Finally we are off to the Immunity Challenge, which involves both teams racing in pairs up a four story tower to toss crates of sand bags over the side. Then, the last remaining pair on each team collects the sand bags and has to throw six bags into six spots. I’m generally a fan of any challenge that goes vertical, like that crazy vertical maze they did in Vanuatu, which, coincidentally enough, Scout is finally finishing up right now as we speak. This one is not as epic as that, but still cool in that people go up and things get smashed. In the end, Reynold uses his sand bag throwing prowess to come from behind and turn a 3-0 deficit to Malcolm into a 6-3 win for the Fans.
When the Faves return to the beach, oddly there is no talk whatsoever of ousting the one guy most responsible for their loss — Malcolm. Predictably, Francesca targets Phillip and Phillip targets Francesca. Well, target is underselling it a bit. He also threatens to burn down her village, and kill off her aunts, uncles, and children so none of her kind will ever exist again. Sounds a bit extreme, but okay.
The interesting person at play here is Andrea, whom both Phillip and Francesca consider to be in their corner. Turns out Fran is the one who is mistaken as The Eliminator goes and squeals to The Specialist about the plan to get rid of him. Everything goes haywire. How haywire? So haywire that the two people who gave up their immunities — Erik and Brandon — now appear to be in an alliance together! I asked Erik about this delicious possibility before the game began and now it seems like it actually has come true. Amazing! Misery loves company, I guess. To their credit, they sniff out that Andrea is playing both sides, so attempt to convince Francesca to change her vote to Andrea. And while listening to two guys who gave away their immunity necklaces might not be the soundest strategic advice in most circumstances, she does so here. But do they even have the votes to pull it off?
At Tribal Council, we learn they do not as Francesca is let go by a vote of 6-4 (Brenda was the fourth vote for Andrea). We also learn that Phillip is now able to say Francesca’s name correctly (I don’t buy his line about purposefully mispronouncing it last time) and that Malcolm’s sense of humor is still intact as he touches Cochran’s shoulder to mimic Boston Rob tipping off his tribemates whom to vote off. (Is that one of the B.R. Rules?)
All in all, a very satisfying start to another season. It’s nice to see Andrea playing the game hard, but is she playing it too hard, too early? Playing both sides can definitely get you in trouble. And which way will Michael and Matt go? Their votes could determine the balance of power on the Fans side. Also, this just in: Phillip Sheppard has never been voted off of an episode of Survivor. Chew on that for a while.
And while you’re chewing, also make sure to take a taste of this week’s Q&A with Jeff Probst, where he provides behind the scenes info and analysis. Good stuff, as always. (You’ll also want to listen in on our Probstcast, where the host discusses his critics, who’s responsible for spoilers, the possibility of an all-winners season, and more). You can also enjoy an exclusive deleted scene in the video player below. And for more Survivor news and views, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss. Now, it’s your turn. What did you think of the Survivor: Caramoan premiere? Hit the message boards to let us know, and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!