On Survivor, such as in life, if you don’t learn from the past then you’re doomed to repeat it. We see this time and time again, as if to illustrate to young, aspiring players what not to do, teaching us lessons while we watch from our couches. Don’t get involved romantically, don’t go home with an Idol in your pocket, don’t throw challenges. Watch, observe, absorb, and if something doesn’t work, don’t try it again. However, while the power of history is strong, it is no match for hubris; it cannot outlast, outwit, or outplay the person who believes that they can go right where others have gone wrong.
Last week on Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites 2 Legit 2 Quit, Corinne believed that she could turn the game on its head, upend her alliance and install herself as new Queen of the island. But, even with the numbers already in hand, she got too confident, too sure, and talked too much. She flew too close to the sun and not only were her wings burned, so was her blue bikini. She had the opportunity to make a gigantic move, but overreached, talked to Dawn, and became the author of her own demise. Hopefully, one would think, that the other players would take notice and not commit the same mistakes. However, this is Survivor. History repeats itself. But, thankfully, in oh so different and mind-blowing ways.
But first let’s all sit around melancholically and reflect on our time on the island, doing our best recreation of David Gordon Green’s All the Real Girls. Or at least that’s how it felt, with oddly sparse piano strings and meandering wide shots of monkeys underlying an uneasy feeling at Ed Amame camp. Perhaps the elimination of Corinne has changed things, for all time in this game and in these players. If Corinne can go, a high-ranking official in Stealth ‘R’ Us, anyone can go. And not just in Survivor, but in life. Clearly, on day 23 they’re all confronting their own mortality. And Reynold and Eddie, still somehow in this game, consider the fact that every female player they’ve aligned themselves with has gone home. They are the Survivor version of X-Men’s Rogue, cruelly fated to harm anyone they touch. And with Reynold and Eddie seemingly taking an interest in Andrea, she might want to invest in a pair of gloves.
Former Federal Agent(?) Fillip has better luck with the ladies (or, rather, they have better luck with him), and anyone who is given the Stealth ‘R’ Us Kiss of Life can be considered safe, or at least that’s the product he offers Sherri. So impressed with Sherri’s loyalty to the company, and sensing a real opportunity for rapid growth, he gifts her a special agent name: Perspicacity. No, wait. Tennessee. No, that’s not it. Sandra B? Nope. Oh, right! Tenacious D, because her commitment to Stealth ‘R’ Us is as great as Jack Black’s unwavering commitment to rocking and rolling. Also, pretty cool that Fillip found the eyeglasses that Penner lost last season. With scavenger skills like that, maybe he’s a former federal agent after all.
And even though Fillip gets Incredibly Close to Sherri (but, surprisingly, not Extremely Loud), she’s not flustered. As a matter of fact, we had a Premonition a while ago that Sherri would not be Gun Shy in dealing with Fillip:
And now Sherri is getting her chance (However, if she’s going to be doing all that stroking we’d recommend that she wears some gloves too, just to be safe). If one of the Federal Agencies that Fillip formerly worked for was a Fast Food Franchise (making him FFFFFAF), then Sherri just might in business.
We were pleased to see that the show would be offering us a Reward Challenge – after skipping it last episode in favor of the merge feast (catered by Marvelous Michael’s Exquisite Events) – but what they gave us was far and away the worst challenge of the season. It was a shame too, because after last week’s food eating Immunity challenge, won by Cochrocky Balboa, the stage was set for a good physical challenge. Except it seemed like the challenge producers got to work late that day and ran out of time to test the challenge, as this game of toss – naturally – was far, far too easy. Essentially a European Handball penalty shot, with the tribe split into two teams and one Survivor from each squad playing goalie, the challenge should have been solid if unspectacular, with the tossers having to decide between strength or finesse, trying to blow the ball right past the goalie or attempt to delicately float it in behind them. However, since the goaltenders were marooned on a perch so far from the actual goal the offensive players quickly found out that they could easily lollipop the ball behind their opponent, and it would be physically impossible for the goalie to make a save. We’d like to say it was like a penalty shot in soccer, except in that soccer the netminders have a chance. Sure, they may guess left or right, but if they guess correctly they make the save. In this challenge knowing exactly where the other person was going to place the ball – and after a few tosses, they certainly did – proved to be no benefit. There was a loophole, a surefire way to score every time, with players like Cochran and Andrea hitting the net on every attempt, rendering Malcolm’s defense useless. This challenge was like Tecmo Bowl and everyone player throwing the ball was Bo Jackson. We don’t say this very often, but it sucked. Malcolm certainly felt that way and he made no secret about his displeasure.
Team Bro – Reynold, Eddie, Michael and Erik – and their newest member Cochran win the reward and head off for a day of waterfall repelling and PB&J eating. Over their sandwiches, Reynold, Eddie and, somewhat surprisingly (to Corinne no doubt), Michael try to sell Cochran on the idea of an all-male alliance, taking up (hairier) arms against their female opponents. Rightly so, Cochran concludes that he’s better off sticking with the ladies than joining an alliance based on common chromosomes and motivated by testosterone. They make a sterling argument, but it’s hard to see any future performances from Cochran and the muscle.
With Corinne gone (and her gay off to having fun with the boys), Malcolm assumes the role of head of the rebel alliance, and then immediately does what Corinne did before him: runs and shares his plan to upend Stealth ‘R’ Us with Dawn, emotionally unstable can’t-be-trusted Dawn. Which, we have to say, is a really stupid move, one we thought Malcolm was smarter than. But having an Immunity Idol in your pocket (and, importantly, another one in Reynold’s), can make one feel invincible and persuade them to dispense with common sense. Former Federal Agent(?) Fillip catches wind of the insurrection within his ranks, but, as The Specialist, he plays it cool and tells Malcolm that it will be still be Eddie or “Reynolds” going home at the next Tribal Council. Which is good news for Reynold, because it sounds like Fillip is cool with having A Reynold at camp, just not more than one.
Despite the reassurances made by Malcolm, Eddie and Reynold (singular) still consider any and all options for keeping themselves in the game, including, as hinted at above, flirting with Andrea, which sounds really, really terrible because she’s really, really hard to look at. Like gross. But Eddie takes one for the team and brings Andrea out to Makeout Lagoon to use his charisma (or lack thereof) to gain her trust and obtain some vital intel. But Bad Luck Chuck has grown close to Andrea and knows that if she falls for him she’ll automatically be the next one to go, and he just can’t bear that kind of pain again. However, it might be too late.
And in the Survivor: Palau Flashback of the Week we have the Immunity Challenge, a recreation of the lung-capacity, endurance and will-power testing challenge from episode 10 of that mythic season. In this challenge the Survivors are placed below a steel cage apparatus set up in the water, and must struggle to breathe through narrow slots while the tide continues to roll in. It’s the closest that Survivor challenges come to torture. It basically is torture, and in another context it’s something for which Kathryn Bigelow would receive much criticism. Is there anything more terrifying than drowning, other than, perhaps, snakes (SNAKES!)? It doesn’t just test your ability to wedge your face in-between some metal bars, or how long you can hold your breath, it tests how far you will push yourself, how close you will come to losing oxygen and then keep going (especially when the fate of your friends depends on it). In Palau the challenge was won, naturally, by Tom Westman, who demonstrated the calm nerves and laser focus befitting a firefighter. He also employed the hand-snorkel technique, making a breathing tube with his digits. Clearly, these players studied Tom’s performance, because many of them emulated his strategy this time around. Let’s take a look.
A tried and true method.
However, in many of these types of Survivor endurance challenges there are two methods. 1) the technique exemplified by Tom Westman, emphasizing phenomenal will-power, superb mental strength and incredible intestinal fortitude, and 2) clearing your mind of any and all distractions, forgetting that you’re in a challenge or even in the game of Survivor, the fewer thoughts the better. And this, it no doubt, was the tact taken by Brenda, who so greatly spaces out while thinking about rainbows and unicorns and oily stickers that she needs to be shaken out of her to trance to be told she had won the challenge, if she even knew she was in a challenge. Or, again, if she even is aware she’s playing Survivor. We’ll see how that strategy ultimately works out for her.
Well, we have to ask: Brenda, how are you feeling after your victory?
After the Survivors have had a chance to catch their breath, the game resumes, with Malcolm continuing with his plot to overthrow Stealth’R’Us and naming Andrea as his primary target. But despite his malicious intentions, Malcolm and Andrea make like any good American couple and lie straight to each other’s faces, even though neither one really believes the other.
Wait, wait, wait! So we keep forgetting that Brenda and Erik are still in this game, and we could never remember that there was some race car chick – whom we still don’t think actually existed – and now there’s someone named Don on Caramoan? This is just too much to keep track of.
Anyway, Malcolm is being really dumb here (once again, taking after Corinne), but we’ll let this Don person tell you all about it.
And she’s totally right. Malcolm had no business going to Dawn with his plan. No good could come from it. Why not, instead, just play along with Stealth ‘R’ Us and mention no word of treachery to anyone in the company. In that scenario Malcolm could have agreed to split the vote between Reynold and Eddie, and then instructed those two to play Reynold’s Idol for whichever player was getting four votes. Without Malcolm Stealth ‘R’ Us would only have seven votes, including empty vessels Brenda and Erik, which means Eddie or Reynold, one of the two, could only then receive three votes. An opposing alliance of Team Bro – Malcolm, Reynold, Eddie and Michael – would have four votes, enough to blind side Sherri and the Favorites. There was never, ever, any need for Malcolm to approach Dawn (or Sherri, as he also did), at least not now, not before this vote. No reason other than the head of the snake getting, well, a big head.
And now Malcolm has promised Dawn that Reynold will show her his Immunity Idol to prove just how serious they are. Reynold, however, still relying on sex appeal, may have decided to quickly reveal something else. If Dawn’s reaction is any indication, we think Reynold is safe.
With Malcolm’s plans for a coup d’état now common knowledge among the Favorites, the target has been placed on his broad, handsome shoulders. However, Andrea and Eddie have a lovers’ quarrel during when Andrea won’t give the man a name. Pushed too far, Eddie reveals that she might not be safe tonight. After all, Eddie is be Survivor’s anti-Midas. To her credit, Andrea takes the news real well.
UGH! This is so unfair!
Petrified, Andrea runs to Cochran and Fillip and begs Stealth ‘R’ Us to instead throw all their votes towards Michael, the safest of bets. Dawn, the mother hen that she is, does her best to assuage Andrea’s fears by presenting her with some Buddy Bands.
So we go into Tribal Council pretty much having no idea what’s going to happen. Will the Favorites listen to Andrea’s panicked squeals and vote out Michael, the easiest target with no Idol or Corinne to protect him? Stick to their plan to split the vote between Reynold and Eddie, remaining confident in their numbers? Will Team Bro keep their word and vote for Andrea? Will Reynold or Malcolm play their Idols?
Well, we were pretty close with that last scenario. Malcolm does play an Idol, but not his. In what is one of the all-time great Tribal Council twists, Malcolm (who cast his vote for Reynold) urges Reynold not to play his Idol but instead pass it to him, as the Favorites certainly put all their votes towards Malcolm. Reynold, needing to trust someone in this game, denies his rightful impulse to play his Idol and relinquishes it, despite Malcolm having his own hidden Idol. Does Reynold seal his own fate here? Did he just commit an instantly legendary Survivor blunder? Did he finally get Erik off the hook for his own historic Tribal Council gaffe?
Nope, he did not. Stealth ‘R’ Us listened to Andrea’s impassioned pleas and decided to play it safe, despite all signs pointing to the contrary, and oust Michael. Reynold, even without his Idol, is safe. And Malcolm, despite playing an Idol, did not even receive one vote. However, after that performance, and now potentially having alienated everyone in the tribe, we can’t say that he’s safe. Michael is eliminated but it sure felt like it was Malcolm who lost.
ALWAYS REMEMBER, MICHAEL, LOOSE FAG HAGS SINK SHIPS.
Which, after 2400 words, brings us to our A-B-C of the week:
Always Be Counting
Malcolm, we saw you using your fingers, man, but apparently you didn’t do the math correctly. You didn’t need all those numbers. Next time, remember to check your work. In addition, Reynold learned a valuable lesson: you can’t always count on your bros.
Next week: Team Bro, perhaps bros no mo?