“I Don’t Want To Do This.”
Um, SURVIVOR Buffs, remember the time that the show packed a bazillion exciting things into one episode? I hope so, because it just happened last night. It was an episode full of brutal eliminations, brutal competitions, brutal family conflict, and some brutal honesty. Oh, and the ultimate asshat move EVER.
In the first major scene, we arrive at the
Thunderdome Redemption Island Arena, and the sparks fly almost immediately. Tyson gets his flowing locks out of his face long enough to realize that his girlfriend Rachel is the newest victim of the male alliance on Tadhana. And, surprise, surprise, he immediately figures out the well-thought out master plan of voting out Rachel to try to bait Tyson into swapping with her. What? How did he crack that masterful bit of cunning strategy? He’s good….he’s even better than that ARGO guy. Anyway, he does not do what the geniuses of Tadhana thought he would, but instead keeps his seat, only standing long enough to tell Brad that he’s going down.
When Brad makes his point that his team is the only one who has had to vote people out, Marissa chimes in that they voted out two strong players, interrupting Brad’s response with the ultra-classy and mature, “F#$! you, Brad Culpepper!” While I do not applaud the idea of yet another angry person of color on SURVIVOR, I understand the sentiment. Brad’s an ass. Unfortunately, this ass is leading the tribe. Now, keep in mind, unless we are at the next-to-last Tribal Council, one person cannot singlehandedly vote someone out, even though the size of his ego might make one think he has a whole bunch of votes. It’s not Brad’s fault that a bunch of people are willing to follow him. They legitimize him, and also contributed most of the votes that sent Marissa and Rachel to Redemption. So, spread the vitriol around, everyone.
Well, to make sure that Brad wasn’t the only one to leave the
Confessional Arena feeling hated, Colton, who is not involved in the Brad imbrouglio, gets the attention put back onto himself by crying. “Wow, how empathetic,” a less-informed viewer might think. “He feels bad for Brad and he’s crying because he doesn’t like seeing him ganged up on.” But, wait for it….ah there it is. Colton is crying because he can’t take it anymore and he wants to quit the game. He’s not injured, there’s nothing upsetting happening at home, he’s not being bullied or anything, he just wants to leave because he knows he’ll be voted out early. Jeff Probst is a pretty understanding guy, it seems, but there is one thing he can’t stand: a quitter. So he calls out Colton, and reveals that Colton’s “injury” from ONE WORLD was not appendicitis at all, so, basically, Colton quit ONE WORLD as well. Jeff, like the rest of us, is over the whole idea of Colton, and dismisses him. After a strangely lackluster goodbye from Caleb, which brings up so many more WTF? questions, Colton exits the Boardroom Redemption Island Arena, and hopefully our lives, for good. He does get to keep his Buff, because throwing it in the fire is only something true competitors get to do, according to some Probst logic that seems backwards to me. So, Colton is gone, and we’re only like 7 minutes into the episode, and that’s not even the most exciting or important thing that happens !
While not so important, something exciting happens almost immediately: the Redemption Island challenge. It’s like a game I once saw on MINUTE TO WIN IT, but this time on steroids. The three women have to place oversized, angled “dominoes” on a multi-angled platform equipped with booby traps for the contestants to trip over. First one who stacks the pieces properly, creating a ripple effect that extends the whole length of the structure wins. Last person leaves. And in a moment of deja vu, Candice smokes the other two. This woman is good with her hands. She’s a surgeon, right? After this, she’s going to have a full surgery docket. She’s like the Christina Yang of Redemption Island. The real competition is for second place, and after 45 minutes in 118 degree heat, some restarts due to legs hitting the booby traps, many botched attempts to create the full ripple effect, and a panicked cry to her uncle that she is about to pass out, Marissa wins in a neck-in-neck final ripple showdown that sees Rachel’s dominoes stop a little before the end and Rachel’s SURVIVOR game stop a little after the beginning.
This Tribal council Redemption challenge affects both tribes back at camp. On Galang, Tyson shows some humanity, crying over the loss of Rachel. Nobody mourns the loss of Colton, though. And, at Tadhana, in a moment of intelligence, Brad points out one of the huge flaws of Redemption Island, or at least the way it’s being operated this season. In a typical SURVIVOR game, once you vote someone out, all of their secrets, including conflicts and alliances, go with them. This could be positive for other players, and often is a reason to vote somebody out. In this new arrangement, where all contestants from both tribes attend and the Redemption Island inhabitants are allowed to speak freely to both tribes, this is not the case. I agree that this is a problem, and I add that not having a torch snuffed after the Redemption Island challenge makes eviction very anticlimactic for us viewers, as does the exit interview done after Tribal Council but before one is officially kicked out of the game.
Another Redemption Island twist that rears its ugly head is that the challenge winner gets to give a Hidden Immunity Idol clue to someone. So Brad once again very publicly gets a clue from Candice. This time, he shares it with Brad. So, it looks like Tyson, Rachel and Marissa’s warnings about Brad have fallen on deaf ears. John is drinking the Brad Kool-Aid, and he kind of likes it, although his desire to hunt for the idol separately makes Brad suspicious. Not everyone is Team Brad, though, as we see when the grils and Hayden all seem to be laughing at him during a boxing training session with Vytas, another Brad devotee.
So why does the yoga teacher need to learn fighting? Because the Immunity Challenge is going to be head-to-head battles, and Vytas needs to beat his brother, who he perceives as the “golden child” of the family. Aras interviews that Vytas was a bully growing up. And so here SURVIVOR finally lives up to one of the promises of the season: competition is going to involve more than just tribes competing . No, this type of challenge brings out years of relationships, of rivalry, of family conflict. And the challenge delivers. From Brad finally getting to wrestle Gervase, as he said he wanted to do last episode, to Tina and Laura having to face (and ultimately defeat) their own daughters to Tyson badly injuring his shoulder, every matchup is exciting. In the much-anticipaed Aras-Vytas battle, “the college athlete” Aras defeats his “junkie” brother, at one point giving Vytas a chance to reset and start over, an opportunity Vytas uses to try catch Aras off -guard. It’s a shady, unsportsmanlike move, and reinforces Aras’ description of his brother as a bully and my increasing distrust of the “reformed” yoga teacher. Ciera’s loss to her mother, who really didn’t want to fight her daughter, means that Tadhana loses their third immunity challenge in a row. And, finally, Galang doesn’t go over-the-top with their celebrating.
Ciera seems destined to go home . Both she and Katie lost to their mothers, a fact that John keeps bringing up. In their defense, they were the only two to wrestle against their moms. Imagine wrestling with your mother in a game that just saw a tough man dislocate his shoulder. I wonder if John would be so willing to fight as hard as those women did in that situation. Maybe he’d be better at that, though, than he is at finding the hidden immunity idol. As soon as he leaves a men’s meeting to continue looking, Brad turns to the other three and says that John needs to go, because if he and Candice both make the merge, they’ll be a huge threat. You know, kind of like what would happen if Brad and Monica, who’s not even at Redemption, both make it. But Brad thinks he’s smart and fooling everyone, so he never brings up the latter scenario, instead devising a plan in which everyone votes for John except Brad, so that Brad still looks good if John comes back from Redemption. You know, for that time when Brad and Monica become a powerhouse team after the merge – but nobody is smart enough to realize that…
….except the rest of Tadhana. Hayden and the girls take Brad’s argument that John is a threat because he’s powerful, might have an idol, and has a strong wife still in the game; and apply the same logic to Brad himself, beginning to hatch a plan to blindside the blindsider. I like this smart thinking from the underdog women and the Big Brother champion, and I’m surprised to see such good gameplay this early in the season. In the end, however, the plan to vote out John is carried out, and the shocked John leaves to go to Redemption Island, setting the stage for another exciting development: next week, husband and wife have to compete for their lives at Redemption Island.
An exciting episode, a ton of drama, lots of great storytelling, and a great cliffhanger. It’s like BREAKING BAD is still on the air – but with more idiots.
What did you think, SURVIVOR Buffs? Did Caleb’s reaction to Colton leaving seem subdued to you? Are Tyson and Monica going to have problems? Did you find it funny when tiny Tina beat her much bigger daughter? Leave your comments here and let us know. And here’s my video recap where I talk about the most brutal commentator out there this season.