'Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty's merged Solarrion tribe takes out LJ McKanas
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/17/2014
Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty's merged Solarrion tribe voted out LJ McKanas during Wednesday night's broadcast of the CBS reality series' 28th edition.
LJ, a 34-year-old horse trainer from Boston, MA, was voted out of his Solarrion tribe at the season's ninth Tribal Council session, which marked the third time Solarrion had attended Tribal together.
"So I was clearly blindsided. It's very hard to find the balance between patience and being assertive, because if you move too soon, you can bite yourself in the butt. But if you wait too long, you could see yourself looking into a lens, saying, 'Where did I go wrong?'" LJ said following his ouster.
Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty's eighth episode began on Night 22 following Morgan McLeod's ouster.
Tony Vlachos, a 39-year-old police officer from Jersey City, NJ, told the whole tribe they had decided to get rid of Morgan because she was "useless" and "didn't deserve to play the game."
Tony was also wondering why the minority alliance -- which was comprised of Latasha "Tasha" Fox, a 37-year-old accountant from St. Louis, MO; Spencer Bledsoe, a 21-year-old student from Chicago, IL; and Jeremiah Wood, a 34-year-old male model from Dobson, NC --wrote his name down. Tony told the group it was a compliment to be the target, but in reality, he was pretty upset about it.
Tony thought the tribe would view LJ or Yung "Woo" Hwang, a 29-year-old martial arts instructor from Newport Beach, CA, as bigger threats than himself, so he didn't get it.
On Day 23, Tony's paranoia was settling in, and it worried LJ and Trish Hegarty, a 48-year-old pilates instructor from Needham, MA. Tony was really tight with LJ in the majority alliance but knew he was the biggest threat left in the game. Therefore, Tony wanted to get rid of LJ but make it look like he had nothing to do with it.
Tony then came up with a master plan to tell LJ that Woo had a hidden Immunity Idol. Tony wanted LJ to make the suggestion of blindsiding Woo in order to flush out the idol, and that he did, which was music to Tony's ears. Tony felt he needed a valid reason to turn his alliance against LJ.
"He trusts me 100%, so I have to try to trick LJ to make him want to break a promise that he made to one of our six. Once he does that, that's my safe way out. I'm not only leading the horse to the water, but I'm going to make the horse drink the water. That's my goal right now," Tony said in a confessional.
Jeff divided the castaways into three teams of three at random. The players were required to throw a rope through a ring, releasing sandbags, and then throw the bags as far as they could into a net tunnel. They must then work together to maneuver the sandbags through the remainder of the tunnel. Afterward, one tribe member had to bounce the bags off a trampoline in attempt to land them into a series of baskets.
The first team to land one sandbag in each of its five baskets would win Reward in the form of a Survivor spa complete with a shower, shampoo, soap, and a massage. They'd also earn a nice lunch of chicken wraps, spring rolls and cocktails.
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Jefra Bland, a 22-year-old former Miss Kentucky Teen USA from Campbellsville, KY; Trish and LJ were on one team. Jeremiah, Spencer and Tony were the second team. The third team was comprised of Woo, Tasha and Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen, a 41-year-old attorney from Tehachapi, CA.
In the end, Spencer, Jeremiah and Tony won.
Tony called himself "the opportunist" because he was ready to take advantage of the fact he could strategize with Spencer and Jeremiah privately about potentially blindsiding LJ.
After the Reward Challenge, back at camp, Woo was happy Tony could "keep an eye on" Spencer and Jeremiah to make sure nothing sneaky was going on. He was clearly wrong about Tony's intentions.
Kass, Jefra, Woo, Trish, and LJ all agreed they needed to stick together as a solid alliance of six members, including Tony. LJ told Trish and Jefra he had been trying to calm Tony down because he was so worried about things.
"The fact that Tony got a lot of votes at Tribal Council made him really feel like, 'They want to get rid of me. They want to get rid of me.' But it doesn't matter, because I built a strong bond with Tony and my loyalty is there. I pulled the idol out for him and we're in it until the end, and I trust that he'll do the right thing," LJ told the cameras.
Trish, Jefra and LJ agreed Tasha, Spencer or Jeremiah needed to go before anyone else because if either of those three castaways made it to the end, he or she would win the game. Trish also suggested she could try to keep Tony calm and collected.
At the Survivorspa, Spencer felt the odds were against him but he could probably work his way back up again since he's already done that multiple times before. Spencer was glad to have his "right-hand man" with him in Jeremiah, but he was also glad to be able to talk to Tony in order to figure out where his head was at.
The three guys opted to talk strategy during their massages. Tony told them he wasn't comfortable in his alliance and they just needed to hang in there until it got to the point where he'd approach them to join forces. Spencer explained to Tony that Jeremiah and himself were just pawns on the board that Tony could use at any time.
Tony assumed he could do the thinking for Spencer and Jeremiah since the guys were desperate for survival, and if they went against him, they'd be sealing their elimination fate in the game. Tony noted he may need them to help him advance further in the game due to the fact people saw him as a threat.
Tony insisted he'd have their backs because he was ready to make big moves. Jeremiah had doubts and wondered whether Tony was just playing them, but at the same time, he believed him a little bit.
As for Spencer, he didn't trust Tony at all because he was "playing a lot of people and juggling a lot of balls at once." Spencer felt he was one of those balls, however, he still expressed 100% trust in Tony to his face with the hopes of staying in the game longer. Spencer was ready to play his hidden Immunity Idol at the upcoming Tribal Council if necessary.
On Day 25, Tasha wanted to try to convince someone in the majority alliance to flip and make a big move. She figured she could convince LJ, a smart guy, that Tony would never take another strong man to the end. However, LJ knew Tony was "a flaming ball of anxiety," so he realized going on a walk somewhere with Tasha would just worsen the situation and add more fuel to the fire.
LJ also figured Tasha could do nothing to help the future of his game, and because he trusted Tony, he stood Tasha up at her meeting place. LJ felt indebted to Tony because he was still in the game because of him.
"If LJ was man enough to make a big move, he could take Jefra, Spencer, Jeremiah, and I, and blindside Tony. But it's clear Tony's running the show around here and everyone is under Tony's thumb. So, unless something changes, I'm screwed," Tasha said in a private interview.
Meanwhile, Tony determined if LJ didn't win Individual Immunity, he'd be ready to strike against him before LJ could strike at him first.
The Solarrion tribe then met Jeff again for the third Individual Immunity Challenge of the season.
For the challenge, each castaway was required to participate in a memory game. Jeff showed the players a series of colored tiles, which they must repeat back to Jeff. If a castaway relayed the series of tiles back correctly, he or she would remain in the challenge. If someone got it wrong, he or she would be out.
The winner of immunity would earn a one in eight shot of winning the entire game, while one of the losers would be voted out at the next Tribal Council session.
Trish was the first person out of the challenge and she was followed by Woo. Spencer, Kass, Jeremiah, and Jefra then all dropped like flies at the same time following a difficult round. It came down to Tony, LJ and Tasha. Tony was out first and he was soon followed by LJ. Tasha therefore won immunity.
LJ was fairly certain his majority alliance would split their votes -- three for Spencer and three for Jeremiah in case either of them played an idol. Tasha's fate in the game was secure for at least several more days, so she laughed in a confessional and said, "In your face, LJ."
Back at camp, LJ -- for the first time in this game -- felt truly comfortable. He thought it would be stupid to target Woo just over the possibility he had an idol, so the girls in the alliance of six decided they'd vote Jeremiah. The guys in the majority alliance determined they'd cast their votes for Spencer.
But Tony was never really onboard with such a plan. He refused to get a punch thrown by LJ. Tony figured if LJ was willing to turn on Woo, he'd be willing to turn on Tony. Tony then shared the false information with Woo, that LJ wanted to blindside him. Woo was shocked to hear the news and prepared himself to make a big move. Woo trusted Tony completely and was anticipating a crazy night at Tribal.
Afterward, Tony shared his plan to target LJ with Spencer.
"Tony initially wanted to save me and Jeremiah for a later move, but apparently, LJ is plotting to get out Woo. So Tony's ready to make a big move now. I'm definitely stoked. It's kind of like Christmas morning. I woke up expecting to see nothing but ashes and coal under the tree, and there's this present of, 'Let's vote out LJ!' It's kind of too good to be true," Spencer said in a confessional.
"This could be a big lie so that I don't play my immunity idol tonight. Still, I'm going to take anything I can get right now. Because if I can just get a little bit further down the road, have a few votes go my way, it's a new game for me."
Spencer got Jeremiah onboard with the plan, and although they both agreed Tony was a smart and dangerous player, they decided to work with him for now because they had no other choice.
Tony's next step was to convince Trish, his seemingly closest ally, that LJ was a threat to their alliance and needed to go. Trish, however, was very confused and didn't know whom to trust. Tony explained that LJ wanted Woo gone, but LJ had previously told Trish that Tony wanted to target Woo. Tony just continued to stir the pot by telling Trish that LJ was "sneaky" and lying to her.
Tony expanded the lie by telling Trish that LJ was well aware the two of them were a tight threesome with Woo until the end. Tony said there was no way LJ would settle for fourth place in the game so he was probably planning things ahead of time behind their back. Trish knew Tony was really paranoid, so she didn't know what to think.
Trish told Tony she believed they should stay a strong six, like they had promised one another before. Tony agreed with the notion but insisted they could no longer trust LJ to work with them. Trish noted in a confessional it was possible LJ was up to something, however, Tony had played her before so he could be doing it again.
As a result, Trish determined there was no way she was going to break up her alliance of six. Kass and Trish hoped no one was going to mess up that up. Kass even told the cameras although she loves a good blindside, it would be stupid for anyone to make a big move at that point and flip.
"Right now, I have a huge plan in play, but Trish is telling me, 'Let's just keep the six strong.' So if I get rid of LJ, there's going to be a lot of hard feelings. Trish has been with me since Day 1. She's my closest ally. But if I do this, she might turn her back on me and the whole thing could blow up in my face," Tony told the cameras.
"If that's the case, then I'm going to have to stick with my alliance. I'd rather make my power move now, but in life and in Survivor, you got to know when to kiss ass and when to kick ass. And unfortunately, I'm in a position right now where I might have to kiss ass and get rid of Spencer or Jeremiah."
That night, Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs Brains vs Beauty's Solarrion members arrived for their third Tribal Council session -- the ninth session of the season overall. Sarah Lacina and Morgan entered Tribal as the game's first two jury members.
Tony told Jeff he had "a bag of tricks" with him, something that would make him feel more confident. However, he wouldn't reveal what was in that bag. Tasha then admitted she was hopeful there was a crack in the majority alliance. LJ also admitted he was approached about a different plan but stepped back because he realized there was no reason to create anxiety considering his group was so tight.
LJ told Jeff he felt he had "a sharp eye" and was honed into things that could be disloyal. Meanwhile, viewers discovered Tony was still telling the tribe he's a construction worker rather than a police officer.
Jeff asked Spencer who was at the bottom of the majority's alliance of six, and Spencer didn't know.
"I do know that someone is on the bottom, and if you're one of the people being told, 'We're six strong, we're a tight six, there are no divisions in the six,' maybe you're on the bottom. And it is time that people start thinking about, 'How can I put myself in a position to win?'" Spencer explained.
Lastly, Trish said "the Brady bunch" was probably going to become dysfunctional quickly and the game could change drastically at any point. She also noted that if something big went down that night, she wouldn't be aware of it.
When asked if anyone would like to play his or her hidden Immunity Idol, Spencer was the most obvious person to surprisingly decline.
Jeff then revealed the votes. Three castaways voted for Jeremiah, one person voted for Spencer, and five players voted to oust LJ from the game. It became clear Tony flipped and worked with Tasha, Spencer and Jeremiah on that vote.
Jefra asked Tony if he flipped, and Tony didn't say a word. Jefra looked shocked and just said, "Wow."
Tony convinced Woo to flip as well, as he was the fifth vote to get rid of LJ.