Tonight, on Survivor: dentists throughout the world cringe. We open on what seems to be the beginnings of an orgasm. Best first sentence of any recap, ever.
However, because this show is not on Fox, what we are actually hearing is Taj moaning vehemently while Stephen scratches her back. “I’ve never brought such pleasure to a woman before,” he jokes, hopefully immediately regretting having made that statement on television. Ladies of the world, watch out, here comes Stephen to…make you think about your income taxes in bed.
Taj clears up a minor piece of business from the last episode by telling us that she wrote Joe’s name down at the last Tribal Council, but only because she didn’t want to write Sandy’s. Why, because then you wouldn’t get her jury vote? Who cares!
Stephen and Taj take a little break from the back-scratching and climax-faking to hunt for the immunity idol, making a beeline for the treemail. Taj lets Stephen know that the clue from the last time she went to Exile (which we didn’t see last week) said something about a “sad frown”, solidifying her theory that the idol is near the treemail statue. It takes the pair about thirty seconds to pull the idol out of its little compartment in the back, so now both idols are officially in play. Taj decides the best course of action is to give the idol to Stephen and to have him carry it with him, since all eyes are going to be on her and no one is going to suspect that he has it. In confessional, Stephen lets us know that he’s planning on sharing the idol with Taj, but he’s happy to have it in his possession. “Theoretically and ostensibly, the idol is mine. I am the one wearing the idol around my neck,” he says. I doubt that he’ll outright screw Taj over, but it’s interesting to hear that he’s not going to just let her tell him when and how to use it.
SWV FUN FACT! Did you know that in 1994, the members of SWV invented the phrase “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” after the seats on the tour bus they were sharing with Tony Toni Tone and Xscape caused them all some mild discomfort? It’s true.
After the credits, we’re over at Timbira on Day 13. They get ready to do their chores for the day, and everyone leaves to go get water save for Sierra and Brendan. Sierra (after checking that they’re alone) immediately starts giving Brendan shit for not telling her about the alliance. “Dude, you didn’t tell me!” she says, wondering what the hell is up. Brendan admits his idiocy in confessional. Brendan starts laughing at his own idiocy and smiles at her to try and charm his way out of the situation. You know, the unintentional side effect of this whole mistake that I didn’t think about is that Sierra might not trust him now, because he didn’t think to tell her something that was pretty important.
When she tries to tell him that the idol’s in the treemail, he stops her short and tells her that he’s already got it. Since he got it awhile ago, if I were Sierra, this would probably make me even more dubious, since that makes two pieces of critical information that he probably should have shared with someone that would be in an alliance with him. Sierra, however, is psyched to be in such a good situation. “I went from being at the bottom of the totem pole to being in the strongest alliance in the game. We’re gonna take over the whole world!” she says, excited.
“…that I am not that intelligent.”
You know, it’s interesting that we’ve seen confessionals from Sierra, Taj and Stephen about how excited they are to be in this alliance, but we haven’t seen the same enthusiasm from Brendan, you know? Maybe he hasn’t bought in as much as these other people. Or it could be it is because he has the intonation of a robot.
Reward Challenge. When Probst introduces a Sandy-less Jalapao, Coach is unsurprised. “Only a matter of time,” he mutters. Why do I hate him, even when we are in agreement? Only a matter of time for you, buddy.
Today tribe members will sit on a platform, and another tribe member will race out and grab a rope to tow back, which will spin the platform. The tribe member on the platform will then have to walk a balance beam toward the finish line. The first team to get three points wins the game. Side note: Is it just me, or are the challenges of low quality this season? I mean, this is essentially an event that takes place at elementary school field days across the country.
In round one, Taj and Tyson will be doing the spinning. Once they’re done spinning, Taj has to take like thirty seconds to center herself, laughing at how dizzy she is. While Taj tries to face forward on the balance beam, Tyson uses a sidestepping method, which gets him across the beam first and earns Timbira the first point. During the next round, Coach spins Erin around, and she looks like an absolute crazy person once she’s done spinning:
After Spencer takes his turn and earns Jalapao a point, he compares the spinning to having “beer goggles”. So spinning around repeatedly on a platform will make you sleep with someone less attractive? I’ll have to make a note of that.
JT looks about ready to puke when he takes his turn, but he manages to get another point for Jalapao. When Sydney takes her turn, she earns the last point and wins the reward for Jalapao. They choose to send Brendan to Exile Island again, and he picks Stephen to go with him (meaning that he will have to miss out on the Reward). Taj thanks him emphatically for not picking her. “I love you!” she repeats over and over again, saying it like you would to someone that you know pretty well. Tyson, who is no dummy, notices that Taj is acting extremely chummy with Brendan and exchanges glances with Coach. Way to go, Taj! I feel like she makes a lot of missteps when managing her relationships in a setting with all the contestants.
SWV FUN FACT! Did you know that SWV is composed entirely of people whose parents were members of The Mamas And The Papas?
After JT has eaten his fill, he wanders around camp and notices that there are some packets for them on the hammock. It turns out that there are letters from home for everyone, which causes people to cry immediately, despite the fact that they’ve all been gone for less than two weeks. We see that someone’s letter is addressed to “Broseph”, and I’m hoping its Joe, otherwise someone’s family is full of douchebags. JT also mentions that his mom said she loved him in the letter, and she’s only done that three times in his whole life. That’s kind of sad. My mom told me she loved me three times yesterday, and that was when I drunk dialed her while I was on a St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl. The things we take for granted, right?
Over at Timbira, Debbie yammers that it was nice of Brendan not to take Taj with him to Exile, because she is completely missing the gist of everything, all the time. Tyson looks at her like “Seriously?” and then sneaks over to tell Coach and Debra that Brendan is “building relations” with the other tribe and has to go immediately. “You cannot tell Sierra,” Debbie whispers. “She will not be with us.” Man, they must really be bonding publicly if even Debbie is noticing.
Coach conveniently agrees that Brendan should be eliminated. I wonder who will be ‘leader’ if Brendan goes home? “If we merge, he has control of the game,” Coach says, “and then I’m a bystander, and I certainly don’t want that to happen.” Um, Coach? You’re already a bystander and you just don’t know it.
Coach is eating when he abruptly looks up and peers into the middle distance. “Feel the breeze shift?” he says. Just when I think he’s going to jerkbag-ily translate it into a metaphor about getting rid of Brendan, he tells us that whenever it’s about to rain, the wind shifts directions. Of course, Coach tells everyone that he thinks the storm’s going to pass them by, and then we get a jump cut to the monsoon that we all knew was coming. Erinn helpfully tells us that Coach is a jackass. “I think Coach really truly wants to be this Survivor-man,” she says, potentially violating several copyrights. “I would not be surprised if when this game is all said and done, he went ‘Surprise!’ and said he was an accountant who’s never left Nebraska.” If you listen closely, you can hear the National Association of Accountants preparing a press release.
In hell, no one can hear you roll your eyes at Coach.
Meanwhile, Stephen and Brendan arrive at Exile. After Brendan verifies that Stephen already knows about the four way alliance (because Taj did her job, Brendan), they go for a walk on the sand dune to compare information. Stephen lets Brendan know that they also have the idol from Jalapao, so now everyone has the same information, which is kind of key. Stephen lets us know that his first impression of Brendan is “positive, but wary”, since he’s such a threat, being both strategically and physically strong. “I don’t want to place my entire faith in this alliance,” Stephen says. It’s easy to choose your allies when you have the immunity idol.
Suddenly we’re at Jalapao on Day 15. Apparently, Day 14 was mighty boring. Sydney makes small talk with Spencer about her boyfriend, and asks him whether he has any girls in his life. Of course, we know that he’s gay (and dating Todd from the China season, so…gold digger) and these people don’t know that. “There’s nothing to gain by letting people know that I’m gay,” he says. “I don’t like hiding it, but it’s the best option. There are guys like JT might not be as accepting of homosexuality, which would make them inclined to get rid of me.” This is a really interesting theory, because that could be a wise move, but it’s also sort of hypocritical, in the sense that Spencer is judging JT in exactly the type of way he himself does not want to be judged. It’s an interesting move, and I’m not touching the implications of it with a ten foot pole.
Little does he know, he’s not even keeping the biggest secret on this tribe. Did you know that Taj was a member of TLC?
Immunity Challenge! Two tribe members will launch balls onto the course with a slingshot, and the rest of the tribe will have lacrosse sticks to catch them with. Either ball is fair game, not just your own team’s, and the first to five points wins immunity.
JT starts things out by making two really nice catches and getting Jalapao a nice early lead. Then Brendan makes two really solid catches of his own, smoking Taj, who is supposed to be guarding him. When JT goes to snag the next ball, he knocks himself in the mouth with the stick and actually knocks one of his teeth out. JT pauses for a moment, realizes what he did, and then throws his tooth off into the field dismissively and gets back into position for the next round without a thought. The guy just lost a tooth, and he doesn’t seem to care. There’s a joke about rednecks with no teeth here, but it’s way, way too easy.
Jeff, however, does seem to care, because he is now in love with JT for being the manliest man that ever man’d. Like, you can see it in his eyes. He goes from zero to Pepe Le Pew in a split-second. James, eat your heart out!
Jeff momentarily pauses the challenge to make everyone look around in the mud for the lost half-tooth. JT really doesn’t seem to want it back, and Jeff is all “Um….okay?” about it, volunteering to take the tooth and hold it for JT until the end of the challenge. And then the tooth goes into Jeff’s pocket, logically. And hygienically!
I gave him a tooth, and he gave me a pen.
Even after losing a tooth, JT continues to make ridiculous catches, grabbing two more and closing in on the win for Jalapao. However, Tyson begins to come on strong and makes two catches in a row, tying it up and making the next point crucial. JT, having lost a tooth in order to win this challenge, ends up a bit overinvested in what’s going on and begins yelling at Spencer (who’s supposed to be guarding Tyson) to move his ass and do some blocking. During the next round, Tyson sort of randomly reaches out and miraculously snatches the ball out of the air like it’s a game of Quidditch or something, so Timbira wins immunity. The victory music is actually in a minor key, so I’m pretty sure that the people making this show know that Timbira is about as likable as the Hamburglar.
Jeff compliments JT on his solid challenge performance, and he looks like he’s about to leave a lit cigarette under his windshield and start carving JT’s name into his arm.
“I’ll be Molly Ringwald. You be Jake Ryan.”
Back at camp, Taj is fuming over the outcome of the challenge. She’s nervous, because she knows she didn’t do very well, but that Spencer did a terrible job at the challenge, so she’s going to do her damndest to get him knocked out. Taj holds a meeting with certain members of the tribe out in the water, which seems to have become a pattern for her. Every time they lose, she takes a select group of people out into the water and starts to try and build a consensus. Obviously she does all her best thinking in the shower, like most people.
SWV FUN FACT! Did you know that members of SWV had cameos in all three Jaws movies?
Taj begins a wonderfully ironic segment by asking the rest of the group to “leave their little emotions out of this and think for the team”. Taj becomes increasingly frustrated and begins ranting about every frustration she’s had since she arrived in Brazil, from the little cliques that have formed, to the team’s lackluster performance in the challenge, to the fact that there are people in the tribe who have not approached her for an alliance (which is actually good for her, since you sort of need people to vote out). “I don’t give a fuck what nobody thinks about me, I am angry!” she fumes. JT, Joe and Stephen look on in confusion, because who the hell knew Taj could even get angry like this? It’s like how sometimes cute and wonderful animals can sometimes become deadly assassins. Panda bears: nature’s ninja.
Taj directs her attention at Joe, demanding to know why he’s never come to her to try and get any sort of alliance going. “It’s a two way street,” Joe replies. This makes Taj even angrier, mostly because he is right. “I’ve had enough!” she says, and storms out of the water off into the forest, presumably to channel her frustration into the magic of song.
SWV Fun Fact! Did you know that collectively, the members of SWV have won fifteen consecutive Wreslemanias?
Now, I like Taj a lot, but I need to point out a couple of things: Taj was supposed to be guarding Brendan, who earned two points for the team, so…don’t get mad at everyone else about something for which you yourself were responsible, at least partially. I realize that he’s larger than her, and more athletic, and blah blah blah, but there were several mismatches during the challenge that did not result in two points for the other team.
The more important thing is that you do not say “Let’s try and keep our emotions out of this. Now, if you will excuse me, I will insert my emotions into this by screaming at all of you and storming off. I SAID GOOD DAY!” I don’t know if she’s just mad at herself about the challenge or what, but this just seems like a thousand wrong moves stacked one right after the other, and she’s undoing all the hard work she’s put in so far. If everyone decides to vote for her and she has to use the idol early, their whole secret plan is right out the window.
“Out here, it’s moves like that will get you voted off,” says Joe, right again. What’s with this guy and his correctness? Luckily he has no other personality traits, or that would be too much to remember. Stephen points out that he’s actually better served by getting Taj sent home, since that means he’ll get to keep the idol and use it for his own devices. There’s a downside to that, since Taj is pretty much his connection with the other alliance members, but since he has a backup plan in the form of JT, it’s not terrible.
Meanwhile, Spencer tells us that he knows how frustrated JT probably is with him. As Spencer creeps up behind JT, JT happens to be mentioning to the others that he would have absolutely no problem voting for Spencer, since he completely botched the challenge. JT sees Spencer coming and brings him into the conversation, asking him what he thinks is best for the team. Spencer admits that he messed up the challenge, and that likely means that JT will want him out. JT tells Spencer that he’s right, and that he’s very likely voting for either him or Taj. Spencer doesn’t seem to have a reply to this. Say something! Anything! Tell them you had a bad challenge but that you’ve performed admirably in the other ones! Tell them you’re gay, and if they vote you out, they’re prejudiced! Tell them you have rigged the camp to explode if they vote you out! Fail.
Tribal Council. When Probst asks Spencer about his performance, Spencer calls it “pathetic”, but doesn’t really bring up the fact that he hadn’t done too badly before that. He’s blowing a lot of opportunities. Taj admits to blowing up about the loss, and says that she feels that they could have done a better job. She doesn’t take any personal responsibility for what happened, despite the fact that she didn’t really contribute anything meaningful; she just expresses disdain for the team as a whole, or rather, with everyone but her. It’s very distasteful, her tone. Come on, I like you, Taj. Don’t ruin it!
SWV Fun Fact! In the year 1992, all three members of SWV voted for Ross Perot.
Joe admits that he wasn’t very happy with Taj’s outburst earlier, mostly because she was pointing fingers. Taj responds that she felt as if she going out the door, which made her “hot”, so “whoever was around was going to get it”. Again, she does not apologize for her outburst. “Hey, it’s not my fault I yelled at you! You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” This is what she is saying, and it is not cool. I really want to cut her some slack because I like her so much, so I’m going to chalk her actions this week up to frustration and the dam breaking and whatnot. I guess everybody gets a free one.
Probst asks Taj how it feels to have to leave the tribe and go to Exile Island all the time. Does that make her feel alienated? Taj replies that since she doesn’t have a choice about going, she tries not to make a big deal out of it, but that she did start to feel the pressure this week when she looked around and noticed that all the “expendable people” were already gone. Hee! She called Sandy expendable.
Joe mentions that Taj could definitely have the immunity idol, especially because he’s never heard her say the words “I don’t have the immunity idol”, which is a ridiculous statement to make because that’s fine, there is a million dollars involved, I will also say that I was once a member of the Harlem Globetrotters if it will get me closer to the end. What does it matter? The sky is purple! Soilent green is made of people!
The boring and pointless back and forth concludes with Taj correctly pointing out that it doesn’t matter what she says, because they’re in the middle of a game where lying is within the rules, so she’s suspicious just for going to the place where the idol might be. Jeff then somehow makes the whole exchange even more pointless by noting that Taj has still not said the words “I do not have the idol”. Taj looks at Probst all “oh, good grief” because everyone here is out of their minds over pointless, meaningless sentences, so she just turns around and says tells Joe she doesn’t have the idol so that everyone will just shut up, already. Also, this is the Matrix! We’re all just batteries for robots! The price of gasoline is determined by the Freemasons!
Time to vote. Spencer votes for Taj, and Taj votes for Spencer, which is all we see. After no one plays the idol, Jeff reads the votes. Everyone voted for Spencer but Spencer, so he’s out with little fanfare. At least he was able to take the gay secret to his metaphorical grave.
FYI, there’s no episode next week due to March Madness, and then the episode in two weeks is one of those lame recaps, so I’m getting a forced vacation for three weeks. Try not to mess up the place while I’m away, will you?
Like most people in America, Schoonie watches entirely too much reality television. Unlike most people, Schoonie gets to share his opinions with the world, which is pretty rad. Currently living in Chicago, Schoonie's been with Tvgasm since 2006. He spends his free time writing Survivor fan fiction (Letters to Penthouse, all featuring Rupert!) , playing with his cover band, and playing with his other cover band. Also, this one time, Lisi fell.