At long last, Survivor. Apologies for the late recap. I’ve been swamped with various finales, videos, and highly important consumer advocacy missions. As a result, our dearest Survivor (not to mention Prison Break, but that’s a whole other issue) has bore the brunt of my suddenly hectic schedule. But no one wants to hear about excuses. Let’s get on with the show, which once again caught me be total surprise (even though it certainly shouldn’t have). To the recap!This week’s show started with a hoard of that most iconic Survivor critter: the crab. Yes, a crustacean posse was having a ball on the beach, and elsewhere in the Cook Islands, Jonathan was licking his wounds after a particularly bitter Tribal Council. “I was called all kinds of names. ‘Rat’ and ‘cancer’ were the two I remember the most,” he said, acting as if he’d just been subjected to a long series of taunts and potshots (which wasn’t the case). Anyway, he reiterated that names be damned — those pesky youngsters weren’t going to ruin everything he’s been working towards on the island! Of course, by the rules of the Mark Burnett misdirection, this meant that those pesky youngsters would indeed ruin everything he was working towards. Or would they?
After the opening credits, we found the women all hanging around camp, having a ball and chopping coconuts. Well, you know what they say about chopping coconuts: it’s all fun and games until someone slices their finger off. And that someone was Parvati. Yes, in an ill-advised move, she opted to whack her finger with the machete instead of the coconut, causing cringes all across America. Luckily, her finger hadn’t been completely severed but there still was a massive cut that was so nasty, I’m getting all uncomfortable just writing about it. A few nasty images later, the paramedics showed up to take care of Parv-Parv and her not-so-resilient finger. And of course you can’t say “paramedics” without “knee-slapping comedy!” Sure enough, the paramedic told Parvati, “The good news is that you’re not going to need to trim your thumb nail for a while.” RIMSHOT!!! Oh, that was rich, Paramedic. You should be on Leno.
Suddenly, and without warning, the much ballyhooed Aitutonga Thumb Puppetry Festival faces a major setback.
Anyway, the medics announced that they’d have to stitch up Poverty, causing her to ask, “They’re stitching it right here?” What? You want to be flown to the John Hopkins Medical Center? JUST RELAX AND SHUT UP.
Parvati gives this episode an enthusiastic thumbs up!
Well, the paramedics did their thang (much to the queasy displeasure of Adam), and then we were off to the reward challenge. What convoluted mess would the players be engaging in this week? Well, Jeff announced that they’d have to use a small bucket to transport ocean water into a larger bucket (which would be high on a see-saw, lever thing). When there was enough water in the big bucket, it would lower and raise a flag. And that was it. Suddenly I felt numb and jittery — this was against everything I had ever known. No challenge could ever be this simple! What gives???
Nevertheless, Jeff announced that the winner would go to another island, visit a sacred cave and then have an awesome picnic. The winner would also get to send one person to Exile Island. Alas, without Candice around anymore, the whole sadistic glee of this punishment had somewhat diminished. Anyway, just as we were ready to start this entirely too straightforward challenge, Jeff announced there was one more twist. OF COURSE. I half expected Jeff to say, “You must capture five monkeys, each of which have keys around their necks. Those keys will then be used to unlock five separate boxes. Inside those box are pieces of a pontoon. You must assemble the pontoon and float it out to the buoy. Then you must dive down underwater, untangle a shovel, and if you haven’t drowned, you will then return to shore and dig in the sand at the coordinates tattooed on the monkeys backs. There you’ll find your bucket.”
Alas, the twist was far more benign. Jeff turned towards the jungle and summoned none other than Stacy, Jonathan’s wife. That’s right, it was the family episode! One by one, relatives came out and hugged their crying island castaways. There was the aforementioned Stacy, Parvati’s dad Mike, Adam’s dad George (whose chin was just as pronounced), Becky’s sister Sarah (who was a complete and total mess), Ozzy’s mom Gina, and Yul’s portly brother Paul. Paul was kind of to Yul was Erwin was to Godwin, if that makes any sense. Last but not least was Sundra’s mom Jeannette, whose ample bosom caused her daughter to convulse with hysterical bawling. One of these days, I’d like Jeff Probst’s mom to come out too. Just as a little surprise.
“I suspect that by accepting this hug, you acknowledge that we share similar emotions and aspirations at this joint moment.”
Well, the big twist was that the players would be working with their family members. Castaways would fill up their buckets from the ocean and then toss the water over a gap to their partners, who be trying to catch as much water in their own buckets. Oh, one more thing. The survivors would be blindfolded. Ah, good times. This will only take FOREVER.
Just in case we didn’t truly understand the experience of being blindfolded, someone literally attached a blindfold to the camera. And for good reason, too! I FELT LIKE I WAS RIGHT THERE ON THE ISLAND! Well, the challenge began, and out of the gate, everyone was doing terribly. I immediately loved Jonathan’s wife, who told him after his first water-tossing attempt, “That was very diffuse!” Bonus points for using “diffuse.” How very Yul-ish of her. Let it be known that I’ve been saying “That was very diffuse” all week long. It may very well be one of my top five Survivor quotes of all time.
Little known fact: Jonathan’s wife is also the director of the instant classic, Hood of Horror (originally titled Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror, based on the memoir, Snoop Dogg’s Very Diffuse Hood of Horror.).
Anyway, Ozzy and Jonathan both took early leads, with Stacy harnessing all that diffuse water into her bucket. Her biggest innovation was squeezing out the liquid in her soaked shirt, but good ol’ Jeff pointed this out loud, causing everyone to copycat. Amusingly, Jeff also brought back his Coach Probst persona and yelled at all these poor family members, demanding that they hurry the hell up. LET’S GO! LET’S GO!!!
Well, it turned out to be a nail biter, but in the end, Parvati managed to eke out the victory over nemesis Jonathan, causing Stacy to get all pissed. Hey, it’s okay Stacy. All’s well that ends diffuse. Unsurprisingly, Poverty sent Jonathan to Exile Island, and then Jeff announced that two other survivors and their relatives could join Parv on her reward. However, she wasn’t allowed to pick her buddies. That honor went to her father. Even better, no one was allowed to communicate with him in any way. He had to pick based on nothing at all.
Probably based on her uncontrollable bawling earlier, Mike picked Sundra and her mom, and then, because no whitey can be left behind, he chose Adam too. Enchanting!
After the commercial break, Parvati told us, “I still have a fighting chance!” which seemed to be Mark Burnett’s way of saying “She’s a goner.” We then saw Adam hanging out with his similarly goofy, gaping-smiled dad. “I’m glad you came out!” Adam said, as if his Dad was contemplating going to Starbucks instead. We then learned that Adam calls his dad by his first name, George, because they’re more than father and son. They’re best friends. Awww. SHUT UP.
Meanwhile, Sundra’s mom Jeannette was already working around camp, proving to be more useful than Adam and Parvati have been all season long. As she bent over to gather sticks for firewood and whatnot, we also had many glimpses of her gigantic mammaries. And, as we all know, that always must be mentioned.
Well, the families soon headed off to the feast, leaving Yul, Ozzy, and Becky alone. “I’m glad we have this day together,” Yul said. It was very sweet, but don’t try to tell me he wouldn’t have preferred to be at the feast. We then saw a pack of evil, homicidal sting rays and then found the reward winners entering a cave where Parvati anointed a fresh water spring with various sacred oils and whatnot. Everyone talked about how wonderful the fresh water seemed, although, I couldn’t imagine that it was terribly “fresh” after these nasty-ass survivors then jumped into it, as per the local tradition. By the way, big ups to Adam for doing a minor cannonball into the water. I guess he forgot this was, you know, sacred.
Anoint it, BITCH!
After everyone had sufficiently frolicked in the water, our gang sat down to a large feast of fried chicken and potatoes and whatnot. Sundra revealed to us that Adam and Parvati were much cooler without Jonathan around, and then we headed back to camp where Ozzy was growing discontented with the food situation. It’s not that there wasn’t enough (after all, he does manage to haul in enough fish for thirty-five sushi restaurants a day). The problem as he saw it was that he was feeding the Raros, which only helped them win — although, I really didn’t see how this week’s reward challenge had much to do with nourishment. Nevertheless, Yul, of all people, made the diabolical suggestion, “Maybe we should just hide the food for a couple of days.” Of course, he said it in that friendly, matter-of-fact way that we know and love. By a vote of three to zero with no abstentions, Yul, Becky, and Ozzy then proceeded to throw all their coconuts into the woods. It wasn’t so much “hiding” as much as it was “idiotically depleting their resources.” I could just imagine Parvati the next day showing up with three coconuts, saying, “Hey, did you know there are tons of coconuts on the ground in the woods? Apparently they grow there!”
After the commercial break, the reward winners returned to camp, and while I was all excited to see Ozzy starve Adam, it turned out the whole evil plan was short lived. You see, Adam and the gang brought back a ton of stuff from their feast, making the Aitus feel kind of badly about depriving their friends from nutrition. Oh well.
We then headed to the immunity challenge without even bothering to check on Jonathan at Exile Island. Nevertheless, he rejoined his tribe in a suitably dramatic way: by tripping in the sand as he trekked up from the beach. Oh slapstick — will you ever not tickle me so? For this challenge, each person had to race out into the water, maneuver over various obstacles, and retreat a bundle of sticks and twine. There were two bundles, which meant each person would also have to make two trips. Once survivors had all their sticks and twine, they then had to make one long pole and retrieve two rings from a post. First to get both their rings would win immunity.
Before even seeing one second of this challenge, I knew that Ozzy was gonna win. Balance? Swimming? Bundles? It had his name written all over it. Sure enough, Ozzy scampered across the course like the little Mowgli he was. Neither gravity nor his loose-fitting bathing suit would stop him. Before most people had even come close to their bundles, Ozzy was already back to the beach, ready for a second go-around. By the way, I’ve never heard Jeff Probst say the word “bundle” as much as he did this episode.
Anyway, since Ozzy was clearly making this challenge a joke, Jeff knew he needed to inspire some excitement into the event. And what better way than by berating the players? “You’re being too cautious!” he yelled. “ATTACK THIS COURSE!!!!” Seriously, I think he might force them to do wind sprints afterwards. It would kind of be like Friday Night Lights, except on an island. Friday Night Coconut Trees, if you will. Okay, I need to stop.
Later on, Jeff narrated Ozzy’s astounding progress: “Ozzy already untying his bundle, getting to work on his pole.” Was it me or did that sound vaguely sexual?
Out on the course, Sundra took a huge, Tylenol “Push Through The Pain” spill that had me feeling sore out of empathy. I felt bad for her because she probably just took a lot of hurt for something she had no chance with anyway.
And all that was left was a faint ripple in the water and the whisper of “Suuuundra” on the wind…
Meanwhile, Yul had caught up to Ozzy a bit, and it was down to the two of them fighting for immunity. However, there was no question about this. Ozzy easily won with nary a problem. Afterwards, Jeff then asked the group if anyone was concerned about not winning immunity. Adam and Parv raised their hands, but Jonathan — not so much. He simply gave a smug smirk. Cocky bastard! Hubris will always get you! But then again, would Aitu be so dumb to not take Adam out while he was vulnerable?
After the commercial break, we found the tribe gabbing away by the campfire — at least until Jonathan showed up with a dumb feather in his hat (has that always been there?). Suddenly, everyone stopped talking completely, making for an incredibly awkward gathering. In an effort to break the silence, Jonathan asked Becky how her sister was, but she merely chomped on some food, ignoring the question altogether (I suspect that was some crafty editing there).
Later on, Jonathan tried to talk to Becky and Sundra about whatever, but again they pretended as if they didn’t hear him until it was too obvious they were simply ignoring him. “We’re getting firewood,” Becky said to him, sharply denying his attempts to converse. BeckySLAM!
Elsewhere, Adam told Yul that he wanted to be in the final five with him, and if he couldn’t be there, then Parvati instead. This made Yul feel all tingly with power, and he described to us how he suddenly was envisioning himself as the Godfather being asked to make a hit. I would love to see Yul as a mafioso. He’d be the most articulate, rational, and friendly mobster ever. I can just imagine him putting the pressure on some patsy:
“I suspect that your truancy with regards to our financial agreement must inspire a certain level of regret and suspicion on your part. To that extent, I must impress upon you that such deadlines are both expected and enforced, at least until further methods or plans of action are decided upon by all parties. The only suitable remedy for this particular infraction would be to levy a considerable toll on your health and well being to the extent that it would motivate you to provide ample sums of capital at a future date.” And then Yul would shoot out the guy’s kneecaps.
Later, sensing that the momentum had shifted away from him while he was off at Exile Island, Jonathan talked up Yul about why it would be the smart and rational decision to keep him around. Plus, he wasn’t so shy to mention that he had saved Aitu at the merge (of course, the only reason why they needed saving was because Jonathan abandoned them in the first place).
Ultimately, it was coming down to either Adam or Jonathan going home. What would the Aitus do? They didn’t know, but it was okay because as Yul mentioned, his alliance was a lock for the final four. “I think we’re kind of set anyway,” he told Ozzy, “As long as no one does anything crazy.” Of course, this line was met with ominous music and a lingering image on Ozzy, which had me suddenly very scared for what might happen in the next episode or two…
We then went to Tribal Council where Adam was unsurprisingly excited to see a very gussied up Candice. Apparently she was heading to a Cook Island cocktail party after this.
“Does this turn you on, Candy Corn?”
Anyway, Jeff asked Parvati why she had sent Jonathan to Exile, and she replied that she wanted to show the Aitus how life was so much better without him around. Jeff then asked Ozzy if life was indeed better, and Ozzy replied with an apathetic, “Yeah.” Haha — in your quality-of-life-reducing face, JONATHAN!
Adam then laughed and said that just like last Tribal Council, no one wanted Jonathan around. Yeah, and um, just like last time, maybe Jonathan will stick around anyway. Don’t be too proud of yourself, Adam.
Well, say what you will about Jonathan, but I have to give him props for always being very articulate and direct with his arguments. When Adam intimated that everyone on the jury represented one time when Jonathan should have gone, Jonathan shot back that he wasn’t the only one who voted for them. Wait, you mean other people are culpable too? That makes no sense! Adam, I got your back, bro!
Jeff then asked Yul if he saved Jonathan or if Jonathan saved him. Ever the diplomat, he said that they both saved each other, and then in classic Yul style, he noted, “I would say collectively the four of us, the Aitutaki Four, are in control of the game. To the extent that I have the Idol, I have a lot of influence within that.” He then busted out a Powerpoint presentation and spent the next thirty minutes discussing bullet points and pie charts.
Finally, it was time to vote. There had been a lot of suggestions that Jonathan would be going home, but I couldn’t help feeling like this was all misdirection. Adam was such the obvious choice that I wasn’t even in suspense at all. It was so clearly him.
And then the votes came in. First was for Jonathan (of course), then another for Adam (of course again). The next ballot read “Johnny Blue Eyes,” and honestly, I was a bit surprised that Probst didn’t reprimand the players for using nicknames (let’s not forget the infamous Clay disaster during Thailand). Okay, two votes Jonathan, one vote Adam. Not a surprise. Clearly the two Raros had targeted their nemesis. From here on out, it should have been all Adam votes, right? WRONG. Next vote: Jonathan! Holy shit! I really didn’t see this coming! Sure enough, the fourth and final vote was cast for Jonathan, making him the next person voted off the island. Wowsers!
“Good job,” Candice mouthed, clearly feeling the need to avenge Jonathan’s backstabbing… of her initial backstabbing.
Afterwards, Probst tried to spice things up by saying, “You vote out somebody who thought he could trust you, which now means trust should be an issue for every single person left in this game.” Yeah, yeah. Nice try, Jeff.
During the goodbye confessional, Jonathan remarked, “These people are terrible liars!” He then said they’d have to deal with each other in camp and act as if lying in this game was something new. I couldn’t deny him that. But of course, now we must wonder: will the game still be as fun without the big villain? I guess as long as asshole Adam is around, it’s bound to stay exciting.
What did you think about the show? Sad to see Jonathan go?