Hey everyone. It’s time for Survivor again! After an excellent season of Big Brother this summer, I won’t be using this episode to wash the reality taste out of my mouth, as I’ve become so used to doing after these long, dry summers. I’ve also never been happier to have my HD television, although in a few weeks when these people start looking like third world refugees, I may have to alter my opinion. But since this bitch is two hours long, and we have a lot of poop references to get to, let’s get right to it:
After the credits, Jeff welcomes the 18 contestants to Gabon, and he actually says the words “Earth’s Last Eden”, so we can look forward to that all season. I’m pretty sure Jeff’s definition of Eden probably includes James, a variety of fruits, and some excessive frolicking, so methinks he might be lying to himself a little bit here. After everyone introduces themselves (which we’ll get to in a moment), Jeff calls the two eldest people forward. Those two people are Bob (57, Professional Bow Tie Wearer) and Gillian (61, Tries Way Too Hard), who take their spots on the yellow and red tribe mats respectively. The eldest people will begin with a tribe pick-em, just like Thailand. That does not bode well. They play Rock-Paper-Scissors to see who will pick first, and Gillian somehow manages to annoy me right off the bat.
“Look at me, I’m on TV! HI EVERYBODY!”
Bob gets to select first, and he picks “baldy with the shaved head” (redundant!), whose real name is Ace (27, James Bond Villain). Gillian picks Crystal, who says she is a homemaker, but who is really a former Olympic Gold Medalist. We will shortly that she has not been keeping up with the cross training. Ace picks “Sugar”, who is 29 and a “pin-up model”, meaning that your local mechanic now has someone to root for. Also, are you serious? Just tell them you work at a 50s diner.
Crystal chooses Susie, who is also a homemaker. I’ve heard statements from those who thought this pick made zero sense, but it’s actually quite smart. Wouldn’t you want people on your team that you can forge an alliance with? Older ladies get picked off like whoa on this show, so if you happen to fall within this demographic, having enough people like you around to form an alliance is the wise move.
Sugar chooses “the tall farmer looking boy”, whose real name is Marcus (28, Guy That I’m Going to Be Really Tired of Reading About In The Comments After About Three Weeks). Susie picks Matty, who has one of the least endearing CBS bios I have ever read. It does not make me want to root for him in the least.
Marcus picks Charlie (29, Professional Todd From Survivor: China Impersonator), who is a little overly excited to be chosen and immediately hugs all over Marcus, going from zero to uncomfortable in record time. Too soon, buddy. Matty chooses Randy, who is wearing a Hawaiian shirt in a non-ironic manner. I think that pretty much covers all you need to know about Randy
Charlie chooses Paloma (24, nondescript) and Randy picks Dan. Dan is 32 and used to be a lawyer, but just quit and is “finding himself”. Yeah, I know some of those attorneys. Paloma chooses this year’s token cute blonde Kelly, and Dan picks GC, who tells them that they can call him “G-Sizzle”, so we all know what that means: dead to me.
Kelly chooses Jacquie, whose name will face my keyboard’s wrath this season. GC takes Ken, a professional videogame player and the world champion at Super Smash Brothers, a game which I have spent too much time playing while drunk. Jacquie takes Corrine, who is trying too hard to be this year’s bitch. That pick wraps up the yellow tribe, which will be called Kota. The red tribe is left with Michelle, and they will be called “Fang”, which is pronounced “Fong”. As Fang gets their buffs, Gillian takes a big dramatic whiff of hers. Trying too hard to be the center of attention is always a good strategy. You’ll go far! Like…to the end of this recap!
It’s clean. It doesn’t smell like anything yet, jerk.
And with that, it’s time to head right into this year’s first challenge. It’s the traditional race to individual immunity idols, but there’s a twist: there’s an extra bag of food at the end of the course, and the first entire tribe to get there wins it. Jeff gives the go and people take off across the course. Kota pulls way ahead from the beginning, because Gillian is way too slow and when Crystal the Olympic Gold Medalist gets to the hill at the end of the course, she literally has to be pushed up by her ass with the help of her teammates. Marcus and GC get the idols for their respective tribes, but Kota completely destroys Fang and wins the extra food.
Come on, I know curling medalists who would do better at this than you.
After Jeff ribs Fang for sucking (he didn’t win that Emmy for being impartial, people), he gives the tribes their flags and maps and sends them off to their camps. After a short walk, the tribes arrive at their camps, which have some run-down huts pre-assembled. I imagine this is due to the fact that there are actual, serious animals all over the place and they’d like them to be sleeping out in the open instead of leaning against a nearby tree. Since there are holes in the roof of the shelters and it’s about to rain at Kota, Bob jumps up onto the roof to shore it up. He’s pretty much just like Yau-Man, except with a bow tie.
Watch out for GC. He has a nickname, he was homeless…remind you of anyone? He’ll take your car and then vote your ass out.
Over at Fang, Gillian is telling everyone that even though today’s challenge was a disaster of Ulong-ian proportions, she thinks they did “awesome”, and also that they’re all “awesome”, and they should keep their “awesome spirit” going. First of all, Gillian: I know Barney Stinson, and you, ma’am, are no Barney Stinson. Stop using his terminology. Secondly: Oh my god, HATE. Gillian then tells everyone that there’s an African word for fierce, and she makes everyone repeat it with their hands in the center, and that’s when I blacked out. Seriously, she cannot be off this show soon enough.
And yet? Here she is, telling the rest of the tribe to keep an eye out for elephant dung, because it burns easily. We get a shot of Gillian in the forest, where she is actively hunting for poop. Like, she is scanning the ground intently. When she eventually finds some (because when you’re on the hunt for crap, it’s always in the last place you look), she grabs it up with her bare hands and brings it back. I realize that it doesn’t pay to be squeamish when playing this game, but I think bringing a big handful of shit back to camp on Day 1 might be a little over the line. It is not often that you can state that people are literally full of shit, and yet: here we are.
Hand sanitizer. NOW.
Gillian tells everyone that if they would like to eat some of the dookie that she has so graciously collected, they’re welcome to do that, because there are things in the poop that are still edible. She goes on at length about seeds in the crap, and how you can squeeze it and drink it, as if she is the Encyclopedia Pooptanica. What she’s attempting to say to everyone here is “Look, I am useful! I have read things! This makes me necessary to keep around!” but what she is really saying to everyone is “As long as I am in this game, you will be asked to eat poop.”
Meanwhile, Ken and Michelle are off digging into a mound of termites, which they have decided to eat. Ken tells us that girls “don’t exactly dig” professional gamers, and that he hasn’t kissed a girl since high school, which was 5 years ago to him. This, of course, reminds me of the best line from Thursday’s episode of The Office: “What is wrong with these people? They have no willpower. I once went 28 years without having sex. And then AGAIN for seven years.”
Over at Kota, Ace is not so subtly delegating tasks to people, one of which is the creation of the tribe latrine. What the hell, is this episode sponsored by Ex-Lax or something? As people go off to dig the shithole, muttering about Ace under their breath, he tells us, “I have no fear of standing up to Jeff and expecting my check for a million dollars.” Wait, does Jeff decide who wins the money this season? I had no idea!
Marcus and Charlie head off to discuss how annoying Ace is, deciding that their best strategy is probably to let him dig his own grave. Charlie gives the first of many gushing interviews in which he tells us that he felt a connection with Marcus from the first time he looked into his “big beautiful eyes”. Marcus tells us that he’s pretty sure Charlie is attracted to him, which is flattering and all, but not “really the way he rolls”. Don’t tell that to Single White Female over there. He’s already stolen the key to your apartment and copied it.
“Hey, have you ever seen Swimfan?”
On Night 1, an elephant invades Camp Fang. Understandably, this causes the tribe to freak a little, since they could realistically be stepped on while they sleep. Gillian is probably just hoping that they poop all over the place. Randy goes out to pee or something actually bumps his head trying to get back into the shelter in the dark. It’s bad enough that medical comes to take a look at him. He actually needs stitches, so we get our first medical night-vision gross out of the season. Once he’s all wrapped up in the morning he’s actually fine, except that he looks like he just had a lobotomy.
“I was totally fine, but I really want to win this game, and this was the only way I could deal with Gillian without committing a crime of some sort.”
On the same morning, Michelle is already bitching about how cold it is. Not the best way to make friends, there. While the rest of the tribe tries to make fire with a bone, Michelle laments the fact that she’s stuck with a bunch of idiots while all the “smart, beautiful people are over on the other tribe”. Man, she is high maintenance! They’re trying to make fire, just chill for a second. Snack on some poo to pass the time or something.
Over at Kota, we’re fast forwarding to Day 3, where they’re receiving their first treemail. The message indicates that the winning tribe will also get fire, so there’s extra incentive to win. Ace tells us that he wants the tribe to be “really in sync” for the next challenge, so he leads an impromptu yoga session with some tribe members. Paloma sits in the hut and watches this happen, laughing at the absurdity of doing yoga in your underwear in the middle of the jungle. Anyone who can identify and enjoy the irony of bringing some yuppie bullshit with you to a primeval place is certainly someone I can get behind.
Immunity Challenge! Six people will be tethered together and have to run an obstacle course. There are puzzle pieces buried in a hole at the far end of the course, and those must be brought back to the star, where the remaining three people solve the puzzle, which will win your tribe both immunity and a flint for fire. Fang manages to stay in it until the part where there is digging, at which point Kota completely smokes them. By the time Kota has finished their puzzle, Fang is still about 100 yards from even bringing the puzzle pieces back. And thus, Fang will be attending the first of what will likely be many Tribal Councils.
“What do you mean, we lost? Wait, where the hell am I? I like pancakes.”
Back at camp, Fang tries to convince themselves that they didn’t get smoked. This is a lie, but whatever allows you to sleep at night, I guess. Talk begins about who should leave. Matty advocates for Michelle on the basis that she is both negative and a pain in the ass. Randy tells us that he would prefer Gillian to go home, which cues another delusional rant from her about how awesome their tribe is as Randy sits on the sidelines and rolls his eyes. Word, peanut gallery. Ken and Michelle want Gillian to go also, even though Ken seems to have a read on the fact that Michelle is probably the likely evictee. When he tells her this, she seems unaffected, telling him that it’s hard for her to pretend to like people that she really can’t stand. Besides Gillian, I don’t get what’s so bad about any of these people yet. I mean, it’s not like they’re Big Brother contestants or anything.
Tribal Council! Jeff begins by asking Dan what he thinks about the tribe’s performance. When Dan says that he thinks they did okay, Jeff is completely incredulous, calling it a “disaster”. Michelle tells everyone that they were lazy, specifically calling out GC for digging with one hand. The whole thing devolves into a shouting match as Jeff sits by and shakes his head judgmentally, reveling in the chaos he has created. Once Gillian points out that no one wants to step up and take the leadership position, Jeff refuses to continue with the proceedings until someone volunteers. That’s kind of an asshole move, Jeff. Every season, he inserts himself a bit more into the proceedings. Soon he’s going to be camping out with them. At least it will be easier to date the female contestants that way. Zing! After much hemming and hawing, GC eventually, sort of, halfway volunteers to do it. Jeff is all “Congratulations! You have a leader! We have accomplished something today!” What is this, therapy?
Time to vote! We see Gillian vote for Michelle and Michelle vote for Gillian. When the votes are read, theirs are the first two out of the urn, and then all the rest are for Michelle, and she is the first person voted out. She doesn’t even get any final words. Damn! That’s harsh. However, there is a bright side. Jeff tells them that they can take their torches back to camp, so they’ll have fire and can eat and everything, which causes them to celebrate like they’re being released from prison.
Back at camp, Fang prepares to light the fire, giving GC the honors. Randy, hilariously: “Just so you know, if you mess this up, we WILL vote you out.” Ha! GC tells us in night-vision that he’s a little bit nervous about having the leadership position thrust upon him. Dude, you volunteered. Suit up, yo. He doesn’t say that it’s Jeff’s fault, but it totally is. Damn you and your dimples, Probst!
Over at Kota, it’s the morning of Day 4 and people are going about their chores, including Marcus, who seems to be cooking or something. This means that it’s time for Charlie to tell us how wonderful he is. “I don’t understand why a million girls aren’t jumping all over him” he says. Could it be because they don’t want to come off as increasingly desperate? Clearly, you don’t seem to have that issue.
Charlie and Marcus head off in the kayak to have a strategic conversation, which begins with Charlie declaring his undying love. On Day 4. In a kayak. “When you go off, I get this like, panic” he tells Marcus without a hint of embarrassment. Marcus sits silently and wonders how long it takes to get a restraining order in the Gabon court system.
“We should get tattoos.”
Marcus tells us that he’s working on an alliance, which he looks at like layers of an onion. Charlie is his inner layer, and they need to start working on creating other layers, the next of which they believe to be Jacquie and Corinne. They agree to broach the idea sometime later that day. Afterwards, Charlie will smell Marcus’ hair and then slip a note into his locker.
Over at Fang, GC is giving out orders to people like they are serfs and they are in indentured servitude to him. Wow, he really does not get it. When people say they need a leader, they don’t mean that they want you to issue individual orders. Micromanager! Get him!
GC and Randy are down at the river collecting water, where GC tells Randy (whose job it apparently is to prepare the food) that he would like to prepare it instead. Randy doesn’t seem to have a problem with that, but GC wants to reboil clean water (water needs to be boiled to make rice with), which is like doing the work twice. Randy tries to explain this to GC, but he refuses to listen, which is always the hallmark of a good leader. That’s why President Bush is always so on top of things; because he listens, people.
Randy tells us that he thinks GC doesn’t know anything about leading, but he’s not going to do anything because this is the beginning of “Operation: Let Other People Crash and Burn”. I mean, it’s self explanatory and everything, but you couldn’t come up with a better sounding title? “Operation: Wolfkill” or “Operation: Machete Penguin” or something would have been badass.
Operation: Medulla Oblongata was a complete success
Back at Kota, Marcus and Charlie are bringing the girls out into the woods to forge an alliance. They decide that bringing Bob in as a temporary fifth to create a majority is the best bet, since they all like the guy a little and he’s useful to have around. Marcus continues to use the word “layer” repeatedly in reference to this alliance, so you can tell that this onion thing is really his plan. Survivor contestants really should pattern their strategies after vegetables more often. If only Cirie had come up with a Cumquat Initiative last season, things would have turned out much differently.
Early in the morning on Day 5, Gillian’s snoring wakes GC up, so he goes about doing some chores. Of course, Gillian starts to complain about this. No one else is allowed to be annoying but her! As she tells us, there was lots of the “slushy slushy slushy” while she was trying to sleep. That is apparently onomatopoeia for a washing machine. It is also onomatopoeia for the sound of my blinding rage reaching its breaking point.
When I put that curse on her, I didn’t know it was going to give her duck hands, I swear!
Soon everyone is awake and talking, which simply will not do because Gillian is trying to sleep. How dare a majority of you inconvenience one person? That’s just rude. Gillian scolds the entire crew for getting up and talking, singling out GC in the process. When he blames her and her sleep apnea for waking him up, she gets all defensive and GC gets all indignant. This causes GC to immediately resign as the leader of the tribe, because he’s one of those people who quits to show other people what they’re missing without him there. Yes, I’m sure this whole tribe will crumble because you’ve quit.
Randy then delivers the saddest news of the episode, which is that GC apparently stands for “Golden Child”. I simply cannot name the myriad ways in which that is unfortunate. Randy then tells us that GC’s resignation was “the best leadership call he’s made”. GC tries to appoint a new leader right then, singling out Dan. Dan equivocates by stating that his “management style” isn’t good for the tribe. My “management style” with these people would be to bludgeon them into silence with nearby objects.
Random, but you know why Gillian bothers me so much? It’s because she reminds me of Scout.
Immunity challenge! The Fang tribe enters wearing warpaint made from charcoal.
“I’m a lemur!”
Unity! Jeff explains today’s challenge, which is to push a boulder across a course. There are two keys along the course, which you use to unlock a gate right before the end. First tribe to unlock the gate and push their boulder to the end of the course wins immunity and some fishing equipment. They also get to send someone from the losing tribe to Exile Island.
As the challenge begins, Gillian’s continued uselessness means that she ends up running alongside the boulder while everyone else pushes. Fang and Kota are actually neck in neck throughout the challenge, but when both tribes reach the gate, Kota is quicker to pass through (there are more keys than locks, so there’s an element of luck), and Fang never recovers, meaning that they’ll be going to another Tribal Council. At the end of the challenge, Jeff actually compliments them for staying in it all the way through. It’s always nice when daddy approves!
Back at camp, Kota celebrates another win. Marcus even does the Soulja Boy dance, which would have been passÃ© on the freaking China season. Besides, everyone knows Yah Trick Yah is where it’s at.
Meanwhile, Dan is on his way to Exile Island, which is actually Exile Plains this year. Dan tells us what we already knew, which is that it’s idiotic to send a strong person to Exile Island where they could potentially find something that would make them even stronger. When he arrives, he is faced with a choice: he can have a clue to the location of the immunity idol, or he can have a roof over his head and a small snack. Given that he’s not an idiot, he chooses the clue, which tells him to find some sort of Sandy Crater and dig. An aerial helicopter shot helpfully zooms us over to the aforementioned crater, which is up a hill and through a large patch of trees, probably a good half-mile from the base camp and hard to see. Not easy to find, in an expanse this large. We are then treated to a montage of Dan digging all over the area as a sense of despair washes over him, until he finally sort of gives up and goes back to collapse on the dock.
Panda Animal Indigenous To Gabon
Over at Camp Fang, they work hard to convince themselves that they didn’t suck, which is sort of becoming their thing after challenges. Maybe I should get that sentence to Shift + F1 early this year and save myself some time. Crystal, Ken and Matty sit on the dock and discuss the coming vote. Their consensus is that Gillian is a drag on the tribe and needs to be dismissed. I agree that she needs to be dismissed, but it’s because she’s a drag on my sanity.
In a different part of camp, Gillian talks to Susie in an effort to save her own ass. She attempts to make her paranoid by putting the idea in her head that she’ll go next if they vote Gillian out. She floats the idea of voting out Ken, who she says “wasn’t pulling his weight” even though he was up on the boulder, untying the keys while she was running alongside. It’s extremely hypocritical of her to single him out just because he’s skinny, which is what she’s doing. HATE!
Randy is hungry, and he would like to do something constructive in order to solve that problem. Despite the Hawaiian shirt, I am beginning to like him, with his snarky commentary and initiative. He takes his glasses off and starts ripping them apart with the machete, twisting a small metal part from what I believe is the bridge and forming a makeshift fish hook. Other tribe members go and get some worms, and GC’s shoelaces serve as a fishing line, making it a group project. After quite a bit of effort, Fang has some small fish to enjoy for the evening. Hey, it’s not much, but it’s definitely something, and you have to respect the fact that they did it all without proper tools. Question: Are the formerly homeless more resourceful because they’ve been homeless, or are they less resourceful because…they’ve been homeless? These quandries, they boggle the mind.
Dan returns from Exile, telling the other tribe members how terrible it was, and also how they need to think a little more strategically when they send people. In fact, Dan talks for so long about how terrible it was that everyone gets sort of suspicious. Even though he’s being genuine and he’s just kind of dorky, they think he’s overselling, making them believe they he may have the idol. Everyone except Randy seems to be convinced. Randy gets the proper read, trying to keep them from voting him out for no reason by telling the rest of the tribe that he’s just a genuine guy. And that is the story of how the guy who had a lobotomy in the first episode is the best at reading people.
Tribal Council! GC owns up to the fact that he quit the leadership position during Jeff’s initial questioning. Jeff seems incredulous, because Jeff has two modes: adoring of the muscular, and incredulous. In an attempt to absolve himself of responsibility, GC tries to blame everyone else for refusing to stand up and lead. You see, it’s not that he did it, it’s that you didn’t do it. Flawless logic, that.
Jeff asks Matty about Dan’s trip to Exile, and whether he’s concerned that Dan may have found the idol. This sets off speculation which ends in Crystal issuing a half-playful accusation to Dan, stating up-front that she’s pretty much sure that he’s in possession of the idol. Hilariously, this causes Dan to stand up and turn his bag completely upside-down. As all his shit spills out onto the Tribal Council floor, he makes this great “What now?” face and tells them not to vote him out just because he might have something that he plainly doesn’t have. That? Was great. I think Dan might be a little awesome.
Time to vote! Dan votes for Gillian, and Gillian votes for Ken, stating that he’s physically incapable and that he has no concept of what others are thinking. Wow. This is like watching Charlie Sheen tell Jim Belushi that According to Jim isn’t all that funny.
Jeff goes to tally the votes. We see the one for Gillian and the one for Ken that we’ve already seen, and then the rest are for Gillian, and she is mercifully, mercifully gone. I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice lady and all, she just grates me. Badly. Good! Riddance!
Next week: will Fang finally win a challenge? Probably not.
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