Tonight, on Survivor: Things shape up to get nasty, but then: Joe happens. He is, like, a black belt in being boring. There are episodes of Masterpiece Theatre that are more interesting than Joe. I have seen documentaries about whittling that are more interesting than Joe.Jalapao on night 18. Taj laments that they’ve had to vote out so many people. “We’re just ‘Jala’ now, we done lost ‘pao’,” she jokes. Stephen points out that if the merge comes soon, they’re down four to six, which does not bode well for them. Also: they have to live with Coach.
After the credits, the editors get to have some fun: while Coach does his yoga out in the water, they cue up ‘O Fortuna’ and throw in fake lightning strikes. Revel in his masculinity, people! He is powerful, like some sort of ancient warrior. It’s just like that movie 300, except it is somehow gayer, which had previously thought was a logical impossibility.
“My right arm is Christian, but my left arm is Jewish. However, they enjoy a shared love of pretentious arm-band tattoos.”
Brendan watches from camp with his WTF face on. “He’s meditating,” Debra volunteers. “I’ve been about the team this whole time,” Coach says, actually believing himself, “but the little annoying things I’ve had to keep bottled in. I just wanted to spend ten minutes getting refocused, and then everything clicked.” He comes back to camp and starts giving everyone massages, which they all seem to enjoy quite a bit. What this tells me, however, is that Coach is that creepy guy who hits on you at the bar by giving you involuntary massages, all touchy and gross like he’s watched one too many episodes of The Pickup Artist. There’s always one guy like that anywhere you go, isn’t there? He’s always giving people massages and doing magic tricks with his complete inability to read a room. No, that girl does not want to see you pull a quarter out from behind her ear, dick. Just ask her what her name is, it’s not that hard.
Erinn does mock Coach’s meditation, but is completely cool with it if it keeps him from being the giant asshole that we’ve all come to know and love. “If that’s what turned you into mister nice guy, I will take you down there, hold your hand, and push you out into the water every morning, because I like new Coach.” Yeah well, people like Crystal Pepsi for about a week after it came out too, and we all know how that turned out.
Brendan giggles while Coach wanders around camp smiling broadly. “You’re like a completely different person now,” he notes. Brendan tells us that his relationship with Coach has always been good, but that he is most definitely a complete douche nozzle. “He was telling me that he ‘kinda started the samurai thing’, and I was like ‘What? They’ve been doing it over there for thousands of years, and Johnny Depp’s been doing it here for twenty, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” I love that the editors continue to reward us with little Coach anec-douches every once in a while from random people, because they do not have enough time in an hour to actually show the sundry ways in which Coach has wowed them with his ego.
After a short scene in which we see that Joe’s leg has swollen to the size of a small woodland creature, we’re back at Timbira, where they’ve received another clue. After Brendan gives Coach the string from the clue to use as a hair tie, they read the clue, which seems to indicate that there will be another reward challenge with a feast reward instead of a merge. When the same clue is read at Jalapa, Taj makes a variety of frustrated faces, because she seems to really want a merge. Shouldn’t the members of Jalapao actually want another tribal contest, so that they can have the opportunity to eliminate some of Timbira’s lead? I know that Taj is thinking she’ll be joining forces with Brendan and Sierra, but it still makes sense for them to hope that the merge is delayed. “Man, I was hoping for a feast. I get excited when I hear anything that starts with an F…” Taj says, laughing because she has just gotten away with being dirty on national television.
“I also like things that start with Q, but those are sadly less frequent in occurrence.”
Aerial shots of a little hut sitting out on an island; the contestants meet there and discover a feast, along with a note telling them that it is indeed merge time. Everyone’s going to be living at the old Timbira camp. Stephen says that he was more excited for the feast than the merge itself, because Jalapao was at the point of starvation. Of course, Coach has a toast for everyone, because he is a font of manners and oratory ability. Case in point: He compares the merge to “getting a new girlfriend: there are all kinds of new things to explore”. Do you mean that she has a vast network of secret passages in her house? I’m assuming that’s what you mean.
Because the editors are having way, way too much fun with Coach, Italian Godfather-style music begins to play as Coach tells us that he wishes that Timbira could have decimated Jalapao a little bit more. “We’re in control baby, we are in control,” he sneers. JT asks everyone what they do so that he can play up the whole farmer thing, and Coach tells them he’s a soccer coach and symphony conductor, and he flies back and forth between the two jobs. Probably in coach, ironically.
Coach voices over that he really likes JT because he’s a “warrior”. Be prepared to hear that warrior bullshit a whole lot this episode, because Coach’s definition of masculinity almost always involves two guys poking each other with long, hard objects. Coach notes that he’s going to really enjoy this first part of the merged game, because “all the alpha males” get to compete against each other. I wonder if he applies this philosophy to all of his competitive endeavors? Like, maybe the symphony he conducts is entirely composed of mixed martial artists and strongman competitors.
No room at the inn
The group discusses possible names for the new tribe. Stephen says he looked up the phrase for “will to overcome” in the dictionary before he got here in the event that he made it this far (which is the type of dorky thing that I would totally do, making me like him even more) and the word is “Vignus”. The rest of the group thinks this sounds pretty terrible, despite the fact that Stephen would like to punish Probst by making him say “Come on in, Vignus” before every challenge. Wait, so now he wants to punish Probst? It is official: Stephen FTW, people. Also, I must point out that they cannot do any worse than “Nobag”, so the bar is pretty low.
Coach suggests the name “Forza”, which he says means “strength”, but probably actually means “force”. They all agree to go with that. It’s actually a pretty solid tribe name, so now I have to congratulate Coach for bring something constructive to the game, which makes the milk in my fridge curdle. Sierra very abruptly brings up the fact that the members of Timbira were pretty shocked by last two votes, asking for reasoning. Stephen looks hesitant, because he doesn’t want to just announce this information to the entire group, since it could betray the dynamic of their relationships and give people opportunities to take advantage.
As they return to Timbira’s camp (rechristened Forza for the first time in the captions), the former Jalapao members survey the Timbira camp. JT hates the shelter, which he calls a “doghouse”. Brendan proposes that they tear it down and start from scratch. Debra wants to do a tour first, because tours are fun! Being productive is for meanies! Does anyone have any gum? Do you like candy?
JT and Coach fish together at the lake. “I knew the first time I looked at JT, saw the cowboy boots, his open honest face, and I said to myself ‘he is a good old boy’.” Really, you have drawn the same conclusion that anyone who meets JT for all of five seconds also draws, simply by meeting him for five seconds? Your powers of observation, they are unparalleled. Other things Coach has noticed: Taj is black. Stephen has glasses. Debra’s hair? Blonde. ARE YOU NOT WOWED?
Coach almost immediately starts talking game with JT, whose excited to have an opportunity to save his hide. JT points out that the consensus is that Brendan believes that he’s in charge, lying (I think) that Taj told him this based on her visits to Exile Island. He also says that he’s pretty sure Brendan has the idol. Coach asks JT whether he thinks Taj has it, and JT lies terrible when he gets all “I don’t know if she’s got it or not” on Coach. When you spend 18 days with a total of three other people, you should have a fairly good idea whether or not one of them has the idol. If you don’t want Coach to discover your hidden alliance with Taj, don’t tell him you “don’t know”. That would make a normal person suspicious, I think. Luckily, Coach thinks that he’s got JT sized up, and since he believes that JT is too dumb to lie to him, he doesn’t catch the obvious red flag. “”If she does [have the idol], there’s two idols,” JT says, having no idea just how right he is. I’m not sure what information JT has, but I’m pretty sure that he might be trying to throw Coach of the trail and is instead unintentionally placing him on another, also correct trail, which is an interesting series of mistakes that, through sheer luck, turn out to be blessings for JT. Of course, he also doesn’t know how badly he’s screwing up Taj right now and leaving her with JT as her only option as well, so I think he’s sort of unintentionally making a lot of very shrewd moves in this scene. He’s essentially tripping and falling face first into a pot of gold here.
“You’re a warrior. Warrior! Have I said the word ‘warrior’ yet?”
Coach gets all hush-hush with JT, asking him to “keep things confidential” and tell no one about this conversation. “It’s hard to keep six people together when they hate each other,” JT says very astutely, “and I’m here to make these people hate each other.” He’s no dummy, this guy. Coach seems to think that Brendan has lied to him repeatedly (which we’ve never seen), and is angry about this fact. “If you flat out lie to me, you’d better be prepared to go to war,” he says in confessional. I think he’s mad that Brendan has hidden the fact that he has the idol from him, but not telling someone something and lying are actually two entirely different things. How is Brendan not telling Coach that he has the idol and different than Coach not telling Candace that he’s going to vote her out? He is a complete hypocrite, of course, but why waste time trying to make sense of him? I have dishes to do.
Coach tells Tyson that he talked to JT about an alliance and discovered that Brendan has the idol. As a result, he wants to enter into an alliance with Stephen and Brendan. Tyson wants to add Debbie, which will allow them to go to the end and then create a Tyson, Coach and Debbie final three. “It’s time to go to the jugular,” Coach says. “Brendan is the head of the dragon, and I want to cut it off.” Why is Brendan the “head of the dragon”? Is there some sort of alliance involving Brendan that Coach knows of that I do not? Yeah, he has the idol, but he doesn’t appear to be any sort of power player. If anything, he’s well meaning, slightly dull and under the radar. This has more to do with the fact that Coach is threatened by him than any sort of proverbial dragon slaying. Tyson takes this proposal to Stephen, and al of a sudden, JT and Stephen are in a really great position, thanks mostly to Coach’s insecurity.
On the morning of Day 20, JT and Tyson do some fishing. JT talks about how he expected not to get along with Tyson, since they trash talked each other at almost every challenge, but they seem to get along well and work together easily. Tyson is also in favor of eliminating Brendan from the game. “He just seems like a sneaky bastard,” Tyson says. What has Brendan done that’s so sneaky? I don’t understand.
“Wanna trade pants? It appears that we are the same size.”
Meanwhile, Taj is really nervous since she hasn’t been able to talk to Brendan and Sierra at all, which makes her think that their secret alliance is no longer happening. As we’ve seen before, Brendan isn’t the greatest at communicating vital information with others, so this is very likely a red herring, but Taj is well within her rights to be nervous. Brendan has the communication skills of a cactus.
Taj takes Stephen out and they have a minor shared freakout about the lack of acknowledgement from Brendan and Sierra. Brendan has no idea any of this is happening, of course. “My exile alliance is still kind of laying low, which is what it needs to do. The alliance is only effective once there are 7 or 8 people left. Joe needs to go, and JT needs to go, then we’ll work together.” This is not true at all when you’re in possession of both idols: At nine, your four can blindside the other five by using both idols in succession, allowing you to take over the game and enjoy a safe majority of four to three, meaning that you really only have to get through this three days, right here. Of course, Brendan wants to save his idol for his own safety, as does Taj, so that’s kind of the crack in this particular plan: do you work for safety of the group, or do you watch your own ass?
Tyson and Debra discuss their new alliance, and switch tacks quickly when Brendan wanders up to them to verify that Joe will be the first one to leave. This plan to get rid of Brendan is so solid because Joe is pretty much the perfect decoy, since he’s injured. Tyson feels very self satisfied to have thrown Brendan off the scent of his own ouster. “He’s supposed to be this bigwig businessman who gets businesses rolling, and he’s like putty in my hands,” Tyson says. I guess we know that he’s not keeping that particular secret, then. I think I read somewhere that his presence as a contestant was accidentally revealed to the others via YouTube or something before the game, so maybe he knew that there was no point in lying about his success and financial status.
Erinn and Joe go for a walk together, or rather Erinn walks while Joe hobbles along behind her. Joe tells her that he found his (fake) idol, but when she asks him if he has it, he admits that he left it back at Jalapao’s camp, because he is every bit the dullard we all think he is. Joe then takes her to the treemail statue to retrieve the other one, and when there’s nothing in the pocket, Erinn knows this means that Brendan or Sierra has the idol. I love that Joe forgot his fake idol back at camp. Is that more or less embarrassing than actually using it during a tribal council?
“I seem to have misplaced my personality. Nope, not here. Let’s keep looking.”
Individual Immunity Challenge! Have I mentioned how much I prefer the individual challenges? Really, the merged stage of the game itself is the most fun. Probst reveals the immunity necklace, which actually looks pretty freaking sweet instead of hokey like it normally does. It’s adorned with all these multicolored feathers, sort of like wearing a toucan around your neck. Today we’re getting the requisite endurance challenge that always happens right after the merge. Everyone’s going to be hanging on a pole (these particular poles have little ridges in them for your feet), and the last person standing wins immunity.
Stephen is the first one to struggle, and is therefore the first one to draw the ire of Jeff. “I got a lot of limbs here, Jeff,” he responds, and either Sierra or Erinn wins my eternal love forever by going “More than the rest of us?”
Stephen then slides down the pole little by little, and he’s the first one out. Joe goes out next, and Jeff notices his knee and is pretty grossed out by it. Brendan, Taj and Erinn fall one right after the other. Here, we get a timestamp that tells us that only 20 minutes has passed. Man, this must be more difficult than it looks. JT goes out, so now there are only Timbira members left, which Coach does not hesitate to point out. Coach then drops off the pole all Richard Hatch-stylee, because he is a mastermind and you are all pawns in his overly conditioned and luxuriously flowing game.
Sierra, who hasn’t budged this entire time beings to loose her footing, which causes her to slide all the way down the pole with her face. Yeesh. Tyson and Debra are the only ones left, and only 30 minutes has gone by. Tyson beings to stretch his legs by extending himself outward. “Don’t fall off, Tyson,” Erinn says. “Don’t boss me around, lady,” he replies. “I just don’t want you to fall and break your pretty little face,” she reasons. “That’s true, it is my moneymaker,” he says in response. You know, I really don’t want to like Tyson, but I cannot help myself.
So then Debbie starts laughing, which causes her to fall, and then its all over and Tyson has won. Wow, has anyone ever clinched a challenge through the use of humor before? That’s impressive.
Probst makes Joe stay behind so that medical can come take a look at his leg. Has anyone ever returned from a doctor’s visit on this show before? The medic is pretty much the Grim Reaper of Survivor: once the doctor shows up, your time is up, yo.
Back from commercial, the very, very cute doctor with a hot accent is telling Joe that there’s a bunch of puss under his knee. How is it possible that she just made the word “puss” hot? Call me! Hot Doctor tells Joe that if he doesn’t go home, than he could lose his leg, or even die if the infection goes to his blood. Oh no! What will I do if Joe doesn’t make it back into the game? I’ll have to listen to Enya whenever I need to fall asleep or something.
Tyson gets a congratulatory kiss from Debra back at camp after the challenge. “I kick ass, like I always do. If any ladies want my phone number, I guess uh…ask.” Started out okay, but he didn’t really have an end in mind, did he? Stephen repeats that they’re hoping to take Brendan out tonight, but worried because he’s only knows these people for two days and now has to trust them completely. Looks like that secret cross-tribal alliance disintegrated pretty quickly, didn’t it?
While everyone stands around and talks about the challenge, the old Jalapao members wander away one by one to sulk. The Timbiras discuss voting for Joe, but Erinn suggests that they vote for JT, since they can continue to beat Joe since at this point he is essentially the most boring cripple ever. Tyson notes that Stephen and JT have replaced Brendan and Sierra in his alliance. “I’ve never liked Sierra and I have no clue why she’s out here, other than to give hope to stupid people around the world,” he says. I’m not sure she’s that dumb, considering that she seems pretty well spoken and intelligent in all of her confessionals. Tyson also says (again, without any evidence that we’ve seen) that Brendan is the sneakiest person still in the game. “We smile at each other, we hug. I’ve kissed him on the neck, softly. He’s felt my warm, steamy breath on the nape of his neck, even on the small of his back, but you know, as the old adage goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Those of you out there writing explicit fanfics right now and inventing witty portmanteaux can just stop. Right now. No one cares about “Bryson”. Also, go see a therapist.
And then, everyone made out.
Stephen and JT talk, and they decide that they have two options. They can go to the final four with Taj, Sierra and Brendan, or they can go with Coach, Tyson and Debbie. Stephen issues a caveat, saying that he’ll go with Coach and Tyson, but “you have to turn on them when the time comes”. Good to hear that they’re planning on betraying the jerkbags. What’s also interesting here is that JT now knows about Stephen’s other secret alliance, which means he maybe knew more than we thought when he was talking to Coach. However, I would wager that he wasn’t told until after talked to Coach, because Stephen would have no reason to tell JT unless they were debating between the two options. This means that JT really was talking out of his ass earlier when he said that Brendan had the idol, setting off this whole chain of events. You following me?
Brendan admits in confessional that there is a scenario in which he could be in trouble. He says he always keeps the immunity idol in his pocket, and he’ll use it if necessary. Do you think he would know if he had to use it? I’m betting no. Meanwhile, Stephen asks Taj if she would be willing to take out Brendan. He tells Taj he thinks he can pull something together, so that it looks like he’s the one pulling the strings. This is smart because if she does what his new alliance does, she’ll be none the wiser about it if he has to turn on her. Taj says she doesn’t trust Brendan anymore anyway. “If we were even or ahead, it would be different, but because we’re down, so I’m afraid,” she says, which is something I had not thought about.
JT and Brendan talk about the upcoming vote, and worry that Brendan will use his idol and take JT out of the game. They realize that they can split the votes so that no matter how Brendan and Sierra vote, they will get to pick who goes home. They work with Coach and decide to put four votes on Brendan and three on Sierra (which means that everyone would be participating in the blindside but Brendan, Sierra and Erinn, I’m guessing) and then Sierra and Brendan’s votes don’t matter.
Coach makes a terrible joke about not catching any fish. “I have no patience for sitting around, holding a rod in my hand without anything working,” and he smiles creepily like he’s the funniest person in the world. “Did you catch that Debbie?” he says, just like Paulie Walnuts does on the Sopranos after he makes a joke he thinks was hilarious but actually was not. Even Debbie, who is mesmerized by even minimally shiny objects, rolls her eyes at this.
“God, I’m hilarious.”
Coach tells us that he should either be called “The Orchestrator” for orchestrating a beautiful move that “keeps the initial gameplan intact by getting rid of the weak, and one of the most deceitful players” or that he should be called “The Dragonslayer, for cutting the head off of the dragon”. I have so, so many questions about this: What has Brendan done that is even remotely deceitful, for which Coach has any solid evidence? How is Brendan a weak player? More importantly, how can someone be weak and also be the head of the dragon? Is this a weak dragon, the kind who gets picked last for dragon dodgeball at dragon middle school, and gets shoved into the dragon locker by bigger, stronger dragons?
Also, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the theme of this week’s South Park was how people with giant egos tend to reframe things in their own heads so that they become the most important object in the story, and Cartman turns a story in which someone else kills a spider into a scene in which he actually slays a dragon. Coincidence? I think not.
And while we’re on the subject of other television shows, did you guys see that crazy shit on Real World/Road Rules Challenge this week? I know it is embarrassing to admit that I watched that show, but: that shit was bananas, and also one of the funniest, most absurdist pieces of television I have ever seen. Completely tangential, but it must be said.
Anyway, Probst comes in, which they know means that Joe is gone. Probst tells them just that, and that Joe didn’t want to go but they made him, and they took him out in a boring helicopter and he’s going to the boring hospital, where he’ll be boringly healthy and back to his boring self in no bore. What this means to the contestants, however, is that there will be no tribal council. Man, f I am Tyson, I am PISSED. I hope they let him keep his immunity through the next tribal council.
“Brendan lives to see another day, I am disappointed. The main thing was keeping everybody quiet,” Tyson says, knowing that people are going to be unable to stay quiet for another three days. “The Dragonslayer has to wait another day to taste blood,” Coach says. That’s not true at all. You can punch yourself in the nose and taste blood quite easily.
Back at the challenge site, Joe gets taken out in the copter. Majestic, sad music plays while he takes his egress. “This game is cool, but it’s not that cool. I don’t want to die, I’d rather walk home.” And then: credits. In short, Joe went the way he came in: by having no effect on the game whatsoever, and by removing a fair amount of drama from what would have been an intense situation. Wow, this is the first time that a contestant has actually generated a negative amount of drama. Most people are just boring, but Joe has actually removed drama from the show, which I don’t think has ever been done before. Way to find new and revolutionary ways to be boring, guy. Joe is a black hole of boring, sucking all interesting things into his abyss of nothingness until all that is left is a soundless, motionless void.
This helicopter was never seen again, having disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of Boring.
CONTEST IN THE COMMENTS! Name me something that is more interesting than Joe, and be funny. The winning entry gets published in next week;s recap.
Also, this is apparently my 100th recap. Who knew that I had spent that much time writing about the sad lives of America’s fame whores? Either way, here’s to 100 more.