Pre-credit sequence. The Men return. Matt is gone. Mike misses Matt and laments The Old Guy, The Little Guy and The Guy Guy Who Doesn’t Want To Work are in charge, but don’t know what they’re doing. Muscular Mark Twain is feeling good about his alliance, including Leif, who appears to be sleeping in a wooden crate. I’m very confused and disturbed by that image, which was half “Nosferatu” and half “Profit.” Anyway, Muscular Mark Twain is OK with letting Mike skate along, because he also wants to get rid of Colton’s Public Enemy No. 1, Bill.
Snail trail. As for the Women? They’re cracking little snails and frying them up for protein. Mmm… Snails. Monica says that between coconuts, snails and the rice, they’re not starving at all. The snails smell so good that the men are gravitating over to the grub. They’re so hungry that Jonas proposes that if the Women let him use the net, he’ll share half of his catch. “It’s just crazy how much the roles have reversed in nine days,” Chelsea chuckles, before Jonas insists that really the men don’t need any additional food. “I don’t really care either way,” Jonas bluffs. “Obviously he cares a lot,” grumbles Kim. “I don’t know if their emotions are turning them wacky,” Troyzan stereotypes.
Tic, Tac, Donut. Let’s get to an Reward Challenge. Teams have to fire coconuts at a wall of targets using a slingshot. First tribe to knock out five targets wins. Want to know what they’re playing for? A choice of Comfort (pillows, blankets, mattress), Protection (a tarp) or Luxury (coffee and donuts). Nobody cares much about the first two options, but the chance for donuts is apparently worth playing for. Tarzan and then Kat are the first to connect. And then, for a really long time, nothing happens. Jeff Probst’s Word of the Day toilet paper told him that this was a good day for “obliterate.” Eventually, the Women get within one target of Reward. It’s up to Jonas — or “Jason” as Muscular Mark Twain calls him — to keep the men around and he gets the Men within two of reward. With a sure shot, Monica helps the Women win their third straight challenge. They’re giddy. Even Jeff Probst is almost impressed. But Muscular Mark Twain dubs it “pure luck.” The Women *want* donuts, but they’re smart enough to figure out that the tarp is more necessary.
How about a little fire, scarecrow? “The challenge itself was kinda a fluke,” Jonas grumbles. “We need to stop thinking about them as just some chicks over there,” Bill says, calling the “chicks” both “tough” and “serious competitors.” On the beach, Leif accidentally reveals to Bill that Colton wanted him out. Ooops. The music gets ominous and Bill gets glowery. “Well, you know, that’s what happens, bro,” Bill tells Leif, before telling us that the gloves are off and the game has changed. But what looked to be a private conversation was not so private and Colton’s attentions have turned to Leif. “That little Munchkin is about to get knocked back to Oz,” Colton says, completing the smooth transition from “TV villain” to “old-fashioned a**hole.” Wicked Witch Colton summons Leif to account for his sins. Leif squirms. And squirms. And finally confesses and apologizes. Wow. Then Colton tells Leif that he’s “turning into an annoying little Ooompa-Loompa.” Colton tells Leif, “I told you to pick a side and you picked the wrong side.” Leif is actually feeling guilty about having blown everybody’s trust. We’re all wondering what other fictional little people Colton has up his sleeve as references.
K-A-T spells “Cat.” Bats! So many BATS! Tree-mail arrives in the form of a puzzle. It says something about working together in pairs and being smart and stuff. Kat immediately worries that if she’s paired with somebody as dumb as she is, there may be problems. Kat specifically tells Alicia that she doesn’t want to be with her, which Alicia takes mighty personally. Sabrina attempts to play peacemaker, worrying that this fracas might take their already tenuous communication and make the Women into more of a hot mess. We aren’t told if the men ever completed the puzzle.
If there was a puzzle, yo I’ll solve it. Immunity is back up for grabs. As promised, pairs have to race across teeter-totters and solve three puzzles to get three keys and unlock three flags. Colton and Muscular Mark Twain solve their puzzle first and put the Men in the lead, as Alicia and Chelsea struggle with what Probst REALLY wants them to understand is the easiest puzzle. The Men solve their second puzzle before the Women finish that easy one. Unable to come up with any ideas of their own, Alicia and Chelsea go take a peek at the what the Men did. Probst mocks them. The Men mock them. The Men complete their third puzzle as the Women are still trying to cheat and look at the completed second puzzle. Lock one. Lock two. Lock three. The Men win Immunity. They’re overjoyed. Jeff Probst is overjoyed that the status quo has been restored. “That was a blowout. That barely qualified as a challenge,” Probst says before mocking Alicia and Chelsea for several minutes. He isn’t accepting Alicia’s sheepish amusement. He wants her to cry. Alicia doesn’t cry, but her post-challenge attitude makes Christina happy, because she sees a way to avoid elimination.
An idiotic plan is conceived. And, again, the Men are cocky. They really kinda suck, don’t they? And as for the Women? They aren’t that much better. Chelsea and Alicia are called to account for their challenge failure. Sabrina can’t believe that Alicia was laughing post-loss. “Alicia is just dead weight with a mouth,” Sabrina says, before taking Kim aside and arguing that Alicia, rather than Kim should be going home. Meanwhile, Bill thinks it’s a good time to squash some beef with Colton, but Colton would rather recline in the shade than make friends. “You’re going home next, so it really doesn’t matter,” Colton hisses, sending Bill off on his way. “Nothing gets me more frustrated than when somebody doesn’t want to talk,” Bill tells us. But back at the shelter, Bill accosts Colton as “a stuck-up little brat” and tries get him to talk, but Colton keeps spinning in any available alternative direction. To the camera, Colton calls Bill a bad stand-up comedian, instructs him to get a real job and demands Bill’s head on a platter. “Bill just attacked me, got up in my face, started yelling at me,” Colton tells Tarzan, calling Bill “a crazy person.” Hmmm… I guess that’s ONE version of what happened? Colton suggests to Tarzan and Jonas, only half in jest, that the Men should go to the Women and offer to go to Tribal Council in their place.
An idiotic plan is set in motion. Ummm… Really? “I’ve never heard of anyone doing this,” Jonas tells him, calling it “a huge move.” Colton calls it “a smart move,” which is just insane. “I think that’s a hasty decision,” The Smart Pretty Boy Whose Name I Don’t Remember says. Muscular Mark Twain thinks that a trust has been betrayed by Leif and he’s absurdly offended and he even tells the women about this bizarre idea. Muscular Mark Twain stares down his nose at Leif and talks to him like a five-year-old. “What you did is BAD,” MMT tells Leif, rubbing his nose in the badness. Jay is the Pretty Boy I can’t remember and he’s flummoxed that somehow MMT got the impression that Leif was the person to be voted out. “Hey, I don’t care. Let them fall apart over there,” Sabrina says. Kat thinks the Men have lost their marbles. The Men have a mini-vote about going to Tribal Council and Jay reveals that he is “completely bum-puzzled.” “The guys are very confused right now, but I’ve always been able to get people to do what I want and I want Bill gone. I’m running this entire show right now and if you can’t see that, you’re Helen Keller,” Colton boasts. “No foolishness like that would ever go down in this Tribe,” Sabrina announces and the Women agree.
Tribal Council. So who’s gonna show up? It’s THE MEN. The look on Jeff Probst’s face is worthy of all of the Emmys, even if we assume that as an executive producer on the show, he knew exactly who was heading to Tribal Council. In fact, I can’t imagine that that Men did this thing without pulling an on-set producer aside and making sure it was legal. “24 seasons. Some 400 Tribal Councils. Never. Had a tribe. Arrive at Tribal Council. After winning Immunity,” Jeff smiles. It’s left to Troyzan to explain what the heck they’re doing there, with Leif as the victim of all of the blame. Leif says he tries playing with his heart on his sleeve, which even Jeff isn’t buying. “You understand strategically how dangerous that is?” Probst asks Leif, treating him like he’s nothing more than a woman. Jay, sitting a foot away, still doesn’t know what’s happening. Probst suggests the strong possibility this could be the dumbest move in “Survivor” history, but Bill’s happy to go along with it. Colton tries flipping the script, by going into his anti-Bill, anti-stand-up rant. “I love the kid to death. We just come from two totally different backgrounds,” Bill says, explaining that it’s about upbringing more than black-and-white. “Yes, I did go to a private, all-white school, but I do have African-American people in my life,” Colton protests, playing the Black Friend Card. “Who?” Probst asks, point-blank. “My housekeeper,” Colton responds, insisting that she’s “like a member of my family.” “A paid worker,” Probst responds. Here, Colton clarifies that he’s not opposed to stand-up comics, just to struggling stand-up comics. “Are you out of your mind? You haven’t worked an honest day in your life,” Bill snaps back. “Don’t judge me. I don’t judge you, so don’t look down on me,” Bill rants. “Whatever, Bill,” Colton says. WOW. At this point, *Probst* plays The Gay Card, asking if any groups where he’s from look down on him for his sexuality. Colton protests that rich people love gay folks, but po’ white trash folks have the problems. But wait! It gets better. Muscular Mark Twain protests that Colton has been painted in the wrong light. “I think it’s time to quit talking about goddamn race. I’m tired of it. I want people to base what they think about somebody on how they behave and what their merits are,” says MMT, a proud, long-standing white man, before playing the We Have a Black President card. “It’s very interesting what’s developed here tonight,” Probst says.
The Vote. Ummm… What the heck is about to happen. Colton votes for Bill, tells him he’ll never like him and urges him to take his broke-ass home. Probst goes to tally the votes: Leif. Bill. Bill. Bill. Bill. Bill. Leif smiles with relief. Miraculously, Colton goes with a “disaffected” look rather than sneering or smirking. “My tribe is doing some very unorthodox things,” Bill says, being philosophical and admirably gracious.
Bottom Line: On one hand, that was crazy and crazy-entertaining. There’s a lot to be said for an episode going where no previous “Survivor” episode has gone before and Colton deserves a lot of credit for masterminded both the insane move to go to Tribal Council after winning, but also for effectively switching the vote to Bill and away from Leif. “Survivor” has had powerful leaders before, but it’s never had a leader so powerful he could go full-on Jim Jones and force his tribe to willfully commit suicide. If this game thrives on unexpected twists and unprecedented strangeness, passing around Kool-Aid and forcing your Tribe to self-decimate? That’s impressive. And if we want to give Colton full credit, you have to figure he still hopes to realign with the Women. If that’s his plan, he knows that there’s no value in the Men getting too great a majority. It could have been 8-6 Men after tonight’s vote and instead it’s 7-7 and Colton has managed to simultaneously make himself the shot-caller for the Men pre-Merge, while plausibly remaining post-Merge shot-caller in a totally different alliance. That’s brilliant-ish. But…
Bottom Line II. I now hate Colton. And you all now hate Colton. And I don’t hate him in a “He’s the villain in a game of ‘Survivor,'” way. I hate Colton in a “I suspect he’s just a dreadful person” way. He went over-the-top so many times and so many different ways in tonight’s episode that he’s a lost cause, sympathy-wise. And, in turn, Colton has caused me to hate everybody who has been spinelessly unwilling to stand up for themselves even to the camera. Like I understand why Leif was obsequious to Colton in the shelter, but surely if he had walked over the the confessional and launched into a “Who the heck does Colton think he is?!?” monologue, we’d have seen it? Leif and Jonas and Troyzan and Muscular Mark Twain are just letting Colton run the game. Credit Mike for expressing some doubts. Credit Jay for at least being dumbfounded. They still both played along. I guess I respect Colton’s gameplay, while hating him as a person, but otherwise, the Men are a lost cause. Meanwhile…
Bottom Line III. The Women are also useless, or at least there’s a core group of them that are useless. I think Chelsea, Kim, Monica and Sabrina probably have potential I hold out hope that one of those four might have a little player in them eventually.
What a WEIRD episode. It was fun, but I don’t think it speaks well for the developing season, if we’re only watching to see if somebody, anybody, is eventually going to kick Colton in the nads…
What’d you think?