Cole Medders, Jessica Johnston, Lauren Rimmer, Ben Driebergen (Robert Voets/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc)

Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

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  • The episode starts with a rare emotional open, as Ben has a bad reaction to bamboo exploding in the fire and then details his PTSD issues resulting from military service. Ben explains that civilians can’t comprehend what it feels like to go through those things and have to deal with the aftermath, before saying he wants to show other veterans that there is an other side to the darkness they might be feeling. This was very well articulated by Ben, and it got a bit dusty in my living room because of it.
  • This emotional open is abruptly followed by the silliest reward competition possible, as players are forced to slither like snakes through the sand, pushing a ball with only their heads. Ryan in particular is very, very bad at it. Extremely bad.
  • After Joe’s big move at Tribal last week, Ashley and Devon decide they need to stick together and somehow get Desi on their side, because they can’t trust Joe. This doesn’t play much into the rest of the episode, so look out for this dynamic in the future.
  • Over at Soko, a vague sense of an Ali, Ryan, and Roark alliance starts to form, if only Ryan can balance his alliances with both Ali and Chrissy, who Ali wants to vote out. Good luck with that, Ryan.
  • Mike finds an idol right in front of Jessica, which is great news as long as she doesn’t tell Cole. Then everybody knows Mike has an idol.
  • Soko’s rough challenge performance continues, sending them to Tribal and sending Chrissy scrambling. The best bit of Chrisy’s strategy is how when JP doesn’t seem amenable to her plan to vote out Roark, she immediately lies and tells him Roark wants to do an “all-girl alliance” which turns JP against her immediately. Ah the all-girl alliance, the biggest Survivor evil, rears its head again! (One day a true all-girl alliance will work. In my dreams.)
  • Things seemed fairly balanced going into Tribal, but as soon as it starts the whole tribe comes for Chrissy and no one really lets up throughout. The tone of the edited discussion doesn’t really match the votes in the end, as Roark is voted out 3-2.
  • The interesting thing about the votes is that alliance members Ryan and Ali split their votes between Roark and Chrissy, and from Ali’s tearful pleas in the promo it wasn’t a conscious decision they made together. Intrigue!

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