‘Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites’ – The Lion and the Mouse

First, does anyone know if caffeine pills are considered Performance Enhancing Drugs under Survivor rules and regulations? Even if they’re technically legal, one has to wonder how Sherri got a hold of them, because she has a Jessie Spano-level freakout upon returning to Goya camp after the tribe voted out Hope on the latest Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites 2 Legit 2 Quit. This might be an argument for random drug testing on Caramoan.

Perhaps Sherri needs to watch some more of 28 Days and less of The Blind Side.

While the Fans continue to be in disarray, cracks are starting to show over on the Favorites side, with Andrea becoming increasingly frustrated with Former Federal Agent Fillip’s looseness with handing out Stealth R Us agent names. FFAF, you must give out names with extreme discretion, you can’t hand them out like flyers advertising your new Verizon phones, or else they lose all meaning; you can’t just give them up for free like some two-bit strumpet to the first guy she meets who still has all his teeth. But when Brandon receives his own epithet (“the Conqueror,” although “the Lunatic” might be more apt) Andrea wonders bitterly “Where will it end? With Brenda?!? For the love of God, please no! Is there no decency left on this planet?”

Brenda, of course, is immediately given a name.

Perhaps, really, Andrea is just nervous about Brenda usurping her name, “the Eliminator,” which of course was coined in honor of Andrea’s legendary performance in the American Gladiators final event:

But don’t worry, Andrea, your sobriquet is safe, as FFAF christens Brenda as “Serenity” which is not a role or position but a state of being. But Fillip probably just chose it because it’s vaguely Asian. Brenda, to her credit, manages it to keep it together and not entirely laugh in FFAF’s face (just barely).

And it’s back to the water for the challenge, and, to our extreme delight, it’s solely a reward challenge, which means we’re  – at least for now – back to the two challenge per episode format, which we’ve being very vocal about preferring. And, once again, this a puzzle-free challenge. Well, no puzzles of the typical variety, but the first leg of the challenge does require the solving a classic riddle, as Prost explains:

Three Lauras and three Shamars must cross a river using a boat which can carry at most two people, under the constraint that, for both banks, if there are Lauras present on the bank, they cannot be outnumbered by Shamars (if they were, the Shamar’s would eat the Lauras.) The boat cannot cross the river by itself with no people on board. 

Or it was something like that, with the girls being carried from one wooden platform to another, until they reached a final large wood tower that everyone in the Tribe must climb, finding some way to fit eight people on top of a precariously small landing. The Favorites, eschewing the Fans strategy of “everyone stand on Shamar,” narrowly pull out another victory and their human tower quickly comes falling down.

Of course, Shamar has already begun to think of himself as a Favorite, and considering the amount of screen time he’s received, who can blame him, so you can easily understand his confusion when Jeff calls the challenge. C’mon, Probst, you can’t be so negligent.

Hmmm, where have we seen this kind of military boast before? We wonder… Luckily, Cochran responded with equal vigor, setting the record straight:

With their win the Favorites earn a visit from a local bushman who will teach them the ways of the native Caramoanians. But we have to admit that we found him, and this whole part of the show pretty creepy. The stuff of nightmares.

Yeesh.

While the Favorites learned helpful and time-tested cooking techniques from the Haiti Kid, Shamar employs a different yet equally successful method, demanding (threatening) that his tribemates bring him rice. However, his despite his savvy strategy of staying in the shelter nineteen out of twenty-four hours, doing zero work around camp and having his fellow players wait on him hand and foot, Shamar manages to obtain an injury. In the previous episode Shamar groaned about not getting the diving mask during the challenge, well, we see now that perhaps Shamar needed the mask not just for the challenge but for the entirety of the game, as he soon complains of getting (a single grain of) sand in his eye. How did he know he would need ocular protection? (Of course, as we noted earlier, the goggles do nothing). But despite getting literally one of the smallest objects on earth in his eye – something so small that it’s used as a reference point for infinitesimal objects, that thousands of grains of it can pass through the tiniest of openings in only takes 60 seconds – Shamar is hobbled by the injury, his sight and his game compromised, the roaring lion incapacitated by the tiny thorn in his paw.

Overnight the eye swells so greatly that it requires a morning visit from Jeff and the medical staff. As it turns out, the injury is serious and his vision could be in jeopardy, but we’re really skeptical about the doctor’s intention to take Shamar to Former Federal Agent Fillip. Don’t see how that would do him any good, other than maybe securing him a new nickname (“Cyclops?”).

Not wanting to risk impaired vision while laying in the shelter nineteen out of twenty-four hours a day Shamar decides to leave the game, the biggest competitor felled by the smallest particle. Of course, it’s easy to take a negative approach and wonder how a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq could possibly be vanquished by a tiny speck of sand, but it’s important to remember that he didn’t encounter any elements of that nature while in the deserts of Iraq.

ALWAYS REMEMBER, SHAMAR, LOOSE GRAINS OF SAND IN YOUR EYE SINK SHIPS.

It’s back to back to the water the Reward Challenge. No puzzles or riddles this time, just pure brawn and athletic ability, something that Laura obviously doesn’t possess. But even Sherri struggles in this one, and the Fans quickly fall behind the Favorites yet again, as they slowly swim back to shore with their jaws gripping sets of keys that unlock an awaiting chest. It kind of looks like this:

Now if we asked you to guess how this challenge ends how would you respond? That it comes down to Reynold against Malcolm yet again in yet another kind of tossing competition? Is that what you would say? Well, WRONG. It comes down to Reynold against Fillip yet again in yet another kind of tossing competition. Completely different. So don’t you ever, ever, go off accusing this game of being predictable.

So it’s Fillip vs. Reynold, as the two face off in what is basically the milk bottle carnival game. Except this game isn’t rigged, and staked to an enormous lead FFAF jumps way ahead of Reynold. Not surprisingly, his names his pitches.

Reynold manages to find his groove and close the gap. But FFAF, perhaps betraying a history of some college ball, digs down deep, takes a big breath, visualizes being on the mound in the bottom of the 9th during Game Seven of the World Series with bases loaded, two outs, a full count and the game on the line, and delivers his final pitch.

Favorites win!

Which means, once again, it’s Tribal Council for the Fans, who are getting really good at this (losing), and will now say goodbye to their second tribe member that day (losers), sending home Two If By Sea before show’s end. The question for them becomes what do they prioritize now, keeping the tribe strong or keeping the alliance strong? BMX Bike Sales Matt, for one, is in favor of putting the muscle back together, mostly because it worked so well in Expendables 2. Laura, on the other hand, prefers to keep the original majority alliance intact, which is a very sensible position for her because she’s very clearly the worst player on the tribe. Just good, rational thinking on her part. Reynold, still feeling on the outs along with his boy Eddie, is not convinced the that Matt and Michael will vote to keep the tribe strong and maintain any chance of not losing every subsequent challenge, and thus seriously considers playing his Idol.

The Muscle, Reunited.

The Muscle, Reunited.

At Tribal Council Reynold makes the convincing argument that prioritizing keeping the tribe strong versus keeping the alliance strong is tantamount to prioritizing winning versus losing. Sure, the majority alliance wants to keep itself together, and the women want to keep the gender numbers equal by voting out legitimate threats like Reynold and Eddie, but if they keep losing challenges – something they’re very likely to do without Reynold and Eddie (and even somewhat likely with them) – then it won’t even matter, they’ll be going home soon anyway. So it’s really a gamble here and the pressure essentially is on Sherri, who, now that her fast food franchise employee is gone, has seen her power dwindle. Vote out Laura and keep the tribe strong, hopefully ensuring that they don’t return to Tribal Council week after week? Or vote out Reynold, likely ensuring that they do return to Tribal Council week after week, but increasing her chances of being the last person eliminated from her tribe.

Reynold, for his part, takes matters into his own hands and leaves nothing to chance, playing his Immunity Idol, which now has the unique distinction of playing more than Shamar. And it’s probably a smart move by Reynold because in the morning he’ll just find another Idol hidden in a really obviously place in under three minutes, if that long.

As it turns out, Reynold didn’t need to burn the Idol, as the Fans choose muscle over whatever Laura brought to the table (uncanny ability to spot bulges? general mousiness?), sending third female Fan out of the game.

ALWAYS REMEMBER LAURA, PEOPLE WHO CAN’T SWIM SINK SHIPS.

Also, Laura, what’s going on with your eyes? You also may want to see the specialist.

Laura Survivor Caramoan

At this point, if there’s no tribal shakeup, the Fans looks like they might suffer the same fate as the Ulong tribe on Survivor: Palau – complete decimation – which would fall in nicely with our primer early in this season about that season’s brilliance. But only time will tell.

Which brings us to our A-B-C of the week:

Always Be Careful

Because c’mon, guys, it’s dangerous out there. This isn’t Iraq.

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Filed under Analysis, Century 21 Reality, Count Bleh, Saved by the Bell, Tribal Council

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