Wow. Now we have a season! Survivor has been pretty solid so far, but after this week’s episode, it suddenly went to a whole new level. As anyone knows, the best reality shows pit a tormented underdog against a cocky, awful majority (Big Brother 6 anyone?). Until now, we sort of had underdogs in Aitu, mostly because their ranks weren’t filled with muscleheads like Adam, Nate, and JP, but it wasn’t really enough for us to wholeheartedly get behind them. But now everything’s changed. Mark Burnett introduced a twist that not only ingeniously changed the game, but suddenly increased our emotional investment in the characters by about tenfold. And to top it all off, the immunity challenge was in-saaanely exciting. This is what reality TV is all about, people!This week’s episode began at the Aitu tribe with Jonathan gathering his alliance (read: everyone but Ozzy) and spewing out a pep talk about sticking together and whatnot. The plan, they all decided, was that if they lost immunity, Ozzy would be a goner. Yes, everything seemed so simple and straightforward… that is, until Candice revealed to us that she wanted to rejoin her fellow whiteys, Adam and Parvati. Dunh dunh DUNH!!! Of course, this wasn’t really shocking to anyone who happened to notice Candice’s kissy faces towards Adam during Tribal Council a few weeks ago. We could tell she hated being on the “dorky” tribe. She then told us, “It’s gonna get to a point where somebody’s gonna get greedy.” You know, like YOU, CANDICE?
After the opening credits, we then learned that Jonathan too wanted to rejoin his white brethren, and as he plotted with Candice for a way to hone their white power, I just hoped and prayed that everyone else would catch onto them. Ozzy probably would have been the best bet to sniff them out, but considering that he was fairly ostracized, his word probably meant nothing. Nevertheless, Jonathan told Candice that he wanted to take her to the final two, and she nodded and agreed, which was amusing since in the very next instant, she told us that she wanted Jonathan gone. Yay Survivor deception!
Meanwhile, over at Raro, the gang spent their morning talking about the merge and how the tribes were even at six people apiece. For whatever reason, Brad commented that it was “every man for himself,” an offhand remark that managed to rile up everyone, particularly Parvati and Adam. While Brad wandered off to do whatever, the rest of the tribe feared that he was playing an individual game entirely too early. Was he duplicitous? Would he screw them over? DID HE HAVE BAD WIND AGAIN? Whatever it was, the whole gang decided they would vote him off next, no matter what.
Or would they? (Insert image of me looking coy.)
We then headed off to the reward challenge, and before we could learn the latest batch of convoluted rules, Jeff had a bombshell for us. He offered each person a chance to mutiny and join the other tribe. HOLY MOLY! Even better, everyone only had ten seconds to make the decision, which meant no one could really think through their actions. At first, it appeared as though no one was gonna bite, but I had a feeling Candice wouldn’t be able to pass up this chance to be with the popular kids. After all, she really seems like one of those girls who’ll be all sweet and nice to everyone but will only socialize with people that she deems to be the “cool kids.” Not that I have any personal issues with that. Not that I’m thinking specifically of one girl from college or anything like that…
Sure enough, just as expected, Candice stepped forward, leaving her old tribe behind. This then put Jonathan in a prickly situation: maintain his ties with Aitu or preserve his “alliance” with Candice. Well, just at the last second, he too “mutinied,” dealing yet another blow to the once formidable Aitu tribe. Truthfully, this was probably the dumbest thing either of them could have done. By exposing that the old, original white alliance was still going strong, it sent a signal to all the minorities that it was time to kill whitey. Or at least, it should have. The merge could not come soon enough…
Well, poor Yul was absolutely stunned by these developments. Ozzy, on the other hand, saw it coming the whole way. “I’m sure they’ll get their fates sooner or later,” he seethed. It’s funny — Ozzy always seemed like such a bitch, but now, his badass attitude was more welcomed than a bar of soap and some deodorant.
Anyway, it was finally time for the challenge, and yes, it as simple as they come: tribes had to put two people in a barrel, roll the barrel through obstacles, collects floats along the way, dump the barrel into a lagoon, attach the floats, paddle the barrel across the lagoon, collect flags all along the way, attach said flags to a flagpole on the other side of the lagoon, dig in the sand, find an axe, chop a string, and raise a flag. Easy peasy! And all for some coffee and pastries. Oh, and letters from home. Blah.
Well, each tribe dumped two girls in the barrel and then rolled them down the course and over various bumpy objects. Needless to say, I’m sure it wasn’t the most pleasant experience for the ladies. Miraculously, the depleted Aitu tribe managed to eke out an early lead (thanks to twin supermen Ozzy and Yul), and I had to admit, I was rooting for them hardcore. I mean, talk about definition of underdog. It’s full on war now. Aitu or nothing!
Barrel o’ fun!
Anyway, the competition soon spilled over into the lagoon, and amusingly, Jeff boarded some sort of vessel that allowed him to yell and berate mid-lagoon. It kind of reminded me of Heart of Darkness, except with more khaki. Well, once in the water, Aitu managed to blow its lead wide open, at one point causing Jeff to happily yell, “RARO! NO chance of getting back!” Later, Jeff probably called up his mom and said, “Yeah, it was a great day today. I got to belittle this one tribe so badly. Oh, it was fantastic!”
“Pardon me while I go off in search of Skull Island.”
Well, as Aitu neared completion, Jeff observed, “Ozzy and Yul have been workhorses on this challenge!” And by “challenge,” Jeff clearly meant “season.” Sure enough, they may have been down, but they were far from out: Aitu won reward! In your face, ASSHOLES! Pure redemption! Even better was Ozzy who had no qualms about telling Candice and Jonathan that “Mutineers are the first people to die, man.” Okay, a little harsh, but welcomed nonetheless.
As an added bonus for this victory, Aitu then could send someone to Exile, and no surprise here: they shipped off Candice, who let out a feeble goodbye wave to her former tribe. YOUR GESTURES ARE UNWELCOMED HERE, TRAITOR! Well, it all seemed like wonderful vindication, but even though Aitu had wound up on top, the pain of deception had taken its toll on Sundra, who couldn’t help but cry with disillusionment. Welcome to reality TV, sweetheart.
After the commercial break, the winners headed off to their reward where they feasted on pastries and coffee. Everyone seemed incredibly happy, especially when they came upon some childhood photos from home. My favorite was Yul’s high school picture, which revealed him to be every bit the dork we expected him to be. Speaking of Yul, he, of course, expressed this experience in a typically thoughtful way, saying, “It just really hits you that these are real people that you’re interacting with. You know, people with hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations.” Hey Yul. Stop being so articulate and awesome, okay? WE GET IT, YUUUUL!
Of course, the happiness soon turned to sadness as everyone read letters from home. Sundra was a complete mess, but it was Ozzy’s tears that precipitated a group hug. Awww. “We’re a team ’til the end now,” Ozzy said. Yeah, team ’til the end! Unless, of course, you lose immunity.
Meanwhile, out on Exile Island, Candice complained about her unfortunate situation, saying “Now I’m here sitting on Exile Island by myself while Jonathan is bonding, having a good time, and I’m out of the game.” Yeah, and whose fault is that? Just shut up and built a sandcastle or something.
Over at Raro, however, Jonathan wasn’t exactly “bonding, having a good time” with his new/old tribemates. He was instead trying his best to ingratiate himself with the crew. Turns out the love for the old white alliance only encompassed Candice, on account of her being attractive and not annoying, and so while Jonathan may have thought he’d now supplant some lesser folk like Brad or Jenny, he instead found himself on the very bottom of the totem pole — an easy cut if they headed to Tribal Council. Nate put it best when he noted, “You really think that we all have your back after we just saw you sell out your other tribe? Are you dumb?” We’ll withhold judgment about Nate until after the show…
After the commercial break, we found Jonathan scampering around the camp, trying to be like a chubby, middle-aged version of Ozzy. Yes, he was working his ass off, trying to be useful for the gang. It was basically his way of saying, “Okay, okay. You don’t like me. But I’ve increased your coconut harvesting productivity by .24%!” The good news for Jonathan was that he was able to earn the trust of Adam, who agreed to be loyal to the old white alliance. At least, for now.
We then went out to the immunity challenge, which looked to be another convoluted mess, but it actually was relatively simple and extremely exciting. Basically, teams would paddle out into an area in glass-bottom boats, find three underwater targets, and once the crosshairs on the glass were aligned with the crosshairs on the target, they’d drop a cannonball. If they connected with the target, several buoys would be released. Once teams had all three sets of buoys, they’d then use them to solve a puzzle on dry land. One buoy had a question, and the rest spelled out the answer.
Immediately, I was intrigued with this challenge, only because the use of a glass-bottom boat was fairly novel for Survivor (as opposed to the usual mix of pontoons, floats, and canoes). Well, both tribes paddled out, and off the get-go, Raro was already way off course. This caused general excitement in the TVgasm offices because quite honestly, we wanted nothing but bloodshed for Raro, specifically Candice and Jonathan (and maybe Adam too).
Aitu, on the other hand, adeptly positioned themselves over the target. They released their cannonball and… nada. Total miss. Raro, on the other hand, readjusted themselves and dropped their own cannonball — to no avail. They missed too! But their luck soon changed, and they eventually hit two targets right in a row. Oh, this was bad. This was very bad. Luckily, Aitu managed to hit a target, but they were still behind, and Raro appeared to be on a hot streak. To say this was exciting was an understatement. I don’t know if the challenge was necessarily crazier than the balancing one a few weeks ago, but the stakes were about ten times higher. No one from Aitu could go home. No one.
Luckily, Aitu hit a second target, tying them up with Raro, which had suddenly stalled in the water. They not only missed, but they seemed to be getting sloppy, causing Jeff to make some remark about them losing momentum. Shockingly, Jonathan had the temerity to actually mutter back, “Oh please, Jeff.” NOBODY SASSES COACH PROBST! Jeff asked him to repeat himself, and when Jonathan said again, “Oh PLEASE, Jeff!”, our intrepid host snapped, “Jonathan getting frustrated by ME!” This could lead to one prickly Tribal Council!
In a great turn of events, Aitu managed to hit their third target (thanks to Yul’s new reverse-periscopic strategy), and soon, the tribe was paddling to shore! But would Raro launch a comeback? They dropped a cannonball… and missed again! They then dropped a second cannonball… and missed a second time!!! Cosmic justice!
Well, you can imagine how this all wound up. Once Aitu got to shore, they quickly figured out the puzzle (the clue: what was the most famous mutiny. The answer: Bounty). Just like that, Aitu redeemed itself again, winning its second challenge in a row with its newly depleted numbers. What a wonderful, wonderful turn of events.
After the commercial break, we headed over to Camp Raro where the first order of business was Candice selling out Jonathan. Despite his earlier claims, Candice told Adam that she was not in fact super tight with Jonathan at all. Not even remotely. Well, looks like Jonathan was a goner! But wait… Adam actually had a pretty smart strategy. He figured that they might as well keep Jonathan around because they knew he wouldn’t flip back to his old tribe — they’d never take him back. Brad, on the other hand, had already expressed displeasure in subtle ways. He could very easily flip-flop after the merge; so why not get rid of him? This caused Nate to then proclaim that Brad was definitely a goner. Keep in mind this was like the tenth time this episode that Nate had authoritatively announced the next ouster to us. Which one is it, Nate? Brad or Jonathan? Make up your mind, NATE.
Nevertheless, Nate said he was going to hone his inner-Denzel and fool Brad into thinking everything was cool. However, I’m not sure his inner-Denzel would be winning any Oscars because immediately, Nate’s voice raised about two octaves, and he began acting so shady and aggressively friendly that I was shocked that Brad didn’t catch on. Candice, meanwhile, continued to scheme against Jonathan, saying that he had talked all sorts of shit against Adam. Well, Adam certainly did not appreciate that. He clearly was used to only kind words, on account of the Aaron Eckhart face. So what should he do? Get rid of the crafty Jonathan or the ambiguous Brad?
At Tribal Council, Jeff asked the group about having extra numbers heading into the merge. “We’re just going to pick ‘em off like zits,” Jenny announced, drawing the disgust of Probst. Silly girl. Don’t you know the cardinal rule of Tribal Council: Thou shalt not discuss acne in the presence of Probst!
Moments later, as the tribe goofed around and joked, Candice noted that one of the reasons why she switched sides was because Raro seemed to enjoy themselves so much more. WELL. Probst was not about to let her off the hook with that. He sarcastically said, “So you’re telling me, CANDICE, that you stepped off that mat because you could just sense that Raro was a lot more fun???” He then added, “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining!!!” Okay, he didn’t say that, but it really was raining, so even if they did piss on his leg, they wouldn’t be lying. In fact, the precipitation was so intense that everyone was soaked through, especially Jeff who was all slick and wet. It’s always funny when Probst gets wet. Kind of like when a cat gets stuck in the rain. I feel bad, and yet I can’t help but laugh.
Nevertheless, discussion soon focused on Jonathan and whether or not he was assimilating well with the gang. Nate said that Jonathan’s only problem might have been that he was leading the tribe too much, and in Raro, if you’re a leader, “we’ll cut you up!” Yes, leaders are terrible. Just look at how well Raro’s done without them…
Well, I was starting to think that Jonathan might be doomed, but then Probst asked Brad if he trusted anyone on his tribe, and for whatever reason, he said “No.” GREAT. Granted, it’s fine for him to not trust anyone, but that being said, if you don’t trust anyone, why would you then trust them with your honesty? DUMB MOVE. Best part of all, however, was that when Brad said he didn’t trust everyone on his tribe, we then cut to everyone else who had an absolutely appalled look on their faces. Maybe they forgot how earlier they were plotting against Brad behind his back. But seriously, they’re all trustworthy.
Finally, it was time to vote. Jonathan unsurprisingly voted for Brad, and in turn Brad voted for Jonathan (in tiny, tiny, tiny handwriting. Literally, it looked like a line). But how did the rest of the tribe vote? Sadly, Jonathan was safe. Everyone voted out Brad, who later said he didn’t see it coming at all. Technically, it was a smart move for Adam, Candice, and Parvati because it kept Jonathan indebted to them, but for the rest of the non-whites, they better wise-up and realize that they’re on the outside of a still-strong alliance…
Ah, but don’t think this episode was done just yet. Jeff had one more twist: Brad was now the first member of the jury. Wha-wha-wha-whaaat? That’s right, even thought we went into the night with twelve people, the jury was starting early this year. Would we have a supersized jury? Or would there be something crafty about how each member was selected? I guess we’ll just have to keep on watching…
What did you think about this episode? Did you like the twist? What about Jonathan and Candice’s actions? Did Raro vote out the right person? And what’s up with the jury? In the words of Rebecca from Amazing Race 6: SO MANY QUESTIONS!