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Editor’s Note: After last week’s dramatic writing contest, we anointed Schoonie the winner of our Survivor recap contest. Congratulations, Schoonie!
Previously, on Survivor: I won the recapping contest! Now you are all stuck with me for eternity! Or until the show gets cancelled! Whichever comes first!
Really quickly, I want to thank everybody that voted for me to win the recapping contest. I mean, I was going to win anyway, I rigged the vote. But to know that it would have happened legitimately, that warms the heart. I’m really looking forward to spending the next few seasons mocking the highly mockable with you guys; there’s nothing better than to be able to discuss a show with people that are true fans. That’s what I’ve always come to TVGasm for, and that’s why I’m honored to be able to offer my opinions to everyone here each week. To be able to take the lead on a show that’s as well made and quality as Survivor (and it is quality), that’s an honor. And as you all will discover, I am a giant fan of this show. I’ve seen every episode ever, and can spend entire days discussing the strategy, politics, and nuances of a game like this, and I look forward to disagreeing with all of you in the future.
And I’d like to thank my competition for making a game out of it by submitting a funny, well-paced, and entertaining recap. But also, I’d like thank him mostly for giving me a week off from Dreamz.Last week, on Survivor: Boo injured himself by attempting to chop a two-by-four in half. And, this was never asked, but why the hell would you want to do that? Don’t two-by-fours exist for the sole purpose of allowing their owner to keep from cutting wood? I like to think that maybe Boo is just smarter than the rest of us and is building some type of super-advanced robo-butler for their camp out of the provided materials, and I am far too primitive to understand his motives. Ravu also lost another challenge and still don’t have fire, on night six. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that’s a new record. Even Ulong had fire on night six. If I remember correctly, Bobby Jon started it with his mind. Erica was voted out for completely losing her shit at the challenge, and then shutting off entirely and straight-up watching the other team overtake and defeat them, which is one of my personal Survivor Pet Peeves. Don’t be so obsessed with what the other people, against whom you are supposed to be competing, are doing that it causes you to lose. That is the dumbest thing to do ever, and several notable people throughout reality TV history have fallen prey to it. I call it the Romber Rule. Guess why!
We begin on night six as Ravu returns to Camp Flint, Michigan, dejected that they’ve had to sit through another tribal council. In night vision, Yau-man tells us that the tribe decided that maybe they need to think of a new game plan, because the one they’ve been following hasn’t been working. Ravu has been following a game plan this entire time? Maybe their plan is to screw the pooch the first few days, lure Moto into a false sense of security, and then totally dominate afterwards. They’ve got a business plan, and they’re going to follow it, dammit. I’m totally sure they have the first few days of the game all plotted out on a dry erase board hidden in some foliage somewhere around camp and we just haven’t seen it yet. There’s a timeline, and flow charts, and a Power Point presentation and everything. That plan is going to be that around day 12? Booyah! Five Moto members voted out in a row. String of challenge victories. I’m calling it. “Those first few challenges? Were to give you a false sense of security. We are now here to fuck up your entire world.” All of a sudden they spring this huge trap, and Rocky is speaking in a British accent and Yau-man is lifting enormous heavy boulders with his bare hands and everything is all backwards and awesome and planned from the beginning. How cool would that be?
The tribe stands around to discuss looking at a new way of doing things. The interesting thing here is that if you look closely, you’ll notice that Sylvia is the only one missing from the discussion, which I think is a little bit counterintuitive to the discussion itself. Hey guys? The way you’re treating Sylvia is sort of the problem, I hate to break it to you. If you include her in this conversation and make her feel at home, you might be able to shore up that tribe unity that you keep attempting (and FAILING) to create.
Rocky tells us that “being the biggest group of losers that Survivor’s ever seen really sucks!” He begins another sentence, but is unable to finish it as Stephenie steps out of the side of the frame and, in a flash, delivers a swift haymaker to his temple, rendering him unconscious and avenging everyone who ever had to toil away on the Ulong tribe. As she looms over him silently, he is able to think only of his true love,
Adrian Mookie. She begins to kick him in the side repeatedly, beating him into submission as dejected violin music crescendos in the background, his eyes a sad reminder of what could have been. The referee begins to count to ten. Get up, Rocky, get up!
Wait, that’s actually what happens in my head, sorry. Got a little sidetracked there.
After the credits, it’s Day 7 on Moto, and Lisi and Stacey are painting the deck blue to keep the ants from biting them at night, and also because it is aesthetically pleasing. What is this, Top Design all of a sudden? I’ve clearly stumbled into the wrong show. This is their entry for the cabana challenge, I’m guessing? Boo tells us that they have everything they need right there at camp, and that it’s barely survival for them, but more ‘thrival. Kenward Bernis: angling for a job writing challenge clues after this season? You be the judge. I’d also keep Boo away from the cameras if I were Mark Burnett, given how accident-prone he is. He might start thinking about how awesome it would be to chop the camera in half with an axe, or he might be so doomed that it could spontaneously explode or something, igniting the freshy applied paint and destroying them all in a fiery blaze.
As Lisi tells us how sorry she feels for the other team, given that they are without penguins in bow ties to fan them with palm leaves when it gets too hot, we zoom over to Ravu, who is hanging out on the beach. The kind of literal hanging out where your tongue is hanging outside of your mouth, not the kind of hanging out that involves beer and ping-pong. Earl returns from exile, and they barely manage to get themselves upright to greet him, such is their fatigue. They only really get up to ask him if he brought water or anything, not because they actually care. Earl thinks it’s sort of a bummer to be back, in the same way that it’s a bummer when your mom drops you off at your scary aunt’s house because she has some errands to run, and you really, really don’t want to be there because there’s nothing to eat in the house but garbanzo beans and pie filling and it always smells like an afghan inside and there are mangy cats all over the furniture.
The subject of the hidden idol comes up in conversation. Earl pretends like he has no idea that the idol is back at camp while Sylvia plays along, which was pretty good subterfuge by the two of them, I must say. Except Earl tells us in confessional that he’s really not pretending because, well…he actually has no idea where the idol is, except to say that it is ‘under’ something. He then promptly (and pretty smoothly) changes the subject, asking why there was still no fire. The group decides to make an effort to start a fire while the sun is out.
As the sun beats down overhead, Michelle calls the secretary over to take a dictation letter to the sun. Sorry, Michelle, but the Moto camp is the only one with a receptionist this year. “Dear Sun,” she states, “Michelle would like you to come out and play today. Please participate in my game. Sincerely, Michelle.” She holds a pair of sunglasses (Anthony’s?) above some kindling, hoping to get a Lord of the Flies style fire going. After what I bet is forever, Michelle gets a very, very small bit of flame going. As soon as it happens, she very calmly and swiftly hustles it over to Anthony, and the whole tribe starts blowing on it and working together to make the fire happen. Soon, the little ember is a full fledged fire. The Ravu team celebrates, jumping up and down and enjoying their small victory. This is actually a really cool accomplishment, making this happen. How many teams in the history of this show have started their own fire? Not many. I know they’ve gotten away from showing the actual survival aspect of the game in recent years, but this is a pretty damn big thing that just happened here. Also, if you’re enjoying the success of the Ravu tribe, you may want to remember this moment with a special commemorative coin or something, because this is the last time you’re going to being seeing anything like it for awhile.
Reward challenge time! Jeff welcomes the tribes, and the first thing you notice is that Lisi and Jeff must both shop at The Stupid Hat and Blue Shirt Emporium. Maybe there was a sale or something?
Jeff starts asking Ravu how camp life is, congratulating them for making fire. As a result, they will receive a flint for their camp without having to win a challenge, which is a nice amendment to that rule, I think. Also, Moto looks pretty pissed that Ravu even has fire, which I thought was hilarious because even though I feel sorry for Ravu, it’s exactly the way I would be if I were on their tribe, honestly. We must crush our opponents! Show them no mercy! They will shrivel into raisin people as they waste away in the shadow of my giant million-dollar vanity check!
I think the head of the challenge design team must have been in my fraternity, because today’s challenge is brought to you by the same guys who brought you the Drunk Slip n’ Slide Olympics (Did you know your recapper is a gold medalist? I will be signing autographs in the foyer later.) The way the challenge works is that you basically get a running start and slide on your belly across a giant, slippery course, grabbing a tennis ball with an assigned number on it along the way. One team member per tribe will face off, and at the end of the course is a basket; the goal is to be the first one to get your ball into the team basket. The reward is a choice between a few things, which was a nice attempt by the producers to throw a bone to Ravu. The teams can choose between the luxury items that the castaways brought, the same set of fishing supplies that Moto won last week, or a giant basket of fruit. Also a member of the losing team will be sent to Exile Island, and will actually return before the immunity challenge this time and can be voted out. Lisi is going to sit out for Moto, and I would not be caught dead sitting out of this challenge, because it looks like a blast.
In the first round it’s going to be Anthony for Ravu, and Gary the bus driver, aka “Papa Smurf”, for Moto. Anthony jumps right in and slides, and Gary actually attempts to stay upright and walk, which you know can only end in sadness if you’ve ever done something like this. And as Anthony slides ahead, Gary takes a giant, scary fall on his ass, the kind that jars the shit out of you. Anthony gets to the basket first, but Gary’s accuracy (which is likely due to his ability to hit Gargamel with a Smurfing spell from 100 yards away) reigns supreme, and he sinks the first ball. Point for Moto. Rita and Cassandra are next, and they slide using the intriguing ‘Fall Forward, But Sort Of Also On Your Ass’ method, and I’m not even sure that can be done on purpose. Rita scores the point, so both teams are tied.
The next round is Boo versus Rocky; they both get giant, awesome running slides, and I am telling you, this is a drunk guy thing. I’ve done it. Boo gets there first, AND sinks the ball on the first try. This is when you notice that Moto has figured out the key to victory, which is to bank the ball off the back of the net so that it goes right into the basket. 2-1, advantage Moto. Moto uses the bank shot method to take a commanding lead, bringing the score to 5-2. It is at this point that the next round is Yau-man versus Dreamz. This causes Lisi to let out an audible, super bitchy laugh, and I dislike her even more. She is dead to me now, after the stupid voices last week, the ant and hammer thing, and her constant need for approval and acceptance by the others. If you go back and watch, she’s always high-fiving people and forcing everyone to toast and stuff. It’s annoying.
In a highly dramatic final round, Dreamz barely bests Yau-man, giving Moto the victory. They choose the fishing equipment, quite wisely, but that may just be because they think they can win their personal items at the next challenge. And if they want fruit, they have concubines at the luxury camp to bring them those giant cone-shaped things that your mom puts out on the table at Thanksgiving, and those are just full of fruit.
Looks like Sylvia will be headed to Exile Island yet again, and Jeff sends her off in the speedboat that has become their new home. After the commercial, Sylvia arrives at Exile Island, and we get only stock footage of the sea snakes this time. This supports my theory that there was actually only one sea snake on the island in the first place which they’ve shown over and over again, and Earl killed it last week. Now they are out of sea snakes, and we will be seeing only file footage from this point on. Sylvia climbs the tower and gets the third clue to the location of the idol. You will recall that my theory in the comments last week (and I know all of you read them for the intricate game discussion that took place there) was that the idol was buried somewhere beneath the apex of the cave at the Ravu camp. To summarize, the third clue says the following: “SCHOONIE IS RIGHT.” I’m totally correct, you guys! The idol is under the apex of the cave! How baller of me. Time for a celebratory lap around the island!
Okay, so I actually just went to the kitchen and got a beer, but it’s pretty much the same thing, right? Sylvia tells us how vulnerable she feels, and how she really needs to find the idol. Then we are at Moto after the reward challenge, and fuckin’ Lisi is chanting ‘Moto’ over and over again. See? Approval and acceptance. I hate her. Some more. She is this year’s Adam. They start laughing about Papa Smurf falling down, but he is too busy attempting to regain respiratory function to be a good sport. This is the part where it gets serious, and you can tell that fall really took a lot out of him. As the Survival medical team arrives to examine him, he’s having quite a bit of trouble even speaking, and seems really shook up. That’s too bad, because that challenge was supposed to be sort of easy on the tribes, I think, without too much strenuous physical activity. The medical staff pronounces that they don’t see anything direly wrong with him right now, but if he starts feeling poorly, he should be sure to notify them. Alex tells us while stroking his chest hair (clearly he cannot find his fork) that if Gary feels bad, he should really leave the game, both for himself and for the rest of the tribe. Gary should complain, because the next luxury camp in which he stays really needs to come equipped with it’s own nursing staff. Or a group of servants that can carry him around in a giant throne that they hoist onto their shoulders.
After the commercials, Moto is receiving a clue for the reward challenge, which tells them that it will not require brawn. Again, I think Burnett was scheming to get a win for Ravu this week by holding some less strenuous challenges, despite all of their best efforts to the contrary. The tribes enter the immunity challenge, which appears to be a gross food competition. When was the last time they did this? I think it was Palau. I gotta say, even though they’ve gone off the deep end with this have/have not twist, you can tell that there is a real effort to bring Survivor back to its roots here. They’re showing more of the contestants attempting to actually ‘survive’ the environment, and holding challenges like this. It’s admirable.
After Sylvia returns from Exile Island, Jeff explains the challenge. Looks like the contestants will be facing off in head-to-head competition, again, but this time it will be to see who can eat the Fijian delicacies which Jeff will be presenting to them. I watched a drunk shrimp eating contest like this once, and I must say, it was quite entertaining. The waitresses at Red Lobster needed IVs when it was over, they were running back and forth from the kitchen so much. They’re watching this right now looking at Ravu all, “Whiners.” That’s how much shrimp was consumed. Whoever finishes first earns a point for their team; the first tribe to four points wins immunity. Ravu looks really psyched to have food, even if it is gross. See? Burnett, trying to get a win for Ravu.
The first round is Liliana against Rocky, and they will be eating some giant clams. It looks like Liliana is ahead at first, but Jeff calls shenanigans on her finishing because she still has some oyster remains hanging down from her mouth. Point for Ravu. Looks like Jeff is going to be a stickler for the rules this year! Jeff Probst: Catholic schoolteacher. The next round is Dreamz versus Sylvia, and they will be consuming octopus tentacles. Dreamz promptly smokes Sylvia, tying the game at one. What is with this guy? First Yau-man, now Sylvia? Does he only compete against Asians over forty? I suppose that’s how he keeps his challenge record in tact, kind of like Pat Riley’s coaching stats.
The next round is Lisi and Mookie eating peanut worms, which are long and slimy and look truly disgusting. When it becomes clear that Mookie is going to be victorious, he starts heckling Lisi, waving his food in her face and screaming at the top of his lungs and trying to get her to puke. I am inclined to give him some leeway, for two reasons. One: Lisi was a skank at the reward challenge, laughing at Yau-man for having to face Dreamz, so she deserves everything she’s getting here. Two: Ravu is probably really excited to be ahead because they’ve been losing at every challenge, plus everyone spent three days together and they all know each other better than opposing tribes usually do. So I think he’s just trying to have a little fun, for once. He probably expected Lisi and the rest of the team to be friendly like, “Oh, that’s how it is? It’s on now,” smiling and joshing him and stuff, and they took it the wrong way. I’ve been known to talk some trash, and this exact thing has happened to me before, so maybe I’m just biased and wrong. But talking friendly trash just makes competition more fun, right?
Wrong. Jeff catches Boo shaking his head about the whole exchange and takes the opportunity to rock the boat and ask Boo how he feels. Boo tells everybody that the whole exchange has officially stopped Moto’s “goodwill” toward them. He says it like Moto’s been holding back at challenges to be nice, but now it’s over, which is kind of a dick thing to do when you’ve won every competition thus far. Rocky basically retorts with, “We’re just having fun, relax, Jesus. And also, easy for you to have a lot of goodwill when you’ve got everything and we have nothing.” Not to agree with Rocky but, word on both fronts. The recapper rules in favor of Ravu. Boo then falls off of the back of the bench and hits his head, losing consciousness for several hours.
The next round is Earl against Alex to finish some sea cucumbers. Alex ties the game up, making it 2-2. After Edgardo beats Michelle, it’s up to Gary to clinch the victory for Moto and defeat Anthony. Jeff calls Gary “Papa Smurf” again. Something I noticed: Probst has no problem calling James “Rocky”, or calling Kenward “Boo”, or even calling Gary “Papa Smurf”, but he will NOT call “Dreamz” anything but Dre. That is awesome, because when Probst thinks your nickname is dumb, that should tell you something about your life choices up to this point. When Probst has the high ground, it’s time to call a life coach or something. I mean, just think about the stuff he probably calls Julie at home.
Gary and Anthony will be eating pig snouts, four of them apiece. Gary takes a commanding lead, and Anthony just sort of gives up and watches, Erica style. Not cool! Around the time that Gary starts on his last pig snout, Lisi starts a “Papa Smurf” chant. God, she bugs the shit out of me! But you can’t really fault them for relishing in their victory after the earlier exchange, or for trying to encourage Gary after his problems at the previous challenge. Moto wins immunity AGAIN, and Ravu will be going to tribal council to vote another person out of the game. In the production offices, Burnett curses Ravu’s name, then strokes his handlebar mustache and commissions a Who Can Recite The Most Lines From Judge Dredd immunity challenge for next week.
Back at Moto, they are understandably frustrated about losing another challenge. Yeah, when you haven’t eaten in eight days, and then you get an eating challenge and lose? Family meeting time. Sylvia is quite worried (as she should be) about being voted out, given that she is the oldest woman and has been away from camp the most. She concludes that she has to find the idol or it’s basically over for her. Rocky tells Rita that they’re going to have the majority vote for Sylvia, but they’re also going to throw a few votes to Anthony so that if Sylvia does have the idol, their second choice will go home. Say what you want about Rocky, but he clearly came here to play the game. Rita and Rocky talk about how they think Anthony is sort of whiny and annoying, and I have to agree with them on that one. Rita tells us that since the plans that have been put forward have not been working, she’s going to do something out of the ordinary this time. Yeah, Rita, shake things up! Throw a vote to Lisi.
Mookie and Earl are talking about how displeased they are with Anthony’s performance at the challenge. Mookie says that given how hungry they are and how much they’re losing, Anthony should have just manned up and eaten it. While he’s kind of a douche about it, he does have a point. I would argue that the nasty worms he had to eat were probably close to or just as bad as the pig snout on the Richter Scale of grossness. Pig snout at least probably tastes like pig, but what does worm taste like? I think part of this is Mookie, because he knows Sylvia will be gone soon and he needs someone new to single out for elimination, and part Anthony’s fault for giving up at the challenge.
Mookie tells Sylvia about the plan to vote out Anthony, which is actually a sub-plan in case she has the idol, but they’re not telling her that part. The Rocky/Mookie well oiled machine of strategery strikes again. As she agrees to vote for Anthony, she’s digging a hole with one hand to look for the idol out of the line of Mookie’s vision. My question is, why the hell wouldn’t you just balls out look for it if you knew you were probably getting voted out? If you didn’t find it, you’d cause a giant ruckus at camp while they were looking for it after you left, and if you did you wouldn’t be going home and could somehow leverage it, probably. It could mean the inclusion in the camp she’s been looking for, and on the other hand it would be an explosive thing to do if she’s leaving. Where’s the downside? Also, she could just lie and say she’s creating holes for a shelter foundation or something, given that they’re still sleeping on palm leaves on the ground on day NINE.
Time for tribal council. Probst wants a one word explanation from each person to sum up how the tribe’s doing, and my favorite is Mookie, who when asked comes up with the stunning oratory declaration, “Bad.” Descriptive! Way to reach into the old adjectival bag of tricks there, Mook. Probst gives Anthony shit about getting beaten by Gary, and Anthony does sort of look like he’s about to cry every time he talks, I’ve noticed. Maybe he should move out of his mom’s basement. He makes excuses about not having water during the challenge, and Mookie shakes his head disapprovingly. Then Anthony goes into this long diatribe about how he wonders if everyone there even likes him and blah blah blah. Here’s the thing: literally everyone in the entire world wonders whether people even like them or not. Seriously, everyone. Me, you, that guy over there. You can comfort yourself with this fact. But asking whether everybody likes you is not an acceptable thing to do after you’ve completed adolescence. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a public pity party to receive validation for your insecurities. Don’t ask for compliments by shaming people into giving them to you. Earn them legitimately, through hard work and achievement! God. Anyway, Anthony tells us that he has the will to win, and he doesn’t appreciate being singled out and having people questioning whether he wants to be there or not. This is why he is talking about it endlessly, because he doesn’t want to draw attention to it, at all, even though he keeps talking about it, over and over, in every situation and at every possible juncture. Time to vote! We see Mookie vote for Anthony. Michelle votes for Sylvia, drawing the ‘S’ in her name in the form of a snake. Clever! Not. That’s totally how I learned the alphabet in kindergarten. Jeff goes to tally the votes, and asks if anyone wants to play the idol before he reads them. Sylvia shakes her head and does not have it, and right there I am done with her. One vote for Sylvia, one for Anthony. Soon it is three votes Sylvia and three votes Anthony. The next vote? Is for Earl. This is Rita’s attempt to shake things up? By throwing away her vote? What was the purpose of doing that? She could have at least practiced her cursive on the parchment or something. Dumb! The last vote is for Sylvia, and she is ousted. Jeff snuffs her torch, and she is off.
I kind of thought Sylvia got a bum rap as the annoying one at first, but when she didn’t pool all her efforts into finding the idol, that did it for me, and it was time for her to leave. She could have played a much better social game as well, so I’m let down that she didn’t make more of an effort there either. I’m also disappointed that Ravu has lost the first three challenges, because I find myself really rooting for them. If this keeps happening every week, this season won’t even be fun to watch. But on the other hand, the Pearl Islands season started with one tribe losing the first three immunities, and it turned out to be one of the best seasons ever, so I am not quite ready to throw the book at Fiji yet. What do you guys think?