Pre-credit sequence. The Favorites return to camp having sent Francesca packing. Dawn begins by pulling Brandon aside and attempting to calm him down, to no avail. “This Tribal Council sucked!” says Brandon, who is irate that Francesca went out first twice. Brandon announces that he’s the Honey Badger, which I think means he’s been kicked off of LSU’s football team for repeated rules infractions. Brandon then tells Dawn and Cochran that they’re both going to lose. This makes Dawn cry, proving that Brandon can go full-psycho even on women who aren’t hot and young. He’s an egalitarian lunatic. “It’s about me and what I stand for and it doesn’t really matter what Brandon thinks of me,” Dawn cries. The creatures in the trees and Adorable Andrea on the ground look on in concern. “I’m feeling a little revengeful,” Brandon announces to Erik, vowing to channel his inner Russell Hantz. He’s not well, Brandon Hantz. And CBS keeps enabling him and his family. “This is a game and I’m playing dirty to the core. I want to go out with a bang,” Brandon rants.
If you’ll be my bodyguard, I can be your long lost Phil. Off to spend some time with the Fans to see if we can remember who they are. See… There’s Marine guy. And The Three Blondes. And Beardo. And Damon Lindelof. Shamar, aforementioned Marine Guy,” is lounging, because he doesn’t want to be involved with drama. Or work. “I’ve been to Iraq twice, so I know how to deal with time,” Shamar says, figuring this will make him less of a threat. Allie and Laura agree that Shamar should be next out if they go to Tribal… INSECT EATING TARSIER! Oh. Sorry. Crazy Super-Fan Sherri brings Shamar in on the Non-Abercrombie Alliance, which is relying heavily on Matt and Michael not being swayed by the cool kids. Sherri’s determined to keep Shamar around, no matter how annoying he is, theorizing that he could be her Phillip. Does that mean Sherri thinks she’s Boston Rob?
Game recognize game. Enough with the Fans, though. Back to the Favorites, where Brandon is talking with Cochran about the importance of building cohesion. Weirdly, Brandon tells Cochran about his sabotage plan, which he has now reconsidered, since this is about his kids. Cochran recognizes that Brandon’s behavior is basically sociopathic. “The only thing I can predict about Brandon is he’s going to be unpredictable,” says the properly wary Cochran. Brandon and Cochran attempt to strategize with Phillip, but Phillip would rather take a pause. Phillip’s not prepared to share information with Brandon, who he calls “narcistic.” “At the end of the day, there’s something I find very disturbing about him,” says Phillip, who understands crazy. Brandon responds, currently, by running crying to everybody else and calling Phillip “a bully,” calling him “Special Agent Pink Panther.” Brandon warns everybody else that Phillip is going Boston Rob on them and they have to cut the head off the snake. It annoys me that Phillip and Brandon are on the same tribe, because there should never be the slightest possibility that in any group of 10, somebody can be made to look more crazy than Brandon.
Taking a dive. Immunity time? Already? That was pretty speedy, wasn’t it? The Fans all feel sad for the absent Francesca. “They are vicious people, I can tell,” Michael says. People have to race to a raft. That raft gets pulled to a platform. Rings have to be collected. The rings then have to be tossed onto three posts. So it’s basically last week’s challenge, only with rings instead of sandbags. They’re also playing for Reward. Want to know what they’re playing for? Fishing gear, duh. The Fans struggle to assign roles, with Samar getting frustrated, as he does. The acquisition of rings isn’t inherently exciting, though why is Sherri the only person diving for the Fans? The Favorites get out to a huge ring lead, but having a huge sandbag lead didn’t help them win last week. And whose idea was it to have Cochran doing pulling? It appears not to have hurt. Malcolm is ring-tossing, looking for redemption. Malcolm’s up 2-0, but Reynold cuts it to 2-1. Phillip lands the third ring and Favorites win Immunity! Brandon’s craziness was for nothing. We have to deal with another week. Reynold calls Shamar “lazy” and “a cancer” and other things that have always been delightfully race-coded (not that it appears they’re out-of-line here) and thinks this will be an easy an obvious vote. HUBRISTIC FORESHADOWING ALERT!
My “Survivor” alliance would be Chuck E. Cheese and I’d be Jasper T. Jowls. Monkeys picking each other! And the Favorites are excited, too. Dawn is suddenly giddy. They’re ready for fish and, in Phillip’s case, to make fire. Phillip takes Malcolm aside and tells him that in his revised Stealth R Us Inc, Malcolm is The Enforcer. “I don’t know what’s going through Phillip’s head,” laughs Malcolm, who’s look of bug-eyed wonderment is awesome. Phillip introduces the entire organization. I love Andrea raising the roof at her introduction as The Eliminator. And Dawn is apparently “True Grit,” which isn’t a job description. “Phillip Shepard’s an insane person,” Malcolm says, vowing to hang himself if it’s Stealth R Us for the whole game. I’m hope that’s not hubristic foreshadowing.
The Triumphant Reality TV Return of Boo Boo The Fool. As for the Fans? Well, they’re unhappy. They all agree that their problem was lack of organization and lack of leadership. “It is what it is,” Shamar says. “Your behavior is not acceptable,” Reynolds condescends to Shamar. “I never understood why people who throw a challenge until I lived with him for five days,” Allie says. Reynolds keeps telling Shamar, over and over, that his behavior was unacceptable and he tells Shamar he’s voting for him. Shamar chuckles and mocks Reynolds. “Do I look like Boo Boo the fool to you?” he inquires and adds, “We’ll see what happens tonight.” [Incidents of “Boo Boo the Fool” mentioning are so isolated on the reality shows that I watch that I actually made the lateral leap to “American Idol” great Jermaine Sellers. I suspect I’m the only one.]
Reynold’s Pocket Bulge. Eddie, Reynold and Matt all agree that Shamar is out next. Does that mean Matt is going with the Abercrombie Alliance? He figures that Michael will follow him whichever way he goes and he insists the decision won’t be easy. Sherri remains determined to keep Shamar and book a Cool Kid, but Matt insists that even losing Shamar, they’ll still have a 5-4 advantage, which is loser thinking. For her part, Laura thinks that Allie is the biggest threat of the Four Pretty People. Reynold becomes the first person this season to mention a Hidden Immunity Idol and he goes off in search, using his knowledge of the complacency of “Survivor” producers. And, yes, in “not that long,” he looks in a hole in a tree and finds an Idol. Blech. He’s determined not to walk back to camp “with a huge bulge in my pocket.” The problem? Reynolds didn’t travel in loose pants. Ooops. “Right before we’re about to leave for Tribal Council, I see a bulge in Reynold’s pocket and it seemed like there was definitely something in it,” Laura says, wondering if Reynold might use his bulge to protect Allie. She’s the only one who knows about Reynold’s Bulge, but there isn’t enough time to discuss it. Oy.
Tribal Council. Probst informs the Fans that in this game, fire represents life. Michael quickly calls out The Foursome. “It just kinda happened. It was something we would do on the outside,” Allie says. Shamar agrees that Eddie and Hope seem like a couple, but Matt says he isn’t concerned that The Abercrombie Alliance is sleeping on the beach together. Shamar is drained, but he says he’s been in uncomfortable circumstances before, only with more leadership. Reynold says he’s frustrated by Shamar’s “critiques” and volunteers to give 25 examples. Eddie, doing the math, says Shamar spent 19 of 25 hours in the shelter and Shamar doesn’t disagree, saying he’s just a big and loud scapegoat. Laura decides it’s a good idea to call out Reynold’s bulge, albeit not by name. “Well, you’re looking directly at Reynold,” Probst says, which leads Reynold to instantly fess up. “Apparently my pants are too tight.” How the heck was that not the title of this episode, “Survivor”? It becomes an argument about whether or not bringing an Idol to Tribal is a sign that you’re going against the family and the delightfully passive-aggressive Reynold says he’s going to play the Idol tonight, which will screw everybody at the Merge. Shamar just laughs. “He deserves an Academy Award,” Shamar says of Reynold. “I’m voting the way I’m supposed to be voting. I’m sticking with my vote. Maybe,” Sherri says.
The Vote. Eddie writes Shamar’s name and says, “Thank you for serving in our military.” Sherri writes Allie’s name. So, will Reynold actually play the Idol? He does not and he puts the bulge back in his pocket. The votes: Shamar. Shamar. Shamar. Shamar. Allie. Allie. Allie. Allie. Allie. ALLIE. [I wonder if that’s the most different ways somebody with an easy-to-spell name has ever had their name spelled at Tribal.] The other pretty boys look shocked. Allie just looks disappointed. Probst tells them to get it together. “I had a lot more game to play. It’s just so frustrating,” says Allie, who says she’s “mortified beyond words.”
Bottom Line. This episode left me a bit concerned. Between Brandon and Phillip and Shamar, more than half of the hour was dedicated to people being crazy or objectionable or crazy-objectionable. There’s something to be said for “crazy” on “Survivor” and even “objectionable” serves its purpose, but there has to be a balance and everything in this episode was askew. That’s 43 minutes of TV and did anybody do anything likable? I think Laura definitely deserves credit for the smart decision to break up the Abercrombie Alliance by targeting the strategically active, but physically negligible Allie, rather than weakening the tribe by trying to knock out an Alpha Male too early, as so often occurs. So… Yay. But I can’t tell how much of Shamar’s awfulness is the edit he’s getting, which has been pretty brutal. I mean, it’s not like I like Eddie and Reynold and, given the choice, I think I’d rather root for Shamar, but he isn’t making it easy. So mostly, what that left us with tonight was a lot of erratic and unpleasant behavior and then some really flimsy gameplay by the Abercrombie Alliance. I mean… If you’re a fan of this show, how are you as obtuse as Reynold, Eddie, Hope and Allie seemed to be? Why would they have assumed that Matt and Michael would be with them? Just because Matt agreed that he also disliked Shamar? Come on. That’s just poor gameplay. That’s as silly as only bringing one pair of tight pants on “Survivor.” Anyway, all I’m saying is that if what you want is to start alliances based solely on being young and athletic and pretty, you probably actually meant to sign up for “Big Brother.” “Survivor” requires something different and the “We’d probably have hung out together in the real world” excuse doesn’t wash. Maybe next week, “Survivor” can go back to trying to find somebody for me to root for.
Bottom Line II. I hate Brandon. I hate Brandon so much. And I’m less amused by Phillip than I am amused by people’s reactions to Phillip. But we only spend our Favorites time this week with Crazy Brandon and Crazy Phillip. That falls short for me.
What’d you think of this week’s “Survivor”? Are you also worried about a crazy/unpleasantness overload?