Pre-credit sequence. Poor Kat. So sad. So absent. Tikiano returns to camp under a full moon. Everybody’s still shaking their heads at how blindsided Kat was. Muscular Mark Twain, however, has other things on his mind. “If I were the girls, I would have voted me out before Kat. That would have been the smartest thing they could do,” MMT says, hinting that he has a subplot that would allow him to sneak into the Top Three. He begins the plotting by going and asking Kim if she’s OK with taking him to the Top Four, suggesting that she should plan on going with Alicia and Christina to the end and that he’ll get the jury to vote for her. “The biggest threat is Chelsea,” MMT says. “And she’s my friend,” Kim says. “If I have to send Chelsea home, that’ll be my worst night here,” she says. Alicia wanders over and Muscular Mark Twain tells her that if she makes the Top Three, he’ll hype the Jury up for HER. “I’ve been doing this in segments,” MMT explains.
Promises, promises. Ants. And a scorpion. But no bats. Chelsea thinks that game is down to two groups of three: Sabrina, Kim and Chelsea against Alicia, Christina and Muscular Mark Twain. Chelsea knows that the other three think Kim is with them, but she’s confident Kim has her back. Everybody is hungry, including Christina, who’s dreaming of food. Chelsea is attempting to wrangle Christina, by promising her Reward and praising her bond with Alicia. Then, weirdly, Christina goes to Alicia and Kim and outs the whole conversation. Kim worries, for the second time, that Chelsea has been too chatty and outed her double-timing. Sitting uncomfortably astride two alliances, Kim knows her position is precarious.
The circle game. Reward Challenge time. They have spin in circles to unlock a disc, collect three discs and then use the discs as a decoder to solve a puzzle and blah blah blah. Want to know what they’re playing for? The winner will get to enjoy cocktails, a shower, a three-course meal, fresh clothing and a night on the boat. Even I agree that that’s worth playing for. Lots of spinning. Sabrina and Kim get to the decoder first, but nobody’s really that far behind. Chelsea wins reward and does a happy dance, hugging the number wheel. She gets to take one person and she vows to play it fair, opting to take Sabrina with her. That’s nice. Then she gets another pick. And she takes Kim. I don’t get what these women are thinking. You don’t need to promise people you’re going to take them on Reward. It’s not an obligation. But if you promise you’re taking them on Reward, it’s bad juju not to take them on Reward! I get the feeling this season’s entire Jury deliberation will be complaints about Reward partnerships. And that will suck.
A Chelsea-worthy vessel. The yacht is very nice. They have the promised robes and the chance for a luxurious shower, closely monitored by the “Survivor” cameraman. Chelsea’s relaxed and she’s convinced that her alliance is heading for the end. Chelsea agrees that she loves champagne and she loves Kim. And Kim agrees that she also loves Chelsea. Cue the ’70s porn music, y’all. “I feel like my head is so much clearer today than it was yesterday,” Kim says.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned on Reward. “I’m livid,” Alicia says. Christina agrees. Muscular Mark Twain nods quietly. The three angry non-yachters all agree that Chelsea must be voted out next if she doesn’t win Immunity. Alicia knows that Kim is the swing vote and while she thinks Kim has her back, she admits that Kim could make the wrong choice. MMT makes his play and proposes that Kim and Chelsea may be deceiving everybody and plotting together and suggest that everybody would be better off if he went to the Final Three with them. This wasn’t a plot MMT had previously envisioned, but it makes him happy. Suddenly, Alicia is liking the idea of Tarzan sticking with them and she warns that if Kim doesn’t come back to camp agreeing they’re voting against Chelsea, Kim might be targeted next. Ack. Whiplash. This is why you don’t leave a loosely composed three-person alliance alone and hungry while you’re off on Reward.
Skewered. But first, Kim and Chelsea and Sabrina are bonding over veggies. They agree they’re going to stick together. That’s fine. Then Kim gets cocky, talking about how the only bad thing that could happen is if the other three come together on their votes. GEE. Maybe they shouldn’t have been left together then? Sabrina and Kim both praise Kim’s ability to lie to people and make them believe she’s telling the truth. I know there are no newspapers out there, but Kim’s starting to read her own clippings. She knows they have to find a way to win this next elimination despite having only three votes. Well, Kim, you DO have an Idol. That would do the trick pretty easily.
No Comeuppance! Muscular Mark Twain is preparing to be defeated by feminine gender and he’s doing so by making rice the way he likes it. It seems that he likes his rice strained through… some article of his clothing (his buff?). Hmmm. And potentially ick. Team Yacht returns. They return to discord. Immediately, Alicia goes to Kim and outs Muscular Mark Twain’s double-dealing. Kim decides to pitch MMT to Alicia as her Judas, rather than as a faithful minion. “We’re gonna get Tarzaned and look like friggin’ morons,” Kim laughs when Alicia is immediately receptive. While to us, Kim’s yarn-spinning seems really obvious and manipulative, she catches Alicia in her net with ease. Christina comes in and joins with the exposure of MMT. “Getting Tarzaned” instantly becomes code for looking like a fool. “I am the queen of the social game,” Alicia crows, saying that either Chelsea or MMT will go out next. “I’m the most powerful player and I’m going to remain the most powerful player,” Alicia says, laying on a newly rediscovered accent rather thick.
The Reality of My Surroundings. Immunity is back up for grabs. Players have to use fishhooks to gather puzzle pieces and turn those puzzle pieces into a fish skeleton. Oh and they have to do it with one hand tied behind their backs. Jeff Probst does a lot of shouting to generate drama. All I get is that Alicia wins Immunity by seconds over Kim. Who knew? Maybe Alicia really is the most powerful player?
Blue Eyes of the beholder. Back at camp, the scrambling begins. “I am probably the most surprised about my win today,” Alicia admits. Muscular Mark Twain produces weird awkwardness by saying he should have won and calling Alicia a “bitch.” Kim thinks she can sway Alicia to push Tarzan out and she tells Sabrina and Chelsea about this conviction. Why is she wasting this time preaching to the choir? Kim is down with Chelsea and Sabrina, but not down enough to do anything with that Idol to help Chelsea. Add Chelsea to the list of people who don’t care about leaving, but are miserable about leaving before Christina. Sabrina explains that the entire vote is going to come down to Kim swaying Alicia. But instead, the only person Alicia’s talking to is Muscular Mark Twain, who admits the role he played in voting out five men. Everybody tonight is talking about Kim’s blue eyes and their ability to hypnotize people. Are Kim’s eyes really that great? I kinda liked Kat’s eyes, if not for the general vacancy. We end the segment with Alicia talking about her father-daughter bond with MMT. So in that whole segment that was all about how Kim needed to sway Alicia, we didn’t see Kim and Alicia talk for a second. That’s unsatisfying.
Tribal Council. Kat, the first woman on the Jury, shows up looking mighty attractive. Sabrina still believes she can win. Muscular Mark Twain says the only reason he’s around still is because he helped get rid of the guys, simultaneously making the argument that he should be taken to the end because nobody likes him and because he’s a millionaire and doesn’t want the money. “At the end of the day, we’re women and he’s still a man,” Sabrina says, aptly. Muscular Mark Twain is wearing Kat’s tank-top and he was briefly wearing Kat’s panties on his head. I can’t say for sure, but it appears that this information genuinely is freaking Kat out. She may even brush away a tear. Sabrina’s worried that this has all been an act on MMT’s part, that he’s crazy like a fox. There’s more nattering about Reward-picking. Kat is still bitter. This is weird. “I think he might be playing some people more than they think,” Chelsea warns.
The vote. Muscular Mark Twain writes Chelsea’s name. Chelsea writes “Tarzan.” No Immunity Idol is played. Probst goes to tally: Chelsea. [“Good bye, Chelsea,” Kat says.] Tarzan. Tarzan. Tarzan. [Kat gets her “What’s appendicitis?” look.] And that’s it for Muscular Mark Twain. He thanks everybody. On the Jury, Mike flips him off. And the men are all gone. Muscular Mark Twain ends with a poem and a Tarzan holler.
Bottom Line. For a brief period, I was intrigued by the idea that this had all been part of Muscular Mark Twain’s master plan all along. And maybe it was. It was not, however, a successfully rendered master plan. He got Tarzaned. I’m very confused, though, by the story that the “Survivor” editors are trying to tell us. Kim has become way too self-congratulatory about her manipulations and everybody spent much of the episode raving at Kim’s genius, but the decision to not show us the finishing touches of that genius in favor of some half-hearted effort to produce drama was weird and unsuccessful. That “Show me, don’t tell me” rule that you hear about in writing also applies to reality TV editing. I’d rather see Kim be brilliant and persuasive than have people talk nonstop about her being brilliant and persuasive. That was a really frustrating episode. I’m so very sick of both people carping about Reward treatment, but also with people making such strategically stupid decisions with their Reward sharing.
Bottom Line, II. Going into Sunday’s finale, I feel like “Survivor” has put all of its eggs in the Kim basket. With Colton gone, the narrative has been shifted to “Kim, The Blue-Eyed Angel and Mastermind.” As a result, I don’t know that any resolution other than Kim winning would be satisfactory, while Kim winning will be boring. It’s probably just a good idea to finish up this season and move on to next fall’s installment.
What’d you think of Wednesday’s episode?