other members of the tribe, and suggests that the others may be targeting Jan.

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Survivor

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