Recap: ‘Survivor: One World’ – ‘Total Dysfunction’

02.23.12 5 years ago 44 Comments


Pre-credit sequence. The Women return to camp after skating through Tribal Council without voting anybody off. Mike greets them by making it clear that he kept their fire going in their absence. Kat isn’t impressed by his generosity, plus she’s also terrified by bugs. Before bed, Christina takes Alicia aside and tries to set things right. To the camera, Alicia claims that Tribal Council went exactly the way she planned. After Christina vents and Alicia ignores, they shake hands. They hug. You’d think Alicia wants Christina out next, but you’d be kinda wrong. “Nina looks like a bag of rocks and I don’t even know what that analogy means,” Alicia teases. Interesting. And confusing.
Managing the airheads. Morning. The Women gather and they decide to set some ground rules. First order of business? Everybody agrees that Sabrina, who organized the meeting, should be the leader. “Managing the airheads is going to be exhausting,” Sabrina says, before setting up chores involving water, fire and food. Nina senses that she, Christina and Monica are on the outside of an alliance and she’s being driven nuts by the needlessly chipper Kat. Instead of getting food, meanwhile, Kat and Alicia go and soak.
Dread knot. Tree-mail comes along with an enormous box for each tribe. It’s a do-it-yourself Reward Challenge. Each box contains a bag of knotted ropes that they have to untie. Want to know what they’re competing for? A tarp. They also get to keep the box and rope. It’s way too claustrophobic a challenge to be good television. The Men win, but it’d be impossible to explain either why they won or why the Women lost. “We needed a tarp like a fat kid needs cake,” Sabrina laments. Fat kids LIKE cake. But do they need it? That’s what’s wrong with America! Parents think fat kids require desserts.
Don’t picture Russell Hantz in a schoolgirl uniform. DON’T. There are lots and lots of bats. The Men return, led by Tarzan in a truly unfortunate banana hammock. Mike thinks that the Men are on the verge of having the best camp in “Survivor” history. Everybody’s working hard, except for Colton. “Colton’s just here to hang out in the Girls’ camp,” Mike says. Jonas warns everybody that Colton is networking hard with the girls and that if they reach a Merge, he’s gone, saying that Colton makes Russell look like a schoolgirl. 
No cure for the common Colton. “I have nothing in common with guys. We all have an extra appendage,” says the biologically astute Colton, who isn’t willing to help his own tribe, but is happy to help the Women with their shelter and camp. It seems like a love affair between Colton and the Women, but looks can be deceiving. “Colton is like a virus. There seems to be not a cure for him yet,” Sabrina says. The Women decide to feign a tribe meeting just to get rid of Colton, which is simultaneously cold and also understandable. Colton sniffles and suggests he may be best served going to a different part of the island and starting his own camp. After a respectful pause, Colton returns to the place he wasn’t really wanted and calls all of the Women together, but Sabrina is calling him a “drama queen.” He laments his absence of connections on the island and he cries and vows to support all of them. It’s Kim who tries to explain a weird concept to Colton: This is a game and he’s on a different tribe and they’re a little concerned about having him around all of the time. Sabrina doesn’t want to have “a guy who acts like a girl” getting in the way of their self-definition. They send Colton shuffling off into the jungle.
The Island of Misfit Boys. It’s nighttime at the Male enclave and Tarzan is dancing around in his underwear. “I would never talk to these people out of this game,” Colton says, before acknowledging that sometimes in “Survivor,” you have to make strange bedfellows. To that end, Colton calls several of the non-Frat Pack Alliance men over and reveals his Idol and his plan to use it at the next Tribal. Troyzan is giddy. Jonas is agog. “Colton went from the first guy to get voted out to now the ringleader… The kid is ridiculously smart,” says Colton Fan Club President Jonas. Colton, though, looks at his alliance of Jonas, Troyzan, Tarzan and Leif and shudders. “Until I can get with the girls, I have to associate myself with these misfits,” Colton says, adding cockily, “This is my world. They should have called this ‘Survivor’ Colton’s World.” That’s the fastest Napoleon Complex in human history.
It’s definitely the boobs are hard. Immunity time. Both tribes line up on a narrow balance beam over water. Tribe members have to meander around each other in a linear bob-and-weave course, avoiding touching more than one person at a time. Or something. The Men wisely sit out Tarzan in a competition that ought to be weighted towards the Women. Leif makes decent progress for the Men, while Kat is stymied for the Women, initially baffled by Monica’s breasts, which prove to be an insurmountable obstacle course. This is the most grope-y challenge in “Survivor” history! I take back what I said about  this challenge favoring the Women, as the Men get three of their ranks through before a single Woman can complete the course. Kat is confusingly and shockingly unable to figure out any of the logistics of the course. It’s an absolute rout for the Men. Only Monica achieved anything of substance for the Women, but Chelsea has a simple justification for their failure: “It’s definitely the boobs are hard.” We’ve gotta get that on a t-shirt. And why was that not the title of this episode? Monica is sad for women, not for The Women, as a tribe on “Survivor,” but all women, everywhere.
Farts & Leisure. So who’s gonna get the blame for the Women? They stand in a circle and Sabrina opens the floor to complaints. Kat takes immediate responsibility. Sabrina urges Kat to “rah-rah” a little bit more on the inside, to channel her energy in the future. “There’s nothing wrong with being emotional if you can control it, but she can’t control it at all,” Sabrina says of Kat, before pointing out that Nina is like the walking dead. Nina’s not so dead when it comes to calling Kat a “dumb blonde” and a “dumb broad” and “a complete idiot.” Monica, low on the totem pole, hopes that the strong players will realize Kat’s problems on their own, without her having to make a stand, but Nina can’t stop the insults, saying they’re being led by The Witless and calling Kat “dumber-than-dumb.” Wow. Nina doesn’t think much about Kat, does she? It goes on! To Chelsea, Nina says that Kat is “ignorant” and a “nitwit.” As we see Kat farting on her tribemates as a source of humor, it’s hard to disagree too strenuously. “Trust me, I’ve been embarrassed since I’ve been here,” Chelsea tells Nina. “Kat makes us all out to be freakin’ idiots,” Chelsea tells Kim, as the core Female Five begins to erode. 
Tribal Council. “Let’s give tonight’s Tribal some context,” Jeff Probst begins, coldly laying down the law that this is one of the most embarrassing starts even in “Survivor.” Because they’re all women. Probst then compares talking to them to talking to a group of sixth graders. Because they’re women. This is certainly the most condescending that Jeff Probst has ever been to a tribe in “Survivor” history. Probst likes Nina, so he lets her talk about her life experience as a Los Angeles cop, before Nina demands that Kat justify her own life experience. Kat, it turns out, is in sales, so she works with people. And… that’s about it. Probst tries to encourage Kat to use her youth as an advantage, which she does, also celebrating her own energy. Nina scoffs that Kat isn’t an athlete, because being an athlete is more than just being athletic. Kim agrees that it’s between Nina and Kat, while Chelsea agrees that if they could start over, they’d probably have different alliances. Alicia laments the lack of girl power. Meanwhile, Kat is crying over her failure in the task. Kat, it seems, has never failed at anything in her life, though she confesses, “I usually don’t try anything unless I know I’m going to succeed.” Probst lays down the law that you can’t say you’ve never failed if you’ve never tried. Kat says it’d be fair to vote her out, but that she still believes in herself and wants to prove that she’s learning. Out of left field, Kat says that she at least wants to be in the game, while Christina is just there. Sabrina explains that this is all an example of how men and women communicate differently, saying, “A man would have called another man out and they would have dealt with it.” 
The Vote. I have no idea how this is going to go down. Kat writes Nina’s name. Nina writes Kat’s name and hopes this will be the end to shenanigans.  Probst tallies the votes: Nina. Kat. Christina. Nina. Nina. And that’s it for Nina. Probst tells the Women to get their acts together. Nina thinks the tribe made a huge mistake and that Kat’s destroying the tribe. She predicts that the Men are going to take the Women apart, piece by piece.
Bottom Line: Nina may be right about that latter point. For whatever reason, this particular group of women doesn’t seem to have even the slightest threat of cohesion. As Chelsea and Kim and Sabrina all realized, they made an alliance too soon. But if you make an alliance too soon in “Survivor” and enough of you realize it, surely five days in is a better time to ditch your alliance than any other time. This is where the loss of Kourtney screwed over the non-aligned women. I think if the Women had been 5-4, a Chelsea or a Kim or a Sabrina would have felt perfectly comfortable ditching that group, but with the numbers at 5-3 they couldn’t get their acts together fast enough. That, of course, makes otherwise reasonable and possibly appealing people like Chelsea and Kim look weak and wishy-washy and it makes the entire game look bad, because we could be about to watch a group of unlikable women get annihilated by a group of unlikable men, which can’t possibly be good TV. And it’s not even like it was clear that keeping Nina over Kat was anything resembling the right move, since Nina’s hostility and contempt for Kat made her seem as toxic as one of Kat’s hilarious farts. So you can’t even blame the Women for their vote, since they’d have been better off getting rid of both Kat and Nina. Plus, there’s a problem in viewer identification when Colton is totally unappealing except for when he made his power move, which was only smart because it was exactly what Sabrina told him to do, but then Sabrina’s treatment of Colton was a bit problematic this episode, so I can’t really embrace her either. This episode was not a good turn of events.
So… um… what’d you think of Wednesday’s “Survivor”?

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