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This week, on Survivor: Jalapao does me a solid. Thanks, guys!Timbira, Night 9. Coach gets the first gaffe of the episode (I know, you’re shocked) when he refers to the night as “sultry” upon return from Tribal Council. Does he want to have sex with the evening? Because there was an episode of Nip/Tuck last week all about people who like to have sex with inanimate objects. For those of you who did not see it, there was a guy literally fucking a couch, because sometimes jokes from Chappelle’s Show need to be taken just oooone step further.
Also, “Intercourse With The Moon” is going to be the title of my first smooth jazz album, by the way.
Coach is still up in arms about Brendan potentially becoming the leader of the tribe. He thinks Erinn needs to go because she’s “the cancer of the tribe” (as Reality Blurred pointed out a little while back, Coach seems to have a thing about cancer. Coach is many things, but “apt with metaphors” is not really one of them.
The next day, Brendan calls for a team meeting so that they can pick a leader, which is a subject he should really stay away from. Coach tells Brendan that he can be the leader, that he’s fine being a follower, which is not true, obviously. “If you got voted off tomorrow, I’d do it,” Coach says, trying to put his support behind Brendan but looking like a total jealous jackass in the process. In confessional, he tells us how he really feels (because he did such a good job at hiding it during the meeting). “If Brendan got voted off and I was the leader, the tribe would be better off, but I don’t want to do that. I want iron that sharpens iron.” Coach is quoting The Bible, you guys. He is Jesus, and he is imparting his wisdom to you via the magic of parable.
“I’m the only person with experience in the wild,” he continues matter of factly. “If you look at Brendan and then look at me, who looks stronger? I do.” Have you guys ever read about that artist who painted a picture of his cat everyday? It’s a really interesting true story. So the guy slowly became schizophrenic? And the paintings of his cat, when lined up one next to the other, become more and more crazypants until they stop resembling a cat altogether and become a random collection of neon squiggles that are both mesmerizing and terrifying? My point is: Coach is that painter. He is also the cat, somehow.
Over at Jalapao, Taj is busy pretending that Exile Island is this harsh, unforgiving wasteland so that people will pity her and bring her things, which is sort of awesome. She leverages this pity to get some alone time with Stephen, telling him about the super secret four way alliance that she’s created with Brendan. “How would you like to be part of the biggest upset in Survivor history?” she says, as if she has never heard of Yul. Remember that? Man, what a great season. Also, it’s a bit of a stretch to be calling yourself the underdog, there, rich lady who already has control of both immunity idols ten days into the game.
Stephen is psyched to have been offered the gig, grinning widely over having “stumbled ass backwards into a huge alliance”. Taj prepares him to be sent to Exile Island, since it’s part of the plan that Sierra and Stephen end up going this time to mask their true intentions. “Please tell me that Exile Island is not tough,” he begs her. “It’s not bad at all!” she says mischievously, and they share a huge laugh about all the sandbagging she’s been doing. It’s a great lie, because she can play off of the fact that she’s middle aged if anyone else ever gets sent to Exile and calls her on the fact that it’s sort of easy there.
While Timbira is getting the treemail about the upcoming reward challenge, Brendan tells us that he hasn’t had a chance to talk to Sierra about the secret four way alliance. You haven’t “had a chance” to tell someone about an alliance that’s your best opportunity to get to the end of the game? That seems like an idiotic decision. Obviously he doesn’t want to be dragging Sierra off into the woods in front of everyone, but I’d pretty much put “tell the blonde girl about the alliance that will get me the win” at the top of my To Do list, especially when there’s a reward challenge deadline involved.
Reward Challenge. They’re bringing back an old favorite from the Australia (and Pearl Islands) seasons, where three members of the tribe essentially put a pole across their shoulders and are given larger and larger amounts of weight by the other tribe. The last person left standing wins the reward for their tribe, which is a camp raid; the winning tribe gets to send two of its members to the other camp, and any two items can be stolen.
Bearing the weight for Jalapao is Joe, Taj and JT, while Debra, Brendan and Tyson take the weight for Timbira. If you’re wondering why the ladies are there, it’s because Probst made the rule that two men and one woman must bear the weight for each team. During each round, one person gets 20 pounds added to their weight, and the other tribe decides where it goes, so there is a fair amount of strategy involved with this challenge. Both tribes put a lot of weight on the males to start, and then the girls get a bit of weight later.
Brendan is the first one to reach the 200 pound mark, by which point he is visibly struggling to remain upright. Stupid Jeff uses this as an excuse to bring up stupid jerkbag Rupert, who apparently holds the record in a challenge which has been done a grand total of three times. If you’ll remember, Rupert made good use of the attention he was receiving during the challenge to scream intensely like a huge asshole and then wait expectantly back at camp afterwards for everyone to heap praise upon him.
Once Brendan has the next twenty pounds placed on his back, he drops the weight and is eliminated from the challenge first. Tyson drops out soon afterwards, leaving only Debra still in the game for Timbira. It’s looking like Jalapao is going to take home another challenge, but then JT drops out, followed right behind by Joe, so now it’s a showdown between Taj and Debra, unexpectedly. Now is probably a good time as any to note that Taj has been tying her one piece jumpsuit thing up right at her crotch, and it looks…unnatural.
Debra eventually falls as well when her weight is upped to 140, which has got to be at least 30 pounds more than she herself weighs, and is also is the same amount of weight Tyson had when he dropped out, so that’s pretty impressive. Taj is gracious enough to applaud her and tell her what a good job she did, running right over to give her a hug and comfort her. In my brain, Debra’s like “Hey, aren’t you that chick from SWV?” once she sees her up close.
Jalapao (or rather, Taj, it appears) chooses to send Sierra to Exile Island, who then turns right around and selects Taj to come with her. “That was not the plan,” Taj’s face clearly says, despite the fact that she sells it moderately well by calling Sierra a variety of mean names.
Back at camp, Timbira worries over what Jalapao is going to take from them. Their main concern is that both bags of beans are going to get stolen, which will leave them with nothing to eat. Well, except rice, and the thousand other things that Jalapao has been eating this entire time. When JT and Joe show up to take stuff, Tyson is not happy: “On one hand, you have to be nice to these people because you’ll probably have to live with then down the line, but in the back of your mind, you like, ‘I wanna punch these guys in the head.’” Tyson writes his own jokes. There is no need for me here.
While JT tells them that they’re pretty much taking the food, Debra makes fumbled attempts to redirect their attentions elsewhere, mentioning that they have water cans and other less useful items. It’s sad. She’s basically going “You guys, I bet you don’t have any of these really cool dead trees over at your camp! Why take that smelly old food when you could have this abundant plant life? This stick here could be fashioned into a mighty fine spear.” While I appreciate her performance at the reward challenge, in general I am extremely put off by her. She just tries way, way too hard all the time in this way that she clearly thinks is effective but is, in fact, fake and obvious (see also: attempting to fit in with Coach during the Candace vote, the stupid fire-pit fiasco).
JT and Joe are nice enough to let them keep one of their bags of beans, so they take a water can instead. “I’m just being smart,” JT says, “because if there’s a switch and I end up on Timbira with nothing to eat because I just stole the beans, I’m gonna be pissed.” Wait, so you’re going to be mad that you have to eat…the same thing you’ve already been eating for twelve days? I mean yes, you’ve caught a fish or two, but there’s not going to be a whole lot of difference between Jalapao pre-bean and Timbira post-bean.
When JT and Joe get back to Jalapao and explain to the rest of the team that they left Timbira with some provisions, they’re unhappy. Sandy, in particular, doesn’t understand.
She actually makes a very adequate analogy to that effect. I know! “If your enemy has 100 guns, and you have the opportunity to take them, you don’t take 75 guns and leave them with 25 to shoot you with!”
Of course, Sandy then squanders the entirely of the little bit of goodwill she had just built up with me by referring to their new food as “fartin’ beans” over and over again, finding it just as hilarious the fifth time that she says the word “fart” as she did the first time. Sandy is the reason why According to Jim still exists.
Spencer and hot, hot Sydney exchange eye-rolls around the twentieth time Sandy says the word “fart”, so…word to the both of them.
Sydney wanders over to the fire, where Joe and Spencer are prepared to joke/flirt with her, all “What’s up, hottest Survivor chick this season?” Sandy looks on jealously. “Sydney is using all her feminine whiles to seduce the menfolk,” Sandy says, ironically conveying jealousy over Sydney’s young frame by utilizing language last heard during the California Gold Rush. Watch out, Sydney! Sandy will tie you to the train tracks and stroke her handlebar moustache if you’re not careful. It is also worth noting that Sandy is bitching about Sydney flirting with Spencer, who is gay, while Sandy herself shows way too much skin, thanks to a two piece bikini that can only have been purchased along with a Duran Duran album.
While Sydney’s like “Sierra’s pretty cute though,” (Someone’s hilarious response: “Well, she’s kind of angry.” That’s just the way her face looks, random person) , Sandy thinks Sydney’s going to have to keep upping the ante to stay around: “She’d better be pulling her panties off or something!” which is apparently the most hilarious thing since the phrase “fartin’ beans”. Oh, go watch Frank TV somewhere.
Exile Island. While Taj and Sierra gather wood to make fire, Taj eyes Sierra cautiously, trying to gauge how much Sierra may or may not know about the alliance. Once it becomes clear that Sierra knows absolutely nothing (no thanks to Brendan), Taj explains all about how no one knows that Taj is cool with Stephen, or that Brendan is cool with Sierra, or that Taj and Brendan are cool, so working this alliance will allow them to secretly control both the idols all the way through the endgame. Taj has clearly worked some different scenarios out, because she points out that they can use the idols to take out other people without their knowledge, and without the participation of anyone else, even if they’re in the minority. And she’s right: even if the merge is at ten and it’s six people against their four, they can still become the final four with very little resistance. That’s pretty impressive.
Sierra is suitably impressed too. “I just got goosebumps,” she tells Taj. You know what? This bears repeating: Brendan is an idiot for allowing this to happen. What if Sierra was already in a secret alliance with some other people, and she just blew his entire game? What if Taj had never said anything (which probably would have been the best course of action) and then you went about your game thinking this whole alliance is set in stone when Sierra really has no idea? It’s just idiotic.
Over at Timbira, morning dawns on day 11. Ponder this: These people have now spent eleven days with Coach. Award humanitarian medals as you see fit. Anyway, Timbira has decided that they’re going to have a “fun day”, the idea of which is to allow the tribe to relieve some stress. For Tyson, this apparently means being naked, save for the makeshift loincloth he has created using his buff. Everyone else seems to think this is a lot funnier than it actually is, which I am going to attribute to the fact that they are starved for humor. Doing the naked thing is funny exactly one time per person: it’s a well-known comedy rule. Subsequent naked attempts to make people laugh deliver diminishing returns. The proper name for it is, I believe, The Inverse Property Of Steve-O.
While everyone else laughs uproariously at Tyson’s nakedness, Erinn sulks about by herself. “I don’t usually have a problem making friends, but I’m having a really tough time finding a connection with these people,” Erin voiceovers. She tells us that she went through a really terrible breakup right before she came here, and that makes it difficult to have even a normal conversation, let alone relate to people in these strenuous circumstances. I feel her, as should everyone, save for apparently the editors (who have been turned to stone thanks to years and years of watching jerkbags for hours on end), who cleverly and subtly insert the Tribal Council Torch Snuffing music. Tyson munches on something and stares off into the middle distance at Erinn wandering around by herself. He notes that he’s pretty much written Erinn off, and that he would be nice to her, but he wants to see her freak-out when she gets sent home. Why do these people continue to think that voting Erinn out when she’s clearly expecting it is some sort of blindside?
Immunity Challenge! The tribes will be racing along a criss-crossing course (for maximum collision potential) to retrieve puzzle pieces, that when collected will fit onto a stand and can be rotated to spell out a phrase. The tribes are pretty much neck-in-neck up until the puzzle portion, where Timbira actually works better together than Jalapao (I know!) to come up with the answer, which means that Jalapao is going to Tribal Council for the first time in awhile.
Wow, fastest challenge recap ever. Thanks for making nothing of note happen, everyone on this show!
Back at Jalapao, Joe tells Sydney he’s kind of glad they lost, because they need to get rid of someone whose name rhymes with “Pandy”, which is funny only because it involves getting rid of Sandy. (“Well, judging by your song, it seems that you’re in love with a woman named Mandy. Or a man named Andy.” – Lisa Simpson)
In the lake, Taj begins an open discussion with Sandy, Stephen and JT about the vote, noting that Sandy has been much stronger than Sydney in the challenges. Stephen and JT note that if they get rid of Sydney, Spencer and Joe are both going to be pretty unhappy, and the two of them apparently fit into their long term plans (at least as far as JT knows, since Stephen appears to have bought into the super secret Exile Island alliance).
While wasting time before Tribal Council, Sydney makes small talk and asks people what they love the most about the game. Most people say relatively safe things (“I’m excited to meet other people”, “I just wanted to see if I could make it out here”), Sydney volunteers stupidly that she likes the “sneakiness” of the game. According to the sharp music and sidelong looks, this seems to have rustled some feathers. Yeah, this is not the best thing to say. This is how you can tell that Sydney is pretty damn sure there’s no chance she’s going home.
And with that, we get a grand total of three minutes devoted to plotting before Tribal Council. A little bit of difference between this and the two full segments we’ve been getting over at Timbira, huh? The best we got was the brief suggestion that someone besides Sandy could go home (which was made in front of Sandy herself), and some loose statements about plotting. I love how this show has just quit trying to surprise you or make you doubt the outcome in situations like this. It shows a certain respect for the intelligence of the audience that I can appreciate.
Anyway, Tribal Council. Jeff zeroes in on Sandy immediately. “Sandy, you’re roughly the age of a majestic redwood. How does it feel to be such a wizened, batshit crazy coot around so many hot people?” Sandy responds by calling out Sydney for using her sexiness to get in good with the others. I love how Sandy has convinced herself that the reason that everyone likes Sydney more than her is because Sydney is prettier, when in fact the real reason is that Sandy is…well, Sandy.
The discussion then turns to the fact that Sydney has been wearing JT’s boxer shorts around camp. “What? It’s hot! I’ve been wearing jeans!” she responds. I am inclined to believe her: what do you think these people would be saying if Sydney were walking around in her underwear instead of covering herself up with someone else’s shorts? Well, I would be too busy rewinding my DVR over and over again to say anything, but I have a feeling that the rest of them would be judging her even more harshly. Because Probst is nothing if not simple, he asks the next oldest woman, Taj, what she thinks about all this. Because Taj spent much of the mid-nineties as a sex symbol, she doesn’t have nearly the same hang ups as Sandy, and swiftly dismisses Probst’s claims that she must also be a jealous old hag.
Taj thinks that people are probably more likely to align with Sydney because of how attractive she is, but this doesn’t bother Taj herself all that much, since she seems to be doing okay so far. Probst continues to prompt her, and she just sort of watches him with this amused look while he waits, disappointed, for the venom that will never come. Well played, Taj.
I do have to say that I kind of resent this claim that men in general are stupid idiots when it comes to attractive women, as if we have no other faculties when there is hotness involved. No male, in the history of this show, has ever been voted out because they were hoping it would get them laid by another cast member. It’s especially insulting to consider that there’s also a million dollars involved, as if the guys are suddenly going to be like “Well, I could win enough money to be set for the remainder of my years, but…have you seen her ass?”
And to be fair, we haven’t seen Sydney flirt all that much. Having people voluntarily call you the hottest Survivor chick this season without prompt, giving a gay man a back rub, and trying to cover your own ass by wearing someone else’s clothes is not exactly Basic Instinct.
Probst tries to explore the opposite side of the equation by asking Stephen whether Sydney’s hotness can also work against her. The obvious answer is yes, because she seems to be the center of attention right now for this very reason. She has been literally nonexistent up until now, and she’s essentially getting hated on by everyone for being attractive. I mean, I’m the first person to judge someone for being obvious and gross with the flirting (Parvati), so I hope you guys don’t think this is just some case of me finding her attractive and making excuses for her actions, but it just doesn’t seem like she’s done very much to merit this extensive discussion. To be fair, though, I do find her attractive enough to make excuses about her. Just saying!
Time to vote! We see Sandy vote Sydney and vice versa, but no one else. When the votes are read, Sandy and Sydney each get one, and then there is a vote for Joe (which came from Taj, so ?) and then the rest are for Sandy and she is finally, mercifully out of my life (and the credits) forever. Later, crazy!