One of the great paradoxes in Survivor – an element of the game that makes this show truly fantastic and always enjoyable – is that to make it far you must build a strong alliance with a numbers advantage, but a strong alliance that has the numbers almost always means that the alliance will need to turn on itself at some point, often times the weaker members taking out the strong. In many ways, you’re penalized for playing the game too well. If you form an alliance that is too strong, too large, you may wind up eating you own tail. And frequently, this happens just after the merge, which is why this junction in the Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites 2 Legit 2 Quit is so critical. It could be the last chance to dump some dead weight – or a significant threat – before getting too deep. With some players on the outs looking to get back in and other Survivors feeling vulnerable in their alliance, this is the time when loyalties shift, and when the permutations sometimes feel endless. This is why you can watch this show for twenty-three seasons and still see something new.
However, before we get to a merge the BeKool tribe, still not sure if actually voted out some person named Julia or just busted the myth of her existence, returns to camp from Tribal Council and Stealth ‘R’ Us CEO Former Federal Agent(?) Fillip immediately calls a board meeting. “Conference room, now!” Stepping into his executive chambers (a completely visible space four feet from the shelter), Fill clings to the tall tale he spun to Cochran last week, explaining to S’R’U Senior VPs Dawn and Corinne that he deliberately threw the Immunity Challenge in order to vote off that person who may or may not have existed (Gulia was it?). Of course, Dawn and Corinne know this is an absolute lie that Fillip absolutely believes, and, through some feat of herculean strength, play along with FFAF’s delusion. But they know that he’s living in a fantasy world, and Corinne is starting to find it really embarrassing.
In our Player-by-Player Odds posted last week we listed Dawn as one of our favorites, well-liked, experienced, and can hold her own in physical challenges. Well, perhaps we were mistaken, as we’ve reached traditional that part in the game when Dawn starts to crack. But now she has an outlet to deal with her feelings! She goes off to the well to cry alone. Just be careful out there Dawny, that’s a long way down, and don’t think some of your fellow Survivors wouldn’t be happy to see you disappear. But don’t despair, Dawn, there are some people who appreciate you, and they’re sending their love down that well.
Even more encouraging, Dawn, is that the game is about to change again. It’s merge time! Seemingly out of a nowhere, a boat arrives at Gota to bring them over to their new home at BeKool camp. But be careful Stealth ‘R’ Us, those people on the boat might not be who they say they are.
But BeKool goes ahead and welcomes their new campmates with open arms, giving each one a big hug as they make their grand entrance to their new mixed family home.
Of course, what would a merge be without a Tribal feast, which was no doubt organized by Michael. Now we’re starting to understand why Corinne wants to keep him around; dude puts together a great spread.
You know what’s weird about Dawn? She feels compelled to seek privacy in order to shed a few tears, but then is totally cool in front everyone – including some people she had just met – doing this:
Malcolm takes a page out of Boston’s Rob book – someone reading the text properly for once – and convinces everyone to name the new tribe after a made-up phrase that is actually a veiled shout-out to someone back home. Malcolm is to Enil Edam as Carol Burnett is to tugging her ear. Corinne, however, finds the name to be a little bit of a mouthful.
Four syllables is too many? FOUR? For someone who can talk for three minutes without taking a breath, you’d think four syllables would never be an issue.
Speaking of copping from Boston Bob’s notes, Fillip has been talking all season about pretending to be Boston Rob, and now he’s sharing that advice with the members of alliance. But, we have to admit, while Rob was a superb player, we’re not sure how acting like this gets anyone ahead in this game:
Freed from the shackles of BeKool, Corinne attempts to rekindle her alliance with Malcolm, whom we have to assume at this point Corinne thinks is gay. Why else would she have even the faintest interest in him. She wouldn’t. So she uses this reunion with her other gay best friend (her murse?) to bitch, bitch, bitch about how Fillip treats her.
And we’ve had just about enough of Corinne saying “I’ve got Michael.” Listen, Corinne, until the Supreme Court passes down their ruling on whether or not gays can be considered people, you can’t go around saying you have them. Unless we hear it from Judge Sonia Sotomayor, it’s not legal and it’s not cool.
We’ve often discussed with our usual Survivor viewing companions our disappointment that the show has for the last decade or so infrequently featured gross food eating challenges, competitions that we were utilized so often in early seasons. Perhaps the popularity of Fear Factor, which made eating bugs its bread and butter (and bugs), cautioned Survivor producers from infringing too much on that territory, or from treading on such well-worn ground. Or, perhaps, the show just fell too in love with puzzles and backyard games and tests of endurance and seven stage obstacle courses. But the food challenge brings something completely different to the table, focuses on an entirely different skill set than those other challenges. It’s not about muscle, it’s not about intelligence, it’s not about balance and it’s not about stamina. In some ways, it’s more about sheer will, mind over matter, than any other challenges. Which is why you never know who’s going to prove victorious in such a challenge, and why they’re so entertaining.
And which is why we were so happy to hear Cochran read the Tree Mail announcing that, yes, our prayers had been answered, Caramoan would be bringing us a local food challenge. Dawn, for some reason, was also really, really excited.
Other than Dawn and Cochran, who believes a strong performance in this challenge might bolster his romantic prospects, the Survivors aren’t especially eager to try the local delicacies. Which reminds us that we’re really looking forward to Survivor: Venice, with it’s mixture of canal-based challenges and pasta-eating and wine-drinking competitions. Now those are some local delicacies that Corinne would be happy to suck up (but not sure if there’s a vibrant homosexual male community there, so she might be out of luck).
Jeff starts the players off with an amuse bouche of beetle larvae and Dawn really just can’t control herself. Either she’s more starving than any player in Survivor history, or she really likes swallowing gross things. Either way, her spirits sure seemed to have lifted. We’re shocked she didn’t ask for seconds.
The rest of the Survivors, on the other hand, aren’t so thrilled with their options.
For the intermezzo course Jeff serves up some shipworms, “the termite of the sea.” Cochran, so focused on winning this challenge and winning the hearts of his female tribemates, perhaps missed a golden opportunity for an even better scenario, neglecting to ask Andrea if she wants Lady and the Tramp it. Really dropped the ball there.
If there’s been one theme this season, in addition to The Ghost of Boston Rob, it’s been our comparison of Caramoan to Palau, in which the former has continued to hit many of the same beats as the latter. The voting hasn’t gone down the same way – while the Favorites dominated the early part of the game, they didn’t go on an epic undefeated run like the Koror tribe on Palau – but there have been other homages: water-based challenges, the Beach Run challenge, tied votes at Tribal Council. And this trend continues when the Caramoan food challenge offers a balut entree course, the fertilized duck eggs that were featured twice in Palau, and devoured by our hero Tom Westman (and chipmunked by Bobby Jon).
Tom (and Bobby Jon) consumed eight of these. Cochran, Eddie and Malcolm are asked to eat just one. So, really, men vs. boys.
Corinne, care to offer any expert analysis?
Making good on his prediction, Cochran, of all people, pulls this challenge out, listening to Fillip’s advice of “back of your throat, swallow it whole,” and besting Malcolm in the final course of the tasting, pig brains. Score one for the little guy.
Probst lovingly place the Immunity Necklace on Cochran, touches his shoulders, and we have the unlikeliest of winners. Isn’t he charming?
Although, we have to admit that we’re not sure we approve of the message this sends, giving geeks and nerds and doofs across the country hope that they could, one day vanquish the bully, be the hero and win the girl. That’s just setting unrealistic expectations for these poor dweebs (among which we count ourselves), and setting them up for a giant, cataclysmic let down. Better to have never loved at all then to have loved and lost.
Cochran was never in jeopardy this week, so his win has less impact on the game than it does for his ever-burgeoning confidence. But there are some people in the game who remain vulnerable. Like Sherri, because, in Reynold’s words “she’s weird” (although he might just be thinking of her character in All About Steve). Reynold, himself, after not being able to swallow a measly two beetle larve, is also in danger, as is his buddy Eddie, and the Stealth ‘R’ US CEO is leaning towards having the company split their votes among the two bros who aren’t on the payroll. Corinne, as you might imagine, is not too keen on this idea, because she’s going to need Reynold and Eddie if she wants to
save the gay take control of the game and blindside Fillip at the next Tribal Council.
And here we are forced to admit, this time, that Fillip actually makes sense. Now, we’re pretty sure that this purely by chance, even a blind nut finds a squirrel every once in a while, but nevertheless he’s correct in his preference to vote off Reynold or Eddie. Stealth ‘R’ Us has the numbers, and they should use them to get rid of one of their major threats. Either that, or cut out someone from their own alliance whom they can’t trust, if Fillip really wants to pretend to be Boston Rob. Hmmm, who in Stealth ‘R’ Us would fit that description?
Seems like a good time for Fill to give a State of the Corporation address:
One of the problems with Stealth ‘R’ Us (other than it being a piece of fiction) is that Fillip hired too much personnel, too many people were in on it, so it was only a matter of time before one of his deputies decided to jump ship and form a rival organization (Buddy Bands to Fill’s Friend’s Forever). That person, obviously, is Corinne, but she’s gone ahead and proven that she’s learned nothing from her former employer’s missteps and tries to recruit everyone not in Stealth ‘R’ Us, and then some people who are in Stealth ‘R’ Us, going to Dawn with her big plan of upheaval. Dummy. You had the numbers already, why risk spilling the beans (non-Brandon Hantz category) to Dawn, who obviously can’t be trusted (unless you’re trusting her to not wait for Jeff’s okay to start eating beetle larve). Dummy. But we guess Corinne just feels that she has to make this move now.
After Corinne foolishly reveals her plans for rapid expansion, Dawn, Cochran and Andrea try to figure out how to counteract this hostile takeover. Do they possibly have enough stockholders left for a majority vote? Oh, yeah, Brenda’s in this game! What up, Brenz?
“Think” is the operative word there, because no one is actually certain that Brenda is playing this game, or just hanging out collecting seashells.
Likewise, Erik, who’s been very quiet this
episode life season, wakes up from his diabetic coma in an extremely confused state and begs Andrea for help.
No, Andrea! He didn’t want to know whom to vote for, he wants to know what his name is. Poor Erik has a classic case of diabetic shock amnesia (“Reichenbachnesia“) and he’s Memento‘ing it, trying to remember who he is. And all Andrea can do is think of her place in the game. So selfish.
Going into Tribal Council, the battle lines seems to have been drawn. Fillip, having heard of the mutiny within his ranks, has commanded Stealth ‘R’ Us to oust the traitor amongst their ranks, no doubt explaining that he threw the Immunity Challenge explicitly for that purpose, three, four steps ahead of everyone. Corinne, having rallied a mix of fans and gays, remains set on voting out Sherri this week and looking ahead to taking Fillip out in the most violent way possible at the next Tribal Council.
Oh, look, Erik’s back!
Corinne believed that she was going to be doing the punching at this Tribal Council, but, as it turned out, she’s the one who was punched out, with Erik casting the deciding vote against her (obviously he’s now under the impression that his name is Corinne and was just making a name tag in hopes that someone would recognize him and offer some help, but the vote counted just the same). Corinne goes from the bottom of Stealth ‘R’ Us to the top of the insurrection to out of the game, leaving her gay with only God to protect him.
ALWAYS REMEMBER, CORINNE, LOOSE OBSESSIONS WITH GAYS SINK SHIPS.
And to send Corinne off, let’s offer her one final Celebrity Look-Alike:
Which, mercifully, brings us to our A-B-C of the week:
Always Be Chewing
As Cochran demonstrated in the challenge, you should never give up and never count anyone out. It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while David will slay goliath.
Corinne, any final words? What’s next for you?