Welcome, friends, to a new episode of “Survivor: Nicaragua” or, as the premiere threatened to become, “The Jimmy Johnson Starvation Hour.”
Would a new personality stand out during Wednesday’s (Sept. 22) episode? Click through to find out…
Pre-credit sequence. The Ancients return to camp in the aftermath of Wendy Jo’s elimination. It didn’t seem like a hard decision at the time, but Holly isn’t comfortable with the way things went down. She knows she needs to prove herself or she may be the next contestant eliminated in lieu of Jimmy Johnson.
Interrupt Jimmy Johnson at your peril. Monkey! Oh, nevermind. It’s just a nature clip package before returning to the Ancients for a restless morning. Everybody is complaining about the quality of their sleep. Soon, they’ll be lamenting the absence of prunes and classic rock radio. Marty hasn’t slept for three days and the feisty guy we met early-on, who said he didn’t want to be on a team with Jimmy Johnson, has vanished. The Ancients need to get things in order, which means that Jimmy Johnson takes over and gives everybody their assignments for the day. At one point, Jimmy T interrupts to suggest a fishing trip and Tyrone cuts him off. He’s all “That’s fine and well with your fishing talk, but Jimmy Johnson was speaking to us.” The Cult of Jimmy Johnson is a powerful thing and meeker Alpha Males like Marty and Jimmy are content to let him take over.
100 percent ridiculous. Over with the Youngsters, Sash is chatting with NaOnka and they immediately bond. At first we don’t see what’s bringing them together, but then Sash lets her know that he’s half-black and he wants to take as many minorities as possible to the end, a pledge that also includes Brenda. NaOnka isn’t necessarily instantly embracing his minority juggernaut, but she is overwhelmed by his million dollar smile. But while the two of them are all friendly with each other and generous to several other teammates, they aren’t so kind towards Kelly B, who NaOnka calls “a charity case,” noting that she has 100 percent of the mind, but not 100 percent of the body. Ouch.
Look at that S-Car go. At the Ancients’ camp, Jill is sitting and munching on snails. I mean, she’s really going after those suckers. which perplexes Holly, who doesn’t believe the critters are edible. Finally, she makes a stand and removes the pail of snails. Ooops. It turns out that there’s nothing worse than warning people about the dangers of eating snails. Suddenly everybody is questioning Holly’s sanity, eying her from across the camp calling her crazy. Well, the only thing Holly hates worse than seeing people eat snails is seeing people talking trash about her mental state and she decides to retaliate. Her strategy? Take Dan’s leather loafers, fill them with sand and then “put them someplace.” And by “someplace,” she means under water, just off-shore. Hmmm… Holly may actually *be* crazy.
At least he wasn’t wearing Crocs? We just can’t get away from the Oldsters, where Dan has noticed that his shoes have gone missing, shoes which apparently weren’t leather at all. They were alligator. Nobody suggests they may have wandered off by themselves, especially once Dan says that they were $1600 shoes. Shoe-thief Holly is worried that she isn’t behaving like herself, that she’s doing things that aren’t in her true nature. Wracked with guilt, she calls a tribe meeting and confesses everything to Dan. “If she were a guy, I would have knocked her right out,” Dan tells the camera. At least he doesn’t make a reference to giving Holly cement shoes, because I’m thinking Dan knows guys who know guys who might do things like that. Tyrone notes, “I’m gonna keep one eye on her and one eye on her shoes.” Tyrone’s shoes do not, at least from what I can tell, be made out of $1600 aligators. Gracious Jimmy T accepts Holly’s apology, but Dan is having none of it.
Sock up, B-I-T-C-H-S. Ack. Bugs everywhere over at the Youngsters’ camp. In an effort to give this episode a running theme, they’re also having trouble with footwear, because NaOnka’s socks have wandered away. She’s really unhappy, though they’re probably not $1600 socks. “It’s gonna get real dirty,” NaOnka says, predicting what will happen if the sock-stealing begins in earnest. She responds by going to the shelter and stealing Fabio’s spare socks. Then Fabio is irked by his lack of spare socks, all “Duhhhhh… Which way did they go? Which way did they go?” As Alina sits in a tree and giggles about the high school hijinks, NaOnka and Fabio go to sock-war. “I don’t want people to think that I’m a B-I-T-C-H, but the boy is stupid,” NaOnka correctly diagnoses. She’s ready to vote Fabio out, but the feeling is mutual.
One coach coaches another coach by quoting a coach. Forget Sockgate, it’s back to the Ancients, where Jimmy Johnson is coaching Holly, trying to get her to stay in the game for at least one more day. He, naturally, wants to keep her around at least long enough to vote her out, comparing her to a football player wanting to quit. He quotes Vince Lombardi’s observation that “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” [A quick search suggests the quote actually originates with George Patton.] The pep talk works and Holly’s ready to stick around at least for a while.
The Say Hay Kids and the Basket Catch. It’s Challenge Time. The challenge involves running through the mud, finding balls in a pile of hay and launching the balls into buckets. Immunity is on the line and they’re also playing for Reward. Want to know what they’re playing for? The winning team will get the choice between a tarp and rope or fishing gear. They all agree that it’s worth playing for. The Medallion of Power will let the Ancients start with one ball already in the basket and will let them sit one person out. They agree that it’s significant and the Medallion of Power is used and shifts over to the Youngsters for future use. Last week’s Immunity didn’t really have a physical component, so we didn’t get to see how the Ancients would handle action, much less how Kelly B would cope. It takes almost no time for the Youngsters to eliminate the Ancients’ advantage and the two tribes are tied at two balls apiece. The Ancients, though, aren’t dissuaded. They pull back into the lead and, on one prodigious shot by Tyrone, the Ancients win! “That’s what I call kicking ass,” Marty declares. That was a worthwhile use of the Medallion of Power for them. They elect to take the fishing gear. For the Youngsters, Sash admits that their confidence is a little shaken.
The Michael Irvin Rule. Espada returns to camp rejoicing. Holly is rejuvenated, thinking that their win proves that if you don’t quit, the payoff is huge. Jimmy Johnson is wary, though. He knows that if you have individuals who have had setbacks, it’s likely that they’ll have second setbacks. He did, after all, coach the Cowboys. Amidst their fishing equipment, they find an Immunity Idol clue. While the Young Girls were clueless when they first saw the hieroglyphics last week, the Ancients crack the code in no time, with Jimmy T leading the way. It’s Jill, though, who figures out the location and she goes straight to Marty and Dan to share. After a little digging, Jill and Marty find it. They’re a new power alliance, if they can figure out how to make it work.
Brenda gets targeted. The Youngsters are miserable, with Fabio blaming the Medallion of Power for their loss. There’s a welcome consensus that Kelly B performed fantastically in the challenge. “She’s just awesome. I don’t like her. But she’s awesome,” NaOnka acknowledges, begrudgingly. Alina takes power position early and advocates getting rid of Brenda, because pretty girls are threatened by pretty girls. But the men aren’t nearly so sure. They want NaOnka out first, at least until Kelly B and Alina come over and raise the specter of Brenda and her clinginess to Chase, or vice versa. Man-Shannon just wants to get a woman out and he’s worried Brenda is swaying his boy Chase. He’s right to worry, because Chase is torn between Brenda, who he figures was sent by God, and Man-Shannon, who we all know was sent by Satan.
Brenda turns the tide. So it sounds like we’re booting Brenda, right? Well, the women sure aren’t. They’ve decided that Man-Shannon is the ring-leader. NaOnka wants Fabio out, but she wants Man-Shannon gone even more. Remarkably, they’re distrusting him instinctively, without hearing his weird-ass sexism. NaOnka lets Brenda in on Sash’s Minority Power plan. And Brenda is giddy at all of the alliances she’s becoming part of without doing anything at all. Poor confused Chase takes Brenda aside and tells Brenda about Man-Shannon eying her. Again, opportunity strikes for Brenda, who wraps Chase around her finger and suggests getting rid of Man-Shannon first. Brenda’s just loving this, but she worries that they’re heading to Tribal Council with a 5-5 tie. Alina sees the manipulation and warns Fabio, Man-Shannon and One-Leg Kelly (Two-Leg Kelly has decided not to really participate in this episode). “If Chase is a man of his word, Brenda will go home tonight. If not, I have a big target on my back,” Man-Shannon says.
Tribal Council. In case you’re keeping score at home, fire still represents life. Jeff Probst begins by asking Man-Shannon about how difficult this experience has been. Man-Shannon calls it brutal and almost immediately turns on Chase and warns him about trusting Brenda. Chase squirms and Shannon comes after him with talk of “trust” and “loyalty” and “integrity.” Jeff is giddy at how quickly things got rough. But Fabio’s all, “Dude… Chill” to Shannon, who keeps ranting at Chase. “Do you understand why it might not be the wisest move to throw it out there before a vote?” Jeff tries telling Man-Shannon. Then, in an epic weird moment, Sash also tries calming Man-Shannon, who turns and, apropos of nothing, asks Sash if he’s gay. Everybody is astounded, especially Sash, who says he’s had more beautiful girlfriends than Man-Shannon, that he should try working in New York. Then Man-Shannon tells us that New York is “full of gay people.” Even Jeff Probst doesn’t have a clue how to handle that information, but Man-Shannon refuses to back down, saying there are more gay people in New York than in Louisiana. [His math probably isn’t incorrect, but something tells me he isn’t talking about sheer population data here.] It goes on and on and on. Things keep getting weirder as Alina actually defends Man-Shannon, confirming that for some pretty girls, it’s still preferable to align with a boorish Alpha Male than to back down and support another pretty girl. Jeff Probst is LOVING this, especially when, without prompting, he gets NaOnka and Fabio to go after each other. Fabulous. Kelly B says that this vote will be built around unity. Everybody’s ready to vote, but Jeff is having too much fun. If he had his druthers, we’d probably milk another 30 minutes out of this fracas.
The vote. Fabio writes Brenda’s name down, even though he doesn’t have a clue if Tribal Council shook everything up. Brenda writes Man-Shannon’s name. Sash, calling himself “the biggest bachelor in New York,” votes for Man-Shannon. Time for Jeff to read the votes. Man-Shannon. Brenda. Man-Shannon. Brenda. Man-Shannon. Brenda. Man-Shannon. Man-Shannon. Man-Shannon. That’s it. Alina looks sad to see her misogynistic, homophobic ally sent home. Farewell, Man-Shannon. In his exit interview, Man-Shannon calls his biggest mistake not turning on Chase. Man-Shannon says he’s been married for 11 years and probably should have been with the old tribe anyway. He’s rooting for the Ancients from now on.
Bottom Line: I hate it when the disgusting, evil people are vaguely correct. No, nothing that Man-Shannon said was correct, appropriate or even half-considered, but Brenda has put herself in a position of considerable power without any effort at all. She’s too connected with too many people, all without being a clear physical threat. Getting rid of her was the smart play, if he could have orchestrated that. Then again, getting ride of Man-Shannon was a smart play as well, since the dude was a tool. I was scribbling away all through that crazy Tribal Council and I only caught maybe a third of the madness that transpired. Tonight’s episode was a good example of why I love “Survivor”: That was *not* a good episode for 45 minutes. Lots of people being weird about shoes and socks? One Jimmy Johnson pep talk after another? And then suddenly you get a Tribal Council like that and all you can remember was the fireworks. Tomorrow’s exit interview is gonna be… interesting.
What’d you think of Wednesday’s episode?