This week, on Survivor: meet my new desktop background.Night 24. Tyson and his cohorts are congratulating themselves for the Brendan boot. “I know he’s your friend, but Sierra, you gotta admit,” Tyson says to her. Sierra acquiesces that it was a good move. “I know I’m going next, so let’s just try to make these next couple days congenial,” she says, clearly wounded. “I just want to disappear,” she admits in confessional.
Sierra then makes the unwise decision to try and talk to Coach to explain her reasoning for voting for him, and he rewards her by…being Coach. “Every decision you’ve made was bad,” he says to her. “You could have written down anyone else’s name in this game that doesn’t have the character like I have.” Of course we already know that Coach believes himself to be morally superior to everyone else in the game (which we kind of already knew), but he’s never outright said it before.
“In war, in love and war, it’s kill or be killed. Brendan pitted himself against me and he went, and you’ve pitted yourself against me, so who deserves to go next?” It’s nice that he corrected himself there by adding the word “love”, because it’s important to be as comprehensive as possible when you’re speaking in completely meaningless philosophical gems like this one.
“Oh, dragon poop, you have so much left to learn.”
After the credits, we begin our third episode in a row with Coach doing his Entirely Real And Not At All Fictional, Even Though You Can’t Google It meditation out in the water. This whole meditation thing is getting a little stale, but I will say that the aerial shots they’re doing here are pretty impressive. And now: the bullshit. “After voting Brendan out, a feeling of peace settled over me and permeated by very fiber.” That fiber is, no doubt, organically grown from the fertilizer of virgin sheep and hauled in specially from somewhere in the Far East.
“Brendan may be stronger than me (which is probably not true because I bench press 300 pounds), but I was able to out fox him.” To summarize: this man knows secret forms of meditation passed down only through verbal instruction, can pull strings to have a military helicopter drop him off in the Amazon wilderness, and can bench press most wilderness animals, but can be defeated by midgets. Jesus, this whole season is like one big M. Night Shamalyan movie.
Coach also uses the term “piece de resistance” and pronounces it improperly in about five different places. I guess his worldly travails have not taken him through eighth grade French class. Then he screams like an extra in Fight Club, because that’s all there is left to do, is out-douche David Fincher.
“This whole thing is over, and the battle has already been won,” Coach notes. “Victory is mine!” Um…does he know that there are still eight people left? Add “rudimentary math” to the list of things Coach has not learned. Oh well. If a bearded shaman doesn’t teach it, I guess it ain’t worth knowing, right?
Over with the normal people, Sierra sits in the middle of camp bemoaning her fate. JT says that he and Stephen decided that Brendan and Sierra were bigger threats than Coach and his crew of misfits, so that’s why they went ahead and got rid of him. While Sierra bitches, Debbie tells her that her character is a problem, which is completely out of line. Just because someone chooses not to align with you doesn’t make them a bad person. And also, who is Debbie to be judging people? Did I miss the part where she teamed with Al Gore for some sort of special green initiative?
Sierra tells her that Brendan had the most powerful thing in the game (the immunity idol), so she thought she was making the right move. “The most powerful thing is friends,” Tyson replies, because today’s Very Special Episode involves everyone teaching Sierra a lesson about loyalty from their perches high above her. Dear Everyone: Shut the hell up, hypocrites.
She takes Tyson aside to privately apologize to him and attempt to save her own ass. “I wasn’t about to go on some massacre,” she says, even though that’s totally what she was planning on doing. Tyson rewards her by telling us that he thinks that Sierra has no worth at all. “Her parents probably love her, but her boyfriend’s probably not that cool.” Judging from the Probst blogs (which I went back and read after someone in the comments last week told me that we said some similar things), it appears that Sierra is dating someone who works on the show, so this is probably some sort of in-joke on the part of the editors.
Tyson lectures her about trust some more, and he’s getting a little too preachy for my tastes, which is the sign of a bad winner. She tries to tell him that she wasn’t the mastermind behind the plan. “I believe you,” Tyson replies, “because I don’t think you’re smart enough for it.” You know, I can see why people would think that she’s annoying, but that’s not a reason to be a jerk.
Sierra tells him that she would have voted for JT if Brendan hadn’t asked her to vote for Coach, and Tyson nails her by noting that if he had lost immunity, the target would have been him instead of Coach. She has no option but to cop to it, which pretty much traps her in a lie here. I realize that Tyson is kind of a jerk, but he’s not dumb; it might be good to have a plan before you just go randomly apologizing to people. “You’re gonna be the next to go, and you’re not gonna be able to change that,” he tells her. I can’t say I blame him for being so succinct here.
Reward Challenge! Two teams of four will race out to collect large puzzle boards that have holes, which you place on these stands in order to line the holes up. The holes in the boards will reveal vowels when you look through them, which you combine with the consonants that are already on a puzzle board to create a four word phrase, which in this case is “You’ve won a feast.” The reward is…a feast, and a local performance of Capoeira, which is a Brazilian martial art.
The red team is JT, Erinn, Debbie and Tyson, and the other team is Coach, Stephen, Sierra and Taj. Both teams get back with the boards at the same time, but the red team manages to get their holes lined up more quickly, thanks to Debbie and Erinn acting as scouts from one end of the board, which doesn’t seem to be happening on the black team. The red team then quickly solves their puzzle (thanks to Debbie again), and they’ve won the challenge before the black team has even figured out what the letters are.
Death by tripping has never been so possible.
JT tells his team that they have to send Stephen to Exile Island, telling us privately that since Brendan’s idol is now out of play, there could be a new idol somewhere, and he wants to ensure that they have control of it, should this be the case. You know, I always sort of hate myself for rooting for the most popular person, because I have not trusted America with respect to this show since they gave Rupert the million dollars, but I’m officially down with a JT win.
Probst seems to have reached his breaking point with Coach, which I find to be delightful because who knew that Probst even had one for people like this? It’s like Donald Trump looking at someone and going “You know what? Your hair looks ridiculous,” but here we are, and I love it. “Coach, all that life experience not helping you out here with these rewards, huh?” Probst says. “Well, I didn’t line up boards like this in the Amazon,” Coach replies. All the Amazonian indigenous midgets that I know love word games, so I don’t know if he’s just met a different tribe, or what. Then again, they did try to eat my asshole once we finished up that round of Boggle…
After the commercial we’re right to the reward, which Erinn is excited to be on since she hasn’t been able to go yet. They get a nice spread full of Brazilian food, with lots of plantains and fish all set out. Debbie points out that all the Brazilians there were dining with were giving her the stinky eye for eating so much, even though I’m pretty sure that people just look at Debbie like that all the time. She mentions that she misses her job as a middle school principal, and starts crying as she tells us that she misses all nine hundred of her middle school kids. Even the creepy one with the red hair who has his hand down his pants all the time? Because I find that hard to believe. Even that kid’s parents don’t miss that kid.
“So, do you like….stuff?”
The martial arts demonstration begins, with instrumentation JT calls “dueling banjos”, because when you are a redneck, it is rule that you must call everything that plays music a banjo. After the showcase is complete, the Brazilians start bringing them up there to show them how to do some of the flip and whatnot, and we see way, way too much of Debbie’s bloomers. Erinn mentions that after all the flipping and jumping and eating, she was getting a little sick, and then we see her puking while a turkey randomly wanders by in the background, which is way funnier than it has any right to be. When I’m puking, I can think of nothing I want less than a turkey wandering around behind me gobbling and shit.
Over at Exile Island, Stephen opens the clue, which is yet another vaguely dirty hint about the idol being hidden in the posterior of the treemail statue. Survivor reduced its budget this year by hiring fourth graders to write the clues. Stephen laments that he’s on Exile Island for nothing, and then we get a well edited montage of him lying around and doing nothing in various prone positions. It looks like what would happen if you filmed a stoner with stop motion photography.
Back at camp, Sierra continues her tour of badgering by hitting up Debbie for the second time. “You and Coach and Tyson had an alliance. Does that make you bad people?” she asks pretty astutely. “No but if we would have messed up and done the wrong thing in the game, then…” and Debbie trails off because she has no logical response. Sierra has pointed out the fatal flaw in their logic, which is that loyalty to someone on the other team is still loyalty, not a character flaw.
“There will be a moment down the road when you’ll regret acting like this,” Sierra tells her. Debbie starts to talk and Sierra interrupts her, telling her that the conversation’s over, which is rude and infantile. Debbie very correctly gets mad at her for acting five years old, and it is not a good thing when I have sided with Debbie. Can’t they both lose this fight?
Sierra starts crying, for what will not be the last time, so get used to this. “I’m getting kicked in the face!” she says, which made me laugh instead of feel bad for her like I should have. I’m going to start using that expression all the time. Open the fridge and out of milk? I’M GETTING KICKED IN THE FACE! Waiting in line at the bank? I’M GETTING KICKED IN THE FACE!
“How are you going to keep around other liars?” Sierra asks, since they’ve basically pegged her as the biggest liar left in the game. “Who else has been lying?” Erinn, who has been sitting quietly in the background listening, asks Sierra. “You’d be the last person I’d tell,” Sierra says to her, because this episode is devolving into a reenactment of Mean Girls more and more with each passing second.
This causes Erinn to unleash her frustration: “Sierra, we’re all just tired of hearing you say the same thing over and over again for the past two days,” which I’m sure is true, because we’ve now seen it twice and that’s two too many times for me. Sierra’s reaction to this is to storm off like a baby, telling them to eat without her. You know, all of the valid points that Sierra keeps making are really undercut by her inability to act over the age of twelve. Yeah, I can see why none of these people like her.
“The sad thing is, everything Sierra is saying is totally true!” Erinn says. “I fully plan on turning the game on its head once she’s gone.” I’m assuming her thinking is that she will side with JT, Stephen and Taj next week when there are seven people left. Sierra is a prophet. A prophet GETTING KICKED IN THE FACE!!!
Now it’s Day 27, and guess what? Sierra is still pouting. She pulls Coach aside again and tries to tell him that she was never going to hurt him, despite the fact that she voted for him, and it makes no sense. She starts crying again, and Coach responds by telling her that he’d like to give her a second chance, but can’t. “The honorable thing to do would be to accept your fate, and not try to make deals with people,” Coach says. “The samurai warrior? If he did dishonor to himself of his family, you know what he would do? He would fall on his sword. Death before dishonor,” he says. Well, I’ll give him this: if there’s one thing Coach knows a lot about, it’s dishonor.
KICKED! IN! THE FACE!
Sierra then wisely plays on his need to feel that he has improved people, telling him that she’s just doing what he taught her to do by pushing herself to be better. It’s actually pretty impressive, to hit him right in his sweet spot like that. Make it about him, and he’ll give you the time of day. “The Coach in me is continually looking for those that are in need of assistance or encouragement. My heart just goes out to her,” says the guy who called her dragon poop last week.
Immunity. It’s raining, which makes even shuffleboard look dramatic, as we are about to see. People are shivering furiously, the type of shivering that makes you cold just to watch. Stephen, especially, looks really torn up, having just come back from exile. The challenge is actually shuffleboard, and each person gets three pucks. The person whose puck ends up closest to center X wins immunity.
But because it’s shuffleboard, which makes it boring, there’s an extra twist. If you feel confident that you don’t need immunity, you can skip the challenge and eat pizzas instead. Stephen, JT and Coach decide to eat, because Coach is a noble warrior, you see. Death before dishonor! Or pizza!
“THIS! IS! PIZZA! Wait, I mean: SPARTA!!!”
“Thanks, dude,” he says to Tyson as if Tyson has agreed to represent him. “When do I get my pizza?” Tyson says. “I’ve been winning all these challenges, and I should be eating instead of worrying about sealing the deal to get rid of Sierra.” Dude, have you met Coach?
Puck sliding. People are short at first because of all the water, which is piling up on the board, at least an inch deep. After two rounds, Sierra has accidentally bumped Tyson the closest, and each person has one puck left. Because not much is happening, there are frequent cuts to Stephen, shivering under a blanket with a mouthful of pizza. When Sierra gets her turn, she knocks Tyson out and puts herself the closest. Debbie is last, so she has to beat Sierra. Coach does admit that he thinks he screwed up when he saw Sierra celebrating near the end of the challenge, to his (very small) credit. Of course, Debbie knocks Sierra out and wins the challenge, jumping around and screaming like a fool. YAY! Let’s celebrate with cookies and hugs!
“Yay! I wear-ded it!”
Back at camp, Tyson revels in Sierra’s early celebration. “Nothing awesomer than seeing somebody celebrate before the game’s over,” Tyson says, unaware that he’s celebrating before the game’s over right now. “It would have been badass to win again, but tonight is gonna be awesome. I’m hoping Sierra cries a lot,” he jokes. It’s not as funny once she’s actually cried. Too soon, man, too soon.
Under the tent, Erinn whispers to Taj and Stephen that this could be their opportunity to take Tyson out of the game. Taj and Stephen seem to think that’s a pretty great idea. “Everyone at camp’s just going to hate each other!” Stephen jokes, excited at the thought of the mayhem he’s about to cause. “There is no way I can win this game by just hanging out and letting other people make my decisions,” Erinn says. Haaaaaave you met Bob, Erinn?
Stephen takes the plan to JT. “If we don’t take him out now, he could go on a run,” Stephen says. “Every season someone goes on a run. Let’s make it you.” JT smiles hugely here. “That’d be a lot safer wouldn’t it?” he jokes. Here’s the sad thing: if Stephen wants to win (and he does), he’s gotta know he can’t take JT to the end. While this whole thing is working out well for the both of them, Stephen’s playing for second place right now. Something bad’s going to happen later, you guys.
“I can’t stand Sierra,” JT says. Man, when JT doesn’t like you? There’s a problem. “She is a lying bitch and I hate her and I want her away from my face, dude.” Before this episode, I would have wondered what the big deal was, but now that we’ve seen Sierra act like Stuart from Mad TV for forty-five minutes, I’m beginning to see what all the fuss is about.
Coach pulls JT to the side, to “recount the plan” for him. “Sierra goes tonight, that’s a given, and then we’re going to five with the Warrior alliance,” Coach says. “It would be stupid if we made an alliance, gave it a name, bandied the name about, talked about ourselves being warriors, and then chickened out at the last second?” Coach is right, naming an alliance “The Warriors” is only stupid if you chicken out. Otherwise, it’s totally not stupid at all. Especially if one of the aforementioned warriors is so hardcore that they sit out the battle for some pizza. They may take our lives, but they will never take…OUR PEPPERONI!
“Death before thin crust!”
JT then gives Coach his word that he’ll follow the plan, and they shake on it. “I have no idea what I’m doing to do,” JT says with a smirk on his face, mostly because he totally knows what he’s about to do and is probably really looking forward to it.
Tribal Council! Brendan enters are the first jury member and waves at everyone. What happened to Probst keeping them from communicating! Unless your name is Eliza, you are not allowed to communicate with the people still in the game. Coach is wearing feathers from the immunity necklace in his hair, because when you’re already mixing Oriental, Viking, Christian, and Buddhist beliefs, you might as well throw a little Native American imagery in there, because there’s not quite enough going on.
Probst begins by asking Sierra how she feels about the outcome of last week, and of course she was a little stunned. “I definitely won’t be blindsided this week,” she says as Coach and Tyson smirk behind her. Probst asks Tyson about the immunity challenge, and he notes that it was nice to see someone he loves win. Probst tries to create some sort of insecurity about Tyson liking Debbie more than JT, but he’s like “I didn’t say anything about Debbie, I said it was nice to see someone I love win.” Probst asks Tyson who he loves, and he proceeds to point out everyone but Sierra, including Brendan, at whom he also winks, for some reason. I guess she’s not the only one who can act ten years old, eh?
Probst asks Sierra about whether people are telling her that she’s leaving and what that might mean, and she tries to answer but isn’t able to really put a complete thought together. This gives Tyson an excuse to badger her some more, telling her that no one ever knows what she’s talking about. Sierra wisely ignores him, instead pointing out that Tyson doesn’t have immunity, so if you have a stupid alliance that involves taking strong people to the end, that’s fine, but pretty dumb.
Since this is the perfect segue, Probst asks Coach whether Tyson is a threat. Instead of answering the question, Coach, as with most things, uses it as an excuse to talk about himself: “My goal here is to walk the path of a noble warrior and finding (sic) that great competition that you could pit yourself against…”
“..aaaand then you voted out Brendan!” Probst responds perfectly, which causes everyone to laugh, because at this point even Probst knows that Coach is a giant hypocrite. “Let me explain that,” Coach says uncomfortably, knowing he’s about to draw some pretty tenuous lines. “Brendan pitted himself against me,” he begins….
…and Probst interrupts him again. “I thought that’s what you wanted?” Coach: “Exactly, and I won, thank you.” I love the cognitive dissonance between what Coach says and what everyone else hears, including Probst. Who says Coach can’t walk the path of a noble warrior and also enjoy some pizza? The Noid was not a noble warrior either, which is why it is written that you should always Avoid him.
Taj’s reaction to all this is pretty priceless, because her eyes literally cross:
“So, let me get this straight,” Probst says with a smirk. “An honorable battle to you means that as long as we both agree on how we’re going to play, I’ll battle you.”
“Exactly,” Coach says. “I will be a ravenous wolf and I will cut them off at the knees with no remorse and no regret.” Wolves cut people off at the knees? I thought they went for the jugular. Perhaps the ancient wolves from Norwegian legend cut people off at the knees, because the samurai wanted them to be buried by the Incan temples, who believed that you went to the fifth circle of heaven based on how you were killed by wolves in battle.
I know I’ve said this a million times, but again: what does “the best competitors” even mean, in relation to this game? Coach thinks that means the largest people (and in the case of Debra, those that are willing to follow him blindly), which is stupid, because the list of big dudes who have been smoked by the tiny and meek on this show is mighty long. Arguably, the best competitors are people like Yul, Amanda, Boston Rob. People who are both good at challenges and good at cultivating relationships. You don’t necessarily need both to win the game (see: Todd, Parvati, and roughly half of the other winners), but it helps. This isn’t “American Gladiators”, and treating it as such does not make you some noble warrior: it makes you a judgmental asshole.
Time to vote. Tyson and his rolled up skinny jeans vote first, for Sierra. Coach is next: “Last week, Sierra, I slayed the dragon. This week I had to take care of his pride. Goodnight sweet princess.” So much condescension, so little time.
Sierra votes Tyson: “You’re a jerk.” Succinct!
The votes are read. The first one is for Sierra, and then one for Tyson and another two for Sierra, who has begun to cry again. Tyson gets another one (which he thinks is no big deal) but when the third one comes? He loses his shit, in the most gratifying way. Have you ever seen someone try really hard to look like nothing’s wrong, but underneath, they’re quietly losing their shit?
The next two are also for Tyson, and that is all, folks. A more through blindside, we have not seen. The reactions are varied: Sierra can’t believe her luck, JT and Stephen sit stoic, Coach and Debbie stare at each other, confused and scared. You know, I very rarely rewind just to see people shit their pants over and over again, but watching Coach and Debbie silently poop themselves is one of the more satisfying things I’ve ever seen on this show.
You had a good run, Lisi falling.
You know what the best part of this whole blindside is? It’s not that Tyson got voted out without knowing it. It’s that Coach and Debbie are getting voted out, and they will know it’s coming. You know that episode of How I Met Your Mother where Marshall creates the slap countdown clock (on Slaps-giving, of course), and as it gets closer and closer to zero, Barney dissolves into a writhing puddle of fear? It’s going to be like that, but funnier.
Last week, I said that sometimes people don’t get the comeuppance that they sometimes deserve. In this case, I could not be more wrong. This shit? Is going to be more poetic than the Iliad and the Odyssey. Coach and Debbie are not only going down, they’re going down slowly, and each and every word they’ve uttered throughout the past hour (and in Coach’s case, the whole season), is going to be slowly and wonderfully reversed upon them until they are finally, mercifully snuffed out after days and days of magically delicious schadenfreude-laden whining. And I? Cannot WAIT.
BTW, of course the penis fish won the Joe contest a few weeks ago. What am I, made of stone?