At first, the former baseball player Jeff Kent despised the idea of a returning player winning, and gathered his entire tribe (except Jonathan Penner) with the idea of voting Penner out the first chance they got. Penner knew he was on the outs and began a hunt for the Hidden Immunity Idol, and eventually found the clue which that states the Idol is "in the camp, under your nose". He was given more time when his tribe won immunity, and eventually found the idol - an emblem that looked like the rice box's handle, with the shape of a bull etched in it.
Men vs. Women
Penner showed his idol to Jeff in an attempt to gain his trust, and was successful and they formed a separate men's alliance along with Carter Williams. The girls noticed that the guys that are out in the sea are possibly bonding and forming an alliance behind their backs, so they form their own women's alliance just in case. This created two factions on what was before a united front against the returnee: the men's faction, consisting of Jeff, Penner and Carter, and the women's faction consisting of Dana Lambert, Katie Hanson, and Sarah Dawson.
A New Ally
After Matsing was down to two members, Denise Stapley from Matsing was absorbed into Kalabaw, giving the women's faction a potential 4-3 advantage. However, when Dana fell ill and pulled herself from the game, the women's faction received a blow losing their ally, where getting Denise was necessary in order to at least create a tie against the men. However, Jeff of the men's faction (which had Penner's idol) succeeded in getting Denise to vote with them, creating a majority against the women's faction.
Dawson attempted to save her and Katie by attempting to mess with Jeff's head with baseball references, knowing all along he was a ballplayer. This failed when Jeff saw her as a threat. As a last resort, Dawson tried to rally the original members to vote out Denise as she is just a newcomer, but she was voted out by the men's faction and Katie. As Katie was the last member of the women's faction left after Dawson was eliminated, she tried to convince Jeff and Carter to go with the alliance's original plan in voting out Penner. Ultimately, Jeff and Carter did not flip and booted Katie in their next Tribal Council, ultimately voting out all the members of the women's faction.
Merging Without Numbers
The day after Katie's elimination, they were told that the tribes were merging. With Kalabaw in the minority, Penner planned to pull Tandang outsiders RC and Skupin (who is a fellow returning player) to their side to gain majority against Tandang, voting against the Tandang's apparent leader Peter Yurkowski. Jeff, however, decided to finally betray Penner with the help of the Tandang Alliance and got the alliance (except for Penner) on the plan. They decided to split the vote between Penner and RC so if Penner played his idol, RC would go, but if not, he would go. The plan to blindside Penner failed, however, as he played his own idol, eliminating RC in a 4-2-0 vote (with 5 votes against Penner negated).
Penner vs. Everyone
Penner was shocked that his allies voted with the enemy, and realized that he was all alone. In order to stay in the game, he tried to create a "good guys" alliance with Jeff, Malcolm Freberg, Denise, and Lisa Whelchel, also warning Jeff that he could be next after the plan of voting out the returning players was finished. Still needing to assure his own safety, Penner participated in the Immunity Challenge with a goal to win, and in a come from behind effort, won the challenge, guaranteeing himself safety at Tribal Council. With Penner immune, the alternate plan of voting out Skupin was brought up. However, Lisa, who was an ally of Skupin, tried to rally Tandang into voting against Malcolm (who had an idol known to only Lisa and Denise) instead. Malcolm, knowing that he may be voted out, formed a last minute plan of bringing back Kalabaw into a single unit against Tandang, and with his and Skupin's vote would be enough to vote out Pete. In a crazy Tribal Council, Malcolm was unable to unite Kalabaw against Pete, as Penner voted against Abi-Maria Gomes. With Skupin voting against Jeff, Jeff was voted out 5-4-1, keeping the alliance in the minority.
Three Tribe Alliance
The newly formed coalition of Kalabaw and Matsing tried to get Skupin and Lisa on their side, especially after Tandang's treatment of the two. While Lisa stayed with Tandang, the alliance convinced Skupin to flip and blindside Artis, putting the once-powerful Tandang alliance in a minority position, and Kalabaw in the majority. With Lisa now seeing that her alliance didn't trust her, Lisa joined the alliance with Skupin as her closest ally, creating a superalliance consisting of Matsing, Kalabaw, and them as Tandang (also called as the Fulcrum Alliance) with a plan to go to the final six together and eliminate the main Tandang Alliance. By splitting their votes between Abi and Pete, they insured that one of the Tandang Alliance's members would be eliminated. After Abi played her idol, Pete was voted out in a 3-2-0 vote (with 3 votes against Abi negated).
Secretly in the Outs
During the time the plan of voting out the main Tandang alliance was made, however, a Final 4 alliance was made between the Matsing and Fulcrum alliances, effectively putting the main Kalabaw alliance in the outs after the main Tandang alliance was decimated. Before this, the Fulcrum alliance had been hesitant about the deal, and consulted Penner first. Penner, wanting to do one move at a time, declined a Final 3 offer with the Fulcrum alliance, putting the Kalabaw alliance at a bad position as the deal was made without them.
Fall of Kalabaw
After Pete was eliminated, Abi was supposedly the target of the Three Tribe Alliance, where they would go in the Final 6 supposedly in equal terms. However, Abi managed to win the Immunity Challenge (with the help of the advantage she bought during the Survivor Auction), forcing the Three Tribe Alliance to vote one of their own. Penner's rejection of the Final 3 alliance with the Fulcrum alliance proved to be fatal, as the Matsing-Fulcrum alliance plans to target him. With the new alliance against Penner, he was voted out in a 4-3 vote. Seeing that Carter himself - the last member of the original Kalabaw - was in the outs with Abi, he argued in the Tribal Council why he would be a better castaway to keep than Abi, but the Matsing-Fulcrum alliance kept Abi instead, voting Carter out unanimously, permanently putting an end to the Kalabaw alliance.
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