After proving his word was worthless, Erik Reichenbach won a much-needed Individual Immunity Challenge that assured his survival at Tribal Council -- until he gave Immunity to another castaway in an attempt at redemption and was instead blindsided.
The 22-year-old student from Ypsilanti, MI became the sixteenth castaway eliminated from Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs. Favorites during last night's penultimate episode of the long-running CBS reality series' sixteenth season.
"Damn! Damn!" said Erik after his ouster. "They got me. I should have known better. Those damn girls! I mean, there's one thing to be said about surviving the elements and there's another thing to be said about surviving four crazy, sexy women. I never thought I would be shoulder to shoulder with all these people that I've seen on TV. These are my heroes, and they're talking to me, they acknowledge me as a person. This whole experience is indescribable."
Survivor: Micronesia's penultimate episode began following the previous Tribal Council that saw Alexis Jones get blindsided after former Survivor: China castaway Amanda Kimmel unexpectedly played the Hidden Immunity Idol. Back at camp, Amanda reiterated that she only found the idol after she had told them she didn't have it, which was true.
"Amanda put me through the ringer," said former Survivor: Panama castaway Cirie Fields, who had her loyal tested by Amanda prior to Tribal. "She had me right at the brink of being willing to make it a tie vote. I guess that's what she needed to see to know that she could trust me."
The next morning, Erik and Natalie Bolton discussed Alexis being blindsided and what their plan would be moving forward as the only two remaining Fans.
Erik said if Cirie and former Survivor: Cook Islands castaway Parvati Shallow are "smart," they'll recognize Amanda as a "very popular" player with the jury and someone they wouldn't want to take to the Final 3. Natalie agreed it would be senseless for anyone to take Amanda to the final Tribal Council.
"You have to find that idol because whoever gets the idol, that's pretty much like winning Individual Immunity," Erik told Natalie, and the two agreed that if one of them won the impeding Reward Challenge, he or she would send the other to Exile to find the idol.
"At this point I'm weighing the pros and cons of different choices I could make in this game," said Erik in a confessional. "I might have to listen to Natalie and go with Natalie. But nothing's set in stone right now. Everything is still moving and evolving. At this point I don't trust anybody in this game. But I do have to pick sides."
In Dabu's cave, Amanda said she had no more questions about Cirie's loyalty.
"I trust my girls again," said Amanda. "I trust Parv and Cirie. It's us three to the end."
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Amanda, Cirie and Parvati also wondered if any one of them would be able to beat Erik in any of the upcoming challenges -- especially if they're physical in nature. In addition, the three women also sniffed out Erik and Natalie's Hidden Immunity Idol plan.
"We don't want Erik or Natalie going to Exile because if one of them gets a Hidden Immunity Idol, it could be the end of the game for me, Parvati, or Cirie," said Amanda.
Cirie pointed out Erik is usually loyal to "whoever gets to him first," so she sent Amanda over to Erik to tell him that she forgives him for voting against her at the previous Tribal Council.
Alone on the beach, Amanda attempted to convince Erik that if he were to win the Reward Challenge, he should take her with him.
"Amanda is a very, very strategic player," said Erik, "so I don't know if I can trust her after she ripped me over the coals at the last Tribal Council."
However Amanda was also aware of her skills as a strategic player and pushed the envelope with Erik by suggesting the two align since he's the strongest physical player and she's the strongest strategic player.
"Erik is very, very naive," commented Amanda. "So I think I should definitely manipulate his mind into sending Parvati to Exile."
Falling into Amanda's trap, Erik told Amanda how Natalie was "pushing" for him to go to Exile. Amanda explained Natalie wants Erik to go so he'll "be weaker" for the next Immunity Challenge and at a disadvantage. Instead, Amanda suggested Erik send Parvati since she "won't even want to look for it."
"I feel like it's basically Natalie and Amanda who are trying to talk me into some different plan," said Erik. "So it's who do you trust? Who do you really trust here?"
The five remaining castaways then arrived for a Reward Challenge, and host Jeff Probst explained the rules. The castaways would compete in a Survivor trivia challenge about past seasons. Every time a castaway answered a question correctly, they would score a point. First person to four points would win Reward -- a helicopter trip across the Rock Islands of Micronesia to dinner and an overnight spa. In addition, they would choose one person to send to Exile Island for the last time.
The challenge commenced and Erik grabbed a quick lead when he answered three of the first four questions correctly.
"Beat him," Parvati whispered to Cirie.
"I'm trying," she replied.
But it was to no avail, as Erik correctly answered the fifth trivia question and was the first to four points, claiming Reward. Jeff then asked Erik who he wanted to send to Exile.
"I'm pretty sure that I want to send Parvati to Exile Island," said Erik before revealing who'd be joining him on Reward. "Before the challenge I gave Amanda my word that I would take her, and if she won she had a word that she would take me. So I'm going to pick Amanda."
"Totally redeemed yourself," Amanda whispered to Erik.
As they left for Reward and Parvati was shipped to Exile, Natalie and Cirie returned to camp.
"Well, that was a doozy," said Natalie, as Erik failed to either send her to Exile to find the idol OR take her on Reward.
Natalie continued to complain to Cirie about Erik, and Cirie gladly fueled the fire -- calling Erik a "little weasel" and questioning where his loyalties lie.
"I was kind of just shaking Natalie around a little bit," she said. "Which is fun for me because she thinks she has Erik in her pocket. The only pleasure I'm getting out of today and not going on Reward is seeing Natalie stress out over Erik taking Amanda and Parvati being on Exile."
During Erik and Amanda's helicopter ride, Erik explained he chose to take her because had he chosen Natalie instead, he was afraid there'd be "no relaxation." They arrived at the spa and received some pampering before sitting down to dinner.
"I feel like ever since I got Immunity last time, I'm like the center of all that's going on," Erik told Amanda.
"Well you kind of are," she answered.
Erik added having to make big decisions is unusual for him since he works in an ice cream parlor.
"I don't make these decisions about people," he said. "I'm just not used to it."
"It's good to be in a power position," replied Amanda.
Erik said while he might subsequently "kick" himself for his choices, he was trying to "make the best decision."
"I just need to step-up I think," he told Amanda. "Maybe that's part of being a man. Being an ice cream man instead of an ice cream boy."
Being sent to Exile Island was also apparently a reward for Parvati, who lounged on the beach and caught some sun.
"Maybe I'll look for the idol if I want to. If I don't want to I don't have to," boasted Parvati. "The reason for me being here is just to prevent Natalie and Erik from getting a chance at getting the idol, so it doesn't really matter if I find the idol or not because Cirie, Amanda and me -- we have the numbers."
The next morning, Erik and Amanda returned to camp.
"Yeah, let's tone it down a little," Erik told Amanda, not wanting to gush about their Reward.
However that was the least of his problems, as he realized the situation with Natalie was "very bad" as she avoided making eye contact with him.
"It's no longer sunshine and happiness," opined Erik. "She obviously had resentment."
Erik and Cirie then spent some time in the shelter and he explained how he knew Natalie was "pissed" at him and attempted to make a move. He said that since he views Amanda and Natalie as the biggest jury-vote threats, he proposed the plan that he align with Cirie and Parvati to oust one of the other two women. However the plan got off to a rocky start when Natalie overheard him.
"I could have literally bitch slapped him," said Natalie. "Smacked him like his mother."
Instead of resorting to physical violence, Natalie and Cirie went to Amanda and explained the plan Erik had just laid out for Cirie.
"I'm not surprised," replied Amanda. "This is him, he's telling everyone the same thing."
Amanda called Erik an "idiot" for telling each of the four remaining women something different. Erik saw the three women talking and immediately knew he had made a mistake.
"I might have screwed up quite a bit," said Erik. "I've been telling all these girls all these different things. I walked up on all three of them talking to each other. I'm worried. I'm definitely worried."
Erik approached Amanda in the cave and told her he had a sense that "all the women here think I'm full of crap." Amanda then explained the reality of the situation to Erik.
"You need to pick one side or the other. You can't keep flipping." she said.
As the only male left, Erik knew the importance of the impending Immunity Challenge.
"I know the girls don't trust me at all, and I'm scared I'm the next to go," said Erik. "I can't stress how important it is that I win the next Immunity. Right now it's just like the animal kingdom -- either you win and survive or you fail and you die."
Dabu then arrived for Survivor: Micronesia's fifth Individual Immunity Challenge. Parvati rejoined the tribe and Jeff explained the rules.
Each castaway would connect individually colored ropes to coordinates across three separate plots of sand. Where the ropes intersect, they'd have to dig down and unearth a bag of puzzle pieces, race back to the answer board at the starting point and solve the puzzle. This would give them the coordinates for the second plot of sand. They'd then race there, cross their ropes again and dig up the next set of puzzle pieces. The first person to solve all three puzzles first would win Immunity.
Erik opened up a pretty sizable lead and it only grew as the challenge continued, and he easily claimed Individual Immunity for the third week in a row.
Back at camp Natalie sensed she'd be booted and simply asked to be told if that was going to be the case, to which Cirie replied "probably."
"If [Erik] didn't have that necklace, he'd be gone," said Parvati.
Well, what if he didn't have the Individual Immunity necklace?
"I wonder if he would give Nat his necklace," asked Cirie aloud. "Probably not, huh?"
Still, she asked if Natalie thought she could sweet-talk Erik into doing just that. Amanda implored Natalie to "work her magic" and "convince" him to give it to her because it would be an opportunity to "redeem" himself with the jury.
"Tell him that if he were to give you the necklace, that would redeem him and we'd vote for Amanda," explained Cirie.
"Who would fall for that?" wondered Natalie. "I feel stupid listening to you guys right now."
Despite thinking the plan was "ridiculous," Natalie decided to approach Erik to give it a shot by explaining she and Cirie would vote with him to take out Amanda if he gave up the necklace as a sign of good faith.
"I have the most harebrain idea," said Natalie to Erik.
"Harebrain? I can relate," he answered.
"What if me, you and Cirie vote Amanda tonight," she explained. "This is where it gets funny and tricky. You give me your necklace."
"I'm not even going to consider that," said Erik.
"Just hear me out," she continued. "If you give me your necklace tonight, Cirie said she would hands-down vote for Amanda. That's all we need."
"What's wrong with voting out Amanda without me giving up the necklace?" he asked, raising a logical point.
Natalie said she's just trying to watch Erik's back when it comes to the jury votes, and you could see the wheels in his head start to work as he was starting to convince himself to consider the plan.
"I just think it would be a huge, pivotal move for you," said Natalie. "You're going to need a pivotal move if you want the jury vote at the end."
"I have felt like I don't have a lot of jury votes," said Erik.
He then decided to discuss the idea with Cirie, and he asked her the same question he had for Natalie.
"What is the problem with me keeping Immunity and still voting Amanda?"
"I don't know if I would believe that you would vote Amanda," she answered. "I wish I could trust you in the fact of just you saying it."
"My word isn't good anymore," said Erik.
"No," agreed Cirie. "So what do I do? That's why it has to be that way. I know it's hard to ask someone to give up Immunity. But for me, if you were to save Nat, then I would believe you and that would cue me that we're all gonna vote Amanda."
Erik then began to contemplate his decision and Cirie was hoping he'd take the bait hook, line and sinker.
"If Erik takes that necklace off, his torch would be snuffed so quick I don't even think he could have time to blink his eyes," she said with a laugh. "Erik is a pretty smart guy, so it's like a 50/50 shot."
Cirie then told Amanda and Parvati to gang up on Erik once at Tribla, while she and Natalie would sit quietly.
Erik was really starting to over think things now, as he expressed to Natalie that he was scared Parvati may have found the Hidden Immunity Idol on Exile Island and gave it to Amanda. He asked Natalie to change the vote to Parvati, and Natalie agreed, explaining she'll agree to vote for anyone as long as Erik takes that necklace off at Tribal Council.
Natalie then explained what had just happened to Cirie, and she didn't care who Erik thought they were voting for.
"We've got him on the hook," said Cirie to Natalie. "We've just got to reel him in."
Survivor: Micronesia's thirteenth Tribal Council commenced, and Jeff asked Erik why he took Amanda on Reward.
"I felt like I needed to redeem myself," he answered. "I felt she could see it as some sort of nice gesture to bury the hatchet."
Parvati then described Exile as a "mini vacation," which was spoiled when she returned and heard about Erik "running around and making alliances with every single person and then breaking those alliances and then switching back up and switching back over."
"He didn't even need to do that!" she said. "He'd won Immunity the past three times in a row!"
Erik agreed with Parvati and admitted to telling "everybody what they want to hear."
"It was stupid. It was just a mistake," he said. "I feel like I need to come to this Tribal tonight and ask for some kind of forgiveness."
"The thing is Erik your word means nothing to anybody anymore," replied Amanda. "At all."
Amanda said it was "too late" for Erik to try and rectify the situation, and Parvati said he lost respect with the women.
"Game aside, I'm hoping that there's some sense of forgiveness," said Erik.
"You can't say game aside," responded Parvati. "We're playing this game."
"That's true," said Erik. "I'm sorry. I am sorry. If it means anything at all."
Jeff then asked Erik would it would take for him to win the $1 million.
"That's a question that's concerned me," he replied. "I'm looking down the road here to the final, and I don't see any friendly faces. I don't see anybody on the jury that's going to say, 'You did a pretty good job or you didn't backstab me or you didn't lie to my face.' Especially after what I did to piss everybody off here, I need some kind of redemption before I can have a chance at even considering myself in the finals."
Cirie then played her role perfectly, explaining it does matter if you redeem yourself.
"I think you are able to redeem yourself and I think it's really important that you," she said. "Especially if you've been discredited. If you've been discredited, the words you say mean absolutely nothing. It's your actions that will show and prove what's really going on."
Jeff then asked Erik if he wanted to keep Individual Immunity -- which would guarantee him at least a one-in-four shot at $1 million.
"This is a really tough decision for me for a lot of reasons," said Erik, and some of the jury members looked shocked already. "As a competitor, I always say keep your fate in your own hands. But there's so many things weighing on my mind. I made a lot of mistakes in the last couple days. I know actions do speak louder than words. I want to give Individual Immunity to Natalie."