updated 03/06/2014 AT 3:00 AM ET
•originally published 03/06/2014 AT 12:00 PM ET
Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach. Erik Reichenbach is a Survivor fan-turned-favorite, a comic book author and artist. He placed fifth on both Survivor: Micronesia and Survivor: Caramoan. Follow him on Twitter @BloodyAmer1can.
“Everybody here is sleeping, napping, complaining, and bitching. I came here focused. I came here knowing I was gonna suffer.”
– Russell Hantz, Survivor: Samoa
In the immortal words of Eric Clapton, “Let it rain.”
This week on Survivor: Cagayan, the elements stole the thunder. Rainstorms are horrible news for Survivor’s waterlogged contestants. They rip through the shelter, and leave players chilled to the bone. There’s a reason modern homebuilders don’t often work with palm fronds and bamboo.
For those of us sitting on our couches and binging on kale chips, however, downpours bring the drama. Tempests in the sky means tempers flare at camp. And who doesn’t love those montages of the players’ puckered feet?
In a turn of events that surprised nobody, Beauty buckled beneath the buffeting. Turns out cheerleaders and pageant queens aren’t the hardiest woodsmen. If manly men LJ and Jeremiah hadn’t been on hand for heavy lifting, the whole tribe might have been washed out to sea.
LJ uses the distraction caused by the storm to hunt for the immunity idol. In the middle of a monsoon, he dives underwater to find the hidden gem. “I’ve grown up on ‘hard work pays off’ and ‘you reap what you sow,’ ” he says. “Now I hold a piece of this game that is priceless.”
LJ wins this week’s Fishy Award. Though his puzzle fumbles cost Beauty the challenge, he both finds the idol and eliminates his biggest threat.
Last week I worried that horse trainer LJ would soon be put out to pasture. Devious Brice was trying to leverage Morgan’s sex appeal to manipulate Jeremiah.
Turns out a bromance is even more powerful than boobs. Jeremiah remains loyal and votes with LJ, Jefra and Alexis. They successfully defend against the imagined immunity idol with a risky 2-2-2 vote split. Then everybody votes for Brice.
Poor Brice. Even his butterfly stage couldn’t keep him in the game. Dot, dot, dot – Hmmm.
Somehow the plucky Brains tribe managed to eke out a challenge win. And in a month that’s seen the Winter Olympics and a face-off with the Ruskies, I couldn’t help but think back to the legendary 1980 men’s ice hockey team.
Let’s call them the Miracle on Rice.
The Brains are still a hot mess, however. They lack team spirit. There’s too many nerds used to playing in the corner.
When Tasha suggests they practice for the challenge, Spencer wants to drink, J’tia wants to eat, and Kass wants to do interior decorating.
Not that practice helps. The Brains still get schooled in the water toss.
On Survivor, though, morale matters. Maybe they’ll gain confidence after a challenge win.
Brawn’s Tony is like a mix between Russell Hantz and Phillip Shephard. Like Russell he’s got guts; like Phillip he’s a bit nuts.
How many times did Tony repeat the alliance name “Cops ‘R Us”? He would probably still be saying “Cops ‘R Us” today if Sarah hadn’t finally caught on.
Tony wants to recruit Sarah to his crusade against lovable Cliff. He weaves a story about a fake conversation in which Cliff and Lindsey targeted Sarah. By making up an entire scenario, and not just throwing random accusations, Tony wins Sarah’s trust.
“We shook on it,” Sarah says. “It was the most sincere handshake you’ll ever have.”
Was that the famous four-finger handshake?
Tony’s problem is that he can’t control his lies. Tony’s scheming so fast and loose, he’s bound to make a mistake. “It doesn’t matter to me. It’s just words,” he says. On Survivor, you want to lie in small doses – only when it counts. Words can hurt.
Tony’s isn’t playing with a dumb-ass girl. Sarah’s already sniffed out one of his tall tales.
How long will it be before she realizes he’s lying to her again?