How awesome was tonight’s Survivor? Granted, nothing really happened — at least, in terms of the game — but the time we spent with the characters was invaluable. The great, explosive lunacy of Casaya that has lain dormant for the past few weeks returned in a mighty way, and with Terry stuck on Exile Island for most of the episode, we were able to savor this ridiculousness without pausing every five seconds to complain about his scheming. Plus, add to all this a much ballyhooed medical emergency that turned out to be more gripping and emotional than any tribal council in the past few weeks. Yes, tonight was an excellent, albeit unorthodox episode, and I’m confident that from here on out, this season is going to be a turbulent, insane roller coaster ride.The big episode opened up not with the usual images of waves crashing on rocks and sun shining over the sea. Instead, we had intensely creepy music setting the stage for buzzing flies and hungry vultures. Oh, so ominous. Surely this would harken the return to Casaya’s previous near-homicidal state. For those of you who may not remember the pre-NCAA tourney days, there once was a great time when every time the cameras turned on at Casaya, all hell would break loose. Mostly it was because of Shane and his psycho ways, but he can’t shoulder all the blame. There was Bobby and the wine. Bruce and the wine. Courtney and the, well, anything really. Point is, this was a crazy tribe that was ready to cannibalize itself — both figuratively and I’d say literally. But once La Mina came over in the merge, they managed to unite against a common enemy (at least, from what we saw through the editing), and for the past few weeks, this tribe has somehow kept all its lunatic impulses on the back burner. I blame La Mina for not being able to pry out the rifts and psychosis, and I specifically blame Terry for being so smug that all these nutballs could spend their time focusing on him rather than their own screwed up tribe.
Well, that being said, we soon found Mr. Terry futzing with some ashes, trying to guestimate his next move. “I still have a huge target on my back,” he told us. Yeah, well, whose fault was that? The best way to get rid of a target? Stop pissing everyone off with your cocky attitude.
And speaking of cocky, Shane sidled up to one of his allies and said, “We’re still gonna be the first tribe to ever stick together all the way to the end.” Ah yes, famous last words. We’ll see how long your tribe stays together. It might be hard to keep that bond considering you’re all CRAZY! By the way, I’m pretty sure that the Chuay Gahn tribe from Thailand was the first to stay together all the way, even though they too hated each other. Hmmm… maybe that’s the key to success. In order to stay intact, tribes must have deep-seeded hatred and anger. That’s sort of how we run things here at TVgasm. Oh I KID!
Anyway, Terry then babbled to us about his gameplan: he’d have to win the next three immunities to get to the final four, and then he’d be able to use the idol to get to the final three. One problem: the idol can’t be used once the tribe gets down to four people. I so hope no one tells Terry that. If he gets kicked off because his idol’s expired, that would be wonderful.
Of course, with only Terry left hanging around camp, Casaya could stop worrying so much about the pesky La Mina situation and instead get back to the Casaya way of life. And by that, I mean “senseless bickering.” Our first eruption occurred when a boiling pot of water fell into the fire. Courtney tried to get people to help, and in her panic, she very, very mildly raised her voice. Well, in Casaya-speak, that’s the same as thwacking someone with a tire-iron. Danielle immediately snapped back at Courtney, telling her to stop yelling. Ah yes. The good times were back. Let the cat fights begin.
Someone who wasn’t experiencing good times was Bruce. We knew this would be a tough episode for him because last week, we saw him doubled over in pain. Would tonight finally be the episode where we’d see someone taken away by stretcher? Probably, especially after Bruce said that his stomach really hurt. “I feel really constipated and sick to my stomach,” he told us. Being that I’m a professional doctor, I immediately diagnosed him with a hernia (and having been a hernia sufferer, I definitely know what Bruce was going through). Well, as Bruce talked to Shane about being a bit, uh, backed up, Courtney then decided to share a lovely memory. “I remember being so constipated I thought I was having a…” she said, pausing to find the right word.
“A child?” Danielle suggested. Pssst, Danielle, kids don’t come out of the ass.
Well, we all knew Bruce was in pain and in bad shape, but we had NO idea. He revealed to us that he hadn’t gone to the bathroom since before the village feast reward, and yes, that was before the merge. Probably two weeks prior. Holy shit. No pun intended. Okay, maybe just a tad.
Later, several giant boxes arrived with the tree-mail. I thought they were coffins, and I was kind of right. They were more like doll coffins. Indeed, inside each box was a giant voodoo doll that each player had to take and makeover in their likeness. It was sort of like a rustic episode of Big Brother. Well, the arts and crafts soon began, and Cirie spent a good amount of effort stuffing her doll’s shirt with twigs — you know, to give the doll some curves. Let me tell you something, Cirie. That doll will need a whole hell of a lot of curves. What? She has huge breasts! Aras, meanwhile, created a little twig faux-hawk on his doll. Yes, it was a faux-faux-hawk, or as I like to call it, a meta-faux-hawk. It was terrible.
Luckily, I wouldn’t have to stare at the meta-faux-hawk for long. These dolls were soon placed in a reward challenge where most of them would be destroyed mercilessly, much like many unlucky gnomes, pigs, and dummies in the Big Brother house. Before we could get to the challenge, however, there was some business to tend to. Jeff told the gang to fill out the answers to various questions that had been written out for them. These questions were about the tribemates, and as we later found out, they were quite evil. The contestant all separated to fill out the survey in private, and suddenly, we saw the random image of a cleaver thwacking down on a stump. Didn’t know why that was there, but I was thinking that somebody might be losing a toe by the end of the challenge.
After everyone had scrawled their answers, Probst then said he would be asking the questions out loud, and the survivors would all have to answer who they thought the majority of people chose on their questionnaires. Again, very Big-Brother-Head-of-Household-competition-ish. I almost expected Julie Chen to emerge from the wilderness in a safari outfit and begin drilling the players. “Shane, I need an answer. I need an answer now. Shane. Shane. Shane. SHANE.” Can’t wait for the summer.
Anyway, remember those voodoo dolls? Well they were all hanging from a contraption, and associated with them were three torches and… okay, I won’t go into specifics. Basically, each doll had three ropes, and once they were all cut, the doll would be incinerated with flames and the person being burned in effigy would be eliminated from the challenge. And how does one cut these ropes? Well, everyone who answered Jeff’s questions correctly could take a chop with that cleaver. You see, it all makes sense now. Right?
Well, whoever’s doll was the last one standing would win the challenge. That person would take a helicopter ride somewhere and feast on all sorts of good food. The winner would also get to choose who’s going to Exile Island. Okay, enough expository information. Let’s play!
Just as we had hoped, Jeff’s questions were quite divisive, and right off the bat, they were going for the jugular. “Who does the least for the tribe?” Probst asked. The correct answer (a.k.a. what the majority of people wrote in their questionnaires) was Danielle. Severally people got it right, and soon the chopping began. Within about two seconds, Terry’s doll was en fuego, and even though cocky pilot was then out of commission, he did manage to chop one of his opponents’ ropes. “This game’s gettin’ real interesting,” Probst said, in a desperate attempt to hype this up. Honestly, it really wasn’t that interesting. Everyone knew Terry would be first.
Oh, but I should know better than to question Probst’s commentary. This game was about to get quite quite interesting. “Who never shuts up?” Probst asked. Answer: Courtney. Somewhere, a dead tortoise is saying, “I KNOW! Thank you!!!”
Next Probst asked, “Who mistakenly believes they are running the game?” The answer: SHANE! Ha, you just know that totally screwed with his mind. At the very least, it screwed with his syntax: “I am not perceived to think I am running this game,” he mumbled. This was followed by Courtney chopping one of his ropes. When Probst said that it had been a tough round for him, Cirie hunched over and busted out in laughter. ShaneRage building… building…
We then had a few uninteresting questions: everyone trusts Cirie with their lives, no one trusts Terry, etc. But then it was back to the venomous fun. “Who is the biggest poser?” Jeff asked. Between Aras, Courtney, and Shane, this would be a tough one. Courtney, meanwhile, had no idea what the question even meant. “What is a poser?” she asked, to which Jeff replied, “The answer to ‘What is a poser’ is YOU. Courtney is the right answer!” OH SNAP! Jeff just totally dissed her! Man, that was harsh. I’d been wondering where persnickety Probst had been all season, and BAM! He returned with a vengeance. Suck it up, Courtney. Jeff Probst just called you a poser on national TV.
Later, after correctly answer some other question, Courtney severed a second one of Shane’s ropes, causing him to grumble, “You’re the only one that’s hit me twice. Your life is changing.”
“Except that for the fact that you aren’t really running the game,” Jeff suddenly interjected. OH SNAP AGAIN!! Jeff is on FIRE! I just want to see him go down a long line of people and insult them in creative ways. You know he can do it.
Anyway, Shane continued to gripe about Courtney’s actions, saying he would make her life miserable around camp. She responded with rolled eyes and a reminder that this was just a game, but that wasn’t good enough. “Why would you hit me twice?” asked the increasingly paranoid Shane, and soon general bickering ensued. Finally Aras told everyone to simmer down by optimistically saying, “Guys, guys, can we rise above it?… It’s meant to splinter us.”
Then Terry inexplicably smiled broadly and sarcastically mocked, “Yeah, it’s meant to splinter you guys.” Shut up, Terry. At least someone’s doing it. For two weeks you couldn’t drive the simplest wedge in this group. The producers had to devise a game to do it for you. And by the way, that sort of smug attitude is just the sort of thing that will totally nullify these “splinters” as everyone will unite to kick you out.
Back to the questions, Probst then asked, “Who is the most annoying person out here?” The answer? No surprise here: Courtney. I did kind of feel badly for her. She’d now bore the brunt of several of these questions, and it was starting to take a toll on her. “Obviously, you’re surprised,” Probst said in response to her general crestfallen face.
“By being the answer to everything? Yeah,” Courtney replied. You’d think everyone would maybe try to cheer her up or console her, but instead, the only emotional support she received came from Cirie, who again burst out into uncontrollable laughter. I love Casaya.
Eventually, the challenge came down to Cirie vs. Shane and Aras. Each one of the guys had one rope left, and Cirie had to make the Sophie’s Choice of which man to cut free. As you can imagine, Shane was begging for mercy. The man just wanted to eat. I swear, he must have a worm. He’s ravenous about two hours after any big meal (of which he’s had many). Well, Shane may have wanted the food, and he may have had a special relationship with Cirie, but she had already made a pact with Aras. She cut Shane free, unleashing the sort of dust-kicking hissy fit we hadn’t seen since before the merge. “I’m just having an emotional reaction!” he said in the understatement of the hour. Soon his anger transformed into childish whining as he said, “I just wanna go on a jet and fly and eat a sandwich.” Other things he wanted: a juice box, his toys, and for his mom to never speak to him EVER AGAIN! HE HATES YOU!!! He then found a door in the middle of the forest and slammed it.
Well, eventually, Cirie won the reward (Aras totally threw it), and again, Shane pleaded for her to take him with her, but she instead picked Aras and Danielle. As for Exile Island, she sent Terry, who passive aggressively sulked, “I come to expect all bad things for right now, Jeff, until something changes.” Shut up, asshole. You’re the only reason you’re where you’re at. Stop acting like a victim.
As the winners headed off to their helicopter, Probst then told the rest of the gang, “Rough afternoon. I got nothing to make it better.” Well, at the very least, could you give Bruce a laxative? The guy’s more backed up than Star Jones’s toilet.
We then cut to a commercial, and when we returned, it was time to ooh and ahh at the wonderful reward. Yay helicopter ride! Yay food! Yay not being around stinky Shane! As the trio gobbled down some sweet looking food (I’m instantly hungry just thinking about it), they all gossiped about the challenge and how deflated Courtney seemed. “You should have seen her face,” Danielle said. Uh, actually, they were all there. They did see her face. Hence the conversation.
Speaking of Courtney, we found her back at camp commiserating with Shane. She was understandably pissed and sad about being the most annoying, the most poseurish, the most worst of everything in the camp. “I have to live with this for the rest of my life,” she said dramatically. C’mon now. I tend to think between now and old age, there will be larger dilemmas to occupy your mind. Nevertheless, Shane explained the situation to us. “She takes a lot of stuff personally,” he said. This coming from the man who threatened to kill Courtney for chopping his ropes in the reward challenge.
Anyway, we then cut to some nasty dead fish in the water with a complimentary roving crab on top, free of charge. Such a rancid image could be a harbinger for one thing: intestinal woe! Yes, Bruce still could rustle his bowels into any movement, and we soon found him hobbling over to Shane. “Couldn’t pass a deuce,” he announced. Poor guy. I really felt badly for him. He then went to take a nap, but this turned into a groaning session and he struggled to get comfortable. Poor, poor guy. We then saw Shane and his blurred out pubic region. Gross. Poor us.
Well, we soon went from moans of anguish to moans of ecstasy as we headed back to the reward challenge where Cirie, Aras, and Danielle were receiving mud massages. The contrast between them and Bruce was borderline cruel. I loved it. You’re a sick bastard, Mark Burnett. Anyway, we saw some random footage of a masseur handling Danielle’s foot as if it were silly putty, and then later, as the gang sat around in bathrobes and gorged themselves on dinner, they talked about their fellow comrades. Their theory was that Courtney had a crush on Shane. Ooh! Fascinating. If those two ever hooked up, or worse, procreated, I think the human race would be in big trouble.
Back at camp, things had gone from bad to beyond worse for Bruce. He was in inscrutable agony, and if he was hurting, then you knew it was bad. After all, this is the guy who took a machete to the face with nary a complaint. Well, he was seriously in pain, but luckily, he had the soothing presence of Courtney to help him through the ordeal.
“If I sing you a song, will that help?” she asked (me: cackling).
“No,” Bruce replied tersely. And she wonders why she’s the most annoying on the tribe. Well, Bruce be damned. She was going to sing, and believe you me, the dulcet tones of her Siren-like voice would lull that pain away! But a few bars into her indecipherable tune, Bruce merely grunted and said, “Don’t.” Man. It was bad enough that Bruce was in the worst pain of his life. But to only have nutball Courtney and pyscho Shane as his bedside attendants? This was literally like the worst possible scenario of all time. Death row convicts are probably like, “Shit, that sucks.”
Eventually, Bruce could hold out no more. He called out for the medics, and after what looked to be about twenty or thirty minutes, the doc finally arrived. Question: why didn’t nurse Cirie help out with Bruce’s bowels over the past few days. I mean, she’s already dealt with Shane’s penis rash. I think she could handle some pooper problems. Anyway, as the medic assessed the situation, Bruce seemed to decline at a rapid rate. He probably knew he didn’t have to be so tough anymore and simply gave over to the pain. I really felt badly for the guy. I was practically yelling “MORPHINE! MORPHINE” at the screen. Luckily, the medic shoved a nice ol’ needle in his arm, and while normally that’s enough to make most people squirm, my concern for Bruce’s relief overpowered any icky feelings I may have had (to be honest, I’m not that grossed out by needles anyway. Eyeballs? That’s a different story).
The medic finally concluded that Bruce needed to be taken to a hospital (way to go, Doc. I’m sure the random hermit crab on the beach could have figured that one out), but guess what? This guy had arrived alone. That meant that Shane and Courtney had to help carry the stretcher. Tops on my list of people I don’t want carrying me in a stretcher: SHANE AND COURTNEY. “Do we have to do this right this second?” Shane asked. No, you idiot. Maybe in a few days, you know, after he’s DIED.
Amidst all the commotion, Shane then announced he was naked, thus making this scene the most simultaneously surreal, hilarious, scary, sad, compelling, and dramatic moment in reality TV history. Shane continued to describe his bare state by saying that he can’t sleep with wet pants. He too has a medical malady: diaper rash of the penis. I loved how he was explaining this when there was a guy literally dying at his feet. It’s like me bragging about my 2nd grade wiffleball skills to Albert Pujols. Kind of unimpressive.
Well, the gang with the help of a random Survivor staffer, finally rolled Bruce onto the stretcher. Just when we were again losing ourselves in the urgency of the moment, we then saw a giant blurry box around Bruce’s groin, thus highlighting the ridiculousness of the entire situation. Couldn’t he have put on his pants for like two seconds? Two seconds!
Anyway, Bruce was loaded onto the boat and ferreted away, hopefully to some place with a giant supply of morphine. The next morning, we found Terry doing stretches on Exile Island, totally oblivious to any of the drama back at the Gitanos camp. He said that he was enjoying his time on the island because it gave him more time to think about strategy. And as we all know, Terry is a master strategist. I wonder what his next wonderful scheme will be? Maybe he’ll guarantee someone a spot on the jury! Or maybe he’ll just promise someone the purdiest seashell he can find (knowing Courtney, that would actually work on her).
Back at camp, Courtney and Shane solidified their alliance by saying they’d look out for each other. Unfortunately, word choice is of the essence, and Courtney accidentally made an offer for anal sex: “You know I want to be on your backside, and I would like you to be on mine,” she said. Oddly enough, this didn’t faze Shane at all. Once the two agreed that they’d be faithful to each other, Shane did what he always does: threatened certain homicidal retribution should he be screwed over. Specifically, he said, “I’ll drive up, and I’ll kill you in your little apartment, and I’ll drive over to my club, and that will be it.” Yikes.
“That was really nice,” Courtney replied sarcastically. She then added (for real), “I don’t have a shitty apartment.” Threatening to murder her? Whatever. But calling her apartment small? BLOODY SHAME ON YOU!
Suddenly, Shane absolutely exploded and yelled, “Well, obviously, dude, I’ve never been in your APARTMENT! I DON’T KNOW IF IT WAS SHITTY OR NOT! IT WAS AN ADJECTIVE! DON’T TAKE EVERYTHING SO PERSONAL!!!” Technically, I think it was Shane who was taking things “personal” by yelling at Courtney’s defense of her apartment, but that’s neither here nor there. Point is that Shane is cah-RAY-zee. I know, I know — these two had smiles on their faces the entire time, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they should both be put on meds as soon as possible. Shane then told us, “She’s a lunatic, man.” Yes. She’s a lunatic. Read this and other laughable statements from the book, My Life with the Kettle: A Pot’s Story.
Shane then explained that his strategy was to take Courtney to the final two. She was so nuts, he’d be able to win over her easily. Suddenly it occurred to me: these two would make an awesome final two. Could you even imagine Shane replying to jury questions? While I want Cirie to win this whole thing, I can’t deny my now rampant desire to see the catastrophe that would be Shane and Courtney battling it out for votes at the end.
Well, at forty minutes into the episode, it was clear there’d be no immunity challenge or Tribal Council. Translation: Bruce ain’t coming back. But that’s okay. With all the craziness going down, I was loving this episode so far. Eventually, the reward winners returned to camp to find pure disarray. Bruce was gone, Courtney was sulking, and Shane had turned into a wild, snake-catching primate. It was kind of like those episodes of The Simpsons when Marge goes away for a night and the household degenerates into complete chaos and bedlam. Anyway, Shane was still super pissed about the whole reward snub, and he was not about to hide it. He kvetched to Aras that he had carried Cirie on his back all these weeks, but as far as I could remember, he was the one who had always been planning to vote her off. Whatever. He’s crazy.
“And that’s when I told the floating pumpkin head to leave the camp. Leave it forever! But then it summoned an army of gorilla monsters, and they all had pitchforks made of bone and gumdrops. I tried to find my Elixir of Divine Energy, but then the palm trees grew arms and held me back and…!”
Nevertheless, Cirie talked privately with her disgruntled buddy and tried to reaffirm her alliance with him. She said that the three — she, Aras, and Shane — were still intact. But how could Shane be sure of that? Well, he made her swear on her children’s lives. Yes, the fatal flaw of nearly all Survivor contestants. And sure enough, Cirie agreed to it. To be fair, Shane also swore on his son’s life, but that really doesn’t mean anything since he uses his kid as a bargaining chip whenever it’s convenient. I’m sure he’s lost his son in like five different poker games already. But seriously, he loves him.
After the break, we shifted away from all the strategy talk and returned focus on Bruce. Courtney took it upon herself to clean his Zen Garden, which was really nice. Too bad she didn’t know how much Bruce hated when she got anywhere near it. To show that they were thinking of him, she then wrote “Love Bruce” in stones, which didn’t seem very zen to me, but it was a nice gesture nonetheless. If only there were a dead sea tortoise nearby to truly cap off the symbolism.
Suddenly, on the horizon a boat appeared. This was obviously Jeff Probst arriving to tell us that Bruce would be gone from the game. But no. It was Terry returning from Exile Island! Terry… and Jeff! Both of them! Everyone wins! Yay! Anyway, Jeff and Terry deboated (what? If “deplaned” is a word, I certainly think “deboated” should be one also), and as everyone circled around, the scene became very awkward. We could tell that Jeff had something to say, but he was hiding it behind that grinning rictus on his face. Anyway, the gang all gathered ’round the campfire, and Uncle Jeff explained the situation with Bruce for all those who hadn’t been filled in (TERRY). The big news was that Bruce got to the hospital just in time because his whole digestive system — from the colon to the intestine — was all blocked up. Completely. You see, kids? This is why butt-plugs are bad.
Okay, okay. I’m sure Bruce was not the victim of a stubborn butt plug. Nevertheless, Bruce’s condition was good now, and he would make a recovery, but for him, the game was over. He would no longer be in the running to be America’s Next Top Model. Oh, I’m sorry. I meant he would no longer be in the running to be the sole Survivor. With any luck, he’d be back for the next Tribal Council, but there were no guarantees. Also, there would be no immunity challenge or Tribal Council (you’re very lucky, Terry). Jeff then left the group and waded back into the water where he awkwardly launched/stumbled back into his boat. And with that, the show drew to a close.
We still had Bruce’s family moment, which featured his daughter and wife saying that the grill was ready for him. Uh, I don’t know how to break it to you guys, but unless someone finds a way to serve barbecued Ex-Lax, I think the grill might go untouched this summer.
As for the closing words, I was hoping we’d get some hospital bed commentary from Bruce — or at the very least, a little thumbs up like when football players are carted off the field, but no. Instead, we just saw an inspirational retread of Bruce’s karate practice on Exile Island. The first time I saw this footage many weeks ago, it was hilarious. Now it just seemed strange — like it was some bizarre memorial.
What did you think about this episode? Did you miss Tribal Council? Or did you enjoy the characters and medical drama?