Two episodes in a row without any kind of twist or new advantage screwing things up and giving me a migraine? I love to see it! Even if this week’s episode is a bit on the ho-hum side of things and left me dazed and confused about some game decisions, at least the season is proving last week’s shift in the right direction wasn’t a fluke, and there’s still hope for a strong endgame.
To kick it off, we check in with Frannie, who just got left out of every plan, and cast a vote for Jaime when the actual plan was to blindside Kane. And speaking of Kane, he walked out with Jaime’s fake idol in his pocket, leaving her and Lauren feeling a bit lost. And in the middle of it all is Carson, ready to do damage control with Jaime just in case she’s feeling vengeful. His play here is telling Jaime that Kane spilled the beans about her “idol,” which frames the move as Carson doing Jaime a huge favor and disposing of a snake, and now Jaime’s debating if she should come clean about everything or keep the idol rumors up in the air.
With the biggest reward of the season on the line, Frannie beasts through another individual challenge and wins a night at the Sanctuary with tacos galore and letters from home. Given three invites to her little taco party, she opts to take the mom squad of Carolyn, Lauren, and Heidi with her, leaving Yam Yam, Jaime, Danny, and Carson to simmer back at camp. But this win comes at a cost: an even bigger target on her back, and she’s fully aware of it.
At Va Va beach, the losers enjoy a supersized serving of rice and vent their disappointments. Yam Yam is the most vocal, seeing how he’s yet to go on any rewards. But as petty as it sounds, he’s got a noble motive behind his emotions. Those letters from his husband and mother would’ve been game-changing for him, and now he’s got to carry on without that emotional relief in a highly emotional game.
And carry on he will, hitting up Danny, Carson, and Jaime for a strat chat that ultimately centers around taking Frannie out if she doesn’t win immunity. It seems her two immunity wins weren’t taken that seriously, likely because they only proved Frannie can balance, but with her beasting an obstacle course and nailing her throws, there’s no denying she’s well-rounded enough to win anything thrown her way. But if she does continue her immunity run, they’ll need a backup plan.
That’s where Jaime comes in. Even though she’s open about what happened to her “idol” and holding no cards close to her chest here… nobody buys her story. As far as Danny, Carson, and Yam Yam are concerned (as well as the others when they return from the Sanctuary), she should be treated as though she still has an idol and spun the worst lie of the season. And so Jaime emerges as the backup plan, if not the primary target. If they pile votes on her, she either plays her idol or she goes home, a classic idol flushing plan.
Meanwhile, the reward winners enjoy their taco feast, letters from home, and a night away from camp. Frannie uses the getaway to strengthen her bond with Carolyn, once again expressing how much she admires Carolyn’s fearless authenticity. Lauren recounts her history of overcoming adversity, from going to college to being a single mom, working two jobs, and even going on Survivor, all because her father was there to support her.
And Heidi, feeling the girl power vibes of this group, wants to manifest a female winner this season, meaning the guys have to go. Carolyn throws out Danny’s name as an option, and the four of them agree it’s time to execute a blindside against the firefighter. Even Heidi, his number one ally for over two weeks, is ready to separate herself and play her own game to impress the jury.
In a wacky immunity challenge, Frannie and Carson literally worm their way into the lead. But it’s ultimately Carson who finishes the puzzle first, destroying the competition even with a mishap along the way. Frannie’s finally vulnerable without the necklace, so the temptation to take her out is real. But with plans against Danny and Jaime in the works and a few hours left to scramble, she’s not done quite yet. In fact, she’s excited not to be immune for a change since she can finally put her social skills to the test. And as she’s said many times, she’s a big fan of tests.
Back at camp, Frannie’s willing to cut Danny or Jaime as long as it’s not her. And Danny’s still on the Frannie train, hoping to pull in a skeptical Lauren to his side. But once again, the story is focused on the Three Stooges alliance as Yam Yam and Carson weigh their options. Frannie is a big threat, but cutting her might piss off Carolyn and cost them her loyalty. So maybe voting out Jaime instead is the right play here. But on the other hand, if they don’t remove Frannie now, Carolyn might find a new number one in her and abandon Tika altogether.
Elsewhere, Danny’s still on a mission to rally numbers for his Frannie plan, but he makes a critical misstep with Heidi, telling her he already has the numbers and doesn’t really need her vote. This confirms what she already knew: Danny is no longer good for her game, and he’s got to go immediately. Regrouping with the reward crew plus Jaime, Heidi sells Danny out and relays his cocky comments. It’s rubbed her the wrong way, and the others should be on board to blindside him as planned, but somehow… the people she thought she could trust decide to throw her name out when her back is turned.
I don’t understand this move. At all. Carolyn, Frannie, Jaime, and Lauren discuss voting for Heidi because she’s been spilling info left and right. Yeah, she technically has. But she’s been spilling it to them, and usually to the detriment of big threat Danny, who thinks he’s running the show. They say Heidi might be working with Danny to spread some lies and throw everyone off as some 4-D chess strategy, but since when has she ever done that on our screens? If we had a better understanding of the tribe dynamics from the beginning, maybe it would make sense why they’d go for Heidi instead of Danny. But with what little context we have, it reads as a move made for the sake of making one.
With Carolyn and Frannie gunning for Heidi, Danny gunning for Frannie, and Heidi gunning for Danny, Carson and Yam Yam have the power once again. And with that power, they join Danny, along with Jaime and Lauren, to vote Frannie out in a 5-2-1 vote. Carolyn’s left out and ticked off, Heidi’s confused, and the game’s biggest challenge threat is finally gone.
And in the end, Frannie herself was a surprise. Not because I expected her to be bad TV and got proven wrong, but because most of her gameplay ended up being more physical and social than strategic. With so much of her story being about crushing on Matt and crushing those challenges, we only got a little insight into her day-to-day strategy, so it was hard to really piece together where she fit into the game as a whole. I’d love to see her flex those strategic chops on a return, though, because she’s proven herself to be one of the few non-Tika stars of this cast.
Now, only seven remain. Two solid Ratus, two fractured Sokas, and a Tika trio about to implode, with Carolyn ready for a revenge quest in Frannie’s honor. While this predictable Frannie boot was far from exciting television and ultimately felt like the least interesting route this week could’ve taken, I’m just happy to see another normal vote with no production chicanery getting in the way of the natural process. It’s a simple episode for sure, but sometimes (and especially in a season this convoluted), a simple episode can be a breath of fresh air.