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Survivor Recap: For the Love of Jeff




Dream weaver, I believe you can get me through the night.

By Kerri Fleming

Those sparkling eyes. Those perfectly pressed blue shirts. Those dimples. Ohhhhhh those dimples.

Sorry. Sometimes it's hard to concentrate on silly things like immunity challenges and tribal councils and a teammate dying on a beach when Jeff Probst is standing there, being all Probsty. If he were any dreamier, he'd be Davy Jones with a more masculine and marketable hat.

Dawson knows what I'm feeling. One minute, your tribemate/alliancemate is writhing on the ground, alternately shaking like a waterlogged kitten and throwing up til she can't throw up no more; the next minute, your faced with the dimpliest dimples this side of Mario Lopez and "I Think I Love You" starts playing in your head. Heck, Jeff can even make getting eliminated fun, if you call staring the man down like a lion stalks a studly wildebeest and then forcibly kissing him fun. And I DO.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. This episode started in much darker places. Namely, the blue team's camp, where only Malcolm and Denise remain. The dream team spend much of the night pondering their fate, coming to the same conclusions everyone else did - there would be a major shakeup of all the tribes, one tribe would win some sort of competition and get both Malcolm and Denise, or they would be split - one person to each tribe. When they received a tree mail about an upcoming reward challenge, they rightly assumed that their time at this camp was limited and so spent it looking for the immunity idol, sans clue. After randomly digging under trees and tossing aside everything in camp, Malcolm did the only thing that was left - bash the handle-end of a machete into the rice container.

Much like that episode of the Simpsons were you can actually pinpoint the exact second Ralph Wiggum's heart breaks, this is precisely the moment when Malcolm and Denise's luck veer off into two very different directions. Malcolm's future is looking up - he got the idol! Huzzah! And soon he would taken in by the yellow team, a team so socially dysfunctional and physically strong that it will probably be ages before they have to vote somebody out and when they do, it will be for some really adult reason, like they looked at Abi sideways. Denise, meanwhile, has no idol and therefore no security. And while her new red team is stronger than the now nonexistent blue team, it has some cracks that we're soon going to see.

But first, reward. Team members have to face off against those from the other tribe one-on-one, trying to knock an idol out of the other person's hand. It's a back-and-forth affair, with Jeff, Katie and Denise all getting points for the red team and Artis, Mike and Pete tying things up for yellow. Abi puts yellow up by one in typical style - with a saucy flair that is underscored with her post-battle complaints that Dawson pulled her hair. "Play like a man, don't play like a b---," Abi complained in her terrifying way, and with those nine words, set the women's movement back about 25 years. Girl power!

Truly showing his newfound GOOD luck, Malcolm gave his team a victory by avenging his earlier loss to Jeff Kent. An emotional win that includes besting one of the most annoying men in the MLB? AND COOKIES???? Malcolm is on Cloud 11, where life is rainbows and unicorns and all he can do is smile and dance. Any danger of being "last man in, first man out," and being eliminated as soon as possible? Pah-lease. He is officially the yellow team's most eligible bachelor, with RC ready to flirt with him until she's no longer the unpopular girl in school (women's movement? what women's movement?) and Pete spilling his guts on his alliance, his dislike of Mike, and his ownership of an immunity idol, something only he and Abi know about.

Things are less sunshiney over on the red team's camp. While both sides of the boys vs. girls alliances understand Denise's importance as a swing vote, it's also downpouring out, which means nobody's going to have the opportunity to pull her aside to strategize today. Plus Dana's putting a damper on everyone's mood with her severe abdominal pain, vomiting and feverish shakes. Drama queen. I'm actually giving props to Jonathan here because he actually comes off as someone who knows when he has to lie and play the Survivor game and when he can and should be a real human being. No, he didn't have an alliance with Dana and may have voted her off that night, but that didn't mean he wasn't going to wrap her up in a rainproof tarp and try to keep her warm with his larger body.

In the end, while Dana's life wasn't actually at stake and she was medically cleared to return, the pain was just too much and she opted out. But not before Jeff Probst showed up to camp, thoroughly distracting Dawson. DIMPLES.

Meanwhile, Katie at least had the good sense to wait until Dana's boat had pulled a few feet away from the camp before worrying how this might affect her. To be fair, she's totally right. She and Dawson are completely screwed.

On that note, we head to the immunity challenge, which consists of a team obstacle course (meaning every person has to pass through each obstacle before they can move on) followed by a word puzzle. With Dana's departure, the yellow team is once again up a person and has to sit some----oh, sorry, I didn't get through that sentence before Abi is sitting on a bench, giving stink-eyes to every other female and limiting her immunity challenge performances to two total. It boggles my mind that someone that intimidating wouldn't be a decent performer based on her insane competitiveness alone.

Without the luxury of sitting out the weakest person, the red team is dragged down by theirs - Katie, who struggles to make it through much of the obstacle course. Dawson is no real help to Jonathan on the puzzle either, so while he actually solves the puzzle first, he is weighed down by the lesser performers and the yellow team squeaks out the win. Everything's coming up Malcolm!

While Denise is disappointed to be in yet another loser tribe, she's at least heartened that she doesn't have to worry about being voted out. Almost immediately after getting to camp, she is approached by Jeff about joining up with the boys alliance. Sure, she's no boy, but while Abi and RC are taking two steps back for women everywhere, Denise is taking a giant leap forward by being a physical threat, a tremendous social gamer, and someone who transcends gender lines without being exceedingly masculine.

So now the only question is - Katie or Dawson? Frankly, at this point in the game, not really knowing either woman, I was only rooting for Dawson to stay because A) her bizarre love affair with Jeff Probst amuses me and B) I want to see her torment Jeff Kent a little more. The only person who has admitted to recognizing Jeff decided to keep his secret until she had a reason not to. But that doesn't mean she can't push his buttons by philosophizing about how baseball is the lowest, loseriest of all the sports, how football is so much better. She may be crazy, but that might be my favorite scene so far this season.

At least until tribal council. Much of the prevote discussion was pretty tame - nobody likes losing, Dana's departure was sad, Denise is a physical threat, Dawson thinks her strength is having a positive attitude (?) - but then we got to the votes. As soon as Dawson saw her name twice, she realized what was going on and looked shocked. Immediately, you could see her wheels turning. Should she tell everyone about Jeff Kent's real identity? That is, in fact, what I thought she was thinking as she stared down Jeff Probst while he snuffed her torch (and I don't mean that euphemistically). Her real thoughts during that time were probably something like, If I slip Jeff Probst some tongue, will he fall in love with me? And considering his track record of dating former contestants, I'd say her chances were better than good. Indeed, she settled for a kiss on the cheek and a tight one-armed hug.

As for the other Jeff, for keeping his secret, she wants a helmet, a motorcycle, a sidecar and a pink gun, which I hope she'll use to solve crime in a new hit CBS drama and not fashionably kidnap Jeff Probst and take him to some brightly colored lair.

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