Jeff Probst, Dawn Meehan
At the start of Wednesday's Survivor, all of the remaining contestants seem to be reeling a bit after voting Reynold and Andrea out at the last two Tribal Councils.
"All the chicks that I go after and try to hook up with get voted out," Eddie astutely observes, adding that he feels like a "sitting duck" heading into the next Tribal Council. Meanwhile, Dawn is torn between being loyal to Cochran and potentially forming a new alliance with Erik and Brenda, who want to vote Cochran out. And Erik, noting that it was his 70th day playing Survivor and suffering from boredom, a lack of food and a general sense of misery, decides to climb a tree to try and get to a coconut. (He succeeds in making it pretty far up the tree, but not enough to score a coconut.)
TV Scorecard: What's renewed? What's canceled?
And then things really get shaken up when the Survivors get video messages from their loved ones, who had traveled to the island. (The most endearing? Cochran's mother, who said she hoped he had been using sunscreen.) At the first challenge, the players are reunited with their loved ones — and Brenda's tearful embrace of her father moves even host Jeff Probst to tears, breaking a 26-season no-crying streak. They paired up with their family members in a bolo-landing competition for the reward of a barbecue and time with their parent/sibling/spouse/etc. Brenda and her father win, and she's allowed to pick one other Survivor to join her. She picks Dawn.
But then Probst throws another twist into the mix, telling the contestants that their second loved ones are on the island as well. And Brenda has to choose between herself and Dawn enjoying the BBQ with their loved ones, or letting the four remaining Survivors do the same. She opts to let all her other island mates participate, and she and Dawn say a tearful goodbye to their family members. Will that move pay off when it comes to Tribal Council?
Get the scoop on 39 must-watch season finales
Dawn, for one, doesn't feel happy about the decision, saying she "wanted to spit" when she thought about hanging out with all the other tribe members later after they were full of barbecue and had spent the afternoon with their families. Brenda admits the move could be a double-edged sword for her — either ensuring her a spot in the final 3 or putting a target on her back. Fittingly, the immunity challenge, a balance/strength combination, comes down to Brenda and Dawn. Dawn, not wanting to hang on for hours, tried to broker a deal by which she would win immunity and share it with Brenda (since Eddie would likely be the one to get voted out at Tribal Council). Brenda rejects the deal, and after a few more minutes, Dawn wins immunity outright, but Brenda later admits that she essentially threw the competition in order to keep Dawn happy.
Save these shows! 12 bubble shows we hope will survive
At camp, Brenda's plan is to take out Eddie and then Cochran, but Cochran and Sherri encourage their tribe mates to blindside Brenda that night, when she would least expect it.
At Tribal Council, it was the latter that won out, despite Sherri's proclamation that "you couldn't do anything to [Brenda]" after her actions earlier. Instead, she gets blindsided. "I was honest with you guys," a clearly hurt Brenda tells the other players. "I was genuine with you guys. It hurts." So much for selflessness!
What did you think? Was it a smart move to eliminate Brenda and keep Eddie in the game? Weigh in below!
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by a joint venture between Lionsgate and CBS.)