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Amy and Maya Down in the Philippines . . . but NOT Out Due to a Stunning Pit Stop Twist!

This week's episode of The Amazing Race was a very intense, exciting one. It began with the four remaining teams, fresh off Brooke and Robbie's non-elimination, continuing on with the race, resuming their jaunt through Manila, the Philippines. Misti and Jim were glad to have won their fifth leg and thus brought out "the thumb" (ugh). But Misti was nursing a cut at the bottom of her foot she'd sustained from the ox task that she was going to fight through. Still, they knew they were vulnerable to elimination now for the first time since the Save had expired. Now that they were Amy and Maya felt like the underdogs since they hadn't won a leg yet (nor had Brooke and Robbie), but they were determined to beat Misti and Jim. Adam and Bethany were eagerly hoping to reach the final three and would rely on their faith in God and Jesus to do so, all while loving each other. And Brooke and Robbie were eager to overcome their Speed Bump and make the final three.

The teams had to take a jeepney to a park, but Adam and Bethany and Brooke and Robbie ended up getting there first due to each team grabbing one going the shorter way around a loop in which its course was set. Misti and Jim and Amy and Maya took longer to get there due to grabbing and sharing a jeepney that'd take them around the opposite direction of the loop, which was farther away. But once at the park, the teams ran into the Detour. This saw teams choosing between This or That. It was a Blind Detour, so they wouldn't know what each one would involve. This involved shooting at least twenty-one points' worth of baskets in a basketball game against some street players who'd try to block them. That involved having one team member pedal a pedicab-like bicycle around a course four times in less than seventeen minutes and fifty-five seconds while the other team member rides in the sidecar (with two laps for each team leader). Adam and Bethany and Brooke and Robbie all chose and completed This. Misti and Jim and Amy and Maya all chose and completed That, but Misti had a few difficulties pedaling with the ball of her foot, while Amy suffered a terrible crash while trying to pass Misti and Jim.

Before the Detour, though, Brooke and Robbie ran into their Speed Bump, a task that only their team had to complete. This saw them transferring a roadside vendor's goods from one sidecar to another. Once they finished it, they could return to the race, with the hopes of making up their valuable lost time. They seemed to do the task quickly enough and got going before Misti and Jim and Amy and Maya could even reach the Detour decision point.

The teams then had to head to a market, but Adam and Bethany had to remember where to go by memory (and a bit of local help) since they'd apparently misplaced one of their clues telling them where to go. Once there, though, the teams were tasked with the Roadblock. This saw one member of each team picking up and deliver two popular coconut products -- the nut for polish floors, and the ting-ting to be used as a broom. Robbie, Adam, Jim, and Amy all took the task for their teams, with all four of them struggling from either not knowing where to deliver their goods (no one just for this one), not knowing how many to deliver there as determined by a document telling them where to go so they could drop them off (just Amy), or both (Robbie, Adam, and Jim). Amy also struggled from not being strong enough to carry so many heavy things at once.

In the end, after their first well-run leg, Brooke and Robbie arrived first at the Pit Stop! They were the first team racing to the finish line for the one-million dollars. If they won a prize, it was not revealed. Still, they made history. They were the second team to overcome a Speed Bump and win a leg, something that'd previously only been done by Jet and Cord in the sixteenth season. But more history was about to be made. For the first time in the history of the show, the final leg was starting right at the end of the penultimate leg! They were getting their next clue right away, which was telling them to fly to Los Angeles, California! Adam and Bethany came in second and got the same news, now the second team to be racing to the finish line. This left things down to Misti and Jim and Amy and Maya, two teams who'd made the jeepney mistake. In the end, strength at the Detour and thinking to double back and check the document sooner made all the difference, as the dentists eked out the food scientists to claim third, staying alive for the final leg and claiming the third spot to be racing on that leg. This left Amy and Maya to finish fourth and last . . . but they were not eliminated! No, they, too, were going on to the final leg! For the first time ever, the final leg would see four teams racing on it instead of the usual three that'd raced for twenty-four prior seasons! However . . . midway through the final leg, one of the teams would be eliminated. But Amy and Maya felt up to the challenge and wouldn't fall victim to that elimination. So they got their clue, and off they also went!

This was a relieving ending for me, as I really didn't want to see Amy and Maya go. But they brought a lot of their last-place finish on themselves, for sure. Going on the jeepney that went the wrong way to Manila was one thing, but Amy missing the quantity number on the document was another. Still, I hope they can recover and not be the final team eliminated midway through the leg. I'm rooting for you, Amy and Maya!

In other news, I'm rooting for Adam and Bethany or Amy and Maya to win next week. Brooke and Robbie I still dislike after how they've acted, but I wouldn't be upset with them if they won, either. Misti and Jim . . . ugh. I love Misti, but I can't stand Jim. Hope they lose.

Once more, here's the order in which the teams finished the penultimate leg:

#1. Brooke and Robbie

#2. Adam and Bethany

#3. Misti and Jim

#4. Amy and Maya

So it's all come down to this. Four teams still remain, and all four teams will be running to the finish line for one-million dollars. But only three of them will make it through the full leg. Who will fall victim to the final elimination next week? And of the three teams who remain, who'll cross the finish line first and win the one-million-dollar prize? The season finale will decide it all next week, so we'll see then!

Douchebag Jon's Hubris Leads to the Biggest, Best Blindside of the Season!

This week's episode of Survivor was probably the best of the season! It began with the six remaining castaways, fresh off Alec's long-overdue vote-off, resuming the game following the previous Tribal Council. Jon and Jaclyn were confused as to how Alec had been voted out over Keith. But Natalie spun a story to them, saying that she'd gotten confused as to whom she was supposed to vote out since only one person had talked to her about it and they hadn't worked out the details. Baylor laughed silently at this, saying that Jon and Jaclyn, if they were smart, would know that Natalie was lying. But . . . they didn't. They both bought it hook, line, and sinker. This just made Jon more determined than ever to send Keith packing. Meanwhile, the next morning, Natalie met Keith by the water to firm up a new agreement -- the two of them joining up with Missy and Baylor to finally blindside and break up Jon and Jaclyn. Or "Mr. and Mrs. Prom Queen or Homecoming Queen," as Keith hilariously called them. It really did seem like he, Natalie, and Baylor, at least, were fed up with Jon and Jaclyn running things, or acting like they did. It was time for one or both of them to go, and Natalie was ready to make that happen.

The Reward Challenge saw the castaways splitting into two teams of three and running through an obstacle course. They'd run and dig their way through a tunnel of hay, go over and under hitching posts, grabbing a bucket of water, running over and under a teeter-totter net, fill another bucket enough to lower a gate, and then racing to solve a plank puzzle reading "Blood vs. Water." The first team to finish would win reward -- a Survivor-style spa consisting of a hot shower, a massage, and steak and cookies. The teams ended up being as follows -- Keith, Missy, and Jon on the blue team, and Natalie, Baylor, and Jaclyn on the orange team.

So here's how the challenge shook down. Natalie, Baylor, and Jaclyn got off to an early lead from the hay portion. They kept it during the hitching post portion of the challenge and held onto it with the water buckets and teeter-totter. Keith, Missy, and Jon weren't far behind, but during the teeter-totter portion, a bad step resulted in Missy twisting her ankle fairly badly, though she was still able to hobble along with Keith and Jon. Through working well together, Natalie, Baylor, and Jaclyn were able to move right through the teeter-totter portion after two trips and moved straight on to the puzzle. But Keith, Missy, and Jon needed three trips. However, things started looking up for them at the plank puzzle. Natalie, Baylor, and Jaclyn started getting confused and stumped by the puzzle. But Keith, Missy, and Jon all figured it out and started gelling perfectly and managed to get a rhythm going to start solving it. But Natalie, Baylor, and Jaclyn finally got it together and started catching back up. It was very close, but in the end . . . by a nose . . . the blue team of Keith, Missy, and Jon won reward! So they'd be going on the reward! But wait. After a talk of massages and how jealous Jaclyn was that Jon would be going on the reward without her, Jon made a shocking move. He gave up his spot on the reward to Baylor. He wanted a mother and daughter to share it. Then, it was time for Keith, Missy, and Baylor to choose someone to head to Exile Island. Natalie volunteered, so off she went. Meanwhile, Jon and Jaclyn would be heading back to camp with nothing. Which was fine with Jon, since it meant the two of them being alone. Jon revealed that it was to curry favor with his alliance and strengthen it to give himself a case to make to the jury, but . . . I'll reveal at the end of this entry why he played this so damn badly.

Keith, Missy, and Baylor arrived at the reward, and they enjoyed the perks of it. They enjoyed their meal and then went on to get their showers and massages. Of course, Keith and Baylor also looked at Missy's ankle, and it was greatly swollen. She didn't know if it was a sprain or a full-on twist. She was in a lot of pain, for sure, though. She was hoping to finish the game, no matter how bad things were. Baylor's mind was also on the game, though. She had a feeling that Jon was trying to curry favor with her by giving up his reward. But it wouldn't work. She still wanted to get him out, and she knew that Natalie still wanted to, as well. Nonetheless, they enjoyed the time they spent together getting their massages and showers.

Back at camp, Jon and Jaclyn enjoyed being alone. It was how they both wanted it, especially Jon. They talked over Natalie's voting blunder, and Jon wanted to bring it up to the jury that she'd made a mistake, as it'd kept in one of the biggest challenge threats. However, Jaclyn started thinking. Maybe Natalie had a deal in place with Keith, or she wanted one, and she was planning on flipping to him, as well as getting Missy and Baylor to do the same. But Jon didn't think so. He thought the main five of himself, Jaclyn, Missy, Baylor, and Natalie were strong. Oh, how wrong he was.

At Exile Island, Natalie was faring very well. But she was also quite emotional. She really missed Nadiya and hadn't gone without her for that long before. Still, she was hoping to press on and reach the end of the game for her and show that her struggles in the game without her sister were worth it.

Before the Immunity Challenge, at which Natalie rejoined the others from Exile Island and got some rice from Missy and Baylor, Probst called in the Survivor medical team to look at Missy's ankle. It was even more swollen than before. Her injury was getting worse. The doctor could give her an X-ray, but to do that . . . they'd have to pull her from the game. But just a few days were left in the game. And because of that, she wasn't going to quit. She'd tough it out and stay in the game. Which was fine, because the doctor didn't think her injury was life-threatening or threatening to her mobility. So he just immobilized her ankle with a cast, and Missy decided to sit out the Immunity Challenge.

So with that settled, it was time to begin the Immunity Challenge, now with only five of the final six participating -- Baylor, Jaclyn, Jon, Keith, and Natalie. This saw the castaways balancing on teeter-totters, all while holding onto two handles. They'd have to keep themselves as still as possible, because they'd also be balancing a vase on their teeter-totter. If it fell, they'd be out. The last person standing would win immunity, be safe from the vote, and be guaranteed a one-in-five chance at winning the game. The losers would be vulnerable at Tribal Council, where the thirteenth person would be voted out of the game.

So here's how the challenge shook down. Jaclyn fell out first after only a few minutes. Baylor fell out second minutes after Jaclyn did. Jon, Keith, and Natalie all then had to endure a huge gust of wind that almost blew them all over. Still, it was all for naught, as just after that, another wind gust hit, and Keith ended up falling out third. This left things down to Jon and Natalie. It was a head-to-head battle for the ages, and one that probably went on for a while. They fought through a third strong gust of wind and stayed up . . . until Jon's vase suddenly fell over (despite him barely moving) and he fell out fourth and last. So Natalie won immunity! She'd be safe from the vote and be guaranteed a one-in-five shot at winning the million dollars. Meanwhile, one of Baylor, Jaclyn, Jon, Keith, and Missy would become the thirteenth person voted out of the game at the next Tribal, and they'd join Josh, Jeremy, Wes, Reed, and Alec on the jury. Jon thought that that person would be Keith (and he arrogantly thought that Natalie winning immunity more than made up for her "blunder" with the Alec boot). But I don't know. . . .

Before Tribal Council, the potential targets emerged -- Keith, Jon, and Jaclyn. Keith was targeted by Jon and Jaclyn as the biggest challenge threat in the game. But Jon was at last targeted by Natalie for being the biggest threat, and to avenge Jeremy's vote-off. Jaclyn was targeted as the backup plan in case Jon played his hidden Immunity Idol. Jon was sure that Keith would be voted out, but Jaclyn wasn't sure that things were as secure. She thought that there was a plan to blindside Jon. But Jon brushed it off, not at all thinking that it'd happen. And quite stupidly, Jaclyn deferred to him. Of course, the blindside plan was in the works. Natalie and Keith were voting for Jon. Missy and Baylor were voting for Jaclyn. If Baylor could get Missy to agree with it. She was reluctant because of their alliance. But Baylor knew that she was clinging too tightly to Jon. She knew he had to go at one point. Missy did, too, but not that night. Baylor knew that they couldn't reach the end together if Jon was still in the game. He and Jaclyn had to be split up. Missy knew that, but she didn't know how she could betray him. The vote was going to hinge on her. What would she do? Stay loyal to Jon and Jaclyn, or flip on them the way she'd flipped on Jeremy and Natalie? . . .

At Tribal Council, the question was answered. Luckily for Baylor, Keith, and Natalie, Jon felt comfortable enough not to play his hidden Immunity Idol, so all of the votes would count. He and Jaclyn wound up stunned when, after the vote, a 2-2-2 tie voted was revealed . . . with the two of them and Keith being the recipients of those votes. This meant that Probst would have to call for a revote, this time with only Jon, Jaclyn, and Keith as the options. And only Missy, Baylor, and Natalie could vote for them. Also, if anyone had any idols, they could apparently not be played on the revote! So with said revote, by a unanimous, 3-0-0 vote, the thirteenth person voted out of San Juan del Sur and the sixth member of the jury was . . . Jon! Yes! The blindside worked! (Oh, and the votes on the first vote shook out as Keith and Natalie's for Jon, Missy and Baylor's for Jaclyn, and Jon and Jaclyn's for Keith. And obviously, Missy, Baylor, and Natalie all voted for Jon on the revote, so no lone votes there.) So his torch was snuffed, and he was sent on his way.

This was an amazing ending for me! Jon wasn't too bad early on, but I grew to dislike and then hate him as the weeks went by. He was an insufferable, arrogant, entitled prick who thought the game would be handed to him because he was rich, had a dying father, and was loyal to God, apparently. But luckily, Baylor, Keith, and Natalie all saw right through that, and eventually, Missy did, too. He got way too comfortable and got way too sure of himself, and he missed the signs of betrayal coming his way as a result. Add in the fact that he trusted way too much and shot down the concerns of Jaclyn, his own girlfriend, way too much due to his terrible inability to read people, and he more than deserved to lose. And let's get into what other bad moves he made this week. He let himself and Jaclyn be alone back at camp while Keith, Missy, and Baylor were left to strategize a bit at the reward, and then Natalie to possibly find a new hidden Immunity Idol on Exile Island (that wasn't there thanks to Jon). And then there was, as I said, shooting down all of Jaclyn's misgivings about their safety when the signs were right there in front of him. He was a terrible excuse for a player, and one I'd definitely not want to see again. So long, Jon! Good riddance and glad you lost! I'm also delighted by this long streak of male vote-offs and this all-male jury so far. Josh, Jeremy, Wes, Reed, Alec, and now Jon? Six male vote-offs (or exits) in a row, tying One World's six-man exit/vote-off streak of Colton, Jonas, Michael, Jay, Leif, and Troyzan (but beating the male juror streak, as Colton left right before the jury in One World, while Josh was San Juan del Sur's first juror).

In other news, with this final five, I don't hate any of them left. In fact, I like or love them all. Missy, Baylor, and Natalie would all be great winners due to their gameplay, and Jaclyn would be an okay winner since she was at least good at reading people (though perhaps she could've been better at actually strategizing). And while I wouldn't be as big on a Keith win since he had almost no strategy, gave himself and his alliance away more than once, and ruined what would've been a perfect blindside by Reed two weeks ago, but he's a decent enough guy that I wouldn't hate a win from him, at least. But I don't think the jury respects him, anyway, since he's so bad at the nuances of Survivor. So whatever. I'm just tickled pink that, in a season that started out so imbalanced in terms of gender (ten men and eight women due to the tenth pair, a pair of two women, having to withdraw right before the game started), that the women have prevailed with four left standing, and only one man left. And whoever thought that Keith would be that man? Or for that matter, that of all of the loved one pairs, that Missy and Baylor would be the last one standing? (From the editing, I kinda figured that Missy and Baylor would be that pair, but at the same time, you never know. . . .)

It's all come down to this. We're down to the final five castaways. With the two-hour finale on its way, who'll fall victim to the final vote-offs next week? And who'll face the jury and make their case as to why they should win the one-million-dollar prize? And who will be voted by that jury to become the Sole Survivor? The finale will decide it all, so we'll see then!

A Broken Oxen Ends Brooke and Robbie's Race in the Philippines! . . . Except Not

Sorry this is four days late, but I was on a vacation with my boyfriend and his mother and really fell behind in a lot of my shows upon my return. But fear not. I'm here to finally, officially catch back up.

This week's episode of The Amazing Race was actually a tight, packed episode with lots of action, even if the ending wasn't a preferred one. It began with the four remaining teams, fresh off Kym and Alli's sad, tragic elimination, continuing on with the race, now leaving Singapore and departing for Manila, the Philippines, a location that hasn't been visited since the fifth season. Twenty seasons have gone by since they were last there! (Coincidentally, it was the final four when they were then, too, with three coed teams/couples -- Chip and Kim, Colin and Christie, and Brandon and Nicole -- and a women's team -- Linda and Karen! Now, once more, it's the final four with three with three coed teams/couples -- Adam and Bethany, Brooke and Robbie, and Misti and Jim -- and a women's team -- Amy and Maya!) Adam and Bethany were glad to have won the last leg, and they felt they deserved to be in the final four, as well as the upcoming final three. Brooke and Robbie were surprised that they were still in the race, especially given that while they were a strong team physically, they were one of the weakest teams mentally. Misti and Jim were hoping to win their fifth leg and close the entire race out with victories on every leg. Especially Jim. And Amy and Maya felt like the underdogs of the race since they were the physically weakest team, though they were hoping their mental skills could serve them well.

At the airport, some drama emerged when Amy and Maya demanded answers from Brooke and Robbie over their lie about the Merlion statues. They fielded their question and gave them a semi-reasonable explanation for it that the girls did believe, much to Brooke and Robbie's delight. And meanwhile, flight drama occurred as the teams scrambled to get on the best possible flights to the Philippines. Adam and Bethany, Brooke and Robbie, and Amy and Maya all got on the better flight, arriving at eleven p.m., while Misti and Jim, through not checking carefully enough, wound up getting in at 11:55 p.m. The earlier flight they wanted got sold out. Something that would've hurt them . . . if they didn't face an all-night equalizer upon arriving at the location of their next clue, a flower vendor near a church.

Once the teams had gotten their clues, they were to take jeepneys -- vehicles that were a mix of buses and jeeps and used for taxis -- to a shop, Salina Specials, to get the clue to the Detour. This saw teams choosing between Catch and Coach. Catch involved heading to Manila Bay, getting into the water, and transporting three large buckets of fish -- about 300 pounds -- to a fish broker. Coach involved assembling a sidecar and attaching it properly to a motorcycle. Brooke and Robbie were the only team to choose and complete Catch, all the while struggling and fighting as they did so. Misti and Jim, Amy and Maya, and Adam and Bethany all chose and completed Coach, with only Adam and Bethany getting through it with no problems. Misti and Jim faltered several times when their work didn't pass the inspection due to them not noticing their shocks weren't properly installed, and Amy and Maya only had one failure before realizing their seat wasn't properly attached. Ah, but there was a catch to getting to both Detours. The teams had to secure rides in the sidecars of motor tricycles to get there, something that Misti and Jim, Adam and Bethany, and Brooke and Robbie all caught on their clues. But Amy and Maya completely missed it and tried to head there on foot (since it was fairly close), only to learn from Bethany that they had to ride there. It lost them some time in having to find their own one. Though at least Maya admitted to their brain-fart, saying that they should be reading their clues on leg ten.

The teams then raced to a rice field, where a familiar task awaited as a Switchback. Back in season five, eventual second-place-finishers Colin and Christie had the former's famous "My ox is broken!" meltdown at a Detour involving plowing a muddy rice field using a water ox to uncover a clue. Now, in season twenty-five, the teams had to do the same thing as part of a regular task rather than a Roadblock. All four teams had trouble with their oxen, but Brooke and Robbie, despite getting to the task first, had extra trouble by choosing an ox with the longest pond to plow, which left more room to search rather than the needed less room . . . and they couldn't switch their fields, either. In the end, the task was basically luck, since all four teams let their oxen lead them rather than having one of each of their pull their oxen from the front to keep them from going astray.

In the end, it was the closest finish for all four teams, as they all finished within minutes of each other. In fact, it was two two-team races, basically! But of the four, Misti and Jim arrived first at the Pit Stop. They won a trip for two to Vietnam, compliments of Travelocity, as their prize. Jim was pleased, as it meant their fifth win, and thus, "the thumb" got to come out at last. Amy and Maya, after the bad misstep with their clue, recovered beautifully to luck out big-time at the ox task and grab their highest finish ever, landing in second place after losing such a tight footrace to Misti and Jim. This left things down to Adam and Bethany and Brooke and Robbie, the two teams who'd actually reached the ox task first. In the end, the luck at that task made all the difference, as the newlywed surfers eked out the dating wrestlers, running up to the mat in third, staying alive for one more leg. This left Brooke and Robbie to finish fourth and last by a nose. But . . . they were not eliminated. No, it was the third and last of three predetermined non-elimination legs, and they were still in the race. But on the next leg, they'd have to complete a Speed Bump, an extra task only they'd have to perform, while the other teams continued racing. They were up to the challenge and determined to make the final three.

This was an okay ending to me. I've really come to like Brooke and Robbie so much less after hearing their comments about local cultures and Amy and Maya lately, and I'd have been okay with them leaving. At the same time, they're so entertaining in their villainy, that I don't mind them hanging around for at least one more leg. Still, I find them to be the weakest of the final four teams and hope they get booted next week. They have the Speed Bump mainly due to their stupidity in picking the largest, longest pond on the field. And I hope they show even more stupidity to not make the final three. So good luck, Brooke and Robbie . . . and bad luck, Brooke and Robbie. Heh. Though it's weird. I know the entire boot order of this season, and I'd heard that Amy and Maya were the team saved on this leg due to a supposed sighting of Maya crying at a location at which a Roadblock was supposedly taking place while waiting for Amy to return from it, and being there in last. But . . . as there was no Roadblock on this leg, another black girl might've been seen there who wasn't in the race. Unless something like that happens next week and they're in last there, I think someone was just mistaken.

In other news, I still love Amy and Maya and Adam and Bethany. I'm disliking Brooke and Robbie now, and while I still like Misti . . . I'm also still not as fond of Jim. But since at least one villain team's guaranteed to make the final three, I wouldn't mind if it's still Brooke and Robbie. At least them being there would make a win from Amy and Maya or Adam and Bethany more possible. Misti and Jim being there would make it more difficult. Of the two "good" teams, though, I'm rooting more for Amy and Maya. I think they might for one main reason. When Phil asked the teams what they each thought about their winning chances, they only showed Amy and Maya's answer: that if they won, they'd be the third women's team to win (after Nat and Kat from season seventeen and Kisha and Jen from season eighteen). I don't think they'd have left in that answer if they wouldn't win (though it could be a misdirection). And for that matter . . . they wouldn't have edited out Misti and Jim, Adam and Bethany, and Brooke and Robbie's answers to Phil's question if they didn't want to hint at something. Hmm. . . .

In any case, more parallels to season five's first Philippines leg emerged on this leg. Not only was it a leg with the final four, three of whom are coed teams and one of whom is a women's team, but it was also a non-elimination leg, and it saved one of the coed teams -- Brooke and Robbie. In season five, the coed team saved was Colin and Christie. A coed team also won the leg this week -- Misti and Jim. In season five, a coed team also won the leg -- Chip and Kim. Both couples are/were married couples. And finally, the remaining women's team, Amy and Maya, came in second on this leg. In season five, the remaining women's team, Linda and Karen, also came in second on the first Philippines leg. Pretty sweet.

Once more, here's the order in which the teams finished this week:

#1. Misti and Jim (Prize: Trip for two to Vietnam, Courtesy Travelocity)

#2. Amy and Maya

#3. Adam and Bethany

#4. Brooke and Robbie (Must Complete Speed Bump on next leg of race while other teams continue racing)

Four teams still remain. Who'll fall victim to final elimination next week? We'll see then!

Two Hours, Two Tribal Councils, Two Vote-Offs as Reed and Alec Join the Jury!

Sorry to be five days late, but I was away on vacation with my boyfriend and his mother and had no way of blogging this, though I finally did see the episodes.

This week's two-hour episode of Survivor was very thrilling . . . save for the Immunity Challenge in the second hour. It began with the eight remaining castaways, fresh off Wes's sad, Keith-caused vote-off, resuming the game following the last Tribal Council. Back at camp, the castaways were reeling from the attempted blindside going wrong. Keith caught fire for giving away the plan to get rid of Jon, and Reed and Alec were both furious at him. Alec, in particular, knew that Keith was bad at Tribal Council and had left their alliance feeling helpless and even more vulnerable than before. Even worse, Alec didn't trust Reed or Keith. Elsewhere, Jaclyn praised Natalie for sniffing out that Jon had to play his idol. It was clear to her and Natalie both that Jon wouldn't have played it without being told, even though Jon insisted that he would've. (No, he wouldn't.) He was upset that Jaclyn was giving credit to Natalie for what he thought was his play (when it was Natalie's). Natalie knew he wouldn't have played it. She knew that Jon was determined to look like the mastermind in anything he did when he really wasn't. But Jaclyn was upset at Jon for taking credit for the idol play when she knew that she and Natalie were the reason he was still there, not Jon himself.

The Reward Challenge was a Survivor classic. It saw the castaways taking surveys and answering the same questions based on how they assumed the majority of the castaways would answer. The answers would be the twelve people who made it to the merge -- Alec, Baylor, Jaclyn, Jeremy, Jon, Josh, Julie, Keith, Missy, Natalie, Reed, and Wes. If they guessed right, they'd chop a rope. If a castaway got three ropes chopped, a rock would full onto a skull with their names on it, spilling blood from that skull. The last castaway standing would win reward -- a horseback ride to a resort at which a barbecue meal was being served . . . with brownies.

So here's how the challenge shook down. Probst first asked who else, other than Natalie, has a twin sibling. The answer was Jeremy, and everyone got it right except for Keith. Natalie chopped Reed's first rope, Jon chopped Reed's second rope, Alec chopped Natalie's first rope, Missy chopped Reed's third and last rope, putting him out of the challenge, Jaclyn chopped Alec's first rope, Baylor chopped Alec's second rope, and Reed chopped Missy's first rope before he sat down. The second question was who owned and operated their own tanning business. The answer was Julie, and everyone got it right. Jon chopped Alec's third and last rope, putting him out of the challenge, Alec chopped Jon's first rope, Missy chopped Keith's first rope, Jaclyn chopped Keith's second rope, Keith chopped Missy's second rope, Baylor chopped Keith's third rope, putting him out of the challenge, and Natalie chopped . . . no one's rope.

Instead, the five members of the majority alliance decided not to finish the challenge. Instead, they wanted to give the challenge to Missy by default. So Missy won reward! So she'd get to go on the horseback ride. She chose Jon to send to Exile Island, even though Natalie knew why he wanted to go. She also chose to take Baylor and Natalie with her, leaving Jaclyn to go back to camp with Alec, Reed, and Keith. Jaclyn knew it was coming since the three of them were fairly tight. So with that said, that was that. Jaclyn was stuck going back to camp with people who didn't like her. Reed claimed they did like her, but Baylor called out his phoniness, saying he liked everybody. This led to Reed getting into a fight with Missy over Baylor being a brat. It was all pointless. But still, the choices were set.

At Exile Island, Jon got a clue for a new clue to a hidden Immunity Idol. (And I found this odd, as it was so late in the game for there to be yet another one.) And to save time, I'll just say he searched for it and, again, found it. He thought it'd help him and Jaclyn.

On the reward, Missy was glad to have Baylor and Natalie on the reward. They enjoyed the horseback ride to the resort, and then immediately went to chow down on their food. But they realized from Jaclyn's reaction to not being picked for the reward and knew that they'd have to be careful for her feelings in future rewards. Baylor was worried that Alec, Reed, and Keith could bend her ear and sway her and Jon to their side. But things got better when Natalie and Baylor told Missy that they had a hidden Immunity Idol. Missy was proud, as this meant that her daughter was playing the game. Natalie was hoping to make a final three deal with Missy and Baylor, as she knew she'd beat them. Anything could happen, but for now, she liked her chances with them.

Back at camp, Reed decided to see if he could sway Jaclyn to flip to his, Keith, and Alec's side. He used her upset over the reward against her, seeing if he could get her to overthrow Natalie, Baylor, and Missy's planned final three. Jaclyn knew what they were doing, though. Still, she wanted to see what they pitched to her. Reed pitched a vote-off for Missy since she seemed ruthless. Jaclyn seemed open for it, but would she really be? When Missy got back from the reward with Natalie and Baylor, she tried to gauge where she stood, knowing how fast a worker Reed was. Natalie also kept an eye out, seeing Jaclyn get chummy with Alec. He made her feel comfortable, and he wasn't worried about what damage she could do since she was "like cream cheese" -- something that wouldn't hurt anyone and just be non-threatening. Natalie was disgusted by this, seeing her get chummy with Alec when she had a boyfriend. Baylor saw this, too, and was worried that she might flip, after all.

The Immunity Challenge saw the castaways balancing paddles on stands, then rolling balls down the paddle in an attempt to land it in a hole. It was similar to the challenge Michael won in the Philippines. The first castaway to land six balls in all six holes would win immunity, be safe from the vote, and be guaranteed a one-in-seven shot at winning the million dollars. One of the losing seven would become the eleventh person voted out of the game and become the fourth member of the jury.

So here's how the challenge shook down. Jon got an early lead with his first ball, as did Reed, though he quickly lost it. Jon landed his second ball around the time Natalie landed her first. Keith landed a ball, as did Missy and Alec, who lost it. Jon landed his third ball, followed by Natalie's second. Keith landed his second, as did Missy. Natalie lost both of her balls. Keith got his own third, and then his fourth and fifth. Jon got his fourth ball and went for his fifth. But it was no use. Keith landed his sixth and last ball to win immunity! He'd be safe from the vote and be guaranteed a one-in-seven shot at winning the game. Meanwhile, one of Alec, Baylor, Jaclyn, Jon, Missy, Natalie, and Reed would be voted out at the next Tribal Council and join Josh, Jeremy, and Wes on the jury.

Before Tribal Council, the obvious targets emerged -- Reed and Missy. Reed was targeted by Natalie, Missy, and Baylor for being the best strategist on the minority side. Missy was targeted by Reed, Alec, and Keith to break up her planned final three with Baylor and Natalie. But it all hinged on Jon and Jaclyn's choice of alliance. Jaclyn wanted to target Missy, but Jon wanted to trust their current alliance. They got into quite the fight over this. But not only over this. They also fought over Jaclyn's position of just being Jon's appendage. And that he didn't listen to her about anything they did. But after the fight was over, Reed tried to pitch to Jon, but Jon wasn't willing to trust him since he'd gone after him at the last Tribal Council. When Natalie walked up, he winked at Reed to throw him off and make it look like a show, but for all we know, that was a show to Reed. Also, Jon told Missy he had an idol from Exile Island, and that made Jaclyn nervous about how close he was with her now. Seeing them fight had Natalie worried that they wouldn't be on the same page. She needed them united for Tribal Council. Would they be? . . .

At Tribal Council, the answer was clear. By a vote of 7-1, the eleventh person voted out of San Juan del Sur and the fourth member of the jury was . . . Reed. So the plan of the majority alliance held, and Jon and Jaclyn stayed with their current alliance. (Oh, and the lone vote was Reed's for Missy. Even Keith and Alec voted for Reed.) So his torch was snuffed, and he was sent on his way.

I was all right with this ending. I didn't hate Reed, but after seeing his true colors, I really did stop liking him. He was annoying and thought he was better than he was. Plus, he was tied to Josh, whom I hated. I'll give him props for his near-perfect blindside last week, ruined largely by Keith, but other than that, that's really the only good move he made. Other than that, he wasn't that good of a player, and this was why. So goodbye, Reed. Go enjoy your life with Josh. You both deserve each other.

Fresh off Reed's long-overdue vote-off, the seven remaining castaways resumed the game, returning to camp following Tribal Council. Jon and Jaclyn were glad they'd worked things out. Alec was feeling down with his allies falling one by one. He was still holding on, but he didn't know for how much longer he could. He had no loved one in the game with Drew voted out early, and seeing Jon and Jaclyn and Missy and Baylor together made him upset. He tried the next morning to talk to Jon about it. But while Jon felt for him, he knew he and Keith had no game left. They had no cracks to exploit in the main alliance of five. He trusted them completely. And he thought he was still controlling and steering the game. (He wasn't. Missy, Baylor, and Natalie still were. He and Jaclyn are still just the swing votes.)

The Reward Challenge saw the castaways standing on small blocks while stabilizing balls against pieces of wood. If they dropped the ball or fell off, they'd be out of the challenge. The last person standing would win reward -- a king-sized canopy bed delivered to camp to enjoy food and dessert.

So here's how the challenge shook down. Alec fell out first after just seconds. After twenty minutes, Missy fell out second. Keith fell out third. Baylor fell out fourth. Jon fell out fifth, and it was down to Jaclyn and Natalie. It was close, but in the end . . . Jaclyn fell off sixth and last! So Natalie won reward! She'd be enjoying the canopy bed, and she could pick two people to join her. But first, she chose Alec to go to Exile Island. Then, she chose Jon and Jaclyn to join her for the reward. So that was that.

Back at camp, Natalie, Jon, and Jaclyn enjoyed the bed immediately, though they had to be careful. They'd be enjoying it while Missy, Baylor, and Keith would be staring at them. Jaclyn saw Missy, Baylor, and Keith walk away eventually, and she hoped that Jon's bond with Missy was still strong enough to hold their alliance together. Indeed, Jon trusted her and also trusted Natalie, whom he didn't realize was plotting to vote him out. The trio of castaways and enjoyed some pasta and champagne. Natalie wanted to keep Jon and Jaclyn from plotting with Keith. Of course, Jon's douchiness was annoying to Natalie. He talked about and swished it in such a snobbish way reminiscent of what his father had taught him about it. But apparently, he'd been doing that over the course of the game, and it was torture. Natalie was sick of his know-it-all attitude. Nonetheless, she felt good that he trusted her, since he told her about his new hidden Immunity Idol. Just the same, all that mattered to her was him not winning immunity so she could blindside him at the next Tribal Council.

After the reward, Natalie vented to Baylor and Keith about how fake Jon was, as well as how much he'd acted like he'd be having an easy cakewalk to the Final Tribal Council. He had Jaclyn, he had his bond with Missy, he assumed Baylor wouldn't go against what Missy wanted, and he wrongly thought that Natalie was fully loyal to him. She would kill herself if he won the game. It was clear that he wasn't as liked around camp as initially thought. She got Baylor and Keith to agree to voting Jon out, and she was sure that Alec would be on board. Baylor knew that Missy would not be on board since she saw him too much like a son figure. Or like a man who'd burned her in the past. And Keith was on board because he knew that Jon was coasting through the game. His being the constant swing vote with Jaclyn got him feeling too complacent. All of this talk got Jon and Jaclyn worried that Keith was trying to get Missy, Baylor, and Natalie to turn on him. Jaclyn, in particular, was worried about this, since Jon was acting like he had the whole game in the bag, something that was apparently demonstrated in real life, as well. It'd brought him several failures. If he wasn't careful, he'd be failing again.

The Immunity Challenge (and it was here that the episode started to get lame) saw the castaways holding onto a rope keeping a wobbly table steady, all while racing out to gather wooden blocks to place on their tables one at a time. They'd have to start anew if any blocks fell. The first castaway to successfully balance ten blocks would win immunity, be safe from the vote, and be guaranteed a one-in-six shot at winning the game. The losers would be vulnerable at the next Tribal Council, where the twelfth person would be voted out of the game.

So how's how the challenge shook down. Everyone got their first blocks easily, though Alec just as quickly lost his. Keith got off to an early lead, putting down his third block while Jaclyn, Jon, Natalie, Missy, and Baylor all got their seconds. Keith actually held the lead for most of the challenge, but dropped his table after his fifth block. He recovered fast, but Jaclyn and Jon took the lead now with their sixth blocks. Keith caught back up, though, and retook the lead, and Natalie tied it with her sixth, as did Baylor. Jon, Jaclyn, and Keith each got their seventh ones. Alec kept dumping his blocks by accident. Jaclyn dropped her blocks after number seven, leaving it to Jon and Keith, who each got eighth. Natalie was right behind them. But Keith dropped his near the end, allowing Jon to put down his ninth block. Keith recovered and caught back up, putting down his ninth block. Keith went back to get number ten, catching up with Jon. But he didn't move quickly enough. Even worse, he dropped them all. This opened the door, allowing Jon to win the challenge. So Jon won immunity. Meh. This made the whole episode lame for here. So he'd be safe from the vote and be guaranteed a one-in-six chance at winning the million dollars. Meanwhile, one of Alec, Baylor, Jaclyn, Keith, Missy, and Natalie would be voted out at the next Tribal Council.

Before Tribal Council, now that Jon was immune, the obvious targets emerged for the majority alliance -- Alec and Keith. Both were targeted since they were on the outside. Plus, they were the Plan B for Natalie and Baylor since their main target, Jon, was immune. Meanwhile, with no game left in them, Alec and Keith were pretty much going to vote for each other just to keep themselves from going out. The plan was to split the votes in case one of them had a hidden Immunity Idol. Three of them (Jon, Jaclyn, and Natalie) would vote for Keith, two of them (Missy and Baylor) would vote for Alec. Jon wanted Keith out for being an immunity threat against Jon. Missy was fine with it since she had Jon's back. But Natalie and Baylor were unsure of it. Natalie wanted Keith more loyal to her and indebted to her if she saved him. Plus, he was the best bet for beating Jon at immunity. So she thought about getting Baylor to agree to flip the vote and just vote Alec out. Especially after seeing how close Baylor was getting when Alec tried to flirt with her to stay in the game. And being just as bad at it as Drew was, I might add. So knowing the dangers of Baylor getting drawn in, how would the votes go? Especially with the risk of Jon flipping out at them going against his orders? . . .

At Tribal Council, the question was answered. By a vote of 4-3, the twelfth person voted out of San Juan del Sur and the fifth member of the jury was . . . Alec. So Jon's plan to get rid of Keith failed, and Natalie's plan to save him succeeded. (Oh, and the lone votes were Missy and Alec's votes for Keith. So Baylor flipped to get rid of Alec, too.) So his torch was snuffed, and he was sent on his way.

I wasn't too sad about this ending. If Jon couldn't go, then I'd rather Alec go home. He was an asshole in the early parts of the game, only quieting down when the Jeremy vs. Josh stuff rose up, and then Jon starting rising up as a Grade A jerk himself. But really, aside from his jerkiness, he also had no real game to him and was just floating along as Josh, Wes, and Reed got picked off, waiting for his turn to go home himself. Add in the fact that he was worthless in challenges and Keith gave Natalie and Baylor a better shot at beating Jon at his own game, and Alec was an easy choice. So adios, Alec. Hope you and your douchebag brother, Drew, never return.

In other news, I firmly hope Baylor, Missy, or Natalie win. Keith is okay, too, but he's just so damn bad at the game. Jaclyn is too much of a follower for Jon. And Jon himself . . . I hate him. Enough said. He's a jerk, his dying father story is played out, and he just doesn't seem like a nice guy at all. I don't know what Jaclyn sees in him. At least this last vote shows he's not as much in control as he thinks he is.

Six castaways remain. Who'll be voted out next week? We'll see then!

A Botched Fast Forward Tragically Sacks Kym and Alli in Singapore!

This week's episode of The Amazing Race was very exciting, though also quite saddening and disappointing. It began with the five remaining teams, fresh off Tim and Te Jay's elimination, continuing on with the race, now departing from Valletta, Malta, and heading off to Singapore. Adam and Bethany knew the plan to U-Turn Kym and Alli was still in effect, even though they weren't looking to U-Turn anymore. Misti and Jim knew they were guaranteed not to get eliminated since it was the last leg to use the Save, and they were ready to U-Turn Kym and Alli. They were aligned with Adam and Bethany, Amy and Maya, and Brooke and Robbie to do it. Kym and Alli knew that they'd have to race really hard to avoid the U-Turn. Amy and Maya were glad to still be in the race and wanted to stick with their plan to get Kym and Alli eliminated. And Brooke and Robbie wanted to get Kym and Alli out with their U-Turn plan. Flight arrangements were made, and Adam and Bethany and Misti and Jim thought they'd gotten the earliest flight out. But as it turned out, Kym and Alli booked one getting in forty minutes earlier, and they alerted Amy and Maya to that flight, and Brooke and Robbie found out, as well, on their own. Unfortunately for Adam and Bethany and Misti and Jim, a new rule had been imposed this season. Once a flight had been booked, they could not change their reservations to another flight, even if they found an earlier flight. So the arrangements were set. Kym and Alli, Amy and Maya, and Brooke and Robbie would get into Singapore at 6:00 a.m., whereas Adam and Bethany and Misti and Jim would get in at 6:40 a.m. Things were dire on this leg, as the Double U-Turn was indeed cropping up on this leg.

Once in Singapore, the teams had to race to a ferry terminal and take one out across the water. Amy and Maya, Brooke and Robbie, and Kym and Alli all got onto the first ferry, while Adam and Bethany and Misti and Jim got onto the second. Then, it was a matter of running through a jungle, finding a coconut stand and drinking some coconut milk in exchange for a clue.

Once the drinks were done, it was time to decide on their path. One option was a Fast Forward. This saw all teams looking to attempt it heading for an attraction called a Flow Rider and riding it on surfboards for two minutes to win the right to go directly to the Pit Stop. Only one team could win the pass, though. Kym and Alli initially opted not to do it, but realizing the lead they had on Adam and Bethany and Misti and Jim, they decided to go for it, since it came with the added bonus of not seeing the Double U-Turn board. Alli was unsure, though, based on the nature of the task. But Kym really wanted to try it. But Brooke and Robbie and Amy and Maya opted to head for the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to find their next clue. Misti and Jim did, as well, when they arrived. But as for Adam and Bethany . . . they initially turned it down, but then decided to take it since it was surfing-related, and they were surfers themselves. And it was at a location they'd been to before, apparently on a vacation there. They reached it around the time Kym and Alli were still attempting it. From there, it was a race to complete it between Adam and Bethany and Kym and Alli. Kym and Alli got two tries at it before Adam and Bethany got there. And when Adam and Bethany got to take their shot . . . they succeeded, giving them the clue to the Pit Stop! This meant that Kym and Alli would have to scramble to get back in the race.

Once at the hotel, the Roadblock saw one member of each team tightrope walking from one tower of the tower to the other, grab a clue, and then returning to their teammates. Maya, Brooke, Jim, and Kym all took the task for their teams, with only Jim struggling.

After finding a walking clue -- a man with a red-and-yellow "Onward Singapore" sign on his back that only Brooke and Robbie initially missed -- the teams were tasked with a Detour. This was a choice between China Cups and Chili Grass. China Cups involved getting painfully massage involving deep tissue massage, skin exfoliation, and suction from glass cups and fire. Chili Grass involved preparing a Singapore favorite dish by cracking shells of crabs, removing two pounds of crab meat, and covering them in chili sauce to be served as dinner. Brooke and Robbie, Amy and Maya, and Kym and Alli all chose and completed China Cups, all of them ending up in pain the entire time. Misti and Jim chose and completed Chili Grass.

Following this Detour came a trip to Fort Canning Park, where the teams would the second Double U-Turn of the race, which two teams could use to turn back two other teams to complete the Detour they didn't previously complete. Well, being the first team to get there, Amy and Maya used their U-Turn on Adam and Bethany, not knowing they'd won the Fast Forward by then. Meanwhile, neither Brooke and Robbie nor Misti and Jim team U-Turned Kym and Alli, thinking they'd won the Fast Forward instead of Adam and Bethany.

Next, the teams had to search five different parks containing Merlion statues to find one that housed their next clue. No one found it at the first park, but Brooke and Robbie and Misti and Jim found it at the second park. Amy and Maya were right at the same park, too, but Brooke and Robbie lied to them to direct them away from the park out of some apparent dislike for them. Amy was unsure if they were telling the truth, but Maya assured her that they were and blindly left the park to go to another one. They learned of their mistake after searching all of the parks and realized that Brooke and Robbie had tried to screw them over. Meanwhile, Kym and Alli saved time by taking a risk. They went right to the second park and found their clue right away.

In the end, through winning the Fast Forward, Adam and Bethany arrived first at the Pit Stop! They won a trip for two to Bali, compliments of Travelocity, as their prize. Brooke and Robbie finished second. Misti and Jim made up their lost time and clocked in third, happy to not have needed the Save, and Jim equally happy to be taking it home with them. This left things down to Amy and Maya and Kym and Alli, a team who'd dominated the leg up until falling for a lie at the last minute and a top-of-the-pack team who'd made a miscalculation by going for a Fast Forward they really shouldn't have gone for. In the end, it was very close, but the food scientists eked out the cyclists, landing in fourth place and staying alive for another leg. This left Kym and Alli to finish fifth and last . . . and be eliminated.

This was a tragic ending for me. I loved Kym and Alli and am sorry to see them go out like this. But it was their own fault -- Kym for suggesting the Fast Forward and actually forcing the team to try for it, and Alli for not speaking up when she was uncertain of it. It cost them time they shouldn't have lost. Had they stayed the course and let Adam and Bethany go for it without going for it themselves, they'd probably still be in this. Alas, it's sad to see such a strong team felled from such a simple mistake, especially with a middling team like Brooke and Robbie still in it, but them's the breaks sometimes. At least they didn't get booted due to a U-Turn, so that's something. Bye-bye, Kym and Alli. I loved you two and hope you come back for a future season!

In other news, I still love Adam and Bethany and Amy and Maya and hope one of their teams win! My liking for Brooke and Robbie took a real tumble this week. Not really for Brooke's usual whining, but for her and Robbie's relishing in lying to Amy and Maya over where to find the right Merlion statue. Lying is one thing. Boasting about it is another. And while I still like Misti, I still wanna see Jim get what's coming to him.

Once again, here's the order in which the teams finished this week:

#1. Adam and Bethany (Fast Forward; Prize: Trip for two to Bali, Courtesy Travelocity)

#2. Brooke and Robbie

#3. Misti and Jim

#4. Amy and Maya

#5. Kym and Alli (ELIMINATED)

It's down to the final four. Who'll be eliminated next week? We'll see then!

Chaotic Tribal Council Flushes Jon and Keith's Idols . . . and Sends Wes Packing!

This week's episode of Survivor was . . . actually, it was a pretty good recovery from last week's tragedy. It began with the nine remaining castaways, fresh off Jeremy's shocking, tragic vote-off, resuming the game. Keith was shocked at how the vote had turned out, since he'd suspected that Reed was the one who'd been about to be voted out. Reed convinced the rest of his alliance to just look past what'd happened and move on. But Keith knew what a gamer he was. Reed was glad that the plan to blindside Jeremy had worked and saved him in the process. He wanted to go deeper into the game, but he didn't know how. He could either go with Jon's alliance to get rid of the rest of his current alliance (Keith, Wes, and Alec) or try and get rid of Jon since he (Jon) thought he was the alpha-male. Meanwhile, Natalie didn't know if she could trust Missy or Baylor anymore after Jeremy's vote-off. Jon admitted that the blindside had been because Jeremy had suspected him of having a hidden Immunity Idol, which he did. But he trusted Natalie enough to tell her about it. Natalie accepted this, but was still secretly ready to get revenge on Jon. To start out with her revenge, she wanted to find the last hidden Immunity Idol that hadn't been found. She started right that night, while everyone was asleep.

The Reward Challenge saw the castaways dividing into two teams of four. They'd dive into the water, swim to a platform, climb and dive off that platform, and grab a key. From there, they'd collect puzzle pieces, swim them back to their platform, and then send another person to repeat the process. Once all puzzle pieces had been collected, they'd use them to build a puzzle stack. The first team to do so would win reward -- delivering baseball gear to kids who needed it, and then watching them play a game while enjoying "baseball food." A schoolyard pick would determine the teams, as well as who'd be left out of the reward. The teams wound up being Reed, Alec, Jon, and Jaclyn on the orange team, and Missy, Baylor, Natalie, and Wes on the blue team. Keith went unpicked, so he'd be missing out on the challenge and the reward.

So here's how the challenge shook down. Jon swam first for the orange team, and Wes swam first for the blue team. Wes did his entire heat frits in a good lead. This gave Missy from the blue team a headstart on Jaclyn on the orange team. Baylor kept the lead for the blue team when she swam against Reed from the orange team. But Reed managed to retake the lead with some fast swimming, providing that lead for Alec from the orange team, but Natalie from the blue team was right behind him. They kept that lead when it was time to work on their puzzle pieces. They unlocked their pieces first, but the blue team had a problem with finding their lock. They opened theirs really late. Late enough that the orange team had a big headstart they never lost in putting up their puzzle stack to win reward! So Jon, Jaclyn, Reed, and Alec would be going on the reward. However . . . Reed gave up his reward to Missy, the only one who hadn't gone on a reward yet. She and Baylor were both touched by this. Now part of the winning team, Missy could join Jon, Jaclyn, and Alec in choosing who'd go to Exile Island. They chose Wes, who was sent off immediately. Meanwhile, Natalie, Baylor, Reed, and Keith would go back to camp with nothing.

At the reward, Jon, Jaclyn, Missy, and Alec delivered baseball gear to the Nicaraguan kids. They all thought they were adorable and loved seeing them get their gear. Missy felt like she could cry at how cute it was. It made her think of Baylor and her other, as-of-yet-unmentioned daughter. They then enjoyed some food as they watched the kids start to play a game. Jon and Jaclyn were especially touched by this, especially because they couldn't have children. Jaclyn was born with a disease that left her without a uterus. Jaclyn felt like they had enough love to give even without having children of their own, so it was all right with her.

Back at camp, Reed, Keith, Natalie, and Baylor decided to see where everyone stood with one another. Reed wanted to talk to Keith and see where his head was at. He didn't think Keith had any clue of how the game worked (and he'd proven that more than once -- just telling people Jeremy had an idol when he didn't out of pure panic, not saying the right things he should've at the reward he won one week, and being totally out of the loop of the Jeremy blindside). He told Keith that Missy, Baylor, Natalie, Jon, and Jaclyn were splitting the next vote between him and Wes since they suspected him and Wes of having a hidden Immunity Idol. But Reed was hoping that if they did split the votes so he, Alec, Keith, and Wes could blindside Jon by having Keith's idol get played. Keith was willing to get rid of him.

Meanwhile, Natalie resumed her search for the last hidden Immunity Idol, and she had Baylor help her out since they were the only ones who knew where it could be. It was likely the one put back into play after John was voted out with his in his pocket. It was a hard, arduous search, but in the end, right near the fire, Natalie found it! She was so elated and excited, as was Baylor! After they had it, they laid out their plan. As it turned out, Baylor wanted Jon out of the game as much as Natalie did. But Natalie wanted to make Jon feel safe and comfortable for at least one more vote, and then try and blindside him soon after. Reed, however, was Natalie's target first and foremost because he was so strategic and could talk his way out of situations. She'd noticed it during the early days of the game, when they were on Hunahpu together (and yet, the editors didn't care enough to show us that!). They could get rid of Jon later. For now, they needed to take out at least one of the boys in the other alliance first -- Reed was the main target, but I think Keith, Wes, or Alec would do, too -- so they could later take out Jon and still have a women's majority afterwards. Baylor agreed to the plan. She was now Natalie's main ally with Jeremy gone, so the plan was set.

And throughout all of this . . . we never saw Wes at Exile Island. Shows what a non-entity he's been thus far.

The Immunity Challenge, at which Wes rejoined the others from Exile Island, saw the castaways balancing their feet on narrow perches while holding onto handles over their heads. If they let go of their handles or lost their footing, they were out. The last person standing would win immunity and be guaranteed a one-in-eight shot at winning the million dollars. The losers would be vulnerable at Tribal Council, where the tenth person would be voted out of the game.

So here's how the challenge shook down. Everyone stayed solid for the first few minutes. But Probst pulled out something that he does often -- temptations. He tried gummi bears and other candies. Jon, out of pure arrogance and comfort, stepped down first for it. After seven minutes. Missy stepped down second after a half-hour and got no food. Baylor and Jaclyn both stepped down third and fourth, respectively, for five chocolate chip cookies and two glasses of milk. After forty-five minutes, Wes stepped down fifth for chicken wings and beer. After an hour and twenty minutes, Keith stepped down sixth with no food. Alec stepped down seventh, also with no prize. So that left it down to Natalie and Reed. And they kept up the fight for three hours. But at last, Natalie was willing to step down for some food since she was weakening and Reed still looked solid -- so long as it was pizza, wings, a cookie, beer, and some water. Once Probst got it for her, Natalie stepped down eighth and last. Meaning that Reed won immunity! So he'd be safe from the vote and be guaranteed a one-in-eight shot at winning the game and the million-dollar prize. Meanwhile, one of Alec, Baylor, Jaclyn, Jon, Keith, Missy, Natalie, and Wes would be voted out at the next Tribal Council.

Before Tribal Council, the obvious targets emerged -- Jon, Keith, and Wes. Jon was still being targeted by Reed for being the top dog of the majority alliance. Thanks to Jon's arrogance at the challenge. He'd finally decided to fall in with his boys' alliance. Keith and Wes were jointly targeted by Jon, Jaclyn, Missy, Baylor, and Natalie to try and get another guy from that alliance booted. It was really a plan provoked by Reed so they'd split their votes, enabling him and his boys to vote "four strong" to get rid of Jon, while the others' 3-2 split would be minority votes. Reed and Alec convinced Missy and Baylor to get Natalie, and then all three women would join Alec in voting for Keith. Meanwhile, Jon, Jaclyn, and Reed would then vote for Wes in case of an idol being played. Missy and Baylor agreed to it, and the plan was underway. Jon was uneasy about the vote, at first, but after getting it firmed up with Alec that he'd be voting with them, he felt totally safe and wouldn't be playing his own idol. But would that last? . . .

At Tribal Council, the question was answered. It seemed like the plan to blindside Jon was all but ensured. But a poor choice of words from Reed got Keith all panicked and caused him to accidentally let it slip that that was exactly the plan. Then, as a result of that, Natalie saw a golden opportunity, somehow had an inkling that Jon was the real target, and encouraged him to play his hidden Immunity Idol! As a result, he did. But then, seeing him do it got Keith to play his own hidden Immunity Idol. He wanted to play it on Wes, but Wes told him he didn't want him to, so he played it on himself. So no votes for either Jon or Keith would count. So by a vote of 4-3-2, with the four votes not counting and also the three votes not counting, the tenth person voted out of San Juan del Sur and the third member of the jury was . . . Wes. The plan had failed, but man, was that a chaotic Tribal Council! (Oh, and the four nullified votes were Reed, Alec, Keith, and Wes's for Jon, and the other three nullified votes were Missy, Baylor, and Natalie's for Keith. Only Jon and Jaclyn's votes for Wes had counted, which . . . ouch!) So his torch was snuffed, and he was sent on his way.

This was a very sad ending for me . . . but also not a sad ending. I did like Wes, in spite of his lack of manners and decorum toward women. But he'd been a virtual non-entity in this game, not even getting all that many confessionals (not even in his boot episode!). He kind of floated about as Keith's appendage and not showing much personality of his own. Still, it sucked to get sacked due to an idol. And worse yet, he wasn't sacked by one idol, but two -- one of them being his own father's! If he'd taken Keith's offer, he'd definitely still be there. Though then again, his father would be gone instead. But whatever. He was a much smarter player than his dumb father, anyway, so it was probably better for the main alliance of five that he's out. Plus, him getting out does secure Natalie for a fair few moments unless she gets cute and/or cocky and makes a wrong move, so I'm doubly okay with this! Goodbye, Wes. I liked you, but with your near-nonexistent edit, you weren't winning this, anyway. But it really must hurt that your own basically got you voted out with his stupidity and paranoia.

In other news, I love Natalie, Missy, Baylor, and Jaclyn and hope the women can rule with more men dropping like flies! I also like Keith, though he's completely dumb and has no shot at winning this game. This week proved it more than ever. I'm starting to not like Reed, and I know I don't like Alec. But I'm growing to hate Jon and his growing arrogance and cockiness. His alpha-male posturing and chest-pounding is really getting on my nerves.

Eight castaways remain. With two episodes coming to us next week, who'll be voted out in the first episode? And then in the second? We'll see then!

Tim and Te Jay Out of Luck in Malta!

Whew! It was a tedious, two-week wait due to an awards show we didn't even need, but now, we're back on track!

This week's episode of The Amazing Race was full of the usual fun and excitement. It began with the six remaining teams, fresh off Tim and Te Jay's non-elimination, now departing from Palermo, Sicily, and heading to Valletta, Malta, a country that was being visited for the very first time in the history of the show! Even twenty-five seasons in, the show can still find some new countries to visit. Misti and Jim felt confident after winning four legs and wanted to win more. Kym and Alli had no clue of where Malta was. Amy and Maya had to worry about Amy having a hurt leg. She'd hurt it before the race, mostly from the excitement of finding out they were going to be on it. Brooke and Robbie enjoyed a laugh at her limp. Adam and Bethany were ready to use their Express Pass. And Tim and Te Jay wanted to overcome their Speed Bump and get back in the race so they could keep traveling. All six teams got on the same ferry to Malta.

But on the ferry to Malta, a new agreement emerged. The other teams were all growing both weary and wary of Kym and Alli just because they hung out by themselves and were sneaky. Brooke and Robbie in particular couldn't stand them and wanted to Double U-Turn them. Amy and Maya did, as well, but after the other teams all agreed to it.

The teams reached Malta and found a bar, from which they had to take trays of drinks up some high stairs to the Knights of Malta to get their next clue. Misti and Jim were the first team to drop a tray when Jim's fell. Adam and Bethany made it most of the way up, but Bethany dropped hers right at the top. They had to clean up the mess before restarting. Amy and Maya dropped their trays five times before they finished it. Tim and Te Jay had a drop, too. Out of everyone, only Kym and Alli and Brooke and Robbie finished it on the first try.

The teams then hurried to a boathouse, where necklaces indicated departure times the next morning were waiting for them. Misti and Jim, Kym and Alli, and Tim and Te Jay all got 7:30 a.m. departures, while Adam and Bethany, Amy and Maya, and Brooke and Robbie all got 7:45 a.m. departures. The teams had to camp out by the water for the night.

The next morning, the teams were immediately tasked with the Roadblock. This saw one member of each team rappelling twenty stories into the Blue Grotto, then meeting their partners and searching the cave for their next clue. Bethany, Misti, Alli, Amy, Robbie, and Tim all took the task for their teams, with Bethany, Misti, and Alli all crushing the task, but Amy and Tim struggling at it. At least in rappelling. Tim managed to catch up to Misti in swimming, and Amy flat-out passed Robbie in doing the same.

The Detour had a twist to it. It'd a Blind Detour, in which teams would choose the task with no description in their clues as to what they involved. It was a choice between Flag and Shine. Flag involved trying to run up a greasy pole to find a flag, with one member trying to grab a yellow flag, and the other a red flag. Shine involved dressing up in suits of armor and polishing each other off using an old technique to a knight's satisfaction. Adam and Bethany chose and completed Flag. Brooke and Robbie and Amy and Maya chose and completed Shine, although the latter team got lost -- again -- and wound up at the Flag Detour by mistake and even attempted it before finding their way to their chosen Detour. Misti and Jim, Kym and Alli, and Tim and Te Jay all initially chose Flag, but failed to complete it due to the grease on the poles and switched to Shine. To make matters worse, Misti and Jim and Tim and Te Jay didn't even find the Detour the right way. They just saw Kym and Alli doing Flag near the water, followed them down there, and started doing the task. Tim and Te Jay didn't even see their Speed Bump clue because of that, and Misti and Jim didn't find the Detour clue! Tim and Te Jay realized their mistake quickly, though, and doubled back to find it. Misti and Jim did, as well, but not till after a few attempts at Flag. Meanwhile, and Adam and Bethany simply completed Flag by giving up their Express Pass since it was the last leg they could use it on.

Before completing the Detour, Tim and Te Jay had to deal with their Speed Bump, a task only they had to complete for coming in last on the last leg. This saw them painting the Maltese cross on a shield. They had to do so perfectly and accurately to get back in the race and make up their valuable lost time.

In the end, thanks to their Express Pass, Adam and Bethany arrived first at the Pit Stop! Yes! They each won $10,000, a total of $20,000, as their prize. Misti and Jim came in second. Kym and Alli checked in third. Amy and Maya ran up to the mat in fourth. This left things down to Brooke and Robbie and Tim and Te Jay, a team who'd switched Detours twice and a team who had a Speed Bump and struggled at a Detour. It was . . . surprisingly close, as it came down to a taxi race (or so it seemed, at least). In the end, the dating wrestlers barely eked out the college sweethearts to land on the mat in fifth, staying alive for another leg. This left Tim and Te Jay to finish sixth and last . . . and be eliminated.

I wasn't really saddened by this ending, least of all because I already knew the elimination order since even before the season started. I liked Tim and Te Jay, but it was easy to see that they weren't winning the race. They were two skinny, shrimpy little gay guys with very little endurance or physical strength, poor navigation, and decent, but not great, mental skills. That makes an early-ousted to mid-stage-ousted team, at best, and very rarely a late-race team. They weren't going to get much farther unless another team hugely screwed up, and Brooke and Robbie very nearly did. Still, not enough to save them. So ta-ta, Tim and Te Jay. Good luck in your lives together. Hope you two remain successful in your careers!

In other news, I still love Adam and Bethany, Kym and Alli (despite their antisocial, borderline-villainous behavior this week), Amy and Maya, and Brooke and Robbie. Misti and Jim (especially Jim) have calmed down, which is good, but I still don't quite like Jim. But at least I don't hate him.

Once more, here's the order in which the teams finished this week:

#1. Adam and Bethany (Express Pass Used; Prize: $20,000)

#2. Misti and Jim

#3. Kym and Alli

#4. Amy and Maya

#5. Brooke and Robbie

#6. Tim and Te Jay (ELIMINATED)

Five teams remain. Who'll be eliminated next week? I know who, but we'll see then!

Idol Paper Trail Causes Chaos . . . and Jeremy's Shocking Boot!

Well, I'm almost giving up on this season due to the results of this week's episode, if you see the title. But I'll try and hang in there for one more week to see if anything changes up.

This week's episode of Survivor was pretty good . . . until the final quarter of the episode. It began with the ten remaining castaways, fresh off Josh's satisfying, fully-deserved vote-off, resuming the game. Reed was not doing very well. He was furious that Josh was gone, and that their game together was over. He didn't know to whom to turn. He had to figure out how to maneuver being in the maneuver. And Jon was worried that people would hate him for leading Josh on, especially Josh. He'd only joined Jeremy, Natalie, Missy, and Baylor because of Keith, Wes, and Alec's disrespect toward Jaclyn. He felt it was the wrong decision since it went against their instincts and more toward their emotions. Keith felt on edge now, knowing that they were now in the minority with Jon and Jaclyn's alliance. Their "couples alliance" deal was over. So now Keith was hoping to play his hidden Immunity Idol to get rid of one of them. He was done trusting Jon, Jaclyn, Missy, or Baylor.

The Reward Challenge saw two castaways dividing into two teams, and then facing off one-on-one on a wobbly beam above a mud puddle. They'd have to knock their opponents off the beam to score a point. The first team to five points would win reward -- boarding a luxury fishing yacht to enjoy sandwiches, soft drinks, and champagne. The teams wound up being Keith, Wes, Jon, Jaclyn, and Missy on the blue team against Alec, Baylor, Reed, Jeremy, and Natalie on the orange team.

So here's how the challenge shook down. The first match was Wes from the blue team against Reed from the orange team. Reed won by just a bit. The second match was Jaclyn from the orange team against Natalie from the blue team. Natalie won. The third match was Jon from the blue team against Jeremy from the orange team. Jon won. The fourth match was Missy from the blue team against Baylor from the orange team. Baylor won. The fifth match was Keith from the blue team against Alec from the orange team. Keith won. The sixth match was Wes from the blue team against Reed from the orange team in a rematch. This time, Wes won. The seventh match was Jaclyn from the blue team against Natalie from the orange team in another rematch. Natalie won again. The eighth match was Jon from the blue team against Jeremy from the orange team in a third rematch. Jon won again, tying the score at four points each. The ninth and final match would decide it, being between Missy from the blue team and Baylor from the orange team in the fourth rematch. It was very close, but in the end . . . Baylor won again, meaning that she, Jeremy, Natalie, Alec, and Reed had won reward! The orange team would be taking the cruise! Keith, Wes, Missy, Jon, and Jaclyn would be heading back to camp with nothing.

But wait! Before anything could proceed further, Natalie offered up her spot in the reward to Jon! And then, Jeremy offered up his spot to Jaclyn! Both were touched by this, since they were hungry. Natalie explained that she was showing her loyalty to Jon for flipping to their side, and Jeremy gave his reward to Jaclyn for the same reason. However, Jeremy, at the orange team's request, was sent to Exile Island. Baylor said that it was because she had a feeling that an idol or at least a clue was hidden there, and she wanted someone from their alliance to find it before someone from the other alliance did.

Back at Huyopa's camp, Natalie was hoping that her gesture to Jon would keep him and Jaclyn on their side. Wes thought that it was a good move on her and Jeremy's part. Keith was sure that they were the final six if something didn't happen. Keith wanted to keep playing, though, and trying to aim his idol correctly in case one of them was the correct target.

At Exile Island, Jeremy found the urn containing the new hidden Immunity Idol clue. He figured out it was in the same place Jon had found it, but after an extensive search both days he was there, he came to realize that it just wasn't there. So he came to a realization: that Jon, the last person sent there before him, had the idol. But he was wondering why he hadn't revealed it to the rest of his alliance.

Jon, Jaclyn, Baylor, Alec, and Reed all rode on the yacht, enjoying the cruise as they ate their sandwiches. Both Jon and Jaclyn knew that it was done to cement their place in Jeremy, Natalie, Missy, and Baylor's alliance. But Reed knew it, too, and wanted to cause some kind of chaos to disrupt their alliance and maybe advance his own alliance one step farther in the game.

After returning to camp, Jon had a bit of a problem. He told Jaclyn that he was worried that Jeremy had found out that he had the idol. If he put it together, Jon could be in big trouble, as his cover would be blown. He didn't know how to neutralize that threat. But he'd have to do that soon.

The Immunity Challenge saw the castaways unspooling a rope to drop blocks into a basket. The first castaway to correctly stack those blocks into a tower and put a flag in the middle of them would win immunity and be guaranteed a one-in-nine shot at winning the million dollars. The remaining castaways would be vulnerable at Tribal Council, where the ninth person would be voted out of the game. Oh, and there was a twist to the challenge. For the first time ever, they'd do the entire challenge with their feet. (According to Probst on Twitter, it was a nod to a quote said by Tarzan in One World: "The game's afoot.") They could use their hands only to pick up a block if it fell out of their baskets.

So here's how the challenge shook down. Keith, Jon, Natalie, Baylor, and Wes got off to an early lead in unspooling their blocks. Jeremy, Alec, Reed, and Jaclyn were all close behind, though. When it came to actually building, Reed, Keith, Jeremy, and Baylor got off to the lead. Missy moved slowly while Jon flat-out struggled. Natalie, Wes, Baylor, Reed, Jeremy, and Keith got through the first and second rows quickly. Reed and Keith worked on their top rows very quickly, which Reed actually did. Natalie caught up, as did Baylor. Jaclyn and Missy struggled, and Jon did, as well. Wes reached the top row, but knocked it all down by accident. Keith and Reed both neared their top rows, but Keith knocked his tower down, and Reed lost his final block. He kept dropping it, actually. Baylor eventually broke into first place, and after she dropped one piece, she replaced it, got her flag, and placed it just in time to win immunity! So she'd be guaranteed a one-in-nine shot at winning the game. Meanwhile, one of Alec, Jaclyn, Jeremy, Jon, Keith, Missy, Natalie, Reed, and Wes would be voted out at the next Tribal Council.

Before Tribal Council, the obvious targets emerged -- Keith and Reed. Keith was targeted as part of a plan by Reed to survive. He went through his bag and found the clue to the hidden Immunity Idol. He also figured out that he just might have the idol itself. So he started a "rumor" (that was actually true) around the camp that he had it, which caused some panic with Missy, Baylor, Jon, and Jaclyn. Upon Keith finding out that it was Reed who'd found out about his idol, Reed was targeted by his former allies, Keith, Wes, and Alec. However, a surprise third target emerged, and this one stifled Missy and Baylor's slight panic over Keith's idol. Jon revealed to them that he had an idol, and he wanted to leverage that information into voting out Jeremy. He wanted to get him out before he revealed his suspicions. And the need to do so was well-warranted, because Jeremy privately talked to Natalie and indeed revealed his suspicions to her. They both knew that Jon was trying to take over the game. When he tried to talk to Jon and see if he had it, he caught him in a lie and figured out that he did indeed have it. Still, Jeremy decided to keep trusting him at least up to the final six, so he decided to target Keith and thought that the rest of his alliance would do the same. Natalie would definitely vote with him. However, Jeremy's suspicions, as had been said, made Jon realize that he needed to get rid of him. Missy and Baylor weren't sure about turning on them, though. Jeremy had been close with Missy since their early days on Hunahpu, and betraying also meant betraying Natalie, whom Baylor had gotten to know during their time on Exile Island. Could they really pull the trigger like that? . . .

At Tribal Council, the question was answered. First, surprisingly, no idols were played! Then, by a vote of 5-3-2, the ninth person voted out of San Juan del Sur and the second member of the jury was . . . Jeremy. So Jon's blindside plan had worked. (Oh, and the lone votes were Keith, Wes, and Alec's votes for Reed, and Jeremy and Natalie's votes for Keith. Reed had joined in the core alliance's votes for Jeremy.) So his (Jeremy's) torch was snuffed, and he was sent on his way.

This was a very sad ending for me. I loved Jeremy and am glad he lasted as long as he did. And I hated to see him go since he'd been playing a hell of a game up to this point. But it was a bit dumb of him to corner Jon with his suspicions. He should've just played dumb and pretended not to have found an idol and brought it up to Jon a few votes down the line. Still, it blows a lot of theories that he was getting the winner's edit this season right out of the water! Now I don't know who's gonna win with him out of the game! I'd really hoped that he would, but with him out, Natalie's likely doomed, and I can't figure out who else is emerging as an obvious winner. Goodbye, Jeremy. Hope you and Val have a good marriage and life together. But I'll admit that you kinda screwed yourself a bit this week.

In other news, I still only really like Missy, Baylor, Natalie, Jaclyn, Keith, and Wes. I still don't care for Alec, Reed lost me with what he did with Keith's things this week, and Jon's just proven himself to be a flip-flopping rat who deserves comeuppance. I think he and Jaclyn moved at least one Tribal Council too soon. They should've made an obvious Reed vote-off first, and then vote Jeremy out at the next Tribal Council. I also don't know why Missy and Baylor flipped on Jeremy and Natalie, but I hope it was just for this vote, and they'll keep working with Natalie.

Nine castaways remain. Who'll be voted out next week? We'll see then! I'll try and stick to this season, but as Jeremy was probably my main horse this season, it'll be hard. Natalie's my second-biggest horse this season, so I guess she'll be the one I back.

Jury Begins as Josh Takes a Hike from Weak Gameplay and His Alliance's Chauvinism!

Whew! I almost gave up on this season, but luckily, the end result of the episode (spoiled right in the title) kept me hooked!

This week's episode of Survivor was chock-full of fun, mainly due to the end result! It began with the eleven remaining castaways, fresh off Julie's cowardly quitting, resuming the game. Missy was disgusted at Julie for quitting the game. It didn't just put a wrinkle in their alliance's plan to get rid of Josh, but it was terrible to give up on an experience like Survivor. Elsewhere, Jon and Jaclyn were still bouncing between the alliances. But Jon had decided to side with Josh's alliance and take out Jeremy . . . for now. Jaclyn was for it, too, though she was worried about how they'd be perceived by the rest of their former alliance when they ended up on the jury.

The Reward Challenge saw the remaining castaways dividing into two teams of five. Then, they'd race to load puzzle pieces onto a cart, which they'd push to a tower before using the heavy puzzle pieces to build a temple. Then, they'd send one person to the top of the temple to unhook a statue before working to hoist the statue to the top and raise their team flag. The first team to do so would win reward -- a Survivor-style taco bar, complete with beer, tea, and margaritas! They'd determine the teams with a schoolyard pick, and the last person left after the pick would sit out the challenge. The teams were Keith, Natalie, Reed, Jeremy, and Wes on the orange team, and Jon, Alec, Baylor, Josh, and Jaclyn on the blue team. Having been left out of the pick, Missy was left to sit out with no shot at the reward.

So here's how the challenge shook down. The orange team got off to an early lead from having four men and a woman -- and thus more muscle -- against three men and two women -- with less muscle. They loaded their puzzle pieces and moved them much more quickly than the blue team. They stayed in a good lead all the way until it was time to build their temples. The orange team (for some reason, Probst called them the yellow team even though they were very clearly orange) had a headstart in building that they maintained the whole way through, even though the blue tribe was right behind them. Once done, Natalie ran up the temple to unhook the statue, and then joined her team in hoisting their statue. There was nothing the blue team could do. The orange team won reward and would be going to the taco bar! The blue team wouldn't get it, and neither would Missy. But there was one other bit of business to complete: choosing someone to send to Exile Island. They chose Jon. So that was that.

Jeremy, Natalie, Reed, Keith, and Wes all arrived at the taco bear and enjoyed the tacos and drinks available to them. Reed was happy and enjoying it, since he was really hungry. He felt bad for Josh, though, since he knew he wanted to eat, as well. But he also noticed that there was no room for alliance or strategy talk since there were people from two different alliances there. Natalie also noticed it since she and Jeremy were the only ones there from their alliance. If they had Missy and/or Jon there, they'd be talking strategy the entire reward. Keith and Wes tried to lie and say they had no idea who'd have gone home at the last Tribal Council if Julie hadn't quit, but Jeremy knew very well that they were targeting him, because it was what Josh wanted. It told him that Keith was trying to play the game, but not very well. (Such had been clear in week four.) Wes tried to slow down and enjoy the food, but he just couldn't do so. He was so hungry. But he then felt like crap and kept on burping. Keith knew of his son's propensity to make mistakes and wasn't surprised that he'd made one with the food.

Back at camp, Josh was disappointed to have won the challenge. But at the same time, he could talk to and bond with some people to try and get the target off his back and onto Jeremy's. He tried Baylor first, reminding her that she owed him for saving her at the John vote-off. But that really was Josh just wanting John out of the game at the time since he couldn't trust him, not any need to save Baylor, and Baylor knew it. In fact, she felt so pressured and blackmailed from a guy who was supposedly from a Christian family. This made her realize that she owed him nothing at all. Which she didn't, so good for you, Baylor! She pretty much told Josh that she felt like all she'd be to him was another vote, just like she was to him on Coyopa (not that she said that last part, but it was true). So this made Josh realize that he didn't have Baylor or Missy, who was obviously keeping her under close watch and out of his hands. So instead, he moved on to Jaclyn and tried to get her and Jon to stay with them. She told him not to worry about Baylor since she and Jon were on their side, anyway. Josh felt a bit better, but wasn't sure if they'd really keep their word.

At Exile Island, Jon arrived alone to find an urn with a piece of paper. It contained a clue to the next hidden Immunity Idol. But unlike the past two, it was right there on Exile Island. He'd have to search for it while the tide was low. And from what I could see, it didn't look like it took a long time. But it might've. Anyway, he tried the base of a large peninsula at the tip of Exile Island and couldn't find the idol in any of the crevices on it. But his luck changed when he climbed the peninsula to look in its higher points. And sure enough, he managed to find it. He found it to be a game-changer and thought that it'd help him in the game.

Back at camp, things looked good for Josh's alliance with Reed, Keith, Wes, Alec, Jon, and Jaclyn. At the moment, it seemed like the seven were solid, or at least close to it. But . . . something was about to happen that would threaten it. Wes and Alec basically started talking trash about Baylor, who'd noticed that Wes was burping and farting a lot, but not just pooping. And even worse, Alec, due to his dislike of Baylor, said that if he did burp or fart, he'd make sure that she smelled them. And Keith was just getting out of control with all of his spitting anywhere he wanted. This made Jeremy and Missy very mad, as they found Keith, Wes, and Alec all very rude. In fact, Missy told Jeremy that he and Jon were the only true gentlemen on the island. Jeremy did admit to acting a bit like that around his firefighter friends. But when women entered the room, they actually acted like respectful gentlemen. Alec even gave his trash to Baylor to throw away for him, which made her feel like a slave. But Alec didn't care. Baylor was now over Josh. Missy tried to get Baylor to let it roll off her back since she was treated like that, too. And then, Keith tried to make her help him get some firewood since she hadn't done anything all day. Missy was disgusted by all of the chauvinism. And it was made worse when Keith, Wes, and Alec got up to leave and asked the women to keep the fire going. Alec said that Natalie probably would, but Missy, Baylor, and Jaclyn likely wouldn't. Jaclyn realized that she was seeing something from the men she'd seen hints of before, but hadn't really seen in all of its glory until that day. Now she was questioning her alliance with them. They seemed to only treat her respectfully when Jon was there. With him gone, though, their treatment of her had changed drastically. They needed her and Jon's vote at the next Tribal Council, but with the way they were treating her, they'd just lost it.

And what did Josh and Reed do during all of this? Absolutely nothing but let them do it.

Meanwhile, Keith and Alec talked about the next vote. They needed to get Jeremy out the first chance they got. Alec felt comfortable with his alliance and knew that they had Jon and Jaclyn. Jon was a big, strong man, and Jaclyn would do whatever he wanted. So if Jeremy didn't win immunity, they were good to go!

The Immunity Challenge, at which Jon rejoined the tribe, saw the castaways watching Probst show them a series of symbols on blocks, and then trying to replicate the series from memory. If they got a symbol right, they'd stay in the challenge. If they got it wrong, they'd be eliminated. It was a challenge just like the one Tasha won in Cagayan. The last castaway standing would win immunity, be safe from the vote, and be guaranteed a one-in-ten shot at winning the million dollars. The losers would be vulnerable at the next Tribal Council, where the eighth person would be voted out of the game.

So here's how the challenge shook down. Probst showed his first series of symbols. They were the statue, sun, skull, and axe. Everyone got the statue right and thus stayed in. But Jon fell out first when he chose the skull over the sun. Reed fell second when he used a temple instead of the skull. Wes fell third and Alec fell fourth when they showed a mask over the axe. With seven people still in the challenge, Probst moved on to his next series: axe, skull, mask, sun, temple, axe, and statue. Natalie fell fifth when she used a skull instead of the axe. Baylor fell sixth when she used the sun instead of the skull. Jaclyn fell seventh when she was used the sun instead of the mask. So she used it one symbol early. Now down to four, they moved on. Missy fell eighth and Keith fell ninth when both used the temple instead of the sun. Like Jaclyn, they moved one symbol too soon. So it was down to Josh and Jeremy, the two main alliance leaders. It came down to the very next symbol, and . . . Josh fell tenth and last when he chose the statue instead of the temple. This meant that Jeremy, the current target, won immunity! He was the first black man to win immunity since Gervase won it in Blood vs. Water! So he was safe from the vote and would be guaranteed a one-in-ten shot at winning the money! Meanwhile, one of Alec, Baylor, Jaclyn, Jon, Josh, Keith, Missy, Natalie, Reed, and Wes would be the eighth person voted out of the game at the next Tribal Council.

Before Tribal Council, the obvious targets emerged -- Josh and Baylor. Josh was obvious -- he was targeted by Jeremy for being the obvious leader of the men's alliance. Baylor was the backup target of Jeremy's alliance, targeted by Josh for not siding with him over Jeremy. Also, Keith and Alec really wnated her out. But it'd all come down to whether or not Jon and Jaclyn were on their side. Also, Jon told Jaclyn that he'd found the idol on Exile Island, and this pleased her. Jaclyn was leaning toward siding with Jeremy, Natalie, Missy, and Baylor since she didn't like Josh, Reed, Keith, Wes, or Alec anymore. She told him about their sexism and chauvinism toward her while Jon was gone and also told him that they'd be their biggest threats for immunity in the Immunity Challenges. So why not vote them out? But Jon, probably not completely surprisingly, wanted to keep siding with the men, anyway. He felt like they couldn't beat Jeremy in the final three since he needed the money. So it was down to the side they could beat more easily in Immunity Challenges and the side that could give them an easier navigation through the game since it had more pairs in it. Where would they go? And would a fight between Keith and Missy over Baylor and her lack of work at camp and Wes doing more work than she did really help them make the choice? . . .

At Tribal Council, the question was answered. By a vote of 6-5, the eighth person voted out of San Juan del Sur and the first member of the jury was . . . Josh! Yay! So Jon listened to Jaclyn! (Oh, and the lone votes were obviously Josh, Reed, Keith, Wes, and Alec's for Baylor.) So his torch was snuffed, and he was sent on his way.

This was the ending that would determine whether or not I'd stick with this season. And it was a GREAT one! I've disliked Josh from early on in this season when he proved how untrustworthy he was by siding with the Coyopa men after clearly siding with the women at the first Tribal Council and throwing his vote to Baylor, his supposed ally, to get Nadiya voted out. And from there, he was just too shady and irritating to watch, yet so much screen time got devoted to him. Plus, he made a huge mistake (along with Reed) in just letting Keith, Wes, and Alec disrespect the women without trying to stop them. He wasn't hateful, I guess, but he wasn't likable, either, and I just wanted him out over everyone else. And now that he is, I'm only left with two people I'd rather see lose than win. So goodbye, Josh! Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya! I hope your silent, boring boyfriend, Reed, follows you next, and then Alec, Keith, and Wes, the chauvinists, in any order at all! And then Jon, since I don't find him interesting or likable, either.

In other news, I mostly like everyone left! I love Jeremy, Natalie, Missy, Baylor, and Jaclyn. I also like Reed okay, and while the sexism was a bit heavy-handed, I do like Keith and Wes, anyway, if they tone it down in the coming weeks. I don't much care for Alec or Jon, though, and I think Alec will be gone in the coming weeks, but Jon's here till they're all wiped out, unfortunately.

Ten castaways remain. Who'll be voted out next week? We'll see then!

Tim and Te Jay Paint Their Way out of the Race in Sicily! . . . But Not Quite

This week's episode of The Amazing Race was yet another fun one. It began with the six remaining teams, fresh off Shelley and Nici's elimination, continuing on with the race, now departing from Marrakech, Morocco, and racing all the way to Palermo, Sicily, which hasn't been visited since the ninth season (when Danielle and Dani and then Dave and Lori were eliminated). Misti and Jim felt like they were having fun together, and they were communicating better. Adam and Bethany felt good doing things together and bonding over the race. Kym and Alli liked every team but Misti and Jim since neither seemed to have any fun on the race. (I'd say Misti was having plenty of fun. It's just Jim who doesn't seem to be.) Tim and Te Jay felt that things were going great between them, since they only bickered about stupid things. Also, Te Jay is half-Italian. Brooke and Robbie wouldn't have traded the race for anything. Their minds were only on the race, though they missed Facebook, Twitter, and their workouts. And Amy and Maya were hoping to recover from their previous low finish. In the end, the teams got onto two different flights -- Misti and Jim and Kym and Alli on a flight arriving at 8:00 p.m., and Adam and Bethany, Tim and Te Jay, Brooke and Robbie, and Amy and Maya arriving at 8:40 p.m.

Once in Palermo, the teams were tasked with taking taxis to a house, but met with a bunch-up point that equalized the teams till the next morning at 6:30 a.m., so they all danced the night away. The next morning, though, they had to take cabs to Villa Costanza. They left in three groups, with Misti and Jim and Kym and Alli leaving at 6:30, Amy and Maya and Brooke and Robbie leaving at 6:40, and Adam and Bethany and Tim and Te Jay leaving at 6:50.

From there, the teams were tasked with the Roadblock, which saw one member of which team taking go-karts up Mt. Pellegrino in under four minutes and seven seconds. They'd then have a professional driver take them back down in vintage cars. Jim, Kym, Maya, Brooke, Adam, and Te Jay all took the task for their teams, with Jim, Kym, Brooke, Adam, and Te Jay all clearing in on their first tries. Maya went twenty-five seconds over the time limit and had to do it a second time.

The Roadblockers met their partners at the location of the Detour, which was a choice between Painters and Posers. Painters involved restoring a ceiling painting while lying on their backs on large scaffolds. Posers involved watching a collection of opera singers, identifying their costumes, and writing down their character names and operas in the order they stood on the stage. Misti and Jim, Kym and Alli, Adam and Bethany, Tim and Te Jay all chose and completed Painters. Brooke and Robbie were the only team to choose and complete Posers. Amy and Maya initially chose Painters, but were quickly booted from that Detour since only four teams could do it at once, and they were beaten out in getting there by Adam and Bethany and Tim and Te Jay (who way-too-openly celebrated in front of them). So they were forced into Posers, which they actually only needed two tries to complete by working with Brooke and Robbie, who also only needed two tries.

In the end, Misti and Jim arrived first at the Pit Stop once more. They won a trip for two to Jamaica, courtesy of Travelocity, as their prize. Oh, and they'd just won the 300th leg of the race. Kym and Alli came in second by just minutes. Amy and Maya cracked the top three for the first time, clocking in third. Brooke and Robbie ran up to the mat in fourth. This left things down to Adam and Bethany and Tim and Te Jay, two teams who got delayed with the Painters Detour. It was seemingly very close and tight, but in the end, the married surfers eked out the college sweethearts, checking in fifth, staying alive for another leg. This left Tim and Te Jay to finish sixth and last . . . but they were not eliminated. No, it was the second of three predetermined non-elimination legs. So they were still in the race for at least one more leg. But they'd have to complete a Speed Bump on the next leg while the other teams continued racing. Both felt like they were greatly up to the challenge.

This was an okay ending to me. I like Tim and Te Jay, but I'm okay with them being Speed Bumped since I highly doubt they'll overcome it, anyway. This deep into the race, you've gotta start looking at the truly strong teams, and Tim and Te Jay aren't that strong. Their second-place finish on leg one was only because Jim helped Tim with the compass at the Roadblock. And their third-place finish on leg five only came about because Shelley and Nici had to pay their cab fare rather than go right to the Pit Stop. Looking at the other teams left, they just seem like the weakest by comparison. I'd say maybe Brooke and Robbie are slightly weaker than they are, and perhaps Amy and Maya due to the navigation thing, but really, Tim and Te Jay are the least remarkable racers left. They don't have any real strengths or weaknesses. Misti and Jim, Kym and Alli, and Brooke and Robbie have physical strength, attention to detail, and good memories. Amy and Maya have mental skills and attention to detail. And Adam and Bethany are good all around. What do Tim and Te Jay have? So yeah. I like them, but after coming in last on this leg, I think their Speed Bump will take them right out on the next leg. Good luck, Tim and Te Jay, but I think your time is up. And it's good karma for celebrating beating out Amy and Maya for the Painters Detour in front of Amy and Maya themselves.

In other news, I still love Kym and Alli, Amy and Maya, Brooke and Robbie, and Adam and Bethany. I still like Tim and Te Jay. And I like Misti, but Jim's ego is just growing and growing. So I still dislike him a fair bit. But other than that, this cast still remains wholly likable.

So once more, the teams finished this leg in the following order:

#1. Misti and Jim (Prize: Trip for two to Jamaica, Courtesy Travelocity)

#2. Kym and Alli

#3. Amy and Maya

#4. Brooke and Robbie

#5. Adam and Bethany

#6. Tim and Te Jay (Must Complete Speed Bump on next leg of race while other teams continue racing)

Six teams still remain. With the Hollywood Film Awards, an award show that's apparently never been shown on TV in the last seventeen years but somehow is important enough to be on TV now, preempting CBS's entire Friday night lineup next week, who'll be eliminated in two weeks? I know who, of course, but we'll see then!