Lots of interesting developments on this week’s Survivor. Operation Quarterjerk hit a major snag as people began to wonder whether or not Gary really was a quarterback, and Blake’s health problems escalated from mere thorn injury to full-blown respiratory failure. Oh, and the hungry members of Yaxha enjoyed a luncheon of ants and grasshoppers. Believe it or not, I’ve actually eaten ants and grasshoppers, and they’re really not that bad. Then again, mine were sautéed in garlic and herbs as opposed to being plucked straight from the dirt of Guatemala, so I guess that can kind of change things. Okay, okay, garlic or no garlic, I’m sure some of you are already puking Survivor-style by now. I’ll just get on with the recap.This week’s episode began not with a crab scampering along a beach nor a scorpion burrowing in the dirt. No, the big Nature Star was a night-vision shot of a tarantula creepy-crawling across a leaf. I don’t know what it was, but I kind of felt like we just caught the critter about two seconds after it had taken a spider shit. It sort of had this look like “Oh, um, hi. I didn’t realize you were there.” Nevertheless, while the tarantula tended to its tarantula business, Nakum slogged through the jungle in a bumbling attempt to find their camp. Luckily, they managed to find it (I don’t know how these people do so well in the dark) and upon arriving, we immediately got down to a sacred Mayan tradition: barfing everywhere. Yes, Bobby Jon instantly began his internal retching mechanisms, but thankfully, Mark Burnett spared us the sight of vomit cascading in every which direction. Actually, I’m not sure if this was discretion on the part of the producers, or simply the result of these guys having nothing left but air and dust in their digestive systems.
Things were much better over at Yaxha. In fact, I’d be inclined to say they were super, thanks for asking. The next day, impromptu pep-squad member Brianna chirped, “We all have different qualities. We have an amazing tribe.” Ah yes. Early season optimism. Always so fun to watch the brittle reality of the game harden their once lively and idealistic hearts.
Nevertheless, Jamie carried the pro-Yaxha torch as well: “We’ve got the most diverse group.” Yes, definitely: light white, tan white, medium white, semi-white. Very diverse indeed. Actually, Lydia seems to be of some ethnic background (CBS.com says she’s at least half Puerto Rican), and we can’t overlook the cast’s sole African-American, Stephenie. Oh wait, she’s just got the deepest, darkest tan of all time. I guess that’ll happen with back-to-back Survivors.
To be fair, when Jamie mentioned diversity, he was really talking about everyone’s backgrounds and how different everyone seemed. For instance, let’s not forget Gary, the wacky old landscaper. And by “landscaper,” I mean “former NFL star.” That’s right, the world’s most unnecessary ruse was still in full force, and no one could have been prouder than Gary himself. I wish I could tell you what he said about it, but his voice had just the right amount of lazy drawl, deep texture, and quiet soothingness that I found myself instantly lulled to sleep. This guy’s more potent than a rag full of chloroform.
Anyway, in case we couldn’t tell, Yaxha was just fine and dandy (except for Morgan’s face which had unfortunately broken out into as many zits as Danni had abs. And in case you didn’t see the show, that’s a very high number).
Over at Nakum, we had some problems. Blake, the man famous for suffering a thorn injury like none other, was now struggling to breathe. Yes, turns out braving Survivor was a bit more of a challenge than expected for this once-spry commercial real estate broker/model. And yes, that’s his official title. (I’m pretty sure the “commercial real estate broker” only extends to his experience playing SimCity.)
Moments after Blake first informed us of his breathing difficulties, we saw the full extent of his malaise. First he stumbled, then he wallowed. Then he heaved. Then he moaned. Um, did Blake get shot when we weren’t looking? Because I’m pretty sure he’s dying.
“Too… pretty… for… breathing…”
Luckily, it never takes long for an injury backlash to kick in, and Brandon got things going for us by noting, “You just gotta man up.” Listen Brandon. Maybe you should spend less time looking creepy and more time looking pretty, and then maybe you can understand Blake’s plight. Insensitive bastard.
Well, bad news for Blake. It was time for the reward challenge, and it looked somewhat rigorous. Tribes had to one at a time climb over a ramp, run over a net, grapple across a rope spider web, untie a dangling bag, drop into some water, and run back to the start. Everyone had to go through the course at least once, and the first tribe to grab all its bags would win fishing supplies. Okay, simple enough. The competition got off to a fun if rather average start as both teams seemed relatively neck and neck. The only noteworthy moment came when the camera momentarily glanced at Danni’s extensive set of abs. Honestly, her abs have abs.
After a few rounds of these shenanigans, it was finally time for Blake to step up. But how would he perform? He can hardly breathe, right? Funny, he was not only fine, he was a small monster in the challenge. That’s odd. Did this mean his breathing problem was purely psychological? NO! I don’t believe it!
While Blake may have been having a resurgence of energy, one person on the opposite end of the spectrum was the so-weak-he-falls-over-when-you-blow-at-your-TV Rafe. The soft-spoken wilderness guide hardly made it past a few ropes of the spider web before he fell unsuccessfully into the water below, and that’s when the real fun began. The dude couldn’t even climb up the ladder to get back to his team. Watching him struggle filled me with a delicate mixture of pity and haughtiness. Apparently there are no ladders in the wilderness. He could only pull himself up one or two rungs before his body spastically contorted in one way or another, causing him to fall back once again into the water. It was kind of like watching a little boy trying to climb a ladder in a tornado, except less skillful.
You should see Rafe when he tries to get into bed…
Meanwhile, on Nakum, Lydia and her sneakers of fury zipped through the course, and I decided that she was now my favorite Survivor, if only because she looks like every high school foreign language teacher rolled into one. Plus, I really liked how her team cheered her on by yelling “C’mon FISHMONGER!” Nevertheless, as the competition neared an end, the two teams remained neck and neck, despite the ladder’s anti-Rafe agenda. In the end, it came down to Brian vs. Blake. Surely Brian would win. After all, Blake had a well-documented upper-respiratory problem that had prevented him from doing such simple tasks as walking, sitting up, and helping out around camp. But no! Blake once again proved to be a fierce competitor, and despite his mystery ailment, managed to win the reward for his team. And then ever so conveniently, almost as soon as Probst announced Nakum’s victory, Blake bent over and suddenly couldn’t breath again. Funny how that happens. As we faded out to commercial, we then saw the winning tribe walk off, with Danni holding their flag in her hands. Kind of surprising. I thought for sure she’d simply wedge the flagpole between her abs and let her stomach do the rest. I guarantee her abs are stronger than a snapping turtle’s jaw.
The next morning, Nakum got up at the “butt-crack of dawn,” as Brandon said, and attempted to do a little fishing. Amazingly, they did pretty well, catching several delights from the depths of the Guatemalan waters. As for BlakeWatch ’05, turns out the ailing model was doing much better and able to participate in the morning’s fishing excursion. Well, good for you, Blake! Looks like you’ll be in tip-top shape now…
Meanwhile, faring not so hot in the food department was Yaxha, who had grown tired of their steady corn diet. Luckily, wilderness guide Rafe put nightmares of ladder climbing into the past and set his eyes on finding nutrition for his tribe. He poked around the jungle a bit, and unfortunately, his wilderness training didn’t seem to go beyond, “Uh, this looks okay to eat.” By that definition, I’m like a wilderness superstar. To his credit, Rafe did catch a rather large grasshopper in his fingers and volunteered to eat it. This brought commentary from Amy who said, “That’s a huge grasshoppah!” Gotta love the Massachusetts accent. Never underrepresented on reality TV.
Elsewhere in the camp, we got our first inklings of the traditional Survivor laziness. Morgan became the first official castaway this season to earn the dubious moniker of “the lazy one.” This of course led to the obligatory grumblings around camp, but hey, give her a break. She’s clearly going through Proactiv Solution System withdrawal.
Lydia, meanwhile, got to work procuring more non-insect protein for the camp. She dug a little inlet to trap some minnows, and I tell you, she didn’t just catch fish. She caught my heart. Rafe and Gary, meanwhile, moved on from grasshoppers to ants as they took an entire nest and dropped it in a bucket of sorts. Just an idea, guys: cook your bugs before you eat them. They taste much better. And in case you’re interested in partaking of your own insect meal, I recommend Typhoon Restaurant in Santa Monica. Look, I’ll do anything to get inside the mind of a true Survivor. I’m like a Method blogger.
Oh, and for the record, homegirl Lydia caught ten minnows with her inlet. Not too shabby, Madame Fishmonger.
News alert! News alert! We now return to BlakeWatch ’05. Back at Nakum, our boy Blake was panting once again. Looks like his early morning breathing was only a temporary return to proper health. As Margaret doted on this dubiously ailing castaway, Judd looked on with angry contempt. “Damn, how much more relaxing does this dude need?” he asked. Did I mention that I’m starting to like Judd? Anyway, he then went on to say, “I wanna be the hero next challenge of immunity. You know, I’m gonna be the hero!” Well, if the challenge has anything to do with wallowing in mud, then it’s all you, my man.
Meanwhile, Operation Quarterjerk (that’s the uncreative name I’ve given to Gary’s attempt to hide his identity) hit a major snag as Ab-Lounge expert Danni revealed that she actually recognized him. After all, when not doing sit-ups and crunches, she actually works in sports radio. But don’t think she was intimidated. Quarterbacks aren’t very athletic, she was sure to mention. Ouch. Status of Operation Quarterjerk: DANGER DANGER!
Okay, well, remember how I made that joke about the immunity challenge having to do with mud? Well, turns out that’s exactly what it involved. Tug-o-war over a giant bed of mud. To be fair, this was the most convoluted tug-o-war game of all time. First, both tribes would be tethered to ropes. The first tribe to reach a flag on their side of the mud pit would win immunity. At any time, someone could run to the other side and try to dislodge an opponent. Oh, and if after fifteen minutes there was no progress, the game would advance to one on one rounds. (I think they added that part in later after they realized the group tug of war yielded nothing.)
Anyway, Jeff, who should have a sponsorship with some deodorant company, raised his hands above his head and did his “Survivors Ready? GO!” thing. The two tribes immediately dug into the mud, and it didn’t take long for Bobby Jon to make the sort of completely deranged face we’ve come to expect from him. Brian made an attempt to wrestle Danni, but it was fruitless, and as the round dwindled to a close, all we were left with were many, many blurred-out butts.
So now it was time to go one on one. Basically, the first tribe to get three victories would win. Sounds good. Let’s get this thing started. First up was Judd vs. Gary. If we know one thing about Judd, he loves his mud. Therefore, it was no surprise to see him dominate this challenge early on. As he slowly tugged Gary, Danni yelled out a curious thing: “He’s a quarterback. You’re like a linebacker. C’mon!” Operation Quarterjerk: ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!
As he lost more and more of the lead, Gary then decided to do a wonderfully illogical thing: he ran over to Judd’s side and tried to tackle him. Would have made sense if only it didn’t completely allow Judd all the more power to advance towards his flag. Plus, the rules of the game were that at the end of the round, whoever was closer to his or her flag would win it. So while Judd never actually touched his flag, by the time the clock ran out, he won it because he was obviously was closer than Gary, who was on the exact opposite of the mud pit as his flag. You see, the tackling strategy is good if you’ve got the whole group behind you tugging. But when it’s one on one, it literally makes no sense. Did Gary think he could tackle Judd back over to his side? This guy is an embarrassment to the NFL.
Next up was Brandon vs. Jamie, and once again, we saw the same dumb strategy, as Jamie tried to tackle Brandon. Surprise, surprise, with no slack on the rope, Brandon was able to easily grab his flag, putting Nakum at a 2-0 advantage over Yaxha. In the end, it came down to Jamie vs. Judd, and while no one was enough of a moron to do the tackling strategy again, Judd was able to make a huge surge at the end, securing victory and immunity for his team. Looks like someone was the hero after all!
Well, it was time to scheme over at Yaxha, and Stephenie nervously told us, “You always have to be on your toes. You always have to be watching.” We then cut to a monkey watching. Yes, THE MONKEYS KNOW ALL!!! Turns out Steph’s paranoia was warranted as Jamie suggested she be voted off first. Yes, this was a dumb move, but after his performance in the tug-o-war, we haven’t come to expect much from Jamie. Honestly, I’ve known bowls of Jell-O that have more smarts than him.
Then suddenly in the midst of the scheming, Brian suddenly asked, “Gary, were you a former NFL quarterback?” MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY!!!
Gary replied with a simple “Me? No.” Well deflected! He then said it was all pretty funny, got up, scratched his ass, and walked off. Operation Quarterjerk: WE’RE GOING DOWN! I REPEAT, WE’RE GOING DOWN!!!
Later, the spotlight fell off of Stephenie and onto Morgan and Lydia. A bunch of the tribe members, including Gary, all pondered which of the two women should be voted off. Morgan was good at challenges, but Lydia was a workhorse at the camp. Um, how about Rafe? The guy couldn’t climb a ladder! Alas, his name amazingly was not even mentioned, and I feared that the momentum was going against Lydia.
Luckily, Brian was a big Lydia fan, and he quietly alerted her that she better start campaigning. And that’s exactly what she did, but we all know Mark Burnett misdirection. Lydia was surely a goner. Rafe meanwhile told us that he just wanted the tribe vote to be unified so as not to disrupt camp life. Shut up, Rafe. You’re on Survivor, not a tour of the Magic Kingdom.
Well, it was finally time for Tribal Council, and overall, the proceedings were a bit dull. Jamie drawled on and on, and I realized that I’d love to see him and Bobby Jon have a conversation. It would take two hours for them just to get past opening salutations. Nevertheless, Jamie had a very salient point about Stephenie: “She’s not like a girl. She’s more like a boy.” He then added, “Purple is a real purdy color.”
Anyway, this sleepy edition of Tribal Council pretty much went along without incident, and soon it was voting time. “Believe it or not Lydia, this is gonna be one of the hardest decisions that I make while I’m out here,” said Morgan as she voted for Lydia. Incidentally, it was also one of the last decisions Morgan made because she was voted out of the tribe with a 5 to 1 vote. Wow. I really thought Lydia was a goner. And poor Rafe looked like he’d just seen a butterfly die. As Jeff snuffed out Morgan’s torch, we then cut to Lydia who had transformed from cuddly fishmonger to eeeevil bitch. Yes, she had an expression that seemed to say, “I plan to poison you all in your sleep tonight.” Was this a sign of things to come? Will Lydia be the dangerous player everyone should have gotten rid of in week two? I hope so. I want to see the Revenge of Lydia!
Morgan is shocked…
Rafe is saddened…
And Lydia is EVIL!
As the hour came to a close, we saw my favorite new feature, the Febreeze family moment. “I’ve got a spa appointment waiting for you!” said Morgan’s mom. Uh, how about hitting up the dermatologist first…
What did you think about this week’s episode? Did Yaxha vote off the right person?