One of the biggest challenges for the producers of Survivor is that there is constant pressure to keep the game fresh. Much like Big Brother, there is always a worry that if they don’t put twists in the game, the game will get repetitive and the ratings will go down. When it comes to adding twists, they try to do things like making people guess how they are going to compose the teams, how and when they will mix up the teams, and when the tribal merge will come. Survivor: Guatemala has been no different, with a very effective tribe rearrangement that has members of both Nakum and Yaxha scrambling to establish themselves on the new teams. It turns out that both tribes had people willing to break their original alliances in the first tribal councils with their new teams, assuring us that there would be plenty of mental scheming to go along with the physical pummeling each person has had to endure.When Yaxha came back from tribal council, Brandon learned that he was the odd man out. He was the only person left in the tribe who had voted for Blake to stay. At first it would seem like he might be in trouble, because if he couldn’t count on Bobby Jon to vote his way, whom could he count on? Brandon mentioned that the vote opened his eyes, and tried to get some information from Bobby Jon on what had happened out there. It was really tough for Bobby Jon to confront Brandon, and you could see it in the way he was trying to form an argument about what he did. Last week, Bobby Jon had said that he didn’t think that voting Blake would have been the best idea, but he obviously changed his mind. He tried to explain to Brandon that he liked Blake, but since Blake could rub people the wrong way and it was just something that he had to do.
Although Bobby Jon and Danni were the ones who were ultimately responsible for voting Blake out with their votes, it was all masterminded behind the scenes by Brian. Amy called Blake the Golden Boy, but Brian said that he was platinum and he proved it last week. Brian said that they received a “get out of jail free” card, and now they had to focus on knocking off the members of the old Nakum tribe. I think it’s safe to say that Brian has been one of the more popular Survivors this year, and his comments in the one on one sessions are the most enjoyable. The odds really changed in his favor now that Blake was gone, and he simply had to execute his plan once again.
At Nakum, they were happy that they didn’t have to vote anybody out at tribal council, but that doesn’t mean there was plenty of stuff to make you unhappy in the jungles of Guatemala, like the bugs. Some people thought that I was being too easy on Stephenie last week, but I have to say that I was never on the Stephenie bandwagon and I did mention that despite how much she says she is always on the less-abled team, she is often the cause of the problem. However, I do agree with everybody who said that Stephenie does a lot of complaining. When I said that the losing has taken a large toll on her, I didn’t mean for it to sound as an excuse, and like we have mentioned before, she was not forced to go onto Survivor for a second time, so her problems are with the stress, with the losing, and everything else are something she has to deal with.
Stephenie reached a new level of complaining this week when she was talking about the buzz. She was complaining that the mosquitoes were biting her through her shirt. Did they really have to bite her through the shirt? Apparently, Steph didn’t realize that there was a mosquito bill of rights and that they have recently ratified a constitution? The preamble goes thusly: “We the mosquitoes of the Guatemalan jungle, in order to form a more perfect swarm, buzz ears, suck blood, transmit malaria, and secure the blessings of ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United Insects of Guatemala.” It’s a landmark document, and they are just trying to secure their rights from the tyranny of people like Steph. Oh yeah, that and mosquitoes don’t know whether you are wearing a shirt or not, so why should they stop sucking on your skin?
The people of Nakum had much more to complain about than the bugs, however, and that was the woman who has a bug in her ass – Margaret. Rafe said he was trying to be positive, but Ripley, I mean Margaret, was bringing such a negative energy to the tribe. But really, if you need somebody to say something bad about Margaret, why don’t you ask Judd? I know a lot of people like Judd, and I don’t think he is completely without brains, but he really has a persecution complex. He says that Margaret is miserable because she got stuck with him instead of Brandon or Blake or Danni.
It is quite obvious that Margaret does not like Judd, does not think much of him as a person, and would have rather had one of the other guys from the original Nakum on her side, but I believe her when she says that the main reason she is upset is that Judd flipped on their original alliance. Now that doesn’t mean that Judd made a bad decision for himself, or that he should feel bad about Ripley, but Margaret does have a reason for being a little upset. Judd said that she has a sore thumb about it, but you can understand what it’s like when you were much higher on the good chain, as she put it, and now are on the bottom. Margaret defended her perceived negativity by saying that she hasn’t given up, but she isn’t going to drive herself crazy about her chances.
The two tribes gathered for the reward challenge, and the game was a test of who could do a better job of playing with balls. That’s right, baby, they had to roll ‘em around; call them daddy. No really, it was all true. I mean, they weren’t playing with balls, but one ball, and it wasn’t a their own balls they were playing with, but one big ball they would share, but they did have to roll it around. Two members from each tribe would attempt to move this giant ball, which looked about three meters high, past a goal line. There would be five rounds and the teams would be drawn at random. For being able to handle balls properly, the survivors would win a BBQ feast complete with hot dogs, hamburgers and beer.
Oh, and did I mention that there would be TWO TRIBAL COUNCILS? Yes, that’s right, there would be no tribal immunity battle as both teams would go to tribal council. However, the team that won the reward would take part in an individual immunity challenge, and the winner of that immunity challenge would listen in on the tribal council of the other team.
The teams already played in a tug of war, and you could describe this game as a push of war. The giant ball was in the middle of the course, and the members of each team would try to push it past the goal line of the other team. The women went first with Amy and Danni taking on Steph and Cindy. This challenge was all about leverage, and Amy is bringing more leverage than her two opponents combined. She and Danni won easily, and the next round was guys, and it featured Brandon and Bobby Jon vs. Judd and Jamie. Once again, this game is about leverage, and the person with the most leverage was Judd, and he and Jamie took out Brandon and Bobby Jon.
Jamie was really excited to tie up the game, and so he gave a little bit of a shout. When Bobby Jon heard Jamie shout, Bobby Jon decided that he needed to yell a little bit. He got into Bobby Jon’s face a little bit, and the two of them decided that they needed to display how much testosterone they had. Needless to say, it wasn’t very impressive. When we saw the shots of their teammates on the sidelines, it looked like the people were more embarrassed than anything else. It’s sort of like when you have two people walking their dogs and their dogs start barking and you want to pull them apart because you know that it won’t be long before one or both of them tries to sniff the other’s butt and start humping.
The next round pit Steph and Judd against Gary and Amy. I thought that the participants were supposed to be random, but the odds that Steph AND Judd would be picked seemed a little fishy to me. Nevertheless, they were going to have to do a lot of work to get past Amy and Gary. Unfortunately, Amy appeared to turn her ankle, giving Nakum the easy win, and forcing Amy to get help off the field. It looked like it would be trouble for Yaxha, because the fourth round was once again a woman on woman affair. Sensing the moment, Probst took time to explain just how high the stakes were. If Amy didn’t go on, Nakum would win because it would be their third win in the best of five. But come on, even if Amy did go on, it’s not like she would be able to tie the game, right? Well, Amy did go out there, and whatever happened to her ankle didn’t seem to bother her as she and Danni steamrolled Ripley and Cindy.
With the score tied two apiece, Judd and Jamie went up against Bobby Jon and Brian. I like Brian, but I don’t think he is so much more physical than Brandon that he would make a difference in the challenge. Maybe if Rafe had participated things would have been more even, and Judd and Jamie took home the prize. There was no pissing match between Jamie and Bobby Jon, and Nakum went off to have the individual immunity while Yaxha sulked back home.
For the individual immunity the survivors had to complete a puzzle after retrieving three bags worth of pieces. Once they had their three bags, they had to use the letters inside to spell out a two-word phrase. This was probably the only place where Margaret had a chance to save herself, but she wasn’t doing very well. Steph and Cindy jumped to an early lead, but almost everybody had their bags unpacked within a few minutes of each other. Well, everybody except for Judd, who couldn’t manage to untie his last bag, and therefore couldn’t work on his puzzle. I was thinking that it probably wasn’t that big of a deal because Judd A) was probably safe and B) wasn’t smart enough to figure it out before the others anyway. Judd proved me very judgmental and very wrong when he solved the puzzle before everybody else. No, Judd didn’t win immunity, because he still wasn’t able to get his bag open, but he was looking while Rafe was completing his puzzle and repeated “Ancient Ruin” over and over until Rafe realized that he was talking about the puzzle, spelled out ancient ruin with his own pieces and won immunity. Judd was so surprised he said, “I didn’t know I was that smart” and let’s be honest; none of the rest of us did either.
Everybody gathered around to start the BBQ, and Rafe mentioned how he was so proud of himself. Considering he didn’t come up with the answer, but was saved by perhaps the dumbest person at his camp, I would say that Rafe should feel a debt of gratitude to Judd. This nice relaxing time also gave everybody a chance to make fun of Bobby Jon a little bit, and they found several ways to call him crazy including “he hit a new nut level” and he flipped a switch. When asked what happened, Jamie chalked it up to Southern people: “We’re crazy and we know it.”
When it came time to start cooking, everybody really enjoyed their food, but not even this celebration meal could go without controversy. With his confidence, Judd started talking, telling everybody that Margaret was going and that he has nothing to worry about. Normally, I would think this was true, but I wondered, did the producers highlight that statement because Judd was actually going to be voted off? Perhaps, but we still didn’t see much evidence as to why they would send him home. Margaret did say that Judd was Judd’s biggest enemy and so you had a feeling that it was only a matter of time before Judd opened his mouth and started making trouble for himself.
Judd got to work on stirring up some trouble when it came time for the BBQ. Everybody was allotted the same amount of food and drink, but Judd was in the mood for some extra beer, so he was making some trades with other people so he can get some more. You must understand, finding beer among the Mayan is not like finding ugly at a Radcliffe mixer; it’s considerably harder. We aren’t sure what happened, but Cindy was missing a beer, and nobody could think of who it was. Missing food or hidden food is a big deal on Survivor. Back in season 2, Kel was voted out after an unfortunate incident involving mysterious beef jerky suddenly appearing out of nowhere. Would the missing beer spell doom for Judd? He did say that “whoever drank the beer is going home,” but realizing that most people thought it was him, told all of his tribemates to kiss his ass. Was this the sort of thing Margaret was talking about? Was Judd really going to ruin his chances? Unfortunately, it was too little, too late for me to seriously believe Ripley had a chance to stick around.
At their tribal council, Jeff once again tried to stir up some hostility among the tribe to get them thinking, and it was all directed at making Judd look bad. Probst asked Margaret about sportsmanship, and she immediately went on to describe how bad Jamie and Judd were at winning. Personally, I don’t think Judd and Jamie were that bad. When the adrenaline flows, you tend to get riled up, you build some confidence and you start to play off that confidence. You may talk trash, but often that’s just to get you pumped up and ready. Judd, when given a chance to defend himself, said that they weren’t being bad “sportsmanships” and that he and Jamie were just giving it 120% each time. When Jeff said that giving all that effort doesn’t make you a good sport, Judd tries to explain that if they do well, they are going to go out there and go crazy, and going crazy after you win is not being a bad sportsmanship. While going crazy after a win doesn’t necessarily make you a bad sport, saying that you are justified to go crazy after a win doesn’t make you a good sport.
Next, Jeff tried to probe into whether there was any hostility in the tribe. He let Cindy and Margaret answer before giving Judd the floor to respond. Judd said that he was going to ask everybody else whether or not they feel the same way as Margaret does, i.e. that Judd is a bully and is threatening. The problem is, he sort of proves Margaret’s point because he never lets anybody finish speaking, even when he is soliciting their advice. You would almost think that he has a problem paying attention, but don’t mention ADD. Judd got REALLY pissed when he talked about how Margaret thought he had ADD. You know, I don’t know if it’s that bad. I hear some doctors prescribe painkillers to combat adult ADD, so even if Judd had it, at least he got to have fun with it right? Jeff gets a few people to speak about Judd’s bully status. Rafe said that he was afraid of Judd, but Judd had been very nice to him, and Steph said that Judd was just like her, a little high strung, and in need of an eyebrow wax every couple of weeks. The thing is, neither of their explanations meant that Judd wasn’t a bully.
In the end, it was indeed Ripley who was gone. I thought that all of the focus on her would be misdirection, but I guess I was wrong. Margaret was voted out, and for the Fabreze family moment, we heard her son give the ironic statement that she had to come home because they were almost out of food. Shit, what happened? Were you in Guatemala for a month without any food to eat?
With Margaret gone and their team unity with seemingly nowhere to go but up, Rafe prepared to watch the Yaxha tribal council. There really wasn’t that much scheming going on over there after the reward. People were sad about having to go to tribal council again, and much like Nakum, had wondered exactly what was going between him and Jamie. Bobby Jon said that Jamie had crossed the line and so he decided to put him in his place. “That will show you Jamie! I’m so awesome, you’re going to another reward! That will show you not to mess with me! Now go eat a hamburger you bitch!” Seriously, these two are like fights on the internet. You know, nobody wins, and everybody sounds retarded. But how can we make fun of Bobby Jon – he just wanted to show Jamie that there was another bear in the woods, it wasn’t shitting like the other bear, and they were both trying not to disturb the pope.
It looked like Amy might be sent home. She hurt her ankle, and since people want to have strong tribe members for the challenges, this could mean a lot of trouble. Brian was also feeling vulnerable, and tried to rally his old Yaxha teammates to stick together. The Yaxha tribal council was fairly boring. Bobby Jon had nice things to say about Brian, mentioning he was the kamikaze who broke the wedge, which I guess is what the kids are calling the butt sex now. He also said that Brian was just a good ol’ boy, never meaning no harm. He beats all you ever saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they were born. Sorry, putting those words down on paper was better than playing Dixie and thinking about Catherine Bach’s ass all week. We then got a lot of Brandon talking about how impressive Amy was for gutting it out, and you know that she has probably snapped a few tendons, so must of what he said was not an exaggeration. She really did a tough thing going back out and winning after going down.
Jeff announced that there would be one more twist, however, and we learned that Rafe would get to pick one person for immunity. He would write the name down, leave, and Yaxha would vote normally. Jeff would read the names, and the person with the most votes would go home, unless the name Rafe wrote down was the person who had the most votes, and in that case, the person with he second most votes would be voted off. When Jeff read the names, Brian was eliminated, as Rafe gave the immunity to Gary. I really have to say, I am very sad to see Brian go. He was clearly the best schemer of this group, had a lot of interesting comments, and his effeminate manner provided plenty of cheap jokes to fill in those slow spots on a recap.
Next week, Yaxha “invades” the Nakum camp, which sounds ominous, but is clearly just a ploy to facilitate a merge coming soon. Plus, without Brian making good comments, we are told that Gary might not be able to keep his secret since he learns Amy might not have caught on. Have to say, both of these scenarios sound like they suck.
Did you like this week’s twist? Will anybody miss Brian or Ripley? Is Judd a meathead or a misunderstood nice guy?