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Now that Survivor is in its fourth week, I think I have almost come to terms with the idea of these people running around and decimating historical landmarks that have managed to survive for centuries. This is not like Palau where the majority of manmade structures were the remains of the battles between the allies and the Japanese empire in the second World War. I’m not saying that particular moment in history is somehow less important than the Mayan culture surrounding us in Survivor: Guatemala, but it is a history that, relatively speaking, has been quite well-documented and even then, the producers didn’t place a camp right int the middle of the ruins of Japanese or American bombers. But I won’t complain about that too much more, because the actual game is quite good. It is often clichÃƒÂ© to talk about contestants and how they should outwit, outplay, and outlast the other people in the game, when we really like it when people betray, backstab, and bitchslap. Luckily for us, this round of survivors seem to be good at both aspects.The teams were reshuffled for no reason, which turned out to be a pretty good reason after all. For Nakum, Judd had already switched allegiances, and with his team reeling from a string of losses, it didn’t look good for any of them. Tribal council is not good for plenty of reasons. Among other things, it depresses morale and there is always a chance that it will damage team unity. At Nakum, it seemed to be doing both.
Stephenie is a great player in Survivor, and even though it is a game, you have to wonder what kind of toll all of this losing is having on her psyche. This girl is a black widow when it comes to survivor competitions; she seems like a good player one minute, but having her around is eventually going to spell doom for your chances, even though she may not be affected herself for a long time. A lot of people have been caught in Stephenie’s web, and the latest seems to be Judd.
It was quite obvious that he defected, and although he had numbers, he was compelled to defend his decision before Margaret. Judd went with the standard line that it’s a difficult game, and that everybody is there to play the game, and of course nobody should take it personally. But on top of that, Judd asserted that he doesn’t give a flying rat’s ass what people think about him and as long as his wife and daughter and family love him, that is all that matters. Now, this is a decent enough rationale, but you would like to think that if he was going to start his backstabbing and switch sides, he would have at least had a little better sense of timing. I called Judd stupid last week, and perhaps I was being too harsh; I see that if nothing else, he has plenty of fans. I just don’t think Judd’s move was strategic as much as it was personal, especially at this stage. He let his personal conflict with Margaret rule his thinking. We have no clue when there will be a merge, but the better move would have been to create an alliance of all strong players within Nakum, and I would count that as Stephenie, Jamie, Judd, and Margaret. That may never have a chance of happening, but if it came time to merge, I think it would work.
As you might imagine, things were a lot more easy-going at the Yaxha camp. Instead of discussing how the vote was breaking everybody apart, we got a chance to celebrate the differences among the members. Yaxha, as it is currently comprised, is composed of a hick contingent and a non-hick contingent. Representing the non-hicks would be Brian and Amy, who I like to think of as the Urban Twila, and yes, I wish she had brought her urban sombrero along as well. The hicks are composed of everybody else including Brandon, Bobby Jon, and Danni. For the purposes of this exercise, we include Gary and Blake in the hick portion given that a good portion of their history involves Texas.
Amy and Brian are learning a lot from their teammates. For instance, Amy learned the finer parts of farming. Now, I had thought that most people knew the basics of farming, like, you plant seeds, you add some water, you wait, you harvest, and then you sell what you don’t use yourself. Amy needed to be introduced to all of the basics, which makes me think about her job at the Revere, MA police station. See, Amy is a sergeant on the Major Crimes Task Force or some such. I am sure she does her job well, but if she is so disconnected with nature that she doesn’t know what you use wheat for, could it make other parts of her job difficult? Imagine reading her crime scene reports. “The subject was severely beaten, seemed drained of blood, and had pale skin and was cold to the touch. I think this is the work of that vampire who has been terrorizing residents in this building for a long time.” The autopsy report would read “95-year-old male died of a pulmonary embolus suffered as the result of a blood clot forming after subject broke his hip and femur last week. This is the third death at this nursing home in the past month.”
Brian is also from New England, and he was also trying to get comfortable with his new tribe. A self-described blue stater, he had no real problem with his tribe, they just weren’t the type of people he would normally hang with. I would have to disagree, as there is plenty Brian can relate to. For instance, when Brandon talks about growing soy beans, Brian can talk about how he likes soy milk in his lattÃƒÂ©s. When Bobby Jon talks about how much he likes football, Brian can talk about how he dated a rugby player in college. When Danni talks about being on the air for sports radio, Brian could talk about his dreams of being on Broadway someday. It’s not that hard folks, you just need an open mind, and Brian has that. When the rest of his team is thanking Jesus for everything, Brian pretends that he is praying. It’s not blasphemy, it’s tolerance! Oh, and it’s strategy, because it’s sort of like walking into the parking lot at your office building and seeing everybody has a Jesus fish on the back of the cars – you play along just because it may make things easier in the long run. You can always bitch about it to your friends when you get home.
It came time for the reward challenge and after the teams arrived at the location, Jeff asked them how it was living in all of the heat with a big body of water that was off-limits due to the danger of being eaten by a crocodile. Both teams said that it was difficult, and but it wouldn’t be difficult for long. The reward would be a little something to take the edge off: margaritas, chips, guacamole, salsa, and of course, a swimming deck fitted with a protective swimming cage. To win, they would have to go through a race consisting of several stages. First, one survivor had to cut two pieces of rope with a stone; next, another survivor would cut through a log using a machete. Each of these first two legs would release two wooden paddles, which four other survivors would insert into a turnstile and turn, which would raise a wooden cart up a track. Once the car had reached the top, the six survivors who had taken part in the challenge would pile in, and the person who hadn’t done anything up to that point would use a machete to chop another rope, which would send the cart hurtling down towards the bottom of the hill. First team to the bottom would be the winner.
The first leg of the race pit Jamie against Brandon. When Jeff said go, they both started to get to work on the rope. Brandon wasted no time at all, and used the rock he was given as more of an ax to get through the first rope in almost no time at all. In the meantime, Jamie was working on his rope using the rock as sort of a saw to try and get through the rope. The problem was that he treated the rock like it was a plastic knife that would break if he dug too deeply. Finding his strategy worked the first time, Brandon hacked through the second rope, meaning Bobby Jon could move on to the next task. Bobby Jon did a pretty good job with the machete, not that it mattered, because Jamie was still working on his first rope!
Early on, Jeff saw that this was going to be trouble, and said that time was critical with the first station, and getting behind there could handicap the team for the rest of the legs. I was going to make fun of how Yaxha was working the turnstile, using their arms to pass the paddles around, instead of using their legs to drive them, but what would have been the point? Jamie was still going after his ropes. You would have thought that after Brandon had such good luck, one of Jamie’s teammates would have told him to try the hacking method instead of his friction method that was getting him nowhere. Yaxha literally had finished the entire challenge before Jamie was able to complete his one leg. After Yaxha had come down the hill, they celebrated their victory. Bobby Jon seemed to enjoy it a little more than the others. He was at the front of the cart with his ankles up on the air like he was about to get a cervical exam.
Never one to give up, Jamie finally made his way through the rope. He tried to see if other people shared in his go-get-’em attitude, but he wasn’t finding any takers. It looked like Stephenie wanted to slap him upside the head. There is no quit in her, but if a winner has already been decided, there is no need to go on. On the way back from camp, Stephenie was despondent. She was bothered not only by the loss, but by the way the other team rubbed it in their faces each time with the loss. Bobby Jon drew a lot of Stephenie’s ire, as she said that his celebration just made him look gay, even though she admitted later that a lot of it was jealousy. If winning means that you have to have a gay celebration, then maybe I should walk around the office all day in assless chaps next time I am asking for a raise. That’s worth like, what, an extra $10,000 a year?
For the most part, everybody was being supportive of Jamie, saying that there was nothing that he could do, even though there was quite obviously something he could do because a person on the other team didn’t have any trouble at all. It’s not like Brandon was some rope-cutting prodigy who was taken away from his parents at three years old so he could defeat the East Germans and bring the international cutting rope with a rock medal back to the states. Although, come to think of it, didn’t Sylvester Stallone make a movie like that in the 80s at some point? If not, he should have, as it would have been the perfect companion to “Over the Top.” Jamie was acting like Brandon’s demonstration of rope cutting was some elaborate strategy that nobody could have come up with. It’s been over a million years since australopithecines could use tools; this is not high-level thinking. If he had been given a chance to do the machete on the last leg, he probably would have tried to start a fire and burn through the log.
At Yaxha, things were decidedly better. Their little patio had some nice furniture to lounge in by the water and an opening that was big enough to hold everybody on the team at once without anybody having to worry about death by crocodile. What their new toy didn’t protect them from was the rain. With all of those strong guys around, it didn’t look like they spent too much time shoring up their shelter, because everybody huddled underneath an umbrella in order to stay dry, well – everybody except for Blake and Brian.
It’s amazing how Blake has become a stud after looking like he was going to die those first few days. Has anybody else noticed how Blake always seems to be on the sweet end of a deal? So did all of his new tribemates, who dubbed him Golden Boy, because he always comes up smelling like roses, and he always has great stories to tell. Well, they may not have been great stories, but he did have stories, and he would tell anybody anything as long as they wanted to listen, or at least if they didn’t object. If the story made him out to look awesome, it was even better.
Blake started talking about his girlfriend and hey, you can’t fault a guy for talking about the ones he loves, right? Well, if it seems the only thing you love about your loved one is her large knockers, then people may start to get sick. BlakeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s girlfriend had big tits, like DDs, but then she took the pill and they got even bigger. So now he is talking about his busty girlfriend and how her boobs are almost too big now because of the birth control, which she probably has to take because she is so in love with Blake and wants to have sex with him all the time. He sort of sensed that people were uncomfortable, and began talking about how Bobby Jon is more of a legs and ass man. Bobby Jon looked downright embarrassed, and Brandon sort of chimed in by saying he doesn’t like novelty-sized boobs. Hey, more than a handful is a waste, right?
While all of this must have been super annoying, Brian realized that he might be able to use it to his advantage. Although I included Blake in that redneck group earlier, it seemed like maybe that wasn’t such a good fit. Most of the other country folk were hard working people, but Blake was telling stories of coasting through life, getting drunk and having sex with women. It all makes him look like an idiot, and he is hoping that is enough for Bobby Jon, Brandon, or Danni to turn on Blake and vote him out.
Ahead of the immunity challenge, the tribes received treemail with a hint that the next challenge would require teamwork. This presented a big problem for Nakum, who were clearly better at fighting amongst themselves than working together to fight another team. Earlier, Stephenie broke down a little bit talking about how she feels like she is in some bad dream that she can’t get out of. For some reason, the teams she have always been on have always been differently-abled, so to speak, but she can’t let it get to her in public, even though her heart was breaking inside.
In search of something to lift their spirits, Lydia decided to take control. She’s not athletic, but she does work hard, and she does have a great personality, so she starts a pep rally. Even though she is the only one singing, doing a fairly decent job ad-libbing Nakum tribe into the Mighty Mouse theme, it seems people are starting to go along. And then it happened: Lydia started doing the pancake. For the uninitiated, sometimes dance moves are described by explaining what’s going on with either your hands or legs. The lasso, for example, has you pretending to twirl a rope around a partner, and bring them home. As much as Americans hate the French and all of their stupid mimes, you would think that this disgraceful method of dancing would have been put to rest long ago. Anyway, Lydia announces that she is going to do the pancake, and proceeds to put on a little solo dancing act that would have made Napoleon Dynamite envious. At the end, Lydia pronounced herself the queen of rock and roll. Would this light moment make a difference at immunity? Only time would tell.
They may have had their spirits lifted, but Nakum was dead serious when it came time for the immunity competition. Jamie described it as being hungry for a win, and the game would be catapult and catch. The two tribes split into two teams of three people each, with a “launcher” left over. The launcher’s job was to take a coconut-sized ball and use a catapult to launch it towards their teammates. Each catch was a point, and the first to five would win. To make it harder, all teams were on the same field at once, and you could score a point by catching balls from either team.
At first, it looked like it was going to be another easy Yaxha win, but Nakum had a lot of fight in them. After getting behind early, they managed to tie the game, and then they moved ahead of Yaxha by stealing a couple of launches from Brian. Nakum eventually sealed the win and started celebrating. Jamie was particularly emphatic, screaming, “Who’s smiling now?! Who’s smiling now?!” in reference to Jeff asking why Nakum was looking so angry and Yaxha was looking so happy when they all got together at the beginning of the challenge. They lifted Lydia up in celebration. The pancake might have looked stupid to some people, but maybe, just maybe, it gave Nakum what they needed to win. Maybe Judd wasn’t so stupid for getting rid of Brooke after all.
Turns out that losing is tough and Yaxha wasn’t happy about their loss. Bobby Jon, who I think is a good guy, obviously suffers from the same sort of selective memory that plagues all reality contestants. He was wondering why Nakum had to rub it in, saying that there was a right way to win and a right way to lose. I don’t think Bobby Jon is very gracious in either situation, so I am not sure what the lecture was about. Best comeback ever? Brandon said, “Why don’t you cut a rope?” describing Jamie’s celebration. Actually, it was only a best comeback ever in theory because Brandon never actually used it to Jamie’s face, saving it for when Yaxha had returned to their camp.
A bigger concern at the Yaxha camp was the upcoming tribal council, or at least it was concern for the three members of the original Yaxha tribe, Gary, Brian, and Amy, because they were outnumbered by the people from the old Nakum tribe. Therefore, they were going to have to do a lot of work to save themselves. Brian had started it earlier in the episode, telling us about his “Bait Blake” strategy. The goal was to get Blake to talk about himself, which wasn’t hard because Blake was very good at talking about himself, whether it be his girlfriend with the huge boobs, his drunken escapades in college, or all the older women he banged just for the hell of it. While Brian got Blake to talk, Gary started working on Bobby Jon, Brandon, and Danni.
Bobby Jon had a loose alliance with Blake, but he really respects Gary and was listening to him as they were talking about how they didn’t want to see somebody as undeserving as Blake win it all. He knew that there was going to be a time when he would have to switch his alliances, but he didn’t think that the time was right for such a move, and I would tend to agree with him. Gary, Amy, and Brian were also saying that there was no alliance among them (besides this alliance to get Blake out), and a lot of it started to make sense to Danni. Danni discussed it with Brandon, and while he didn’t think Blake deserved it, he wasn’t going to vote Blake off because he still felt loyalty to him, and he knew that it was better to keep the numbers in his favor.
I think by now it is no secret that Jeff or the producers sometimes have a little bit of an agenda to get across when it comes to tribal council, and it seemed quite obvious that they were trying to stir up some sentiment about Blake. First, Jeff made it a point to ask about the rain, and how Blake managed to get some sleep and was kind of oblivious to what was going on with the rest of his teammates. Then he asked about the Golden Boy moniker he received from Amy, and made it a point of asking how he could go from gasping for breath, holding his chest, and now he is the Golden Boy. Perhaps the most critical questions Jeff asked where to Amy and Brian about the tribe. When asked how the tribe was coming together, Amy said that they were one tribe. Brian played the victim card, saying that if the game plan was to vote him out simply because he wasn’t part of their group to begin with, he is the victim of a minority. I like to think of it as the vast redneck conspiracy.
The voting started, and we were assured that it would be close. CBS loves it when the two nominees have names that begin with the same letter. That way, they can show people writing the first letter and you still has suspense about the final vote. The only thing that must be more fun for the producers is getting all of those shots of the ants each season. They LOVE it when ants are carrying things up or down a tree, and I can assure you will be seeing more ants, especially since there are no hermit crabs for any filler.
When the votes came in, I was quite surprised to see that Blake was voted out. CBS was being so obviously anti-Blake that I though it was some misdirection to add suspense. It looks like Danni decided to change allegiances, at least for one day. Jeff ended the program by saying the game went through a major shift, and he really is the master of the obvious. Each new tribe now has been altered, if ever so slightly. I would say that Danni put herself in a good position. She wasn’t going to be any more than fourth place with the guys on her team, and she can decide to go either way at the next tribal council. Judd is probably firmer in his new alliance and is not in such a swing position, but it might work out for the better for him as well. As for Blake, he was OK. A good competitor, but only average for television, I think the all of the other people in Yaxha are going to be much more interesting to have around in the long run, but I hope Gary goes next.
What did you think of the Golden Boy? Do you think Nakum is in a better position to win challenges now? Are the two tribes coming together now that they have been switched up?