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Things started to get interesting on Survivor: Guatemala this week after our malnourished reality stars suddenly engaged what I’d been begging for: scheming! Yes, this lazy season showed sparks of life as underdogs Lydia and Danni tried to shake things up. Did they succeed? Well, I’m not gonna say just yet. But needless to say, I was very happy to see a return to true Survivor form as mind games threatened to topple the haughty foursome known as Steph, Judd, Rafe, and Cindy. Wait, who’s Cindy? Oh yeah, that quiet girl who always looks pissed. Has she always been there?This week’s episode began with the ominous sight of a volcano simmering with activity. Oooh, much like a restless tribe fermenting with paranoia! It works on so many levels. Still, as much as I like Mr. Volcano, he’s nothing compared to our tireless friends, the leaf-bearing fire ants. Now those guys know how to open a show! (Actually, my all time favorite is the lone crab scuttling across the beach, but this season seems to be completely devoid of any such adorable crustaceans.) Speaking of adorable, that cute-as-a-button (and thin as one too) Danni greeted us with the sad declaration that her head was about to be chopped off. That is, unless she could shake things up. Odds that Danni can shake things up: 15-to-1. Seriously, she’s just gone with the flow every week. Don’t try to make us think you can pull this off. You’ll only get me excited for an inevitable letdown.
Meanwhile, Lydia embraced the morning with an olfactory hallucination. She claimed that she could actually smell sausage and eggs in the air. (Note to Survivor camera crew: eat your breakfast NOT AT CAMP.) Judd had a perfectly reasonable explanation for the odors: “Well, if you smelt and eggs or sausage and eggs, it’s probably Steph farting again; so it could be a little bit of a problem.” Tasty!
“No, I went to the bathroom. No more gas,” Steph reassured us.
“Yeah, usually when you get that egg smell first thing in the morning–” Judd said, trailing off. Hey, thanks for the forensic analysis, man. Now if you don’t mind, I’m gonna be over here in the corner trying to purge the thought of Judd farts.
With camp life boring as ever (note the fart conversation), the survivors decided to spice things up with a good old-fashioned cartwheel exhibition. Judd kicked things off with a tumble so graceful that he was but a mere flowing ribbon away from rhythmic gymnastics. Who would have ever thought he’d be so nimble? Steph followed with her own nifty cartwheel while Cindy sat to the side, giving her now patented “I HATE YOU” glare. Has anyone actually ever talked to her before? I’m pretty sure no one knows her name. They probably think she’s just a really dirty intern.
As the Cartwheel Expo 2005 continued, Danni told us that she wanted to break up the dominant alliance. She knew she could bring Lydia over. The key was somehow severing the tight bonds of everyone else. Sounds like a tough mission. Oh well, let’s just sit back and have fun instead. Hey look! There’s a giant doing flips! Oh wait, it’s just Danni doing a cartwheel. Never mind.
Suddenly, with booming music playing over the soundtrack, we moved to the reward challenge which was our old favorite: the Survivor auction. Always a fun time, yes? I won’t bore you with the details; let’s just get started!
The first item up for bid was a tasty plate of beef jerky. Danni dropped some coin for the dish, and when she won it, Jeff went all Let’s Make A Deal and gave her the option to trade up for some mysterious, covered item. Danni stuck to her guns though and kept her dried meats (who wouldn’t!). So what was under that giant cover? Jeff unsheathed the plate to reveal a jar of UNCOOKED CORN! THE HORROR!!! Seriously, everyone recoiled as if he’d just produced a fresh plate of human eyeballs. He will do that one day, by the way. Mark my words.
Up next was a scrumptious offering of milk and cookies which Cindy happily purchased. And then came the individual mosquito net. Lydia managed to outbid Judd and Stephenie, and as she claimed the bounty from Probst, he commented, “Boy, you do have a lot of bites on that back. Wow!”
“You haven’t seen nothin’ yet!” Lydia said, patting her butt.
“Got it on the booty too?” Probst asked. Images I didn’t want today: Lydia’s bumpy, mosquito-ravaged ass.
Next up on the block was another covered item, but as we all know, Survivor always follows a crappy reward with an awesome one. As a result, a frenzied bidding war broke out with Danni and Rafe ultimately procuring the item for $180. And what was it? UNCOOKED CORN AGAIN!! GROSS!!!! Actually, no. Just kidding. It was a Philly steak sandwich with fries. Gosh, all these people have been eating. How long until Steph begs for a bite? She does deserve it after all.
For the next lot, Jeff offered up an envelope that enigmatically promised to be a huge helper for the upcoming immunity challenge. Everyone intensely bid on this cryptic item, but in the end, Danni won it. Unfortunately, she couldn’t open the envelope until the immunity challenge; so in the meantime, Probst moved onto the next big item, which he noted was just around the corner. Hmmm… Could it be loved ones from home? Indeed it was! Yes, six happy, clean, and well-fed loved-ones appeared before our survivors, and before you could even say “Guatemala,” everyone was crying. So who was there? Well, we had Rafe’s sweet-looking mother, Lydia’s long lost brother (they hadn’t seen each other in two years. WTF?), Danni’s awkwardly dorky brother, Judd’s wife Kristen, Steph’s so-Jersey-it-hurts boyfriend Mike, and Cindy’s twin sister — Mindy. Yes. Mindy and Cindy. I’ll just let that percolate for a moment.
Asked how he felt to see his mother, Rafe simply blurted out, “I can’t believe she’s standing in front of a Mayan temple!” Yeah, and neither can EVERY SINGLE ARCHEOLOGIST. Well, with the fam all there, it was time to bid. Who would get to see their loved ones? Even though Lydia hadn’t seen her brother in two years, Steph asked the friendly fishmonger for money so she could see her goofy boyfriend. Amazingly, Lydia happily forked over the rest of her cash in a move that was either a) a strategic display of friendship; or b) a passive-aggressive attack on her brother. Yeah, there’s a reason why they haven’t talked for so long. It’s because Lydia HATES him!
Unfortunately for Steph, even though she had a bunch of money, Cindy gave her money over to Judd who ultimately won the prize with $880. “Kristen, go give him some love,” Probst said, ushering the husband and wife back together. And with nipples fully erect, Kristen bounded over to her hairy man and embraced him with the love of a thousand beers. But wait! There was a twist! Judd could now invite two other loved ones to join his wife at the camp that night. Cue the Steph begging in 3, 2, 1… now!
Yup, as usual, Steph cradled her head in her hands, quietly mouthing “Please please please please please” over and over again. And guess what? It worked. Again. Judd selected Cindy’s sister and Steph’s boyfriend back, causing Rafe to bawl and Lydia to smile with her usual concealed anguish. Lydia, you might as well stop expecting rewards. No one’s ever gonna invite you along. Sorry sista.
Anyway, Rafe, Danni, and Lydia were sent back to the old Yaxha campsite while the other three spent the night with their loved ones. “My wife was pretty shocked, man, at my camping skills,” Judd told us. “She was digging it. Thought it was pretty hot. She thought I was a sexy camper.” Yes, sexy in that dirty, piggish sort of way. Meanwhile, Cindy and Mindy (or as I like to call them, Cmindy) expressed their happiness to us, with Mindy gushing, “I’m excited to be here because this is what I grew up doing. Playing ‘wilderness people’ is our favorite thing to play!” Funny, I’ve never played “Wilderness People.” Or heard of it. Is it just me? Or is “Wilderness People” some divine creation of the Cmindy brain trust?
As for Steph, she was absolutely thrilled to see her Mikey-Wikey. “I owe Judd big time because this is the second time he’s given me a sweet reward and shared a sweet reward with me.” Well, I’m sure Steph will repay him somehow. She’ll never stab him in the back, I’m sure. Right? Judd even told his wife that Steph’s gonna take him to the final two if all goes well. This caused Kristen to pat him on the cheeks excitedly. Looks like it’s all gonna work out for Judd! But wait! That monkey in the tree sure looks shifty. Does he know something we don’t know? The monkeys know all.
Meanwhile, Rafe, Danni, and Lydia returned to their old campsite, and as the three wandered around, the dizzying thought of a brand new alliance danced in my head. Could it happen? Lydia and Danni were already somewhat bound to each other. Could they bring Rafe with them? Well, all signs pointed to yes. You see, Rafe was not a big Judd fan, but couldn’t exactly vote against him lest he destroy his alliance with Stephenie. There was only one move for Rafe. “We need to catch Judd in some kind of lie so that we can show Steph because right now, she really, really trusts him,” he said. Uh, didn’t they already catch Judd in a lie? You know, at Tribal Council? The immunity idol fiasco? Anyone? Anyone?
Nevertheless, Rafe finally concluded, “You can’t trust a person like Judd. But you can trust that you can’t trust him.” He then added, “Also, you can’t trust that you can’t trust that you can trust that you can’t trust him. And you can trust that you can’t trust that you can’t trust that you can’t trust that you can trust…” It went on for about two hours.
Normally, I’d say all this Rafe and Danni talk was just massive Mark Burnett misdirection, but back at the other camp, Judd’s wife proudly announced, “It looks like you guys will really be the final four.” Hmmm… those sort of heady proclamations never seem to work out. The only thing more certain of backfiring is when one person tells us point-blank who will be voted out next. And of course, that’s exactly what Judd then did. He revealed that Danni was next to go, and if she somehow won immunity, it would be Lydia. “I’m so glad this worked out this way,” he added, full of hubris. Well, I guess this means Danni and Lydia are staying. Sweet!
The next morning, Rafe, Danni, and Lydia returned to camp, and as the loved-ones headed off, Judd waxed poetically about seeing his wife: “It’s like eatin’ twenty-five White Castle cheeseburgers, man.” He then added, “I can’t wait to see my daughter. That’ll be like three bags of Cheetohs, a burrito, and some onion rings.”
With the camp back to normal, it was time to talk strategy. Lydia approached Judd and suddenly dropped her sweet facade in lieu of a tough-talkin’ fishmonger grit. “We’ve come this close. We got seven freakin’ more days left. Now… we either get rid of the threats… or we’re gonna be stuck to where we’re gonna be sittin’ on the jury,” she said in a firm and mildly scary way. Of course, this completely appealed to Judd’s greedy instincts, especially once Lydia reminded him how his so-called “alliance” had blind-sided him with the Jamie ouster. As a result, Judd became riled up and said he would join Lydia and Danni (who was sitting with them) if they wanted to go after one of the larger threats. What Judd didn’t realize was that Lydia had just ensnared him into going after Rafe, a move that would surely annoy Steph and turn her against her loyal Jersey buddy. Holy shit! This is some top-notch scheming. Gotta give props to Lydia and Danni — assuming it all works out…
At the immunity challenge, Probst revealed to us that today’s game “requires smarts.” And to illustrate this, he tapped his temple. You see, if you tap your temple, that means you’re smart. Thanks Jeff! Amusingly, on the word “smarts,” the producers cut to an exasperated Judd, clearly not the biggest proponent of thinkin’ ‘n’ stuff. Well, the big immunity puzzle was actually just an elaborate retread of a popular Big Brother motif (ah, memories flooding back from Big Brother 6. Such a wonderful season…). Basically, players had to move from tile to tile on a giant board. Any tile that was stepped on could not be stepped on again, and players could move until they became boxed in. Last person standing would win immunity. As for Danni’s immunity advantage: she could swap positions with any other player one time. Make sense? Don’t worry, it doesn’t really matter.
Well, everyone went about stepping from tile to tile, and as exciting as it was to watch on screen, it really doesn’t translate well into writing. Needless to say, Cindy dropped out first, then Danni swapped with Steph (which of course led to Steph giving her trademark pissy glares), and then Lydia and Rafe bit it. Judd boxed himself in next; although, that’s not the way he saw it. “I got one more!” he protested, but an annoyed Probst swiftly replied, “Judd, you cannot move diagonally!” By the way, where’s the surly gym teacher Probst we saw last week? You know, the one who kept yelling, “This is for immunity, LET’S GO!!!” I kind of miss him. I guess he calms down when it comes to puzzle games and smarts. And yes, I did tap my temple just now in honor of Probst.
Ultimately, the challenge came down to Steph and Danni, and in the end, the purchased advantage did the trick. Danni won immunity and effectively saved herself from the chopping block. Yay! In celebration, Danni then did 250 crunches in the span of ten seconds.
Back at camp, the scheming continued at full tilt (yes!) as Danni cozied up next to Steph and happily played on her fears. Judd was still pissed and angry and betrayed about the whole Jamie situation, Danni noted, adding, “He’s like ‘Don’t think I don’t know who’s in control.’” Well, this immediately had Steph paranoid that Judd was coming after her, and as he sat on the temple like a bored gorilla, Steph approached Rafe with the idea of turning on their ally.
“We’ve been trying to be honest with each other for the most part,” Steph said. Yes, “honest” in that backstabby sort of way. But that’s okay. Even if Steph was betraying her alliance, I didn’t mind. I’m all about the backstabbing on Survivor. As for Lydia, she was busy stirring the pot by quietly pitting Judd against Danni, saying that she could be very dangerous. Lydia then offered her vote to Judd, which was clearly an effort to mobilize Judd into doing something stupid like campaigning against Stephenie. Judd didn’t quite take the bait, but he still had some sage advice: “If you think you’re safe in this game, you’re crazy. You’re absolutely berserk.”
Later, Lydia offered her vote to Rafe, and while this may have seemed duplicitous, I think she was actually sincere. Judd wasn’t very happy though, and he called her out, saying that she had offered her support to him first. Oh, who cares. Lydia’s just trying to stay on by the hair on her chinny chin chin (I sincerely hope her chin does not have any hair though). As the tribe headed up to Casa Del Probst, Judd told us that he was simply happy that someone was going home. “As long as it ain’t me, I’ll always have a smile on my face,” he added. And yes, that was my Obvious Misdirection Sensor going off.
At Tribal Council, we met our lovely jury and discovered that Gary still hadn’t shaved his nasty neck-beard. C’mon. Adam’s apples aren’t supposed to be hairy. Sadly, nothing too interesting happened at Tribal Council. Probst barely seemed able to elicit any sort of excitement; not even from Judd who explained his thoughts on voting someone off: “No hard feelings, but deal with it. That’s basically the way I look at it.” Makes sense. No hard feelings. Just business…
Well, speaking of voting, it was that time. Lydia jotted down Judd’s name, and Judd jotted down, well, some lady named “Lidia.” Oh wait, that’s supposed to be “Lydia.” Now I understand why Judd wasn’t so psyched about using all those “smarts” before (me tapping temple again). I shouldn’t be so snobby. Everyone has a typo here and there. Of course, they’re usually typing when it happens, but hey, that’s okay.
Finally, it came time to read the votes. First one: Judd. Second: the mysterious Lidia! Third: Lydia again (clearly Cindy). Fourth: Judd. Fifth: “Juddinator” (groan). And sixth: Judd. And with that Judd became the latest survivor voted off the… Guatemala. At least he took it like a man: “Thanks guys. Hope you guys all get bit by a freakin’ crocodile. Scumbags.” Now Judd, what happened to all that talk from before? You know, about how no one was ever safe and should ever feel safe. Surely you held yourself to that standard, yes? And did you not just now say that there should be no hard feelings, just deal with it? Just wondering.
Well, as Gary snickered in the jury, Judd trotted off into the night, muttering once again, “Scumbags.” Later, in his exit interview, Judd vented, “I was pissed off, lied to, betrayed. It doesn’t feel good being blindsided. It sucks being lied to, man, because the one thing I didn’t do was lie to anyone, man.” Whaaa? This was the most delusional comment since Burton Roberts accused Lil of betraying him… RIGHT AFTER HE BETRAYED HER! Sorry, that still riles me up.
Anyway, Judd ended his thoughts on a positive note, saying, “I really believe that you’re all a bunch of scumbags.” And in other news, baby wants his bottle. Actually, even though his comments were highly hypocritical, I gotta give him props for lashing out. Because honestly, isn’t that what we really want? Who cares about those annoying “It was the most amazing experience!” speeches. We want anger! Frustration! Hostility!
With any luck, things should continue to twist and turn next week as Cindy becomes the latest victim of the blindside bonanza. My prediction: an all out war between Cindy and Steph. What do you think will happen? Will you miss Judd? And did anyone else see his twin brother in the Febreeze family moment?