And we move on to day 38. Uh-oh. You know what day 38 means. The dreaded Fallen Comrades Rites of Passage. The players get a Tree Mail alerting them to their duty to wax faux poetic about the people they barely knew or were happy to get rid of along the way. Ah, but will be this season’s Fallen Comrades tribute be by land or by sea? The Tree Mail says to keep an eye out for two men in a boat so it looks like by sea it is! BUT NO! It was all a sneaky ruse put in place to throw the remaining Survivors off the scent! For this boat will actually be taking them to…land! Wow, talk about twists you didn’t see coming! This is like a fake merge, hidden immunity idol, Exile Island, and Redemption Island all wrapped into one!
So the tribute begins as we are treated to current contestants struggling to come up with something to say about former contestants (Cochran: “So who exactly was Allie? Which of the three blondes was she?”), and former contestants often saying things that simply make no sense (Brandon: “I played for a million dollars out there and when I knew I couldn’t have it, I just wanted to starve some folks. I made it rain with them beans. I don’t regret nothin’. Because I proved my point. I made my statement. I was the author of my elimination.”). Malcolm also uses the opportunity to begin his official campaign for a third outing on the island, telling us, “There’s a still a part of me that needs to be back out here to get the job done.” The affair ends with the final four setting some big wicker dude on fire while they engage in an awkward group hug so the helicopter cam can get its money shot.
The good news is the end of the Fallen Comrades tribute means the start of the final immunity challenge. The bad news is someone has an advantage for the final immunity challenge so we won’t get to see everyone competing on equal footing. The contest forces the players to race up a three-story tower, untie puzzle pieces, slide down a slide, and then go back up and do that whole thing two more times before using the three bags to build a fire puzzle.
Cochran reads his advantage note, which tells him he will not have to untie his bags of puzzle pieces. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is, enabling Cochran to lap Dawn and Eddie while completely blowing away Sherri. In addition to hating the advantage, you all know I’m not a big fan of puzzles and this is a good example of why. It’s too hard to portray who is in actually in the lead. For example, it appears that Cochran completely blows his lead when Dawn and Sherri both pass him and get their pieces on first before he does, but in reality he has had all that extra time to already work out the process of elimination on which pieces don’t go where. And sure enough, he then roars back and wins it as Probst keeps yapping on about how he has completely dominated challenges all season. (Again, he’s only won two without advantages. Would he have won four without them? That’s the problem: We’ll never know. And now his challenge-winning total will always carry an asterisk. Two of them, actually.)
NEXT: The final Tribal Council begins