As the last remaining member of the pre-merge Yaxha tribe, Danni Boatwright knew that barring an immunity win, she was very likely to be the next castaway sent home by the former Nakum members who comprised the game's dominant alliance. "Last night at Tribal Council Gary got voted out and now that they're six of us left, I'm next on the totem pole... I'm about ready to have my head chopped off," Danni explained in a morning confessional.
But although she knew that she was likely to be the alliance's next target, Danni wasn't ready to give up, "I'm definitely not going to go down without a fight, I'm going to work something out," Danni explained. Knowing that the alliance's four other members had decided to drop Lydia Morales from their group after she appeared to be conspiring with Gary before he'd been voted off, Danni felt she needed only "one more person" to break up the group's "perfect little alliance." "They have to start attacking each other, they can't all go to the Final 5 -- it's not going to happen."
When the castaways gathered for the Reward Challenge, Survivor host Jeff Probst explained that they'd be participating in the show's traditional "everyone's a winner" reward auction. After Danni, Lydia, Cindy Hall and Rafe Judkins had spent some of their $500 individual allowances on more ordinary items like beef jerky, chocolate chip cookies, a mosquito net, and a Philly cheese steak sandwich, Jeff revealed the first of the challenge's two surprise items -- a sealed envelope that contained "a huge advantage at the next Immunity Challenge." Danni pounced on the item immediately, and although Judd and Stephenie LaGrossa both appeared to still have their entire $500 amounts, both dropped out of the bidding rather quickly, allowing Danni -- who had already spent $110 of her funds on two items -- to get the mysterious advantage for the bargain price of only $200.
For the last item of the auction, Jeff revealed the challenge's second surprise item: an opportunity for one of the castaways to have an overview stay with their designated loved one, all six of whom had emerged from behind the Maya ruins. With Stephenie and Judd each having the advantage of still having their entire $500, the auction quickly became a matter of which one of them could collect the most additional money from one of the four other castaways (while the auction rules allowed two castaways to pool their funds, Jeff had warned that even if two castaways pooled their funds, only one would win a visit with their loved one.) In what appeared to be decisions based largely on their seating positions, Stephenie asked Lydia to give her all her remaining money while Judd asked the same of Cindy, and since Cindy had previously spent less than Lydia, Judd gathered up $880 to Stephenie's $750, winning a visit with his wife.
After Judd won the auction item, Jeff revealed one last twist -- despite his previous comment that if two castaways pooled their money, only one of them could visit with their loved one, Jeff revealed that Judd could choose two other loved ones to spend an overnight visit. Together with their loved ones, Judd and the two castaways whose loved ones he selected would spend the night at Xhakum's camp while Xhakum's three other castaways would be exiled to Yaxha's old camp.
Since he'd used Cindy's money to win the auction, Judd's first choice was very easy -- Cindy's sister. But Judd's second choice placed him between a rock and a hard place. Although selecting Stephenie's seven-year boyfriend with his second selection would allow Danni and Lydia to spend a night alone with Rafe -- who Gary and Danni had previously sensed to not be as committed to their Final 4 alliance as Stephenie, Judd, and Cindy -- not picking Stephenie would have just as potentially damaged his alliance with Stephenie. Forced to choose between the two, Judd selected his "Jersey girl," giving Danni and Lydia the chance to begin talking with Rafe and plotting Judd's ouster.
Once back at Xhakum's camp, Judd began bragging to his wife about his place in the game. "This is all coming down to the wire here, but we have a tight alliance," Judd gushed. "It's me, Steph, Cindy, and Rafe in an alliance, right now, that's tight as can be [then] Steph I hope goes my way and we go to the Final 2." Meanwhile in addition to the obvious physical resemblance, Cindy's sister's comments left no doubt that she was related to her quirky zookeeper sister. "I'm excited to be here because this is what I grew up doing, playing wilderness people -- [it was] our favorite thing to play, it's like our greatest adventure yet!"
Over at Yaxha's old camp, Rafe made it clear that he didn't trust Judd and was open to teaming with Danni and Lydia to breakup his existing Final 4 alliance with Judd, Stephenie, and Cindy. "We just need to catch Judd in some kind of lie so that we can show Steph, because right now she really really trusts him," Rafe explained to Danni. "I know Judd is threatened by me," Rafe -- the winner of three of the game's four previous individual immunity challenges -- later explained to the cameras. "You can't trust a person like Judd but you can trust that you can't trust him."
That night, Judd was still confident about his Final 4 status as the three castaways and their loved ones talked around the campfire. "We should be alright, still, with our Final 4," he explained to Cindy. "Danni does have that clue... [but] fine, win immunity... it's not the end of our world... if she wins it that's fine, then we'll get rid of Lydia. God I'm so glad it worked out this way."
After Danni, Lydia, and Rafe returned on Day 32, Judd, Steph, and Cindy said goodbye to their loved ones. Once his wife Kristin had left, Judd explained how big an emotional boost her visit had given him. "She actually made me full [just] by looking at her. It's like eating twenty-five White Castle cheeseburgers, man!"
With the loved ones gone, Danni and Lydia resumed "Operation: Boot Judd." Showing unexpected moxie, Lydia began to taunt Judd regarding how for all his bravado, he wasn't one of the "key players" who was controlling the game. "You gotta get a game plan going here, Mr. Judd," the pint-sized Lydia explained to the hulking doorman in a scene that seemed right out of Of Mice And Men. "Maybe its time to make a difference."
After Lydia set Judd up and got him talking about voting off the "masterminds" and "threats," Danni sensed that she might have just gotten the evidence that Rafe had said they'd need in order to convince Stephenie to vote against him. "It's funny, the longer you stick around, the more problems you can cause and the more doors will open," a cautiously optimistic Danni noted to the camera.
When the castaways gathered for the Immunity Challenge, they learned that they'd be competing in a "human chess game" that featured a hexagon-shaped multi-level tiled playing board. After randomly drawing for their starting positions, each player would move one tile at a tile until they had no previously unused tiles to move to and were eliminated from the challenge. The last player on the board would win immunity.
But before the challenge started, Jeff told Danni to open the contents of her sealed Reward challenge auction item, revealing that for her $200, Danni had purchased the opportunity to, at any one point in the game, switch places with any other player in the game. Realizing that once each player's first few moves determined how "blocked in" or "open" each player would be, these types of puzzle challenges were basically won by the player who ended up with the largest section of open tiles, a shocked Rafe instantly recognized that if used correctly, the auction prize had all but guaranteed Danni an immunity challenge win. Sure enough, once the first few rounds passed, Danni -- having heard Jeff's comment that "Steph's carved out a nice piece of real estate" -- switched places with Stephenie and rolled to an inevitable immunity challenge victory.
Back at camp, Stephenie asked Danni what Judd had been talking to Lydia about earlier, and, sensing her opportunity, Danni told her that he'd been talking about eliminating the strongest people (while also neglecting to mention that Lydia had coaxed and prodded Judd into the conversation) and was still upset about being left out of the loop when his alliance (originally comprised of six people) previously decided to vote off Jamie Newton during Night 27's Tribal Council.
Suddenly paranoid, Stephenie began to question Judd's loyalty. "I'd like to believe Judd and I believe Judd for the most part, but he's already made [it] clear that he's playing this game and he'll be anything to win and he's already been caught in quite a few lies [while] Danni really hasn't lied at all," Stephenie explained during confessional.
After talking with Danni and noticing that Judd had begun "pullin' a Jamie" and acting strange around camp, Stephenie approached Rafe with the suggestion that they vote off Judd. Later, Stephenie, Danni, and Danni discussed the idea further. Once Stephenie learned that Lydia had already told Rafe and Danni that she would be glad to join them in voting for Judd (giving them a four vote majority that would avoid a 3-3 Tribal Council tie), Rafe and Stephenie appeared to defer to Danni's suggestion that they not take a chance of informing Cindy (who Rafe and Stephenie still wanted in the Final 4 instead of Lydia) of their plan to vote off Judd.
Later, a confident Stephenie explained her thinking. "My heart tells get rid of Lydia because Judd and I have been really close, but at the same time if someone is going to slit your throat because you like their company, hell no, they got to go." Meanwhile Danni was hopeful she had cracked the long-standing alliance. "Hopefully my plan will work to rat Judd out."
As the tribe departed for Tribal Council, Judd still remained confident that he had nothing to worry about and explained to Rafe and Stephenie how he'd felt the need to falsely let Lydia think that he was worried about being voted off. "You know it's not, but you gotta say something, you can't just sit there... you know what I mean?" "We had agreed if Danni won immunity it's going to be Lydia," Judd told the camera shortly before the tribe left camp. "Ya, I'll miss Lydia... but one other person goes, I move up, no hard feelings."
But once the tribe attended Tribal Council and Jeff announced that Judd had been voted out of the game in a 4-2 vote, Judd suddenly did have very hard feelings... and despite his earlier Tribal Council session comments, the hypocritical New York doorman didn't "deal with it" very well. "Thanks guys, I hope you all get bite by a freaking crocodile," Judd shouted as he stood up and gave Jeff his torch to extinguish. "Scumbags!"
After once again muttering "scumbags" as his made his walk down Survivor's "walk of shame," Judd remained just as upset in his post-elimination interview. "I'm really pissed off. I mean I feel I was pissed off, lied to, betrayed. It doesn't feel good being blindsided and it sucks being lied to man because the one thing I didn't do was lie to any body, man... I really believe that you're all a bunch of scumbags and I can't wait 'til the Final 2 [because] I'll have a lot more to say than that man."
(Photo credit CBS)
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